Category Archives: Life

Oh Well

When I was in high school back in the mid-60s, my favorite rock groups were the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, as well as the Beach Boys and the Four Seasons. When I went off to college in 1966, my taste in music changed. I became a huge fan of Bob Dylan, the Kinks and Fleetwood Mac. Not the Fleetwood Mac that became very popular 15 years later, but rather Peter Greens Fleetwood Mac. You see, although the band is named for the drummer and bass player, it was originally a Peter Green sub-band. How Peter lost that band is a very tragic story which I will tell in just a few minutes.

 

Fleetwood Mac from 1967 to 1970 was predominantly a blues band. In fact, had Peter Green not suffered his “tragic accident”, I think Peter would be discussed in the same breath with Eric Clapton as the greatest British blues guitarist. To see what I mean, click here. The first song you will hear is “Black Magic woman.” Most people associate that song with Santana hat I mean, go to YouTube and search “Fleetwood Mac live 1970.” But it was Peter Green who wrote this song and Fleetwood Mac who originally recorded it. To this day, Fleetwood Mac’s version is still my favorite version.

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The Great Pretender

Writing this post has been very difficult. I’ve rewritten it several times, which is something I don’t normally do. Normally I’d just write it and then let Michael edit it for me. But because of the emotional investment that this post requires, I have had a hard time putting my thoughts and feelings into words that make sense to anyone other than me. After all, isn’t that the goal of any writer worth his salt? Making his words make sense to his readers.

 

As some of you may know, I am now 69 years old. That is a lot longer than I thought I’d ever lived. I probably have spent more than 50 years of my life pretending to be someone I am not. Actually, I think a lot of this do that. No matter how much we pretend, there always is a core that is the genuine you or me. Sometimes that core gets so buried that you lose track of who you really are. That’s what happened to me. I spent so many years being one different me or another, that by the time I got to a point in my life where I could actually be myself, I really wasn’t sure who that was. It took me probably almost 20 years to really figure out who I was and to get rid of all of the sides I had accumulated over the first 40 years or so of my life. It is and has been the love of my wife Elizabeth that has made it possible for me to undergo a rather torturous and lengthy reconstruction of myself.

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Witchy Woman

In my previous post I mentioned that breaking up with Alice, my high school sweetheart, was the second worst day of my life. For those of you who know about my life a bit, obviously the worst day was the day my mother was killed in an automobile accident in January 1966. I talked quite a bit about that day on other posts, so I’m not going to spend any time on it today. What I want to talk about today is the third worst day in my life – the day my marriage to my second wife, Glenna, ended on a very ugly note.

 

My relationship with Glenna was rather unusual even for the 70s. We had an “open” marriage, that is, no required monogamy on either side. I reluctantly agreed to this condition for us to get married because I was so totally “bewitched” by Glenna. She truly was the most captivating woman I had ever met up to that point. What I did not realize until it was far too late was that what Glenna wanted out of life was far different from what I wanted. She wanted material security along with her freedom to do as she pleased, while I wanted a stable traditional marriage with lots of love, both physical and otherwise. Material security did not mean much to me then and it still doesn’t. My interests and passions are more, for the lack of a better word, spiritual than those of most people. By spiritual, I do not necessarily mean religious in the traditional sense. Rather, I am looking for something more mystical, more esoteric. I am looking not only for a physical union and a psychological union, which is pretty much the definition of a good traditional marriage. I am looking, and apparently have found, a soulmate: my present wife Elizabeth.

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Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me

There is something special about your first love. No matter how the relationship ends, you carry a torch for that person for the rest of your life. That is certainly true about my first love, Alice, who I met back in the summer of 1964. I had just finished my sophomore year in high school. She had just finished her freshman year at a different high school. We met at a district convention for Teenage Republicans of Pennsylvania, which was held at Valley Forge.

 

I really don’t remember how we actually met during that can convention. All I remember is spending most of the day with her. The reason I was at that convention was because I had been elected treasurer of the local TAR chapter. The guy who had just been elected its president was a friend of mine named Jack. He was a senior. He asked me if I wanted to go with him to the convention. I said sure. I really had nothing better to do that day. It turns out Alice had been dating one of the other members of my local club who did not go to the convention. His loss, my gain. 🙂

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In Memory of Greg Allman

For those of you who were never fans of the Allman Brothers band, the title of this post is a tribute to one of my favorite songs of theirs, “In memory of Elizabeth Reed.” The Allman Brothers were an iconic band for my generation. They were still playing together, with some new personnel, a few years ago. I saw them on TV (one of the music stations on cable) front a performance in 2013 or 2014. Given the fact that a number of the members of the band where into their 60s then, I doubt they performed all that often, which is way sad.

 

The Allman Brothers were basically a blues band. Greg was the lead vocalist and keyboard player. Boy, did he have the voice for the blues: kinda low and gravelly. The band has gone through more personnel changes over the last 50 years than even the Rolling Stones. Their first two losses there were the loss of Duane Allman to a motorcycle accident just when the band was getting popular. Duane also appeared on the Derek and the Dominoes album. It is his guitar that is at the forefront on “Layla.” For someone to outperform Eric Clapton is really doing something and Duane does on that song.

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The Summer of Love 50 Years Later

This summer will mark the 50th anniversary of what has become known as “The Summer of Love.” In 1967, my generation – or at least part of it – espoused that hippie philosophy of peace and love. That summer was marked by many gatherings of young people all over the country. These gatherings were called “be-ins.” The biggest one was held in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. Those of you who are close to my age probably remember the anthem of that summer: “If you’re going to San Francisco, be sure to wear some flowers in your hair.” Yes, I did wear flowers in my hair that summer. No, I did not go to San Francisco until a few years later and then only for a visit.

 

However, I have my own little story of what happened that summer. I was in The Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia one day at an impromptu gathering of “flower children.” We were just sitting around the park playing music and singing, celebrating life and the summer weather. The police, however, took exception to what we were doing. We were all arrested for disorderly conduct and hauled off to jail. We all posted bond and were given a court date – all on the same day.

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Through the Doors Of Perception

The Doors of Perception is the title of a book about taking hallucinogenic drugs, especially LSD. It was written by Aldous Huxley almost 100 years ago, now. Jim Morrison, the late lead singer of The Doors read this book. It inspired the name he chose for his group. Timothy Leary read this book and became a prophet of LSD. I read the book back about 1966 or 1967. It took me until fall of 1968 to screw up the courage to try LSD. That first trip is an experience I will never forget, along with a few other memorable “trips.” “Trips” are what we called the experience of taking LSD.

 

The first trip was on a nice warm day in October, I think, as I was hanging around with some friends on the streets of Old Town in Chicago – the hippie district. The reason the trip was so memorable was that was when I called my father back in Furlong, Pennsylvania, to tell him that I was in Chicago and I was not coming back. A very interesting conversation, indeed.

 

About two years later, I was working at an auto parts store on the South Side of Chicago. I had recently moved in with the woman who became my second wife. We shared a large apartment on the North Side of Chicago, a couple blocks from an elevated train station. The reason that is important to this story is that I used public transportation, a bus and the elevated, to get back and forth to work. I had been there at the auto parts store for several months and had made friends with several of the guys who work there. One afternoon, when we were outside on a smoke break, one of the guys I knew handed me a little orange barrel shaped pill. I knew exactly what it was – a very, very good form of LSD called “orange sunshine.” It was recognized as one of the purest forms of acid available on the street. My friend said I should take this as I was leaving work and I would be tripping quite nicely by the time I got home an hour later.

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Backsliding Away

Today is the last day of March in the year of our Lord 2016. That means it has been five years since I had my pulmonary edema/heart attack/kidney failure. I had one foot through the veil. Nothing like a close encounter with the Grim Reaper! It makes you appreciate all the things you have, even if think only have a little. I think my last post explains how much I really had to lose.

 

One of the results of my near-death experience was that I quit smoking altogether. Cold turkey! No messing around! Although it has been five years since I spent two weeks in the hospital, it has not been five years since I gave up smoking altogether. In the last month or so, I have gone back to smoking my pipe occasionally. That is the backsliding I am referring to in the title to this post.

 

I know I will get a fair amount of criticism for my apparent weakness of character, at least from some of the fundamentalists on the Internet. So be it! I am almost 69 years old and I am fully aware of the consequences that I face for going back to smoking. I believe the consequences of smoking my pipe occasionally will be minimal. Certainly nothing like the consequences of going back to smoking two packs of cigarettes a day, which I did for about 50 years. I know my doctor will give me all kinds of crap, if he finds out, as will my cardiologist. But, it is my decision and no one else’s. I accept the consequences. That is what a real adult does. Make a decision and live with your decision and its consequences. Don’t go blaming God, Satan, the tobacco company, the Marlboro man or anyone else. If you choose to smoke, like I did to some extent still do, it is no one fault but your own.

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Happiness is….

How do you define happiness? What makes you happy? Money? A big house? A big fancy car? Maybe a lucrative career? Or something else…

 

What makes me happy most of all is love. I need someone to love and I need to be loved. It seems I have been looking for love my whole life. Usually in the wrong places or with the wrong person. Before any of my ex-lovers get insulted, what I mean by wrong places is that there was nothing inherently wrong or evil with that person. It is just they were not what I needed and I was not what they needed. In situations like that, the best thing you can do is move on.

 

I have been married four times, divorced three times and have had several other non-binding relationships. Not that I consider marriage something nonbinding. Human relationships are not written in stone. God has nothing to do with our interpersonal relationships. We manage to screw those up all on our own. Lord knows, I’ve done it enough times in my life. Nothing to be proud of, but also nothing to beat myself up about either. Relationships come and relationships go. That is human nature or nurture, whichever you choose.

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Scuttling Obamacare

Maybe the Republican congressman aren’t quite as crazy as they let on. (Yes, I know. I ended the sentence with a preposition. My English teachers in high school would kill me if they were still alive. Unfortunately, I don’t think they are.) Congress voted down a Republican sponsored bill that would have repealed Obama Care and replaced it with something that would cost 24 million people their insurance coverage. Apparently, there are enough Republican Congressman with some sense that helped vote this bill down. God bless them!

 

My wife and my son would belong to that 24 million that the proposed bill would have left coverless. My wife’s employer does not provide healthcare coverage for his employee. I am not going to use his name here, just his initials – RC. RC is a very nice person. He has done a lot for Elizabeth over the years that she has worked for him, currently as the owner of the restaurant where Elizabeth is the prep cook, as well as the McDonald’s she used to work at for a long time. One of the reasons that Elizabeth left McDonald’s was so she could go back to work for RC. That’s how much she thinks of him and I do to. He is also a good practicing Christian as is his wife and his sons. However, the prevailing philosophy here in Arkansas as well as much of the rest of the so is that healthcare is something individuals need to pay for themselves what the people that think that way do not take into consideration is that they are not paying their employees enough to cover the premiums for that healthcare coverage and still provide food, shelter, clothing, and other essentials for their family.

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