Thursday, December 27, 2012

Tuesday, August 28, 2012


Newsweek and Time herald it as "definitely something", this whatever it is, this, non-creedal boon of a tidy mind and quiet soul, available in convenient sizes, now without prescription, the very progenitor, an anti-hero most peculiar, the sheer, quivering membrane barring pseudo-intellectual from idiot savant, a Mickey's grenade with the pin pulled, hisses but never pops, all the while despised by some and disgusted by others, an equal opportunity offender, comforts the afflicted and afflicts the comfortable, to Machiavelli, some ask, could it be, suggestion, or sedition, who knows, it sure is fun while it lasts! O the thinkers, rulers, esteemed heads of state, how they all plead his audience, but yea, he will have none of it. Why? Because. Because why? Because, he finds no delight WHATSOEVER in those who entertain the musings of a Midwestern rube.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Afternoons with Doctor Dave

January 26, 1970

“We can expect snow to continue throughout the evening until way past your bedtime, but fear not, someone will be here to keep you company, in fact, we’re always here at WEXL Detroit.”

The view along Straub Boulevard is nothing spectacular but it’s easy, especially with snow trickling into soft glowing funnels beneath the street lights.

“In fact, I’ll be with you for another hour. In case we haven’t met I’m Dave, Dr. Dave Inman. The science freaks in the Channel Five weather room have advised us that snow showers will be heavy at times during the overnight hours, so you third-shifters and other nocturnals be the wiser. Overnight low is 23 and expect the flakes to back off around mid-morning tomorrow with about four inches to show for it. We may reach the freezing mark in late afternoon but 30 is a safe bet depending upon cloud cover. Winds are expected to be fairly calm until the front moves through then picking up, could cause some localized drifting in outlying areas. Well it may not be windy here yet but after a slew of important messages we’ll head to the windy city, got the brand new Chicago - that’s it, they’re just Chicago now, ready to roll, after these.”

Dave keeps both eyes out the window as he fades the mic and cues the ads, only looking away to take a hit off his chicory. Such serenity in the midst of this mad gone town. Chicory is not so warm anymore, maybe he should hire a maid, fat chance, all jocks work alone in this gig. FM is self-sustaining, so the suits say, only AM gets an engineer, besides, don’t you hippy types dig freedom wink-wink?

“Now in stores everywhere, pick yours up, tell ‘em the Doctor prescribes it exclusively on FM 98, here’s your first dose, we’re doin’ side three boys and girls, only on WEXL.”

As the organ grinds he tries to justify the dilemma, having really wanted to highlight “25 or 6 to 4” in the middle of that side but the view out the window is just too damn peaceful for making things complicated. Besides people seem to dig what we do here, ratings are usually single-digits since we went progressive, as we say, so the suits are happy and so we don’t rock the boat, just the town. Man what a trip, here it’s pretty much like college radio except with a paycheck. No more stuffing plump housewives’ feet into shoes at the mall for beer money.

The needle makes its way to the inside gutter and he pulls the mic into place, “That was the very latest from Chicago, now without the Transit Authority, they got told people, read your paper, while you’re reaching for it here’s even more news:  Mick, yes, that Mick, was levied a fine by UK authorities today for possession of cannabis.  People, take it from a Doctor, for it is written, the Eleventh Commandment, hear my words, sayeth, don’t get caught. Well since we’re already across the pond for a free lecture here’s Pink Floyd on WEXL.”

Doctor Dave does afternoons, 2-6, and gets a discretionary weekend slot which amounts to a theme show on Saturday mornings. Listeners write in (our phone doesn’t work, you illiterate slobs) suggested themes and tracks and they’re drawn on Friday afternoon by a different guest, usually an on-air personality, even from the TV station, although a couple times he got to have a performer stop by for the honor.  He tries to keep it mostly music but sharing the right kinda chutzpah with a local legend can go places you’d never dream.

He finishes out the night with Janis and then some southern group the boss asked him to do something with. It was bluesy but not elegant, not at all, but maybe we’ve been spoiled by Duane and Greg. Yeah, that’s it.

The new evening dude goes by Buzz Eldridge and it’s too hard to keep straight from that moon astronaut.

"What's the buzz, Buzz, hows them streets?"

“Uhh, don’t remember. How’d I get here?”

“I would imagine that you slid out of your mother’s hoochamawatcha.”

“And it was slippery as hell too. Be careful driving in that shit.”

“Hey man, this is the Motor City, which is precisely why I take a bus.”


Tall and lurching with dark hair down to his collar and a week’s beard, Dave strolls up Straub and takes a right for a few blocks, mindlessly taking in the gentle snow amidst a surprisingly un-busy downtown grid. No use waiting for the bus, almost there, and eventually he reaches a third floor flat with an unlocked door. He watches the news and half a game show and then gets up to peek out the window for a fleeting moment, he smells supper cooking in a nearby unit, and the couple upstairs is having a heated discussion about the toothpaste. Eventually he wanders into the kitchen to fetch a Michelob and a sandwich, only to realize that this is most definitely not his apartment.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

The Plight of Mann

Mann sat on a huge granite boulder near the shoreline, anxiously perplexed as he pondered his future. Sure he had built great cities, helped them find sustainable means of nourishment and even saved entire civilizations from catastrophe at times. But just as there had come a point where he was starting to need when she first appeared.

Having been consumed with various efforts of her own nearly halfway around the world, Hella had finally made it into Mann's eyesight one day when, once her own people were at peace she became curious what was beyond the horizon and started swimming. She is simply incredible, bronzed by the sun from years of hard toiling yet fair as ten thousand virgins. He knew right away that he would never look at life the same way again, for he daughters of mortals were simply too fragile. He would hurt them.

But Hella, her presence, how it threatened to change the game. They had exchanged yet a few awkward phrases, seeming to point out the obvious, yet they could hardly look each other in the eye. Oh how she made him ache.

Time passed and he saw her not, until one day the people cried out for help, and out of nowhere she appeared and lent a hand, just when all hope was about lost, their efforts multiplied way beyond what each could do alone.

As they walked by the shoreline sharing their amazement at this she took his hand and confessed, of her longings that kept her from resting. And so Mann and Hella became one, and the people rejoiced! After a time, they had a son.

They named him: Ache.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

love, beauty and sacrament


over misty tree-covered hills

a lone slide guitar 

played on the porch

stories and laughter

binding generations

last year’s shucked beans

taters and ham

horseshoes in the yard

home sweet home

nearer my god to thee

this land

is my land

Saturday, February 25, 2012


I've often said that I've been blessed beyond measure to be born late and still have both parents around for this long. As a newcomer into our family dynamic, with siblings in their teens, I was half a generation behind. It was the era of Nixon's Law and Order, where many Americans approaching their middle years felt out of touch with changing society. Before I started school my folks felt it best to move out into the country where it seems safer, more serene. I moved out at age 25 and then briefly again at 39 to get re-established in Ohio, but they are still there.

It's true, you can never (literally) go "back home" as it's a place that exists within. But for many years I could visit the surroundings and my folks, not perfect, just wonderful. At times I would have moments of acceptance as they age, that someday things would change, whatever that meant.

Just as I was returning from out of state things seemed to be happening rapidly. Dad seemed to be increasingly off-kilter in his decisions and behavior. Mom was understandably aggravated. For my part the anger hit first, and at one moment I actually shouted at him. We needed answers, so we took him to doctors over the winter and confirmed our suspicions. Alzheimer's.

This was a year ago, about the time I had a job offer at an office over an hour away. Mom said "you need to do this, we'll be just fine" and I knew she was right. Still, since then I don't think I've been able to spend more than 24 hours at a time in my hometown.

Last summer I finally had the means to digitize Dad's old home movies and videos. The former covered mainly the stuff I missed, the home I was born into but without really knowing first-hand. The latter began when I was in high school and continued for about ten years.

With the videos, it's easy at first to dismiss the seemingly endless footage of the yard, garden, flowers, and whatever else catches his eye, especially once he retired, since the stuff we tend to watch together are holidays and cookouts and such. But then, as I kept fumbling with the technology I noticed more of the "B" footage, and some of it, says more than I would have imagined.

Dad somehow captured the serenity, the essence, of what I knew as home. We were fortunate, the bills were paid, the pension was coming in and after retirement he got to spend his days doing "garage" projects in the winter and gardening in the warm months, things were so green and lush back then. When the fancy struck he would pick up the camcorder and wander about the yard, narrating at times, but not always. Sometimes you see a snow storm through the windows and can hear the goings on inside the house.

In a way, maybe it's a window into the soul of a man who's hard to read. But having been away a few years and realizing his strength was fading, it's hard to know what to think of that. These scenes are something I'll need to go back to for the rest of my life. It's a window to a special place, a place to which I never can return, but alas, I get to visit at times, precious times, the places, sounds and sights that made me and shaped me.

My earliest memories include weekend afternoon drives with Dad. I still love taking drives in the winter when daylight is scarce. Sometime during my kindergarten year I had a dream of one of those drives. We saw the gas fires at the refinery, maybe sit a few minutes watching planes at the airfield, places of wonder in a world that seemed enormous at the time. I would ask what things were and he would explain in a few words. There didn't need to be many words. Sometimes we'd go to the mall and Arby's. We explored the world around us. That was just right.

But in the dream, my minds eye floated out of the car and I was somehow watching it on a home movie screen, and suddenly an evening sunset cast shadows of our heads onto a colorless floor. Something within my tiny soul ached and I tried to reach for the shadows before they disappeared. But instead, I awoke.

Home is not a memory. It really is a place, more than just a zeitgeist, it lives as a coral reef, and life-enabling to the creatures that rely upon it.

So now, my concept of home is changing, younger generations taking on new roles, but with new rewards, let's not forget. We are an amazing group, full of vitality and laughter. But when we lose someone, or maybe just part of someone, honoring their life and contribution to yours and others is not a mental exercise, but it takes some realizations. Sometimes tough love, sometimes hard decisions, but other times...just looking for the love that's always been there.

Before I came back last month for Mom's birthday I got a call from Dad. He can't drive any more so he asked if I'd pick out a card saying such and such, so I did that on the way. The strength is gone but the things that matter most still are.

Honoring Dad comes down to living by his example. Do what you love, love what you do, help those who need it, and take time to rest, and wherever you are, enjoy the scenery.

This year will be replete with cookouts, laughs and times. But I just thought, it might be good to mix in an afternoon drive here and there, even, if there are only a few words.

Thursday, February 23, 2012


The autumn of 2009 was warm and gradual in southtown Kansas City. I rented a small house in a nice neighbourhood and got to spend most evenings propped up with pillows with a laptop running Linux, trying to solve a problem no one asked me to. I was supporting a small online bookseller that relied upon custom-built software to generate prices, and so one day I realise it could work so much efficiently in Java. 

So, I started porting it from VB to Java, each evening, on a laptop running Linux, next to a cracked-open window with a glass or beer or bourbon sitting on it.  That was back before Facebook games became lame or addictive, depending upon who you ask, and around then it would be time for friends to work on each other's farms. Eventually that game went absolutely nowhere but it fit the moment, along with local TV showing Star Trek TNG each weeknight.

Thanks to some down-home roots there will always be soup beans and ham pumping through these veins, but for the single male, a quarter-can of boiled SPAM in some Van Kamp's Pork N Beans does just fine, no kidding. Fills a bowl and then the soul. Sometimes a dab of cottage cheese would chase it well.

I can't say how long this went on, it was more of a clonal moment, a series of evenings making strides with the code, step by step, closer to a solution, chatting with friends along the way. As it turns out my motivation for doing the Java project was never clear, it just needed to happen.

As with all moments, they are just that, and they must end. This one gave way to a confusing set of events, the company changed hands, and along came one of the harshest winters I'd ever known - literally and figuratively. The ground was covered for weeks in foot-thick frozen snow, the city's prize walking trail rendered useless and I was stuck in that house with not enough work to keep a cat alive.

A few months before, I had pitched the Java version to the company owner and he was probably interested if it could be proven superior, then I would ask for a fee.  But then, I was realising my love for code there in that geeky bliss, and so the longer I kept it up the notion of a direct payoff grew less and less important.

As it turns out, just over a year later I got a real job that's soaked in code, not Java, but close enough.

Monday, January 23, 2012

say it

said it before
long ago
far away
chopping firewood
letting off steam


certain idiots
here and there
found it necessary
to take
the low road
trying my hatred


and maybe
of esteem
are hard
to swallow

say it?

can't say it


is better
to split
a sack
of shit.

and so

ages pass
find myself
of all places
theology school
driven by visions
as if
at the pulpit
that i grew up
only to push back
at a generation


despite best intentions
could not break
their mold
not listening
to young people
should be seen
not heard
their own
life story
often rehearsing
failures, regrets
confusing them with

say it?

can't say it


you just can't
with a
barking dog.

and then

baby boomers
too many changes
got to clamp down
one last desperate
white knuckled
choke hold
break these
commie punks

even as

some of them
on the same
they had
warned us
to avoid

say it?

can't say it


silence can be

and indifference
far more
than hatred

and so

time wounds
all heels

a bitch

will pay.