Unnoticed in Clever Worlds

The clearest description I have managed so far about my blog is that it is not about cats. In general, I find predators pretty predictable while prey on the other-hand, because they live in universes of anxiety, develop more textured personalities. I also have as a writer a deft hand when it comes to making matters worse, so of course , the already panicky are ready made for me. I will try to grow this blog into an assortment of laughs, because that is what my life has mostly taught me to do. I will use the famous people I have known to get your attention and then tell you small but many times wonderful things about them. I will never name the ones I say ugly things about but I hope you will guess who they are.

Why we wipe our asses

I read an anthropology book in college called “The Territorial Imperative.” It put forth reasoning on why some people are left-handed and others right-handed. Early man generally was nomadic, and when they encountered a new tribe, it became common to raise one hand in greeting. The choice of which side you lifted was governed by which hand you did not use to wipe your ass. I always thought this was reasonable for sure, and undoubtedly dependable grounds for wiping out the other tribe.

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We are in a very different pickle

I am fretting about the compliant destruction of our civilization as a means to combat this disease.
Our nobility depends on how we are willing to adapt in order to save a portion of us. How can we make this decision? Who will make it, knowing full well they are condemning themselves for making it all?

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Snowball

I grew up in the fifties, shitless with fear over the expected descent of the next Ice Age.
I plowed out my bumpy fields of uneasiness with recreational drug use in the sixties, the pursuit of fun and money in the seventies and eighties, and then children in the nineties till now. My glacial adversary, however, bided its time and has reemerged as global warming.
Ice Ages, plural because there are many of them in Earth’s history, seem to have their very own periods of warming during them, known as interglacial periods. We are inside this little pocket of warmth right now.
According to Bill Bryson, “Even less well understood are the cycles of warm weather within ice ages, known as interglacial periods. It is unnerving to think that all of recorded human history, from the development of farming, the creation of towns, the rise of mathematics, writing, science, and all the rest, has taken place within the current interglacial period of mild weather conditions. Previous interglacial periods have lasted as little as 8,000 years. Our present interglacial period has already passed 10,000 years. ”
I knew it!

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“Wearing feelings on our faces when our faces took a rest,” Peter Gabriel… Genesis, 1972.

I spent five or six years touring the world with these people. They were my only constant friends, all of us in our early twenties. They had their dreams, and I had no idea who I was or why I was even there. I was never positive what a tour manager was.
Nobody was famous or had any money.
We played high school gymnasiums and any open spaces with a stage and a box office. I sometimes used a handheld clicker to count the punters as they came in so the promoter couldn’t cheat us.
In America, we would hang long drapes across the floor, cutting the space in half so we could pretend we never meant to sell out the entire gym in hopes the music reviewers might be tricked.
Their records weren’t played on the radio because the songs were too long. It was my job to prevent videos like the one below from being recorded. Such is my distinguished legacy. There are many of these.
When in Europe, they knew I was lost all the time, but they covered for me. I had a big briefcase filled with money. I passed through border after border every day while desperately trying to calculate exchange rates. The currencies looked like five-year-olds painted them. It took twenty million Italian Lira to buy a pack of cigarettes and one German Deutsche Mark to buy Italy.
In America, I booked tours for them that hit every National Monument and tourist site over and over again. We always drove, sometimes trains in Europe but rarely flew. No money.
Phil Collins and I saw The Alamo in Texas for the first time together. Since then, I hear he bought most of it.
We got busted for residue in Canada and fell in love with each other. Everyone did this in the early seventies.
No band played more shows in those years. We seldom had an opening act. We tried using Lou Reed once for a show we could not sell at all in Detroit, but his audience beat up our audience before the show even started.
They would stop touring only to record a new album. When that happened, I was out of a job.
After my first tour, I went back home to live with my parents in Pittsburgh to wait. Later I stayed with them in England, sleeping on floors or in their parent’s houses.
The band’s manager, Tony Smith, called me often that first summer from England to play me new tracks as they recorded them in the studio on our landline phone. My mother and I stood ear to ear in the kitchen, listening. She did not get it at all.
We played bullrings in Spain and bicycle racing rinks with sloping walls in Italy. The political revolutionaries would take over the stages in France and Portugal, and we would stand aside until they had given their speeches. At times the army would do our security.
Genesis audiences were smart and sweet and loyal to this day.
We had car accidents and fights. We were growing up, and I wasn’t very good at my job. I caused the biggest embarrassment in rock history, and I nearly got fired for knocking out the sound technician with a solid punch, not because they liked him more but because he quit afterward, and nobody else knew how to plug all the shit in.
I got the responsibility of being the godfather to Peter Gabriel’s daughter. I failed at that.
When the band eventually broke up, none of us knew what to do. I think we said goodbye. You might expect I would remember that.
I don’t recall ever knowing what to do next.

The Who’s version of Coronavirus

All that remained of the band’s all-night security detail was Jim Callaghan, who was shifting nervously from foot to foot in front of me. He was wearing one shoe.
I ignored him.
Keith Moon stretched out in front of me in black nylons and a blue silk kimono behind a tea service set for him on a small Victorian table. His hotel suite window showed whichever lake was next to Chicago. It was early morning sometime in the late seventies. He was wearing Callaghan’s other shoe.
At mid-tour, he was worn and beginning to look like an unshaven Judy Garland during her last difficult years, but I kept this to myself.
“Spot of tea, Regis?” he offered, not caring there was not a second cup. “Did you take in some theater before you rushed here to help me?” he jabbed.
“I wanted to pick up more cash,” I offered, working to deflect him. The band still made me nervous.”
I learned early that rock stars had no concrete understanding of cash, they liked it, but it stalled and confused them.
This drummer viewed me as a magically tall money fountain and understood vaguely that on occasion, I needed a refill. It was our primary working link.
“We have disturbing confidences to consider you and me,” he began slowly. “I have met the wrong woman.”
He paused here, investigating our faces for sympathy. None came. But we didn’t laugh either.
Days seemed to pass as I was blank for any response. Callaghan cracked first,” He’s got the clap.”
“Quiet!” he shot at him in a shrill hiss, “this is our grave intrigue; no one can ever know.”
” I’ll find you a doctor,” I swiftly convinced him, and then after brief but genuinely stupid pleasantries, I headed off.
I can make anyone do anything for Who tickets and cash.
The doctor was there in under an hour to take a culture. He called Keith later to unveil that he had an especially hateful strain of Vietnamese gonorrhea.
That afternoon I headed back up to his room with the doctor and his bag of syringes in tow.
We found him with his close friend Dougal hunched over the suite’s dining table with pens and paper looking like Hitler and Goebbels planning a North African tank campaign.
While the doctor set up, I asked: “Should we let the girl know?”
“Girl?” he sniffed as though I had demanded the definition of a two hundred letter word. They both snickered at me; he said, “there are constellations of girls, and we are connecting those dots as we speak..”
With that, he turned back to his diagrams with Dougal, who was now so stimulated about the probable sexual associations he was practically drooling. They were tracing who they had slept with and who else had most probably done the same girl. The enrollment grew and grew like a virus. No one, at least in the imaginations of these two, could be innocent. ( Except me, of course, because I would be paying the doctor.)
There is nowhere on earth like a rock tour when it comes to women. And yes, occasionally, the odd girl might have a disease of one kind or another. It did happen.
But groupies get a bad whack in music mythology. Commonly they had far higher IQs than the road crews, the traveling staff, and the band members they coveted. Most of the famous ones are ambitious, conniving, and breathtakingly forward advancing. Sometimes it is sad but rarely.
I understood that innocents were fingered that day, caught up as they were in Moon’s fabulously infectious net. Still, the English are reliably the last to guess at a lie. They will nearly always misjudge what to do in favor of caution. It was just good unclean fun, after all.
Dougal and I called nearly everyone on tour that day and the glum suspected marched in all day. Even some of our lawyers succumbed to the flimsiest of evidence.
With sick looks on their faces, they dropped their pants.
The doctor was now working for me full time. He made a small fortune and walked away with enough tickets to start another Ticketron in Chicago.

A photograph exists of everyone standing or kneeling together in that suite at day’s end because the whole damn thing turned into a party.
It resembled a U.S. baseball team card.
The Indian doctor was sitting in the center, holding a lap-full of Who tickets and syringes. I don’t know who has that photo today.
I would pay for it.

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Looking forward to looking back

I said to my daughter, ” We will both look back on these times as the best years of our lives. The only difference will be that you will be in your fifties, and I will be in my hundreds.”

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Good old God

My family hated John F. Kennedy because he was Catholic. My father was Catholic too, but I never knew that until I went through his one drawer after he died and found his beads and Bible. He never mentioned it.
My mother was Irish. She hauled me to our Methodist church in my wool suit every Sunday to sweat and itch. I believed in this God hard. He got credit for every lucky thing that happened to me. I never blamed Him for anything.
I knelt beside my bed every night next to my mother and recited:
“Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep,
If I shall die before I wake,
I pray the Lord, my soul, to take. Amen.”
Done with that poetry, I proceeded to remind him of who to bless. “God bless Mummy and Daddy,” followed by a careful laundry list of family members. I always included the dog of the moment, which needed it as they lasted not very long. The Devil liked running them over with cars, I guess.
Praying, like Santa and the Easter Bunny, reluctantly lost their substantiality by high school. However, petitioning the Lord for shit lasted till college. God and I worked my teen years hard. I solicited His intervention on every pimple. And on the hearts of every girl on whom I got a crush.
I don’t ask Him for anything anymore. I think it is vaguely unseemly. I have too much. It wouldn’t even surprise me if He came sniffing around to get something off of me.

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Satchels of Silence

Men carry silence
in satchels
filled with oaths and betrayals
weaved loosely
into malice and murder.
All we are certain of
is that we have forgotten
why.

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PUBLISHED: November 29, 2016
FILED UNDER: Unnoticed in Clever Worlds

PUBLISHED: March 18, 2019
FILED UNDER: Unnoticed in Clever Worlds

Coronavirus and Indoor plumbing

Growing up, our family had one bathtub. You made the stream of water hotter or colder by turning the two spigots with your toes on the opposite end. I got too big for it fast, so half of me got wet but not clean, and the rest of me I sponged. Sitting in dirty water used to be the American way.
My first shower happened in our neighborhood municipal swimming pool. The experience would have been more pleasing if not for the panic of being naked in front of other boys. Boys in my age bracket did not grow up narcissistic. We hid our genitalia like one-eyed pirates burying treasure chests on distant island beaches.
In high school, I was a year-round athlete, so I showered after practice every day. It was the first time in my life I was frequently clean. I wasn’t tempted by homosexuality because it did not exist back then.
In our hot summers, we had the garden hose, which was to us a toy. Showering in cold water prepares boys for pain and non-specific sorrows. And you can keep your pants on. Always a plus.
My family never graduated to an indoor shower. They went to their graves half dirty.
I was an inventive kid, one of our best and brightest in the neighborhood. One day, late in my high school years, I dragged our long hose through the basement window and hung it over the indoor piping affording myself year-round ice-cold indoor showers. Presto, Ivy League!
In this time of sticky virus, our bad feelings will be finally washed away. We have gotten grimy over the past years, divided in half as we are by our bathwater. Of this, I have no uncertainty. And remember, I invented indoor plumbing.

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