Author Archive

Response to my mother’s email, “How was Glen Campbell?”

February 24, 2012
It was simultaneously beautiful and awful. He is far more along in the disease than I, or most people, expected. It was very emotional to watch. He looked, and for the most part sounded fantastic, but they had to keep space between songs very short because if he tried to talk, banter, tell stories, he couldn’t get them out correctly nor follow them to conclusion. Being an entertainer, he rolled with the punches very well, but he was clearly confused, although never frustrated or embarrassed.
 
Musically, there were teleprompters all along the stage, but he still got some words mixed up here and there. His voice was still really good and strong, though. Again, he rolled with it. The most interesting thing was when he would play guitar – he could still take these elaborate, intricate, fast guitar solos, much of it improvised, when he wanted. The memory for guitar was amazing to see and I think amazed the audience most. When he wasn’t dealing with words, he gave the impression that no matter how bad the disease gets, he’ll be able to play giutar.
 
His band included 3 of his children, which was also equally sweet and sad (they all seemed to be late 20′s early 30′s). They opened the show and were featured at certain parts. They helped to express what this means to Glen and their family. I’m sure his daughter will be a star in her own right. She was gorgeous and played banjo amazingly and sang well, too. 
 
All in all, it was heavy, but something I’m glad I saw (and am sure I’ll never see again). The audience was appreciative and respectful, not patronizing. It was also full of press people and Boston muckamucks. My seats were incredible. Needlesstosay, Randi and I both needed a drink immediately afterwards. It had you on edge the entire time because you didn’t know how or what he was going to do and you could see everyone and himself really trying their best to keep it smooth.
 
I can’t believe how courageous this guy is. Everyone appreciated the unique effort for something like this and he really did sound great. To be human, and all the strange things we have to deal with, is such a scary and mysterious thing.
 
mwp   

The Amusement Park

June 25, 2011

I live directly behind an old amusement park. It is still a fully functioning amusement park, but old in the classic sense of Ferris wheels, friend dough, balloons, knocking down milk bottles… It always seemed a sad twist of fate that I was to be born and raised in this spot. I am an only child and this is the house that was my grandparent’s before my grandfather died of lung cancer when I was five and my grandmother was taken to a nursing home shortly thereafter. The doctors diagnosed her with some form of dementia that left her with unusually rosy cheeks and a permanent, glassy smile. There was a vacancy and yet childlike sparkle in her eyes and they found their way in my memory to the same spot where all the smiling faces at the amusement park lived.

For the last ten years of my grandfather’s life, he operated the tilt-a-whirl. He had been a welder at a local machine shop for nearly forty years upon returning from a brief and uneventful stint in France during World War II. He was an excellent welder and was responsible for all of the latticed steel trash cans around the town, in addition to countless other things that nobody noticed. He knew many of the lifers at the park and was welcomed in with an easy job to fill his remaining days. It was perfect for him – he sat on a stool all day, could smoke as much as he liked and walked through a small portion of the chain-link fence at the south end of the park to spend his half-hour lunch break at home, most often forgoing anything to eat to sit in the bathroom for the entire thirty minutes. He came from a different time. He was happy to have a home, happy to have a job and never once cursed this life that landed him directly behind an amusement park.

It is strange when you grow up next to something that is such a “special occasion” venue for most folks. Like any child, when I was young I was enamored by the lights, sounds and prizes. Walking through with my grandfather was the widest my eyes would ever get. I believe my parents saw the park as a nuisance and a brightly lit, loud, circular metaphor that they were stuck in a life that seemed to merely echo their parent’s. Perhaps on some deeper level, the park served to constantly remind them of fleeting happiness, paying for smiles and the mechanized performance of it all, but that is only my inference. But while my grandfather was still around, I saw the park as mainly two things – a giant nightlight that I could look at out my window in the summer months and feel a calming, omnipresent watchfulness, and a place to watch my grandfather as a member of the old guard in town. I could almost see him and all his friends still as teenagers.

When my grandfather died, I didn’t go to the park for the next three summers and was generally angry when it would start up and happy when it would close down. All of my cycles of grief were directed at and through the amusement park, with most of it settling in an existential stalemate of “what’s the point of it all” as I glared at the screaming kids from my judging distance beyond the fence. I cursed the way the park never changed and how my family never changed and how I feared that I would never change. But by the time I was 8, I had all but exhausted my frustrations that the park had come to embody and attended a friend’s birthday party there. Although I was a bit quiet in the beginning, I had a good time.

The summer I turned thirteen I was ordered to get job, but the wages I earned were mine to keep. I figured the park was my easiest option, as I could walk there, it was seasonal and they seemed to have no qualms about hiring young kids. Although it had only been a few years, there seemed to be no one left from my grandfather’s clique and the park had a very subtle undercurrent of adolescent sexual tension that was enough to keep me coming back. My first summer was spent doing any number of jobs – running errands for the office staff, cleaning the bathrooms, literally shoveling shit from the horses of the mounted police and manning the lost and found. The lost and found was my least favorite of my duties, as the endless stream of tear-stained faces and distraught children and parents was brutal. Most often the cases of theft, the cynicism of years before (and soon to follow) was not within me, and I took no pleasure in seeing an anticipated day of pure fun destroyed. I am not sure if I began to become desensitized to it by the end of the summer, but by the final couple of weeks, I had seen it all and had submitted to my helplessness.

I made a few friends that summer, but they were all a couple of years older than me, which seemed like a decade within that delicate span of years. I knew that if I was caught smoking I would be fired, but by late August with the nights growing cooler and the nervous anticipation of school drawing in, a few of us would gather by that southern fence and smoke cheap cigarettes under the bright white moon that pulled close to 11pm. My best friend was a fifteen-year old named Dustin. He lived about fifteen minutes from the park and rode his dirtbike to work. Dustin lived right next to the train tracks, and I felt that gave us a spiritual connection in that we lived not only next to a noisy distraction, but also a thing that brought a constant ebb and flow of people passing through life in our midst. I thought he was a good looking kid with short, oily black hair and a face that always looked like an even mixture of tanned from the sun, sandblasted with dirt from his bike and tobacco-stained from growing up in a small house full of chain smokers. He had a cool name and the girls seemed to like him, although he seemed to act a little younger than his age.

I almost had a girlfriend that summer, too. Again, the girls were older, but they really seemed to gravitate towards the safe sweetness of a boy on the cusp of puberty as opposed to a young wolf on the hunt. They liked to balance the danger of dabbling with the wolves in the evening and confiding with the lamb in the day time. It didn’t stop me from developing an enormous crush on a particularly nurturing soul named Amber. She had dirty blond hair that matched a voice that sounded as though it had been gently roughed up with a light gauge sand paper. She was probably embarrassed by the size of her breasts, and the attention they commanded, but they were the most amazing things I had ever seen and had me to work right on time every day.

Developing that unique infatuation only special to summers, by mid-August we both felt, but never spoke of, that we may actually be falling in love. It all built perfectly to one night at a party in the woods where we made out in the shadows just beyond the firelight. She was a little drunk and I was nervous, yet newly confident enough to not let the moment slip away. Part of me knew that she was doing it to be nice, but I also knew that she really wanted to, even though typical teenage social parameters (age) would never allow us to be an item come school. The following Monday at work, she made sure to take me aside and clarify a bit about our kiss. I understood and things for the remainder of the season were strictly cordial and a little awkward. I should have been frustrated, but I liked her too much. She awakened something in me and there can only be one person like that in your life.

I continued to work at the park for the next four summers in between my high school years, including the one following my narrow graduation. Every season brought a new group of friends and romances, boredom and amusement, provided mainly by those seeking amusement. An endless stream of helium balloons accidentally let loose, or forgotten, into the air. I would watch every one drift and dance sadly into the cloudless sky. It seemed that there were never any clouds when these balloons cascaded into my line of vision, so I was forced to watch their entire journey up into another world that would eventually crush them. Too far away to witness their ultimate demise, it was implicitly understood once they left our limited vision.

It saddened me to watch these objects forced, strictly by their nature, into an atmosphere that could no longer support them. I rooted for each and every one to be caught by a fortunate breeze to land far away in the hand of another child, but I knew this would never be the case. Such realizations frustrated me and left me to submit to life’s cruelty. I would wonder, “If I had a gun, would I have the guts to shoot the balloon and put it out of its misery?” But I do not think I could, on the off, one-in-a-million chance that it would survive its ascension. And finally, there is the fact that the balloon is unaware of the certain doom it faces and merely moves along as its existence dictates. In that sense, the balloon is no different from anyone around me – we are all slowly pulled towards something and ultimately unaware of how or when this will all end. These ruminations would carry me for hours as I unknowingly pushed the same half-dollar sized red and green buttons of the tilt-a-whirl that my grandfather had.

Tears In My Beard

April 14, 2011

I’ve got tears in my beard over you

It’s been near on a year since we’re through

The twine that helped bind us as one

Grew frayed, gave way, we were done

 

It took weeks for my sheets to lose

The perfume that you always overuse

In the night as I turn to your side

I’d smell, I’d remember and I’d cry

 

I’ve got tears in my beard over you

I take blame for the pain you’ve been through

To be close to a man like me

Is no place for a woman so sweet

 

Billy (Now That You’re Gone)

April 13, 2011

Who’s an ageless man with never a worry

He’s a joke, he’s a joke

A glide in the stride and money for the ferry

He’s a joke, he’s a joke

 

And we’d always meet his back with a slap

That’s the same back that never heard the laughs

Oh, Billy, we drink to your song

But who’ll pay the bill now that you’re gone?

 

With a wink to the young and a word to the old

He’s a joke, he’s a joke

If it wasn’t for his daddy, he’d never been buried

He’s a joke, he’s a joke

 

And we’d always meet his back with a slap

That’s the same back that never heard the laughs

Oh, Billy, we drink to your song

But who’ll pay the bill now that you’re gone?

 

We raised a glass to your illness

And fell silent on the love that you gave

So many now drink to your honor

They’re the same folks who piss on your grave

 

He’s finally at rest from a hole in the chest

Now he’s gone, he is gone

A toast to the man both caring and careless

Now he’s gone, he is gone

 

And we’d always meet his back with a slap

That’s the same back that never heard the laughs

Oh, Billy, we drink to your song

But who’ll pay the bill now that you’re gone?

 

Some Sorta Lonesome

April 13, 2011

I think it starts when I was barely out the car seat

Could hardly see above the dash

Saturdays take the trash out to the landfill

Then hardware store with my old dad

On the road with my old dad

 

And I’ve always seemed to feel some sorta lonesome

Never could stop at just one glass

The road has always been my special lady

And I spend up all my money on the gas

I spend my little money on the gas

 

My family lived on all the woods that I could play in

Never had a dog, but had two cats

I spent my youth lost amongst the pine trees

In army boots and a cowboy hat

Army boots and a cowboy hat

 

And I’ve always seemed to feel some sorta lonesome

Never could stop at just one glass

The road has always been my special lady

And I spend up all my money on the gas

I spend my little money on the gas

 

This kind of life just came and found me

Snuck on in, took me away

I may have been born in Boston, Massachusetts

With a different accent, but the story’s still the same

 

And I’ve always seemed to feel some sorta lonesome

Never could stop at just one glass

The road has always been my special lady

And I spend up all my money on the gas

I spend my little money on the gas

 

Providence Love Story

April 13, 2011

Golden blonde and baby blue

How I’ll remember you

And those days of drinking in the sun

Wide-eyed and twenty-two

I fell so hard for you

Never knew that love could come and go

And it grows too big to sometimes hold

 

From Maine to Providence to New Orleans

New Haven to Cambridge and the coast between

To be young and in love and fed by your dreams

The paint may run dry, but it leaves such a pretty scene

 

Followed you down Thayer Street

Wickenden summer heat

India Point as stars ran cross the sky

You’d have to buy my booze

I thought I’d never loose

This love I thought I’d never find

But you knew it was just a passing time

 

From Maine to Providence to New Orleans

New Haven to Cambridge and the coast between

To be young and in love and fed by your dreams

The paint may run dry, but it leaves such a pretty scene

 

I’d take my grandma’s car

Down south just after dark

And leave when the sun was coming up

Those were machine shop days

I’d write on my lunch break

My hands so full of cuts and grease

Smudged words of longing and release

 

Golden blonde baby blue

How I’ll remember you

And those days of drinking in the sun

 

The Cobbler

March 19, 2011

It was barely eight am

I just had my toast and jam

When along the windowsill there came a tap

I was taken by surprise

At the sight before my eyes

It was Mr. Burly Squirrel in a tweed suit

 

He said, “I don’t mean to barge in

But I’m in a little pinch

I was supposed to meet that finch from your backyard

We were calling it a date

I couldn’t hardly wait

And now it seems I’ve lost my lucky shoes

Oh, and what am I to do?”

 

“Have you seen where they have gone?

I last saw them on the lawn

They were drying from a coat of waterproof

In an hour I cam back

Nearly had a heart attack

When all that there remained was their imprint”

 

“Now I think that something’s up

It might be that old woodchuck

Or maybe those two jerks from the woodpile

Either way I’ve got it bad

They were the only pair I had

Do you think you may have something just my size?

Oh, what a day to be alive!”

 

Now I thought there for awhile

And I gave a little smile

How often does a squirrel come ask for shoes?

I’d like to help him out

But my head was full of clouds

How could I oblige this strange request?

 

But the weather in my brain

Soon dried up all the rain

The sky it was so clear and baby blue

And I knew just what to do

I grabbed my wallet and some glue

A razorblade, a hammer and some nails

And I started cobbling up a pair

 

When the last lace was in place

The look upon his face

There are no words in squirrel for gratitude

But I thought I saw a tear

As he grinned from ear to ear

And pulled those works of art onto his feet

 

He said, “You truly are a friend

If ever I can lend

Anything to you that’d be of use

You cut up your billfold…”

I said, “There was nothing for it to hold”

And wished him the best of luck upon his date

For which he was now an hour late

 

When he finally did arrive

The look in her bird eye

Could have set that whole back yard into a blaze

So he made up an excuse

She said, “You must be confused

If you think that I would buy that load of shit”

 

He said, “Babe, you’ve got it wrong”

And he sang out his whole song

And when he was all done she saw those shoes

She could even tweet

As she gazed upon his feet

And saw my handiwork done for the love

Oh, and they praised the lord above!

 

Sweet Marie

March 19, 2011

Think I was twelve years old

And she may have been thirteen

Back in the deepest woods

We went where no one could see

Now I had kissed some girls

But there was plenty still new to me

So then she threw me down and went to town

And when she was done I couldn’t breathe

 

A few years had gone by

But she never left my mind

If I saw a few pine needles

I’d smile and give a sigh

Now I had kissed some girls

And there was little now new to me

But when she threw me down and went to town

Like a blind man, I now could see

 

Now I wouldn’t call it love

But caring in the same way

Without any words

She used her mouth

To say what she wanted to say

 

Now it was twenty years ago

But still feels like yesterday

The smell of those old maples

And looking up to watch them sway

Now I have loved some girls

Even got one to marry me

But when she threw me down and went to town

It was nothing like sweet Marie

Yeah, when she threw me down and went to town

Still nothing like sweet Marie

 

The Tooth and The Razor

March 19, 2011

I am the ambassador’s nightmare

I am the hysterical son

I am the elected unofficial

I am the one to outrun

Five times I’ve been caught in the trailer

And five times they have put me in jail

Last time for a look at the savior

Last time you will see me out here

 

I am the impossible sailor

I am the drunkest one

I am the tooth and the razor

I am the beast on the hunt

 

Lie down and commit to a prayer

Reach deep in your pockets for gold

Think hard on the life you were given

Look back at the lies you were told

And I am here to coddle your anger

I am here to answer your call

Think not of me as a fortune of failure

Think of me as justice undone

 

I am the impossible sailor

I am the drunkest one

I am the tooth and the razor

I am the beast on the hunt

 

I am the ambassador’s nightmare

I am the hysterical son

I am the elected unofficial

I am the one to outrun

Five times I’ve been caught in the trailer

And five times they have put me in jail

Last time for a look at the savior

Last time you will see me out here

 

I am the impossible sailor

I am the drunkest one

I am the tooth and the razor

I am the beast on the hunt

 

Ballad of an Asshole

March 19, 2011

I’ve known a lot of horny women in my life

I’ve known a lot of horny women in my life

I’ve known a lot of horny women in my life

None of them as horny as you

 

I’ve known a lot of angry women in my life

I’ve known a lot of angry women in my life

Drop of a hat they’ll drop a knuckle down or two (right on you)

None of them as angry as you

 

I’ve known a lot of jealous women in my life

I’ve known a lot of jealous women in my life

The fits they’d throw would leave me black and blue

None of them as jealous as you

 

I’ve known some good cooking women in my life

I’ve known some good cooking women in my life

Stuff me like a goose and that is true

None of them was a better cook than you

 

I’ve known some big-breasted women in my life

I’ve known some big-breasted women in my life

Some so big I didn’t know what to do

None of them had a sweeter pair than you

 

I’ve known some big-hearted women in my life

I’ve known some big-hearted women in my life

Give so much to others and take so few

None of them had a bigger heart than you

 

I’ve known a lot of horny women in my life

I’ve known a lot of horny women in my life

I’ve known a lot of horny women in my life

None of them as horny as you

None of them was a better cook than you

None of them had a sweeter pair than you

None of them had a bigger heart than you

 


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