The Load

 

Fifth time today… ya call me from work… gotta tell me how you think your boss is a jerk. C’mon Babe… I don’t know what you want me to do. It’s startin’ to feel like a block & chain… like a massive dead weight packin’ years of pain. A three-car garage and a die-for mountain view.

What are we gonna do?
I’m goin’ crazy I wish we knew…
how to live where less is more.

My head is achin’… my legs are shakin’… my back is breakin’ and we carry the load. The world is turnin’ and gravity’s workin’ pullin’ people holdin’ things spinnin’ outta control…

“Can’t go to sleep till the anger’s gone,” says your worried… wise… and serious mom. The ashtrays are full now… the lights are on 5:00am. Well I’m not sayin’ I know all it takes to keep a love affair from fallin’ into desperate straits… but I’m sure another smoke ain’t gonna help at all.

What are we gonna do?
I’m goin’ crazy i wish we knew…
how to live where less is more.

My head is achin’… my legs are shakin’… my back is breakin’ and we carry the load. The world is turnin’ and gravity’s workin’ pullin’ people holdin’ things spinnin’ outta control.

How does good fortune get so hard?
And these troubles can’t just be disregarded.

What are we gonna do?
I’m goin’ crazy cos I still… love… you.

My head is achin’… my legs are shakin’… my back is breakin’ and we carry the load. The world is turnin’ and gravity’s workin’ pullin’ people holdin’ things spinnin’ outta control. My heart is cryin’ my soul is dyin’… and time is flyin’ while we carry the load. This ain’t right… we don’t need all these trappings like artificial wealthy people livin’ on loans… I…

Love you madly…
need you badly…
but we can’t go on…
keepin’ on… lugging this load.

Let’s get packed… simplify now.
We don’t need this crap… bury the load!

Spotify link… HERE

I Ain’t Got No Home

Birthday tribute – Woody Guthrie!
(July 14, 1912 – October 3, 1967)

I ain’t got no home… m’luck has finally stalled.
Just a willing worker… i go from job to job.

Cops make it hard… wherever i may go.
And i ain’t got no home in the world any more.

Brothers and sisters all… are filling up this road.
A hot and dusty road… where a million feet have trod.

Landlord took my home… and drove me from my door…
And i ain’t got no home in the world any more.

Worked the late-night shifts… scrubbin’ tile floors.
Paycheck in my hand… and out the mailbox door.

The plague found my partner… the clinic’s over full.
And i ain’t got no home in the world any more.

I detail pre-owned cars… i cleaned the hotel rooms.
Took the angry calls of extended warranty fools.

I worry all the time… like i never did before.
And i ain’t got no home in the world any more.

As i look around… it’s mighty plain to see.
This world is a strange… and funny place to be.

Owners are rich… the workers are poor…
And i ain’t got no home in the world any more.

I ain’t got no home… m’luck has finally stalled.
Just a willing worker… i go from job to job.

Cops make it hard… wherever i may go.
And i ain’t got no home in the world any more.

Someone Else’s World

 

Across the sea… someone else’s world… soldiers fight… soldiers bleed… someone else’s world. Across the sea… someone else’s world… mamas cry… babies die in someone else’s world.

Another day… someone else’s world… shots are fired… a sophomore’s down… someone else’s world. Another day… someone else’s world… papas cry… babies die in someone else’s world.

But on the bus no eyes make contact… even though a moment’s shared… and through our lives… we keep repeating… it’s not me… c’est la vie.

Across the street… someone else’s world… lovers fight… lovers bleed… someone else’s world. Another day… someone else’s world… babies cry… c’est la vie… it’s someone else’s world.

And on the bus… no eyes make contact even though a moment’s shared… and through our lives… we keep believing… it’s someone else’s world…

It’s someone else’s world…
It’s someone… else’s… world.

 

Spotify link… HERE
https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/01/1000-migrants-returned-libya-year-200114132748736.html

Human Beans


 
The fronts are building now… there’s a cold wind blowin’ through. And good folks everywhere talk about the chosen few. They can’t help themselves… it’s only human beans… to cling tight to their notions… and that’s just what they do.

A piece of dirt both sides… they claim for themselves. They swear by God someday… justice will prevail. They can’t help themselves… it’s only human beans… to want more than is had… well… nothing fills the pail.

I know… it’s a cold cruel world… I know… you gotta make do for yourself. I know… people never satisfy. I know… disproportion breeds hatred. I know… the gap of disproportion grows. I know… nothing ever stays the same………

Every living breath is a part of us all. Makes sense to extend a hand. Are you sure you want the whole world bearin’ down on you… are you sure you want the call?

The fronts are building now… better dig your graveyards proud. ‘Cos good folks everywhere… well they’re ready to throw it down. They can’t help themselves it’s only human beans… to fight for love and pride… in the rain… they gladly drown.

I know… it’s a cold cruel world… I know… you gotta make do for yourself. I know… people never satisfy. I know… disproportion breeds hatred. I know… the gap of disproportion grows. I know… nothing ever stays the same.

I know…
I know…
I know…
I know.

Spotify link… HERE

Danger Town


 
Forever fight for peace… war at home. In silence you may speak… ’bout war at home. And air contagions breed… war at home.

And you won’t know but you’ll fight the war at home!

Everywhere you go… you hear the dogs… it’s all the rage on the Internet blogs… and no relief soon to be found… breathe the toxic fog of your Danger Town.

Punks and freaks embrace… war at home. And Mom and Dad belie… war at home. And crafty media oozes toward… war at home.

But the children shout revolution… waging war at home!

Everywhere you go… you hear the dogs… it’s all the rage on the Internet blogs… and no relief soon to be found… breathe the toxic fog of your Danger Town.

A new contempt pervades in business class… and religious militia enforce their holy will. With luck they’ll crown their pious king and crush the people’s will to flock. The tanks are in the street… the troops around the dome… a creeping coup de tat.

The sides no longer hear… war at home. And rancor can endear… war at home. And bileful hasty claims… war at home.

And angry shouts cannot douse the war at home!

Everywhere you go… you hear the dogs… it’s all the rage on the Internet blogs… and no relief soon to be found… breathe the toxic fog of your Danger Town.

Spotify link… HERE

Cheap Shots

 

You say you’re not happy… with the way things are. You say you want a return to the good ol’ days. So you look for someone to blame… but you don’t look too far. You want them to remember your name… from your…

CHEAP SHOTS! Shoot down the fool. CHEAP SHOTS! Fire at will. CHEAP SHOTS! Nail their jock to the block… just don’t forget to kick ’em when they’re down.

He cuts a silhouette in the streetlight’s smoky beam. His laser tipped weapon cocked and locked. His boots are tightly cinched around the cuffs of his fatigues. He’s gonna keep the peace on your block… from your…

CHEAP SHOTS! Shoot down the fool. CHEAP SHOTS! Fire at will. CHEAP SHOTS! Nail their bra to the wall… just don’t forget to kick ’em when they’re down.

Greed in the halls of power… ignorance on the streets. With all the know-how in the world… you’d think we all could eat. Sad but true… until we do… we’ve got to live with hate. The less we know… the further we go… here we go again…

FIRE!!!!!

Now here’s a crazy thought… surely it won’t fly. What if we adjust priorities? And set aside the things that won’t matter when we die? Reevaluate reality!

NO MORE CHEAP SHOTS! Shoot down the fool. CHEAP SHOTS! Fire at will. CHEAP SHOTS! Nail their jock to the block (bra to the wall)… just don’t forget to kick ’em… don’t forget to kick ’em… don’t forget to kick ’em when they’re down.

Spotify link… HERE

Saudi Tour

SUMMER (1993): The nonstop flight from Chicago to Zurich began with flight attendants distributing warm cotton washcloths. These towels had a distinct odor reminding me of the  towelette packets at KFC. Being unfamiliar with international travel, i was perplexed. After all, there had been no eating as yet. So in order not to attract attention, i waited to see what the passengers would do. Soon everyone was wiping face and hands with the fragrant rags, so i did the same. And with that we were underway. However, i felt strangely of out of place because apparently the only people speaking English on the flight were my bandmates and this guy sitting next to me.

The Zurich to Zagreb flight was different. We rode a bus to the causeway with fellow passengers. The mood in the bus was dark and active. Sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll probably not on the minds of the people hailing from war-torn Balkans, i assumed they had less frivolous matters on their minds.

I had previous experience in developing environments, and from that experience, thought i knew what to expect in the Balkans. I expected everything to be drab and run-down. To my surprise, Air Croatia was the best flight, service, and food we experienced that whole day. In fact, once crossing the Atlantic, food in general got much, much better… hmmmm.

As previously mentioned, Air Croatia’s in-flight meal was splendid, but the introduction to European cuisine was only just begun. After arriving in Zagreb, we were invited to a UN party sponsored by the Canadians. The gourmet nibbles consisted of treats such as this: Thick Dutch crackers, lightly covered with some sort of mayo/cream cheese goop, topped with a mini sweet pickle chip, petite stuffed green olives, and lightly salted anchovies (very interesting).

After the party, we trekked to a bistro in Zagreb to dine on pizza and warm Tuborg. The pizza was un-sliced and completely devoid of mozzarella but it was great. Also, in contrast with standard US expectations, the warm beer was an eye opening experience. I wondered if the US beer had to be served cold in order for it not to suck… 😉

Oh, on the way to the bistro, we picked up three attractive Swedish hitchhikers. We were in rare form (as an American rock band we had an image to uphold), and it seemed everyone but our elder statesman, Jerry (the sax player) was vying for the attention of the fair Swedes.

Toto… WTH?
What a place! According to our guide, the economy here is so bad doctors make sixteen times less than the U.S. minimum wage… he said around $150 per month. Hard to swallow because the civil infrastructure (roads, bridges, buildings) didn’t look bad at all.

So far Croatia reminds me of Kansas. Wheat, corn, and oats grow in the fields, and were it not for mountains in the background, the environment and people would look like mirror images of each other.

There were, however, some clear indicators that we weren’t in Kansas anymore. For example, few had access to the household gadgetry taken for granted in the US. I could tell because over the edge of apartment balconies were line upon line of drying laundry. Oh, another long since seen sight… TV antennae on rooftops… nearly *all* of them.

Gotta go. It’s night time here; almost 10:00pm. However, I don’t really feel like going to bed since it’s only 2:30pm in Hays.

Bye!

BEWARE OF LANDMINES!!!
Slept like a rock last night. I did get up a couple of times to whiz, but thankfully never had a problem going back to sleep. The latrine was about a city block from our tent, so i planned to grab a coffee can for the nights with beer on the agenda.

The place was secure… in a way. After all, there were spools of concertina (razor) wire in some places, and there were some sandbag bunkers, mostly at checkpoints. We were given information on how to survive the visit. For example, in the initial briefing, we were told to stay on well-worn paths in order to avoid stepping on LAND MINES! They also warned us to stay away from the Croats. Because, we were told, the Croats had two Russian MIGs in their camp. If we were to venture too close, the guards would shoot first and ask questions later, rock star or not… hmmm.

Rockin in Zagreb:
The Croatian experience was great. Brits were a blast, and the troopers dispatched to keep an eye on us did a killer job. I don’t recall a time when we couldn’t get a beer, food, water, or anything else for that matter. Most everyone showed up for all four performances. I don’t remember all the nationalities represented, but the ones i do remember were: British, French, Dutch, Jordanian, Swedish, Russian and Canadian.

Parties after the gigs were a blast as well. I got thrown in the water blivet on the second night (a right of passage i guess). On a couple of occasions, Mo (the bass player) and i partied till morning with the holdouts… good times.

On the 4th of July, a couple Croatian skydivers landed in the compound square. The event was planned, and there were two other divers… both high ranking US officers… they didn’t even come close… lol. It was a gala celebration of independence… 😉

Sometime during that 4th celebration, i got into smack session with one of the Brits about who was the baddest. He was saying something about how his countrymen were stationed near Bosnia with the express purpose of kicking ass! He said something like the following: “They’re sending Brits because we’re (the Brits) not known for losing.” I mentioned something about one that they did lose, so he said, “Oh yes, but that was for the greater good.” I quickly checked my wallet… yep still there.

Indeed, we had a good time on the 4th. Here’s an interesting note… during our stay in Croatia (one week), we rarely saw a French soldier, even though they were the biggest contingent in the camp. Apparently the French were bad boys at the camp, always starting fights and all. I actually met some friendly Russians at the Independence day party, but not hide nor hair of the French… hmmm.

MASH:
On our last night in Croatia, i was taken on a moonlight tour of the MASH hospital with one of the more adventurous nurses. She was bold, and urged me to explore the full experience. Of course, being a proper ambassador for the church of Rock and Roll, i dutifully complied. As we explored the MASH’s secret places i felt strange, but still sort of familiar in the light of the Croatian moon. It was sort of eerie, and i couldn’t shake the feeling of déjà vu. I was expecting Hawkeye, or BJ Honeycutt to appear, martinis in hand teasing us with witty one liners and cat calls.

The next morning, we flew good ol’ Air Croatia to Frankfurt Germany. In Frankfurt we spent the night… and what a night! You see, we figured that it would be our last chance to party because our next stop was Dhahran, Saudi Arabia (no booze is allowed in the land of Allah).

So… the decision was made. We would get dressed and ask one of the German cab drivers to take us to the BOOZE & WHORES! For a few marcs, the cab driver took us to a quaint looking, off the beaten path square (now we’re talking). It looked like we’d been transported back in time. The streets were old cobblestone and narrow… very narrow. We ended up in a place that looked like the Cavern Club (the one the Beatles made famous)… of course, it wasn’t the Cavern Club, this one was called “The Irish Pub.”

LISTEN:
When it occurred to us that we were in a place called the “Irish Pub” (in Frankfurt); with a California “Valley Guy” performing a solo act; a place where most of the clientele carried pocket German books; a place where bartenders and wait-staff brandished “I hate Americans” scowls that the cab driver had stiffed us. We were in a place with booze, but there were no red lights, pimps, dope dealers or opium dens anywhere. Oh well, we managed to have a good time anyway (i don’t think Jerry was up for the whores thing).

It was fun. The Irish Pub was fairly empty when we showed up, but it filled to capacity when we began singing harmony to the songs the Valley Guy was singing. We sort of stole his show, but he loved it… he raked in the tips.

Goodbye Europe… Hello Saudi Arabia:
Anyway, when it was over, we caught another set of cabs back to the air base, did laundry, and crashed. With dreams of dancing camels in our heads we drifted off for a couple hours rest before hopping a military flight to Dhahran.

Before the end of our first week in the Arab World we were provided an opportunity to experience Riyadh’s downtown bazaars, and in effect, thrust into the most strange and compelling world i had ever experienced… but we’re jumping ahead… let’s start from the start of the start shall we?

No one escapes the Government of Allah:
Our trip through Dhahran customs was the first blow. Upon arrival we were briefed by people on the military air base. The form we were compelled to complete had an important detail highlighted in blood red print.

WARNING!
Death to drug traffickers!

Scary huh? What about my No-Doze? What about my funky vitamins? That was only the beginning however. When we got to the civilian airport, there was a line. No, there were four lines all the way to the rear of this gigantic room (the size of an airplane hanger). Almost everyone in those four lines were ether Pakistani or Indian… half of them were squatting. Some were well dressed, but the rest looked just like those people you see on those “save the world” commercials… emaciated and filthy.

The US nationals in our line started telling stories about people who are body cavity searched for looking suspicious and wrong. And, oh yes, we looked suspicious and wrong! A particular story that caught my ear was about a Brit who had been taken to jail and given a haircut… wtf? With my 16″ ponytail in full view i began to feel a tightening in every muscle. You see, nearly everyone in the airport was looking at us with expressions that can only be interpreted as disgust… i felt confident we’d be run through the mill.

It didn’t help that i was carrying an M-16 bullet (just the bullet… not the cartridge) in my hip bag (something I’d picked up in Croatia). Contemplating the bullet and knowing that my every move was being watched made me shiver with “the fear.” Luckily i stayed calm and nothing bad happened. We were run through customs without so much as a bag being opened… great day in the flippin’ morning!!!

The next day we hopped another military flight to Riyadh. The local flyboys gave us a ride downtown, and that’s how we learned about the “Allah Lane,” “Double Headers,” cheap gold and the strange and exotic world of the Riyadh Bazaars.

Taking a Bite Outta Crime:
You see, i thought the practice of chopping a person’s head off as a crime deterrence policy was ancient history. However, it is not. Every Friday, in the Riyadh town square, people actually get their heads, hands (the right one see… they wipe their bums with the left), or their fingers lopped right off. These festivities are open to the public, and whenever US nationals are present, they are pushed up to the front of the gawking crowd. You see, Arabs want Westerners to witness Allah’s brand of swift and terrible law enforcement first hand (pun intended).

After shopping for gifts at the bazaars we began the journey back to the base. On the way, we saw many people engaging in what our guide described as normal behavior (with the blessings of the Government of Allah, of course).

First, in the car next to us, it looked as if the woman in the passenger seat had committed an unforgivable breach of social grace… she had the nerve to actually gaze at a busload of US GIs and rock musicians (that would be us). Of course, the guy in the driver’s seat promptly slapped the shit out of her… twice.

Later, after dark, we observed several families sharing quality time together by the side of the road… in the dirt… women sitting in a circle on one side of the car, and men, standing in a circle on the other side of the car. This, we are told, is considered quality recreation time… In one of the richest countries in the world… THEY SAT CROSS-LEGGED… IN THE DIRT!!!!

Hot Hot… Hotter Than Hell:
As I penned this entry the band was unwinding following a performance in Riyadh. Somewhere between 9:00-10:00pm… the outside temperature was around 89f. Very cool compared to the daytime temp of 115f… We are told that 115f is not bad for this area. You see, the hot season hadn’t started yet.

We set up our gear just as the sun was going down… still hotter than a ByGawd. How hot was it? It was so fucking dry-hot my “fast fret” string lube, which usually lasts weeks, was drying out within minutes… MINUTES!

Rockin’ in Riyadh:
The gigs were lackluster to be kind, but it really wasn’t that bad… the crowd was every bit as immobile as we were. You see, these people average 60 hour work weeks in this blinding heat… needless to say, when they have time off, they don’t move much.

Let’s Hear it For The Troops!
I had come to the conclusion that these people are truly resilient! I also wished i could do something for them other than slogging through half a gig drinking water like it’s going out of style.

Anyway… it felt like Hell and there were two weeks left on the tour’s itinerary, but i was proud to be playing for the gulf troops.

–Good Night–

Camel Meat!!!!
July 13th, 1993 (2:00am): We played our final gig in Dhahran… and now we had a day off. Our visas allowed only one trip to Bahrain (the one Arab city in our agenda that allowed booze), so we’d spend the next day exploring Downtown Dhahran, saving Bahrain for later. Suzy (our guide) thought we could find a place that served camel meat, so we’d shop at the Dhahran bazaars then settle down for some native cooking (yum).

At the time i was acclimating to military life in Saudi, but some things still seemed strange. Like the fine line that separates a person who is free, from one who is in jail or worse… chop chop!

Strange.

Our guides were treating us well. They seemed genuinely interested in our mental and physical well being. Case in point, it was Suzy that found a doctor when my bladder infection kicked up (damn water blivet). In addition, she was on the lookout for things to keep us occupied when not working. We owed her a lot. On top of it all… the next day?

–Camel Meat!–

Bored in Dhahran:
And we did it… we finally got a hold of some camel meat. It was awful, but at least we tried it. My infection was pretty much gone by then, but i still needed to finish the meds. At this point in the journal, i thought i had something important to say but forgot what it was…. lol… losing it… 😉

Ready to go home…
July 13th, 1993

Sadam’s Speed Bump:
Moving on to Kuwait… we were given a tour of the city. Kuwait City looks like many waterfront US cities (burnt out buildings, bomb craters and all). If only our guide would stop looking under the bus for bombs, we could relax and feel at home.

You see, according to our military guide, the base for which we had provided entertainment (“Camp Doha”) would be no more than a speed bump should Sadam decide to make another push toward Kuwait. I asked our guide what we should do in the event something as unlikely were to occur. He said they would hand us M-16s and invite us to join the festivities.

He was a glib fellow… i wasn’t amused.

Anyway, he gave us a tour of Kuwait City, and we ate lunch at a Sbbaro (the kind found in most U.S. malls). The food was killer, and i passed up a great photo opportunity. This sheikh looking dude was sitting across from us. Of course i chickened out: I didn’t even ask to take his picture. It turns out he was a minister in Kuwait’s parliament. Rex (the sound man) stood by him at check-out. Rex said “hi,” and the sheikh dude said to Rex: “Looks pretty busy today aye?”

Damn! I missed out.

We’re told many Kuwaitis are educated in the US, and so understand westerners and their ways. When their education is finished they come back to Kuwait and, according to Muslim law, can have as many as four wives (if they can afford it). The oldest of the wives always sits up front when the family goes for a ride. There is a definite pecking order.

There are other differences from the heavy mood of Saudi; Kuwaitis don’t lopp each others heads off. Nevertheless, the Government of Allah still prevails.

Also… we were told Kuwaiti drivers are wild. They careen through the night without turning on headlights! We are told the Kuwaitis believe keeping the lights on would run down the batteries (i think we are being fed a pile of camel shit). However, there are hideous accidents on the Kuwaiti highways.

July 18th, 1993 (6:00 AM)

Mohammed and the Hand Jive:
On our first night in Bahrain, a guy named Bob took us to a “country music” bar filled with Americans and Brits. There were Filipino waiters and one or two Arabs.

YES………!

They played country, and the band did a pretty good job. The songs were pure, down-home Americana, but the stage banter was PROPER BRITISH. (What is wrong with this picture?) The place was small, with an even smaller dance floor, but there were times when it (the dance floor) was filled with Brits and a smattering of Americans doing the LINE DANCE….. arrggghhh!! Needless to say, neither Mo nor i were happy campers, in fact we were plotting revenge as i penned this entry. Jerry looked like he didn’t care, Mark (keyboards) was engaged in a stimulating conversation with a blonde British flight attendant, and Rex was doing the two step with an assortment of Aussie girls. Later, when we realized there was no escape, Mo and i loosened up and began watching the festivities. It’s funny the things you notice when you aren’t preoccupied with escaping. The moment that came next is one that will live in my memory forever.

LISTEN:
The band was playing a Bo-Diddley sounding number and there were cowboys on the dance floor doing the “Hand Jive” with zeal. In the background, across the railing and somewhere near three nice looking US girls sitting at the bar, was an Arab gentleman. He was dressed in his whites, headgear and all. Yes, he was doing the “Hand Jive” too. It was incredible. Mark said the Arab gentleman looked like an antichrist dancing a jig. Jerry said he’d never seen a proper towel-head do an “American” dance step, and i was happy to see a gap between the Arab World and ours melt before my eyes. I wanted to hug the sheik and dance with him. The whole thing was one of those moments… epiphanous, i guess.

July 19th, 1993 (4:30 PM)

Ah… Bahrain and Beer:
We had done our first gig in Bahrain. Maybe twenty people showed up (a dismal turnout). We rocked their world anyway!

At this point in the tour, i was bored to tears. The Arab world was starting to grow on me, but i was more than ready to go home. Unfortunately, we still had a couple days before we could start heading that way. How bored were we? We were watching Arab soaps on the TV in the hotel room (no English subtitles). Yes… we did… that’s how bored we were.

July 20, 1993

Oh Give Me a Home…
The flight home turned out very interesting. We seemed to be stopping everywhere around the Mediterranean. First stop… Nos Sigonella in Sicily, then Naples Italy, then Spain. That’s where we were when i penned this entry. Our last stop before Philly would be some Atlantic Islands known as the Azores. It would be approximately 18 more hours before the home team would leave Hays to pick us up at KCI.

Yea… a long way to go.

When we hit altitude above Bahrain, i felt a tremendous pressure lift as i was no longer in danger of losing a finger… a hand or… [gulp] my head… i had finally escaped the Government of Allah. I wanted to scream but i didn’t have the energy. I slept instead. Besides… (i learned this on Arab TV) “Allah knows your inner thoughts. In addition, he knows your outer deeds and utterances. There is no escaping the Government of Allah, Peace be with him.”

After this public service announcement came the news, which was dominated by authoritarian Royal Family posturing. Believe it our not, i was trying to appreciate the Arab World. And though exposure to different cultures is highly recommended, a great contributing factor to global understanding, i arrived back in the US with a heightened appreciation of home… YES… Kansas!

Finally… homeward bound… on the second to last flight of our tour (Philly to Detroit), we had to spend the night in the airport. All the while silently singing “Home on the Range.”

As i penned this final entry, i was looking down at the rolling hills of Pennsylvania. It was beautiful!

Cheers,

One More Time

 

See the man in the coffee shop…
With his head held high…
Always talking trash about the state of the world.
He’s the man that seems so grand…
Like an actor under control.
He never bleeds… he never needs no company.
And he’s drinking a toast…
To the one and only ghost… To serve up…
A second chance.
It happened so fast… how could it ever last…
One more time?

Talkin’ ’bout those little things…
He never had the time to do or say….
Don’t you know it’s all kid part of the times…
I don’t know what to make of this mess…
I don’t think i understand…
It’s just as well… the sentence fits the crime.

Oh yea.

So let’s drink a toast…
To the one and only ghost… to serve up…
A second chance.
Foolish soul… how could you let it go…
One More Time? One more time… yea…
One more time…  on and on…
Giving it all away…
One more time…
On and on…

Spotify link… HERE

Another Brief Hiatus

It was just after sunrise on the Holland House beach-view deck when a Carnival floating city wafted slowly into port. The ship’s arrival, of course, changes everything on the Dutch/French Island of Sint Maarten/Saint Martin. Though a pristine, emerald water, white sand tropical beach paradise, St. Martin is short on valuable natural resources leaving tourism and retail their primary economic base. The lack of natural resources renders the arrival of cruise ships super-important. With this history in mind, one wonders why the tiny island ended up split (Dutch and French respectively). But then again, say what you will about the French, they’ve always known how to “chillax.” Some things are worth fighting for, right? Priorities. Again, not a crucial hotspot for imperial holdings, but there were plenty of skirmishes and smoky gun battles in the settlement’s early days. In fact, Saint Martin/Sint Maarten changed hands many times between Europian powers days. Many stone fort relics are still standing over the island’s inlets offering proof of Saint Martin’s turbulent past.

Hotel Holland House is under the jurisdiction of the government of the Netherlands; the immediate locality is called “Philipsburg,” one L short of a burg with the same name north of Hays, KS. Phillipsburg, Kansas is nestled within a county that regularly produces grumpy people simply unable drive like persons with purpose. Locals on St. Maarten resemble these Kansans in that, on this morning, they seem a bit lethargic, smiles are rare. And traffic lights are replaced by lazy roundabouts and grumpy, grumpy traffic cops. But oh, things get cheerier when the cruise ships dock. Lots of foot traffic on the concrete “boardwalk” many more dollars, euros, yen, bat, yang, pesos, etc. in circulation.

The ship is in and the eerie buccaneer countenance on my waiter’s face foretells tourist plunder ahead.

THERE YOU ARE…
Sampling the local spirits, you may find Caribbean beers most agreeable. Of course, Red Stripe is available, if not at the bars, then mini markets peppering the narrow cobblestone walkways. Presidente” and “Heineken” are available with or without citrus. Among other choices, a particular local favorite is a salty number called “Caribi.” There may not be a connection, but in the 14th century, war-like cannibalistic Indians called “Carib.” named the island “Soualiga,” which means Salt Island. This due to its main mineral deposit. In fact, the remains of the Great Salt Pond can still be seen in Philipsburg today. My doctor tells me to avoid excess salt, and so i find myself here… hmmm. And you know what they say… “wherever you go…”

I’m here with a group of students in their first years of higher ed. on, what is for many, their first international sojourn. There is plenty of time for cultural exchange, but the students have a primary mission, which is to assist entrepreneurs in the various local endeavors. Later on this day, after the day’s experiential learning, the cruise liner is GONE, and the locals are back to their original grumpy bearing. In a remote corner of the beach-view cabana, an author is interviewing local entrepreneurs, digging for gold to use in his latest book. He’s an interloper and doesn’t know how cranky the hotel’s employees can be, so when he dared to move a stem glass making room for his recorder, the audacious breach of manners drew a hissing demand to put everything back where it was. Luckily, he’s interviewing locals, and they ran interference for him.

FISH OUTTA WATER…
One might find it weird being among the scarce few honkies in streams of people drifting around a beach community. After all, it IS the off-season so few tourists are around. The locals are primarily of color and don’t appear troubled with questions of social justice. In contrast to the tense race relations in the US, folks seem generally peaceful, at ease on their island. One might wonder, however, where are the interlopers’ boundaries? For example, one customarily bold tourist from the Midwest US, a person used to taking 40-minute uninhibited walks at the end of his workdays told me he tried to do it (walk) on this morning, but found himself feeling super unwelcome (ah, fresh perspectives). He ended up skipping the morning walk but may screw his courage up later in the day. After all, he’s on island time now. He knows those grown accustomed to a world starting engines of commerce somewhere around 7:00 am will have to adjust, and should probably get used to not having breakfast till 7:00 am on the island.

Many are the opportunities for wonder in “Paradise” as local celebrity, Ife Badejo calls it. One of the more popular adventures is a trip around the island in a canopy-covered motor boat. It is speculated that three out of twenty Midwestern landlubbers on these excursions grow quite seasick and toss their cookies overboard, or worse… on boatmates. Sometimes when hapless landlubbers regurgitate breakfast on their neighbor, it starts a chain reaction of stomach evacuating fun. Ah… good times. Luckily, tour organizers have the foresight to install water hoses starboard and stern. Other wonder inspiring diversions include jungle zip line courses and, of course, shopping and cosmopolitan cuisine out the wazoo. The zip line requires one to screw courage up good and tight. Although a rider may have two safety lines and a workman’s glove to prevent plunging toward the mango peppered ground, they also have friendly guides that help the persistently squeamish. Some just can’t hang, and the numbers are about the same as those of the party boat seasick variety, just different individuals.

On the “boardwalk,” music piped through the speakers reflects a contemporary selection of club mixes and autotuned saccharine pop. There is one hotel that simply can’t get enough of Whitney Houston’s catalog, played by Kenny G., on his super melodic clarinaxiphone. I overheard one patron mention that if he heard another rousing tootling of “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” he was going to snap, and it wasn’t gonna be pretty. Of course, this was an idle threat. He finished his breakfast enduring two or three more iterations of the upbeat, bouncy Kenny G. selection. However, when Bob Marley kicks in, faith is restored, and one gets a saltier taste of island culture.

Lunchtime, things get spicier. One is more likely to hear Bob Marley at a place known as the “Lazy Lizard,” just a few ticks to the left of the Holland House deck. A super popular lunch spot, the proprietor not only serves delish nibbledy gibblies, he also has a line of fruit-infused rum that rocks, on the rocks or neat. Get jerk wings at the Lazy Lizard and prepare to burn. Cool yourself with a slash of Guava Berry infused rum and then get ready to sleep. You’re on island time Mon. Napping is good, and the Lazy Lizard is a knock-out… KO!

ISLAND TIME… ??
Now, don’t fool yourself, island time IS a thing. Every appointment this group of Kansas landlubbers makes with Islanders ends up with the landlubbers showing up promptly, and the natives scheduled to meet them at least 30 minutes behind. This leads one to conclude, in super unscientific ways, that island time is very much like “musician time.” I
am qualified to comment on this… don’t ask. Anyhoo…

…if you want islanders or musicians to be a certain place at a certain time, you have to lead the target by at least 30 minutes in order to keep everyone in sync.

ISLAND SECURITY… ??
A curious bit of advice might be overheard from Holland House staff to tourists, warning them not to take a right on the “Boardwalk” after dark unless accompanied by a group of four or more… or if a girl gaggle, at least one burly fella must go along. Going left from the Holland house is not much better, but at least the locals say it is. Traveling the main arteries of the island, you may pass a “security station” touting “riot squad” in their branding. If that makes one curious, a simple search reveals recent answers to the question, “Do the French and Dutch ever squabble after all these years?” … the answer is, maaaaaaabe. Toward the end of the busy season in March, 2016, a major access road connecting the French and Dutch Quarters was entirely blocked to vehicles. According to the local newspaper, the
Daily Herald, At least two barricades composed of car wrecks were seen on the main road going through the district in addition to many turned-over garbage bins, and rocks and debris were strewn over the road. District officials say the action was the work of French Quarter citizens taking matters of dispute into their own hands. Officials commended the local security forces for exercising restraint even though reports of opportunistic young people manning the barricades and charging people money to go through were verified. A spontaneous march by “Saint-Martin Wake Up,” from the French Quarter to Marigot was stopped by the Gendarmerie in the interest of public order.

OH, THE WATER…..
Swimming… sea swimming… well, there’s no real breaking wave action outside the Holland House deck, so boogie boarding or, god forbid, actual surfing are not options. If you brought your gargles, you can maybe enjoy a spot of communance with little tropical fishies, and if super lucky, a sea turtle, or even a ray or two. However, for those with bald cranial domes, and no aspirations for future melanoma, the kelp braids can feel startlingly like the tentacles of massive sea monsters… especially when your gargles fill with eye burning sea water just as you find yourself in water deeper than your barely 5’ old, fat, bald personal frame… AND… if you’ve only recently seen netwebb memes of looming shark bodies lurking in water much shallower (deep breath). From that vantage point, it’s easy to hastily conclude…. THERE BE MONSTERS!

TOURIST PLUNDER, DENIED….
So, now that the cruise ships are gone, the Buccaneer’s grin is dissolved from my waiter’s face, and the natives are grumpy again, a particularly rapacious shopkeeper tried to charge me double retail for a 
pair of Tevas… doh! And… some of the student honkies have taken to calling me  “Captain Ron Swanson.” I don’t know why… I’m a pussycat… even though i had to let the shopkeeper know i was super not interested in paying double retail for the sandals. 

Anyway, here i am… a brief hiatus from the daily grind. It’s been a joy. Six months removed from the last hiatus on the slab at the DeBakey Heart Institute. Neither of these breaks were planned, at least not by me. Mother Nature and the excellent DeBakey staff took care of the first. For the second break, i was asked to fill in for my boss so she could deal with a death in the family. I told her to think of me as an option of last resort because i didn’t believe i was up to an international excursion only six months off the slab. But no one stepped up (?) and i didn’t want to keep her from familial obligations. After all, six months should be enough healing time, right? Right… so here i am… exactly six months to the day: Reborn, 11-15-2016 On the flight to paradise, 5-15-2017. I’m glad i came, but not sure it will have the effect my family and close friends would recommend. Evidently, I’m a type-A, as in “ADDICTED to busy” kind of person. Don’t get me wrong, i love my vocation, but full immersion with it keeps me an arm’s length from the rhythm of my “original drumbeat,” an impractical avocation. Not to mention… that well-worn lesson, “Nobody on their deathbed ever said they wish they had spent more time in the office.”

I probably need to make adjustments.
Maybe get in touch with my inner type B.

We shall see, we shall see.