I Don’t Get Ear Worms. I Get Ear Cobras.

This is what my brain has been doing all day long.

I didn’t ask my brain to do this. I didn’t say hey. You can listen to that Bosstones song and sing the refrain of Bob Dylan’s “Lay Lady Lay” over it and it makes perfect sense, so brain, you should play that all day long while you’re trying to, you know, resolve the woeful woes of tech admins all over the world. Nope, there it was, all day long. WHERE DID YOU GO lay lady lay HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

It’s not easy being green.

(Today it was only two songs at once. That was lucky.)

A Nice Productive Day

new_gogglesSo now I wear bifocals.

I’ve been meaning to take care of the glasses thing for a while now. Have been aware for some time that not only am I nearsighted now, but I’m farsighted, too. Got up this morning and decided to run over to Lenscrafters and get it all settled. Ran over, got my eyeballs looked at, picked out the frames, not to mention a pair of Ray-Bans. Came home to my new apartment and did a few things, then got the text that the glasses were ready. Drove over and got my oil changed. Walked to Bar Louie for a beer while that was being done. Then picked up the car and went and got my ears lowered. Then over to the farm for supper. Where my brother whipped up a perfect dish of greens and beans.

And he educated me about a musician named Paul Gilbert. A guitarist I had not encountered yet. A guitarist with the balls to cover Loverboy.

What perked my interest in Gilbert was to learn that he worked with Billy Sheehan in Mr. Big. Billy Sheehan, as in, the dude who did those amazing things on the bass guitar on Eat ’em an Smile.

I didn’t tell my brother that David Lee Roth is the only reason I know who Billy Sheehan is.

Brother made a mean greens and beans. In case you’re not familiar with the dish, which is an upstate NY staple, here’s how it goes. Dice some onions. Get some nice Italian sausage and roll it up into balls. Cook those things. Throw in a few cans of pinto beans with all the juice. Season. Then throw in a bunch of greens, such as spinach, cale, or chard. Allow the vegetables to wilt.

Serve with lots of bread and wine.

That’s what I had for supper and yes, you are jealous.

So then DOD and I retired to the TV room for a movie. Whiskey Foxtrot Tango starring Tina Fey.

Friends, I have not seen such an intelligent, funny, wonderful film in a while. I think I would put it next to Jenny Slate’s Obvious Child in terms of its sheer excellence. One of my favorite films recently. You should watch it watch it now.

It was better than Birdman.

So. That was my day. How are yoU?

Pizza on a Paper Plate

ded_truck300

This is a dead pickup truck.

Dead. Zilch. Not pining for the fiords. No va. A Ford Ranger that no longer, um, ranges.

There is nothing like having the truck you’re traveling in die on a busy interstate road. Yeah. Pretty terrifying.

Here’s what happened.

So, today was moving day. Out of the crappy shoebox, into the comfy one bedroom. The movers showed up promptly at 8 a.m. They had me out of my old place in two hours in into my new place by noon. Feeling confident having knocked that sucker out pretty quick, I joined my DOD for lunch at Bar Louie down the road. This is thanks to Sheridan Bros. Moving, by the way, they were excellent.

Bar Louie is pretty froo-froo. DOD had the booger. I had the salmon sliders. The girl who served us at the bar was not born. She was created in a laboratory. It is an utterly nice place, and I do not often feel comfortable in such places. I think the Bush twins would enjoy it very much, however.

So the movers didn’t take my R2-unit (my portable air conditioner) because it was full of water, and I had no idea how to get the water out. I didn’t want it anyways. My new place has a nice wall unit that I am enjoying as I write this entry. So, I offered it to my DOD in support of the family’s favorite cause, No One Left Behind, which in Rochester is basically my Rebel Girl Mom (we have always been uncomfortable with “stepmom” so I have just now decided to refer to her as my Rebel Girl Mom instead. She knows why.) and her husband, my DOD. Basically, NOLB provides assistance to fellas from Afghanistan (and their families) who helped the United States during the war by acting as translators. Said gentlemen are now targeted for death in that country and need whisked out of said country ASAP. Remember that when Donald Orangefartblossom craps all over immigrants. These are folks who helped us and who now need help landing gracefully in these Untied States.

So my DOD drove the Ford Ranger downtown with me to secure the AC. He helped me drain it, and we loaded it on the truck. We got as far as past the Pittsford exit when the truck stopped. Dude was able to pull to the side, but it’s a busy road.

We were both pretty terrified.

So here’s the amazing thing. For 17 years, my now departed Grandma G (I will be addressing that soon) has purchased me a membership in AAA. My DOD’s had lapsed, but I still had mine and had my card on me. I called. The agent was helpful as could be and in fact put a priority status on our ride since we were in a bit of an unsafe situation.

Our man J.R. was there in 20 minutes.

So, back to the farm. The agent on the phone was cute and trying to get us to take the truck to a garage. Very funny. Let’s take a 21-year-old pickup truck with a shot transmission to get repaired. Nope. We just carried her home. Said a few sacred words. Misted some smoke over her. Read the kaddish.

DOD drove me back to the new place. I set up the futon and moved some crap out of my way. I realized I didn’t have any food (one leftover salmon slider and some hot dogs weren’t cuttin’ it). So I went to get wine and frozen pizza (what else would I want after a move?) and came back, expecting to set up the TV and spend the evening chilling.

Except I couldn’t find my shoes.

I’m working tomorrow (dummy. should have gotten PTO tomorrow, too.), and they would not approve if I showed up in Crocks.

Sigh. Back to the previous residence. For shoes. Grabbed a few other things too, of course (there’s always a bit left behind after a move, a fact meant only to add to the annoyance level of one of the most annoying events a human being ever experiences).

So. I did that. Drove all the way back for shoes. And the croissants I’d bought. I got back in and moved a few other things around and

TOOK

A

SHOWER

and now I am eating the most delicious pizza I have ever had off of a paper plate and that’s moving

In Other News

There’s this windows store (windows like that glass hole in the wall, not like the operating system) that advertises on TV here, and the guy says his windows are so great, and then he stands on a window, and then he goes, “I not only stand behind my windows, I can stand on them.” And then he stands on this window that’s elevated by two beams. Then he goes “Can you stand on THEIRS? Maybe. But it’ll cost ya.” And believe it or not, the guy is not Donald Trump.

Black Lives Matter

I keep trying to fill in the blank with some really clever simile but just can’t finish it. “Answering #BlackLivesMatter with #AllLivesMatter is like…” I just can’t. Just can’t do it.

Because it is stupid.

“Black Lives Matter” is a response. It’s a response to a country that for centuries told black people, through its institutions, through its laws, through its culture, that their lives did not matter. That in fact at one point, they were not considered as humans, but as chattel. And after that, it was, you can’t sit there, you can’t drink from there, and you most certainly cannot swim there. We are a country that has spent quite a lot of effort creating a problem out of a segment of our population who for the most part did not even have their blood lines end up here of their own will. I don’t have to lecture you here further. You probably dig it. Comparing the experience of any other demographic to that of black people in the Untied States of America is a foolish errand. That experience is unique and incomparable, and to your average honkey like me, it is downright unfathomable.

Though I do try.

Having said all of that. I do find it troublesome that the issue of such extreme police misconduct is being tossed around so enthusiastically as an issue of race.

Because that ain’t the real problem, folks.

We got a stiff reminder of the real problem in, say, July 2013, when George Zimmerman was acquitted. And the reminders have been quite prolific since.

The real problem is that, at some point, and I don’t know when it happened, this crazy country decided that police officers and even jackass wannabes like Jorge Zimmerman, do not have to account for murder.

And that shouldn’t just scare black folks. It scares me. And it should scare you, and you, and you too, and U2, too.

Police officers, who in some circles might and should be referred to as “peace officers,” can kill you now and not even have to sit across from a judge. That’s a problem that should unwarm the cockles of all our hearts, not just those of my beautiful black brothers and sisters.

I think if you kill a person, you need to see a judge. You need to experience some level of legal proceeding. I don’t care if you are a cop, a wannabe cop, a black person, a white person, a Democrat, a Republican, a Freak, or Bruce Lee. If you kill someone, you need to go to court about it for some kind of lawful reckoning.

It’s not racial harmony we should be buying the world a Coke for, kids. It’s simple accountability. Cops are not made to account for things like this, and that, my friends, is what’s so incredibly horrifying and should be horrifying to me and you and a dog named Boo.

(By the way, I’m Verbal Kint at the beginning of The Usual Suspects, not at the end. I like cops and think most of them are just dandy people. But this legal system needs to hold them accountable as they would you or me. That’s the outrage.)

Independence Day 2016

Today is Independence Day in the United States, and it should be a day of great celebration among those of us who are restrictively secular in world view.

Um, that means, “atheists.”

Two years ago, I posted an oration made by Robert Ingersoll on July 4, 1876, that simply begins:

One hundred years ago, our fathers retired the gods from politics.

Later in the speech, Ingersoll further encapsulates the miracle of the grand Declaration of Independence and what it accomplished:

Our fathers founded the first secular government that was ever founded in this world. Recollect that. The first secular government; the first government that said every church has exactly the same rights and no more; every religion has the same rights, and no more. In other words, our fathers were the first men who had the sense, had the genius, to know that no church should be allowed to have a sword; thai it should be allowed only to exert its moral influence.

Before our great experiment, kings ruled, and kings claimed their powers over the people derived from on high. With the Declaration, with the Revolution, the Colonies declared war on that concept. Law, they said, comes from people. And they fought and died for that.

We are not, nor have we ever been, a society based on “Judeo-Christian” values, as many would have it settled in fact. We are the result of a fierce revolution against theocractic rule.

I like to reflect on that on Independence Day. And then, you know. Go light a sparkler and stuff.

Happy Independence Day, for the People, baby.

Moving Day Approacheth

In 2012, I moved into a small studio apartment on East Avenue in Rochester, N.Y.

Rent was $495 a month and it was worth every penny. There was a family of rodents living there before I moved in. There was a window that could also double as a guillotine. There was the noise of the garbage trucks just under my window.

Then, they renovated, and I managed to live with that, though not often gracefully. But the facilities were much nicer once they were through. I had to move down the hall. And my rent went up. Considerably.

The pull to living here was supposed to be the proximity to downtown. It’ll be really cool, I thought. I’m live right on top of two pubs and across from a gastrobpub. And I will have the best proximity evar to the annual Jazz Festival: It will be right in front of my house! How cool will it be?

Not very cool, it turns out.

Not very cool, when you come home from work at 8 p.m. Friday and can’t find a place to park in the garage you pay for due to interest in said Jazz Festival, and so you have to drive out of town to crash for the night. Not very cool, as you discover that your enthusiasm for the Jazz Festival is just waning, and you realize you’re paying to live in a shoebox for a convenience that just ain’t that convenient.

The author in his new kitchen.

The author in his new kitchen.

That is changing. Soon.

In a week, I will move into my new digs, a one bedroom apartment with a terrace and a bunch more room than my studio downtown.

This here is me, yesterday, in my new kitchen. Which, you know, actually has counter space. Luxurious. Place has a terrace where one could sit outside and enjoy fresh air, has a dining area, has a bedroom. It’s like living in a civilized manner, in other words.

Rent is the same.

One week from Independence Day, kids. Can’t wait.

Speaking of working in the kitchen, here is a recipe for you:

How to make a quesadilla at home to use up that brie cheese and those two tortillas you have left over. By Aaron.

1. Heat up a skilet. Mush the brie onto one of the tortillas.
2. Shred some cheddar onto it as well.
3. Add some salsa.
4. Put the other tortilla on there. Smoosh it down a little.
5. Put it onto the skillet. Wait a few minutes.
6. Attempt to flip the quesadilla. Have half of the tortilla fold down so that the filling starts to fall out and onto the hot skillet.
7. Attempt to fix the problem by refolding the tortilla, making the same problem occur from the other side.
8. Curse loudly.
9. Dump the whole mess onto a cutting board and lean over the counter, eating with a fork and feeling like an utter failure.
10. Enjoy!

Rough Day

Though it later involved me walking and waving in a parade supporting Monroe County Clerk Adam Bello.

That’s what I get for hanging out with my Dad. On minute I’m enjoying a nice cider and lap kitteh. Then next I’m in a parade.

(Followed of course by a super-duper refreshment of a dinner at La Cottage.)

A Dude Extraordinaire

I can’t get over the fact that they found an unresponsive Prince on an elevator.

An elevator.

It is completely irrational and goes against the anti-supernatural perspective I maintain. But I can’t help but wonder if Prince, when he warned us in 1984 not to let the elevator break us down, if Prince essentially told us 25 years ago how he would meet his end.

Given the lofty themes that often appeared in the man’s music, you can’t blame me for thinkin’ it.

I started digesting this news today, this news of the death today of Prince, at about 1 p.m., when sheriffs were only reporting that “someone” had died at Paisley Park. Soon, the various news agencies, first AP, then CBS, etcheterra, started verifying TMZ’s initial scoop: That the deceased was a skinny motherfucker with a high voice. A kid at work made the most obvious jokey comment, that now he really is the artist formerly known as Prince. I tried not to shoot (purple) laser beams at him with my eyes. But I probably did. Pew pew.

This is a hard one among celebrity deaths. No. It’s the hardest one. You’ve got to understand. I have spent probably a third of my life living inside of a Prince album. Having it play on the nearest sound system. Having it play in my head. Digesting the music. Absorbing the whole work. Just essentially wearing the current Prince album around like a pair of snorkeling goggles. That’s how I have spent a lot of my time.

I remember three different instances of being introduced to Prince, and I do not know for certain which came first. There was the summer in Edinboro, when Leah couldn’t stop talking about him. Or, there was the time I got the 1999 album as part of a Columbia House Record Club deal and didn’t listen to it for a long time figuring it was just some of that weird black music, and then I listened to it after I heard “Delirious” on the radio and it made me fall on the floor due to the immaculate attention to detail therein.

Or, there was the first time I heard “When Doves Cry.”

The aesthetic Prince introduced in that song, in that video, in that whole era, was stunning. The man could be elegant, he could wear lace, he could wear that HAT that covered HALF HIS FACE, and yet he could still be cooler than the Fonz. A man could wear elegance, he said. It was okay to embrace your own soft edges, he said. It was okay to appreciate the beautiful things, he said. All welcome messages to a horny, frustrated kid newly plopped in the Midwest who had no love of football whatsoever.

Prince gave a young awkward kid named Aaron a lot of hope.

And he continued to do so. Album after album. Every summer for a time, you could count on a release. It was glorious. And I have memories associated with every release from Purple Rain to Graffiti Bridge and beyond. I remember putting on the goggles and wearing them around and seeing and hearing everything I experienced through the goggles. The Batman soundtrack, or as my buddy called it, Batsexy, I associate that with biking. Lovesexy, I was in Kansas that summer before I transferred to Kent State. I kind of worshiped that album. Though I also remember hearing “Dance On” for the first time walking across campus at Ohio University, so I guess that one was with me for a long, long time. I first unboxed Sign ‘O The Times when I was in D.C. for the summer.

Prince albums are weird. Because you must listen to them a few times before they grow on you. Because a new Prince album doesn’t sound like the last one. It doesn’t sound like anything else you’ve ever heard. It’s brand new. So you sort of go, what in the world is he doing now? On the second spin, you become more accustomed to his new experiments. By the third spin, that album is ALL YOU ARE GOING TO LISTEN TO FOR THE NEXT MONTH OR TWO. Constantly. On your stereo. In your head. In your body. That’s all you’re hearing. You got the goggles on. And they’re glued to your face. You are haunted by the music. And there are no spells to help you.

Few musical artists have ever done this to me. None have done it to me as often as Prince has.

He did it most recently with his double release as a result of his reunion with the Warner Bros label. Art Official Age would have been a sublime achievement had it been Prince’s only release that year. But that it was paired with his girl-group sonic triumph PlectrumElectrum, that is something that makes this untimely death cut to the gut. It’s not like he’s lost his gift, not like he’d given up his art to send his children to private school (oh, there’s that), not like he had become Phil Collins. These two albums are masterpieces. They belong in a shelf next to any of his best, and I haven’t even listened to the Hit n Run series yet.

In his mid-50s, he still had it. He could still do it. He could still be fucking brilliant.

All welcome messages to a horny, frustrated middle-aged man newly plopped in upstate New York who friggin’ loves football.

This isn’t difficult because of nostalgia. This is difficult because he wasn’t done. Because he hadn’t lost it. Because I wanted to look forward to another spell where there’s a Prince album a year, and each one tops the last. I wanted another golden age for this golden artist. He wasn’t done. And neither was I.

I cannot begin to express to you what this artist meant to me. He is 80 percent of what music is to me. He is the content of my pop culture goggles much of the time and has occupied them exclusively much of the time.

I cannot tell you how difficult this is. What a touchstone you’ve lost if you’re a fan.

I saw him live once, during the Musicology days. He gave a brief intermission and then came back, just him and a guitar on a stool. He played a lot of favorites, heavy on Around the World as I recall. And he said to us, he said something like this, he said “you know you sang this into the mirror holding hair brush.”

And I’m like how the F did he know? F’n guy’s been spying on me all along.

He got on the elevator. The elevator tried to break him down.

He forgot to go crazy.

That’s what happened.

I am not done updating this post. I’m just tired. I’ll be back. I’m so sad.