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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

My Hero ~ Art Stone

Heroes can come in many guises to many people. Oft times they are a sports figure, war hero, or a father or uncle. I would like to talk briefly about one of my heroes, Art Stone.

Art left us on December 9 of last year, much too early for me as I had only had a chance to sample the greatness of the man. A true renaissance man, Art could draw, create amazing tattoos, expertly tailor clothing, equipment and flags and play the guitar....he did all of these things not just competently, but extremely well. For this alone he was admirable, but there was so much more.

I met Art just as I was on my way out of the hobby, so I did not get much of chance to reenact with the man, but on the occasions when we did hook up it was like hanging out with my oldest and dearest friend whom I had known a lifetime. I was in awe of how humble the man was, how he would not hesitate to do what he could to make you smile or to share his knowledge. Like a fool, I felt that there was plenty of time to do the things I wanted to with him....get my 2nd tattoo, buy some clothing he made, play music with him. I thought we both had all the time in the world. Can you imagine? Me? Who danced with death not so very long ago?

Art was devoted husband, a hardworking man, a veteran and my hero. I shall never forget you Art...the only sense I can make of this emptiness is that the good Lord heard about the tattoo we were discussing and decided to pull rank and get the tat himself....for that reason, if for no other, my right shoulder shall always remain blank.

If you are in the area in early June be sure to check out the "School of the Soldier" at Allaire State Park. Dedicated to the memory of Art, it is a great 2 days of living history by the best historians the state has to offer.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Alvin Lee ~ Goin' Home

...and still they pass into oblivion. Alvin Lee passed away last week, guitarist and vocalist for "Ten Years After" and bona fide Woodstock hero. Very few in my age group will ever forget his performance in the movie "Woodstock" of their song "I'm Going Home"

They started out primarily as a Jazz outfit playing small clubs in the Nottingham, England area and did one tour of America before being catapulted to Super Stardom in the "Woodstock" movie and soundtrack. The name "Ten Years After" was supposedly inspired by Elvis Presley, the fact that Elvis's biggest success was 1956 and the band being formed in 1966...Ten Years After.

They did not remain a Jazz outfit for long and soon became a blues/rock band. I saw them twice. Once at the South Mountain Arena in South Orange, NJ and once at the The Nassau Coliseum in Long Island. They left a life long impression on me and I will always love the band that was fronted by Alvin "fast fingers" Lee. Rest in Peace, Alvin, you're going home.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Chapter I ~ Downpayment Blues

" I've got holes in my shoes, and I'm way overdue....Down Payment Blues" ~ AC/DC

Yet another night, wide awake at 3:30 AM. It's money, naturally, it's always about the fucking money. I wake up, have to take a leak, and then I stand in the darkened hallway in my underwear at the top of the stairs. Should I go back to bed and lie there and have this same shit flow through my mind uncontrollably? Or should I go downstairs to the PC, read my mail, check Face Book and Twitter, pray I don't get lost in a sea of porn and write.

It's been the same way constantly since 2005, since I came so close to shaking off this mortal coil that I could smell the rotted breath of the grim reaper. Truth be told, I didn't feel a thing, I came in and out of consciousness over the span of 24 hours as the "system" carted my carcass from one hospital to another trying to fend off my doom. Those people who say they saw "the light" and heard a gentle voice calling them home? True for them perhaps, but to me it's strictly baloney. The only thing I felt were the beginning twinges of my body starting to rot to be later turned into fertilizer to be spread on some rich assholes lawn. Some heaven.

3:56 AM and I have gotten an epic two paragraphs squeezed out. I gotta take another leak.....

Everyone tells me it's a miracle I'm alive, I have heard it so long that I actually begin to believe it, sort of. If you want to know the truth sometimes I feel like I am being kept around so that I can fill the coffers of the corporate jackasses who didn't swindle enough from me during the first 50 years of my life. The sons of bitches are squeezing now, though, and it's puckering the holy be-Jesus out of my sphincter.

Back when I got sick and my business went down the tubes I had no choice but to take cash advances from my credit cards and rolled up and incredible $40,000 in debt. I've knocked it down by more than half, paid off one card and am trying to make deals with the remaining two. It's like dealing with Beelzebub himself. I mean with late payments and interest and all I have more than paid off the original loan, paid it all and then some. Brother, when they got you by the short hairs they just won't let go, it's a damn fact!

Painting by L.A. artist Alex Schaefer

The phone calls are another lovely part of this sordid tale. The bastards try and trick you by using all sorts of different phone numbers in hopes that they will get you to unwittingly pick up, sorry but I only talk to someone who might actually want to discuss the reality of the situation, not some God damned Indian straight out of "Slum Dog Millionaire". I know it's their job and all, but that doesn't make it any more desirable to pick up the phone.

4:23 AM~ two cups of coffee down and now I'm starting to yawn like a bastard. It worked, I've sat here and typed long enough that I'm sure I can go and pass out for a couple of hours and awake to a new day. The first day of the rest of my "glass 1/2 empty" life. Step in a pile of dog shit while I'm looking for some flowers to know the drill.