Tuesday, June 5, 2018

The Abuser

I'm very happy to finally be away from the ex.  It was like prison.  I didn't even realize that she had taken my ability to even have thoughts about things to do, took my motivation.  Now that I'm away from her, I have all kinds of things I plan to do, some of which I'm doing as I write this.  Being with an abusive person is complicated, often times, we don't even realize we're being abused.  I sat around doing nothing for the most part of the past 7-1/2 years - which is very much not me; but I allowed it, and didn't even begin to realize it.  I did what she wanted - which was to sit there and rot - like what she was doing.  I'm not ready to lay down and die just yet, I have things I want to do.  So, those of you who are in an abusive relationship, in a relationship where you are not allowed to be yourself, where you have been robbed of your soul, your sense of self, your motivation, get out.  Many times, getting out of an abusive relationship is difficult, you have much to unravel, but, unravel it.  You'll have to plan, put the plan into action, and wait for the result.  Don't let the person further manipulate you, because they will damn sure try.  One thing for sure, you do not deserve to be another person's slave, you deserve respect, and you deserve to be who you are.  If you're an honest, kind person, and that is being taken advantage of, it's being used against you, the only way you will ever be you, the only way you'll ever get your life back, is to get as far away from the abusive person as possible, and learn from the situation you're in.  In my situation, there really is no help, I'm the guy, I'm expected to do whatever it takes to escape an abusive situation, I shouldn't be in an abusive relationship to begin with.  But, there is help for abused women, take full advantage of that if at all possible.  You may not know for sure that you are being abused, especially if the abuse is mostly verbal and emotional.  If you are being belittled, insulted, controlled in any way, it's likely you are being abused.  I know, it's difficult, and it can be complicated.  Abusers are very good at manipulating another person's mind.  If you even think you may be in an abusive relationship, take a step back, look at your life, take a good, honest look at yourself, and at the other person, and get help in assessing everything if you can.  Saying again, to drive the point home - abusers are very good at manipulating another person's mind.  Also keep in mind, an abusive person will do ANYTHING to keep you under their control, and they are vindictive and vengeful, so when you are in the process of getting out, be damn careful, watch your back, don't assume that the person is to be trusted, that he or she will not do something life threatening.

You deserve respect, and sometimes you'll have to work damn hard to get it.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Underground Country Music, Anyone?

As my here in Lake Tahoe hopefully gets short, thoughts appear - things I want to do once I can head out.

The thing that came to mind just a few minutes ago is that I would like to find some kind of underground country music community.  If such a community exists, it would likely be in Nashville.  There has got to be a circle of folks who can actually play an sing - of a caliber that is not at the horrid low that is the standard in Nashville's mainstream, and in all local venues found in cities and town - there very few that are left, anyway.  This includes what's on the radio, what's being signed by the "Majors", what's on streaming music sites.  I'm sure such a group will not be readily out there where just anybody can find it, so I figure if there is such a bunch of people, it won't be easy to find.  My fantasy is that there are people who can actually play and sing, and where egos are not part of any of the equations.  Egos in this business have been a large contributor to the deterioration of the music biz - from top to bottom.  Remember the days when there were bars, restaurants, dance halls, and other venues where live music flourished?  Well, as we all know, such places are a thing of the past - mostly because the "Majors" have conditioned people to listen to shit, and shit will never be good for business.  Up here in South Lake Tahoe, there are a few places to play, but most of them require the musician to be of the lowest caliber possible.  You can take a look at my previous articles - it explains that a in a little more detail.  In most cities and towns, the very few live music venues are hoarded up by the Ted Kennedys of the world (speaking of the Ted Kennedy who is trying to get total control of the music circuit in Tahoe - and not the now deceased Liberal Democrat ex senator from the upper East Coast).  If you're any good, forget about it, you'll have to get some kind of day job, because Ted will do ANYTHING to lock you out.  And, even if you do manage to get in, it's not ok that he pays $10 an hour.

I digress, sorry.

I would think that such a community does exist, and is probably fairly well guarded, as I'm sure they don't want every Tom, Dick, and Harry to come waltzing in there with their half assed playing and singing, and their pathetic egos.  It would make my year if there are players out there who are at least at my level, and better.  It's no fun playing with people who can't play their way out of a wet paper bag, and you don't learn anything from them - except maybe what NOT to do; but I already know what not to do, and I've never cared to do any of it anyway.  I won't know where to begin to look for such a group, I guess just start asking around.  I'll of course, check the underground entertainment papers, but again, I'm sure they don't make it a habit of blurting out the fact that they exist, or where to find them.  Maybe there'll be some kind of coded message, guess I'll see.  I'd experienced the "Open Mic" venues when I was in Nashville 4 or 5 years ago - those places are a joke, and the people who attend them are definitely not going to be part of anything worth associating with.

I wait for my shirts to arrive.  They were promised 4 - 8 weeks from the time I paid and put in my order, it's been almost four months, and still no sign of them - just justifications, excuses, and turnabout from the guy in charge of the factory.  I've been trying to contact other factories, both American and foreign, but so far, none of them have gotten back to me.  I don't mind living in my car if the time is reasonable, but it's gotten way beyond that now.

I just landed four shifts a week (starting next week) at Gunbarrel for the summer, which will bring me some decent income for a while, most of which I will spend on advertising for my clothing line.  I am, though, hoping I won't have to be here for the whole summer, once I have my heart set on moving on, I'm ready to do it yesterday.  It will all work out, though.  One of the things I need a little time to do is to get my new guitar effects unit programmed to where my guitars and fiddle sound the way I want them to sound.  If I am going to be around players of a high caliber, I don't want to show up with an inferior sounding guitar rig, and have to be piddling with it, I need to be ready, SO, I'll spend as much time here as I need to in order to get my system sounding prime.  I also take my Martin to Van Sickle park and sing all my old country songs - for fun, and, to have them ready for when I show up with real players and singers, and possibly others in other parts of the business.  I would love to have my banjo playing somewhat up to par by the time I leave here, but I'm pretty sure that's not going to happen, I think the psychological crack goes deeper than just being able to practice it away.  Being away from the ex has helped my in most ways, but I think the banjo thing goes much deeper.

So, maybe just a few weeks left here in Lake Tahoe, it's been mostly a good run, I've worked, made ok money, been treated well by the folks at Gunbarrel - especially Dan, who is unlike all venue mangers I've crossed paths with.  This is a guy who appreciates a person who gives a crap about what he does, who shows up on time, and who does a good job - this is a guy who will treat a guy with respect when he earns it; and let me tell you how f'n rare that is.  So, thanks Dan, more than I can say.  Other than Gunbarrel, there's not much I can say I like about Lake Tahoe, and I won't miss it when I'm gone.

Ok, I guess that's all I have for now, thoughts racing, but kinda all the same.  So, till next time.

Friday, June 1, 2018

From Talentless Musician To Bitter Booking Agent

It's been thirty eight years in this ever devolving music business.  Corruption has taken over our country in just about every way, affecting all of us in more ways than one.  I guess it's the human condition - always has been - where inept people aspire to positions of power, in order to stroke their own ego, and in order to get some sort of cheap thrill by making life difficult for as many people as possible.  Sadly, this has been the case in the music business over no less than the past thirty years.  Pre 1980, there were a few record companies who actually looked for true talent, bands and/or artists who would sell records on their merit, their talent, their integrity, their hard work.  Here in the 2000s, what I've observed is that many of the musicians who were never able to make a connection with their listeners, who never achieved what they set out to - which was to find a way to make people adore and admire them, have gotten into positions of power in an already corrupt business.  They spent 10, 20, 30 years playing to people who simply didn't care about their mediocre and mostly unlistenable music.  These talentless, charisma-less, lazy people have now taken over just about every aspect of the music business.  Most are booking agents, in control of everything from restaurant/bars, to casinos, to 500 seater venues, right up to the big record companies, FM radio, and likely most streaming sites.  These guys are bitter and angry, and will take revenge on any artist or band that has talent, and has obviously worked at their craft.  They will taken upon themselves to dictate to these talented people to play whatever it is that they're not playing.  This is in stark contrast to the days when there was plenty of good music to go around, where venue owners and management didn't care a wit about what the band or artist played, as long as they made the customers happy, and as long as they put money in their till, they were just fine and dandy.  Back in those days, listeners, customers, were not afraid to speak up about whether a band or artist was good or not.  I SO miss those days.

I'll go so far as to mention a few names of such bitter agent types, mostly because I think that these people should be removed from their positions and left to find jobs that suit their lack of integrity.  I can think back as far as 1983, when I had a little country band that was based out of San Diego, we did traditional country, no pop country, no rock and roll, no disco, just good old fashioned country music.  Besides the normal guitar army band, we had a good girl singer (who was also the bass player, and looked like a super model), we had fiddle, banjo, harmonica, and two decent male singers.  I can't remember the name of the agent, but I do remember he was somewhere in Idaho.  The conversation went something like this:
Me:  "Hi, this is Lee Jones, I was referred to you by a friend, he said you might be able to book us in a few venues in the general area of California, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, and a few others."'
Agent:  "Yes, I book many of the rooms in that area, what kind of music do you play?"
Me:  We play traditional country music, no pop, no rock and roll, just traditional country music."
Agent:  "Straight ahead Traditional Country?  WHY?"
Me:  "Because that's what people like."
Agent:  "Well, I don't know what to tell ya, we have only ONE band who does that stuff, and they've built such a monster following that they can get away with it."
Me:  "It doesn't sound to me like they're "getting away" with anything, it sounds like they're playing what people like".  Also, besides the normal, my band has a good girl singer, a fiddle, a banjo, and a harmonica".
Agent:  "Well, I don't think I can help you, my clients want what's on the radio."
Me:  "Ok, thank you for your time."

So you see, these guys have this cockamamie way of thinking, even when the proof blows their flimsy belief system out of the water, and nobody can convince them otherwise.

Then there was Jim Mitchell, booking agent of everything country in Hawaii during the late 70s and early 80s.  Forced his wife's band down every venue's throat by lying, twisting, and manipulating every person and situation in his path.  After he used every trick in the book in order to squash me, elevate his wife's band, and make every situation work for him at everybody else's expense.  He finally BS'd his way right out of the business.  His tactics included booking me at a Marine base on a Sunday afternoon, knowing it was a rock and roll crowd - a bunch of rowdy Marines (we were a straight ahead country band).  As it turns out, the Marines had a blast with us, especially once the heard the fiddle.  Jim Mitchell's line of shit when I went in to see him the following Monday, in a whiny, "You son of a bitch" tone of voice, "So, you whipped the fiddle out on 'em, huh?".  He once booked his wife's band at Hickam Air Force Base CPO club, and advertised my band - figuring his wife's band would have somebody to play to.  Backfired once again - they started wetting and wadding up napkins and throwing them at the stage, then booing, then every person in the place walked out - all of this by a half out into their first set.  There's a lot more, but you get the picture.  A few months later, Jim Mitchell moved to Arkansas and took a job at his 23 year old wife's (he was 63 at the time) parents' tire shop - selling tires.  Now THAT is justice.

Some of the other angry ex-musicians I've had the misfortune of crossing paths with, somewhat more recently are, Rob Brooks, who has control of most of the casinos in the Reno/Carson City/Lake Tahoe area.  I emailed him every week for about a year and a half, and never got one single reply.  I have a pretty decent website, complete with live videos, and all the pertinent information you would ever need.  There was Eric Dale, in Baldini's Casino in Reno.  I auditioned, while the guy did everything possible to stifle what I was doing.  He originally said he would pipe my music into the rests of the casino, and then get feedback from his customers - who by the way, were mostly older, obviously country music listeners - didn't pipe anything - he was going to make sure as few people heard me as possible.  I had a few of them in the bar dancing, including the 300 lb. Indian bartender who was grinning ear to ear the whole time.  One of the waitresses, after I got done playing, came by, also grinning, asked, "So, when do you start?"  My reply was, "I don't, Eric doesn't like the fiddle, and he said, through his girl Friday, that "Your country music won't go over in here."  Sure, it wouldn't, but you see, anything I was doing was going to be wrong - because I got just a little too much attention from the people - which once again, put a strain on his dysfunctional body parts.  There was a "Ted", who worked at the Scott Dean Agency in Reno, same, I emailed and emailed and emailed, and when I finally got him on the phone, he gave me excuse after excuse after excuse.  There was Robyn Henderson, the entertainment director at Boomtown Casino in Reno, which contained the Guitar Bar.  I auditioned, she came up to me and said, "We're gonna get you in here, give me your email address, I'll send you the tax papers, then I'll send you the open dates, you let me know which ones you can do, and we'll take it from there.".  I followed all her directions to the letter, and after I received the tax papers, and returned her email, I never heard from her - until a full YEAR later.  I replied, saying I thought she'd made a mistake in emailing me, because it had been a year since I'd auditioned and been in contact.  Her reply was, "It's not a mistake, do you want to play here or not?"  I said ok, and she sent me the "Open dates".  I replied, noting all the dates I would be able to do, never heard back.  The following month, same, sent me the "Open dates", I replied, no answer from her.  After that, I said the hell with it, I'm not going to play this game, and that was the end of that.

There's Ted Kennedy, a relative newcomer to the Lake Tahoe area.  He apparently had a little money, enough to invest a few thousand bucks in a few venues - I understand through an organization called "The Tahoe Stewardship".  Their thing is, you can invest $5000 and own a small piece of the business - any of the businesses that are affiliated with this organization.  So, he bought his way in, and got the owners to allow him to book his horrid music acts.  This guy is a wannabe musician, plays barely enough guitar to get by, sings a few songs, and tries to be Mr. Funny Man when he gets on stage, because he knows he can't play or sing.  In all fairness, he's not that bad a singer, but he's dishonest, so he goes up on the stages and BS's people.  His cheap tactics have not worked for him, I've heard the comments, and I've seen the faces in the audience.  Some of the comments were from his own managers and workers.  He has what I call the "Nick Masters Syndrome", where a guy will hire the worst musicians he can find, so that (in his mind) when he walks up onto the stage, he can look good.  It doesn't work that way, but when you are the type of person who has never worked at anything in his life, does everything the shortest, most convenient way possible, and have no talent for whatever it is you're trying to do, and then try to BS your way through, your mind gravitates toward the delusional, and the deceitful.  You wouldn't believe some of the horrid noise that comes off of the stages that this guy books; there's bad, and there's BAD - his acts are beyond even that.  This is the same guy who, when booking music at Basecamp Pizza - in the center of Heavenly Village - didn't have the proper liquor license to have live music.  The hotel guests were constantly complaining not only about the bad music, but about the unbelievably LOUD noise that was coming from the restaurant.  I experienced the LOUD, because I play at the restaurant/bar right across the breezeway three, four, and five days a week.  These guys took "If you can't play good, play loud" to a whole new universe.  - beyond bad and horribly loud.  So, after all the complaints, somebody learned that he didn't have the proper liquor license, and reported him to the ABC (the Liquor Commission in Nevada).  So, being the "What can I get away with" type of person that he is, he still has his no talents play there, just without the sound system.  I'm amazed that ABC hasn't gotten wind of what he's doing - he's been getting away with his charade fore something like four months.  I'm not going to be the one to turn him in, but I'm sure eventually somebody will.  Oh yeah, this guy has also locked me out of playing at any of his venues.  He hired me at first, until enough people said nice things about me - enough to shrink his body parts, at which time he abruptly stopped booking me.  After a few months, he texts me to say, "Hey, if you're not going to do the shows I book you for, I need you to put them up on Schedule Fly (the app he used to book acts at his places)".  I said, "You haven't booked me in six months, so I signed out of Schedule Fly".  He claimed there was a glitch, but BS.  So, I agreed to do Tuesdays at The Beer Garden (in the Basecamp Hotel - different location from Basecamp Pizza), and Thursdays at California Burger - where, according to the main manager and some of the waitresses, I was one of the favorites.  I did one Tuesday and one Thursday, at which time he again, abruptly quit booking me.  As it turns out, it worked out for the best, as the folks at Gunbarrel Tavern have treated me with a high level of respect for the four years I've been playing there.  There's also that Ted pays his acts $10 and hour - which comes out to less than minimum wage when you consider set up and tear down time.  So, the result is that the ten dollar an hour acts play at the ten dollar an hour venues - which is the way it should be.  The funny thing is, four years ago, when I first arrived in Lake Tahoe, Basecamp Pizza was always the first to fill up, then Gunbarrel and Fire And Ice (right across the way from us at Gunbarrel) would get customers.  For whatever reason, over the past year or so, Gunbarrel has been the first to fill up with customers, and then Basecamp Pizza.  This is especially noticeable when there are not a lot of people in the Village.  When Heavenly Village is packed, every restaurant/bar is packed, but when things are slower, we fill up first - consistently.  What I can't figure out is, how is it that the actual owners of Basecamp Pizza don't hear about what goes on in their places of business.  I tell you, if I were a customer going into any of the restaurants he has his fingers in, and was subjected to listening to the horrid acts that play in them, I would be irate, and would without hesitation, go to the management and scream bloody murder.  I know I can't be the only person who thinks that way.  I do know, from first hand experience, though, that while bullshit will open many doors, more often than not, it does catch up to a person - usually way too slowly, but does catch up eventually.  To be clear, I will not play in any of Ted's places.  The few other live music venues in Lake Tahoe - the managements have refused to talk to me - sending down their elves to run me off - nothing new to me.

As if this isn't enough, there's Las Vegas, went there last fall, just to see what it was like, didn't intend to stay there, just wanted to take a look.  Spending two months there was enough to choke a dinosaur.  There was "Frank Joseph" of the Steve Beyer Agency; the typical bitter and angry ex musician who wants revenge on any artist who might be any good at what he does.  Me playing the part of a musician looking for work, he did the usual, "Whatever you're doing, it's wrong, no matter what you do, it will be wrong, so I don't know what I can do for you."  I did manage to get in a few jabs, but once again, they are in control, and there wasn't a damn thing I could do about it even if I wanted to.

So, with these people having taken control over every aspect of the music business, any artist who may have the talent to actually sell on his or her own merit, will be mercilessly squashed.  Most any talented artist will have learned this a long time ago, and gotten out of the business, trading a life of frustration and disgust for a more conventional line of work.  As for me, the dream is gone, the thrill is gone, the challenge is gone, and it's just a matter of a few more weeks before I can get out once and for all.  It should have happened two months ago, but with today's ineptitude and lack of integrity and pride in work, my clothing line has taken twice as long to be manufactured as the factory CEO told me it would.  As I wait, I live in my car, so that I can have the money to pay for advertising when my shirts (the first installment of my clothing line) do finally arrive.  I knew I wouldn't be able to pay near a thousand bucks a month rent, AND pay for advertising, so, I chose to move into my car.  It's not so bad, the most difficult part is finding a place to sleep.  I seem to be ok, at least so far, in casino parking lots.  I'm not a nuisance, I only park there at night, to sleep for a few hours.  Whatever sleep I don't get at night, I go to Van Sickle park and sleep a couple hours in the morning.  During my days off, I hike up the mountain at Van Sickle, I lay in the sun whenever and wherever I can, and I either play my Martin or my banjo - I found a secluded place at Van Sickle, where nobody can see or hear me - and it's outdoors - my dream place to play music.  It's been the month of May, and now into June, where it's been mostly cold, windy, and rainy, so I haven' been able to do these things as much as I would have liked to, but I do them whenever possible.  Last night it got down to 30 degrees - ON THE FIRST OF JUNE.  If/when my clothing line generates an income that matches what I earn at Gunbarrel (which isn't get rich money, but enough to live on), I'll move back indoors - probably not in the Northern Nevada area, but somewhere warmer, somewhere where I can be outside in a t shirt for 8 or 9 months out of the years, as opposed to being bundled up 8 or 9 months out of the year - just to be outside.  The line in the Charley Pride song, "But I'd rather be fightin' the wind and rain, than what I've been fightin' back home", finds its way into my head a lot these days :D .

Well, as with any major life change, you first have to plan, put that plan into action, and wait for the result.  I live this as I speak.

Till next time.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Courage And Honesty

Being one who has always instinctively looked around me, and who has always closely observed people, their actions, social situations, and the overall human condition, I've noticed that people are, among other things, much more angry than they were 30 and 40 years ago.  There are many reasons for this, I'll try to discuss, and offer remedies, one at a time.

First is society, and its distorted definitions of "Truth", and of "Courage".  We, as little American children, have been conditioned to be "Tough".  Talk about distorted definitions.  "Tough" has been defined as being belligerent, aggressive, stubborn, possessive, controlling, and bullying.  Consequently, 90% of the population, both male and female, walk around with their chests puffed out, feeling the need to prove how "tough" they are.  Well, that's ass backward.  I believe that life is not about being tough, life is about being kind, compassionate, generous, and caring, in the face of all the horrible things that go on.  A person who has been violated as a child - mostly before the age of ten, can do one of two things with the experience of being violated.  One, he can go out and do the same to all his surrogates - in other words, punish every person he crosses paths with, OR, he can go out and be kind and caring.  The former will bring nothing but more grief - for himself and for most who he comes in contact with.  This person will always feel the need to elevate himself, by his attempts to establish superiority, his efforts to belittle others, his belligerent behavior, and his otherwise mean spiritedness.  He tends to be controlling and vindictive, and never treating his significant other (or any person, for that matter), as an equal - always needing to be in control, telling her what to wear, who she can talk to, how long she can take to make the trip to the grocery store, or "One upping" at all times.  To be clear, this is not only the case with the male being the abuser, it happens also with the female being the abuser.  Add to that, when the person on the receiving end stands up against the abuser, the abuser will always play the victim - needing to convince himself as well as any other that he is being attacked for no apparent reason.  Physical violence often ensues, not with the absence of verbal attacks, belittling, cheap insults, and in the case where the female is the abuser, she will almost always attempt to emasculate the male.

In this case, I see the cause as being beyond obvious.  There have been many articles written, mostly hidden, but still written.  There are schools of thought that are right in line with my set of beliefs.  My belief is that in the case of such individuals, something happened to them before the age of ten, something traumatic, something such as sexual abuse, physical abuse, verbal/emotional abuse - and must have been going on for a period of time.  I don't believe that one isolated situation will cause the crack in the mind that occurs when a person is violated over periods of time - it's possible, but not likely.  The result of being violated as a child is that the person will reach adulthood, feeling the need to punish surrogates - any person who represents the violator.  This (the violator) can be a relative, friend of the family, teacher, coach, or a total stranger.  The surrogate can be any person that the victim crosses paths with - usually, though, significant others.  Often times it can be siblings, co-workers, friends, acquaintances, etc.  The punishment can be in many forms.  It can be subtle verbal digs, less than subtle insults, attempts at belittling, aggression, and the many other forms of bullying.  The person will not be honest about any of his or her faults, always needing to shift blame onto the person they are attacking.  They employ all the telltale tactics - the anger card, playing the victim, threats, indignation, and escalated bullying.  Most of today's "Therapies" will try to alter the symptoms, rather than deal with the actual problem.  The aggression, the belittling, the bullying, those are all symptoms, and what you cannot do is tell the person to redirect his anger, his reactions to being aggressed against, you cannot simply make emotions go away, you cannot "Create a new pathway for actions", as "Cognitive Behavioral Therapy", and "Mindfulness" dictate.  Dealing with the underlying problem is the only way to truly treat the person.  The answer is simple.  First, we have been conditioned to believe that if anything happens to us, is because we asked for it, and that we were weak, that we were cowardly for allowing it to happen.  Well, BULLSHIT.  A child of ten or under, who is violated by a full grown adult is not weak, and he is not by any means a coward.  The weak one, the coward, is the full grown adult who violated a little kid, a defenseless child.  A ten year old will not even know what the hell is going on when he or she is sexually assaulted, physically assaulted, or verbally/emotionally assaulted, and will not have the slightest idea of how to deal with it, much less be able to defend himself against it - against a full grown adult.  Again, the weak one, the coward, is the full grown adult who assaulted a child.  With all these new so called "Therapies", we have exponentially more depression, anxiety, and other mental and emotional disorders, as well as more delusional people, more mental illness, more psychosis, more overall anger, and more rage.  That, right there, is my proof that modern therapies do not work, in fact, I think they do more to make the problems much worse than they do to help.  Then, on top of all that, everywhere you look - TV, radio, printed media, peers, they all parrot what they were conditioned to believe.  We are constantly bombarded by lies and half truths.  Speaking of bullies, if you haven't already been to a therapist who belongs to any of these modern "Therapies", try visiting one, observe the bullying, observe the dictatorial behavior, the way the therapist will shut you down the instant you start to describe what happened to you - they do not want to hear it, they will say, "It's not helpful".  They believe that suppressing your emotions IS helpful, and let me tell you, that is the WORST thing you can do to yourself - suppress your emotions.  My belief is that once you've realistically dealt with the actual problem the symptoms will go away by themselves - you will not have to "Let it go", or "Just get over it".

Next, distortions of truth:  Western society has bastardized the definition of "Coward".  There's the "Tail between the legs", which any dictionary has claimed as part of the etymology of the word.  Well, again, BULLSHIT.  Every person is afraid of something.  So, who gets to define the difference between being afraid of something, and being a coward?  For me, a coward is a the person who finds, manufactures, or discovers a weapon to hide behind, while he or she uses that to cause grief and loss for other people, to belittle, antagonize, and emasculate others.  To clarify, being afraid of something does NOT make you a coward.  Saying again, it takes courage to be kind to people in the face of all the horrible things that go on in the world, it takes courage to be generous, caring, while seeing that most people are none of these things.  I always offer a high level of respect to any person I cross paths with - until given a reason not to, at which time I will do my best to get as far away from as possible.  If the person persists, and there is nothing else to do, then by all means, defend yourself, just be careful.  Such people do not go out in the world being belligerent while being unarmed.  Many carry guns, knives, tasers, and many will have their lawyers on speed dial.  There are surveillance cameras every ten feet, and judges who do not like a person taking the law into his or her own hands.  So, again, be careful.  Also, remember that if Chuck Norris, Clint Eastwood, or Superman were to deal with situations in real life the way they do on scripted television shows, they would be in prison for a long time.  For the record, such movies and TV send the wrong message, and have caused many a little American boy to grow up to be a frustrated and enraged adult who will sport all the signs of being such - the big, noisy automobiles, the defacing of the body, the passive/aggressive demeanor and actions.  So, keep in mind that being afraid of something does not make you a coward - being belligerent makes you a coward.  You can rid yourself of such actions if you are honest - to be discussed below.

We are taught to be "Honest", but we are not taught what that entirely means.  We all know that we should not attack an old woman and steal her purse, and that it's wrong to break into someone's house and steal their belongings, and/or to hurt people.  But, when it comes to things of the heart, most people are as dishonest as the day is long.  Most people will deny the less than pleasant occurrences in the world, they will hide, minimize, even defend it.  They will defend and deny their own actions.  Once again, we are conditioned to not talk about the less than pleasant - we are told that we should be thankful for all that we DO have, that the bad things should be ignored.  Well, for the third time, BULLSHIT.  Ignoring bad people, ignoring bad behavior, ignoring unpleasant situations only serves to allow them to fester, for bad people to continue to get away with bad behavior.  That's not to say we should complain just for the sake of complaining, but we should try to start the discussion, and ultimately try to remedy the situation.  Being silent will never bring about a good result - or any result at all.  This boils over into the realm of "Negative".  For me, there is nothing more negative than being dishonest.  If you pretend that things are peachy when they're not, you are being dishonest.  If you pretend your life is wonderful when it's not, you are being dishonest.  If you refrain from pointing out evil because you're afraid people will not like you, or that people will call you negative - you are being dishonest.  If you attack a person, then cry victim when that person reacts in a way the you do not approve of, you are being dishonest.  In order to remedy a problem, you must first acknowledge it.  If it's something of yours, you must  first own up to it.  Don't be afraid to put the responsibility where it belongs - as opposed to where society would like it to be.  Keep in mind that everything that happens to you is NOT your fault.  The things you are responsible for, be responsible for them, but do not take the blame for things you had no control over, things that other people created.

Back on the subject of "Courage" for a minute.  Courage is what it takes to face the harsh realities of life without denying, without numbing your brain with substances such as alcohol or drugs,  Courage is facing the harsh realities of life without believing in magic - things such as good luck charms, superstitions, and of imaginary friends sitting up there in the sky on golden thrones, behind pearly gates.  There is obsessive gambling, obsessive shopping, and obsessive eating - none of which will do one bit of good for you.  There is no fat gene, no lazy gene, and no diabetes gene - just habits and actions.  Life just happens as it happens, and it is up to us to deal with it the best way we know how.  One thing for sure, if you have the crack in your mind that is created by being violated as a child, you will be unable to be happy, unable to function in a healthy way, unable to be in stable, healthy relationships - such things are difficult enough as it is.  Saying once again, in order to fix the crack in your mind, embrace the fact of who was the weak, cowardly one when you were violated as a child - you were not weak, you were not a coward, YOU WERE A LITTLE KID.

So, being honest, being positive, being courageous - these things should be defined, but they are not.  I'm sure this is no accident, being that the Powers That Be do not want healthy people, they want subjects, they want lifetime customers, they want that revenue.  There will always be bad people, best to avoid them when possible, fight them when necessary, and use any platform at your disposal to point out the evils of the world - without simply being a chronic complainer.  Look for remedies, look to comfort those who fall victim to the evils of the world.  Embrace what happens to you - even the less than pleasant - all of it is part of life.  Don't fear death - death is part of life - respect it, but don't be afraid of it.  Don't let your ego dictate how you live, and don't go around thinking that the universe cannot go on without you or your bloodline. Value life, but don't be obsessed with it.  Strive to live a healthy life, and not necessarily a long life.  Allow other people to live the way they see fit, as long as they are not intruding on, or hurting others.  And, most of all, be honest.

All for now.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

The Continued Human Infestation

Well, I guess it's been about 2-1/2 years since I've written anything here.  A lot has happened, mostly good, if you can believe that, but yeah, mostly good.

I've been living in Lake Tahoe and Carson City the past three years, and have been working a heavy schedule for most of that time, making some decent money, and enjoying for the most part.  There are, though, the usual suspects, venue owners with egotistical motives, who would do their damnedest to punish me for doing things they cannot do, and god forbid, and for getting a little (or maybe a lot) too much attention - attention that has a less than pleasant effect on their body parts.  There are the usual musicians with the same affliction.  For the most part, though, I've done well in spite of all of it.

A few weeks ago, I decided to see what the music scene was like in Las Vegas.  I contacted an agent a week or so ago, and after "Call me tomorrow, call me Tuesday", I finally landed a face to face with a "Bruce".  I get there, and Bruce takes me to meet "Frank".  Bruce seems to be a nice enough guy - kinda nondescript, 40 something.  Frank, on the other hand, is the typical 60 year old grey haired guy, kinda homely, resentment just glaring out from every pore of his body.  This is the guy who has spent X amount of years trying to make a connection with listeners, but never been able to, can't play or sing his way out of a wet paper bag, and is angry at any person he crosses paths with who may have some amount of talent, and has actually worked at his craft.   He proceeds to tell me how much he loves MIDI, and, that while I'm a "Great player", he "Doesn't know what opportunities there are for me", because I don't do any Ed Sheeran, Dave Mathews, or any of a few other modern day "Artists".  While I usually clam up I situations such as this, trying to be polite and non belligerent, and being caught off guard, this time I actually spoke up on my own behalf.  I managed to tell him how much I hated MIDI, how "Computer generated music is just wrong", that "You music biz types think you know what works, but ya don't", and that "There is no way in hell I will ever sell out".  He didn't have much to say while I was saying my piece, which is surprising, because they usually cut me off in mid sentence, and become very dismissive.  While I did manage to say most of what I wanted, the bad part is that this ignorant, self righteous numbskull gets to decide whether I work or not, so, needless to say, I will not be working in any of the casinos that he works with.  I hadn't planned to stay in Vegas anyway, but the point is made.  For the record, I will never do anything - musically or otherwise, that will insult my integrity.  Guys like this, they see my videos, my website, and they are instantly enraged, and will do anything to try to insult me, belittle me, to try to make me feel small, try to convince me that I'm doing it all wrong.  I've had people trying this BS all my life - from the time I was eight years old, and pretty much straight time from then until now; and for whatever reason, I've never doubted me, never felt small, never felt inadequate or inferior.  I never decided I must be that way, it's just who I am, I guess.

So, after this encounter, seeing once again that the business continues to be infested with this kind of person, and after being fed up with the business side of music for at least twenty years, I finally see, without any reservations, that it's time to get out.  I have two other avenues to get onto, one is a passion that I've been entertaining (no pun intended), and have dabbled in on two different occasions, and the other is simply something that will generate some income.  Neither involves working for some piece of shit company who would use my hard work to fill their bank account at my expense.

Ah well, just another episode of life that glaringly illustrates just how fucked up this once great country, this world, actually is; with the human race being the biggest perpetrator.

See ya next time.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Crime, Hard Work, Abilities, And The Forces Of Nature

    All the photos you see here are mine, taken with
my old Canon AE-1, my Canon 30D, or the
digital instamatic (can't remember the model number).

It’s funny the way the forces of nature have worked against me – ever since I can remember.  BTW, I blew past self pity and despair at least 20 years ago, now I’m at full blown disgust and hatred for most things.  My life is music, always has been.  In the fairly recent past, and up until now, I’ve craved wanting to learn new things.  There are times I feel the strong urge to pick up my lap steel and learn some new things, maybe write some new pieces – I feel the same about the ukulele, classical guitar, and even the electric – which I’ve spent most of my music time playing.  In every instance, outside forces have said, “Nope, you’re not gonna do that, you must deal with THIS first, and THIS is going to take up every waking moment and then some, you think you’re going to spend time with your instruments, haha, watch this, you son of a bitch”.  I’ve been trying to get together enough money to buy a classical guitar with a pickup in it (I currently don’t have one), it’s a measly $500, and every circumstance in the fucking universe has converged to prevent it.  Just the other day, for the THIRD time this MONTH, my work day got rained out – every time that happens, I lose around $300.  One of the times it was the last set, but still – rained out three times in the space of one month – and that’s with the fact that it is NEVER like that up here in LakeTahoe – NEVER.  I’m supposed to work tonight, we’ll see, and should that actually happen, I will be ordering that guitar as soon as the money is available in my account (it varies, sometimes it’s immediate, other times it’s the next business day – and it’s always the same check from the same bank as my account).

Just the other day, the day I got rained out.  Before the shit started, I was putting together a couple of instrumental pieces on my electric guitar – to play at my workplace, I felt motivated, and was in the right frame of mind – until the thunder and lightning started – which left me maybe an hour of feeling like playing.  Since then, I’ve been conversing with me about the somewhat recurring thought of cutting an artery and being done with all of it.  Yes, I’m damn tired of fighting – with things and people I can’t even see – because most of it happens from their hiding places, and/or their positions of power.  I have scoured the universe, trying to find a way to get past this piddly bullshit, where I won’t have to answer to, or be at the mercy of little pissant club managers and owners – most of the time whose egos are what drives them – even moreso than the bottom line (monetary profits).  Needless to say, I have yet to find a single answer.

For whatever reasons, yesterday I got to missing my cat, Callie – so bad that I couldn’t see straight.  My previous blog post describes that, in case you want to see how I felt yesterday.  There’s also the ongoing situation where the vindictive ex has my belongings locked in her storage and is refusing to allow me to get in there to get the stuff out.  There are three of my acoustic guitars – one of which I’ve had since 1982, the other two, five and six years.  There’s also my bass, two amplifiers, two toeres (South Pacific percussion instruments), scrapbooks with my life in them, a baseball glove that I’ve had since I was 17, and some other personal things.  I’m sure she has justified doing this, but actually with nothing more than revenge in her pathologically disturbed mind.  I think what makes this all exponentially worse is the fact that the forces of nature have always been on the side of such people, and blatantly against me.  There are laws against doing what this woman is doing, but not a single “Law Enforcement” agency is willing to lift a finger to do anything about it – and she seems to know this – as all people who pull this kind of thing do – they always know what they can get away with.

I’ve been here in Lake Tahoe for just over a month.  I landed a steady two nights a week at one restaurant/bar.  I have spent (literally) all day, every day, hunting down entertainment managers, only to be jerked around by their endless bullshit.  In one case, I’m sure the vindictive ex got to the entertainment manager.  I did exactly what he said I should do (which of course I already knew – I know how to play in front of an audience), I had those people singing, dancing, yelling stuff in the songs, up on the stage singing with me, I even had the bartenders dancing behind the bar.  The following week, I get an email from the entertainment manager with this cockamamie bullshit saying something like, “You did great, I’m impressed with your talent, HOWEVER, this is not how I see the club evolving”.  I thought I’d heard it all.  No entertainment person is going to say such a thing – maybe I’ll get into that another time.  Add to that, I heard from more than one person that night, “We need you in here more often, they usually have shitty music in here…”.  So, thanks to the abusive, obsessive ex girlfriend, the fact that she tricked me into telling her that I was playing at that casino, and the fact that she is very good at convincing people of doing what she wants, I have nothing lined up for when this patio job goes away for the winter.  Speaking of being freakishly good as a sales person, this girl was also able to convince one of the workers at the storage facility to tamper with the contract and take me off as a primary – making it impossible for me to get in there to get my stuff out.  When I think of how it would have gone if I would have tried to do such a thing – it’s amazing that not only did she think to do such a thing, but she was actually able to pull it off.  Keep in mind, though, I would have never thought to do such a thing.

   So, I have two, maybe three months to land something for the winter, but 50+ years of firsthand experience tells me it’s not going to happen.  It appears the older I get, the more the forces of nature have a vendetta against me, and let me tell you, I’m no match for the forces of nature – especially since I never see them coming, and wouldn’t be able to do anything about it anyway.  Besides my promise that I would check out should I be forced to live in the street, I also promised me that I would not put my life in somebody else’s hands ever again – and I always keep my promises.  There is one guy who has been working on me to get me to do just that, again, not gonna do it.

I could go into “Nobody cares”, and it’s true, but that’s not exclusive to me, it’s the way of the world.  I do, though, see many obnoxious, belligerent, and even downright evil people do what they do, and still have people who care about them – but that’s a whole ‘nother – maybe for another time.

I’ve written similar things in my blog before now – for years, in fact, and I’ve been linking to them at Twitter and at Facebook.  Not a single person has acknowledged what I’ve written, not a single person has shown any concern, which tells me that either they are not reading the stuff, or they are and don’t care – either way I cringe at how apathetic so many people actually are – in spite of their vociferous self proclamations.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Missing Callie, And Tired Beyond Belief...

 This is Callie
Those sad eyes are because I'm not there with her.

I’m sitting here in my motel room, where I’ve been living for the past five weeks.  Yesterday my work got rained out – this is the third time just in the first month of being here, which means I’ve lost just about $800 in income – and that’s JUST IN THE FIRST MONTH OF BEING HERE.  I’ve heard people who have been here in Lake Tahoe 20 and 30 years, who have said they have NEVER seen it like this – the constant rain, thunder, and lightning.  Well, to be more specific, it has done that shit mostly on MY nights of work – but still, it’s never been like this as far as what I’ve been told.  Last night, after watching TV for the first time since moving here, I was reminded of Callie, my cat - who I love more than I ever loved any stupid human.  Callie was severely abused for the first year of her life, and I was the sole person who made her feel welcome and loved – I spent hours and hours talking to her when we (me and the ex) first got her.  After two months or so, she quit hiding under the beds, her sad eyes didn’t look so sad anymore, and she loved being on and around me.  The first time she jumped up on my lap and looked up at me as if to say, “Is it ok that I be here?”, just about took me down – and I’m not a cryer.  I said, “Of course it’s ok you be here, you stay here as long as you want, ok?”.  She did that every night for the rest of the time we lived at that apartment – six months or so.  We moved to the RV, where there was really no way for her to do that, but I did other things with her then.  I’m the one who spent time with her, taking her outside in the evenings (she didn’t like being outside during the day), and I was the one who loved talking to her for hours a day when she was deathly afraid of humans, and of life, I was the one who made her feel welcome and loved.  Not only is she the most unassuming, non demanding, and well behaved cat I’ve ever known, but she is magnificent, freakishly fast and agile, even her walk is different.  Callie cannot be with me because of things far beyond my control.  For one, the ex would never, in a million years, allow me to have her, and, even if she did, I don’t know what’s going to happen with me.  If things don’t change awfully quick, I will be out of work and out of a place to live inside of three months, if that; and should that happen, I made the promise to me that I would cut an artery and be done with it.  I’ve been homeless twice, and I will not put up with that again – I’ve put up with way too much already.  I’m not going to put Callie out to fend for herself just because shit happens to me; at least where she’s at, she has food and a warm place to sleep.  The ex doesn’t really have time for her, with another cat, and a dog – the dog taking up most of her attention.  I don’t fear that the ex will abuse Callie, my worst fear is that she will give her back to the shelter, where she could end up with somebody who does abuse her, or neglect her – or, with somebody who is not me.  Nobody would love Callie like I do.

I have spent most of my adult life doing music, not only doing the necessary things to seriously do that for a living, but also doing without things such as the family life, house, cars, financial stability, and whatever else, and I was happy to because I knew music was what I lived for, it’s what I had to offer the world.  I did everything right, I worked at it, I got decent at it, I took calculated risks, and some reckless risks.  I’ve never done a drug in my life, never smoked, never was a drinker, gambler, or anything of the kind.  I’m almost 60 years old, and I’m about to lose my ability to live indoors, my ability to earn an income – all because of things I had and have no control over.  The fact is, if it were because of my own screwups, I could be ok with that, but since it has always been because of things I had no control over, I cannot be ok.  I have been jerked around all my life, and that hasn’t changed since moving up here.  I have one place where I work, and that will be going away soon – as soon as it’s too cold to be out there on that patio.  Every other entertainment manager I’ve talked to here has given me the classic bullshit stories, and classic runaround – and that’s not to mention the ones who have hid from me like I was the black death.  The calibre of music is the same here as in most places – it’s horrid, which makes it even more difficult to listen to the flaming bullshit that I constantly get fed by these entertainment managers.

The ex also has, among other things, my guitars and other musical instruments, locked up in her storage and is refusing to allow me to get in there to get them out.  One guitar I’ve had since 1982, the others five and six years, as well as two toeres, one that I built myself, and the other built by a Tahitian guy – the thing is a work of art, and was not cheap.  There are also scrapbooks with my life in them, a baseball glove that I had since I was 17, my high school basketball and volleyball letters, and other personal stuff.  That being the case, though, if it should come down to a choice between getting in storage and getting my belongings out, or to where I could safely have Callie, I would take Callie in a red hot second and not even look back or give it a second thought.  The fact remains, though, that I’m here, Callie is there, with not a damn thing I can do about it.
This is the kind of constant and endless thing that the universe does, which is what has turned my attitude sour for most things.  I’m amazed that I can still go onto a stage and entertain people.  There was a time, though, that I couldn’t even do that – as recently as a few months ago.  For the record, and for the smartasses of the world, I blew past self pity and despair 20 years ago or more, these days I’m at full blown disgust and hatred for most things.

So, I’m very close to being out of work, and out of a place to live, my belongings locked up where I cannot get to them, I miss Callie terribly, and there is not a goddam thing I can do about any of it; and believe me, I have done everything humanly possible to have a decent life, to avoid crappy people, to avoid crappy situations; but I continue to be a fucking magnet for this stuff, and I’m pretty sure things aren’t going to magically change now.

That’s all I have for now.