Friday, January 29, 2016

injaynesworld "Another Star Burns Out..."

It is the late sixties. San Francisco is the rock music capital of the country, and a good place to be young and reckless.  There are few diseases that can’t be cured by a shot of penicillin, you know your drug dealer on a personal basis and they take pride in their product, and concert tickets are only three dollars plus you get a cool poster.  Hidden away in a neighborhood haunted by hookers and heroin addicts is a set of brown, unadorned, double doors that lead into Wally Heider Recording.  It is here that the likes of Jefferson Airplane, Santana, Crosby, Stills & Nash, and the Grateful Dead come to make their magic, and I am the first person they see as they enter. 

I am 21 years old and my job is to book their time in one of three studios, along with the assigned engineer and equipment.  Competition for the most coveted times and rooms makes it hard to keep these artists always happy, but it does garner me a lot of perks in the form of free records, concert tickets, and pot, the smoke from which seeps through every air vent in the place.  

It is a nine-to-five job, but nights are when the big stars arrive, and I find reasons to stay late.  When the heavily-insulated studio doors seal shut and the light above them flashes red, musical history is about to be made, and I am an enthusiastic witness to it all:  Gregg Rolie’s organ solo on “Black Magic Woman,” Jerry Garcia’s vocal on “Friend of the Devil,” Tower of Power’s horn section dropping by to lay down some tracks for The Pointer Sisters.   

My position at Heider Recording puts me in rarefied air with those most others can only admire from a distance and when I leave the job the door to that world closes behind me, leaving only memories. 

Today when one of the tunes from that time comes on the radio, the names, faces, and those hours in smoke-filled studios come rushing back, though I know that none of them would remember the girl at the front desk behind those nondescript doors who was the first to greet them. 

This week we lost one of the superstars of that era, Paul Kantner, guitarist and driving force behind The Jefferson Airplane, later to morph into The Jefferson Starship.  He died at the age of 74, continuing to play gigs around the City up until just a couple of years ago.  Rock on, Paul.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

injaynesworld "How Not to Start the New Year..."

You leave home early to drive 300 miles north for a family visit with plans for a three-day stay firmly in place.  The visit could not go better.  Great food, great wine, movies, shopping, presents (you love presents), and leave-taking before everyone gets tired of each other. 

The car packed, hugs all around, and you're ready to head out.  You put the car in gear, a little wave and some blown kisses and… nothing.  The engine hums, but the car does not go forward, the car does not go backward.  Denial is the go-to emotion.

For the sake of brevity, let’s just say it appears your transmission is kaput. 

You unload the car and go back inside, your stellar leave-taking ruined like an actor who has blown his lines.  Now you must figure out a way to (A) Get your car back home to your own mechanic, and (B) Get yourself home.

You go online and find yourself sucked into the underworld of auto shippers.  One simple request for a quote brings a barrage of offers to your inbox and, like beggar children on the streets of Bangladesh, they are relentless. You pick a phone number at random hoping to find someone who will not screw you over.

A guy who sounds like Gary Busey answers the phone.  You are strangely comforted by his folksy manner and peppered language.  He assures you that every other company but his will indeed screw you over.  All brokers put your information up on the same trucker board and then you must wait for a trucker to bid on your job.  Might take 24 hours, might take 48.  You should call him back Monday morning, because he’s about to take off on a weekend binge.  “Brokers like to party,” he laughs.  You’re no longer quite as comforted, but now you’ve entered into a “relationship” and feel a certain obligation to make it work. 

You then call the 800 number for Enterprise car rental.  You are told you may not rent a car with a debit card, only a credit card.  Your debit card also serves as a credit card, you argue to no avail.  However, someone else can rent the car for you with their credit card if you bring them with you when you pick up the car.  You can do that, and the car reservation is made for pickup the next morning at ten o’clock. 

Along with your cousin, you arrive at the Enterprise Vortex-of-Hell Car Rental right on time.  Their website states, "When a customer leaves with a smile, you know you made their day a little better."  This is not going to be one of those days.  Yes, they have your reservation.  Yes, your cousin may rent the car on her credit card.  No, you may not drive it unless you have your own credit card.  You point out that if you had a credit card you would not have had to drag your cousin down here with you.  The perky prepubescent behind the desk is not moved by your logic. You continue to plead your case.  The word “bullshit” might escape your lips once or twice.  You and your cousin decide the best course of action is subterfuge.  Fuck ‘em.  She’ll rent it, you’ll drive it, authorized to do so or not.  But because of the lack of some kind of chip on her credit card, the card will not go through.  Now the cosmos are conspiring against you, too. 

You and your cousin return to her house where you announce your intention to drink yourself blind. Your cousin offers you the use of her car to drive home.  She will be leaving on a month-long trip that week and won’t need it.  You marvel at her generosity only slightly suspecting that it may just be her desire to be rid of you.

Meanwhile, offers to transport your vehicle continue to flood your inbox.  You begin to question your relationship with Gary Busey.  Perhaps, in your initial panic, you were a little hasty in pledging your allegiance to the first guy who whistled up your skirt.  And let us not forget your long history of dalliances with inappropriate men. 

You troll the websites of other auto-shippers.  At first it’s just a flirtation. Then, sufficiently wooed by an impressive slideshow, you make the call.  Matt Damon answers the phone.  Clearly, he must be researching a role for his next movie.  He needs to run your information by his father to give you an immediate quote.  Yes.  "Immediate," he says in his dreamy, grammar-perfect voice.  His father owns the company.  You feel like Debra Winger in the final scene of “An Officer and A Gentleman.”  You make the deal and send Gary Busey a kiss-off text. 

The rain holds off the next day and you make it home safely.  Your car arrives from Northern California a mere five hours after you do exactly as promised.  A warm bath and you fall face-down into the bosom of your own bed to dreams of having Matt Damon’s child.

Forty-eight hours later the verdict is still out on your car. 

Happy New Year.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

injaynesworld "Then and Now..."

As a child, I recall a woman coming to our door one evening collecting money for the poor. I pushed my way in front of my mother who stood in the open doorway. Even at seven years old, the thought of someone not having enough to meet their basic needs was crushing to me.  I ran to my room, got my piggy bank and would have handed over my entire savings of $3.00 in mostly dimes, nickels and pennies, had my mother not stopped me.  I don’t remember what Mom gave her, but the image of that woman standing there is still very vivid in my mind.  That may have been the day I became a “bleeding-heart liberal.”

We were a blue-collar family. My step-father worked for the town’s public works department, and his job supported four of us.  Ours was a two-bedroom, one-bath, stucco house in a neighborhood of mostly the same. While we were not wealthy by any means, we had more than some. There was a family in our neighborhood who we gave my school dresses to once I’d outgrown them. They were really the only “poor” family I knew, but even they had a house to live in.  

Eisenhower was president, the highest tax rate was 90%, unions were strong, and the country had never been more prosperous. Those folks in the 90% bracket were mostly the stuff of movies to the rest of us, but sometimes my family would pile into our old green Hudson and cruise the rich neighborhood to gaze at all the mansions.  Nobody begrudged them their wealth.  It gave us something to strive for.  It was a society where your birth status took a back seat to your dreams, and those “poor” kids who wore my hand-me-down dresses needed only a willingness to work for those dreams in order to achieve them.  I miss that America. 

At ten years old, I watched JFK receive the Democratic nomination for president on our small, black-and-white TV.  I could barely contain my excitement at the sight of this vibrant, young, inspiring man and his beautiful wife. Proudly wearing a plastic JFK-for-President hat that caused sweat to drip down my forehead and into my eyes, I peddled my blue Schwinn around the block, knocking on doors and handing out campaign literature.  For the first time in my life, I felt a part of something bigger than myself.  I felt like I could affect change.  When President Kennedy said “Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country,” it resonated with us because, despite our differences, we were all Americans first. 

Today, most of those mansion-filled neighborhoods that I drove through as a child have gates walling them off from the rest of us, and gone from our collective consciousness seems to be the notion that when we all have an equal opportunity to succeed our country succeeds.  Given an even playing field, Americans are some of the hardest-working folks on the planet. 

Given an even playing field…

It’s not a coincidence that we’re seeing a more violent society as growing numbers of people see the deck irrefutably stacked against them. With the assault that has taken place on the middle class, and the stress so many families are experiencing as they struggle just to survive, I wonder how many of today’s children feel inspired to make a difference, how many still dare to dream. Or are we losing another generation to hopelessness?

As for me, I’m still that seven-year-old who believes everyone should have enough.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

injaynesworld it's the "Sunday Recap..."

Back!  By no demand whatsoever…


Dear Jeb, please withdraw from your sad little run for the presidency.  It’s truly painful to watch you sink lower and lower on the food chain with every passing day.  Your latest slogan, “Jeb Can Fix It,” was roadkill even before the pre-school signage went up.  If only you’d stayed out of the public eye after Florida, we all could have continued in our delusion that you were the smart brother.  Alas, some things are just not fixable.


Christ on a Cup!

Dear Incensed Christians, God does not give one single crap about Starbucks’ choice of plain red holiday coffee cups this year, so why all the outrage?  “Starbucks is cleansing Christianity from Christmas!”  Seriously?   It’s not like in past years we’ve been served our gingerbread lattes in cups bearing a Nativity scene.  How is a winking snowman or a sledding dog more Christ-like?  Your silliness is an embarrassment to serious Christians.  You know, the ones who hold Christ in their heart and not on a cup. 


Keystone Pipeline a Done Deal

And by “done deal” I mean that deal is done the hell over, baby.  The idea was always a big goose egg for the U.S.  Sure there would have been temporary jobs building the pipeline, and probably a lot more jobs cleaning up after the destructive spills that were sure to follow, but the oil itself was always going to be shipped and sold overseas.  So frack you, oil lobby. 


There’s a New Sheriff in Town

Let's hear it for hunky new Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau who, when asked why his cabinet was comprised of 50% women, replied, "Because it’s 2015."  

Where do I sign up?  


Happy Endings

If, like me, you were one of those folks sobbing at the photo of Lana, “the saddest dog in the world” that went viral recently, you’ll be happy to know that Lana has been placed in a foster home where she will receive all the training she needs to integrate into a loving fur-ever home soon.  



And finally, here it is.  Your moment of smut…

Monday, October 19, 2015

injaynesworld it's "A Ghost Story..."

As you believe, so it shall be unto you - Jesus

Ghosts don’t care if you believe in them or not, but they’re not likely to appear to those who don’t.   

The “supernatural” was instilled in me early on when, as a highly-impressionable young child, I was enrolled in Catholic school where I was exposed to religious beliefs that challenged rational thought and demanded to be accepted on faith alone.  At a time when make believe is such a large part of a child’s life, it was all very confusing. 

The central doctrine of Christianity is the Resurrection, which begs the question:  Once you accept the story of Jesus rising from the dead, is it such a great leap to believe that our departed loved ones are able to reach out to us from the beyond, as well?  Is the Resurrection not a lesson in life everlasting? 

My mother spoke to me of guardian angels all my life, believed in them and passed that belief onto me.  She died when I was just 23 and for several years thereafter, I continued to feel her presence around me.  There were phone calls from her in the night.  I could hear the ring of the phone, feel my hand fumble for the receiver, perceive the darkness of the bedroom.  She would assure me, in a voice that was as clear and present as if she were alive, that she was all right and nearby.  Then one morning I awoke to see the figure of a person at the end of my bed.  Though it was only particles of light and energy, I knew it was my mother coming to say good-bye.  The figure dissolved downward and disappeared, and I’ve never felt my mother’s presence around me again. 

In my twenties, searching for answers to this mystery called life that I was attempting to slog my way through, I was given a book called “The Nature of Personal Reality – A Seth Book.”  Seth is a spirit entity – a ghost, if you will – that speaks through the author, Jane Roberts, to explain the spiritual laws of the Universe.  Maybe because I was already open to alternative ways of thinking, this book resonated with me at least as much as the bible stories I’d read as a child.  While both required a suspension of logic and the willingness to accept powers outside of what our physical senses can perceive, the bible taught that we are basically lowly human beings capable of the occasional spiritual experience.  The Seth books taught just the opposite:  We are spiritual beings having a human experience and spirit, being pure energy, has no limitations. 

When a close friend of mine was suddenly killed in a tragic accident, I was drowning in grief.  We’d had some recent disagreements and I needed to be able to say good-bye.  Again, in the early hours of the next morning, he appeared in my bedroom.  Unlike the case with my mother, his face and body were clear to me.  I can describe exactly what he was wearing.  He opened his arms and I went into them.  We hugged.  I remember thinking, “He feels so thin.”  And with that thought he was gone. 

The bible tells of Jesus making appearances to his followers after his death and Christians believe this to be true.  Were his followers imagining these appearances?   Mine have repeatedly occurred in the early morning hours.  Dreams?  Maybe.  But who’s to say in what form such visitations may take?   I can only say they were real to me and I believe them.

There is a reason our religious beliefs are called “faith” and not fact.  I would argue that the same can be said for those of us who believe in ghosts. 

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

injaynesworld "Lessons in Motion..."

So many body parts to think about – his, yours – it’s no wonder your relationship has problems.  It’s not like driving a car, where after a while it becomes second-nature, leaving you able to dance in your seat to the latest Pharell Williams beat, chat on Bluetooth or apply mascara while at a stop.  No.  With him you must always be vigilant, thinking ahead, lest he take the controls. 

While idling at a stop signal and planning to turn right, your car won’t suddenly perceive a ghost at its side, leap into the air, and bolt to the left.  If you apply the brakes, your vehicle, most likely, will stop.  Indicate your interest in putting the brakes on things with him and he may or may not take “whoa” for an answer.  He may confuse it with another word, that of “go.” After all, your legs are wrapped tightly around his sides and usually that means full speed ahead.   It’s an understandable mistake.  If he does decide to comply with your request to slow things down, he may do so abruptly, allowing your forward motion to continue well beyond his. This is never desirable as there are no airbags.

Load up your car with all the gear you need for that ski vacation, step on the gas and you will hear nary a complaint as it happily transports you to the highest snowy peak.  Put on a few pounds and he will find you less desirable and complain of back pain.  Oh, he won’t do this aloud.  He’s far more passive-aggressive than that.  Maybe he’ll just turn his backside to you when you arrive at his door, or run to the far end of the field in a rousing game of “Catch me if you can.”  You can’t.  You exhaust yourself trying and realize yes, you may indeed have put on a few pounds.  You resolve to go to the gym, leaving him to cast a triumphant glance over his shoulder as you hobble to your compliant motor vehicle.

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