A city guy, who moved to the country, and now back to the city, and his musings on life, love, career, politics, jiu jitsu, and just about anything I can muster…yeah, it's gonna be Legen…wait for it…..

Below is a transcription of a podcast I listened to recently.  Let me start by highly recommending listening to the Joe Rogan Experience Podcast. Such riveting conversation on there.  The Transcription below is JRE #134 featuring Kevin Smith. Kevin Smith is a director/actor famous for such films as Clerks, Mallrats, and Dogma. 

So below is a small portion from the episode. The transcription below is not mine, and is not perfect, but you get the gist of the message.

These words hit me at the perfect time, and led me to making a very important decision, to take a job in Dubai or not. I definitely think these are words to live by, so wanted to share them with others. Enjoy!

You can listen to the podcast from the website, on ITunes, or watch it on Youtube as a webcast.

Kevin Smith:  Play it with passion. Do it. Here’s my philosophy.  It’s everybody’s philosophy. It’s not even an original one.  One life you fucking die.

Kevin Smith:  That’s it. You don’t know what’s on the other side.  We hope for this and that. We hope for candy land.

Kevin Smith:  But we don’t know.  It could be as simple as getting in a box.  Stay there for fucking eternity.  You had your shot.  You’re a computer, we shut you down and you’re finished.  So if that’s the case, it…it…behooves you to shoot for your dreams every time.  I know it sounds so dopy and Tony Robbins-ish

Joe Rogan: But it’s real

Kevin Smith:  It’s real.  In a world where you’re gonna fuckin die. Like this is what I think about it.  An example that’s real close to home. My old man was a good dude.  My father, good guy.  Not many good men in the world.  This was a good fucking guy.  Did work at a post office.  Ah cancelling your fuckin stamp.  What a soul killing horrible job that is.  For years just to pay for a fucking family.  Who knew if he had dreams?  Maybe his only dream was to like.  Oh get married and have kids. Work wasn’t maybe a big deal to him.  He did what he had to put food on the table.  And stuff like that.  Good dude, took me to the matinees.  Every Wednesday go see a movie.  Take us out of school a half day.  Go see flicks and what not.  Not a Parent who fucks around with a kid or anything like that, or Oh he’s all good except there is that. Good straight arrow fucking dude. Went to church cause his wife made him.  But wasn’t big into the church.  Fucking mowed his mother-in-law’s lawn all the time.  Good guy.  Raised pretty good kids.  Or at least 2 good kids and me.  And so, my father would go out to eat one night.  He’s about 68 years old.  We go out to eat at Morton’s in Philadelphia.  Ah.. and its one of those special nights where whole family winds up in the same place.  Hadn’t been that way in years.  My mom, my dad, me and my wife’s with me.  My sister and her husband.  And she lives out. At this point I think she was living In Kobe, Japan or something like that.  So she rarely back in the states.  And my brother, he’s married to a dude.  But his husband wasn’t with us.  He didn’t make the trip that time unfortunately.  Here we are at the back room at Morton’s.  You know, eating having a great time.  Chit-chatting. (coughs)  And the old man is putting away a steak.  Cheesecake.  A couple of manhattans.  That was his fucking poison.  And you could tell. And I don’t even like paint this in retrospect.  But it was clear on the night.  Parents love seeing their kids all in one place.  Happy, healthy, not fucked up in the heads or something like that.  And you can tell he’s enjoying it.  Their worst kids shooting the shit.  Everyone is making each other laugh and shit.  Trying to make him laugh.  He.. everyone sits.  Everyone’s paying attention to everyone else.  Maybe no one is paying attention to him.  Maybe too much cheesecake that night.  Fuck it we’re all having a good time.  Put him on a cab that night.  Hey now see you all in the morning.  He’d come out to Philadelphia to see me do a Q&A at the ah.. Wizard Comic-Con.  Off he goes in a cab.  Go home.. ah.. go to a hotel. Go to sleep.  Got a phone call 6 in the morning from my brother.  And my brother was like uhm..  You gotta get down to the hospital on Walnut.  And I say why?  Cause Dad..  And uhm my father was in and out of poor health.  He was diabetic and what not.  He had like ah.. strokes, heart attack and what not..

Yeah.. he was.. bad health dude.  But I’m.. but.. so when my brother is like..  Dad is in the hospital.. Okay like,  What now?  Fuckin throw a rock and dad’s got it.  My brother you could hear in his voice.. and he was just like.. you gotta get down here now.  And I was.. oh shit!  So I was like.. hang up, got dressed, went down.  I get to the emergency room.  Open the door first thing I see is.  My mother who looks more scared, than I have ever seen in a human being in my life. Fucking terror on her face.  Not.. I’ve seen my mother cry in my lifetime, you know.  I’ve made my mother cry in my lifetime.  I’ve watched her cry.  I watched her cry to fucking falcon crest when I was a kid.  This was different.  This was like terror.  Fear.  You know, almost like there was a fucking gun to her head.  And off of her face, I looked to my brother, and my brother just says this expression where it just kinda gives me a slow nod.  Which is he’s gone.  You know my father is dead. And I went and I saw him on a gurney and shit. And it was so strange.  I go outside.  I was a smoker like cigarette smoker in those days.  I was gonna have a cigarette.  And uh.. Donald comes out.  And I was like ah.. Oh this is a shock.  Oh whatever, you know.  Your upset and stuff.  And ah.. how was it?  Cause he was there.  So what happened?  Donald felt, his story was like.. Dad woke up and had this like big reaction. Where you just like.. I’m hot, I’m hot.. then thrown his sheets off.  And mom freaked out..  what’s the matter?  what’s the matter?  She told Bob call an ambulance, call the hospital.  And he was gone within seconds.  So.. that’s.. you know.. bad enough.  You know, he was hot and uncomfortable.  You don’t want to hear it like.. Oh he died in his sleep.  And we woke up and he just didn’t.  But then my brother says this thing,  probably defined my life.  My brother goes.. ah.. he died screaming.  And I go.. what?  And he goes.. he died screaming.  And I was like.. I mean is that a figure of speech?  He goes.. No he literally died screaming.  And you could see my brother was haunted by it.  And my father wasn’t like ah.  I wouldn’t say he was a butch man or strong man.  But he wasn’t a soft man by any stretch of the imagination.  And I never heard him get real loud or anything like that. Then the notion of my father dying screaming.  Changed my life, cause I was like.  Even a good man in this world.  He played the game.  He played it straight.  He played it by the rules.  You do everything you’re supposed to.  You’re gonna die screaming. 

At that point, there’s no point in not trying to accomplish every stupid fucking dream I got.  Even this dumb shit.  Like fuckin.. you know.  Oh my god, I always want to collect this many fucking Wayne Gretsky cards in one binder.  Or if its like, I wanna make a movie.  Or if its like, I wanna put on podcast.  I wanna do a TV show now.  I wanna write a book.  Chase it all down.  Chase some whimsies for what I have been doing for the last few years.  Smoking weed and chasing and went whimsies.  Anytime I’m like.  Back in the day, I had a good idea.  Something I really want to follow through on.  You know, suddenly you get scared.  You start thinking, what some motherfucker is gonna say.  It will be like, oh that’s stupid why would you fuckin do that.. fuckin why? why? why? 

A lot of why people in this world. I try to surround myself with the why not motherfuckers.  It would be like, I wanna try this.  Like.. why not?  Lets go, lets give it a shot.  You gotta be game, Man.  People help you achieve your dreams and shit.  So for me ah.. the last few years.  I’ve just been trying to accomplish every dopy dream.  Big shit, the little shit.  You gotta do them all.  You cant just do the.. climb every mountain shit.  You know, sometimes lay the bar down, step over it and be like Tadah!  So you feel accomplished.  But chase it all.  Do it all.  Cause we all gonna die screaming.  And you might as well enjoy it here.  And when I say chase it all.  Don’t fuckin do it at the expense of someone else obviously.  Don’t hurt somebody else.  But go after your dreams, man.  If you dream is like.. I wanna kill 12 children.  That’s.. I’m not saying.. I’m not talking to you.  But go after your dreams if that’s not gonna hurt anybody

The Nameless

Many years ago…what seems like a lifetime ago, I sang in a metal band. One of the last tunes we wrote was a song about homeless people. Very simple, and I called it The Nameless. I chose that title because homeless people often seem like nameless sentient beings, just floating through space. We often don’t recognize them, disregard them. We as a society get so caught up in the fast flow of life, that we don’t even bother to make eye contact with them, pass them by, and will sometimes label them as a nuisance, or a bother , rather than a person in need of help, in need of empathy. Please don’t misinterpret these words in a sense that I haven’t done these things. I have. I try not to, but I get caught up too. But, I’ve had times of sitting with homeless cats on a corner, and just rapping and shooting the shit, hearing their stories. Ultimately, I think that’s what many of us want; to have our story told. To have our voice heard, and to not be…nameless.

These thoughts all came into my head as the woman sat next to me. As I mentioned in my previous blog, Serendipity, my mind was already in a spin. Then the rain drove me to take cover at the bus stop, fearing the inclement weather would put me in a dangerous spot on my bicycle, with slick roads and impaired visibility to motorists.

The bus came by, and after exiting the bus, the woman ambled over to me and took a seat. The air around me immediately took on the scent of alcohol. She was a black woman, older , I’d put her in her 50’s perhaps. Well greyed hair, close cut and under a red baseball cap. Her clothes were dirty. She had a can in a brown paper bag that I later found to be an Icehouse.

She didn’t make eye contact. She just kind of turned her face towards me, but our gazes never met. She was clearly intoxicated. She leaned over and said, “Can I tell you something?”
“Of course” I said.

“I was in the Army.” “I saw things that no one should have to see.”

Her speech wasn’t clear at all times, but she told me how her experiences in the Army messed with her head. She recalled some instances…

“I always did my best…And we never left a man behind. We always brought them back.”

I never interrupted her. Only nodded and offered verbal agreements. She didn’t ‘t know this, but I understood perfectly everything she was saying.

As I looked at her face, listening to her story, tears began running down my cheeks. As I looked in her face, I just could see that her mind was gone. She wasn’t in the same time , or the same place that I was. That thought made my heart ache so badly.

This lady could be my mom. She could be someone’s mom. I looked down at the ground, not wanting her to see me cry. I couldn’t speak, I just listened, staring at her can of Icehouse.

When I was younger, I never could understand why homeless people would turn to vice…drugs and alcohol. I never could understand why you would make a bad situation worse.

I get it now. Not wanting to face life lucidly. Needing something to soften the edges of reality. I know that feeling all too well.

Many years ago, in what seems also, like a different lifetime, I attempted suicide. Very few people in my life know this. I’ve always guarded that secret . It’s something that I’ve always found shame in. But, I now know that it was a wake up call for me to change my life, which I did. I can relate so very well to the feeling of simply not feeling like you can face life. I tried vice too. For me, vice wasn’t even strong enough.

All of these thoughts swirled into my head as I looked into this woman’s face, and so many questions.
“Are you homeless?”
“How will you get out of the rain?”
“Do you have family? Where are they?”

But I didn’t ask. It was time for her to tell her story, as she chose to tell it.

Finally, I spoke up.
“I gotta get going ” was all I could muster, wiping the tears from my cheeks.

As I stood up, and waved goodbye meekly, she made eye contact with me for the first time.
“Bye”
“God Bless You Sister. Bye.

I wanted to do more. I should’ve said more.

And as I rode off, I thought about how appalling it is that we give billions of dollars to other countries, and yet I rode pass people under underpasses, awnings, and alleys trying to find a dry place to sleep. It’s not right. You’ll never be able to rationalize it to me . We could do better. We should do better. She should be enjoying her twilight years in a warm place, surrounded by love, not sitting on a cold bus stop in a rainstorm with me. It infuriates me now just thinking about it.

Also, as I rode home, I recognized how that experience served as a reminder. I was at a place today where I was beginning to feel bad for myself. At this point, I’m technically unemployed. Hustling up money to pay bills. Dealing with issues with my daughters…

…and I’ve been reminded that I’m ok. I have my mind, and my health. If I keep my head up, I’ll figure it out, and I’ll be ok. In the grand scheme of life, my problems are minuscule, and I feel ashamed for even being so self indulgent.

And so here I sit. I feel emotionally drained. I’m gonna go lie down, and I know that the sun will bring a brighter day. The woman will be on my mind. I hope she is ok.

Life is strange sometimes.

Serendipity

 

serendipity3Life is strange sometimes. As I’ve said before, I’m not sure which set of religious beliefs I’m willing to subscribe to. I do however believe in some variation of Karma. It just often seems like things are too coincidental to be simple happenstance. Thus, the serendipitous nature of life.

I started off the evening at a movie with great company. I chose to ride my bike instead of drive, despite the threat of rain. We saw an advanced screening (The Hundred Foot Journey) which left my mind in an absolute swirl of thought. I hopped on my bike and got about a block until the sky opened up. Two blocks later I stopped at a covered bus stop. I sat there for a bit until a bus came. A few people got off the bus, including an older woman who came over and sat next to me.

We only sat there for about 5 mins, but this was a very serendipitous experience that I will blog about shortly. From there, I pedaled onward in the downpour. About a mile further, something in my brain told me to stop again. I did, and not even a minute later saw an old battle buddy I hadn’t seen since getting back from Afghanistan. That experience brought a smile to my face and helped me find some equilibrium. From there I pedaled on home, and here I am.

My mind is still in a blur. I’ll sort it all out in due time. Now, I know this isn’t the first time that someone told you that life is serendipitous. However, sometimes we all need a reminder.  A reminder that life is out there to be lived, and if you go out to meet it, it will certainly meet you.  Namaste.

Now? Later!

This prompt is from the Daily Post

We all procrastinate. Website, magazine, knitting project, TV show, something else — what’s your favorite procrastination destination?

Well, that’s kind of hard, because I have two favorite procrastination destinations, so I’ll tell a bit about both. 

The first one is an Argo Tea.  It sits right next to the Goodman Theater. There’s not a time I don’t go there in which I say to myself that I’m actually going to go to that theater someday.  I like this particular Argo Tea because it’s tucked away from the craziness of downtown.  It’s rarely crowded, unlike most of the other Argo locations downtown.  I always sit in the back, which further separates me from the hustle and bustle of the area.  I could literally sit there for hours reading, or writing, or playing online…although I rarely stay that long.  I love this place because it offers a breather from whatever I may be into, or whatever thoughts my mind may be hanging on.  For me, procrastination is often about peace….finding peace of mind. I love this place because that is what it provides.

My other favorite place of procrastination is quite possibly the polar opposite in its physical state, but it also offers a different sort of peace and comfort.  That place is Millennium Park, particularly the Jay Pritzker Pavilion. The Pritzker Pavilion, is a sight to be seen, particularly at night.  They offer tons of free entertainment there.  Usually, when I go there, I could be doing something else. But, once again, it brings me peace of mind, especially the classical concerts.  Imagine sitting in a bowl with the city towering over you, and beautiful music surrounding you.  It is something to experience.

IMG_0999[1]

Guns, Guns, Guns

So, this 4th of July weekend here in Chicago, 82 people were shot. At least 14 of those were fatal. The lion’s share of those shootings were on Sunday, June 6th.

Let that sink in for a minute

82 people shot in 3 days, including minors.

That’s a lot of people.  Even in a city as large as Chicago, that’s a lot of people.

That’s such a significantly large amount of people, that both the mayor and the police superintendent had to address the situation. While I can’t find the police press conference on Youtube, the message was very clear from Supt. McCarthy:

“It all comes down to these guns: there’s too many guns coming in and too little punishment gong out.”

Gun Laws Blamed For Chicago’s Weekend Shooting Surge

It also can’t be lost  that a significant number of these shootings occurred in poor and disadvantaged neighborhoods, and that was actually brought up by a reporter. It was at least pleasant that the Superintendent acknowledged that these neighborhoods don’t have adequate employment, schools, programs, ad nauseum…

…however, this doesn’t change the sad fact that children are running around in the killing fields, killing and being killed.

So, what is the answer? How can this problem be fixed?

Unfortunately, I firmly feel that a lot of people in Chicago don’t care, because it doesn’t affect them. As long as the violence is isolated to the southside, who cares. This problem is a direct by-product of the deep racial and economic fissures in the city. And good sociology teaches us that the violence won’t stay there forever.

So, are stiffer penalties the solution?  I’d love to hear you all’s views on this.

 

 

Welcome back

Hey ladies and gents. Welcome back…to me I guess. It’s been quite a while since I posted anything, I know. It wasn’t a matter of time…I suppose I didn’t have anything to say. But now, I feel like my voice is back. Hell, I feel like my mind is back. So, what can I say?

Well, the school year is over. At this point, I am technically unemployed. I will not be returning to my current position next year. The parting is amicable, and I got stellar references from my administrators. It simply isn’t the perfect fit for me. I wasn’t happy there, as many of you who talk with me already know. So, on and ever upward. Not sure what the future will bring, but I look forward to finding out. If you know a school that needs a good social studies teacher, let me know.

Aside from that, taking each day as it comes. I have tons on my mind, which I will share in the near future. And of course, I’m wandering around this wonderful city of mine. Yeehaw.

Happy???

So, allow me to present you with a question:

What is the one word or phrase that immediately cheers you up when you hear it?

This questions comes courtesy of  The Daily Post, of course.

I sat here thinking for a few seconds on this question, and I really couldn’t think up an answer.

Well, nothing decent.

The first thing that came to mind was the scene in Full Metal Jacket, near the end of the film…

Animal Mother: Freedom?

[scoffs]

Animal Mother: You’d better flush out your head, new guy. This isn’t about freedom; this is a slaughter. If I’m gonna get my balls blown off for a word, my word is “poontang”.

 

But no, I’m not gonna equate “poontang” to the one word that makes me feel better.

A phrase?  Hmm…I really couldn’t think of one.  Can’t think of one. Even as I type this, no one phrase comes to mind that immediately cheers me up.

Hmm…Maybe “Jamba Juice”.

Jamba Juice always cheers me up.

Hmm…well, as I think about it, I’m sure it would be something related to Jiu Jitsu, because that is the one thing in my life I absolutely adore without reservations.

Hmm…maybe it’s “Shut up and train!”  Seems a bit harsh though.

Definitely something with training.  I truly love training Jiu Jitsu.

Anywho, what about you?  What word or phrase immediately cheers you up?

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