So Much For Xmas

I got a call Saturday morning, December 21st around 9:36 am. My mother called to tell me that her mother, my grandmother, had passed away. She was eighty-one.

Usually, we’d have a nice little Christmas celebration. My mother would go get Granny from the Roosevelt House so she could enjoy a rare day out of the house and see her two daughters, four grandchildren and four great-grandchildren (now a fifth on the way who will miss out).

I last saw her for Thanksgiving. She didn’t look like she had less than a month to go, although it was clear she wasn’t doing well. Arthritis took over her body, even her jaw and eyes. I cannot imagine the pain she must have been in that final year. She had a brand new scooter that probably had less than a mile on it.

My grandmother was a sweet lady who loved her family and her cat. She had a warm smile and was great to have a chat with. Talking was painful and the sound of her voice changed due to the arthritis. Granny would throw so many treats on the floor, the cat got up to twenty-three pounds at one point. I have Granny’s old flip phone as a hand-me-down and it still has a bunch of photos she took of the cat. She took photos of the TV while she watched the Country Music Awards. Sometimes she hit the button when she didn’t mean to and there’s accidental pictures of nothing. I kept them them all.

We had to put the cat down Thursday because it couldn’t keep food down any longer. By then, the poor thing was three pounds. The cat Thursday, Granny’s funeral a week later. We’re going to plant some of Granny’s funeral home tulips where we buried the cat. Granny is being cremated, and in my opinion we should put the ashes with the cat. We’re taking them to her parents’ burial plot next month. That works.

I had a sinking feeling she wouldn’t make it to Christmas 2020, but I didn’t expect her to miss this one. So if you think the time you have with someone is limited, make it meaningful if only for your own peace of mind. You don’t want that regret to work on your mind. Get as much as you can out of this dumb life, because you have no control over how much suffering you have to endure and you have no idea when it will be over.

 

 

And there you have it: that is my last blog of the decade. I didn’t want to end on such a down note but sometimes that’s how it shakes out. December 21 is the first day of the winter solstice. As such, it is the shortest day of the year and from there the days get longer. You could look at that as a bad thing, but I don’t. Each day becomes longer than the last, as if the sun is regaining its’ strength.

Let Me Entertain You

I started making music when I was nineteen years old. For the first few years, it wasn’t very good. I have most of my recorded output on my Bandcamp where you can listen to some of it and download it.

If you’ll indulge me, I’d like to give myself a Rolling Stone-type handjob and pick nine songs throughout my “career” that are on my Bandcamp.

A Boy Named Nostalgia (Mr. Neutron: Scrapheap, 1999

UPDATE: I decided to make this private. It’s my first ever album and it’s embarrassing. Message me if you really want it (you don’t).

Learning To Live Without You (Mike Farmer: Greenville 2013)

Someone in the music business told me to record an album for his label in a nice room. I recorded in a church. It never got released.

Sulpher (Mr. Neutron: Sulpher Promo EP, 2000)

I recorded a four-track promo EP. The chorus and music was inspired by Jimmy Buffett’s “Son Of A Son Of A Sailor”, a song I never listened to. The EP costs $3. Whatever.

Holland (Kentucky Prophet: Brain Rap, 2005)

This 2005 EP was recorded when I still lived in Los Angeles. The Beach Boys-esque melody and lyrics were written years earlier but fit perfectly with the east coast groove. I had new collaborators and released the EP when I returned to Kentucky. Brain Rap costs $7 but it’s worth paying for and it has a bonus remix.

Valet Parking At The Player’s Ball (Kentucky Prophet: Brain Rap, 2005)

This song and “Holland” are the two Brain Rap songs that I played the most live and this one shows the comedy element the deepest. It’s a funny song about a parking lot employee taking revenge on the richie-riches whose cars he parks.

I Sell Drugs To Celebrities (Kentucky Prophet, Beyond The Fringe, 2007)

A trip to Brooklyn resulted in Beyond The Fringe. This was the first full track, a creative use of alliteration while making fun of celebrity culture and mixing in conspiracy theory at the end. Great use of Donovan sample, too. This album costs $7 but it’s worth it.

Full Of It (Kentucky Prophet, Beyond The Fringe, 2007)

Condensed from the full title, the never-performed “Everybody’s Full Of It (So Are We)” is sung rather than rapped and features scratching from co-producer DJ Cappel. It’s somber tone addresses pride going before the fall, also applied to hip-hop (at least circa mid-2000s).

Mountain Music (Mike Farmer, Greenville 2013, 2019)

“Mountain Music” is about playing bluegrass music at a funeral. Greenville 2013 is available for download. You can pay what you wish.

Normal Love (Mike Farmer, Dolphin, 2019)

“Normal Love” was written in the early ’00s. This piano ballad has a Beach Boys influence but by Dennis Wilson instead of Brian. Dolphin is available via pay-what-you-wish download. The title is irrelevant to the content.

Jesus Without Mary (Mike Farmer, single, 2019)

This standalone single was the first new original music I released since the breakup of my band Technology Vs. Horse. I wanted to release it in time for the holidays of 2018 but I couldn’t finish it in time so it wasn’t released until a few months later. It’s as close to a Christmas song as I’ll ever do but it’s also as personal as I’ll ever get. This download is pay-what-you-wish.

 

 

 

 

One Last Kick In The Teeth Out The Door

 

Matt Bevin is no longer the governor of Kentucky, but his decisions continued to send shock waves through the state’s legal system this week after he issued pardons for hundreds of people, some of whom committed violent offenses.

Bevin issued 428 pardons since his defeat to Democrat Andy Beshear in a close election in November, the Louisville Courier Journal reported. His list includes a man convicted of reckless homicide, a convicted child rapist, a man who murdered his parents at age 16 and a woman who threw her newborn in the trash after giving birth in a flea market outhouse.

 

He also pardoned Dayton Jones, who was convicted in the sexual assault of a 15-year-old boy at a party, Kentucky New Era reported.
It is not unusual for governors to issue pardons as they leave office, but Bevin’s actions boggled some of the state’s attorneys, who questioned his judgment.

 

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/12/12/defeated-gop-governor-pardoned-violent-criminals-spree-lawyers-are-calling-an-atrocity-justice/

Jeremy Pryor was a friend I made when I moved to Bowling Green in 1998. In November 2014, Jeremy was killed by drunk driver Michael Andrew Hardy. In 2016, Drew Hardy was convicted and sentenced to twenty years in prison. Matt Bevin pardoned Drew Hardy and gave him a conditional release on December 9, 2019.

I did not know Charles Westerfield, but I knew Irvin Edge’s family. They were from my hometown of Fordsville, where I went to school with Irvin’s daughter. In 1993, Irvin Edge was convicted of the murder of Westerfield, his business partner. Edge was also convicted of solicitation to murder for hiring a hit man to kill Westerfield. The Daily Kos reports that in 2004, Edge was ordered by the Kentucky State Parole Board to serve out the entirety of his life sentence. Bevin paroled him last week.

This month Matt Bevin used his gubernatorial pardon power to give murderers, rapists and sex offenders their freedom back. It is depressing, enraging, and semi-nauseating, to say the least.

If you believe, as Bevin says in his pardon of Hardy “that society, as a whole, or the memory of Jeremy Pryor more specifically, will be best served by the continued incarceration of Mr. Hardy“, you must also believe regardless of circumstance that every murderer should be released from prison. Prison is existentially pointless if you’re responsible for another person’s death, by Bevin’s tortured logic. As far as Jeremy Pryor’s memory is concerned, let his family and friends handle that.

Michael Andrew Hardy was a drunk driver who killed Jeremy Pryor. Irvin Edge hired a hit man to kill Charles Westerfield. If a parole board determines that a killer like Edge should live out the rest of his life in prison, then maybe the governor shouldn’t override that.  There is a short window to hold people accountable for their actions. Matt Bevin gave the Pryor and Westerfield families, and many more across this state, one last kick in the teeth on the way out the door.

 

 

Bipolar Baby: Chemical Imbalance Blues

I think I’ve gotten to the core of my problems with Kanye West: He’s a bad representative for people with bipolar disorder. He doesn’t take medicine. Because of his celebrity, he automatically gains credibility he hasn’t earned and doesn’t deserve.

Who knows why he doesn’t take medicine? Maybe he thinks it prevents him from being creative. Maybe he’s afraid medicine will turn him into a zombie and change his brain chemistry forever. Maybe he thinks what he’s doing is working for him and he wants to keep it that way.

Medicine can change the chemistry in your brain. So does television, alcohol, drugs, gambling, food and the little phones we carry everywhere and look into all the time. Those change our brains way worse than a pill every day. Medicine is designed to do that. Medicine won’t halt someone’s creativity anymore than drugs will enhance it. And that thing that’s working so well will eventually stop. Then what?

Many people give up treatment because they tried medicine one time and didn’t like how it made them feel or had a bad reaction. It’s not an exact science. People respond differently to medications.

Mental illness is a chemical disorder in the brain and needs to be treated as best as possible. It’s not just “I’m sad”. You wouldn’t tell a schizophrenic to go out for some exercise and fresh air to fix it. They have a chemical imbalance in the brain. Depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder are different types of chemical imbalances and they all get worse without some sort of treatment.

There is no “happy pill”. If you have personal issues you’re trying to work through, therapy helps. As added support, you can also talk to friends and family, online help groups and spend time in faith if you have one. But at the very core, you are treating a chemical imbalance in your brain and that requires something beyond friends, family, faith and message boards.

Some people think they can self-medicate. I’ve heard multiple people tell me that’s how they deal with depression et al. I wish they had done a cost based analysis on monthly weed intake vs. insurance premiums. Smoking pot will only make you grouchy in the long run because you become dependent on it.

Unfortunately, a major source of frustration comes from navigating the murky swamp  of private insurance which only makes it harder to obtain quality health care. Considering the state of USA, 2019 and the stress it puts on people, it is no surprise that we have a mental health crisis in this country. I support Medicare for all because I think everyone deserves access to important health care, including dental and eye care.

(Unfun fact: did you know you can get arthritis in the eyes? My grandmother has it.)

We seemingly only talk about our country’s mental health problem when there’s a mass shooting and yet we don’t address the millions who are in need of improved care. Private insurance’s high premiums and deductibles should not be a financial moat preventing us from self-preservation and good health. It is long past time to at least attempt a national health model based on the rest of the civilized world.

I took way too much offense at Kanye. However, it is still idiotic to rap over a sample that has the vocal in it even if the vocal is sped up a bit. We have to have some standards.

If I Could Transition…

Here’s my version of that rather tired Dave Chappelle trans humor that everybody got upset about a while back. I don’t mean to offend, so if it does I apologize in advance:

“If I could transition to anything I’d transition to. . . Friday, 12:45 am. Technically it is Saturday morning but when you left the house it was still Friday night. That’s what I’m going for here because I want to be fun more than anything else.

A lot of things are going on at 12:45 am Friday night. Because it’s Friday night, people get paid and have a little money to spend. If you’re young and you feel like going out, you do that because why waste a perfectly good Friday night? TONI-AI-IIIGHT! WE ARE YOUNG! And 12:45 am is a good time of night because the bar won’t close for at least an hour.

People are having a good time at 12:45 am. Some of them are exchanging phone numbers, saying they’ll text each other. Maybe they’ll make a date but it doesn’t go anywhere, or it’s a one-time hookup, or maybe it goes somewhere and leads to another date, then a third. . . then years later you’re married with a house, two kids and a dog. Or probably the girl gives you the number of a chinese buffet place just to get you off her back.

At 12:45 am, the night is turning on a dime. Two girls are having a catfight outside a club. Somebody catches it on their phone. It gets uploaded to Twitter and a half-million people see it because the tweet says “Wait for the end”. At 12:45 am, the band is playing and people are dancing. Who am I kidding? The DJ is playing, pushing buttons or whatever. People are drinking and laughing but some of them are vomiting.  They’re fighting and/or getting arrested, developing and/or enhancing their criminal records. Somebody has gotten drunk, convinced himself love isn’t real and is getting a tattoo: on one arm it says “LOVE”, on the other arm it says “EVOL”.

In big cities and small towns, people aren’t ready to go home yet. 12:45 am feels just right. If there’s a master plan to the nightlife, it’s beyond our comprehension

I would transcend the physical realm altogether and become a moment in time. 12:46 am comes and I’d be a memory. A snapshot, insignificant to many, remembered by some and beloved by others. All for their own unique reasons. This is fate. We’re told to “live in the moment”. Let’s be the moment.

Granted, I don’t feel like Friday night 12:45 am trapped in the body of a forty-one year-old man, but I can dream.”