For Dad

Dad on Bike.jpgToday is Father’s Day, and I’m thinking about my dad, who passed away more than a decade ago. That seems to happen a lot of late. I’m not much of a mystic, but Dad and I seem to communicate more now than we did when he was alive. To put it bluntly, Dad was not easy to get along with, and our conversations too often ended up in an argument.

I used to say Dad was right just often enough to think he was right all the time. I’ve come to realize that I am like him in that respect – and in many others.

What I’ve also come to realize – too late, of course, is that Dad was trying pass on to me what he had learned about love and life. And I’ve come to realize I wasn’t a very good listener.

Obviously, there’s no way to undo any of that, and so I try to pay it forward by passing on my life lessons to my son, who is a better listener than I ever was. Perhaps that is in part due to a lesson I taught him: Nobody ever learned anything with their mouth open.

Years ago, I wrote this song for my dad, and I hope it helps someone else find a way to connect with their Dad on this Father’s Day.

Daddy, I’m Sure Missin’ You Tonight

Oh, Daddy, I’m sure missin’ you tonight
As I pick my pencil up and start to write
I know we’d prob’ly argue and end up in a fight
But, Daddy, I’m sure missin’ you tonight

And, Daddy, do you miss your lonesome son?
And all the things I wish we would have done
I guess all our battles never left much time for fun
But, Daddy, do you miss your lonesome son?

Well, I know you always missed your Daddy, too
Just the way your boy is missin’ you
You sang that sad old song and said it all
“My Daddy’s just a picture on the wall”

Oh, Daddy, guess it’s time to say good-night
And I’m not sure what it is I’m tryin’ to write
But you leave your door open, and I’ll leave on a light
‘Cause, Daddy, I’m sure missin’ you tonight

©2017 Tom Cordle

Posted in Uncategorized | 14 Comments

Apocalypse Now

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I’ve mentioned previously that a friend of mine voted for Trump because he thought the bastard might be the Anti-Christ. When he told me that, I felt like I’d been kicked in the stomach – or maybe even a little lower on my anatomy.

I looked at him and said, “You probably can’t see my head spinning ’round and ’round because it’s spinning so fast.” I felt a little like that poor little girl in the Exorcist, a movie that shows just how much trouble you can get in by taking religion too seriously

That’s the case with my friend, who I’ll call Fenton, since that’s his name – and since I’m not going to say anything I haven’t already said to his face. Fenton is a highly intelligent man and an avowed Christian fundamentalist. I have a hard time understanding how anyone can be both highly intelligent and a fundamentalist; but when it comes to religion, there are many things that passeth understanding.

Then again, I could wrong, and Fenton could be right. Given Trump’s performance so far, he may well be the Anti-Christ. One thing’s sure – he’s leading this country straight to hell.

For those into reading entrails or enraptured by other signs, there’s this: Jared Kushner and his sister Nicole Meyer have been trying to solicit funds – or should I say bribes – from Chinese and Russian kleptocrats in order to save one of their failing real estate holdings located at 666 Fifth Avenue.

As has been said time and again during the reign of Il Douché, you can’t make this shit up.

©2017 Tom Cordle

Posted in Politics, religion | 4 Comments

Goin’ to A-Go-Go

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This post was inspired by my friend Roger Wright. I say friend, though we’ve never met. We made acquaintance through the now defunct blogsite Open Salon, which we both contributed to for several years. Roger is one of many interesting people and talented writers I met there, and I regret its demise. But as they say, all things must pass – and they seem to pass all the more quickly on the Net.

Roger resides in Chicago, so I suppose it was only natural that in a recent post, he linked a YouTube video of a song called “Dialogue” by the group Chicago. I confess, I had forgotten that particular song, but I certainly had not forgotten that group, since I had a close encounter with the band half-a-century ago – hard to believe it’s been that long!

My recollection is that it happened in 1966, but I can’t be certain, since I’ve now arrived at what I call the “Three-Minute Jeopardy” stage in life. Once I knew answers to questions on that quiz program almost instantly, but now answers arrive – if at all – only after three minutes of intense concentration. But I digress – which is another sign of getting old.

A cursory search of the Internet hasn’t helped pin down the date – with one source citing April of 1966 and another August of 1968. Be that as it may, I am certain of a few details. It was on a Monday night at the Whisky A-Go-Go in Hollywood. The marquee boasted that Otis Redding was headlining later in the week, and it also noted that the featured attraction on this Monday night was a band called CTA.

I’d never heard of CTA, and neither had much of anyone else outside of the LA music scene. In any case, I wasn’t especially interested in hearing a band; I was there to have a few drinks – and maybe get lucky. To that end, I bought several drinks for a sweet young thing sitting alone at a table. But again, I digress …

The opening act was a decent blues trio, but nothing to write home – or a review – about. Next came a big band, at least by Sixties standards, complete with a three-piece horn section, a real rarity back then. They started playing, and I immediately stopped paying attention to the sweet young thing and sat there entranced, as this band absolutely blew my mind. Who the hell are these guys, I thought, and why the hell have I never heard of them?

As it turned out, the band had already signed with Columbia Records, and they were playing songs like ”Does Anybody Know What Time It Is”, “Beginnings”, and “South California Purples”, all cuts from their forthcoming double album – unprecedented for a debut album.

I was particularly blown away by their guitar player, the late Terry Kath. Legend has it that when Jimi Hendrix was asked how it felt to be the world’s greatest rock guitarist, he said, “I don’t know; you’ll have to ask Terry Kath.”

Later on, I learned CTA was Chicago Transit Authority. Eventually, they had to change their name when the real Chicago Transit Authority objected. So they simply called themselves Chicago. The rest, as they say, is history.

As for me, I never made history, and I never made it with that sweet young thing at the Whisky-A-Go-Go. Much later that night, she left with a bartender, and I was left with a big bar bill I could ill-afford. But looking back, it was worth every penny to have been there that night and had the great good pleasure of watching and listening to history being made and played.

Happy 50th Birthday, Chicago Transit Authority!

©2017 Tom Cordle

Posted in history, Music | 11 Comments

Abnormalcy

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Donald Trump has compared himself to Andrew Jackson. Fat chance. War-hero Jackson would despise this draft-dodging, womanizing, bullying frat-boy. He likely would say something equivalent to “keep my name outa your mouth” and demand an apology. And if none were forthcoming (a distinct possibility with Trump), Jackson would insist on a duel to satisfy such a grievous insult.

That’s not to say Jackson was an angel; he was a complicated man whose first biographer called him an atrocious saint. No one would call Trump a saint, but many would agree he is atrocious.

Others have compared Trump to Richard Nixon; but Nixon, for all his faults, was at least prepared for the job. Trump was not, and that’s glaringly obvious.

A better comparison may be with Warren G. Harding, though that comparison is probably not fair to Harding, since Trump is so far beyond the pale in so many ways. That said, the two men have much in common. Both were avid golfers. Both had reputations as ladies’ men, lecherous philanderers, or dirty old men, depending on your point of view.

Harding’s campaign rhetoric was described as “a rambling, high-sounding mixture of platitudes, patriotism, and pure nonsense”. Curmudgeon H. L. Mencken was even more harsh: “It reminds me of college yells, of dogs barking idiotically through endless nights.” Those are also apt descriptions of Trump’s speaking style.

Both men were surprising choices as nominee of the Republican Party. Both won election in part because of deep divisions within the Democratic Party. Both were intellectual lightweights who had the misfortune to follow intellectual giants. Both were unfit to be President, a fact Harding admitted, but Trump never will.

As President, both advocated massive tax cuts for the rich … both pushed hard for deregulation … both appointed highly suspect men as Attorney-General. Both their presidencies were marked by scandals, including Teapot Dome under Harding and the yet to be resolved Putingate under Trump. Given Trump’s massive conflicts of interest, his scandals are likely to exceed Harding’s.

Many regard Harding as the worst President in American history; but that dubious distinction may well pass to Trump, based on his past and present performance. He is clearly ignorant about most issues at hand and most matters of state; and what’s worse, he shows no interest in learning what he doesn’t know. As hard as it was to imagine his election, it’s even harder to imagine his presidency being successful.

Harding’s chief accomplishment was to bring the word “normalcy” back into common use. That’s not a word one would ascribe to Trump’s presidency. The present sorry state of affairs might best be described as abnormalcy.

To a large extent, that is due to the fact that Trump himself is abnormal, both as a man and a politician. That is to say, he behaves outside the norms that constrain decent people. Or as former FBI Director James Comey put it, Trump is “outside the realm of normal”.

Trump is a man without morals, manners, or principles … he has no sense of decency and no sense of proportion. He’s also a bully, who punches down with impunity and regularity. He is an unrepentant and inveterate liar; he may be in fact a pathological liar. A strong case can be made that he is in fact mentally ill. He certainly fits the profile of a sociopath; he engages in antisocial behavior, lacks remorse or shame, and demonstrates a clear lack of empathy.

One day, hopefully sooner rather than later, this heartless, graceless, thoughtless man will be gone from office. But sad to say, the racist voters … the gullible voters … the ignorant voters … the desperate voters … who voted for this degenerate despite his deplorable behavior – and the ninety-odd million people who didn’t bother to vote – will remain. The electoral system that declared him the winner despite losing by nearly three million votes will remain. The normalization of Trump’s boorish, bullying behavior will remain.

That being the case, the question remains – has abnormalcy become the new normal?

©2017 Tom Cordle

Posted in history, Politics | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Digital Dude

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When I was a kid, some people still listened to music on 78 rpm records. But a host of innovations in the Fifties brought music out of the lo-fi dark ages. Stereo high-fidelity recordings became the gold-standard; and for a particular segment of music lovers, they still are. Analog purists aside, most listeners prefer the convenience of CD’s.

I purchased my first CD player in 1986 – a Panasonic unit I still have – and it still works. I realized the big cost wasn’t the equipment, but the media, and I refused to buy any more LP’s or cassettes that degraded the sound with every play.

At the time, I was working on the construction of PARC recording studio in Altamonte Springs, Florida. The owner, Pat Armstrong, was a big-time record producer and manager of bands like Molly Hatchet, among others.

One day, I was sitting in his living room in his Rosemont condo trying to avoid stepping on a half-million dollar recording console that was awaiting installation in the studio once construction was completed. I mentioned that I thought the CD would revolutionize the music business. Armstrong disagreed, dismissing the CD as a novelty that at best might reach 50% of sales.

I thought Armstrong was crazy, and basically said so. I pointed out that vinyl sounded great the first time played, but that like cassettes (which were truly an awful medium other than convenience), every play reduced the quality of the product. That was true even if an LP was played on really expensive gear and treated with kid gloves.

I said the average listener, like me, was wiling to settle for a little less quality in exchange for a lot more convenience, and cassettes were proof of that. And I added that CD’s had vastly better quality than cassettes, and they were even more convenient.

I admit CD’s are a long way from a perfect medium – they are easily scratched, housed in a flimsy case, and of somewhat lower fidelity than the best of vinyl. But despite those shortcomings, CD’s have proven to be the dominant retail medium for pre-recorded music.

And I have proven to be a much better prognosticator than Pat Armstrong.

©2017 Tom Cordle

Posted in Music | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Reflection on Resurrection

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You might say cultural Christians are resurrected on Easter. They suddenly appear in church as if they’ve risen from the dead. But their sudden appearance is no miracle; they show up mostly out of habit and a mild sense of guilt.

These folks usually show up at Christmas, too. That holiday is clearly a cause for celebration, but Easter comes with mixed feelings. The sadistic portrayal of an innocent man being betrayed, tortured and crucified is hardly a cause for celebration. But for true-believers, all that barbarity magnifies the sacrifice and glorifies the redemptive denouement that brings this otherwise awful story to a close – the resurrection of that innocent man.

The idea of resurrection – of the triumph of life over death, of an eternal life spent with those we love, in a place beyond worry and woe – is an idea so wonderful it defies reflection. Reflection can lead to places the heart would rather not go. But the thoughtful mind must go there anyway.

The idea of resurrection has been around far longer than Christianity. It’s roots are in the worship of the sun. Even primitive people understood the power of the sun over life and death. They observed the greening of the earth as the sun rose higher in the sky and the days grew longer and warmer, and they observed the dying of greenery as the sun sank lower in the sky and the days grew shorter and colder

Eventually, the sun reached the lowest point in its annual journey, and it appeared to remain there for three days, as if it had reached its journey’s end. Primitive people might well have feared the sun had died, and they might well have prayed and offered sacrifices to the sun, or whatever god they imagined could raise the sun from the dead. And when it began to rise again after three days, surely they would have thought their prayers had been answered.

Unlike primitive man, modern man understands this as a natural cycle, and he knows the sun will rise again on the third day without prayers or sacrifices. He also knows – or ought to know – that ancient myths, beliefs and rituals permeate modern religions, including Christianity.

Despite that knowledge, the true-believer continues to deny in his heart what he knows – or ought to know – in his mind. He clings to his vestigial beliefs because they bring comfort in a world gone mad, a world where people clinging to their vestigial beliefs are brutalized and slaughtered by people clinging to their vestigial beliefs.

All these ages and ages hence, we haven’t progressed much beyond our primitive ancestors, save that we’ve become more proficient when it comes to brutality and slaughter. That doesn’t say much for our beliefs or our species. And that leads me to believe that if the Son of God were to appear here and now, we’d surely kill him.

©2017 Tom Cordle
 

 

Posted in religion | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Justice Denied

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I have watched with considerable dismay the degeneration of the advise and consent process in the Senate. That degeneration is especially troubling when it comes to nominations to the courts. Both parties share the blame for this, but the straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back was the ill-advised decision to deny a well-qualified and decent man like Merrick Garland even the common courtesy of a hearing and a vote.

That led to a predictable tit for tat filibuster against nominee Neil Gorsuch, and that appears to be leading to the nuclear option and the obliteration of the last barrier to total partisan tyranny. Republicans have the power to stop this before it’s too late. Sometimes the best way forward is to step back from the brink.

In this case, that would require acting with common sense and courage, both of which seem to be tragically lacking in Congress these days. Instead, our representatives act like barbarians dividing the spoils after a battle. But politics is not, or at least ought not be, the art of war; it ought to be the art of compromise. And there is a perfectly sensible and ultimately profitable compromise at hand.

The Senate ought to put the nomination of Gorsuch on hold and request that the president nominate Merrick Garland to the Court; and once nominated, the Senate ought to confirm him without delay.

That would not only be the honorable thing to do, it would be good politics in the long run. It would paint Republicans as wise statesmen, and it would put intense pressure on Democrats to approve Gorsuch to fill the next vacancy. That vacancy will happen soon enough, given that three current judges are of an advanced age. Indeed, some of them might be more inclined to retire sooner, if they thought the nomination and confirmation process had not descended into just one more partisan political hell.

Such a magnanimous gesture would do a great deal to restore order to the confirmation process. Once order was restored, the Senate could insure stability and restore faith in the courts by requiring an even larger super majority, say 75 votes, for any and all future lifetime appointments. Such a requirement would dramatically increase pressure on a president to nominate candidates close to the political and judicial center. And that is where all justices should come from.

And speaking of where judges come from, it might also be helpful if candidates were chosen from other than a handful of law schools. Consideration should be given to candidates whose real-world experience isn’t limited to the law. Surely, there are accomplished people in other fields of endeavor who have the common sense and wisdom to sit in judgment.

©2017 Tom Cordle

Posted in Politics | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments