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CHEAPTRICKPEPPERS

Cheap Trick performing the Beatles??? Has the world gone mad? Well, only a little. One must realize that Cheap Trick, formed in 1974, built quite a fan base through its own brand of using power-rock chords that emoted a hard-edge but retained enough melodic themes that attracted those on the outer currents of pop rock and punk rock. Their music does combines the tune- worthy formulaic modes of The Beatles but with an energy that speeds up without bowling over into pure ranting and screaming of those in the punk rock genre of that time. The Los Angeles Times has remarked that “Cheap Trick gained fame by twisting the Beatlesque into something shinier, harder, more American.” Your next question is: What were their biggest hits? A few include the songs “Surrender”, “I Want You to Want Me”, and “Dream Police.”

So it was with ardent curiosity when the available ticket brought me to the Hilton Theater, my favorite venue to see them perform Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart Club Band. Having seen Paul McCartney in sold-out arenas four times and never hearing anything as elaborate as a 21 piece orchestra, 6 backup vocalists, a children’s choir, mixed with an old rock bank that I’d thought had hit the old folks home by now, I couldn’t imagine how this escapade could be pulled off credibly. Featured guest artists included Grammy-Award winning vocalist Joan Osborne, Rob Laufer, Bill Lloyd, and Ian Ball all of whom performed in the beginning of the show before Cheap Trick entered the stage through a very clever revolving set that housed the entire orchestra 16 feet up in the air and provided three circular stages underneath them to facilitate the quick turnover to the Sgt. Pepper’s portion. As the curtain rose that set was exposed.

The orchestra opened with an absolutely beautiful symphonic medley of “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” “She Loves You,” “Love Me Do,” and “Please, Please Me.” Ms. Osborne then took the stage and deftly sang “Can’t Buy Me Love,” and the timeless “Long and Winding Road.” The orchestra then took over and performed the classic “Eleanor Rigby.” Let me stop here a moment to comment that in the nineties I lived in Puerto Rico and had the chance to see the Puerto Rican Symphony Orchestra perform Holst’s incredible symphony “The Planets.” That alone was a rare treat unto itself. The most marvelous thing of this show was to watch these players moving and thrusting their bodies into such soulful unpretentious mesmerizations of being one with the vibrations that they perfectly emitted from their instruments, that they naturally drew you into their magical mojo as an unintentional byproduct of their emotionalism and love of their craft exactly as those moments I experienced many years ago.

The engineer’s use of effects to recreate Lennon’s experiment of running his voice through a Leslie speaker for “Across the Universe” with the Las Vegas Children’s Choir was as ethereal as the original. It was truly like “a wind inside a letter box.”

And then the transition occurred and here was Cheap Trick with Rick Nielsen and his baseball cap and striped suit prancing, dancing, and irreverently swinging his guitar to the beginning of that classic album. The album that the Beach Boy’s leader Brian Wilson called the “perfect album,” the same one that he tried to compose first and gave up his quest after hearing what he perceived as the Beatles’- no the world’s – ultimate recording.

I then realized that when I read Geoff Emerick’s name on the roster as Sound Direction and Co-Producer that it all made sense. Those orchestra parts were exactly as George Martin, “the fifth Beatle” had written them in 1967. Every nuance, speck, part and parcel of each tiny inflection of this live sound mimicked that album without exception. And by the way, Mr. Emerick was the engineer for Sgt. Pepper’s back in 1967 so there was the connection to the “how” of this event.

The bonus tracks of “Golden Slumbers,” “Carry That Weight,” “The End” and the show “encore,” “All You Need is Love,” brings the Beatles’ genius and the energy and vivaciousness of the current band playing their hearts out into focus after experiencing the beginnings of their musical careers at the top of the show. It was a wise choice than to end with just the Sgt. Pepper’s songs, as the orchestra was already there for that monumental epic, why not go out with a huge bang from their later material? Good call on the producer’s part although I wish someone had sung “Something” that perfect ode to George’s wife Patti Boyd, instead of Bill Lloyd playing lead guitar on the melody, but that is a minor complaint.

And lest I forget a huge part of this ensemble was Magic Christian, the keyboardist who provided all of McCartney’s piano parts and used his synthesizers perfectly to authenticate each track. Todd Youth on bass enthusiastically played every Mac line note-for-note and the conductor affectionately introduced as “Billy Shears” did an outstanding job putting the orchestra though it’s amazing paces this fine evening.

The most amazing part of the show came when George Harrison’s “Within You, Without You” was performed. An authentic Indian ensemble appeared with Gingger Shankar (Her mother was a classical singer, and her father, L. Subramaniam, is a world renowned violinist) playing the double violin, with two sitar players, and bass and treble Tampura instruments exactly capturing this spiritual encompassment of Mr. Harrison’s experience with the music and religious aura of that nation.

The vocals of Rob Laufer were magically suited to every note of the past and this was more than just a band rehashing an old classic. The entire experience, as exacting as it was, evoked new emotional thrills by the live performances of both a rock band and orchestra blending into a dimension of past time that never was. This was a “what if” had the Beatles kept touring and attempted such an endeavor to achieve such lushness of a tracked album by being backed by a full orchestra and vocalists. It was the concert that never was performed by the seemingly most unlikely band using the most unlikely Beatles album. It worked magnificently!

I ran into people who had seen it more than once and honestly I would have gone back for seconds and thirds myself. I mean when the song Sgt. Pepper’s Reprise kicks in that rooster crowing for that split second, the madness of the orchestra of “Day in the Life” swells and then crescendos to its ultimate conclusion, and then that infamous orchestral down stroke to the tonic note, what more does one want out of a concert? It is real and it is hair-raising. I could go on and on about every small detail and the attentiveness paid to each and every one of them, but my suggestion is if you can go see it-GO! This tour will not last forever, like the original band, like any ephemeral burst of pure creativity, the moment passes quickly. Take the time and listen to what could have been, but was only preserved on tape and disc until now. It’s no cheap trick believe me.

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Ticket from the Atlantic City Pop Festival August 1969

The following is a comment I received on my blog of the Atlantic City Pop Festival’s 40th Anniversary. Please read it and pass it on to whomever you can, and maybe, just maybe ‘Sev’ will get to look at the pictures that he had taken 40 years ago. It is occurrences like this that make writing this blog all worthwhile. I hope by some small chance we could make this Vietnam Veteran’s wish come true. (Note: I did clean up the letter’s punctuation and language a little bit to make it clearer) Sev writes: I remember this festival well…. I went AWOL from Ft Dix for the three days and I didn’t care because I was getting ready to be shipped to Vietnam. I arrived while Chicago (Transit Authority) was playing and they were so good that I thought they were playing a record to warm people up but it was them live!! I pitched myself a tent and went wandering around. During my stay, I kept walking backstage and no one stopped me (it was a different world back then). My highlights were meeting Janis, Grace Slick, Tracy Nelson, & Frank Zappa. When I met Janis I handed her a button that said “Kiss me I’m Italian” she said, “You’re Italian? I Like Italians.” Her guitarist behind her laughed and said “ahhhh you like everybody.” She laughed and kissed me on the head, under my eye, on my cheek and near my mouth. It is something I will never forget as long as I live!! Frank Zappa was so nice, he looked at me and then my army haircut and said, “Hey you look like me when I was a kid.” I took so many pictures but unfortunately I took them with me to Nam and the day I got there someone broke into my locker and ripped me off… I swear I am telling the truth… : ( If someone is reading this and knows of someone that has them or does remember having them PLEASE post them and send them to me. I would really like to have them back … They were of Me & Janis, Me & Grace, Me & Frank, & a few of other stars including Grace & Janis together. Thanks for reading

Pasquale Severino

Trenton, New jersey

IF ANYONE OUT THERE CAN HELP.. SEND ‘SEV’ HIS PICTURES TO THE FOLLOWING EMAIL ADDRESS             MysteryLyricfest@aol.com

JeffersonStarshipSpitfire

A while back, I went to my favorite concert venue, The Las Vegas Hilton, to see the “new” lineup of Starship, AKA Jefferson Starship, and the third generation of Jefferson Airplane.  The Hilton showroom is a wonderful place to see a show as there isn’t a bad seat in the house and the big comfy chairs are a far cry from the seats that barely hold one cheek of your derriere in any other venue, and allow plenty of leg room as well. 

The old Jefferson Airplane in this day and age would probably have been locked up in this Patriot Act paranoia of today.  ‘Got to Revolution’ just wouldn’t go over like the old days…….for shame as the internet and keyboards have taken over from in-body protests and are far less effective……..but I digress.  The addition of Las Vegas’ own Stephanie Calvert (http://stephcalvert.com/) allows the introduction of the more tame Airplane treasure trove of White Rabbit, Somebody to Love, and others that haven’t been heard by myself since I saw them in Santa Cruz at Lorenzi Park in 1994 with Jack Cassady, Craig Chaquico, and other original band members and a young woman that looked a lot like Grace Slick, but wasn’t.  That was also the last time I heard “Hearts” a song that I didn’t hear at the Hilton, perhaps because of copyright reasons, as it is such a beautiful song, one of the Starship’s best written and sung so incredibly well by alumni Marty Balin and the Fender Rhodes repeating an ascending scale that raised your armhairs.

Mickey Thomas’ voice was on pitch considering the high ranges he vaults to and from, but could take a tip from Boz Scaggs and get a steam humidifier tube on his mike stand, as he cracked from time to time due to “Vegas Throat” a malady that affects every singer that comes into town…..but don’t misunderstand me; he performed with full heart and soul and brought you back to yesteryear and the days of ballads mixed with energized rock and roll.

Stephanie Calvert was a delight to hear and see and she’s quite sexy in dress, delivery, and dramatics as she belts out Grace’s legacy without the slightest hesitation. Her latex-laced legs and forceful features grabbed you and forced you to become engaged with her siren-like serenade and the audience loved her.

The band consists of:

Mickey Thomas *Lead Vocals, Guitar – Stephanie Calvert *VocalsMark Abrahamian *Lead Guitar, VocalsJeff Adams *Bass, VocalsPhil Bennett *Keyboards, VocalsDarrell “Pelican” Verdusco *Drums, Vocals

In case you’ve forgotten their hits here are some they performed: “Jane” “No Way Out” “We Built This City” “Sarah” “Nothing Gonna Stop Us Now” “Find Your Way Back” “Stranger” “Laying It On The Line” “It’s Not Over Till It’s Over” and the Elvin Bishop Group’s, “I Fooled Around and Fell in Love,” a song Mr. Thomas carries with him from his time as the lead singer for Elvin Bishop-a trivia fact not well known.

It was a fun 90 minute romp of rock and roll the old fashioned way……with real musicians with everyone’s ‘hearts’ in every song….now if I can just get Mickey Thomas to sing that song……..Hearts Will Be That Way.

clapton winwood

It was a rare privilege and honor to be at the “presence” of these incredible intense and dedicated human beings. Eric Clapton and Steve Winwood in concert, this, first time since they combined to form the group “Blind Faith” in the Sixties. The magic was in the air, the ballads and blues graceful and the memories abounded as their humbleness and love for their music overwhelmed everyone. Steve Winwood, a Hammond B-3 (my god -he even used the stops constantly!) a relic long gone for decades. His exquisite guitar playing and beautiful voice, combined with Clapton totally in the pocket of that ‘zone,” was extraordinary, the height of which I’ve seen but few times in the many times I have seen him in concert. His eyes closed or rolled upwards, no need for him to look at his fretboard; his power, speed, and emotion pulsated through every cell and molecule in your body………..Voodoo Chile……….Eric goes outside himself and reincarnates Hendrix, something that he himself said in an interview that he was “afraid” of approaching………he obviously conquered that fear and went beyond……..he “kept on growing.”
“The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys”-acoustic piano solo with Steve was precious beyond words…….the acoustic guitar sets with both legends………just a jewel of time to be treasured. May it’s effect last as long as those memories can.

Clapton / Winwood Set List – 27 June 2009
MGM Grand Arena, Las Vegas, NV

1.  Had To Cry Today
2.  Low Down
3.  After Midnight
4 . Presence of The Lord
5.  Sleeping in the Ground
6 . Glad
7.  Well Alright
8.  Tough Luck Blues
9.  Pearly Queen
10. There’s A River
11. Forever Man
12. Low Spark of High Heeled Boys
Acoustic Set
13. Driftin’
14. How Long Blues
15. Layla – (acoustic version)
16. Can’t Find My Way Home
Back to Ass-Kicking Rock and Roll
17. Split Decision
18. Voodoo Chile

The Encore:
19. Cocaine
20. Dear Mr. Fantasy

Band Lineup:
Eric Clapton – guitar, vocals
Steve Winwood – vocals, Hammond B3, piano, guitar
Chris Stainton – keyboards
Willie Weeks – bass
Abe Laboriel, Jr. – drums

Sharon White – backup vocals
Michelle John – backup vocals

acpopfestival
Photo from E-Rock World
BEFORE WOODSTOCK THERE WAS THE ATLANTIC CITY POP FESTIVAL
Here’s a good link for it:  http://www.e-rockworld.com/AtlanticCity.htm

I attended this incredible concert as a young lad and it changed my life for the better. I still have the original mimeographed line-up sheet. My uncle was the Chief of Police for Galloway Township, the place where the show was held, and I had to hear all kinds of shit about “druggie hippies” and the like. Of course, I never did any of those things…I swear (supreme bullshit) Here’s the super line-up courtesy Wikipedia:
American Dream
Aum
Booker T. & The M.G.s
Tim Buckley
Paul Butterfield Blues Band
The Byrds
Canned Heat
The Chambers Brothers
Chicago **Chicago Transit Authority
Joe Cocker
The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown
Credence Clearwater Revival
Dr. John
Cass Elliot
Iron Butterfly
Jefferson Airplane
Janis Joplin
Lighthouse
Little Richard
Lothar and the Hand People
Hugh Masekela
Buddy Miles
Joni Mitchell
Mother Earth
Tracy Nelson
Procol Harum
Buddy Rich
Biff Rose
Santana
Sir Douglas Quintet
Three Dog Night
Edgar Winter
Biff Rose
Frank Zappa

Biff Rose was the MC and filled in for Joni Mitchell when she started to cry and ran off stage in the middle of her 3rd song when the crowd was not paying attention to her performance. It seems she was placed in the rotation directly after Mother Earth featuring Tracy Nelson and the crowd wasn’t ready to hear her mild act.

Crosby, Stills & Nash were originally on the lineup but ended up as a no-show, Nash supposedly had polyps on tonsils (but sang at Woodstock two weeks later). The Chambers Brothers were a last-minute substitute.

gd1

A 1990’s PHOTO. A MOMENT FROZEN IN TIME

The rain wore on day after day and one could only describe the sky as bleak and bursting with moisture. My hopes of bringing my niece to her first experience at a Dead concert, Grateful but for Jerry Garcia, long gone, was dimmed as to her getting the full experience of the last 45 years that started with the hippie tail-gating parties, that were long established before the football game feasts of John Maddenish times. This night was to be special. The Spectrum, home to such legends as Bobby Clarke and Julius Erving was to be torn down soon, but those fellows in this band had played here every decade since the sixties. This was to be their swan song; two nights of one last goodbye and possibly their last tour together as time takes its toll.

Arriving early while it was still raining, we turned into the lot at the Wachovia Center and by the time we got out of the car it not only stopped raining, the sun began to peek through those dark clouds. It actually came out and it was glorious. The tents were up, the illegal vendors of grilled cheese, hamburgers, chicken, Tye-dyed T-shirts and nitrous oxide were out in full force, along with two completely instrumented rock bands playing in full regalia, hippie buses, modern Prevost million-dollar luxurious cross country rigs, women in their forties hawking illegal beer, wine, and mixed drinks, and purveyors of pipes, paraphernalia, and pot were circulating like pasta on a table for an Italian Sunday meal.

Dominque, the namesake of my father’s eyes opened wide and amazed but I knew this was only the preliminary party. The walk up those old worn concrete Spectrum stairs and the entry into this place brought me back to an age of youth years even younger than hers. The high school nights of The Grateful Dead, The Allman Brothers, Yes, The Who, The Rolling Stones, Emerson, Lake, and Palmer, Pink Floyd, and many, many others for a pittance of $8.50 a ticket came back as if it was yesterday. I have seen the Dead countless times across the country in California, Colorado, New York, Maryland, Washington, and so on and had seen them in this building more times than I can remember. Enough to know where to negotiate a great seat for sight lines, sound, and of course for the lack of much younger crazed high screaming, testosterone-laden Dead-Heads that my old frail body could not fit in the mix or blend easily without serious consequences to my health.

It was the same old game that came back to me. The seats half empty predicted a low turnout, but the bustle around the legitimate indoor lobby’s vendor stands was body to body. The lights came down and the first move began by the band to get them to their seats and of course it worked. There was not a seat to be had. One by one each band member gracefully entered; went through their pre-show preparations and people hustled to their seats or to light up leaves of a weed to tune them in, and in this drug-paranoiac age of hysteria, no one would have expected them to do it, but then how can you arrest 15,000 people? And this was the way it always was, and everyone knew it and didn’t care. Obviously no one was stupid enough to stop them. So billows of smoke not tainted by cigarettes floated upwards along with those consciousnesses that inhaled it. And then it began.

Opening with “Playing in the Band,” morphing halfway to a series of unpredictable incredible renditions of old sixties, seventies and eighties lyrical Robert Hunter/Jerry Garcia songs, and then those of Bob Weir, the dose of the Dead’s sound, the interplay of pure improvisation, free-form jazz, spirit, and energy took over; And they were on that locked-in wave, shooting the tube and taking chances like I’ve never heard or seen before. Every note was on-beat, on-tune, on-pitch and Bob Weir didn’t even miss a lyric, as the crowd didn’t either. Every human body was dancing, singing, swaying, whirling like dervishes dancing to the Eternal on top of the world in Nepal. It was an incredible experience of communication between the band, the fans, the place, the space and all cylinders were firing hot, heavy, and hard. Can you imagine 15,000 people all singing every complex lyric to every song and being able to be in the middle of this human verbal “wave” of emotion? I think not unless you were there feeling it run through you. Hearing the earth and stadium tremble at the cheering of every familiar song, bar, and phrase. These were fans that any band would die for and that allegiance was rewarded in kind by those gentle men that gave, received, and gave back those emotions in an endless circle of time for the essence of music, spirit, and the vibratory movement of life.

My niece was in awe of the entire gestalt. And after three and a half hours of precise and precision musicianship, even Phil Lesh, now 70 years-old, played with the abandon of that of a human at 18. It all began with the Grateful Dead, the Further Bus, the Electric Kool-Aid Acid Tests, 420 Time, the audio man/then legal LSD manufacturer Owlsey Stanley, the counter-culture revolution of the Romantic Age of our time. They were the cause and draw of the lore of the Haight-Ashbury summer of love in 1967, while they snuck out of their house in the Haight before the hordes of a lost generation of seekers invaded and destroyed the very thing they were looking for as a Time magazine cover propelled the impetus even further. Ken Kesey, Neal Cassady, Kerouac, Ginsberg, and the beat generation’s finest minds were here this night, wrapped up into an experience of vulnerability and chance mixed in with the old and familiar. It was life imitating art, imitating life.

The best part was that after it was all over, I had previously paid for the CD recording at a vendor’s stand for an official record of what I just heard, and picked it up shortly after the concert. This would prove I wasn’t just breathing the sweet air and exaggerating and misinterpreting the amazement of what I heard emanating from that old familiar stage. This was one of the top five concerts I had ever heard, without any doubt and many smiles and conversation with others confirmed it, as did the CD afterwards. What an initiation this was for my niece.

To describe this communing with this band is rightly impossible to do, however an old cliché’ came to mind and that is, “There Is Nothing Like A Grateful Dead Concert” and whatever name they’ve morphed to, there never will be. I am honored and truly ‘grateful’ to have been there on a night that the band knew was special as well as acknowledged by Phil Lesh saying, “It’s been a long time, we’ve forgotten how intense you all are here in Philly.”

So did I Phil, so did I.

 

This is dedicated to all of my nieces and nephews.  The road is long and always leads to another one.

When I was 5 years-old I was in first grade and fully energized by those of my age together in the playground where a hierarchy of order was made plain by class, color, and wealth.  It was the beginning of abuse by bullies who were stronger and lean compared my to husky size from my mother never allowing anyone leaving the table unless all the food was eaten, and she cooked for an army.  I learned that mass hysteria was easily accomplished on the playground. I watched a mentally retarded brother manipulate my adult parents with ease.  I learn the subtle art of psychology without even realizing it. There were three ‘Nicks’ within two houses next to each other.  We used to laugh when someone called and all of us answered.  Big Nick used to take us fishing.  My best friend Little Nick’s father, Big Nick’s daughter’s husband, died in a boating accident and it was kept from me.  I couldn’t understand the crying and sadness around me.

When I was 10 years-old I was beaten many times in the school yard and to and from home. My hormones kicked in early and I began to lift weights and body build.  A short time later those same bullies, who were expelled from the school system for beating me, wouldn’t come near me.  A few years later in Catholic school the pastor sexually abused me and many others, a long buried event that only came up when I was writing a novel and I used that experience when writing the key element of the main female character.  As an altar boy, I learned that praying was not a substitute for action to solve my problems.  I had to act or allow myself to become merely fodder for those who were sadistically stronger.  I learned to question all authority be it religious or otherwise. I watched as my intransigent brother was put into an institution for threatening my two infant brothers.  I watched as my mother blamed my father for it.  I grew up quickly because of their rift caused by pure manipulation.  I learned to hide fear well.

When I was 15 years-old I was a high school starter in football as a center, odd as I was the smallest guy on the team, and then attempted wrestling due to a coach’s pressure.  I hated it, and got out by exaggerating an injury.  I had become a bonafide athlete. I threw discus and ran track, and girls now became an attractive force of nature, but I knew there was danger in paradise.  I learned how to play drums.  I learned that although I had a far superior education in Catholic school, emotionally there was a vacuum inside.  I sought acceptance and allowed myself to be used for that purpose.  I felt like the poor boy at grand banquet and didn’t deserve to be there.  I learned that I had to begin an ongoing process, to rely on me, to love myself before I could go further.  I learned how hard that really was.  Big Nick passed away as did two of my father’s brother’s and I was in a state of denial for all of them.

When I was 20 years-old I drove a forklift, made a bunch of money, went to Jamaica by myself, didn’t come back when I supposed to and was fired by Scott Paper.  I then went back to college after dropping out after the first semester with the college being on the Boardwalk in Atlantic City due to a construction strike, and earned a degree in music two and a half years later. I gained strength from adversity.  I learned how to really play the guitar and piano.  I came from knowing nothing about music to graduating in Who’s Who in American Colleges in a very short time.  The immersion of myself into knowledge and technology at that time made it the most incredible part of my life.  I learned that I possessed incredible passion and  it made me go for the seemingly impossible as I truly began to believe in the spirituality of a force within me.  I studied the subject of religion voraciously, and cared not about what anyone else thought of me.   I learned I had the power within to do incredible things when I surrendered to that force and allowed the energy to flow through me.  I learned to be vulnerable and to accept failure as a temporary setback to success, and then realized that it was an inevitable part of it. I learned that listening was more important than talking, that being smart was being secure in being smart, without having to prove it or impress anyone else.

When I was 25-years-old and ready for a career after graduation in 1977 the recession and the “gas crisis” made for a harsh time and I shoveled coal at the local utility company and my rental home in the farm area of South Jersey was burglarized and we lost everything that my girlfriend and soon-to-be wife had owned.  We lived in a tent on a friend’s property for the summer.  My favorite Uncle was able to secure for us an old chauffeur’s quarters behind a former mansion that was now being used as an American Legion Hall for $90 a month in Pleasantville, N.J.  We began to play music in the clubs in and around Atlantic City.  I enjoyed the night life and playing great music for appreciative audiences the experience was soul satisfying but paid comparatively little.  I learned not to depend on anyone but myself in all matters and that certain old friends were best left as such when they become toxic.  I realized that the pain I went through as a child now made me better able to handle the bitter parts of life that I could not change.

When I was 30 years-old I was now working for a casino as an Audio Technician and learned my trade both from books and being on the job.  It was a new age of growth for the area with the incredible expansion of casinos, but like anything, greed begets greed and the corporate structure killed the golden goose. The political and corporate stupidity was constantly at work and I learned that what “appears to be” is much more important that “what is.”  I watched my father die over a few months. I learned to accept my mortality and cried for the time back. I saw what seemed so much time wasted and was bitter, I still hadn’t learned the understanding and enlightenment to be at peace with it.

When I was 35 years-old I was now married for some time and had bought a house in the country with way too much grass to cut and I developed severe allergies that would not be discovered or even checked until 5 years later. It was a time of false bliss, of thinking that possessions and money could bring happiness.  My move to the Taj Mahal nine months early to prepare for the opening was to be the beginning of both “The Donald’s” and my demise in that era of the 90’s.  Chasing corporate dollars was a pastime and not really a career that was fulfilling although it provided just enough comfort to not take a chance and remain safely in the corporate cradle.  I learned that physical pain is never understood by anyone but those who have been through similar pain. Headaches got worse and workloads were excessive.  I learned to have trust in but a few key fellow workers.  I learned that one must proactively terminate a threat before it cannot be overtaken regardless of the personal circumstances.  I learned brutal bloody coldness from the very best management that Donald Trump offered.

When I was 40 years-old my health worsened, the headaches went unabated and my high school football-worn knees could barely handle the constant humidity of the East Coast.  Without work I went into depression and then my left arm went numb from a C-4 nerve impingement that no one figured out for 8 months. By that time my marriage was asunder, I was out of a job and I went to Las Vegas with less than $1000 and searched for work while I knew my wife at the time would not go with me.  My divorce soon followed when Merv Griffin called and needed an Entertainment/Technical Director for his new place in Mesquite, NV.  Of course, greed got to those owners as well and they went belly-up.  It was when I moved to Las Vegas that I was diagnosed as having bubble-boy allergies.  The severe headaches and cysts were keeping me in misery, and I was put on allergy shots for the next six years…..this after two futile operations back East without even testing for allergies and two more operations in Las Vegas.  I worked both at the Sahara showroom AND the Stratosphere (pre-opening) full time and made bank to make up for the losses of those previous years.  I learned that the world when confronted by the truth always looked the other way and offered trite solutions to complex problems because they really didn’t want anyone to know anything that could take their corrupt advantage away.  I learned that living in the now was the most important thing to understand.   My past was unchangeable, the future not here yet.  I began to understand the wisdom of the past leading to what was the “now” and the inevitability of what could only be, based on choices that I made. 

When I was 45 years-old I had been working at the Tropicana in Las Vegas and ran audio for the Folies Bergere and then after 3 years completely revamped and operated their Convention Services Technical Department.  After much turmoil from the past, I would marry a woman that I knew for over 24 years and had her band booked many times in Atlantic City at the Taj Mahal and other places.  The irony was that her band would have played for my first wedding but they weren’t available, but I did book them for my brother’s first wedding……her family was from a place 20 minutes from my New Jersey childhood home….I met her in Las Vegas at the Riviera lounge one night..…so it is indeed a small world.  A few years later an emergency operation was done on my skull to stop infection from reaching my brain and holes were drilled into the area above my eyes to drain the poison, like I needed two holes in my head.  Obviously, it worked. I watched as my mother died at age 67.   I learned that the number of people I could really trust, I could count on one hand, as my father predicted and warned me 30 years earlier.  I never gave up on myself.

When I was 50 years-old I planned a big birthday bash and made out the invitations with a picture of a man in a wheel chair on an IV, and being tended to by a nurse.  Little did I know that I would be in a hospital fighting for my life because of an emergency operation for a spinal infection.  I did in fact flat line and die, but was given a choice to fight and come back to the pain and bittersweet experiences of life, and I took it, despite the painless beauty of that afterworld experience.  The nerve damage disabled me but I took this as just another challenge that life has doled out for me since I was that beaten-up child.  I learned that love does truly conquer all and the love I had for my wife brought me back to the land of the living so that I could tell her and others that I was alright on that “other side.”  Despite the best efforts of the doctors and the hospital, I survived and checked myself out after 5 weeks in intensive care.  I also learned “patient do thy own research” and don’t trust “practitioners.”  Irony upon irony was that I had already written a Near Death Experience in my novel 10 years earlier that paralleled my real experience.  I learned to laugh at death, to embrace life’s preciousness and I allowed the epiphany of living, in its own right, to saturate my every action.  I finally published my novel, I opened a restaurant with my brother, and I took chances without fear of the consequences.  I was finally free to be who I always was and dared to do things without fear and was supported by those who cared without judgment of success or failure.

 

Now I have now turned 55 years-old and I am happy to be alive despite the paralyzation and pain from the surgeries and I know that life itself is all that counts.  There is much more to my life than these highlights, there is no describing the passion, the intense work and rewarding outcomes, the dreams that became reality and the dreams that still live on.  It is the how that is much more important than the what I have done.  There is no great secret to how to live your life other than to survive and make lemonade from lemons.  Those of weak minds do not survive and cannot be stable unless they begin to realize- this is it, this is not a rehearsal.  You get one chance and only one chance, so why care about what anyone else thinks?   I have learned that relying on pure hope without the effort of one’s self is an invitation for disaster, but in the overall human existence, it is the singular most powerful emotion that brings us the strength to face another day, then another, and then another.

Now on the day of the First of November, I’ll raise a glass for my diabetic-ridden ass, to drink to the thoughts on my special birth-day of celebrating my life, my wife, and for my parent’s sacrifice to have brought me into this world, and lastly for the suffering and sacrifice to all those who are brave enough to have offspring in this world of unknowns. To my nieces and nephews and to all others, I leave you with this: Do what makes you happy and in the words of Joseph Campbell, “always follow your bliss.”  Anything less and you have no one else to blame for your misery.  Accept the pain and deal with inevitable and then rejoice for your existence every day.

 

WAR BETWEEN THE STATES

Let me begin by saying that this will not go over well with most people but it’s not like I’m going to stop writing this article. Be forewarned and leave the premises now if you don’t want to get your blood pressure up.

Canada and Mexico are governed by Socialism in principle and in fact.  We share huge natural borders with them and there has never been a declared war with either.  We, the United States (USA) have something in common with the former United Soviet Socialist Republic (USSR).  We are – as they were – a union of individual states that came together as a united republic.  Canada and Mexico have much more in common with the old USSR than we do in the Socialistic governing, but yet we bear no ill will or chastise and berate them for it as we did, and do still to the original land of Mother Russia.  What does this mean?  Well, to begin with we have demonized the word socialism as evil and Un-American, yet we collect Social Security, receive social Medicare, have social services, and churches practice socialism every time they feed or clothe the homeless.  Now we practice business socialism in buying toxic mortgage-backed bonds from banks. I’m pretty much sick of people screaming about free markets and unfettered capitalism as the cure for all ill, as it pretty much brought us to the bankruptcy of today. 

Now, I’m not going to go where you think I am with this article.   The ideology of right and left has so polarized this nation that we are at a point where less than 8 to 10 percent of the citizens decide who is President, and there never is a clear mandate.  There will never be a rectification of these extreme views and I am sick to death of hearing the Fox News vs CNN; O’Reilly vs CBS; right vs left; good vs evil; McCain vs Obama; black vs white; Pro-Life vs Pro-Choice. You name it, I’m sick of hearing about this divisiveness and vociferous vocalizing from friends, family, and media.  Here’s what I propose we eventually do.

We do what the USSR did but in a more palatable way.  Let’s divide the states by 2 or some equitable arrangement and those who would want liberal government and would move to those states to achieve their ends and those who would want a right-wing government have the same option.  Let’s go back to some sort of Pre-Civil war borders (A Mason-Dixon line of politics) but include the newer states to even the two republics and create a sandwich of sanity and reality between two Socialist countries, Canada and Mexico.  Separate Presidents, Congresses, and laws would be created along with a new capital, but we would share Military, Social Security, Medicare and other Federal services for ten years after which we can hopefully completely separate and leave each other to our collective political wants and desires.

Now the right can rant and the liberal can liberate and all of you can shut the hell up and we get on with enjoying our short lives. 

Damn, I’m sorry for having to write this but enough is enough and we are no longer a United States are we?  Let’s break up and find ourselves where we want to be instead of destroying ourselves from the inside out.

I’m ready for being happy and living a great life without all this crap, are you?   I say let those who would be right, be right and those who would be left, be left-figuratively, literally, and locationally.

 Anybody got a better idea?

 MONEY, IT’S A HIT…………………

NOTE: I was originally going to sequel last week’s political blog with a solution.  This week’s financial meltdown has put that on hold.

This week an icon of rock music died of cancer.  Richard Wright the keyboardist, singer and songwriter from the sixties group Pink Floyd, a musical group that created the incredible album “Dark Side of the Moon” that stood at #1 for over 15 years on the pop charts; an album that probably ranks as one the all-time works of that era that still today stays as relevant and politically strong as when it was released in 1974.

I bring this up not as a eulogy, but as an introduction to the nation’s and world’s financial near-collapse and the things we take for granted that someday we lose without the ability to “fix” or avoid.

The illusion of control is control for most and they are secure with it.  We look to our governments to become mommy and daddy, to make the big bad boogie men go away.  We do not have a clue as to how fragile economies are, much like our lives on this planet.  We hand over control and trust politicians to guide us through life, even though politicians are the most untrustable creatures on the face of the earth.  The divisiveness of modern politics is so emotional and cruel that their campaigns focus on fear to drive you-the cattle-to herd to where they want you to go.  A cattle prod of fear and emotion is the best weapon ever devised as logic always takes a back seat to that ignorance and wrong-headed decisions made under the influence of fear.

We have allowed this “republic” to become far beyond the “military-industrial complex” of the Eisenhower age.  We are now a quasi-Fascist/industry-socialist/forcibly religious prisoners of our own fear.  The meltdown of the financial systems stems from the repeal of the Glass-Steagal Act with the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act and the loosening and eliminating of regulation at a time when computer trading and incredible computer speed allowed derivatives and exotic financial instruments to seek and plunder pennies on dollars for millions per day. 

It gets worse. The current fiasco is not just Freddie and Fannie; it is the massive amount of CDO’s or mortgage-backed securities that were a derivative invented by Goldman Saks whose CEO at the time was Hank Paulson.  This is squarely what is causing the meltdown. It is the lack of being able to price these CDO’s that has caused the run on the investment banks that bought billions of dollars of them.  It is the deregulation (again Greenspan) that allowed these financial instruments that were based on ‘home values never going down’ that is the root cause.  Paul Volcker, the previous Fed Chairman warned of this deregulation at that time but no one listened.  Those CDO’s are now illiquid and the ‘shorts’ have gone after those investment banks that hold these securities to make massive amounts of money while they bring these institutions down.  I warned of this many months ago. This is not just about donkeys and elephants.

 (See- https://onlymoments.wordpress.com/2008/06/14/slaves-to-the-free-market/ )

CDO’s should have never been allowed to be created.  Remember Greenspan’s 1% interest rate meant investment banks needed more return on their money.  Goldman’s CDO’s allowed the high returns that made them millions until the builders jacked up prices (my wife worked for one and they raised a house that cost 275,000 to 500,000 and then to 750,000 as the rates went lower) and then when FUBAR Greenspan made a speech to Congress (I heard it at with my own ears at the time) telling everyone to buy into a 3-Year ARM, then 6 months later began to raise rates, the obvious happened.  People had bought too much house at too little interest. Speculative investors bought in to the ‘home values never going down’ myth and expected big dollars in flipping…….but I will tell you this much; I know of many families out in the street right now because they have lost jobs the same time as their mortgage rates doubled.  It is a crisis, and it’s not about minorities, these are middle class heart of America people that are homeless, broke, or moving into apartments because they lost their house.  You may not have sympathy for them, but for the grace of God there walks us all.

Mommy and Daddy are gone and we are left with who to blame.  Look in the mirror.  We let it happen, we allowed these greedy imaginative thieves to plunder us on the high seas of finance.  Bailout?  For who?  For the banks, not you. That would be socialism.  We are a nation of suffering a terminal emotional dysfunctional illusion.  Rallying around a flag proclaiming to be the best at everything, to be God’s chosen country is the last gasp of holding on by our fingernails.  This is far from over for the American Public.  The ramifications will be long-lasting and damaging for ‘Main Street.’

There is hope, but we will probably be much too afraid to take the chances.  If I could ‘short’ American attention span, I’d be a trillioniare…….Now you see how easy it can be done, if there was a market for it.

The sun will rise tomorrow, but the world will change with or without you. Control is an illusion we hold close …but as the storm hits…….

“I got mine Jack keep your hands off my stack……………………………but if you ask them for a rise it’s no surprise they’re giving none away, away, away, away”

 

   In my recollection, there has never been such a slew of misinformation (more than likely due to the ease of accessibility to misinform by the internet) in a Presidential election than this one.  I’ve must have sent out over 150 Snopes.com corrections of the same 2 items in less than 2 months.  Smearing is at an all time high, now.  And why is that?  We have a black candidate, we have a religious female on the other side and really the other two don’t matter.   Does that make sense?  Yes it does, if you look at what America really is and not what “it could be.”  Republicans have dominated the political halls for the majority of the last 200 years in both Congress and the Chief Executive posts.  I have heard hysterics from people with ethnicities of Russian, European, Irish, English, and that are now, whether rightfully or not as I don’t agree with it, classified as Caucasian, in regards to a black president.  (I love one particular man who in anger claims he’s Ukrainian not Russian and on top of that he is the biggest bigot and emailer of bogus information, and gets personal and nasty when he’s painted in a corner.  The irony is he and his family may end up in a Manzanar-like prison if we get into a war with Russia.) I am trying to keep this blog non-partisan for a reason, but for the subject that it explores, it is difficult as there is only one black candidate and those who hate him will accuse me of one-way opinion and those who are for him will accuse me of not backing him.  I can’t win so I don’t care.  Here’s the issue- Issues are not the issue-fear of Democrats, fear of the world ending, fear of a black uprising is all I hear.  I heard the same crap with Kerry, Gore, Clinton, Johnson, Kennedy, and every Democratic nominee there ever was.  I’m tired of it but it is to be expected when you understand the roots of the good old US of A.

The Mayflower Pilgrims were religious outcasts from England.  They were considered overzealous and “too religious” for England’s Protestant rulers. Imagine that-too zealous! Predominantly white settlers followed and formed present day New England, New York and adjacent areas.

The Dutch traders made slavery a lucrative business for the English, Spanish, and French pioneer settlers particularly of the South by purchasing prisoners of warring African tribes and selling them free labor for the cotton and tobacco fields.  (The beginning of outsourcing for Europe)  We fought a revolutionary war with England first helped by the French, and then 100 years later, the more devastating Civil War (or War Between the States) that to this day brands an imprint of discrimination that remains to this day in our Southern states, but not exclusively.   That war’s main impetus was to end slavery and merge the states into a Union.  Those roots run deep and as one knows, a paper being signed isn’t going to eradicate hate and disdain.

We are a country with a heritage of misfits, religious fanatics, psychotics, murderers, and our real founding of this country is based on mass genocide of the Native American.  So what else would one expect with a heritage like that?  Make no mistake; the majority of the emotion of this election is a black man becoming a leader of one of the most racist countries in the world.  Now, there are those who say, “No I’m a Republican, I vote for conservative Republicans.”   So then, why are you voting for a “Maverick” that wants to change the last eight years of conservatism at its finest?  If the Republican candidate was black, do you really think they would win?  I don’t.  I think it would be a Democratic landslide if the ticket was lily white. 

Obama anticipated this as he is a very smart human being, and registered over 11 million new voters, mostly young and unprejudiced.  It may or may not be enough.  Regardless, the “Great Divide” in this country is no longer the Rocky Mountains; it is the philosophical and racial differences that show the Civil War was never over.  It goes on in the minds of those who have, and those who have not, and those who have forgotten where they’ve come from and point fingers and talk about “free markets” and induce fear veiled by attacks on those “Democrats” but really mean, “The Sheriff is a Nig…” to quote the movie “Blazing Saddles.”  I’m tired of the shit flinging.  Stick to the issues and leave the fantasy for MILF’s for Desperate Housewives.  VP’s do practically nothing, so it’s supposed to be McCain vs Obama, the top of the ticket and if you have to precede everything you say with “I’ve always been honest” or “I am true patriot” then you’re lying according to the latest research on human nature so let’s get on with it and discuss issues.

Next Blog-I have a solution for all of this.