This Isn’t Woodstock, It Is Laughingstock

Ever had one of those times in life where you need an alternative that would help you with the bad stuff of life like; bad health, bad wealth, bad habits, bad luck and a car that has bad brakes? A good escape is to have a beer, attend a concert and hear some great music.

Once again the option of going to a concert and enjoying some good music will not be available at the Warren Amphitheater. That is because once again, the Amp will feature lame ass music by tribute bands. For 2017 there will be pseudo bands of: Kiss, Queen, Pink Floyd, Jimmy Buffett, Jason Aldean, “Aeroscrud,” Led Zeppelin, Rush, Journey and the Eagles.

I have never attended any of the shows as I’d much rather hear the worst band in the world as long as they were playing originals. Here’s where I make enemies. The truth is I wouldn’t have gone to see any of the above classic rock acts even if they were the originals band. I have never ever been a Queen fan. I could never understand how they could play a Nazi goosestep beat and sing, ‘We Will Rock You.” Not with that beat you won’t Fred. And what in the Hell is that “Bohemian Rhapsody” about? “Galileo you’re a boy scout he will not let you go.” What the F.

As far as Pink Floyd the beat to “Another Brick in the Wall” is just as bad. I’ve heard enough Floyd that I never have to hear it again. Hearing, “Wish You Were Here” would just make me say, “I Wish I Wasn’t Here.”

Jimmy Buffett, ever notice how dunk people at his concerts are? You don’t stand a fighting chance of enjoying the concert if you decide to see Jimmy sober. I can’t get that drunk to appreciate him. I also hate foofoo mixed drinks. Alcohol should be able to stand on its own without a mix or it ain’t crap. You’re drinking the wrong stuff if you need to cut it with a mix so try a shot of Jameson. I personally love singer-songwriter music. The great ones write tunes about love, life and pain. Jimmy writes about margaritas and cheeseburgers. It’s as if the Applebee’s’ happy hour menu was his inspiration.

Speaking of having to be shitfaced drunk to enjoy the music, we have a tribute band doing Justin Aldean’s corporate country style of music. That should please some of Trumbull County’s outer region’s redneck shitkickers. They will be able to attend now that the cable company has provided DVR’s so that these outer region sidewalk cowboys can tape, “Duck Dynasty” and Honey Boo Boo that evening. It will be an hour and a half beer commercial. Aldean will acknowledge his audience when he asks, “Where are my rednecks?” The ones not puking at that moment will howl,  yee haw.”  Aldean who was married with two kids stuck his tongue down the throat of another woman in the middle of a public bar. Because he is a punk who can’t hold his liquor he blamed it on being drunk. Because of these lowlife antics he was rewarded with the job of hosting the CMT awards. Aldean is poser country music for poser country music fans. He likes to trash Justin Beiber at concerts. That is because Aldean is the Justin Beiber of country music.
“Aerosrud” wrote “Love in an Elevator” and “Dude Looks Like a Lady.” If you didn’t know it from those lame ass songs they were using heroin. Those songs in themselves should be enough reason for kids not to do drugs. Just say no to “Dude Looks Like a Lady.” Aeroscrud has always been a third rate Rolling Stones. Who needs a third rate Rolling Stones? If we do we’ve got the last 35 years of the Stones third-rate career. Don’t “Start Up” Jagger it’s too late.

Kiss is not a band it is capitalism exploited to the max. Is there anything Kiss related that Gene Simmons isn’t having made by 8 year-olds at sweatshops in China? What genius wrote, “Hot, Hot She Looked Hotter than Hell?” Probably the same genius in Foreigner that wrote, “She’s as Cold as Ice to Me.”

Rush is the anchovies of rock music. 99% of us don’t want anchovies anywhere near our pizza. They are an overproduced, overrated staple of bland Classic Rock radio. Sticking knitting needles in your ears would be less painful than listen to Geddy Lee’s constipated screeching.  Here are the lyrics to Rush’s , “Xanadu,”
“To stand within the Pleasure Dome/Decreed by Kubla Khan/To taste anew the fruits of life/The last immortal man/To find the sacred river Alph/To walk the caves of ice/Oh, I will dine on honeydew/And drink the milk of Paradise.” Not even die hard Rush fans; can defend lyrics like that with a straight face. The only thing that sucks more than the band Rush is, Rush Limbaugh and Limbaugh has an excuse as he is a drug addict. On a personal note Rush is the only concert I ever walked out of after hearing one of their songs. I was there to see the opening band.

The Eagles: In the film, “The Big Lebowski, ” Jeffrey “The Dude” Lebowski hated the Eagles. He was willing to be thrown out of a cab because he told the driver to turn off their music. I hate the Eagles so much that I would have personally jumped from the cab while it was moving. The Eagles were shallow, rich, cowboy wannabee, womanizing cokeheads. Even a rocker like, Joe Walsh couldn’t save them from, life in the boring lane. They are the kings of lowest-common-denominator rock, making inoffensive rock designed to appeal to the broadest vanilla record-buying, radio-listening public. This SoCal country-rock scene was invented by the late great, Graham Parsons. Parson called it, cosmic American music,” a fusion of country, rock and soul. The Eagles stole that sound but never could add any soul to their lifeless music.

I have always hated, Led Zeppelin. They’d have been a great band if their first choice of singer hadn’t turned them down. That is the greatest rock singer of all time. Terry Reid. Instead, their second choice, that banshee wailing, Robert Plant became the singer. He sounds like a terrified, screaming teenage school girl from one of the three dozen, “ Halloween” movies. Zep lyrics all sounded better when written the first time around by; Memphis Millie, Willie Dixon, Muddy Waters, Blind Willie Johnson, Howlin`Wolf, Sonny Boy Williamson, Robert Johnson, Bukka White, Sleepy John Estees, Albert King, Davy Graham, Bert Jansch, Jake Holms and Anne Breden. Zep never met a  black guy’s lyrics they didn’t love and steal. Saying you’re paying homage to a bluesman by stealing his lyrics isn’t a tribute to an artist it is being a douche. Zep has enabled generations of middle class white kids to avoid learning the true history of the blues. Led Zeppelin is no more than a millionaire cover band. Besides, haven’t enough proms already been ruined with that, “Stairway to Heaven” theme?

I saw Journey at Youngstown’s, The Tomorrow Club years ago. It was when they had their first album out. They were very jazzy and quite good. They soon added Steve Perry and became a boring, bland homogenized chic band. No self-respecting man would be a Journey fan. Bands like Journey, Foreigner, Styx and the Eagles are not a band; they are just a hit factory. I don’t want to hear a tribute band singing, “I Can’t Stop Believing.” It would only further make me want to scream, “Come on Warren, I can’t stop believing we can do better than tribute bands.”

If you went to the concerts at the amphitheater you couldn’t have used enough drugs to reach any amount of groove quotient. In the old days at a concert folks took enough drugs they thought they saw God. At today’s tribute band concerts you just look at your watch and think god when is this going to end. If I sat through such concerts I could only get a smile on my face thinking about the Koran. You know that passage where 72 virgins are promised to martyrs. Truth is I’m not enough of a martyr to sit through such tribute crap. I don’t really care for that ecstasy drug kids now use as at my age cortisone is my ecstasy.

“Bad taste creates many more millionaires than good taste.” ~ Charles Bukowski

 

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Tell Me No Lies

We live in a culture that does not value honesty or integrity.

Too many people believe the end justifies the means used.

Ego, envy, excess, malice and worship of the almighty dollar

all, sadly have replaced fairness, honor and especially, truth.

Believing that lying politicians serve the public,

some of our fellow citizens lie to themselves.

Congressmen feel no compunction to tell the truth.

If they did they wouldn’t get elected or re-elected.

Lies have been called, fibs, fables, fairy tales, fabrications, fallacy,

fiction, half-truths, distortions, exaggerations, bluffs and canards.

Politicians are now trying to further soften the term, lies.

They were most recently referred to as, “alternative facts.”

I’m old school so I use the terms, lies, bald-faced lies, balderdash,

baloney, bogus, bullhonky, bollocks, booty-chatter, booty-cheddar,

poppycock, whopper, crock, crock of shit, horseshit and bullshit.

My hearing is going a bit but I have an excellent nose for Pinnochioitis.

I had to learn a second language in high school but it wasn’t bullshit.

I don’t have a welcome mat at my door because I am not a liar.

Here in America we’re indoctrinated in lies from an early age.

Our parents start with the Tooth Fairy, Santa, and the Easter Bunny.

This leads to kids developing their own universally told lies to parents.

“I didn’t do it,” ‘I don’t know,” “I did my homework,” “My brother did it,”

“My friend Billy is allowed to,” “I’ll be home early,” ‘I wasn’t texting and driving.”

Every teenage girl has told her mom, “I’m sleeping over at my friend Mary’s house tonight.”

When mom calls Mary’s mom she is told, “My daughter said they were staying at your house.”

I’m sure it was all just some minor miscommunication between the girls, right?

What kid hasn’t lied to their teacher saying,

“The dog ate my homework.”

Young adults are taught to lie on job resumes if they want to get a job.

They pad their degrees, grades, their technical abilities,

inflate their titles, previous salary, and charitable deeds.

Of course once you get a job, the boss is going to lie to you.

“We’re one big happy family here.”

“Employees are our most valuable asset.”

“We appreciate hard work and reward it.”

“Sorry, but my hands are tied.”

“We can’t afford to pay you more.”

“This is a 9 to 5 salary job.”

And, “Your participation is voluntary.”

We lie about our age, height and weight.

We lie about our looks and income when we date online.

Cat fishing online is a fancy word for liar.

We lie when we do taxes, sell used cars, homes etc.

The Dr.’s receptionist says, “The Dr. will be right with you.”

The dentist says, “Trust me, this won’t hurt”

The phone call salesman says, “I will only take a minute of your time.”

You call the cable company to complain and are told,

“Hang on the line as your call is really important to us.”

Anytime a corporation says they care,

or a politician says that they promise,

it is an outright first-class, boldfaced lie.

When your wife asks, “Does this dress make my ass look fat?”

I guarantee that all men will lie because it’s safer than the truth.

Guys, you know you’ve told some woman;

“I’ve never done anything like this before.”

“I’ll respect you in the morning.”

“I’ll call you tomorrow.”

“Let’s do this again.”

“But we can still be good friends.”

Some of you guys might have said;

“Of course I love you.”

“My wife doesn’t understand me.”

“She means nothing to me.”

“I am getting a divorce.”

“Don’t worry, it’s OK – I’m sterile.”

“It’s only a cold sore.”

And women you know you’ve said;

“I’m busy Friday night or

“I’m seeing someone right now.”

“I didn’t expect anything from you anyway.”

“He’s just a friend.”

“I’m usually not this scatter-brained.”

“I’m on a diet.”

“I workout.”

“I’m not the type that gets jealous.”

“My phone died.”

“I promise I won’t get mad.”

“I never do this.”

“I’m on my period.”

Once married your wife will lie and say;

“I’ll be ready in just 5 minutes.”

“I’m on my way right now.”

“I’m fine nothing’s wrong.”

“Don’t worry that you forgot,

my birthday or our anniversary.”

“It wasn’t that expensive.”

“It was on sale.”

“I’ve got a headache.”

“You’re right,” which actually means

you weren’t and never will be.

How many of you have said:

“The check is in the mail.”

“I gave at the office.”

“You get this one, I’ll pay next time.”

“Drinking? Why, no, Officer.”

or “sorry, officer but that’s not mine.”

“It’s not the money; it’s the principle of the thing.”

Humans are lied to as many as 200 times a day.

Studies show we detect lies with only 54% accuracy.

One is six judges reaches an incorrect verdict.

One man daily sums up our lying world.

That is Maury Povich, who on his TV show

says over and over, “That was a lie.”

That is when he isn’t saying, “You are the father

or you are not the father.

Tell those you come in contact with,

“I’m worth the truth.”

With my aging pains I can tell you,

I will be one of the few people,

not lying when I say,

“It’s for medicinal purposes.”

The Knickerbockers: “Lies”

Henry Rollins: “Liar”

“Don’t lie to people that trust you, and don’t trust people that lie to you.” ~ Unknown

 

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A Voice for the Voiceless?

I decided to have lunch the other day, in one of my favorite working-class bars. I sat at the circular bar in the dimly lit room. On the other side of the bar sat four rather inebriated men. They were a dozen seats away from me and talking loudly. From their conversations I noted they were retired working-class men. Having worked in a steel plant for 28 years, I recognized much of their frustrations with living in a system that doesn’t listen to their views. I decided to just sit and listen to their conversation.

A man wearing a Steelers ball cap said, “Screw that Meryl Streep, no one wants to hear her opinion.” A man in a plaid flannel shirt added, “It wasn’t even her opinion, she read it off a cue card. Some Hollywood liberal producer probably wrote it.” Steelers ball cap shot back, “Why is her opinion any more important than mine?” I concluded that maybe they are right and their opinion should be heard. I took out the pen; I always have in my shirt pocket and took notes on a few napkins. I decided I would do a blog about the thoughts of my fellow workers. This whole conversation about Meryl Streep started because the TV in the corner of the bar had on the news. The newsman mentioned her criticism of Trump at the Global Awards.

A third man had both his hands so tightly wrapped around his bottle of Yuengling I thought it was a life raft. I note that Yuengling broke its Teamster Union, so I wonder why a working-class bar is serving such a beer. Yuengling drinker said, “Trump needs to kick Streep’s behind like he did that liberal judge bitch. He canned her ass for trying to override his orders. God dammit Trump’s right we need to send these “Ahabs” back to their own countries. I’m tired of foreigners from wherever arriving and not being vetted. The man is just trying to keep our asses safe.” All four heads nod in agreement.” They all then stated how glad they were that they had voted for Trump.

The judge fired was actually, Acting Attorney General Sally Yates. She had refused to defend his executive order imposing a temporary ban on refugees and visa holders from seven majority-Muslim countries. The thoughts by many that immigrants arrive without spending a long time being vetted just isn’t true. Immigration experts said the process for refugee visas typically takes between 18 months and three years, during which applicants undergo screenings by counter terrorism agents, medical exams and other checks.

An elderly man and woman arrived and sat next to the four retired Trump voters. The woman knew the men and offered to buy them beers. Three accepted but flannel shirt said, “I have to go soon I’ve been sitting here drinking since, 11:00 AM.” As he stumbled out I noted it was now 1:45 PM. I glanced over at the TV across the room for vital info. That is because that is a video of the parking lot, and I was hoping he was not parked near me. Once the danger in the parking lot was solved, I picked up a new conversation, joined by the two newcomers.

They were now focused on local issues. They were attacking the Youngstown School Board for having too many “coloreds on it.” They were convinced the new white guy CEO was going to straighten everything out. They like the new school CEO Krish Mohip because he talks tough and acts as dictatorial as Trump. I will admit I think some of the school board members need to go as they have been there too long. Next the bar gang blasted a “colored” man who was talking about running for mayor of Youngstown. They said that the current white mayor needs to stay until they drag him out. They love Mayor John McNally, despite him being indicted in May 2014 on charges including racketeering, conspiracy, bribery and perjury.

The next conversation turned to how unions were obsolete. I wondered how many of this crew was able to retire because they were in a union or benefitted by the struggles of the union movement. How many of them had pensions and healthcare because of a union. Yuengling drinker said, “The only strong union left is those UAW unions in Michigan and elsewhere. At those UAW plants the boss has to ask the workers if he can go to the bathroom.” I laugh as the UAW has so little power that they voted in a second tier that pays new workers half of what the older workers make. I think unions are actually needed now as much as they have ever been. When I hear people talking about how strong unions are I find myself wishing they had just 5% of the power that union-bashers think they have.

I reflected on guys I worked with in the mill and realized things haven’t changed much. I worked with racists, homophobes, misogynists, Christian hypocrites, Reagan Democrats, NRA pawns and in general guys who voted against their own self interests. It has now been 18 years since my plant closed. I realized the working-class are still voting against their own interests. The only thing that has changed is that the Reagan Democrats are now Trump Democrats and watching way more FOX News. I have long said that the biggest enemy of the working-class is the working-class. The working-class will continue to be downtrodden, as long as they sit in bars bashing people and organizations that benefit them and raising glasses of union-busting beer and toasting the Reagans and Trumps who seek their demise.

Gil Scott Heron: “Message to Messengers”

“Did You Hear What They Said”

“We are our own dragons as well as our own heroes, and we have to rescue ourselves from ourselves.” ~ Tom Robbins

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Let’s All Get F**ked Up

For 2017 I’m going to try and be briefer in anything I write. That isn’t going to be easy for me to do and still give justice to some issues. Especially, when I write about something I’m very enthusiastic about. Mike Stout’s new CD, “Blue and Green in Black and White” falls in that enthusiastic column.

In songs like, “Terry Greenwood” and “First Responders” Mike Stout captures the spirit, the fight and the ultimate tragedy of working-class heroes. Mike is a vivid narrator and an accomplished musician who gives energy to lives filled with a search for justice. He does this with anything from a blues, jazz, rock and Celtic backdrop. All of Mike’s 20 CD’s have been fitting tributes to everyday people that tried to make this planet a better world. Mike is singing about our unselfish brothers and sisters that lived and died keeping America great for all of us. These are people who acted on their own instead of believing some candidate was going to come along and, “Make America Great Again.” These heroes are the real representatives of the people not some politician who picks up a paycheck being your so called, representative.

With Mike giving voice to these working-class heroes, they rightly become martyrs that death couldn’t even silence. Mike’s songs always seek to unite people in solidarity by emphasizing what we have in common. They also point out things we all can agree with that we don’t want to lose. Those are things like clean air and water and our health. He asks us to think what is best for all of us and not be divided by polarizing people and issues.

Songs like the ones Mike writes go far beyond entertaining because they make you think. The powers that be fear this kind of music because it might make you speak out for peace and justice. That is why you only hear music in the media that tries to keep the 99% upbeat while they lose more and more ground to the 1%. When you turn on the radio you’ll hear a happy Bruno Mars singing, “Uptown funk you up.” You will not hear Mike Stout singing, “Stand Up-The Water’s Running Out.” That is because the 1% feels that kind of song might fuck you up enough to take action.

I say, “Get Fucked up” and purchase Mike Stout’s 13 song CD, Blue and Green in Black and White.”

Contact Mike about a CD here.

Mike Stout: “Terry Greenwood”

“Healthcare is a Human Right”

“The only truth is music.”― Jack Kerouac

 

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Living Small?

You’ve finally made the giant step to downsize.

You’ve gone and bought one of those tiny houses.

The ones you see on those HGTV shows on cable.

They promote these small abodes as “thrifty”

or ultra hip and environmentally conscious.

I find the media portrayal of the cool factor hilarious.

I say that because society and the media have labeled

mobile home dwellers who are trying to be thrifty as “white trash.”

These tiny house owners can afford a regular house

but have made their choice to live with less.

To call them some kind of rugged Earth friendly individualist,

is like calling the person who sleeps outside everyday homeless,

but calling the person who owns a home and does the same, an outdoorsman.

HGTV says, It’s about letting go of accumulated baggage

and living an all together fresh new simpler life.

I’d instead refer to it as being simple-minded.

People ask what is the biggest problem living in a tiny house?

The owners all unanimously agree the major issue is storage.

I’ve heard many say they rent a storage unit or keep things at their parent’s houses.

These tiny home owners don’t count that storage space into their better than thou

200 square foot tiny footprint on the Earth life, so I call bullshit on them.

They are only sleeping and cooking their Quiche in that space.

The alternative to over-consumption and trying to lead an Earth friendly life

is not about living in a 200 square foot space made from reclaimed pallets.

It is about making moralistic choices like veganism, non-violence and social justice.

I guess I could agree with the underlying reason for buying a tiny house.

That would be that it keeps your mother-in-law from visiting.

I’m sure she had a family get together to discuss how you’ve

totally gone off the deep end and dragged her daughter 

and her grandchildren to live in a tiny Hobbit hole.

The family is sure to be planning some kind of intervention.

I’m not sure that the joy of keeping mom-in-law away

overshadows all of the major problems of Lilliputian living.

Things like cooking dinner in a toy sized EZ-Bake oven,

or eating in the kitchen with your elbows and knees in the living room.

If you ordered a large pizza you’d have to eat it outside.

Then again it might be nice to fry and egg while lying in bed.

Having a table double as a bed could be tough on your back.

Some of these beds are up in a loft with a ceiling three inches from your nose.

While your home insurance would be cheap,

your health insurance would be high,

to pay for all of the goosebumps to your

noggin accumulated every morning.

When I see a bed so close to the ceiling

I realize your favorite Kama Sutra position

is a major construction decision when you are

determining the height of your loft.

I’ve seen TV shows where these tiny house owners have kids.

Your kids do not want to live that close to you, or to each other.

And where is the parent’s sexy time when the kids are sleeping

on a small sleeper sofa one foot away from the parent’s loft?

There is no damn way the kids aren’t hearing their parent’s busy time.

I’m thinking years of loss innocence for any tiny house kids.

Have you ever enjoyed reading a book while you soak in a bubble bath?

Tiny house owners have to hover over their toilet while showering.

Do you presently fight with your kids to take out the garbage?

Well, wait until you tell them to empty the compost toilet.

Most tiny houses I’ve seen do not have bathrooms sinks.

Therefore, if you want to shave, you will shave in the kitchen sink.

That’s face, legs, pits and crotch if you shave it.

I’d hate the fact that the front door and the backdoor are the same door.

The door mat would only be big enough to say, “Well.”

It would bother me that there was no room to change your mind.

On the plus side, a hand towel would work as wall to wall carpet.

A tiny home would be easy to maintain for us unskilled handymen.

We wouldn’t need many tools or parts except a jack and spare tire.

I’d worry if even one family member came down sick with the flu

as it would spread through the whole house in about four seconds.

I saw one episode of “Tiny House” where the owner had his outhouse sized home

piled with tons of books in every square inch with little room for anything else.

Had he never heard of eBooks or reading books on your iPad?

At least this is one HGTV show without couples wanting kitchens with granite countertops.

The fact is that a granite counter top would weigh more than any tiny house.

Most of the “House Hunting” TV couples want a large kitchen as they love to entertain. 

Owning a tiny house tells your family and friends that you are not an entertainer.

Imagine your wife saying to you, “Sweetheart let’s visit Peggy, Frank and their kids

in their remote 300 square-foot house sometime this weekend.”

Peggy and Frank think their house is a magical whimsical place

but to you it is a Ukrainian yurt torture chamber.

So you reply, “No honey I rather stay home and clean the whole house top to bottom.”

You know that would be a step in a better direction then visiting Peggy and Frank’s place,

where you have to hold your breath the whole time because it smells like a cat litter box.

Never mind the cat, think about the husband or wife after a take home Taco Bell meal.

After such a dinner the tiny house could suffer the deuce-evacuation type of gas

that could conceivably destroy the house, the contents and the marriage.

I saw a tiny house owner saying he was a conservative, rugged individualist

 and a trained survivalist that doesn’t need the government.

The truth is he has fallen for all of the recent media propaganda,

from all of those cable DIY and  HGTV “Tiny House” shows.

He has forgotten that he and the 99% are the real government of these United States.

He has rolled over and accepted the agenda of the 1% that is trying to buy our government.

The middle-class and the 99% have been shrinking economically for decades.

The 1%ers want us to be gullible and blindly accept their propaganda

about how cool, hip and joyful we will be when we are all tiny house dwellers.

This while they laugh at us from their penthouses and summer ocean front mansions.

That is the future we face if we let them control our political and economic system.

If you think I am acting like a conspiracy freak that is OK with me.

But there is still plenty of reasons to reject tiny house living.

After all, having your house broken into is one thing.

Coming home and finding your home stolen is quite another thing.

 My biggest fear is that the big bad wolf would huff and puff

and blow my tiny 200 square foot house down.

 

RIP Leon Russell: “This One’s for You”

“Tight Rope”

“Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” – William Morris

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Leaving Spiritual Medicine

Pat (Patricia) asked, “You know that old Victorian house across the street from mine?” He replied, “Yes, I do.” Pat continued, “A real good lawyer lives there and he is going to get me a new trial. This time I will get out of this prison as we are going to get a woman judge.” Her visitor sat silently, as he didn’t want to tell her that she was disillusioned. A bit later her meal arrived and she just stared at it. Since being confined here she was having drug withdrawals. There was one drug that had dominated her whole adult life. That drug was a potent liquid know as coffee. Since arriving here she had been Jonesing for a cup of coffee. The only coffee they offered her had terrible tasting Thick-it added to it. She took a sip her first day here and spit it out. Fact is, all of the food had Thick-it added and she refused to eat any of it. She had been having a hard time swallowing so all of her food was pureed. It didn’t resemble food at all, so she was going on a hunger strike. They would soon learn how hard-headed she was. She had been shouting out loudly to anyone within earshot that she was getting out of this prison. Her husband and family came to visit her every day. She’d swear at them and demand that they organize a jailbreak for her.

She was hungry but still refusing to eat anything but a little bit of applesauce. She claimed even that was way too sour. She knew good food as she was an excellent cook and an even better baker. She was someone people came to and asked to bake fancy wedding cookies. Everyone in this region of the country knows you must have a big table of assorted cookies at a wedding reception. She had also worked at a fancy clothing store for over twenty years. It was the kind of place that wealthy women patronized. As a woman who knew style, she had found her calling. She got to know the taste in style that the store’s loyal shoppers wanted. She would call many of these women to tell them an article of clothing had come in that she thought was designed for them. She would bring clothing she had selected for various customers to their houses at their request. This service soon became a big part of her job. She was able to aid the clothing store owner in the type of clothing styles he needed to be successful. She was also living in a new time of growing feminism. She was able to help dress women for success to help give them get a fair shot of breaking that glass ceiling.

Here many years after the store had closed, Pat sat in confinement with a roommate. Today, that roommate was finally going home. The room was abuzz with employees of the place helping pack. There is tons of paperwork to fill out before you can get out of such a place. Pat stared at her food still refusing to eat. Pat had a couple of relatives who were in the room visiting her today. They had been trying to encouraging her to eat. They were also trying to keep Pat calm during all the activity of her roommate’s leaving. Pat jealously stared at her roommate, she was longing for the day when she would be released. Pat spoke up to one the attendants helping her roommate. She declared, “Waitress, this food was not very good at all. We will not be coming back ever again. That is OK though, as we would just like to have our bill. We just want to pay and go home.” One of the attendees asked Pat “Is there anything I can get you?” Pat replied, “Justice.”

The Pat I speak of is my 84 year-old mother, and the he I refer to, is me. The prison she was in was actually, Sharon Regional Hospital. Her recent sentence was for ten days. I have nothing to say about the staff that attended to my mother but great things. While in the hospital Pat (my mother) didn’t understand what she was suffering from. In the old days they called it, “a failure to thrive.” It is a term they no longer use but is very descriptive of her problem. She had been hospitalized after a bad fall at home. She fell because people were chasing her. The people persuing her were all in her imagination. She had been afflicted with dementia for about a year. Many times, she was totally rational, other times she spoke about things that just didn’t make sense (to anyone but her). I wasn’t making fun of mom’s dementia when I spoke about her thinking she was either in prison or a restaurant with terrible food. I actually marveled at how mom creatively used her dementia to illustrate how she felt trapped in a situation she wanted out of. We all knew mom was never going to get better but we didn’t want to tell her that. We didn’t want to diminish mom’s hope of getting out of the hospital and going home to “thrive.” Truth is mom didn’t have dementia when it came to thinking she was getting better. I knew that when I heard her speaking to a nurse at her bedside. The nurse had asked her, “Honey is there something I can get you?” Mom replied, “Honesty.” At that I choked up and had an even harder time swallowing than mom had been having.

My mother’s doctor wanted my father to put her in a nursing home. Our family toured an area nursing home along with my father. My father decided he didn’t want to see my mother put into such a tiny room with another roommate. The cost of a nursing home is unbelievable (I will discuss healthcare costs at another time). My dad decided to take mom to their home and have Hospice come there. Under Medicare they can only come a few hours a week. My dad opted to hire an agency that provided home healthcare along with the help from Hospice. This was even more costly than a nursing home. Dad decided it wasn’t about the money; it was that mom would prefer to be home. My dad is a couple of years older than my mom. I was hoping that the strain of taking care of my mother didn’t kill him. My dad’s sister, my brother and I went to help him as much as we could in the week she was at home.

Thursday in the evening I was driving home from their house on a wooded back road. I turned a corner and slammed on the brakes as three small deer were standing in the road staring at me. I waited as they walked only several feed into the woods, they then stopped and all stared back at me. Being of Irish decent I know that the Celts (as well as Native Americans) have thoughts about what deer represent. It is anything from: love, beauty, grace, creativity, and watchfulness to spirituality. It left me thinking that all those things could describe my mother. When I arrived home, I was still thinking about those deer and realized they were a mother and her female doe. I did some computer research and came across this, “The deer (particularly the doe, female) has the capacity for infinite generosity. Their heart rhythms pulse in soft waves of kindness. Match that graciousness by offering your trust to her. She will reward you by leading you to the most powerful spiritual medicine you can fathom.”

On Friday after work I took dinner to my dad and stayed the night with him to help attend to my mother. I wanted to give my dad’s sister, Cathy a break from her generosity of staying all night for most of the week. We had my mother set up in a hospital bed in my parent’s family room (the largest room in the house). My dad was sleeping on a couch near the hospital bed and I was sleeping in a recliner nearby. My mother was not in a lot of pain as we had been medicating her. Her breathing had been getting harder each day. On Saturday November 5, 2016 at 4 am mom quit breathing. She hadn’t had the strength to talk her last couple of days. My father said a few days ago she stated, “I’ve had a glimpse of the other side and it’s beautiful.” I’d like to think she was in her own way, “leading us to the most powerful spiritual medicine we can fathom.” Rest in Peace, Pat and thanks for your watchfulness.

One of my mom’s favorite songs seems so appropriate: Nat King Cole: “Unforgettable”

“How can the dead be truly dead when they still live in the souls of those who are left behind?” ~Carson McCullers, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter

 

 

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Working for the “Common Good”

Labor Day found me reading many things about current unionism in this country. My son, Adam sent me one article from the Jacobin I found disturbing. It states that during the Democrat National Convention this year four major labor unions broke from the AFL-CIO Labor Caucus and caucused separately. These four are the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) and both teachers unions the National Education Association (NEA) and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT). If you notice three of these organizations use the terms, federation and association instead of the word union. It is as if the word, union is a dirty word. The article states this about the four unions positions, “it’s part of a broader shift in American labor — a drift away from class-conscious unionism, unionism that believes fighting corporate power and the 1 percent is an unavoidable necessity.”

It seems these unions are concerned with serving Wall Street instead of their members and the public. These unions are embracing neoliberalism (a modern politico-economic theory favoring free trade, privatization, minimal government intervention in business, reduced public expenditure on social services) along with Republicans and Democrats like Hillary Clinton. Union leaders have been silently standing by while neoliberal politicians in both parties have chipped away at the rights of union members. While the NEA and the AFT leaders are getting in bed with neoliberals their rank and file members are fighting back.

In 2012 the Chicago Teachers Union members went on strike not just for themselves, but for increased public services that benefit the community. They didn’t negotiate for just wages, benefits and safety issues. They realized that if they fought for things to benefit and support the community the community would support them. Other union actions like this and also conferences on this idea have cropped up around the country. It is known as, “Bargaining for the Common Good.” With the growing inequity in this country I believe such actions are necessary. Rank and file union workers (and even more so their leaders) need to realize that workers and community have many shared goals and that they need to come together in solidarity to strengthen their communities and further democracy.

Most of the info I was reading over Labor Day focused on how union membership has been declining for decades. Most statistics showed U.S. union membership at 14.8 million (11% of the U.S. workforce). Article after article was pessimistic saying unions are outdated and no longer a source of any chance for meaningful change in this country. I have been known to be pessimistic sometimes (I’ve been accused of smelling flowers and looking around for a casket) but I’m optimistic that unions can make real change. That won’t happen with unions becoming neoliberal but it will happen when unions join in bargaining for the “Common Good.” Think of it another way, the National Rifle Association (NRA) has 5 million members, with that number they own and control a large number of our lawmakers. Whether you agree with their agenda or not their organization gets the job done. Seems to me that 14.8 million people working for the common good should be able to better their communities and guide the hands of a lot of lawmakers. What are we waiting for?

Dropkick Murphys: “Workers Song”

“The Warriors Code”

“Unions have been fighting the 1 percent vs 99 percent fight for more than 100 years. Now the rest of us are learning that this fight is also OUR fight.” ~ DAVE JOHNSON, “Labor’s Fight is OUR Fight”, Campaign for America’s Future

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