Be a Rebel: You Have a Cause, and It’s Called Life

This blog was inspired by a group of young males I saw on a street corner before school while I was stopped at a red light. Whether they ever made it to school remains a mystery.

It troubles me when I see people of any age marking time, lock-stepping to a beat chosen by the world around them, falling in line, afraid to disrupt the order of things. One thing that drives me crazy is inertia, a resistance to change.

The Stepford Wives, a 1972 satirical thriller by Ira Levin, is a story about Joanna Eberhart, a photographer and young mother who moves to a perfect Connecticut town and begins to suspect that the submissive housewives there might be robots created by their husbands. In that case, the wives were simply replaced by machines. These days we have advanced way beyond the Stepford wives, no longer needing to replace a person with a machine. We do that ourselves by sticking the machines in our hands and ears. Unless some outside force knocks us in the head, we will continue staring at our hands and listening to the programmed hypnosis attacking our ears and eyes. It bothers me most of all when I see young people—anyone under age 30—doing that. I remember when we use to say, “Don’t trust anyone over 30.” Now I would reverse that and say, “Don’t trust anyone under 30.”

On February 8, 1931, James Dean was born, and in 1955, at the age of 24, he made a movie called Rebel Without a Cause. It offered both social commentary and an alternative to previous films depicting delinquents in urban slum environments. Dean played Jim Stark, a teen from a troubled family who in the end loses a friend to death but gains a father. On that corner, I witnessed what appeared to be the Belt Buckle Rebellion. The group of young men stood puffing on electronic cigarettes, not one of them with their pants up to their waists. I supposed this was some sort of rebellion, although I’m wasn’t sure against what. Belts?

Politicians moving into New Hampshire have no doubt noted that the state is in drug addiction shock. In one survey, the New Hampshire Center for Public Policy Studies placed New Hampshire among the top 10 states in the nation in terms of abuse of either alcohol or drugs by teens, a self-induced inertia, to say the least. It’s time for young people to stop standing around with their pants down and do something and time for older people to kick conformity and acceptance in the behind. Everyone should grab life by the bull rope and ride the damn thing to the buzzer.

There will be more thoughts on inertia and other things on the shores of Rambling Harbor. Join me there.



Red Monk Day

So here we are in February, the last month of meteorological winter. February 2 is Groundhog Day, the day we take a little creature, known as Chuck, Wood-shock, Groundpig, Whistler, Thickwood Badger, Canada Marmot, Monax, Moonack, Weenusk, and my favorite, the Red Monk, out of its burrow, hold it up in the air, and plan our next six weeks on whether or not it sees its shadow. How do we know it actually sees its shadow when the sun is out? No one has ever explained that to me. On Groundhog Day, we use TV and radio time as well as print to pay attention to something that has no actual basis in fact. Even a number of songs have been written about Groundhog Day, including one by the great blues singer John Lee Hooker (“Ground Hog Blues”) and country singer-songwriter Tom T. Hall (“Happy Groundhog Day”). 

Now don’t get me wrong. I love groundhogs, and I think I have a lot in common with the burrowing little critters. I too find myself burrowing away in the cold of winter, or as Swamp Woman puts it, trolling myself away in my cabin in Rambling Harbor. I like doing that. When I am forced by one perceived necessity or another to go into the larger world, I crave my cave all the more.

I think the best thing that ever happened to Groundhog Day was the 1993 comedy starring Bill Murray, Andie MacDowell, and Chris Elliott. Murray plays Phil Connors, an arrogant Pittsburgh TV weatherman who, while covering the annual Groundhog Day event in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, finds himself repeating the same day over and over, including indulging in hedonism and committing suicide several times. Finally, he begins to re-examine his life and priorities. Hell, I do the same thing on the 4th of July, Thanksgiving, New Year’s, Christmas, and for that matter, Sadie Hawkins Day. Sadie Hawkins Day is November 15 (though there is a whole story behind whether its creator, Al Capp, meant it to be the 15th of November), and I get especially reflective on that day because it can be a little nerve-wracking. On Sadie Hawkins Day, women and girls take the initiative in inviting the man or boy of their choice out on a date, typically to a dance attended by other eligible males and their dates.

By now, you are no doubt asking yourself at least two questions: Why is Dan writing about Groundhog Day and Sadie Hawkins Day, and why am I reading this? I have one answer for both questions. It’s more fun than writing about politics and a lot more fun than reading about politics.  If I had gone into a tirade about my least favorite cartoon character Donald “The Fool” Trump,” would you have read this?

In the podcast there will be a few more odd things I’ve thought about this past week and of course the ever-popular rock-and-roll timeline. Join me on the shores of Rambling Harbor.




Glenn Frey, Prison, and Memories

Today I disconnected from part of my history. I canceled one of my websites, Creative-Treehouse.com. It was first established on a cold December night in 2009 after my wife and I figured out just the right name. “Creative” was what I wanted to be, and “Treehouse” seemed right because our porch was surrounded by trees. The year 2009 was a pretty good year for us. Jennifer’s cancer was quiet, and we did what we had done for the previous 12 years. We hoped and lived one day at a time. Withdrawn from the Internet, Creative Treehouse will live as long as I do in my memory, and when I am gone there will be no trace left behind.

The last 12 months, and especially this winter, has been a time of loss. David Bowie, Glenn Frey, Dale “Buffin” Griffin, Leonard Nimoy, Yogi Berra, Wes Craven, Frank Gifford all passed. Years ago, when Jerry Garcia died, it hit me hard, but the passing of Glenn Frey has left me reeling.

For a few years, I had an overnight radio gig—you know, the typical 2 a.m. to 6 a.m. shift—and almost every morning I would end my show with the Eagles cover of “Ol’ 55” and ride home with lady luck. When I posted this on Facebook, it was nice to hear some say they remembered it well. I once saw a poster that said something like Someday you will be just a memory to someone. Try and make sure it’s a good one

The Eagles were formed in Los Angeles in 1971 by Glenn Frey, Don Henley, Bernie Leadon, and Randy Meisner. Their self-titled debut album was released in 1972 and had three top 40 singles: "Take It Easy,” "Witchy Woman,” and "Peaceful Easy Feeling." In 1972, I was just finding a new sense of freedom, having spent almost two years in Danbury Federal Correctional Institution for my continued resistance to the Vietnam War. In my story “Mountaintop Days,” I wrote: “In prison, either you get a number and lose yourself or you resist and lose what little benefit the system offered for falling in line. There would be solitary confinements and hunger strikes and we would serve our time, but we did not surrender our souls. We did not fall in line....” On the outside, I tried to adjust and fit into a new life, but there were still almost three more years of the Vietnam War to struggle against, and the Eagles became a very important part of the soundtrack of my life and my return to normal. I don’t know why, but I especially developed a liking for Glenn Frey. Perhaps I sensed a rebel in him.

Glenn Frey has left us, but a world of memories and great music remain. I canceled that website because of lack of funds (that “Become a Patron” button at the top attracted only one donor, my dear friend Cher Duncomb). But that was just a website of memories, and I have a lifetime full of them. Someday I will tell my granddaughter about “Mountaintop Days” and about the Eagles, and one reason I will be able to do that is that Glenn Frey made music that touched me and left good memories. Thank you, Glenn Frey.

In the podcast it's mostly a rock and roll time line. I hope you will join me there.


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