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SHATTERED FAITH NET

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THE FORWARD BY YVONNE PERRY

The thought processes of some people don‘t always allow for the possibility that the round peg may fit the square hole if the square hole is big enough.

Round peg, square hole? That’s me! My eyes perked up when I read that comment by Nick Oliva, and I knew I was going to enjoy reading the rest of this book.
Nick. Me. Neither of us fit the expected mold and both of us have little use for the practices and dogmatic beliefs imposed upon society by organized religions. All my life, I have butted heads with people who find it difficult to relate with me because I have an alternate viewpoint due to the mystical experiences I’ve had.

Nick chose to remove himself from the abuse of controlling religious leaders. I was “removed” from religion in one fell swoop when the universe (spirit, my soul, God, higher self, or whatever you want to call it) booted me out of the church, its teachings, my marriage, my sense of security, and the belief system that I had tenaciously clung to for forty years. I took what was left of my paranormal ass and went to the corner of my pigeon hole to reevaluate what was working in my life and what wasn’t. There was a lot of garbage to sort through as I examined each piece of black-robed ideology and researched modern Christianity back to its roots.

Nick nailed it when he wrote, “I‘m trying to get people to understand that they are responsible for their actions, not―the Lord.” That’s what I’ve been trying to help people understand for the past ten years. When my life fell apart, I soon discovered that it was up to me—not God, the church, or anyone else—to put it back together. What a difference that discovery has made for me. But, try explaining that to folks who have a rigid indoctrinated view of how life and death should operate.

As one who has had two near-death experiences (NDE) and lived to write a book about them, I was very interested to read what Nick had to say about his own near death experience, which occurred when his heart stopped beating for fourteen seconds as he was literally trying to take a shit. You laughed, I heard you! And, you’ll laugh at the wit, logic, and satire Nick Oliva uses to battle the philosophies of the Atheists and Christians who harshly responded to his posts in an online forum. You may also feel angry when you read the chapter titled “The Real Story of the Christian Bible, or that Black Book You’re Holding Isn’t What You Think It Is.” Seventeen hundred years has made a big difference in the “sacred” text!

I can understand Nick’s hesitancy to write about his near-death experience. Maybe that is why he left it for the last course—like a sweet dessert for this meat-heavy meal.

Death is not something most people want to talk about and yet it is something every one of us will ultimately have to face. I’ve never met any Near Death Experiencer who doesn’t tell me that their experience changed his or her life.

The author’s account of his other-world experience gives us encouragement that our fears about what lies beyond the grave are merely preconceived notions passed from one generation to the next. Those, who like Nick and myself, that have experienced an NDE, may find a metaphysical view of life and death more in line with the laws that are written in their hearts rather than on tablets of stone or in the New Times Roman, black leather, gold-leafed, silky-pages of the King James Version.

I’m glad to have found a friend who is brave enough to write his story and approach the fallacies of religion. I hope this book will open some eyes that have been nailed shut like the coffin they avoid peering into. I know of nothing that is deader than someone who will not allow room to question his or her beliefs. As Nick writes, “To not acknowledge the fact that one could be wrong is to show the greatest ignorance to life itself.” Yet, when it comes to discussing anything spiritual that does involve Jesus Christ, Christianity, or religion, Nick’s reason and logic will probably hit a brick wall—especially when presented to fundamentalists who want to legislate their staunch morals through political leaders.

You may think that I hate those who fill the church pews on Sunday or preach the “not-so-good-news.” I mean, what’s so good about being told that you’re a sinner bound for hell and that you must believe a certain way to avoid damnation? I don’t hate anyone, but I do hate the behavior of some. Like Nick, I can accept anyone who treats others with love and respect. As long as he or she doesn’t try to convert me to his or her way of thinking, it really doesn‘t matter to me what he or she believes or does—as long as he or she does no harm to anyone else in the process.

“If we all could keep our fear, greed, and pride at bay we could accomplish great things in the course of human history.”…Just imagine how the world would change if we took Nick’s words to heart and started practicing them.

Shattered Faith: To Believe or Not To Believe truly is a gift to humanity. If only we would heed the advice this book contains. I invite you to put down your weapon (fear), stop hating those you don‘t understand, and prepare to be tolerant as you delve into this gift.

Yvonne Perry

Author of RIGHT TO RECOVER: Winning the Political and Religious Wars Over Stem Cell Research in America and MORE THAN MEETS THE EYE: True Stories About Death, Dying, and Afterlife

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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.

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.

waterfall

Photo by Nick    View to a Thrill    Mt. Charleston

I sit and write as if the time is short
I take the time to listen to the waterfall’s echoes
Knowing that the water will cease for a dry summer
I race against that last drop
To capture its wisdom before it is absorbed into the earth
It enables my path to grounding the electric
to a place where it all began
to where I will go
to make the planet green
you gotta let go
you know……

images
5/27/09 by Nick Oliva ©2009 All Rights Reserved (Donner Party of 22)
 
As we the people of this great nation of Estados Unidos have toiled and scuffled with the politics of dancing for so many years, and endured the hopeless expectations that something or someone can show us the way to save our collective asses, I now propose with the help of my invisible friend, Babs, a proper solution.
 
The political parties of today are outmoded and archaic and I for one wish to propose a new party based on simple principles: The Far-Out Party
 
Now, membership in this party is free and expectations few. One does not have to be left, nor right and not centrist; but just Far-Out. Far-Out is beyond the boundaries of the selective few, a people’s movement of back to basics, because if you are Far-Out, then you’re not only on your way to being cool, but you’re already there, and really, would you rather be anywhere else? And who could ask for anymore then to be that Far-Out? What else could be better than to be completely Far-Out, because not only is that totally where it’s at if you’re really looking for it, but Far-Out is as Far-Out as one can get!
 
No need to be alienated by those Looney Lefties anymore, because you are just sooo Far-Out they can’t get to you.  No more Right Ring-a-Round the Collar Ridiculousness with those who watch Frost/Nixon over and over because they actually think he was totally innocent and an outstanding and great President. …And those nasty clinging Clintonian Centrists? Consider them carbuncles of constitutional constipation because you are now just Far-Out, in a great space with your own groove on and when you really get that Far-Out, can anyone really hurt you?  I’m mean; if you’re Far-Off you could fall off the end of the earth or even worse – be ex-communicated if you didn’t think you could fall off the side at the end of the ocean at least at one time. Those were the Dark ‘Far-Off’ Days of Yore, when Monks toiled to preserve remnants and wall-to-wall scrolls of the ancient past, and did so with great fervor and poetic license.
 
If you’re Far-In then you don’t have the room for a view, so you can’t order anything expressly but a Starbucks latte.
 
With the new Far-Out party, you don’t even have to bring the Iced tea to Boston Harbor; you don’t have to whistle Dixie or Trixie; Fort Henry, Sumter, or Dodge-Dix for that matter. You’re a Far-Out member for life, after all – you can’t get back to where you started when you’re really that Far-Out, and you certainly don’t need to get any higher in food chain of life, you’re already Out There – Far-Out There.
 
And now the two rules of the Far-Out Party:
Do unto me as you would to yourself (please!).
Don’t squeeze the Charmin.
 
Other than that, it’s all totally Far-Out from here on in. No frontier riding, pioneer arrow-laden, pissant urine-smelling ground crawlers with golden spurs can tell you what to do, where to do it, who to do it with, or why you’re doing it, because you are very much in the here and now….You are indeed now Far-Out …and have left the building. Thank you…thank you very much and I’ll be signing autographs in the lobby for twenty bucks a pop (and that’s Far-Out).

ROUND, ROUND, ROCKIN' ROBIN ROUND

ROUND, ROUND, ROBIN RUN AROUND........... PHOTO BY NICK OLIVA

The wheel is turning and you can’t slow down
You can’t let go and you can’t hold on
You can’t go back and you can’t stand still
If the thunder don’t get you then the lightning will

Won’t you try just a little bit harder
Couldn’t you try just a little bit more
Won’t you try just a little bit harder
Couldn’t you try just a little bit more

Round, round, Robin run around
Gotta get back where you belong
Little bit harder, just a little bit more
Little bit further than you gone before

Small wheel turning by the fire and rod
Big wheel turning by the grace of God
Every time that wheel turn round
Bound to cover just a little more ground

-Robert Hunter

 

 

vhs

The Fighting Poultry Clan…….

 
 
 

I was thinking about our old high school mascot, a male chicken, and the above image the basis for the name “The Poultry Clan” which was changed to the “The Fighting Clan” after I graduated and people call it “The Clan” for short. The word Clan actually means children in Gaelic. Now back then, no one really fixated on that moniker, as racist as it sounds, because Vineland, New Jersey was the center of the egg business.  The “Egg Auction Building” was a huge edifice on Delsea Drive and eggs were the town’s main export along with farm vegetables for many years.  I used to think about what impression an opposing football team might have taking on a team with a mere male bird of fowl for a mascot, but then Brison Manor (http://www.databasefootball.com/players/playerpage.htm?ilkid=MANORBRI01) came from a neighboring town of Bridgeton, and was a starter for the Denver Broncos for 8 years of a 10 year NFL career, and I faced him head to head, me being the smallest guy on the line.  We won that game, I rest my case.  My mind then began to wander to some memories of high school days and I decided to share a few chuckles and some serious thoughts as well. 

Way back in my freshman year I decided that I needed to take a typing class, never realizing how one day it would allow me to do such incredible things with a blank sheet of paper, to create universes of imagination.  My teacher at that time was very strict but also very pretty and young compared to my youthful age of 13.  I started in Kindergarten at age 4 as my birthday was right on the edge of allowability for that year, and so most everyone I knew was older than myself with a few exceptions.

Our recently married, pretty disciplinarian instructor in her twenties would usually wear mini-skirts and for some strange reason sit right next to me on my desk where our books and papers would normally be for typing exercises, and myself at that time having the Vulcan Dr. Spock’s hormonal equivalent levels of “Pon Farr” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amok_Time), it was impossible not to look at her legs  as they were inches from my eye level.  She was the ultimate S & M Queen in retrospect, but damn I learned how to type without looking at the keys!

Then my mind drifted forward to another cougarish teacher of English.  She was divorced, a hottie, and had that same type of personality as my typing instructor, only she was a bit mean and now I realize that was an extension of her defensiveness because ever male teacher in that high school must have hit on her.  I saw her many years later as she happened to be a cousin of one of my lifelong friends (I never knew that information at the time in high school) and I attended his summer party family reunion bash.  I saw her and I knew who she was instantly, but she had no idea who I was.  She had filled out from the slender figure of a twenty-something and was now middle-aged but still very attractive.  I bided my time and then confronted her.  It went something like this:

Me: “You don’t remember me do you?”

Her: “I can’t say that I do.”

Me: “I was in your English class my name is Nick Oliva and I have an old grudge to air out with you.”

Her: (Looking shocked and surprised) “Ah, okay let’s hear it.”

Me: “Well, we had to do a report on the Tale of Two Cities and you made us stand in front of the class and orally give that report, and you required us to speak for twenty minutes, which I thought was insane and the cause for many of the reports to be quite boring to say the least.”

Her: “Well, that’s it? That’s your beef?”

Me: “No, this is. When I did my report I reasoned that Madame LaFarge was NOT the evil person portrayed in the novel by Charles Dickens.  She was seeking revenge against the Evrèmondes, for the crimes a prior generation of the Evrèmonde family had committed and that included the deaths of her sister, father, and brother.  She was also a central figure in the support of the French Revolution.  My point was that if your family had atrocities committed against them and you lost your sister, father, and brother, you too would be seeking the same blood lusting revenge for their deaths and how could she be portrayed so evilly if she was a part of the French Revolution that changed the world?”

Her: “Well, that certainly was a good point, what did I say to that?”

Me: “You said, very interesting but it was only half the time you were supposed to speak” and I said to you, “well it was twice as good as any normal book report and you got pissed off.”

Her: “And how did I grade you?”

Me: “You grudgingly gave me a B.”

Her: “At least you got that!”

She then walked away and purposefully avoided me for the rest of the party.

The last story for this blog is a woman named Zoe Pappas.  Mrs. Pappas along with another English teacher Emily Morin) played a huge role in helping me to believe in myself and instilled a sense that my thought processes, though very unconforming, were on the right path.

It was my senior year and my Civics/History teacher, Mrs. Pappas, had an FBI agent come in (this was the fall of 1970) and explain what the FBI did and the history of the organization.  This was probably an attempt at “educating” young students that the FBI was their friend and to counteract their becoming reputation as a “police state” enforcement agency.  At that time the FBI was collecting names of political anti-Nixon citizens for a “blacklist” to try and deport unwanted contemporary thinkers. (Note: In 1972 the FBI attempted to force the deportation of “radical” John Lennon)  I let him drone on and on and then after he wasted 30 minutes of a 45 minute class, he asked if there were any questions.  Big mistake…..I raised my hand and asked, “So why does the FBI keep a list of people who are considered activists and free thinkers, and try to arrest and deport them?  You could hear a pin drop, and see students jaws drop along with the silence.  I thought I really went too far and that I was going to hear holy hell from Mrs. Pappas after he left.  The agent tried to avoid this issue with bullshit about their charter and investigative techniques and never did answer the question, as I expected.  He left and Mrs. Pappas came back to the front of her desk.  I really thought I was going to the principal’s office for this one, not that I cared at that point.  Mrs. Pappas began to speak of the importance of understanding how our government works and how we must be aware of what it does and then raised her arm and pointed her finger at me. I froze completely.  She then said “and Nick, your question was the best one I’ve heard anyone ask. ”

Well, thanks to teachers like her and a few others that encouraged my “twisted thought process” I gained the confidence to “be one traveler “ who took the other road, the long Dharma road that never ends, and now I understand the real difference a teacher with a free mind can make.