Thursday, December 29, 2016

Prince: 1958-2016



Purple Reign. Prince: 1958 - 2016

by

Timothy Walker

Music is what he was, and music was what he did, and he did that better than damn near anyone ever has. Talk to me about Mozart, preach about Miles, sing the praises of Elvis or Michael or Bowie or Beethoven… Prince was a man touched by God. Glory glory, hallelujah, and Amen Un2 the Joy Fantastic.  

Prince Rogers Nelson, born in Minneapolis in 1958, was tragically found dead there at Paisley Park in April at the age of 57. In the time we were blessed with his presence on Earth, the musician created works of art so beautiful, so breathtaking, so universally admired, that the man… Prince, himself, the human vessel through which that otherworldly talent flowed for so many years… was simply unable to endure the adulation the world gave him in return. He retreated from fame. He changed his name, scrawled “Slave” on his face, and tried to hide. He built a white castle for himself there in Chanhassen, Minnesota. He stayed away from prying eyes and rarely emerged, except to play his music. He lived and worked there in his castle, always recording, a creature of the studio, transcribing his inimitable purple genius into notes and phrases and brilliant albums which he presented to us common folk like Moses just come down from the mountain.

I saw him once, and when he stepped onto that stage in Louisville, when he plugged in that guitar and felt the power begin to flow, he showed us all what it means to be alive. To love. To kick up our platform heels and dance, and push away death. To play and sing and laugh and, most of all, to rejoice. He was purple rain, he was lovesexy, he was dearly beloved we have gathered here today to get through this thing called Life.

He sang about sex and he sang about God, and he sang about love. He was vulgar and devout and ageless and beautiful.

And now he is gone. But the music, and the message, remain.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

 One nation, under Donald

By Tim Walker
“It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.”

That is George Orwell’s line, of course, straight out of his novel “1984,” and it makes me pause as I set down my paperback and look at the clock. I was 19 years old back in the year 1984, the first time I read Orwell, and my head was full of dreams. Ronald Reagan was in office, a Republican, I recall, an actor and a man so many were afraid of. What a joke. Of course, it isn’t 1984 anymore—today’s date is April 30, 2017, and it is Donald Trump’s 100th day in office. Ronnie wouldn’t recognize his beloved country anymore, and those idiots back then didn’t know the first thing about fear.

President Trump himself hasn’t made any public appearances in over a month, of course, not since that third assassination attempt, the one that almost got him. He blamed it on ISIS, but everyone knows it was really homegrown terrorists, probably members of The Faction or Los Hermanos: both groups swore revenge on him after the railroad cars filled with “Undesirables” began rolling south toward Mexico (I’ll never forget those images of pleading, grasping hands reaching out for some sort of human contact as the trains began to roll away). Several of the rebels were captured by Trump’s Patriotic Guard when they claimed responsibility for that last bomb—their bodies still hang from the lampposts on Pennsylvania Avenue, right down the street from the White House.

Congress was locked up first, almost immediately after Trump took the Oath. I almost laughed—almost—at the looks on the faces of the top GOP members as they were dragged down the steps of the Capitol in leg irons. Paul Ryan was crying. “Treason” and “Crimes Against America” were the charges, and they’re all guilty, of course. We’re all guilty, in fact, every American citizen, for allowing this to happen in the first place.

Trump’s ego just could not accept a balance of power. He had to feel like The Man in charge, and so two of the three branches of government were silenced; they were “Stonewalling me and standing in the way of this country becoming great again,” as he said. So, once he had Congress in chains, Trump dismantled the Supreme Court. Surprisingly, they were treated with more respect—they were simply “retired from the bench.” With the Constitution suspended indefinitely and the Patriotic Guard in control, what good would a Supreme Court be anyway?

What we didn’t know during the campaign was that Donald Trump had powerful people backing him, people who controlled the secret power corridors of Washington, D.C. Angry generals, Black Ops agents—the people who had bristled under Obama’s directives, who had always hated being told what NOT to do, and who had been waiting for a weak, egotistical, stupid man who needed their support and who would agree to do their bidding in order to get into the Oval Office. They were waiting for Trump, so they could enact a military coup of our government and make that orange-faced buffoon their figurehead.

Trump’s tweets and video appearances continue on a daily basis, of course—not even IED’s could stop those—and executive orders have flowed from the bunker beneath the White House in an unending stream ever since Inauguration Day, a torrent of angry directives and twisted hate that it has been nearly impossible to keep up with. Constitutional scholars—those who haven’t been arrested—have long since stopped criticizing the President for violating his oath of office. Silence, it appears, is the best course of action for academia these days.

Hillary and Bill fled the country almost immediately after Election Day, once Clinton conceded and Trump began calling for their arrests—rumor has it they’re being protected by friends in the Saudi royal family, but who knows? The Obamas simply disappeared when it became clear that our country had elected a madman who was willing to stop at nothing in his quest to Make America Hate Again.

Skirmishes between the rebels and the Patriotic Guard don’t take place as often now, but it’s hard to tell with all of the newspapers gone. The Star-Spangled Banner, our so-called national newspaper, is nothing more than cheap propaganda, not even fit to line the birdcage. I’m sure people read it—hell, people will read anything, remember USA Today? But only an idiot would think that the endlessly happy stories and tightly controlled feel-good pieces reflect reality.

This was once America, the land of the free, as it was said so often—a nation under God. The Great Satan, our enemies once called us. Look at us now—look at what we’ve become. Thinking back, it all seems so clear…  how is it that the voters back in November couldn’t see what was coming? The crowds who showed up for his rallies, all of them fell right into line as he whipped them into a frenzy of xenophobia.

I don’t know. It is what it is, and none of it matters anymore. The dream that was once the United States has become a nightmare, but I’ll have to finish this journal entry later. I have to leave now—I don’t want to be late for the Public Tortures.

Tim Walker is 51 and a writer, DJ and chili cook. He lives with his wife and their two children in Dayton, Ohio, where he enjoys pizza, jazz and black T-shirts. Reach him at therevtim@gmail.com or on Twitter at @StretchYrBrains.

(this story copyright and reprinted from the Dayton City Paper, www.daytoncitypaper.com)

Monday, October 10, 2016

The old Southern Belle in Dayton, Ohio

From 1995 until 2003, Elizabeth and I lived in an apartment in Dayton's historic Oregon District. The apartment was located above Sloopy's, a bar located right at the corner of 5th & Wayne (or "Filth & Wine", as the locals used to say), and we patronized many of the nearby bars there on a regular basis. Ned Peppers, the Tumbleweed, Trolley Stop -- all were our hangouts, but our #1 favorite spot was the old Southern Belle, on Brown Street right next to the park (don't even talk to me about the new Southern Belle on Patterson - ugh).

So one night in 1998 we're at the Belle with one of Beth's girlfriends -- Shelly Mink, if memory serves. Beth and Shelly were playing the bowling game there, and I was relaxing in a booth, just chilling and listening to the jukebox, which had an epic selection. Beth, looking like a goddess, appears out of nowhere and sits a Bud Light in front of me, smiles and kisses me on the cheek and goes back to her game. I take a drink of my beer and when I set it back down on the table I notice a young guy, a stranger, has taken the other seat in the booth, across from me.

He was maybe 27, short dark hair, nice shirt and glasses. Clean cut, which marked him as slightly out of place in the scruffy Southern Belle. I immediately thought to myself - 'This putz went to UD'.

"Hey, man." I said, smiling and trying to be friendly. "Can I help you?"

"Is that your girlfriend?" Attitude, right off the bat. Another joker, goddammit, and here I just wanted to listen to the music and drink my beer.

I nodded in Beth's direction. "You mean Beth there? Yes, she's my girlfriend. We live down the street."

He looked over at her, looked her up and down, turned back to me. "Can you tell me why?"

"Excuse me?" I said.

"Why? I mean, look at me. I'm a good-looking guy. I work out. I make good money. And I'm here alone. Why would a girl who looks like that be here with someone like you?"

I laughed and said "I don't know. Maybe because I don't walk up to strangers in bars and ask them stupid questions." Then I smiled and took another drink of beer.

Fuck Face just shakes his head, as if in confusion, then stands up and says "I want you to remember me, asshole. I just want you to know that I'm always going to be watching you. And if you ever mistreat that girl, or if you're ever mean to her, I'll be waiting to steal her away from you."

"Yeah. Good luck with that, dipshit." I said.

"Fuck you," he said. "You want to step outside?"

"No thanks, man -- I'm not in the mood for a blowjob right now."

"Long-haired faggot."

"Eat me."

As he walked out the door I just shook my head. Why do they always have to insult my hair?

Beth and her friend sit down. "Who was that?" Beth asked me.

"Oh, you know me," I replied. "I make friends everywhere I go."

 Then I smiled and signaled the bartender for 3 more beers.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

A Good Day

Had a good day with the wife and kids today. I rarely get much sleep, and usually need a nap during the afternoon on days when I have to work, but I skipped it today and I'm glad I did.

We went out to Foy's in Fairborn and enjoyed ourselves picking things up for the kids so they can dress up for Trotcon.

Picked up some BW3 for the family and came to work.

Nothing too exciting, but it was still a great day.


Sunday, July 3, 2016

Health and Fitness

I'll be 51 in August, and I have let myself go a bit too much over the years... I'm not going to belabor the point, but I'm heavier than I should be, I don't get enough exercise, my blood pressure is too high, and my triglycerides need to come down quite a bit.

In order to try and live a bit healthier lifestyle -- after all, in addition to my grown children I have a 9 year old and a 4 year old, and I'd like to be around to see them graduate -- I've come to a few decisions.

#1 -- I'm going to exercise more.
#2 -- I'm eliminating all alcohol from my diet. No more booze, no more beer.
#3 -- I'm eliminating all soft drinks from my diet.
#4 -- I'm going to eliminate white bread from my diet.
#5 -- I'm going to eat as little red meat as possible.

I'll keep you updated. Wish me luck.  


Saturday, March 19, 2016

Literary Horror

It's March 19, 2016. For a person like myself, born in the 60's, raised in the 70's... that date seems almost unreal. I don't honestly think I ever expected to live this long. I remember, as a child, watching Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey" and thinking that the year 2001 seemed So Far Away, almost as if it would never reach us. If the 50-year-old that I am now was to go back in time and meet that undersized, oddball little boy that I was then, what in the world would I say to him?

I've been reading a great deal of horror fiction lately -- material I've seen labeled as "literary horror" (which is an odd name, almost denigrating the rest of the genre as somehow un-literary, or illiterate).

Great writers whose work I've been wrapped up in recently include Steve Rasnic Tem -- always a favorite of mine -- Laird Barron, Nathan Ballingrud, and Caitlin Kiernan. Although I don't think anyone would label him a "genre writer", I've also been reading some short fiction from George Saunders.

Of all the writers I've just named, the one who has really connected with me lately is Nathan Ballingrud. His long story "The Visible Filth" is available on Amazon and is not to be missed, and his first short story collection NORTH AMERICAN LAKE MONSTERS is one of the finest debut collections of short horror fiction you'll ever read. The man can do no wrong in my eyes.

Take care. Live well. The world is smaller than we believe.

reading: NORTH AMERICAN LAKE MONSTERS by Nathan Ballingrud
listening: Boston's first 3 albums
watching: "Hap and Leonard" on Sundance.         

Thursday, October 22, 2015

November 2015. A month of transformation.

October 22, 2015

There will be a great deal of work done around here in November of 2015. Each day’s progress will be tracked in this document. All truths will be reported; no falsehoods are allowed.

November has 30 days. I plan to follow my low-carb regimen for the entire month (yes, including Thanksgiving). I plan to compete in NaNoWriMo, writing an average of 1600 words per day for 30 days so that I can have a novel nearly complete by the end of the month. I also plan to grow my beard and not shave while I work on the book, a la Neil Gaiman. 

Will I be a new man on December 1st? Of course not. But I will have achieved a number of things that have been on my mind for awhile now. 

There will be a minimum of blogging and social media interaction during November, as well. Instead of wasting time on Facebook, I plan to spend my free time -- time not at work and not writing -- with my kids and wife and working around our house.

Onward.