Wednesday, August 20, 2014

I'd Rather Be Stoned Than Fat

The debate over whether or not to legalize marijuana, a plant that grows naturally, rages on, while many other things damaging to one's psyche, soul and physical well-being remain not only legal but shoved down our throats every minute of every day. These include but are not limited to cigarettes, cigars, beer, vodka, scotch, bourbon, whiskey, soda, pizza, cookies, candy, ice cream, muffins, chips, bagels, tacos, nachos, burgers, French fries, fried chicken, fried seafood and all-you-can-eat pasta at those all-you-can eat food emporiums across the nation.

Add to that the legal medications of every variety imaginable for every ailment possible, all which carry the same dire warnings of suicidal thoughts, suicidal actions, heart attack, loss of vision, difficulty breathing, stroke and death, not to mention those four-hour erections, that we are advised to consume from the minute we turn on the TV in the morning to see if we are under attack from Iraq to the second we go to sleep at night, often after ingesting something made in a laboratory to help us sleep, and you can see why the debate is nothing short of comical.

As for me, I'd rather be stoned than fat. (Or dead.)

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

What a Conundrum

Last Saturday night my husband and I went out to dinner at a nearby restaurant. I happened to pay the bill, so I know for sure I had my wallet. We left, went home and went to sleep shortly thereafter, as it was late and the day was done.

The next morning I went out to buy some cat stuff--they need their toys-- and discovered when it was time to pay that I had no wallet. It was not in my purse or on the floor of my car. It was not back home. Putting two and two together, I figured it was in the restaurant where we had been the night before, a restaurant that unfortunately would be closed until Tuesday afternoon at five.

Naturally I called the place and left a message, asking them to call if they had found my wallet. I left the same message on Monday and again on Tuesday. No calls back. I was mildly alarmed that perhaps my wallet had been stolen, or I had dropped it in the parking lot when we left the restaurant. Should I cancel credit cards? What to do? I settled on the usual: non-stop worrying. After all, my wallet has my entire life in it, just like yours. Plus the fact, it's a pretty nice wallet.

Let me now say that we are regulars at this place--have been for five years--since it is only two miles away from our home and we know we can make the trip even if we get stinking drunk, which we never have but might since it is a wine bar and a damn good one. The owner knows us, and with his business shrinking lately due to fresh competitors, you'd think he'd want to retain steady customers like us.

Anyway, today being Tuesday I called again, and the owner answered and said, "Yeah, we have it, in fact we found it Saturday night right after you left and expected to hear from you then, but when we didn't we just figured you'd call us sometime next week."

Monday, August 18, 2014

Concert Review: A Night to Remember

Unlike the good old days, last night the concert hall did not reek of marijuana. Instead it was filled with excitement, packed with the borderline rabid fans who love the performer like a mother loves her first-born. Jackson Browne, unlike any other musical act I've seen live in concert--and that's a whole lot-- drives audiences wild with adoration, and the crowd at Portland's Merrill Auditorium was no exception.

The Guitars.
Plaintive shouts of, "We love you Jackson!" rang out continually during the more than two solid hours of incredible music, punctuated by an occasional, "You're so cute!" and "Come to my house later!" from a quartet of middle-aged women behaving badly seated a few rows behind us.

Onstage, a line of 23--we counted--guitars stood at the ready, each one tuned and in key for a specific song. An eerie haze created by an overachieving fog machine and nine bright red and purple spotlights suspended from the ceiling upped the level of excitement and expectation to an almost fever pitch. When Browne walked onstage, promptly at 8 pm, the wild cheering from the fans--all instantly on their feet, clapping, hooting, whistling and hollering--went on full bore for what must have been five minutes. Browne was clearly touched by the overwhelming show of affection and thanked us all profusely, then grabbed a guitar and started singing. And as a mother's lullaby instantly calms a crying baby, everyone shut the hell up and listened.

The Performer.
At two months shy of 66, Browne has maintained his boyish charm, flowing locks and engaging personality. Joking easily with the audience like we were all just hanging out together, he chatted amiably between each number, often at length, explaining the song's significance or recounting a funny anecdote related to it. Those of us sitting very close to the the stage could see that he has indeed grown older, and at times the weird, almost ghoulish lighting showed him to be frankly worn and wrinkled. His voice too has aged, now tinged with a raspy quality not present in his youth. But the sounds emanating from his guitar and from the keyboard were as pure as ever, maybe even better, literally sounding like liquid gold filling your ears.

The Audience.
Shuffling back and forth between instruments, Browne joked about how he had not planned his set in advance and so was open to suggestions. The more raucous audience members greedily shouted out requests, and as often as not he obliged immediately.

As he himself said the last time I saw him in concert, it's not all that important what songs he plays or in what order, since "they all sound exactly the same." But last night one in particular--"In the Shape of a Heart"--was rendered so beautifully, his voice perfected by that point in the evening and his guitar so pure, with lyrics that could make a grown man sob, it seemed as if Jackson Browne might just be the greatest performer who ever lived.
In the Shape of a Heart
It was a ruby that she wore
On a chain around her neck
In the shape of a heart
In the shape of a heart
It was a time I won't forget
For the sorrow and regret
And the shape of a heart
And the shape of a heart
I guess I never knew
What she was talking about
I guess I never knew
What she was living without
People speak of love don't know what they're thinking of
Wait around for the one who fits just like a glove
Speak in terms of belief and belonging
Try to fit some name to their longing
There was a hole left in the wall
From some ancient fight
About the size of a fist
Or something thrown that had missed
And there were other holes as well
In the house where our nights fell
Far too many to repair
In the time that we were there
People speak of love don't know what they're thinking of
Reach out to each other though the push and shove
Speak in terms of a life and the learning
Try to think of a word for the burning
You keep it up
You try so hard
To keep a life from coming apart
And never know
What breaches and faults are concealed
In the shape of a heart
It was the ruby that she wore
On a stand beside the bed
In the hour before dawn
When I knew she was gone
And I held it in my hand
For a little while
And dropped it into the wall
Let it go, heard it fall
I guess I never knew
What she was talking about
I guess I never knew
What she was living without
People speak of love don't know what they're thinking of
Wait around for the one who fits just like a glove
Speak in terms of a life and the living
Try to find the word for forgiving
You keep it up
You try so hard
To keep a life from coming apart
And never know
The shallows and the unseen reefs
That are there from the start
In the shape of a heart

Sunday, August 17, 2014

I'd Rather Be Gay Than Fat

Being gay is certainly newsworthy these days, and not in a good way. In just the last ten minutes I have come across the following stories online:

* A gay teen who committed suicide and was an organ donor had his eyes rejected because of a law against it, the concern being passing along HIV virus in the surrounding tissue. His mother calls this  law "outrageous and archaic" and wants it changed.
* A gay performance artist plans to have sex with a different man every day for a year, calling it his "art."

* Those Westboro Baptist Church weirdos are planning to picket the funeral of Robin Williams, calling him a "fag pimp" for playing the role of a homosexual in "The Birdcage" and for cross-dressing in "Mrs. Doubtfire."

It's too bad that sexual orientation is seen as fodder for sensationalism, since homosexuality is as old as the hills--older, perhaps--and hurts nobody. Personally I think there should be news stories about fatties who do wrong or get in trouble by behaving badly, since obesity is much more of a crime against humanity.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

My Favorite Subject

What I like to do best is write. To me it is like playing the piano. I sit down and start plinking away with no idea of what I will say, and next thing I know there's a whole paragraph, which leads to another and then another. It's getting started that's the problem, and once I do there is no stopping me.

The same is true of dieting, which by the way is my favorite subject about which to opine. I could go on and on, since I've been at it for about 56 years, give or take. My mother was skinny, my older sister was fat, and my father's side of the family was majorly obese. Dad was just chubby, and in fact when I was 19 he decided to lose his excess weight and so the two of us joined Weight Watchers and had a grand time together, weighing our food and going to the weekly meetings.

Anyway, the thing about diets is if you get started and stick to it long enough to actually lose three or four pounds, something happens where you like being on your diet more than being off it, and wild horses couldn't get you to cheat. That number on the scale going down and down makes your resolve go up and up.

It's fun. Really, anyone needing to lose a few should just get started and stick with it. Your insides will thank you.

My Latest Creation

"Arabia Crownband, 13"
Inspired by photographs of an art exhibit in a prestigious New York City gallery, consisting of such installations as wood scraps in a pile and a line of toy trucks snaking across the gallery floor, I have decided to abandon painting on canvas and take my art to the next level. Starting today, I will work in food.

Shown here is my first piece, which represents the disembodiment of Man from Nature and Other Men. It consists of twelve (12) blueberries huddled on a half-eaten English muffin which was first covered with 100% organic peanut butter. While most of the blueberries are touching, one or two stand alone. The entire grouping is arranged artfully on a fine china dish from Finland in the Crownband pattern. I call it "Arabia Crownband, 13."

The original is currently installed on my dining room table, where it will remain until somebody eats it or clears it away. High quality prints are available for $750; giclees on canvas, $500.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Cops Not Funny

Years ago at the Improv comedy club in Washington, DC, I saw a Latino comedian who made a joke about ghetto kids, saying one of the key things they had to learn how to do was "run from the police." Sadly it's no joke, as the recent murder of an unarmed black teenager by a cop in Ferguson, Missouri reminds us. Basically, cops are nuts.

A few weeks ago a friend of mine was driving at night here in Maine, and noticed a cop car obviously following him. He found this unnerving, and smoked a cigarette to calm his nerves. Then, reflexively, he tossed the butt out the car window. Within seconds the siren was wailing and my friend was pulled over and given a citation for littering. It was for something like $130.

Oh please--there are cigarette butts all over the place! In fact, Maine is full of smokers, maybe more than anywhere I have ever lived. There is also no helmet law here for motorcyclists, which makes you think the whole state has a death wish. Anyway, watch out for the fuzz, they are often out for blood.