Wednesday, October 19, 2016

A Lodo Grdzak Status Report:

On Halloween I’m gonna turn 50, which—among other things, is 23 years older than Jimi Hendrix was when he died. I could live another 50 years and I’d still never play guitar half as well as Hendrix, which at this point is all I’d really like to be able to do.

But that’s obviously not going to happen.

Oh well, a lot of things aren’t going to happen. At least I don’t live in Aleppo, Syria; or Darfur; or…pick your shithole and fill in the blank. If everyone lived the charmed existence I have, life would be a great big no problem. So big props to my folks and the man upstairs on that one, even if I wasn’t born over 6’ tall or overwhelmingly talented.

If the 21 year old Lodo Grdzak could see what I’ve become now,…wow. Not sure what that kid would say. I’ve become such a strange guy, even to myself. Maybe all men become strange after 40 or so; but when you’ve been single and alone as long as I have—with no one to check your excesses or keep you socially engaged, the process moves at a swifter pace. Once minor eccentricities become full-blown personality disorders. In my case, what had formerly been a simple propensity toward aloof introversion has now morphed into outright reclusiveness. An avoidance of social situations and a genuine (ever-growing) dis-taste for my own kind/species. Probably not good for someone living in NYC.

It used to be I could write and blog. Outside of my work, that’d be the way I’d interact the world; but the things I have to say now--or that I would say, forget it. Not going to be that guy. When you’re Mark Twain or George Carlin, okay. Those guys were monster talents. But when I go over my notes and prior posts for what were/are supposed to make-up my book, the underlying themes aren’t exactly uplifting. Or inspirational. Terror attacks, the death of best friends, people lost to Capitalism and drugs, a stagnated economy that no longer seems to need people, and a dying, mean-spirited culture that seems hell-bent on bringing the rest of the world down with it. No, that’s not going to be me. Someone else can chronicle that story.

The only thing that really brings me any joy or that remotely excites me is my guitar. Every Tuesday I go to my neighborhood’s open mic to butcher my Hendrix, Prince and Beatles covers in a manner that would leave that 21 yr old Lodo I mentioned earlier shaking his head in sad disbelief. Well, fuck you young Lodo; I’m no Pat Metheny. But its fun. I get to play loud, through a PA system, and there’s drummers there. To quote a friend of mine, my guitar playing’s “campfire adequate.” I’m certainly never the best; but never the worst. That said, my neighborhood’s demographics skew really young, so I’m not just the oldest guy at open mic, but always the oldest by far.

About 2 or 3 open mic’s back, a comedian performed after me. His first joke was “I guess this is like of one of those camps for middle-aged men to live out their unachieved dreams.” Ouch. That hurt, but I had to laugh. There was truth to it. And last open mic I asked this kid--a black kid who had a stack of business cards that advertised him as a professional guitarist, if he wanted to play some Prince with me. He told me “I don’t know any Prince—you know any Frank Ocean?”

I just sat there and blinked.

But you know what?--fuck everybody and everything all the freaking fucking time forever. I’ve gotta try to stay excited. About something. Next year I’ll probably move back to Denver so I can get a puppy; but for now I can’t just crawl into a hole and dwindle off into a twilight realm of my own secret thoughts. Even when Jordan played for the Wizards he was still the best player in the NBA on a really good night. I try to remember things like that. I’ve still got room to improve. At some things anyway. There's still time to work on aspects of my game. I mean, what’re my options?
Course it makes sense that I’m gonna be more sour at 50 than I used to be. My body always hurts and my spirit’s fading as my health and vitality peter-out. But I’m no Trump supporter. No need to bring the world down with me. In fact, maybe I can manipulate the world to lift me up. For my 50th birthday I’m getting this Stratocaster (see below). I have no business owning a $1,000 guitar--especially when I already own a Telecaster; but I’m gonna get it anyway. Gonna take it to open mic and harass all the drummers there to play loud with me through the PA. The comedians may deride me and the girls may find me pathetic, but that young 21 yr old Lodo in the back of my head may give me a few fist-pumps 

...on the off-chance that I have an on night.


Saturday, September 17, 2016

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

(Possibly) Right Message/Wrong Messenger:

I don't watch NFL "thug life" football anymore; but I still follow the news. With that in mind, I'm gonna go on record and express my profound doubts about both the logic and/or effectiveness of Colin Kaepernick's protest of the National Anthem. Without even getting into the merits (or lack thereof) of his protest, I'd assert that he's simply the wrong messenger to lead a demonstration of the kind he's attempting. To be effective at something like this, you have to be a Muhammad Ali or Jackie Robinson or Kareem Abdul Jabbar. Someone who's demonstrated obvious sacrifices and true greatness. Its not that $20 million dollar a year Kaeprnick's too rich to protest; he simply doesn't have the authority. 

That said, there are some very obvious things you can point to in support of his concerns regarding "State-sponsored oppression of his people." For example, I've often expressed my profound belief that no black players (or white players for that matter) should travel to Mississippi for sporting events until that State's rag-of-a-flag is changed. The NCAA supports that flag? Really? Great message to send to your student athletes who have to travel under that banner while visiting Mississippi. State sponsored oppression's a lie? Looks pretty literal to me when I see that flag. Or at least, State-sponsored intimidation. If the NCAA or TV networks wont put pressure on Mississippi, the visiting players can still refuse to go there. And Mississippi players can refuse to take the field. That'd be a much more real and important protest than $20 million dollar, never-won-anything Kaepernick's protest; which--whether you agree with the principle or not, seems highly questionable by way of effectiveness and public reception.


Thursday, August 11, 2016

Olympic Spirit is Star Trek Spirit:

With the Olympics in full swing, I pulled this old post (below) out the archives. Had "twerking" been in use back in 2009, that word would have probably been on-point as well. That said, nothing particularly great; but keeps the wheel turning.

Olympic Spirit is Star Trek Spirit (originally posted at Stays Put May 31, 2009)

My friend Leila’s a dancer. She used to cage-dance at Avalon back when it was called the Limelight, and she's been in a few hip-hop videos and award shows. Background dancing and whatnot.

Like everyone I’ve met who’s life and work are truly integrated, Leila is pretty-much one thing all the time. In her case--a dancer. Even during the most mundane of conversations she sort of sways rhythmically on her feet; and oftentimes without any cue, her eyes will gently roll-up into the back of her head as she swoons Stevie Wonder-style to a melody only she can hear. She’s a trippy chick.

Leila and I run in different circles, and now that our mutual friend Jake is gone, I never really see her at all. Except on accident, which is how I bumped into her yesterday.

I was on the 6 train heading down toward Union Square, writing in my notebook for what will now have to be a later blog post when a hand suddenly slapped my legal-pad. I jumped out my seat prepared for a fight, only to find Leila already dancing on the balls of her feet with her hands in front of her like a boxer.

“C’mon Lodo you fuckin’ egghead--you wanna fight?” she asked.

“Leila. Jesus.”

“What ya doin’ there smart guy?”

“I was just writing something for my blog.”

Writing?” she said with the condescension of someone who’s pure physicality and never read a book in her life.

“Yeah, you know. The written word. The thing that separates us from the animals. Bedrock of society. ”

“Um hmm,” she said, still bouncing on her toes and flailing her arms around. “Well, what’re you writing about?”

“Nothing you’d care about. The Olympics.”

“How do you know I don’t care about Olympics?” she asked, stringing together a combination of benign punches to my bicep, “What about the Olympics?”

“..Welll,..just about the whole idea of the Olympics. You know, the Olympic spirit and all that.”

“No shit,” she responded as she approached the sliding subway doors to get out at her stop. “That’s cool, I like the Olympics.”

“You do?” 

“Sure man,” she said as she stepped backward out the car and on to the platform, “there’s dancing, and tight outfits, and crazy fashion, and big Jamaican guys, know the whole planet coming together to get their freak-on. I love that stuff. It’s like Star Trek.”

“Star Trek?” I asked as I struggled to maintain eye-contact amid the boarding passengers that came between us, “What does that mean?”

“I mean its like Star Trek,” she said as doors prepared to close. “Olympic spirit is like Star Trek spirit. Put that in your moron blog!” she said as the doors proceeded to close.

And then, before the train could pull away, she ran toward my window, turned 'round Misty May-Treanor style, bent over, and pulled down her spandex hip-huggers to reveal the crack of her ass and one of those Star Trek emblems tattooed on the small of her back.

I went back to my seat, stared at what I'd written thus far, and then wrote: Olympic spirit is Star Trek spirit

Not sure its great writing, but it rings true. 

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

What If War IS the Answer?

Marvin Gaye famously sang that war’s not the answer and I certainly grew up believing that. I still do. Or at least, want to.
But these days I can’t help but wonder.
In the absence of leading a nation through a war or natural disaster, how does a leader gain the trust and respect of their people? A bully like Trump could never get away with saying the things he says to someone like Ike or JFK. These were proven leaders that didn’t have to state their bona fides. They were known by all both here and abroad. But when a business leader runs against a life-long lawyer, or “community activist,” or career politician, Americans tend to side with business. For better or worse, that’s why USA’s here--to make business. We don’t respect politicians or government workers. So a guy like Trump can have the worst political week of almost any Presidential candidate ever and still be (at least numerically) in the race. Cause he’s a “captain” of…something.
When a nation like ours or Britain is in-between that next economic “big thing,” the economy stagnates. Wages stay locked, we don’t feel that sense of progression in our lives, and our purpose as a country gets called into question. Then we can start to turn on each other. In fact, we usually do.
Exacerbating this is social media, the internet, TV, and this year--an election. The 24 hour news cycle needs constant content. Untalented Facebook posters need something to rant against, lest they actually come up with an original idea on their own; or even worse--go out and actually do something. So, much like a self-absorbed teenager who spends all day taking selfies and inspecting their face for acne, we’re constantly surrounded with ourselves. Inspecting ourselves for faults, exposing them, attempting to assign blame to certain groups or schools of thought. We’re beating ourselves and our leaders up 24/7 until respect is impossible. Turning on each other as our energies fail to find an outlet or release, and simply reverberate back on us, creating even more frustration.
This is nothing new. Its been a problem that world leaders have had to deal with since before the Romans. And the answer to the problem--assuming that next “big thing” isn’t coming to lift our boats and distract our feeble attentions, has always been war. War mobilizes the populace in common cause. Black, White, Hispanic, Asian--suddenly were all on the same team. All camouflage green. Leaders rise to the top and earn our respect; and even more important, leaders gain respect for the populace. They see and recognize their demonstrated sacrifice; and thus social programs and infrastructure spending don’t feel like welfare programs. 
The way the world is governed now…its just an experiment. Uncharted territory. Can nations really be asked to simply stay within their demarcated lines on a map? Never try to expand their borders or project influence? Perhaps in a world where economies are growing and raising the standard of living; but in a stagnant world like we have today? What are we doing as a nation? What are we going to write songs about or make art about? Just sitting around looking at each other? Hate to say it, but the songs have pretty much all been written.  The stories just keep going round and round. X-Men 3. Captain America IV. Batman…whatever. 
Its frustrating not to improve. Or grow. For a person and for a nation. That frustration can turn inward. Lead to addictions, or odd behaviors, or bad, emotional decisions. You need to find something outside of yourself to latch on to and throw your energies into. For individuals that used to be career or family. But jobs don’t pay anymore and that kid of yours is just an expensive, 18 year pet. You a farmer who needs the cows milked? A cattle rancher who needs the horses shoed? What exactly is that kid of yours going to do with themselves again? And what’s that kid going to be able to do that a robot 10 years from now wont be able to do? Probably not much but sit around and get irritated.
But there’s a cure for that. Proven cure. Not saying it’s the only one--in fact, I hope its not. 

But what if war is the answer? I get the feeling we're gonna find out real soon.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Maybe I'm Just Under-Educated, but This Adds Up?

As a private investigator, I get a kick out the TV show American Greed. The stories/personalities depicted are great, and Stacy Keach deserves an Oscar for his killer narration.

If you've ever watched the show, you know they always depict the poor "victims" to be uneducated sad-sacks who got duped by the slick grifter. Well, sorry. Only rarely do I feel bad for these alleged victims. They know something corrupt is going on. "Mrs. Smith, you honestly thought you'd get 15-20% return on your investment every month for years on end and nothing funny was going on? Really?" Please.

These people know something's up. They just don't care. They're either so desperate for money they'll grasp at any straw in front of them or--more likely, they're just bad characters or low-grade criminals themselves who believe this is how the world works. People who get ahead have the "inside track." They're aggressive risk takers. If others get burned, they're just too lazy and dumb.

Right. ...Yet here you are being interviewed on American Greed you stupid, slow dumbass.

As Donald Trump collects enough delegates to seal the Repub nomination (I think that happens today, but you might want to fact check that), I have to laugh as I envision the faces of the Repub powers-that-be. Donald favored an assault weapons ban--until he was against it. He favored abortions rights--until he was against them. He's flip-flopped on releasing his tax returns at least 2x (now he refuses to release them. Why?). He flip-flopped on raising the minimum wage. He flip-flopped on raising taxes (he's now come out and said it's likely). When Donald campaigns in the these southern hickey-doo States and riles up the "under-educated" that he loves so much, does he ever stay overnight in those towns? Or does he always fly home to NYC at the end of the day? Why you suppose that is? Why isnt Donald polling ahead of either Bernie or Hillary in NYC? Isnt NYC Donald's hometown? Where we know him best? He's supposedly created all those jobs here over the years. He's supposedly generated so much revenue for the city. He's our hometown guy. So why arent the people that know him best supporting him? And what about his business associates? Watch ESPN's 30 for 30 episode about the USFL. His associates oftentimes respect his self-serving abilities, but how many have come out and actually endorsed him for President? Why you suppose not?

Could Trump possibly win? ...I guess. Course right now I see him getting 10% of the Hispanic vote. Maybe 10-15% of African-American vote. Maybe...40% of white women? Is that a winning formula? Maybe I'm just under-educated, but I don't see how that adds up. But this is USA. And one thing you can say about Americans--we're pretty comfortable embracing our greed!! 

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Life Is Just a Party and Party's...:

Despite being a confessional blogger, I happen to be an introvert. People don’t realize that when they first meet me ‘cause I’m quick with a smile. And I’m generally a happy person. Introverts are usually envisioned as unhappy sad-sacks with long faces and dour attitudes. But not me. It just so happens I prefer my own company. Not ‘cause I think I’m any better than you or even that I’m shy—I just like to work on my game. On my own time. That’s what I find satisfying. Conversation? 8-1/2 out of 10x I can take it or leave it.

Used to be I worked on my writing; but now I work on my guitar playing and my investigations business. I’m not too interested in Game of Thrones; or Jesus; or your kids; or who the President is. That said reader, I hope your family’s well; your candidate wins; and that you’re spiritually fulfilled.

As an introvert, one of the things I like to do is get high. I like to smoke weed (more and more I like to eat it); I like a nice scotch or maybe a beer or glass of wine in summer. I like to trip on mushrooms. And particularly in winter—I like Oxycontin, Percocets, or Vicodin.

A little over 10 years ago I herniated (2) discs in my lower back. They’ve since repaired themselves (my lower back’s about 80% of where I was pre-accident); but now I have bulging discs at C-6 and C-7 that--at least 1x a month, impinge on a nerve in my neck that radiates pain down my left arm. Its…a drag.  I’ve also been diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis, which has its own set of complications. And irritations. Basically, I’m always in some degree of pain and I’m not yet 50.

Now reader, why is my middle-aged appreciation, and yes—enjoyment, of Oxycontin and Percocet (or any drug for that matter) any less valid than someone’s enjoyment of shooting a deer in the woods, or wasting gas in my 4x4, or playing Call of Duty for 4 hours a day, or speculating in stocks? Am I not entitled to my life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness just like anyone else?

Apparently not.

Since the death of Prince, I’ve heard a lot of criticism from no-talents with a microphone who’ve already been forgotten about the new revelations surrounding his alleged drug use: "Just another dead druggie." "So much for the goodie-goodie persona." Or the worst—"he really let me down." Prince let you down?! What exactly are your accomplishments mother-fucker?! Try writing music—or just plain concentrating with never-ending nerve pain radiating down your hip. Or try performing for over 3 hours with a guitar over your shoulder with a herniated disc. This freaking internet has really given mediocre a-holes the delusion of being somebody hasn’t it?

Then of course there’s the professional advocates. Genetically modified foods? We’ve gotta fight ‘em! Fracking? Gotta fight that! Gay marriage? Fight for it! War in the Middle East? Legal abortion? Protecting our gun rights? Police brutality? Or protecting police? Let me guess…

And now of course they’re all over opioid use. Painkillers. We’ve gotta reign-in these doctors! Regulate usage!  Hold the drug-companies responsible!

Responsible for what? People talk as though there are two-dozen options for people in constant, severe pain. What exactly are those options? I can think of pills, surgery, acupuncture,…pills,…surgery…acupuncture. Uh,…pills. …I’m out of ideas. And did you know that as recently as 150 years ago the average life-span of the human being is/was only about 40 years old? For the most part, we’re not designed to be active 80 year olds. Or to be popping-and-locking Michael Jackson-style once were 50. I don’t know who came up with the idea that we are.

But people are overdosing! Yeah—retired machinists from West Virginia and Indiana who weren’t going to do anything anyway but sit in front of the TV all day and pop pills with their Pabst Blue Ribbon are dying. Because guess why--they’re talentless and old! Or maybe it was just their time. Take Prince—even if it turns out that he was taking a lot of Perc’s, he died at 57. Three years shy of 60. Not saying that’s an old man in 2016; but he wasn’t 27. Yeah, he was maybe taking Percs. And yeah, he died. One may not have necessarily caused the other. Who’s to say definitively? And what were his options anyway?

As for me, I’m thankful he did whatever he could to keep writing and performing. In the end—that’s what killed him. Not pills or a heart attack—just constant, relentless working and performing.  And I respect that. Cause there’s death in front of the TV and there’s death doing the things you love. 
So to all the professional advocates out there, how 'bout you shut the "F" up and let me live my peaceful life the way I want to?

* NOTE: All pics of Prince stolen off Google Images. Copyrights may exist. All other pics taken or owned by Lodo Grdzak. All rights reserved.