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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Aging, Like Life, Is Kinda Insidious, But It Beats The HELL Outta The Alternative

It happened yesterday. I didn’t start out being or feeling any differently, but then… LIFE happened.

While walking from Grand Central Station about 11 blocks into midtown, I felt this severe CRAMP in my left calf. It seized upon the muscle with such an intense vise-GRIP that I literally HAD to STOP, and stop immediately! I've always hated it when getting my-serious-tunnelvision-NYC-destination-stride on, then suddenly some fool just STOPS short in front of me and messes up my rhythm!

Never was a fan of those blatant rhythm blockers! Now, I was becoming ONE of those annoying people!

I told myself: ‘Shake it off, yo! This is embarrassing! Just keep walking, damn it! You have an appointment at 11. Let’s make it happen!’

So, I began to walk again, this time a little slower, and more tentative, to avoid the chance of that damn SEARING calf-pain thing recurring. Gradually I began to notice all these people (a couple of ‘em even had CANES!) just gliding by me. These people were not only, passing me, but leaving my slow azz deep in the Manhattan dust! WTF?

Truthfully, this bothered me a little. I can vividly recall being one of those physically-aggressive people who would often beat the subway by walking to my destination with a brisk long-legged stride. Where was THAT cat at? Suddenly, I WAS NOT THAT CAT anymore.

So, I make it to the appointment, a mere five minutes late, calf still feeling numb and uncooperative, but the rest of me was none the worse for the wear. We conduct our business. These were young professional people, handling things efficiently, and it was kinda cool. Although some nagging little thought in back of my head wondered: ‘How old is this person? They seem REALLY young. I wonder how long they’ve held this position, and just how much experience could they possibly have?

Admittedly, this was a straight up ageist attitude. Nothing peeved me more than being in my early 20s, fresh out of school and having to deal with the often patronizing attitude of people not thinking I was capable of doing my job; even questioning my age and experience. The nerve of those tiresome mofos! Hmmmm. Déjà vu all over again. Only, I didn’t say anything rude or ask any probing questions. It was just one of those mental convos I was having with myself.

So I leave the office, and head back to GCS. Though I’m moving a little slower, I’d like to think I'd retained some of my cool understated dance, and that my patented L.M. Ross swagger was still intact. But who the hell knows? Again, I’m noticing people of all shapes, sizes, genders, and ages passing me by.

Finally, I make it to the station. But dammit! I’d just MISSED my train! Maybe if I had been walking with more pep and energy, I woulda made it on time! Pissed at myself, I sat and waited aboard the next train which departed in a half-hour. I was virtually the only person sitting in my car. But I HAD to sit. Trust! Sitting was MUST. My leg was beginning cramp up and ache again.... and PAINFUL as it was, I didn’t wanna start crying out loud in agony, while in public. That woulda been tres uncool!

So, I’m chillin in a secluded seat in back of the train. Gradually it begins to fill with people. People of all sorts… a typical NY crowd. As the minutes count down to the train’s departure, the car gets so full that instead of sitting in the seat next to mine, people choose to stand rather than risk intruding upon my presence. Who was I Quasimoto? What was I, hideous? Grotesque? Or just black enough to be seen as dangerous? Ordinarily when that’s happened in the past, I actually liked the fact that I could stretch out and have my own space during the hour long ride home. Only, yesterday it kinda bothered me, and I can’t really understand why it did.

So, the conductor rolls thru the cars, collecting tickets. I notice he looks about 25, maybe. And then I lazily gazed ahead. The car was full of faces and everyone on that train appeared to be younger than me. Decades younger. Not school age. Full ADULTS! Only these adults were considerably younger than myself. Even the people who might APPEAR to be older than me were most probably YOUNGER than me. As you mature you can tell certain things about people, detect their age range by their posture, their graying domes, their body-weight and its distribution, the amount of fat under their chins, etc. So, I determined that I was the oldest person in that entire car of more than 60-75 people. That's a very sobering reality.

Suddenly... I’m ancient. Suddenly, I'm feeling very old and alone in NYC.

It was one of those Twilight Zone Moments: Witness... A young man boards a commuter train, and he ages, light years, before the trip expires...

I took out my notepad & scribbled the following thoughts:

When did this happen? When did I become OLDER than everyone else in the room, older than everyone else in my orbit, everyone I’d see, meet, or come in contact with during the course of a day? This strange phenom began to take flight when I realized a profound shift: the people on TV, in movies, people in the media, the reporters who delivered the news were suddenly all younger than my self. It wasn’t always this way, but it clearly is now. But Bigger than this: The people who run the government, the people who make the laws, the people who are in executive positions, the people who are technically, my bosses, are all younger than me.

I’m beginning to feel not only OLD, but invisible on this train! No one pays attention. Am I really here? Look at them all with their iPods tuning out the world around them! Hey, I’m hip too, yo! Hell, I have an iPod, and I coulda brought mine with me today, but I wanted to least appear professional! Self-involved people can be such a panic!

Where are those beautiful older-than-me gray-haired people???? Is there a special train just for them???

I stopped going to clubs a while back. The music was amped up waaay too LOUD! Most hip-hop bores me. I’d wonder: Where was the REAL MUSIC? I missed it. Club-life… it didn’t seem comfortable anymore. It actually felt a little silly inside my spirit to even BE there, and check it: I once was a cat who LOVED to dance, could dance my azz off, and was known for this… Now, I’m sitting here, leg HERTIN like Hades’, and still a little fatigued from a 22 block walk that would’ve taken me about 10-12 minutes in my prime.

I’m OLD, yo! Not getting! Done GOT OLD, yo! Time for me to even stop saying the word: “YO!”

And when I finally come out of this Twilight Zone Moment, will I hear Rod Serling's voice narrating this incident? Or will he be at the sliding doors to greet me in that eerie staccato voice? Suddenly, I realize even the reference to Rod Serling is a tad dated, old, about to become archaic.

Dammit! GET HIP, MAN!!!!

The conclusion of this entry is simple: Life doesn't care about what once was, nor what we've planned. And getting older is sometimes a bitch; a lonely, Twilight Zone-type bitch, but it still beats the hell out of the alternative.


Monday, October 18, 2010

WEED: What's So BAD About Feelin' GOOD?

Should Cannabis Be Legalized?

Leave it to Cali…

“Despite leading in three of four public opinion surveys, the fate of Proposition 19 on the November ballot remains up in the air. The initiative, billed by its advocates as a "common sense" approach to marijuana control, appeared to be sailing to victory in late September when the venerable Field Poll found it leading by 7 percentage points among likely voters. Since then, however, Proposition 19 has experienced a series of setbacks -- last week a survey by Reuters/Ipsos, with a much smaller sampling than the Field Poll, found the initiative trailing.

Proposition 19 would permit any Californian who is 21 or over to grow marijuana for his personal use. It would also, more controversially, permit California's 478 cities and 58 counties to set their own rules on regulation, taxing, and retail sales of marijuana, creating what even some proponents of legalized pot say is likely to be a crazy quilt of new regulations. Nine California cities have advisory measures on the November ballot, seeking voter guidance on the taxation rates that should be imposed for marijuana sales.”

*Writer thinks to self*... Self, by writing this entry, are you allowing friends, fam, perfect strangers and lurkers to peep your cards, and expose your socio-stee-lo?

If so, awwwww... what the Hell!


Recently I was rewatching this documentary called “WEED” which was very, VERY, VURRRR intriguing. Pssst! Can we be real? Let’s face it: Mad millions of people DO smoke weed, pot, grass, trees, hemp, reefer, gangster, chronic, herb, skunk, boom, babbit, ganja, jism (a covert Miami term my friend P.S. uses), blunt, bud, ‘jane or whatever. Fill in the blank for your own personal choice of herbal stank.


But for *some*, we reach the age and a time where we stash the pipe, put that most potent jay away, and embrace this newfound responsibility called “Maturity”, right? Ahhhh yes... that M-word or some such flight of fancy ish.

Yet, this flick “WEED” hipped me to the naked fact that vast communities of people are still indulging wholeheartedly, passionately, and yes, balls-to-the-wall in the weed. Trust! Not all of them are mindless spaced-out cadets, or ex-hippies, or marginal people lost in a some whack 60s haze of reefer madness. Many of these are businessmen and biz-women, entrepreneurs, respectable humans, even professionals and intellectuals and shiznit. I’m telling you-- they ran and do run the virtual gamut.

Some were straight-laced politicos, others talking heads with expressed manifestos. There were lawyers, legislators, and barrister types fighting for the right to smoke ‘em if ya got ‘em. Some were MD’s exposing the enhanced medical bennies, documenting its pain-relieving effect on the chronically (no pun) sick and cancerous. Many formed segments outside of this staid society, and they argued, quite effectively, for the legalization to puff and pass the righteous pipe.

This flick was mad enlightening on the schoolin’ tip documenting the many uses of hemp and cannabis. It displayed a wide variety of fashion statements— including shirts, blouses, coats, jackets, belts, shoes, entire suits—all hemp derived. My boy Woody Harrelson was right-- just creatively and environmentally alone, its uses would seem endless.

I love it when a film can entertain, inform and downright educate my azz, like: didja know The Declaration of Independence was written on hemp? So, just how many of our brilliant founding fathers were also blatant and chronic stoners? Ponder.

Didja know weed-smoking dates back to (and even before) biblical times? Hmmm. Just think of those heady consequences alone!

The film also touched upon the socializing aspects of weed. Yes, it’s been tried and proven true how it seems to break down those old tired walls and barriers that continually plague and separate us as a people. Ya know: that whole racial, class, socio-eco, religion and sexual wall.

Ah! Yes. I kept viewing with renewed interest, and then, things began to get downright spiritual, yo. Several folks waxed and waned, ebbed and flowed on the even flow of communal smokers. I mean whole the peace-mentality, the stone proclivity toward art and freer expression, easy exchange, the birth of ideas and mile-wide smiles, and yes, that oh-so-freeing ritual inherent in the puff-puff-pass. For some, there’s a kind of natural and unified Zen in the shared benefits of the bud.

Ah! Yes! The bennies. I am not about to front Bill Clinton-style and tell you “I didn’t inhale.” Trust. In my day, I inhaled, plenty! But just hearing this film's testimonials made me recall those lively concerts I’d attended in my so-called reckless youth.

There I’d be, at The Garden, deep in my element listening to Earth, Wind & Fire JAM, when some stranger with long hair taps my arm and offers me a hit of his waaay spacey weed. Who me? I’d accept, inhale and my eyes would widen and crisscross, signaling its powerful potency. He’d nod in a gesture that I should pass it along to my date, and then the next, and so on and so on and scooby doobie-doo. And suddenly, deep inside some lovely bliss-state, we’d all just become these new, cool afroed and long-haired friends.

Unlike alcohol, where aggression and violent mood swings are often a nasty little after-effect, weed gave me a such a mellow, a sense of grace, a certain openness, and dare I say, a more positive generosity of Spirit.

Yes, in the burned-out brain cells of my once reckless youth, I do recall the radiant cool of instant camaraderie brought on by a few hits of the “evil weed.” All it took was to indulge in a session, and before long-- I was lovin’ these people, feelin’ these people, noddin’ my noggin and diggin’ these people. I wasn’t mad nor resentful of anyone.

*Light Bulb. Light Bulb!*

Suddenly, I had this silly very early morning epiphany: Hey! What if all these warring World Leaders got together, loosened their ties, and undid their head wraps; and what if they unclinched their uber-tightened azzes, removed the strain of their leather shoes, slipped on some hemp sandals, sat on the floor and shared a communal bong together? Think of the possibilities, the ideas, the laughter in that room.

Anyway, back to this modern day and time: watching “WEED” enlightened the hell outta me. Trust! I’m not about to go on a rampage or stand on a soapbox and demand our government get off their old tired ethics. Methinks, with this current administration, such a shout would seem useless.

Besides, I am NOT, repeat NOT, an advocate for the widespread legalization of ALL drugs. Drugs kill! I know this vividly. Hell, I’ve seen it, up-close, and too damn personal to speak about it.

But marijuana has the ability to Save more than Kill, to enliven more than deaden, to relieve more than stress. That’s the truth as I’ve seen it. Personal experience and this "WEED" documentary, more than anything, brought that reality to the surface.

That’s it. That’s all. Smoke ‘em if ya got ‘em, y'all!


Monday, October 11, 2010

Getting Drunk... With Truth...

Over the weekend, I drank and I drank, and I drank some more. Vodka martinis were my grog of choice. Don’t get it twisted! It wasn’t a binge or one of those traumatic, deep-seated alcoholic bender things. It wasn’t a scene from The Lost Weekend starring me, as the negro Ray Milland. I was just imbibing the steady grog and pondering the gods of my own inner ponderation.

I don’t drink very much anymore. I don’t drink to get high. I don’t drink every time my mind or spirit want to celebrate. I don’t drink to call upon my sleeping bravery. I don’t need to drink to get blatantly ballsy, and I don’t need a drink to score. Still, there are some rare times I’ll drink to remember, or I'll drink to forget the things that distress or floor me.

Often, I’ll see people who drink, as if on a mission to get drunk, get lit, get loose, get bent, get wild, get busy, or get crazy-- constantly. I’ve my own theories about drinkers and drunks, and the drinks they drink.

Some do so to collapse and defeat the curse of being them selves; to rid their minds of the people they are the majority of the time. They drink to escape the job, the boss, the wife, the huzzz-ben, the kids, or the past they’ve lost. They drink to give themselves permission to laugh or cry, to bitch or become mad violent at their world… that world in their mind, that darker world they sometimes inhabit.

I see it. I witness it. I get it. I do.

See, I’m that dude behind the bar, the one who facilitates their intake. I’m the master prestidigitator of their personality overhaul. I’m that cat who watches their habits, morph, who hears their voices rise, their words slur. I'm the one who sees their posture loosen. I'm the one who liberates their inner thoughts. See, it's me who unchains the insanity... and soon they are engaging with their freer tongues.

I sometimes even like them drunk— the friendly ones, at least. I grin, sometimes even laugh out loud when their inner comedian’s are unleashed. Some people are human light shows when lit by the neon of alcohol. They can be very entertaining. I like those people. And they like me. Maybe it’s a sham. Maybe they really do. Or else they affect an attitude that resembles fondness by escaping the confines of a sometimes racist persona, and despite their true hillbilly-hearts, they manage to put-on a helluva fakery. Who knows?

But then there are those belligerent drunks. These are the ones who hate their lives, out loud. These are the ones who relinquish all control, lose their tongues, and surrender their charisma quotient. Their words become like great titanic farts, nasty, stinky, offensive-- harsh. Their eyes get crazy. Beware the crazy eyes! The transmogrification begins with the language of the eyes, and the mouth and the hands. Some toxic chemistry sleeping within becomes awakened and roused, and these toxins move through the body like mercury. That thermostat which controls and measures tolerance, suddenly blows. It cracks its glassed enclosure, and all HELL can break loose!

Trust. I’m not such an admirer of the belligerent drunk. Not a fan of those people housing those great chunks of rage, or possess some thick and combustible funk. To see them, hear them, or have to restrain them when they get physical, often makes my gig a living Hell.

Well, this weekend, I drank. I drank and I drank and then, I drank some more. I became neither the comedian nor the combatant.

Instead, I got in touch with my introverted side, my inner grotesque, my quietly fiery cat... that woe-is-me taboo blues cat. I’m not sure you’d like him much. I’m not sure he’d even talk to you. He gets lost in his music, gets caught in the twists and turns and traps of life. It’s then that he takes refuge in fits of prolonged brooding. He writes songs and poetry direct from his soul. He composes stories he never shows to anyone.

He gets vaguely pissed at his station in life. He grows impatient with the tediously slow-ass rhythm of his progress. He wonders why mediocrity is so often applauded… while emotional substance so often gets ignored.

He misses the company, the shining personalities, that singular sound of laughter from those people who are no longer inhaling air. When vulnerable, he speaks to them, there, in his dark room, alone, hoping to commune with their ghosts.

He wonders whom among them he’s most disappointing. Which of them has turned their backs to him, and which ones still stand in his amen corner? He thinks these deep thoughts. He gets lost in thought. Sometimes I think he thinks too damn much. He doesn’t cry very often. But he’s been meaning to… just fall down upon his knees to moan and sob and cry and scream and WAIL for quite some time.

I don’t think you’d like him much. But I really don’t think he’d care.

He doesn’t drink to celebrate, to get brave, or ballsy. He doesn’t imbibe the elixir to up his charisma factor. He doesn’t drink to feel mad sexy or even to score. But sometimes he drinks to remember, and sometimes he drinks to forget those quiet little tragedies he tries to ignore, when they beat so loud, so hard and so close to his chest.

So, he gets into these moods… they last for a bit… and then, by way of God and Music, he breeeeathes… he's free... and he just gets over it. And then… he tells himself:





Monday, October 4, 2010

No Disrespect Intended But... Please Put Away The God-kit, Yo!

Okay, so check it: After a prolonged disappearing act, a (formerly) close friend of mine recently resurfaced, right? Only, this person who appeared before me was the new and improved dude. You see, it was that whole other person version, because apparently they've now had a religious conversion. In fact, I received the Miraculous news that they have recently been “Saved."


Wow! Will wonders never cease?

Now, MY end of the convo went a lil sum’m like this: “Wow! Saved? You? For real?” This was followed by a short GTFOH chuckle. However, internally, trust... I was busting a mad gut and cackling with a big ole guffaw. And although this was Zen laughter on my part, I was hoping the amusement at this concept doesn’t show on my face.

However, in return, only this seriously dour no-nonsense expression flashed back at me.

“Oh. You’re for real? oTAY. My bad. Then let me say, congratulations and Amen, my brotha."

Somebody shout hallelujah up in here!

BUT... then it came. The pointed, accusatory, wholly judgmental question: was I “prepared for Judgment Day?” Had I gotten *my* "house in order?"

Well, urruh, I'm lookin into coppin some new furniture, but... Oh no!

Already, I could FEEL it. IT was a-heading my way: some ass-backward, misreading, misinterpretation of Biblical scripture thrown in my face. It was something I'd heard enough times to be accustomed to it, but something about it didn't ring true. Was he even remembering correctly? Ummm... I think not.

Check please! Gotta go. Bub-bye.

No, I'm not completely jaded, but somehow, I *do question* that person’s new conviction. Why? Because in this case (and others) it’s usually such a foreign entity that's 180 degrees away from the person they’d always shown themselves to be. It’s almost always some violent diversion from the norm or the soul I’d come to know. So, it sometimes becomes difficult to fully wrap my brain around this new person, and this new flow.

Now, far be it from me to question anyone’s convictions, religious or otherwise. As far as I know, it COULD very well be legit. At least, THEY believe it to be. So, more power to them! I just find it amusing and yes, *amazing*, that it's always the ones who went buck-wile, who were *known* at the party, who had the baddest rep, who you'd usually cross the street to avoid, who, back in the day, were voted Most Likely to Commit a Felony or an atrocity (& in some cases, they actually DID!). These tend to be the people who up and suddenly find The Light. I mean, what's up with that? Why is it them — and always those somewhat unstable, part-time criminal, carnivorous, predatory, sexually— urruh-- liberal, bed-hopping, hemp-smoking, coke-sniffing, smack and crack-abusing hellions? Huh? Why those folks!

Hey… How bout we regular folks, huh? How about the one’s who go from day to day being regular, thinking regular and treating people and the world as humanists do? How about those of us who are not abusing anything or anyone, who DO have a belief in a Higher Power, but feel no need to SHOUT it from the highest tower and have to make it our mission to convert errrbody in our path?

I need to understand the impetus for these so-called conversions, yo.

Okay… the obvious answer is, they’d hit rock bottom with a pronounced BAM, BOOM! They had to go through some mad and daunting utter darkness to get to the other side of it. I can respect that concept, and I accept that answer.

So, if you truly had that redemption experience, and you have changed, that's a Beautiful Thing.

Just please don’t go around viewing me differently or calling me out, or describing MY ways as “sinful"... when we are ALL sinners! True Story: Perfection will always elude us!

So, don’t go approaching people in your orbit and commence to whipping out your God Kit!

Yo! Get back! It's tired. Just put it away! Aiight? That shit don’t fly with me.

If I KNEW you back when you were a stone hell-raiser, and I liked you, dug you, and accepted you as you were, don’t suddenly start quoting scripture (incorrectly!), chapter and verse to me! You ain’t-- repeat... you are NOT anyone’s Biblical scholar. Aiight? Don't make me speak my mind, and then dare tell me it’s flawed... simply because it doesn't fall in line with your newfound (so-called) Enlightenment!

The Bible is a Wonderful and Wonder-filled Book, that is, in many ways archaic. And beyond all that, face it: it’s been translated from its original text, retranslated, regurgitated, updated, revised and remixed by MAN— dig? So would it not stand to reason that some crucial Truths have to get lost in the mix? Does it not make common sense that some other human’s agenda gets thrown into that sauce?

Please don’t hate on me or see me as lesser than YOU simply because these days we seem to be thinking quite differently. I’d love to debate you about words and freewill and other complexities within the text, but it occurs to me, you ain’t nobody’s theologian nor a preacher, yo. So, just calm yourself! Just breeeeeeeathe, baby! Don’t make people avoid you like the plague, or begin to *hate* on you because you’ve suddenly turned all Holy and Sanctified. Aiight?

Besides, so many times, far too many times, in fact, all that self-righteousness and holiness tends to expire. Much like a loaf of bread, it feeds you, gives you sustenance for a while, and then… it gets old, begins to mold, becomes rancid, and you throw it away. When all that crumbles into dust, then WHO are you?

What happens then?

Well, most of the folks I've known end up just as fugged up and disillusioned as they ever were, or even more so. But don’t blame The Man Upstairs because your God-kit is in the repair shop, in disarray, in shambles. Aiight?

So your preacher, pastor, rabbi, guru, bishop, priest, spiritual leader shows himself to be a fraud. Oh no! Oops! There goes your religion. Right? Wrong! You've simply placed your faith in man, again. And just whose BAD was that… God’s? Or yours?


So, you’re Holy, now? Wow. You're redeemed! You’ve found The Way? Cool. You’re Saved. Wonderful. Wunnerful. Wonder-filled, I say.

Just please make sure your God Kit stays intact; that your Deep Conversion Mode is not some flavor-of-the-month-demi-holy act! Try seeing to it that your belief system doesn’t shut down in a time of Real Crisis, and you get weak and revert back to type! Should any of this happen (& it often does!) then, my friend, you’ll be just another fraud who ain’t really down by anyone’s law. Then, you really ain’t Saved. You’ve simply just put your wild days, wile azz and wile ways, on layaway.

Aiight? Bless up, and have good day!

Whew! I just had to get that one off my chest.