Friday, September 26, 2014

Dead-End Streets

Dead end streets.  The end of a wrong turn taken somewhere. It can be as harmless as simply turning around, retracing your steps and taking the right path. Then again it may seem as if your entire life's journey has been a wrong turn and the result is a dead-end life.  I suspect that's what British songwriter Ray Davies had in mind when he penned this tune:

What are we living for?

Two-roomed apartment on the second floor.
No money coming in,
The rent collector's knocking, trying to get in.

We are strictly second class,
We don't understand,
(Dead end!)
Why we should be on dead end street.
(Dead end!)
People are living on dead end street.
(Dead end!)
Gonna die on dead end street.
Strong words for a pop/rock tune but then Davies has always been that kind of songwriter when it comes to chronicling life in England.  And music - especially popular music - has always been a way to show the world how things really are - at least through the eyes of the songwriter.

Then there's this example of those in a dead-end life here in the good old USA - though admittedly an old example and indeed a fictional one

It does however represent the truth  even today. But the good news is being on a dead-end street isn't necessarily the end - merely a challenge that needs to be overcome. Heck - the Dead End Kids became the Bowery Boys so there's always hope.

I spent many  a Saturday afternoon at the Uptown Theater in Pueblo, Colorado watching the antics of the Bowery Boys - Slip, Satch and the gang.

Thats your quick shack take on this week's topic - which came to us via our pal Maxi in Florida.  Check out where the other LBC folks ended up on their Dead-End Streets.


Friday, September 19, 2014

All's well that ends well.

At 24, he had Oswaldo the Rabbit, his first successful cartoon character, stolen from him by Universal Studios. At 25, MGM told him no one would ever like Mickey Mouse. At one point in his twenties, Walt Disney was so poor that he resorted to eating dog food..  Who woulda thunk it.  Yep - he qualifies as an all's well that ends well story.

Benjamin Franklin dropped out of school at age ten. Franklin's parents could only afford to keep him in school until his tenth birthday. That didn't stop the great man from pursuing his education. He taught himself through voracious reading, and eventually went on to invent the lightning rod and bifocals. Oh, and he became one of America's Founding Fathers.  I'd say that ended well.

Steven Spielberg was rejected from USC, twice.  You read that right. One of the most prolific filmmakers of all time, the man who brought us "Shindler's List," "Jaws," "E.T." and "Jurassic Park" couldn't get into the film school of his choice. Maybe, just sometimes, education can be a little overrated. In the end, Spielberg would get the last laugh, when USC awarded him an honorary degree in 1994. Two years later, he became a trustee of the university. Yep – another ended well scenario.

Yep - clearly Russ Hodges, Bobby Thompson and Giants fans had an all's well that ends well moment.  Talph Branca and Dodger fans?  Not so much.

On the list for sheer improbability, there is no comeback more unbelievable than the last few seconds of the 1982 Big Game. Five laterals and one game-winning touchdown later, The Play smashed its way into American sports history. Oh, and the Cal football team defeated Stanford 25-20.  Surely Joe Starkey had a moment.  Stanford fans?  Yep - not so much.

My point in all of this?  Physics tells us for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.  So to is it in life.   Call it winners and losers or something else if you like but the fact is, there are 2 sides to everything. So keep that in mind when you next celeberate your happy ending.

That's my quick shack-take on this week's LBC topic, Tune in next week - same Bat time, same Bat channel for another installment.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Are the Mystics right - is time an illusion??

The old fossil posed an interesting question.  One I frankly I have never considered - which makes my read the topic and shoot from the hip even more interesting, at least to me.

Tell me you didn't see this coming -

It poses a couple of questions - does anyone really know what time it is? Does anyone really care?

Does time exist?  maybe in the now it does but the past and future? I suspect not.  We use "time" as a convenient place marker for our lives. We recall the past by chronicling events. We mark it with photographs, written chronicles, physical evidence.  But these things are not time - they - each in themselves mark a particular presence in time - a different now that has come and gone. If things were not constantly in a state of flux would "time" really matter?

The concept of time conveniently allows us to add much needed structure to our existence, There's a  degree of comfort knowing every now has a specific "time" attached to it and although we humans cannot leave well enough alone - we created multiple time zones to make things more convenient.  But "now" on the east coast does not change the "now" here in Texas nor is it the future now on the west coast. It is simply the now.

Time travel?   What a quandry!

Einstein theorized it was possible - is it? Depends on which mystic you follow I suppose.  The notion of time travel is fascinating.  Who wouldn't want to go back and correct a mistake or two from a different now? Who wouldn't want to know who wins the next big game ahead of the event?  There is a current series on SyFy that addresses time travel  called Continuum,  It's definitely worth a look if you are interested in time travel and its repercussions.  That of course assumes time is more than an illusion - and they address multiple time lines. That classic space/time continuum gets ripped occasionally and opens up an entirely different can of worms.

Now back to the original question - is time an illusion?? Frankly I do not have the proper brainpower to comprehend the scientific discussion  in spite of my IQ as tested being kinda high. Guess it's high in the wrong area but unless Neil deGrasse Tyson or Sheldon Cooper are explaining things, I am typically bored stiff (aka it is as clear as mud).  I guess that leaves my notions and understanding of time confined to esoteric discussions like this one.  You know those discussions - the ones where the discussion in and of itself matters more than the subject or any conclusions you may reach.

If pressed I'll admit to thinking time is an illusion but its one we need.  We need the structure.

Thats my quick shack-from-the-hip tale on this weeks topic.  Please check out my compatriots in the LBC and see where time takes them - and here's a final musical time share - just to get the blood moving a bit

Friday, September 5, 2014

Teaching Values

Every culture has its traditions and values.  As such it falls to the older generations to teach those traditions and values to the children of the society to ensure the well-being of both child and society. Without the process there would be np continuity.

In the west our basic values and guidelines come from the ancient Jews -  the so-called Ten Commandments from the Torah (or as the Christians call it - the Old Testament). Its a question for historians and the faithful to decide from whence they came - when taken as a set of rules by which to live  IMHO its the content that matters. No magic or bearded entity in flowing robes required. 

Once the basics are in place the teaching gets a bit tricky.  The conservative traditionalists resist change at every step of the game. That in turn leads to a situation we now face here in this country -  our educational system is based on an agrarian culture  that no longer exists and so our children are falling further behind children in other parts of the world.  It is no surprise then that we as a country are no longer the shining example we once were and still should be.

Will McAvoy was right - "Just in case you accidentally wander into a voting booth one day, there are some things you should know, and one of them is: There is absolutely no evidence to support the statement that we're the greatest country in the world. We're seventh in literacy, twenty-seventh in math, twenty-second in science, forty-ninth in life expectancy, 178th in infant mortality, third in median household income, number four in labor force, and number four in exports. We lead the world in only three categories: number of incarcerated citizens per capita, number of adults who believe angels are real, and defense spending, where we spend more than the next twenty-six countries combined, twenty-five of whom are allies" "We sure used to be. We stood up for what was right. We fought for moral reasons, we passed laws, struck down laws for moral reasons. We waged wars on poverty, not poor people. We sacrificed, we cared about our neighbors, we put our money where our mouths were, and we never beat our chest. We built great big things, made ungodly technological advances, explored the universe, cured diseases, and we cultivated the world's greatest artists and the world's greatest economy. We reached for the stars, acted like men.; it did We aspired to intelligence; we didn't belittle it - it didn't make us feel inferior.  There's more but the point is we cannot simply sit back on our heels - rest on our laurels - and survive and thrive.  It falls on us to ensure our children are properly educated to compete and succeed in this ever accelerating fast paced world in which we all live. They need to understand the moral foundation and then build upon  it and grow so that we as a culture and a society do the same.

That's my quick shack-take on today's LBC topic. And although I wholeheartedly agree with the fictional Will MvAvoy's take on things there is no other place I'd rather be then here in the good old USA.

Friday, August 29, 2014

I wish I hadn't done that.

I wish I hadn't done that. I really wish I hadn't left my Suzuki 550 in Hawaii when I moved back to the mainland on Christmas Eve in 1986. I really loved that bike.

I remember sitting at stoplights in Hawaii gazing around and thinking I can't believe I am really here. That six months was truly a great time and I rode that Suzuki everywhere - rain or shine.  It got exciting a few times on H1 - the main drag - as since I did not wear a helmet I could hear cars racing behind me - the cops used to race on H1 all the time.  Back then they were given cash and chose their own cars - usually the muscle variety - and it was not odd to see a huge Samoan or Tongan in a black 442 or some other powerful, fast auto.

I remember taking a day off work and riding to the Norh Shore to watch the big waves at Waimea Bay the first day they hit. It seemed like half the population of Oahu was there - I stopped at Matsumotos and grabbed a giant shave ice (ice cream and beans of course)

 and parked in the parking lot at Waimea and just watched in awe as the big waves broke.

Then there were the Saturdays I rode to the beach and watched the sail planes (gliders) swooping around doing their loops, whirls and vertical climbs just like Rocket J Squirrel.

One memorable evening I road home to Waipahu from Kailua 0 I had just been at my friend Dave DeCaire's house helping celebrate his daughter's birthday.As luck would have it it began to rain.  No big deal - it rained all the time.  But this instance it did not let up - I got a break going through the tunnel but as soon as I exited on the Honolulu side  the bike started to plane.  No wheels on the ground  - I was on water.  That was exciting.  Scary.  Pick the adjective.  The rain kept up until I hit downtown - and as I headed toward Waipahu it suddenly got very cold. I was in the small valley that passes the Halava jail.  Froze my you know whats off - LOL.  But eventually I made it home safely to Hiapo street. Rick & Laurie laughed their butts off at my appearance. I probably should have taken Dave's offer and slept on hIs couch but alas - I did not.

Nothing could beat cruising Hawaii on that Suzuki but there are some great spots in Northern California I would have liked to see.  Unfortunately Lynn was dead set against it so I left thje bike parked at Rick and Laurie's place and sold it about 3 weeks after I left.  Sigh.

Friday, August 22, 2014


Matrimony.  Marriage.  Psychology Today says  marriage is the process by which two people make their relationship public, official, and permanent. It is the joining of two people in a bond that putatively lasts until death, but in practice is increasingly cut short by divorce.  To that I say marriage is one of our oldest customs with many influences, in this country primarily religous  influences and legal ramifications. 

What makes it so different from simple cohabitation?  Make no mistake - matrimony does change things in a relationship. The so-called get out of jail free card disappears - dissolving a marriage isn;t as simple as simply packing up your stuff and easing on down the road. Yet in this country nearly half of all marriages end in divorce.

My generation - the Baby Boomers - have spearheaded the so-called attack on the institution and later generations have picked up the ball and are running with it. The "me" centric folks have decided that regardless the vows and commitments made at marriage it is perfectly acceptable to bail on the marriage when things don't go your own way.

Then there is the gay marriage discussion. Some say once that door is open then people will be marrying animals or something else.  I have never heard an argument as patently ludicrous. The same people that rail against government intrusion in their life wish to  prevent loving same-sex couples from sharing in the legal benefits of marriage based upon the so-called rules of life dictated from some old bearded gentleman in flowing robes that lives in the sky or his Jewish rabbi son.

I was married for 42 years - from 01/01/1972 until 02/10/2014.  The "til death do us part" clause kicked in then when Lynn died. We were together as a couple from 12/31/1998 until that day in February.  Over the years we had issues like any couple  - but we worked through them.  Some issues were not easy but we did not bail.  As a result it is a major point of pride for our kids that they had the same parents - no steps - throughout their lives. We simply believed in ourselves as a couple enough to stick to it.  And trust me - the last 10 years offered more than enough reasons for me to bail.  During that time I was regularly cursed, physically attacked and more.  But that was the disease speaking and acting - not Lynn.  There were also moments when she  would walk up to me, hug me and say she loved me.   Or a few nights when there were quiet, reflective, happy conversations - always short but exceedingly happy moments.  Those were Lynn fighting through the disease that eventually claimed her. Marriage and the commitments we made were the glue that kept us together. I like to think I would have done the same had we simply lived together all of those years but that's something we'll never know.  

Unfortunately too many people these days do not have the same attitude.  Again - the me-centric folks do not place the same emphasis on staying married.  Why bother  - they say. I can't answer that one for them - but marriage worked for us. It's one of our cultural norms that resonated.  It still does.

So to sum up - I'll go on record as being a supporter of matrimony.  I also am a supporter of gay marriage.  People in a loving relationship all deserve the same legal benefits.  Religious objectors are entitled to their opinions as well - I choose to disagree wholeheartedly with them and I resent the hell out of their attempts to modify our constitution to  their benefit. Nor do I take issue with folks who divorce . It's their business - not mine. I just hope they made every effort to fix things first.    I'd say this simple song from the sixties - written by my good friend Ron Ryan - sums up my notion pf marriage 

That's a shack take on matrimony.  Check out what Maxi, Ramana and the others have to say. 

Friday, August 15, 2014


Indifference.  It's truly one ofthe greatest evils facing us these days.

Indifference.Take politics for example.  Overall, OECD countries experience turnout rates of about 70%, while in the U.S., about 60% of the voting eligible population votes during presidential election years, and about 40% votes during midterm elections. Indifference is the reason.   I find it odd that our rapidly declining middle class is syill willing to allow the future of this land be determined by so few. Where has indifference led us?  This cannot be embedded but take a look

Indifference.   Jack Kerouac said "If moderation is a fault, then indifference is a crime"  Make a choice. Get off your butt and make a choice.  Elie Wiesel says " Indifference to me is the epitome of evil".  How many evil things have been ignored due to indifference?  Again - get off your butt and do something.

A good place to start may well be found in this old tune:

If there is a circumstance where indifference  is the order of the day I suggest it is death.  One's own death.  Death is a certainty.  It's gonna happen sooner or later. Stop worrying about it - get over it. Spend your time living life as fully as you can.  Sure - as we get older  we cannot do as much as we used to.   Put me at the top of a steep hill and roll me down it and I still wouldn't do a mile in under 6 minutes like I did the last year I played football. 300-ft. home runs long ago left the building. But I do read more.  I do think more.  I tend to care more about substantive things.  I have not become indifferent to life.

That to me is the greatest evil of all.  If you are indifferent to life then quite frankly tou are breathing good air a useful human being could use. Get off your butt and do something.

That's today's quick shack-take on the weekly LBC topic.