Archives for July 2011

He Put A Gun To My Head

Nice ATM

Nice ATM (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A friend described me as being consistent in my inconsistencies, a dichotomy of personalities. I can switch gears very quickly. I go from play to business and back to play in just a moment. Call it moody, call it cranky or just call me a curmudgeon. It doesn’t matter. The reality is that I am who I am and the quiet passivity you sometimes see masks the man who will rip off of your head and kick it into the street.

Do you remember when the banking industry introduced ATMs. The automatic teller was a wondrous convenience. No longer would you have to go inside the bank and wait in line for your money. Suddenly it was a two minute procedure and the height of convenience.

Unfortunately the convenience for some became a siren call for malfeasance. You no longer visited certain ATMs because there was no interest in having to pass along your hard earned cash to some low life. At least that is how some people looked at things, there were those others who considered themselves to be bullet proof.

I was one of them. A twenty-something man who feared no one. In the prime of my life I hadn’t any reason to be concerned. Bruises, strains, and bumps were momentary inconveniences. No real responsibilities meant that I had ample time to spend in the gym. My body was taut and toned. My cardiovascular system had never been despoiled by smoking.

When you took that hard body and screwed on my hard head it made for aninteresting combination of young, dumb and stupid. I went where I pleased because I knew that anyone who made the mistake of accosting me would find themselves in dire need of a visit to a chiropractor.

My youthful naivete is really what saved me. When I felt that gun against my temple I wasn’t smart enough to be afraid. The thought of dying didn’t even register. No, what did was irritation followed by extreme anger. What the fuck did this asshole think he was doing. Not only was I not going to give him any money, I was going to take that gun and shove it so far up his ass he didn’t dare belch for fear of blowing away his lips.

Things didn’t exactly work out the way either of us planned. As I turned to face him he used the butt of the gun on the side of my head. At least, I think that is what happened. I am not really sure, but I do know that I was surprised to find myself on the ground.

I am sure that he was even more surprised when I responded by using my right hand to try and turn him into a modern day eunuch.

Together we rolled around the ground. Each one of us fighting to gain the advantage on the other. Something hard kept slamming into my kidneys. Each time I felt pain shooting inside me, but I refused to let go of him. I could hear someone screaming in anger, but I couldn’t make out what they were saying. I was too busy trying to separate his arm from his shoulder.

The scuffle felt like it took hours, but the tape from the ATM showed it wasn’t more than five minutes. It even showed the swing I took at the police officers who tried to break up the fight. Note to self, it is not wise to hit a cop because they will respond.

The justice system in this country is funny and not in the “I can’t stop laughing sense.” When it was all said and done I looked like I had driven my car over the side of Laurel Canyon and he was comatose. The D.A. said that it was self-defense and that I wouldn’t have to worry about it, but his family claimed otherwise and filed a multimillion dollar civil case against me.

That was seven years and more than $1 million in legal fees ago. The story is not nearly done. It is not over by a long shot. His mother has sworn to see me “go down hard” and she has the money to pursue this.

Maybe I should have handled this differently. We don’t always see how the actions we take in our youth can follow us into the future. But you cannot screw an old head on young shoulders and life is what it is.

What can I tell you, he put a gun to my head.

(One of my short/long term goals is to write several books and perhaps some screenplays. The post above is part of what I identify as a Fragment of Fiction. You’ll notice that I often recycle them. There are several purposes in doing so. The first is because I use the blog as my cybersandbox and I find that working with them again provides new ideas and opportunities to strengthen the post. It also stimulates my imagination and helps me to push ahead with new ideas.)

 

The Fire & The Fury

No one knows what it’s like to be the bad man
To be the sad man behind blue eyes
No one knows what it’s like
To be hated, to be fated to telling only lies

But my dreams, they aren’t as empty
As my conscience seems to be
I have hours, only lonely
My love is vengeance that’s never free

Behind Blue Eyes- The Who
Dear June,

It is the middle of the summer and I can’t decide if I am falling and or failing. A thousand years ago in the time that once was I told you that I wander among the storms and ride the tornado. I stand in front of the hurricane searching for the eye of the storm and wonder how it is that I haven’t been blown away. Can’t say if it is force of will, stupidity or dumb luck but somehow I find my way. Though I am battered and bruised I continue to work to master it all and earn the title of lightning lord.

It is goofy and melodramatic, but that is me. That fire in my belly burns ever so brightly and no matter what happen it never….burns out. Sometimes I wonder if this is some sort of punishment for things that once happened. Sometimes I wonder if I am forced into this indentured servitude to the cruelest of masters because it is penance for my sins.

I climb the mountains that have been placed before me because I have no choice. I cannot stay where I am. John Henry beat the machine but he died with his hammer in his hand. That is not the sort of glory I seek nor do I believe it to be something that will be granted nor given to me. There is no more safety nor sustenance to be found here so I must climb.

No one knows what it’s like
To feel these feelings like I do and I blame you!
No one bites back as hard on their anger
None of my pain and woe can show through

But my dreams, they aren’t as empty
As my conscience seems to be
I have hours only lonely
My love is vengeance, that’s never free

There are so many tales to be told and things to be shared but you aren’t here so I have secured them in our secret garden. They wander through the verdant fields and dance on the hillsides of the places we once roamed.  Protected by the guardians I no longer give them thought and I focus upon that which lies before me.

Clearly the biggest challenge that has ever presented itself stands before me. I have spent more than a few hours studying it and hope that my research presents opportunity and I can prepare a plan of attack. But I feel the fire and the fury coming from within. The demons that hide in the darkness have broken their chains and it won’t be long before they make their way to the surface. I hear them laughing and sense their joy. Freedom calls and they shall answer.

When my fist clenches, crack it open
Before I use it and lose my cool
When I smile, tell me some bad news
Before I laugh and act like a fool

And If I swallow anything evil
Put your finger down my throat
And If I shiver, please give me a blanket
Keep me warm, let me wear your coat

My arms and legs are covered in scrapes and bruises. Though I make good time the mountain refuses to let me go without paying a price. We continue to fight over the toll it wishes to take. There is joy in the simplicity of the battle and I take pleasure in the simplicity of choices that are presented.  I am confident that I will prevail and that I will find my way to the other side. The sole question is what will I find when I reach it.

No one knows what it’s like to be the bad man
To be the sad man behind blue eyes

One Of The Grumpy Old Men Of The Blogosphere

Turkmenistan - Camel Family

I am one of the grumpy old men of the blogosphere. I walk around smacking the young folks with my cane and tell them that when I started blogging seven years ago it was a different blogosphere than it is now.

Mean old man that I am I bark about how pathetic things have become and mock those who cry about not being loved, liked or followed. Because in the good old days we didn’t worry about such things.

No sir, we were too busy recording our thoughts on floppy disks and bitching about hard drives that could only hold 20 megabytes of information. You young people have no appreciation for how hard things it used to be, not to mention your education is weak.

Hell, this joint is filled with quotes from the likes of Mark Twain, John Donne, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Thomas Edison and Slappy the Talking Monkey from Cleveland.

Back during the Golden Age of Blogging we didn’t talk about how to do a proper Vlog or any such thing. Fact is that I was one of the early adopters of the audio blog and people used to get pretty damn excited to hear my voice.

If you mentioned a social network we thought that you were trying to use some sort of quaint term for a party or that you had a really sad way of coming up with euphemisms for swingers.

Back in the day we enjoyed listening to nimrods and numb nuts ridicule us bloggers. It was fun to listen to them accuse us of being nerds who lived in the basements of our parent’s homes.

Confession: While you were busy laughing at us we hacked into your computers and wiped out your bank accounts. Sadly we discovered that you were a bunch of over leveraged, financial misfits who could barely pay for your own stuff, let alone keep us supplied in Corn Nuts, Crackerjacks and soda.

Damn you Yuppies for making me pay for my own Jolt cola, No Doz and Ding Dongs.

Way back in the day I could tell the tales of my youth and the youths that call me pa and be certain to receive 129 comments, good ones too. They weren’t peppered with spam or self promoting yobs who run around the blogosphere.

Speaking of that it reminds me of the 1,983,093 posts that tell you how to become a better blogger. Well your grumpy old man is going to finish this post with a tale that sums up his feelings on much of the blogging advice that is given out:

Mr Shapiro, sixty-five and a widower, was having a lonely time in Miami Beach. He observed a man of his own age who was never without female companionship, forever surrounding him, extending invitations and regaling him with amorous advances.

One day he worked up the courage to ask this paragon: “Mister, excuse me, what should I do to make friends like yours?”. The man sneered and said: “Get a camel. Then ride up an down Collins Avenue every day. Before you know it, everyone in Miami will be asking who that man is, and you will have to hire a social secretary to handle all of the invitations.

So Mr Shapiro purchased a newspaper and looked through the ads. By good fortune he read of a circus, stranded in Miami, in need of capital. Mr S. phoned the circus owner and within the hour he had rented a camel.

The next morning, Mr S. wearing khaki shorts and a pith helmet, set forth on his camel and on to Collins Avenue. Everywhere people stopped, buzzed, gawked and pointed. Every day for a week he rode his trusty steed.

One morning, as he was about to get dressed, the telephone rang. It was the parking lot attendant to tell him that his camel had been stolen. Mr S. called the police. Sergeant O’Riley answered.

“What…you say someone stole your camel?”

“That’s right”, said Mr S.

“I have to fill out a form”, said the sergeant, “How tall is the animal?”

“From the sidewalk to his back, where I sit, a good six feet.”

“What color is it?”

“Camel color, a regular camel-colored camel.”

“Was it male or female?”

“What?”

“Was the animal male or female?”

“How am I supposed to know that?

Wait a minute. Yes, it was a male.”

“Are you sure?”

“Absolutely.”

“But a minute ago you said you weren’t sure.”

“I’m positive, officer, because I just remembered…

Every time and every place I was riding on that camel, I heard people yelling:

“Hey, look at the shmuck on that camel!!”

A Whiter Shade Of Pale

Love and Hate

This is the kind of post that really should be told in person. There are stories and then there are STORIES about moments in which my face turned a whiter shade of pale. Some of them are tales that I tell with great joy and gusto because age has given me the ability to engage in self deprecation. There is a real art to it and it is a useful skill that many have turned to their advantage.

But there are other tales that I do not tell because they still pierce the thick skin that I have developed. These are moments that are only examined in quiet solitude and spoken about in a hushed whisper because sometimes in the quiet of the moment…it burns.

It feels foolish to admit this and say that some things still hurt. I am not sure why. I can’t say if it is because I am male and I don’t think that I should admit such things or if there is something else that lies beneath the surface. So I sit here at the computer trying to decipher the mystery of the moment while simultaneously searching for the proper moment to make mention of.  I explore the dark corners of my mind and dust off the cabinets that contain the chaos of the past and dare myself to go deeper.

In person it would be easier because the words that were spoken would die off in hushed whisper and the echoes would be brief. These words on this page don’t disappear and the echoes continue to bounce off of the canyons of cyberspace for eternity or however long this blog and all that record its words shall last.

It brings us to the moment where I can no longer try to deftly weave my way through the woods. Questions have been asked and answers must be given so here you shall find a few words that you can do as you see fit with.

The year is 1982.I am 13 years-old and in a Hebrew school play. They have adapted South Pacific to tell the story of a Jewish holiday. It is the standard fare of they tried to kill us, they lost, we won, let’s eat. I have a big role, but it is not the lead. Two weeks or so before the  big opening the kid who does have the lead drops out and the director asks if anyone can step in and take over. I don’t think twice and offer my services.

I am not fazed by the idea of having to sing in front of the school and parents. The joy of being 13 is that I don’t ever consider the possibility that things could go badly. I never worry about my voice cracking at odd times and places.  I never wonder what I will do when the entire audience roars with laughter because my singing is funny to them.

Nor do I consider that many of the students go to junior high with me and that they will gleefully tell the tale of how Jack can’t sing…for all of the Spring semester. 

This was a post for The Red Dress Club about embarrassment. I wouldn’t call it my finest work, but writing requires practice and this serves that purpose.

If you are interested in reading past submissions you can find a list of them below:

What I Want