Sunday, March 16, 2014

Wisdom from Carlos Mencia

From what I remember of  Mencia's standup routing describing an interview he participated in for inclusion in a political discussion roundtable concerning immigration reform.

Interviewer: So, what is your angle?

Mencia: Upright

Interviewer: I mean, where are you coming from?

Mencia: My home. Why don't you just be man enough to ask me the question you want to ask me?

Interviewer: Ok, are a Republican or a Democrat?

Mencia: Neither

Interviewer: What do you mean?

Mencia: Well, I consider myself reasonably intelligent and I don't like being half right all the time.

Interviewer: Okay, Are you conservative or liberal?

Mencia: Yes.

Interviewer: What do you mean by that?

Mencia: I have a teen age daughter. When it comes to her I am very conservative - Bible believing, bible belt buckle, thou shalt not, fire and brimstone, truth, good vs evil all the way.
But with your daughter - I am liberal.

Mencia was not asked to be on the panel to discuss immigration reform.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

U2 The Joshua Tree, Led Zeppelin IV, Ted Nugent The Great White Buffalo, Jim Hendrix Electric Lady Land, Beatles, Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club, Pink Floyd, Dark Side of the Moon.

All crap compared to what I just heard. I mean, the first four tracks of The Joshua Tree would be a tour de force, if, released as an EP. The rest of the album just kind of fizzles out. Led Zeppelin is, well Robert Plant screaming and Jimmy Page fumbling through riffs in some kind of substance altered state. Dark Side of the Moon, good, pretty good in a black-lit tapestried room with those big Princess Leia ear phones on either side of one's head. The Beatles, maybe I am too young. Never liked the Beatles.

Joe Bonamassa's Dust Bowl, is perhaps the best recording I think I have ever heard. Okay, I'll go ahead and say it. It IS the best all-around recorded album ever digitized and sold in those impossible-to-get-open, ostensibly thief-proof land fill fillers.

Think Stevie Ray Vaugn with a little more precision, bless his soul.
Think Joe Satriani with less technician and more emotion.
Think BB King (Bonamossa opened for BB King when just 8 years old)
Think honey riffs floating off rosewood.

That's Joe Bonomossa.

Here's the deal. Bonamossa doesn't skimp on the music. You'll get close to a full hour of music for your $18.00. Anyone remember when cassettes and vinyl cost you $5.99 and every song was good? Now you pay $20 for a couple of hits and the rest has been picked up off the studio floor, dusted off and slapped on the end. And even then, you get maybe 30 minutes of music for your bill. Not with this guy.

Every song on Dust Bowl is a keeper. Bonamossa floats from grungy yet precise delta blues, lyrical with his instrument and earthy with his lyrics like in Black Lung Heartache; to soulful, slow, beautifully precise yet stocked with emotion, in Last Matador of Bayonne; to whimsical, almost country blues in a duet with John Hiatt in Tennessee Plates and his duet with Vince Gill, yes Vince Gill, in My Rowena. It's all good. And that's not bad for walking into Barnes and Noble, picking it up without ever hearing one track (our B&N did away with their headphone song sample system), slapping down my $20 and listening to it all the way home.

I know where my allowance is going for the next few paychecks...I am going to own, on CD, something I can hold, every thing he's ever recorded.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Failure Misunderstood

On my first day back on the job, at my old work place, before going half crazy and attempting to "live off the land", I was greeted by an old friend. It was not, however, the warm greeting I had hoped for.

"That whole farming thing didn't work out did it?"

At this point along my journey to reentering the rat-race, I was unprepared to answer this kind of greeting.

9 months later, after a serendipitous chain of unfortunate events, I find myself back in my old job as the department manager and, as a result, find myself speaking with many of my old manager coworkers in this, my new-old sphere of influence.

Friday was my first big "meeting" with many of these former, and once again, co workers. Again I heard many of the same comments on my return...."Farming thing didn't work out huh?" was the ubiquitous response to meeting me again for the first time. There was another, "I told you, you were crazy!"

And it struck me that many in our American society regard trying something and failing in that endeavor is somehow less honorable or sane than having never tried at all.

So let's break it down. Was my too o'er hasty "retirement" a failure?

If success in our attempt at full time farming is measured in dollars earned or in longevity in the endeavor, or a stubborn refusal to quit, then I would have to say yes to this question. We failed to do what we set out to do.

If success in our attempt at full time farming, meant we learned some very important things...

1) we learned just how little we can live on.
2) we learned that we really enjoyed the experience, over all, and I had a year of spending every day with my wife. Something I may never have again.
3) we learned that dreams can be realized and that it is okay if they are not what we expect.
4) we learned that failure is less tragic than "failing to try" something new for wont of courage
5) we learned that living life in a line is much more difficult than it sounds, especially when life offers you a circle back to try again.

then I would have to say that our attempt at full time farming was an overwhelming success!

Why is the failure almost always held to be more shameful than the failure to try? In the last three years, we've been called crazy; we've been called failures; we've been accused of going back on our word, one person actually chastising me for not letting my Yes be yes and my No be no. We've met people, who for forty or more years have never left the town they were born in; who can't comprehend the insignificance of social status, income, stuff. Its as if, they are still in terror of this mythical permanent record we've all been told about since grade school.

How do I measure or success or failure over the last 4 years? I guess I would have to say, it was neither a failure or a success; or to muddy the waters even more, we were successful in our failures even in our failure of achieving success. The greatest success derived from our failure is the conquering of the fear of trying something, just because you want to try something new.

Success then, is the acceptance of whatever comes one's way, either from the failure or the success one achieves.