Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Granted, there was a year or so when I was a motorhead. My friend and I pulled the motor out of my '76 Camero and wedged it into a fully customized '73 Vega. Fun stuff indeed. That is until I wrecked the car and could only afford to replace it with an '82 Chevette. Then it was back to music.
Music was it for me too. I parked cars during the day and practiced with my band every night. We even moved out to L.A. to try to make it, but that didn't work out so well. Even so, I played all over South Jersey and a couple of the bands I played in had a pretty decent following.
Come about 28 or 29, I started to realize that I wasn't going to be the rock star I'd anticipated. That, in addition to a major character flaw that kept me from wanting to starve for my art, made me cut my hair and go to school for computer programming.
But that was okay. I had a knack for it. That became my new identity. I got a good job as a programmer and even spent my weekends writing code. I tried to keep up with music a little, but without the promise of superstardome, my heart wasn't in it. I even bought a mountainbike and tried to make that my off time thing, but one nasty encounter with a tree put an end to that. No, I was a computer guy. That was my thing. And it was good because people were willing to pay me good money to do my thing.
So I fell in love and had kids the way people are wont to do, and my thing helped us a great deal along the way. I even sold my bass guitars and amps. Didn't need them anymore. But after several years of being paid to do my thing, I didn't like doing it anymore. Don't get me wrong, I still did it because it paid the bills, but I began looking for something else to identify with.
Then I walked into a Harley dealer. And that was it! I was a biker. I loved riding the bike. I rode in the winter, I rode in the rain, I rode all of the time. I did all of my own work on the bike, tearing it down and putting it back together. I was the real deal. Except I wasn't. I didn't really fit in. I tried to do the poker runs and toy runs and such, but these weren't really my peeps. I preferred to ride my own ride. The problem was, it was a very solitary thing. I liked riding with Tammy, but the bike was too small for riding any real distances for the both of us. Plus, money was getting tight and friends were getting in accidents and it was time to sell the bike.
In an effort to find a new me, I tried woodworking. I built a few things and they turned out ok, but I didn't really enjoy it. It was a chore.
Then I tried mountainbiking again. Epic fail.
So, it was back to music for me. I restocked my bass arsenal and even started playing upright bass for a fresh start. And I've been trying to make this my identity for the last five years. The problem is, I'm not sure it fits anymore. I feel lost in it. I can't find myself in it.
A big part of the problem for me is style. I listen to several different styles of music and like them all: rock (hard, heavy, classic), jazz (bebop, hard bop, swing) and even country (old school stuff mostly). I just don't know where to go. Or more accurately, I find it highly unlikely that I can go where I'd like.
I don't want to play classic rock covers. I don't find anything wrong with it, it's just not something I've ever enjoyed doing and can't see myself being happy with it now. And while I certainly like listening to the heavy stuff, I don't see that working out very well for this aging body. Loud music makes my head hurt and my back can't lift Marshall stacks anymore.
Country has never really been on the table. I like to listen to it, but I don't own cowboy boots or a cowboy hat and probably never will.
Jazz is nice. Listening to it makes my feet move and has, on occasion, brought me nearer to tears than anything I've heard since "On My Own" from Les Miserables. But I can't play it. In order to play believable jazz, it needs to be in your soul. You need to eat, sleep and be jazz. And you need to do so early on because it's a lot to absorb. I've only been dancing around its edges for 5 years or so.
I have recently replaced the motorcycle, but I only ride it when it's really nice out. I don't plan on working on this one either. I'm past that stage now.
People have told me (in the most positive way) to just shut up and play. But I can't. I'm envious of those who can. That's never been me. I need to have a direction. A purpose. An identity. And until I find that, I'll remain lost.
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Early this week, I accepted the job offer with a nice increase in pay! Great, right? I should be skipping down the halls, right?
Instead, I've been depressed all week. Why? Because I'll never play bass as well as this guy: Rufus Philpot.
This is what it's like to live inside my head.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
The weekend encompassed a roller coaster of emotions for me. Of course, it started with the joy of seeing Atlantic City again and noting the improvements that have been made since my last visit. This was followed by the reunion itself. What a wonderful evening, seeing old friends and acquaintances from high school. Reminiscing about the "good old days". I had so much fun I really didn't want it to end. In fact, some of us stayed out until 3:00 am in an effort to continue the party.
The next day began the downhill portion of my roller coaster ride. I drove the family through my old neighborhood, pointing out to the girls the 5 miles I had to ride my bike in the snow uphill both ways to school, and the houses of my friends who, in one way or another, were no longer around. Then we went to Ocean City. I told my family of the endless nights we spent trolling the boardwalk, from one end to the other. The days we'd spend on the beach catching some rays. At this point I found myself mourning my youth. I saw all of the young people walking around as I used to, and realized that I'd never have that feeling back again.
Driving back to AC, we took the route I used to take when I worked at Resorts. It was then that I started reliving the loneliness that I felt during those days. The years of driving home from work to an empty apartment, dreading the weekends when I would hardly speak to another living being. This is a time that I did not mourn.
But of course, those times led to meeting my wife, buying a house, having kids, moving to Ohio...the things which cured my loneliness and gave me purpose.
That evening my family and I had dinner with some old friends from high school. It was at this point that I came back to the present...and enjoyed it. I was in a bar with family and friends in a town that raised me. This is what it means to be happy.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
I had been hinting around at wanting a new bike for a couple of months now. I sold my old bike about 4 years ago and missed it. One of the reasons I sold it was because it was too small and Tammy didn't ride with me very often because of this. I couldn't afford to upgrade at the time and just wasn't having as much fun with it as I should have been.
I knew what I wanted this time around. I wanted a touring bike. In particular, I wanted a Harley Davidson Road King. I looked at other brands, and no one offers anything like it. I looked at other Harley models, and would have been perfectly happy with an Electra Glide, but to me the Road King is the epitome. But I also knew what I wanted to spend, and finding any touring bike in my price range would be next to impossible.
So, we go to the dealer and there she sits:
She already had the upgrades that I would look to add, most significantly the tour pack (trunk) on the back. She was a color that I like. (I hate the blue/silver that so many RKs wear...looks too much like a Dallas Cowboy's uniform.) Even though she's 11 years old, she only had 14,000 miles. And best of all, she was in my price range!
So, why the name Penelope you ask.
When I was a young child, I had to have my tonsils removed. This was back in the day when they removed tonsils if you sneezed. I had to stay in the hospital for a couple of days and wasn't happy about it, so my parents got me a stuffed animal to keep me company. Why they chose a pink horse, I don't know, but that's what they gave me. I immediately named it Penelope after who I now recognize as my first crush, Penelope Pitstop. Penelope the iron horse is an homage to Penelope the pink horse, and of course to Ms. Pitstop.
Monday, April 20, 2009
Tuesday, March 31, 2009
The long awaited Billy Two Shoes CD, titled "New Shoes", has officially been released (basically, the CDs arrived by mail). We haven't yet scheduled a CD release party, but the new CDs are currently for sale (along with the previous release) on the Billy Two Shoes MySpace page.
The track list is as follows:
01. Times Ain't So Tough
03. Best That You Leave It Alone
04. Nursery Gin
05. Doin' What You Can
06. Headin' Back Down Home
07. Ain't Goin' Out Today
08. A Poem About A Pig
09. Beggar's Den
10. Drives Me Cold
11. Think You Know
12. Poor Man
Please note that $7 from each CD sale goes straight to food banks in Gallia County, OH and Logan County, WV, two places that greatly inspired this CD.
Edit: Anyone local who knows me, please contact me to buy the CD for $10 to save on shipping.
I did go to church regularly when I was 8 or so, for about a year. I was living with my aunt and her husband, who was one of those who thought it was a good idea for everyone in the household to go to church every Sunday. Everyone except him, of course. I didn't mind though. I had already made up my mind about God's existence, even at that age, but I found the bible stories to be entertaining enough. We followed it up with Sunday School, which did nothing to change my beliefs (or lack thereof).
It's been a struggle, trying to determine my spiritual identity. I used to just put 'none' on forms, but that never suited me because I do have opinions on the subject. I tried 'agnostic' for a while, but that didn't fit either. Over the last several years, I've bounced back and forth between these three:
This term immediately brings certain things to mind, few of them pleasant. For just this reason, I resisted this label for the longest time. But the internet opened things up a little, enough for me to see that Atheism is not the evilness it's portrayed to be. But there is still a certain militant view within that I just can't follow. In the grand scheme of things, it really doesn't bother me that our money has "In God We Trust" written on it. And while I will eagerly educate anyone who thinks "under God" has always been in the pledge (It was added in 1954 as a means of separating us from the "Godless communists." The pledge itself was written in 1892 without the "under God" phrase.), there are bigger problems in the world. But I do agree that Intelligent Design has no place in science class, unless the teacher wants to use it to demonstrate what a theory is not.
I practiced this on and off for a couple of years. I like it. I like it a lot. It brings me peace. But there are portions of it I just can't get behind, such as karma and reincarnation. I believe in karma only to the point of "what comes around, goes around" or, in bible terms, "as you sow, so shall you reap." But I don't believe there are supernatural forces governing this.
But what's interesting here is that I don't necessarily believe the Buddha himself was as concerned with these aspects as he was the path. That still appeals to me.
While researching and practicing this, I did a lot of reading. I belonged to several online Buddhist forums and discussion groups, and I found a lot of disagreement and infighting. Ghandi once said "I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ." The same could be said of many Buddhists I met online.
Still, I did not let that sway me. The thing that ultimately led to my abandoning the teachings was the precept against killing. Sure, not killing people is pretty easy. But when every life form is viewed as equal, it gets more difficult. Take food for example. I could relatively easily do a vegetarian diet. I did it for almost a year, even through Thanksgiving. But when I began to think of other aspects, such as the dairy industry directly supporting the veal industry, then things get more difficult. Also, at the time, a motorcycle was my primary means of transportation. Ever try to find a non-leather motorcycle boot that offered decent protection? And now? An upright bass is held together with hide glue, made from animal hides.
Of course, you find ways of making things work for you. A cow will feed many more people than a chicken will, so eating steak is better than eating chicken. And tastes better too.
Of the various Buddhist sects, I identify with Theravada Buddhism mostly, though I don't agree with everything.
I first heard this term on NPR seven or eight years ago. I liked it. It's a means of conveying a lack of belief in the supernatural without sounding scary. It also places the focus on humanity rather than the God question. Perhaps this is why, when I took the Belief-O-Matic quiz on Beliefnet.com, Secular Humanism was at the top of this list at 100%. The human equation is more important to me than the spiritual equation.
So what's the answer? I still don't know. A keen eye will notice that I spent more time discussing Buddhism than any of the others. This could be due to it being the only one of the three offering anything to the spirit. Or it could be that I'm feeling my inner Buddha today (which I am apparently).
As for the quiz, here are my top 10 results:
|1.||Secular Humanism (100%)|
|2.||Unitarian Universalism (92%)|
|3.||Liberal Quakers (81%)|
|5.||Theravada Buddhism (71%)|
|7.||Mainline to Liberal Christian Protestants (65%)|
|9.||New Age (57%)|
|10.||Reform Judaism (48%)|
Thursday, February 26, 2009
As a young man, I was very much as I was when I was a teenager. I was stubborn, narcissistic and border-line misogynistic. If it didn't directly effect me, it didn't exist. No one's opinion mattered but my own. My relationships were clouded in jealousy and distrust. I often said things with little or no regard to other people's feelings. I was not a very good friend.
I had never really suffered anything remotely approaching tragedy. I suppose parents divorcing is fairly traumatic to a child, but I didn't recognize this then. I remember being told of a friend's parent dying, and I didn't understand what the big deal was. People die. We all will. Get over it.
And then my mom died. And finally I understood. I became aware of mortality; my own and that of others. I began to really look at the person that I was, and I didn't like him. I began to understand the hurt that I had caused people, the relationships that I ruined. I didn't want to be that person anymore.
It's been a long road from there to here. I'm saddened still to think of how I was then, but I try to make up for it now. I don't always succeed, but I try.
Friday, February 20, 2009
As parents, we try to find a balance between overexposure and unrealistic sheltering. As the kids get older, this becomes more difficult. They've seen beer commercials and know that sex sells. They've been to the mall and heard bad language. Hell, they don't have to go to the mall for that. They just have to go school.
But here's what I find interesting: given the two, sex and violence, what's worse? My girls have reached the age where they're really into horror and slasher flicks. Since I also like horror and slasher flicks, I'm digging this stage. And as a parent, I watch the films first beforehand so I'm not surprised by anything. I recently enjoyed "Diary of the Dead" (George Romero really is the master of the genre) and I can't wait to watch it with the girls. No nudity, little bad language, lots and lots of blood and guts.
The thing is, as human beings, they will have sex. They will see people naked. I, for one, hope that they have healthy, happy sex lives when the time is right. But they will make mistakes. We all have. And they will learn from most of them, just like we have. (Notice I didn't say all - there are some things we just never learn.)
As middle-school/junior high students, they've heard just about every "bad" word there is. I've read my daughter's blog. She uses them correctly.
Unfortunately, sometimes people experience violence. But we all hope that this never happens to us or our children. And for the majority of us, it won't. Certainly not to the extent that we see on TV. And yet, sex and language seem to be of most concern. But why is that? Do we really think George Carlin's 7 words will do our children irreparable harm? Will seeing a breast or a penis scar them for life? How about watching someone get shot in the head?
Maybe it's just our own discomfort that leads to this. I was watching "Robocop" with my youngest (11) a couple of weeks ago. She was unphased by the massive killing machine at the beginning (too fake) and the violence (the guy losing his hand was cool and the guy splattered by the car was gross). But the language bothered her. To be honest, I forgot how bad the language is in that movie. Even so, it wasn't anything she hasn't heard before. But she was uncomfortable with it. And so was I.
Some weeks before, all four of us watched "Interview With The Vampire". Again, the blood and violence was just no big deal, though it did make for a great movie. The nudity, on the other hand, made us all uneasy.
So maybe it's our own uneasiness with sex that causes us to guard against it more. Or maybe we don't feel the need to shield them as much from things they may never experience (and I'm not just talking about vampires and zombies - there's plenty of realistic violence on TV as well).
I don't have any answers here, other than to turn off the TV I suppose.
Thursday, January 29, 2009
Friendship Village- Columbus
5800 Forest Hill Blvd.
May 7, 1 pm
Wellington Senior Community
5863 Scioto-Darby Road
May 12, 1 pm
Whetstone Community Center
3923 North High Street
May 14, 1 pm
North Broadway United Methodist Church
48 E. North Broadway
May 19, 1 pm
Trillium Place Retirement Center
May 20, 12 pm
May 21, 1 pm
Dublin Recreation Center
5600 Post Road
June 13, 7:30 pm
Union County Humane Society (Fundraiser)
233 W 6th Street
Saturday, January 3, 2009
Friday, January 2, 2009
So what am I doing with all of these social media accounts? To be honest, I don't know. It started a couple of years ago with a blog. I posted to it every so often for my own enjoyment, mostly thoughts on politics and such. Of course, the only person who read it was my wife, and she knows my politics (and fortunately agrees with them).
Then I started a blog just for my music, thinking I'd use it as a sort of practice log. Of course, that didn't work out the way I'd planned because, as I learned a long time ago, just because it's on a computer that doesn't mean you'll do it.
I created a MySpace page so that I could post some music. I did manage to find a few old friends through it, so it wasn't a total bust. But I've never used it the way most people do, for networking. I can probably count on one hand the number of times I've commented on someone else's page.
I'm not sure when/why I logged onto Facebook. I had the account for a year before I even did anything with it. I just never understood it. I still don't really. I've managed to find a couple more old friends through it, and I occasionally update my status and even have my blog forwarding to it, but I just don't understand how to use it.
And then there's Twitter. I update it occasionally as well, but wonder if anyone really cares that I ran out of milk and had to use reconstituted dry milk on my breakfast cereal.
I've read articles on using social media for gaining a larger audience, and I suppose if I had something to give or sell, that might make sense. But even then, that's just not me. I rarely talk to strangers and I don't know how to make small talk. I deleted my old blog out of frustration and created a new one 6 months later, but still rarely write anything significant (including this piece).
I'm often jealous of those who are social, who have a lot of followers on Twitter, who get a lot of comments on their blogs. But in the end, I just don't have what it takes to build a following, and don't really care to do the leg work (finger work?) to learn. Instead, I just log in to see what everyone else has to say, observe the interactions of those virtually around me, and then make use of the greatest antisocial media of all, the off button.