Friday, February 28, 2014


In 1978, author Stephen King published "The Stand," believed by many to be his seminal work. The Apocalyptic novel was published by Random House, which, according to King, called for editing to bring down the book's total page count. In the latest, expanded version's Preface, King noted the publisher did not want to charge beyond $12.95 back in the '70s to readers who were book shopping.

However, about a decade later, in 1990, King released the current 'Stand,' which is a voluminous 1,647 pages. Consequently, this expanded version of the tale was re-released in 2012 by First Anchor Books, a division of Random House. I purchased this version of the work online at Google Play for $7.99. And, I am fairly certain it is the best money I ever put out for a novel.

For many people, King's work transcends the "Horror" brand because, so often, his characters and settings are incredibly complete and that "horror" aspect of his work intrudes into the believable lives being lived by his characters. For me, this is the highest praise one could offer an author, particularly an author writing within the Horror genre.

As King says in his Preface, the additional pages in 'The Stand' do not offer alternative actions or crucial nuggets to his story. However, these additional pages do offer deeper insight into the characters presented in the book.

For me, the character of "Larry Underwood" benefits most from the expanded vision of 'The Stand.' I saw the 1990's film based on 'The Stand,' read the original release of the book and was always, always left in doubt about why exactly this character was insecure about so much. This version of the book cleared absolutely everything up for me.

In addition, in the film, certain characters within the story were fused together for the sake of brevity. While this did not mar the story for me, when compared with the expanded book, it was clear that much had been amputated not only by the film but also the original book. Though there was an expanded roll call of characters from the film in the original work, their cameos were sometimes not as thoroughly explained as they might have been. Again, this version of the book solves that problem.

Without providing a spoiler, the character of "Rita Blackmoor" plays such a pivotal part in this story that I am surprised she was missing in the film, and I truly did not understand her as well in the first book as I now do. Her contribution to this work is so powerful that I know King must have suffered curtailing her role for the sake of time, insofar as the film, and space, where the original work was concerned.

 In addition, I believe this 'Stand' goes far into giving new layers to "Stu Redman" and "Nick Andros." In my estimation, the film shows Redman in a thoroughly heroic light, without providing as much insight to his personality as I would like. Consequently, Redman enters into the range where he borders on being a stereotype in some ways. And, insofar as Andros is concerned, the film paints him as an enigma, a cypher, in many ways, who has a mystical quality without much elaborated upon. Similarly, there is some of this for both character in the original book, though to a lesser extent than in the film.

Yet, after reading this 'Stand,' Redman is flesh-and-blood for me, as is Andros. I might add that this rendition of King's work also cuts deep into the inner-workings of villain "Harold Lauder," and -- dare I say -- I even started having some sympathy for this guy.

So, this was an amazing read for me and I recommend it to anyone who likes the original work or the film. In many ways, 'The Stand' has become a cult phenomenon. As I said in the beginning of this piece, many consider this King's greatest work, though King does not. He has said more than once that, for him, his 'Dark Tower' series occupies that place in his heart. And, after reading that series, I can understand why. Nevertheless, it is clear that the audience for 'The Stand' has a special affinity for this work and I seriously doubt if interest in this book will diminish all that much with the passing of time.

Is 'The Stand' a classic work of American literature? Despite the mewling criticism of coffee house critics and their Goth-inspired legions of supporters, who largely worship obscure works by academic writers...yes. Yes, Stephen King is one of the pre-eminent authors of our age and deserves to be seen in much the same light Edgar Allen Poe or Sir Arthur Conan Doyle garnered during the 19th century.

I think so many of us in the reading public thank our lucky stars that we lived in a time when we had Herman Wouk, John Jakes, Tom Clancy...and yes...Stephen King, among others.

Thursday, February 27, 2014


"Iron Mike" is a wonderful statue that stands (I think still) at Ft. Bragg, North Carolina. If there is a piece of artwork that is central to what the Airborne is and who these very dedicated young men and women are, collectively speaking, it would have to be him. There are religious sculptures in this world that do not get the admiration and awe afforded Iron Mike by the generations of troopers.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

THE UNITED STATES: Bigger than bad guys and gals

It will always be a "Grand Old Flag" -- sometimes grander than others
There have been historic plagues in our country: Racism, sexism and discrimination against the poor, to name just a few. Yes, these are the plagues Americans have dealt with since the founding of our nation; there has been no short supply of challenges. So why is it so much more corrupt today than it was 50 or 60 years ago?

Well, I am glad you asked, because if you are on my site and I am not on yours then that is wanting to listen to my rantings.

Do you remember Young Mr. Lincoln or Mr. Smith Goes To Washington? By the way, if you are not from that generation, I have no idea why you are here and reading this. Anyway, even though we, as Americans, did not have a "perfect union," nor a perfect government or a perfect system of juris prudence, it was the hope and dream of most Americans to have a system as fair and balanced as it could be -- as virtuous and humble as possible. In the world before the Age of Technology blossomed, to borrow from the Rev. Dr. Martin L. King, Jr. somewhat, it was truly the content of one's character that determined their stars, with some significant editing there, and not some enigmatic and nonsensical combination of one's haircut and social media strategies that were responsible for their economic and familial future.

People nowadays are too damn self-absorbed and self-oriented to understand or appreciate the traditional virtues of the American. Of course, there are also those that want to turn the clock back physically, so they can reinvent the worst parts of the American experience -- and they are a disaster as well.

Young Americans do not understand how much sacrifice went into them and this world they romp around in. Maybe every generation says this of the newer one coming up, but this is my truth and there it is. I am not offended by this generational response so much as deflated about the death, the wanton murder and the cremation of the American Dream I knew and the dream of our nation as being that 'Golden City on the Hill' that it has, so often in the past, been characterized as, with some accuracy.

Our politicians today are common thieves, looters of the American trust. And, don't tell me about political parties. They're all the same thing, small men and women unable to do a day's work except in the comfortable, privileged chairs of the public trust.

The Courts today simply support the richest of Americans and otherwise are there to keep the prisons filled to support the criminal justice system and all of the cronies and magpies that circle around it. Vultures. The only distinction we have in the Developed World is that the United States has more people in prison than any other First World Country: 'We're No. 1, We're No. 1!'

Our military...has been more professional, and I will leave it at that. I will never degrade the men and women in uniform. It is not the fault of the service member that standards slip -- it is the fault of the commanders above them.

Our Press and Media today: They can barely read and write the now-Ancient Tongue of their mothers and fathers. They have a scant vocabulary, are mystified by the function of a colon and seem to struggle to get through a fair sentence let alone impose any journalistic tradition upon it.

Insofar as education is involved -- America leads no one in this world in anything remotely academic. We are almost an illiterate nation of crude techies. Today, even college graduates from such esteemed places as Rutgers, Haverford, Rowan and Fairleigh Dickinson, to name a few, produce writers and professional people with a strong familiarization with reading and grammar, but well short of written or linguistic English fluency. And, when we discuss hard sciences -- let's not. These "graduates" are academic jacks of all trades, and masters of none. They know their ways around game consoles much better than anything vaguely scientific.

Economically, the United States has all the strength of a mediocre Third World country, insofar as the lower classes are concerned. Homeless walk our streets unabated like "Untouchables" in India. The powers that be reinvented American royalty in the form of lawyers, industrialists, captains of industry and similar trash. Of note, these great American industrialists and 'captains of industry' have all but committed treason in sending American jobs overseas (and it will go unanswered because we are a country of rules today, not of vision or common sense). The wealthy few craft our society around their greed: above us and not held to any common law.

Religion is a mess...I don't know who is more corrupt, our 21st century politicians or pastors (of every religion). It is a train-wreck, a ridiculous farce of what faith once represented in our nation. So many special-interest groups have used Lady Liberty to wipe their feet on so that she has become a vagrant on her own streets, a stranger in the kingdom of the top 2 percent of wealthiest people, who are destroyers of the Great Society and our Great Nation.

The old never launch revolutions. Oh, maybe when we were young we did. But, with time comes resignation. Things are what they are, I suppose. I rant, knowing it is absolutely useless but do so only to have vent to the pressure of truth that compels me to express myself.

Is there any hope I see? Yes, in the far-flung future, where the White Patriarchal Majority no longer exists and when diversity is the rule of the day. It will be time for the purveyors of perverse governance to give it up and yield to that new American majority that is coming fast; people who will not use the words of our forefathers as a punch-line in some joke someone is telling at a Fortune 100 mixer over Scotch. One day, the United States will not only be the largest Hispanic country in the world but it will be one where many Latins are involved in governance -- not a token few. All Americans, of every race, creed and color will, one day, sit at the table of power and, hopefully, restore vigor and sense to this battered republic.
I love the Jets, but predict no trophies

It will be a world where diversity, in general, will rebirth, hopefully, the romance and commitment there once was to the ideals of equal justice for all; and a government of, for and by the people. Whites will be one aspect of the large tapestry that is America and not attempt to dominate the quilt with some Nihilistic, Stoic vision of Apocalypse and ruination. Of course, I will have long ago passed on to Glory before that happens. But, this is my hope for the future of my nation, which I have served in and out of uniform since I was 17 years old.

I fell in love with the words of our Founders, their power and trust in Divine Providence and optimism in mankind. The Declaration of Liberty, Constitution of the United States and Bill of Rights are the greatest product ever of human governance and hope. These near-Biblical texts created a shimmering world, sometimes at war with itself for justice, but always committed to truth; until recently, of course.

Well...maybe all of the strength, power and love has been emptied from the cull of our nation. But, we sure do have some great computers and video games! Technology has replaced our morals, ethics and common decency. As a people, we are absurd today. Understanding what is good, of value, not only means that real success can be appreciated, but when we collectively fall short of success that too can be seen. People who always have an empty headed smile about the Stars and Stripes are happy, I hope, and maybe it is kind they are not introspective or bright enough to know what has been lost. In a way, I marvel at the morons, content with a contrivance of their own mind rather than a realistic examination of the truth in the harsh light of day. It is so much more pleasant to live a fantasy than awake to a poor reality.

I find refuge in the past and surrounding myself with the nostalgia and memorabilia of yesteryear. It makes me feel comfortable. Being an older, disabled vet, I feel I have license to be eccentric enough to ban the onrush of today from my front door. It is my choice to ignore the crew of the ship that is America today and simply enjoy the ocean views, amazing ambiance and daily events taking place on the cruise. Oh, I see the porters and such buzzing around like rats scampering through a filthy Habitrail, but I have learned to put them out of my mind in favor of focusing on that next game of shuffle board or evening supper.

I have trust and hope that, one day, the United States I admired so much in my youth will reassert itself again. If not now, then some fine day. Maybe I will be alive to see it, probably I will not. Nevertheless, it will come.

My late Aunt Sue DiEdwardo was the staunchest New England Patriots fan ever minted, I think; she lived in Brunswick, Maine. She loved the team with all her heart. When she spoke of the Pats in the early 70s, she said, "I don't care if they win the Super Bowl this year or next; they are my team and I know that one day, whether I am here or not, they will hoist that Lombardi Trophy over their heads and bring back the championship to New England." She spoke that with all the religious fervor of the Saved on Sunday.

Needless to say, Aunt Sue passed away many years before the Patriots finally beat the St. Louis Rams to take home their first Super Bowl win ever (was it in 2001?). Yet, when I saw quarterback Tom Brady hold that trophy so dearly in his arms, I could not help but think that somewhere, somehow Aunt Sue knew about the win and was delighted with her broad, full and welcoming smile. She was a patient prophet and was right after all.

She believed in the future and the best parts of people and I like to think she rubbed off on me, because I do too. Unfortunately, I am a Jets fan -- so I will not prognosticate when or if my team will ever win the Super Bowl again. However, I will assert with every fiber of my being that, one day, somehow, the very hand of God will right the wrongs of our nation, lay low the corrupt and villainous and return good men and women to the ranks of our national, state and local leadership. And, they will have a vision and will not be the villainous, cheap imitations and Mafioso we suffer today. In this, I rest my confidence. Whether I am here or not, this is coming and I know it will happen.

One will know when that day arrives easily enough. When "God bless America" is said, it will be as a plea -- a submission and prayer -- to our Creator and God: it will no longer be a command or order for our Creator that he better attend to right now ... or else. Yes, that will be a big thing when it happens -- and it will happen.

Thankfully, our nation is larger than the people that occupy its halls of power right now. In fact, they are visitors passing through -- warming the seats of men and women in the future. I believe in this future and the hope of our nation. And, I humbly ask Our Lord to please bless America.

Well, that's me for today. Again, thanks for stopping by. If you are too young to know many of my references then don't worry about coming back. For the rest of you, thank you so much for stopping by, friends. And, as always...seeya later, alligators.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

America: My Great Love

Yeah, NAFTA pretty much knocked out American Industry.
The Republic of the United States of America will always be great. The Founders gave us a governmental framework that is unparalleled in the history of mankind. Though they practiced the abomination of slavery, they did leave room in their governmental theology to allow for the expansion of rights to minorities and women, and if not for that room rights to everyone could not have been possible.

In an indirect way, the Founders allowed for the later revolutions by Workers, Veterans, Hispanics, Blacks and Women for Rights in our country and, while that does not excuse their sins, it does demonstrate that, at the very least, these men had souls.

While I shall always believe in the sanctity of the Framework of Democracy within our republic, I will likewise always believe in the reduction of the Great American Society, Industrial Machine and Culture during the latter 20th century and early 21st century. This blessed republic was left in the hands of fools, madmen and war-mongers and the result was horrendous.

I believe the luster of the United States may well return one day, but I am resigned to it not being in my lifetime. And, I am glad I was born when I was because I shall not have to witness but so much of the travesty wrought by so many derelicts of public service, as I am sure the Good Lord will call me home long before our nation finds its final bottom.

As I write this, there is truly no more middle-class in our country. The rich are, as in the early 20th century, firmly North American royalty again, backed by the trust of the American Government. And, the working man has been demoted from holder of the American Dream to share cropper of the American Dream. Thanks to the efforts of presidents Reagan, Bush, Clinton and Bush, the North American Free Trade Agreement has stripped the workers of this nation of any advantage they once held in favor of comically cheap labor in several Third World countries. Remarkably, these former leaders actually smile and claim this abandonment of the common American as some kind of victory. This was done, I believe, so American manufacturing and industrial captains no longer had to kowtow to labor unions, which provided a living wage and dignified life to countless American families.

Today, working class Americans are  no better than serfs in their own country, as there has never in the history of this nation been such a disparity between the very rich and the working class. Our Government has delivered the working class into the open hands of poverty; and this should be a crime, but the common man no longer has an advocate in the halls of power to shout this.

From the President of the United States down to your local Alderman or Committee representative, these people are but a shadow of those who held their seats so long ago. There is no greatness in men and women today. Perhaps, during the Great Age of America (notably, the 1940s, '50s and '60s) collectively we were so blessed with so many talented people that we ran through our stock entirely and that shelf became bare.

America has also become a bad drunk when it comes to wars and conflicts of choice. Far from learning any real lesson from the ill-fated Vietnam War (1959-1975), the nation has made frivolous wars a common occurrence, such as in Somalia, Iraq and Afghanistan, among others. These wars, which produced nothing of real benefit to Americans or the nation, served to kill and wound good Americans with no result, and bleed infinite amounts of money from the nation for so many years and in such large amounts that it is simply heartbreaking to contemplate. No longer does our nation hold the unquestioned moral high ground where the use of arms is involved. If anything, we should collectively spurn war for some time, as the 'record' states our country tends to screw up anything military.

Thanks to the horrible events of September 11, 2001, America has become a society of spying, self-monitoring and filming...anywhere and everywhere, as much as possible and at all levels of Government: local, county, state and national. Americans are more monitored today than ever before, and this includes their computers, e-mails and telephone calls. While the cries of "national security" may be justification for this, these practices have diminished the nation and who we, as Americans, are, in my opinion. I do not feel passionately about this, as I am old and have no secrets, but it is sad to see barriers and armed guards in place over-watching common buildings that once were free to be walked into, such as the many structures in Washington DC. In fact, today there are even barriers and armed guards around the White House Christmas tree. I suppose I do not want to see the Christmas tree so much I might risk being shot accidentally. Thus, I will admire photos of it or perhaps there is a nice video about it on YouTube.

The U.S. military is not the one I served in during the 1980s and '90s. It is not a professional army that I see  protecting this country. It is one devoid of real leadership at all levels. It reminds me much of the Civil War "Armies of Amateurs" that are heralded in the annals of American history. I did not serve in other services, so I feel inadequate to comment, though I suspect it is probably the same situation as the army, in my deduction. In so many ways, our armed services are nothing more than a poor building construction, with a weak frame and second-rate concrete poured for a foundation, though with wonderful marketing. I try not to think of it because it is abysmal.

Wars of choice? We've had a few.
Accompanying all this is that more Americans are illiterate and functionally illiterate today than ever before -- even during the 1960s. Our nation ranks very low in mathematics and sciences against other First World nations around the globe -- and if not for Hollywood, music and professional sports -- young people the world over would be hard-pressed to find some aspect of our Great American Society to emulate.

Meanwhile, the law enforcement community has taken unrest to transform American cities and towns into a Police State that is oppressive and expansive, in many, many places throughout our country.

The media is no longer that "informal check or safeguard against tyranny" in this country. It is entertainment, focused chiefly upon celebrity gossip or political misadventures or patronage. There are no more Edward R. Murrows, Ben Bradleys or Cornelius Ryans out there: them and the greatness that was American news are dead and gone. Perhaps one day this will return, but I shall not hold my breath. Instead, I have taken to reading novels -- it is at least as informative as contemporary news broadcasts, and perhaps as true. The Huffington Post is running the show now...let's find out more about Lindsay Lohan and to hell with the news.

While the Bread Lines of the poor grow, so does the American Police State: sounds like the early Soviet Union, doesn't it? I do not care anymore, I am old and can and do ignore this fact from a retirement community. Protest is useless, the ship that is our country is in dark waters, and all that I care about and am willing to act upon are watching good ballgames, seeing as much of the theater and symphony as I can, indulging myself in art appreciation and reading good books.

There is nothing attractive in the actions of anyone in this country to lead: Democrats, Republicans, Green Party, Independent -- they and their political and personal ideologies are garbage. There will never be another Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, John Kennedy or Lyndon Baines Johnson. Indeed, I would happily take a Richard Nixon or even Gerald Ford if I could (not to mention their collective congresses and appointments).

Like an old man over time, our nation has shrunken and is cold and frail against the weather.

I love my country and have served her in uniform during times of peace and war. I served my community helping as best as I could at the Pile where Tower South formerly stood before 9/11/01 and I advocated and agitated for civil rights for women and minorities my entire life -- and I am proud of these things. As a member of the clergy, I helped men and women die with dignity and peace, and am glad for it. Likewise, I wrote the truth as a journalist, sometimes despite threats of bodily harm and even murder. Still, I did what was right. This is a good enough life for me.

In my twilight, I shall enjoy my family, my hobbies, old movies, culture and team sports. I suppose I will go to the polls when the AARP tells me to do so and cast my votes appropriately. But, by and large, this is my brief eulogy to the heyday of the America I knew as a child and young man, and relished and was utterly and hopelessly in love with. Oh, I still do love this better than all other nations and hold my loyalty only to her, but she is no longer so beautiful, so witty or gay, nor so smart or charming. She is an ordinary woman, withered by time as much as I am. Together, she and I can sit comfortably on the porch and watch sunsets and go for walks. Though she is no longer a head turner, I love her still, and it is the comfortable love of two people fighting the winter of old age. How we talk of the old times! Indeed, those were the best of times.

America will outlive me and I wish the old girl well. She is and has always been one of the great passions I have had. She is an attractive older woman, but you should have seen her in her prime! America was the most beautiful girl at school and she shined like new chrome against an Arizona sun. It could blind you it was so bright. Still, she is a wonderful lady and if she is a little haggard around the edges...aren't we all?

Thanks for stopping by always...seeya later, alligators!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

The Grass Can Be Greener Right Damn Now

Every now and again, I think about writing a column from my 'Bad Old Days,' because I sure learned a hell of a lot. But, like the urge to have a cup of coffee or a cigarette, it passes.

This is a Brave New World now, absolutely removed from whatever I was before my recovery began in earnest during August, 2013. Because recovery means giving up some parts of one's life that injured them, that led them to whatever addiction they ended up supporting. Some people who have not experienced addiction will opine it as they will, talking about 'willpower' and 'bad character' by addicts in recovery: I have two words for those detractors and the last word of that phrase ends in ""

In my case, my entire life needed giving up: I had bad friends, bad colleagues, a toxic profession, an alcohol-splashed hometown and I had just gotten finished being picked apart by the woman I had shared my life with for six years -- and whatever was left the one after that spent up real quick like. But -- no good as they were, I picked them. Still, oh boy, was I angry...and for years. I built my whole life being a self-made man and between two stray alley cats whatever I had was up in smoke. Goes to show you, nothing is forever and choose wisely when it comes to your bunkmate or it will -- it will -- bite you right in the ass.

If it is possible, I drank even more than usual about all my shit luck, until I ended on the very bottom of the food chain. I think degenerate gambling addicts and horse thieves even ranked above me -- and that's hard to sink below that. Nevertheless, where there is a will, there is a way.

Of all the things I have learned, I know this one for sure: I don't want to live someplace with young people around. I don't understand them and don't have the least inclination to try anymore. I want to be around people my age and try and pretend as best I can it is still 1985 in some gated senior community. This era and this generation are for the birds.

Hey, I come down on this era a lot because I am not really a part of mainstream culture anymore. It's a lot of work giving a damn about what the new widget is out or figuring out how far pants should be worn below a man's ass.

Recovery taught me that life is too short and important to waste one single moment of it on doing something I don't want to do, or beating my head against a wall for no reason. Likewise, living in a world of young people today just sucks. I mean, they live with their parents forever, they are socially awkward because of all the computer use they do, they are just different from my day. God bless them and keep them...but I would like them the hell off my lawn and not living near me. Young people make a lot of noise anyway. Screw that.

The emphasis really needs to be positive. It is the difference between running from something or running to something. I want to run toward continued recovery, good health, very little stress, occasional tickets for the symphony, the museums, a nice ballgame or a play here or there. All this living at the computer is no life really. People don't acquire culture or taste banging away on a keyboard, and that is really missing these days.

It is stressful being around people who have few manners, scruples or traditional sensibility. It's work. Some people want to put it in and I say 'good for you,' but I don't.

If nothing else, recovery taught me to be selfish. I care first and foremost about my recovery from alcohol addiction, everything else has to become second or I will end up in the same gutter I just crawled out of in Keansburg, New Jersey -- the greasy armpit of the Jersey Shore. I had to forget old animosities -- not for the sake of the motherless...people...who screwed me in the past -- but for me. I don't want to carry their lying, back-stabbing weight around in my head anymore. For the most part, I have done it. If nothing else, I evicted quite a few ghostly vagrants from my head. Lots of progress.

No one can really enjoy themselves thinking of the Bad Old Days, or living in the past. So, I just gave it up like I did red meat and dairy. I like my fun and the people in my life now. So, the 'Angry Jim' personality had to take a slow ride to the vet's office to get put down. It's OK, it was time and then some.

I had to concentrate on the positive. And, it has worked pretty well. People who know me would never know I was a cynical pain in the ass just last year. Further, my plan is for my family and friends now never to see that ugly side to me again -- or me for that matter. Hey, no one lives a perfect life. Shit happens. If you did something stupid, pick yourself up and just don't do it again. Now forgiving yourself for indulging in nonsense -- that takes a little more time.

I was screwed, blued and tattooed financially by not one but two broads I was associated with a couple years ago now. During that terrible time, I was a dope, and these girls took me like Grant took Richmond and bled me like a vampire bat does a milking cow for dinner. Well, money is only money...but more important than money is someone's time: Once time is gone, it stays gone. It's the most valuable commodity we each have. I'm not wasting mine, and haven't for a while now.

I look at those sunsets now. I am as healthy as I can be in my condition and have lost 30 pounds responsibly in the last few months. And, my life is as complete as it gets for anyone right now. Do I miss the money, my house, my dog and my parking spot at my Freehold, NJ condo? Not really. Not anymore. Life can feel wonderful again without a lot of trappings. Meanwhile, that former life of mine was as rotten as rat laying in a port-a-john: no wonder I drank. All anyone has to do is want to change. I did and I love the result. Those years that flipped by when I was lost in my disease...that is gone. If someone remembers it from my life back then they don't have a lot to do. Anyway, there is an old saying about "people, places and things" when it comes to folks in recovery, and it goes something like this -- lose them.

Think about it...sometimes dropping into a new life, and dropping out of the old one can give you a new perspective, a whole new lease on life. Just remember, though, those old commitments are there until they get cleared up and your responsibilities get honored; then and only then can you (or me, in my case) get rid of them.

What it all really comes down to, though, is that the grass can be greener by you or me just saying it's time to stop laying so much fertilizer down beneath our feet. Well, now that I have dazzled you with my collection of Civil War and farming metaphors, I guess I can call it a night.

As always, thanks for stopping by and...seeya later...alligators.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

For seniors, world changes as they age

This generation not only can't remember '69, they can barely read about it
I have been re-reading "The Stand," by my favorite author, the fright-master himself: Stephen King. One of the main characters in the book is musician Larry Underwood, a good guy who really grows a lot during the story. Anyway, I was reading about how he saw the world "before" the epidemic that wiped everyone out, and then "after" -- and those worlds didn't look alike. And, the change in the world changed Larry and who he was and what he believed in.
The good news of the day: There is no epidemic that's going to wipe anyone out (knock wood).

But, the world and how it looks nonetheless changes as someone travels beyond a certain point in their life, as they grow older. For me, that change was as profound as the world looking one way when I was 39 or 40, and entirely different as I knock on the door of 50.

Here are some things that I have learned:

1. Businesses do not want to hire seniors to do much else than manual labor, regardless of education or experience, unless the senior is really well-entrenched in an industry or company;

2. My body has changed and it is never going to be as resilient as it was even 10 years ago, let alone 20 years ago;

3. If I could work, very few people are going to put any stock in any "career" notions I have;

4. Other than the U.S. Government and some wonderful organizations that help seniors, my age makes me the last person companies or younger people deal with in a professional setting; and

5. My concerns about my health care and ordinary things in my life are looked at as an old man's ranting and not as a legitimate concern sometimes. It doesn't matter how reasonable or even-toned I am, or how organized I am about my complaint.

People my age and older know this. If they have some money, then they do not, obviously, get this treatment. If they do not then they will.

Americans, as a people, worship youth and despise age. Americans do not believe, by and large, in learning from history, its own or others' apparently, because it is a nation rooted in right now. There are remarkably few historic markers in the U.S. too, when compared with someplace like Greece or Ireland, for instance. Because Americans want whatever is next and, in my opinion, a clear majority would happily sacrifice the battlefield at Gettysburg in favor of the biggest shopping mall ever built or some other notable fact about a new shopping Mecca to consumerism.

It is how we are. The Russians would never have blundered into Afghanistan again. It took some truly dimwitted people to actually recreate the American Vietnam experience in not one Southwestern Asia nation, but two. And, this came after a decade worth of lessons learned available from our 'partners in peace' the Russians. In some ways, the country I love so much is as dumb as a bag of hammers, but it's home.

So, the historic, the vintage, the things that are older in our society -- including its people -- are so much loose recycling to get put on the corner. And, I am among that loose recycling, like everyone else I went to school with aside from those who hit it big.

People my age are not in the world they have known for a half-century here in America. They now live in another America: colder, with fewer opportunities and ready to discard them at the drop of a hat. It can be a place easy to find loss, humiliation and broken pride. So, whatever you do, folks, don't lead with pride. Because people our age aren't supposed to have pride unless we have an Audi parked in the driveway of our suburban, white community and own a timeshare in one of those "Saint" islands somewhere in the Caribbean.

At no time in the history of the American republic has there been such a disparity between whom is rich or poor. The middle-class is a fond memory, not a demographic force anymore. Poverty is rampant. Rich people get richer, young people get the jobs and we older people, refugees of the one-time middle-class, are adrift on our ice flow. This society and our families want us to disappear into the Northern Lights somewhere if we can no longer serve them by our little money, our muscle doing their manual labor for a generation that is physically weak and impotent or we are grateful for the scraps we are thrown like bad dogs in the corner.

Thank God I was a U.S. military veteran. Thank God. Through the Veteran's Administration system I have found a refuge from all the crap. I am treated for my many illnesses and injuries by the VA. I am supported by the VA. I even live on the grounds of a VA. And, it is a place almost devoid of young people, and there are certainly no businesses here except for VA-related ones or Starbucks, so I can forget the outside world exists if I wanted to; and I could do so for the rest of my natural life -- comfortably.
A modern day senior community? Maybe, maybe not

At some point I will probably leave here with my honey and re-enter the 'world' through taking a place at a senior community somewhere in Florida. I seek a community where my age is not an issue, where I am not discriminated upon by anyone because of it and there is the simple grace that comes along with living next to people from my generation and older ones, for whom the world seemed to spin a little bit differently before.

I loved the America I served all my life-long before everything changed with my age. I love the America I live in now, after I perpetrated the crime of living too long. America is fated to relive its mistakes over and over again, it seems, as a consequence of its preoccupation with the first 30 years of its peoples' lives. History is eradicated in favor of...I don't know...reality shows? Perhaps this is the natural order here in the States, though.

Since I cannot change minds and have long-since gave up on fighting the tides or chasing after windmills I will do the most reasonable thing I think I can: find a place where I can be free in fact as well as in principle. Yes, this is about freedom: either someone is or they are not.

So long as a person lives in a place where their freedom is inhibited by prejudice, institutional violence by corporate entities, institutions of higher learning disparaging their hopes and dreams and bias in the area of consumerism -- then one is not free. They are living upon their knees, in a way people -- especially Americans -- were never intended to do.

Senior communities are not all bad, at least I hope. Sometimes, someone just wants the simple pleasure of belonging again...unencumbered by anyone else's notions or prejudice. Ironically, it is only among each other that such freedom is found by seniors. And, ultimately, it is the El Dorado I have sought for a few years now.

What is the old expression: You can't fight City Hall forever? I agree. Unlike Stephen King's character Larry Underwood, I do not have to face raving bands of Satanic worshippers and devils. Myself and every older person in this country do have to bear up against a society that discourages us at almost every turn, so let me take that back -- maybe the monsters Larry deal with might look worse in appearance but, ultimately, a monster is a monster no matter how well they are dressed, how much they smile or how frequently they patronize you. Hey, Larry...pass a club this way when you get a chance.

Anyone, thanks for stopping by and listening to the ranting of an old Mets fan (still hopeful about the upcoming season). It's a pleasure writing this column, and thanks for coming everyone. Until next time, see you later, alligator!

Friday, February 7, 2014

A White Christmas in February? No, just a pain in the butt

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Time to Believe in Something By Your 50s

Whatever you can believe in -- find it!
Our generation (born in the 1960s) is believed to be part of the Post Modern school of thought, in philosophical terms. To summarize it, this means that, as a group, we do not believe in anything: not religion, politicians, preachers, even mathematicians and scientists. We do not believe that the grass is really green or that the sky is blue, in some cases, and to put it lightly we do not believe in much.

But, as we enter another phase of life, the one where we are getting on a bit -- it is time to start believing in something or else our golden years are going to be empty and meaningless. As a nation, though, we are a country that does not believe its Government, Media, Corporations, Charities, Armed Services, Police Departments, Fire Departments, Doctors, Lawyers, Hospitals, Judges, Schools and Teachers.

So, just what are we going to believe in and how, praise Jesus, are we going to buy some else's crap?

Each one of us can buy our own respective crap. I have a dream, no -- not like Martin Luther King, Jr.'s (though he had an awesome one). I dream of a day when my pasty old white ass is down in Florida in a retirement community with my honey next to me.

I believe that, once there, I am going to continue to live healthy, listen to my doctors, and find meaning in my life through dancing, cooking healthy, laughing often, going to shows, sports games and book readings. And, this is my field of battle -- this is where I will find meaning in my life and enjoy the journey.

Why Florida? Is there something special there: a guru, a magic fountain? No, I have arthritis and the cold weather makes my joints hurt a lot. Meaning is found wherever one lives, or can be. And, finding our own private truths are better than sitting around being cynical, smoking, watching television and drinking coffee.

Being cynical is easy -- nothing ever lets you down. So what did our Post Modern Generation believe in? I'm no expert, ladies and gentlemen, but I did live through it -- just like you -- so I suppose that allows me to take a guess.

The word 'workaholic' was minted during our generation.
Our generation believed in paying the damn mortgage, holding onto jobs that were disappearing so fast it made us nervous and scared, we believed no one would ever give us a break if we got caught short and that our kids had to get the life we never got. Meanwhile, we did our best to take care of our parents. We believed in holding this shit together as long as we could, knowing we may never retire or might well die of a heart attack, stroke or cancer long before our time. Simply, so many of us had neither the time or the inclination for anyone else's bull, by and large. It was us -- us and no one else -- that minted the term "workaholic"; that word never existed before us.

Well, I can already hear you saying, 'Horseshit. I'm too busy to find meaning in my own life, according to what I want and want to find out for myself.'

Did you just hear yourself?

So, the kids are grown. Maybe you're still fighting the fight. Perhaps you lost your 'real job' a few years ago during the "Crash of '09" and you're working at something you might have turned down as a kid in high school; maybe you held onto your job (praise Jesus). If you have a family and it's a good one then you are happy you invested in them and if not you've got to settle for being happy you woke up today.

But, everyone ends up needing to find joy and meaning in their life instead of just doing shit for other people or indulging in messed up, chronic habits. All that's going to do is turn you into a martyr. And, drinking and boozy friends are worse than just marking time. It's a curse; on you and your whole family.

Looking at this world anew again -- like you did when you were a kid -- doesn't make you less of an adult. It doesn't mean dementia is starting to settle in. It does mean you are looking at your life calmly and you ask yourself (and no one else): 'Okay, what now?'

This is the time to get rid of the smoking, the drinking, the over-eating, the over-spending, eating red meats, consuming too much dairy, the 'not making time for your spouse or significant other,' not doing things you dreamt of but have never done and/or simplifying your life and letting yourself enjoy your days and not rush through them to get to another day, to make another dollar.

There is only this life right now. So, why look for tomorrow to be happy when you don't even know if you have a tomorrow? Right now, make your life what you have been dreaming about for the last half-century. And, 50 years or more is, as life goes, a long-ass time to think about something. If you've been waiting 50 years to change yourself, it's high time that got done. Otherwise, when? When you're in a nursing home is too late, when you have tubes stuck up your nose (among other places) doesn't work either.

Seize this day and all the rest you have, cowboy or cowgirl. Be the person you have thought about being and find a way to make the next 30 years or so interesting for yourself. Don't be the one who becomes a miserable old, bastard because you waited so long to start putting the things you wanted to in life; when opportunities have passed you by for years and you did nothing about them.

You want to find a guy or gal? Great! Do it. You want to learn to finally dance awesome or learn to play the drums or trumpet? Wonderful! Do it. You want to be a sword swallower? ...Well...don't do that one, very little margin of error there. The learning curve is really narrow. But, you get the idea.

Don't spend a damn dime looking for what your next big chapter in your book is. Don't give any huckster one thin dime. Do it all yourself, talking with your significant other too. See, I started doing this, and took this attitude, and it really helped me out. And, I'm a broke ass old man so I didn't have money to piss away on some dumbass motivational speaker. I was my own motivational speaker. You can be too.

If you're happy then don't listen to me. If you wake up and every day is better than a dog licking you awake then God bless. But, if you are not getting what you can out of this old world, I'm just offering something for you to think about. Doing this helped me, maybe it can help someone else.

Anyhow, thanks for stopping by and -- as always -- seeya later, alligators.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

War-Monger DC Trust Fund Babies Try to Take Social Security Away

Trust fund babies in Washington try to take our Social Security away!
I view myself as neither a Republican, Democrat or as Independent. I could care less about what crook gets to serve in what office anymore; the system is broken and some things one just has to live with. But, I do identify as both a Senior Citizen and a Disabled Veteran. And, when it comes to that, I feel pretty strongly about things.

I started contributing to Social Security when I was 16 years old, with a full-time job. I didn't stop having a full-time job until I was 47, when my injuries and disorders just caught up with me. I depend on Social Security being there for now and the future. And, any soft-handed, trust fund boy or girl in elected office that tells me they are going to "change" or "end" Social Security can go straight to hell.

The politicians in this country, at all levels, take care of the wealthiest Americans, really. Wealthy people are well represented at every level of Government. Yet, it is only Social Security that rewards the hard-working men and women of this country and gives them the square deal they deserve in this life right here. The rest of that stuff the politicians babble on about on television or in their speeches is a load of crap. I hate the idea of paying for their crap, but that is something no one can stop. Still, I'd protest every damn day if I thought anyone was thinking about touching Social Security in any way whatsoever.

I hear all the time by some politicians that " is just impossible to keep on funding Social Security as it has been." Well, kid, let me tell you this: People contribute to Social Security all their lives -- that is what is funding it. And, people are contributing to it right now. If there is an accounting problem, maybe it has something to do with two dumbass wars you thought were a good idea for 10 years.

Everyone knows these wars were dragged out to their illogical conclusion and were for years. How much money did the Good Old USA waste and flush down a toilet in Southwestern Asia? Who the hell knows -- but if we had it back Social Security would be fine into the next century without any nonsense.

A whole lot is being done in the name of "national security" these days -- more than any other era. If I were talking to our key government leaders right now, I would tell them this: You can bug my phone if you want, my Facebook page and my e-mail and Blogger accounts. I don't care. I am a loyal American and, whatever else I have been in this life, I have been that all of my days. But, don't you think my damn Social Security check is going to pay for one damn camera for you. If you need to, U.S. Government, you get a paper route to afford that crap -- I've earned what I've earned and you can get your grimy mitts off my Social Security. For that matter, don't even look at it -- I don't want to hear the words "Social Security" from any of your lying mouths.

If you have a bright idea about saving money, you go find it somewhere else.

I recall, as a child at the Marine Military Academy, in Harlingen, Texas, a speaker on the occasion of the Marine Corps Birthday, Nov. 10, 1775, being Chief of Naval Operations, Vice Admiral Thomas V. Foley. His words have rung in my ears ever since he uttered them and they are with me today. I have not forgot something he said and it went like this: "I just got back from Russia recently, where I was in Moscow. And, I would go for a run in the morning and be followed. I would use the phone and it would be tapped. Where I lived had listening devices in them. And, I knew it was not someplace that was free. Then I returned to the United States and instantly felt the freedom of this country again. This is a place where the Government does not follow you, tap your phone lines and where someone can truly be free."

Well, that isn't so anymore is it?

America does a lot of the things the Reds used to do back in the day, as a matter of national security or whatever.

I traveled to Washington DC as a child of 7 or so with my family and it was magnificent. I could and did walk right into the Capitol Building without anyone stopping me. I stared at the ceiling until I was dizzy. Then, I ran immediately to the gift shop and wailed until my parents bought me anything from there. I think it ended up being one of the glass snow scenes of the Capitol and I was content.

Today, you might as well be visiting a sealed off encampment, braced for attack as visit Washington DC. I am not saying there is no cause for this, but I am saying that America is diminished for it, and the spying on its own people and the ridiculous, frivolous wars of 10 years. Yes, we are a great nation, but we are no longer a nation with great leaders or possessing a great people. Right now, we live in the best possible country on this earth, but it is a country not as great as it has been before. And, a lot of us think that, I am pretty sure it is not just me.

What does that have to do with Social Security? Glad you asked. It has everything to do with it, because all of this nonsense costs money. The Federal Government has to find money for all of this crap, and then they cast a wary eye at Social Security. Well, Mr. Wary Eye Looker: Go to hell! Fine, this is the world we have now, well and good. Don't drag me into your mess.

I've paid my taxes, served my country during times of peace and war, as well as my community when it was needed -- like so many of us. Well, go and play your 1984 George Orwell games all you want. Like I said, put a microphone in my morning tea if you want -- but leave my Social Security alone. I don't like the way my world has changed, and I think I am not alone in that one either. But, this is the world the young people want, the ones they allow their politicians to give them and I have far fewer years ahead of me than are behind me so this world in a political, social and business sense is no longer my affair. But, as an observer with no dog in that hunt, it full-on sucks, in case anyone didn't know.

Well, thanks for stopping by and listening to my rant. As always, best of the week and seeya later, alligators.