Sunday, June 24, 2007

What...ya gotta better theory?

Do you believe in reincarnation? I do............. I think. How are we possibly supposed to get the hang of this life thing in twenty...fifty.....eighty years? I believe in a higher power and an order to the universe. And I believe we've had a hand in deciding our place within that universe. (And yes, I also believe in long wet kisses) It's a comforting theory and would explain a lot of the misery associated with the planet. Lessons. Do better next time. And let's face it. No one REALLY knows. As I've mentioned before, eight years in St. Mary's Grammar school knocked any religion out of me. The nuns never talked much about love or embracing/celebrating life. They did talk about the penalties if you missed a Sunday mass or told a lie or....snuck into the bathroom. I remember asking one of my teachers ,"If God knows I'm gonna be a mass murderer and thus condemned to hell, why create me?" They never had a good answer except the all encompassing, "Well, it's a mystery." Yeah...I got that much.
I think Jesus, the actual guy who walked on the planet lo those many years ago, had it right. I don't presume to know who he was.... beyond a good hearted man. Son of God? Prophet? Wizard? You decide. But at one point he says to his followers, "Look, you idiots....(I'm paraphrasing)..... if you get nothing else....GET THIS!!!!!!!!!!!! Love your neighbor as yourself." Could you imagine the world if we just did that? One rule. My first grade catechism was seventy five pages of rules. C'MON!!!!!!! The genocide that's been committed over the centuries in the name of God is mind boggling. I think the big man's gotta be a little miffed. Murder/religion.......never got it. I think we're all in for a big surprise. And a good chuckle.
Forgiveness, I think, is important. If nothing else, resentments physically eats away at you. You may be holding a lot of anger for an old boss, girlfriend, teacher, coach...........but they no longer care and the only one it's affecting is you. So knock it off. I know. Easier said than done. I have a few folks in my past that I thought I'd forgiven but every now and then the old feelings resurface. But I'm trying. And I think that's the secret. Keep trying. 'Cause it's all gonna come out in the "wash." We already have all the answers. We know what to do to have good jobs and security. We know how to lose weight. We innately know how to be wonderful human beings. But we don't. Well....a lot of us don't. That's why I'm grateful to still be around. And considering a lot of the situations I put myself in as a youth...I shouldn't be. Grateful Dead concerts and all. But everything happens just the way it's supposed to and....... I'm a slow learner.
I was always impressed by people who knew what they wanted and went after it in a practical way. The owner/manager of a club where I used to play was shooting the breeze with me during a break one night and told me how he knew he wanted to own a club so he took business and finance courses in college and....voila! My mind was boggled. I mean, I always knew I wanted to be a musician but I wish I had gone about it in a more....uh....mature way. I don't feel like I even started to "get it" until around age forty. Better late than never?
Did you ever see that Saturday Night Live cartoon starring the Man of the hour? It's rerun every Christmas and it's right on the mark. We have Jesus walking through Anytown, USA and he sees televangelist Pat Robertson on a TV in a store window. He's impressed 'cause Pat is saying all the right things. Jesus hightails it down to the studio and excitedly tries to get on stage but Pat just keeps talking and elbowing Him out of the way, not missing a beat. The hilarity is that the audio is real and the animation is made to fit. Jesus is bummed and has the same outcome when he runs into Jerry Falwell and Robert Schuller. Lots of zealous religious talk but they just can't recognize Jesus. So the Savior hits the streets again and stops outside a grammar school. The front door is open and there's a commotion inside. As it starts to snow he realizes he's watching the Christmas story.......His Christmas story...... being played out by the Peanuts gang. His face brightens up as Linus delivers a soliloquy about the true meaning of Christmas. Well at the end Jesus just turns to the camera with a big grin on his face and breaks into the Snoopy dance accompanied by the Peanut's soundtrack. You know the tune.
It seems like I always see this cartoon at the right time. Maybe post Christmas party gig, or after a get together with old friends/family. Or just after watching "A Christmas Carol. " (The Alistair Sim version, of course.) How many times do you hear during the Christmas season,"If only we could hang onto this feeling all year.......there'd be peace everywhere......." What're you, nuts? There wouldn't be peace anywhere!!!! But the secret is...there can be peace in your world. Why not? Who's gonna stop you? Do the Snoopy dance anytime you want. Now get off my couch and go home.

ps. Umm.......... I could be wrong about everything.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

What am I rebelling against?.......... Whaddaya got?

I don't own a motorcycle. I never have, and probably never will. Why? Because I'm pretty sure I'd kill myself. If I didn't do something stupid on my own...I can always depend on a deer to jump out or of you. Motorists sometimes don't realize the size, weight and speed of a bike coming down the highway somehing ....not too bright. I've been on both sides of that equation and the guy on the bike always gets the worst of it.

I was a junior in high school when a car pulled out from a stop sign and side swiped a friend of mine. His foot went through the guy's headlight and and a whole lot of ouch ensued. The worst part was he was the keyboard player in my high school band and we had a gig that weekend. Try playing "Light My Fire" with no keys. It ain't happenin'! Well, he made it. Cast and all. And did pretty well with the sympathy thing.

I was around twenty three...twenty four......when local boy Bobby Lella lost control of his bike after going over a railroad track and went airborne head first into a tree. Gone. I didn't know him too well. He was a little older. But he hung out at the local pub and the older guys were becoming less the older guys and just...the guys. Being in the local band always expedited the breaking down of barriers. Still.... it just seemed .....unfair.

Somehow I learned to "ride." Another friend had a bike and we'd ride out to this old construction site near a local college. Lots of hills and dips and...surprises. I was trying to climb this stubborn hill one day, gunned it, froze and went flying off the ridge on the other side. Came to on the ground with no shoe, no helmet and the bike on top of me. And... get this.... no injuries. My shoe was mangled and the helmet was scraped up and my buddies were scared s.....less. But no real harm. It was as if a message had been sent...and received. I'd contine to ride anytime anyone was foolish enough to let me get on their bike.
My friend Tom....gone but not forgotten.....would let me tool around on his Harley Sportster when he came around. That thing had a ton of giddyap. My nephew'd always let me take out his Kawasaki anytime I dropped over. Ah... a ride through the hills of Hunterdon County. Peaceful.
Probably the most interesting motorcycle experience I ever had was on the back seat of an Electra Glide out to Denver, Colo. Bob (not the earlier Bob) and his friend were heading out to watch Evel Kneivel jump the Snake River Canyon in Utah. Remember that scam? Well, I had a girlfriend? Ex girlfriend? Soon to be? Denver, and a car with a frozen transmission, so I hopped aboard. It was October and it rained from Jersey to St Louis. I did a lot of the driving and it was a hoot. But I've never been so cold or wet in my life. And man, did the sun feel warm and did the Coors taste smooth when we finally crossed the Colorado border.( Those were the days when you could only get Coors west of the Mississippi.) The flight home seemed like pure luxury. Oh...uh.... it didn't work out with the girl. That band thing again.

I've played at a lot of motorcycle rallies...outlaw and otherwise. Always a hoot! And always full of surprises. As long as "Born To Be Wild" is on the's a party. I remember one rally I played in southern Jersey. We were a little late and as we were pulling in the guy watchin the gate proclaimed, "Hey, the band's here...we don't have to kill 'em." Thank you.

Remember the opening credits to "Easy Rider" when Fonda and Hopper are cruisin' down the highway and "Born to Follow" is playing and America's passing by and we were passing puberty and.......other things? Freedom. That's what the motorcycle is. Be it cross country or down to the corner grocery for a quart of milk. Freedom. Girls like guys on bikes. They won't always admit it. That danger factor. Girls like guys with guitars. I found that out when I was twelve.' bout a guitar strapped to a bike. Hmmmmm. I didn't say I'd NEVER own a bike. Whoa...what's that coming at me....look' mid life crisis!!!!!!! safe. In the words of James Dean, "The life you save could be mine."