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August 12, 2007

Someone shouted, "There's a light up above"
Jimmy Dean

Comics 17
Click images for desktop size: "Untitled" by Marvel Comics
Riotously busy with packing and getting ready to move. Even with all the business certain things stand out. There are people here I will miss. Missing them makes me realize the other people in my life that I miss, mostly the people I'll never be able to see again. There's a lot of difference between saying goodbye to the living and to the dead.
You can never ever say goodbye to ghosts. Even when you think you've laid them to rest they live inside of you.
And that's good. What you are, and what I am, is partly the ghosts shaping you forcing you to see things you've ignored or denied.

I had an extra foster pup for the week. Just baby sitting. He made me laugh.
I still have a foster dog.. I'm at a loss as to what to do about her. She's so sweet and trusting. She really thinks that I'm her pack leader and she believes that I am her home.
Born To Be Loved X01 She also believes I am an idiot for not listening to her and for not doing what she tells me to do.
She really does think I am her home.
We have a week to resolve her plight.
She's suffered a lot in her life. I will not tolerate her suffering any further.

Two more days at work.
Bewilderingly I received a 3 page to do list from my boss on Friday. I marveled at this, truly marveled.
Did they honestly believe that I would "kill" myself to complete this odious set of tasks?
Was it a ploy to fire me 3 days early? Did they hope I'd look at it and just walk out?
Are they just silly?
Two more days and my boss is threatening to spend them with me.
I figured one day for me to turn over my keys and things. The other day seems like some sort of punishment or a profession of love. Neither do I want or care about or accept.

We had a mini-party on Wednesday. It was a terrible day except for that. In the morning the doc told me that I was now a type one diabetic. I'm going to need to be on insulin in the next few months. Because of the nature of my diabetes, caused by chemo poisoning the odds are it will be even more progressive than usual. Eventually my pancreas will go necrotic. So I have to stay on the same barrage of pills and add on one of those once-a-day insulin shots. Trying to keep the old pancreas going as long as it can, assisting it instead of ignoring it.
Having to take "injections" everyday unnerved me near as much as when I was told I'd have to take pills everyday.
I've accepted it and moved along.

The Football pre-season has started.
S4W-Mlb-Bestshots-085-Xmarksthespot
Click images for desktop size: "X Marks The Spot - Cal Ripkin Jr" by MLB
As most of you know this part of the season is more important to me than anything else. I have 8 kids in NFL camps. For about 20 million young people just being there is a major accomplishment. I know that at least 6 of the eight making the team is more than important.
During preseason they earn about 1200 a week, as long as they stay in camp. If they make the practice squad they keep earning that amount for the season. If they make the team roster they make a few hundred thousand a year.
That's the difference in moving their siblings out of the ghetto, of having a leg up in the business world, of having a real chance.
So the second half of every game is the nerve wracking part for me.
I can't see all the pre-season games so I'm bewildered as to how they're going. Stats don't mean much. They don't tell how well the kid is playing, how he's fitting in.
This might sound selfish but if anyone of you is worried about me you could do me a favor and turn those prayers to the young men who are in training camp right now. Kids who've expended an amazing amount of work and a little bit of talent into having a chance.
We all deserve a chance.

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August 5, 2007

You're always making friends. And frankly its becoming a problem.
Larry Gelbart

Thefozz01146 Muscadinearbor 1440X900
Click images for desktop size: "Muscadine Arbor" by The Fozz
With all the things I've ranted about lately I note that the only thing I've been called to task for is calling Jan & Dean one of my favorite pop groups.
I love Jan & Dean. More than any punk band they were "us against them". Except they smiled and laughed and knew that life was as serious as a joke could get.
Jan Berry was the driven one. He had a decent voice and solid skills as a producer and arranger. He started out hiring the musicians and doing as much overdubbing as he could. He knew he needed an extra voice so he started off with a guy named Arnie, who got drafted. He recruited Dean to take his place.
With Dean he created the heavy harmonies and pop instrumentation that would be known as the surfing sound.
They started with novelty numbers and standards, giving them this hard driving modern doo wop pure pop noise.
They were a success. They were both kids and hung out on the beaches of Southern California, often crashing beach parties and doing their hits to the strumming of an acoustic guitar.
1957 - Reform School Girl From that he learned to surf and wrote "Surf City". "Two girls for every boy."
Brian Wilson was over in Gardenia. Where Wilson was the ultimate outsider, writing songs about the way it should be about what the teen dream was, Jan and Dean where in the middle of it. They loved being rich and famous, they caroused, they goofed around and Jan kept writing hit after hit.
Brian Wilson was too shy to crash a beach party so he rented GoldLine Studios and invited all the surfers and had his own Beach Party, complete with hit album. The voices that drove the album were Jan and Dean's. They couldn't get credit or paid for it as they weren't signed by Capital and there'd be ugly breach of contract suits.
Wilson reported that his insecurity was heightened as he thought that his most successful record yet was due to Jan's participation.
Wilson went on to drugs and created some of pop's greatest moments. Brian Wilson wanted to be the greatest pop record maker in the history of the world, bigger than Elvis, bigger than the Beatles.
Jan and Dean just wanted to have fun. They kept turning out hits and great records, like "Popsicle" a 3 minute confection devoted to nothing more than being young dating and eating popsicles.
"Batman" became a hit show on TV so they did a concept album featuring great stupid skits and cool songs about the villains. They learned about skateboarding and wrote albums about it (with the great doo wop backing going "bust your buns, bust your buns")
They got into cars and released "Drag City", "Schlock Rod" and the ultimate car song, "Dead Man's Curve".
"Dead Man's Curve" was a major magnum opus filled with every pop hook imaginable and it did nothing but work.
And Jan Berry was 19 and he got drafted and he plowed his Porsche Spider into the back of a stopped dump truck and he didn't die but the brain damage was irreversible.
The T.A.M.I. Show came out then, and there were Jan and Dead sharing the stage with James Brown, The Ronnettes and all the other heavy weight stars and they belonged there.
They carried on and played the fool and it wasn't so much what they did that was funny it was that they were one of us and told jokes and carried on the same way we did but they were on the stage, on that screen. It wasn't so much what they did that was funny but that that they did it at all.
Gabb2001 Nautilus 1440X900
Click images for desktop size: "Nautilus" by Gabb 2001l
But when the music came out of them you just had to dance.
Jan had to learn how to walk, dress, talk. He was a new born in a 19 year old body.
Dean went off and designed hit album covers.
Jan learned how to be a human being again.
It was more than a small shock that they suddenly announced that they were touring again.
I never saw those early shows.
I probably would have reacted the same way the guys who couldn't believe their one of my fave groups did if it were suggested to go see them.
I think it was in 1985. We got a gig playing at the Los Angeles Street Scene.
I don't know if they still do it but back then downtown LA was a scary pit, home of the Nickel and the grind house movie theaters, slimy scum top to bottom and very cool.
In the old warehouses and lofts artists suddenly appeared. Cheap rents and large spaces = art in LA. The Contemporary Art Museum opened up and cool arty restaurants like Gorky's blossomed.
The Street Scene was a cool way for the city to exploit that without spending any time or effort on the project.
A few million people and free music.
Bugs Bunny In Concert We were on one of the stages - the alternative white music stage. Oddly we were opening for Jan and Dean . . . we never opened for anybody.
We did our set and two encores. Could have done three but the stage manager was giving us the cut throat sign. We relaxed and went out into the crowd. It was a massive crowd, funny in it's way, all jammed there in the streets between what passes for skyscrapers in downtown LA.
The Bel-Aire Bandits hit the stage. They're a tight group, mainly seasoned session musicians who would drop anything (I found out later) to play one of the rare Jan & Dean shows in the southland.
They were good, very good. A little 80's flossy for me at times and not stunningly inspired but very good.
Jan and Dean entered from opposite sides of the stage, both of them riding skateboards. They rode well, not super flash Tony Hawkes style moves but better than someone who just stepped onto a board yesterday.
Dean looked like a surfer gone businessman. Jan was a nightmare. Long dyed orange hair that stood straight out over a foot from his head, like a sloppy afro. He wore enormous bib overalls over a very sweet Hawaiian shirt. He looked like a clown.
The band went into the intro of Surf City. Jan & Dean did a synchronized spin and kick up that put them right on the mikes holding their boards. Naturally they were right on cue. As they went through the verse I felt a line of heat crawling up my spine. These two guys were good, the kind of good I aspired to but had to settle for something less because the fire I dreamed of I felt couldn't exist. At first I was saddened. Jan & Dean were proving it did exist, a brain damaged clown and a casual businessman . . . of course they were so good that there wasn't any place for sadness, fun, joy and pleasure just pushed it all out so there was only room for the warm California sun.
They played for 90 minutes. Jan seldom spoke. Dean told lots of mediocre jokes that seemed funnier than they really were.
There was a bar downtown. It had a plane brightly painted and stuck to the wall by single giant spike. We all went there after the show. All most people were talking about was how great Jan & Dean and been.
We were always told we were a self confident, star power laden band. That day I learned about the difference between a star and a superstar.
Gentle Rapids
Click images for desktop size: "Gentle Rapids" by Anonymous
Even brain damaged and moving funnily Jan Berry could take even a hostile crowd with him anywhere he wanted them to go. He didn't take them any place dark. He didn't share any of his pain. He didn't share any of the frustrations he must have felt in trying to comb his hair, or brush his teeth or wipe his ass. He only shared the joy he remembered as life.
Jan Berry's dead. He died in March 2004. I had someone else incredibly important in my life die on the same day years earlier.
Jan & Dean will always be one of my favorite groups.

Since last week: I gave official notice of my resignation. It was difficult because they pleaded with me to stay but offered no other inducements - i.e. no more money, health insurance etc.
I've been running maniacally trying to get all the paperwork done for my new government. Even with a lawyer it seems they send me running back and forth chasing documents.
Boys Prison X01 Coached football on Saturday. Ran a mile with the team. Same old caveat - if I beat you you're off the squad. I'm not sure if I'm pleased or concerned that I didn't have to slow down to let any of the wide bodies beat me. I didn't keep my time but I'm sure it was over 10 minutes.
I'm still working. The walk seems longer and longer. I'm packing up boxes, deciding what goes and what stays.
I'm worrying about my foster dog. She's so sweet but no one calls to ask about her. I don't think she can go with us. I don't think she'd be happy in another foster home.
We have another puppy coming to stay with us tonight. Another foster dog but he's only staying a week.