Communication is the problem to the answer.

Head Turners

We often hear strange snippets of conversation as we walk through public spaces. When was the last time you overheard something so interesting, ridiculous, or disturbing you really wanted to know what it was all about?

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I’m gonna live on a mountain, way down under in Australia.

It’s been over a week since I wrote this note to myself. Since then I have seen several discussions on this topic, including two by Henry Rollins that really spoke to me. They spoke to me because, while it appeared he was flip-floping on the issue, I think he could have benefited from taking some time between writing and posting his thoughts and feelings and getting them out into the world.

Like I said, I have done just that. So these are my thoughts.

Man goes to doctor. Says he’s depressed. Says life is harsh and cruel. Says he feels all alone in a threatening world.

Doctor says, “Treatment is simple. The great clown Pagliacci is in town tonight. Go see him. That should pick you up.”

The man bursts into tears. Says, “But doctor… I am Pagliacci.”


Over the past week you may have read that excerpt from the comic book Watchmen, in reference to the death of Robin Williams. It may or may not actually be relevant to the situation but to me it made me stop and think. The death of Mr. Williams affected me. To be honest, I’m not sure why it did as much as it did. Yes, I have always been a big fan of his. I remember having my Mork and Mindy lunchbox in grade school and being the only kid I knew with a Mork action figure, with accompanying egg vehicle. I remember having to see all his early movies; The World According To Garp, Popeye, Moscow On The Hudson, even if some of them weren’t really age appropriate for me at the time.

When one of his first stand up specials aired on HBO, I remember sitting down to watch it with my dad. It just happened to come on as we were looking for something to watch and it touched my life as we both recognized the genius of it. That summer, between my eighth grade and first year of high school, I would sit in my room and watch his act in a steady repeat with Monty Python’s and Steve Martin’s Hollywood Bowl performances at least twice a day. No, it didn’t make me a stand up comedian or actor but it did make me feel good and helped me find my voice, even if it was just another of the ones in my head.

There is more. I could go on for quite a while talking about how the work of Robin Williams made a mark on my life, but that’s not why his death affected me so much. The fact of the matter is being someone who (like him) has experienced bouts of depression and substance abuse, I pondered what lead him down that path that seemed all too familiar in my head.

What is it that makes someone so loved, so successful, so seemingly caring and with it end it all. Honestly, this is not a line of thinking I should probably have been scraping and poking around but I couldn’t stop myself. I can’t answer for him, obviously, but I can relate my experience and talk to what I know with a situation such as his.

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A fake Jamaican took every last dime with a scam, It was worth it just to learn from sleight-of-hand.

The last week or so I’ve been thinking to myself a lot about The Empire Strikes Back. Anyone who knows me knows this is not that unusual. There are so many levels and tones in that movie that I don’t think I’ll be able to ever fully digest what that movie is and means to me in my lifetime.

This time, I’ve been thinking about the whole Darth Vader/Luke/Obi Wan thing. I’ve mentioned before how Luke seemed to have jumped the gun with the whole “I’m a Jedi and going to fight another Jedi” thing after like three days of training but what about the catalyst for that training? What about Obi Wan and his relationship to Luke.

There’s a point in the middle of the light saber battle between Vader and Luke where Darth Vader had to have a hard time not snapping and just spilling the beans to Luke about being his dad. I mean, before the whole “Sorry I cut your hand off but you were just getting too annoying with pretending you’re a Jedi” thing. It’s got to be fairly obvious to Luke at the end that Vader was just toying with him. He just wanted to see how good of a Jedi he was, being so new to the Force and all. He wanted to see if there was a possibility of Luke being a good right hand man for Vader. Fat chance of that after cutting off his right hand, but I digress.

Even when Vader is about to open up about the whole “I’m your father” thing, Luke throws back in Vader’s face the fact that Obi Wan told him everything Luke needed to know.

“He told me enough…he told me you killed him!”

“Sigh, really Luke? Is that what Obi Wan told you? I guess that has to be the gospel truth if you heard it from an old man who you knew all of like a day and a half. Dude, you know nothing about Ben! Hell C-3PO has been missing for longer in Cloud City than the time that you knew Obi Wan alive!

“Yeah, that’s right. I know who 3PO is. I made him.”

Of course, I think  it’s obvious that there were things about Obi Wan that Anakin should have seen but didn’t. For example, take for the fact that Obi Wan may not have been a full blown alcoholic but he was, at the very least, a problem drinker.

Think about it. Obi Wan and Luke need to go get the droids back to Leia’s dad with an important message that can save the galaxy so they need to get a ship out of town, so what’s the first thing Obi Wan does? He takes them to a bar. Not just a bar but a bar when he’s well enough known as the only guy in the galaxy that still wears Jedi robes out in public and no one bats an eye. Heck, the bartender gives him a referral to Han Solo even after he’s waving a light saber around because two guys wanted to bully Luke around.

How about when Luke first met Obi Wan. For some reason Obi Wan is staggering around in the dessert, making loud noises that imitates the call of a creature that scares a whole troop of sand people away. I can only think that might not have been because Luke was out there. It might have been because that’s what he does on Wednesday afternoons after having a few and he’s feeling really good.

If only Luke would have stopped and been like, “You know, come to think about it, Vader, the last time I spoke to Ben he was a ghost being all like ‘Luuuuuuke…Luuuke….you must go to the Degobah system….boooooooooo wooooooooooo.” while I was laying face down in snow outside during a sixty below zero night. He wasn’t even making sense.” to Vader at that point maybe Vader would have said, “Tell me about it. One time we were in a planet-wide high speed chase in a stolen car, trying to find an assassin that wanted to kill your mom and we stopped in the middle of it so he could go into a bar for a drink. Dude had a problem.”

After a minute, Luke would stop and say, “You know, I saw that last light saber fight with you guys. You could tell by his eyes he was barely there, hardly able to stand up and walk a straight line, let alone get in a light saber battle.”

“How about it, Luke. You weren’t two feet in front of him at the time we had that light saber duel. He was making his own wooshing light saber noises as swung it. It was sad.”

Then they would have laughed and connected as father and son, to see who the real enemy was, the Lord of the Sith known as  alcohol.

All crimes are paid.

In honor of all the kids going back to school around this time, I’d like to start off my thoughts here by sounding like I am responding to a topic given by a teacher as I come back from summer break: What I like about my new shoes is…

What I like about my new shoes is the way they sound when I walk on pavement or sidewalks. I noticed it this morning while taking out the garbage. My house is in an unincorporated area, so I shouldn’t have sidewalks but my house does for some reason, along with about 60% of the other houses on my block, which is odd. Still, that was the first time I had heard my shoes on pavement. Living in the suburbs is different than the city, I guess, where I would have heard it sooner and more often, the sound of my shoes that is. 

What I like about my new shoes is that they sound the same way shoes sounded in old TV shoes and movies. You know, when you hear a detective get out of a car and walk down the street, the over-exaggerated and grimy sort of sound that sandpaper makes rubbing against a rock. 

Now, don’t get me wrong. I don’t have 70’s TV detective shoes. The soles are not hard leather or anything like that. Still, as I walked up the drive to take the garbage and recycling cans to the curb I couldn’t help but feel a lot more older than my years and kinda wanted to question a perp.



Don’t surround yourself with yourself. Move on back two squares.

I’d like to personally thank the makers of the Guardian of the Galaxy movie for using a 1970’s soundtrack. This means I can drive around again with Redbone’s song Come And Get Your Love playing without having people look at me like I am an old man. Now, they can look at me like I’m an old man just because I’m in my early forties. One complaint, however, is that even though they seem to have cloned my standard road trip playlist for the past twenty years they left off the theme from the Rockford Files and One Toke Over The Line by Brewer and Shipley.

It’s funny, all that 70’s music I hated when I grew up first hearing  it in the car because my mom would have to drive somewhere with the radio on. She did always like the current music of the day back then. Looking back, she was very hip to popular music. My dad seemed to be as well but it was his love for hard, guitar based rock that would pull me away from wanting to listen to the reverb heavy top 40 from the 70’s. At some point though, on my own, it went from a turn off to someone I sought out to listen to. Call it nostalgia if you will but I’ll just chalk it up to me cultivating a good, broad taste in music.

And here we are, about forty years later for most of these songs I see them getting a new appreciation. With that, I start to remember once again for the first time as I listen to them.

That’s one of the weird parts I’m learning about being clean and sober for about a year on after twenty something years of foggy chemical use, the fact that I suddenly will find myself standing, in my head, back ten, twenty, thirty years in the past, culturally.

The other morning, I had the David Lee Roth song Sensible Shoes wandering around my head. It’s a lackluster number from the early 90’s that everyone has either forgotten about or never heard of and I was humming it as if it was the first time I saw the video on MTV.

A couple of other weeks ago, I was suddenly struck with thinking about the plot of the movie Bad Medicine and forced myself to have to look it up online, finding myself remembering every scene as it reappeared from the mist in my mind. Curse you Steve Gutenberg and your stable of sub par comedies from the 80’s. So many of them were in heavy rotation on the movie channels in high school during the summer months that I have seen all of them at least a dozen times and forgotten them twice as many times. Something about those first years of actually finally getting cable TV and all the wasteland that accompanied it. All of the summer break entertainment.

Now, it’s 70’s AM station music. I don’t even notice it’s happening. I’m a child in the back seat of my parent’s silver Malibu overhearing music that I would later in my twenties be reintroduced to after watching Tarantino films.

Is this part of the price I have to pay from burning whole sections of my mind with drugs and alcohol instead of feeling and being aware? Do they all have to come back, randomly and one at a time, for me to revisit? I only ask because I’m aware of it happening, you know. I don’t really mind.


For me, the most satisfying part of posting this is that my spellchecker caught that I spelled Steve Gutenberg’s last name wrong but doesn’t know what the word reverb is.