Most Messed Up.

Now that I am only working half time, and most of that from home, you would imagine that I have plenty of time to take care of all those little household tasks that require attention. Well, imagine again. It would not be unreasonable to think that given the amount of free time on my hands, I should be living in a home that resembles the model unit at a new residential development. Once again, you’d be wrong to think that. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I don’t live in a dumpster, but for some reason, my living space is less than immaculate.

“Why is this?” I hear you ask. Well, actually, I don’t because not only don’t you read this blog, but my hearing is pretty much fucked, but I’m going to answer anyway. But first, let me say that I understand why so many single guys live like Neanderthals. Buying furniture, bedding, curtains, etc. is a harrowing ordeal. Going to Bed, Bath and Beyond is a nightmare that no single man should ever have to endure. The contact high from the Oestrogen pushes me two cup sizes higher. And that’s just in the walk from the car to the entrance.

Still, my travails in setting up a livable environment are well documented and need no repetition, so fast forward to the present. My Living Room is small, but serves the purpose and I try to avoid eating on the Futon as much as possible – late night snacking whilst watching a film and drinking excepted- but still, there  seems to be a permanent debris field of crumbs and random food particles on the rug no matter how careful I try to be. However, I have very little motivation in breaking out the stick vac. and clean up, partly because I know that in a couple of days the mess will return. Inevitably I will stand barefoot on some particularly sharp shard and will admit defeat by plugging in the vacuum.

I think part of the problem is that I have no separate kitchen, just a slightly larger than usual galley kitchen separated from the living room by the strip that covers the border between the carpet tiles and the lino, hence crumbs and general detritus have no significant barrier to migration. Actually, if I didn’t know better, I’d think that someone was breaking into the house at night and deliberately scattering crumbs on my floor. Intermittently I will do a proper clean of the house, removing everything from the kitchen counter and giving every hard surface a deep cleaning.

Until the 4th of July weekend I had deliberately avoided dealing with my son’s bedroom. I used to give each of the kids $5 for helping out around the house, which included keeping their rooms within accepted Western standards of hygiene, but as the cash has dried up, this went the way of all flesh. They still make their beds, and my son did gather up a lot of garbage, but the real horror lurked beneath his bed. He has a habit of eating whilst lying on his bed, and the fallout goes everywhere. A few months back I moved the bed away from the wall to find the top of the skirting board with crumbs so old they required carbon dating.

As Independence Day is not really my thing, I steeled my nerves, girded my loins and tidied the back room. Oh, and as my people gave you July 4 as a holiday, you’re welcome. Back in the day, the area beneath a teenage boy’s bed was the favourite hiding place for all manner of one handed reading, but at least the invention of the iPad and laptop have removed this horror from parent’s lives, so at least I can be thankful for that. It required the use of several wet paper towels to remove the mess, and I almost filled the dust container of the vacuum with assorted matter from the carpet, but at least I didn’t have to dispose of any questionable publications with their pages stuck together.

My daughter uses my room when with me, so I had less to deal with, although the pile of riding magazines on her desk almost required crampons and a belaying line to surmount. She’s a talented artist who seems to regard the surface of her desk as a blank canvas, so it took a gag – inducing amount of 409 to return the worktop to its original white. It didn’t occur to me until much later that I could have removed the top and sold it as a recently discovered Jackson Pollock original. Damn. That would have solved my financial problems.

Ah well, lesson learned.  I reckon I should put more effort into cleaning up the place and removing as much clutter and extraneous matter as possible. Despite downsizing as much as possible ( see “The Boxer and “Space Oddity”), I have acquired a lot of crap I don’t really need. A result of the OCD and pack rat mentality, I suppose. At least if I do, it will mean less stuff to deal with when I’m homeless.

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Last Night A D.J. Saved My Life

I’ve been putting this one off, as I’ve been somewhat unmotivated of  late, but recent events have got me going again. As you may well have realised, music is, and always has been an important part of my life. It has helped my through some pretty rough times, and made the good times even better. All you need to do is take a look at my post titles to work  out that music is a constant thread running through my life, but it goes a bit deeper than simply looking for appropriate titles.

I grew up  listening to the truly great John Peel and his impish, young sidekick Andy Kershaw on BBC Radio One. Peel is pretty much single-handedly responsible for bringing non-top thirty music to the BBC. As  far back as 1977 I can remember him playing the Buzzcocks’ “Spiral Scratch” EP in it’s entirety when no one else at Broadcasting House had even heard of them.  He kept on finding great bands and bringing them to the fore, and I can’t even begin to imagine how many tapes I filled over the years as I tuned in from 10 pm to midnight four days a week.

I would go as far as to say that Peelie was responsible for around 90% of my music collection. The bands he turned me towards led to other bands, and so on, in a situation that can only be described as rabbit holes all the way down. Kershaw was very much in the same vein, but with a different approach, and his contribution is not to be dismissed lightly.

Fast forward to 2014. I had finally gotten around to listening to KEXP on a regular basis. I know: I arrived here in 1992 and it took me this long to get round to listening to the only radio station that matters. This is due to a combination of pretty much ignoring new music during the whole of the 90’s and having an iPod. However, my sweetie convinced me to give the station a try, and I was hooked pretty much straight away. Not long afterwards, I awaited with great antici ……………………….pation ( I had to throw in that reference) the arrival of “International Clash Day #3”. I could only listen to the first hour on my way to work, and I was hooked. I heard some more on my way home and determined to preserve the day. This is where a touch of Aspergers helps, in that I copied the playlist into Word and then recreated as much of the playlist as I could – IN THE CORRECT ORDER. Yep. It helped that I had many of the tracks already and found many, many more without having to spend a fortune, and now the playlist sits on my iPod ready whenever I need a blast of great, great music.

It goes beyond that, though. KEXP  seem to be imbued with the spirit of John Peel, playing great music, regardless of age or provenance. I will admit that I’ve picked up on so many great acts just by tuning in whenever I get the chance – Tacocat, Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, Phantogram, Underworld, Los Campesinos, to name but a few. One thing that really helps is that the D.J.s have total control over their shows, so they have the opportunity to react to events without having to get clearance from management or advertisers. This really makes them stand out. For example, in response to news of the Little Orange One’s Muslim ban, they played music from the seven countries affected. They devoted a whole day to the healing effects of music, playing tracks that had meaning to cancer patients and their families, A day given over to LGBTQ artists in support of Gay Pride, a whole day dedicated to the Beastie Boys’ album “Paul’s Boutique”, playing not just each track, but each track sampled for the album, in the correct order. Can you imagine the amount of work involved in tracking down each sample and the track from which it came? They even played “Should  I Stay or Should I Go?” followed by “Safe European Home” to kick off an afternoon devoted to British artists the day after the Brexit vote – totally spontaneously and much appreciated by yours truly

This kind of dedication really pays off: Every D.J. really cares about the music, and you can’t help but pick up on the enthusiasm. I’m not a Rockabilly fan by any means, but as “Shake The Shack” is on on Friday evenings, I get to hear quite a bit of the show as I run my daughter to and from her horse riding lessons. I’m never going to splash out on tickets for a concert, but I’ve really come to enjoy the genre – it’s always uplifting, fast paced and often quite humourous. I can see why some people are devoted to it, and I certainly wouldn’t turn the show off.

Being publically funded, they have regular spring and autumn pledge drives – a phrase that strikes dread into the hearts of most pubic radio and T.V. fans. However, not so this year. You see, last autumn I could afford to donate to the station, and felt very happy about it, not least because of the awesome tee shirt and hoodie I received as gifts in return for my donation. Of course, if I can afford it, I will re-up this autumn, and this meant that I didn’t turn the radio off during the pledge breaks.

Considering that the Toxic Revenger has pledged to end all funding for public broadcasting, this makes the pledge drives all  the more important, especially for those of us who want to hear more than just cool jazz, young country, oldies or classic rock when we press the ‘on’ button. I mean, where else can you hear Norwegian Rockabilly, Chilean Rap,  Portuguese  Hip Hop or Mexican Punk? Did you even know those genres exist? You  do now!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under KEXP, Music, Public broadcasting, Radio

Doctor In The House.

As you will no doubt be aware, the Fucktard in Chief has been  spewing crap about the Affordable Care Act, and how he is going to replace it, and in fact, has a plan that is almost ready, (Not!). What really cracked my up was his comment about reforming healthcare – “Who knew it would be so difficult?” Well, just about anyone with a sixth grade education.  I’m covered by the ACA, and have been for a couple of years. It’s worked pretty well for me, in that my prescriptions and office visits were free. I hardly ever need to see the doctor, and the only time I’ve needed medical care in the last 12 months was last autumn when I found myself one Saturday afternoon shivering like a bowl of jelly in an earthquake and freezing under several layers with a temperature of 104.5F – the result of a bladder infection.

Alas, when it came to renewal time,  my policy was not one of the options, so I was forced to find a new one. The choices were not fantastic, and due to my straitened circumstances I was forced to pick the plan with the lowest monthly payment, there being no option that was fully funded. I signed up and waited for my card and confirmation which duly arrived in the goodness of time. So far, so good, you may say,  but hold on a minute.

I have a couple of daily medications that make it possible for me to function as a human being. Those who knew the un-medicated SingleDad will tell you that I was not a pleasant person to be around. Okay, so I’m not very pleasant to be around when properly medicated, but at least when experiencing better living through chemistry, I am someone around whom it is possible to be. I refilled my meds late last year and received a 90 day supply of each for a total cost of bubkas. Zilch. Costenlos. Free. Nice, eh? Especially as I was used to only getting a 30 day supply with  each renewal.

About two weeks ago I walked up to the clinic to update my details and was told that as my doctor was not part of the network, he was not a preferred provider, so although I could see him, it would cost me more than seeing an in-network doctor. Ugh. The thing is, I like my doctor. He’s a thoroughly nice chap,  knows his stuff and is always willing to hear me out, respond to questions and provide useful advice, so I saw no need to go physician hunting after having him as my M.D. for  over a decade. I also asked the receptionist to pass on the message that I needed a refill on my meds, and she duly made a note and a few days later I received an automated message from the pharmacy informing me that my refills were ready for pickup.

I walked up there a couple of days later, and  was told by the 12 year old assistant that with my insurance, the cost for a 30 day supply of both meds was $64. Let me repeat that: $64 WITH MY INSURANCE. I would say that this put me in a bind, but that would be a complete and utter lie, as due to my finances, $54 a month is well beyond my means, so I told her I couldn’t afford them and left. Well, that’s not entirely the truth. You see, I could have afforded them had I selected one of the following options:

  1. Not pay my electricity bill
  2. Not pay my phone bill
  3. Not pay my internet bill
  4. Not buy any food for the kids.

I already don’t  buy food for myself except for essentials, so that last one isn’t me being mean. Which option would you have chosen? Please send your answer with an explanation not exceeding 100 words on the back of a $20 bill to…No, hang on, better make that the back of a blank cheque.

So, I’m fucked. And when I say fucked, I mean fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuucked. I do have a small secret stash, the result of having to stockpile a couple of years ago in anticipation of my ex cutting me from her insurance, but that won’t last forever. Thankfully, one of my meds is in traditional pill form, so I have been able to split them, allowing me to take half a pill every other day. “Yikes”, I hear you say, but seeing as I started out on 1/3 of my current dose,  and the effect was like flicking a switch, and the pills are extended release, I should be fine for a while. My other medication is in capsule form, so I will leave them until the pills run out and then take one every other day. On this schedule I reckon I have enough to last a couple of  months, although I have some trepidation about lowering my dose to essentially 1/8 of my required regime.

It’s not a pretty thought, but I have to make them last as long as possible. I did have an online interview last week, but seeing as I was told they would be making a decision some time early this week and I have yet to hear from them, I can pretty much guarantee that they won’t be offering me the job, but that’s a subject for a different pity party.

It will be interesting, in a morbid sort of way, to see which runs out first – the money or the meds. To be honest, I’m trying very hard not to think about it, for obvious reasons, but as you can imagine, both subjects are looming large, no matter what I do.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under mental health, Person health

(WE DON’T NEED THIS) FASCIST GROOVE THANG.

Well, that didn’t take long, did it? Normally, one would expect a new head of state to spend a couple of weeks coming to terms with the position, perhaps give the tyres a kick, adjust the seat and the mirrors and then take a short drive around the block, but no! It would appear that Der  Trumpfer jumped straight into the drivers’ seat, slammed the accelerator to the floor and set off on what appears to be a reenactment of the goriest bits of “Deathrace 2000.” I thought, presumably like a lot of other right minded people, that a lot of his blather on the campaign trail was simply red meat thrown to the mob, but it appears that he actually meant what he said. Who’d a thunk it?

Thankfully, those  who don’t watch Fox “news” had an instant Howard Beale moment and made sure everyone knew about it. It was gratifying to see that the attendance at the Women’s March in D.C. exceeded by a considerable amount the attendance at the inauguration, and at so many other marches not only around the U.S, but all over the world. Of course,  baby threw a tantrum when the U.S. Parks Department posted a picture of 45’s inauguration crowd alongside that of President Obama’s first inauguration. No one in their right mind would have believed that more people came to see the Oompa Loompa sworn in than any of the previous 44  presidents, but to ban the parks department from publishing anything in public.?It’s the typical reaction of a spoilt brat who  is caught out, and then resorts to red-faced hysteria in an attempt to blame others for his lies.

Don’t you think it interesting that the nylon haired one is so obsessed with size? Be it walls, crowds, ties, aircraft or  whatever, he always claims that his is bigger than anyone else’s. I wonder if he is trying to compensate for some kind of inadequacy or trying to deflect attention away from something of which he is ashamed or embarrassed. Oh, I see my error. He doesn’t experience shame or embarrassment, only anger, contempt, pride, smugness and hubris. I mean, don’t his staff have access to Photoshop? Even Stalin had a team dedicated to altering photographs. My favourite has to be that of Stalin winning the 100 metres gold medal in the 1936 Olympics. It’s the best retouching job the KGB ever did.  (Apologies to Alexei Sayle).

Of course, that was just the appetiser. The main course was right behind it, and oh, wasn’t it the most incredible, enormous shit sandwich you’ve ever seen? I’m talking of course, about the (absolutely not a) Muslim ban ( honestly). I mean, did he really think, even for a minute, that he would get away with it? Not go all Bill Hicks on you, but the balls on that guy! He must have to wear specially fitted trousers with balls that big. Does he have to use a wheelbarrow to carry around those enormous balls?

Of course, the outrage  was instantaneous. I heard that one placard being held outside JFK airport read” “First they came for the Muslims, and I said “Oh no you don’t motherfucker!”” Pastor Martin Niemoller must be very proud of that person. And the owners of art and office supply stores must be very happy. Have you tried to buy poster board, wide tipped Sharpies or any kind of paint recently? Had I the money, I’d be buying stock in Office Depot and Michaels.  A blind man on a speeding horse could see the unconstitutionality of the ban, yet as soon as Judge James Robart, a Bush 43 appointee, no less, struck down the ban, the tiny fingered one denigrated him. But then again, that’s nothing new, just ask Judge Gonzalo Curiel.

Trying to deflect blame for any future event is also straight from the Despots’ Handbook, as is singling out a specific religious group,  threatening the press and surrounding oneself with ideologues who lack basic competence. Rather than draining the swamp, as he claimed, he is filling it with the most revolting, foul slime imaginable.

It would not surprise me if he were to find an excuse to impose martial law and put troops on the street. Seriously, he has no concept of self control or that he is doing anything untoward. I think he genuinely believes his  own publicity and that this is his destiny.  No one has ever said “no” to him, hence his apoplectic responses to anyone or anything that doesn’t go his way. I’m genuinely concerned for the future of this county. I don’t think we can afford to wait two years until the mid-term elections to try to redress the balance. One of my biggest fears is that Bannon et al see him as a useful puppet and are planning to have him impeached or resign and then have Pence replace him as president, with Bannon as Veep. I know this all sounds like a whacko conspiracy theory, but if  the alternative is that he is doing all this himself, then what?

He’s already questioned the legitimacy of the judicial and legislative branches and is issuing edicts at a rate that would make Kim Jong Un jealous, and I wouldn’t put it past him to give himself even more control. To quote Abraham Lincoln, who must now be spinning in his grave at the thought of those grubby, tiny digits on his bible, once said, “Any man can handle adversity. If you want to see his true character, give him power”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Brother, Can You Spare A Dime?

I’m now entering what Sir Alex Ferguson, one time manager of Manchester United Football Club once famously described as “Squeaky bum time”. You see, ever since early February, when my hours were cut in half, I’ve been living on borrowed financial time. When working 40 hours a week I was earning enough to cover my bills and leave a bit over, sometimes, at the end of the month. Not so now. I did a quick calculation and as things stand at present, I will have to move out at the end of April.

I’m applying for jobs like crazy to no avail, I’ve sold my wedding and eternity rings, cashed in all my change and cut my spending to a bare minimum. I’m living off what I have in the fridge and pantry and with the exception of essentials, only  buy food for the kids. All this is not really going to help, but what are my options? I will have to find some way of paying for a storage unit and keeping gas in the car, but how long can I keep that up? My job contract runs through August, but if I’m living in the car – which is a very real possibility – how long can I keep it? If I lose the job, the situation becomes exponentially worse, and I don’t see someone like me lasting long on the streets.

I’m 52 and in fairly reasonable health, but without my meds, I’m sure to go into a tailspin. Those of you who knew me at school will attest to the fact that the un-medicated NWSD is not the kind of person who can cope, even when well fed and housed.To make matters worse, it means that I will lose contact with the kids. I can’t spend time with them if all I have is the car and nowhere to take them. I won’t have access to laundry or washing facilities, and having worked downtown, I know how quickly people deteriorate without access to basic services.

Unless I can find a job by the end of March, I am royally fucked. Seriously, this is an existential crisis that shows no sign of resolving itself in any kind of positive way. I don’t have a social network on which I can fall back, and I’m by no means certain that my sweetie will be willing to take me in until I can get a decent paying job and get a place of my own again. I would hope that she would, but if she took me in and I didn’t find a job before the money ran out, there’s no way she could support both of us on her wages.

Just writing this is making me depressed, so I am going to sign off now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under employment, family, mental health, unemployment

The Winner Takes It All.

I’ve made no secret of my lack of knowledge of, and interest in American sports of any stripe, save for a marginal interest in seeing the Seattle Sounders do well.  It may then  come as a surprise to you to learn that for the past five years I have been a regular participant in an NFL fantasy league. I’ll let the deafening noise of jaws hitting the floor  like a collapsing pile of encyclopedias subside  before continuing. You see, when someone from school floated the suggestion I saw it as a way to have a bit of harmless fun and  wind people up at the same time.

Not knowing the first thing about the relative merits of the players, I was performing the digital equivalent of picking a prize from the lucky dip bin whilst blindfolded. If  I finished dead last without a win to my name, I’d be doing about as well as could be expected, so anything better than that would be a victory for me. As I’ve said in other posts, any A.M whiff of Napalm will do. My first two seasons were remarkably unspectacular, and  I was out of the running for the playoffs by the half way point.  Two seasons ago my team took such a comprehensive and brutal beating that last year the Glenbuck Violets (named in honour of the first team Bill Shankly ever played for) changed their name for the following season to The Rodney Kings. Tacky? Yes. Borderline offensive? Certainly. But since when has that ever stopped me?

Last season saw a reversal of fortune as I reached the final with a semi final win so overwhelming that it made a fight between the 1st SS Panzer Division and the Girl Scouts look like a fair contest.  The game ended with yours truly achieving the  biggest points total of the season as well as the largest winning margin of the year. This after another member posted a message to the website  with the title  “How the fuck did NWSingledad get into the playoffs?”  Of course, I  suffered a convincing defeat in the final with the same starting lineup that had performed so heroically only the game before. Ah, well, it’s a funny old game.

So of course, when the email regarding this season came around, I duly signed up and sent my $20 entry fee to the Commish. I won’t bore you with a game by game analysis, but there were some noteworthy moments: winning by 0.2 points was most certainly one of them. No, that wasn’t a typo. The league moved to a new platform which awards points for actions other than points scored. Of course, the day I picked the wrong QB – Joe Flacco for anyone who cares- I lost a game I would have won had I played my usual first choice – some guy called Ward? . Humph!  In fact, despite a 7-6 season I had quite a good year, with several victories snatched from the jaws of defeat. This was enough to get me into the playoffs, and that was all that mattered.

Naturally, finishing fifth of six qualifiers meant I was in for a rough run. Despite this, I won my first game only to face the regular season champions in the semi final. At this point I thought my goose not only cooked, but eaten, carved up for sandwiches the day after and in the pot to be boiled down to make stock. Guns, Germs and Steel, for that was their name, had beaten me pretty convincingly during the season. You don’t end with a record of 11-2 by being crap.  I’ve always picked my team purely by the numbers – the expected points score of each player, and despite my best efforts, I looked doomed.

Oh me of little faith, to quote Lewis Black. My reputation as the Comeback Kid paid dividends as I won by a decent margin. That meant that the final would be between my Craggy Island Feckers and the Glorious Goats, a team that finished sixth with the same overall season but a worse points differential. Again, despite doing all within my power to add better players and run out my strongest squad, the almighty algorithm had me down for a defeat just short of double digits. Ah well, even second place would mean getting back more than my original stake, so I was in no position to complain.

Christmas got in the way and managed to distract me from my impending defeat as we celebrated on the 24th with the kids. They always spend Christmas Day at their own home, so my sweetie and I celebrate a day early. After their departure we headed into the city for a night in a very nice hotel in lieu of going out of town. As we sat in the bar enjoying our drinks I glanced up at the T.V. to see a game in progress and through the powers of  thought association I checked my phone to find out the worst. I knew I was behind as my opponent had had  a player in action the previous day, so imagine my surprise and delight to see that before the days’ games were over I was already more than 50 points ahead. My lead increased during the afternoon and by the time we turned in I was assured of a championship win barring all but a disaster of a scale only associated with the extinction of the Dinosaurs.

My opponent did recover some ground the following day, but even so I ran out winner by nearly 60 points and only missed recording the biggest victory margin of the season by a hairs’ breadth. I’m sure my sweetie was delighted to see the season come to a close as I did rather lay it on a bit thick, checking the scores somewhat more often than required and letting my delight show a little too much. Still, the prize money was pretty decent and a very nice bonus Christmas present. There was one more element that sweetened the win – my opponent was the same as the year before, so it was justice repaid.

Don’t think that I’m being disingenuous in all this. I’m not lying when I say I don’t follow football. I don’t spend hours reading reports and obsessing over video clips. At most I spend 10 minutes a week selecting my starting lineup. I honestly do make my selections purely on the predicted scores for each player, although I do take into account their actual, as opposed  to their predicted ranking. Even I know that an over performing player is worth having on the books.

Is there a moral in this? Is just a case of blind, dumb luck? I’m not sure. Maybe this was my Leicester City moment. Perhaps next year I will be beaten like a red headed stepchild on a rented mule. Who knows? I certainly don’t. All I know is that when next season hoves into view, I will be ready with stake in hand, hope in my heart and the knowledge that if I can piss off even a single  person in the league who actually puts effort, thought and emotion into it, it will all be worth while. Yes, I’m looking at you, Krog the Sportinator.

 

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Filed under Christmas, Sport

Hey, That’s No Way To Say Goodbye.

The end of year review is something of a trope. A chance to look back on the previous 12 months and muse on all that has happened. From newspapers to radio, to television news, everyone wants to get in on the act.  Why anyone in their right mind would want to waste the energy of even a single neuron on 2016  is beyond my comprehension, not that it’s going to stop me. Besides,  I want to get this done before anything else happens to bring us even lower.

I will gloss over the political aspects of the year, as both Brexit and the U.S. presidential election defy both understanding and reflection. They merely add grist to the mill of the old saw that the search for intelligent life in the universe must continue, as there’s bugger all sign of it on Earth. The theme of this year has been loss, and  it is on loss that I wish to dwell. Particularly that of loss in the music world. You may have worked out from oh, every single one of my post titles, that I am a music fan. Music has always been a part of my life, and a damn important one at that, so with no further ado, let’s get to it.

Of course, I have to start with the biggies. There is nothing that I can say about David Bowie that hasn’t been said already and much more eloquently than I could ever manage, but  I do have to reflect on the impact the news had on me. I was in a different job then, and had plenty of time to read the online news, so you can imagine my utter shock and disbelief upon reading of Bowie’s passing. Of course, I knew nothing of his illness, and it came like a punch to the solar plexus. A little later that morning, our delivery guy Richard arrived for his regular pick up of boxes, and we just stared at each other in disbelief. He is as big a music fan as I am, and we would regularly chat about our favourite bands and artists whenever he came by. But that day, we just exchanged “WTF?” stares and shook our heads.

There never was, nor will there ever be anyone like Bowie. No one could ever come close to his level of talent, ability for reinvention or originality.  Admittedly, I’m not keen on his work from “Let’s Dance” onward ( Black Star excepted), and I never paid attention to Tin Machine, but he left us so many seminal albums that any temporary lapse of genius can be forgiven.

Likewise Prince.  I only had the Black Album and a greatest hits tape, but even I could see the genius of the Minneapolis Midget. I know that overdosing is a very rock and roll way to go, but to die as a result of taking prescription  meds taken for injuries sustained whilst performing is just too much.  Had they been the only musical deaths of the year, that would have been bad enough, but of course, 2016 just hates us, so the list got longer.  Again, Motorhead were never my kind of band, but anyone with even minimally functioning hearing – most Motorhead fans, if truth be told – has to admit that “Ace of Spades” and “Bomber” are classic tracks. Lemmy was unmistakable, and whilst certainly no Ginger Baker, Phil Taylor was a ground breaking drummer. His style set the groundwork for thrash metal, and anyone who can kick start a new style, no matter how incomprehensible to most people, has to be accepted as a true talent.

It’s not my intention to catalogue all those we’ve lost, far greater sources have done that: http://blog.kexp.org/2016/12/14/to-those-we-lost-in-2016-part-one/ , but I feel honour-bound to continue.  No one would regard Leonard Cohen as a great vocalist, but his distinctive gravel growl combined with his wordsmithing made life much richer for so many people. I don’t begrudge Bob Dylan’s literature Nobel prize, but if Dylan could win one, Cohen should have been hip deep in them. I came to Cohen late in life, but haven’t regretted a second spent listening to him. His death, even though he was a good age really did mark  rock bottom in so many ways.

Just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse, it got worse. Of course it did. What did I expect, that the year would give us a break? How fucking stupid do you think I am? Actually, please don’t answer that last question. On a Friday not too long ago I set off to pick my daughter up from her riding lesson. Of course, the radio was tuned to KEXP and I was delighted to hear Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings’ version of “This Land Is Your Land”. It was too good to be true as  just after the song ended, the DJ announced her passing earlier that day. Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck!  You know how in every cartoon Wile E. Coyote will be pummeled by a deluge of rocks or other suitably heavy objects? The torrent stops and a suitably bruised Wile E. pops his head out of the pile only to have one last, immense boulder strike him with great force. Well, this is what it felt like that day.

Sharon Jones was a singer who could give Aretha Franklin a run for her money. I first heard her on “Sound Opinions” and instantly got hold of every item of her back catalogue I could.  She was an artist who on first hearing you just knew was a rare  talent. I can’t tell you how quickly I wrote down her name- probably before the track was four bars old.  Soul music is much, much poorer for her death. As indeed, are we all. She was the special guest at the opening of KEXPs’ new home, and although she and the Dap Kings played for only 30 minutes, it was such an energy packed performance that it could have powered a city for a month. I never had the opportunity to see her perform, and now, I never will. It is one thing that I really regret. Seriously.

Merle Haggard had a long, successful career, and to die at just 74 ( no great age these days) seems cruel. Any man who can start a song with a line like “I turned twenty one in prison doing life without parole” had a lot going for him.

It’s not just music that got hammered this year. Gene Wilder is a talent that can’t be replaced. Just watch any of his films and I dare you not to laugh. “Blazing Saddles” is still funny. Offensive, crude, vulgar for sure, but still a movie to have anyone with a pulse laughing out loud no matter how many times you’ve seen it before. Likewise “The Producers” and “Stir Crazy”. “Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory” is still a classic that simply doesn’t age. I’m not a fan of musicals, but that one gets a pass. And of course, who hasn’t thrown the phrase “Actually, it’s pronounced Fronkensteen” into a conversation at least once?

Entering the last week of the year I assumed we were in the clear. Well, you know what they say about what happens when you assume, don’t you? Yeah, I’m talking about Carrie Fisher. My love of “Star Wars” doesn’t reach the level of Fanboy obsession, but having watched all seven episodes, and taken my daughter to see “Rogue One” only two weeks ago, this one really stung. I still remember standing outside the Odeon cinema in Liverpool in 1977 for over  two hours waiting for the doors to open.

George Michael was never on my list – I despised Wham and their manufactured corporate style. Still, he did pretty well for himself and to die at 53? It makes me wonder about my own mortality. At 94, I guess it was only a matter of time for Richard Adams, so I can’t feel too upset. Like a lot of people, I read “Watership Down” as a kid, and had the joy of reading it to my son a few years ago. At least he had a full life.

The year still has three days left, so I am a little wary. I wouldn’t put it past 2016 to have one last kick in the balls waiting for us.  Has anybody checked on Mick Jagger lately?

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Filed under Celebrity, death, Music