Saturday, May 04, 2002

YES I AM QUOTED in the SAVANNAH MORNING NEWS article about Effingham county. I am the one called "Jennifer." Forget about that husband and four kids stuff I fed that reporter. I made that crap up, but he seemed gullible, he needed a serious dose of air conditioning, and I liked the little notepad he used to scribble on, and he took copious notes. Read his story HERE. Then move to Effingham County before we run out of room.

Friday, May 03, 2002

Uh-oh. I have heard from other people that this is the way things go, and I believe I remember enough of my English Literature education to confirm it, because it is an ongoing theme in great works of fiction. The student, once he feels he has learned all he can from the teacher, turns on him and heaps villification on his mentor's head. The evil LONG HAIRED COUNTRY BOY has done the same to me. I am no longer the one who encouraged him to start a blog, helped him when he was lost, taught him how to link and fed him from a baby bottle until he lost his milk teeth. No, now I am a SHAMELESS HIT-TROLLING BLOG-WHORE. Ohhh... what's that Bible quote about "sharper than serpent's tooth?"

The pain... the pain...
YOU GOTTA LOVE THIS! I'll admit that I like pretty feet on a woman. I have many fetishes, and that is one of them. I wonder if this bellicose BAREFOOT WOMAN wore red toenail polish, which is my favorite. Kick off your shoes and GO, girl!

Can you imagine this professional thug explaining his arrest to his fellow thugs in the hoosegow? "Well, I stole the gold chain, made a run for it, and that little twat chased me down, tackled me and kept me pinned until the law arrived."

All the true felons would play a scene from ALICE'S RESTAURANT and move far away from him, so he has lots of space all by himself on the "Group W" bench. If I were the thief, I would never tell THAT story to anybody.

But I remain amazed that a 95-pound woman, screaming for help at the top of her lungs, can chase a thief through a crowd in New York City and have the crowd simply watch the show and applaud when she grabs the bad guy. Nobody offered any assistance. Nobody felt the absolute, spiritual obligation to DO SOMETHING to help. They simply watched, and if the bad guy had pulled a knife out of his pocket and slashed her throat, they probably would have watched that, too, and done NOTHING.

Call us ignorant, slack-jawed, mouth-breathing, racist Bubbas down South, but that disgusting display of apathy would never happen where I live. Chivalry is NOT DEAD in southeast Georgia. The thief would be tackled by the first man who had a shot at him (or SHOT by the first man who had a tackle at him), the nearest bystanders would join in to thoroughly rough him up, and he would be held immobile, in a very uncomfortable position, until the local law enforcement authorities arrived to cart his sorry ass off to jail. In the meantime, more than one Southern Gentleman would ask the woman, "Ma'am, are you all right? Is there anything I can get you?"

This story really makes me feel badly for the bloggers from New York, who made a great deal of grieving, tumultious noise about how 9/11 changed that city. I have unfortunate news for them: IT DIDN'T! As soon as the cleanup was done, you went right back to that self-centered, navel-gazing unmannered style of behavior you've perfected over many years. You live in a busy city, with a diverse population, with every individual convinced that eye contact, let alone involvement, with a stranger (unless you're trying to get laid) is a sin against nature. I suppose a spark of instinctual humanity is difficult to maintain in such a setting.

That's why I have no desire EVER to live there. I like Effingham County, in rural southeast Georgia, where I lock my doors when I think of it, but sometimes don't. I like having a sweaty newspaper reporter knock on my door and having no fear when I invite him into my house. I like owning lots of guns. I like my garden in the back yard. I like having all the kids in the neighborhood stomp my grass crop into oblivion when they play their games in my yard. I like knowing that if I ask one of my neighbors for a favor, I'll probably get it. And if they ask me, they will, too.

I like knowing that if a barefoot woman screaming for help chases a thief down the street where I live, she will get more help than she needs. I like knowing the THIEVES know it, too.

I am not sure that I like the idea of ROBO-RATS running around responding to signals from electrodes planted in their brains. I don't like rats, or their fuzzy-tailed brother squirrels. The mad scientists who created this technology obviously don't share my revulsion for those creatures, because they suggest that robo-rats could be guided, like disgusting little pac-man gobblers, to find earthquake victims buried under tons of rubble.

Can you imagine being buried by an earthquake (or a collapsed building) and lying trapped in the dark, injured, unable to move, gasping for breath and clinging to life by a thread, only to feel a FUCKING RAT nuzzling your helpless face? Jesus! (Shudder. Shudder!) That experience is bound to kill a lot of people from heart attacks who might have survived a normal rescue. I don't like this idea. The sound of a rescue dog whining, barking and scratching at the rubble might inspire me to hang on just a little bit longer. But the first time I hear the scuttling claws and hungry squeaks of a FUCKING RAT around me, I don't care if he IS a robo-rat. I'm going to give up the ghost.

But I do believe one part of this research should be explored further. "A "turn left" signal was interpreted by the rats' brains as a "touch" on their left whiskers. If the rats correctly followed the cue and turned left, their reward-centres were stimulated, filling the rodents with a feeling of well-being."

I WANT ONE OF THOSE! Not the rat, but the implant that comes with a push-button, remote control device that I can operate myself to stimulate my reward-centers and rapture myself with feelings of well-being. I don't care if that sucker is the size of a 36" television set with more wires than I have running to my home entertainment center. I'll figure out a way to put it in a backpack and carry it with me everywhere I go. Problems at work? BUZZ I feel fine. Have to deal with the ex-wife? BUZZ That's okay. Get stuck in a checkout line at the Super Wal-Mart while they wait on a price-check for a 35-cent potato-peeler? BUZZ Take all the time you want.

Most great inventions came from somebody trying to invent something else and stumbling onto a great idea. I believe these guys may have done the same thing. Kill the rats, and let me help you design the "Personal Satisfaction Back Pack."

I have some money to invest, too.

Thursday, May 02, 2002

Monday morning, a fellow I worked with for a long time and once supervised was found dead in his car, in his garage, with the roll-down door shut and the car's motor still running. He was having marital problems and evidently found the emotional load too heavy to carry. We were not friends. In fact, before I was transferred to another department, I was working up the paperwork to fire him for poor job performance. But I hate to see that happen to anybody.

Because it damned nearly happened to me.

I always told people that I KNEW the two happiest days in my life. The first was when I married my partner, my lover and my best friend, and the second was when my son was born. I believed that with all my heart and I was convinced that it would never change. "We make a great team," I said often, just enjoying being around her, "and we make GREAT babies, too." That was reality as I saw it, and it was good. I remember sitting on my back porch many a night thinking what a lucky man I was. I had a big house, lots of land, the perfect wife, a perfect son, chickens, goats, a half-acre garden and no bill collectors bugging me about money I owed them. My life had played out MUCH better that I ever believed it would.

Then, it all fell apart, and it took me by complete surprise when it did. She's a good planner, so she had everything set when she made her move. The unemployed, dope-smoking lover was poised and ready to move into my house as quickly as she threw me out. She cancelled all the credit cards, cleaned out the bank accounts and said, "Go. I haven't loved you in a long time." Like a complete dumbass, I went. I had $60 to my name.

That was a Saturday. The following Monday, the biopsy results came in and I discovered I had prostate cancer. She had dope-head living in my house by then and told all the neighbors he was there to do "handyman" work. Yeah, some plumbing and pipefitting and reaming. She lied to everybody.

Let's just call it a one-month time-lapse. My radical prostatectomy was scheduled for Tuesday, October 9. I went to work Monday, October 8, and she called me about money I owed her for half of a credit card bill. I took her a check, she gave me a bright smile and said, "Thanks!" That was it. No "good luck" or anything. And that's the way it's been ever since. She is a living Magic Slate. Just lift the flap and everything on the page disappears. That's why I frequently refer to her as a bloodless cunt in this blog. Because she is.

I spent many a sleepless night over this unbelievable betrayal of trust, friendship and what I was silly enough to believe was love. When I moved into this house, I spent about a month with a pistol on one side of the bed and an alarm clock on the other, and I SERIOUSLY debated about which one I would use that night. It was the worst experience I've ever had in my life, and I'm not fully over it yet. But so far, I've managed to keep setting the alarm clock, and the pistol is in a drawer instead of on the nightstand. I suppose that's progress.

I went into this funk because I have to attend a four-hour meeting tomorrow at work and she will be the facilitator. I don't know how I'm going to handle that. I don't want to see her, talk to her or even THINK about her if I can help it, which I can't, because I still do it all the time. But this is business, and it's what I do for a living. I'll just have to manage.

I just hope I can.

Wow! Nobody ever explained it to me THIS WAY. When the government raises taxes, it is not stealing my hard-earned money. It is steering me toward BLISS! It is increasing my happiness. It is bringing me joy I would have missed without the tax. Can you believe that?

Nah.... The government just wants more money.
I had a newspaper reporter come by my house just after I got home from work today. I saw him interviewing my neighbor, Jennifer, as I was unloading groceries from my truck, but I figured he was a salesman or one of those door-to-door evangelists, which is pretty much the same thing. But when showed up at my door, introduced himself and said he was a reporter for the Savannah Morning News, I recognized his name. (I can't recall it now. I'm terrible about that, but if I heard somebody else say it, I would confirm, "Yeah, that's him.") He said he was doing a story about population growth in Effingham County, which I knew was the second-fastest growing county in the great state of Georgia, but which I DIDN'T know was #70 in the ENTIRE NATION.

I was happy to talk to him. It was about 95 degrees outside under the beaming sun and he was wearing a tie, so I invited him inside to have a seat and enjoy some air conditioning. I believe he was grateful; I know I would have been. (I started to offer him a beer, but I know reporters. He might have spent the night on my couch.) He asked me questions about how I came to live in this house and why I moved to Effingham and a few other things that I would expect a reporter assigned to a feature story to ask. I hope I gave him what he was looking for. I even showed him a picture of my son in his soccer uniform as I praised the youth athletic leagues that operate year-round up here.

I boosted my home county enthusiastically, but everything I said was genuine. I like living in Effingham County.

*Cough!* um... I DID manage to mention my blog and I gave him my business card with the URL address on the back.*Cough!* I am hoping to be quoted in his article, but I REALLY HOPE HE HITS MY BLOG! I troll for hits shamelessly every chance I get.

If the paper has an on-line version, I'll link the story when it comes out.

In a notable episide of STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION, Lieutenant Worf is attacked by an old man who has an empty gun. Worf disarms him, examines the usless weapon and grins at the old man. "You have gall," he says. "I admire gall."

Well, Worf would admireYASSER ARAFAT after his trembling display of either fear or fury at a press conference today. "At his Ramallah compound, Arafat appeared to shake with anger as he received word of the fire at the Church of the Nativity. 'How could the world possibly be silent about this atrocious crime,' he told Palestinian supporters and journalists who rushed into his offices after the Israelis pulled out of his compound. (probably the same way most of the world has been silent about the atrocities YOU have committed for years, you jackass) 'I don't care if this room I'm sitting in blows up. What concerns me is what is happening at the Church of the Nativity. This is a crime that cannot be forgiven.' (Yes, you DO care if the room you're sitting in blows up. That's why you're shaking like a teenager on his first date and have brown stains in the back of your pants. You thought you WERE going to blow up, you cowardly bastard. And the crimes that cannot be forgiven were committed by YOU, asshole.)

I believe that after being sealed up and humiliated in his bunker for two weeks, seeing a great deal of his terrorist henchmen either killed or captured, losing most of his illegal armaments and finding himself allowed to go free only at the whim of his captors, Arafat will declare the entire embarassing affair a great victory. That's how the Palestinian mind works.

Yeah, you're all PISSED OFF now, but you loved him when he blew all that same sweet smoke up your butt as President. Bill Clinton is still the same lying swine he always was, more like our first Palestinian President than our first black one. If his dishonest posturing bothers you now, why didn't it ten years ago?

Sometimes we get the government we deserve.
Here's a perfect way to end the siege at the Church of the Nativity: Just lob a really sophisticated, high-tech STINK BOMB inside. Yasser and his buddies better thank Allah that the Israelis aren't armed with such a device. "It turns out that they're actively working on the ultimate stench. The smells being incorporated into this vile brew are based on naturally occurring chemicals, but are in fact all synthesized. They include such things as smells from fecal matter, vomit, rotting flesh, and numerous other unpleasant things all mixed together with the skill of a perfumer." Captain Den Beste doesn't say who "they" are, but I suspect it is US.

I confess that I never paid much attention to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict until recently. Yeah, I read about the Palestinian terrorist attacks and the Israeli retaliations in the news, but it seemed very far away to me. Two warring tribes were fighting over a God-forsaken piece of desert in the middle of nowhere. Big deal.

But 9/11 changed all of that, and I started paying attention. Since that tragic day, I have learned a lot about the Middle East and none of it is good. That part of the world is populated by some very sick puppies and they are proud to be that way. They are backward, ignorant, maniacal, homicidal, uncivilized and crazy as shithouse rats. Among that elite group of 12th-century throwbacks, the Palestinians occupy the bottom rung on the food chain. They are crazier than the rest of the lunatics. They raise their children to be suicide bombers. They lie incessantly. They dig up dead bodies to fake a massacre at Jedin. They follow a scumbag such as Yasser Arafat.

I'm all for developing the most powerful stink bomb in the world, but it might not work on Palestinians. They seem to have a natural immunity to honesty, love of their children and civilized behavior, so it wouldn't be a big surprise to discover that they LOVE stench.

They create enough of it themselves.

Besides, in the glorious world of Islam, THIS STORY wouldn't raise an eyebrow, except for the arresting relatives part.

I AM NOT WORTHY! I write a spittle-stained invective about Big Government and I'm feeling pretty proud of myself until I read Glenn Reynolds on the same subject. He is the Blogmaster. "Even Bob Shrum has given up arguing that September 11 brought back an uncritical faith in Big Government: the Democrats tried that, it polled badly, and they quit. Now some of the big-government rightists are taking sloppy seconds on this bogus issue, and it looks even stupider.

September 11 brought back faith in Big Government? Like the INS -- which was issuing Mohammed Atta a visa extension months after September 11? Like the FAA, which recently turned around a U.S. Air flight full of suspicious Arab men who bought one-way tickets an hour after the plane took off? Like the cowardly Great Washington Bugout that took place in October's anthrax incidents?

I'd say the opposite. The reason polls show a majority of Americans supporting armed airline pilots is that they don't trust Big Government to protect them."

Well said, sir.

Wednesday, May 01, 2002

I TOLD you so! When the anti-smoking Nazis and the pirhanna attorneys general were eviscerating that evil entity known as Big Tobacco, I warned that they would not stop there. When that prey had been bled for all it was worth, the same bunch would attack the next fat, juicy target they could find. People gave me the old poo-poo. "I don't smoke, I don't like cigarettes, and I don't care what happens, because IT DOESN'T AFFECT ME." Any time the full, implacable might of the government is applied to extort money and concessions from ANY GROUP, it is simply the beginning. Like The Terminator, it never stops. That's what it does; that's ALL that it does.

"Former Surgeon General David Satcher says obesity translates into 300,000 premature deaths each year, and $117 billion in fat-related health bills from eating-related diseases like adult-onset diabetes, and cholesterol-clogged arteries.

Legal experts (read: MONEY-HUNGRY, SUE-HAPPY, GREED-MOTIVATED LAND SHARKS) say it is not out of the realm of possibility that the legal system could come up with an alternative way of paying for the extra health costs, with some grand legal settlement with the food industry similar to the $260 billion settlement reached with the tobacco industry."
Does that song and dance sound somewhat familiar?

First, they came for the smokers, and I did nothing, because I didn't smoke. Then, they came for the fat people, and I did nothing, because I wasn't fat. Then they came for... don't worry. They'll get around to YOU eventually.

Just read THIS and be afraid. Be very afraid.
I thought I laid off the pedophile priests about a week ago, but I can't help THIS. The devil made me do it.
I believe a few scientists had to step back, scratch their heads and wonder, "How in the world did we fuck up like THIS? Who had the DNA last?" when they set out to clone a cow and ended up with... well, a lot of BULL.
Long-Haired Country Boy and I had an e-mail discussion last night about the brain-fever that appears to be sweeping Canada lately. He gave me THIS LINK to a genuine horror story of mindless bureauracy run amok. I now respond with THIS ONE which I am not certain about. I detect a large element of weirdness, but I suppose it's better than the government forcing me to tear down a $500,000 home. I just want to know if I can participate using someone else's hand, or whatever.

Maybe it's not brain fever but a large percentage of the population with a bloodline straight from ARKANSAS that makes Canadians seem a little strange to me. What is their national policy on incest?

At least Canada knows exactly where it stands on the KOYOTO TREATY because that environmentalist gasbag David Suzuki told them it won't cost a dime. In fact, all those cuts in greenhouse gas emissions will SAVE $40 million! And HERE'S where the SAVINGS start!

I believe I'll leave Canada alone for now and imagine taking a consenting 14 year-old child to the masturbation-a-thon. Hmmm... okay I imagined that, and I THINK IT'S SICK!

No wonder DAMIAN PENNY stays pissed off at his government so much. Even if he is completely wrong about arming airline pilots.
I made 100% on THIS TEST. At least I think I did.
It's not often that I agree with a pompous jackass such as Sen. Pat Leahy (Obstructionist-Vt.), but I do HERE. The Patriot Act, like the wonderful idea of federalizing airport security, was a hasty, ill-considered decision made in the heat of panic by lawmakers desperate to appear in charge of a dire situation when they really didn't have a clue what to do. The process went the way it so often does when politicians show their courage under fire: PANIC! LEGISLATE! PREEN! ........... then, THINK! about it.

"The act was hurriedly signed into law with overwhelming approval within six weeks of the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington — without hearings or without being marked up by a congressional committee." Without being read by anyone who voted for it, too. Yep, that's the way the "World's Greatest Deliberative Body" acts sometimes.

Of course, not all Democrats are willing to admit that they might have gone a little overboard. "“I think we’re in a very difficult time where our national security is threatened,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.). “I think before people rush to judgment on the Patriot Act we ought to have a substantial period of time to let it sort itself out.” Yeah, Dianne. I can spare you the wait. Sooner rather than later, the Patriot Act will "sort itself out" just the way RICO did. RICO was passed to attack organized crime, and it worked well in that arena. RICO also has been bent, twisted, stretched and manipulated into something it was never intended to be, which a highly-potent, highly-intrusive and highly-abused weapon the government can turn on ANYBODY over almost ANYTHING.

"Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) characterized the administration’s use of the act as “so far, so good,” adding: “I think by the time it got through Congress, it was a balanced act, making us more secure, but at the same time not going overboard, and I think it’s working pretty well.” Chuck Schumer is a blithering idiot. He thinks confiscating every private firearm in America is "not going overboard," and I'll bet you dollars to doughnuts that "by the time it got through Congress" HE didn't know what was in the bill and he probably STILL doesn't, which makes it pretty "balanced" in his unbalanced mind.

I had a bumper sticker on my previous truck that said, "I Love My Country! It's THE GOVERNMENT I'm afraid of!" I still feel that way today, and the frightening, invasive ability to violate my rights as an individual granted in the Patriot Act are bound to be abused. That's what government does. That's how it expands its power.

That's why I fear it.

A lot of people were quick to condemn Israel for the "massacre" at Jenin. Do you suppose they will apologize now that ACCOUNTS SUCH AS THIS ONE paint a different picture? Nah, I doubt it.

Tuesday, April 30, 2002

Usually I love what Ann Coulter writes, the way she writes it and that picture of her lovely, blonde-headed self at the top of her column, but she and I are worlds apart on THIS SUBJECT. Perhaps I'm just a dirty old man, but I have never seen pornography as a horrible menace to civilization and I don't understand why so many conservatives obsess about it. They hate it but can't stop talking about it, which sounds kind of confused and anal-retentive to me. Maybe they don't get laid enough. (Ann... equipment problems and all, I would be more than delighted to help you out in THAT department.)

I believe that kiddie porn is an abomination, as I SAID BEFORE, but the point of the Supreme Court's decision was that the law they voided didn't deal with actual kiddie porn. It dealt with fake kiddie porn, or anything that could be construed as kiddie porn by the most uptight, anal-retentive, obsessed bullies in our society. That's bad place to go. It's a short step from there to prosecuting people for gazing at Lucy in a Peanuts cartoon with an expression that appeared to be lascivious to an ever-vigilant bully.

Ann becomes downright shrill when she writes about gratuitous "simulated sex" in movies today. To her, it is absolute filth. Her examples of those disgusting movies American Beauty and Traffic show exactly how far apart we are. I thought both movies were excellent and the sexual aspects of both were critical to the plot, especially in American Beauty. If Ann doesn't like those kinds of movies, then SHE SHOULD NOT WATCH THEM! But just because SHE doesn't like them is no reason to say that I CAN'T. Besides, she surely seems to know a lot about both to be so offended by the pornographic content. Her screed simply confirms my suspicions that people who protest the most spend an inordinate amount of time viewing and memorizing pornography, just so they never lose their sense of outrage.

They would be dirty-minded porn-Hoovers if they weren't doing it for such a righteous cause.

I like an occasional pornographic movie, and the filthier it is, the better I like it. I see nothing wrong with people making pornography, selling pornography, viewing pornography or even performing pornographic acts before a camera, as long as everybody involved does it as an act of free will. People who are offended by such things should not look at it. Those who say it permeates society and they can't escape its offensive presence should simply get over it. Living in a free country means coping with offensive things sometimes, without demanding acts of Congress to protect your delicate sensibilities.

Hell, I was offended by Bill Clinton for eight years. If I could put up with HIS filth without going ballistic, then Ann can learn to abide American Beauty. Or even Deep Throat.
Some people have e-mailed to ask whether or not I fell in a campfire at Merlefest. I am proud to say that I did not. What really saved me was not iron self-control and a firm hold on sobriety. I just never made it over to where the campfires were. There were places all over the festival for pickers to gather, with shady canopies overhead and armless folding chairs to sit on. That's where I played.

The Martin remains unsinged. And for the FILTHY MINDED out there (you know who you are), I didn't get laid, either. I had a fine time just the same.
I suppose I will have ample time to use the last of my 34-cent stamps before the next postal rate hike, the third in eighteen months, takes effect. Lord knows the US Post Office needs the extra money, because even with the two previous rate increases, that sleek, well-managed, lean and mean government operation will lose $2 billion this year. When competitors accused Microsoft of being a monopoly, the US Justice Department moved in to bring Bill Gates to his knees.

The US Post office IS a monopoly. But when the US Post Office, unlike Microsoft, provides terrible service, pays its workers ridiculously high wages for what they do, loses money hand over fist and ends up contracting with Fed Ex to perform duties that the Post Office can't, it is rewarded for its ineptitude with more money. The Post Office is a perfect example of why "federalizing" ANYTHING that involves actually getting a job done right is a rotten idea.

Private businesses are held to some pretty strict performance standards by the marketplace. If they can't compete, they perish. When they provide shoddy goods or shitty service, or fail to control costs and innovate as quickly as the competition, consumers take their money elsewhere. Just look at K-Mart, Polaroid, and Apple Computer (yes, Apple, for all you Mac-lovers out there. It's dying on the vine; it just doesn't know it yet.).

The Post Office, on the other hand, is run with all the efficiency and profitability of AMTRAK. Both enjoy avid support from politicians and other such leeches who believe that government can do no wrong, as long they themselves keep making money from government, and who cares whether they do a good job or not? And if "civil servants" do really stupid things, such as issuing visas to a couple of the hijackers months after they flew a plane into the World Trade Center, the bozos are transferred, not fired.

Federalizing airport security was done in a panic after 9/11 (in strict adherence with the LAW OF POLITICAL THERMODYNAMICS: We must do something. This is something; therefore, we must do it), with nobody stopping the think that the VERY LAST THING we need is government running THAT operation the way it does everything else it gets it's incompetent fingers into. But we're stuck with it now. It gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling to know that the same mentality that prevails at the Post Office and Amtrak will be handling airport security.

That thought could make somebody GO POSTAL!

Monday, April 29, 2002

My friend Willie and I were singing along to the car stereo on the way back from North Carolina last night. He has a tape he made of songs he's learned to play over the years and some old Peter, Paul and Mary popped up in there. Their version of "Blowin' in the Wind" is about as mournful and depressing as anything I've heard recently. If you listen to their version of that song, you can feel the sense of immenent doom squeezing their hearts and taste the salt in the bloody tears they cry. Yep, back then we were all gonna die any minute now.

I believe they recorded that song in 1966 or thereabouts and they probably are disappointed that the world didn't blow up during the last 35 years. "Where Have All the Flowers Gone," another mournful dirge, just doesn't go over like it did during the Vietnam War, now that we want our military to go out, kick ass and take names from the people who attacked us. Where have all the flowers gone? Gone to daisy-cutters, every one, and dropped right on the heads of those who want to kill us.

I missed out on the height of the folk music craze of the '60s, but those songs influenced a lot of my larval stage of musicianship. Once I started playing as a solo in the bars, however, I realized quickly that I was not there to be an artist, and I DAMNED SURELY wasn't there to depress people. I was there to sell drinks, pack the house and make locals come back again. If a musician can't do that simple task, the bar owner will fire you and buy a jukebox. It's cheaper in the long run.

So I learned a lot of lively stuff, did the requests people wanted to hear, and wrote a lot of cutesy-nasty songs that no one ever will hear on top-forty radio, but are well-received by people consuming alcoholic beverages and hoping to get laid. I've been making music for a long time, and I believe I know the ropes.

But ten year-old boys cut my butt in the picking tents at Merlefest. That's okay. They may be swift and they may be good, but they are small enough for me to strangle their narrow, guitar-burning necks if they really piss me off.

Besides, what does a ten year-old know about selling drinks?
I happen to know the young lady who writes THIS BLOG and I really believe she will regret the tattoos one of these days. Hell, I regret the damned henna I had painted on my arm in Key West and that was supposed to be TEMPORARY!
If anyone reading this blog enjoys LOTS of REALLY good music played by REALLY talented people, then I recommend a trip to MERLEFEST next year. The party started sixteen years ago as a memorial to Doc Watson's son and accompanist, Merle Watson, after Merle died in a tractor accident on his farm in North Carolina. The first Merlefest was held, essentially, from a stage on the back of a flatbed truck. The one I attended featured performances on at least nine different stages (There might have been more. I know I saw seven of them, not counting the tents where the smaller acts played.) and on Saturday drew a crowd of at least 100,000 people. I saw many of my musical heros, such as Sam Bush (mandolin), Jerry Douglas (dobro), Doc Watson (guitar), Earl Scruggs (banjo), Allison Krause (fiddle and goosebump vocals), Patty Loveless (singing almost the entire Mountain Soul albumn), plus pickers that not many people know unless they read the liner notes on CDs they really like (which I DO). I saw Allison Brown (damn good lady banjo picker), Darol Anger (damn good fiddle), Tony Rice (DAMN good guitar), and Mike Marshall (DAMN GOOD AT EVERYTHING!), plus too many more to mention.

I watched the amateur banjo contest and still don't know how they chose a winner. ALL TWENTY contestants were as good as anyone I've ever heard play, but the judges finally settled on a fellow from Georgia, which pleased me, but also made me glad that I wasn't judging that stuff. That HAD to be a difficult choice.

I also attended "Mando-mania," which featured seven of the best mandolin players in the world on stage together. I had a revelation watching those guys. Sam Bush, for many years the undisputed King of the Mandolin, sat in the middle of the group and beat the butts off five of the others, who were VERY GOOD, with no problem when the duels and jams came down. But there was this KID on stage that threw licks out there that I had never heard before. Tall and skinny with spiked blonde hair, he answered every challenge from Sam with a comeback that was quicker, cleaner and more unique. I was amazed.

His name is Chris Thile. He is 20 years old, plays with "Nickel Creek," and he is the best mandolin player I've ever seen.

Watching him play (I later saw him with Mike Marshall, just the two of them in a jaw-dropping display of musicianship), I thought about my football card collection. Those guys on the cards, many of them Hall-of Famers, were the heros of my youth, but few could play in the NFL today, even in their prime. The game evolved. The players are bigger, faster and stronger today. The old-timers may have set the standard 40 years ago, but the bar has been raised since then.

The same thing is happening in music. Bill Monroe revolutionized mandolin playing when he created the bluegrass style, and he was the King for a long time. But people studied what he did, added to it, invented some more, and took it to another level. Thus, a Sam Bush emerges from the pack as really unique and HIS playing raised the bar a little higher. He reigns as King for a while, until some talented young man, who studied what Sam did, added to it and invented some more, comes along to claim the throne.

It is happening all through music, just the way it does in sports. Earl Scruggs was NOT the best banjo player I heard at Merlefest. Doc Watson was NOT the best bluegrass guitarist I heard, either. Those guys blazed new trails and went where no one had gone before in the beginning, but people followed. Enough of them came after them that the followers finally outdistanced the trailblazers. That's just the way it goes, and that's the way the music continues to grow. It was a sad, but beautiful thing to witness.

Some day, another young, nimble and talented picker will come along and blow Chris Thile away. I can't wait to LISTEN to it happen.

I hope I do it in a place like the natural amphitheaters carved out of the foothills of Wilkesboro, North Carolina, too. The place is laid out perfectly for such a festival, because the stages aren't far apart, but they face in opposite directions and the hills mute the sound from the band over yonder that you don't want to hear while you listen to the one in front of you. The grounds also share space with Wilkes Community College, which adds to the scenic backdrop when all the young coeds come out to enjoy the music.

Ahhh.... to be in college again......

Zell Miller did it again. He made me proud of him, proud to be from Georgia and proud that he is my senator by serving as KEYNOTE SPEAKER at the National Rifle Association convention in Reno last weekend. I agreed with almost everything he had to say. He favors allowing airline pilots to carry guns, opposes lawsuits against firearms manufacturers for gun crimes, and believes that Michael Bellesiles is a liar. He also echoes my sentiments exactly when he says:
"What many do not understand is that the gun issue is not just about guns. It's about values. It's about setting priorities."

Yeah, Zell, that's right. It's about personal freedom versus another intrusion into individual liberty by a nanny-state increasingly staffed and influenced by do-gooder bullies who think they are wiser than the men who wrote the US Constitution. I joined the NRA after the stupid "assault weapons" ban was passed, largely through the efforts of anti-gun fanatics and firearms experts such as Barbara Boxer, because I saw the camel's nose entering the tent. I am delighted that my dues were used to keep Al Gore out of the White House.

While most people consider Florida the pivotal state in the 2000 Presidential election, the dirty little secret that few mention is that Al Gore lost his home state of Tennessee, Bill Clinton's home state of Arkansas, and Robert Byrd's home state of West Virginia largely because of his embrace of gun control laws. If Gore had carried ANY ONE of those states, Florida would not have mattered.

I never voted for "Pell-Mell Zell" when he served as governor of the great state of Georgia. I saw him say one thing and do another many times, and I believed he was too beholding to powerful interest groups in the state. But Zell has impressed me since he went to Washington. Some of that old, ex-Marine backbone returned somewhere in his journey from Atlanta to DC. He may be a Democrat, but he behaves more Republican than ANY of those wishy-washy RINOs from the northeast. I wish he would jump the fence and change parties; then, Jim Jeffords could be relegated to the obscurity he richly deserves. I doubt that Zell will do that, but I can dream.

I just hope he keeps up the good work he's done so far.
I believe I would have impolitely refused the "honor" and told the United Nimrods to stick their corrupt Human Rights Commission where the sun doesn't shine. Of course, I've felt that way about the United Nations for a long time.

"Last year, the United States scored lowest among five candidates for the four seats, and was voted off the commission for the first time since the commission was established in 1947. The embarrassing defeat, coming in the first months of the administration of US President George W. Bush, came close to upsetting an agreement for payment of more than 900 million dollars in US arrears to the world body."

I would not have paid them a dime. I would have run the entire useless gang of bureaucrats out of New York City, leased their building to the highest bidder and invited the UN to set up a new shop in a place much more appropriate for their anti-American hissy fits. Zimbabwe, maybe. Or Nigeria, if the lights are still out in North Korea.

Sunday, April 28, 2002

I'm Back, and I told a lot of lies about Merlefest before I went. It was not a bluegrass festival (it was an AMERICANA MUSIC festival, which means that I heard reggae banjos, mamba banjos and fusion jazz banjos, with the occasional mandolin, steel drum and clarinet thrown in) and it was FOUR DAYS instead of three. I saw and heard more excellent pickers per square inch there than anywhere else I've been in my life. I went through periods of exhilaration, inspiration, depression and humiliation. depending on what I was hearing and where I was at the time.

I am not worthy of calling myself a musician. Nobody threw me out of the amateur picking tents and nobody insulted me, but I feel small when I remember all those ten year-old kids who cut my butt when we played together. I also had my butt cut by an 80 year-old man who had more wrinkles on his face than the paper program I carried in my back pocket for two days before I sat down to pick with him. It was awesome.

I will elaborate with a long post tomorrow. I have to go to work in the morning. I believe I had a grand total of about eight hours sleep during the last four days, and the bed beckons. Man, I HAD FUN!