Saturday, October 18, 2014

This is Not A Dog Park, Bitch.

As I write this, I cannot stress the importance of your input, advice and or criticism. So please add your fill.....


I'm a curmudgeon. it's no secret, folks. I feel it to the marrow, I fly the flag. I have had intermittent lucid hours of what others would calm calmness or clarity, or god forbid, happiness throughout the years and I love a good laugh just like everyone else. I would be much less of a man without humor. But my thought provoked reality normally teeters towards glass half empty, glass full of curdled milk or glass nowhere to be found. Years of therapy have uncovered the truth under my litany of excuses for it. The bitterness is not a pill swallowed for comfort or attention. Bitter is a large part of my personality. Oh, well.

So with that said it makes the next few paragraphs easy to write, consequences be damned.

Disclaimer: I like most dogs. I had a dog for 15 years that I think about more than often. I wish my living situation was one that would allow me to still have one, but it is not. So I'm stuck with these cats who shit indoors and keep me up at night. yet I still love them. This I am capable of admitting. As for canines, I think some have more positive features than the humans that take care of them. I think, just like humans, there are good dogs and bad dogs, that may or may not have been born that way. I encountered bad people and their horrible dogs today(one in particular).

I took my son to a local park at his request this afternoon. One we frequent, as it is close and he seems to like it. It is a park in the lovely idyllic-to-a-fault Chestnut Hill section of Philadelphia. Lots of privilege, blue bloods and young couples with babies who can't quite handle anything more than a quiet street and a well deserved parking space. It is also a well known spot for people to bring their dogs and let them go nuts with balls, sticks and squirrels. However....nowhere does a sign exist proclaiming that this is allowed or not. So the dogs run free. That is the legality of it I assume.

We were doing our recreational business as well, using the stomp rockets that so many kids from ages 7-12 are enjoying these days. We were using fallen branches as markers to measure the length of how far each rocket flew after we "stomp launched" it. Now we already knew that dogs have smaller brains than humans. A dog sees a stick and he wants it, especially if he and his master had been playing fetch 30 or 40 yards away. My son doesn't like dogs because he has been pestered, chased and maybe threatened several times in his life by dogs, and each and every time it was a dog in the pit bull terrier family (what a surprise, a pit bull..Come at me pit bull owners, I'd be happy to argue the merits of any other breed vs. yours).

That said, a little brown terrier came out of nowhere at high speed and wanted the stick in my son's hand and started chasing him. My son was frightened and I shouted at him to drop the stick but he didn't hear me. After about 20-30 seconds he dropped the stick and the dog grabbed it and ran. The dog only wanted the stick. My son sat down and cried, scared and exasperated, complaining about the dog. When a dog is chasing a kid, 30 seconds is a lifetime.

My problem is not with the dog. My problem is that the owner who was 30 yards away, never moved, never told his dog to stop...just plain didn't do a fucking thing and the dog ran back towards him with the stick. The guy never said a word, never approached and never apologized. Now I don't know about you, but if it were my dog, leashed or unleashed and it started chasing a kid, I would have sprinted towards it and called it off or immediately leashed it or dragged it off by its collar until there was enough comfortable distance between the dog and the child. I would have felt awful and apologized profusely to the child and his or her parents.

But this guy failed to do any of that. So I yelled "Who's goddamn dog is this?" and he raised his hand as his dog returned to the fray 30 yards away. As I marinated in the glow of his stupidity, I put a hand around my ear and in mocking fashion yelled "What's that you say? Are you apologizing?" Just then his female friend or neighbor whom (I kid you not, was wearing her baby in a Bjorn) yelled back at me..."This is a dog park, Go home!"

Now this is just one of the thousands of reasons my faith in humanity pales in comparison to yours. This is not a dog park bitch. And if that dog had knocked my child over..if its paws or snout had come anywhere close to connecting to my son's person, I would have done everything in my power to maim that canine with my fist or foot. I would have beat it with the stick it ripped from my son's hand until it walked funny and shit blood for a week. I would do anything to protect him. And if you didn't have a baby attached to you, I would have headbutted some sense into you until you could whistle through the holes in your teeth line, and then called the cops on the owner of that dog and on myself for losing my patience.

But instead, I just walked away with my flustered son. I did go home. And I thought about how you would feel if a dog lunged at your papoose or was chasing your fat ass around while a small brained pit bull was nipping at your babie's booties.

I wondered as a curmudgeon, how much time I should devote to your stupidity and selfishness, and to the actions of your pal, the dog's owner. I wondered if I should write about it and ask anyone who reads it for perspective, rather than a pat on the back.

So that is what I'm doing.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

To "Wax" Philosophic

Here we are about 10-12 years into a movement and I've decided to join. Call me current. As a matter of fact, I've been a proper slave to it for several months now.Total rookie shit, I know. It's getting to be ri-goddamn-diculous... I'm talking about the resurgence of vinyl, LPs, wax tracks, good old records, man. I'm hooked and well past the point of no return. I'm head down in the stacks, nose to the crates, belly to the bin. I'm on craigslist digitally underlining a made up map in the garage sale section on friday nights, I'm trolling my hood every Saturday morning, scoping out brilliantly colored slightly neon signs affixed to telephone poles. Looking for arrows and numbers. Elbowing out the elderly on their silly little quests for decorative and/or commemorative plates and old curtains.  I'm everywhere I can be without cloning myself, looking for these goddamn records, leaving my bored kid in the car(windows cracked half open,people) Thrift stores, church sales..no garage or stoop or flea market is off limits. Hi. My name is Seano and I'm a curbaholic.


However.......I was a cassette guy right out of the  gates in 1980 when I joined the Columbia House 6 tapes for a penny club. I still remember the six because I still hear the tape hiss in my head from playing them to death on my GE tape recorder and later Panasonic Boom Box.That's right, Boom Box is capitalized. And yes, I never bought those two cassettes at full price and avoided prosecution, most likely by providing them with an assumed name like Ben Dover or Hugh. G. Rection.

They were Billy Squier-Don't Say No, Van Halen I, Led Zeppelin II, Led Zeppelin IV, AC/DC-Highway To Hell and The Doors-Greatest Hits. These were my go-tos, until I was old enough to ride my bike down to the Music City shop in Perinton Square Mall, with a couple weeks worth of lawn mowing money and add to my collection. Cassettes fit easily into my Cannondale bright yellow bike seat bag. I couldn't have imagined riding one handed on a 10 speed all the way back up that hill with a slippery bag of albums under my other arms. Cassettes were portable and in another year, fit perfectly in my Panasonic silver Walkman knock off. (Just like the brand Kleenex became the word for all tissues, Walkman became the word for all portable cassette players, at least in idyllic upstate NY).

My parents had a stereo, and a bunch of albums housed in an old wooden icebox in our funky little farmhouse, including Sgt. Peppers, Physical Graffiti, Big Brother and the Holding Company's Cheap Thrills and a host of others. I remember those iconic covers, wanting to know who R. Crumb was, wanting to see the pictures behind the brownstone windows on the gatefold, wanting to research all of the so called Paul-is-dead symbolism within the lineup...

I don't remember my parents having music on as much as I do at home. Nor do most of the busy people I know. My father was always working in the yard or ensconced in some art project in the barn, my mother was always taking my sister to some dance recital. I wouldn't call either of them influences for my musical ability or obsession. To the both of them, music was something you put on during conversation, when they had company, and the kids were in bed. But those albums, those covers, the big bassy warm sound that rumbled out of my Dad's big brown cloth covered speakers, that's what stuck with me. I used to pull a chair up to the ice box and play those albums, years before the ease of cassettes and blank TDKs and recording arena rock tracks off of the radio took over my listening experience, thus began to chip away at my general attention span.

Now, decades, and 2k cds in boxes and 40k mp3s later, I've returned. You'll find many vinyl appreciation blogs and youtube videos out there, and naysayers vs. pundits in every corner of the globe, volleying beliefs, insults and scientific studies that approve or disprove vinyl's sonic superiority. Which at the end of the day is all very relative, case study by case study, with speaker quality, vinyl thickness, speaker placement, tube amplification, 1300 dollar turntables vs. white ear buds all coming up for consideration.

I don't care about any of that bullshit. I found that over the past ten years or so, music listening became something I patched into my lifestyle, squeezed into a road trip big or small, affixed to my ears while I worked or played. It became invisible, fleeting and as shallow as the next track scrolled through with infinite ease. It became something to acquire, peruse and discard or file away in a dead hollow cloud nobody can see or figure out the location of. Smaller, Faster, not even there, but will come when you call it, when you will it to appear, for your own personal function or form.

Multitasking. Some call it a revelation. I call it a killer. Why not stretch your mind and body to their limits? You'll get it done sooner, faster. sign off on it. On to the next. Bitch slap your bullet points, bully your bucket list, bring your " A" game to all of the games people play and watch all of your critical synapses struggle against each other in a cage match to the death. I'm not good at it, but surely fell/fall victim/champion to it as we all have.

So, I'm going to strip it back down, I'm going to indent my lovely couch with my lovely ass a moment or two after I split a gatefold open, engulfed with a waft of mildew and memories slide that black circle out of that worn sleeve, and plunk it down on my 1979 Pioneer PL-512 turntable. I'm going to drop that arm, and look at the cover and the liner notes, while I listen. And while I do that, besides partaking in an adult beverage, I'm going to do fuck all else.

I'm going to repeat this heroic, primitive series of events often, while some of you are bluetoothing while you compare organic tomatoes, shuffling while you bodycycle. I'm going to be here enjoying the crackle of the dust in the odd groove, the risk of skip, the warm bruise of the bass blanket. And these are my roots, these are the steps I must retrace. This is the emotion I must court, date and score with.

However....A vinyl nerd I am not. I have adhered to some personal guidelines after several run ins with hipsters of a previously unseen level of pretense and snobbery. I have arrived at auctions or musty garages to find too many an archaeologist of wax in my way, and I in theirs.  My rules are as follows:

1) Unless an album is on my holy grail vinyl trail, I'm not spending more than 8 dollars on it. This means I don't buy new releases on vinyl. I'm not spending 35 dollars on a new pair of Levis let alone a new album.

2) I don't buy re-releases on vinyl. Sure I really want that Stooges-Fun House I saw the other day. It may or may not sound better than the original, but I want the original. Call me an antiquer, people.If the original is found, see #1.

3) If at all possible, I prefer to "find" vinyl by accident, rather than go to a record store that has something that I covet nicely displayed. Record stores are down the list for me and mostly a last resort behind suburban garage sales(I say suburban because 9 out of 10 times a suburbanite just wants to get rid of that stack of albums his wife keeps loudly reminding him to get rid of, and therefore has no idea/or the disposable income not to care about what he has.), thrift stores in the middle of nowhere(the further away from the city, the better) and finally estate sales where the word HOARDER has been mentioned in the listing.

It really is about finding a bargain NOT for their collector/resale value but so I can buy MORE albums with the wad which I've allotted for myself. I plan on giving my son everything I have in my will with a STRONG addendum that if he doesn't share the passion when he is of age he may not give away or sell my collection but must leave it for an heir that is sure to appreciate it. So who cares if its a first pressing, or still sealed or has a NM on a listing, fuck that! Its about the music! Besides, that crazy notion is reserved for my 4000 comic books.

I would love to hear some/any stories of your happy accidents on your own personal vinyl acquisitive journeys.

Mine are posted on instagram.

Thanks to Derek and Derek and Alex for fueling this fire.

Monday, August 04, 2014

Disgustipated

Oh Beyonce, you're barely human. You're above us all, like a glittering pinata that none of the ghettotastic swingle ladies could ever break open with a thick swing. Your golden, diamond encrusted horn, you toot so frequently. Your faux empowerment jingles are merely just a front for your whack tracks of ebonic prestige....Your latest obliteration of the English language should give all welfare mothers even more hope...



It stay Yoncé, oh Yoncé in that lingerie
On that chardonnay, it’s gonna touch down like a runway
I’m Texas forever like Bun B, and I’m redboned yo
I’m really rit like Donjae, I’m camo in here yo
These thots can’t clock me nowadays
You wish I was your pound cake
Boy you know I look good as fuck
You wish I was your babymomma
Want me to come around and give you good karma, but no
We escalate, up in this bitch like elevators
Of course sometimes shit go down
When it’s a billion dollars on an elevator
Of course sometimes shit go down
When it’s a billion dollars on an elevator
(Ha, ha, God damn, God damn, God damn)


Ah yes. Such poetry, such selflessness and endearment, such word wizardry. Why not just cut to the chase and embalm yourself and your deity of a husband with gold bullion, pepper your dermises with rhinestones and rubies and put yourself on display in impenetrable, untaggable glass cases and travel the worlds worst neighborhoods, like the false idols of a new generation. Put yourself on a real tour, Bey. The needy can line up like a fucking church healing pray to you in hopes of you showering them with the gifts of wisdom and strength needed to break the endless circle of poverty and join the hood exodus in favor of a better life, with a white picket fence and a private yacht for all.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Sebastian 2001-2014

We lost our good friend and rescue cat Sebastian on Tuesday. It's been a week of heartbreak and reflection and a bit of regret. The apartment really doesnt seem the same without him. There are tumbleweeds of his hair in their allotted corners and crumbs of his strewn litter align certain kitchen crevices. There's no whine like interruption from the foot of my bed to be fed at 330 in the morning. There's no trotting down the stairs(not all of the way, but enough) to greet me every single time we entered, as he splayed himself out on a step of his choice, belly up for a rub. When my son is with his mom next week, it should be as empty and depressing as I expect it to be here, without my pal Sebastian.

Sebastian or "Sebbie" as Hud often called him was a 12 year old orange tabby crumpled up into a dirty sad corner of a cage at the Philadelphia SPCA last May when we first saw him. Older rescues are a much "harder sell" at the pound and Sebastian's description affixed to the cage announced that previous owners had to get rid of him after "allergy problems". Really? After 12 years of having him? What a crime. Well, we put an end to his tenure there and brought him home.

I had always been a dog person. I mean, we had cats growing up in an old farmhouse, but they were outdoor cats.I don't believe I bonded with them as much as I did the dogs we had.City Cat, Pansy and Snowball all met their various demises as often times outdoor cats do, by desertion, a friend's motorcycle and a neighborhood attack. So it was onto a life of dogs for me. My longtime companion was a wonderful golden retriever named Blarney(no, not the purple dinosaur) who was my confidant and fellow traveler for 15.5 years. I lost him in 2003 and had no interest in getting another dog for two reasons. I was living in NYC at the time and my fiance(later my wife, then ex wife) was sort of a crazy cat lady.

She had a cat named Ruby who was the real love of her life, a persnickety old tabby who didn't like anything but being left alone. This fed my perception of cats as animals who never really bonded to their human as dogs do, never followed them around, never went on hikes or bike rides with them, never partook in the fierce pleasure of sticking their head out of a moving vehicle at 65 miles an hour, etc. I didn't think there was hope for us, my fiance or Ruby.

Little did I know. We started spotting a stray emaciated orange tabby  scrounging and begging in the connected back yards of our neighbors apartment. My ex started feeding it and soon after, asked my opinion on whether we should keep it or not...and that's when Marmalade entered our lives and changed my opinion on cats forever. Marmalade was instantly interested in everything in that little apartment quickly attached to us and even gave friendship with Ruby a try. Ruby was far from a kitten, and prone to hiding under the bed in full brood mode when Marmalade was holding court. That wouldn't change much over the years, but when Marm wasn't around Ruby would crawl into your lap. Who knows whether it was for the selfish reason of needing to be stroked or an attempt at love of some sort. In the next year, we rescued several animals, an old beagle we named Gilligan(but couldn't keep), an orange tabby who had just been struck by a car and was found bleeding and broken in our hallway and I even had a go at rescuing some feral kittens nesting in a window well, but as soon as I got them out they scattered in a flurry of hissing and screeching. I was becoming an animal rights person, a borderline activist ...who still loved a good steak of course.

We moved to San Francisco in the early fall of 2004 and ended up driving across the country....with two cats in cages in the back seat of a big Ford Explorer. Marmalade would gaze out panicked and wide eyed, but mostly scared silent for the 9 state scurry. Ruby howled and cursed in a dull roar for the entirety of our trip. Those two cats figured out a way to coexist, through that move and our stay in San Francisco and the birth of our son. Another cross country trip back east to Philly in 2007 led to a a new house and then Ruby's tragic death from cancer in 2009. Clifford, a large, mostly white (with orange accents) cat then joined the fold. We split up in 2010 and the ex got custody of the cats . I guess I was a cat person as well now, because it really sucked not having a cat around for the first time in almost 10 years.

I lasted three years without a pet until that great day last May when we brought Sebastian home. Sebastian was diagnosed with a UTI in May of this year, He had been sluggish and hitting the litter box repetitively to no avail. When I took him in to get looked at, they were able to "express" urine. This is a fancy way of saying to squeeze pee out of him.They prescribed antibiotics and pain killers and he was back to waking me up at odd hours for food in no time.  When it happened again a week
ago...he couldn't really move. I tried to find his bladder and couldn't, I gave him the same drugs as he was given in may hoping they would take. They didn't. I took him into a clinic in South Philly after the SPCA said that he was "blocked" and they couldn't help him. When a cat is blocked, they most likely have formed crystals in their urinary tract and cant pee. This becomes potentially fatal when the trapped urine re enters the blood stream and shuts the kidneys down.

Sebastian died in my arms after I made the decision to have him put down. I just could not afford the treatment or surgery needed to keep him around. There is tremendous guilt on my part, as the only real reason he's not here is that I couldn't afford to help him. To add to my sadness, my landlord refused to allow me to bury him in the back yard, adjacent to the window sill where he kept a close, but fairly content eye on the chirping birds and restless squirrels alive in the tree cover around us. I kept poor Sebastian in a box next to the gatorade and made a decision to take him out into the woods and bury him under a tree with a chorus of chirping summer birds. It is there where he rests for eternity. Goodbye Sebastian, thanks for making me enjoy being a cat person. We will miss you.





Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Thank You, # Fu Manchu

Namaste and horns up. Headbanging is my yoga. Headbanging is fitness within the confines of a loose noodle. Thrashing my head about like it is plastic and bobbling between a young baseball fan's fingers is my cross fit. Closest to mine own highest calling, this hallowed act of rupturing neck vessels and loosening the bloody bearings in the cranial gears is all for the sake of escape. I am 45 years old. It hurts, but it's worth it. We do what we gotta do. Amidst a festival of decibel.

Some like curling up with a kitten, a two buck chuck and a Dan Brown book. Some like running for straight, endless miles in shiny shorts,then having to run back to square and falsely embrace the monotonous scenery in reverse. Some sit criss cross apple sauce (can't say Indian Style any more) in meditative pose and contemplate silence as a diversion to answering real questions about themselves in real time, while covert flatulence escapes to smother concentration. Some golf, some tend gardens, watching in stealth from bay windows for any stray jart or whiffle ball to crankily collect that may breach the trophy green. Some are born perfect, remain unscathed and empty.

I prefer shaking my brain from the foundations of its cerebral jello mold and re arranging my tainted train of thought. It's like a two hour lobotomy in the presence of overpriced beer and infinite watts.

The whole idea of headbanging IS to smother concentration. And to come out shaken clear and free of all blood clots, brain fuzz, P.T.A. faux pas, aftermaths of yelling at old polaroids, thrown furniture, exposed internet histories...Yet... the head is an air hammer pounding nails made of synchronized, bowel buffering riffs in ringing gnarly succession. Those riffs get knocked back in a riptide line of hairy robotic bows and flips offered up by a crusty cadre of Captains of cavemen, idiots of industry. The band responds by a dodge and a parry and a killstroke emitted from glittering ax and crunchy Celestion cacophony.  The riffs are a reminder (not a reflection) of my goddamn day. I don't bang my head to remember. I bang my head to forget. I pay in advance, and I buy the merch, motherfucker. Forget the crippling responsibility of a single dad's world. Forget the asshat in the LeSabre next to you on the way to the show blaring biggie in selfish omnipresent ghetto noise pollution. Forget the dude who didn't cut your bagel all the way through. Forget Joe the Plummer. Forget to remember. Forget to reset. Not to regret.

I get myself to the place where thwips of hair are painting my chin with sweat. Chafing, erasing.
Grey hairs unplucked, popping out like feathers from a strut-tastic chicken, dripping in the mist of licks.
Hair like tentacles bent on revenge, wrapped up in riffs so dirty, they're clean. Bang 'em if you got 'em. heads and hairs, that is....

We do what we gotta do to get to the godhead, to exhume redemption, to rock on and radiate.

Thank you Fu Manchu for Inspiration, perspiration and palpitation.