Thursday, April 19, 2018


A long time ago, here in this little corner of cyberspace I share with you, I spoke about one of the most amazing bands I’ve ever had the privilege to have met; King’s X. 

I really didn’t speak of them so much… in hindsight I would say I wrote a biography and added a small personal note at the end.  That personal note was about having met the guys… but to read myself now, I realize I wasn’t really telling the story.

On June 6, 1992, Jerry Gaskill, Doug Pinnick, and Ty Tabor played a show in Cleveland, Ohio at a venue called The Empire. It was a somewhat narrow and long space, so you were either in the crowd or you were sitting at the bar with a little more breathing room.

By the time the band was taking the stage, my friends and I had made our way within the first five rows of eager fans, which spanned all of about ten people wide. I’d be lying if I said we didn’t get our ears blasted out, and I’d be lying even more if I said it wasn’t worth it. King’s X came to play that night, and we were all witnesses. 

As it turns out they were recording that night, and it was the show that the band deemed worthy of their first live release.

As is true with many “smaller” bands, King’s X is known to take a brief reprieve after their show and then spend all the time it takes to share some time with anyone who wishes to say hello. Most bands I follow are great enough to deserve huge recognition, and yet they’re consistently humbler than most “regular” people I’ve ever met. They all seem to enjoy meeting their fans and treating them more as friends. I’ve already started talking about Lincoln Durham and Patrick Sweany, and soon I’ll be telling a story about getting to know The Steepwater Band…

But in the meantime; King’s X.

As Doug and I shook hands and began to talk, he complimented the necklace I was wearing. It was a simple little thing… five chimes hanging from a rope necklace, tied there by fishing line. I had bought that necklace at my one and only Grateful Dead show. I attended this Dead show with my great friend… the first person I met when we moved to Cleveland in 1978, who’d pretty much been my best friend all through my high school days.

And so I offered my necklace to this man I had just met. I did so because he liked it, and because he had just inspired me to find my better self, although I may not have completely understood that in the moment. He refused, but I insisted. We went back and forth a few times, until finally I took the necklace off and leaned over to place it over his head.

Doug told me I would see that necklace again someday. 

In the cover photography for their next album, Dogman, I was amazed to see that Doug was wearing my necklace. It was a most amazing gesture.

Over time I really started missing that necklace. It wasn’t the idea that I gave it away; it was the feeling it had given me when I wore it. 

At that time in my life, I was living a very casual lifestyle. I was managing pizza shops and finding my way up the ladder in the service industry. Working in restaurants, especially the privately owned higher ticket places, employees are often encouraged to “let their freak flag fly,” if you will. Personalities that can entertain at a variety of levels make great bartenders and servers, and I was quite a personality back in the day.

And while never devout in religion, I’ve always been spiritual; always seeking a greater understanding how periods of turbulence and harmony affect my soul. The chimes touched that part of me, and without them I felt a loss of sorts.

So, I talked to friends, family, coworkers…  anyone who would listen, probably… and I asked them to please watch for the pieces… even just the little chimes… maybe in a craft store. I figured if I could put together the pieces I could try to make my own, else ask for help from someone close with craft skills beyond mine.

A couple of years later, for my birthday I believe, my parents gave me the most amazing gift. During their travels they’d found a chime necklace… different yet similar… and so perfect. I’m forever grateful for so much more, but that necklace says everything I will ever need to know about my parents. I am truly blessed.

I still have that wonderful gift my parents gave me. I’ve grown into a new life, with a job in an office environment where a certain level of decorum is the responsible thing to do, and a 50ish year old man wearing chimes isn’t quite within those guidelines.  

And so I don’t wear it every day, but I still love it just as much today as the day they gave it to me. I do wear it whenever I’m out riding my Harley, or any time I go to a show… doing the things that make me who I am… that make me feel free. And every time I lift that necklace around my neck, that feeling comes right back. Harmony.

I just told my friend this story the other night… my old dear friend from high school… and in the process I realized it was he who took me to that fateful Grateful Dead show.

He had never heard the story about the fate of the necklace. Truth be told, I don’t think he remembered the necklace at all, or maybe even that we had seen The Grateful Dead together. But that’s okay… whether he remembered any of that between then and now never mattered.

It’s the fact that we can talk about it today, now that amazing circumstance has rekindled our friendship. We had lost touch for a while. My move to Arizona was at a critical time in both our lives, and we had things we had to do that broke the focus of an everyday friendship.  But thanks to classmates and Facebook, we’ve seemingly picked up at just the right level… for a couple of guys who have led uniquely different lives, all the while understanding that very fact as an integral part of why we are great friends.

As I’ve documented here in times past, I have been through a lot of self-inflicted and circumstantial drama since my move to Arizona. This includes but is not limited to a five-year addiction to methamphetamine.  It’s been one heck of a life. 

But I’m 11-years clean now from the thing that almost killed me, and I know I am a better man for all my life’s experiences.

The night we met, my (now ex) wife and I discussed moving to either Phoenix or Tampa. I’m here, she’s not.

Interestingly, the same friend from Cleveland who introduced me to King's X and encouraged me to go to the Empire show on that hot and humid June night, had somewhere along the way moved to Phoenix. It’s also worth noting that this same friend was the first person to break my trust here in my new home in the desert southwest. I was unaware of exactly how addicted to alcohol my friend was, and how that addiction was causing his life to spiral out of control.

As Memorial Day Weekend approached in 2000, this friend offered my wife and I the opportunity to stay at his place and enjoy a vacation in the city that might become our new home. 

She told me to go have fun, but that she wasn’t interested in going to Phoenix for the weekend, or maybe at all.

Her family life changed in the months leading up to our divorce. Her parents were moving to the Upper Peninsula in Michigan, and her sister was having a child… the first grandchild in the family. What had once been a promise to venture across the country in search of an amazing new life together, became her need to stay rooted in the Great Lakes region. I couldn’t stay, and she wouldn’t leave.

Devastated, I made my way to Arizona on my own.

Within the first three weeks I lived in that loft in Mesa, my friend told me he was two months behind on rent and we were being evicted. Of course, I was a friend… so I trusted him when he suggested we move to the central corridor of Phoenix, north of downtown. He convinced me there would be more and better opportunities in that part of town, and that we just needed to stick together.

On a beautiful day in late May 2001, just a couple of months after my friend and I had made that move that was supposed to bring better opportunities, I was out riding my mountain bike.

I’d been out for about an hour and was ready to head home, but before I wrapped the ride I decided to huff it up a street on the side of a mountain to look at what appeared to be an amazing house. I accomplished my goal and saw that house, so with my adrenalin surging and sweat beading on my brow, I turned around and began to ride back down the hill. 

As I was headed downhill, gaining speed and momentum, a van facing the opposite direction pulled away from the curb. I’ll never know if they were going to cut across my path, but in the split second I saw them and reacted, that’s what I believed.

Unfortunately, that reaction led me to lock my brakes.

When my front brake locked I went flying over the handle bars. At the time I wasn’t wearing a helmet or gloves, and I’d just taken off my shirt. With both arms trying to extend to stop the impact, I plowed into the blacktop with my left shoulder and the left side of my face and head.

There was an ambulance ride, and I spent a couple of nights in ICU for the concussion. In addition to the road rash on my shoulder and face, I had breaks in both my arms and had torn off half of my left earlobe. Thank God for an excellent plastic surgeon.

Apparently, this was just a little too much for my alcoholic friend. Once I was released from the hospital, he informed me that he couldn’t “take care of” me, and that he had to leave. I of course didn’t understand what he was talking about, as taking care of me was my responsibility. But that was that, and he bailed… leaving me with a rather expensive 3-bedroom apartment to handle on my own.

I had to break the lease and move to a place I could afford. I was not able to work for about six weeks, but I did have employment waiting for me upon my healing.

I got myself better and got to work… and in the process met I met evil. 

I’m sure it wasn’t her intention to be what I perceive her to be, but the girl who called herself “Vivacious Vicki” was, in my world, the devil incarnate. She was an addict, although I didn’t know it at the time. You never know, until it’s too late. And then you’re an addict too.

There are too many sordid stories to tell here and now, but as things were at their worst, blessings finally came my way.

Five years of tearing my life apart at the hands of the devil eventually led to the good fortune of meeting a better person, who helped me reconnect with my parents and find my way back to myself. The power of my parents’ respect was enough to make me understand what I had become, and what I had to do.

So I took a 5-day assignment through a temp agency. I started that job on Monday, October 2, 2006. I relapsed in February 2007 for one weekend, but never again.

I still work for that same company today.

I truly believe life has moments of turbulence and moments of harmonious glory, and that the wonder of life is learning to navigate those highs and lows without losing yourself in between. I’ve learned about the lows in a way many never will, and I have certainly been blessed with some highs I’ll never forget.

I have chosen to make my home a place that is two thousand miles away from everyone I love most in this world. But I am blessed to be loved by amazing people who never let me forget who I am, and I know amazing sources of inspiration… friends to me in their own unique way… who remind me that no one should ever be made to feel alone.

Tomorrow night, April 20, 2018, I will have the amazing fortune of coming full circle over an extremely monumental period in my life, as I am going to see King’s X for the first time since that night in Cleveland. What a long, strange trip it’s been.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

People Of The Land

Citing “The Crisis in Syria," President Trump announced today that he was not traveling to South America as had been planned. Vice-President Pence will travel in his stead. I had so hoped he wouldn't do a damned thing about Syria, but instead take care of America. It's what he campaigned on, after all, and it seems The Swamp sure wants another war in The Middle East... 

Also today, Mark Zuckerberg gave America it's very own collective #MeToo moment. It seems we have all been his bitch. 

Yesterday on CNN, Jake Tapper cut away from Ambassador Nikki Hayley testifying at The United Nations about matters that could lead our nation into a war in Syria. What he went to was “Breaking News” that was indirectly related to the Stormy Daniels situation, which is apparently the chosen battlefield of "The Most Trusted Name In News."

If you’re not familiar with Ms. Daniels, she’s the porn star who allegedly let the current President grab her by the... or something, back when he was a rich playboy... 2006 or something. I understand he was married, and that sucks. I've not been a saint so I'm not one to judge... but it does help define the man, and that's important in politics. at least we would like to think, since the era of FDR and JFK, Slick Willie... the story of Obama doing cocaine and whatever... I mean heck, our Founders had babies with Slaves. Nobody's perfect... at least none of us.  

My point is that we all knew he was a pig. And yet enough of us either wanted him because of some campaign promise, or we held our nose to protect America from Hillary, or we're deplorable raaaaacists... so here we are.

It’s possible that someday we might learn someday whether Donald J. Trump is the maniacal despot many believe. 

Or perhaps Robert Mueller is just going to keep on digging through Trump’s garbage cans, making a mockery of America. I’ve honestly wondered if this whole thing isn’t some sort of Clinton payback… especially now that we’ve learned Facebook has been working with Mueller?

I’ve honestly not been watching the Stormy Chasers as closely as I have the attacks on our Second and First Amendment by children, who are being supported by major leftist lobbying groups.

I’m also watching as an amazing number of corporations are being bullied into submission by partisan leftists acting as economic terrorists. These people are so hell-bent on destroying any of the foundation remaining under this great nation that they’ll sacrifice damned near anything. I’m wondering how long it will be until Starbuck’s is a corporate sponsor of the wrong cause du jour…

Those kids went through Hell, for sure. Our schools should be safer, for sure. But law-abiding Americans should not lose their rights because of the actions of a few outliers. Fact is that if you don’t own a gun whenever the shit goes down, you might want to know a guy or gal who thinks like me. We are freedom’s safest place. 

America is the Land of Liberty, and Liberty is not a safe space. The government can't protect everyone all the time, as has been proven by events like the shooting in Parkland, where the authorities were called to the shooter’s house 39 times yet failed to accept what was right in front of them.

 Oh, and September 11th, 2001. Another day we weren’t quite ready for. There’s a #NotOneMore moment in American history if there ever was such a thing.

Our Founding Fathers left us the promise of being able to protect ourselves. Whether from each other, or from The Swamp, or an invader from another land meaning to do us harm... The Second Amendment is meant to protect Liberty. The thing is to do it responsibly, with respect for everyone else's rights, whatever you may think.

This past weekend I rode my Harley a little, got a mountain bike ride in, chilled with my “kids.” I stayed away from the drama of The Swamp and had a good weekend of personal growth. I need more of that.

But I’ve learned that I also need to know what’s going on in The Swamp.

It seems like every day there’s something new. People moving out, people moving in. Why? Because of the color of their skin. People love it when you lose. They love dirty laundry… Run, run, run, but you just can’t hide. Just leave well enough alone, eat your dirty laundry…

The thing is, there’s a fine line between right and wrong. Right now, I think the hard left and the hard right are simultaneously correct and incorrect about a number of issues. What we all have in common is our disdain for the people who we believe have been gaining the system at our expense. Where we differ is more difficult, but I think the more we talk the more we find we understand each other. And that’s the key.

I’m a simple man who lives a simple life. I am a twice divorced, white, 51-year old man living in the “Wild West” out here in Arizona.. a "Deplorable" if there ever was one. Out here we still see people carrying a gun occasionally without losing our collective minds. Most of us believe in the individual first and foremost, while still respecting and appreciating the collective. 

I believe in Liberty, which means letting the other guy live his life responsibly, provided he’s not interfering with yours. I’m a staunch defender of The Bill of Rights, many of which I believe are being trampled upon by The Swamp, a.k.a. Washington, D. C. I used to call it The District of Criminals, or The District for short.

Swamp is perfect to begin a sentence, I don’t even have to use my shift button... but I digress...   

I plan to start writing more about a great many issues. There are some issues about which I think the right-wing could use some understanding, or open-mindedness, or both… and some where those truly in search of progress need to slow down… maybe learn a little something from history before they go making all this change we necessarily need as much as they think.

But for now I leave you with a little song called “People Of The Land,” written and performed by a cool cat named Lincoln Durham. Lincoln brings influences from amazing places and people in the history of music to my world. I hope you enjoy.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Tiger Pride

The last time I saw Patrick Sweany perform was last October. I was in the midlle of a stretch where I enjoyed four amazing shows over about a 2-month period by some of the most amazing musicians of our time (Tab Benoit, The Steepwater Band twice, and Sweany). It also happened to be Sweany’s last night of touring in support of “Daytime Turned to Nighttime,” his seventh album.
Rather than taking an exit and making the crowd cheer for an encore, he had fun with the crowd, joking about how they (the band) might otherwise be standing outside the stage door of The Rhythm Room (in a very confined space) and “make you beg for the songs you want to hear.”

“Value Added,” he said. Funny, I use that phrase a lot…

As he continued having fun playing with the crowd, he broke into the story of being a kid from from Massillon, Ohio. “In high school, I was a 152 pound.. tackle” he joked.
So instead of getting his butt kicked on the football field, he picked up the guitar. 

“Tiger Pride” is a fun blues number that feels really close to home. It’s Patrick Sweany’s ode to his hometown. It took him until his seventh album to write it… or at least to put it on record… because sometimes it takes some of us just a little longer to recognize just how good we really had it growing up, or in that place in life, that relationship... job... or whatever it is… and how important it is to keep showing respect to those who made us who we are today.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Hogg Finally Challenged

I want to get away from the media hype and start focusing on the facts of history, regarding why our Second Amendment Right to Keep and Bear Arms was a vital part of the beginning of The Revolutionary War, and why we must maintain our Rights in order to protect America.

But tonight I must say; it is nice that someone in the media finally challenged David Hogg, the newly minted child advocate for “common sense gun laws, at least a little bit.” His rhetoric has been ill-informed, and beyond reprehensible.

It is worth noting that Hogg will not appear on any news network where he might face scrutiny or difficult questions. Nor will he be interviewed by any individual who might ask him questions that differ with his own sheltered opinions.

He also refuses to debate a fellow Parkland student whose opinions lean towards the protection of The Second Amendment and the individual’s right to responsibility keep and bear arms.

But setting that aside for a moment, Hogg is still wrong about Senator Rubio.

By all accounts, Senator Marco Rubio is a decent man who wishes no harm, nor ill will, towards another human being.

Hogg is also wildly misinformed about the NRA. Or, he is using lies as talking points to promote an anti-Constitutional agenda.

The National Rifle Association is not in the business of promoting the killing of children, or anyone for that matter. The NRA at its core is an organization that promotes the safe and responsible use of firearms. It also happens to lobby Congress towards the protection of The Second Amendment of The Constitution of The United States of America.

For the sake of comparison:

Planned Parenthood is also a lobbying organization. It publicly promotes what it calls family planning and women’s health.

But Planned Parenthood also performed 323,999 abortions in 2014, according to statistics givens to CNN. And that’s likely a consistent number, year over year.

Planned Parenthood lobbies for the protection of abortion rights, which means it lobbies for its own right to take the lives of unborn human beings, under the guise of “women’s health.”

That means whether or not I like it, some of my taxes are paying for abortions. Many, including this American, consider that fact a violation of our First Amendment, which protects our religious liberty from the intrusion of government.

The NRA is funded by individuals and companies. It receives no taxpayer funding. It is true that firearms manufacturers donate to the organization.

Planned Parenthood was involved in the organization of the so-called “March For Our Lives” rallies held nationwide last weekend.

I find it deeply ironic that an organization that lobbies our government for its own right to take life as a business, is promoting children in their advocacy against another organization which does not take life, nor promote such immoral behavior.

Friday, March 23, 2018

About That Omnibus...

There are no two ways about it; Planned Parenthood kills unborn children.

In addition to "100 years of providing education, information, and services to help you make informed choices about your sexual and reproductive health” Planned Parenthood performs hundreds of thousands of abortions each year... 323,999 in 2014, according to information provided to CNN.

Additionally, Planned Parenthood is a huge political funding and lobbying organization. In 2016 it contributed $4,070,102 to candidates seeking federal office (all Democrats). Over the years 2015-2016, Planned Parenthood spent over $2.35 million working towards the election of only one political party, as well as maintaining its own right to kill unborn children.

Furthermore, Planned Parenthood is, albeit indirectly, one of the largest supporters of the so-called “March For Our Lives” event taking place tomorrow. This event sounds great, and I am quite certain many well-meaning people will attend.

I hope it’s an educational experience for all... perhaps there will be readings from TheConstitution, or The Federalist Papers... I hear Federalist No. 46 is an excellent read...

But if we’re being honest, the “March For Our Lives” is really a Democratic Party anti-gun rally.

Sadly, it seems a handful of outspoken if not somewhat undereducated children who lived through a horrific experience have now been co-opted by a couple of cable networks and a few “news” outlets, as well as a handful of prominent Democrat politicians.

Don’t believe me? Try to find Kyle Kashuv being interviewed on CNN or MSNBC... or anywhere in the "mainstream" media

Count how many Democrats make speeches at these rallies tomorrow compared to the number of Republicans invited. It’s not because Republicans don’t care about the safety of kids in schools; it’s because the ideasRepublicans offer don’t involve removing Constitutional Rights from law abiding citizens.

I am willing to accept some abortions are done for medically sound reasons, and I’m willing to understand the idea of termination due to rape or incest. But evidence has been presented repeatedly that shows Planned Parenthood helps (if not encourages) teenagers to have abortions as a form of birth control, often without parental consent.

I am not willing to accept teenagers who don’t even understand The Constitution telling me that my rights are less important than their friend’s embarrassment about carrying a tampon in a backpack.

And I don’t appreciate my tax dollars funding any political party. I don’t want my hard-earned dollars funding Planned Parenthood and the Democrat Party through a spending bill, the same as I know some would say of the Republicans and the NRA. Therefore, neither.

Today President Trump signed a spending bill that, amongst other incredibly unnecessary things, gives $500mil to Planned Parenthood.

As much as I have appreciated some of the accomplishments of his administration, as far as I’m concerned, taxpayers continuing to fund Planned Parenthood is a fireable offense. 

Because as I’ve said since I started writing here in 2009; it’s not about right or left… it’s about what is right and what is wrong.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

In Defense of The Second Amendment

Tonight, March 18th, 2018, the CBS news documentary show " 60 Minutes" is airing an interview with some of the students who survived the February 14th shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

I am interested to see which students are interviewed.

Or, more correctly, I am interested to see if some students are not interviewed, and what if any statement is made by the news team at CBS.

Regardless, I will be watching,

Afterwards, I will return here.

And when I return, I will begin to work in defense of The Second Amendment, in the one place I feel I can most effectively help the cause of saving our nation.

Because it is my firmly held belief that without The Second Amendment, we cannot defend any other. Our Founding Fathers understood this, and they documented it with great clarity, in their time. Of course they weren't of the time of YouTube, and 1:30 snippets of cable news, or social media pages like "Occupy Democrats," where information can just be put out there without reasonable challenge, and then shared across the world at the touch of a finger...

But for now, I’m off to ride… I've got a steel horse out there I call Liberty, and we're off to listen to the sound of freedom for a minute.

God Bless.