31 October 2008

Trick or treat!

(click to enlarge)
Courtesy: Explosm.net
KJT - Seattle (2008)

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30 October 2008

My America

"Rosa sat so that Martin could walk.
Martin walked so that Barack could run.
Barack is running so that our children can fly."
- African-American voter, heard on NPR, 2008

In My America...
Equality would be a cornerstone and

diversity celebrated as one of our greatest assets.

In My America...
Race would cease to be an issue, bigotry would disappear,

tolerance would spread.

In My America...
My government wouldn't think of using torture.

Even against terrorists.
It would hold itself to a higher moral standard.

In My America...
People wouldn't fear someone who worships a different god than them. Or no god.

In My America...
People would welcome our brothers and sisters from across the border in Mexico. And not just as day-laborers and dishwashers, but as important and respectable members of the community with the ability, intelligence and cultural beauty to be an integral

part of our nation.

In My America...
The president would utilize evidence-based decision making,

instead of being a knee-jerk reactionist.

In My America...
People would value art, music, and literature

more than money, power, and luxury.

In My America...
Everyone would be at least bi-lingual.

In My America...
More people would ride bikes, busses, and trains.

In My America...
Everyone would have a passport. And use it.

In My America...
The government wouldn't usurp the laws.

In My America...
We would value diplomacy over force,

consensus over unilateralism,
and multiculturalism over nationalism.

In My America...
People would remember that this country

was founded as a secular state.

In My America...
Common sense would prevail.

In My America...
People would turn off the TV and read to their kids.

In My America...
The government wouldn't spy on it's own citizens.

In My America...
Teachers would be paid the same as doctors.

In My America...
It would be considered patriotic

to question your government.

In My America...
We would spend as much money

fighting poverty as we do fighting crime.

In My America...
People would realize that we're all in this together,

so we'd better start working with one another
instead of against one another.

In My America...
My black friends and my gay friends and my strange friends and my square friends and my Hispanic friends and my French friends and my German friends and my Spanish friends and my elitist friends and my redneck friends and my Jewish friends and my Muslim friends and my Christian friends and my Hindu friends and my Buddhist friends and my agnostic friends and my atheist friends and my Socialist friends and my Communist friends and my Democrat friends and my Republican friends and my liberal friends and my conservative friends and my centrist friends

would all respect each other,
and each other's differences.

Do I think Barack Obama is a panacea that will make all of the above come true? Not on your life. He's a POLITICIAN, so I KNOW he's going to eventually DISAPPOINT me. Politicians all do. Unequivocally. But I do feel a profound sense of optimism with his candidacy and truly look forward to his historic presidency. Especially after the feeling of utter despair and bewilderment during the last eight years of the WORST PRESIDENT EVER.

Know hope.

KJT - Seattle (2008)

"Those who would give up essential liberty
to purchase a little temporary safety,
deserve neither liberty nor safety."
- Benjamin Franklin, American founding father, statesman,
inventor, journalist, printer (1706-1790)

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29 October 2008

Rock 'n' Roll

"I wanna rock and roll all night
and party every day."
- Kiss, "Rock and Roll All Nite" (1975)

More memories of times past and Colorado. This is a picture of my dorm room at Ft. Lewis College in Durango, Colorado circa 1987. Think I liked KISS much back then? Good grief.
KJT - Durango, CO (1987)

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27 October 2008

Damn, I Wish I Was Your Lover

"Damn, I wish I was your lover
I'll rock you till the daylight comes..."
- Sophie B. Hawkins, "Damn, I Wish I Was Your Lover" (1992)

For about five years in the late 80's/early 90's I worked in a corporate music store in a mall in Colorado. First as a customer service clown and eventually as the assistant manager. I worked with some crazy people over that time, but there were a core group of four of us, including our manager, who were absolute music fanatics, and for the most part we had a blast. 

We loved music, but hated being in a mall, and detested most of the customers too. We were all in it for ourselves - for our love of music, to be able to get that next cool CD at a discount, and to find out when that missing re-release would finally come out. We were more than a bit pretentious and snobby and rolled our eyes constantly at the customers. Imagine "Hi Fidelity," with Phil as the steadying hand of John Cusak's Rob Gordon behind the counter.

A friend and former co-worker from back then recently regaled me with a funny incident from the store and it sparked a cavalcade of memories, a couple of which I thought I'd share here...

1) One day a man in his mid-thirties was walking up and down the aisles, scanning the titles of all the tapes and singles, obviously looking without much luck for a certain song. My friend, Corey, approached the man and asked if he could help him find anything. The man looked up from the wall of tapes and simply said, 
"Damn, I wish I was your lover."

This was the title of a song very popular at that time, a fact known full well by Corey, as we had been selling tons of it. Instead of pointing out the song to the man, Corey jumped back in mock-indignation and said in a loud voice, "Sir, I don't even KNOW you."

The vision of the man sputtering and stuttering with a bright red face as he tried to explain will remain with me always.

2) In 1990 one of the biggest sellers we had at the store, much to our chagrin, was the pop group Milli Vanilli. We hated Milli Vanilli. Despised their music, their fans, and their whole phenomenon. When the news broke that they didn't really sing on their records and lip-synched in their concerts we laughed to ourselves and decided unilaterally that anyone who had purchased one of their albums from our store would not be allowed a refund (which our corporate leaders had instructed us to do). I'm sure we sent more than a few young waifs out the door in tears.
KJT - Ft. Collins, CO. (1988-1993)

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21 October 2008

R.I.P. Mick, continued

"Thousands of years ago cats were worshipped as gods. 
They have never forgotten this."
- Anonymous

My mom reminded me of some other funny times with the cat:

Sometimes when I would be sitting on the couch eating, watching TV, he would sit right next to me. Occasionally he would slowly stretch one paw out towards the plate. He would look up at me like, "Uh, are you going to finish that?" Then he would rest his paw on the edge of the plate. Just rest it there and stare at me. Not going in for the kill, but letting me know that he was there and would be happy to take over if I needed him to.

One time during a particularly hot summer, my mom put some ice cubes in his water bowl. He immediately batted them out of the water and proceeded to swat them around the kitchen and dining room as if he was playing hockey.

He loved to finish off individual sized yogurt containers. He would dip a paw in and sweep up a bit of the yogurt and then delicately lick it off his paw. Eventually he would just stick his whole head inside the container to get every last drop. Then spend the next half hour trying to clean the yogurt off of his ears.

Sometimes it seemed he would actually team up with the dogs. If we had something on the counter that they all wanted, Mick would jump up on the counter, scoot said food to the edge where the dogs could man-handle it to the floor and get it open. Then it would be a free-for-all with both dogs and the cat scrambling for whatever they could get until we ran into the kitchen to put a stop to it.

Every once in a while he would sit up on the back of the couch behind me. Sometimes he would suddenly start to lick the back of my head, as if he suddenly decided, "The back of this guy's melon needs a bath. I'd better get to work."

Every time someone opened a can, Mick would go crazy. Meowing, mewing, winding around your legs. Standing on his hind legs and stretching up the cabinets to try to see what it was that was being opened. Didn't matter if it was beets, corn, soup, cat food, beans - he wanted it. Badly. In this he trained the dogs quite well too. They are now the same way if a can is opened.

It's also true that you only hear a cat jump OFF the counter, never on to it. And by that time it's too late. You hear a soft "whoomp" and think to yourself, "Hmmm... that sounded just like a cat full of roast beef jumping off the counter..."

KJT - Seattle (2008) (Second pic was taken by my friend EL in Sept.)

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20 October 2008

R.I.P. Kitty Cat

"What kind of cat is Mick Jagger?"
"He's a Kitty-cat!"
- Shady-Bob, responding to his girlfriend's question about my cat, circa 1998

Mick Jagger has left the building.

I had to put my scruffy old cat to sleep this morning. He was deteriorating pretty fast. Extremely skinny, pretty wobbly, occasionally puked blood, and was losing control of his bowels.

He had a long life. As best we can tell, he was probably between 16 and 20 years old. I got him in 1992, and he was already an adult cat. My girlfriend at the time's sister's co-worker had four cats and was moving and could only have three at their new place. Mick was the odd-man-out, mainly because of his attitude (bad). She asked me if I wanted to take him and I said yes. I named him after the front man of my favorite band, and tried to get acquainted. Easier said than done. He buried himself in the back of several closets for the first three days and I didn't see or hear one peep out of him. I kept trying to coax him out, but he was having none of it. I figured he was just going to die in the back of my closet.

The night of the third day, I was suddenly awoken from slumber by the cat standing on my chest, meowing, and licking my face. He's been my buddy ever since. I guess he just needed some time to adjust to his new bearings, and then decided I was alright after all.

He was crotchety right from the start. He hated other cats, despised dogs, and didn't want anything to do with people either. For the first 6 or 7 years, most people didn't even know I had a cat because he would never show himself if anyone was around. But every night he'd jump up on the bed, curl up next to me, and purr himself to sleep.

In his older age he seemed to mellow out a bit, and would come out to see what was going on when people would come over. He still hated other cats and dogs though. When we got our two dogs he spent a good amount of time punching the shit out of them and hissing like nobody's business. The dogs learned to stay out of his way for the most part.

He'd been steadily losing weight for some time and we could tell he wasn't as comfortable as he used to be. He would hide more often, but still would creep out to lay on my chest while we watched movies.

Last night he slept all night in the bed, which was unusual lately. I think he felt he was nearing the end, and I didn't want him to hurt or suffer. The doctor said she thought she felt a mass near in his abdomen, but she might have just been saying that for my benefit. Either way, he wasn't doing well, and now he's not in any pain.

R.I.P. Mick Jagger, miss you buddy...
KJT - Seattle (2008)

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17 October 2008

Back from a Strange Planet

"You know the good thing about all those executions in Texas? 
Fewer Texans."
- George Carlin, American Comedian (1937-2008)

We've returned from the Outer Limits. Actually, it wasn't all that bad. It was very warm, but not uncomfortably. We had some good beer, some great Mexican food, great Cajun seafood, and relaxed most of the days. It's just that most of the people down there think quite a bit differently than I do.

My in-laws are great and made us feel very welcome. It helps that, unusual for Texas, they share our liberal political views. Made for some good conversation and some observations from the heart of a red state. They also had four dogs and a great view of the lake, so it was a good week. 

Then we went up to see my sister and finally got to see her new house. Had a great time with her also, but far, far too short. Coffee on her back patio, crawfish omelets for breakfast, and some more good conversion. She showed us her collection of guns (4). Needless to say, she and I are on very different career paths.

Now back into the Seattle swing, and swamped at work. C'est la vie.
KJT - Texas (2008)

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08 October 2008

Tejas Bound

"Out in the west Texas town of El Paso,
I fell in love with a Mexican girl..."
-Marty Robbins, "El Paso" (1959)

Well, Stacie isn't Mexican, she's a mix of Irish, French, and American Indian, and I didn't meet her in a west Texas town, I met her in a gay bar in Seattle... but I love, love, love that Marty Robbins song and it's about Texas and that's where Stacie is from... so... anyway, that's where we're heading. To hang with my in-laws for a few days, gorge on some Tex-Mex, some chili, some BBQ, drink some Shiner Bock, have some Blue Bell Creameries ice cream, and then creep up and stay with my sister for a couple days before heading back home. 
A mini-vacation. 
(And although I say 'meh' to the last couple decades of ZZ Top's music, their 70's stuff rocked. So there.)
KJT - Tejas (2008)

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07 October 2008

Joy Amidst Anguish:
An Impression of Cuba

"The body suffers more than the soul, 
because the soul can always find something to hang on to, 
a memory, a hope."
- Reinaldo Arenas, "Before Night Falls" (1992)

To me, the above quote encapsulates my impression of the Cuban people we met, spoke with, and drank with for nine days on our honeymoon in 2004. The neglect by the government and the poverty of the ordinary, working person was pitiful, but the people & their attitude were amazing. Resilient, optimistic, joyous, friendly, open, and profoundly real.

We drank in dark cafés and outdoor patios with whatever locals happened to be sitting next to us. Cigars and mojitos and Cuba Libres. A friendly conversation was always struck up. Everyone was more than happy we were Americans, and more than willing to sit and talk for hours. They especially loved to talk about baseball. We carefully guided the verse towards politics. No one would ever discuss Cuban politics (too dangerous), but to a person they all asked us, "Why did you vote for Bush?" And we would have to explain that we didn't vote for him and were as perplexed and vexed by his election as they were. "But he is so... dumb," they would say. ("How could you..." was the unstated coda.) We just had to shake our heads with wry smiles - it's a mystery to us too. How to explain the sense of disappointment and abandonment that we felt because of the so-called leadership of our country.

We befriended a local musician and spent a couple of evenings on outdoor terraces as his small band ran through their repertoire - a mix of island soul & jazz, son, and traditional Cuban songs. He was a teacher during the day, but had to work six nights a week from 7pm until after midnight in order to support his wife and son. We took his address and promised ourselves we would send him a "care package" of clothes, supplies, toys, etc. (Little did we know this would be next to impossible because of our government's policies).

Everywhere we went, people were smiling, holding hands, laughing. The pervasive poverty was crushing, yet the people had the best attitude towards life I've ever encountered. It was explained at one point that there was really no middle class. Everyone was in the same boat really, except for the upper politicians, so there was hardly any class resentment. People were poor, and had been poor for so long that they learned to live with it, live through it, and rise above it. They lived on an exquisite jewel set in the beauty of the Caribbean, the buildings were crumbling, yet still handsome and detailed Spanish colonial. The faded charm of Havana is akin to an aging and desperate Madrid or Lisbon or even Paris. The people celebrated what what they had, and tried (at least in public) not to worry too much about what they had not.

I raise my glass (of rum) to the beauty & goodness of the people of Cuba.
KJT - Havana, Cuba (2004)

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05 October 2008

Lights Out

Yesterday afternoon the wind storm we were having knocked out the power to our neighborhood, and quite a bit of Seattle. I had planned on making a big, complicated dinner - but that had to be shelved. I ran up to Trader Joe's (who luckily still had the lights on) and picked up things for a simple, no-cook dinner. We had loaves of sourdough and olive bread with olive oil for dipping, Honeycrisp apples (the best, by far), almonds, cashews, prosciutto, Iberico hard Spanish cheese, double-cream Brie, Greek olives, artichoke/parmesan dip, and I picked up a bottle of inexpensive Amarone. The indoor pic-nic by candlelight was great. We both decided that we would have liked to have had some music on though. Later, the lights came back on while we were in the middle of a candlelit game of Scrabble...
KJT - Seattle (2008)

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03 October 2008


(Click image to enlarge)

KJT - Seattle (2008)

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