Trust in the ghetto

Bob Marley knew growing up in Trench Town (the ghetto) that on the street BMW stood for Break My Windows. So, when he was successful enough he said No, I think BMW stands for Bob Marley and The Wailers and he bought one. He never locked it. Everyone knew it was his car. His windows were never broken.

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Star Dog Champion

I stood outside of the phone booth at Franklin and Highland (not there anymore), it was late. My new friend was making a call to the dark dark side to see if he could acquire “something”. We went back to his apartment and he played this album by a band from Seattle called Mother Love Bone. It really put the hook in me. The rock music scene by then had become SO corporate. This new-ish sound was so refreshing and REAL. I should have known. But I didn’t. Looking back now the music scene was ripe for a complete hostile takeover. But it was still so strong. The metal scene in LA that I had grown to dislike so much was like King Kong. Big and unbeatable. I really championed this new band and then BOOM the singer (Andrew Wood) died. I thought it was over like a match in a dark room. Just a flash. But it wasn’t over it was the beginning. Next thing I hear that moves me is some strange band called Nirvana. The first time I heard them was on KXLU Los Angeles 88.9 FM and I said WTF is this?? In 6 months I saw King Kong (the LA music scene) fall to its knees. It was like someone had dropped a bomb. It was so fast and it spread like wild fire. The monstrous LA rock scene was leveled with one punch, and by the time it hit the ground, not a single person was watching or listening. The truth and strength of the Seattle movement was HEAVY and its success was a surprise to everyone. It seems like those who created that magic may have had to pay a price. Every one of the singers is dead now. Andrew Wood, Kurt Cobain, Layne Stanley, Chris Cornell. Eddie Vedder from San Diego kind of replaced Andrew Wood if you know your history. He’s the last one. But of course he was not from Seattle. Andrew Wood was Chris Cornell’s roommate before all the “success.” Careful with that fire, friends, or at least always be aware of which way the flame is pointing.

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Let there be light

When the apartment manager showed me the place he said the hall light switch was broken and would be replaced. It didn’t really happen. The next step would be me writing a letter and putting it in his “work order mail box” and then wait until he sent someone to fix it and then sit and watch them fix it. Seemed like a lot of wasted time so I was at “the hardware store” and I bought a new switch for 98 cents. I grew up blue collar so it’s not an issue. I went home replaced it in about 5 minutes and surprise. No light. I got out a stool, got up and unscrewed the BRAND NEW light fixture and then heard the voice of god…again. “The light bulb is burned out fool.”

believe it or not

I really couldn’t believe it. On a tour of Europe in 2007, there had been whispers that our opening band (from Texas) were Nazis. As I watched them, it became clear that it was possible. I was confused. The band I was playing guitar for had a Jewish drummer born in Iran, a Mexican-Irish bass player and an American Indian singer who occasionally wore a dress on stage. It made me uncomfortable: like we or I was saying it was okay.

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I talked to the leader of our band, who also seemed upset, but said and felt that there was nothing he could do since the promoter put the tour together without any consent from our camp.

There is a giant anti-Nazi thing in Germany. Especially in the punk rock scene. The second or third show into the gig, someone was selling these pins. I had never seen something like this before. I mean, I grew up in a very self-segregated community, but Nazis were something I just read about in school or saw on TV. I bought the pin and wore it on my jacket for the entire tour and the next two.

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Whenever I returned to America, I would take it off and put it in a drawer thinking it had no place here. But sadly, this month I have considered breaking it back out. I still can’t believe it.

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The Architecture of Indecision

Everyone knows what’s behind the door… subconsciously, at least. But it takes the free thinker or the bravery of the artist to push the door open for all to see. There’s a price, of course. Just ask Galileo (the world is round).

But once the door is open, after the artist has paid the price, everyone goes inside as if the door had always been open.

  1. Go through the open door.
  1. How do you know the open door does not lead to the same place you think the locked door is keeping you from?
  1. Maybe the room you’re in was only meant to be a hallway.

 

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Photo by: Susan Overberger

Karma

In 1964, my father went to the World’s Fair in New York. I’m guessing it was one of his last outings as a single man. He was a smoker. He quit many, many years later and is one of the few people I know that has pulled that off. He did it cold turkey and my mother says he did not speak for three days. My father says if he gets diagnosed with a life-threatening disease, he’ll take up smoking again.

While at the World’s Fair, he bought one souvenir: an ashtray.

He eventually married my mother and had children. He put the ashtray away thinking the little kids running around the house would surely break it.

When I was 12 years old, we moved to a better part of town into a bigger house. I didn’t want to move. My sister said she was going to stay in the old house and live in the attic. My parents said that would be okay. So I said I also was going to live in the attic of our old house and they said, “Absolutely not.” That entire summer, I rode my bicycle two hours to our old neighborhood every day.

It started to get strange.

I would just be standing in the street, waiting for the neighbor kids to come out and play. They would all go in for lunch and I would hang out alone again. As it got dark, I would ride my bicycle back to our new neighborhood.

One day my father announced to the family that the children were all old enough now and he was going to put out his ashtray from the 1964 World’s Fair in New York. The next day, I got up off the couch to go to the kitchen and hit my hip on the table with the ashtray. The ashtray jumped off the table and smashed into several pieces. My father came into the room. I said, “Do you think we can glue it back together?” He said he didn’t think so, picked up the pieces and tossed them in the trash. That was it.

This is going to sound dramatic and I don’t mean it to, but later in life, when I’ve thought about life and death or the couple of times I thought I was really close to the flame, I’ve thought about that ashtray. It’s like some kind of ghost. My father has long since stopped smoking and if I ever said anything about it, he and my mother would both say, “We have too much crap anyway. You’re gonna need a giant dumpster when we die.”

But that ashtray is haunting me. When I’m in surgery in a doctor’s office. When someone crashes their car into mine. And sometimes at night.

Yes, I was just a kid. Yes, my father doesn’t care and yes, it’s just a thing. But today I bought him a replacement ashtray from the 1964 World’s Fair on eBay.

Karmic debt paid.

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