AND JUSTICE FOR ALL??

When I was a AJFAkid, I grew up on an Ontario farm just outside a gorgeous little town in the Kawartha Lakes called Bobcaygeon. It was a beautiful little place that owed a lot of its revenue and survival to Yankee dollars supplied by Yankee tourists who came up from the USA every year for some R&R, the fishing, the beauty of the land and the lakes, and if nothing else, just the opportunity to get out of the big cities like Detroit or Chicago or Dayton Ohio. Those folks all seemed kind of magical to me because they all seemed to have money and big cars and I didn’t have a nickel. Furthermore they all talked about living the good life while I spent my days in the hot sun baling hay or chasing cattle or fixing fences or any other dirty job it seems like farming consists of which seemed like total injustice to me. Those days were also the beginnings of Rock & Roll, a totally magical time and music screamed through my veins like high octane gasoline!

Naturally I couldn’t tell anyone about my music dreams because I’d just get laughed out of the house and when I did try to talk to my Grandmother a little bit, she’d simply scowl at me over the top of her steel rimmed glasses and tell me about things not always being quite the way they seemed. The United States wasn’t exactly the land of milk and honey that I made it out to be, and they had their own set of problems so I needed to forget about it, and go get a good nights sleep. We had to bale hay tomorrow!

Be careful what you ask for, you just might get it!

With a few twists and turns, a few years later I was in the USA living my musical dreams, doing anything and everything it took to support them, and learning, sometimes the hard way, about “Justice for All,” as it pertained to smoky bars and strip clubs and the rules of the street.

Street justice and legal justice sometimes aren’t the same thing and the justice you get through the legal system may not be same as the justiceabandonedtown you can buy if you have enough money. The justice that Governor Wallace perceived when he stood in the doorway of the University of Alabama and shouted “segregation forever!” is not the same as the justice the National Guard thought they were handing out at Kent State University when they shot four students who were protesting Nixon’s war in southeast Asia.

Indeed, the justice you can buy if you’re a big oil company “fracking” your way across America and creating havoc to communities in lots of different places is OK because you’re making us energy independent and free from foreign oil supply and that’s justice right? Man, justice sure wears a lot of hats!

Today I get to play music for Veterans coming home from wars in whatever godforsaken area of the world they’ve been sent to protect, and the one common enemy we’re all working against is PTSD. (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) This is common amongst the military. We train these kids to go out and kill and die if necessary but above all, protect your country and WIN AT ALL COSTS! BRING OUR JUSTICE HOME!

This kind of reminds me of the same thing we do in the NFL. We bring these kids in, juice ’em up, train ’em up, and send them out on the field on Sunday to create as much havoc and mayhem as possible, but when the game is over, come home on Sunday night calm, cool, and collected and be nice to your wife and family. That’s the way it’s supposed to be, but if by chance you don’t follow those rules and stray outside the lines, Roger Goodell is going to hand out a little fine or suspend you for a couple of games. Whose justice is that?!

I used to hate James Harrison. He was one of the hardest hitting linebackers the NFL has ever seen and Roger used to fine and suspend him regularly for hitting too hard and being too mean. Recently, since the Ray Rice thing blew up in his face and Goodell is now the one twisting in the fire, Harrison tweeted him a message that said something like, “ain’t no fun when the rabbit got the gun!” NOW…THAT’S JUSTICE!!

Please send me your comments and critiques. I’ll read them all and use them if I can.

Have a great week everybody.

Rod

 

 

 

 

 

 

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AND THEN…IT WAS WINTER!!

walkinsnowOf all the places I’ve ever lived or traveled to, nothing equals Colorado when it comes to instant weather changes. Earlier this week we were in shorts and sneakers, today it’s parkas and boots, and by the weekend, we’ll probably be back in shorts again! It is however, Mother Nature’s way of hinting to us that changes are in the air and it might be time to start making a few adjustments. Indeed, no matter how much you might want our beautiful summers to stay with us forever, changes are on the way.

As you drive down the street the leaves on some of the trees are beginning to change color, the sun is setting a little earlier and rising a little later, the NFL has kicked into gear and the breezes coming off the mountains have just a little nip to them. Yes Sir, Yes Ma’am, changes are on the way!

Along with the new NFL season comes all the normal good and bad. The good being the dreams of reaching that athletic pinnacle, the Super Bowl, and the bad being more accusations of physical abuse by players to family members which usually gets the same “shock and dismay” treatment by the media and the NFL in the fervent hope that this will also die away in a day or two (or in the media’s case, that it will last at least a day or two) and we can go back to filling those stadiums with fans, and the boss’s bank accounts with money!

The latest chapter in all this of course, is Ray Rice of the Baltimore Ravens who knocked his wife out cold in an elevator at a casino which was all recorded by a casino camera and is now being clumsily sidestepped by Commissioner Roger Goodell of the NFL, a man with a responsible position and a fat, multi million dollar salary. (Nice work if you can get it). Next in line is Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, who is accused of punishing his child with a switch “just like his Daddy punished him!” A year or two before that, was the episode with the quarterback from the Pittsburgh Steelers and no doubt there were others too numerous to mention. It just seems like every season has to start with some kind of physical abuse controversy and poor old Roger has to dole out a game or two suspension and do his little kabuki dance with the media to protect the NFL, their precious sponsors and his fat salary!

dinnerI’m not in the punishment business but I might have a solution to this problem.

Before football season even starts, why don’t we take any of these guys who think they’re bad and send them up to Alaska where they can go a couple of rounds with the “Fightin’ Palins of Wasilla!” I’d be willing to place a small wager that if Ray Rice had stepped into that casino elevator with Sarah Palin rather than his defenseless wife, the outcome might be a little different! When those elevator doors reopened, he might look a lot more like Fried Rice than Ray Rice! ISIS be damned! We’ve got Sarah!

I did another silly thing this week. I bought another guitar! I need another guitar like I need another hole in my head but this is such a fine instrument I couldn’t pass it up. A couple of weeks ago I wrote about a musician friend of mine who passed away. His name was Rich McDaniel, he was the leader/conductor of a big band I used to play in, and I loved him dearly. This morning, somewhere ‘way in the predawn while the city was asleep, I was playing something on my brand new guitar and it felt so good with such wonderful tone and response that I decided to name it McRich! McRich is going to work with me first thing Monday morning at the VA hospital and it now sits in my living room in the coveted spot right beside my recliner so that I can pick it up and play a little something any time the urge strikes. Thanks McRich!

Please send me your comments and critiques. I’ll be sure to read them all and use them if I can!

Thanks again, and have a great week everybody.

Rod

 

SAY HELLO TO HIGHLINE PLACE

HighlinePlcMusic is a busy place for me to be these days. Admittedly, it’s a long way from the old days of riding a tour bus or playing in some hotel lounge band helping Mom and Dad celebrate an anniversary or just the fact that it’s Friday night! No, it’s taken on a different flavor and meaning for many of us and, in many situations, it has changed it’s category from “entertainment” to “service.” The “service” category relates to the Music Practitioner work I get to do in hospital settings, while “entertainment” is mainly playing music and entertaining “retirees” in Retirement Communities.

Entertainment is the category we’re talking about this week.

There is no doubt about it, maybe by advances in health care or the fact that many of us have quit killing ourselves with tobacco products, the population of our nation is growing older.  As we grow older many have chosen to move into retirement communities rather than do all the work it takes to keep up a house and a yard and everything else that goes along with it!

In “retirement communities” one of the fastest growing categories today is memory care and that’s the one we’re going to focus on today. Memory Care is a large category in its own right, and runs all the way from forms of mild dementia to full blown Alzheimervillage people‘s disease. This is the business that Highline Place is in and they do it very well!

If you’re familiar with Denver, one of the main arterial streets running north and south is called Broadway (how’s that for an original name) and it runs all the way from north Denver, south through Englewood,  all the way to Littleton, and I have no idea where it goes after that! Actually I’m just kidding but Broadway does run a long way across the city and, if you go far enough south, you’ll come to 6767 South Broadway. If you look over on your right you’ll see a beautiful, quiet, restful setting with a large pond and manicured lawns and you’ll be looking at Highline Place.

Highline Place is an Anthem retirement property whose focus is memory care but from my casual (and very amateur) observation, their attitude also seems to be on openness and a casual interaction between the residents. Their residential capacity is in the mid seventies and the first word I would use to describe the situation when I went to entertain recently, was “friendly.” Friendliness seemed to me to be springing from everywhere as well as a feeling of openness and community rather than any kind of solitude or isolation. Obviously, privacy is a very important consideration as well, and they seem to have been very cognizant of that need in the building design. I couldn’t help but be impressed with the thoughtfulness and care that must have gone into this whole thing during the design process and that impression stayed with me during my visit.

retireOne of the most glaring facts that faces you when you’re setting up to entertain is that women outnumber the men by a high percentage. The next thing that crosses your mind is that, after a couple of minutes, how accepting and friendly they become. It’s kind of like, “OK, we’ve been there, done that, seen it all, done it all and you’re no big deal so let’s just relax, enjoy ourselves, and have a good time!” That’s exactly what we did! We sang and teased and laughed and joked and generally let an hour of good times slip through our fingers like it was no time at all!

One of the early rules of the road that you learn as an entertainer in any capacity is that, when the audience is with you it’s heaven, and when they’re not, it can be hell! This week at Highline Place for me, was another small slice of heaven and I hope we get to do it again sometime soon!

Please send your comments and critiques. I’ll be sure to read them all and use them if I can.

Have a great week everybody!

Thanks again,

Rod

 

Welcome to the Whopper Stopper!!

The little bee picks the blossom140826_bk_tim_hortons_wuerker_605
The big bee gets the honey
The black man picks the cotton and
The white man gets the money…

TAKE ME BACK TO TULSA…I’M TOO YOUNG TO MARRY…

Those words, from an old Bob Wills tune, sang the truth to me the first time I heard them as a kid, and they’re still singing it to me today. The trouble with truth is, nowadays, it comes in almost as many shades as there are colors in the rainbow and evidently, depending on whose side of the truth you’re on, it can change and disappear on you equally as fast.

The point being made here is a simple one and I’ll try not to elaborate too much. If you’re someone working hard every day, struggling to pay your bills and working like hell just to stay even, then the rules of society are made for you and that’s your truth. You already know what they want you to do. Obey everything, say nothing, pay your taxes, keep your nose clean and shut the hell up!

If, on the other hand, you’re an eleven billion dollar corporation and you want to pull a shifty little move like merging your company and moving your corporate headquarters to a foreign country in order to reduce your tax burden while screwing the taxpayers who have loyally supported you for years by purchasing your products, then your truth’s a little bit different and that’s pretty much the way it goes eh?

Hold on now! Before you go off the deep end and roar out into the street screaming about the injustice of it all, remember that approximately sixty million people (and you might be one of them) voted in the last election, for a guy whose version of the truth supported the corporate version rather than that provided to us lowly individuals! Remember; “Corporations are people my friend?!” I’ll bet you do now! That’s a stark reminder of how the color of truth varies depending on which direction it’s coming from! Truth is a fickle bitch eh?!

whopperstopperStupidity also comes in many forms, and corporate stupidity is no different. Had Burger King volunteered a small portion of the financial windfall they are going to reap into raising wages for workers, or offering discounts for seniors or any of a myriad of options open to them, they could have sold us this Edsel! But, just as Mitt Romney erroneously thought that carving up a tiny bit more than his rightful pound of flesh by moving corporations offshore to avoid taxes was the  proper thing to do, I wouldn’t be a bit surprised to see this thing bomb with a capital B! No doubt Warren Buffet’s a nice guy and a very intelligent investor, but from where many of us sit, this deal has parts of the puzzle missing and is being done for nothing more than greed and convenience. That’s a whopper most people can’t swallow eh?!

I’m reminded of the words of the great musical philosopher Willie Nelson, who once said; “You gotta dance with who brung you, swing with who swung you, don’t be a fickle fool” etc. Well, Burger King just might be that fool Willie is speaking of, unless they can figure out a way to remember who brought them to this dance! That sweet icing on Timmie’s donuts might end up tasting a little bit sour!

So there you have it. A couple of colors of truth depending on which way you look at it. Which color is yours? The corporate color, the individual color, or maybe some color in between? Certainly we’re all going to gravitate toward the one that suits our needs best and swear up and down that’s the only one that works for us! Personally, right now I feel that, offered a choice between a Whopper and a Timmie’s donut, an Apple or a Colorado Peach sounds pretty good eh?

Please send your comments and critiques. I’ll be sure to read them all and use them if I can.

Thanks and have a great week everybody!

Rod