Six Feet

I’m in line at the grocery store, its the 20 Items or Less lane that makes me wonder “Didn’t there used to be a 10 Items or Less lane?”. And I mean, there probably still is one but I’ve just gotten so used to the self-service lanes that I wouldn’t really know.

Anyways, I’m committed now since I have people in front of me and more importantly, behind me. What’s more, I’m giving myself away because there I am, counting items. As if anybody gives a flip whether I’m over the legal limit in this instance. Because it’s not egregious looking, my shopping cart. It’s ballpark fine and yet I go on counting, which feels like such a quaint gesture in this day and age now that I’m thinking about it. As I’m counting it occurs to me that management didn’t make the rules for carts like mine. They made them for the shoppers who look like they just spent an afternoon in Costco.

Me? I’m working a plus/minus situation that would require a recount if this were an election, but still I count. And when the counting’s done, I’m exactly one item over. It’s the bag of sourdough pretzels I picked up when I was cruising the Lays million and one flavors of potato chips. Going with pretzels instead was a sensible choice, and for my bonus points, I don’t have any nacho cheese at home to dip the pretzels in; which would’ve effectively defeated the sensible choice I was making.

Of course, I’m not moving out of line over one item. But it feels good to get lost in a meaningless intrigue, what with all the shit that’s happening in the world. Letting my brain get stuck on something that doesn’t mean a fig in the grand scheme of things, it helps to soften the edges and I like the feeling. A lot. And then I look back and see that the girl in back of me is carrying a basket. I’m guessing she’s got no more than five or six items in it, so I tell her to cut ahead of me. She’s thankful, but so am I. More so, in fact. Because the simple things feel like a winning hand from right here. And six feet apart is where it’s at inside this simple moment. It’s the whole world. And I don’t have to wonder where all the kindness and good feelings ran away to.

They never left.

Searching For Pablo Neruda

His tiny lungs greedily swallowed up as much oxygen as his wiry frame could handle before disappearing under the froth and steam of the mighty ocean that was bearing down on the toes of sleepless shoreline. His legs struggled to maintain a foothold as spent seashells pricked at his toes like miniature soldiers with bayonets and fine sand burned coldly at his heels. He found a steady rhythm with the gaping sway, opening his eyes now to ruminate on the world under his feet, a world stolen by water.

A clench of seaweed danced back and forth like a milksop scarecrow, its roots tethered to a foreign planet that lived a million miles beneath every lonesome foot of separation with the floor of a deep, blue sky. Stones the color of vermillion and smoke, eburnean, peat and umber pocked the roam of invisible footprints whose songs were forged in the calamity of romance and death.

He lay his eyes upon the shimmering platinum sky above and wished never to return to the world of sound, preferring the embrace of silence instead. He prayed that Jules Verne’s restless imagination might write him onto a page of fiction from which he could breathe in this foreign language until the sun lost its way. And that the sea might fetch his mortal bones and remand him to the mighty Gods of the deep. And that his soul might venture like a wild butterfly, feasting sweetly on the mysteries while hurtling through all those less traveled places made famous by rock star poets.

To nowhere and to everything. He prayed.

 

A Brave New World

Remember the good old days?

Neither do I, but from what Billy Joel once wrote, they weren’t always good and tomorrow ain’t as bad as it seems. It’s the kind of perspective we need now more than ever, if only to keep our boots on solid ground while the stars tease us with promises we know they’ll never be able to keep.

The Millennium just turned twenty one, which means it can get its drink on. And I know what you’re probably thinking. Do we really want to meet another calendar year that’s low on inhibitions and high on unpredictability? I mean, doesn’t Tinder provide enough of that shit as it is? But I’d like to think the new year will have a better sense of humor as a result.

54 Funny 2020 Memes To Keep You Laughing Till 2021 - Funny Gallery

For a year that was supposed to be spot on when it came to vision and hindsight, 2020 was more Carter Hayes than Isaac Hayes; as in . . more fool than cool; a delinquent tenant whose ass has finally been evicted by Father Time. But not before it unleashed a voracious predator whose genomic weaponry put humankind in its place.

Within this prosaic mosaic of a tormented tapestry, humanity coped by baking bread and singing windowsill songs with neighbors. Our everlasting will became testament to that truth Aldous Huxley once wrote about in A Brave New World when he said that pain was a fascinating horror. To our credit, we prevailed when civilization became uncivil to our senses. Sometimes in spite of ourselves, but hey, it still counts.

We learned yet again that the world is forged in laws that are graceless and thieving. It fumbles the ball on mercy because it’s too busy swimming through the dredge that delivers us from ashes to ashes and dust to dust. As temporary acquaintances, we might not like to believe that the world is just doing its job the best it can, but it’s true. The details may seem extraordinarily brutal, but that’s only because we believed in the lies of poetry and wine when they told us we could live forever.

Thing is, Huxley ain’t walking through that door. And if he was, he would damn us for ever having been happy in the first place. Because he knew that happiness possessed the fleeting quality of that leftover penny in your pocket. That it’s only here to be gone, it only lives to disappear. And beneath that deceptive surface lies the truth. We make tomorrow happen not with sugary propositions but on the salt of our steps.

So, in the now, maybe happiness is not worth striving for when peace of mind will keep us steady inside the worst of storms. And maybe we have a tougher chin than we ever dreamt possible. And maybe we stop looking for the light to guide us through this dark echo chamber of tumbling madness, because maybe . . just maybe, we possess that light our damn selves. No, check that.

I know we do.

 

The Sky Just Got Another Star

Regis Philbin dies — TV host was 88 - Chicago Sun-Times

As if this year hasn’t proven hard enough on our collective psyche, now the angels steal Regis Philbin from us. And yes, he lived a long, good life and he leaves behind a legacy that would be the envy of the most heralded of Popes. But still, his passing makes for one less thing that’s good with the world.

Regis was one big deal, a Bronx born kid who made good on the biggest stage after breaking into show business as a page on the Johnny Carson show. But his story speaks to the value in holding onto your dreams. Because his road to stardom sure as hell wasn’t paved in gold, and the signs, at least early on, were telling him to get lost.

He moved into Steve Allen’s time slot with a talk show of his own in the early sixties, and tanked. And when it looked as if a national brand was not in the offing, he never stopped being Regis. In the seventies, he did a variety show in St Louis and he also hosted a morning talk show out of Los Angeles. In 1981 he hosted a variety show on NBC with Mary Hart that lasted all of four months. It would take four more years for him to catch some much deserved lightning in a bottle when he paired with Kathie Lee Gifford for a morning show, after which things would never be the same for Reeg.

Or for us either.

Thing about Regis, he never took the ebbs personally. He knew that nothing was given and he considered it a privilege to simply be in the game. So when he got busy making all sorts of history on the flip side of syndication for his show Live, he never considered himself a big deal. Even though he was. In an industry where he won awards and produced big ratings, to setting a Guinness world record for most hours on camera in 2004 to hosting Who Wants to Be a Millionaire– helping to usher in a new age of game shows in the process.

To his lasting credit, the guy never changed. And it’s what we came to love about him most of all. Let’s face it, when you can make Kelly Ripa bearable, you’re doing something right. Regis did that, he made friends . . with everyone. From Presidents to soccer moms, from rappers to writers to Howard Stern. He made everyone believe the world was a better place. And as a fan of the Miami Hurricanes, I couldn’t even hold it against Regis for waving the flag of the Fighting Irish. Yeah, he was that good.

So now the mystic gets him, and I bet he showed up in one of those fantastic suits of his, sporting that signature smile. I sure hope that St Peter gives his people a couple weeks paid vacation for landing Regis.

They deserve it.

 

Trust in God . . But Verify Everything Else

For the first time since I was too single to really give a blessed fuck, it happened to me again recently. It was the kind of awkward query that had me referencing my inner Rolodex of on the spot excuses, before I realized I had been asked via text . . which gave me enough time to make some shit up.

I was asked to church.

The last time I was asked to attend church, she was a thirty something looker who needed me to attend service with her. And I know this gets me no points with the guy upstairs, but the church thing became a deal breaker. This time around, a little different and much sadder.

I’ll call the person doing the inquiring Barry, since that’s his name. I’ve mentioned this dude before. We’re friends, kind of. He usually delivers up a text, unsolicited, about some stupid shit or other. I’ll respond with the requisite “LOL” or “How goes things?”. The average response time ranges from five and a half seconds to a couple weeks, which is why we’re just ‘kind of’ when it comes to friends.

The church thing caught me off guard, which isn’t an easy thing to do. Barry’s an ex cop, so I’m prepared for all manner of crazy shit to come down the pike. For all I know, he’s been leading a Walter White-like double life and he needs help getting across the border. And really, I would be more than happy to help him with that expedition in exchange for oh . . say a million in cash and a pair of those terribly overpriced AirPods.

If he called to tell me he’d just killed his pain in the ass next door neighbor, I’d bring the shovels and the lime. In exchange for say . . a case of bourbon. And if he got his girlfriend pregnant, I’d drive him to Mexico for ten grand and a taco dinner. Which is wholesale in comparison to the Walter White scenario.

In the event the authorities were to discover this post at some future date, let it be known I wrote this in jest. If I happened to follow through with any of these scenarios in the commission of a crime, I was most likely under duress. So you have my permission to shoot Barry on sight.

So the church inquiry. That was way more awkward a predicament for me than any of the above situations, and the fact that I ain’t kidding about it tells me that Imma have lots of ‘splaining to do when my ticket gets punched to the great beyond. But that’s another awkward conversation for another day . . .

As for this question, I could have taken it to mean the guy was being compassionate. So of course I looked at motive. Did he want some cover for the car ride to and from church, when he’s usually engaged in a steel cage match argument with his lady friend? Was he vying for a “Congregation Member of the Month” prize if he brought in some new recruits? And what did the winner get? Does this church offer sin passes? Maybe he’d get the pastor’s parking space for a month . . . or a psalm named after him. Or maybe . . . I should stop because that lightning I’m hearing as I type this, it’s getting too close for comfort . . .

That’s not my scene, but I’m honored you would think of me. 

That was my reply. Which is lame in comparison to what I might have used for a comeback. A top five? Sure, why not . . .

5- I don’t let Jesus take the wheel because I can’t afford his deductible
4- Church? Isn’t that where you vote?
3- I’ll go, but only if you promise not to wake me up until the service is over
2- I watch Filipino death match rugby on Sundays
1- Is it “Water Into Wine” Sunday? Because if so, I’m in . . .

I kept it high road given the subject matter. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the sentiment, because it means that Barry probably feels like my soul needs saving. And I like to think that I come across as being interesting like that. And it’s why I had to turn him down. Because I can’t let my personal relationship with God mess with the reputation I’ve been cultivating, basically my entire adult life.

God forbid.

 

 

The Green Screen Side Of The Moon

One minute I was pondering how we got here from there, and the next I was arriving at the intersection of Jesus and Caramba. The someplace else I dialed back to was 1980. Okay . . maybe it wasn’t the age of innocence. It was inside a time where disco was on life support. We staggered over the edge of a decade replete with post-moon landing meh, and life without torch song heroes named King and Kennedy and life with Nixon. Before Watergate sent him away in a helicopter. And Vietnam. And Kent State and the hostage crisis and inflation and race riots . . .

But if you were to fix 1980 into a lineup of comparables, welp . . 2020 would be the El Chapo to their Sonny and Cher. We took their Paradise Lost and we doubled down into a Full House of Horrors. Their dearth of heroes became our reality television. Their Watergate became our daily trend, where “gate” gets caboosed to the latest scandal as if it were a wicked smart ensemble piece. Their Vietnam became our patriotic mission to spread truth, justice and the American way by co-opting the best laid plans of our Founding Fathers into a drive through dominion where branding is our inalienable right. Kent State became Columbine and Flint, Sandy Hook, Marjorie Stoneman and Las Vegas, and then things got worse when those days no longer shocked us. Their hostage crisis became our Oklahoma City and September 11th, and Boston. Their inflation became our great big heist. Their race riots, well . .we kept that tradition going.

There was plenty of promise to the way things started off, with a bunch of college kids beating the Russians in ice hockey. We couldn’t have imagined that our sports would morph from that quaint little Norman Rockwell moment into a bread and circuses cinema. And then Reagan lied to us about a shining city upon a hill. And George H. had us focusing on a thousand points of light instead of the stupid economy. Or is that the economy stupid? We got lost in the shroud of the cigar smoke from the Clintonian Era, and while we were busy trying not to inhale, an election went into overtime with the Supreme Court serving as referee. And then W became a four letter word before stepping up inside the darkest days . . before turning back into a four letter word.

The rear view tells me it’s been a hot minute since those days were busy happening. And here we are, the numb OG’s of a feckless age where the modern day proverb- Shit Happens- is mired in the muck of our everyday existence. And this isn’t to say that our mast is hurtling to the edge of the world and that all hope is lost. But . . . . damn!

So this is where the voices in my head make their money. Because yanno . . the questions I get to cooking up possess the kind of riptide that circumnavigates all the logical conclusions we’ve been taught to abide to since grade school. And either I’m Randall McMurphy on a stick or there is something happening here, even if what it is ain’t exactly clear.

Because I really don’t know what to make of this place we currently reside inside of. Are we a miserable scrum of beastly conclusions to which there is no honest to goodness fix, outside of a runaway meteor? Is the global script we’ve been reading from ever since fire led to the invention of the cheeseburger one big lie?  Is this nothing more than one great big romantic tragedy in which the lovers (that’s us) are destined to lose in the end?

When Higgs met boson inside that celestial tryst and then mass showed up nine months later, was Trump destined to be President from that very moment? Was race supposed to be the great divider in perpetuity? Was Joe Exotic supposed to be the elixir to a global pandemic? And is it too late to call for a cosmic rewrite?

Hunter S. Thompson called.

He wants his fever dream back.

Truth isn’t just stranger than fiction, it’s dumber too

You know that scene in every other action movie, where the protagonist turns to no one in particular and says “You just don’t get it, do you?”. After which a terminally ill sounding musical score draws the curtains on a formulaic ending? That’s how most of us are low riding this pandemic through the springtime, as we ponder how in the hell some people can fuck up a glass of water’s worth of logic.

Oscar Wilde once said of the truth that it’s never pure and rarely simple. Hell if he wasn’t onto something . . . .

  • Social distancing equals six feet. It does not mean you ride up on my ass in the grocery store checkout line. I mean, if you’re gonna get that close to me? I need flowers and a nice dinner first.
  • I haven’t watched the wildly popular The Last Dance on ESPN yet, because I cut out cable in January. But I have an idea for all the sports ‘journalists’ opining on whether Jordan would make it in today’s game or if LBJ would make it back in the ’90’s. Pray for live games, because y’all can’t figure your way out of a paper bag without em. Jordan and LBJ would excel in any era, because they would be products of . . that . .  time. Greatness is an adaptation,  so please stop snow-globing these hypothetical scenarios.
  • The vacuum of leadership in Washington got me to thinking on Doris Goodwin Kearns’s book, Team of Rivals. And so when I read how Mitch McConnell wants the Senate to get back to business so’s he can hold confirmation hearings for federal judges, because he wants to lay conservative brick? While at the same time bemoaning his lack of suction in the most recent virus-response bill? Well now, M&M doesn’t have a clue as to how out of touch he looks. What I would give for Abe Lincoln to get five minutes in a room with this guy, just so’s he can set him straight on what strength and vision is supposed to look like.
  • So we’re straight on this “opening the country” business. There’s gonna be some deft maneuvering necessary by state and local leaders. One researcher told the New York Times that if the pandemic were a baseball game, “it would be the second inning”. So yanno, plan accordingly.
  • And because we don’t have enough to worry about, now comes word that Asian giant hornets have landed in the states. Also called “Murder Hornets” (how charming), these winged fuckers decapitate honey bees and pose a serious danger to humans. I mean . . . what’s next?
  • Nicolas Cage is going to play the Tiger King himself, Joe Exotic, in an eight episode series coming soon. I have two questions: Number one, do we really need this shit? And my second question is, where can I watch it?
  • Kate Beckinsale is in love. Get back to me on Friday with how it works out.
  • It appears Fifty Cent and Oprah are feuding. And apologies to Mr Fifty, but I highly doubt Oprah is aware of it.
  • Todd Bridges was trending on Twitter over the weekend, and no . . not because he’s dead. It seems his role in a Little House in the Prairie episode like, a hundred years ago, captured the imagination of the Twitterati. Which has me wondering, when they were trying to come up with a name for the site, why didn’t they just call Twitter “Slow News Day”? Makes more sense.
  • I don’t know what’s more concerning to humankind: COVID-19, or the fact that Kristin Cavallari and Jay Cutler are parents.

And coming up in next week’s news cycle of What in the Blessed Hell . . .Trump insists he uses Cialis for high blood pressure. Fox News touts heroin as a possible COVID-19 wonder drug. And the New England Patriots are decommissioned by the NRC.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For When The World Stops Standing Still

EVENTS — Creatively Lancaster

Let’s be real. We have no blessed idea what happens from here, I mean, once the lights go back on. Because to believe there will ever be a normal kind of normal, well . . that went away with September 11th. Everything and every day since has been a differently textured sense of normalcy, to which we held because there is something called the everyday to attend to, after all.

Now this, and now the world . . the whole entirety of it, holds its breath in anticipation of light at the end of a tunnel we never saw coming.

Things will change, because that’s how any kind of abrupt intermezzi works on the human psyche. We change, if only in miniature. But still, the things we hold to will have their aesthetic pulp to which we can still be quenched. Just this morning, I was thinking about certain of these items to which my pulse expands. And I knew that no matter what the world ends up looking like on the B side of things, these things will hold me to.

Always.

  • Walking into a baseball stadium and looking out over the field of play and just marveling at the heavenly construction. Wondering how it was possible that someone conceived this mystical design: the idea that fielders could master the vast expanse and pitchers would be able to make a small white pill speak foreign languages whilst hitters could turn on one in the time it takes to blink? And the dimensions of that diamond will seem the most fantastical endeavor of them all. As legendary columnist Red Smith once opined, “Ninety feet between bases is perhaps as close as man has ever come to perfection”.
  • The hush that comes over a movie theater when the crackle of the featured attraction starts to pop across the screen.
  • That buzz, the gloriously definable buzz that washes over a restaurant as dozens of loose conversations weave themselves together. Accompanied by mysterious noises from an unseen kitchen, the clink of glasses. And laughter, ransoming its way across the walls as if you could pick it up and take some for yourself.
  • Standing in front of a piece of art and letting time fall away, like so many leaves on a mysterious tree. Wondering what captured the imagination of the artist to figure out that kind of magic.
  • Running in the park on a spring morning as I pass by a fellow who’s having better luck with his smokes than with dinner. Dogs run across the emerald sweep as their owners toss them a ball. While kids and their parents negotiate the parameters of their afternoon and kites break the sky into small and wondrous pieces.
  • Hugging
  • The sound of a jet overhead as it navigates the muffled crease of a moonlit night. And for a moment, you wonder where that plane is going to and where it came from. And how the world is just this: A collection of fragmented stories, pieced into billions of pieces we will never get to know. And yet, we somehow understand.
  • High fives
  • Book stores, whose perimeters are lined with pilgrims of the written word and java junkies and festering brush fires of idle conversations.
  • City traffic that gets captured by a photographers lens and immortalized in a million different ways that we somehow take for granted.
  • A stranger’s smile
  • Holding hands

For now I lay my head on the pillow and think about a world that caught fire. And perchance there is a dream to be had, and if so I want to dream about some quiet, normal day when all of this will be relegated to hushed whispers.

And nothing more than that.

You Can’t Make This Stuff Up

There’s a reason why time machines are a really bad idea. Oh sure, it’s kitchy to imagine yourself as a modern day Marty McFly. But have you ever stopped to consider how ridiculous the future looks? Just for a moment, imagine telling someone in 2000 what history would look like in 2020. Here are ten items off the top of my head . . . .

  • Liam Neeson will be known as an action movie star
  • The Twin Towers will have been gone almost twenty years
  • Phones go mobile and people can literally do everything on them
  • Movie theaters are still a thing. Blockbuster is not
  • Tom Brady (who?) and the New England Patriots (what?) were the greatest dynasty in the history of American sports
  • A pandemic will thrust the entire world into lock down
  • The Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs are no longer title punchlines
  • Donald Trump will be President
  • Social media addiction is a thing
  • No one gets lost thanks to GPS, no one goes on a ‘blind date’ thanks to Tinder and everyone remembers your birthday thanks to Facebook

The moral of the story is to remain in the present, because the future is much too crazy a thing to contemplate.

 

 

The World’s Largest Poker Game

Please Follow the Beatles' Example for Social Distancing During ...

It’s the end of the world as we know it and I feel sorry for the close talkers.

And the high fivers, them too. They were fringe players before COVID-19, so you can hand them their walking papers now. Just make sure you’re wearing gloves. Oh wait . . . maybe not.

I’m not taking this pandemic personally. I really don’t think it’s a matter of God smiting us or Ozzy Osbourne haunting us. I kinda see it more as a byproduct of eight billion tenants in a residence not built for such high volume usage. Bad shit starts happening when resources and personal choices camp together. The shit is combustible.

As a true introvert and not a poser who chooses to label themselves as such in order to make friends (a self defeating purpose for the true introvert), I’m okay with the rules. I am miffed at the peeps who rail on about their freedoms being usurped. And I am pissed at the clueless vagabonds who still go to Target to piss around on their phone for an hour and pick up Red Bull. And I would love to send the knuckleheads who want to party like it’s 2019 to a remote island, along with all those genius investors who think the one with the most toilet paper wins. We can send along the 2nd amendment impulse buyers so’s they can play referee.

10 COVID-19 Memes that will Bring a Smile to Your Face ...

As for the COVID-19 Dictionary, it’s chugging right along, and here are a few of my . . . umm . . favorites?

Self Isolation– Shut the front fucking door with this term, please. It’s redundant, and incorrect. If you live alone, then of course your self is isolating. And if you don’t, then you’re simply isolating from others.

Social Distancing– The term is downright Orwellian in its bold font gravitas. Because this is something that guy would’ve gotten drunk on. It’s a term I use, even though I find it incredibly creepy.

Flattening the Curve- It’s like laying down spike strips on a speeding virus in order to lessen the impact on hospitals and infrastructure. It sounds like a show you’d find on Bravo.

Shelter in place- Another redundant term, unless your ‘place’ happens to be a boat. In which case, congratulations. When you shelter in place, it means you’re keeping your ass at home excepting for essential trips such as liquor/grocery/liquor store shopping. If you abide by the two parts liquor store to one part grocery store, you’ll make it through just fine. Ask Ina, she knows.

Viral Shedding- Nope.

Essential Government Functions- That’s a meme . . . right?

Drive Through Testing- You don’t get fries with it.

As for predicting COVID-19, contrary to popular belief, the Simpsons did not call it. And neither did Dean Koontz. In the case of the latter, he got Wuhan and he got 2020 but everything else? Not so much. And sorry movie fans, but the Steven Soderbergh flick Contagion was based on the H1N1 “swine flu” of 2009.

You want a prediction? I’ll give you a few . . .

  • Sports may not come back at all this year. Okay, this is more of a hedge/guess than a prediction. But that’s only because too many peeps still take sports too seriously. We should be concerned for all the working Joes and Janes whose jobs have been lost instead of whining about not having sports.
  • Joe Biden’s Vice Presidential choice? Barack Obama.
  • This adaptation of our everyday lives will have ripple effects. Many consumers will stop buying in to big league sports because it (finally) occurs to them that this stuff isn’t essential . . . and they’re getting fleeced. Masks will become a fashion staple for some. Streaming PPV concerts will become more popular. The Anti-Vaxers Movement has met its end. The Survivalists Guide to stockpiling is just getting started.
  • Health care will become more streamlined thanks to budget cuts. This will not be a good thing.

The system has been upended and the idea that our behaviors will not be influenced as a result is not just foolish, it’s dangerous. Our politics is already building cabins on the mountainous terrain of this time. Corporations will pimp their brands in caridad, but profits will become more important than ever. Which means sharper corners to cut in the form of more low wage jobs, an increased reliance on AI and the environment? Fuck that place!

It stands to reason the most important work force will involve humanistic enterprises. So if you’re one of those peeps who insists on being a brand? Stop. Go back to being a human being while there’s still time. Because if we keep whittling humanity down like this, pretty soon it’s going to turn into a spear.

I’m of the opinion that this time in our world’s history has been a warning. We either heed this clarion call or we suffer the consequences when the next strain of ungodly comes calling and decides it’s time to wipe the slate clean. And of course there are going to be plenty of peeps who snicker at such a thought, insisting it could never happen to us.

Uh . . . weren’t we just saying that a few months ago?