My Final Childhood Easter

My family was not religious. All the same, we celebrated the Christian holidays like Christmas and Easter. To us, it was a time for getting family together, doing something different, and having a good time. Plus, we found the Pagan aspects of these holidays to be very fun. Those elements leave the celebration open to everyone.

A little Easter history before I continue:

Eostre is the Germanic goddess of dawn who is celebrated during the Spring Equinox. On the old Germanic calendar, the equivalent month to April was called “Ōstarmānod” – or Easter-month. As a holiday, Easter predates Christianity and was originally the name for Spring Equinox celebrations.


When we were little, we would get a little basket with some colored grass in it. Hidden in the grass were chocolate eggs wrapped in foil, marshmallow peeps, and a hollow chocolate bunny. My dad liked the candy eyes on the bunnies, so he’d open them, eat the eyes, and put it back. Oh yes, he heard from us and knew that we noticed this transgression.

There was also the Easter egg hunt. When I was really young, our parents would hide eggs in the house and have us look for them. It was a fun exercise in looking around to see what was out of place, in an area such as the indoors of our own house, where we took the landscape and scenery for granted.

Me at the Easter egg hunt at Grandma’s house, 1971.

By the time I was 4, we decided to go to my grandparents’ house. They had about 40 acres of land, and would hide eggs.

After the first year we did that, they noticed that too many eggs were not being eaten and getting thrown away. So my grandparents had the idea of putting dollar amounts on eggs. You could find an egg worth 10 cents, 25 cents, 50 cents, or $1. There were even a few $2 eggs and only one $5 egg.

Grandma loved to give me things like a silver half dollar or a two dollar bill. She knew how much I loved those things.

All of us kids would cash in our eggs for money, and then grandma would use them all right away in some kind of egg salad.


All good things come to an end, which is partially true. The hard fact is that all things come to an end. This is a difficult lesson to teach young children. I really didn’t get in touch with my own mortality, at least on a personal level, until I was 25 years old.

It was Easter of 1973, and I had turned 8 years old the previous December. During the hour-plus drive to grandma’s house, I was having some strange feelings. It was as if I’d rather be at home beating on drums or listening to music.

The hunt for eggs was particularly fun and challenging at grandma’s place, because of the vast area of land they had. The money was also nice, especially the collectible pieces. But something was just off for me.

We get to their farmhouse and run indoors. All of us kids went to the living room to wait for our baskets. By this point, the adults in the room figured out that it’s a good idea to give the smaller kids a head start on the hunt.

The two youngest got their baskets first and were sent out to start their hunt. The parents went outside with them.

The two middle children got their baskets next, and were sent out to join in the hunt.

I had a cousin my age. She had gone outside with her mother earlier. This left me alone in the living room with my grandmother.

“Have I got something special for you,” she said.

Grandma was an audiophile, so she had the latest expensive hi-fi stereo system out there. It was so expensive that I was afraid to touch it. Turntable, amp, quality speakers, and superb headphones.

She had me sit on the organ bench. The organ and hi-fi were both pushed into a cubby, which had a little window out toward the back yard. She then went into her room and came out with a basket.

The basket had some interesting things in it. There were the chocolate eggs wrapped in foil. There was also some money, in the form of a silver half-dollar, a silver dollar, and a $2 bill.

But the biggest thing in the basket, which could not be hidden, was a record. It wasn’t just any record, either. It was The Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd.

The album had been out for only a few weeks; maybe a month, tops. I took the record out of the sleeve and looked at it. I was in awe.

As grandma lifted the lid, and I put the record on the turntable, she told me how I was probably getting too old for “all of that Easter nonsense,” and that this was her special gift to me as a way of saying that I was growing up and that it was time for me to have different experiences and expectations in life.

I gave grandma a big hug, sat on the organ bench, turned toward the window, and put the headphones on as grandma let the needle drop slowly onto the record.

There I sat, listening to The Dark Side of the Moon for the very first time, while staring out of the window watching the other kids hunt for eggs. A small part of me wanted to join them in the activity, probably so that I would be “in” with a group. It was rare for me to fit in.

But another part of me felt it. I really was growing up. And this record was mine! Before this, I would listen to records my parents owned. This event got me interested in building my own music collection.

It also invigorated my interest in spending time alone. I typically spent my time alone. When I was younger, it was drums, a chalk board, chemistry set, or being outdoors with bugs and animals. But this started my shift more toward having a more serious approach to my musical instruments.

I had a feeling that I was building a newfound appreciation for my alone time.


Grandma E.

To this day, I do not know if my younger siblings had a similar experience. If they did, then that would be their story to tell.

For me, my story also highlights the special relationship that I had with my grandmother. When it came to music, she encouraged me greatly.

And when I listen to The Dark Side of the Moon, I cannot help but think of my grandmother as a travel back in time. I can close my eyes, listen, and find myself sitting on that organ bench once again, gazing out the window with wonder as I watched the egg hunt.

The Dark Side of the Moon is an album that means lots of different things to people, depending on their experiences. For me, it’s an Easter album that I can listen to anytime I want. It’s a time machine. It’s an experience.

Every time Easter rolls around, I think of grandma, and the gifts she gave to me. Whether it was a silver half-dollar or a Pink Floyd record, it affected me in ways that are very emotional and personal.


I wasn’t certain how to end this particular entry when I started. However, I actually listened to The Dark Side of the Moon while I was writing this, and I was reminded of something important.

Pink Floyd has recurring themes in their songs and albums. Time is referenced as literal time on this album. They also use the sun and the image of a flowing river to represent time.

Since I was young, their music stood as a constant reminder that time was passing, and that once passed, it would never return again. The river’s course cannot be changed, any more than the sun can be taught to appear first in the west.

The sun is the same, in a relative way, but you’re older, shorter of breath, and one day closer to death.

Today’s Easter will come and go as quickly as any other day. Just like every other day, it is important to be present, pay attention, and live in the moment.

Whatever Easter means to you, whether religious or not, I hope that it’s a day that you can always remember.

The One Time I Was Invited to Church

DISCLAIMER: I have some friends from the Midwest who are good people, and happen to be Christian. Since I might be posting a link to this to Facebook, it would stand to reason that some of them might end up reading this.

If you’re a friend from the Midwest who happens to be Christian, and you never dehumanized or demonized me, then please understand that I am not talking about you. Your presence made my life a bit easier. At the same time, those who abused me still caused damage, and I am still working to heal that damage.

Try to understand that, for every one of you who were decent to me, there were dozens who were being cruel and harsh about it, and that I did suffer a great deal of religious social abuse. As I speak of those who perpetrated this abuse, understand that I am not including you with them.

Those of you who were good to me are the exception. The exception does not negate the rule, and actually serves to fortify the rule. And religious cruelty in America has only gotten worse.


INTRODUCTION
I was born and raised in the Midwest, spending the first 21 years of my life there. During my time there, I had many encounters with self-declared Christians who had nothing but judgment, hate, and contempt for me.

They would say that I was evil, demonic, worshipped Satan, ate babies, and had no morality about me. Documenting all of the religious abuse I suffered growing up would take up a book.

This issue was bad enough that I decided at one point to read the bible to find out what they were talking about.

My family did not raise me to hate religious people or anything like that. Rather, religion was a topic that never came up. Ever.

When I was 43 years old, I learned that my mother identifies as Catholic. So it makes sense that she would keep that quiet. During those times, being Catholic wasn’t much better than being an Atheist. She was so good at keeping it a secret that none of us kids had any idea.

I understood why the Jewish kids were so quiet.

One thing I learned in my reading of the bible is that Christians are tasked with saving the souls of those around them. The bigger thing I learned was that most Christians have no idea what the bible said about anything, because they are all failing miserably at living up to its expectations.

Keep in mind that I have nothing bad to say about those Christians who were actually good to me. Even if they did not invite me to church, they did lead by example and were stewards of their faith without ever bringing it up. I can respect that, and I do.

With regard to attempts to save my soul, I give these abusive Midwestern Christians who judged and belittled me a very low rating. If what the bible says is true, then most of them are Hell-bound for things like neglect of social duty, judgment of others, and a lack of Humanity.

It leads me to suspect that they don’t really believe any of it, and merely use their self-declared Christian status as a way of being better than others. Star-Bellied Sneetches!

Yes, there were some who mostly didn’t talk about it. They didn’t bring it up. They didn’t have any judgment for me, at least not to my face. For them, I am grateful and I thank them for treating me like a human being. I cannot say this enough.

But there was this ONE kid at school who invited me to church one time. It’s a story that I have never written about before, which I find most shocking. Time to rectify that problem.


THE PREMISE
During the early 80s, there was a great deal of “Satanic Panic” on the part of parents and religious people who were unreasonably freaking out about made-up things that either did not exist or were not happening. I know the bible says something about “bearing false witness,” so shame on them!

This Satanic Panic was so bad that it even impacted my mother, who was not visibly religious at all. She forbid me from going to see Ozzy Osbourne in concert because, as she put it, “He’s going to strap a bunch of dynamite to a sheep and blow it up on stage.”

Guess who snuck out, went to see Ozzy, and found out that this was not true? Yep.

Another one of those made-up things was backwards masking in rock music. This is where you play a segment of a song backwards on a record and listen to the secret, hidden Satanic message.

In most cases, people might hear nothing. But thanks to the power of suggestion, you could tell someone what to listen for and they would magically hear it.

The fear of rock music that spread through the ranks of our parents was tempered with the curious fascination on our part. Many record player needles were destroyed, as well as some records, playing them backwards over and over again to try to hear the crazy Satanic messages.


THE KID
In high school band, there was this young kid in the drum line ranks named Lameck. He had a younger brother, as well as an older brother my age. I won’t say his last name here. However, anyone who went to school with me will instantly know who I am talking about, because how many kids named Lameck have you ever met?

Lameck approached me one day after band practice. “Hey, my church is having a special program tonight where they will focus on Satanic backwards masking in music. You wanna go?”

I would be amused whenever Lameck said “Satanic,” because he pronounced it “Say-tonic.” Once my tiny giggle passed, I said that I was very interested in going, and that it sounded fascinating.

He said that he and his dad would pick me up that evening.


THE TRIP TO THE CHURCH
I got dressed in the nicest clothes that I could find and sat in the living room nervously as I waited for them to pick me up. Part of me wanted to bail on it because I was nervous, having never been to church before. Plus, I knew that I would have to keep my life-long non-belief a secret, or else I would be judged and ridiculed, at the very least. At worst, I could get injured.

Seriously, being a non-believer in the Midwest in the 70s and 80s was dangerous. I would often be told to, “Keep your mouth shut, if you know what’s good for you.”

It’s a controlling move that leads to isolation. It’s basically abuse. I didn’t yet understand it in that way, so I would take it as a physical threat of violence. It could easily be both.

Lameck and his dad picked me up in the car. I don’t remember anyone else being in the car. I assume that they wanted it to be a small group in the car, and that his mother and two brothers would take a separate car. Nobody in that family ever missed church.

We take a long drive that feels like forever from my house to the neighboring big town, where their church was located. There were lots of people there. Many seemed to be happy, at least on the surface.

It basically felt like old people getting dressed up for a party.


IN THE CHURCH
The church was set up much like a theater where one would go to see a play. The seats were on a slight incline with steps that broke up the rows.

At the bottom was a main stage. To the back left was a smaller, curved podium that was about 4-6 inches taller than the rest of the stage. This looked like it would be where a band would set up to perform. Lameck would confirm this, since I asked him.

What sparked my curiosity about that was the colored lights in the ceiling that looked like something from a rock concert. They also had an incredible sound system.


THE EVENT
The preacher started out by thanking everyone for being there. He told us what the evening and the presentation would be about. Then they had a brief moment of prayer. I sat quietly and watched everyone.

This was no rinky-dink thing. It was a full-blown production, where the preacher presented slides that showed am album cover from the artist where one could find the song. He would talk about some of the aspects of the song and play the questionable segment forward.

Then, he would tell people what to hear and play the same segment backwards. All of this was done in advance on tape, so there was no fumbling around. This guy and his team were true professionals.

After the backwards part played, people would gasp or there would be a murmur among the crowd. I kept my giggles to myself.


THINGS GO HORRIBLY WRONG
I was actually getting into this presentation, because I was curious to know what others were talking about. I was also wondering if this could really be done. I didn’t believe in a Satan or anything of the sort, but I was curious about whether or not a backwards message in music could really achieve anything.

SPOILER: It cannot.

The preacher wraps up a song and moves on to the next. He changes the slide on the projector, and it’s an album cover featuring Bob Seger.

The preacher starts to speak, “Now, the only reason why I am including Bob Seger tonight is…”

A woman, crazed with anger, stands up, interrupts him, and starts yelling. “How DARE you include Bob Seger in this! He’s a good man! You will NOT SHAME BOB SEGER!!”

She continued to scream as the security guards who watch the doors came down to deal with her. It is as if she was having a mental break-down.

I’m starting to notice a low hum coming from the PA system. I would compare the sound to something you would hear in a horror movie when danger is nearby.

People start gasping as the security guards try to take her out of the room.

As the hum starts to get louder, the colored rock show lights start flickering ever-so slightly. The preacher drops to his knees and begins thrashing in a way that would only make sense if he were playing air guitar.

Then the preacher makes an announcement:

“Everybody! THE DEVIL IS IN THE ROOM RIGHT NOW AND HE IS TRYING TO GET US!!”

This is where people start talking in tongues as they thrash about. And there I was, basically by myself, watching everyone freaking out. The sound gets louder as the stage lights go into full flicker mode.

Welcome to the Pentecostal faith.

I really think they should have warned me about this. But I understand why they did not. It is something that seems perfectly normal to them.

This went on for about three solid minutes. It eventually died down, as if people were getting tired. The lights slowly stopped flickering. The low fear tone slowly lowered in volume until it disappeared.

I was the only one paying attention closely enough to acknowledge these manipulative actions.

The preacher asked that the main lights be dimmed, as he brought the slide of Bob Seger back up onto the screen.

“The only reason I am including Bob Seger tonight is because his music promotes the party lifestyle, and we cannot have our children falling into that.”

[Next slide]

I thought, “Really? That was it?” The whole thing felt staged and rehearsed.

But there was one thing that did not seem to be that way.


THINGS GET WORSE: A DASTARDLY DEED
Lameck turned to me and said, “I feel like I’m going to be sick. I’m going to the bathroom.”

He walked up the stairs toward the exit, when the guard at the door stopped him. He seemed to ask Lameck where he was going.

The guard took Lameck by the arm and brought him down to the stage. He whispers in the preacher’s ear.

The preacher then takes Lameck by the arm and interrupts the presentation once again.

“This boy has THE DEVIL in his stomach, and we are going to pray for him until he comes out! DEMONS, BE GONE!”

This was kept up until Lameck was forced to throw up on the stage in front of everyone. They let him go to the bathroom after that to wash up.


THE RIDE HOME
After Lameck’s Exorcist impression, there was a bit more of presentation. Everyone hung out for a little bit to talk to people, while I waited outside for them. I was anxious to leave and get back home.

Eventually, Lameck and his dad came out. We got in the car and left. Everyone was mostly quiet during the ride.

Both Lameck and his Dad eventually asked me how I liked it. I struggled to be socially proper. “It was… very… interesting.”

Nothing else was said after that.

I was dropped off at home. Once I got inside, I went straight to the bathroom and took a shower.


MY EVALUATION
Obviously, lots of fear-mongering and emotional manipulation was involved in the evening. The fact that they do this in order to keep people coming to the church and handing over money feels nefarious and horrific. It almost felt like a form of entertainment.

I was starting to question whether or not the “Bob Seger Lady” was legit, or if she was really acting. The whole thing felt too perfect. But one thing was for certain, their speaking in tongues was downright terrifying.

As for Lameck’s vomiting on the stage, I felt like there was no winning with this one. If he was faking it, then it was an effort to emotionally manipulate me. But if it was real, then they were exploiting a sick child for the promotion of fear and financial gain. He did say that he had “a touch of the flu,” so I suspect the latter.


IN THE END
Lameck never invited me to church again and we never talked about that night. I would feel some concern about Lameck continuing to attend the church after what was done to him. I didn’t think that it was a safe thing for him to be doing.

And he would not ever call me a sinner, a Satanist, or other names. He never dehumanized me.

He invited me to his church. I went. It wasn’t for me. That was the end. He didn’t pass judgment on me after that, and I respect him for that, just as I respect those who did not pass judgment on me.


IN THE END
Yes, it is a Christian’s duty to save souls by getting those who are not believers into the church, and potentially into the faith. What I respected about Lameck’s approach was that he didn’t pressure me, he didn’t bully me, and he didn’t demonize or dehumanize me.

He continued to be a drummer in the school band, and I continued mentoring him, as I did with all of the younger drummers in band.

And as I mentioned before, there were those exceptions who accepted me as I was and let me be. I have a great respect for them as well.

Note that I have dozens upon dozens of stories of abuse, and yet I chose to write about a relatively positive experience. Yes, some bad things happened, and this experience did solidify my non-belief in a way, although not as much as all of the negative, hateful, and destructive experiences. But it was an effort, and I get it.

The positive experiences could all fit in this one blog. There were those kids in band and the counselors at band camp. One of the dads, Mr. M, would take us on morning runs and then read a passage from the bible afterward. He did not get preachy or judgmental, which allowed me to understand the lesson or idea that was being presented.

There was the girl in school, who was significantly older than me, who would give me a ride home whenever bullies wanted to beat me up after school, even though she lived really close to the school and I lived on the other end of town.

She never mentioned religion or her god. She never mentioned the bible or asked me about anything. She was a good steward of her faith who was living by example. She was always really cool to me, and I appreciate having known her.

And there were some who simply never brought it up.

This got me thinking that a person’s belief or non-belief tells me absolutely nothing about their morality or humanity. All it tells me is what type of belief or non-belief their family has experienced through the generations.

So far as I am concerned, it really means nothing.

There are still those out there who use their religion for horrible things, and who use it as an excuse to abuse, discriminate, or to spread fear and hatred. Whenever I speak up, I am speaking about them.

I must speak out against them. Because if I don’t, then I will pay a big price when they gain any significant amount of political power.

The unfortunate thing is that Christians are not policing their own, so it seems. They’re not talking about those who pray publicly and put on a show about it, or those who use their faith as a tool against others.

Instead, they might say that, “They are not true Christians.” This is known as “The No True Scotsman Fallacy,” and it solves nothing. For as they may say that those who are misbehaving are “not true Christians,” those who are misbehaving will instantly say the same of those Christians who are not on their side.

There are over 50,000 brands of Christianity available for purchase in America. They don’t get along, which is about the only thing they have in common, beyond their label.

Religion is a tool of division in America, with political affiliation being a close second, and then race, then class. We are probably the most divided country on the planet.

And while I’m still dealing with the religious abuse that I suffered growing up in the Midwest, I understand that being angry, hateful, or judgmental will get me nowhere, and that it would make me the same as my abusers.

This is something that took me decades to learn, and before I learned it I would be just as abusive as those who abused me.

No more.

I don’t know if Lameck is still alive. But to him, to my marching band mates, and to friends who didn’t judge and never brought it up, I give to you a hearty, “Thank you!” for how you were with me. I appreciate your presence.

A Simple Answer to My Problems Can Be Found in This Photo

The past few decades have been particularly stressful for me, for a variety of reasons.

I am not here to complain about any of it.

Instead, I am here in rare form to discuss a solution that I have found to the various problems that have been weighing on me during these times.

In today’s entry, I am going to go through the potential solutions, and then touch upon how this solution was presented to me. It’s the deepest dive into the most shallow of ponds, so let’s go!


Fall, 1982: Sitting in my grandparents’ farm home in the middle of nowhere, drinking a cold Colt 45.

THE ANSWER IS IN THIS PHOTOGRAPH
The photograph you see right here provided me with the answer. Well, sort of. To be more detailed and honest, it provided confirmation of the answer that I had received.

This photograph was taken in the Fall of 1982. In order to bring about a better understanding, I will provided some analysis of the photo.

What was going on during this time in my life?

The most obvious thing about this photo is that I’m drinking a cold Colt 45. This cannot be the answer, as most of us learned from Ozzy Osbourne’s song Suicide Solution. Drinking solves nothing, so this isn’t the key. Besides, it was the last one in the fridge, so I wasn’t wasted, either.

I’m wearing a Rush concert t-shirt, from their Signals tour. That was a great show! Remember when Geddy Lee changed the lyrics slightly to say, “one likes to believe in the freedom of baseball?” I was like, oh shit! They did something that isn’t on the record already. Rush is awesome and can make a bad day better, but the concert does not hold the key.

What else is going on here that cannot be seen?

I had recently lost my girlfriend, after her Marine Drill Sergeant dad tried to kill me with a wrench. Do I look broken up over it? At all? Anything? No, it seems that I am not phased by this turn of events at all. But we are getting warmer.

School had recently started, when my good friend Ted B. gave me a floppy disk and taught me Basic programming skills. I was in the school library, teaching myself how to program, on a computer that was meant to serve 1,200 students. Nobody used it but me. When they found out that I wasn’t using educational software, I got banned from the library for the entire year.

Do I seem upset about his? I was, until I decided that I’d be taking the disk with me to college to continue my interest in programming. So, no, being banned from the library wasn’t the answer to anything.


There is SOMETHING in this image that I am not giving. What could it be?

Let’s think about this picture some more, now that you have some additional information and perspective about it. I’ll post it here as well, for your convenience.

insert pondering noises here

Let’s see. A bunch of bad shit happened, and yet I am smiling. I appear to be relaxed and content.

Do you give up? Fear not, for the answer will be revealed.


WISE ADVICE
When I choose to associate with someone, my hope is that they are more intelligent than I am. If they are, then I will give their words more weight.

The thing about friends who are good for me is that they will be around for a while. They might disappear, but they will eventually re-appear. Then we pick up where we left off.

One friend, who I know is reading this, encouraged me to get back on Facebook for social practice. I was having my usual doubts, fears, concerns, worries, and so on, about the whole thing. I stressed so much that I wrote three entires about it on here, which have since been deleted because they no longer reflect my attitude about any of it.

Not too long after doing this, I found one of those old friends whom I had not seen in a very long time. It’s one of those things where we met once at an event and the rest of it was online. There is nothing wrong with this. The friend who encouraged me to get back on Facebook is someone whom I have never met in-person. Maybe someday. And he doesn’t use Facebook, either.

That friend had some sage advice for me. It was very simple advice, too. Very easy to understand.

After I heard the advice, I was going through pictures, when I found the photo that is featured in this entry. With that advice fresh in my head, I saw it in the photograph immediately.

Try not giving a fuck!

WHAT IT MEANS TO ME
What, exactly, does “not giving a fuck” mean, anyway? It starts with not caring about what others have to say, especially if they are negative and inconsequential in my life.

It means not caring about judgment or scorn that others might have.

It means not caring what the exes have to say. They had their chances to speak.

It means not lamenting the past, for it is all long gone. Nothing to get hung about, as John Lennon would say.

It means having my solid boundaries in place and trusting that they will protect me, so long as I actually respect them. I should respect them, since I created them.

It means moving about with unwavering confidence, so that people like the ones in the past who exploited my friendliness and generosity won’t view me as an easy target. Good thing, because I’m not an easy target anymore.

It means not sweating about the future.


STOIC ADVICE
Long ago, the Stoic philosophers suggested that there are two types of events in our lives. Those are the things we cannot control, and the things that we can control.

This hints at another aspect of my big problem, which was that I was sweating like a hooker on Nickel Night when it came to the things that I cannot control. Why? When it comes to things that I cannot control, it is essential to my mental health, emotional health, and survival that I not give a fuck. Not one.

Now, when it comes to the things that I can control, that’s where I care. I will brush my teeth, tend to other hygiene rituals, and do what is generally good and healthy in order to sustain my health. I will take care of myself.

But will I adopt the problems of someone else? In the past, I was very keen on being a helpful person. Indeed, I will refrain from adopting the problems of others. For those close friends, I will lend an ear, and speak if they ask me. However, for the average person who has contributed relatively little to my life, I will not break my back, or even a fingernail toward their plight.

This is MY time. I have to take care of myself. Nobody else will do it.


A MESSAGE TO MY ENEMIES
One of the things that used to scare me about social networking was all of the people who turned their backs on me, or turned against me. This happened between late 2013 and mid-2014, when I was being taken for a ride by a “friend” who told me that she had cancer.

While I was giving my all to her imaginary treatments, which was not real, another Narcissistic “friend” decided that he would poison the well by telling everyone on my friends list that I was in on the scam [at this point, I had no idea that I was being scammed], so that I could buy her [the cancer scammer] a plane ticket and give her a “red carpet tour of Hollywood.”

Basically, what he suggested was that I was scamming people for the cost of a plane ticket, which was under $300. He told all of these “friends” that I was a loser, I didn’t have a job, I didn’t work, that I was sponging off my girlfriend, and other nonsense.

And you know what? All of them believed his story. Funny how they demonized me and called me an idiot for believing someone I’d known for three years, who BEGGED FOR HER LIFE as she cried and asked for help, when they swallowed the shit that he fed them without even so much as a blink or whisper.

None of them talked to me about it. These “friends” didn’t realize that I had a combined household income of approximately $125,000 per year. None of them realized that, at this point in my life, I’d had my job for two years.

No.

Instead of talking with their friend [me] and asking me about it, they chose to believe a complete stranger who had a big motive for telling this lie. He demonized me so that there would be no public outcry when he ripped me off, keeping my investment in the recording studio that we built together, and also keeping all of my personal music gear.

He got away with over $10,000 worth of my life’s efforts, and everyone was okay with it. Not ONCE did they question his motives.

And to be clear, the worst part was that they believed a complete stranger over me, their supposed “friend.”


IN THE END
Remembering how to not care is as easy as riding a bicycle. What it took was for a friend to take this VERY obvious and simple advice, and rub my nose in it ever so slightly. It was in my face and in my heart the entire time, and I couldn’t see it for all of my worry, concern, and cheap hooker sweat.

I have spent years worrying. Literally, years! What is clear to me now is that even one moment of worry is one moment too much. There is no reason or practical use for it!

I worried about the past and the future. Not anymore.

I worried about what people might say or think. Not anymore.

I worried about those people out there who hate my guts. Not anymore. And to put a fine point on it, what they or anyone else thinks about me is none of my business.

I worried about people misunderstand me, as is often the case. Not anymore.

I worried about rumors being spread that would cause people to hate me. Anyone who knows and cares about me will be able to instantly spot the bullshit. Worst case, if they are a true friend, then they will ask me about something and take my word over that of a stranger.

It feels invigorating to have my confidence back, and to not give a fuck. It feels like a very heavy weight was lifted off my shoulders. After spending years holding it on my shoulders, my arms now swing with mighty strength that was built up from the years I spent carrying that burden.

I will not go back into that shithole.

At this time, I would like to thank my friend [AA] who encouraged me to get back on Facebook, even though he does not use it himself. I would also like to thank my friend [Syn] for reminding me of this sage advice that I had long forgotten about.

These two friends cleared a fog that was nearly impossible to see through.

Additionally, I would like to thank the handful of friends on Facebook who actually took the time to interact with me via comments, chat, and even phone calls! All of you helped crack the door open so that it could be swung off the hinges.

Finally, I’ll close this out with a message for those who were once friends, but who chose to believe a stranger over their own “friend.” You know what that makes you.

You chose to believe the words of a complete stranger, without question. For this, you are banished to the outskirts of my domain.

Owning Media

I’m 56 years old, and anyone my age can relate to the frustrration I felt whenever I would re-purchase music. There are some albums that I owned on 8-track [yes, I had an 8-track player in my car in 1981], then on vinyl, then on cassette tape, and then on CD. In some cases, I would buy them yet again as an MP3 download, should the media have worn out.

To me, it sounded like a very expensive proposition to keep up with the latest formats. But it was also essential to keep up in many cases. I do own some vinyl albums, but do not currently have a record player. It can be expensive to keep various players in-house and maintained, not to mention the space they take up.

But for as much money as I seem to think that I “wasted” on this upkeep, I look at what the kids are doing today and consider myself fortunate to have lived in a relatively inexpensive time of transition.

You can’t get your MP3s autographed, kids.

They pay something like $10 per month to just RENT music. And in some cases, it’s nothing more than background for them. Now, if they want to spend the money on this, then more power to them. It harms the music business greatly, which is just one of the problems that I have with this.

I cannot imaging spending $120 on music, where at the end of the year, I own NONE of it. As a kid, if I spent $120, then I had roughly one dozen records that I could listen to again and again.

Maybe I have Autistic listening habits. I’m certain that I do, because I can listen to the same album over and over again. For me, variety doesn’t matter so much as my mood.

But I digress.


SOME ONLINE PURCHASES AND THEIR FATE
I remember buying music on iTunes, and being unhappy with the DRM, which is a form of copy protection on the files.

Knowing how DRM works, it got me wondering what happens to my music that I purchased on iTunes if the DRM verification servers go down.

The answer is that the files become useless. I do recall someone from Apple saying that online media purchases are basically rentals, but I cannot find that source as I write this.

So I stopped purchasing things in iTunes and would go to the record store. As the record stores began to fade, I would find myself purchasing audio files that were DRM-free and downloadable.

Digital properties that cannot be downloaded are another problem. More on that later.


THE NETFLIX DILEMMA
I do have Netflix, and think that I get my $13.99 per month value out of it. Most of what I watch are things that I will never watch again.

During my time working on social networking websites, I would often times have to work at night. So I would pull up Netflix on the flat screen and put on “The Big Lebowski” while I spent two hours testing a fresly-uploaded iteration of the website.

One night, as I prepared for work, I realized that Lebowski was no longer on Netflix! This made my work evening feel a bit drab, so I went out and bought two copies. One to use and one as a backup.

During this time, Lebowski would return for a little while on Netflix, before disappearing.

Netflix is too unreliable when it comes to films that I love, so I always purchase hard copies of those.


WHEN A SERVICE GOES AWAY
In the early months of the pandemic, I was splitting my focus on entertainment between my existing collection, going to the movie rental store, and purchasing or renting online.

Renting online is more expensive than going to the movie store. The up-side is there is nothing to return. I’m okay with renting online sometimes.

This title [a rental] is so obscure that it’s very difficult to find on IMDB, and likely not available for rent online anywhere. This may be for the best. Trust me. But I love movies like this, especially at a rental store, and I cannot explain why.

My collection is somewhat limited, although I do have copies of some movies that I have yet to watch.

I only recently watched Inception, and have yet to watch Avatar. I bought these titles, as well as others, as an impulse buy at a closing Blockbuster in LA, for $1 each.

I also have some Criterion Collection releases, such as the Blu-Ray of Eraserhead. These releases typically have high-quality artwork, as well as detailed booklets, photos, commentary tracks, and more.

The video store is the best for me, as they have both rentals AND used releases that are available for purchase. And the store owner, Terry, is always willing to find and acquire those really crappy horror movies for me. They’re totally niche and difficult to find in the wild.

VIDEO STORE = COMMUNITY
I used to go to a video store in Santa Monica, California in the late 80s called 20/20 Video. They also did film developing. They had a girl working there named Magdalena. She was 22 years old and had 18 siblings, yet NO TV show. She would always have movie posters waiting for me. They were either extras or were outdated and supposed to be thrown out.

I’d also go to another in town called VIDIOTS. They had a great collection of films. I rented Eraserhead there, and asked the person working there where I could buy a copy. He said that David Lynch had put a moratorium on releasing the film for purchase.

December 2019: Me and Tibo Bat, helping Mr. Video promote his latest releases on Facebook.

At the time, I owned a LASER DISK of Eraserhead, as a motivator to one day buy the equipment. It became outdated by the time I was half-way there.

The guy at the store rented me the movie, but also let me take a VCP, or Video Cassette Player, so that I could make myself a bootlet copy. I kept that bootleg VHS copy that I made, and watched it until I found out that Criterion Collection had released it on Blu-Ray.

Finally, legit!

My latest video store is Mr. Video. It’s a great place and worth the drive. I don’t go there as much as I used to, since funds are tighter than ever. But I still show support however I can, whenever I can. They appreciate their customers and it shows in how they run and maintain their facility.


A RUDE AWAKENING
When I moved from California to Oregon in late May 2019, I was excited to get things going. My girlfriend had gone ahead of me and found a place, so I was bringing the moving truck.

One of her jobs was to get the cable installed, so that we would have internet access when I got there. I haven’t had actual cable television in about 15 years, but internet has always been a necessity for me.

She was having trouble with this. Seems the order was being placed, but then nothing was happening. I didn’t believe it, until I went through her same headache on three different occasions.

I got these VHS tapes at a local second-hand store for 25 cents each. They don’t look too shabby on the 55″ curved screen television, either.

The problem was that our brand-new building had faulty cable installed! The rental management company was slow to act, even when I told them that I was losing great work-from-home opportunities that were costing me $300 per day. They didn’t care. Fortunately, I wasn’t really working, but that’s what I would have lost, based on past performoance.

By the time I had internet access, two months had gone by! No Netflix, no YouTube, no Google Play. NOTHING!

This meant that I had to rely heavily on my physical collection and Mr. Video.


CLOUD STORAGE
This makes me VERY hesitant to rely on cloud storage for ALL of my media. I don’t want my music collection on a server. I want it here, right now, accessible by me at any time, without the need for internet access, a subscription, or any other fees or hub-bub.

Hub-bub. I am officially old, just for using that phrase.

The new Samsung phones do not accomodate an SD card for memory expansion, which is why I will not be upgrading. As I write this, I am considering stand-alone options for music, including making my own with Raspberry Pi. We shall see.


YET ANOTHER RUDE AWAKENING
The unreliable nature of The Big Lebowski on Netflix is one thing. Shoddy construction and sub-standard cable is another.

My latest rude awakening is a combination of TWO things.

The first is the death of Google Play. My television still has the Google Play app on it. I had purchased many things on Google Play, including the first four seasons of Rick & Morty, as well as some other television shows and movies. It’s not a huge investment, but enough to get me thinking.

The app feels abandoned. What will happen if those services shut down? Will I get a refund? No. All of these purchases are not really purchases, but are actually rentals.

This first part of my double-platinum rude awakening rides piggy-back style on a story that I read recently about how Terraria’s Stadia Port is Canceled after the main developer got ghosted by Google.

What happened was his Google account got shut down for no apparent reason. This killed his access to ALL GOOGLE PRODUCTS, including Gmail, YouTube, and whatever Google Play is called now.

Essentially, he had all of his eggs in one Google basket, and the basket just got crushed for no reason at all. He still cannot figure out why.

For everything I have on Google Play, as well as how much I rely on YouTube and Gmail, it got me thinking how precarious my own online access is right now.

And the scary thing is that I don’t have to do ANYTHING wrong at all. All it takes is one mistake on their part, or a false flag put forth by a social engineer who hates me, and my life is over.

Should I spend any more money on Google?

I think not.

And this goes for other services like VUDU, where I have purchased a few movies. What happens when their website and service goes away? I lose everything that I purchased, for it’s not really a purchase and is merely a rental. This is the case for EVERYTHING that you cannot download!


HOW DID WE GET HERE?
My guess is that we ended up here because our society has no respect for masterful artwork. I have written in the past about how music has been devalued. The same is true for most movies.

I’m old enough to remember when purchasing a VHS tape was the only option to get a movie at home, and these would cost as much as $100! Not many people were buying at the time, so I suppose that made sense.

Now, we live in an opposite world where there are too many options out there, so everyone has to go cheap. It doesn’t help matters that American Capitalism is broken and corrupt, but that’s another entry for another day.

In this photo, I am holding a triple-release Blu-Ray featuring three masterpieces by Stanlely Kubrick.

I found this in a bargain bin at Walmart for $9.99. Three complete classics — masterpieces for the ages — and this is how little they are valued by society.

Good for me, with regard to price. However, I think that society is paying a far larger price by devaluing movies, music, and other art forms.

Society’s shame is my gain, I suppose.


MY GENERAL RULE
The general rule is that you do NOT own it if it is not in your hands or on your local drive.

This guides my new online media philosophy, where anything I cannot download and keep for myself MUST be treated like a rental.


COUNTER-ARGUMENT: THE JERRY MAGUIRE VIDEO STORE
In early 2017, a company called Everything Is Terrible had an art display in Los Angeles. It was a Jerry Maguire video store.

January 25, 2017: Me, in Los Angeles, at the Jerry Maguire Video Store, where they had over 14,000 copies of Jerry Maguire.

You could not rent anything in the store. While I was there, I did see 14 copies of Jerry Maguire arrive in the store, in varying levels of condition.

Their presentation housed everything Jerry Maguire, as well as over 14,000 copies of the movie.

Why would they do this? They had spent years collecting these donated movies. After the video store, they planned on building a pyramid of this collection, to stand as a monument to “American consumption.”

Everything Is Terrible.

Ironically, I purchased a few items they were selling, including a Jerry Maguire t-shirt.

The Jerry Maguire Video Store rental card looks just like the old Blockbuster cards. I still have mine in my wallet, from 12/31/1999.

I get their point, which harkens back to my purchase of used VHS tapes at the second-hand store for 25 cents.

People buy movies, watch them a few times, and then don’t watch them anymore. What this means is that the physical production of products is generating a great deal of waste on the planet, and something must be done about it.

I do agree with them on this point. Does that make me a hypocrite? Since I don’t throw away movies or take them to the second-hand store, I don’t think so. All the same, if I died tomorrow, one might safely bet that most of my stuff will end up in the dump.

My Jerry Maguire t-shirt, from Everything Is Terrible and their Jerry Maguire Video Store.

As I am writing this, I am thinking back to the Kubrick triple-release set for $9.99. As low as the price might be, this move could be nothing more than a cash grab from Walmart. I would be okay with getting rid of things like this.

I would gladly pay $40 if there were a Criterion Collection style release of just one of these movies. Doing this would reduce waste, and lower the likelihood that the release will end up in a landfill.

I am also just now remembering that I have TWO copies of Jerry Maguire. One is a physical DVD, and the other is on Google Play. So far as I am concerned, I have only one, for the Google Play purchase is nothing more than an over-priced rental that will one day just disappear without fanfare or explanation.

Basically, the Google Play purchase is money wasted.

IN THE END
If I can have a hard copy for the shelf, then that’s great. But if I can only get a download of it, then that’s fine too. My main problem is online purchases that are actually over-priced rentals.

The only way that I can appropriately end this entry is with a video tour of the long-gone Jerry Maguire Video Store. This is my video, taken with my phone, and my narration.

The environment is important. So is not getting ripped off. My approach to this is simple.

With movies, I buy the ones that I know I want to keep, and rent the ones that I’m curious about. Buying used is also an option. With music, I will buy used CDs or purchase DRM-free downloads online.

Is there anything that I missed? Please do let me know your thoughts on music and movies, as it applies to online purchases that cannot be downloaded.

I wonder if they have any copies of Jerry Maguire available LOL.

Life, Time, and Other Illusions

Life is an illusion caused by death.

To understand this concept, first you must work to imagine a world where everyone and everything has always been and always will be. It’s a world where people never die.

Would anyone talk about being alive? Would anyone even be concerned with that illusion? I’d think that most people would not even give that consideration at all.

Effectively, the concept of life, or of being alive, would not exist.


Money is a mutually-agreed-upon delusion. This mutual agreement must exist on a massive scale in order for it to work.

The only reason a dollar is worth a dollar is that everyone agrees that it is worth that. Imagine the chaos if the grocery store did not agree, and instead held the belief that your dollar was worth only 25 cents.

Yes, the value of the dollar fluctuates, and this fluctuation is typically based on human feelings. That’s not a reliable scaffold upon which to place much of anything.

Imagine two people, trapped in a pandemic, with no way to get out. There is a government collapse, and the dollar becomes worthless.

One person has $100,000, and another has enough food to last for about one month. Which one will survive longer?

The value of money is not within the money itself, but rather can be found in the items one would purchase with this money.

The person with the $100,000 can offer that money in exchange for the other person’s food. But in this situation, it will not happen.


A photon is a tiny particle that comprises waves of electromagnetic radiation. Light photons are created by sources of energy in the sun.

These photons bounce around, trying to find their way out. On top of the constant bouncing around, they also have to contend with the extreme gravitational pull of the sun.

The gravity of the sun is strong enough to bend time. This is why the core of the sun is 39,000 years younger than the outer area. By comparison, the core of the Earth is about 3.5 years younger than the outer crust.

The light photon eventually escapes the gravity of the sun after roughly 100,000 years.

Once the photon has taken flight, at the speed of light, it can travel for up to 25 quadrillion years before it finally dies.

But the most interesting thing of all is that photons do not experience time. This means that, so far as the photon is concerned, the 100,000 years spent escaping the sun and the 25 quadrillion years it spends traveling all happens at once. Instantly.


I do not exist.

The thing that I call “me” is a construct in the brain. This construct is built when others observe “me.” Their observation is based on limited exposure, and this observation is contorted by their own personal bias.

They deliver this observation back to “me,” and the biases and other contortions that exist in this brain twist their twisted perception even further.

This manufactured mess becomes my self-perception. This becomes “me.”

As a being acquires life experience, this self-perception is fed a steady diet of bullshit from other beings.


Finally, what if all of our problems magically went away? What would happen? It may seem like a crazy notion to suspect that all of our problems could be solved.

Americans throw away enough food to feed the world every year. America has enough money and resources to solve poverty, and yet it is encouraged. America has the money to pay workers a dignified adult living wage, but they do not.

Why not?

American Capitalism [Crony Capitalism] relies heavily on people being afraid and desperate, to the point that they will take anything for work, with minimal pay. This helps the wealthy become even more wealthy. See the above segment about money.

Our health care system and insurance systems rely heavily on YOU getting sick. They need for you to be sick, and often, if they expect to turn big profits.

Our legal system relies on you to break the law, however big or small. Best case, you get a speeding ticket at the end of the month, even though you were not speeding. Worst case, you are arrested and thrown into a for-profit prison, where you are used as slave labor, as is supported in Amendment XIII of the United States Constitution.

Indeed, Capitalism forces everyone to do horrific things, sometimes to each other. So many problems could be solved, but they will not be solved because it simply is not profitable.

But what would happen if someone was able to solve all of our problems? The video below reveals the most likely outcome.

What would happen if all of your problems were solved, and things like “broken” and “death” were no longer an issue?

Thank you to everyone who reads and comments. I really appreciate it.

The Purpose of Music

Me, 18 months old, drumming on a trash can after spending time sitting behind the drummer of my uncle’s band, The Sounder [Summer 1966]

For so long back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a musician. My uncle was a musician, as were other members of my family. The distinction was that they were doing it for personal reasons, but I wanted to work my way into the music industry.

Some family members were encouraging. My mother told me that I could “major in drums in college,” which was her way of encouraging me to get a higher education.

My grandparents were the most polarizing. My grandfather told me that music was “nice and all, but how will you earn a living?” Meanwhile, my grandmother talked with me about music, encouraging me to focus on drums and bass, listening to records with me, and giving me advice. She even let me use her bass rig when I joined a punk band in college.

Those who were against me taking on this pursuit didn’t have any solid reasons why striving to get into the music business was a bad idea. From what I could tell, it was a case of their mindset regarding doing things the way your parents did, because that’s the way things are done.

An appeal to tradition did nothing to sway me.

But it was in my blood. For first grade show-and-tell, I went up to the board, picked up the teachers pointer, and pointed to the map above the chalk board. I said, “This is Hollywood, California. When I grow up, I’m going to move there and play drums. I’ll be a musician.”

Everyone laughed at me at the end of my presentation, including the teacher. They all believed it to be the dumbest thing anyone could want to do.

That was in 1971. In 1986, I finally made the move to California, spending six months in Bakersfield with some family who had just moved there, before I ventured into LA.

During my time in LA, I would encounter horrible people, such as a producer who got in my face and yelled at me, after listening to my demo. “I don’t care if your name is Ludwig von Fucking Beethoven! Hollywood doesn’t need you! Now get the fuck out of my mansion!”

I remember that guy more than most others, because that was my very first interaction in the Los Angeles / Hollywood area.

I would press on, pursuing my dream, for 33 years. And while I have been in Oregon for almost two years, I still have the itch to make music. Right now, I’m just waiting for the pandemic to come to an end so that I can get out again and at least meet other musicians for an open jam, if nothing else.

WHO FAILED?
Although I got in some interesting bands and made some decent music, I never made it in the industry. In fact, the most money I ever made in music was during my second year of college with my punk band. Everything after that was breaking even, if I was lucky.

1984: Playing in a rotting basement and actually getting paid for it.

For a long time, I was really rough on myself for being a failure. In America, we are taught the lie of “rugged individualism,” in tandem with another lie known as “success based on merit.” The idea is that you are 100% responsible for your own success and failure, and if you don’t get somewhere, then you are lacking in merit.”

Of course, this is NOT how American Capitalism works at all. Being good at something does not mean that you will find success in a career. Additionally, doing a great job does not mean that you will get a raise or a promotion.

At the same time, lacking in talent does not mean that you can’t get somewhere. There are people in the “music industry” right now who cannot play an instrument or write out sheet music. They have producers doing everything for them, and then they take all of the credit.

So much of “success” in the music industry depends heavily upon who you know, where you are, timing, and other attributes that can all be distilled and filed under the label of “luck.”

When I was just a kid, I had no idea how corrupt the music business was. My ex-guitar teacher, Zoot Horn Rollo, had a handful of big albums, and had done several world tours. He realized that he had achieved these things while he was standing in line to get food stamps, and hoping that his mom’s check was in the mail so that he could make rent.

He’s in the Rolling Stone list of Top 100 Guitarists of All Time, and I probably made more money in the music business than him, not counting his teaching gig.

And then there were bands, like Badfinger, who got ripped off so bad that lives were literally lost.

Badfinger got royally screwed by the music industry. Unfortunately, their horror story is not all that unique.

Musicians had eventually become the lower-run ditch diggers of the industry. They became the least important and lowest paid.

Recently, Alex Van Halen talked about how, in the old days you would get a dollar every time you sold a record. Today, you get 50 cents for 275,000 streams. You can read about that here.

Yes, it is possible to have a viral hit song and earn almost nothing for it.

The music business, once a shameful scam, has officially died. What you are witnessing now is the maggots feasting upon the puss-filled remains of the corpse.

And in every business, the consumers play a big role in how things happen. Most people have NO respect for music or musicians. Yes, they might be fans. But they will also say really dumb things, like, “Music should be free because it doesn’t really cost anything to make. I mean, you just hit RECORD on the deck, play the music, and that’s it.”

My response to that would be to show them the $70,000 worth of bills, for what it cost to record an 8-song CD, with full production, mixing, glass mastering, art production, product production and distribution.

Guess how much money we made on that? Nothing.

People will then declare that, “It must not be very good if you didn’t make any money.” This is a highly false belief. William Hung has a GOLD RECORD. This is not the case for many musicians I know, many of whom I believe to be better than most in the industry.

William Hung is a gold record selling artist. Let that sink in.

This fact alone speaks volumes about not only the industry, but the fans as well.


In summary, the music industry is dead and the commercial music fans are shitty. So why play music? Why do I continue to be a musician.

After the show [4th of July 2005]: A sweet woman named Megan wanted to hang out, have drinks, and have her picture taken with me after the show. She was quite the flirt. Photo taken by her boyfriend. Huzzah.

A big part of it is selfish, in that playing music is something that I find fulfilling. Beyond that, it helps me regulate certain things, such as OCD stimming. It’s my only true social outlet; the only way I meet new people. Everyone I meet or have met is due to my being a musician and performing.

When I’m playing music, I’m having a great time, and so are the people in the venue.

It becomes a situation where some great memories can be built.

Megan’s boyfriend. He bought the first three rounds.

Music is therapeutic.

Music build community.

Music creates opportunity.

Music can wash away a bad day, or make a good day even better.

Music fuels creativity for everyone.

The list goes on.

The last thing anyone needs to talk about with regard to music is money. Sure, people like to get paid for their work. In the music industry, you don’t get paid. Certainly, I’d appreciate it if I could break even.

At some venues in Los Angeles, you have to PAY them to play the show.

After the show, 1999: A photo with a few fans after my band SECRET opened for INSECTO CIRCUS at Goldfingers in Hollywood.

So if you want to play at The Whisky on The Sunset Strip, management will set up a 25-minute set for you, for the “low price” of about $600. Then they give you about $1,000 worth of tickets, which you have to sell. Anything you make beyond the $600 that you are repaying to yourself is all yours.

Good luck selling those tickets to a population of people who are constantly being asked to buy tickets or being given flyers by 20 bands per day, every day, for decades on end. You will encounter a great deal of rejection, generally speaking. Few bands can consistently sell big ticket numbers.

However, a good number of people will show up if they were going to the venue anyway and you happen to be there. Over time, having people there was more important than making a profit. Breaking even became my eventual goal.

Circa 2006: Fans on MySpace who lived too far away to attend a show would send their love and support over the wire. I miss Gwen AND MySpace.

A RUDE AWAKENING
I went fishing one weekend with some people, and we went out on the lake on his boat.

While out, we saw this professional fisherman. He was standing on the deck of his boat, doing his thing. It looked like a ton of work. The big thing I noticed is that he did not appear to be happy at all. It was as if his job required him to be there, which was literally the case.

After witnessing this, my brain and mouth worked on their own and said something that surprised me. “Damn, looks like he ruined something that he loved by making it his job.”

Whoa.

Circa 2007: With singer/band owner Johnny of WARNER DRIVE, after playing a show together at The Gig in Hollywood. Johnny often invited me to go out with him for late-night show promoting on the streets of Hollywood. We did this more than a few times and it helped me greatly. He is a fantastic musician, as well as one of my unsigned inspirations.

I would have loved to make music performance my job, my career, my profession. While I lamented that I never made it that far, my own statement gave me a new perspective. It’s a good thing when I educate myself.

In my educated opinion, based on decades of experience, it didn’t matter that I didn’t make it in the music industry. The music industry has been dying ever since Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” took it temporarily off life support.

The response to this could be the idea that there are people in the music business right now making big money. Well, some are making big money. Typically it’s producers or anyone who holds the publishing rights to songs. And as I write this, big-name musicians are selling of their publishing rights for cash payments because they can’t tour, can’t make money, and are desperate. The K-shaped economy continues to claim its victims, but I digress.

KJ was more than a fan. After I’d get off work at MySpace, she would call me and read to me while I was stuck in traffic for 90 minutes getting home. The book was “Juliette” by Marquis de Sade.

MY EVALUATION
The way I see it, our economy has been rigged for close to 50 years, and it has been getting progressively worse as time passes. We are now in the throes of End-Stage Capitalism, which will not end well for the majority of people on the planet.

The American way of measuring success with money is faulty, flawed, and immoral. This measure is not an accident, and serves to SHAME people into working more so that they can make more money, so they can fit in socially or appear to have some kind of value.

Sarah was not only a fan, but also gave me one of my cats [Rascal] 14 years ago. I still let her know how he’s doing.

Human beings have value, and this is NOT tied to their work, or ability to work. I know too many disabled people who cannot work, and they feel like they are worthless; a burden upon society. This is morally wrong, and needs to stop.

But it won’t stop because it’s too profitable.

I could go deeper into the tangent that is the broken, corrupt, and gamed American Capitalism system, but I’ve already said enough. It’s shit. Done.

After drumming for Noodle Muffin, with Noodle Muffin go-go dancer, LisaD! We had our work cut out for us.

When I can get work, I work my ass off. My life has been a series of jobs that I work. All along the way, I would always have a band to play gigs, or I’d play at an open mic. If I felt really lazy, I’d go out for Karaoke with my chiropractor.

If I didn’t have music in my life, then my story would be nothing more than a series of jobs where I worked, got paid less than I was worth, and was then let go when I was of no further use to those who got wealthy off my efforts.

What a pathetic life THAT would have been!

Instead, I have stories. I’ve met people. I’ve done things. I’ve been in bands with people I admire. The last one was a little band called “The Wrong Dots,” fronted by Robbie Rist, best known as “Cousin Oliver” on The Brady Bunch.

I could rattle on and keep sharing pictures, but maybe I’ll share more another time. I don’t know how to end this one, so I’m going to do so by sharing a video of me performing with Robbie and the band, playing a cover of a fun little song about cannibalism, written by the “Pina Colada” guy himself, Rupert Holmes.

Timothy, by The Buoys, performed by The Wrong Dots [2013].

The Marilyn Manson Mess

Today’s entry is a complex story that includes discussion of a very serious topic, as well as some personal anecdotes. I will do my best to provide as much detail as possible.

In this entry, I will give you my history with the subject and my thoughts on the issue at-hand.

Because this subject is a “hot topic,” if you read anything that causes you any concern or stress, then please write to me in a comment and ask for clarification. Please be civil! I do not tolerate attacks on my blog, and all substantial threats will be reported to authorities. Thank you for reading.


MUSIC IN GENERAL
When I reflect upon my life, with regard to the music that surrounded me, there were changes. Some were abrupt and industry driven, while others were subtle and sometimes surprising.

The hippie rock and 60s psychedelia gave way to 70s pop rock. The 80s exploded with some incredible pop rock, like Journey, as well as some deeper metal from the likes of Iron Maiden and Queensryche. Of course, there were also the staples of the day like Van Halen and Pink Floyd.

By the time I made it to Los Angeles to pursue my music career in the mid-80s, things had changed drastically. Hair metal was all the rage. This new trend hurt my chances to make it in the industry in ways that I could not have foreseen. Imagine not getting the gig because your hair isn’t long or lush enough, or you otherwise don’t have the look.

Welcome to my world.

The hair metal crap wore thin, and got replaced aggressively in the 90s with Grunge.


ENTER MARILYN MANSON
Between these two genres, another artist emerged in 1989 by the name of Marilyn Manson.

At the time, he had everything that spoke to me as a frustrated musician. His music had a very heavy sound, and his image was what I considered to be “theatrical,” much in the way of Alice Cooper. I saw Alice Cooper suffer the fate of a guillotine on stage.

To me, all of this was theatrics.


My son, listening to Marilyn Manson for the first time.

My son was born in 1995. His first word was “Daddy.” His second word was “Mommy.” And his third [and first compound name] was Marilyn Manson. He couldn’t say “Marilyn” very well, so it sounded like “Merrily.”

My son grew up with the music I liked.

In 1999, we were at the Del Taco in Hollywood [which no longer exists], sitting at a booth eating lunch. My son is 4 years old.

He stands up and says that he’ll be back. We watch him as he walked toward a booth in the corner. It was a guy in a rattan-style cowboy hat with sunglasses and no shirt on.

My son walks back and says, “That’s Marilyn Manson over there.”

Sure enough, it was. We said hello, and he seemed cool with the interaction. I never press it when I encounter people who have fame. I acknowledge them, sometimes thank them, and move on. I’m not one for parasocial relationships.


On Christmas of 1999, Marilyn Manson posted a video to his website. In this video, he spoke about how stupid his fans were for liking his work. This could be taken as an insult to his fans, or maybe it was a moment where he lacked confidence and expressed it in a narcissistic way. Who knows.

The video was up for only two hours. After that, it was replaced by a type of “coming soon” page that linked fans to other websites, such as Rotten dot com or Betty Bowers. I’m still a BB fan to this day.


This high-quality banner will out-live me.

In 2004, Marilyn Manson released a CD titled, “Lest We Forget: The Best Of. The CD release party for this album was held at a venue called The Gig in Hollywood. My band, WHIPLADS, was asked to open up for the event, since the booking agent for the venue knew that I was a fan.

They had a radio station contest, where they asked fans trivia questions. Each question you got right landed you one of Manson’s CDs. There were a TON of goth kids there, and I trounced them all. This was because all of the questions were based on his book, “The Long Hard Road Out of Hell,” co-written with Neil Strauss. I had read the book about 10 times.

At this point in my life, I owned TWO copies of everything Marilyn Manson had created.

The venue had these REALLY NICE banners hanging as well. My drum tech/girlfriend asked the promo manager for one, and he snuck one to her, asking her to “keep it quiet.”


My girlfriend and I had gone to a handful of concerts, and the ones from the earlier days were rather incredible. What surprised us the most was the fans, who were quiet and most diverse.

At most metal concerts, everyone dresses in all-black. This was not the case.

There was this one kid, he was probably 15, and he was wearing a Dolly Parton concert t-shirt. My girlfriend complimented him on his shirt and asked him about that concert. They talked about Dolly Parton for a few minutes before going their separate ways.

This experience would never have happened when I was young. But that’s the thing about Manson, was that his music and personality were sometimes contrarian for the sake of being such.

In other words, anything goes.


A SHARP DECLINE
Things start to go downhill rather quickly, with regard to my appreciation for Marilyn Manson’s work. Specifically, it was his ability to perform at concerts.

One of two tickets, plus $20 for premium parking.

This concert was on August 28, 2007, and was dubbed The Rape of the World Tour. In this tour, Slayer opened for Manson. Tickets were expensive for the time, and I spent an extra $20 for premium parking, which ended up being the most valuable thing of the night.

I bought the t-shirt before all hell broke loose.

The Slayer fans were rowdy, to the point that it was unruly. As soon as Slayer’s set was over, they kept chanting, “Slayer! Slayer! Slayer!”

This carried on, and continued after Manson took the stage. They wouldn’t stop yelling over the music. They were also lighting toilet paper rolls on fire and throwing them in the air, creating fire arcs that appeared to be dangerous.

About five songs in, Manson says, “Fuck it!” He throws down the mic and leaves the stage. That’s it.

We ran for it to the premium parking area, which also afforded us fast and easy access to the main road out of there.

I attributed this mess to Slayer fans, and vowed to never see Slayer again.


THE END FOR ME
The last time we saw Marilyn Manson in concert was June 6, 2013 at the Gibson Amphitheater at Universal Studios, Hollywood. This was a convenient 0.9 mile walk, which was super cool.

At this show, Manson was opening for none other than Alice Cooper, so we were really looking forward to this show.

Marilyn Manson performing at Gibson Amphitheater, Universal Studios Hollywood [June 6, 2013].

Manson was the opening act. He appeared to be sluggish, which was not typical. He was forgetting a TON of lyrics and slurring the few that he could muster up.

It was basically the kind of train wreck that inspires sympathetic embarrassment. This is not a sensation that I would ever pay to have, and yet there we were.

The evening was saved by Alice Cooper, who handed Manson’s ass to him on a silver platter. Every note, every spot, every lyric. BAM!!! This is what I strive for as a musician, and it’s what I expect as a paying fan.

After the concert, my girlfriend and I had a difficult discussion about it and made a decision.

We would never pay to see Marilyn Manson in concert again.


Of course, this lead to me not wanting to listen to his music so much. All of this was right before I got taken by the cancer scammer, which started in late 2013. After this, my music listening changed completely anyway, so it was going to happen no matter what.

I would buy a few more albums after that, but they whole experience was lackluster to me. I filed them away and moved on.

I would go back and start listening to his music again last year, which brought me some fond memories of my son, my old band, my times in Hollywood, and more. Listening to his old tracks was like riding a time machine for me. It’s why I’ve had posters, CDs, books, and other memorabilia around.

Got my lunch box and I’m armed real well…

CONTROVERY OF THE 2020s
Manson was no stranger to controversy. I found it highly unfair that the media blamed him for the Columbine shootings, when he wasn’t there and didn’t encourage it in any way.

He defended himself in a way where he sounded rather intelligent. I do believe that he is intelligent, which holds no bearing on whether or not someone is a decent person. But in the end, so far as the Columbine accusations were concerned, he was correct.

This time, it’s a completely different thing. It’s not a case of emotionally scarred parents who are looking for a scapegoat to blame for their own failings as parents.

Now, it’s a case of various types of abuse committed against the women who were in his life.

I absolutely abhor the Feminist slogan, “Listen and Believe,” because many humans lie, and it is a fool’s errand to automatically believe what anyone says based on their gender, color, or other immutable attributes. Being white doesn’t make me honest, and being male doesn’t make me a monster.

A slogan I would support whole-heartedly would be, “Listen and Take Seriously,” because I’ve known too many women who have had their claims dismissed by police or other actors of authority.

The pendulum swings far and cuts deep.

To be really clear about it, abuse allegations have been levied against Manson by Evan Rachel Wood. His former friend, Trent Reznor, has spoken out against him, as has former guitarist Wes Borland. This is a HIGHLY serious situation that must not be taken lightly.


February 5, 2021: Me, in my office. There are three other MM posters that are not visible in this picture. I took this photo to show how serious of a fan I am, so that my words can have the proper context.

ARE ACCUSATIONS ENOUGH?
Typically, I like the idea of “innocent until proven guilty,” because people can lie. The media can hype or sensationalize. There are a variety of reasons why this is a proper mode of functionality in modern society.

Usually, socially “cancelling” someone does feel like The Salem Witch Trials, which ended up being caused by two women who hated each other and were competitive with one another. So many innocent people died!

However, the problem I’m running into, as a person who has been a fan since 1989, is that I have read his book way too many times. I can recall some of the horrible stories, most of which have taken on a different, more dark tone since the allegations have surfaced, with former associates speaking out.


A SYNOPSIS
“The Long Hard Road Out of Hell” is a story told in an autobiographical fashion, which tells the story of Brian Hugh Warner. The book starts with him at a very young age.

His grandfather, Jack Warner, was an old pervert who did some rather horrific sexual things in the basement of the house. A young Brian sneaks down into the basement and catches his grandfather with some sex toys and questionable photographs.

The way it is written, you are standing on the wooden basement steps with him, hoping that you don’t shift your weight and make the wood creek, which gets you caught.

A show flyer that was hand-made by Marilyn Manson himself, from his early days.

He talks of his fascination with journalism, as well as music. In a printed article, he talks about his band and how great they are. The problems at the time were that he didn’t have a band and wasn’t really a musician. This prompted him to form the band and get things going.

He forms “Marilyn Manson & The Spooky Kids” in Florida, where they find a great deal of initial success. He eventually drops the last 66% of the name, effectively making it all about himself. I cannot help but wonder if there is not some type of narcissism at work. But I am not a therapist and cannot diagnose people.

The book takes some dark turns. Some of these turns give him the appearance of someone who cares, like when his bass player overdoses on drugs. He goes to this man’s hospital bed on Christmas Eve and fires him from the band, because the rock star lifestyle is clearly something that will kill him.

Huggy Bear [Starsky and Hutch] Action Figure, 1976

Manson is all about the rock star lifestyle, but with his own bizarre modifications. He even had some malformed “Huggy Bear” action figure [he calls it a “doll”], wherein he would hide drugs. He claimed that you can lick the doll in parts, like where a leg was ripped off and get drugs. So when he was going to get high, he would call it, “Dancing with the one-legged pimp.”

Personally, I find this to be highly unsanitary, as well as a very inefficient way to store, maintain, and access said drugs. I’m sure other social problems can be found with this entire situation.

But other stories, like the one that has come to light that includes Trent Reznor, seemed way too sensational for me to believe it. Reznor has denounced Manson and regrets ever knowing him.

So far as I was concerned, the book was a combination of interesting facts that were sometimes boring, such as his dad being a manager of a Levitz furniture store. There were other stories, like trying to get thrown out of his religious high school, only to find out that he could never get kicked out because his parents paid too much money to the school to keep him there.

Other times, it was outrageous stories, some of which were almost too insane to be true. I would think that, certainly, if they were true, then someone would have had him arrested, or he would have been killed by someone who didn’t like it.

I wrote it all off as theatrical image building.

Now I’m starting to question that call.


SEPARATING THE ART FROM THE ARTIST
This is something that can be difficult to do.

For example, I am able to do this with Captain Beefheart, even though he had done some rather horrible things. According to Bill Harkleroad’s [Zoot Horn Rollo] book, “Lunar Notes,” it seems that the Captain himself, Don Van Vliet, actually GROOMED the band members who performed on his classic 1969 album, “Trout Mask Replica.”

Circa 2006: My office at MySpace.

This grooming started when the kids were about 15 years old. They had a school rock band called “Blues in a Bottle.” He would allow these kids to come up to the house and party with him. Bill would take a bunch of joints that he hid in his socks, and others would ply them with drugs.

When they turned 18-19 years old, he contacted them to be his new band members. Long story short, he moved them into a house, where they were kept on a very strict and dangerous low-calorie diet. It was so bad that they shoplifted food and got caught. Frank Zappa bailed them out of jail.

They didn’t have anywhere to sleep, and would just lay on the hardwood floors near their amplifiers and instruments.

They were basically tortured for nine months, and the result of it all was an amazing album.

Maybe you’re not a Captain Beefheart fan. I do know lots of people who are Michael Jackson fans. The hard truth about Michael Jackson is that all of his talent was caused, and is a direct result, by abuse that was enacted upon him by his own father, Joe Jackson.

It seems that many people have the ability to enjoy Michael Jackson’s music and performances, in spite of the fact that he was dancing and singing because he was FORCED to do it by his father. And his father profited heavily from it all.

You don’t hear many people talking about that.

I suppose it’s slightly different, but one would have to think about whether or not they want to support and encourage a situation where a parent abuses a child and uses them for profit.

My apologies, and best of luck listening to Michael Jackson with that image stuck in your head.

In the big picture, if I wanted to listen EXCLUSIVELY to artists who were perfect, then I would not be listening to anyone. Human beings are flawed. Sometimes they fuck up. Other times they are down-right dirty.

For me, the difference between Captian Beefheart and Marilyn Manson comes down to time. The Captain Beefheart abuse was in the late 60s, through the 70s, ending in the 80s. Meanwhile, Manson’s abuse is in the news right now. There are fresh wounds, for his alleged victims, his former friends, and those who listened to his work, like me.


TOO META: My desk right now, as I am writing this.

WHERE I AM WITH THIS TODAY
As noted earlier, I stopped supporting Manson on June 6, 2013, after his abysmal performance in LA, because it seemed that he didn’t care one bit about any of it, so I had to wonder why I would care.

Since then, I think that I’ve purchased a few more of his new releases. But I do not own any of his latest releases, and will not be purchasing the 20th anniversary Tarot cards. His newer music did not give me the same sensation as before, and I was left with a lackluster feeling about all of it.

As you can see with the photos, and in my stories, I had been a fan for a very long time. Not a rabid fan who would blindly defend someone. It might be more accurate to say that I had a high level of appreciation for his creations.

Up until now, the Marilyn Manson memorabilia that I have was linked to special memories.

These memories include the times that I spent with my son, my girlfriend, my time as a musician in Los Angeles / Hollywood, and more.

There were also difficult times in my life where I would turn to music to help generate a desired mood. When I needed to get pumped up, Manson was my go-to.

The fortunate thing for me is that I do not idolize him, or anyone else. I do not place people upon a pedestal, for it only leads to disappointment. I view all people as flawed humans who should be given the benefit of the doubt.

The trouble arises when the benefit of the doubt can no longer be given.


Digital albums and tracks on my phone.

IN THE END
I do not know if Marilyn Manson is guilty of the horrific abuse allegations that have been leveled against him. I have seen similar situations where it turned out that the allegations were false. However, I am not so confident that this will be the case for him.

In fact, I suspect it to be likely that he is indeed guilty. I would like to leave that determination up to a judge, and I think we all should take the allegations seriously.

There was a time when his music and art accurately captured how I felt inside, as an Autistic person. Often times, I felt like a nobody; someone who was cast away by society. I viewed Manson as an outcast and related heavily with holding that position in society.

But now I’m having some very familiar negative feelings about this. It reminds me of when Bill Cosby was facing allegations. As the numbers and likelihood of guilt grew, I found that I could no longer listen to my favorite album of his, “Wonderfulness.” I bought it at a yard sale for a nickel when I was a child.

That got taken away from me, not by the accusers, but by Bill Cosby himself. He was the one who did what he did, thereby fucking things up. Somehow, I can still listen to Deep Purple, a band he discovered and signed to his record label Tetragrammaton in the late 1960s. The idea of punishing them for what he did makes no sense.

But all of these paths lead to one big, muddy cesspool that is Marilyn Manson and the decisions that he may have made, which could very well spell the end of his career.

Maybe he will end up being convicted, or maybe he will be exonerated. Only time and a court of law will tell the story.

I would be remiss to not acknowledge his alleged victims in all of this. It sounds to me like they have very serious stories to tell. Should it come to light that these stories are true, then Manson should face the consequences in a court of law.

For me, his alleged victims do not appear dubious, or have underlying motives for saying any of this. I can only help but think of Amber Heard and how she waited until the day after Johnny Depp’s mother died to go after him. I do not believe her story, and I think she’s a horrible and desperate person. They both have problems.

But Manson’s accusers are a completely different story to me. As someone who has suffered domestic violence, I understand certain things when I see them. Her initial attempt to be vague about it is one key point that has stuck with me.

I could go on and on with analysis, but I have already written more than enough to read here.

Today, I will be boxing up ALL of my Marilyn Manson CDs, posters, shirts, and other memorabilia. Destroying it is pointless and destructive, so it will go into the garage, where it will sit.

Maybe one day, long after all of this has been dealt with, I might be able to open the box. Should that be the case, at that point I know that I will be living with the personal memories that I have attached to his music.

Right now, I can’t even listen to one note.

I don’t expect any musician whose work I like to be perfect. Additionally, I’m not one to jump on a bandwagon to go after someone. I do feel some anger toward Marilyn Manson for it all.

I mean, he got that big break in the music business that I had always wanted. And what did he do? He squandered it away, slowly but surely. It started with contempt for his fans in 1999, went to his lack of care for his performances in 2013, and ultimately to where we are now.

He created some great music, but that does not excuse his behavior. In fact, I think it is irrelevant. But, at least for me, it is too soon to attempt to separate the art from the artist, and I don’t know when I will be able to do this.

I still cannot laugh at Bill Cosby routines, which is foreboding. My nickel investment in Bill Cosby, as well as the time I spent listening to him as a child [Fat Albert] is nothing compared to the time and money I had spent on listening to Manson and supporting his efforts.

If he were acquitted, then I would be able to wade back into it all. With regard to the music, it would feel like home over time. However, that home is currently on fire, and I cannot bring myself to get close to it.

Abuse harms those who are abused. At the same time, it causes harm to others. Ultimately, it harms society. It makes me sick to my stomach.

Today, I will be packing up all of my Marilyn Manson things and putting them away, maybe for another day. This feels like the right thing to do. Throwing it all in the trash right now seems like an emotional decision, and I don’t like making those, at least not in a destructive sense.

The whole situation is truly heart-breaking, and I am certain that there are lots of other MM fans out there who have similar feelings. Sure, there will be those who get aggressive in defense of him. But really, they can step off, because that’s just crazy.

I can neither defend nor condemn him at this point. But if I had to choose a side, then I really don’t have enough within me to provide a defense. The best I can do is to say that I want for it all to bear out in a court of law.

And there have been way too many weirdos out there who had condemned Manson in the past for superficial things, or for silly religious reasons. The weird thing is that I don’t hear any of those people speaking up about him now, when it has been alleged that he has done something horrible. These are horrible people who are very self-righteous and holier-than-thou, and they are still the same.

Maybe someday I will be able to listen again. For now, I have lots of other things that I can listen to that are not attached to any harm or suffering of others.

Damn it all.

Maybe we will meet again one day, or maybe this is the end.

Mohair: My Hollywood Songwriting Challenge

As a photograph it was fine, but I never liked this as an album cover. But she paid for it.

PROLOGUE
In late 1996, I met a singer / dancer named Ruby Cassidy. The day after we met, we started working on writing songs for our 8-song album, The Mystic Dancer. [SoundCloud]

The album was produced by Jimmy Hunter, and we recorded at his studio [CAZADOR] in Hollywood, California. Jimmy is known for his drumming, music production, writing, keyboards, vocals, and more. He’s a truly talented person.

Ruby and Jimmy, in a press release in Music Connection. [March 31, 1997]

The recording and production process was a great experience. This project was the first to be recorded on his new ProTools set-up, as Jimmy worked to convert his studio to this format from 2″ 24-track tape in late 1996 and early 1997.

We even had some great studio musicians come in, including Steve Caton of Tori Amos on lead guitar, and the late Bobby Birch of Elton John on bass.

Every situation has its moments, especially for Autistic adults. Overall, it was good. But there was one problem with the entire situation, and that problem was that Ruby was a shady player. I stayed in denial about this for a long time, and even tried to befriend her again, which was a big mistake.

Ruby got the master tape from Jimmy and then told him off. She would later do the same to me. Basically, we were both used and dumped. At least Jimmy got paid and I had a professional reel of my work.


THE SONGWRITING CHALLENGE
After we were unceremoniously dumped by Ruby, I continued to help Jimmy around the studio for a while.

One day, things were just kinda blah. It was a bummer of a day, and I cannot remember why.

We were sitting in his Control Room, where most of the work happens. While I could mention anything else in the room, there was one thing that became the focal point of this challenge.

Jimmy had a calendar on the wall. This calendar featured very tasteful photographs of female models. The model for that particular month was wearing almost nothing, and was covered up with a mohair sweater, while holding a cigar.

Remember that image.

I can’t remember what it was that Jimmy said, but I felt the need to bring some positivity to the room. It wasn’t like him to NOT be positive, so this may very well have prompted me.

Below is our discussion:

ME: It’s getting better.

JIMMY [points at calendar]: She’s getting better.

ME: I like her sweater.

JIMMY: Mohair! Mohair!

As Jimmy is pointing his finger at the woman in the calendar, he turns his hand to point his finger at me, as he declares, “Songwriting challenge! Make that a song! Do it! I bet you can’t.”

The way I took it, the challenge would mean that I’d have to write the song, record the song, and release the song. Challenge accepted!


SONGWRITING BEGINS
We ended our day on a positive note.

As I drove home, the conversation stuck in my mind. I didn’t even have to write it down. I was humming and singing in the car without even thinking about it.

When I got home, I went upstairs to my humble home studio and sang a few things into the 4-track before going to bed.

The next day, I went up and started working on the song.

Two hours later, I had something.


DRAFTS AND FIRST USAGE
The song would go through a few drafts over the first six weeks. Eventually, I showed the third draft to a playwright named Angus “Mac” MacDonald.

Cover of a playbill for the 2005 performance of “In The Chips.”

Mac and I had a history of about 10 years at that point. I had helped him in 1987 with a live production of his musical, “The Golden Fleece.” After that, he and I sat down one night and wrote a musical called “In The Chips,” which tells the story of a woman finding her professional way in a man’s world, within a man’s world, as a computer programmer in the Military Industrial Complex.

Mac heard the song and asked me if he could use it in the musical. At this point, all I had was demo-grade recordings that I had made at home. All the same, he said that he could work with them.

As I type this in 2021, my understanding is that “In The Chips” is still being re-worked in various live productions in small theaters in Los Angeles


ENTER NOODLE MUFFIN
In the early 2000s, I joined a band by the name of Noodle Muffin. I originally signed on as the drummer, but have since played both drums and bass live [and guitar for an encore performance]. In recording, I have played drums, bass, guitar, keyboard, banjo, and other instruments.

Noodle Muffin promo photo.
Operation Regime Change

I had joined the band just in time for the start of their promotion campaign for their album, “Magnum Dopus.” After that, we recorded TWO political albums, one for each term held by George W. Bush.

The music was fun, and the lyrics were overall very cool. However, I knew in the back of my mind that using politics as a scaffold for music would mean that it would end up being dated.

Long Live the Spin

Don’t get me wrong! I am proud of my work on these albums, and I still listen to a few of the songs, but I would guess that most people are not interested in listening to songs about George W. Bush today.

By the end of the second album, I was more than eager to move into recording something that was apolitical in nature. So imagine my excitement when we started working on a new album.

Rehearsal of “Christian Taliban” for a live performance [with backing tracks], possibly my favorite song from those two albums.

A nice daily reminder of achievement.

KARMIC BITCHSLAP
Karmic Bitchslap was a huge relief for me, because it was my third album with the band, and my first where the songwriting was not constrained to one topic.

We had a major recording session in a house in Port Hueneme, California. While we were there, recording tracks, it suddenly hit me.

I can submit “Mohair” to be a track on this album!

So I brought it up with the primary owners of the project, DJ G2S and Major Noize. After playing the song for them, Major Noize said, “Damn, that’s awesome. Are you sure you want this on the album? It’s your ace in the hole. Are you sure?”

Calling my song “my ace in the hole” was a high compliment. The three of us agreed, and we began working on the song that night.

I tracked the drums, then the bass, then a few guitar passes before adding vocals. DJ G2S added some keyboards, backing vocals, and a new section with a lead vocal, which he performed himself.

We considered a guitar solo, but quickly ditched that in favor of a keyboard break.

The DJ G2S vocal performances are powerful on the SuperVerse, with a falsetto on the build-up to that. The part that DJ G2S wrote and sang over is something I call a SuperVerse. It’s like a verse, but pumped up. It’s also a term that I made up, as it is difficult to describe this song using standard music terminology.

My vocals are about as goofy as possible, so that nobody mistakes this song for anything serious. The way I pronounce the words almost makes the words unimportant. I sound like I had dental surgery, with my tongue stuck to the bottom of my mouth with peanut butter.


“Don’t bore us… get to the chorus!” –Dave Grohl

A HIGHLY UNIQUE SONG STRUCTURE
Most songs follow a very clear and almost-required format that looks something like this: Intro / Verse / Chorus / Verse / Chorus / Solo / Bridge / Chorus / End Fade.

In most cases, it is the CHORUS that holds the most power. It has the hook, and the repetitive lyrics that draw people in. The Chorus is what sells the song, and in most cases it determines whether or not the song will be a hit.

Mohair has a different structure: Intro / Verse / Intro Riff Repeat / Verse / Bridge / Guitar Riff Break / Keyboard Break / Build to SuperVerse / SuperVerse / Bridge / Main Riff / Fade Ending

The thing that is missing is the CHORUS! The most important part of a song is nowhere to be found.

Some could argue that my verse is actually a chorus, but then there would be no verse!

THE RELEASE OF “KARMIC BITCHSLAP”
The band had used Google Wave to collaborate on the album art, the production of which was headed up by DJ Brontosaurus.

Every single detail of the album was handled in a meticulous and professional manner.

When I got my copies, I tore the shrink wrap off one of them and opened it up to take a look. It was absolutely beautiful.

I put the CD in my player and continued looking at the jewel case artwork.

Then I flipped the jewel case over to look at the back. There was my song, Mohair, at the track 10 slot on the album.

TIME SPENT ON THE SONG
I wrote the first draft in 1997 and worked up to a third draft by that point.

The song was released on the album in 2011.

Overall, it took me 14 years to give the song a proper release.

JIMMY, IF YOU ARE READING THIS
I suspect that Jimmy challenged me to do the song because he wanted me to record the song in his studio. The song was probably ready to go by the third draft, and I’m sure that Jimmy would have worked with me on the first draft to create something special.

The biggest problem for me, when it came down to this unspoken idea, was that I was flat broke. My son was born in April of 1995 and I was financially struggling to take care of him. My son never did without, but I had to do without, and that included not spending my own money in a recording studio. Not that I had enough in the first place.

Had I been able to record the song with Jimmy, I am certain that it would have turned out to be a significantly different song. It definitely would have been a great song, all the same.

And when I started working with Noodle Muffin, they called the shots on how and where to record. They had [and still have] their own recording facility and equipment, and they get incredible results. Hats off to Ira Ingber, who mixed and mastered the album.

So although I could not afford to record this song in Jimmy’s studio, I enthusiastically accepted his songwriting challenge and made it happen!


IN THE END
I don’t know if you thought that I’d write about the song without sharing the song so that you could hear it. That would be cruel and almost pointless.

With all that, I present to you… a song that represents my passion for music and my appreciation for a solid song challenge. I give to you: Mohair

Mohair
Written by DrumWild and DJ G2S
Recorded and released by Noodle Muffin

LYRICS:
WOOOOOOOO!
She’s getting better
She’s getting better
I like her sweater
Mohair! Mohair!
[repeat]

[break]

WOOOOOOO!
She’s getting better
She’s getting better
I like her sweater
Mohair! Mohair!
[repeat]

And I want it
When I see you there
And you flaunt it
And I wanna stare
And I want it
Want it right down there

[Break]

I really dig you [I really dig you]
I really dig you [I really dig you]
I really dig you in the mohair sweater [in the mohair sweater]
I really dig you in the mohair sweater [I really dig you.. WOOOOO!]

I really dig the way you look in leather
With a mohair sweater [Mohair! Mohair!]
[repeat]

And I want it
When I see you there
And you flaunt it
And I wanna stare
And I want it
Want it right down there

She’s getting better
I like her sweater [Mohair! Mohair!]
She’s getting better
I like her… sweater

I really dig the way you look in leather
With a mohair sweater [Mohair! Mohair!]
[repeat/fade]

Finally, Rejection

Tibo Bat loves to sit at his desk, where he passes judgement on all who stand before him.

I have been told that Autism can serve as a magnifier for pain, be it physical, mental, or emotional. For that reason, I am including a picture of my Main Coon, Tibo Bat. He tends to fix many things with his fluffiness.

A SOURCE OF PSYCHOLOGICAL PAIN
Looking for work is one of those things that has gotten more difficult for me. I would typically do better if I could walk into a business and talk to an owner or manager.

I did this back when the “HELP WANTED” signs in the window were the most popular way to advertise for local talent.

But now, everyone applies for work online. So I go through the applications, and fill out all of the info that already exists on my resume AND my Indeed profile. I take their aptitude tests and score well. At the end, I submit it all.

Then, nothing.

I will write a follow-up email, when there is a way to do that.

Still, nothing.

Over the past five years, I have only gotten 3 or 4 rejection emails. Last night, I got a rejection phone call, which went to voice mail, as I was resting after a crazy day of chores.

The place where I applied was a cannabis dispensary that will be opening in the next several weeks. In Oregon, the state has legalized both medical marijuana, as well as recreational. It is very similar to California, with some exceptions that aren’t really big enough to get into, and are not relevant to my point.

FIRST INTERVIEW
We had the first interview via Zoom. I felt rather confident going into this interview, even though I have no experience as a worker in this field. I do have a solid product knowledge, which might be something that is dangerous to admit online. But I don’t care at this point, because there are way too many other things getting in the way of my ability to get a job.

The lady who interviewed me was very easy to talk with, which is a rare experience for someone like me. At the end of the call, she told me that they were in the process of first interviews over the weekend, and that they would be calling people starting Monday to set up second interviews.

In the end, I felt as if the interview went very well.

THE CALL-BACK
I’d had a long day cleaning house and going to the store. If I had to pick, I’d rather clean house because the store is way too crazy for me.

Exhausted, I decided to take a nap around 3:30pm. About an hour later, the lady from the dispensary called back and left a message.

“Hello, it’s xxx from xxx. I’m calling to let you know that we have decided to move forward with other candidates at this time. However, our shop is several weeks away from opening, so we will call you should another opportunity arise.”

The first half of that message is informative. The second half is false hope. I’d like to be wrong about that, but I have yet to be wrong in that particular call.

“Damn, I’m not even good enough to sell weed.” Yes, that statement is rather reductive, as there is a great deal more to the job. Still, I felt this and could not shake it.

WHAT WORKS AGAINST ME
I am certain that my Autism works against me. I do not recall being too candid, but that does not mean that I wasn’t overly-honest. I did my best to answer questions, to not be too dry, and to be personable, so therein lies a great deal of room to mess up.

I am over 50, which works against me. Being white and male, no doubt, also puts me in a less desirable place.

It feels like this is a game where you get three strikes and you’re out, and I’m walking up to the plate with no bat and FIVE strikes on board.

Rarely does anyone bother to pitch to me.

A SILVER LINING
The silver lining in it all is that I actually got rejection. It is rare when I DO NOT have the sensation that my job applications are just being shipped off into the ether, to never see human eyes. I have no doubts that HR Artificial Intelligence software is playing a role in this.

Unfortunately, I do not know how to game the algorithm.

IN THE END
My second evaluation confirmed my intelligence, so that’s not a problem. I think that most of my problems have stemmed from a combination of being Autistic [High-Functioning Autism] and NOT knowing it for the majority of my life.

I did not get my formal diagnosis until just three years ago, when I was 53 years old. They say that early detection is key, and I missed that boat by about a HALF CENTURY.

Yes, I am more than a little upset by it. My entire life has passed me by, and only recently have I learned what was causing the problem. Adding insult to injury is the fact that there is no cure for what ails me, like I’m damned to suffer my own existence until I die. And American society wants to make damned sure that I end up dead, since I’m a burden on society and others.

Who knows what will happen, but I must say that I have not been enjoying the majority of this journey, and society could not be more cold and uncaring about it.

JackiO: LA’s Best Supergroup [Music]

In May of 2019, I was in the process of moving from Los Angeles, California to a tiny podunk town in Nowhere, Oregon. It was a time for me that was both exciting and sad. I was very excited about moving to a new state, but sad to leave Los Angeles behind, for a huge number of reasons.

The reasons why I had to go were bigger in areas that could not be denied, so changing my mind and staying was not an option. Still, I could not just up and leave without doing something really cool and memorable.

No, I didn’t go to the beach, or to tourist traps like Disneyland. For me, it had to be bigger, better, and music-related.

So I went to Ireland’s 32, a small bar in the San Fernando Valley, to catch yet another performance by a “Supergroup” known as JackiO.

With JackiO [L-R]: Me, Steve Bartek, John Avila, and Ira Ingber. Not pictured: David Raven [drummer].

WHAT IS A “SUPERGROUP?”
A supergroup is a band comprised of top-notch musicians who have carved out a huge name for themselves via the reputation they’ve gained with their music in recording and performance. These players typically come from other bands and get together to form a new band that takes music to a new level.

David Raven has been a studio drummer since the early 80s and has played on thousands of recordings. Steve Bartek and John Avila have both been involved with Oingo Boingo for decades, among other things.

Ira Ingber has been a performing and recording artist, as well as a producer. He has been producing and mastering a band that I have been involved with named Noodle Muffin for a really long time, and has been a solid friend of the band. Ira has also worked with artists like Bob Dylan in a capacity of great significance.

JackiO on the stage at Ireland’s 32

You can learn more about the band and the individual band members on their official website [link opens in new tab].

WHAT MAKES JACKIO GREAT?
I have seen a lot of bands in Los Angeles, from 1986 to 2019. In experiencing LA bands, both as an audience member and a band member, I have acquired a taste for what is good and what is bad, regardless of genre.

In this band you have four A-List, top shelf musicians who understand concepts like playing for the song, or making the rest of the band sound better. While other bands might deliver the appearance of individual musicians struggling for the spotlight on the stage, JackiO presents as a cohesive entity where each band member works to lift the entire thing off the ground.

JackiO, from the Steve Bartek angle.

They go sky high.

Their musicianship and presence is welcoming, open, and inspires participation. Experiencing them perform at a place like Ireland’s 32 is rewarding for anyone who makes the effort to show up. The venue has a specific atmosphere that can work well enough on its own, and JackiO takes that and expands it about five miles in every direction.

The band members are also very approachable and personable, as people go. I had known Ira for years, so any chance I could get to say hello and have a brief conversation was something I would cherish.

David and John, holding it down and then some.

But during my final visit, I got there early enough that the band had not yet set up. Steve Bartek showed up, and actually sat at my table. I talked with him a bit about guitar, and the conversation was friendly. I refrained from geeking out and talking about gear, so I still want to know more about his Matchless amplifier.

This was a big deal for me, as I had been listening to Mr. Bartek’s music since 1981, when Only A Lad was released. Any time I get the chance to talk with a musician whom I’ve admired, I am grateful when they take the time and are cool about it.

WHY JACKIO IS THE BEST
To put it simply, it’s a band with solid musicians, fantastic musicianship, cohesive sound, impeccable performances, outstanding arrangements, and more. With all of that, they bring an environment or aura to the venue that is second-to-none.

John and Ira, tearing it up!

IN THE END
Anyone who has been reading my blog knows that I can rattle on forever about a topic. Today, I want the music to speak for itself.

Below, at the end of this blog entry, is a video that I shot of JackiO back in August 2017. This was during their first set, when they dedicated Me and My Monkey to Noodle Muffin. I was so excited by this, that I didn’t even pull my phone out to record it until the first verse had already passed. And it takes a lot to affect me like that.

However, this clips is VERY worth watching, because each of the performers gets to take their own solo within the context of the song. It’s a beautiful thing to watch and hear a band of this caliber perform live.

If you use Facebook, then I recommend looking them up. And if you’re in LA, I’d recommend checking them out live. Tell Ira that “DrumWild from Noodle Muffin sent me,” and he will know.

ONE FINAL THING
Before I left, Ira told me, “You better come back to LA and visit!” I swear to Odin, should we all survive this mess, I will be returning to LA. I will be seeing JackiO perform again. Hell, I might even ask to sit in for a song on the drums.

I will return, Ira, and you’ll know it when it happens. Thank you for the open invitation!

“Me and My Monkey” by The Beatles, performed by JackiO, and dedicated to Noodle Muffin.
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