The Best Of the Greatest Hits…

Elvis Presley and Costello, Hank Williams Sr., Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, Black Sabbath, Simon and Garfunkel, Stevie Wonder, Queen, Van Morrison, The Who, Crosby Stills & Nash, The Ramones, The Clash, Jefferson Airplane, The Mama’s and The Papa’s, CCR, Fleetwod Mac, Joni Mitchell, Bowie, Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, The Doors, Bob Marley, Al Green, Funkadelic, The Carpenters, Aerosmith, Meat Loaf, U2, The New York Dolls, Peter Frampton, Blondie, Cat Stevens, Boston, The Allman Brothers, Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers, Marvin Gaye, Elton, Dylan, Clapton, Springsteen, Floyd, Cher, Nick Drake, Curtis Mayfield, Jackson Browne, Carole King, Iggy Pop and The Stooges, The Velvet Underground, Cheap Trick, The Eagles, Bad Company, Patti Smith, The Steve Miller Band, Airsupply, Kiss, Supertramp, Van Halen, Dolly Parton, and John Cougar Mellencamp before he lost the Cougar.  These were the ‘Best Of’ my childhood in the mid-to-late seventies.  They were the stories, tunes, expressions, and concepts that defined my parent’s generation and shaped a musical melody within my soul. 

I just got my promo order from work – Warner Music Group – and there is no denying that while my mother’s generation, neatly filed in the form of vinyl under my vintage record player, has passed its lighter on to my generation.  The music, stories, experiences, and tunes that compiled the growing pains of my generation have graduated into yet another dying format of music – the compact disc – in the form of a greatest hits album.  The Stone Temple Pilots, Pearl Jam, Nirvana, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Madonna, Michael Jackson, R.E.M., Metallica, the Beastie Boys, Soundgarden, Counting Crows, Oasis, Green Day, the Goo Goo Dolls, Alice in Chains, LL Cool J, Weezer, the Cranberries, Notorious BIG, Live, The Pixies, PJ Harvey, Liz Phair, Prince, Bon Jovi, Duran Duran, Depeche Mode, Pavement, Wilco, The Flaming Lips, Guns ‘n Roses, Def Leppard, Run DMC, AC/DC, Whitney Houston, INXS, The Bangles, Cyndi Lauper, The Cure, the Go Go’s, Wham!, the Talking Heads, Poison, the B-52’s, Motley Crue, Janet Jackson, Eurythmics, Billy Idol, Salt-n-Pepa, A Flock of Seagulls, Culture Club, Boy George, Paula Abdul, Joan Jett, Rick James, Lionel Ritchie, Tone-Loc, The Pretenders, NKOTB, and good lord Bobby Brown.  These are the musical melodies that are supposed to strike a chord in my child (the one I do not have) and perhaps the last physical form of a musical collection (known as an album) that will exist in the world. 

One-offs in a unarchived format with messages of a generation of self-entitled tones.  A greatest hits of the best of digital delusion living on some type of portable drive somewhere that merely pays my salary….that’s the download on a new generation’s legacy. 

I think I’ll lay on my shag rug, beside the records I love, listening to a CD of my youth, under the photographs developed from real film that hang above the Royal typewriter, while I read a book.

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Diffident Diary/DigiSphere/I Call Bullshit/Life Times/Media Marvels/On A Serious Note/The Prop Arsenal

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Oklahoma City 15 Years Later.

I was a junior in high school when out of nowhere a lunatic (Timothy McVeigh, an Army veteran) bombed the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in downtown OKC.  Remember David Koresh the Branch Davidian cult leader from Waco, Texas, that held his followers captive for 51 days?  You know how that ended…well, McVeigh bombed the OKC federal building as revenge on the federal government for that raid. The OKC bombing remains the largest domestic terrorist attack on US soil.

Today, fifteen years later, my thoughts trail back to that day when my fellow Okies lost their lives and my heart goes out to the loved ones.

Morbid Compassion.

A designer at work passed away this morning.  Lung Cancer.  I never spoke to the lady, much, but there was something about her that told me had I talked to her it would have been welcomed.  I never did. 

I know what you’re thinking, another post about death.  It occurred to me, today, that perhaps it’s not a mild obsession with death that affects me but the experience in which it changed me.  After my brother died, I gained this spiritual connection to humanity that I never had before; compassion. 

Today when I heard about my co-worker and the gathering we were having to ‘share stories,’ I wanted to attend.  Not because I knew her well enough to have a story, per se, but because within me was this compassion for those that knew her well and loved her.  I want be there simply to pay my respects to the lady that I never spoke to and to those that thought very fondly of her.

It took three valium for me to attend my brother’s funeral. I sat there, marinating in the calm before the storm, and turned my head around to search the room.  I like to stare.  I stare and most people don’t even know, but when your loved one is the focus of the gathering it is different.  You’re the one being stared out.  I stare at people because I find them beautiful.  Sometimes not physically, but somthing about them fills in the holes in life for me; the description of my stories.  The woman I stared at for nearly an hour in the coffee shop that tried her damndest to sit with herself but was interrupted by the devices of technology.  The man that had no chivalry that I saw during my early morning train and then again in the evening – where did this man come from that has total disregard for politeness to women?  Naturally, I develop his character by assuming his mother left him and his father at a young age.  Sometimes I feel I am placed there to trigger this by tapping on his shoulder and asking how come he felt such little compassion for the old lady trying to get on the train that he would cut her off, but I never involve myself that directly into his story.  No, I just watch.  But, my brother’s funeral was different; I was the one being watched.  I turned around in my seat to stare like I was accustomed to, but I saw eyes looking at me, not judging but welcoming.  Eyes that said “I’m here when you need me.” 

My whole life I have struggled with being judgmental.  I think about my pain and the funeral and all the support I could see around me, and I wonder if this feeling I learned – compassion – could be used in more than death.  That way, if we regard each other every single day with compassion, we would initiate hello’s before it’s too late and we would show up just out of regard.  Now, I didn’t know everyone at my brother’s funeral but I did know they had a story to share and it involved my brother – regardless or not of if they actually shared it with me.

Maybe I won’t have a detailed story tomorrow at the gathering to trade stories about our coworker, but I can certainly relate to changes that death brings in people and a hope that it actually does change someone.  I find this change the most endearing change of life, but I still hope it’s not just found in death.  This I try to achieve, so I’ll go be just another eye in which someone lost was seen.

Rest in Peace Periel Tunaligil from mtv.com design.  I was the one that never said hello while you were here, but Godspeed.

Stella’s K-hole

Saturday, baby Stella got spayed. She’s approximately 4 months old weighing in at 4.4lbs.

The hour of separation nearly did me in as she clung to me begging the almighty me to not leave her. As I ignored her plea and walked out for her greater good, I knew the next time I saw her she might have changed. Poor girl, sitting in a cat carrier all day with impending doom crying out all around her in the sounds of dog and cat whimpers. Her surgery was scheduled for ten o’clock in the morning but after a series of emergencies the vet didn’t get to her until nearly four o’clock in the afternoon. You may be a pet doctor, but you are not in tune with the trembling spirits around you Mr. Vet man. Stella, frightened and alone, suffering from separation anxiety, could have been in the security of her loving home a mere four blocks away until you were ready to take out her femininity. What a thunderous anger a mother gets with these type of things, growl!

After ten or so check up calls from Stella’s worried human mom, the doctor finally called that Stella could go home. We got there as Stella reached a K-hole, eyes bobbing out and her tiny body shaking with fervor. She buried her head in Melinda’s shirt, and begged for our touch. Seeing her, defenseless and scared, battling through Ketamine hallucinations that seemed to linger like a slight overdose, cut me to my core. She’s having this bad trip because of me, and for days she’ll be in pain–because of me. Motherly blame is crippling.

Doing the right thing isn’t always easy, but at least that adorable little kitten has a family that will hold her through her bad experience, carry her when she can’t lift herself, and stay awake just to watch over her while she sleeps. It could have been worse, she would have been a lonesome street cat fighting for food with no chance of a home.

It’s not too late you know, to save a life and give a little precious soul like Stella a home. Imagine the relief of rescue.

Oklahoma, I still believe in ya!

Some people believe you choose your family prior to birth, and if that’s true then I chose the most loving, open hearted, and understanding, family one could have picked. Unfortunately, they settled in Oklahoma, by way of California. Yeah, I don’t get it either but so it goes that my grandmother, the eldest of the Montano clan, made the pilgrimage to Oklahoma for a man and her little sister followed suit. Had they met after the second wave of the Women’s Lib., I’m sure the story would be that the men made the pilgrimage to California for the gold!

Oklahoma might be landlocked and not feature ocean-front property, nor does it have a tranquil desert spread through its land but the Native American history is still very well and alive in small towns named after the legacy; Checotah, Geronimo, Hoot Owl, Indiahoma, Kiowa, Muskogee, Oolagah, Pawhuska, Quapaw, Sapulpa, Tahlequah, Talihina (where I was born), Tishomingo, Wapanucka, Yukon, and so on. If you’ve never been to Oklahoma then you couldn’t possibly know the beauty of the Kiamichi Mountains in Fall especially since my brother’s spirit is perched at the very top of those mountains.

Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot of red dirt that doesn’t come off your shoes easily, or at all if you have an old pair. Hell, the red dirt even has it’s own genre of music, and it’s not just “Texas Red Dirt.” Fact, red dirt only got from Oklahoma to Texas because Texas sucks. See, I’m a loyal Okie that pokes fun at Texans (even though in reality Oklahoma is more culturally devoid than Texas), lets everyone know which celebrities were from Oklahoma, and roots on Oklahoma’s college teams since we have no professional ones.

I’m not blindly loyal though, to anyone, ever. If my brother murdered someone, I would urge him to confess or I would have to do it for him (cough, cough, unlike some sisters in Oklahoma I know). When Oklahoma voted McCain over Obama due to racism (I took a survey of which I won’t go into but yeah the “N” word is commonplace), I’m the first to stand up and let people know that the majority does not speak for the minority. Thankfully, the rest of the world picked up the slack on that one and Obama is in office. When the bigot Oklahoma State Representative, Sally Kern, made headlines for her hateful anti-gay remarks and continues to do such, I call her office non-stop to try and educate her on Gays, Lesbians, Bisexual, and Transgendered people. Even now her ignorance shows:

Sally Kern is an Oklahoma state representative with her own, unique take on the economic crisis: gays are to blame.

So let’s apply some simple Math for Ms. Kern (not sure they had that when she was in school). If a low population of people can be the reason for a state’s entire economic crisis then that must mean that the revenue these people make are insanely higher than the majority. Now, let’s get fancy and put in some statistics..that would mean that the minority factor here, LGBT’s (same-sex couples accounted for less than 1% of overall Oklahoma population in the 2000 census–I’m assuming that is because most were afraid of being openly gay in Oklahoma and by afraid I mean fearful for their life, as well as the fact the census under served the gay community in 2000 and single LGBT’ers) make so much more money than 99% of Oklahoma’s population that we alone can make or break a state. Wow, no wonder Pepsi, MTV, and other big corporations have embraced us. That also must mean, granted you assume the more money you make equals to more intelligence and academic merit you have, that LGBT folks are pretty damn smart! In the next census (2010) the LGBT community will be better served by collecting data on same-sex couples (still yet under serving the community by not including gender identification and single LGBT’ers but it’s a start), and I’m going to go out on a limb and just tell you that us gay couples contribute a buttload of money into the economy so imagine if our taxes were taken away from the entire country. Wow! If we can single handedly break an entire state, I’d hate to see what we can do to a country.

Oh Ms. Kern, you’re an idiot.

Oklahoma, listen up, ok? hehehe. This is just plain archaic what I’m reading about abortion. I know my small hometown would easily be able to spot that girl that ‘moved closer to her orthodontist’ or got half a dozen abortions to save her overly strict parents from embarrassment. We suspected in high school, but now stuff like that would be confirmed. C’mon, isn’t discrimination tiresome?

Get on the phones, call the leaders in your state and let them know how you feel about this stuff or write a letter. I can speak from experience that your words and you matter in change, but you need to be heard. Let Ms. Kern know if only 1% of the population is accounting for your state being broke then for heaven’s sake why wouldn’t you want the minority to be fully integrated into the population..imagine what the poor state would get back from the active minorities?! Women, get on the phone and let your state government know that YOU have the say over your body and deserve the privacy of your choices.

I don’t live in Oklahoma, and I’m happy to work for a company (MTV) that holds equality in the highest regard so that I can achieve greatness within it. I also live in a state that includes me fully into the population (lucky them that they get 45% of my paycheck for simply giving me something that should be free, freedom). I still remain loyal to Oklahoma, which is why I posted this blog because there is 1% of the Oklahoma population that are bullied by Ms. Kern and company and their spirit is heavy.

Oklahoma is beautiful, and even though I’m disappointed in the politics of the poor state over and over again, I still have hope that those amazing spirits that reside there (like my family and friends that are truly great people) will join together to make Oklahoma great like it’s people. Then you can send Ms. Kern to Texas!

Electronic Breakfast Table

Breakfast was a symbol of  something pure that products of divorce, such as myself, used as a compass to happiness; a happy family.  While my own family ate wherever they lingered in their solitude and typically only ate together at one table on holidays, there was this ever-present dream of a wholesome family meal; untainted and a ‘what if’ attainability.

The few times we wrestled with sitting down at the table for a family breakfast or dinner, the only thing served was silence or resentment; not much of a variety of tastes.  Instead, we could watch Leave It To Beaver reruns at dinner time and watch the Cleavers, loving and virtuous, communicating and eating a full bird.  I didn’t get to eat a full bird until recently and if you’ve ever seen a full bird during preparation it’s enough to make you wonder if even June Cleaver, America’s most perfect mother, was a deviant.  Looking back, her obsession with kitchen activities and ability to do exceptional card tricks may have just been OCD and a gambling problem.  I guess even the All-American family has their imperfections, but it didn’t keep us from looking up to them and wanting a little slice of Cleaver pie.

We watched the Jetsons and heard the media projections on the future, but it came and went without flying cars and watch computers.  We didn’t experience the Apocalypse in 2000, and I’m pretty sure the one in 2012 is just a ploy to sell more batteries and water.  However, I can’t deny the digital age in front of me and the lack of simplicity all around me.  Why would children ride bikes when there’s an app for that?  What will become of imagination and pretend when it comes from a device?  What will double entendre become but acronyms and symbols like OMG PIG : p  (Oh My God Pretty Intelligent Girl–sticking tongue out) .  I failed in college at learning another language and luckily Ebonics didn’t stick, but I may have to noodle on text language.

I’ve got to finish this blog posting soon though because my iPhone is blowing up, but the point is that the NY Times came out with an article about electronic breakfast tables (my term, not theirs).  It’s a sad reality that my wholesome symbol of family will be as extinct as playing house in a real tree house and not on SIMS.

555

My Childhood friend named Struggle.

Yesterday an agent rejected my manuscript citing, “I couldn’t get passed the first 50 pages because there is no point.”  As disappointing as this was it wasn’t too surprising because the overarching theme in my life is struggle without any connective purpose.  Might I mention, my manuscript is a memoir.

If I were Alanis Morissette and writing IRONIC, I would write the lyric, “It’s like buying a new house and getting a property tax increase before the first mortgage payment.”  It’s a good thing I didn’t learn the definition of Irony from her, rather I learned it from the movie Reality Bites; a little too ironic, don’t you think?

The cycle of life is fascinating, isn’t it?  Sometimes I hear that George Bernard Shaw quote, “Youth is wasted on the young,” and then I hear some artists wax about the possibility of more stories of youth because as an adult we take fewer chances.  How about spending nine years working on a career to finally arrive just to have the economy boot you back to hourly wages like nine years back. 

The energy you put into life you get back, Karma as it is called.  I believe it, really I do.  I throw more energy balls than many people I know, but lately every time I manifest I just hear my boss’ laugh when I asked her for a promotion.  

Maybe I should have taken my wife up on the offer to move into the rainforest of Maui and just live off our fruit stand?!  As the 25th President (William McKinley) of our broken country said, “We need Hawaii just as much and a good deal more than we did California.  It’s Manifest Destiny.” 

“Manifest plainness,
Embrace simplicity,
Reduce Selfishness,
Have few desires.”
                  Lao-Tzu

 

Won’t you join me? We’re taking our fight for equality to Washington, DC!

I will be there, and I hope all of you will as we invade Washington, DC and demand equality!  Put this in Outlook and sync to your smart phones, email it, text it, tell everyone about it, and certainly tweet it!

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January 29th (A 9-year affair)

Since 2001, the date January 29th has held a significant meaning in my life; it was the date that my brother disappeared.  My family and I suspect it was the date of his actual wrongful death.  I’ll never forget that Superbowl weekend for as long as I live.  An Oklahoma State University plane carrying basketball players and some media personnel went down that Friday killing ten in total.  In Superbowl XXXV The Ravens beat the NY Giants,  34-7.  While watching a rerun of Law & Order, life flung the words “Jeffrey is missing” into the zeitgest of that 2001 weekend.

The commemorative weekend comes every year in the pecking order of “Jeffrey is missing,” Superbowl, and the OSU crash.  It reminds me of one of the birthday cards you get that has all the meaningful events of your birth year listed out in a souvenir manner. 

The first year (2001) I spent in a dreamlike state watching planes, people, cadaver dogs, police officers, horses, and my family searching frantically yelling “Jeffrey” over every inch of a mountain.  The second year (2002), we brought flowers to the site where the truck my brother was driving was planted found.  The third year (2003), we released balloons for him.  The fourth year (2004), we continued our ritual.  A few months after the last year we did that (2006) his skull and less than a handful of bones were retrieved from a remote place (approx. a mile from my uncle’s house) in the mountain.  In our minds, Jeffrey was graduating from missing to dead, while he should have been graduating from college.  In 2007, January 29th officially became the anniversary of his death.

While his presence never leaves, the cyclic mourning of a missing person has subsided and found closure in his death.  Unfortunately, many families do not have the morbid blessing of knowing whether or not their loved one is dead and continue to live in the abysmal cycle of grief and hope, which can be a crippling mixture at times. 

Many families of the missing begin extraordinary journeys in life because of our loved one’s indelible spirit and inexplicit parting from our world.  You can find some of these to the left of this blog posting, and in January 29th, 2010, I will be embarking on mine. 

Jeffrey Ben

True Christian.

A dear friend asked me, “At least twice now, in your blogs, I’ve see you use the term “True Christian”. How would you define that? What makes a “True Christian”?”

My reply:

I define a true christian as a person with a spiritual understanding that exceeds that of man-made religion and teachings to truly uphold the word of God. Their personal relationship with God helps them to be compassionate and to love thy neighbor as himself/herself and to do unto others as they would like done unto them despite religious propaganda. A true christian loves without prejudice and lives their life sharing goodness and wanting peace, love, and happiness to all of God’s creation.

That’s how I define a TRUE CHRISTIAN!

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