What can you say to a wall?
Not much, I guess.
What can you do when there is so much left to do but nothing left to accomplish?
Who do you talk to when the one person you need to hear is no longer present?
Why do some people believe they are always right?
Because that’s their ‘truth’.
When will people realize that life is a journey with happy endings, awkward beginnings AND unhappy endings?
When will the telling of one-sided fairy tales stop?
Ask Walt Disney.
When will you get off of that cross? [someone else needs the wood]
Where are the answers?
But more importantly where were the questions that should have been asked?
Ask and you shall receive.
Unless you aren’t prepared for the answers.
If you don’t have the intestinal fortitude to ask, zipper that talkbox shut.
(say that 3X real fast) [LOL]
Amen, my brothers and sisters, amen . . .
It was 5 years ago that I hit the ‘publish’ button for this post. Many things have happened since that innocent and ‘so me’ post. I like to think my writing has matured a bit and that I have taken many of you on my journey down the road of life. I want to thank each and every one of you for being a part of my life (good or bad) for the past 5 years. You have enlightened me, guided me, made me laugh and have given me solace when I needed it most. You guys are incredible. I will pat myself on the back for blatant consistency. I think I can give me that. There are several people I need to deeply thank. Pamela, for believing in me when I no longer believe in myself. (and letting me know about it) My three girls for keeping me on my toes. Always. For Jon, he keeps me cooking. I love cooking, He is a man that will drive through hell and high water to have a bowl of my Cincinnati Chili, Thanks, Jon Last but not least, my family from Australia. Maureen, Mark, Kelly.Zoe, Mel, Steve, Tash, Stick, Wil, Stella, Lucas, Issac, Max and all! (who did I miss?) Thanks to all that have visited and commented. Read some ”’old”” Murph . . . . And watch the video at the end!
This is a piece I wrote several years ago but still seems to me to apply to the present day music industry. I am still a musician at heart but venues to work in are drying up faster than a droplet of water in a bucket of dry sand. It’s an abysmal state of affairs these days musically and sadly we all saw it coming. Some say business is cyclical. I wonder. Hey, Paul McCartney played the halftime show Super Bowl Sunday, right?
Remembering Miss American Pie
The musicians of the 60’s and 70’s had a wealth of powerful and insightful compositions from which to draw their inspiration. The songs had shine and creative musical integrity that would forever set them apart from today’s musical mainstream. The music spoke of the dynamic of the human experience; from love found and lost to political innuendo shaking hands with world peace. The older generation frowned upon these freedoms of expression and saw the music created as an irrevocable evil to be stamped out in the hopes of ending the reign of terror that floated over the airwaves. From the shaking hips of Elvis to the Mop-Tops from England to the androgynous and enigmatic David Bowie, the music written back then made us think and connect; it gave us an up close and personal view of the broken heart. So what the hell happened to perceptive content? Music, in its purest form is therapy, a most fundamental discipline of meditation the human race has, but along the way we altered the magic formula, ultimately changing its destiny as well. It’s supposed to make you feel good. Just think of a song that truly means something to you, take out a piece of paper, and jot down five things that come to mind immediately. Chances are you can come up with more than ten. That’s the miracle of music; when something unexpected touches the heart. Much of what I hear today is tainted, biased and so musically inept that when I hear one of these prized gems, I can only wildly shake my head and slobber saliva like an angry PBR bull (which tends to make loved ones around me very uncomfortable). A rule of thumb for future songwriters regarding lyrics: if it rhymes with shucking but has nothing to do with corn, get out a thesaurus and find another word. The English language is chock full of them. Really. It seems that few people write real songs anymore; that is a simple and yet sobering fact, not a generality. If it weren’t for artists like John Mayer and Dave Matthews, I’d have lost my mind by now. Much of the music today is like bad poetry, arranged, set to a groove from the late eighties, and thrown into a 4,000 track, all digital recorder (yes, all the tracks must be used, read the contract). Recently, while listening to a song on a brand X radio station out of Boston—the exact frequency slips my mind…you’re welcome—I remember thinking to myself, what language is this guy speaking? I strained to hear anything remotely intelligible. Musically speaking, the song was as mundane and pedestrian as an arrangement that oozes from a generic portable keyboard purchased at Wal-Mart. I also thought that somewhere in the midst of this urban cacophony, I could hear the sound of a dog being run over and over, and over again… I’m not positive about that and maybe it’s just me. Somebody call the ASPCA. The inspiration for this article came to me as I ambled down Main Street a few weeks ago (us old guys don’t walk, we amble…it’s much hipper) when a pulsating sub-compact Toyota Celica loaded with what sounded like two, maybe three 18-inch subwoofers drove past me towards City Hall, emitting music so thunderous it almost knocked down the lady walking next to me. Initially, I thought it was just wind. I didn’t get the license plate number because I was too busy bending over to retrieve my own two eyeballs off the sidewalk. Sound pressure levels that can cause buildings to vibrate precariously…hmm, I wondered if the Slater Building was up to code on that one. Nope, we are definitely not in Kansas anymore, Toto. Then there’s the whole debacle surrounding present day artists hiding behind the 5th amendment, and we all can see what a gush of rotting sewage that is, but it doesn’t mean we have to buy a bucketful of it. When a major proportion of the music available has a “parental advisory” sticker slapped on it, what’s left for those of us who prefer substance in what we listen to? Maybe we need a special store that caters to people fed up with listening to music and lyrics that insult our intelligence with the glorification of worthless profanity while wasting our hard earned money on garbage that someone in the recording industry somehow deemed fit for human consumption. Bon appétit. Maybe I’m not meant to understand what all the hype and excitement in the industry is about these days, because I’m no longer a child. But there’s always that outside chance that as I struggle with my own foreseeable mid-life crisis, I’ll pleasantly discover that perhaps I’ve grown a little bit wiser in the process. Just watch the Grammy Awards this year for a taste of the ultimate in garishness. In the end, the music we choose to listen to and support should remain solely in the hands of the listener, but the overall message that it brings should be more of a boon to society as opposed to an outrage against the machine. Comedian George Carlin hit the proverbial nail on the head when he stated that, “…inside every silver lining, there’s a dark cloud.” Get out your umbrellas, kids; it looks like rain.
Happy 5 To S&M!!!!!!! See you for the next five years . . . I hope!
There are things that happen in our lives that occasionally defy space, time, gravity and logic.
While we experience these types of phenomena on a daily basis
we are sometimes too busy to see and embrace it.
There are two areas that require attention in my backyard: the lawn and the flowers.
I generally mow the lawn while Pamela tends to the flowers.
The flowerpots lining the yard and hanging from the shed looked especially good this year
but the garden looked like some fat lady sat on it.
The poor appearance of the garden had something to do with the amount of rainfall we had in June.
It rained 28 days out of 30 and the garden flowers suffered.
Pamela hates weeds and is constantly plucking them from the garden and the mulch that surrounds the outside of the yard. I tell you this so you understand that she has a keen awareness of all things growing in the backyard.
As I said before, all of the Cape Cod goodbyes were difficult but nothing could have prepared me for August 2nd,
the day Maureen and Mark left.
Pamela & Hannah went with me to the airport that afternoon.
The skies were greyslate over Boston and the tone in the truck was a bit somber
compared to the first drive to the Cape two very short weeks ago.
We somehow managed the ‘goodbyes’ and went our separate ways, more difficult than I ever could have imagined.
I was walking and wearing my Akubra, my arm around Pamela.
She took my arm and placed it over Hannah’s shoulder who was hurting more than Pamela.
This would be our hardest and saddest goodbye.
We got home and tried to keep busy straightening up and getting the house back in order for the work week ahead.
I poured a few fingers of Maker’s Mark and made Pamela a Rum Swizzle.
I was in the kitchen on my laptop when I heard Pamela yell from the backyard, “Hey Michael! Come here!”
She was standing by the enormous hostas (so big I call them Jimmy Hostas) staring at the ground.
“Look at those two flowers.”
“Yeah,” I said, in that low to high tone I use when questioning her.
“They weren’t there before. I swear. I’ve never seen them.”
“Then how did they get there,” I asked.
“They’re Impatiens. They need to be planted.”
“And you didn’t plant them?” I asked.
She got teary and said, “It’s Maureen and Mark. They didn’t want to leave. They didn‘t.”
What do you say to a woman crying over two mysterious flowers
that have grown out of nowhere?
You don’t argue, for one thing.
You shake your head, agree, and give her a huge hug.
As a dear friend of mine once said of wonderful and mysterious things in this life, “Sometimes, it just is.”
I’m also thinking that those plant roots run quite deep.
Now that’s something I can definitely relate to . . .
One night at the Cape all of us went toBaxter’s in Hyannisfor dinner.
It was a beautiful night as we sat watching the ferries come and go in the harbour.
Not sure what everyone ordered to eat but no one was talking and I’m assuming it was all good.
I do remember that Mark got an enormous Fisherman’s Platter that looked incredibly good,
no, it was ‘call your cardiologist before eating’ good.
He gave me a fried scallop that was roughly the size of an Aussie cricket ball which I split with Pamela.
It was so good I had to go back up to the counter and get a side order for us to split.
I’ll never learn.
It was such a beautiful night that I suggested we walk Main Street in Hyannis and check out some of the shops.
While the womenfolk were looking at Cape Cod jewelry,
Mark and I wandered over to a leather store across the street.
The rich, earthy aroma walking in was almost narcotic.
I love the smell of leather.
Mark and I were immediately drawn to the hats hanging on a wall in the back of the store; there were porkpies, fedoras (ala Indiana Jones), top hats, baseball caps and one very special hat that I somehow missed.
Mark asked to see a now familiar hat on the very top row.
“Check it out, mate. It’s an Akubra made in Australia,” He said,
as he showed me the inside label of his hat by the same maker.
I loved the hat he was wearing when he first showed up at the house and now I knew why.
He asked the price ($85) but by now Pamela and all the girls were standing next to us ready to go.
I wanted to buy the hat because I really liked it and I wanted to offer a showing of solidarity to Australia.
Alright, the solidarity part was my brain making up bullshit but I really loved the hat.
I could hear Pamela in my head saying, “You Have Enough Hats!”
I’m thinking now there was a reason I didn’t get it. Move forward in time to Logan Airport on the Sunday Maureen and Mark were leaving.
Pamela, Hannah, me and M&M were standing at the gate, all of us knowing what was coming next.
Mark patted Moe on the bum and said, “Alright. Let’s go. Let’s get this done.”
Probably some of the hardest words my friend has ever had to say.
The Tear Factory was now open for business but before it closed, Mark took off his Akubra and placed it on my head and gave me a huge bear hug.
“Take care of this for me until the next time, buddy.”
Translation: How Michael got his very first Akubra.
You never forget your first.
I don’t know much about the road ahead of me but I do know this; the next Akubra I put on my bald noggin won’t be from some leather shop in Hyannis, Ma.
I’m thinking someplace much more exotic . . .
Like Queensland, Australia
A quick post forMaureen andMark who will be leaving us tomorrow afternoon bound for home.
This post is more emotional for me than you could ever believe.
Thank God it’s not live on YouTube.
From Pamela, Sarah, Jenna, Hannah, Jon and me . . . Godspeed on your trip back home.
Know that there will always a ‘home away from home’ for the both of you right here. We don’t want to let you go but sadly, we must.
Two weeks ago, the song in my head was ‘Get Here’ but now I’m thinking it should be ‘Get There’,
back to Oz where your hearts and souls live.
Thank you for your love, your stories, your hearts, your incredible ability to make us laugh
(and take the piss out of us) and your endless Aussie generosity.
Pamela and I are gobsmacked and so incredibly blessed.
Might take a while but We’llberightmate . . . until the next time anyway.
Love you both to bits . . .
ps. light the candle, Maureen
pps. I’ll keep on working on the G’day . . .
Maureen and Mark will be here until next Sunday so I don’t expect much to change
here at Smoke and Mirrors.
It’s not everyday that you can show someone from Australia around
the city of Boston.
The week at the Cape seems like a dream now, a very wonderful dream.
With games like ‘Celebrity Heads’, ‘The Redneck Game of Life’ and ‘Three Questions’, I learned more about this
special group of people than I would have learned in a lifetime.
And although I’m still trying to wrap my head around it, I promise there will be much to come.
I’ll be coming ‘home’ very soon.
It’s always a daunting task starting a new journal; all that virgin white space,
the absence of anything resembling a word or thought, and the cackling cynic inside me all trying to sway me towards more menial things like cutting my lawn (which needs to be done, btw) or re-grouting the tile in the bathroom.
This soft leather-covered journal was made in Italy and given to me by my daughter Jenna.
It’s really gorgeous.
I began to wonder what will be written on these pages by the years end.
In 7.23 days, me, Pamela and the girls will be spending a week on Cape Cod with Annie,Maureen, Mark& Evyl (and Joyce!)
The location will not be disclosed so please don’t ask.
We’re celebrating Christmas in July because my wife thought
December was a silly time for all the folks involved to visit.
This is going to be one of the most amazing weeks of my life while on this spinning blue ball in space.
There will be many things: laughter, tears, music, incredible food, stories, Rum Swizzle,
bourbon, Guinness and enough fine cigars to smoke out an army of stogie veterans.
Oh, and there will be stories.
I know I already wrote that but it needs to be repeated.
Honestly, where would we be without our stories?
If someone had told me 10 years ago that I’d be spending a week of my life with people I’d never met I’d say they really ‘lost the plot’.
All of us talk on the phone and Gmail chat on a fairly regular basis so no one is a complete stranger here.
I’ve known Annie since our writing days at WVU.
And Evyl has been a true bud since I first started this blogging thing back in 2005.
As far as Maureen and Mark, I’ve known them from some previous life, or so it seems.
I could go on and on about my personal expectations regarding this most special of holidays but I prefer to record some actual memories in this very special journal.
Stay tuned for some truly awesome posts starting around the 18th of July (our first day on the Cape)
We have some blogging hijinx planned as well, actually more of a blog hijacking, so to speak.
All will be revealed in time.
We’ve all waited well over a year for this moment.
What’s 7.20 more days?
And it now looks like my new journal isn’t so new anymore.
As far as the post title goes . . . my dear Pamela is pretty damn sure *she may not be ready.
Just watch her ‘Twitter’
for more details!
I went to Cape Cod a few weeks ago for a bit of R&R; though it seems like years ago now.
The weather couldn’t have been better with sunshine every day.
Everything pretty much went as planned.
But what I didn’t plan on was the disappointing discovery of closed restaurants and nightclubs—all the places I used to regularly haunt many years ago.
Route 28, the main road that horizontally bi-sects the Cape, appeared lackluster and sadly dormant in many spots reminding me more of the movie “28 Days Later” than the busy road I remember.
Just what the hell was happening here?
This was just too weird.
My sentimentality bubbled over when I saw a closed/for sale sign out in front of the Mill Hill Club.
This was a nightclub I used to play at in the early eighties; a span of time that found the Cape alive and teeming with people every single night of the week.
I was saddened in a way that I couldn’t explain to my daughters.
My wife knew but the girls quickly got sick of my reminiscing and lamenting
and began to look at me with an implied “there he goes again” neon sign flashing across their foreheads.
Some people say that everything is cyclical, and that in time, things change becoming what they once were.
The Compass Lounge, one of the most popular nightclubs is now a CVS.
Thompson’s Clam Bar, a great restaurant on a harbor in Harwich, has been turned into condominiums.
The Barefoot Trader, the quintessential Cape Cod gift shop that boasted Easter Island-type statues set along the walkway that led inside the shop, now sells Persian Rugs.
Does anything stay in business anymore?
Jeepers, this was like the Twilight Zone.
I kept waiting to look in my rear view mirror to see Rod Serling or the Verizon “can you hear me now” guy, sans glasses.
They both look about the same anyway.
It was really sad. From the price of gas to the taste of lobster, everything had changed. But maybe the biggest change of all…was me.