Eddie Arana, Rick Thibodeau, & Chris Bakunas San Diego, Ca. March 2012

Eddie Arana, Rick Thibodeau, & Chris Bakunas San Diego, Ca. March 2012
Eddie Arana, Rick Thibodeau, & Chris Bakunas at Luche Libre Taco Shop in San Diego, March 2012

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

A Toast To The Royals

No, not our royal cousins across the Atlantic, the Royals in Kansas City! Tonight I watched one of the best baseball games I've ever seen, Two good teams, the KC Royals and the Oakland A's, battlin' it out over twelve innings. 

It looked bleak for the Royals all game - they had to overcome an early two-run deficit, then being down by four, then knotting it up in the 9th only to go down by one in extra innings until tying it up again...until the bottom of the 12th...and blam! Ned Yost's crew wins it!

Apologies for the vague summation of the game, but that whole accounts and descriptions of the game proviso that MLB throws out to protect their property...don't want to have to hire lawyers.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Rain, Hail, Better Grab A Pail

It's been a wet summer in Colorado. Rain has fallen at least 
3 out of every 4 days since Memorial Day. All the water has been great, but the hail & extreme winds, not so much.

This afternoon a storm blasted through the south Denver metro area, assailing anything and everything in it's path with heavy rain and large hail. Being inside a large building sounded like being inside the drum kit during Ron Bushy's In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida drum solo.

The television news tonight opened with pictures of hail damage in the areas of south Denver known as Englewood and Centennial. Patio furniture had been torn up and strewn across decks, Neighborhoods were shown with homes that looked as if a machine gun had raked over them, pock- marking the siding and blowing out the windows. Car dealerships along Arapahoe just off I-25 looked as if their entire inventories had been parked on the driving range used to warm up participants at the BMW Open Championship.

North of Denver some of the smaller communities experienced heavy flooding due to the amount of rain that fell. The water-level, while high and an inconvenience on the roads, was not a threat to homes and infrastructure as last years were.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Kick It!

You know those moments when you think you're going to just collapse in a boneless pile of muscle, fat, and flesh, unable to move, and certainly not able to get up? Yeah, those times when you are just out of it, weak, completely spent - but it's not a physical fatigue, it's more of a mental thing, it's feeling emotionally drained.

Those are the times when you feel like giving up, throwing in the towel. But those are the exact moments when you cannot give up, must not.

That's when you need to stare at yourself hard in the mirror and find your inner strength, that part of you that does not allow you to accept mediocrity, that doesn't quit. The part of you that knows you are indeed a badass and will not back down from any challenge.

It's in there, it just has to be pulled out every so often, brought back from that little hideaway known as "comfort level."

That's how you get things done, that's how you succeed.

Friday, September 26, 2014

The Distinguished Gentleman's Lesser Ability

                    "Take that, rock!," yelled the sea as it pummeled the boulder mercilessly.

Well, he'd always been regarded with a certain amount of awe
A golden child, a golden teen and then platinum as an adult
No witness could be found who had ever seen him sweat
Every move he ever made always produced the predicted result

He was regarded by all as either very lucky or incredibly good
He always said the words that you always wish you could

Until the day came when he found himself on the losing side
Found himself on the losing side

Life hadn't prepared him for such a downturn in his fortunes
When the accounts were emptied and the good life went belly up
It took everything he had to get used to living on meager portions
Now he spends his days trying to repair all that was broken

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

She Was The Understanding Sort

He had stabbed her best friend's boyfriend to death
In a bar fight
She had attended every day of his trial for manslaughter 
In order to support her best friend in her time of sorrow
His defense team presented him as a poor unfortunate
A victim of circumstances
Who just happened to have a knife on him at the bar
She began to sympathize with his plight
She began to see his actions as reasonable
She began to see him as misunderstood
And his arrest, trial, and conviction
As a miscarriage of justice 
At first all she wanted to do
Was write him a letter to let him know she understood
He replied and soon a full-blown correspondence 
An afternoon visit lead to visits
Until in his third year of incarceration
A proposal
And a prison chapel wedding
Eight years later he was granted parole
A family man
Her father got him a job
And another after a co-worker pushed his buttons
She understood
He was misunderstood
When he was frustrated and lashed out
She understood
Every hole he punched in the walls
She understood
Every bruise he left on her body
She understood
All the drugs he used and the drinking to forget
She understood
When he didn't come home
She understood
When the police asked her to come down to the morgue

She understood

Monday, September 22, 2014

Everyone Has Value, Everyone.

At some time or another every person on the planet has experienced the feeling of despair. It's part of the human condition - it may very well be the singular commonality that marks our shared humanity.

The cause of the despair can be anything from a random occurrence to a deliberate action. It can be the result of something a person did or something a person failed to do. 

For century upon century the wisest of sages, from street corner preachers to multi-degreed academics, have pondered despair and what can be done to alleviate either the cause or the reaction to it. 

The books they have written about despair number in the hundreds of thousands, filling row upon row of bookshelves in bookstores and libraries around the globe.

Thousands upon thousands of political, religious, philosophical and even scientific ideologies have been posited as solutions to human despair, with varying levels of success.

I write "varying levels" because people still reach for illusory solutions such as drugs, alcohol or worse in attempts to relieve their despair. 

The question "Can anything be done to help people who are drowning in despair?" appears to be unanswerable. I refuse to believe that.

I believe the answer is fairly simple, fairly obvious:

Find a way to make people understand that they matter, that they are appreciated, that they have value.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

I Depict A Riot...Fest

Last year Riot Fest came to Denver...sorta. The show was actually held at May Farms, which is thirty-plus miles east of Denver in the small farming community of Byers, Co. 

As several influential residents of Byers thought having to once again endure the traffic and crowds the three day music festival brought to their little burg was more than they wanted to deal with, a request was presented to Arapahoe County zoning administrator Tammy King to deny the necessary temporary use permit.

So the permit was denied, and the permit denial was upheld at an appeal hearing in front of the Arapahoe County Zoning Board of Adjustment. 

Which meant that Riot Fest organizers had to go with plan B - Sports Authority Field at Mile High is plan B (or at least the southwest parking lot of the home of the Denver Broncos is plan B).

With the Broncos out of town to face the Seahawks in Seattle, about thirty acres of the southwest parking lot was turned into a farm-like environment (the organizers are holding on to the link with Byers/May Farms) replete with a carnival midway featuring rides and game booths, food and drink vendors, a miniature golf course, and four large stages.

          The Dads give it their best to entertain a small crowd gathered around the smallest stage

Riot Fest is a three-day affair with twenty or so bands scheduled for each day. In the morning and early afternoon either young up-and-comers or bands that have lost their drawing power are featured - to fairly sparse crowds.

The headliners on all three days were scheduled much later in the evening, and Saturday night three bands that had all originally formed in the late '70's - The Cure, Social Distortion, and The Descendents - were the big draw - at least for yours truly.

Those bands did indeed draw large crowds, and while the majority of the fans present appeared to me to have skipped their twenty-year (...or thirty-year) high school reunions in order to attend, there were a large number of sub-twenties present. 

The crowds were extremely well-behaved and decidedly polite, which I thought was an unconscious slap in the face to the small minority of people in Byers who thought the huge boost to their tepid economy Riot Fest brought last year wasn't worth the trade-off of three days of heavy traffic.

                               Social Distortion rips it up

After it was all sung and done, Saturday at Riot fest was a great time. Except for the bathrooms. Geez, they've had porta-potties available with solar charged LED lighting for how long now? 

                            Moving back to get a pic of Social D with Mile High behind them

                               The Cure taking the crowd down Fascination Street

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Best Place For The Last Move

It's Awful
All that Heartache
Going out again tonight
All alone
Get yourself all worn out
Trying to set a nice stage
For some nice eyes and nice hair
Hello I'm single
And so are you
Gin and tonic
Everything's going to be alright
Nobody's lyin'
Or in too deep
Been a long time
Just the two of us
Better start makin' plans
For a good lawyer

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Monday, September 15, 2014

Listing To Port

Drawn into a conversation with an acquaintance this afternoon, a person who is roughly the same age I am (read: old) and she made the comment, "I thought I'd have a lot more figured out by now."

Of course I bit and asked, "A lot more of what?"

She then proceeded to tell me all about everything she does not understand regarding life and people and the world, etc. I was pretty much a captive audience (more accurately, an imprisoned audience) until my phone rang and I begged off to take the call.

It was a recorded call for a political candidate. I stayed on the phone having an imaginary conversation for almost twenty minutes before the acquaintance finally got bored and walked away.

The very first, and hopefully last, time I've ever stayed on the phone for a robo-call. 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

One Of Those Little Insights That Dawns Every Once In Awhile

Sometimes I think I have actually matured, or changed for the better as I've grown older...but every so often I realize that what has really happened is that all of my odd quirks and personality flaws have simply become accepted and regarded as normal.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

The Interesting Unexplainable

Some people claim that life has dealt them a bad hand, that they got a raw deal from the beginning, and even if the deal was honest the game was rigged against them from the start.

Everything has always been against them, they have never gotten a break, nothing has ever gone their way...ever.

And Then there are the people that take the hand they were dealt and figure a way to play it to their advantage. They take stock of what resources they have, and somehow manage to make things happen for themselves, regardless of the circumstances they were born in.

Nothing has ever stopped these people from getting what they want out of life. They may be slowed down in their pursuits every so often, and sometimes they have even had to change course...but they've never been stopped.

I imagine better minds than mine have pondered these distinctly different character types. So far as I've been able to ascertain however, no one has yet to come up with an explanation for the difference.

Some people get knocked down and stay down. Some people get knocked down and jump right back up. Some people get pushed and turn away, some people get pushed and push right back.

Why this is...is a mystery to me.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Her Memory Was Scattered Over The Pacific

I met her when I was in my early twenties
And never thought I'd miss her
She was a waitress at the Denny's
Where I worked as a dishwasher

Her boyfriend drove a Sirocco and played guitar
Didn't like the fact I boxed and lifted weights
Or that I liked to smoke the occasional cigar
Never knew I dreamed of being W. B. Yeats

The years rolled on by 
Couldn't tell you the last time I thought of her
Before yesterday

It came out of the blue, an odd recollection
As I sat reading the paper at breakfast
An article about suicide in the Entertainment section
Brought on memories of that Texas tempest

And the day I got to work and everyone was quiet
My loud "Hey everybody" echoing in the room
Andy told me what happened and I fell silent
The place suddenly dark and cold as a tomb

The years have rolled on by
Couldn't tell you the last time I had thought of her
Before yesterday

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Due In From Boston Mass, USAW

Wednesday, September 3rd I boarded a plane for Boston, Mass (by way of Charlotte, NC). It was with no small amount of apprehension, as I was going to be meeting up with a dear friend I had not seen in over a decade.

Now, this was not some run-of-the-mill dear friend, such as a high school classmate or old AF buddy - no, this was the dearest of dear friends, one with whom I had shared some of the absolute best times of my life and...some of the absolute worst times of my life.

There were a number of other people I was to met up with again that I had not seen in so many years it is almost ludicrous to state, but none of them had been as significant in my life as LLN - not even close.

I'm not about to go all biographical here and give an in-depth history of our relationship, but I will spill that it began in 1986, when I was making another go at college (the second of many, many attempts to acquire a higher education) and ended for what I thought would be forever, here, in Colorado, back in 2001.  

But, to paraphrase Mr. Twain, that obituary was a tad premature. A few years ago we reestablished contact, and have maintained such via email and texting.

Yesterday I posted pictures of the Boston Calling music festival - that concert featuring the reunited Replacements was the impetus for the reunion I had with LLN.

But the concert, fantastic as it was, paled in comparison to the great time I had just being with LLN. It was surreal, to be sure, but it was also incredibly relaxed and easy, as if time and distance had never actually come between us.

The few days I was in New England passed far too quickly. Everyday, from sunup to well past sundown, was a great day. 

It's a long way from Denver, Colorado to Boston, Massachusetts, but if there ever was time well spent, it was definitely the time it took that plane to get to Boston - here's to spending that time again. 

Monday, September 8, 2014

Calling On Boston With The 'Mats

Last year at about this same time I attended Riot Fest in Byers, Colorado in order to see the Replacements live for the first time in more than 25 years. My friend o' friends Rick T. had flown out to Denver from San Diego to see them as well, which was fitting, as he was the last person I'd seen them with all those years ago

The 'Mats performance last year was nothing short of magical for me - the energy and enthusiasm of Westerberg and Stinson was palpable, as was that of replacement Replacements Freese (drums) and Minehan (guitar).

Their performance at the Boston Calling music festival was just as powerful as was the Riot Fest performance, though there seemed to be a lack of...I don't know...charm? I mean, the band was tight and played 22, possibly 23 tunes (I can't exactly remember, though I do remember them covering the Jackson 5's "I Want You Back" at one point), but neither PW nor Tommy seemed to want to engage the audience in too much banter as they did at Riot Fest (though PW did comment on the odor of weed, and Tommy somewhat apologized for a lackluster show back in '91).

Still, it was a good concert, and I screamed/sang along with every song, esp. I'll Be You, (Kiss Me) On The Bus, and of course Bastards Of Young. Being there with LLN, JO, and BN made it all the more special (and surreal to a point...who woulda thunk 25 years ago I'd be seeing the 'Mats in Boston with that trio? Nobody, that's who).

Of course, there were other acts playing Boston Calling, but I wasn't really there for any of them. The 1975 from Manchester in the UK played the stage we were camped out in front of waiting for the Replacements, and they were good, but they were no 'Mats (there was a very nice bit wherein Matt Healy, the lead vocalist for The 1975 pulled a young girl out of the audience and onto the stage for a song - her reactions, from mouthing "Take my picture" to someone in the audience to frantically texting as she sat on the stage as the band performed, were hilarious).

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Stuck Inside Of Rhode Island With Those Narragansett Blues Again

There is no such thing as being stuck inside of Rhode Island. There is only being fortunate enough to be in Rhode Island, for however long you are there.
Little Rhody is a wonderful place with miles of beautiful coastline and a treasure-trove of small seaside fishing villages to explore. Like all New England states, there are a number of  sites of historical significance regarding the colonization of the New World, and of course the American Revolutionary War.


Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Briefly, In Charlotte

If you are flying to the eastern seaboard of the United 
States, there are far worse airports to have to sit out a long 
layover in than Charlotte, North Carolina's. Charlotte's fairly new airport consists of five boarding/disembarking terminals that, when viewed from the air resemble one of those Nazca desert drawings of animals. All five terminals have plenty of places to grab a quick bite or drink, and the main terminal has a few larger restaurants and lounges to while away the time between flights. That being said it bears mentioning that if your layover is very short, and your initial flight deplanes at a gate in the C terminal, and your connecting flight departs from a gate in the B terminal, with maybe a 20, 25 min window for you to heel-toe express it to the aforementioned departure gate...well, you're kidding yourself if you think you have time to pop on by the Stock Car Cafe for a quick drink. Seriously, don't do it. Gate C 19 is much further from gate B 13 than it looks on that map of the airport. Especially if you have hordes of fellow travelers to wade through.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Monday, September 1, 2014

Searching For A Cultural Identity Late In Life

If there is one aspect of the human social experience that was missing from my childhood that I would love to have been able to participate in, it would be culture. 

By culture I am referring to the practices, ideals, morals, art, traditions, etc., of a specific group of people through which people form common bonds and develop a group identity.

Didn't have much of that in the old neighborhood. Rather, we had a broad mish-mash of people who didn't have a whole helluva lot in common and the only group identity most of us shared was of being part of the underprivileged class,

Though it was a multi-ethnic neighborhood, there were no street fairs or carnivals celebrating the ethnic roots of the residents such as seen in large cities such as New York or Chicago. 

I can remember reading about big Italian-American or Irish-American, and even African-American celebrations being held in neighborhoods that were comprised primarily of people who were of the aforementioned extractions, and I always thought that being a part of something like that had to be pretty exciting.

But all we had was the occasional assembly at school that, for an hour or so, exposed us to a culture or two - usually something oriented around Black History week or Cinco de Mayo. 

And later, when I was in High School (after the late '70's influx of Pan-Pacific Islanders) quite a bit of Filipino or Polynesian culture was added to the mix.

Which was all very educational and enlightening, but not much that I could identify with. I was never one of those white kids who could jump wholesale into another ethnic identity in order to fit in - I kinda envied those guys who could though.

My blue-eyed. blond-haired, pasty-pale white ass did not learn much about my ethnic heritage until I was an adult, and I still really don't understand as much as I would like. 

I've attended a few of the Eastern European centric festivals that are held in the Denver metro area, and have even tried to become part of the Colorado Lithuanian-American community, but I have always walked away feeling like a tourist.

Trying to blend in with a people that I physically resemble but have no emotional or defined societal connections with is difficult. It may be that I will just have to content myself with forever being an American mutt and let the desire to align myself with a cultural heritage I have never known slide.