Now Playing: the Rolling Stones – Out of Our Heads


When I was eight years old, my folks were ordering their 10 free records from Columbia Record Club and let my brother Jonathan and I pick one. We got Kicks by Paul Revere and the Raiders, which we quickly traded to a neighbor kid for Out of Our Heads.
The album is best known for the smash hits Satisfaction and the Last Time, and brilliant tunes like Under Assistant West Coast Promo Man, Play With Fire and Spider and the Fly, but it also marks the first time I heard a Marvin Gaye song (Hitchhike, decades later, a staple of IC3’s live set) or a Sam Cooke tune (Good Times), but here’s the kicker…
The album leads off with a cover of a relatively obscure American soul tune (barely cracked the top 40 in 1964), Mercy Mercy by Don Covay. Many, many years later, I learned that the guitar player on Covay’s version was an unknown kid named Jimi Hendrix.

Hydroxychloroquine

I don’t deny the probability that Trump has bought a ton of Novartis stock recently. Given his proclivities for graft, profiteering and money hoarding, it’s a natural conclusion.

Consider this though:

Trump. The germaphobe, is so terrified of getting sick that his doctors had to come up with a couple of placebos for him, just so he’d stfu and get a little work done on behalf of “his” country. Suddenly, Trump (or as he sees himself, Dr. Albert Schweitzer-Trump) starts pushing the “hydroxychloroquine and zinc” that he thinks he’s being treated with. 

In another week or two, the curve will be flattened by the social distancing promoted by leaders such as President Newsom and President Cuomo and suddenly our stable genius will proclaim that his miracle discoveries have worked. He’ll immediately nominate himself for a series of Nobel Prizes in science, medicine, presidenting and game show hosting (retroactive). Throw in an Emmy or two for his great press conference ratings.

And voila, we’re great again. 

#COVID45

My Dream

 I rarely engage Trumpholes. What’s the point? They seem impervious to logic, incapable of cogent debate, devoid of original thought. On rare occasions, I slip up and troll them a little. It’s cruel, I know, like a cat toying with a moth. Lord, please forgive me. I am weak.

 Today, I saw a Facebook post from Adam Schiff. (Full disclosure. This guy is my hero! I literally wrote him in on my primary ballot for President). Chairman Schiff posted today saying, “Once we’ve recovered, we need a nonpartisan commission to review our response and how we can better prepare for the next pandemic.” You know, like we did after Pearl Harbor and 9/11. 

I commented, 
“Can’t wait until you’re Attorney General in January! You’ll get to the bottom of this #COVID45 mess. One word of advice, pace yourself! There’s going to be SOOOOO much to unravel.”

 Well… woodwork squeaks and out come the freaks.

  This one troll told me I won the stupidest comment of the thread award (which I suspect he is uniquely qualified to hand out), and then he (inadvertently?) quoted Adam Schiff’s Impeachment mantra, “facts matter” and pasted an 800 word Trumpifesto wherein the author recounted Comrade Donald’s many, many achievements – curing polio, discovering algebra, building Noah’s Ark (he’s a great builder), mastering time travel etc., all despite being treated very unfairly, and a lot of people are saying this, by ungrateful libtard lefties.

At least that’s what I guessed it said. I don’t read ALL-CAPS propaganda. 

 Anyway, this one gentleman comments to me, “you’re having a wet dream”. Now, I’ve been pondering what impresses me more about that statement and, frankly, I’m at a loss. Was it that he finds the topic somehow erotic or that he spelled “you’re” correctly?

 But here’s my “wet dream”. Melania tries to turn Lindsey Graham out and…. oh. No no no no no. That’s a different dream. My apologies. Be best!

 My dream is that on Inauguration Day 2021, when Trump has barricaded himself in the Oval Office squealing live on air to Sean Hannity, “The election was rigged, it’s deep state this and a failed Dem coup hoax that, no President has ever been treated so badly” and the Secret Service breaks down the door and hauls his pitiful ass out of the building, kicking and screaming like a four year old. They drag him outside to the waiting Marine One escape pod and, for his final temper tantrump, he drops to the tarmac and starts spinning in a circle like Curly from the Three Stooges. 

THAT, my friend, is MY wet dream. 

MAGA!

April Fools

 Forty years ago today, only three days removed from New York City, I walked into Tower Records on Sunset Strip. I was looking for a job. I had just spent nearly a year working for a guy named Sam Goody at his flagship store in Rockefeller Center, but I was not prepared for the size and breadth of “Tower Sunset” – or the staff. At Sam Goody’s the staff wore shirt and tie, the managers wore suits. We were exceedingly attentive to our customers. We closed at 6pm.  

 I was awestruck by this enormous Hollywood record store and wandered gob struck in a straight line until I came to a wall, a wall of cassette tapes. An endless wall of cassette tapes. A bit disoriented, I looked up and there was a gent behind the counter, with long flowing hair and an astonishingly expansive mustache. He was absentmindedly drumming away on the counter with a Bic pen. He couldn’t be bothered to acknowledge me staring at him. Finally, I mustered the strength to say, “I’m here to see the manager”. Without looking up, or missing a beat, he said, “Back room”. 

 I found my way to the back room. I filled out a job application and was led into a tiny office where a rather tall, blonde, hippy-looking guy sat behind a desk wearing dark sunglasses, faded jeans and a raglan t-shirt. His sneakers were on the desk and he looked at me like I was a bill collector. I asked to see the manager. He said, “Yeah, I’m Bob” and reached for my application. As he glanced at the paper, I perused the dirty, cluttered, fluorescent lit, white walls. My eyes froze on a picture of this same guy standing with his arm around Bob Marley. Before I could finish my gasp, Bob said dismissively, “You worked in a record store for a month and you put it on your résumé? I arrogantly replied, “I worked there from January to December. That’s eleven months”. Bob grumbled something under his breath and said, “Okay. Thanks for coming in. Got any questions?”

I answered, “Just one. When do I start?”

 Bob started to answer a couple of times, but couldn’t find words. Finally, he managed, “Come back tomorrow at 3:30. Ask for David. Shift ends at 12:30am”. A tiny woman materialized, escorted me out of the room, gave me some paperwork to fill out and wrote me out a schedule. 

 My 26 year journey with Tower Records had begun. 

First day on the job? April Fool’s Day, 1980

Employee #3047


POSTSCRIPT;

Wow! How gratifying to see so many reactions. Thank you!

 Right after I wrote this little piece, I realized that I forgot a great detail. During the interview, Delanoy asked me where I saw myself going with the company and I said, “I think I’d like to have your job”. Hahaha! True story.

 Nine “short” years later, that little office was mine.

 And here’s a picture of me and some random job applicant in that very room. 

LOVE!


New York City

3/27/2020

 40 years ago TODAY, I left my childhood home of New York City. NYC was a hovel in the late 70’s, broken down, filthy and hopeless. Son of Sam was reigning terror, the subways were a lawless no-man’s land and the South Bronx was on fire. I was a starving musician sleeping on a friend’s pull out couch. It was freezing outside, I was broke and my family had all moved to Beverly Hills. They had a swimming pool and lots of sunshine. Every winter, my folks would send me a round trip ticket to visit LA for my birthday. In February of 1980, Mom said, “No more round trips. If I gift you another ticket, it’s going to be one way”.

 Our band was changing. We had been increasingly successful in ‘78 and into ‘79, getting lots of gigs all around NYC and Long Island, playing big clubs (and small) and the college circuit. We were reviewed in Variety and local papers. On a good night, we could draw 200-300 people, maybe more at the college lunch hour shows. We even played twice at the Central Park Bandshell and twice in Washington Square Park. But punk and disco and rap were all blowing up and suddenly we were questioning our direction. We stood in front of Great Gildersleeves and looked down the Bowery where one block down the lines in front of CBGB kept getting bigger as our crowds started getting smaller. We added more band members, tried to adjust our sound. We even played a gig at CBGB. 

 Arista Records Publishing was having meetings with our band leader. They started feeding him tunes from their catalog for us to arrange and demo up. The feedback that was slowly coming back to us was, “Great work. You’re getting close. You could be signed in a month”. I was unconvinced. I needed unfiltered info and demanded a meeting with this exec. My partner and I ventured to this guy’s Lower Manhattan loft for the meet up. I don’t remember anything about the place other than it was brick walled and the walls were covered with zithers. Rad! We “got comfy” and he played us some of the new music he was into. It was the first time I heard Squeeze, a real game changer for me. 

Side note: the guy’s name was John Wonderling and he had a little girl named Allison. Yeah. His daughter’s name was Allison Wonderling. Hahaha. How cool is that?!

 After hours of avoiding the elephant in the room, I finally gathered my chutzpah and said, “So, I hear we could be a month away from being signed”. John responded, “Yeah. Could be a month, a few months, a year, but I like what I’m hearing”. A year? Could be? I didn’t hear anything after that. My heart sank and my ears shut down. The next morning, I called my Mom and asked for that one way ticket.

 I’ve been back to NYC at least 20 times since March 27, 1980. I just love that place. I’ll always consider myself a New Yorker and I am so eternally grateful to have grown up in the greatest city in the world. My thoughts are with all of my friends in NYC who are living through times that must make the 70s look like Disneyland in comparison. I cherish my 40+ year relationships and I love you all. I hope to see you all again after this storm passes. 

LOVE, peace and wash your hands.

Joel

You’re Gonna Be Okay

  I cried today. For the first time since this crisis started, I cried.

 I woke up this morning to find my beloved sitting at her new “desk” (the kitchen table) all showered and made up and dressed for work. The 3-day pajama party had ended. She’s struggling to find normalcy in this epic shit storm. Her head is in her hands. Her young autistic son is stuck here at home and Nickie has to go to his school and pick up lesson plans. She worries that she’s not doing enough to keep Jason active and learning. She feels she is somehow failing him, that she’s a failure as a parent. She breaks down and sobs, completely overwhelmed by the weight of the moment. She pulls herself together and heads out, only to return empty handed. No one answering the door at the school. I console her as best I can, but hugs can only do so much.

 It’s Thursday, just before 8am. I suit up to catch the last hour of “senior shopping”. The mask, the gloves, the hoodie pulled up over my baseball cap. Not my nice cap. An old skanky one. I get to the market and wipe down my cart. A young employee, a kid really, stands in front of the market looking shell shocked. He pulls out a rag, sprays some sort of clear liquid on it and wipes my cart down. Didn’t he just see me? No matter. I venture in. It’s not the same experience of just two days ago. People look forlorn. The smiles are more tired, the shoppers moving a little slower. Probably just a reflection of myself. I thank every clerk and shelf stocker for being there. I’m finding most of what I need, but still no paper products, no cleaning products, no eggs or ground beef. I don’t even want eggs or ground beef. We have all we need for the next week. And then it hits me. The novelty has worn off. I see my fellow shoppers, many old and frail, frightened and confused. This isn’t a fun little adventure anymore, this is literally life or death. How many of them won’t survive? And it’s still early days. This is only the beginning.

 There is now a huge piece of plexiglass between the cashier and me. This massive sneeze guard wasn’t here two days ago. The clerk looks like he’s lost his will to live. I bag my own groceries and thank him. He grunts something in return.

 I arrive home, with the groceries and all of the good advice I read in a doctor’s post that President Obama shared. I carefully remove my mask and cap and hoodie and put my keys aside. I take the tainted clothes to the laundry room and grab some Clorox wipes. I return to the front room and start removing all of the groceries from the bags, carefully wiping each package down. Nickie comes in to help and the absurdity of the moment, the REALITY of the moment, hits me. What if I did all the right things but in the wrong order? What if I brought one tiny, little nasty bug into our home? What if I’m getting my wife and children sick just by bringing home some frozen peas? 

 I looked at my partner and I just broke down and cried. Is this our lives now? This surreal sci-fi movie? Good Lord. Who could have imagined?

 I know I’ll find the light and I’ll have many little victories today, reignite my spirit and regain my resolve. I know am more fortunate than so many, that my blessings are many, that my gratitude for what I have is greater than fear and sadness. 

MUCH LOVE TO ALL! You’re going to be okay!

Joel

Baseball, Ray

 It’s really hitting me hard today. We’re all struggling to adjust and adapt, to find some normalcy in this madness, to come up with a routine, to live in the moment, to find some joy and beauty among the fear and sadness.

Today’s a tough pill to swallow. I’ve always said that the saddest day of the year is the last game of the World Series. Today is even sadder.

 It’s not just a game. 

 This too shall pass. 

LOVE!

Pandemic 2020 – 3.25.20

Facebook’s asking me, “What’s on your mind Joel”. Well, glad that you asked 🙂

Here’s something I heard today:

“My mother is not expendable, and your mother is not expendable, and our brothers and sisters are not expendable and we’re not going to accept the premise that human life is disposable,” Cuomo said. “We’re not going to put a dollar figure on human life.” 

NY President Andrew Cuomo, March 24, 2020

May I be frank for a minute? I’ve been doing my best to remain positive, to not resort to invective, to post mostly positive commentary, to take the high road, to offer hope, to focus on “We’re going to be fine”. And I believe that the vast majority of us will be.

But I’m a little angry tonight. My step-son Jason just said, “Trump is a piece of shit” and I thought, “No. That’s not right. He’s like 10 pieces of shit fused together”. This fucking syphilitic, narcissistic, cloven hoofed, fucking loquat is going to kill an untold number of Americans with his “commerce first, what’s in it for me?” immoral, sick, psychotic, profiteering off of misery, bull fucking shit. And down in Alabamy, and Oklahoma, and in Evangelical *clusters*, ignorant buffoons are having their #COVID45 rallies and incubating mass destruction. And in some ways, that’s just fine. Let their God damned Lord sort it out. But what about the “collateral damage”? It won’t just be jackass trolls getting sick, and suffocating our health care system and stacking their neighbors corpses in refrigeration trucks because there’s too fucking many to bury and no one to bury them. Fer fux ache people. Do you EVER think about the rest of the world?

Breathe, Joel. Breathe.

Now breathe again.

Exhale.

Listen. I’m heartened that many, many state Governors are in charge now, not Cinnamon Hitler. I’m grateful to live in a state where California President Newsom is calling the shots, not this useless game show host and serial-failed businessman. And I’m grateful to live in a community that seems to be pulling for each other and, for the most part, following the advice of the Professionals. 

Today was wonderful for the most part. I heard and saw a lot of beauty in this darkness (it’s everywhere if you look hard enough for it) and I loved and I felt love. And I know I’ll wake up in the morning (that’s the plan anyway) next to my Sweetheart, my soulmate, my wife and my Perfect Plague Partner. Yes, we’re scared and we’re worried, more for our loved ones and our neighbors and humanity in general than our own personal selves, but we remain optimistic that this too shall pass and somehow, something good will come of it. I KNOW it will.

For the survivors anyway. 

Goodnight, my friends. Sleep tight. Tomorrow is another day.

LOVE!
Joel

P.S. OMG. Malachi Constant, Unk, the Space Wanderer just popped into my head. I think it’s the perfect time to read Sirens of Titan again! My favorite book and totally relevant to our current situation and the hope that I am cultivating.