Friday Fives – the 5 bestest-est of everything edition

If you could only listen to 5 musicians for the rest of your life, who would they be?

Bob Dylan, James Taylor, Grateful Dead, Pearl Jam, Guns & Roses

 If you could only read 5 books for the rest of your life, who would they be?

Alice in Wonderland.  Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas, Tropic of Cancer, anything by Hemingway, and Desolation Angels.  Google them.  Buy them.  Love them.

If you could only have 5 childhood memories to recall for the rest of your life, who would they be?

I had nothing but an amazing childhood and the world’s greatest parents.  There isn’t a single regret in the amazing way our parents loved and took care of us.  To pick only 5 moments would denigrate the decades they invested in us.  I am lucky enough to still have my mom around, and she is my favorite person in the whole world.  Don’t tell my wife I said that.

 If you could only eat 5 things for the rest of your life, who would they be?

Pad Thai, Carne Asada, Gyro sammich, sesame chicken, and coffee

If you could only have five words to describe the world what would they be?

Beautiful, selfish, magical, self-destructive

Kermit found me

*** update Jan 2019 – Kermit’s painting added below

It recently occurred to me that a lot of who I am, I owe to Kermit.  Kermit is a childhood friend, going back a million years.  He is an odd and wonderful man, and he helped me to be the same.  I remember going back to early high school, or maybe middle school.  I was an undeveloped fetus, culturally.  He was a brilliant subversive, and I think he turned me into one, too.  I watched the shows everyone watched.  There was no choice, with 3 channels.  I listened to what everyone listened to… again… you had 3 channels for rock, at best.

Odds are, I was lamenting how much I hated reading.  They gave us the most droll and sanitized shit.  Reading what they fed us was punishment.  Kermit turned me on to everything.  What do I know about comic books?  Still nothing, except barely hetero dudes in tights and sheets.  Kermit found this, and gave it to me.  I still have it in my collection.  It is the story of Gregory, a young boy locked up in an institution and watching his mind go wild.  This was more than a comic book… this was cultural subversion… and I was in!

then, he turned me on to authors.  At this time, I hated reading more than math.  I can not emphasize enough what shitty and boring books they feed kids.  You want me to read Wuthering heights?  Ok, that is like 200 pages of repressed love and emotion in Victorian England?  How the fuck is a 13 year old boy going to connect with that?  All the books were ‘Newbery award winners’.   He turned me on to Hunter Thompson and Henry Miller.  He gave me a copy of ‘Tropic of Cancer’ and it rocked my world.  These were dirty American expats living in France.  They did dick all all day long except sit around drunk and talk about how great they were.  They mooched everything they had, including the women, and just lived as they please.  This book was full of very graphic sex scenes.  It was full of people having fun, and adventures.  Think of it like this – Henry Miller is the x rated version of Ernest Hemingway.

take a look at Henry Miller.  This guy has seen some shit.  Scratch that… this guy has caused some shit!

That book opened the world to me.  There are books about sex?  There are people doing noting all day long but getting drunk in cafes and celebrating their own genius?  How do I get that job?  Of course, the book was banned here… which made it all the more sexy.  Most importantly, the writing was GREAT.  Just beautiful and powerful and visual.  I felt I was there.  These guys defined ‘fake it until you make it’.  Henry Miller basically willed his persona into existence through sheer force of will.  I am reminded of Salvador Dali and Hunter Thompson here… same thing.

Then, he turned me on to ‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas’, my second favorite book of all time.  I don’t need to tell you my love and obsession with Hunter, I think you know.  Then it struck me… what these guys write about is what every young black person in America is in jail for.  Raping, drugging, and general malaise.  These were NOT good people, but they were GREAT writers.  What is the difference?  Well, they wrote about it.  Oh, and they were white.  That helps.

And then he turned me on the Beatles.  I knew the poppy happy radio stuff, which I still love.  But he turned me on the White Album.  He was like ‘these guys will fuck you up,  they changed everything, man’.  And he was right.  He was the first person I knew to have a CD Walkman, and we’d hang out at break sharing headphones listening to this stuff.  Then, he got me deep into Zeppelin.  What do I mean by ‘deep’?  It means listening to Zeppelin OTHER than Zepp 4.  He played for my Physical Graffiti.  It is a sweeping and galloping masterpiece of rock and roll.  There are not pithy 3 minute hits on that double disc.  No sir.  It is just 2 hours of Jimmy Page and Robert Plant following their muse.

He gave me a light.  Where the future used to look boring and corporate and soulless and inevitable… Kermit made it this wide open adventure. Shortly after this, I would spend a month in Mexico every summer.  I would just backpack around with no plan, often by myself.  I don’t think I would have had the courage or confidence to do something like that were it not for Kermit.

Kermit, I don’t know where you are.  I don’t even know if you are alive, but I love you and I miss you and I thank you!

Because of Kermit, I went from hating reading to getting a literature degree.  And… you will not find 1 goddamn Newbery award winner in my stacks.

Did I mention this painting he gave to me?  It is AMAZING.  It is an entirely original oil painting he must have given me 30 years ago.  Behold.  Better yet, come over and see it in person.  It is stunning.

These photos don’t do it justice.  Clearly I had a flash on.  I need to take a pic in the day, with no flash.

 

Friday Fives – he is STILL prattling on about Alice in Wonderland… again

nature-mandalas-coloring-book-tree-by-thaneeya

Yesterday was World Book Day.  What was the first book that had an impact on your life? 

It would be something from Kermit.  In high school, Kermit turned me on to a LOT.  Books, authors, music, and art.  Probably the most impactful was Henry Miller’s ‘Tropic of Cancer’.  I am not gonna spoil it and tell you what it’s about.  BUT… I will tell you it rocked my world.  Everything up to then, in reading, was boring as shit.  I HATED reading, it was punishment.  Why?  Because the schools only turn you on to boring as shit.  Henry Miller was all about sex and drugs and general Bukowskian debauchery.  Oh, and Kermit turned me on to Bukowski, too.  Go watch Barfly with Mickey Rourke NOW if you don’t know about Charles Bukowski.

He (Kermit) showed me reading was cool, and opened up a whole world of counter culture heroes.  I ended up getting a degree in literature… pretty much because Henry Miller showed me there is joy in madness and occasional sin.

 Do you read “hard copy” books and mags or have your turned to digital ebooks and magazines? 

Hardy copy actual books.  It strains my eyes to look at computer screens to read.  Plus, like you, I am a cubicle monkey who stares at computers 9 to 10 hours a day.  Plus, I am often on my phone.  I do not need more screen time.

What is your favorite genre to read? 

Historical biographies and rock and roll autobiographies

Do you consider reading a pastime? Why or why not?

Uh… sure.  I guess.  Weirdly worded question.  I think there is assuredly a very timeless aspect to reading a book.  I love the idea that I have books that are so old that the first person who read it was using candle light… pre-electricity.  Not just that they are reading the same story… but that this very book in my hand has lived a thousand lives.

Do you have a favorite book character who has stayed with you after the book was finished?

Alice, from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.  She is my hero.  She takes all this insanity around her, and is only curious and polite in return.  At no time does she yell “omg, seriously.  What the fucking fuck is that?”  This is how most of us might handle seeing a caterpillar sitting on a ginormous mushroom smoking a hookah.  That, to me, is a big bag of WTF.

you know I talk about this book a LOT.  Let’s be specific, then, shall we?

I think my favorite scene is (likely) from the second book.  They are all sitting around about to eat.  Alice’s hosts rather politely introduce her to all the food.  Normally, I guess, this would be simply the courteous thing to do.  Problem, though; “everyone knows it is not polite to eat food once you have been introduced to it.”  So, being ever so polite (and ever so hungry)… she never does eat.

Friday Fives –

What is your favorite weird word in any language?

Easy – schadenfreude.  I have written about this word before.  It’s a German word meaning ‘to take pleasure in the suffering of others’.  Now, it isn’t too terribly surprising to learn the German’s have a corner on that market.  Still, though, we all live this.  You know when a ahole passes you like a lunatic and cuts you off in the process?  Even better?  Ok.  Watch this road rage clip, and stunning instant karmic retribution.  That laugh of joy and closure you hear from the lady?  That is schadenfreunde!

You know that warm, gooey feeling you get inside when you see him pulled over and getting a ticket ten minutes later?  Yeah, that is schadenfruede.  I wonder if there is any connection to the ‘Freud’ part of that word, and if there is a connection to Herr Sigmund.  Turns out, no.  The ‘fruende’ part of that word is for happiness.  I am more surprised to find that Germans have a word for happiness, than I am to discover they literally invented the idea of mocking one’s suffering.

What is a controversial book more people should read?

Well, I am a book guy.  I love books.  Got a fancy university degree just about books.  So, I can’t just give you one. Also, I am going to try and not write about Alice in Wonderland again.  God, how I do love that book. ok… so let’s talk about non Alice related books. How about two?  These are both ‘banned books‘.  However, every book worth it’s salt has been banned.  When someone once asked Keith Richards how we felt about the Stone’s records getting bootlegged (and so the band was getting ripped off), Keith replied ‘if you aren’t being bootlegged, you aren’t happening!’  I kinda feel the same way about books.

It took me a LONG time to get into reading.  When I was a kid, I was just force fed dreck.  Newbury award winnings books – just boring and sterile horse shit. I never ever saw reading as fun, or an escape, until Kermit.  Kermit was my high school buddy, and he turned me on to SO much.  He got me into Henry Miller, Salvador Dali, the Beatles White Album, Gregory, Bukowski, and so much more.

For a dense, hardcore, escapist read – go for Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer.  He was an American writer who lived abroad (quite literally… tee hee hee) in France in the 20s.  He was broke, but he was wicked smart and fun and interesting.  So, rich people would keep him afloat to keep him around.  ‘Tropic’ is a coming of age story of wanderlust on every level.  Imagine the debauchery of Charlie Sheen, but written so beautifully it’s like Maya Angelou.  Imagine ‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas’ set in Paris.  Imagine everything Charles Bukowski ever did or wrote… first.  It is a book every 16 year old young man should read.  It’s not a quick read, by any means… but nor should it be.

For quicker fare, but just as impactful (and just as banned) is George Orwell’s Animal Farm.  It’s about the animals rising up and taking over their oppressive humans, and making an animal utopia.  Well… it starts that way, anyhow.  People who wear eyeglasses and finger their goatees thoughtfully will tell you about the analogy to the Russian revolution.  Don’t worry about all that.  The story stands just terrific on it’s own, and you will have NO trouble drawing parallels to so many things in society.  Best part of all, it’s thin.  You can knock it out in a single evening.  Four Legs Good, Two Legs Bad!  It doesn’t just work as a meta study on humanity and barbarism.  It is also just a cute sweet story you could read to a 5 year old.  Not a 4 year old, though.  Seriously, that would fuck them up good.  5, though?  Yeah, he’d be fine.  Listen, kids gotta learn about tyranny from someone, amiright?

What’s an everyday grammatical thing that still kind of bugs you?

It’s – when do I use the apostrophe?  I should ask someone who has an English degree, right?  That would be me, and I still don’t get it.  They say ‘only if owns something (possessive), or is a contraction.  Well, isn’t that ALWAYS the case with it’s?

Guess what?  New rule – the only time I want to talk about apostrophe’s is if it is about Frank Zappa’s album.  SO much great, and stupid, Zappa work can be found on Apostrophe/Overnight Sensation.  First off, let’s go with this one.  Moving to Montana soon, gonna be a dental floss tycoon.  Then, listen to Frank explain, in a super catchy song, about how it is damn near impossible to get his lady off manually.  “dynamo hum, dynamo hum.  Where’s this dynamo coming from?  Dynamo Hum, Dynamo hum, I done poked and stroked till my wrist gut numb.  You may be thinking to yourself ‘there is no way in hell studios released an song about how to properly masturbate your girlfriend… and especially not 45 years ago’.  Oh yeah, baby.  They sure did.  Think of all risque Prince songs, like Darling Nikki.  How about 2 Live Crew?  Yeah, Frank was upsetting parents 30 years earlier.  Enjoy.  At work?  Oh, then turn it up really loud.

bonus fun?  That song is nowhere near the most offensive thing Frank ever recorded.  Not by a mile.

Replace a word in a movie title with “Bitch”, what’s the new plot?

Kill Bitch – it’s the sequel to Kill Bill, where all the daughters of the slain samurai come back after Uma Thurman and avenge their parents.  See, she had a beef with Bill.  Whatevs, that isn’t our business.  Just note that, like in every proper Tarantino movie, zillions of ancillary characters die in the hero’s wake.  Tee hee hee.

Write us up a nice little Haiku (5-7-5). 

Arson so pretty

Fire my only friend now

Oops, Sorry ‘bout pants