Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Leaping to Conclusions


Years ago, here in Oregon, there was a terrible event: A young mother, out driving with her children in Springfield, saw a curly-haired stranger on the side of the road trying to flag her down,  so she pulled over, and he tried to carjack her. Wound up shooting her three children and her. Killed one child, paralyzed another, caused the third to have a stroke. Her wound, to the arm, was less serious, and she managed to escape, get back into the car and flee, driving to the hospital.

Local paper ran the story, and Geezus, ain't it awful? What is the world coming to?

At the time, I got a strong whiff of fishy. What is the rest of the story?

Fishy it was, more than a tuna factory on Friday afternoon. 

Eventually, it was determined that Diane Downs, the young mother, shot her children, and wounded herself, because she had a boyfriend who didn't want kids.

Some of the video footage of the woman is bone-chilling, how she reacted to the shootings, what she had to say, while smiling ...

She's still in prison, still sociopathic, and scary to see and hear.

A lot of crap going on in our country these days, people being shot, and while I don't attribute the madness of Diane Downs to anybody shooting now, there is, because we have access to cell phone videos and instant social networking, a lot of rushing to judgement based on sketchy information.

Yeah, I have watched the vids. And surely, some of them look like executions, but I am reminded of Diane Downs. There is going to be more to some of these stories, and that information is apt to find the stony ground of already-formed opinions based on insufficient data.

Seen a couple more videos this week. Some woman at a rally talking to a TV crew, she's calm and well-spoken, and all of a moment, police grab her and drag her off.

Another of a woman holding a sign that says "Love" at a rally, and the next image is of her being grabbed by the throat and arrested by armored cops.

And finally, a video of a perpetual motion machine. A small bladed fan, upon which somebody attaches magnets and metal plates and then spins it up to twirl without any source of power.

We aren't seeing the whole picture in any of these events. What happened before, or off-camera, and that makes a difference. Schrodinger's Cat.

This is not to say there aren't grievous injustices taking place. There are bad cops, and they do bad things, and there are psychotic killers, some of them religious nuts, I am not trying to excuse any of them. I am just pointing out that in many cases, what we are shown is only the tip of an iceberg, and before we think we know what happened, we ought to collect more information. 

The world is full of clickbait. Proceed with caution.

Sunday, July 03, 2016

The Shadow Knows



I was raised from the age of two to thirteen in Baton Rouge, in a middle-class neighborhood called Brookstown. Small houses, mostly blue-collar families, lots of kids and dogs and early 1950's sensibilities. (Look at Google Street View now? It's a barely-recognizable, impoverished third-world country, one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in the city. You can't go home again.)

In the summer, sometimes a friend and I would find a plum tree and, once the fruit was just past a particular shade of green, we would stage a raid. 

Hop the fence, put an old sheet on the ground under the tree, grab and vigorously shake a couple of branches, collect the sheet and flee with our stolen loot.

Something a nine-year-old-boy used to do without much thought about the legality of the process.

We knew it was wrong, but we did it anyhow.

One fine early summer day, my partner in theft, Ted Long, and I cased a yard. Plums were ready enough, we had our old sheet. We hopped the fence, laid out the collection cloth, and proceeded to start shaking branches.

"What are you doing?" a woman's voice came

Oh, crap! The homeowner! We were caught!

The woman looked at me. "What is your name?" she demanded.

We had not anticipated actually being caught. We had discussed the notion in theory. What if somebody catches us? 

Why, we figured, we would just give them a phony name, and be off and about our business.

We had not thought it through, but that seemed enough at the time.

Ah, but here we were, facing the irate owner of the plum tree, and the unexpected shock threw me into a full-blown panic. 

"What is your name?" she said, glaring at me.

And in my bowel-quivering fear, my mind went blank and I blurted out the only name not my own I could remember:

"T-T-T-Ted Long!"

You can imagine the expression on Ted's face. His shocked gaze at me. What?!

So, you can also guess what Ted said when she asked his name, can't you?

Thus I found that I was not cut out for a life of crime ...

Friday, May 27, 2016

Mary Jane Blues




Mary Jane Blues (12-bar blues, in D) 

1.
D
Oh, the bugs ate my marijuana plant, they ate her right down to the ground/ 

A                                                                         D
Oh, the bugs ate my marijuana plant, they ate her right down to the ground/

AGD 
You know I can’t get high no more, ‘cause I’m feeling so low down.

2.
I called her Mary Jane, and she was tall and green/
Yes, I called her Mary Jane, and she was tall and green/
When I woke up this morning and she was gone, it was the worst thing I’d ever seen


(Instrumental Break) 

3.
I sprayed Dr. Bronner’s to save her, but it too late/
Yeah, I sprayed Dr. Bronner’s to save her, but it too late/
I’m gonna get ten gallons of Blag Flag, and kill all them bugs I hate.


4. Repeat verse 1. 


Monday, March 14, 2016

Double Entendre Blues



Double Entendre Blues 

E/E7                                        
Well, my woman drives a pickup, drives a pickup, drives a pickup, and she drives it real good/
 A/A7                                                                                     E/E7
Yeah, my woman drives a pickup, drives a pickup, drives a pickup, and she drives it real good/ 
              B7               (B7,B-flat,A)            E
She keeps it oiled and lubed up, just like a good woman should.

 (turnaround: E,A,E,B7)

E/E7                                        
It’s got big round bumpers, big round bumpers, big round bumpers, and headlights set way up high/
A/A7                                                                                       E/E7
It’s got big round bumpers, big round bumpers, big round bumpers, and headlights set way up high/
                   B7             (B7,B-flat,A)     E
The tailpipe is so tight, makes a grown man want to cry.


E/E7
The bed’s big enough, big enough, big enough to hold a telephone pole/
A/A7                                                             E/E7
The bed’s big enough, big enough, big enough to hold a telephone pole/
                   B7             (B7,B-flat,A)     E
The heater is so hot, you will never ever ever ever get cold.


E/E7
If you ask her real nice, real nice, real nice, she might give you a ride/
A/A7                                                                       E/E7
Yeah, If you ask her real nice, real nice, real nice, she might give you a ride/
                              B7            (B7,B-flat,A)                   E
When she grabs that gearshift lever, you’ll think you’ve gone to heaven and died.


E/E7                                        
Well, my woman drives a pickup, drives a pickup, drives a pickup, and she drives it real good/
 A/A7                                                                                     E/E7
Yeah, my woman drives a pickup, drives a pickup, drives a pickup, and she drives it real good/ 
               B7             (B7,B-flat,A)             E
She keeps it oiled and lubed up, just like a good woman should.



Friday, September 25, 2015

Climb a Tree ...



Knew a guy once was a consummate liar. A master of mendacity; a primo prevaricator; a man, who, in the words of the old saying, would climb a tree to tell a lie rather than stay on the ground and tell the truth. If his lips were moving, he was lying ...

Why? As nearly as I could tell, it was always to make himself look better. He wanted people to like him, and he wanted them to admire him. So he never told a tale but that he was the hero of the story, and his heart was always pure, his motives righteous, and his actions justifiable.

Caught a fish? Why, it has huge, would have been a record, seriously! except that his stupid brother dropped it and it got away!

Or that gorgeous woman? They were going to get together and roll around breaking furniture, but her boyfriend found out and threatened to kill himself, and she couldn't let that happen. But she wanted him.

He showed up once looking like something the cat dragged in, all scuffed and bruised.

Jeez, what happened to you?

Well, I was doing a favor for a friend, hush-hush, not entirely above board, can't tell you any more, and I went to this bar and started asking some questions. Stepped on the wrong toes. Got jumped by three guys. Managed to hold my my own and give better than I got, but I took a few hits.

Wow. That's heavy, dude.

And he shrugged and said, Hey, life in the big city, man ...

Through an odd quirk, I later found out what really happened: He was on a motorcycle, hit a wet patch on the road and put the bike down ...

Could have been a funny story, spun right, but that would have made him look less than completely adept, so he didn't go that route.

Once upon a time, I thought he would have made a great fiction writer, but as I got into doing that, I realized I was wrong. Sure, we make stuff up and lie like a warehouse full of Persian rugs, but the good lies always have truth in them, and the great lies are almost always completely true. He couldn't seem to get there.

Eventually, we tuned him out. He had to find others who didn't know his game, until they caught on, then he had to move along.

I wonder sometimes what happened to him. Dead? In jail? Or, the CEO of a major corporation?

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Eye Candy?



Having been pressed into service to pick up one of the grandsons from high school this week, I had occasion to be parked in my car in the lot when a comely young woman who, by the nature of where we were, had to be in her mid-to-possibly-late teens, walked in front of me.

She was wearing tan tights, and it looked to be as if they had been air-brushed on.

Not to be considered a dirty-old-man staring at a teenager young enough to be my granddaughter, I could not help but notice that she wore nothing under the tights, and such was the thinness of the material that I could not help but notice she had, um ... how to say this? ... ah, golf-greened the lawn. Actually, scalped it right down to the ground.

As it were.

I didn't seek this out, she walked in front of me.

I am as happy as the next man to look at an attractive woman passing by, and nor am I tights-shaming anybody, but I had to wonder: What was she thinking? Did she not have a mirror? Was she an exhibitionist?

Black yoga pants, maybe. Tan tights?

And how is it that the school here in suburban Oregon allowed her to dress thus? Had she been wearing a skirt or shorts or even a long shirt over them earlier? 

My daughter, when she was in high school, wanted to wear her pajamas to school, which was for a few days that year, all the rage. We said no. So she put her clothes on over her PJ's and once at school, shucked the outer layer. We found out later ...

Um. I guess the point here is that things sure have changed since I was a teenager. Sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse, and on some days, I'm not sure which is which ...