It Really Is A Miracle That I Have Lived This Long

When I was a little boy, probably around five years old, I went to the dentist. They put me under anesthesia for some type of procedure that I have forgotten. I woke up with a headache, sobbing and inconsolable. The dentist offered me one of those shitty suckers but I didn’t care. I was a mess.

As a result I have avoided anesthesia for all dental procedures since. It was that traumatic to me as a child. I’ve always gone for the local anesthesia instead, figuring I can tough out whatever they’re going to do to me. And until last week, that seemed like the case.

I’ve been needing to have a gum graft for some time now. What happens is they take some synthetic tissue (or from a cadaver) and grafting it onto the gums of a healthy patient. This is something I should have taken the anesthesia for.

For one thing, you have to keep your mouth open for a very long time while the dentist makes incisions, implants the new tissue and puts in the sutures. It’s a lengthy process. Eventually, you will get a headache from keeping your mouth open so long and from staring up into the lights the whole time. They beam that bright light into your mouth, you know? It’s exhausting.

I severely underestimated the amount of sutures it would take to close up everything. In September, I accidentally cut my left elbow and needed five stitches to sew it back up. Now there’s a bit of scar left but it’s patched up reasonably well. I figured there’s four teeth that need to be patched up, I’ll only need a few stitches.

WRONG! The dentist pulled out a suture over a foot long and began sewing in and out of my mouth. Then he got another. Then he got some smaller ones. It was exhausting. I left that place a broken man.

These sutures will remain in my mouth for eight weeks. I can’t eat solid food for a week and I’m supposed to talk as little as possible. Do you know how difficult that is for me? Shut up and enjoy your applesauce, KP.

I have some tips for you if you go to the dentist and need to have something as intense as a gum graft done. First, DO get anesthesia. Second, try to drink water before you go in so you won’t get dehydrated. Third, if you choose to not get anesthesia (because you don’t have the insurance for it or whatever), don’t just stare into the lights the entire time like an idiot. Feel free to close your eyes or put on some sunglasses. Four, if you choose anesthesia and wake up with a headache, it’s probably because you had to keep your mouth open wide for a really long time. And then you’ll realize why you cried when you were five years old after waking up from anesthesia at the dentist. It will all make sense to you eventually.

The way I walk through life, it really is a miracle that I have lived this long.

Review: “Zappa” by Alex Winter

November 1, 2020 – 9:36 p.m.

Nothing is normal anymore. N.I.N.A. Election day is Tuesday. People are acting as if this is the last normal weekend before all hell breaks loose. They forgot the last few years. Keep your eye on the ball. N.I.N.A. If everything were normal, we wouldn’t be where we are now.

Everybody goes about their daily business, as do I. This weekend I took in a film called Zappa (Magnolia Pictures), a documentary directed by Alex Winter (the guy from the Bill & Ted movies) about the musician/composer Frank Zappa. It’s due for release later this month but I watched it as part of a virtual screening through IFF Boston.

I’ve been a fan of Zappa’s for more than half my life but I didn’t know what to expect. I sort of expected a straight-up music documentary. What the movie focused on was the man in the context of the time he came up in and what he tried to accomplish during a turbulent time in American history.

If you’re a fan, this movie covers a lot of the bases that need to be covered in Zappa’s life. Broad strokes are painted about the major events in his career and life (for example: his experimental performances in NYC in the ’60s, his participation in the Congressional “Porn Rock” hearings in the mid-80s, and his dealings with Czech President Václav Havel in the ’90s).

I forgot that he hosted SNL in the ’70s. That would definitely not happen now. I’ve never seen the SNL that he hosted but apparently it sucked. So we can go ahead and pop that illusion that the Aykroyd/Belushi years were glory days compared to now.

This is a movie about the how the man responded to the age he lived in. Think about the times we live in right now. Fascism is here in our country. It is firmly entrenched and rooted in our society and our government. How are we supposed to fight that? We’re told to vote, vote, vote and vote some more. Doesn’t feel very assuring, does it?

In comes this guy Frank Zappa with his band the Mothers of Invention, who sang in 1967, “Take a day and walk around, watch the Nazis run your town, then go home and check yourself, you think we’re singing ’bout someone else, but you’re plastic people!” Zappa always knew fascism was around the corner and it had to be dealt with. Freedom was/is a thing worth defending and that battle didn’t end in revolutionary times.

Frank Zappa made this country a little more interesting while he was around, by doing his part to counter the corporate cake-and-circus state of entertainment and thinking. His absence since passing in 1993 is sorely missed, not just in the greater cultural landscape, but more acutely in the lives of the people interviewed who worked with him in his many different versions of the Mothers and subsequent lineups (percussionist Ruth Underwood is a touching example of this).

And this movie will assure you that there is no calm before the storm, merely cause to the current effect we endure.

Zappa is 127 minutes long and is directed by Alex Winter. It is set for official release Thanksgiving week. It is available through Magnolia Pictures in North America.

Democracy: Our National Nightmare

American democracy! Yeah! Sick of it! Who’s with me? Amirite? Gimme a hell yeah!

Seriously? Aren’t you tired of it yet? I sure am! It’s got to be over soon, right? Honestly, we’re just pretending at this point.

And while we’re at it, let’s get rid of American Exceptionalism! Right? Who’s with me? Let’s stop pretending We’re Number One? We suck. I drive past too many hastily hand-painted signs that look like something out a third world county. 

For years, this family down the road from me used to sell pumpkins every Halloween season, they put up a hastily spray-painted sign on plywood by the side of the road every year that read in big block letters “PUNKIN”. 

Now this could just be anecdotal evidence, and it could just be me making fun of a family who let their child make a sign. But you have to understand that one man’s vote doesn’t automatically equal another man’s vote, and another man’s education needs to equal another man’s education and that won’t happen unless we are all dumber. When you hear that Kentucky is forty-sixth in education in the country, you start to think. . . you won’t be happy until every state is tied for LAST and we are all equally as dumb as Mississippi.

But back to my point, I just want to be left alone with my guns and my uterus and I can’t do that because I have to watch the fat cats in Washington like a hawk. It’s exhausting after a while, to the point of demoralizing. Election cycles are especially exhausting because you just want them to be done with. They beat you over the head with ads in case you’re the .01 of undecided voters. Who are these undecided voters? What world do they live in? What is their day like? What is their favorite sexual position? 

By the time an election is over, especially a Presidential election, you don’t care anymore. You’re tired of government. You want to be left alone. You don’t want to know about it anymore. You don’t want to be “woke”. You want to go to bed and stay there, for years if necessary. And that’s when they put the screws to you. When you’re not watching.

Of course, they’ll be happy to screw you while you watch. We should really tear this country apart but instead we let other people do it for us. 

American democracy is a shitty illusion. It’s like a magician who has the bird in his jacket cuff where you can obviously see the bird before he pulls it out. Just pull a ’70s John Cale and decapitate the fucking bird already.

Everything Is Worse Now… Or Is It?

There’s a few more hours left in September 11, 2020 as I write this. It’s the nineteenth anniversary of the attack on our country by terrorists.

Sometimes I see people who are younger than nineteen and I wonder what their lives must be like. I am forty-two, and I’m a fat guy who’s hairline is starting to recede. I don’t ask where the good times gone because I know the good times weren’t all that great. But they seem so much worse now. I ask myself: are they worse now or is it just me thinking that?

It would be easy to point at right now. We’re in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, one that our country is struggling with and that many of our citizens refuse to believe is even a real problem. We have to wear masks in public and socially distance and yet a lot of people refuse to do so, believing it impinges on their personal freedoms. Meanwhile, they don’t even know what real freedom is.

We’ve given our information away to social media. We’re more miserable than ever because of these tools that were ostensibly created to unite us and give us a common ground. We’re deeply ignorant of what’s going on around us, what’s going on in other countries, our own history. We’re basically focused on our individual attempts to scrape out an existence, and it inhibits our ability to see the bigger picture.

I want to say that a lot of things changed since September 11, 2001 and they did in the bigger picture. Maybe that was the beginning of the end of the United States as a major superpower as we tried to fight an unwinnable fight against a concept (terrorism) instead of an knowable enemy with concrete borders, throwing good resources after bad, costing many lives in the process. And maybe I’m wrong because the United States has always struggled to live up to this ideal we held it up to be. . . this bastion of freedom, peace and integrity.

And how does any of that affect the average person who’s just trying to survive in an increasingly difficult world? Did you ever think that the worst people in the world would rip off this world for scrap metal and leave you with the rest? Why would they do something so callous? They have to live here too, don’t they?

This is only heartbreaking if you think life can be so much better. If you think it can only get worse and it will, none of this affects you much. If you don’t resist the torture and submit to it, you grow numb to the pain. But some of us can’t help ourselves. We keep saying how wrong it is, and pointing out how not only is the emperor naked but dangerous and cruel. And it never gets easier. The older you get, the more it hurts. The more you know, the tougher it gets.

And even that’s not enough because you keep searching for an answer to the question “Now what?”

But ask that nineteen-year-old how life is and see what their response. Are they filled with life? Are they ready to take on their world? Are they young and arrogant and knowing everything? Do they know how arrogant they are yet? I envy that energy and I’d love to have it one more time. Some men my age divorce their wives and buy Camaros in order to fake it. I’d settle for a push towards real change in this country.

That’s me, being unreasonable again.

I Can’t Believe I Have To Think About This Kid Again

Nick Sandmann is working for Mitch McConnell’s re-election campaign.

You’ll remember him from this.

Recently he spoke at the Republican National Convention.

I actually want to feel sorry for him but he won’t let me.

Think about it. You’re a high school boy. You haven’t begun the aging process. You pretty much think you’re the shit. You’re on a field trip. Forget about the fact that you’re going to an anti-abortion rally, because what seventeen-year-old boy really cares about abortion unless he’s had his parents pay for one. Forget about all that indoctrination you’ve received from your parents, your church, your Catholic school upbringing. You’re going to a big city where a lot happens. You’ve never seen anything like this before, and by that I mean black people.

You’ve been left unsupervised in the big city after the big rally with all your classmates when suddenly you find yourself being yelled and cursed at by some actual honest-to-God black people. You’ve seen black people (not up close) but not like these black people. You will be told later that these are Black Israelites. What are they doing here? This was the day for your rally. Who do they think they are? They’re calling you a honky and a cracker and worse words than that. No adults there to tell you to ignore them. What do you do? You do a giant New Zealand haka dance because you’re an idiot and you don’t know any better and you move in closer to them because you don’t know anything about boundaries.

Out of nowhere, here comes this old Indian guy beating a drum and chanting. You are completely gobsmacked and you can’t help but laugh at the strangeness of the situation. You know he’s harmless so you smile. And FLASH, you are preserved for an eternity. The stuck-up Kentucky private school kid sneering at an elderly Native American.

You can call that a media narrative but that’s also exactly what happened.

Ideally, Nick, you’d just go away and whatever happened happened. Whatever political ideology you ended up with (probably conservative), hopefully one day you’d eventually come to the conclusion that you were just some immature kid reacting to a messed up situation. There were no adults in that room, certainly none that you respected because your chaperones were off somewhere doing God knows what. Perhaps they had been there, there would have been a different outcome. Instead, you end up being the poster child for white privilege.

It’s not really your fault. You were just a kid caught up in a dumb situation. You may complain about being cancelled by the left, but you’ll find it’s equally if not more frustrating to be used by the right which is the path you’re heading down.

You’ll spend the rest of your life as a useful. . . I won’t say idiot, but being told you were right when you weren’t right and you’ll never actually get to become your own person. You’ll only be someone else’s idea of who you ought to be. Your parents’ idea, your church’s idea, Mitch McConnell’s vision of you. What a terrifying reality it would be to be used to by a political machine.

I said I wanted to feel sorry for Nick Sandmann a little bit but I don’t. This guy will probably never feel a dark night of the soul ever in his life. Also he lives more comfortably than you and I ever will. I hope his conscience troubles him. I hope the voices in his head grow louder as he grows older. I hope by the time he’s a grandfather, they roar as loud as a thousand klaxons.

And I hope Amy McGrath wins in November.

WAP Aint Nothing But The Same Song

I heard people were talking about pussy in here. Some wet ass pussy. Sounds good, let’s talk about it.

Oh, we’re talking about a song? That song by Cardi B & Megan Thee Stallion. What’s there to talk about? What’s the big deal?

wap2

Oh.

wap3

Well I’ll be a son of a bitch.

I’m amazed at how shocked people can get after all these years. With everything going on in the world, people can come together and watch a music video with two half-naked women of color writhing around and ask themselves “What does this mean?”

I’m pretty sure it doesn’t mean or symbolize as much as they think. There’s a long blues tradition of body and sex songs.

“Please Warm My Weiner” by Bo Carter from 1935 is a fine example of dirty blues. Bo Carter had a long career and recorded other songs like “My Pencil Won’t Write No More” and “Banana In Your Fruit Basket”.

1935 also brought “Shave ‘Em Dry” by Lucille Bogan. You can hear laugh and whoop it up halfway through the recording. It’s something else to hear.

The Clovers had a classic in the ’50s with “Rotten Cocksuckers’ Ball”, though they were more famous for their hit song “Love Potion No. 9”

By the beginning of the ’70s, dirty blues was pretty well finished but party records by people like Rudy Ray Moore and Blowfly began to sell on the underground. In the rock mainstream, songs by Chuck Berry (“My Ding-A-Ling”), Led Zeppelin (“The Lemon Song”) and Aerosmith’s cover of “Big Ten Inch Record” were echoes of the past.

In the ’80s, the rap revolution (in part influenced by Rudy Ray and Blowfly) brought forth the controversial 2 Live Crew and their As Nasty As They Wanna Be album, which was initially ruled obscene in a district court in Florida.

Whatever your opinion is of the Cardi/Megan song is fine. It’s another chapter in a long tradition in black music and it triggered another tradition in non-black finger wagging.

I just watched it. It made me laugh.

Some Music Reviews I Will Confess To Writing

 

Live_AlexHarveyalbum

The Sensational Alex Harvey BandLive! (1975)

Tracks 1-5: Perfectly acceptable 70s glam rock sung by a middle-aged man.

Track 6: LITERALLY THE BEST PERFORMANCE OF THE SONG ‘DELILAH’ EVER AND IF TOM JONES HAS A PROBLEM WITH THAT, TO HELL WITH HIM!

Track 7: Dunh-nah-nah-dunh-nah for a quarter of the album’s running time until the lead singer stops the music to talk the audience.

I guess you had to be there. Three-and-a-half stars.

Queen_News_Of_The_World

QueenNews Of The World (1977)

This is their stadium rock album? This is the album they conquered the world with?

Take “We Will Rock You” and “We Are The Champions” out of the picture and what do you have? A grabbag of stylistic diversions: Reactionary punk, flamenco guitar, cocktail lounge cabaret, a tender piano ballad or two, one-take English blues, and whatever the hell “Get Down, Make Love” is.

They can’t get away with doing all this if Freddie Mercury isn’t versatile enough to sell each and every one of these genre experiments. For example, Roger Taylor sings the relatively straightforward “Fight From The Inside” and it’s a bathroom break of a song.

News Of The World is not Queen’s best album (that would either be Sheer Heart Attack or A Night At The Opera) but it is indisputably their sixth album.

Three-and-a-half stars.

Madonna,_debut_album_cover

Madonna – self-titled (1983)

This is the only thing I will write about Madonna.

Her debut album came out when I was five years old. She has been famous for basically my entire life. Some of my earliest musical memories are the songs on this album and I resent her for it. Now I am a middle-aged man and this poppy fluff from nearly forty years ago is still here. It refuses to go away, already.

Highlights: “Lucky Star”, “Everybody”, “Holiday”

Lowlights: My wasted life

Five stars.

comingoutoftheirshells

 

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Coming Out Of Our Shells (1990)

This is less a review of a promotional tie-in album than a tale of youth disillusioned.

Like many kids in 1990, I was a fan of TMNT. I played the video games, watched the movies and had the action figures.

When I was a boy and I found out about this album, I was under the impression that I would hear the voices of the people from the cartoon or the movie.

I listened to this album once and only once. I didn’t get to the end. I was disillusioned to NOT hear the voices from either the cartoon or the movie on the album. Plus the songs sucked.

Upon further research, I just learned that this was a tie-in for a concert tour. Dear God.

This wasn’t my first bad product tie-in. I saw Mac & Me. I saw The Wizard with Fred Savage. I got plenty of cheap doodads from fast food joints that came with my meals. But this one burned me good. Fool me once, Pizza Hut and TMNT, shame on you. Fool me twice, won’t get fooled again. A half-star for the childhood learning experience. 

Odb_-_nigga_please

Ol’ Dirty Bastard N***A Please (1999)

This is less an album and more an anti-drug advertisement, as it reeks of cocaine paranoia. The second half of this album feels like being in a room with someone stoned out of their mind, subject to their mood and whims and tantrums. They start out being fun to be around but then they turn on you and get scary while you try to appease them to deescalate the situation to keep things from getting violent.

“I Can’t Wait” is a jam.

No rating.

Fiona_Apple_-_Fetch_the_Bolt_Cutters

Fiona AppleFetch The Bolt Cutters (2020)

More like Fart The Butt Cunters, amirite.

Three stars.

Have You Considered A Private Journal?

Dear Reader, how are you today? I hope you are well but I know deep down that you are not well. I’ve seen your facebook* posts. I’ve seen your frustration at the state of the world and your inability to grapple with it. You are flustered, angry, outraged, shocked. You are, in a word, vexed. Who can blame you, with all the problems in the world today?

Furthermore, it feels like things like facebook* makes the problems worse. These things that were created to make our lives simpler have turned out to be a new kind of rat race, a new void for us to scream into. However it is not a void. We see each other and recognize the pain. It is real. The toy we were given has turned into a daily trauma machine.

You know what facebook* is doing but you can’t seem to extricate yourself from it. You’ve heard maybe about a few people who have done it but you don’t know how. I personally have a few reasons for staying on the platform, a few of the hundreds of friends I’ve accrued over the years. If it weren’t for them I wouldn’t stay. Perhaps you find yourself in the same situation.

For what it’s worth, I find a private journal to be quite worthwhile. I have a word file I go in almost daily and type away. I don’t worry about the form or perfect vocabulary or punctuation or even if anybody sees it. I just let my thoughts roam free, as terrifying and illogical as they often are.

You don’t have to be a teenage girl to have a private journal. You can be a forty-two year-old male who’s down on his luck like I am. Try it. You may find yourself not venting so much on facebook* and feeling free to post insignificant nonsense that attempts to be lighthearted.

One day your kids will ask you what you did during this tumultuous time in American history and you will say “I posted on facebook* about whether giving ecstasy to a crime dog would make them horny or not” and they’ll ask “Did you really?” and you’ll go “No, I didn’t do that. That was my weird friend Mike. Then he pretended it was a google* search and attempted to delete it. It was him trying to be funny.”

Then your kids will go “What’s google*?” and you’ll tell them about how they essentially own the government and you can’t get insurance without giving them a blood sample or something.

GET TO JOURNALING AND BLOW OFF SOME STEAM!

*intentionally not capitalized

Review: Eurovision Song Contest (The Story Of Fire Saga

Last night, I watched the new Will Ferrell film Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga on Netflix. I mostly enjoyed it. There’s the short review.

Will Ferrell plays Lars, an Icelandic man with childhood dreams of entering and winning the Eurovision Song Contest. His Abba-inspired, elf-worshiping friend Sigrit (played by Rachel McAdams), joins him in a local band called Fire Saga. Lars’ father (played by Pierce Brosnan) is a widowed fisherman who is routinely embarrassed by his son.

You could probably make a complaint about Hollywood casting. Ferrell and McAdams are supposed to be lifelong friends, but there’s a ten-year age difference in real life. Ferrell looks closer in age to Brosnan (who’s fifteen years older than him) than to McAdams. It only works because everybody does good in their roles.

Through a series of random, unlikely events, Fire Saga become the Icelandic representatives for the annual Eurovision song contest. This is an actual event that is held (exempting this year because of covid-19). As a musician, I found the musical parts of the movie are the most satirical. It’s amazing to see all these different countries represented from all over the world, each with their own unique culture, language and folklore. How do they represent themselves on an international stage? By trying to sing a middle-of-the road pop song in English. These songs are almost indistinguishable from one another. The only thing that makes them interesting is the performances which border on Cirque du Soleil at times.

The movie is a bit more kindhearted than I might have expected from Ferrell, possibly because there’s more of an affection for the subject of the movie than there might be if he were younger. I won’t say it’s a great or even good movie, but it’s breezy enough that you’ll forgive its’ dead giveaways and plotholes.

A Boomer Looks At 4chan

Ok boomer, here we go.

Soundtrack: Jimmy Buffett, “A Pirate Looks At Forty”

We all know what a baby boomer and by definition I am Generation X but what is reality anymore? For one thing, I suggested a soundtrack of Jimmy Buffett. I just looked at 4chan for the first time a few weeks ago. I’m technologically behind the curve. I might as well be a boomer.

I was afraid of 4chan because I’d heard it was a lawless hellhole, where users posted unspeakable, brain-scarring images.

I was right.

I found this in /mu, the music forum of 4chan

Furries are the chads of nerds. . . We are the tallest, richest, and most attractive. . . What the fuck do you do besides complain on the internet? Come at me kid. I’m the alpha dog in these woods. Standing five feet, ten inches tall and weight in in at 240lbs of pure muscle I could kick your ass across a football field and score 3 points, and then I would give your mother a good time with a bad dragon. I was the QB on every football team I played for. . . Pick your enemies care-fur-ly, bitch. This hound is so pawesome you don’t stand a fucking chance.

Anon

I’ve learned that 4chan has a NSFW section, so if you want to complain about the Jews or trans people or say the n-word or call other anonymous posters the f-word, but you don’t want to see pictures of people being hit by trains or covered in feces, while pretending to talk about video games, music, television or other subjects. . . then there’s a wide variety for you to do that in. I guess you can call that “work safe”?

After spending the last two weeks are so browsing and occasionally even posting on 4chan, I’ve determined that the majority of the users are fascist Steely Dan fans who hate trans people. I don’t know if there’s a connection.

In conclusion, dudes rock 2020.