Sunday, November 13, 2016

The Price of Long-Term Peace and Slow Growth:

"Men--you too can be your wife's husband."

"When these women go to church on Sunday, they pray to "HIM"--not her. Our FATHER."

But for too many men, the slow-growth turned into a major problem.

So this past election was a real eye-opener to many; and while there are lessons to be taken from it; I hope people are taking the correct ones. Which is something I'm not really seeing thus far in the aftermath.

The first incorrect assumption I've been seeing is that the Democratic party now needs some kind of major overhaul. ...Why? By popular vote, the Dems have won 6 of the last 7 national elections and demographics going into the future are totally on their side. So don't let a piss-poor candidate like Hillary and her loss skew that reality. Repubs only win national elections via the affirmative action of the Electoral College--not by true wins. And if Joe Biden's son hadn't died when he did, we'd be talking about President Biden right now.

2nd; its a bad idea to float a female candidate for President.  Men aren't particularly eager to answer to a woman, and women dont support other women very well. There are still a good 40% women who's sole goal in life is to get married and start a family with a successful man who heads the household. When these women go to church on Sunday, they pray to "HIM"--not her. Our FATHER. The idea of a man at the head of the hierarchical pyramid is taken as a given. By nature. So you've got a major hurdle to cross with them--let alone with men. The first woman to win the Presidency is much more likely to be a Sarah Palin-type than a Clinton type. Palin displayed masculine, pro-active qualities and encouraged men to vote for her; whereas Hillary decided to go all-in on the female vote under the presumed assumption that Trump had so disqualified himself with minorities that she didn't need to pursue them. Or men as a whole. But when you re-examine that Dem convention--it was SO feminine! As a man, what did Hillary offer me?

In fact, in regards to men, there's another important lesson to be learned here. The importance of an ever-growing economy. Under Obama (and the DEFINITE obstruction of Repubs who wasted 10 yrs of our lives for their own political benefit) we got a slow-growth economy. It was fine by me--I've done great under Obama. And lets not forget--growth is growth. To rip on the Obama years for having the "slowest growth of any recovery" is like ripping on the Baltimore Ravens for being the worst Superbowl champions.

"Worst what?"

"Superbowl champions."

"Worst what?"


Right. But for too many men, the slow-growth turned into a major problem. Men need to become men. Unlike women, who instantly become women when nature kicks in and puts them on the rag; men need certain things to be considered a man. A job that pays well enough to attract and support a mate. A sense of accomplishment and a platform to demonstrate their abilities. Without all that--what are we? A woman who doesnt work is still a woman; but when a man's not working or supporting a family--what is he? His wife's husband? Fuck that. And if men say "fuck that," then they don't get married. Which means those minimum 40% of women I mentioned earlier aren't gonna get that house. Or baby. And the men aren't going to be grounded to anything. They'll just mill around and get frustrated. Its...a real problem.

So when people say Trump voters weren't or aren't ALL racists. I agree its true. I can see how certain people (both men AND women) could vote for Trump. At some point that 30 year old man needs to believe he can pay off his loans. Support a family. Get ahead economically and move up the economic ladder. But the Repubs did a great job of making sure that couldn't happen under Obama. And its clear that tech jobs or "green jobs" arent going to be plentiful enough to go around. Not even close. So mothers watched their sons put-off starting a family, refusing to breed those grandkids they want so badly; and perhaps getting addicted to drugs as they aimlessly kicked around their dead factory towns. That's why Hillary didn't get the overwhelming women's vote she expected.

But my message to Dems is that Hillary was a VERY weak candidate. Bernie and his supporters did a LOT of damage to her early on in the primary which she obviously never recovered from despite the poll numbers; plus she was running as a 3rd term Dem which rarely works under our system. And don't forget people got their healthcare premium notices 3 days before election day. Ouch!

And Hillary never made a case for herself except to say she was a woman and NOT Trump. Uh,...okay. Aaaand?  For me, not being Trump was certainly enough. In fact, I 100% fail to see how the basic political corruption of the Clintons--which never directly hurt me (or you if you're honest) on a personal level, is anywhere near as damaging to the country as Trump's racism. Or his failure to control his emotions, or even attempt to keep his temperament in check publicly (VERY important things for all of us to do in a civil society). While not all Trump supporters are racists--ALL racists supported Trump. And I cant stand that. I'll always say fuck Trump and his people. They're very dangerous and now skinheads in Germany and France and Greece (and here at home) are going to feel very empowered on an international level. Thanks!

What's really disappointing to me is that because the press called this election so wrong, they've now completely lost any credibility with the American people.  Which is a problem cause with this President--more than any other, were going to need strong media and news organizations to keep him in check. Watching him. But now they're weakened and scrambling for identity/purpose.

I guess (as I mentioned in my post back in June called What if War IS The Answer?) this agitated frustration is the downside of relative long-term peace coupled with slow growth. As Obama lived-up to his pledge to keep us out of war, USA just turned inward on to itself. As the governmental machine just rolled along under its own momentum, basic corruption was exposed as news outlets and social media needed content and stories to report for its never-ending cycle. The Clinton's corruption is nothing compared to other serious scandals of  the past, but we now live in a country that has absolutely nothing going on culturally (how many of our greatest artists have died this year? And when was the last great new band?); nothing going on by way of outward vision; and nothing going on economically. The First-world's been in a long, dead intermission since 2000 yet we have more ways and mediums to discuss it than ever.

The final lesson (least on a personal level) is that I can forget my dream of buying that RV and traveling the country. That was something I was genuinely going to do; but now? I'm staying right here in NYC. My Colorado stayed blue (good work guys!) so I can still go there. And of course I can still go to California. But the rest of this "great nation?" 

See ya--wouldn't wanna be ya. Not by a longshot.

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 the aged 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 the true greatness of an obvious leader. Its not that $20 million dollar a year Kaeprnick's too rich to protest; he simply doesn't command/demand 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.