Friday, February 26, 2010

Meet the Croatian Johnny Cash

It all started with this guy I met on the internet… Yes, it reads like a cautionary tale, but bear with me.

It was years ago, when music fans still traded hard-to-find recordings of their favorite musicians and/or bands by (gasp) mailing compact discs to each other. The internet hadn’t yet been perfected, but even then, it was a great way for like-minded people to meet.

Over the years we’ve kept in touch, and in that time he took his love of Johnny Cash to the next logical step and picked up a guitar and started playing his songs.

But unlike most of the homages on YouTube, he doesn’t try to “add-to” or update or interpret Cash’s work. Or imitate him, thank God. His singing, like his playing, is organic and has no ego. He just strums the chords and sings the words, like Cash did. Maybe a little bit of finger-picking on the bridge if it doesn’t intrude. Plus, he covers the songs that move him, not the songs calculated to gather the most YouTube “hits.” Check out his version of this Cash song you’ve never heard of:

By the way, that’s an autoharp he’s playing. It’s like a stringed accordion; you have to be able to do ten things at once to make it go. And still be able to sing.

My God, even his self-shot, sepia clips are as stark and Spartan as a great Cash vocal performance. They could have been shot by Matthew Brady 150 years ago if Brady made music videos instead of battlefield corpsescapes.

You should check out my friend’s YouTube home page. He also does Townes Van Zandt and Stephen Foster! If I could be anybody in Croatia, I’d be this guy.

PS: Happy birthday, Johnny, wherever you are. Tell Elvis I said, “Hey,” won’t you?

Thursday, February 25, 2010

I just lost the job I hate today

It was one of them full-time/part-time jobs. Where they paid me part time but worked me full time? It made Tuesday and Wednesday of every week a horrible nightmare, and every week it took longer and longer to drive a stake through the heart of the nightmare.

But I had recently resigned myself to it. Decided it was a case of having the wisdom to know the difference between things you can change and things you can’t. I kept climbing up on my high horse and almost getting fired for it, so I had finally decided that for the weekly direct deposit that came with it, I would kiss my Tuesdays and Wednesdays goodbye. And boy, did they ever go bye-bye.

Just two weeks ago I gave the editor a pep talk along these very lines, when she had hit her personal limit with the shortcomings of the home office of this august publication.

Then today the editor calls me up, asks me if I’ve heard from the publisher. No, says I, because I hadn’t. So it’s up to her to break the bad news to me that the paper got gobbled up by its local competition and that we’re all out of jobs. I still haven’t been contacted by the publisher directly.

So now, well, we’ve got two more weeks of direct deposits left, then—who knows?

Fortunately for me, The Missus is great at chasing down job opportunities for me. And for the time being I still have my “A” job and am planning specific things I can do to make myself more integral to their operation. I have two teleconferences tomorrow especially for the doing of that.

And I’ve already begun applying for jobs I’m not qualified for, The Missus’ specialty.

But with the move out of state looming, it kind of screws me for the job market. I had really been hoping to ride out that awful paper that folded today till The Move, precisely so I wouldn’t be in this dicey situation.

But until the money crunch starts to set in, I’m just going to spend a week or two being grateful that my Tuesdays and Wednesdays won’t be actively shaving years off the end of my life. That the uncooperative, uncommunicative people on the ground in the home office (I telecommuted) are out of my life, for good and forever.

After that, I’ll be open to just about anything that brings some cash into the house that doesn’t involve removing naked pictures of me from the internet. If you or anyone you know needs a house-trained monkey-boy on a short-term basis, good with people and kids and a jack of all trades but master of none, please pass this desperate plea along to them.

I’m willing to work weekends and evenings and pretty much any time except the High Holy Days (Jan. 8 and August 16).

Thank you for your attention.

Monday, February 22, 2010

“American VI: Ain’t No Grave” a fitting, fond farewell

Producer Rick Rubin promises this Johnny Cash album, the second posthumous one, will be the last he releases, which as good as makes it the last actual Johnny Cash album. I’m sure distant relatives will one day release outtakes, live performances and “alternate versions” much the same way Elvis’ catalog has been raped by RCA, but this is the last real new Johnny Cash album. That in itself is a sad, sobering thought.

Culled mainly from tracks recorded in the months between the death of Cash’s beloved wife June in May, 2003, and his own demise shortly thereafter, American VI: Ain’t No Grave is Cash’s musical last will and testament, and almost every track proves itself the equal of that intimidating responsibility.

The disc’s opening lines, “There ain’t no grave that can hold my body down,” are intoned in a dry, sepulchral rasp meant to chill, and despite the cynical calculation of it, they do. I wouldn’t want to meet this song in a dark alley at night!

I don’t know what a new listener, just discovering Cash’s American output for the first time would think, hearing this opening track. The melody is not the most tuneful and the clanking-chain percussion I thought was perhaps a touch too much. And the voice, though on-pitch, is clearly ravaged. I just heard my first Charlie Louvin record lately and the voice of the singer was wrecked, but it had a lived-in, stately dignity about it that gives me chills. I really like it, even though I can tell it must be a shadow now of what it once had been.

I’d hope a new listener would hear this album’s title track and come to a similar conclusion.

But if one is already an admirer of the Man In Black, it’s impossible not to marvel at, and have empathy with, the grave timbre of The Voice in its final corporeal moments. This is the sound of a great spirit letting go, dissipating gracefully, even joyfully, into that Eternal White Light.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

The next song is called “Redemption Day.” First reaction: Cheryl Crow wrote a song on the last Johnny Cash album?? I’m glad I never heard her version, this one is great. And the production is thankfully chain-free. It sounds like it should always have been a Johnny Cash tune. Spot-on.

Then Cash covers a revered pop chestnut, this one written by his good friend Kris Kristofferson. Like American V’s “If You Could Read My Mind,” he doesn’t just re-interpret the familiar classic, he re-invents it.

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not some endlessly forgiving/undiscerning fanboy here. I think there have been a number of misfires over the years in Cash’s selection of cover songs. “Cats In The Cradle,” comes to mind. So does “Personal Jesus.” I’m not really crazy about his version of U2’s “One” and in my opinion, no one has done “Solitary Man” better than Tucson, Arizona’s The Sidewinders. Most of the time, I tend to like the first version of a song I heard, no matter who covers it later, even Cash.

But on this album’s “For The Good Times,” he snatches the wistful number away from whatever pop crooner’s version I remember so fondly and makes it his own. (As an example of the phenomenon at work, Trent Reznor has recently taken to introducing “Hurt” in concert as a Johnny Cash song, in spite of the fact that Reznor wrote it and recorded it first.) Cash is in really good voice on “For The Good Times.” Strong and smooth. Good times, indeed.

The album’s standout is the lone new composition, “I Corinthians 15:55.” On my first couple listens, it was the one song that made me stop typing and look up from my keyboard to see which song was playing. And not even for the passionate lyrics, but for the lilting, playful vocal line. To think he had such beauty inside of him even as his heart was broken and his outer shell was falling to pieces around him… Only Cash could sing the words, “Oh Death, where is thy sting?” not as self-pity or a brash challenge, but rather as a teasing lover to a would-be paramour. Cheeky and cool.

“Can’t Help But Wonder Where I’m Bound” is practically unrecognizable from its popular rendition. But again, Cash invests the words with so much easy passion, it sounds like a whole different song till he gets to the familiar refrain. Which he sings with a sly wink because if there’s one thing Cash knew when he recorded this song, it’s where he was bound.

“Satisfied Mind” also kicks maximum ass and was recorded on a good voice day. Another fitting epitaph in a final album full of them. His strong, confident performance on this song makes it feel less like a coda and more like a period in 72-point, bold type.

The next cut, “I Don’t Hurt Anymore,” is a nice song and performance, but perhaps it’s a tad a bridge too far, theme-wise.

And sorry, but Walter Brennan owns “Cool Water.” But again, Cash is in great voice and seems to be enjoying himself. Still, I find it hard to believe that in all the time Cash and Rubin worked together, Rubin didn’t have a deeper well to draw from while assembling this final album. Hey, I just made a metaphor or something!

On either the last or second to last Larry King show Cash did, King grilled him about what he thought of (then-) current events, including W’s newly-minted Iraq War. I remember Cash’s eyes flashing for a moment before he demurred. I thought at the time that he just decided he didn’t have the strength to “go there.” I didn’t have much doubt what he really thought about it, and the inclusion of the anti-war classic “Last Night I Had The Strangest Dream” on the this, his final album, seems to validate my suspicion about Cash’s unspoken opinion.

The version here is Cash not in his strongest voice and for this song, it works perfectly. The accompaniment is nicely underdone and appropriate to the material. I see a picture in my mind of an old soldier laying dying, looking at all his medals and memorabilia on his bedside and for the first time wondering, what the hell had he done with his life?

The last song. “Aloha Oe,” nicely underplays the Hawaiian underpinnings of its origins. The vocal is up front, and when Cash gets around to translating the chorus, it was my voice that caught in my throat, not his. A lovely send-off. If Johnny Cash couldn’t have a proper Viking funeral—flaming boat and all—this song is the next best thing.

This obsession of Cash’s, at least in his professional life, with death and the hereafter wasn’t just window dressing he picked up in his dotage to keep the kids interested. Johnny Cash sang about death from one of first hit records, “Folsom Prison Blues,” on. (If you’re new around here, that was the one where he “shot a man in Reno just to watch him die.”)

Death was a theme he returned to again and again, from every side of the equation, but more often than not his character was the receiver of death, not the bringer.

The great country gospel music that filled Cash’s childhood and informed his professional output usually dealt with this life as merely a grisly, unpleasant series of ordeals one had to endure in order to earn a coveted spot at the right hand of the Lord in the afterlife. And to get from here to the hereafter, you were going to have kick death’s ass somewhere along the way so you might as well face it head-on. Check out the tune below. Here’s a first-person death song that’ll have you wanting to jump up and sing along:

Cash’s obsession with death and the next life only became creepy the nearer he himself got to it. But like the fearless artist and true believer that he was, rather than shy away from it, he confronted it straight on. In his last recordings with Rubin, he used his impending demise as the muse that elevates American VI from sad elegy for an American icon to something bigger, more important. People ought to be teaching this album in grief counseling workshops from now till judgment day.

When my time comes, if I can look death in the eye with even a trace of the equanimity and class Cash demonstrates here, I’ll have become a far better man than I am as I write this.

Even at a meager ten tracks, barely 30+ minutes and a couple of throw-away tunes, American VI: Ain’t No Grave rates five stars.

My guitars look so happy together!

Thanks to everyone who helped make it possible: Robert and Connie and Ron and Loretta and Dennis. You know who you are!

Take this dog and blog it

When The Missus accepted her cool new job offer recently, she asked me what we’d have to do to make the impending move more palatable for me. After only a slight hesitation I said that if we have to move to a new city, away from my established comfort-zone and the one little friend I’d made in the nearly ten years we’ve been out here, I wanted to do it without the dog. Just hate that dog. We discussed it and kind of left the issue on the table.

Shortly thereafter, however, it occurred to me that had been a particularly shitty thing to do. After all, I made a big deal of renouncing the dog and officially giving it to her over a year ago. And now I’m telling her she has to leave HER DOG behind when we move?

Dick Move. Big time. I’d kick anybody’s ass who told me I had to move but I couldn’t bring my dog. Back when I had a dog.

So it occurred to me to offer her an alternative option. Give the dog back to me and give me free, full rein and let me see if I can’t fix his behavioral issues.

(Quick re-cap: He’s big and clumsy and sneaky and fast, has bitten houseguests before—from inside his steel-barred crate!—misbehaves to get attention and can’t be trusted around food, trash or bio-hazardous materials. He’s one of those stupid fucking animals other people own who will eat anything, especially non-food items. I don’t know what the fuck I was thinking when I named him Obi, when he was clearly going to grow up to be Darth Vader. He even looks the part; see pic, above.)

The linchpin of the New Master Plan For Obi depended on The Missus getting as Draconian on his ass as I am. That’s why he respects me and is the Ideal Dog whenever The Missus is not home. The Boy and I take zero shit from him, and he behaves around us. The Missus used to constantly upbraid him for transgressions then return to what she was doing, without having dispensed any justice. I explained to her, the stupid dog thinks you two are playing a game, like fetch. He brings you one of my socks and you shower him with Big Attention then he goes and gets another sock, repeat ad infinitum. He’s in stupid-dog nirvana.

I told her, in order for us to “salvage” this dog (the word I used), she and I have to mete out punishment equally, for even the slightest offense. Anything he does that’s the least bit off-track and he gets yelled at angrily and banished to his cage and doesn’t get out for at least a half hour. The punishment has to far exceed the transgression for this method of training to work.

And since we started a couple weeks ago, she’s been holding up her part of the bargain great. He’s had lots of quality cage time, looking confused as hell. I feel more like a warden than ever. I wonder if she would agree to shock therapy…

For me of course.

I told her, we can have him trained in a year if she can keep it up. Just imagine if we can salvage this dog! What an amazing accomplishment that would be.

And for my part of the deal, I would begin treating him like he was my dog again. Feeding him scraps, giving him the left-over milk from my cereal bowl, and stopping to pet him and say nice things when I pass through the front room. It’s hard to remember after all this time what it was like to have a dog.

The Boy remarked the other day that Daddy was being nice to Obi and Mommy was being mean. I outlined the new Program for him and we had a good laugh about it. Mission on its way to being Accomplished!

So that’s where we’re at. The In-Laws were out this weekend and after barking furiously at them for five minutes, The Stupid Dog had drawn blood (by accident, see “clumsy” in the text above) and the victim was excusing the dog, forgiving him. I had made the mistake of not filling them in on the New Master Plan For Obi and by then it was too late. I don’t think they would have signed on anyhow. They probably wouldn’t have liked the part about: In this house, forgiving the dog is between me and my God and nobody else. Even the dog doesn’t have anything to say about it.

He’s being great today, as usual. Everyone’s gone and he’s reverted back to being man’s best friend. The test will come tonight. Will The Missus’ outraged cries of “Obi, NO!!” be followed by the clatter of the cage door slamming shut or the dull thump-bump-ump of The Stupid Dog bouncing off the walls with reckless abandon?

I’m betting he has a lot of quality cage time to look forward to.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Dear Tiger Woods:

Great speech. I wonder if Chris Matthews forgot you were black for a while.

Now quit apologizing to the media (you didn’t cheat on them), and start playing golf again. It was infidelity, not genocide. Move on.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

High, Low and In Between

Today was one of those days when I just didn’t see a goddamn thing coming.

In no particular order:

A key co-worker who’d hit the breeze without notice in December, just before the holidays, and without whom we’d learned to manage to get along without quite nicely thank you, reappeared equally without notice this morning, reportedly demanding to know what had happened to “her paper” in her absence. (What had happened was, the guy who stepped up to pick up her slack had been trying hard to make it a legitimate news organ for its community, as opposed to the unquestioning forum for city-government press releases it was under her tenure and promises to return to.)

But then… a friend of mine—an online chum with whom I have never exchanged naked photographs—sent me a link to the new Johnny Cash album that doesn’t ‘street’ till next week. Of course I already have an official copy on pre-order from amazon, so I didn’t feel guilty about downloading the sneak peek. A full review will follow, but it was a sobering and spiritual experience on a day of the week when all I usually have is stress.

But then… and this is the in-between part, The Missus learned she’d landed herself a tenure-track professorship at a university in a town that, whenever people hear its name, invariably the first thing they bring up is the White Aryan Resistance presence in the area.

I’m very proud of Dr. Mrs. Fang, but I’d just started thinking of Christmas Island as home. I will not see The Last Boy Scout’s children and mine grow up together. I will have to return to the back alleys to score my contraband and run the risk of the local constabulary (point in my favor: I’m white!). And my spaghetti-noodle back is already howling in agony at the prospect of packing up all the shit we can’t or won’t sell and dragging it to middle, red-state Amerikkka.

And she’ll have to take a pay cut, but the cost of living is lower there and frankly, her department here at the local Christmas Island U. is considered more and more expendable every pay period. They’ve already furloughed the crap out of her and her department head is advising his employees to “seek work elsewhere.” Not to mention the fact that she’s wanted to be a college professor for almost half her life. So really, landing this new gig is a godsend.

If you like that sort of thing. I prefer my godsends in tidy lump-sums with no strings attached. Preferably delivered by swimsuit models in body paint. And as a rule, they don’t involve moving vans or interruptions in my access to weed.

It sucks that the culmination of a lifetime of hard work on her part is being met with a “but what about ME?!” from me, but that’s just the way I’m put together. I keep trying for a passable brave face for her, but all I’ve come up with so far is a perfectly-realized petulant sulk.

I’ve said it before and it bears repeating now: I am a far better father than I am a husband.

If you feel compelled to leave a comment, tough love is encouraged. Commiseration, no matter how well-intended, will only encourage me to continue my unspeakable selfishness.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Of neckchins and thumb-sucking

Our little family unit took Valentine’s Day a day early this year. Me and The Missus dropped The Boy off with The Last Boy Scout, his mom and two little girls and went to the local art house theater to see “Crazy Heart.”

I was not terribly into the movie initially, but it’s been growing sweeter and smoother in my memory ever since. I figured Jeff Bridges would acquit himself nicely in a role that sounded like The Dude meets Hank Williams. But who knew Colin Farrell could act, let alone sing American country & western music convincingly? This move is full of little revelations. Between Bridges’ lived-in performance of what press notes describe as basically “the fifth Highwayman,” the fact that I know the world of spiraling-down-on-their-luck musicians backwards and forwards plus the welcoming vibe created by the film’s soundtrack, this is the little movie I can’t shake. Maybe it was the Townes Van Zandt tune playing in the background of one scene...

I even went on the iTunes to try to buy a copy of Bridges singing the movie’s title track only to find, not without some appreciation of the irony, the song was only available in a weeping-strings-laden version by its author. I wish they had offered a Bridges version and an acoustic version by the songwriter, one Ryan Bingham. But if wishes were fishes, beggars would float. Or sink. Or something. That metaphor always gets away from me.

Anyway, the movie really worked for me. I bought Bingham’s tarted-up version of the title track out of respect for the songwriting and I look forward to Mr. Bridges’ acceptance speech come Oscar night. Remember the Academy loves to reward films about principals with handicaps, and what handicap can anyone in showbiz relate to more easily than substance abuse? Bridges is a virtual lock.

But oops, I got off track. What does any of this have to do with neckchins? Or thumb-sucking, for that matter?

After the movie (and the fine meal that preceded it), we picked up The Boy and thanked his hosts sincerely. I accidentally gave TLBS the wrong mix disc, containing a batch of songs he is bound to hate, but his mom seemed to genuinely appreciate the flowers we brought her, so it was a wash on the gratuities front. TLBS should listen to more Tom Waits anyhow. Goddammit, he’s our Leonard Cohen. I guess every country gets the Leonard Cohen they deserve. Oh, Canada…

Anyhow, later that night, TLBS sent in a report on his babysitting stint that included the following about our sometimes-reticent scion. His daughter, the same age as our son, discussing him as if he were a science experiment: “He talked a lot today, and he didn’t suck his thumb at all, the whole day.”

This morning during couch-time I told him about his peer’s comment, and as I spoke, he pulled his thumb out of his mouth. Which led to a big talk about thumb-sucking in general. “Who else at school sucks their thumb?” “Just Me.” “That’s right. Because all the other kids used to do it but stopped when they weren’t babies anymore, huh?” “Yeah...” And so forth for quite a while. We ended up agreeing that thumb-sucking really was a baby thing to do, and that he is certainly no longer a baby. (Thank you, fragile male ego!)

It was one of those talks I’ve been dreading but still waiting for an opportunity to present itself to tackle. 

We ended agreeing that starting now, there will be no thumb-sucking in public. Once that starts to stick, we’ll work on cutting it out altogether.

But it got me to thinking. I was asking him to do something pretty tough. When The Missus got up we talked to her about it, and she jumped on board, adding that I, his very Daddy, had had to quit a lot of stuff that I used to like to do, too.

Instinctively sensing an opportunity to turn the conversation toward myself, I lept. I told him that there was still one bad habit Daddy had that he could use to quit. I’m sure The Missus was trying to figure out which one I had narrowed it down to.

I was thinking of the drawing he had made a couple nights before (see inset). The Missus had brought it in to show me (she is his creative engine but I, apparently, am his muse, at least when he’s not drawing super-villains and exploding eyeballs). She told me how he had explained what he was doing as he sketched it out, body-part by body-part. Nose, eyes, ears, you get the idea.

She was especially impressed with the scruff of Beaker-esque hair (that’s how we knew it was a picture of me), and the neck, which as she pointed out, looked like a real drawing of a neck, not a childish stick-neck. She complimented him on this and he corrected, “No, that’s a neckchin.” Just like Daddy.

Oh man I hate my neckchin. And I blame it all the Dew®.

I’ve shrugged off most of my other major monkeys over the years, but the soda pop lingers. The social stigma just hasn’t been strong enough to motivate me to quit.

But all it does is make me fat and it’s hell on my teeth, too, according to my dentist. And she doesn’t even know we’re discussing Mountain Dew, which is like drinking a sweetened industrial solvent. It even looks radioactive. It literally does nothing but further destroy my teeth, fatten me up and make me jumpy and irritable. And a likelier candidate for adult-onset diabetes.

God, I love the stuff.

It’s also the current oral-compulsive element of my creative process. I can’t imagine what I would replace it with.

And I am just plain psychologically strung-out on the stuff. Every morning starts with a mental calculation of what time I need to put the Mountain Dew in the freezer to have it at peak slushiness by the time The Missus and The Boy are scheduled to leave that day.

Classic junkie behavior.

But the neckchin thing was, hopefully, my wake-up call. I’m gonna try to make it that. If not for me, for The Boy. He shouldn’t have to go through life thinking there is a body-part called neckchins and that they are okay to have.

So I expressed the Dad-to-4-year-old version of this whole sorry situation to The Boy and proposed that I tried to quit doing my bad thing at the same time as he tried to quit doing his. He seemed reassured by the idea that he wouldn’t be taking this unwelcome journey of self-denial alone.

So we’re both starting out the same way. None of our respective “that”s in public any more, with the understanding that the goal is eventually none of those thats in private anymore, either.

Maybe there’s even a movie to be made of this. As I noted earlier, the Academy just eats up stories of triumph over addiction; throw in the father/son angle, a couple Townes Van Zandt tunes and we’re practically guaranteed to go home with the gold. And not just in my fillings.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Leno Books Carrot-Top For Penultimate Eponymous Show

It's sad because it's true...

Sunday, February 07, 2010

More artistic brilliance from The Boy

He explains, “This is an eye. It exploded.”

Saturday, February 06, 2010

The most beautiful noise:

Our son not coughing.

He’s going to a highly-regarded preschool right around the corner, but no amount of esteem for an institution can keep childhood illnesses from blowing through the student body like a Cat 5 hurricane. Last month, it was some creeping crud that left the kids feverish for a couple days then with a graveyard cough for weeks afterward.

And of course, the school never lets you know: Watch out for the following symptoms because every child here is sick as a dog. I guess for them, it just comes with the territory. Fuck it, they aren’t their kids...

So when The Boy was sent home with a fever on a Tuesday at lunch time several weeks ago, we kept him home the rest of the week as a precaution. The fever broke and he started to bounce back … except for that cough.

So last week, we sent him back to school. But he was still not right. He wasn’t himself. He may not have been running a fever, but goddammit, he was not well yet, either.

So after a whole week of him zombie-ing around the house, big red rings encircling his eyes, coughing, and begging to go to bed at 6:30 or 7pm, I got pissed and made a same-day doctors appointment for him this last Monday. His coughing jags were so bad they were ending in groans of pain. He sounded like the world’s tiniest little old man. The doctor gave him a quick going over, spotted an infection in his ear that typically follows his bouts with fever and prescribed the anti-cootie juice that usually fixes him right up.

I drove him home, promising him that as soon as we got this medicine he’d start feeling better and coughing less. And he believed me because I am his Daddy and I’ve never been wrong in my medical prognoses before.

We got the stuff that night, dosed him, and by the next morning, well, his cough was even worse. The rest of symptoms went away pretty quickly, but the cough persisted. We put a humidifier in his room at my suggestion, so his nights passed relatively comfortably, but come about 5:30 am, the deep, wracking coughs would begin again, waking everybody up and making us all miserable.

I’d sit him down on the couch next to me, my arm around his back as he pushed in close to me, and when he coughed, it felt against my arm like a bag of small rocks being tumbled around inside his chest. And every day, he continued to not get better.

Finally, Wednesday morning of this week, I asked the preschool lady about his cough, and she (off-handedly) reported that all the kids had been getting it and it lasted for weeks. There you go. Your son is going to cough his throat raw and his lungs sore and that’s just the way things were going to be. We would have to ride it out, to deal with it.

Fuck this shit. Daddy doesn’t ‘deal.’

So Thursday we made a same-day appointment for him at the doctors for that afternoon. I was driving him to the dentist that morning (yes, it was an awfully swell day for both of us) and he asked me, “Dad, are you unhappy?” I guess he caught a look at me in the rear-view mirror or something.

I said, “No, son, what I am is determined.”

“Oh,” he said.

I continued by explaining the difference between unhappiness and determination, and explained that what I was determined about was that I was going to make his cough go away. He reminded me that I had told him the same thing on Monday when we went to the doctor and he was still coughing.

I wanted to pull the car over and beat the crap out of the first person who looked at me the wrong way, but decided in addition to setting a poor example for The Boy, that would make us late for the dentist.

Later that afternoon, after a variety of stress-inducing events on the dental, work and home-contractor-repair front, we made it to the doctor’s office with only seconds to spare. We saw a different doctor because his regular sawbones only works every other day, and the fill-in doctor was kind enough to give us a scrip for an inhaler with a drop of steroids in addition to whatever they usually put in those things.

The result? By the next morning, his coughing was down to maybe 10% of what it had been just 24 hours earlier. This morning it’s 7:30 as I write this, and he’s still sleeping peacefully.

I guess all those years of perfecting the art of being a domineering, insensitive, pushy prick (think Ari Gold, without any of the trappings of wealth and power) are finally being put to some good use.

And if your daycare or preschool savants ever eventually reveal to you that there is an illness laying low their entire student body, it takes weeks of slow torture to heal and there’s nothing that can be done about it in the meantime, don’t buy it. Don’t accept the no-win scenario. Even if you have to game the system, a little bit of determination will take you a long way.

Do Be a ‘Don’t-Deal’ Daddy. (Or Mommy, depending on your circumstance.)

Thursday, February 04, 2010

We are horrible parents

I just took our four-year-old boy to the dentist today to learn he has two cavities.

He’s four.

We’re completely, 100% responsible for his teeth. And now we’re responsible for him having to undergo that most dreaded of commonplace medical procedures, the drill-and-fill. TWICE! This means needles in his soft, fleshy little mouth, drills, scary noises, strangers in masks… at 4 years old. The stuff that nightmares are made of.

I texted his Mom and she cried. I had to sack up and act like it was no BFD for the little guy’s benefit. But I was dying inside.

My Mom, for whatever shortcomings she possessed, made damn sure that I didn’t have my first cavity till after I wasn’t living under her roof anymore.

So now we have to go to a specialist, at least in part so if he has a bad experience he doesn’t relate it to our regular dentist and be afraid to go to her any more. Right now he’s fearless. Cool as a cucumber:

But it sucks ass that he’s even in jeopardy of having a bad experience because of our shortcomings. It’s just plain wrong.

And by god, as long as he’s living under my roof, he won’t be brushing his own teeth or getting any cavities ever again.

“Ain’t No Grave” can hold Johnny Cash down

Seven years after his death, The Man In Black releases the final album he actively participated in the creation of later this month, “American VI: Ain’t No Grave,” produced by long-time collaborator and friend Rick Rubin.

Hopefully, some day, somebody will release the surfeit of terrific albums Cash recorded in the early 70s (among them “Thing Called Love,” “Any Old Wind That Blows,” and the original “Man In Black” album), none of which have seen official release in the digital format.

Friends, there’s money to be made out there. Who’s handling his estate anyhow, the guys who run NBC?? I’m sure some day the bean counters will begin strip-mining everything he recorded with Rubin and releasing endless “new,” “unreleased” recordings—ala RCA and the Elvis Presley catalog of embarrassing alternate takes and blooper reels—why the hell not release some of Cash’s best records from one of the most productive, inspired runs in his career while his immediate heirs are still in a position to benefit from it?

Anyhow, the new CD is out Feb. 23 and is available for pre-order HERE.

They don’t build them like Cash anymore, it’s just that simple.

I usually don’t close a post by quoting someone who left a comment on someone else’s message board, but this from the Rolling Stone article on the upcoming album says it too perfectly for me not to pass it on.
“God is dead, Johnny Cash took his seat and recorded the new 10 Commandements for us to study and to live. And if God wasn’t dead, they would found a band. More than Dylan Cash not only sang about the tragedy which is the USA but embodied it. Long may he roam.” — Jacques Jour