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The Chronic Fatigue Cycle of Life

I’ve felt horrible the last four days.

I’m lucky to have a peanut butter sandwich on days like those. Cooking a full meal is akin to climbing Mount Everest. If it weren’t for boiled eggs, oatmeal, and milk, I’d probably dry up completely.

This morning however, I woke up at 5:00 without a headache. This, in and of itself, already puts me in a more positive frame of mind. After cleaning litter boxes and filling food bowls, I sit to rest, and vape while I quaff two cups of coffee. These are the only two ‘treatments’ that I rely on to get me into ‘work’ mode. Sometimes they make a big difference. I don’t trust doctors or the FDA anymore. How can they prescribe something to treat my condition, when they claim that they don’t even know what the hell has caused it?

I look at the studio equipment that I disassembled over a year ago. I really want to put that thing back into the operational mode, but today there are more pressing matters to attend to. The house has gone to hell over the last four days and I simply have to clean up.

I start the dishwasher, and drag a load of clothes into the laundry room. As that process plays out, I run my big, yet lightweight microfibre floor duster, then draw a big pan of hot water, and add plenty of bleach.

I have a big kitchen, a big den, the laundry room, and a bathroom to mop.

I’ve been in the ‘process’ of tiling the floors for the past two years. A few years back, my son helped me take up all of the carpet, because vacuuming that nonsense was becoming close to impossible for me.

I have three portions of the kitchen in a sort of ‘grid’. I mop one grid, then rest, vape, and drink more coffee while it dries. Then move on to the next portion. I have the entire floor done within an hour. Sufficiently warmed up, I start on the den, which is also where I ‘live’. My bed and everything is in there.

The rhythmic back-and-forth motion of mopping is beginning to make my back ache and tire, but I do my best to ignore the pain.

Half-way through the den, the washer signals that the laundry is ready to go into the dryer, but it really is nice outside today, so I haul the bed linens out to hang up and dry. Sun dried bed sheets are one of the finer things in life.

Another hour later, the den and bathroom floors are finished. I rest up and look at the studio equipment again. I’ve got at least twelve sketches of new tunes recorded into my phone, and I feel pressed to get them properly recorded.

I haven’t produced a new CD in almost three years, and am beginning to think that the format is a waste of time and energy. Owing to the fact that I am a visual artist as well as a songwriter, it only follows that I feel it necessary to do all of the cover art and liner notes myself. I’d like to just quit production of CDs, however the artist in me eschews mp3 files, and feels that in order to truly release songs, they must at least be recorded to CD to count as a ‘work’. I come from an era that the purchase and ownership of a physical product was part and parcel of a ‘music collection’.

I reflect on my immortality, and hope to the heavens that I do not die, leaving a bunch of orphaned tunes on my phone.

After putting another load into the clothes washer, I sit down at my desktop to work on a generation of my on-line genealogical tree that has been giving me a problem, but this is not what I really want to do. I see enough of this on days that I can do little else. Besides, the light from the screen hurts my eyes.

I need to get back to work. After folding the dried clothes, I empty the dishwasher, and then sit down to rest and vape. Darn it. Where did the time go? It’s a quarter to eleven, I’ve drained an entire pot of coffee, and I need to cook something. Won’t everyone be surprised when they get home! Oh, boy! A hot meal.

But I’m already feeling the effects of my efforts, and I’m thinking that tacos sound extreme enough for what is left of my energy reserves, so I start cooking the meat and chopping the onions. Repetitive motion tasks seem to be the worst. Onion chopping kills my arm now. The onset of fatigue is so quick that it still leaves me incredulous, but there was a time that I was capable of butterfly curls – 50 reps of 25 pounds – without breaking a sweat. Glory days.

After eating, I’m shot. Food affects me like a Valium, and sleep becomes unavoidable. While lying in bed and checking my Twitter feed, I glance across the room at my recording equipment once more. How many times in the past few years has this scenario played out? I can only hope that tomorrow will be as productive as today was, but experience has taught me that tomorrow I’ll most likely feel as if I’ve been beaten with a rubber hose because of today’s efforts.

If I’m lucky, I’ll feel better in a few days and will be able to begin the cycle all over again, but my chance of ever getting the studio back together looks slim from this side of life.

By the way – in the event that something unexpectedly happens to me, the code to open my phone is PEnnsylvania 6 – 5000. If there are any tunes on there, I would like to think that one of my musically inclined colleagues will take it upon themselves to finish those tunes for me.

The World Is Changing and Has Taken Me Hostage

Many years ago, I came to the conclusion that I wanted to own a shortwave radio. Nevermind the fact that I didn’t know anything about shortwave, or what would be waiting for me there. The medium simply offered the capability of hearing things I’d never heard before, and the radios had all kinds of knobs for adjustments and tweaking. Besides that, nobody else I knew listened to shortwave broadcasts, and that gave me even more reason to pursue the endeavour.

My first exposure to these fantastic devices came to me by way of the thick annual Radio Shack catalogue which at one time came through the mail. Radio Shack seemed to have one of everything back in the days before mobile phones and computers came along. They should have never attempted to change their business model, because they had a developed a unique niche in their market, and lost their identity in the newly booming digital world.

But out of all the items that the catalogue featured, my favorite section was all of the specialised radios they offered. There were receivers specifically designed for eavesdropping on police, medical teams, fire departments, train yards, ham operators, and yes, shortwave stations.

The primary impediment for me at this time, was of course money. Multiband radios were generally big, and expensive. Back when twenty dollars could purchase what two hundred will now buy, $229. for a radio was a dream that I could only envision. I used to think to myself, ‘If I were rich, I’d buy a shortwave radio.’ The thought of boats, automobiles, and houses never entered my mind.

My initial infatuation with the shortwave waned, and as years passed I married, and started a family. But within three short years, my fate once again changed as I found myself single again and embroiled in a messy divorce. The year was 1981.

With young daughter in tow, I moved back to the town that I was raised in, got a couple of part time jobs, rented myself a small house, and concentrated on the acquisition of new audio recording equipment in order to re-immerse myself in the music industry.

One Friday evening, after getting paid, I dropped my daughter off to visit my parents for the night, and then stopped into Radio Shack to pick up a couple of microphone stands. Something in the window caught my eye and made me stop in my tracks before even entering the store: The big DX 200 shortwave that I had lusted after so many years ago was displayed there, with a hand written sign which read, Closeout Item! Last one left. 50% off!

I walked out of the store that day, not with mic stands, but instead a big box with the coveted radio inside. I stopped at the corner market and got a six-pack. This party had been a long time coming.

As the sun sank lower, I popped a beer and began to build a long wire antenna, which would be required to hear the transmissions on the radio. I didn’t bother to ask my landlord if I could install it, because I knew that it would be all but invisible. I stealthily twisted a screw hook into the eve of the house and, tying a length of paracord into a slipknot, slid it onto the hook and tossed the other end of the paracord into my window. Once back inside I assembled the insulators and bare copper wire and waited for nightfall.

Soon it was dark, and I tossed the finished antenna out the window, grabbed a ladder and sneaked to the garage apartments behind my little house. Propping the ladder softly against the building, I uncoiled the antenna, climbed the ladder, cranked another screw hook into the apartment building and, hoisting the antenna up, pulled it taut and tied it off and scurried back inside with my ladder. My covert work had gone smoothly, and undetected.

I filled a bong, and when it was cashed, I went back into the room with another beer and prepared for the moment of truth.

After attaching the antenna lead to the radio, I turned it on. The big drum dials lit the room up with a warm glow, and the static was punctuated with unfamiliar undulating howls and electrical crackling. I cranked the dial and before long, a big, strong station was booming through in English. However, the news programme was full of strange headlines and weird stories of World War II. Finally at the top of the hour, a powerful voice boomed out, “This.. is the External Service of Radio Moscow!”

I flipped out. I was listening to a Soviet broadcast!! I turned down the volume and looked around. I began to wonder if this was even legal activity, or if I would be viewed as a Communist sympathiser if anyone found out.

I reckon I stayed awake most of the night listening to Radio Beijing, Swiss Radio International, Radio Yugoslavia, and the BBC World Service, among others. I was in complete awe that I could lie on my bed and listen to a radio station on the other side of the World. The impact of how amazing this was at the time will probably be lost the younger reader. These days, we’re so used to turning on the computer and getting Tweets from all over the globe, and news broadcasts from Al Jazerra, the world seems like such a small place in comparison. During the eighties, when cable television was just coming into widespread availability, I was the only person that I knew who was able to get news from other parts of the world, without being at the mercy of the American news services ‘filtering’ what they thought I ‘needed’ to know.

Flash forward to a couple of nights ago.

I climbed into bed, plugged my Sony MDR-7506 headphones into my android, opened the University of Twente website (which is located in the Netherlands*), accessed the Wideband WebSDR, and began sliding my finger across the screen to tune into shortwave stations that were audible in that area of Europe at 2:00 GMT.

As I lay in the darkness, I stared into the screen, and wondered why this hobby no longer held the excitement for me that it once did.

* For anyone who may be interested, go to: Faculty for Electrical Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science

Overuse Of the Word ‘I’ Reaching Epidemic Proportions Worldwide

Having received more than a few inquiries from my Facebook friends and ReverbNation associates about my intermittent activity on the Internet, the following explanation is offered. As most everyone knows, these sites are capable of consuming huge hunks of time and it is with this knowledge that I have made a conscious decision to avoid the computer in order to devote all of my energy to songwriting, recording, and turning wrenches. Therefore, for the past month or so, I’ve been immersed in recording, guitar repair, and cylinder head work.

Inasmuch as the songwriting portion goes, there is, what I like to refer to as ‘passive’ songwriting. That is to say that I don’t ‘try to write’. It has become my modus operandi to simply let the music and songs come to me as they will, and the process works out rather well. Once in the ‘recording mode’, the songs just begin to filter down, and all that is left for me to do is to get onto tape what I hear in my head. That may sound somewhat esoteric and arcane, but this is simply the best way to describe it.

If I try to write, everything tends to turn out sounding redundant and contrived. This I hate. Once the process begins, however, it is something that is quite constant, and I find it more conservative in regard to total time spent to give myself over to it completely until such time that it ceases of its own accord, thus my absence from the Internet sites is duly noted and addressed.

I do like to post a blog on occasion when a subject comes to mind. It helps me keep up appearances.

A bit more on writing to those who may be interested.

A couple of weeks ago, my son was reading a piece I’d written earlier.

“You’ve used the word ‘I’ too many times,” he observed. It was humble pie directly to the face. My own advice had come back to haunt me.

“True,” I conceded, “but I was writing about me.”

“That doesn’t matter,” he continued, “you can always reword a sentence to avoid overuse. You used it six times in one sentence.”

He was right. I was identified with my subject matter and there had been a strong emotional attachment, which explained everything.

For many years now, it has been a practice of mine never to write a song in first person. To my way of thinking, this leads to no good. It also is the best way to develop writer’s block, create boring subject matter and come across as being self absorbed. When one writes in this fashion, the possibilities are immediately limited to ones’ own experiences. I don’t intend to speak for anyone else, but life has been pretty boring insofar as writing songs about me goes.

At best, all first person writing is good for is a couple of sappy love songs, and few more blues songs after the relationship has gone kaput.

Now, we all can name songs which have been written about courtship, and then there’s a couple of wedding tunes, but can anyone name a ‘We’ve Been Married Twenty Years’ song? Not too many ‘Honey, I’m Picking Up a Gallon of Milk and a Newspaper, See You at Six’, or ‘Meatloaf Serenade’ songs out there, are there?

Sure, there are songs full of promise, and tunes such as ‘I Love You More Today Than Yesterday’, but I can’t say with any amount of certainty that Dude was married when he wrote that.

This isn’t to reflect badly on marriage, it’s just that there’s such a limited amount of material there.

Unless you want to count that stupid ‘Pina Colada’ song by that guy whose name I don’t even remember.

Oh yeah. Rupert Holmes. What a dillweed.

Damn it.

Now that nonsense will be playing in my head all day long and I won’t get any work done. Sheesh. I hate that freaking song.

See why I stay off of the computer when I’m trying to write and compose?

The Mercurochrome Link to White Knuckle Gaming

That does it. I’m suing everybody for everything. Nothing is my fault and I just realised it.

I thought I was over it. The Nintendo 64 had been sitting on the shelf for years, untouched.

Sure, I’d played the 64 with my son when he was a kid. You know, why not? I had the toys, the candy bars, the paregoric, the mind-numbing Loony Tunes. I had the comic books, the Matchbox cars, and the model locomotives. Shouldn’t he have had a chance to enjoy it all, too?

So his mom bought him a Nintendo 64. The games were largely innocuous and cute: Zelda, Mario 64, Rainbow Six, Mohammad Ali Championship Boxing, Madden 98 (nothing to make him want to go out and mutilate anyone like the Black Sabbath, the Judas Priest, and Blue Oyster Cult did that I used to listen to), Aerial Assault, Star Wars… Oh…..and Mario Kart.

I looked at the dust covered gaming console too long. I remembered too much. Suddenly, I was a recovering heroin addict who was having his old drug of choice proffered to him again.

God damn Mario Kart. Images of Peach and Yoshi drifted through my mind. My blood boiled anew. I slowly reached for the device, and my palms were already moist with perspiration.

——————————————————————–

When I was a kid, we’d all be outside playing, and sometimes one of us would fall and tear part of our tender little bodies open. It was an occurrence that we all dreaded and that we would try to wish away. One day, I ripped my knee open pretty badly. All of the other kids stopped playing to assess the damage as well, and looked at me solemnly.
“Are you gonna have to go home?” they’d ask.
Another would inquire, “Do ya’ll have Merthiolate or Iodine?”
“No,” I’d answer, “all we have is Mercurochrome.” My response would send a shudder throughout the group that you could feel and see.

Mercurochrome is how I developed my four octave scream. Even today, uttering the word even makes me tingle in a way that is vaguely uncomfortable. It conjures up something dark, evil, and foreboding. Mercurochrome.

Now, any compound which has, as its root words Mercury and Chrome, can’t be too good to smear into an open wound of any organic being. But as a kid, we were all routinely dipped up to the neck in this shit.

The kid who lived across the street from me rocked incessantly and would cry when jets flew overhead.

Another who lived farther up in the neighborhood would suddenly snap and beat other children up. He’s the only twelve year old I ever knew who had the “hundred yard stare.”

Me? I had a little fling with OCD. I hid it most of the time, but I’d give it free run when I was out playing by myself. I say the same word over and over and over and over and over and over and over. I’d hold my breath and then stagger it until I got it all back in time with something that I didn’t understand. I was a slave to ADD all throughout my time in school, although I wasn’t diagnosed until I was in my forties. All of my afflictions came out in the form of art or music or mailbox bashing. I got over the bat wielding, but the effects of the Mercurochrome still make themselves apparent in my music from time to time:

http://www.reverbnation.com/johnnynowhere/song/10524830-equinox

————————————————————–

Or…..when I play Mario Kart.

And before I know it, there I go. I’m hooking up the console…desperately seeking RCA patch cables. I can’t find them after a two hour sweep of the house, and I find myself hunkered over my project bench, soldering cables up in the sweltering heat of the halogen lamp… and I know that it already has a hold on me. By God, I’m giving it to Mario Kart. Next I’m blowing in the cartridge, washing my hands, using alcohol and then talc.. getting ready.. to win. Charlie Sheen is right. It is all about winning, and my son’s ancient Nintendo 64 has shown me the way.

I go white knuckle so fast, and want to kill Toad and that stupid little lizard. As a matter of fact, I get to where I can’t stand my own driver. I’ll crash him into walls and see if he can virtually die if he pounds the wall hard enough. I hate the controller. I want to jerk the game out of my mind by the roots because I know that I’ve blown the lid off of my self-imposed moratorium and am completely re-addicted. I won’t stop until I win every course, curse every driver to hell, or hurl the controller through the television screen in total disgust.

Or until drained, I slowly rise from the couch and turn off the set and awaken from this video induced hypnotism. My God, it’s two thirty in the morning. It seems like it was just eleven a.m.

Telling myself to just unplug the game and put it away, hide it in a closet, or take the evilness to the Goodwill outlet to bait some other poor fool, I go to bed and cry myself to sleep at night.

But the console sits in the floor still. Until the next time that I look at it, and feel that shiver of excitement… and then the uncontrollable rage.

So you see.. none of this. is.. my fault.

I’m suing everybody.

Johnny Nowhere is a songwriter who is currently undergoing therapy.

Spots, The Forever Cat

Spots was quietly absent Sunday evening. I looked for her, but she was not on the roof. She was not lying in the seat of the truck. She was not in any of the resting places that I could normally find her.

This mildly disturbed me, for Spots had been lame for the past week or so, her right hind leg slipping out from under her as she made her way along. Taking notice of this, I’d resolved to moving her about, first to one place and the other, that she would telegraph to me where she wanted to be, in order to keep her from having to use the leg. I figured that over time, the leg would heal, and that she would resume her normal activities. But upon finding her missing, I was filled with an unsettling emptiness.

Now I believe that Spots has left home, for what will be the last time.

It isn’t as if she hadn’t done it all before. Yes, she’d done it several times, and each time, after two or three weeks, after I’d convinced myself that I’d never see her again, she would invariably, and when it was least expected, appear, sashaying up the driveway, much to my incredulity. But did she arrive emaciated and haggard? To the contrary, she looked as if she’d been living in the lap of luxury: coat gleaming, and every whisker in place.

Of course, I’d charge out with equal portions of joy and disbelief, and embrace her in my arms. I’d make a big fuss and scold her for making me worry, while she ignored me with the detached nature that cats are generally hated for.

Spots is a yellow tabby who elected to spend a portion of her life in close proximity with me. Mostly at my prompting and tempting. Cats have no emotion. None. This seems to be the source of the distaste that many people hold for these animals.

Most folks seem to want an animal that, in contrast, is wholly dependent on them. They enjoy ‘owning’ an animal which they can exercise a certain level of control over.

Cats are among the most persecuted animals in the history of man. They’ve been tried as witches, exterminated on account of idiotic superstitions (with dire results) and accused of killing babies by, ‘stealing their breath’. The primary reason, I think, that cats are despised, is because they cannot be controlled, manipulated, nor tamed practically. We cannot ‘own’ cats. We can lock them up in our homes, we can attempt to regulate their feedings in order to feel more ‘in control’, but cats eat when, and what they want to. Cats choose to become domesticated, and only when it suits their needs.

If a cat becomes ‘homeless’ and left to his or her own devices, it will not only survive, but thrive. Cats can easily swing from domesticated to feral living. The poor dog however, having the common sense of its brother the wolf bred completely out of it over millennia, will generally starve without intervention of human compassion.

I hold a quiet, yet firm, respect for cats for the very reason that most people hate them.

I wonder how many times the same scenario plays out; we, for some reason or another, and with misgivings, take on some stray animal that doesn’t necessarily appeal to us, but out of the aforesaid compassion that many others seem to be completely devoid of, take the hapless creature home, only to fall helplessly in love with it over the period of time that we are blessed to be in company of it.

This is precisely how Spots came into my life to eventually become my favorite companion.

While working for a client during the summer of 2006, he asked if I might be kind enough to ‘eliminate’ a certain supposedly feral cat, which he had surreptitiously observed meandering around one of the dumpsters on his property.
I’d seen the cat before.

Spots Doin' Her Thang Feb

The first time was when I observed her moving stealthily through the forest behind the complex. Five minutes later, I had witnessed three dogs, hot on her trail. Ten minutes afterward, I saw the same cat negotiating her way in the opposite direction. I had to hand it to the cat. She was cool.

Engaging in discussion with those living in the vicinity, I ascertained that, although many people had taken to feeding the cat irregularly (thereby negating my client’s claim of the animal’s being feral), she seemed to belong to no one . However, this cat had it made. I thereby resolved that I would have nothing to do with the ‘disposal’ of the feline, but rather directed my son, who happens to be very good with animals in general, to try and lure the cat to him, which he did in short order.

Bringing her into where we had been performing work, and were presently breaking for lunch, the cat nonchalantly walked over to where I was sitting, and took a bite of my blueberry bagel. I decided there and then that nothing else would do but to take the poor thing back to my home, where two other cats were currently residing along with us.

I eventually settled on calling her ‘Spots’, on account of the unusual looking darker circular stripes which formed a sort of target pattern on either side of her body.

As is the custom of cats, she displayed a penchant for the outdoors, which is where she has lived out the remainder of her, eternally mysterious, life.

Spots, not particularly caring for the company of other cats, preferred instead to live a life of solitude. Wishing to avoid the others, who also went outdoors during the day, she finally settled on the following routine: Quite early in the morning, she would be waiting at the door for me to feed her, after which time she would wind her way down the long and steep drive, spending the remainder of the day in various places down the hill. In the evening around six, I’d round up the others, whistling the tune of Beethoven’s ‘Fur Elise’. After they’d been recalled and safely indoors, Spots could be seen making her way idly up the hill where, eating her evening meal, she would stay outside on ‘guard duty’ until the next morning.

Years later, I began to refer to Spots as the ‘The Forever Cat’ because during a time that the coyotes were especially problematic for me, and losing three other cats to them, Spots continued negotiating the long, steep drive, lined with kudzu on either side, unscathed.

Spots and I spent countless nights sitting in front of the fireplace on cold nights, over the course of many a winter. We would talk about all kinds of things together, although I must admit that she did most of the listening.

She never appeared to age. Eight years on, she looked exactly the same, and I have the photos to prove it. I’d finally convinced myself that she was immortal. I’d decided that Spots was indeed the forever cat, neither being born nor dying.

Today is day three, and she still has not shown up, but you can bet that I have been looking for her, but to no avail. If poor Spots felt that the end was near, she would have nothing of being catered to any longer. And by no means would she lower herself to having someone watch her die. She was fiercely independent in life, and I can only imagine her as such in death.

There will be no grave for the one I so revere.

Spots the Forever Cat 2011 copy

I look out through the forest, continuing to call her name in my signature sharp, strident tone, but I fear that my poor forever cat has disappeared into the same setting from which I first saw her creeping so long ago.

Farewell, old girl.

4 July, 2013

I used to think of myself as a rebel. I thought that my generation would be instrumental in rearranging the rules of the game for the betterment of mankind. We all seemed to have great, lofty paragons, and spoke as if we knew exactly what was wrong with the world and what needed to be done to repair the damage.

So we sat around, smoked dope and made fun of the ‘system’. We were, in our minds, what constituted ‘Rebels’.

Forty-something years later, I now realise what idiots we really were. Some of us are still wearing what hair we have left in thin little ponytails, some still smoking dope, and some of us are still blowing smoke up each others asses, talking about how much we’ve changed the world, when in reality, we haven’t changed anything one iota; in fact, through our primarily passive ‘resistance’, we’ve only succeeded in making things worse.

I remember all of the talk of ‘love’ and ‘peace’, and the ‘freedom’ to do what the hell we pleased, and the anti-government ‘Down with the Man’ and ‘Fuck the System’ mantras. Clapton was God and Lennon was Jesus. Both men turned out to be little more than human.

Likewise, we’ve bullshitted ourselves into believing that we’re capable of changing things that can’t be changed, imagining ourselves ‘saving the planet’ (or at least our portion of it), and obnubilating equal rights with ‘special treatment’ (equal rights having been granted several decades before). Our generation will be remembered as the first generation who thought of nobody but themselves.

Our parents busted their collective asses to make the world a safer and better place for us, and in a way diametrically opposed to how they’d lived most of theirs: destitute child laborers, farm-hands, cold, hungry, and shoeless during the summer. Children without a childhood. Kids who were forced into the hard reality of life from the time they were old enough to work in the field, chop firewood, cook, sew, milk cows.

Those of whom, by the time they’d reached their twenties and having rarely left the county they’d grown up in, were then called upon to participate in a war half a world away, and from which many of them would never return.

The war also forced women to re-evaluate their purpose in life and fill a void in industry and technology that the young men had been expected to fill. They cut sheet metal, welded, and drove rivets, building the B-52 bomber, the Sherman tank and the P-51 Mustang.

And even though the government sent their young-men-without-a-childhood off to die in another country for a cause they couldn’t fully comprehend, they gave it their all unquestioningly, because they had an undying desire to change the world for the betterment of mankind. And for their own children. That is, for those men fortunate enough to return in one piece, get married, and have children.

My generation are those children.

We grew up being given a childhood that our parents never had the opportunity to experience. We had Bugs Bunny, breakfast cereal, electric trains, a proper education, and Rock ‘n Roll. In a word, our parents had provided us with everything that they’d never imagined themselves as having. And they shared it with us. They also attempted to give us a standard of values which we had no chance of being able to appreciate. Although they meant well, they created a monster by spoiling the shit out of us.

Our accomplishments dim in comparison to those of our parents. Although our parents’ generation had already proven that women could do anything that men could do, be it plough fields or build battleships, my generation imagined unparalleled ‘accomplishment’ with Billie Jean King’s defeat of dinosaur tennis star Bobby Riggs , and Gloria Steinham’s idiotic bra-burning ‘statement’.

And even when we’d basically grown into adults, all of our parents talk about ‘responsibility’ and ‘planning for the future’ sounded like so much nonsense. We’d been living carefree for this long, why should it stop? Why should we ever have to take anything besides ourselves seriously as long as we could extoll our imaginary virtues?

Dream on. That’s our motto.

We’re a generation of girly-men and manly-women, and we’re damn proud of it. We do ‘important’ things such as keep up with the Hollywood elite, watch sporting events on television, drink beer, and screw around on the computer. In actuality very few of us know how to do anything at all in order to survive. How far we’ve fallen.

Rebels, my ass.

George Washington was a rebel, as were John Hancock, Alexander Hamilton, and Thomas Jefferson. These men were willing to, in the words of Benjamin Franklin, “hang together or most certainly hang apart”. Our ancestors’ generations were those of action. Ours is a generation of slogans, banners and protest marches. Ours is a generation who gets ‘offended’ when someone says something ‘hurtful’. What a spineless, disappointing lot we all are. The white Americans, having done nothing to apologise for, are constantly apologising for something, even if they have to make up a reason. The black Americans, most having never even seen a field of cotton, awaken every day, reminding themselves that they’re black first and Americans second, burdening themselves with all of their imitative anger, and sneering as if they were still in shackles. The truth is far worse. All our shackles exist only in our imaginations, but by God, we’ll justify wearing them, using all sorts of gallant arguments in defense of our ’cause’.

We will leave behind a legacy of ruin. We can’t blame Roosevelt and Nixon forever, they only played a small part in our demise. We must charge Bush and Obama as well.

China owns us, Saudi Arabia owns us, Mexico owns us, and Japan owns us. And every other nation, under the guise of the UN, dictates what we can and can’t do, all the while doing anything they choose. The most amazing thing is that we host these manipulative parties within our very own borders. Our dollar is worthless. We manufacture nothing and buy everything. Especially the bullshit that our politicians and the media serve up. They’ve confused us so, the blue collar worker entrusts the blind trust-rich politician to regulate his employer out of the country, and the destitute families entrust their representitives to keep them in chains, preferring their petty welfare allowance to true freedom.

As Hyphenated-Americans proliferate, and patriots are aspersed as conspiracy theorists, the Constitution, being depicted as ‘old-fashioned’, is systematically disassembled by a group of sharp dressed traitors up in Washington.

Our country is slowly becoming that very beast from which our forebearers desperately fled.

Happy Birthday, America.

The Silent Minority

I am a member of one of the largest minorities on the face of the Earth. For the most part, we keep our mouths shut and deal with the problems which we face every day of our lives. We have no special interest groups supporting our ’cause’, we do not lobby Congress crying about our disadvantage in society, and there are no government grants funding any studies into our predicament nor how to diminish it. Unless you are one of us, you cannot begin to fathom how hard life can be, but allow me to tell you a bit about us and enlighten you of our plight.

I’ll begin by telling you that we were born this way.

We come in either sex (no, not gender), all races, and we can be heterosexual, homosexual, or transexual. We can be either rich or poor, midget or monster, homeless or president. Things are neither ‘fair’ nor ‘equal’ in our world. We are discriminated against in the workplace, military service, manufacturing, goods and services, and in education. In some societies, our class is looked upon as ‘unclean’ or possessed, and laws have been established depriving us of exercising our sway openly, forcing us into a way of life that is neither comfortable nor natural.

But today, I am coming out …as a left-handed individual.

I’m coming out against the baseball coaches who stuck me out in left field, the jackass who told me that if I wasn’t right I was wrong, and especially all of those who told me “You’ll never be able to do it that way.”

I am coming out against the ‘instructors’ in academia who’ve had the audacity to try and change me and who have ignored my requirements. I’m coming out against those corporations who view me as a ‘second-class’ consumer, who pretend to offer me ‘special order’ items which are, in actuality, half-assed second run pieces of crap, all the while charging me freaking extra.

Here’s the short list of my grievances:

1) I’m tired of reading my own coffee cup. 2) I’m tired of the numerical pad being on the right-hand side of my keyboard. 3) I’m tired of having to crane my neck across the shrapnel to see whether or not I’m cutting on the line when using a Skilsaw. 4) I’m tired of having to operate an ice cream scoop with my index finger. 5) I’m tired of reaching across a rifle to operate the bolt, 6) I’m sick and tired of so-called ‘left-handed’ scissors. 7) A steel tape measure, for instance; if I grasp the body in my left hand and yank the tape out to measure and – oh, look! This one must be defective, all of the numbers are upside-down. 8) And I’m tired of books being made backwards. Take a book and flip it on its face, open it from left to right. That is the way I want to read a book.

You right-handers probably never have stopped to think about any of this, have you? You’ve all been raised to think that it’s all about you and your needs. As Southpaws, we’re forced to work through these and other handicaps every day of our lives. And has anyone ever thought to devote a special month, even a single day, to our continued struggle? Hell no. But let us open our mouths to complain in the presence of a right-hander and all we get is a moment of hesitancy, a dumb stare and the inevitable “It’s not that big a deal…just turn it around.” Insensitivity abounds.

Oh yeah, and 9) I’m tired of being offered colour choice ‘options’ of black, white, or sunburst by every guitar maker in existence.

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When I was seventeen, I’d been writing lyrics for a few years before deciding that learning to play guitar had become a necessity. I began shopping around for an affordable instrument but was basically blown off in all of the music stores. Predictably, they’d have rows of right-handed instruments but I was lucky to find a single left-handed instrument in the lot. One salesman suggested that I just learn right-handed. “They don’t make many guitars for left-handed people,” he told me. “There just aren’t enough who want to play.” Well, no damn wonder.

Finally a good friend scored an old used Harmony acoustic and he let me have it for five bucks. It was right-handed, to be sure. I didn’t know the first thing about how to tune it or anything. It only had five strings, and they were so high above the neck I could limbo under them. It made my fingertips so sore to chord it, I resorted to fumbling around, attempting to play slide using a Bic lighter. I held the guitar left-handed, however. I was told at the music store that there were no left-handed guitar teachers and that most teachers wouldn’t even accept left-handed students. Nobody has to tell me about discrimination, I’ve lived it.

Over the years, I traded up to better guitars and learned a thing or two about adjusting and tuning them, but as I kept learning, I continued adding to my original and convoluted approach of playing a right-handed guitar left-handed, (strung right-handed) until finally, in 1996, twenty years after starting, and while working in a music store myself, I bought my first left-handed guitar, a Fender Telecaster. Now I could learn to play properly, I thought. It was hopeless. I couldn’t play anything on it. My unconventional angle had become too ingrained in my fingers to overcome. Two days later, I was at work early, filing a right-handed nut for the neck. After adjusting the intonation and restringing my new guitar right-handed, I was good to go.

And I can’t begin to express the kinship that I felt when I learned that Albert King, Paul McCartney, and several others had all been impelled to learn as I had. I realised that I was in good company, and more importantly, that I wasn’t alone.

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In school and college, all of you right-handers were given the opportunity to pull your pencils across the paper while I had to push mine, which took considerably more time, but all our papers were due at the same time. As a result, my work was never completed and I looked ‘stupid’. If I had things my way, left-handers would all be allowed to write from right to left so that we could actually read what we’d just written. They didn’t even consider us when it came to desk design. Desks, whether you realise it or not, were made to comfortably accomodate right-handed people only. As a result, all left-handers’ arms hung off of the desk. We would compensate for this by leaning forward to meet the receeding edge of the desk and then curving our hand back toward ourselves in the cramped space in order to see what the hell we were doing. When I asked for a left-handed desk, I actually got laughed at.

Finally, after ten years of being forced to write backwards, I rebelled in high school. I began in the back of my spiral notebooks, writing on the opposing page so that I no longer had to lay my wrist across the metal spiral. While everyone else was going around wearing peace symbols on their T-shirts and supporting some mass ‘movement’ that they seemed to know aught of, I was writing my term papers backwards, in cursive, so that the teachers would have to read my work in a mirror. Ineluctably, they’d moan. Then I’d start in with my diatribe. I reminded them that they had nothing to complain about. This was my war.

I’ve mellowed out a little bit with age; however, as a assertion of my independence, I still sign my name backwards.

On one of the occasions that I was in the process of renewing my driver license, I signed my name as I always do. The big, fat, black woman behind the badge behind the desk, taking notice, said, “Ay, you cain’ do dat!” which flew all over me.

I looked hard into her eyes and said, “Prove it.”

Off she went, shortly returning with her supervisor, another black female.

“He cain be signin’ his name like dis, can he?” she asked in proclaimation as they returned, shoving the form at her supervisor. (I imagined how she would have reacted if I’d informed her that she shouldn’t be speaking like a character in a Joel Chandler Harris* book.)

The other woman looked at the form. “What is this?” she asked, staring blankly at my name.

“It is my name written in my own hand,” I answered.

“But you s’posd to stot ovah heah!” the fat black woman gesticulated with her finger at the ‘X’ on the form.

“It doesn’t state that I’m to start there, only to sign there, which I did, what’s the difference?”

The other lady gave me a notepad and asked me to sign my name, which I did. “Oh, you write it backwards!” her eyes widened, “why do you do that?”

“I’m left-handed,” I replied, “and that’s how I write.”

Her Fatness says, “Wuh, my sistah’s lef-handed, but she don’ write like dat.”

I looked at her. “I’m not a slave to a right-handed world.” I stated flatly.

You could’ve heard a pin drop. They looked at one another. The supervisor walked off and Rotunda processed my application.

That is what I call ‘respect’ and I earned it, I didn’t demand it.

Now, about that National paid holiday for left-handers only…

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*Joel Chandler Harris is better known as ‘Uncle Remus’, his pen name. A great deal of history has been re-written by politically correct whitey apologists, painting Harris in bad light, subsequently stirring up a pseudo-ruckus in the black community and causing his work to be pulled from school libraries as ‘unsuitable’ and ‘offensive’.

Bullshit.

In actuality, as a child, Harris would spend a great deal of time with the black slaves that his family ‘owned’, although he was firmly reprimanded for doing so. He was captivated by the lore and legends that they would tell him. Years later, Harris recounted these stories in many books, capturing the sound of their voices through phonetic spelling while maintaining the colorful colloquialisms they had used. The majority of slaves were illiterate at the time, so Harris did a great deal to preserve these tales for future generations. However, Joel wasn’t black, so naturally, when the aforementioned self-defecating apologists over-corrected, they careened headlong into Harris, accusing him of bigotry.

It pains me to see Harris’ material passed off as some sort of ‘racist’ commentary these days. While modern American blacks, all of whom have been granted the ability to read and write, butcher their own English into the semi-recognised (and wholly artificial) pidgin known as ‘Ebonics’ with pride, they are concurrently coerced into trashing Harris’ work, which was actually a keepsake of their own ancestors vernacular.