It’s Definitely Broke!

It has been a hard, long road of COVID-19 social-distancing, or as I sometimes call it: healthy anti-socializing. Leave public health and safety up to the masses, the general public and things WILL breakdown. It will crumble. Many things breakdown when a free democratic society is forced to behave, conform, and be smart for the greater good.

#1 — Complicated phone conversations — Try having a conversation with your significant other on your phone about 4-5 specific items on your shopping list, in a noisy supermarket, through your N95 mask. Broke.

#2 — Have said broken phone convo while in the middle of the 5-ft wide Female Bodycare aisle trapped by a couple on one end waiting on you to move… and a store clerk unpacking boxes at the other end! Mexican standoff. Headed to broke.

#3 — When I finally got out the door of the very busy supermarket I was super primed for solo alone time! Not good! That’s broke. We are meant to be with others. We are a gregarious primate creature! Needed prescription?

#4 — Go on a thrilling, circular, looping (loopy?) ride like NASCAR does jamming to your best aggressive, break-something, get-it-all-out, squirm-n-bounce dancing Playlist with all eight speakers bangin’ serious decibel levels so that no one will notice you! Que some of my kick-ass, COVID-apropos, sing-along tunes. Click Play then sing and jam with me…

After about 1-hour of driving around outer Dallas, singing my vocal-chords out, unable to hear with my broken eardrums the broken world outside, I did feel much better, almost euphoric. It was invigorating! Why? Because this/me could be a lot worse. I mean, I still have rhythm, I can snap my fingers, beat the steering-wheel, I can feel my toes, my fingers, and some of the 2-3 silver hairs I have left on my head and neck, and my ticker and ticker-manager organs still function fairly normal.

At least I don’t have a broken cup and crazy disobedient balls that won’t stay put in this pandemic! STOP IT! Get your minds out of the gutter already! How many balls do you have in your cup? Lost any? How many marbles do you have left in your brain?

Sometimes you just gotta say eff it - Imgur

See, things aren’t so bad. To the best of my knowledge at least I haven’t started losing all my balls/marbles… poor kid.

————

Live Well — Love Much — Laugh Often — Learn Always — Lose Some Balls

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Grow Your Fire!

When you feel drained, tired, beat up, and doubting if you can keep your stability, your sanity, stop… take some slow deep breathes, and find your beat, your peace.

Perspective:

We are tourists on this Earth. We are visiting, passing through like a tourist for a time. Perhaps 80+ years, 95 or 100 if we’re lucky. Less than 40-years if not so lucky. So this makes our short tour here pure gold. How will we/I make those 50, 60, 80 brief years on this Earth? How will we impact others, family and the ones we love deeply through the great times as well as the hard times? Times like right now during this pandemic? What is your/my part in it? How will it be remembered?

One of my all-time favorite stories and top five films is Sydney Pollack’s 1985 blockbuster Out of Africa. Toward the end of the movie after Baroness von Blixen’s most trying, crippling last months in Nairobi, Kenya and being forced to sell off all of her belongings, giving up her farm-home, land, and Kĩkũyũ workers, she must explain to her head butler and dear friend Farah what is going on. The movie’s transcript:

Karen: [to Farah] Where I am going you cannot come.

Farah: There is no cooking where you are going?

Farah is confused by Baroness’ departure and why he cannot come with her so Karen shares an analogy he would understand.

Karen: Farah, do you remember when we were on safari, and during the day you would go ahead and find a camp, and build a fire?

Farah: Yes. And you would see the fire and come to this place.

Karen: Well, it will be like that. Only this time I will go ahead and build a fire.

Farah: And this place you are going…it is very far away?

Karen: Yes.

Farah: (after a pause) Then, you must make this fire very big, Sabu, so that I can find you.

We must continue. Move on, move along. Get to the next campfire to rest for the night. Build that fire! And let that fire grow. Let each of them grow as this song goes…

When things seem unbearable, seem to be frustrating over and over and over where everything and everyone seem to be acting stupid and against you… like not being unified team players… and you ask yourself more than once “Why? What’s the point?” and you want to throw your hands up or yield to something or someone you KNOW you are not…

Then that is when you must dig deep. Relight your fire, fan that fire again and again, and rise to move forward again, fight again! This is now. This is our one and only chance to do better, again, and be right, DOING the right thing as many times as it takes. By keeping yourself safe, doing social-distancing, being the best team player not a bitching Prima Donna, your fire burns huge, burns alive and well for many, not one.

Let it burn, let it grow!

————

Live Well — Love Much — Laugh Often — Learn Always

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A Virtuoso of Rhythm Passes

Just over an hour ago I was given some very painful news from a friend. She and many/most of my good friends know all too well how passionate I become about iconic drummers, percussionists who make the skins (as they are sometimes called) come alive, the various metals, hollowed woods, mallets, and drumsticks hit, reach, vibrate into and through, then consume human bodies and spirits bringing together perfect, harmonized syncopation with Earth’s air, our ears, with life’s purest beat and rhythms. Today is a day and night of mourning. I am crushed as well as stunned by this news. The Rolling Stone headline reads:

Neil Peart, Rush Drummer Who Set a New Standard for Rock Virtuosity, Dead at 67

When I heard the Canadian band the very first time in 1978, their “2112” album, I was immediately affected and in sheer awe at this drummer’s skill and abilities. I remember that day on the airline flight to London Heathrow with football/soccer teammates. He and I were both drummers in our middle school and high school marching and concert bands. After listening to Overture, The Temples of Syrinx, Discovery, and the remainder of the 20-minute concerto of fine rock, and then A Passage to Bangkok, I was speechless. I thought I had just listened to the most beautifully complex, other-worldly performance of percussion I had ever heard. And believe me, I had listened to countless rock drummers at that age. It was my obsession next to football/soccer.

To this day there are but two or three other performances by other drummers that by my heart and standards can be included in the discussion of Greatest of All Time. Neil Peart was more than my childhood idol behind the skins and cymbals. He was a god, the Lord of the Skins as we ‘sophisticated’ drummers affectionately called him. Now he has passed into the ages at far too early an age. This world, the art of fine modern music, percussion, rock, and lyrics will miss terribly this brilliant, talented man. A dark day indeed.

I raise my shot-glass to this icon of drums. I place a pair of drumsticks in front of a burning candle in honor to this once-in-a-lifetime artist that meant so, so very much to me most all of my life, not only by his remarkable sometimes independent syncopation by his two hands and two feet—he could keep four different rhythms perfectly and simultaneously—not an easy task for most, but Neil was also highly educated and therefore an exquisite lyricist for Rush. I’d like to pay my homage to this fantastic man and the trio from Toronto.

Many of you might be familiar with their 1981 hit Tom Sawyer from the Moving Pictures album, one of their top selling albums of all-time. Be utterly impressed by this man’s drumming talent and watch how he invests so much into his artform:

I have many favorite songs/lyrics that Neil composed. It’s impossible for me to say that I have a number one song/lyrics because I don’t; never could shrink that list to less than ten. However, for this emotional occasion I will share one of my top five. It is from their Permanent Waves album released in 1980. I wore this entire album out for at least two years straight. I played it so much on my stereo turntable it hardly left the actual record-table, much less get put away into the paper sleeve. The song I’ve chosen? Though Red Barchetta is a magnificent arrangement in all ways, I did not choose it. Part of my adoration for this particular song is its continual time-signature changes from 6/4, 7/4, to 6/4, to 7/4, 6/4, and 8/4 and back again. Simply amazing! Neil’s four limbs never miss a beat, that is… four independent beats. Here is Neil Peart’s work of art, Freewill:

Rush_Permanent_WavesThere are those who think that life
Has nothing left to chance
A host of holy horrors
To direct our aimless dance

A planet of playthings
We dance on the strings
Of powers we cannot perceive
The stars aren’t aligned
Or the gods are malign
Blame is better to give than receive

You can choose a ready guide
In some celestial voice
If you choose not to decide
You still have made a choice

You can choose from phantom fears
And kindness that can kill
I will choose a path that’s clear
I will choose free will

There are those who think that
They’ve been dealt a losing hand
The cards were stacked against them
They weren’t born in Lotus-Land

All preordained
A prisoner in chains
A victim of venomous fate
Kicked in the face
You can’t pray for a place
In heaven’s unearthly estate

You can choose a ready guide
In some celestial voice
If you choose not to decide
You still have made a choice

You can choose from phantom fears
And kindness that can kill
I will choose a path that’s clear
I will choose free will

[incredible instrumental solos by Geddy and Alex, followed by the most hypnotic, moving seque back into the main theme] 😲

Each of us
A cell of awareness
Imperfect and incomplete
Genetic blends
With uncertain ends
On a fortune hunt
That’s far too fleet

You can choose a ready guide
In some celestial voice
If you choose not to decide
You still have made a choice

You can choose from phantom fears
And kindness that can kill
I will choose a path that’s clear
I will choose free will

Freewill” by Neil Peart and Rush from their album Permanent Waves

If you are interested in listening to this song’s complex sophistication of Neil’s syncopation talent along with bandmates Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson, click here.

Finally, I give my most humble adoration, appreciation, and tribute to Neil for this long, very exhausting composition, also with several time-changes. It took me all summer long (in 1981 when I finally got my 15-piece monster drum kit!) to learn and master, mimicking every single hit of the open or closed hi-hat, double-bass strikes, cymbal crashes, and all drum-fills by every sized tom-toms from 4-inch to the 16-inch and 18-inch floor Toms in perfect syncopation! Never in my life, then or since (well, until my Alt-lifestyles actually), had I achieved the neurological, chemical rush in my body, the natural euphoric HIGH I would get every time I played this song. Dear God it nearly killed me. The composition was around 144-beats per minute for 9 ½ minutes non-stop! Very, very demanding mentally and physically on any drummer. Some olympic athletes might compare it to a Decathlon. But the more I perfected it, the more I HAD to have more! I was becoming a protégé of drumming greatness. Without a doubt I was a seriously lost Peart-addict. There was no hope for me.

I pumped it through my garage band’s Peavey guitar-speakers, four of them all at once! Our downstairs playroom walls with sliding glass door and one window vibrated like earthquakes when I turned up this jam. I had to install a small fan on top of one of my bass-drums to help with the perspiration I’d work up. Several times my hands were so sweaty I’d launch a drumstick across the room trying to keep up with Neil’s unhuman play. What a FREAKIN’ workout it was to get lost in this brilliant piece of music… and I loved every second of it. Perhaps you will hear and detect why it is incredibly demanding for the drummer:

I am going to miss this great artist and percussionist dearly. He fills so much of my early life, my addiction to many rhythms all coming together to create masterpieces. There have been several great drummers over the decades that compare to him, but they have or will confess soon enough that they should not really belong in the same hall or Apollonian Temple as Neil Peart. Here’s to you Neil, rest in peace. I wonder, will the concert halls and recording studios ever be so fortunate again to have a real historic Master of the Skins? Probably not. Not in my lifetime. Now I’m going to a private room to weep.

————

Live Well — Love Much — Laugh Often — Learn Always — Bang the Skins

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