Bullies and Nazis

​On bullies and Nazis…

In 5th grade I dealt with a bully.  This awful little punk ass named John Curly (yeah, “John Curly”.  Even his NAME was terrible).  He spent a good deal of time verbally abusing me, making fun of my braces, calling me every conceivable name in the book.  A couple of those names I later came to know as ethnic slurs.

This is decades before the time of zero tolerance.  So teachers took the “kids will be kids, what can you do?” hands-off stance.  They didn’t give a shit.  

My parents gave me the well-meaning advice of “Be the bigger man and walk away.  Don’t give him the satisfaction of responding to him.  He just wants attention.  Be better than him, Chris.”  

By the way, that advice didn’t work.  

One day I’m in the hallway and he comes walking after me, starting in with his usual verbal assault.  This time I was at the end of my rope and I finally had it.  At one point he’s directly behind me, basically screaming in my ear.  So I wheeled around and George McFly’d him right in his stupid little mouth.  Full on glorious movie punch.  Fist?  Meet face.

His hand went to his mouth and his eyes turned red and watery.  He started crying.  Then full on sobbing.  I walked off.  He tried running after me but I retaliated by shoving him down.  He was a lot weaker than he looked.  Or maybe I was just stronger than I realized.  I walked off again as he shouted after me, but I couldn’t hear him anymore.  A teacher eventually heard him screaming at me and sent him to the principal’s office.  

He never bothered me at all after that.  Or anyone else.  We definitely didn’t become friends but we learned to coexist on the playground at recess.  He seemed to know his place by this point.

Alt-right Nazi leader, Richard Spencer, getting punched in the face mid-hate speech at this weekend’s woman’s march made me think of this.  It’s a situation that really couldn’t have been dealt with any other way.  

Guys like Spencer and bullies like mine don’t respond to words.  That have no interest in learning how to be better.  And they sure don’t want to hear that kind of spiel from you or me.  They want to carry on unfettered and without consequence no matter who it negatively effects.  They need to be sent a message, loud and clear, that that is not going to happen on our watch.  And a strongly worded email or petition just plain isn’t going to do that.  

Nazis, like bullies, are there to incite violence and keep people scared and upset.  They work better when people are afraid of them.  Turning the other cheek and ignoring them doesn’t work, especially in the case of Nazis.  

Of course as a hardline rule I’m not a fan of violence.  It’s not the answer to every problem, etc.  We all know this as sensible people.  And it should be noted that Spencer was still standing after getting hit.  As was the bully I dealt with.  My bully seemed to have learned his lesson.  Did Spencer?  Guess we’ll see.

Nazis and bullies?  They deserve to get punched.  

Coltrane

“Well, let me put it this way…you ever been to the dentist?  Not me.  I suppose I should go to one, but I got enough pain in my life as it is.” – Bleeding Gums Murphy

When I really try to think about my earliest exposure to jazz, the Bleeding Gums Murphy episode of The Simpsons is what comes to mind.  I didn’t quite know what jazz was at that pre-teen point of my life.  I was familiar with the saxophone but that was about it.  Who in the 80’s wasn’t familiar with the sax?  I heard the sax on various Huey Lewis and The News songs and that one guy in The Lost Boys played a sax, but jazz as a music genre was still a foreign concept at that juncture.  

It wasn’t until high school that I discovered John Coltrane’s Giant Steps album (about the time I joined the high school’s jazz band, more on that another time).  A lot of people perhaps rightfully count A Love Supreme as his magnum opus but Giant Steps to me has this undeniable, spirited energy that is perfection to me.  

Every song is truly magnificent.  My favorite moment on the album is the intro to ‘Countdown’.  It starts with a loose drum solo.  And I mean LOOSE.  It almost sounds like they’re dragging the drum set across the studio floor.  This gives a sense of chaos that goes on for a little bit, just long enough for you to wonder what’s going on exactly.  Before you know it Coltrane drops in with this beautiful, razor sharp rapid-fire solo that blisters.  

My favorite Coltrane song though may have to be his version of ‘My Favorite Things’.  It’s a complete re imagining of the song from The Sound of Music.  In comparison to the original it’s instrumental and breezier.  And you don’t have to deal with the absurd lyrics.  But the melody is still there and it’s pushed properly to the forefront.

Coltrane is where it’s at.  If you have Amazon Prime there’s an absolute treasure trove of old jazz albums.  Best damn $99 a year I could spend.

Was Bleeding Gums Murphy a jazz guy or a blues guy?  I may have to go back and rethink my entire life now.

Insomnia Blues and Yet More 90’s Rock Reflections

It’s one of those nights where I wake up for no reason at 3am.  Good Lord, does it ever suck.  I’m sure it’s a combination of anxiety and just a general whatever else is going on in my life.  That recent bout of food poisoning I’m sure is also a culprit.  I have to play my guitar to calm me down and bring my head back down to earth and/or do breathing exercises. Anyway, good times. 

So right now I’m just listening to some music.  For some reason I had this weird urge to listen to “Another Body Murdered”, an early 90’s collaboration between rock metal masters Faith No More and hip hop group Boo Ya Tribe.  It contains the haunting piano, thrashing guitar and off-the-wall vocals that are part of Faith No More’s sound.  Except, ya know, with other people rapping over it. 

This was part of the soundtrack album to a movie called Judgement Night.  I don’t remember a whole lot about the movie itself.  Mainly just Jeremy Piven getting thrown off a roof (which going just off that makes it sound like a masterpiece).  And of course the soundtrack, which at the time, was a bit of an event as it featured collaborations between hip hop acts and rock and alternative bands at the time.  Rock and rap together were still a bit of a new concept.  So you had stuff like Slayer and Ice T, Helmet and House of Pain, Mudhoney and Six Mix-A-Lot, etc.  I remember me and my friends raving about it.  “Rap AND ROCK!  This is the future!”  I think of Limp Bizkit getting popular just a few years later and it makes me sad how right we were.

It’s kind of funny when a soundtrack outpaces the movie.  I think the Adventures Ford Fairlane soundtrack did the same thing. 

Also listened to Living Colour because it’s a 90’s kind of night.  “Cult of Personality” is the big hit everyone remembers but “Elvis is Dead” is probably my favorite.  It’s got all that AND a surprise saxophone solo.  And if that wasn’t enough it’s also got Little Richard.  That’s a pretty wonderful one-two surprise. 

The Time’s Up album as a whole features plenty of gems.  “Fight the Fight”, “Pride”, “Type”, “Solace of You” and of course “Love Rears Up its Ugly Head”.  Come to think of it THAT one may be a favorite.  See, this is why I can’t choose a favorite ANYTHING.  I’m too indecisive.  Plus, really, who cares?

Dammit, do I need to go back to sleep.  I have to wake up in two hours.

My punk phase, Steely Dan and Dominos pizza.

It’s sometime in the early ’90’s.  I’m in high school and in the midst of my punk phase where I was into music like Black Flag, The Ramones, Husker Du and the like.  Green Day and the Offspring were maybe a year or two away at that point and I’m sure you can imagine how much everyone getting into that “Keep ’em separated” song and body piercing annoyed me.  I generally keep a perspective of “music is music” but mall punk is, and always will be, for the birds.  I wanted the REAL shit.  Loud guitars, fast beats, Henry Rollins punching people.  Although I will say later on, when my dogmatic views on music stopped being so damn annoying, I grew to like Green Day.

Anyway, I saw an interview with Steve Jones, the guitar player from the Sex Pistols, in one of the many guitar magazines I read.  They asked him something along the lines of “Who are you rebelling against?”  And he said “Steely Dan.  Shit like that.” (please note I’m paraphrasing.  He may have said “shite”)  I remember also seeing an interview with Joey Ramone where he listed off bands that the Ramones were a reaction against.  Steely Dan was one of them.  So since my musical heroes at the time declared Steely Dan an enemy of the state I thought “Wow, they must be bad news if the dude from the Sex Pistols doesn’t dig them.”  Even though at the time I couldn’t tell you anything they did.  Keep in mind I was young and dopey.

Cut to today and I love Steely Dan.  The Aja album and Can’t Buy a Thrill discs are my current favorites.  Right now I’ve got the Aja album going in the background.  The songs are amazing and the musicianship is inconceivably tight.  Donald Fagen and Walter Becker are notorious for their perfectionism.  But so what?  The music is great.  It’s on a big scale.  And they get way more plays today then the Sex Pistols do.  Probably an age thing.

So ‘Do it Again’, easily one of my favorite tracks, is now going and I just finished off some leftover Dominos hand-tossed with bacon and mushrooms.  I’m looking into my kitchen and I see an empty Dominos box on top of another empty Dominos box.  I eat way too much of this shit.  I do love me some pizza, though.  And I shouldn’t like Dominos of all places but I can’t help it.  Local places are pretty much always better, but they don’t have a pizza tracker.

The Pizza Tracker!  I swear that goddamn thing is a work of art.  You keep track of your order step by step and let you know exactly when it’s out for delivery.  Basically it lets you know when you need to put pants on.  Because you’re about to have company.  I’ve learned in life that this always good information to have. Genius, I’m telling you.

‘Reeling in the Years’ is delightfully chugging along in the background.  Somewhere in my psyche there’s a teenage me that’s mad at the 30-something me.  And the 30-something me is telling the teenage me to calm the fuck down.  And help him eat some of this pizza.

Writing (sometimes) sucks

I’ve always had an odd relationship with the craft of writing.  On one hand I feel like I’m good at it.  I’m not the sharpest knife in the drawer or the brightest light on the tree but I don’t feel I’ve ever had any kind of trouble articulating through print.  I can talk shop and crack wise and type the sweet every-loving mother fudge out of a work email.

But when it comes to writing stories and plotting out story ideas that I want to pursue I hit the wall.  It stops being expression and starts being homework.  Taking it that one step further brings out the frustration.

Songwriting comes easy to me.  You’re taking ideas and feelings and condensing them to 3 or 4 minutes.  And riffs and chords are easy to come up with usually.

I commend anyone that does this for a living because sometimes?  Damn.  It’s tough.  This is just my obstacle to get through.  No big thing.

Cuz I got ideas, man.   Hopefully I can work through the roadblocks and get something going.  Or I may just keep blogging.  Who knows?  😉

I ain’t stressin’. Cuz I’m Word Pressin’!

I started a WordPress blog for some reason.  I have a Tumblr blog (neridog.tumblr.com) but it’s always way too busy.  And porny.  Plus I just tried to update it and it froze.  Not impressed.  I may use this blog to blog and yammer like a mental patient.  This whole thing may begin and end with just this one post.  Who knows?  In any event, welcome.  Be excellent to each other.  And party on, dudes.