Saturday, August 9, 2014

Sarah, my beautiful girl

Almost 16 years ago, in suburban Atlanta (read Alpharetta), a little girl ran down from upstairs where she no doubt stayed in during "off-times".  We were in the kitchen talking to the person who thought she had to give up her baby.  We were on a lark (more of that in a moment).  Everyone was so excited!  Seconds later, I caught a flash of something slide by the kitchen door and out of sight.  Huh?  Only moments later did a cute little whippet puppy gallop into the room (and instantly into our life).

You see, we had met a whippet in the south of France while on an over-the-top vacation.  So, we thought we might add a second dog for our Ellie (a golden retriever).  We studied the breed, thought the whippet at a bar in Cannes was fabulous, had time to go see an available puppy, and could always say "maybe another time".

No such luck!  This little angel romped up to me and before we could come up with questions, I drooled, "I'm in love" (or some other dramatic response).

Needless to say, we went home with sweet Mona that day.  (Mona was her puppy name, because she had a way of whimpering in a low moan.)  This was to be telling.  This dog spoke and listen (in English).  Upon arrival to our lives (that's Ellie, Paul and me), she was a terror.  Ellie was nipped at constantly, until our puppy was worn out (at which point she collapsed and snuggled on top of Ellie).  

When she wasn't wildly scampering, our baby was simply beautiful, graceful, elegant, and nothing like a plain dog.  Because Mona was from a reputable family (ie. breeder), she needed a formal name.  At that moment in time, nothing could have been more beautiful and lady-like than Sarah McLachlan.  Her latest album had a song that was so heavenly inspired that I had to anoint our child "Sarah's Full of Grace". 

As a forerunner to all things good, Sarah didn't necessarily have it perfect.  She was our first dog from this glorious breed, and it wasn't long before she had to have a friend (ie. whippet people don't just have one!).  Within a year, Mary Louise showed up and took the C.O.A. crown off of Sarah's head and bitched her way to prominence.

Though she often played second fiddle to all the others that were to come, she carved out a space in our lives.  She was the one you couldn't find (hiding from her overbearing "sister"), the one who wouldn't be held down, the one who wanted squirrels so bad she was willing to risk her life to run across Boulevard and be hit by a car, the one who would fight a possum because it was trespassing on her turf.   

Finally, her moment for all eternity came when she played the role of loving Aunt to a litter of puppies who needed her life skills (since their own mother was exhausted by the whole birthing thing!).  Sarah jumped right into our project and loved those kids like they were hers. 

Soon the puppies took all the attention and Sarah was back to role of under-study.  I believed she learned to use this to her advantage, as friends and neighbors decided they should pick her as "favorite", since we had so rudely pushed her to the side!  This was the first era of "Poor Sarah".

Relief came when life changes allowed her to have a new home with bushes.  She could explore and chase small vermin!   She escaped her over-bearing, twisted sister woman, and had her own space.  Ivan and Frances are who they are because of their dutiful Aunt.  Her claimed to fame during these days was appearing in Bark Magazine's smile photos.  (January-February 2012, page 24)

When her daddy moved out west, the threesome became a pack of 4.  Almost instantly, the domination games of Mary Louise kicked in and "Poor Sarah" era 2 had begun.

With age came a more sedate lifestyle, and seclusion from some of the activities of the pack.  Walks were still important, even though at times she held us up.  Up to a week ago, she still gathered herself up to act excited about eating, going outside, and getting a lick of leftovers.  Mary Louise started realizing that there was nothing left to dominate, as Sarah didn't have the energy to deal with that old stupid game.  So, Mary just plopped down with Sarah and quietly enjoyed her company.

As Sarah became weaker over the last few months, something beautiful also occurred for me.  She could no longer fight being held in the bed...she had to acquiesce.  Now was my chance to take advantage of a situation.  I finally got to snuggle and love on her like I always wanted, and she was powerless to stop me!

A week ago, I had the joy of holding Sarah in my arms as I came to terms that she was about to leave us.  I had a moment to fully digest just what she had meant to my life, my family and my friends.  Today would have been her 16th Birthday, and I am lucky to have had those years

As your namesake sings, "(We) will remember you."

Friday, July 4, 2014

Happy 4th of July (Imagine)

I am proud to be a part of the United States of America (having been lucky enough to be born here).  Yet on this date, I also want to declare my pride in simply being a human being. 

In the 1770s, our intellectual forefathers coalesced a philosophy of human rights, government responsibility, and civility that truly started a revolution.  This was not unique or somehow god-given.  It was the evolution of political thought that started with the ancients, was fed by peasant revolts, theorized by great thinkers, and experimented at local levels in feudal systems.

Humans are wired to be single minded individuals in an enduring fight against all things natural (ie. things we can't control).  Over the millennium, we decided that we could "conquer" nature by teaming up and organizing a tiered community whereby each of us could collectively improve our lot.  We "agreed" to live under a social contract where we gave up certain individual rights and allowed some other authority to govern.  This is what gave Kings their "right" to the throne.

All of this worked well, unless somehow the governing bodies were not keeping their side of the bargain.  And, we would be better off fighting nature on our own.  The ebb and flow of this tension is exactly what was happening in the mid 1700s with the frontier against the English crown.  The long term sovereign was not helping us in a meaningful way, so we revolted and set up a new form of "social contract" and established a new political band that would connect us.  While not perfect, our system has provided the equilibrium between the collective and the individual.

We should be celebrate our achievements!  Further, we should continue to strive to spread our version of utopia to all mankind.  We are not unique or special in our "unalienable Rights" to Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.  

My experience should not be just for me within my borders.  The poor Indian, raped girl in Nigeria, transexual in Russia, etc., etc. etc. should be a part of our social contract; and, we should all "mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor".  When we do not, we bring shame to the very forward thinking of our beloved founding fathers.

Happy 4th of July (but don't forget to imagine a better world for all)

For more reading on the subject, I suggest the following: 

The Ideological Origins American Revolution, by Bernard Bailyn

Chances are, you'll learn more about our country's legacy from these pages than all the television you'll see in a lifetime. 


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Time for spring cleaning...

When I think of clean, I think of Mr. Clean.  When I think of Mr. Clean, Bruce Willis comes to mind.  At the mention of Bruce Willis, I either "see dead people" or need moonlighting.  Anywho, what I really want to discuss are the ridiculous "Voice", "Idol", or "America's Got Talent" shows.

Bjork has talent.  An idol is something like this...

Further, America does not have a voice.

When did we become the country who rules the world without any sense of morality?  I'm no fucking Buddhist, but this is enlightenment!

I want to fight for the high road.  If it is wrong for Russia to control Crimea, then why do we stand to the side on Taiwan?  We still embargo Cuba (because they are not "democratic"), yet our desert Saudis seem best of friends.  Why the double standard?

REALPOLITIK - politics or diplomacy based primarily on power and on practical and material factors and considerations, rather than explicit ideological notions or moral or ethical premises.  As my good friend Henry says, "While we should never give up our principles, we must also realize that we cannot maintain our principles unless we survive."  

Let's discuss...I am being called to dinner!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The upward spiral vs. angst

20 years ago may seem like a long time ago.  Me, I was a frustrated professional in a bank, full of future worries.  And, Trent Reznor just released The Downward Spiral.  (Suffice it to say, his genius is unparalleled in my generation.  He took industrial music to a perfected place...but, enough about the music.)

The great hoo-ha of X.  We were vexed at the ridiculous 80' turned yuppies...loser anxiety for the future.  Our god was supposed to be Kurt.  He spoke for the existential angst we all felt.  Somehow his view didn't quite work for me.  My internalization was based on a blend of Morrissey despair and Depeche Mode spirituality.  I also had an utopian world view that border on religion.  We had to be better than what we saw around us.  The world felt so stupid to my logical brain.  Whining about it was fun for a minute, then it was time to do something.

Nine Inch Nails delivered the answer to all that ailed.  The songs on The Downward Spiral  cut to the core of our situation.  We had to acknowledge the shit surrounding more denial.  Then, we had to absolutely break it apart.  If we didn't, we would be destroyed and ruined by the circumstances of our lives.

The initial machine gun announcement that we are controlled by "Mr. Self Destruct" slides into classic whining despair...woe is me "Piggy"!  However if things are this bad, why not fuck it all and fight.  Nothing can stop me now.


He flexed his muscles to keep his flock of sheep in line.  He made a virus that would kill off all the swine.
His perfect kingdom of killing, suffering and pain.  Demands devotion, atrocities done in his name.

MARCH...I want to break it up, smash it up, fuck it up.  I want to watch it come down.  Now, doesn't that make you feel better?

The album seems to go back and forth between loathing and focused anger.  "Closer" won't let the evils of this world own us.  "Ruiner" might as well be Reagan/Bush as far as I am concerned.  It ends with "you are the reason I stay alive", which to me is another call to arms.  We cannot let that crowd of conservatives influence our world.  We must be the thorn in their side at every turn.

Lyrics are not the only important contribution.  "The Becoming" is an amazing piece of post industrial horror punk.  The theme of the whole album is captured in the sound.  Back to the message though, "I Do Not Want This" fully explains the path we must choose.  The angst will destroy us, if we don't fight it and it's causes.  We had to make a choice.  I want to know everything, I want to be everywhere, I want to fuck everyone in the world, I want to do something that matters!

"Big Man With A Gun" had to be on this album just to mess with the Tipper Gore fanatics.  It serves no other purpose.  This idiot wrote a book called "Slouching Toward Gomorrah" and used NIN as an example.  

I digress.

"A Warm Place" repeats the circling down theme beautifully and readies the listener for the bombast of "Eraser".  "Reptile" introduces the second guessing nature of the nihilistic dream.  Should we really tear everything down to make things better, or is that just our rage tricking us?  By this point of the album, I made my choice.  I wanted to make things better.  Trent seemed less sure as he wastes away in the "Downward Spiral" and "Hurt".  Perhaps one day at life's end, I will have similar regrets.  Somehow, I doubt it.

I am now 44, part of the white male dominated society, and jaded by success.  But, I believe the values instilled in me by works of art such as "The Downward Spiral" stay with me to this day.  I am "the guy" that wants to break down illogical walls and fight against every institution that holds the human race back.  One may see it in my occasional rants about the Pope, but the real passion lies in under-cutting anything conservative.  We are not meant to stay put.  Even conservatives change with the times.  They are just slower about it than necessary.

While a surface listen to The Downward Spiral might send a listener down a hole, I find it uplifting and empowering.  It captures an aggressive view of how to make the world a better place (cue Coca-Cola commercial now!)  We must fight the powers in control of our lives and create a world where things evolve; or, we might as well shoot up (take that as you may).

In the words of Frederic Nietzsche, "I praise, I do not reproach, [nihilism's] arrival. I believe it is one of the greatest crises, a moment of the deepest self-reflection of humanity. Whether man recovers from it, whether he becomes master of this crisis, is a question of his strength!"

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

See the pope in a buffalo stance...

What a couple of weeks...

Neneh Cherry has been gone too long.  (Pompous religious bigots, not gone ever.)

First let me unload my discrimination rant.  If businesses can discriminate based on their religious beliefs, then should Hindi workers abstain from serving a McDonald's Big Mac?  Shall a strict Muslim not serve an educated woman anything?  Would a Christian be unable to promote "super-sized" meal deals to obese gluttons?  

When I get fired from my job because I can't deal with the Jesus-killing Jews, may I please use the religious belief card to sue my employer?  Obviously, the answer is yes.  More importantly, our government should specifically legislate which religious freedoms are valued in the community.  I don't want any gray areas, which could cause confusion. Let's make it clear to all the world that we are a white, male dominated, Judeo-Christian country (sans some of the Judeo part when it suits us)!  Amen.

Next, let us gives thanks to il mio Papa for his "modern" view of his kingdom.  His church might tolerate civil unions between same sex people, but I for one have one thing to say, "CAZZO you".  Shut up, because no one should care what you say.  "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves." (Matthew 7:15)

Luckily for me, I have listened to Neneh Cherry's new album (Blank Project) about 25 times in the last few days.  Hyperbole is all that can be used to describe how it makes me feel.  Amazing!  Sensational! Hot! Intelligent! Genius!  The beats alone put me in a whirl!  It is refreshing to remember how important this type of artist is to our pop music evolution.  25 years ago she began a revolution within "hip-hop"/, then faded into obscurity.  Absence truly has made my heart grow fonder.  "Raw Like Sushi" sounds like something one would hear on the radio today, though not as forced and manipulated (hint, hint Kanye).  If you want a taste, here is the title track.  No doubt, this won't be the last you've heard from me on this subject.  

Saturday, January 4, 2014

New year's dissolution

Resolutions are so last year!  I want to work on dissolving some things in 2014.  So, each month something will be broken apart and left in pieces,  only to further decay.

Join me on this adventure!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

2013 Songs of the Year

In no particular order and only one two from the same album (well, except for the one exception made for the Pet Shop Boys who had 2 absolute classics).  These are available on your iTunes and other pay services!

Song Album Artist
Vocal Electric Pet Shop Boys
Diane Young Modern Vampires of the City Vampire Weekend
Closer Heartthrob (Deluxe Version) Tegan and Sara
Welcome To Japan Comedown Machine The Strokes
Brennisteinn Kveikur Sigur Rós
Lies The Bones of What You Believe (Special Edition) CHVRCHES
Love is a Bourgeois Construct Electric Pet Shop Boys
In Two Hesitation Marks (Deluxe Version) Nine Inch Nails
Tennis Court Pure Heroine Lorde
Sacrilege Mosquito (Deluxe Version) Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Young and Beautiful The Great Gatsby (Music from Baz Luhrmann's Film) Lana Del Rey
The Crack Up The Messenger Johnny Marr
Love Hurt Bleed Splinter (Songs from a Broken Mind) Gary Numan
Inhaler Holy Fire Foals
Be Free, A Way The Terror (Deluxe Version) The Flaming Lips
Where Are We Now? The Next Day (Deluxe Version) David Bowie
Pink Rabbits Trouble Will Find Me The National
Stuck Together Pieces Amok Atoms for Peace
Do I Wanna Know? AM Arctic Monkeys
Get Lucky Random Access Memories Daft Punk feat. Pharrell Williams
Afterlife Reflektor Arcade Fire