Wednesday, August 05, 2020

Riding the waves to somewhere...

6 months since COVID-19 began crippling the world (and life in general); 5 months since I began working at home.  I still feel good, physically - and I've taken some wise steps to make sure that I remain healthy.  I scheduled two medical appointments next week - dentist and gastroenterologist.  It's two years since my last teeth cleaning, so I'm overdue.  And at 55, I'm late with having a consultation for a colonoscopy.  So that's finally on the docket.  Later on, I'll schedule a proper physical because that's another one that's gotten away for me - like 15 years.  Although everything is at a standstill, I feel the need to reshape certain elements in/of my life - and going to doctors for the sake of remaining in good physical health is paramount.  I already have my yearly appointment with my eye doctor set for next month - it's a matter of checking off necessities from the list.

Part of these changes do - sadly - include another cleaning out of the emotional closet.  The jettisoning of a very long-term relationship (albeit, a friendship) is always a painful, taxing, difficult process.  But when you clearly see that the end is coming - and in essence, has arrived - you should do the rational thing and just let go.  It makes me sad, but I watched the slow decline.  I tried to save it and my efforts were for naught, so okay - I did my best.  I'm not a martyr here; I don't feel any recriminations; I'm not angry, just disappointed.  When the communication becomes a one-way street, it's pointless.  But that's part of the cycle.  I walk away with my head held high and with appreciation for the years.

At the same time, little things are the seeds of joy planted.  I have a scheduled day off from work next week to spend at the beach - giving me a long weekend.  I have some new books and albums to digest and devour...  this is a good time for refreshment/reset/rejuvenation.  And once the gyms finally reopen, I'm going to be there, daily, if possible.  I also want to give myself a spa day in October; it's a little costly but it's a worthwhile investment.

As I've said on many occasions, I'm using this period as something to be treasured; lessons well-learned and filled with positivity. 

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Sigh and not explode

Another glorious Sunday - waking up after a (thankfully) solid night's sleep with sun pouring in.  Feed the cats and enjoy breakfast in the calm and quiet.  An ice-cold glass of orange juice; a chocolate chip muffin; a  fresh banana and deliciously string coffee is all I needed to set the tone for the day.  A quick and easy grocery shop; an iced blueberry coffee before heading home and all is golden.  I even dozed off for a little while.

Days like today are all I want; they're all I need.  Now when I watch the news, I don't let it affect me.  I see Twitter or Facebook and I don't care.  My orbit is what I'm about.  I feel good; I'm still healthy and I feel sharper; clear-headed and able to parse out my thoughts in an even-more rational fashion than before.

Ever onward, y'know...

Wednesday, July 08, 2020

Another pleasant valley Sunday into tomorrow...

The days are speeding past and blending into one another, almost seamlessly.  Independence Day came and went with an embarrassing deluge of anti-American sentiment and childish complaints about "too many fireworks" - when did this suddenly become such a topic to bitch about?  It's July 4th... Everyone is looking for something to be pissed off at and by.  I won't have any of it.  I've been learning to master the art of not caring about the superficial feelings of people who want desperately to preach at me.  I know I sound like a broken record, but Twitter is the petri dish of stupidity fomenting and Facebook is the platform of unadulterated insanity.  And I refuse to take bait.

Here's what I've come to feel:  your opinions don't matter to me.  They're opinions.  Your preaching means nothing to me.  You want to jump on a bandwagon/flavor-of-the-week cause, don't expect me to give you the time of day.  I don't support it; I never have.  Has it cost me friends?  Perhaps.  Does it worry or concern me now?  No.  Because the reality is this:  I'm 55 years old.  I'm already educated and wise enough to know what is real, what is viable and what is momentary bullshit.  I've seen this nonsense before and I don't have any care about your "feelings" and feigned passion.  If you partake in the hideous acts of "doxxing" and public shaming, ridicule and trying to put someone out of a job or out of business, you are absolutely no better than the so-called evil you're barking about.  "Let him who is without sin cast the first stone"...  well, that cannot be said about any of the morally indignant, social justice warriors/virtue signalers.  99% of those who take these actions are amongst the most amoral, indecent degenerates walking the streets.  Hypocrisy knows no bounds.  And these people are just empty vessels.  They need to fill a gaping void.

This time at home has been an unseen blessing in my eyes - I've been able to observe with greater clarity than ever at how truly unappealing people are - and they've allowed themselves to become these awful characters.  Being at home, safe and following the very simple directives on how not to become ill, has made me mentally stronger; emotionally sharper and I feel re-educated and rejuvenated.  Instead of being an asshole, bemoaning "why can't I go to the bar?" (how old are you people, college age idiots aside?), I do what needs to be done.  It costs nothing to stay home in safety; I have my mask for when I go out and I practice social distancing.  I do what I need to do and it suits me fine.  When the time comes, I can go back to the gym - that's the only thing I miss.  So what's to complain about?

People want to be miserable; people want to point fingers and place blame.  It doesn't work for me and it doesn't work on me.  Get your own house in order first. 

Me?  I'm going to enjoy watching the rain come down, as I know it's going to break the heat!

Monday, June 29, 2020


This has been a particularly cruel month.  It started badly, although it wasn't direct and personal and it's ending on a profoundly painful note.  A very dear friend; someone I loved, passed away on Friday, the 26th.  Her death is a complete shock to me and so many of our mutual friends. 

We were friends for several years; we worked for the same company, albeit years apart from one another.  We came from the same professional background and shared a very similar sense of humor.  We had meaningful conversations; she was passionate about New York City, her home since the early 1980's; she had a deep appreciation for the music and cultural styles of the 1970's and she was absolutely enthralled with anything that had a Latin-flavored beat.  She was intelligent, sharp, quick-witted, kind, gentle and wise. 

We would go back and forth about wonderfully obscure music that only we seemed to know and like; the matter-of-factness in the way we both approached things - it was a wonderful connection. I remember how strident she was about her neighborhood being compromised by Mayor deBlasio and she was very active in the East River Neighborhood Association, to fight off the builders and landlords that he let in to tear up the park, etc.  She was still in love with New York City and she was very hurt and angry at the reality of what was happening.  We’d had a running joke about having a time machine to take us back to the ‘70’s - and she suggested she and I get out of here and go South. 
Her last birthday message to me, which disappeared when she deleted her Facebook account, was her promise to get me new Earth Shoes and an 8 track player for the ‘76 Plymouth Duster.  She waxed poetic and eloquent about certain albums she loved and always asked me if I knew of anything "new" that she hadn't previously heard.

She was so well-rounded; she knew about everything.  Her personality wasn't never arrogant or haughty; she was even-keeled and it made you love her even more.  She appreciated you; she appreciated everyone.  Anyone and everyone who knew her loved her.  Instantly.  She was that kind of person.

There is a void now.  My only comfort in her being gone is that she's now at peace and free of pain.  All I can do is say thank you, Holly.  I love you and I'll miss you.

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Fables of the reconstruction of the fables...

I usually don't opine about albums on here - I save my musical evaluations for MusicTAP and Popdose, but this is a highly personal and emotional thing for me.  R.E.M.'s Fables Of The Reconstruction was released 35 years ago on this day and has, at this point, had the most lasting impact on me in the context of their albums (which pretty much peaked with this classic/masterpiece).

In the years following Fables' release, I felt a slow trajectory downward in both their music and connection to me.  It isn't coincidental, as they seemed to grow bigger in popularity, chart success, etc.  The disconnect for me was the quality of the songs, and subsequently, their albums as a whole offering.  Each release from Lifes Rich Pageant onward just didn't live with me as the first three albums (and the Chronic Town E.P., which started the whole thing off).

I used to say without hesitation that Murmur was my favorite, since it was the first full-length album and it captured a very specific moment in time for me and my life as it was, when I first heard it.  But, I've had to step back and take as objective a view as possible.  Fables Of The Reconstruction has served me, over the following decades, as a musical travelogue, a source of comfort and introspection, a musical palette and a constant wonder.  I can listen to the album in its entirety; it reads like a novel and individual songs serve as a touchstone for certain memories and people that I (still) hold near and dear.  In this time of a pandemic, I've only listened to two albums, albeit in staggered fashion (while riding the ferry into Manhattan, actually).  One album was a key component of my earliest childhood (The Monkees' Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd.) and the other is Fables... 

The elegiac, haunting (and somewhat ponderous) beauty of "Kohoutek" is one of my most-loved R.E.M. songs; it's certainly my centerpiece to this album.  Explosive, emotional and melodically-rich, it's also incredibly cinematic - as are most of the tracks on Fables...; I have seen people from my life in the lyrics - as I've seen myself.  And it's a testament to the power of the images conjured up along with the music that carries the story along, working in perfect balance.

This is one of those rare albums that gets better over time; it doesn't sound dated; the stories are filled with characters and places - it can be taken to heart and mind.  And it can be listened to in chapters - each song is a tale of its own merit.  The music is darker, more lush and thought out than the prior R.E.M. albums.  And it's far and away the best thing they ever did.

Monday, June 08, 2020

The antidote to pop culture monotony...

A solid, comfortable, restful night's sleep.  Waking up and finding sun pouring in through all the windows; opening those windows, lifting the blinds and filling the rooms with natural light.  Cold orange juice; a fresh blueberry muffin and banana and a strong, hot cup of coffee.  Immediately, it's a welcome array of tastes and scents that lift my spirits in an instant start to my day.

This was yesterday morning; today has started in the same fashion.  It's a good feeling.  I've turned off the news, save for the weather report (and the meteorologist is hopelessly irritating) because at this point, it's all the same.  Biased and false narratives, half-told stories and fanning the flames of the social psychosis that has set in is of no interest to me.  News outlets on both sides have their agendas and the target audiences are lapping it up wholesale.  And I just don't care.  I am not investing any time or energy into the dictated cause-celebre.  I feel good; I feel healthy - and that's all that matters to me.

I'm also stepping away for a breather from social media.  I'm not shutting down my Facebook account, since I use it as a means of sharing the pieces I write for MusicTAP and Popdose; I just won't read anyone's "impassioned" posts of nonsense.  I'm not a user, per se, of Instagram - it's instant silliness - so I won't be checking it, either.  Twitter is a clusterfuck of insanity and illiteracy (can adults no longer spell?) - no time or desire for it.  And suddenly, the cobwebs have cleared exponentially.  Why?  Because it's really not important or relevant; not at all.  Do I care about my friends' opinions?  Yes, when it's in conversation, not on Facebook.  Just as I don't like having my Facebook page being policed by friends.  That's where I draw the line.  So...  time away from the lunacy only serves as a positive to me.  It's back to living real life, even while we're still a few weeks away from New York City "reopening".  I only wish I'd imparted this common sense train of thought a little sooner.

Here's a helpful hint - if you like toast as part of your breakfast, 12- or 15-grain bread with any fruit spread is the best way to start things off before your begin your work morning!

Wednesday, June 03, 2020

The new abnormal

It's interesting how people vehemently refuse to read something in total; will not listen to a reasonable viewpoint and will do everything they can to insult, belittle and try to publicly humiliate you - even after you present facts in a calm, non-malicious manner and are engaging with others on difficult/trying/touchy subjects.

No one can engage because people will selectively parse and re/mis-interpret things for their own skewered purposes.  It's shameful.  It's one thing for me to excoriate "millennials", since they don't have a complete world-view or a sense of perspective.  Hell, they notoriously blow off history.  But when it's people who are in the age-range of myself, that's quite another story.  This is where the "new infantilism" sets in.  Idiots - some of whom I once gladly considered "friends" will say really stupid shit ("this is what Joe Strummer trained you for"...  what the fuck?) and go after you with knives drawn after they've delivered - what seems to be, more often than not - meticulously memorized "talking points", slogans, cliches and fragments of some socio-political mis-information which they've accepted as the gospel truth.  The news media has tapped into this intellectual void and have done no end of damage by getting people to lap up their force-fed agendas, wholesale, with spectacular ratings - this applies to outlets on both the left and right.  Now the game is:  you have to fall into lock-step with a certain pattern of thought - politically and socially - you're not to challenge, question or disagree with these edicts and you must show passion and rage or you don't have a soul (apparently).

Facebook is THE Petri dish to breed asshole-ism exponentially.  BUT...  I'm learning - quite successfully, I might add/think - to fob it off and not engage.  As it is, the attention span of most individuals now has dwindled to nil.  And you can bet that as soon as one wave of "moral outrage" is over, they'll be back to deep discussion about the Kardashians and the usual bullshit that people have more of a vested interest in.  Once the handwringing and "I can't stop crying" and "truth!" dwindles away, it's business as usual.  "Moral indignation" (which translates to "virtue signaling") equals self-righteous bombast and empty pomposity.

Here's a cold fact and an important one:  we are all most concerned with our own lives.  We have to be.  We have to be conscious of our finances; our livelihoods; our families, our homes - the things that keep us functioning day-to-day.  We're in a very dark period, historically, with people losing their jobs, their houses and their lives - in part, thanks to a pandemic no one kept an eye on.  So we have to care about ourselves before we can care about others.  That's not selfish and it's not non-empathetic (a over-used and now meaninglessly trite cliche).  It's reasonable logic.  And the only way to get through ludicrousness or serious crises in our lives/our orbits, is to be logical, thoughtful and rational.

And there's a raging scarcity of rationality out there, which is what makes it a such a frightening world at this time.  Never mind the constant regurgitation of unsubstantiated opinions being taken as fact - "frightening" starts to translate as "dangerous" - when the fallacy is seen as reality.