World’s greatest office…

World’s greatest office…

Some Old & Some New

My head is spinning

And the world won’t stop

Right now I’m standing

But I’m about to drop.

So, please speak to me

As the equal that I am

And stop treating me

Like a harmless little lamb.

Try to fix yourself

And let me be

Because the problems that you have

Are within you and not with me.

If this seems unfair to ask

Or you think I’m out of line

Then any offer that you make

I’ll respectfully decline.

Because it is time for me to go

You’re certainly no fun

And I’ll let my injuries scar

From the damage that you’ve done. 

* old poem from the mid 80s?  I was angry with some authority figures at the time and felt as if they were holding me down and beating me with mental torture (strong words but I was clueless). 

However, the next poem posted…is a new one.  I wrote it over the weekend after having too many shandys.

Super Power

It was a compelling story

Deserving to be penned.

There appeared there was no beginning

And certainly there was no end. 

We tried to get the meaning

It was destined to be a classic

But we died of total boredom

Because we simply weren’t fantastic.

The greatness that we felt

Was left hollow and not completed

The future we envisioned was

Flat, grey, blurred and quite defeated.

So, we stumbled down our path

As our anger came to blows

And our Eden became a wasteland

Because this final story we couldn’t close.

The streets have stories in NE Ohio…

I’m trying to be Ansel Adams.  This is looking back towards Donner Pass.  I was chatting up a family when I was at the vista pointe.  As I was leaving I pointed towards their two or three year old boy and said, “Hey, you gonna eat that?”  The mom and dad both got the joke.  The mom laughed hysterically.  The dad was, well, extremely put off.  I’m betting I’d have more fun hanging out with the mom.

I’m trying to be Ansel Adams.  This is looking back towards Donner Pass.  I was chatting up a family when I was at the vista pointe.  As I was leaving I pointed towards their two or three year old boy and said, “Hey, you gonna eat that?”  The mom and dad both got the joke.  The mom laughed hysterically.  The dad was, well, extremely put off.  I’m betting I’d have more fun hanging out with the mom.

from long ago.

I sit here

and can’t help but think

that the things

we’ve done

mean something.

but, then I realize

that the words

meant less

than what we wished

and

we just changed.

we lived

we died a million deaths

we suffered

and our legs

felt thick

and sore

but we never

let that

stop us from

seeing the end.

the end.

we will

always be

the end.

thank god for that. 

*this is an OLD poem.  I wrote it in 1981.  I wish I knew what it meant but I really don’t…

New Thoughts on Norman Rockwell

For the majority of my life I’ve maintained a certain view of Norman Rockwell.  I perceived him as an incredibly popular painter but one that really didn’t have much depth.  His paintings seemed to simply capture white, middle-class and working class America during the middle of the 20th century.  
I know that my grandmother adored his paintings and she had several of his prints hanging about her small home in rural Ohio.  His work merely resonated with her.  At the time, the “why” for this was obvious to me.  My grandmother saw, in his paintings, her youth.  When things seemed simpler to her.  It was a time before gang violence.  It was a time before tattoos.  It was a time before wars in the Middle East.  It was a time before twitter, Facebook and social media.  
It was her time of comfort when the world moved at her pace.  It didn’t bother me that this was attractive to her.  I think that we all have these feelings.  However, this past week I went to the Norman Rockwell Museum and my opinion, and certainly my perspective, has changed rather dramatically.  
Lesson Number One
Norman Rockwell was a much better painter than I had originally thought.  Previously, I pictured him as a glorified drawer.  Probably not fair, especially given that I’m not an art critic.  But, his work seemed simple, a couple of people smiling at each other and an extremely flat appearance.  I could not have been more wrong.  His paintings had amazing depth.  They were constructed with tremendous colors and perspective.  And, perhaps most shocking to me, the brush strokes were incredible.  I was stunned.  
Additionally, the sheer volume of work that he created during his career was incredible.  Obviously, his work for the Saturday Evening Post is his greatest exposure to the masses.  But, it was somewhat minor, in terms of volume, to the other works that he completed.  
The majority of pieces that most impressed me were not painted or produced directly for the Saturday Evening Post but for personal satisfaction or for other commercial reasons.  It was, simply put, astounding.  
Lesson Number Two
Norman Rockwell was a progressive.  He could have painted in 1750, 1850, 1950 or 2050.  He could have painted soldiers being re-united with family after returning from World War II, the Civil War or the Gulf War.  The genius in his work is the expression and emotion, both in body language and facially, in his subjects.  Young women looking longingly at young men.  The yearning in their hearts is immense and the innocence in their souls is massive.  Envious boys look at other, more successful boys.  Exhausted ballplayers tried to ignore the taunts, yells and boo birds of angry fans.  
These are the events of the human condition.  They transcend time, race and religion.  His painting of the jury room (above) speaks volumes.  It was painted in 1959.  It was during a male dominated period.  However, in a jury room, a young woman not only becomes the equal of the other jurors, she digs her heels in and surpasses their power.  She’s a single woman holding ten men at bay (one of the men has already given up and resigned himself the fact that he’s lost the fight).  She holds all the cards.  She knows it and the men are in the process of learning it.  The room is a mess.  It looks like a battle.  The pressure that the men are trying to drive into her is relentless.  Yet, there is no doubt, as the viewer, that she is going to ultimately win.  She’s still cool, calm and sitting strong.  I truly believe that Rockwell’s point, with this painting, and others like it, is that women are the equal of men and should be treated as such.  Women should be in the workforce.  Women should be in positions of authority.  Women can be rational and strong.  Statements and thoughts that weren’t overly popular in 1959.  
Norman Rockwell could have painted these same pictures in the urban, hip hop culture of 2014 with inked and hardened subjects.  He could have painted these same pictures in Brazil in 1940.  The subjects, the clothing, the color of the hair and eyes and the specific activities might all be different, but the emotion and expectations of the subjects would be the same.  
It probably shouldn’t have taken me this long to learn such simple lessons about such a gifted painter, but, fortunately, I did learn something great from that day trip to his museum. 

New Thoughts on Norman Rockwell

For the majority of my life I’ve maintained a certain view of Norman Rockwell.  I perceived him as an incredibly popular painter but one that really didn’t have much depth.  His paintings seemed to simply capture white, middle-class and working class America during the middle of the 20th century. 

I know that my grandmother adored his paintings and she had several of his prints hanging about her small home in rural Ohio.  His work merely resonated with her.  At the time, the “why” for this was obvious to me.  My grandmother saw, in his paintings, her youth.  When things seemed simpler to her.  It was a time before gang violence.  It was a time before tattoos.  It was a time before wars in the Middle East.  It was a time before twitter, Facebook and social media. 

It was her time of comfort when the world moved at her pace.  It didn’t bother me that this was attractive to her.  I think that we all have these feelings.  However, this past week I went to the Norman Rockwell Museum and my opinion, and certainly my perspective, has changed rather dramatically. 

Lesson Number One

Norman Rockwell was a much better painter than I had originally thought.  Previously, I pictured him as a glorified drawer.  Probably not fair, especially given that I’m not an art critic.  But, his work seemed simple, a couple of people smiling at each other and an extremely flat appearance.  I could not have been more wrong.  His paintings had amazing depth.  They were constructed with tremendous colors and perspective.  And, perhaps most shocking to me, the brush strokes were incredible.  I was stunned. 

Additionally, the sheer volume of work that he created during his career was incredible.  Obviously, his work for the Saturday Evening Post is his greatest exposure to the masses.  But, it was somewhat minor, in terms of volume, to the other works that he completed. 

The majority of pieces that most impressed me were not painted or produced directly for the Saturday Evening Post but for personal satisfaction or for other commercial reasons.  It was, simply put, astounding. 

Lesson Number Two

Norman Rockwell was a progressive.  He could have painted in 1750, 1850, 1950 or 2050.  He could have painted soldiers being re-united with family after returning from World War II, the Civil War or the Gulf War.  The genius in his work is the expression and emotion, both in body language and facially, in his subjects.  Young women looking longingly at young men.  The yearning in their hearts is immense and the innocence in their souls is massive.  Envious boys look at other, more successful boys.  Exhausted ballplayers tried to ignore the taunts, yells and boo birds of angry fans. 

These are the events of the human condition.  They transcend time, race and religion.  His painting of the jury room (above) speaks volumes.  It was painted in 1959.  It was during a male dominated period.  However, in a jury room, a young woman not only becomes the equal of the other jurors, she digs her heels in and surpasses their power.  She’s a single woman holding ten men at bay (one of the men has already given up and resigned himself the fact that he’s lost the fight).  She holds all the cards.  She knows it and the men are in the process of learning it.  The room is a mess.  It looks like a battle.  The pressure that the men are trying to drive into her is relentless.  Yet, there is no doubt, as the viewer, that she is going to ultimately win.  She’s still cool, calm and sitting strong.  I truly believe that Rockwell’s point, with this painting, and others like it, is that women are the equal of men and should be treated as such.  Women should be in the workforce.  Women should be in positions of authority.  Women can be rational and strong.  Statements and thoughts that weren’t overly popular in 1959. 

Norman Rockwell could have painted these same pictures in the urban, hip hop culture of 2014 with inked and hardened subjects.  He could have painted these same pictures in Brazil in 1940.  The subjects, the clothing, the color of the hair and eyes and the specific activities might all be different, but the emotion and expectations of the subjects would be the same. 

It probably shouldn’t have taken me this long to learn such simple lessons about such a gifted painter, but, fortunately, I did learn something great from that day trip to his museum. 

The headstone of Highfield Colantha Mooie.  It is just another headstone of a Holstein-Friesian out in the middle of no where (Berkshire County in Western Massachusetts). 

The headstone of Highfield Colantha Mooie.  It is just another headstone of a Holstein-Friesian out in the middle of no where (Berkshire County in Western Massachusetts). 

True Story - My Super Power

There once was a time when I had confidence, supreme self-assurance, and a super power.  Yes, you read that properly.  I had a super power.  It was well recognized by some of my friends and some of my co-workers.  It was never questioned and, in some circles, it was revered.  In fact, dare I say, it was worshipped. 

Now, I realize that this is probably pretty hard to believe, but super powers do exist and, as a person that had one, I can tell you that when it fails or you start questioning its existence, you start questioning your own existence.  That’s where I sit right now.  Questioning.  Questioning if I ever truly had the power.  Questioning if I still have it.  Questioning if it will ever reappear.  It isn’t a comfortable place to be but it’s in my kitchen right now. 

You see, it wasn’t that long ago that I could find a Starbucks at any time and in any city or, even, country for that matter.  Is it a super power?  Hell yeah.  If you don’t believe me, just ask some of the people that admit to witnessing the super power in action.  I’ve found, and could give you specific and accurate directions to a Starbucks or its equivalent in:

Akron/Canton

Amsterdam

Atlanta

Baltimore

Bloomington

Boise

Boston

Brussels

Budapest

Burlington

Charlotte

Chicago

Cincinnati

Cleveland

Columbus

Dallas

Denver

Detroit

Frankfurt

Houston

Johannesburg

Kansas City

Leeds

London

Los Angeles

Madison

Memphis

Mexico City

Milwaukee

Minneapolis

Mumbai (and there’s only three of them)

Nashville

New York City

Oakland

Orange County

Orlando

Paris (anywhere in Paris or surrounding area)

Philadelphia

Phoenix

Pittsburgh

Portland

Sacramento

San Francisco

Sao Paulo

Seattle

Shanghai

St Louis

Tampa

Washington DC

York, UK

And a bunch of other cities that I can’t even remember.  I was a master to put it bluntly.  Hell, I’m being polite.  It was a goddamn super power. 

But, then something happened.  I went to Philadelphia.  I stopped for a Starbucks in Harrisburg along the way (I’ll have to add Harrisburg to the above list someday).  I was just sowing my oats and drinking my mochas.  When I got into Philly it was too late to do anything so I just went to a local dive, had a burger, some fries and a milk shake.  I didn’t have a beer (I began wondering if this lack of beer might be have been my “Kryptonite”). 

The next morning I headed to downtown Philly.  It was a perfect spring day.  The flowers were beginning to bloom, the streets were packed with joggers, bikers, people walking.  It was gorgeous.  I took a quick look at my phone and located the University of Penn campus.  It is a mother fucking college campus.  Of course there will be a Starbucks there (conveniently next to the Chipotle I’m sure).  I wandered the area for just a bit too long for it to be comfortable.  Things just weren’t adding up.  I caved and did a quick search on my iPhone for the local Starbs.  Something akin to “cheating” and a certain breach of conviction.  My faith was restored when I discovered one on the opposite side of my current block and that I had missed the Starbucks by a matter of only a few hundred feet in a city of 141 square miles.  I turned left, turned left again and was greeted with…NOTHING.  There was no Starbucks in sight. 

I paced down the sidewalk until I found myself at the far end.  Still, nothing.  I’m sure I broke out in a vicious sweat, but my mind was blank and my memory only contains bits and pieces of the whole ordeal at this point.  I walked around that block several times trying to locate the Starbucks.  At one point I noticed a couple walking across the street with their Starbucks in hand.  I had to be in the right place.  I panicked and went for my phone.  I located the Starbucks a second time and proceeded to walk directly to it holding my phone in front my face the entire time.  On my map, I walked past the Starbucks.  I turned and looked at the store fronts.  Once again, NOTHING.  I retraced my steps and walked by the Starbucks a second time.  I was enraged when I noticed that the little blue dot, representing me, meandered right past the Starbucks being displayed on my tiny iPhone screen. 

After approximately twenty minutes, I quit, hung my head in shame and, deflated, walked back to downtown Philly, without my Starbucks.  I didn’t have a Starbucks that day.  I was too defeated and the desire had been shattered by the Starbuck goddess that obviously didn’t return my love and undying devotion.  I later found out that the Starbucks was on the second floor of the building that I been passing all morning long.  I just never looked up.  I can’t say, “It was right beneath my nose.”  But, I can say, “Get your eyes out of your phone and look up you dumbass!” 

It was a blow to my super power ego.  But, over time I recovered.  I found three in one day in Sacramento, I quickly found one during a layover in the Denver airport.  Things seemed to be getting back to normal and I was projecting my Starbucks super power like a swashbuckling pirate ruling the seven seas. 

But, as well noted, “Pride goeth before a fall”.  I arrived in Boise without much of a plan.  I knew that I would need to locate a Starbucks by Tuesday morning to start the day.  Elly Mae and MC Boston were heading into town.  Being the good host, I thought I should be able to quickly get us to a Starbucks the following morning.  I found two Starbucks almost immediately.  Both, big shocker here, within five blocks of Boise State’s campus.  I later found one near the hotel where we were staying.  I was set, I was confident and I was ready to lead to a Starbucks. 

Elly Mae arrived and we went to dinner, had some beers and waited for MC Boston to arrive.  When MC Boston arrived we went for more beer and some food, as she hadn’t eaten for hours.  I’m only pointing this out because it completely dispels the theory that my failure in Philly had anything to do with lack of beer.  We had a fun evening out and when we arrived in the hotel, I announced that I would take us to Starbucks the following morning.  They swooned over my announcement (at least that’s what I recall) and we all headed off to our respective rooms. 

The following morning we met in the lobby.  We piled into my rental car and I let my super power do all of the work.  I turned left out of the parking lot.  At the first stop sign I turned right.  I pulled out in front of squad car.  I remember it like it was two weeks ago (which it is was).  I turned left at the next light and started following my “Starbucks Sense”.  Only, I didn’t find the Starbucks.  Once again, panic set in and I ended up in the parking lot of a Firestone dealership.  Which, I might add is the EXACT opposite of a Starbucks.  I fished around for a bit and felt the blood leaving my body.  I was dead inside.  Elly Mae saved the day by locating the Starbucks on her iPhone and successfully navigated us home.  My mocha was good but it wasn’t nearly as sweet as it should have been. 

Since that day I’ve questioned everything.  I’m not sure what I believe.  I’m not sure where to begin.  I’m not sure what mistakes I’ve made and what I’ve done well.  I don’t know where to go to get my mojo back (or my mocha for that matter). 

This is just an epic crash and burn.   

***** Added 7 July 2014 - I’ve got my Starbucks Sense back.  I dominated in Boston, Albany and Sacramento the past couple of weeks.  I’m back.