Under the Covers – available NOW!

July 19, 2014 Leave a comment

AVAILABLE NOW AS AN INSTANT DOWNLOADvisa-american-express-mastercard-which-networ-L-pCFr86

exclusively fromfoolshillmusic-cr-trans(want an old fashioned CD? We got them too…)
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01 – Fool For You Again (Kris and Julie Kehr)
02 – In Lieu of You (John Canjar)
03 – Leaving Home (George Wesley)
04 – 12 O’Clock Whistle (Asialena)
05 – When the Circus Comes to Town (Bret Alexander)
06 – The Show (Lorne Clarke)
07 – MIA (Neil Luckett)
08 – Mickey Mantle (Michael Jerling)
09 – Don’t Kill My Heart (Tim McGurl)
10 – I’m Still Me (Joe “Wiggy” Wegleski)
11 – Can You Hide Me (Shannon Marsyada)
12 – Auctioneer (Josh Pratt)
13 – Bridges (Van Wagner)
14 – Miner Boy (Lisa Moscatiello)
15 – Mud Run (Tom Flannery)

visa-american-express-mastercard-which-networ-L-pCFr86

All songs written by Tom Flannery except “Auctioneer” written by Tom Flannery and Josh Pratt and “MIA” written by Tom Flannery and Neil Luckett tracks 2,3,4,6,9,10,12,15 recorded at the Home Office in Archbald, PA others recorded all over the place…from London, England to Saratoga Springs, New York “Miner Boy” recorded at WVIA-FM Studios for the “Homegrown Music” program, with George Graham producing

Special thanks to Alan Stout and Mike Naydock for supporting what we do ’round here

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a Pennsylvania treasure….Flannery has the soul of an Irish poet and the detail-capturing eye of a seasoned journalist…In “Under the Covers ” 14 noted artists take on some of Tom’s strongest compositions. Stripped down to their acoustic hearts, the music is direct and accessible…picture a baker’s dozen outstanding acoustic performers sitting on your front porch, playing some of the best songs you’ve ever heard.
–Jim Colbert, The Folk Show, WPSUfm

14 intensely intimate interpretations…”Under the Covers” showcases a songwriting talent on par with anyone at the highest levels of their craft..
– WRKC Radio

a very cool record….ambitious….it comes off as low key without pretense…A diverse collection of songs that showcases Tom Flannery’s talents as a songwriter.
– Music on the Menu, 105 The River

Tom Flannery has done it again, this time with a little help from his friends. The result is magical and truly captures Flannery’s brilliance as a songwriter.
– Vinyl Voyage

a master at the art of storytelling and songwriting. This effort is truly exceptional.
– The V-Spot

So….some backstory.

Most of these are new songs. I planned on recording them myself. Then I changed my mind.

I was sick of my own voice. These songs were different. They had more space in them, notes I couldn’t hit…or didn’t dare try to. They were more open to interpretation. I considered them some of the best I’d ever written….but the more I sang them myself, the more I heard the other voices in my head.

What other voices?

I had no idea. But I wanted to find out.

I had the song “In Lieu of You”. I recorded a demo of it on my Iphone. There was something about it….something I liked. But I was only scratching the surface. John Canjar is a friend of mine. An incredibly gifted guitar player and singer. He lives down the road. I sent him the demo and asked if he had any ideas. He did. He came up to the house. I rolled tape and that’s how it all started. There was no way I was gonna touch what he put down. I decided then and there that I’d ask others to sing these songs for me. Sounds like an ego trip. I wish it was. The truth is I don’t have enough ego. If I did I would have borrowed/stolen all these arrangements and recorded them myself.

Asialena Bonitz is 17 years old. “12 O’Clock Whistle” is a weary song…..a song for old people. A song about what happens when dreams aren’t just put aside…but are obliterated….by the responsibilities that are supposed to subside but so often do not. How the hell was a high school kid gonna get this across? Why was I asking a high school kid to get this across?

Because I knew this kid. I’d heard what she could do. A voice like hers comes along….well…once?

She came over and did 2 takes. That’s it. I played and she sang. She laughed about her belly rumbling on the tape, and then sang like an old lady ripping out her own heart.

Lies in the bedroom / frames on the mantle the faces can’t know / what the creases may tell love letters buried / like secrets carried with the dawn ringing / from a rusty church bell

When it was over she just said “was that ok?” I’m not sure what I said. I may not have said anything. I’m still not sure what to say. I hope thank you will suffice. And maybe “remember my sorry ass when everybody else figures out what I already know and you are at the top of the world where you belong.”

And it went on from there. Songs I co-wrote with Neil Luckett (I sent Neil the lyrics to “MIA” and he did the rest from his home in England. Neil plays guitar like he’s got an extra hand….with 9 fingers on each) and Josh Pratt….who I consider to be Pennsylvania’s finest songwriter. I wrote “Auctioneer” and Josh said….”well…who is this Auctioneer?” When I stuttered and said….”um….some dude trying to pick up chicks I guess”….Josh picked up his pen and re-wrote most of the lyrics. Thankfully. In 3 minutes he completed a screenplay. I asked him for the lyrics yesterday and he sheepishly admitted to never writing them down. Josh is odd that way.

Kris and Julie Kehr made me cry with “Fool For You Again”, a song that picked at so many scabs I wasn’t sure I could ever sing it. Me and Kris aren’t related….but if I have a mirror musical image his is the face looking back at me (And any man who marries someone with a voice like Julie’s is gonna die happy).

George Wesley knocked the shit out of me even though I knew he was going to knock the shit out of me. I shouldn’t have been surprised at all, but that’s the way George rolls. “Leaving Home” just ignited. And that’s why I love him like a brother. Lorne Clarke rescued “The Show” from the scrapheap (something he’ll remind me about forever, incidentally….Canadians are like that)…for which I’m eternally grateful. Michael Jerling sang “Mickey Mantle”, a song about my own father, and turned it into something universal….fathers and sons….what we hope to be vs. what we really are. Jerling is a folk artist….and there ain’t many like him. Shannon Marsyada put up with my telling her how special she is…and then went and proved it. Thanks Irish. Tim McGurl came to visit and we both felt something special in the air….something we dared not mess with. His version of “Don’t Kill My Heart” kills mine for sure….and the song feels more like his gift to me than anything else. Van Wagner turned a 2013 ballad into a Dust Bowl Ballad…but made it sound new at the same time. Try that sometime.

Bret Alexander and Lisa Moscatiello should both be household names. Few are called. Fewer still are chosen. And you can count on one hand the ones who deserve the accolades. “Miner Boy was written in 1996….and I still sing the song at gigs…although not at Lisa’s level, because…well…because that’s impossible. There may be a better female vocalist in America…but they’d have to pass Lisa before reaching the finish line. Good luck with that ladies. And Bret took a simple song that I could never get right and nailed it, making it sound simple above the cacophony of whispered resignation and despair…which is what the best always do. Bret is special.

A final shout out to my soul brother number One, Joe Wegleski….a fellow Shillelagh and a man I trust above all others. Listen to his guitar work on “I’m Still Me”…….a master’s class in not overplaying….serving the song for the sake of the song. All the more remarkable because we were making it up as we went along. I will say that spontaneity is way more charming when you have a player like Wiggy in the room.

It’s quite a line-up here….and I’m sitting here tonight feeling like the kid in the proverbial candy store. The fact that I can call these people friends means as much to me as the music they’re helping me share.

Sweet dreams.

– Tom Flannery

6/28/2014 Archbald, PA

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Early reviews of “Under the Covers”

July 15, 2014 Leave a comment

coming this July….foolshillmusic-cr-transmStext1402535279Some early Reviews

a Pennsylvania treasure….Flannery has the soul of an Irish poet and the detail-capturing eye of a seasoned journalist…In “Under the Covers” 14 noted artists take on some of Tom’s strongest compositions. Stripped down to their acoustic hearts, the music is direct and accessible…picture a baker’s dozen outstanding acoustic performers sitting on your front porch, playing some of the best songs you’ve ever heard.
–Jim Colbert, The Folk Show, WPSUfm

14 intensely intimate interpretations…”Under the Covers” showcases a songwriting talent on par with anyone at the highest levels of their craft..
— WRKC Radio

a very cool record….ambitious….it comes off as low key without pretense…A diverse collection of songs that showcases Tom Flannery’s talents as a songwriter.
— Music on the Menu, 105 The River

Tom Flannery has done it again, this time with a little help from his friends. The result is magical and truly captures Flannery’s brilliance as a songwriter.
Vinyl Voyage

Categories: Uncategorized

Dick Cheney has finally brought the nation together. We can ALL agree that he’s an asshole.

June 24, 2014 Leave a comment

It’s 2014. Despite the many ghastly lessons of history, many among us still advocate war. It’s all so red white and blue. It’s what we do. We kick ass. We invade and smart-bomb and do it all on TV. The bad guys die and the good guys who die get shipped home in the middle of the night when nobody is looking. In other words, the good guys don’t die.

Then we write bad country music songs about it. It’s a ghastly business.

We seem terribly flippant about the whole thing. It’s so remote. Hell, airstrikes in Mosul are easy. The people advocating for them don’t live in Mosul.

Is there anybody out there who thinks another American soldier should die fighting for Mosul?

Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

dickThe one thing these pro-war folks seem to have in common is that none of them has ever fought in a war. Like Dick Cheney. The former Vice President managed to get himself 5 draft deferments during Vietnam (when asked why he said “I had other things to do”). That’s some serious evading. Ted Nugent shit-in-his-pants worthy stuff. You’d think someone so hawkish about shooting people would have shot somebody himself. In war I mean. Spraying buck shot into the face of a hunting buddy after pounding a 12 pack of Coors for lunch doesn’t count. Or at least it shouldn’t. But we live in strange times. Who knows what lurks in the bowels of evil men?

Not me. I’m not about to check the bastard’s bowels either. But still.

Cheney had his chance to fight for his country. He chose not to.

Hey. Lots of guys chose not to. But most were anti war then and remain so now. They have the courage of their convictions to fall back on. That’s good enough for me. It’s good enough for most Americans I think. But Cheney. This guy seems special. A raving lunatic….a professional torturer…a blood fiend with actual fangs willing to send US boys into harms way for the most disgusting of reasons. Profit. And cheap partisan politics.

Cheney is an American monster, a man with the moral compass of a pack of half starved hyenas. A shredder of the constitution. A genuine war criminal. An abomination not seen since the days Henry Kissinger and Richard Nixon were swilling gin in front of the JFK portrait in the White House. Cheney should he in jail. The guy is so twisted he even publicly stomped on his own daughter to score cheap political points. His daughter had the misfortune to be born gay and republican, a combination which is illegal in Wyoming. Or at least in the Cheney home. Lucky for the Cheney’s they have 2 daughters. The other is a homophobe. So she’s the normal one. A true hater like Pops. Imagine that version of “Daddy’s Little Girl” at the wedding? They were probably plotting an assassination mid-dance while everybody cooed “aww, look how nice”.

Cheney is a man who once called Nelson Mandela a “terrorist” and then voted against creating a federal holiday for Martin Luther King in case anybody got the wrong idea how he really felt about uppity niggers. Dick Cheney is also a medical miracle. A man without a heart who has somehow managed to have multiple heart attacks. All medical expenses paid for of course….by a government sponsored heath care plan. Ain’t that America for you and me?

I’m sure the man has some decent qualities, although they’ve remained hidden thus far. As a matter of fact, Cheney’s only real rival for the low road in US politics in my lifetime may be Gordon Liddy, the third rate Watergate burglar who’s parlor trick was burning his own arm with a match without flinching to show how loyal he was to his boss, John Mitchell. Mitchell too ended up in jail. Quite a pack of patriots eh? But even Liddy, whom Nixon called “that fruitcake”, served his country in Korea. He also advocated the murder of newspaper men who disagreed with Nixon. And ATF agents, whom he suggested be shot in the head to get around the body armor.

Liddy is also a “Christian”. In case you couldn’t tell.

But I digress.

The Dick has been in the news lately for a series of public utterances so vile and disgusting even some of the storm troopers from Fox News seem revolted….as if they’ve been asked to interview a live snake on television. Cheney seems less human than ever, and more and more like a Grendel-type monster ready to swallow a litter of kitten to scare a pack of 5 year old girls. He’s back to give Iraqi war advice, never mind the fact that the only thing he got right the first time was the location of the oil fields. The sheer Chutzpah of it all has forced even the most fear crazed war mongers in my circle of friends to avoid me in bars and supermarket check out lines. And these are folks who have blow up Reagan dolls under their beds at home. They are not easily thrown off Rush Limbaugh’s talking points. But something is happening here…and even they aren’t sure what it is. But they know they need to shut down this swine before he gives the entire damn charade away. It’s like having Barry Goldwater show up at your house drunk and uninvited with a bunch of guys wearing hoods with saddlebags filled with mescaline and boys underwear. It’s bad PR.

Dick Cheney has finally brought the nation together. We can all agree that he’s an asshole.

And that may be the most patriotic thing the old fool has ever done for his country.

In a bit…

–tf

Categories: Uncategorized

Send lawyers, guns, and money

June 21, 2014 1 comment

(a letter to my friend Mike Stevens….of “On the Pennsylvania Road” fame)

Stevens,

A brief explanation for this letter. For months I’ve been trying to bypass the vicious security detail at your fortified compound in the Abington’s. Obviously to no avail. What do you feed those guys anyway? Not a single neck among them. They make the Blackwater mercenaries look like Girl Scouts.

Anyway, I figure the US postal service could use the business these days. In a year they’ll be a private business run by contractors from Istanbul, so I plan to do my duty until then. As you know I am a patriot.

Our somewhat regular state of the union meetings seemed to die on the vine once Borders in Dickson City went under. I think we both went into mourning. But it’s time to get back on the horse again. We face many pressing problems, and I can’t solve them all on my own. You represent the last gasp of civil normalcy amongst my coterie of strange acquaintances, and as such I’m counting on you. You are Ebenezer Scrooge and Bob Cratchit all rolled up in one. No mean feat that eh?

I believe our nation is surely doomed. You seem to be the only person who can convince me otherwise. While it’s true that once I’m out of earshot of your convincing verbiage my doubts return violently, I do appreciate the short respites you provide.

I’m paraphrasing here, but the gist of our conversations is this…

Me: The fear is everywhere. We are surrounded on all sides by monumental dumbness. A current map of red/blue states laid side by side with a 1861 secession map looks like photocopies of each other. We are cursed. We are a banana republic with too many cable tv stations. The horror! The horror!

You: Nonsense. I just spent a lovely day with this 84 year old war widow who lives in a house deep in the woods….a sturdy home made with old Schlitz cans. We are stronger than ever lad! Now away with your gibberish. I have a meeting with a man who has been in a tree since Agnew resigned. He’s refusing to come down until Pat Buchanan grants him an audience. And this guy lives in Jermyn! Tell that story in 90 seconds you punk!

Such meetings really put the zap on my head. Your relentless optimism is a wonder to me. Sure, at times I think you may have jumped the shark….perhaps too much time carousing with Uncle Ted during the glory days? But you remain a modern marvel. The only officially “retired” man who works 59 hours a week….with a constant smile.

I hate that you love your job, because it reminds me of how much I hate mine. You are dastardly that way Stevens.

But enough of all that. It’s time to get your hands dirty Stevens. I won’t allow you to wallow in your own fame. It’s for your own good. You must hit the ground running and never look into the light.

You’re welcome.

The next 2 years will be fiendish. I would suggest stocking up on bullets and canned goods. They are coming for us and there are lots of places to hide the bodies. For God’s sake man Detroit is empty! You can buy a house there with your smile. Plans are being made for all scenarios. Even the zombies will be crushed with a huge frontal assault. And tell me. What did the zombies ever do to you? I’ll take zombies over just about any politician I know.

We’re all in the crossfire Stevens. We must bob and weave like Ali in his prime…..perhaps some rope-a-dope so the bastards punch themselves out. Like George Foreman did in Zaire. I was 9 years old and I still remember it. You must have been..what…about 50 then?

Anyway, that’s it for now. The weather is perfect for a baseball game so I am off to the stadium. I shall cheer on the hometown RailRiders while sipping a $7 Pepsi. Ain’t that America for me and you?

I trust you are well. I can’t turn on the wretched TV without hearing you. That can only mean business is booming.

Write soon.  And please send lawyers, guns, and money.

In a bit.

–tf

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An open letter…..

June 19, 2014 1 comment

AN OPEN LETTER TO ALL WHO BLAME OBAMA FOR…WELL….EVERYTHING

I feel your pain. Truly. But soon it will be over. Two more years. Then all will be right again in your world. Your grass will start growing again and we might invade a middle eastern country or two. For old times sake.

Unless.

You know what I’m going to say. Unless Hillary is our next president.

If that happens, you are all doomed. Because she has a long memory. She is PISSED. And your will pay. Dearly. You will look back on Obama’s two terms as the good old days. Nothing more than an extension of the cracker policies of George W Bush. I’m sorry that Obama is a black man. But, well, that’s the way these things go. He’s the whitest black man in the country. Small comfort for you fellas, but there it is. Hillary’s hubby was blacker than Obama. Don’t blame me because you are too dumb to realize this. Obama has more in common with Nixon than he does with James Brown. You people are fools. When he’s gone you’re gonna be writing blues songs about him.

But back to Hillary. She is going to CREATE new government agencies just to fuck with you. Your guns? Gone. Your religion? Ha! She’s gonna tax your church parking lots. She’s coming for you Bubba. You never thought it would come to this when that skank was giving head to Hillary’s husband did you? Of course not. But karma is a bitch. And so is our next President. She is going to make you squeal like Ned Beatty from “Deliverance”. And when she’s done with you, George Orwell is gonna feel like Mister Rogers.

You people think you know how to HATE? Bah. She will school you like the varsity beating the JV. She will beat on you like a gong until you scream “enough”. And only then will you be tossed into Guantanamo Bay. Without charges. For years. Or at least 2 terms, since you fools have forgotten you need an actual candidate to beat her over the next 6 years. Who you got?

Hillary travels the world now, refusing to remove her sunglasses. Like Bono. And make no mistake. She considers herself Bono’s equal in every way, which should TERRIFY you. She considers her critics as Bono considers his. Like shit on the shoe. Enemies to be scraped off. Dumb mutants who don’t know they are being set up like watermelons on a shooting range.

Hide your guns. She has a freakish breed of top secret dogs that will burrow through your flower beds and find them. I’ve seen the Power Point presentations. Reagan’s “Star Wars” presentation looks like it was put together by amateurs in comparison. This is serious business. Your tax dollars at work. Ever hear of a boomerang? Look it up bubba. These dogs are meaner than half starved Australian dingos. And the Fox News logo makes them CRAZY. Like Pavlov’s mutts. But way more cynical. Save time and start practicing throwing rocks at each other, because anything heavier is gonna be illegal. She’s gonna melt down your guns and use then to create statues of Chelsea outside of every public school in the nation. Private schools? You and Jesus and the flag? Ha! Find a good cave. And beware of informers. They are everywhere.

I know this sound bad. But really, it’s worse. Did you expect any different? Did you ever read the drivel your masters have written about this woman? This crazed lesbian murderer? You waved a cum splattered dress in her face. You shit in her homemade cookies. You made fun of her assorted hair styles. The bitch of Benghazi.

She will crush you like grapes. After all, she’ll be the President of the United States. That’s her JOB.

We can call Sarah Palin a crazy lunatic bitch because even you brain damaged fools wouldn’t pull a lever with her name on it. You are twisted but you are survivors. Props to you. And you’ve turned Ronald Reagan, a man dumber than a fruit fly, into a mythic American hero. I underestimate you at my own peril.

But you’ve really given yourself an enema on this one. Hillary is meaner than you are. And even worse, she’s SMARTER. She picks fools like Palin out of her teeth every morning.

And soon she’ll have the IRS at her fingertips. And homeland security. And the armed forces. And the FCC. I won’t even discus what happens when old sissies like Scalia start dropping dead of mysterious causes. Guess who is gonna replace him on the Supreme Court? Odds are 2 to 1 on Ellen Degeneres. Not that there’s anything wrong with that eh?

Good luck Bubba. Eight years of boots on your face might not leave permanent scars. Hell, Ned Beatty looked totally normal once he pulled his pants up. He just never ate bacon again.

In a bit.

–tf

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Lyle on the back porch

June 16, 2014 1 comment

Jesus. Sitting on my back porch with my reading lamp and a can of Yuengling. Listening to Lyle Lovett singing “Just the Morning”. Not bad boyos. Not bad at all.

Lyle Lovett 0112 4My cat is out here trying desperately to kill a rabbit. I don’t have the heart to tell her to give it up. She’s a tenacious little bugger. But at this point the rabbit is clearly mocking her, making mad dashes to and fro before escaping under the fence. My cat was not right on the day we brought her home. Something about being part of a litter that was collectively dropped on their heads. Didn’t get all the details. No matter. Some two years later she needs about 6 months of therapy to fit into anyone’s definition of a house pet. We keep her around because we feel responsible for letting her out of that cardboard box in the first place. Admittedly this ain’t the easiest place to shit in your own house. Plus, as I always say, you can’t choose your family.

Flashes of heat lightning caress the sky. No sign of rain behind it. Sky just finished burning off the red. Sailor’s delight. Lyle onto “I’ve Been to Memphis” now. Sometimes you’re up all night because you couldn’t match the evening with the right songs. Try some Lyle if you have any idea what I mean.

This porch is what sold the house for me. So what if it was covered in tile when we bought it and was so rotted that my wife put her foot through the floor a few months after we moved in. We had no way of knowing such mundane details. So we had to rip it up and replace it, at a cost that seemed obscene then and almost comically egregious now. But what the hell. It’s guaranteed “for life” and requires “no maintenance”. Telling me that is like offering me a night with Halle Berry for a roll of quarters. Sign where? Ok then.

I regret it not at all. That stupid cat is sitting in the middle of the yard pretending she’s being filmed for a PBS Nature episode….acting like some badass Cheetah. Her tormentor has apparently packed it in for the night. So here she comes. She’s now sitting on top of the mini fridge, guarding the beer I guess. I told you she was family. I attract nothing but weirdos. Friends. Women. Cats. Name it.

Lyle. “She’s Already Made Up Her Mind”. Gorgeous and deadly. Lyle is not for the children. They’d be up all night crying and pissing the bed.

My daughter is 16 years old today. This makes me feel like I’m 20 different people. I’m so proud of the young lady she’s become. Yet still I wake up shivering in the middle of the night wondering if this world is worthy of her. Lyle singing “North Dakota”. “They look across the border / to learn the ways of love”. I feel like crying. And I’m not even sad. “If you love me say I love you / if you love me take my hand.” Who is gonna watch after my baby girl when I’m not around?

Storm. So much for my weather forecasting. In North Korea the little dwarf would have me flogged for such incompetence. But the porch is covered. You think I’d buy a home based on some slab of floor with the sky for a ceiling? Hah. This is serious business out here. I feel safe amongst the savages. Even vertical awnings to keep the prying eyes away. Money is no object. Put in on the card dammit!

Cat seems much less brave now with the rain pissing down and the wind howling. She’d shame the shit out of PBS. At the moment she’s hiding under my chair. The perfect moment for the rabbit to attack methinks. Dumbass cat might get a taste of the fear.

Well that should do it for now. Lyle is singing the blues. All my love is gone. Surely that’s a good place to stop. Was talking “country music” the other night. For me the list is short. Lyle. Yoakam. Haggard. Willie. And some dead guys. Johnny Cash and Hank. I don’t go much further. I was told Tim McGraw was the real deal because “his ass is so tight a quarter would bounce off of it”. They were talking about how he looked in jeans, not how he is to the list above as my deranged cat is to Cheetah’s on PBS. (on the other hand…Lyle was banging Julia Roberts on talent alone…don’t you dare try this at home)

If I Had a Boat. These 3 minutes are enough for the hall of fame.

And so it goes. Blame it on the fear.

In a bit.

–tf

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Writing is a bitch. But it’s fun. And you get to set your own hours. And wear pajamas.

June 13, 2014 1 comment

Writing for a living is a dastardly business.

snoopySo I’ve heard anyway. Even though I fancy myself a writer of sorts, I’ve never attempted to earn the family bread at it, which is just as well. My father made his living as a writer. He seemed a happy man, mostly because he cared not a whit about money for money’s sake. He made just enough coin to keep us all clothed and fed, with enough left over for a week at the beach every summer…which cost $150 in them days….or about half of what you’d pay to get a hotel room for a single night at the same beach today.

A tough nut in either era for sure, but things seem more obscene now. You could do more with less when I was a kid…and maybe that’s one of the things that makes growing up such a pain in the ass.

After my Dad retired, I actually found out what his salary was. And how many times he re-mortgaged the house to keep the carnival running. And about his assorted 2nd jobs. And all the free-lance work he did so we wouldn’t be humiliated on Christmas mornings when exchanging notes with the neighbors.

So I got a business degree in College, which is the degree you get when you have no idea what you want to do with your life, but you’re pretty sure you don’t want to be brutishly poor. Like a social worker. Or a newspaper man.

Nobody is more boring at parties than people who have a business degree. Their eyes are all glazed and they frequently make no sense whatsoever and have an alarming tendency to bogart everyone’s joints. All they talk about is the novel they’re just about to start writing. It’s depressing. These people should be stomped out with winkle-picker shoes.

At least I never threatened to write a novel. I know better. That would be ghastly business. I can barely sit still long enough to play “I Can’t Explain” on the guitar. My mind wanders in curious ways. Frequently, when driving, I end up heading in the wrong direction and don’t notice until I’m so far from my initial destination that I decide to go someplace else. It once wandered so much that when I showed up for a final exam in college I was asked what I was doing there. It was the first time I’d made it to class, apparently.

I passed the exam with flying colors, which tells you as much about a business degree as you need to know really. It was like 3rd grade, except they didn’t call your parents when you didn’t show up.

Actually, I’ve written just about everything except a novel over the years. Songs. Plays. Essays. Political diatribes. A short story or two. All varieties….some of it printable….and some of it incontrovertible gibberish. But really, it’s the only thing I ever felt like I had an aptitude for.

Some of my writing I’ve even been paid for. Some. But the net result is horrifying….a financial catastrophe of gargantuan proportions. Maybe farming or organizing democrats pays less per hour. Maybe. Which is why I refuse to refer to myself as a writer. Because it’s bad juju. I’d feel like a wretched failure. Lucky me I’ve got a business degree to fall back on, so I spend my days in a mental fog of number crunching and being subjected to the Peter Principle over and over….pure data overload, occasionally staring out the windows….like a convict peeking through bars. And, as I keep being reminded, I should be grateful. I have a “real” job and I’m not wearing a name tag and a goofy hat with my other Business degree pals from the class of 1988. (Or perpetually stoned, like the ones who decided to stick around and get Master’s degrees. These poor wretches should have their own telethon).

What a year that was. 1988. Free from the excuse of “I’m not a grown up yet”. Set loose on coin operated laundries and unsuspecting roommates. Paying for beer with rolled up coins and pretending that I was well qualified to live this way until I turned 65 and retired so I could then get sick and die like a good catholic. It was a hideous year of heartbreak and fear. My first job out of college was with the defense industry, so I was immediately confronted with the evil truth that nothing I’d learned in college was relevant anymore….especially not when you’re 22 and fleecing the government like it’s a morning-after-unpaid-sleeping-hooker with a head full of benzos.

Trapped like rats for 60 hours a week (OT was rampant and turned everyone into greedy savages) we’d only be let out early on Election Day…..told to vote Republican, otherwise we were surely doomed.

Ah youth. I was still smart enough at the time to notice that I was surrounded by old people who seemed resolute only in their sense of defeat. I’d drive home from work every day weeping like a little girl….desperate to reach a bar, where I could be surrounded by more old people who seemed resolute only in their sense of defeat. But at least they’d buy me rounds because they felt bad for me. “Don’t worry son”, I was told. “At least you still have hair.”

So yea…where was I?

Writing is a bitch. But it’s fun. And you get to set your own hours. And wear pajamas. Shelby Foote wore nothing but pajamas for 20 years while writing his monumental Civil War trilogy. Beat that boyos.

The place I worked at out of college? It’s now an empty hulk, with grass growing through the cracked floors. Rumors say it was built on an ancient indian burial ground, and anybody who toiled there will have nothing to look forward to but lay-offs and rehabs and looted social security. Even right wing warmongers at the highest level of government couldn’t save the place.

We have 2 choices in life really. To float or to swim.

Well 3, but failure is not an option for a writer.

We can take the flogging….but will not surrender.

In a bit..

–tf

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