Thinking about firsts…

It’s the end of something. This is the last day of 2016.

I’m looking back for a bit, while focusing on the future.

I’m thinking about some firsts.

1. The first time I stepped foot in Oregon.
We had driven a 2 car VW caravan from Washington, MO. Heading for Corvallis. Hoping she would be accepted into grad school at Oregon State. I had no plans.

There are some stories there, but here’s what happened the first time I ever touched terra firma in the Beaver state.

The first sounds I heard: “Stop!! You can’t do that…”

All I was trying to do was pump gas. I’d been doing it for years. It was illegal in Orygun that Sept ’76 day. It still is. (I got a gas station story from NJ…the other state that bans self pumped gasoline.)

2. The first time I got “throw up drunk.”
It was homemade wine. It was in Monett. I could take you to within 100 yards of my first ever technicolor yawn. I remember lots of that night, before and after the puking.

3. The first…and only time…my ex saw me throw up drunk.
I could take you to the toilet in the house where I wretched and she laughed. I drove by that house at 402 Center street in Farmington 2 days ago.

4. The first time I was at the Rock House.
I’ve written about that before. It’s in the archives somewhere.

5. The first time I heard Bob Walkenhorst and Jeff Porter of the Rainmakers at The Rock House.
Ditto. It’s in the archives.

6. The first time I had sex with the woman I love.
What happened in A-306, stays there.

7. The first time I heard one of my life mottos.
It was Oct. 2, 2002. I was in an oceanfront room in Virginia Beach. There was one guest on Letterman. After the show a friend and I had an online chat about that night.
The motto: “enjoy every sandwich”. My version: “enjoy every bite of ever sandwich.”

The entire quote from Warren Zevon: “You put more value on every minute, you do. I always thought I kind of did that. I really always enjoyed myself. But it’s more valuable now. You’re reminded to enjoy every sandwich and every minute of playing with the guys, and being with the kids and–”

Sounds like a plan.
Thinking about other firsts too. More than just these 7. Some behind me. Some ahead. Looking forward to a kick ass year in 2017.

Be. Just BE.

Instant Karma

Thirty-six years ago today I didn’t hear the news. It wasn’t until a little after 10 the next morning. I can take you to within 10 feet of where I was when I heard…heading to the Student Union via the bookstore entrance in Corvallis, Orygun.

I don’t remember the guy’s name who came up to me and asked “what do you think?” I had no idea WTF he was asking me about?!? We’d had a group project together once, but never hung out. He knew how much music I listened to and was surprised that I didn’t know that John Lennon was dead.

I assume I heard the name Mark David Chapman later that day. I don’t remember the first time I heard it. I wish I never had.
I can only Imagine how NYC would be different in 2016, if some nutjob hadn’t had a gun.

This is NOT about the 2nd amendment. That’s for another day. (BTW…“well regulated” are the 2nd and 3rd words.)

This is about what might have been. There is this: Double Fantasy was released less than a month before John was gunned down. Maybe he woulda never written another dozen great songs, or even one more great song. Maybe he woulda lived 30 more years and Double Fantasy would be the last album he would ever release. He coulda holed up forever in The Dakota and dried up musically. I’m doubting it.

We’ll never know….but I’m betting that millions of us would be singing along to great songs he woulda written after 12/8/80.

But instead of killing himself, a religious fanatic with a Charter Arms .38-caliber pistol killed a Beatle…the first person on a lengthy hit list. Reportedly he also wanted to kill David Bowie, Johnny Carson, Jackie O, Walter Cronkite and Liz Taylor….and others.

Chapman was one angry Presbyterian!!!
John Lennon is still shining on….like the moon, and the stars and the sun.

Surely someone will play this song 44 hours from now at Springfield, MO’s 31st Imagine Concert. It’ll be my first time at the traditional event…really. My first-ever Imagine Concert…12/10/16. It’s gonna be killer.

“Instant Karma’s gonna get you
Gonna knock you right on the head
You better get yourself together
Pretty soon you’re gonna be dead
What in the world you thinking of
Laughing in the face of love
What on earth you tryin’ to do…”

I’ve never liked the sound of “instant Karma” more in my life.

Don’t give up….Don’t ever give up!!

Last night was the Jimmy V Classic. It’s an annual doubleheader of college basketball played in Madison Square Garden every year since 1995. ESPN organizes the event each year to raise money and awareness for cancer research.

But this is NOT about basketball. Last night I watched maybe 10 minutes of basketball.

But I did watch “The Speech” last night. They broadcast it every year between games. I listen to some songs over and over. Speeches are different. Jim Valvano’s speech at the initial ESPY Awards in 1993 is one of the few speeches that I have watched and listened to repeatedly. I watched it again this morning.

Brief background: Valvano was a basketball coach and is well known for his 1983 NC State team winning the national title against long odds. (I’ve got a dozy of a story about that tournament. Some day….)

When he received the inaugural Arthur Ashe Courage and Humanitarian Award at the 1983 ESPYs, he made this memorable speech and also announced the creation of The V Foundation for Cancer Research.

He died 8 weeks later.

There are several unfogettable moments in the speech.

There is the story of his Vince Lombardi speech to the first team he ever coached. I literally laugh out loud every time I hear this story.

There are his comments when the teleprompter starts flashing that he has thirty seconds left: “They got that screen up there flashing 30 seconds, like I care about that screen. I got tumors all over my body and I’m worried about some guy in the back going 30 seconds. Hey va fa napoli, buddy.” I have no idea what the last sentence means….and I don’t care.

There is the motto of the V Foundation: “Don’t give up…don’t ever give up.”

And there are these words to live by: “To me, there are three things we all should do every day. We should do this every day of our lives. Number one is laugh. You should laugh every day. Number two is think. You should spend some time in thought. And number three is, you should have your emotions moved to tears, could be happiness or joy. But think about it. If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that’s a full day. That’s a heck of a day. You do that seven days a week, you’re going to have something special.”

If you’ve never watched the speech: do it. If you have: watch it again.

It’s something special.

My life is Bountiful

I’m not sure when I started doing it. I think it was after Shelly and I moved in together in 2013, but it might have been before then.

I read (or more accurately “skim”) the local paper most mornings in the lobby. I will sometimes send Shelly a text of her horoscope, and sometimes I will include mine. I don’t give much credence to them…or to weather forecasts either…but sometimes I find the former interesting.

Today mine read: “It’s one of those days when you find it easy to appreciate your bountiful life.”

My life is indeed bountiful. I have lots of things to be thankful for.  Where to start? Here’s a list. Not prioritized. Some are “little.” Some aren’t. It’s not an exhaustive list. It’s just a list. A short list. I could go on and on, but I won’t now…
As I write this I have a tray of beets roasting in the oven. Sweet.

A bit ago I talked to my 90 year old dad. Almost every day I call him and we have a walk-n-talk. I walk. Tissel talks. I rack up steps and he and I reminisce, or catch up, or tell tales. Some day I won’t be able to make that call.

Tomorrow I will harvest my last crops of the season when I pick brussel sprouts. That will wrap up the 2016 gardening season. I started harvesting lettuce back in early April. Fresh veggies from the garden for 8 months is a nice bounty.

A year ago I hadn’t been out of the hospital very long, after blood clots in my lungs put me in the hospital for only the third time in my life. That experience makes you think. And appreciate the little things; and the things that aren’t or that aren’t little.

I have more friends today than I did a year ago. Not just acquaintances. Friends.

I live with someone who loves me. I love her. We make a good team. We’re different in lots of ways. Mostly we’re on the same page, especially when it comes to what matters. We like to be together. We like to be alone. We like to be alone together.

Shelly doesn’t complain about my caterwauling, whether it be in the apartment or the car. She doesn’t complain when I play the same cut over and over and over. And sing along each and every time. (Sometimes she has had more than enough of Bob Dylan or Neil Young though….)

Most recently a number of songs by Amos Lee have been on repeat. This one helps me appreciate my bountiful life.

It’s an Anniversary

A year ago I posted my initial blog entry. I wrote that the elapsed time between starting the introductory piece and posting it was about 11 months. This was on top of a few years of internal dialogue about “putting myself out there.”

I was prolific for awhile, posting 10 musings in the month of December, 2015. In January there were 7 and 5 more in February. Then I pretty much went silent….at least when it comes to my blog. Only 8 items in the next 10 months.

I’m not sure why I stopped writing. It was probably two reasons:

  1. The crazy politics of 2016.
  2. The fact that nobody reads what I write, i.e. looking at the stats was more than a tad bit depressing.

Looking back, I shouldn’t have let the fact that I might piss off a few people I’ve known for a long time, or a few relatives, been a factor. (See #2 above….they most likely wouldn’t have read it anyway.)

If they really know me, they know that I’m a LIBERAL, especially from a social perspective, and I’m proud of it. I’m still waiting for someone to provide evidence of any advancement of the human condition for which conservatives can claim credit. I can provide a LONG list of advancements thanks to liberals…but I won’t do it here and now.

Regarding the fact that nobody reads my blog, my response is to tweak the lyrics of a great song (Dog) from a great band (Bottle Rockets):

I love this blog

It’s my blog

If you don’t read or like this blog

That’s okay

This isn’t about you

It’s my blog


I’ve never been a big fan of resolutions, but when it comes to this blog I do resolve:

  1. To post more regularly
  2. That most posts (not all) will have a lyric component
  3. That some posts will be overtly political.a. This assumes that the flimflam fascist who will take the oath of office as POTUS does not shut down the Internetb. That my political posts will be fact based, unlike the Lies that spew from the Drumpf on a constant basis.
  4. That I’ll ignore the stats of the blog. I’m writing this for me. If you happen to read something you like, it would be nice to know. If you don’t like it or don’t agree with me, that’s OK too.

RE #4, as usual singer-songwriters say it better than I ever could. These lyrics from 44 years ago have been some of my favorites for a long time:

“But it’s all right now, i learned my lesson well.

You see, ya can’t please everyone, so ya got to please yourself…”

First day of Winter 2016: Let there be music

The first evening of winter (meteorologically speaking….a story for another day) was pretty special this Dec. 1, 2016: the Bottle Rockets at Lindberg’s…a Great band at the oldest tavern in Springfield. Several friends in attendance to share the evening with made it an even more special night.

Marshall Crenshaw was there too, but the evening belonged to a band that has been together for over 23 years.

Sadly, I only discovered them within the last year. Man, have I been missing out….Bigly!! And if you’re someone who only listened to the band in it’s early days, you are missing out too. Their recent releases are excellent.

Their albums from the 90’s are pretty awesome stuff. If you’ve never heard “Wave that flag” you need to do it now….seriously. Whether you know the song or not, you owe it to yourself to read this piece about the song.

This is truly an AWESOME song:

The title cut from the 2006 album “Zoysia” makes me feel the way that this guy did when he wrote a note and left it on the band’s ride after Thursday night’s show:

I’ve been back to MO for over 5 years, never expecting to live in the midwest again. Here in Springfield, MO in “the buckle of the bible belt” the first four lines of “Zoysia” accurately describes a lot of these United States:

“In my neck of the woods, the town where I live
It’s out in the sticks and conservative.
Got lots of churches, we’ve got lots of bars
And the kids round here, they fight our wars.”

Overall the song is optimistic…especially in 2016! Listen to it. Then listen to it again.


Bottle Rockets most recent album (“South Broadway Athletic Club”) was released in 2015. Seriously good stuff. I don’t know if I can pick a favorite song from the 11, but I do have a favorite lyric from the album. The winning song is simply titled “Dog.” Sometimes it really is just that simple….

The lyric:
“I love this song
It’s my song
If you don’t love this song
That’s okay
I don’t want you to
This isn’t about you
It’s about my dog…”

“This isn’t about you…..” I LOVE that line, especially in these narcissistic times.