Most of the time I listen to jazz these days but I also still listen to a lot of country. Not so much the new stuff but the good old boys and outlaws like Waylon, Willie, Jerry Jeff and others. Those guys played what they wanted , lived as they chose and did not give two shits what anyone thought of either. They were cowboy poets with a bottle of whiskey, a bag of pot, a guitar , a carton of Marlboro reds and hundreds of miles of open road ahead. Even today when I listen to these songs I hear a line and think “man that’s some deep fucking shit right there.” It has always seemed to me that Willie Nelson got off more of those deep shit lines that anyone else. The guy is just an incredible song writer and how do you not like a guy who thumbs his nose at the IRS and pays them back by touring around the country in a big ass bus with a few pounds of weed aboard? Today I decided to take a deeper look at the Philosophy of Willie.
When I’d go I’ve been here long enough, So you’ll sing and tell more jokes and dance and stuff, Just keep the music playin’. That’ll be a good goodbye, Roll me up and smoke me when I die.
And there is much of the philosophy of our church in a song lyric. We are here as long as we are here and we should enjoy the ride more than we do. Most religions celebrate denying pleasures while you are here in favor of hoping for something better after. I hope there is something better after just like everyone else that ever drew a breath and had to face the fact that someday they wouldn’t but I don’ t think that means I should deny myself the pleasure and beauty that is here, in front of us, right now.
Don’t cry at my funeral (40 or 50 years from now). Laugh, and tell stories. Talk about the night Marcus and I stole his car back from the illegals his ex sold it to out of spite. Tell the ditch story. Remember all the parties, excursions and good times. Talk about nights in Irish dives on the Upper East Side and along Rush Street. Remember the misadventures of the racetrack trips to Lexington and skin head bars in Louisville. Talk about baseball and books. Don’t cry for me. I was here and I enjoyed the hell out of it.
As many of my friends can attest, for years I’ve referred to Adam Levine of Maroon 5 as “the most annoying Jew ever.” I’ve recently had to revise that stance – not because I finally heard a song of his that I liked – but because I learned only his father is Jewish. Technically this makes him a non-Jew, though at least now he doesn’t have to worry about his tattoos keeping him out of a Jewish cemetery. Whenever his whiny high-pitched voice comes on the radio the thought that goes through my head is “god I hate this song.”
Let me be clear. Baltimore is a shithole.
But it is my shithole. I spent two large chunks of my life there. My daughter was born there. My father died there. I finished high school by going to Night School on North Avenue. My first apartment was in a shithole of a building near the intersection of Fayette and Greene where I had to step over winos and puddles of piss when heading up to the Lexington Market for a breakfast sandwich. My daughter still lives there with her husband. My Orioles play there, although I guess this week in front of an empty stadium thanks to the riots and unrest.
I have long been a fan of pondering. In fact I was just sitting for a moment and pondering what to write in this essay. The idea for the essay itself was a result of some pondering about what to write about next when I had some free time. Pondering is a solitary act and requires some measure of time to contemplate ponderous matters to their fullest degree. If not a solitary act it becomes not pondering but pontificating. While I am prone to pontificate about all the matters I have been pondering, especially after a few glasses of a subtle yet bold Pinot Noir, the act of pondering is far preferable.
Whatever God, Goddess or collective panel of such actually exist apparently has one hell of a sense of humor. There is all this great stuff to enjoy but if you use it you will die a horrible painful death. Smoking cigarettes, cigars, or pipe? Dead. Drink alcohol? Horribly dead, in a gutter puking blood while your children are carted off to the orphanage. Think steak and cheeseburgers are perfect foods? You will have a sudden painful heart attack while in the middle of a presentation that would have made you millions, leaving your family penniless and alone. Like sex? We have some special shit for you, you fucking pervert. Your genitals will turn colors, get lumpy, ooze primordial slime and then kill your depraved, deviant ass.