Thursday, August 2, 2018

Um... Just a song...

Occasionally, I spout a little Trump Derangement Syndrome stuff here and there. Can't help myself -- the Don is starting to make Lee Harvey Oswald look like John Kennedy, for frig's sake.

So, to try to preserve what's left of my bearings (rooted in part, as they are, in those bad old Cold War years when Reagan telling Gorbachev to tear down that wall), I tend to turn away from Right-wing Jackhole Inc.'s incessant sausage pretzel adverts and toward...


I'm mainly a classic rock guy. I'm also a swing and experimental jazz guy, an old-school country guy, a bleak-as-hell blues guy, a turn of the century impressionist guy, a Gen X grunge guy, a red white and blue folk guy, and easily the biggest King Crimson fan New England has ever produced.

But as a classic rock guy? This tune has one of the best riffs I've ever heard. I can listen to that all day.


Friday, July 27, 2018

Been on an XTC kick lately...



Living in Nashua is okay.

If I had a million dollars and was required to spend the rest if my life in any New Hampshire town of my choice, I would pick Hollis.

If I ever get a ticket out of here...


My 2 cents.


Good Morning, America, How Are Ya...

I moved from Lowell to Richmond in 1998. The job I had at the time was rough enough, but the spot where the bus dropped me off was a mile and a half from my home.

All the same, I kind of enjoyed the walk. And for some reason, I occasionally started singing this song out loud on my way home.

I wasn't drunk, and I definitely wasn't high. I was just happy. Some born and bred New Englander, chip on shoulder, bug up ass, in a place like Richmond after dark... and happier than a Kodiak bear at a salmon buffet.


Some XTC...


Thursday, July 19, 2018

For The Record...

It was bad enough that Donald Trump called the European Union a foe, and pissed off other members of NATO, and insulted the British Prime Minister. Then he goes to Finland...

You know what? One thing about the Republican Party that had been unwavering as far back as I can remember, in fact, as far back as the start of the Cold War, was the hard line it took against Russia. Always. Twenty years after the Soviet Union went belly up, Mitt Romney said our greatest geopolitical foe was Russia. Barack Obama belittled him for not giving Al-Qaida that distinction at the time, but turns out Romney was right. I should have caught that at the time, and Obama certainly should have. At worst, al-Qaida was a serious security threat to America; Russia, on the other hand, in the past was an existential threat to America, and...

Well, after a few days of crapping all over our long-standing allies, Trump placed Vladimir Putin's "No we didn't" claim concerning Russian meddling in the 2016 election and the entire American intelligence community's declaration of "Yes they did" on equal footing. He threw what might have been the GOP's most reliable and irrefutable argument under the bus.


Trump tries to say he misspoke. He said "would," he meant "wouldn't."

Yo. Forget about what this guy meant or what he said, not just this past week but going all the way back to when he learned how to talk -- and forget whether you're all in, all out, or all mixed up when it comes to Donald Trump. This guy is the exact personification of the weather here in New England. You don't like it this morning, wait until this afternoon -- and chances are real fuckin' good you're gonna like it even less.

As a cab driver, I meet the whole range of folks over time. This includes a couple of self-proclaimed, yet confused progressives who have told me President Trump should be shot. Both times, I've gotten in their faces for that. First of all, anyone who feels that way needs to watch who they say that to -- unless they want the Secret Service to drop in unannounced. Second, Trump not living through this term for whatever reason means we end up with President Pence, a prospect which gives me great pause. Fuck that -- I'll take Putin's not-so-secret bromantic lover over his not-so-secret kindred stunted spirit all day, every day.

My two cents? If anyone in this story deserves to be shot, it's Vladimir Putin. Wash that down with your Smirnoff.

And to any Russians who somehow stumble upon the Medley and have an issue? Get your own election processes straightened out before you fuck with ours from now on. We celebrate monuments to Abraham Lincoln, you fuckin' morons celebrate monuments to Joseph Stalin. If I were Russian, I'd drink enough vodka to kill every bear in Asia too.

Way to go, comrades....

Friday, July 13, 2018

Donald Trump Needs To Lose in 2020...

A couple years ago, I told folks who asked what I thought of Donald Trump something like this:

If I was struggling to run a business and Trump was in town, I'd seek him out for advice. He's known success and failure in business, so I'd be all ears.

I take that all back. I wouldn't seek out Trump for business advice, or any other advice, if he was the last natural-born predator on earth.

I didn't like this guy ten, twenty, or three years ago. Back in the day, it was mainly his on-air demeanor that put me off; more recently, his attitudes toward women. non-caucasian people, and the very idea of democracy only reinforced my sour opinion of him.

All the same, I thought he had a sound mind when it came to the business sector. No, he doesn't. He has a nine-figure net worth and a chip on his shoulder because if daddy hadn't rescued his pig-ignorant ass on multiple occasions, Donald Trump would have gone bankrupt by the age of forty, and I suspect that deep down, he knows and resents it.

The man is on record saying he likes conflict and chaos. I believe him...

1 Leapt-Bear Lane...

That's the working title of this furry fandom story that's been lurking about in my brain since... I dunno. I was still living in Henrico, Virginia at the time, but was it at Honey Tree, or was it at Gateway, when this concept came to me? Most likely Honey Tree, because that's where I was as when I finally accepted the truth that I was gay. But I really don't remember.

Whatever the origin, a bunch of fictional anthropomorphic characters came to be in the back of my mind. A couple of years ago, I started drawing them as best I could. Eventually I got eighteen of them pieced together in one upload, the image atop this post.

They all have names, too.

Top row: George Nestor, Rhoads "Bucky" Woodmason, Quach Ky Thanh, Zebedeo "Zorro" Mizrachi, Big Rich Roseneath, and Jessica Nestor.

Second row: George Hamock Tiras (aka Officer Ham), Lonnie McGriff, Bill Austin, Norman "Vex" Westmount, Sterling "Captain Dog" Derrickson, and Malcom "Switch" Lincoln.

Bottom row: Victoria Nestor, Raomon Taos Drum, Phil Van Horn (aka "Red Raven"), Cynthia Green-Austin, Brody "Boof" Fenner, and Dennis Nestor.

The four corners are all Nestor-surnamed goats. Clockwise from upper left, father, mother, son, daughter. Victoria is the first-born. Bill and Cynthia were married once -- when I started to try fleshing this story out, they were divorced.

For the record, I'm in this story too. I'm Boof.

Anyway, the title of this thing came to me in a dream sometime last year. I was trying to get home, and I knew I was close, but somehow I couldn't find the damn place. Someone suggested I look at my driver's license, so I pulled it out.

It read, "1 Leapt-Bear Lane." And I was like, Duuhh!

Then I woke up.

Now, look, I've never been much into dissecting my dreams. I've noticed, over the years, that they spring from my waking life experiences. I never dreamed about Direct Impressions until after I started working there, I never dreamed about driving a taxi until after I started doing that, et cetera.

But I have no idea where "1 Leapt-Bear Lane" came from. I only know it sounds like a great place to start with this furry fandom tale.

One last thing: I have no idea what a leapt-bear is. Which is hilarious to me -- as you can see Boof (me) is a friggin' bear. Neither he nor I know what it is.

But that address? That's the place to be. Go south on Patter Paw, bang a right on Three Oak. Turn left at the flashing light, it's on your right.

Say hello to George Nestor for me -- and tell him Boof will be home soon...

Thursday, June 28, 2018

"He Wrote A Book?"

Last week, I was at the Nashua library, glancing at the titles of musician-inspired and/or -penned books. Plenty of well-known and -loved names are there -- Dylan, Aretha, Prince, Clapton... you get the idea. I've looked at those spines again and again for a few years now, suspecting that I was probably meant to be a musicologist in this life, just never really acting on that hunch. But this time, one name took me by surprise: Mike Rutherford.

That guy, for anyone stumbling upon this shadow of a blog who doesn't know, is best known as the lead guitarist of one of my all-time favorite bands, Genesis, as well as the Mike at the head of a lesser renowned yet very successful band, Mike and the Mechanics. The book's title is, The Living Years: the First Genesis Memoir.

Rutherford's name on the spine was enough to get me to check this book out. But "first Genesis memoir"? Huh...

I first got into Genesis when "That's All" hit the airwaves in 1983. You know how you feel when a song you hear for the first time makes you look up just an inch or so above your own eye level because if you had ears that could point forward or backward, like a dog's or cat's, you would have done that instead? That was my reaction to Tony Banks's piano work on "That's All" -- and all I needed to buy the band's self-titled album (the one with the assorted yellow geometric pieces on the cover).

A couple years later, a local version of MTV, the long-defunct V66, had an hour-long special on Genesis. At the time, I thought they were a relatively new trio. Oh no, grasshopper, V66 informed me. They got together in the late 60s, and there were five of them -- and one of them was another artist I'd been introduced to via a tune titled "Sledgehammer," one Peter Gabriel. On one hand, in Genesis, Gabriel looked and sounded to a young, impressionable, Pepperell-bound cub such as me like a minion of the devil. On another hand, his journey from Genesis frontdemon to high-flying solo artist intrigued me. As for Mike Rutherford, he looked to me like someone's face on stretched out Silly Putty -- I didn't give him much thought then.

There was also Phil Collins's journey from drummer to frontman, a rarity among rarities in the history of all music, not just rock 'n roll -- but that's another blog entry. I've since become a loving Genesis fan. The Gabriel years and the Collins years. Personally, I favor the Gabriel years, but that's just me -- that seed took root when I was a Pepperell-bound cub, I didn't even realize it then, and that's all there is to it. But...

If you had asked me thirty, twenty, or two years ago which Genesis member would break the memoir ice, I would have said Phil Collins. Long shot second, Peter Gabriel. Mike Rutherford?

He wrote a book?

Yeah, he did. And it's a good one.

His father sets the tone early, and never really recedes. Rutherford quotes from his father's journals extensively. That man was a rock, folks -- a veteran of the Second World War and the Korean War, and a long-serving high official in the British Navy. Young Mike wound up in boarding school and hating multiple forms of authority, rebelling against his father, who never once wavered in loving support of his son -- even when that tall, gangly jackass joined some wet-behind-the-ears noisemaker called Genesis and gave his old man migraines and fits.

It was that son versus father undercurrent that you couldn't miss if you tried. It stretched decades. Mike Rutherford and his father loved each other, but never quite connected. Dad was forged in the fire of the Second World War, and Son came of age in the Boomer-heavy Dream '65-'75 Dream Decade -- they couldn't reach each other if they tried, and deep down, it was killing both of them.

That same-planet-different-worlds sorrow is, of course, captured in Mike and the Mechanics' signature tune, "The Living Years." I never gauged the depth of that song until I read Rutherford's book. It's funny, and a little eerie, how much the son's life ended up echoing the father's. Dad was a military man living in that world apart from his son too much, and a few decades later, Son was touring all over the world apart from his father too much. And the cat's in the cradle and the silver spoon, little boy blue and the man in the moon. For real.

I also like this book in part for Rutherford's portrayals of his fellow bandmates -- especially Banks. I was once a keyboardist, and Banks's work with Genesis will resonate with my spirit until the day I die. But Tony is also portrayed by Rutherford as an insular bonehead prone to occasional bouts of brilliance.

Sounds a little like me.

Bottom line, I really enjoyed this book. Mike Rutherford just might have a new career as an author ahead of him, he's that suited to the medium.

Who knew...

Friday, August 18, 2017

What A Week...

Last Friday night, I was parked at the cab stand, first up for the next call. A Puerto Rican man got into the seat next to me and said he wanted to go to Lawrence, Massachusetts. (I'm mentioning his nationality for a reason I'll get to soon.) He paid me the fare, and off we went.

 He noticed I'd been reading a book when he got in, so he asked what I was reading. It was Why Irrational Politics Appeals: Understanding the Allure of Trump. He guessed that I wasn't a Donald Trump supporter and said he voted for him. I said I voted for Hillary Clinton... and, again, off we went. The time it takes to get from Nashua to Lawrence is thirty-five to forty minutes. That night, it seemed much longer.

 You can probably guess how his end of it went. Hillary is a liar, cheat, and thief who should be in prison, she's a security threat, she wants to divide people, she even opened up (*gasp*) an email account, blah blah blah. Trump, on the other hand, is a man of the people who wants to unite us and speaks his mind, not giving a fuck who doesn't like it. (I will never understand this absurd belief that all politicians are liars, cheats, and thieves while no businessman ever lies, cheats, or steals, but millions of right-leaning people in this country seem to swear by that. Go figure...) I assured him that I was no fan of Hillary, and hadn't been anything of the sort for the past twenty-five years, but as much as I disliked her, I disliked Trump a whole lot more. She may have a habit of saying one thing and doing another, but Trump had a habit of saying vile things about other people during his campaign and his presidency. That, and I've been registered as a Democrat for six years, plus I've been through with the GOP since Hurricane Katrina ravaged the Gulf coast and the Bush administration spent the next three days twiddling their thumbs -- there was never any question in my mind how I would be voting in 2016. He told me he wasn't a diehard Trump supporter, but he was rattling off one Trump talking point after another. Seemed to me this guy had, in fact, bought the whole shop. He was even in favor of building a wall along the Mexican border, something I consider very odd coming from a Puerto Rican man. The Trump diehards hate Puerto Ricans as much as they hate Mexicans precisely because they're Puerto Ricans and Mexicans. Whether they're here legally or illegally means nothing at all -- their take on illegal immigrants is just a cover for their hate. We agreed to disagree on who was the less odious candidate for the Oval Office after about ten minutes.

And then it got weird.

He started talking about the Freemasons and the secret influence they had on our society. I've heard this before but I asked what the knock on the Freemasons was anyway. Did I know that when a Mason reaches the 33rd level or degree or whatever, he learns that Freemasons are Satanists? Could have fooled me -- there's a Masonic building two blocks from where I live, and whatever they may or may not be, I never hear them raising hell. Then he said all of our presidents have been Freemasons, until Trump. I'd have to check on that. There were Freemasons among our Founding Fathers, especially George Washington, but I didn't have a definitive list. I asked him, are you saying that our first forty-four presidents were active or latent satanists? Three or four of them maybe, if you want to look at their legacies, but all forty-four? Yeah, he conceded, maybe that's a bridge too far.

Then he started talking about the Illuminati. Had I heard of them? I said most of what I knew about them was written by two guys in the early 70s, in the form of a big science fiction book I'd read within a single weekend, The Illuminatus! Trilogy. Eight hundred entertaining pages of hilarious bullshit. Well, apparently they're even worse than the Freemasons. I can't imagine what could be more satanic than satanism, but that's what my customer said.

Then he mentioned The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. This time, I stopped him before he got started. I guaranteed him that the Protocols was a hoax, because that was one item on whatever list he had that I have checked out for myself. It was a toxic work of fiction written by a Russian in the early 20th century. It borrowed heavily from two 19th century books, one written by a French lawyer, the other by a German anti-Semite, and it was passed off as the hidden true agenda of the Jews. Adolf Hitler believed every word of it. The end result of that was the Holocaust. I didn't tell him all of that because I didn't want to get in a heated argument while I was driving 70 mph just to keep pace with the traffic on I-495, and now he was starting to piss me off. But I did keep him from going any further in promoting that hoax in my cab. I thought, if he starts talking about 9/11 and says there were no planes involved, I'm gonna strangle him.

Finally, we get to Lawrence. He tells me he's going inside for a bit, then wants to go back to Nashua. Lucky me. But I agreed to wait. The trip back was less colorful, but he did talk. All the way back to Nashua. Lord, did he love to talk. It was more tinfoil-hat stuff, in a stream-of-consciousness delivery -- fluoride in the water, chem trails in the sky, and so on. Somehow, all of this started because of a book about Trump that I was reading. At least he never mentioned 9/11. That was Friday night.

On Saturday, a bunch of white nationalists, weekend militia men and KKK troglodytes staged a Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. A bunch of counter-protesters showed up. One early version I heard was, someone in the latter group pepper-sprayed someone in the former. Whatever sparked it, a riot broke out, which led to one white nationalist asshole getting in his car and driving straight into a crowd of people, killing one woman and injuring dozens. And President Trump, the man who wanted us all to hold hands and sing "Kumbaya" in his acceptance speech, took two days to call these right-wing radicals out in a prepared statement that he clearly didn't want to read. The day after that, he walked that statement back, saying there were good and bad people on both sides, which was obscene enough. Then he had the gall to compare Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson to George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. I mean, for real? He made that moral equivalency? Okay, Trump has a college degree and I'm a two-time college dropout, so maybe I'm the dumber one. But from what history I recall, Washington and Jefferson were slaveholders and that is reprehensible, yet they also worked very hard to create a nation which happened to include a Constitution that contained a way to make changes in the national government without resorting to violence and bloodshed; Lee and Stonewall worked very hard to split that nation in two, and that involved trainloads of violence and bloodshed. Not morally equivalent by any stretch.

Oh, and the reason it took two days for Trump to kind of condemn the white nationalists? He wanted to make sure he had the facts straight, and didn't want to rush right in. Yesterday, there was a horrific van attack in Barcelona, Spain. So far, the death toll is up to fourteen. Trump rushed right in and condemned the attackers. I guess they aren't part of his base.

I wonder what that Puerto Rican man I took to Lawrence and back last Friday thinks about Trump now. Hopefully, he thinks less of him. I sure as hell do, and I had a very low opinion of Trump to start with...

 * * *

 On a lighter note, I hang one more year on the line today. I'm now 47.

 Til further on...

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Gone But Nowhere Near Forgotten...

Hard to believe David Bowie passed away a year ago.

In my line of work, I meet all kinds of people. Once every two or three months, I'll have someone in their twenties get into the cab, and a Bowie tune will happen to be playing on the radio. They might know the song. In one case, it was "Modern Love." The young man I was driving at the time said he knew that one and maybe three others by Bowie. I said something like "I remember when 'Modern Love' was released, I'm that old." And I rattled off a bunch of other Bowie songs I liked. Can't remember which ones they were, but "Blackstar" definitely wasn't one of them. I like it, but I figured if the guy was going to do some exploring into Bowie's career, rattling off some of his more accessible tunes was a good way to start. "Blackstar" isn't for everyone.

All the same, the album Blackstar has been nominated for five Grammy awards. It's a fine final album. Much too often, an artist runs out of ideas and turns to a more formulaic approach to songwriting. Not David Bowie. He kept right on experimenting til the end...