Blind Faith

Blind Faith was an English rock supergroup featuring Steve Winwood, Eric Clapton, Ginger Baker, and Ric Grech. Just in cases you didn’t know, these guys aren’t mere rockstars, they are rock superstars.

The band was eagerly anticipated by the music press in 1969 as a continuation of Clapton and Baker’s former group, Cream, and Winwood’s former group, Traffic. They produced one goddamn album before disbanding to pursue other projects. But it was a pretty good album.

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The original, controversial Blind Faith album cover, which was replaced by the featured image of the band members above

It was probably the last time the words ‘blind faith’ had any kind of positive connotation.

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I posted this on my Facebook page the other day because I just can’t wrap my head around a couple of things about The Donald and his presidency. The first is I can’t believe that anyone would support him. The second is the unshakable devotion of his supporters.

Most of the comments on my FB post were from my friends who aren’t Trump supporters. There’s a reason for that. I unfriended almost everyone on Facebook who supports Trump, unless I actually know them.

One of my friends who supports Trump, Deb Gessell Gammon, had this to say:

Really, I follow Trump because he can at least say the name of Jesus. We all have said not a perfect human being, not even close. Neither am I but he at least tries. Jesus is my King…..Trump is my president. I will pray for him in Jesus’ name. Amen

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Little Known Fact About Me: I am a registered Republican. But I haven’t voted for a Republican candidate since Ronald Reagan. So for all of you that think I’m some kind of bleeding heart liberal pinko commie bastard, you’re wrong about most of that.

* * * *

Deb is my cousin. She’s probably my favorite from that group of cousins on my mother’s side of the family tree. She’s kind of a smartass, like me, but she’s probably nicer than I am. Because I like and respect Deb, this post is going to be my rebuttal to her statement on my Facebook page.

I doubt that I can be completely objective in my argument, but I’m going to try. I hope that anyone reading this will also try to be objective. And I also welcome comments and points of view from my readers who have anything to add.

I invited the handful of Trump supporters I have in my Friends List to read this when I finish it, and I’ve had a few people tell me they’re looking forward to it with eager anticipation, so I better get my ass in gear…

And Deb, just so we understand each other, I know that nothing I say is going to make you change your mind or the way you feel. So you don’t have to feel bad because you still think I’m full of shit.

* * * *

We all have said not a perfect human being, not even close.

That appears to be the closest Trump’s supporters can come to admitting that The Donald has any faults. In that regard, his supporters are far more generous and forgiving of President Trump than those of us that don’t. We see him as a corrupt, dishonest, manipulative, racist/sexist piece-of-shit-pig in a suit.

That’s how the Fake News portrays him, and you snowflakes are just a bunch of sheep that believes anything!

I’ll concede the point that fair and unbiased news reporting is something that doesn’t exist anymore, and it probably died with Marco Polo. But I have a question. Was the news media always a corrupt bunch of liars, or is that something that only happened after Trump was elected? I can’t remember any other US President ever saying that before.

If this is a new phenomenon, then prior to The Donald all the news media did was kiss the ass of the President and they never, ever criticized anything that any of the previous presidents ever did. Except Obama. The press sucked his cock, too.

I think even Trump supporters have to admit that the press has taken their fair share of potshots at everyone that has ever sat behind the big desk in the Oval Office. It’s their job.

But before you all start complaining that there’s some huge conspiracy by the news media to make Donald Trump look like a fool, be careful, or you’ll find yourself in the same boat as all those people who claim they’ve been abducted by aliens. Or Bigfoot.

Or me. I’m the guy who believes God is flying through the galaxies in a spaceship.

No one has to do anything to make Donald Trump look like a fool. All you have to do is put him in front of a camera, and he does the rest. And I want you to consider something about the way The Donald blames the media for making him look bad.

He does it every time he gets portrayed in an unflattering light. He doesn’t do it every now and then. He doesn’t do it once in a blue moon. He does it every fucking time.

Imagine, if you can, that you are married to Donald Trump and this happens:

Deb: “I heard you were at the bar last night.”

Trump: “Oh yeah? Who did you hear that from?”

Deb: “My mom. And three of my sisters. And our neighbors. They said you were drunk and making out with Audrey Farber.”

Trump: “That’s fake news. It’s bullshit. Honey, I swear I wasn’t there and I didn’t do it. Who are you going to believe? Me? Or your mom and your bitchy sisters? You know they never liked me! They’re just trying to make me look bad!”

You get the idea. Now suppose something like unto this happened almost every day. If you were Mrs. Trump, how many times would you believe that your husband is the only one telling the truth about what really happened at the bar he wasn’t at?

Donald Trump has cheated on every wife he’s ever had. That’s not fake news, that’s a fact. He was paying hush money to a pornstar he had an affair with. Another fact. I’m a guy. I can actually understand some of the things he’s done. But consider this: I might be able to forgive my spouse if she had one affair. I know I couldn’t forgive more than one. 

Could you?

I have freely admitted that I’m not a good Christian. Trump’s supporters tend to identify themselves as people who are at least trying to be good Christians, and they are apparently ahead of the curve when it comes to accepting the flaws of other people and forgiving them when they fall astray. Except when those flawed people are Democrats.

Trump’s supporters appear to be staunchly anti-abortion because every life is sacred, right? They all want to be good Christians, and abortion is bad because the Bible says it’s bad. Even if it doesn’t, every life is sacred, especially lives lost when a Democrat was in the White House. I know that’s right because Trump supporters are still incensed about the four Americans who were killed in Benghazi when Obama was president.

That happened eight years ago. Does anyone even remember their names?

Trump’s supporters also tend to be huge supporters of the Second Amendment and the right to bear arms. Some of you might be aware of the problem the US has had with mass shootings and gun violence. But whenever there was a mass shooting, I don’t remember seeing many posts on social media about the tragedy and the loss of life from Trump supporters.

They appeared to be more concerned that no one better try to take their guns unless they wanted to get their goddamn ass kicked.

As of this precise moment in time 14,762 Americans have died from the Coronavirus, and I have yet to hear even one peep of outrage from Trump supporters about their deaths. Not. One. Fucking. Word.

So, do all lives matter or not?

Some of my anti-Trump friends want to blame the President for all of those Coronavirus-related deaths. I’m not one of them. Someone with a much higher pay grade than mine can sort that out. And I’ve already put in my two cents worth on how The Donald has mismanaged the Coronavirus pandemic.

I’m not here to provide you with all the answers. I’m here to give you a few more things to think about.

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As for whether or not The Donald is a criminal, it all depends on how you define the word criminal, doesn’t it. He is only the third President to be impeached by the House of Representatives.

Hold it right there, Little Miss Muffet! He wasn’t impeached!

Yes, he was. That’s another fact.

Presidential impeachment is a two stage process. The House of Representatives meets to decide if any laws were broken. They did, and Donald Trump was charged with, and found guilty of, Abuse of Power and Obstruction of Congress by the House on December 18, 2019. You don’t have to take my word for it. You can look it up yourself. 

The second stage of the impeachment process only happens if the President is found guilty by the House. Then there’s a trial in the Senate to determine if the President needs to be removed from office.

There is at least one thing you should know about impeachment. The US Constitution mandates that all senators take an impeachment oath, in which by Senate rules it is stated, “I will do impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws, so help me God.”

Prior to the Senate hearing even starting, Senator Mitch McConnell said there was “no chance” the Senate would convict Trump and remove him from office. Senator Lindsey Graham said this, “I am trying to give a pretty clear signal I have made up my mind. I’m not trying to pretend to be a fair juror here … I will do everything I can to make [the impeachment trial] die quickly.” 

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I have no words to describe the level of contempt I have for these two assholes

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When Bill Clinton was impeached for getting a blowjob in the Oval Office, the White House provided more than 90,000 pages of documents and other information ahead of his trial.

In contrast, the Trump White House refused to comply with subpoenas for more than 70 records, and blocked at least 12 potential witnesses from testifying. Again, I’m not making this shit up, you can look it up on the Interweb.

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On February 5, 2020 the Senate voted to acquit President Trump of all charges, and all that means is he wasn’t removed from office. It doesn’t make his impeachment by the House of Representatives magically go away. What it probably really means is all the people that want to prosecute Donald Trump for all of the high crimes and misdemeanors that he’s committed as President will simply have to wait until he’s no longer President in order to do so.

I don’t think I have to be a prophet in order to predict that.

As of this precise moment in time, Donald Trump has appointed 193 federal judges to the bench while he’s been in office. When you consider what might happen when he’s no longer President, that number starts to make a whole lots more sense.

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Trump has enthusiastically denied any wrongdoing in any of his activities that have resulted in investigations into his behavior. No collusion, no conspiracy! No quid pro quo! It was a perfect conversation! Read the transcript!

I have another question. How many of you Trump supporter friends of mine have read the Mueller report? Or even a synopsis of it? How about the fabricated document that Trump called the transcript of his call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy?

What? None of you have read any of them? Why is that? Because…Trump told you he wasn’t guilty of any wrongdoing…and that’s all you needed to hear?

But all of us snowflakes are sheep…

Yeah, I see what you mean.

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Could we pick up the pace a little here? This quarantine isn’t going to last forever, and I have stuff to do. Donald Trump is not a racist. Or any more sexist than any other guy on the planet.

Once upon a time, way back when Deb and I were kids, the Gessell’s were the host family to a couple of foreign exchange students from Mexico, I think. I can’t remember their names, but I remember that I was an insufferable prick to those two kids. I teased them so much I made one of them cry.

I was probably around twelve years old at the time. I wasn’t being racist when I made fun of those Hispanic niños. I was an asshole, and I thought I was being funny at the time.

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Yes, I still remember that, Deb. That’s one of the downsides to being me. I can’t forget any of my sins. I’m pretty sure you and your sisters all wanted to kill me back then. So I have to admit I’m confused why you aren’t outraged by Trump’s behavior now?

Much like you, I admit to being a flawed human being. I’m sure I’ve done all of the things that I’ve pointed out as flaws in Donald Trump’s character, and probably worse. I’m not offended that The Donald is flawed, I’m offended that he’s unapologetically flawed.

You said in your Facebook post that at least you see him trying. I’m assuming you mean he’s trying to be a better person based on the context. I don’t see that. I see someone who, seriously, fucks up everything he touches, then blames someone else for the results. I don’t see the at least he tries person at all.

Maybe I do need new glasses…  And yes, I know you don’t agree with anything I’ve said so far. But you’re going to want to hear the next thing I have to say.

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As one of my former bosses used to say, It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it. Maybe all of them said that to me…

The Donald has called Mexicans a bunch of drug dealing crime lords who rape and murder people, like, you know, white people. The Donald frequently insults people of color by making remarks about their low IQ and intelligence. He calls women names. Fat. Ugly. Lowlife. Horseface. 

And recently he started calling the COVID-19 virus the Chinese virus because it comes from China. Like his clothing line…

Maybe The Donald can say those things without being perceived to be a racist/sexist pig by some people, but none of the rest of us can. Maybe it’s okay that Trump insults Mexicans and Blacks. I mean, those people have it coming, right? And women? Don’t get me started on those bitches! Why can’t they just go back to sleeping their way to the top, and bringing us coffee like they did back in the good old days?

You’re just offended because Trump is tough on immigration! And you don’t even live in America anymore. You have no idea what we’re dealing with here!

Okay. You might have a valid point there. But Donald Trump also made fun of a disabled man. And before you say, He did not! You’re making that up! It’s on the YouTube®. Millions of people have seen it. You can watch it too.

If only there were only some way I could I could make this point on a personal level, like, if only there was someone in our family that had a serious physical or cognitive disability…

Take a deep breath, Deb. I know what I’m doing, and I promise to be careful.

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I have a very large extended family. My mom had eight kids. Her sister, Noreen, also had eight kids. All of their kids had kids, and all of those kids are making more kids. Between my mom and my aunt, I’m related to almost two and half million people living in Minnesota.

One of those people is Ethan Och. He’s one of Stephenie’s kids. Stephanie is one of my nieces on the Gessell side of the family tree. Ethan has SMA — Spinal Muscular Atrophy.  It’s a genetic disease affecting the central nervous system, peripheral nervous system, and voluntary muscle movement. I think it’s a form of muscular dystrophy, like unto the family of diseases Jerry Lewis used to have his Labor Day Telethon for, if you remember that.

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The MDA Telethon used to be a huge deal. Millions of dollars were raised for Jerry’s Kids

Ethan is in a wheelchair. He requires a high level of care and assistance to live a ‘normal’ life. He probably has more brains in his little finger than all the rest of the people related to him, combined. He’s enrolled at the University of Minnesota and will probably graduate at the top of his class in aerospace engineering.

Deb might disagree with my intelligence assessment of Ethan, but she’d probably agree that he’s at least smarter than everyone on the Rowen side of the family tree.

Or, there’s Wesley Rowen. He’s Matthew’s son. Matthew is one of my nephews from my dad’s side of the family tree. Wesley has Down’s Syndrome. He has full mobility, but is still a special needs child. Wesley isn’t in college. I think he’s maybe seven years old. But even if he were seventeen, I don’t know if this kid will ever attend a university.

* * * *

Okay, Deb. Are you ready? Do you see where I’m going with this?

Let’s imagine for a moment that our nephews are reporters at the White House. And Donald Trump made fun of Ethan and Wesley. You’d think that was okay, right? I’m sure James Och would laugh his ass off when President Trump made a joke about his son’s disability. I mean, that’s some funny shit, right? Okay, maybe he wouldn’t think it’s funny, but he’d forgive the President because, you know, Donald Trump isn’t perfect, but he’s trying.

By the way, James Och is Stephanie’s husband, and he’s one of my Facebook friends who supports Trump. James and I aren’t close friends. In fact, I’m not sure we’ve ever met in person, and if we did there’s a good chance that I was drunk at the time, so I have no memories of him.

But I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that James would have a considerable amount of difficulty seeing anything funny about someone making fun of his son who has had to fight so hard to get where he is today. And it would have to be a very cold day in Hell before he forgave anyone for doing that.

I know guys. We might forget why we hate someone, but we will never forgive them.

I know Matthew Rowen wouldn’t see anything funny about anyone making fun of his beautiful son. And Matt’s wife? Becky would rip that person  apart from limb to fucking limb.

Well, like I said. We’re not good Christians.

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That’s not fair! And besides, Donald Trump didn’t actually insult anyone in our family. You’re just trying to do one of those stupid Jedi mind tricks on me! But I’m not going to fall for it, so there!

You’re right. Donald Trump didn’t personally attack anyone in our family, but all those people he did attack — they were all a part of someone’s family. And there’s one message that has been repeated over and over as the Coronavirus pandemic has progressed.

We are all in this together.

Doesn’t mean anything to you? Fair enough. When it comes to 99.9% of the people living in the world, I couldn’t care less about them either. How about this: Remember the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 25? You’re trying to be a good Christian, right? You remember how that story goes, don’t you?

Truly I tell you, whatever you did to one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did to me.

You remember it now, don’t you.

Yeah, that’s what I thought, too. That picture you painted of President Trump is hanging a little crooked now, isn’t it.

When the Bough Breaks

I’m going to figuratively go out on a limb and say that everyone has heard the lullaby Rockabye Baby. Even Millennials. If you haven’t, you should know the drill by now. That’s right, look it up on the YouTube®.

It’s a cute little song to fall asleep to, except for the whole crashing to the ground from the top of the tree part. That would startle you awake no matter how deeply you were sleeping.

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See? I told you.

A lots of bad shit can happen when the bough breaks. It’s like unto the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. You take as much as you can for as long as you can, and then you snap.

Like I did last Sunday.

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The Minnesota Vikings played their fourth game of the season. In yet another dismal performance against a divisional rival, they looked absolutely pathetic as they were manhandled by the Chicago Bears and lost, 16-6.

Four games. The Vikings are 2-2. Hey, that’s no reason to jump ship, Mark!

I actually had people tell me that. But I’ve seen this movie before. It doesn’t end well. Being a Vikings fan is like unto dating a really hot girl that fucks you like a nympho pornstar one weekend, then shits all over the bed the next.

I finally got tired of having to clean up the mess. Halfway through the Chicago game I decided it was time to cut my losses and change allegiances. I became a Detroit Lions fan. I’ve been thinking about doing it for two years, so it shouldn’t be a complete surprise to anyone.

If there’s one team in the NFC North that sucks more than the Vikings, that team is the Lions. They’re so bad they only have one great player, but he is their quarterback. Matthew Stafford is a fourth quarter wizard. He is a master of the fourth quarter comeback, and finds a way to almost win a lots of games.

In the last ten years, the Lions have lost more games by three points or less than any other NFL team. You better check that. I may have made that statistic up.

I decided I’d rather root for a team that no one expects to ever win a game and almost always does, than root for a team almost everyone expects to dominate their opponents and looks like the Keystone Kops more often than not.

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I. Am. Done.

There were few notable events in the game that contributed to my meltdown. The first was Chase Daniel. He’s Chicago’s backup quarterback. He came into the after Mitch Trubisky, Chicago’s starting QB, was injured. Backup quarterbacks don’t usually win a lots of games in the NFL. There’s a reason why they’re backups.

Chase Daniel looked like Tom Fucking Brady against the Vikings defense, which is supposed to be one of the better defenses in the NFL, but Mr. Second-string Junior Varsity moved his team up and down the field with relative ease.

The Vikings revamped offense looked terrible against a depleted Bears defense. That’s right. Chicago didn’t play a few of their best players because of injuries, and they still shut down Kirk Cousins and friends.

The Vikings had one of the best rushing games in the league prior to last Sunday. Against the Bears they rushed for forty yards. If you can’t run the ball, you have to pass it. And if you’re going to that, you better protect your quarterback. Kirk Cousins was sacked six times, and spent most of the game running for his life.

Kirk Cousins is the $84 million man. He was supposed to be the missing piece of the puzzle for the Vikings’ Super Bowl aspirations. The Vikings hired at least two coaches to come up with plays just to make Kirk look good. And as long as he’s playing against teams that aren’t very good, he looks awesome.

However, when he plays against good teams with winning records, he looks like the biggest mistake the Vikings have made since the infamous Herschel Walker trade.

The Purple and Gold are the new Browns. You heard it here first.

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This is what my social media meltdown mostly amounted to…

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Last week, the House of Representatives began an impeachment inquiry into some of President Trump’s more questionable actions. The Donald may have abused his presidential powers and sought help from a foreign government to undermine former Vice President Joe Biden, one of the Democrats trying to become the next President of the United States.

The Donald has said and done a lots of questionable things since he became President. Some of them have been reprehensible, in my humble opinion. But you can’t be impeached simply because someone thinks you’re an idiot. Or an asshole. If that were the case, we wouldn’t have any Presidents that weren’t impeached.

Bill Clinton was impeached because he got a blowjob from one of his female interns in the Oval Office. It’s ironic because I’d be willing to bet every dime I own that every man who voted in favor of impeaching President Clinton was also guilty of getting blowjobs from their interns in their offices.

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I know it’s hard to believe that a guy who acts like he’s a Mafia boss would actually do something that you’d expect a mob boss to do, but that’s what appears to have happened. According to several diverse sources, this is just the tip of the iceberg of Trump’s illegal activities, and they are seemingly legion. We’ll see how all of this plays out…

The Donald denies any wrongdoing. This weekend he had a Twitter® meltdown that made my meltdown look like the beginning of the last Ice Age. He posted over eighty tweets saying he was the victim of a witch hunt and was being harassed and bullied by the Do Nothing Democrats. Then he demanded to know the identity of the whistleblower who exposed him, and threatened everybody associated with the inquiry with vague retribution and severe punishment. 

That, is witness tampering, and it is most definitely a crime.

He said the country would be torn apart in a civil war if he were to be impeached, which may cause some of his more loosely-hinged supporters to shoot a whole lots of other people. We’ll have to see how that unfolds, too. He added this wasn’t an impeachment, but a COUP intended to take away the God-given rights and freedoms of all Americans. And he said he’d be willing to fight with his supporters, but he has bone spurs and a note from his doctor, so there’s that.

At any rate, there has been a paradigm shift in American politics that will likely only increase the huge divide that already separates the Republicans and the Democrats. Though if you were to ask Republicans how they feel off the record, many of them would probably say they support impeachment and are secretly relieved.

* * * *

My lovely supermodel wife and I had lunch with a friend of ours last week. She was an attorney and a political lobbyist in New York State. During lunch she told me her theory about why the American political system fell apart.

White wine.

Remember when everyone started drinking white wine because they heard about some study that said white wine was good for you?

Before the release of that study, people drank whatever they wanted. Beer. Gin. Whiskey. Vodka. Tequila. Whatever. And that included politicians. That’s how legislative deals were made. After a political session ended, all of the legislators would get together in an office and have a few drinks, and voilà!

Shit got done.

Then everyone started drinking white wine, and going to the gym, and no one could eat gluten anymore…

Now nothing gets done.

I hadn’t heard this theory before, but chronologically, it makes sense. And I never thought I would ever hear myself saying these words to anyone, but you goddamn politicians aren’t drinking enough alcohol. Get your heads out of your asses. Drink a couple of glasses of Scotch, and do your jobs.

Drink, drink, and vote yea.

That, and nothing else, will make America great again.

The Law of the Land

A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, like, a state, or a nation. In the case of its broad associative definition, government normally consists of legislature, executive, and judiciary. A government can be classified into many types–democracy, republic, monarchy, and dictatorship.

There are a few more, but you get the idea.

The original concept of government, I think, was to improve the lives of the majority of the people it governed. Contrary to popular belief, I wasn’t alive before the existence of any type of government. However, I can surmise that before any government was established, anarchy had to be the law of the land. Because anarchy tended to augment misery for the many, the need for control and order was of great value. 

Any government essentially creates and enforces the laws of whichever land it oversees. And sometimes those laws are humorous.

Did you know that in Scotland it’s illegal to wear underwear under your kilt? The fine is two beers, which is probably worse than the death penalty over there. Also in Scotland, if someone knocks on your door and asks to use the bathroom, you are required by law to let them in. I’m not sure what the penalty for non-compliance is. Possibly having to pick up poop in your front yard…

In Switzerland, it’s illegal to flush the toilet after 10:00 PM.

Did you know that whaling is illegal in Oklahoma? I didn’t, and used to live there. The interesting thing is Oklahoma is landlocked, and there hasn’t been a saltwater sea in Oklahoma for over 500 million years.

In China, it’s illegal for Buddhist monks to reincarnate without the express approval of the government. In Britain, it’s illegal to die in the House of Parliament.

Theoretically, government started out as a good thing. You know, like, the Interweb. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not advocating a return to anarchy. I think government is a good thing most of the time, except when it isn’t. And then it’s a huge pain in the ass.

I’ve pondered the vicissitudes of government many times in my life. My latest post made me start pondering them anew. My last blog installment was more or less about monarchies and a few crazy monarchs. And stuff…

No one knows who the first king was, but monarchies have been around for over four thousand years. The biggest flaw in the monarchical system was that monarchies tended to be hereditary.

Rulership was handed down from father to son, or sometimes to a daughter. And there was a simple reason for that. It was good to be the king, and even if it wasn’t, it was still way better than being a peasant.

To make it even more binding, one brilliant monarch came up with this idea: The Divine Right of Kings. It’s a concept asserting that a monarch is subject to no earthly authority, deriving the right to rule directly from the will of God

Remember the Middle Ages? Fuedalism?

Feudalism was a combination of legal and military customs in medieval Europe that flourished between the 9th and 15th centuries. Broadly defined, it was a way of structuring society around relationships derived from the holding of land in exchange for service or labor. And evidently, blessed by God.

The classic version of feudalism describes a set of reciprocal legal and military obligations among the warrior nobility, revolving around the three key concepts of lords, vassals and fiefs.

A lord was, in broad terms, a noble who held land. A vassal was a person who was granted possession of the land by the lord. The land was known as a fief. In exchange for the use of the fief and protection by the lord, the vassal would provide some sort of service to the lord.

Grow crops. Raise livestock. Suck his cock. Maybe all three. Whatever. There was no such thing as rent control back then. Whatever their lord demanded as payment, the vassals had to pay. If they refused, they’d be fortunate to simply be removed from their land. They’d probably get their heads chopped off.

That was the law of land for centuries. It stayed that way mostly because the peasants were illiterate and uneducated. It wasn’t until the emergence of an educated middle class that things started changing.

Educated people were the death of the monarchies. It wasn’t that uneducated people didn’t ask questions. It was more of a case that educated people asked the right questions. When the profound answers no longer made any sense to the people asking the simple questions, they began to organize their opposition.

Eventually, there were riots and revolutions all across the planet. Thousands of people got dead. In the end, the monarchies were replaced by more democratic forms of government. Leaders were elected by the people, not chosen by God.

Again, it seemed like a good idea at the time. The people overthrew the repressive royal regimes to get more freedom, and eventually their elected officials slowly took away one freedom at a time. Once a freedom has been taken away, it rarely gets reinstated.

The only thing I can think of is the repeal of Prohibition. Most likely because the politicians were tired of not being able to get drunk, too.

Over time, those elected officials have started living like unto kings. The adage really is true. The more things change, the more they stay the same. Nowadays, career politicians tend to be so insulated from the people they’re supposed to serve that they don’t have any idea of what real life is like.

The most urgent prayer of every member of Congress is that term limits aren’t forced on them by the American public. Then they’d have to get real jobs and work for a living like the rest of us. And as we all know, that can really suck.

* * * *

There’s one form of government that I haven’t mentioned.

Theocracy.

It’s defined as a form of government in which a religious institution is the source of all authority. Technically, that would be a church on this planet, and I imagine all of the administrators would all be priests. Or, even worse, nuns.

I’m sure this sort of political system has existed on this very planet, and failed. Probably for the same reasons monarchies did. Some priests and ministers and nuns had a tendency to be off of their fucking rockers, too.

Ever heard of Pat Robertson? He’s an American conservative televangelist. He more or less runs the Christian Broadcasting Network. And he’s kind of famous for saying some outrageous things. You could look them up. There’s a lots of them.

I can’t find the exact quote, but he said something like unto this: Atheism is bad because it teaches you to think for yourself, and not trust in the words of God. As far as I’m concerned, it’s the most resounding endorsement for atheism, ever.

Again, I’m not advocating a government run by priests. If I wanted that, I could convert to Islam and move to Iran. Those guys seem happy over there…  What I’m trying to talk about is a government directly administered by God.

Yeah, that God.

I’ve written about my belief that the only reason God is interested in this planet is because He intends to establish His government here with us as His people. You could look it up if you’re curious. Why else would He need a king? In this scenario, Jesus would essentially be a supernatural alien version of William the Conqueror, minus the French accent.

I’m still not sure why He wants to do this. There’s that whole perfect world theory, but seeing how none of us have ever lived in a perfect world, it’s not something any of us would reasonably expect as a condition of life. But that’s what God says His purpose is. I think it’s similar to what Donald Trump wanted to do when he decided he needed to make America great again. 

The Donald has presented himself as probably the smartest person, ever. And certainly the most successful President. However, he’s consistently failed to provide any specifics beyond needing a Great Border Wall to accomplish his purpose.

Much like unto The Donald, God doesn’t have much to say about how He’s going to accomplish His purpose either.

I’ve learned to accept that from God. He has always presented Himself as being mystical and magical. Being secretive is part of His nature. However, if He can’t be transparent about His motives, can God be absolutely trustworthy? And He hasn’t had a perfect record in picking Kings, so there’s that.

* * * *

In my previous post about God’s theocracy, I speculated that if God ever acted on His purpose to establish His government, I doubted there’d be anything we could do to stop Him. God isn’t who and what He is because we voted for Him. If He did in fact create the world, He more than likely possesses the power to also destroy it.

I used to believe that I would be alive to see this happen. The longer I live, the less likely it seems.  Given the fact that things are most likely going to have to get a helluva worse before God sees any need to step in and fix stuff, it’s probably not the worst thing.

Go West, Young Man

The rainy season has officially begun here in the Lakeside area. It’s rained pretty much every day or night for probably the last couple of weeks.

My lovely supermodel wife and I lived in Surprise, AZ for nine years before we retired in Mexico, so rain is still somewhat of a novelty to us. Everything has turned green and verdant, and the rain and clouds have moderated the heat, but the driving range at the golf course has been mostly closed of late, and that kind of sucks.

I’ve had a lots of time to contemplate writing, and I have a few hundred ideas bouncing around inside of my head, like unto super balls thrown at a concrete wall.

Yeah, I better get busy.

* * * *

My first official work for a living and get paid for it job was at the Go West Drive In outside of Missoula, MT. My two best friends in high school, Dave Nelson and Andy Hyde, worked there. When a position opened up, they suggested I apply for a job.

I had an interview toward the end of my sophomore year with one of the two gay guys that owned the Go West, Ed Sharp. The other gay owner was Robert Sias. Eddie and Bob. They were semi-legendary in Missoula’s history, mostly for their eccentricities. Especially Eddie. You can look him up if you like. At one time I think he and Bob owned every theater in Missoula. The Wilma. The Roxy. And Bob and Eddie’s Go West Drive In.

I worked in the concession stand with my high school buddies, selling soft drinks, popcorn and candy, hot dogs, hamburgers and pizzas. Initially, I was a lackluster employee at the Go West. So much so that Dave and Andy had a little talk with me.

“We think we might have made a mistake with you.” Andy said.

“Yeah. We’re not sure you’re Go West material, Rowen.” Dave added.

“You really need to step up your game, man” Andy said.

I got the message. Bring your A game, or go home. I brought my A game from then on. It was a message I never forgot. Do your job, and do it to the best of your ability, even if you’re mopping the goddamn floor.

* * * *

I have fond memories of the Go West. Working at a drive in when you’re in high school was just about the coolest thing, ever. I got to meet a lots of people–we had our regulars–and it was probably the most fun I’ve ever had working for a living.

My first date was at the Go West. I took three of my four prom dates there, two on the same night. I probably fell in love for the first time at the Go West. I can’t remember how many times I went there with my high school sweetheart.

It was a very popular place for young people to go in the Seventies–there wasn’t a whole lots of places to go in Missoula back then–and Bob and Eddie made a ton of money showing R and X rated B-list movies, and selling overpriced concessions to our patrons.

The concession stand at the Go West was huge. The walls looked like unto a log cabin, painted with a dark brown stain. Tanned animal skins and trophy heads adorned the walls. There might have even been a picture of Horace Greeley saying, “Go west, young man!” If there was ever such a thing as a classy drive in, the Go West was it.

A great deal of alcohol was consumed at the Go West. That was probably its’ greatest attraction for most of our patrons. Underage drinking was generally accepted at that time in Montana, and the drive in was almost every underage drinker’s favorite place to drink. And as the guys that worked there, we got a lots of invitations to “…come out to the car and have a beer!” We didn’t get the opportunity to do that very often, but when we did…

Getting shitfaced drunk at the drive in was pretty much par for the course. I helped more than one person stumble back to their car. There was one night a man got so drunk he couldn’t find his car. I think we waited until all the other cars left and took him to the only car that remained. I hope he wasn’t driving…

There was the night that my gay boss Bob came up to me and said, “Um, Maarrk, could you go to the Men’s Room and find out what happened. It smells like someone, umm, died in there…”

So, I did. And I found one of my classmates–his name also happened to be Bob–sitting on the toilet.

“Hey! Mark! I shit my fuckin’ pants, man!” Shitfaced Bob said when he saw me. And he laughed. Man, did he ever! From his waist to his ankles he was covered with shit. More shit filled, and I mean filled the legs of his jeans. I wouldn’t see that much shit covering one person again until I became a psych nurse.

And that wasn’t the only thing. In his drunken process of trying to clean up, Shitfaced Bob had smeared and flung crap all over the floor and walls of toilet stall. The stench of one thousand unwashed asses hung in the air. Guys stopped coming into the Men’s Room and drained their bladders of recycled beer wherever they pleased.

“Oh, for the love of God!” Gay Bob said when I told him what had happened in the Men’s Room. “Well, don’t just stand there! Umm, do something! After all, he is your, umm, friend!”

I spent the greater part of an hour getting Shitfaced Bob cleaned up. I probably ended up wearing half of his shit because I had never had to clean up someone in his condition before. Eddie had a spare pair of pants in the office, just in cases, I suppose, and I helped Shitfaced Bob climb into them, then helped him back to the car where his buddies were waiting with all the windows down.

They told me later the windows stayed down the entire trip to Bob’s house.

Dave, Andy and myself spent another hour cleaning up the Men’s Room. I think I took a two hour shower when I got home, and I probably burned my clothes.

* * * *

Speaking of windows, there was the night I saw a car I recognized parked close to the concession stand. I was taking out the garbage, and there was Tom’s car! I went to school with Tom. We were buds. He drove a white 1963 Dodge Dart station wagon, and as far as I knew, it was the only one of its kind still on the road.

I would buy that car from Tom at the end of my junior year for three hundred bucks. It was my favorite car, until I bought my red MR2.

I went to Tom’s car and tapped on the steamed up driver’s side window. The window slowly rolled down.

“Hey, Tom! I didn’t know you were here! Why didn’t you come in and say hi?” And a guy I had never seen before looked up at me and smiled. I vaguely saw movements inside the car so I looked deeper inside of the dark car. What I saw were the rhythmic up and down movements of a girl’s head right above the guy’s naked crotch. His pants were somewhere in the neighborhood of his knees. So I looked up at the guy’s face again.

“You’re not Tom!” I said to him.

“Nope.” he replied, and rolled his window up.

I was stunned, and impressed. That was the first time I saw a guy getting a blowjob. But what impressed me was his girlfriend. She didn’t miss a beat, not even one. All I knew as I walked back into the concession stand was I wanted a girlfriend, and I wanted her to be just like that girl.

There was one other sentinel night that left me feeling stunned and impressed, and that was the night I saw two really cute girls making out! In their car! I mean, deep kissing without coming up for air! And feeling each up and everything!! I had heard of lesbians, but I didn’t think they were real.

I was pretty sure I wanted to be a lesbian after that night.

* * * *

I don’t think anyone ever came to the Go West to watch the movies. If you didn’t come to the drive in to get drunk, you came to the drive in to get laid.

We cleaned the lot before each movie because most people at the drive in threw their garbage on the ground, rather than carry it to the nearest garbage can.

Food wrappers, candy boxes, and a whole lots of beer cans and bottles. We picked up everything we found. But there this one…thing…none of us wanted to touch.

That thing was an inflated condom, tied off like unto a balloon, filled with air and semen. And here’s the really weird thing. There was almost always an used condom balloon that needed to be picked up every time we cleaned the lot.

“Clearly, this is the work of one of our regulars,” Andy decided, and there was no argument.

“But, who could it be?” Dave asked.

That, was the question, and we spent hours discussing whom the culprits could be. We eventually decided it had to be a couple that came to the drive in almost every night.

They were an incredibly attractive couple. I’ll call them Tim and Tammy because I can’t remember their names anymore, and I don’t think I know any current couples named that.

Tim was a trim, handsome, muscular guy, probably in his early twenties. Tammy was probably around the same age as Tim, maybe a year or two younger. She was pretty much the stuff that wet dreams are made of–so stunningly beautiful it was almost like unto a superpower.

The only problem we had with our hypothesis was the car Tim drove. It was a red Volkswagen Beetle. It wasn’t the kind of car you think about when you think of having sex in the back seat. And if they weren’t in the backseat, they must’ve been gymnasts, like, Olympic Gold medal winning gymnasts. And, they nailed the dismount.

And then there was the matter of who blew up the condom and tied it into a balloon…  We were pretty sure that had to be Tammy.

* * * *

Our gay bosses, Eddie and Bob, weren’t just semi-legendary in Missoula. They were also semi-legendary in Las Vegas. Well, according to them they were, and they knew all kinds of famous people.

“We had dinner with Bob Newhart and his wife the last time we were in Vegas.” Eddie told us one evening as we were driving out to the drive in. Bob and Eddie drove us out to the drive in every night it was open. The Go West was almost twenty miles outside of Missoula, and they didn’t want us wasting our money on gas.

“I know him! He’s a comedian, and he’s really funny!” I said.

“He’s even funnier in person. I almost pissed my pants I was laughing so hard!” Eddie went on.

“God, is his wife ever an ugly woman! Umm, you couldn’t pay me enough money to sleep with her!” Bob said, which made all of us bite our tongues. Like he would sleep with any woman.

“Yeah, but she’s a sweet woman.” Eddie continued.

“Hmph!” Bob added.

I wasn’t sure if I could believe any of their stories. I mean, they were talking about people from Hollywood, like movie stars hung out with regular people…

“Yeah, it’s probably true. Everyone in Hollywood is gay!” Dave said.

“Not John Wayne!” I countered.

“Yeah, he’s probably not gay. That’s why Bob and Eddie haven’t had dinner with him.” Andy agreed. “And, our gay bosses are richer than Solomon…”

There came a night when we were cleaning up the concession stand, getting ready to go home. I was near the back entrance when someone knocked on the door. This wasn’t something that happened very often, so I cautiously opened the door.

“Hi.” a guy that looked a lots like Carroll O’Connor said. “Are Bob and Eddie here? Could you please tell them Carroll is here?”

Little Known Fact: Carroll O’Connor attended the University of Montana in Missoula. Another Little Known Fact: he evidently returned to town from time to time. And he was friends with Bob and Eddie.

“Um, just a minute…” I replied, and made Archie Bunker stand outside in the dark while I tried to figure out what to do next.

“Well, Jee-sus Christ, Maarrk! Umm, let him in!” Gay Bob almost yelled when I told him and Eddie who was at the back door.

That’s how I met Carroll O’Connor. He was a very nice guy, and greeted all of us, shaking our hands. He mentioned he was hungry. Dave, Andy and I cooked him one of our crappy pizzas, but we were so starstruck we burned it to a crisp, and had to start all over.

National Lampoon was a magazine back in those days, and as far as I’m concerned, it was the funniest magazine, ever. For all time. As fate would have it, their latest issue when this happened was a spoof of All in the Family. I had bought a copy at the magazine shop near the Wilma Theater, and read it while I waited for my gay bosses to show up, and I brought it to work that night.

Carroll O’Connor saw the my magazine and asked if he could look at it.

“Sure,” I said, and handed it to him. He laughed so hard he had tears running down his cheeks.

“Can I have this?” Archie Bunker asked me, wiping tears out of the corners of his eyes.

“Yeah, absolutely! It’s yours!” I replied.

Come to think of it, that was another night at the Go West that left me feeling stunned, and impressed.

* * * *

It wasn’t all shits and giggles and celebrities and booze and sex and mysteries of the inflated condom at the Go West. There was the night the Vietnam vet brought in a porcelain bust of a skull with a porcelain rat crawling on the skull. He had a beer in one hand, and he slid the skull down the counter, so the skull could get a good look at everything available. He talked to the skull as he walked down the concession line toward the cash register. He bought a few items for himself, and even more items for the skull.

“I have to ask,” I said to the guy. “What’s up with the skull?”

“This? He’s my best friend. He didn’t make it home from Nam, so now I’m going to buy him all the stuff he never had.”

“Wow. I don’t know if that’s cool, or creepy.” I replied, adding up his purchases on the register.

“Neither do I, kid. But it’s the only thing I can do right now.”

I still get goosebumps when I think about him, and it took me a long time to forget him. In a lots of ways, he was my first Nam vet, even though I met him at least fifteen years before I became a psych nurse. It was his memory that made me want to write this story.

There was that night, the Night of the Skull. And then there was the Night Randy Was Murdered. Randy was one of Dave and Andy’s friends. I think they went to grade school with him. I talked to him casually a couple of times at the drive in, but I could never call him my friend.

On that night, the first movie had ended. It was Intermission, the concession stand was packed. People were stretching their legs and stocking up for the second show.

Randy and three or four of his friends were gathered together inside of the concession stand, shooting the breeze, flirting with the girls that walked by. A long haired guy that nobody had ever seen before walked in, wearing a pair of flowered pink colored bell bottom pants.

Randy and his friends went silent, watching the guy, then burst into laughter.

The guy with the outrageous pants didn’t like being the object of their laughter, and walked over to them. There was a brief, heated exchange, and one of Randy’s friends said, very loudly, “Those are the pussiest looking pants I’ve ever seen!”

There was another, even more heated exchange of words, and then everything went into slow motion. Randy made a fist, took one step, and punched the guy wearing the flowered pants in the jaw, sending him flying to the floor.

Randy and his friends turned their backs on the guy, and started laughing again. The guy in the flowered pants jumped up, pulled something out of his pocket, and ran toward the group of men that had insulted him. He appeared to punch Randy in his left pectoral area from behind, then ran out of the concession stand into the darkness.

I’m not sure how long it took for Randy to collapse to the floor. He didn’t do it right away. I don’t think he looked like he’d  even been injured. Then he kind of stumbled, and then he fell like his knees had been cut out from beneath him. A dark red spot appeared on his shirt. That’s when everyone realized Randy had been stabbed. In a matter of moments, he was dead.

Cardiac tamponade.

And then the world moved swiftly, once more. And it moved really fast. Randy’s friends were shouting, yelling. Then crying. There were screams, there had to be screams. People running. People gawking. I was one of those. I couldn’t move. I had no idea what to do, and my brain was frozen. I think Dave had to shove me to get me moving, and even then I didn’t know what to do.

I know Gay Bob called for an ambulance. And the police. Even if the Go West hadn’t been halfway to Idaho, the EMT’s wouldn’t have been able to do much to save Randy if they had been standing next to him when it happened. The police ordered us to lock the gate and keep everyone there until they arrived to take control of the situation.

We chased everyone out of the concession stand. I think we let Randy’s friends stay.

An army of cops descended upon the Go West. They took witness statements, got a description of the assailant, then started a car by car search for Randy’s killer, looking for the long haired guy in the pink pussy pants.

We knew a few of the sheriff’s deputies. They dropped in whenever they were in the area because Bob and Eddie comped them food and let them fill their thermoses with coffee for free. In return, the cops would make a few random trips around the lot to make sure nothing too illegal was going on.

One of the cops we called Dudley Do-Right because he looked like Dudley Do-Right. He was actually a pretty decent guy. There was another cop we called Studley Do-Right. He liked to tell tall tales about his life in law enforcement, and he always had his perps right where he wanted them.

And then we waited. And, in advance, please excuse my wording in the next sentence. The only other time the concession stand was as…dead…after the first movie was the night we showed Last House on the Left and Night of the Living Dead. After the Intermission that night, not a single person entered the concession stand.

An ambulance crew eventually took Randy’s body away. I think the police escorted Randy’s friends back to their car and made sure they stayed there. They didn’t want any vigilante justice being handed out. The police eventually let us start cleaning up. I thought there would be more blood. I mean, Randy had been stabbed in the heart!

We were all somewhere beyond stunned. I can’t remember much of anything we said to each other, except we all hoped Dudley would find Randy’s killer, not Studley.

But it was Studley Do-Right that brought the long haired guy in the flowered pink bell bottom pants to the back entrance of the building so he could be identified.

“I got my man. I always do.” Studley Do-Right said.

I think we were all surprised the guy was still there. I mean, why hang around the drive in after you killed somebody? Unless you’re getting the greatest blowjob ever given…

But that wasn’t the case. He knew he had stabbed one of the guys that had been making fun of him, but he didn’t know he’d stabbed Randy in the heart, killing him almost immediately. He simply returned to his car, and his boyfriend, once he realized no one was chasing him, and watched the movie. He was probably the only guy in the history of the Go West that actually watched a movie.

In retrospect, that was probably the first time I thought the world wasn’t as safe as they made it look on TV. Bad shit could happen to you anywhere, even in bucolic, boring-ass Missoula, MT.

* * * *

That was a long time ago, and the Missoula of my childhood no longer exists. The last time I was there, I barely recognized the place. Bob and Eddie both got dead about three decades ago, and much like its semi-legendary owners, the Go West no longer exists.

Missoula is no longer the quiet refuge of redneck cowboys. Back in the Eighties, a bunch of aging hippies from California started moving in and transformed Missoula into an eclectic, diverse, much more urbane, and possibly, quite a spifferooney place to live. I think of it now as the Austin, TX of Montana.

And a river runs through it.

Actually, three rivers run through Missoula. The Blackfoot, the Bitterroot and the Clark Fork. It’s a beautiful place, and I still dream about it from time to time.

I may go back again, someday, before I get dead. My fiftieth high school reunion is coming up in several years. I might actually attend that one. We’ll see. Shitfaced Bob won’t be there. He got dead a few years ago. Tom won’t be there either, he got dead, too.

Sad to think that my generation has already started gotting dead at such a young age. You’ll have that, I guess.

Some trips down Memory Lane are more enjoyable than others. This one was mostly good, and I take solace in that. Not all of them have been.

You’ll have that, too.