Counter Culture Mindset

I was watching “Doomsday Preppers” on the History Channel the other day and it never occurred to me before but did at that moment that I have something in common with them. They are outside of culture and I strive to be, at least mentally anyway, outside as well. My remote-ness is different in kind but “apart is apart” I hope to be different from the propogandish life protrayed on television and elsewhere in modern culture. I should call that life a lie because it really is. Some channels are deeper lies than others. In “my book,” counter culture is cool because it sustains a purity, at least in theory. A primal urge to meet ones needs and live with as much excess as possible is the goal. Recently I noticed there were two new movies coming out about the Beats (AKA the “Beatniks,” “Beat Generation.”) This is exciting for me! To see Jack Kerouac, William Buuroughs, and Allen Ginsberg on screen would be a treat. They have been like mythical creatures for me most of my life. The Beats represented counter culture and apparently movie makers want to spread that message today.

We live in a time that is for all intents and purposes: “The Matrix.” All we lack are the plugs for the backs of our heads. I don’t find much contentment in the “Doomsday Preppers” since they say the world is going to be taken out. They may be right, but I don’t want to focus on that. I’d rather focus on the now and what I can get from it. It is really all we have. A life that works toward that is my brand of counter culture. To learn is to conquer and I want that in excess. To be made aware of ones shortcomings and suffering is along the path. To obey ones instincts and find happiness in a new and untrodden way is my life’s ambition. This is rarely touched on in modern media. If you don’t measure up to what they tell you, then you can never be happy. I’m out to destroy that cultural myth. Success is the best revenge. I hope I remain counter culture until my dying day. When we dare to break out of our societal constraints, we can see with CLARITY what we need to do for ourselves.

One way to gain clarity on the issues of ones life is via meditation. There are many great books and websites that have been published on the topic. My brand of counter culture seeks calm and clarity through meditation. It isn’t just trendy yoga either. The mere act of a sigh can trigger the relaxation response. When you pay attention to your own body and relax it, your body will take better care of you. While in those relaxing time, I often have realizations about what my life needs. I try to follow through on that. Notice that though I praise the Beats I do not require drugs in my brand of counter culture. I don’t think they required it either but they do carry that stigma so I’m providing a disclaimer. Counter culture is cool, in my opinion. I think the more counter culture movements that arise the better. Obviously the debt and unrest in this country is an indicator that the status quo life we are fed in the media isn’t working for the majority.

Post Inspired by Where the Wild Things Are

This post was inpsired by a children’s book I read my kids a lot.

Did you ever think a choice was good and when you took it found you were stuck headed to a dead end? This happened to me once when I was 19. I had just quit my job at the grocery store (anyone out there old enough to remember Alpha Beta?) I had been in some power struggles with my boss there. He had been scheduling me when my band had gigs etc. paying no attention to my notes when I needed time off. You know, typical 19 year old “finding his way,” “challenging authority” type stuff. I quit and he told me I was welcome to come back anytime. I remember thinking: “Thanks but no thanks pal … I’ll never be back dude.”

I had a tough time finding a job at that time with no education and not much experience. The ones I did find paid diddly squat like a Christmas job I got at the mall selling ornaments. At that same time, my dad and I had started going at it as well. I was totally into my music and playing in my band wherever I could get a show. Anyway, he had been telling me that unless I got enrolled in college, I’d have to start paying rent. Doesn’t it seem like when the heat is on, life just turns up the burners? Well, for me at that time the key was getting moved out and making more money than I made as a clerk at Alpha Beta. Then it happened:

I called one of those “manpower” type placement services. After about 99 forms, they said they had a “match” for me. It was stuffing microchips into long plastic strips. Then, sealing them and finally shipping them to various places. I stood at a line all day doing these tasks and heard the most foul profanity and odd stories from an ex-con on my left, about 10 years my senior, and two other guys that resented my squeaky clean personality as much as the ex-con did. They wanted me out of there from my first minute on the line. After a week I wanted to quit so bad but I didn’t have the balls to walk off the job from my supervisor. After two weeks of hearing stories about what marijuana is the best and women with “inverted nipples,” I knew I had to get out.

If you’ve read the story by Maurice Sendak Where the Wild things Are it’s a very close parallel. Max gets mad and punished by his mom, sent to bed without any supper. He dreams of where the wild things are only it goes better for him, they make him their king. After a time he wants to go back and they don’t want to let him go. In my case they were like: “Don’t let the door hit your ass on the way out.”

About that time, I started looking into this college thing my dad kept forcing me into. As it turned out, college gave me a great career and a good life. I plan to pressure my kids the same way. For a little while they may flee to where the wild things are. But eventually They’ll come back to what’s real and what’s home … at least, that’s the hope all of us parents need to hold onto. After all, what do the wild things have that we don’t? I sure am glad I sailed in and out of a year to get back to my room where supper was waiting “and it was still hot.”

Did you ever stray out to where the wild things are?

Right Brainer Algebra

Damien Riley Beer CelebrateI took a couple years off college after high school and lived to regret it. One thing that was really tough was going back to College Algebra and all her pre-requisites. I was 21 and while that sounds young to me now, I felt way too old to be in the same classes as the freshmen I knew in high school. Humble pie set in. I was told in the guidance office I could have taken care of it in high school and boy I wish I had. In my early 20’s as a musician and aspiring songwriter, I was working 2 jobs and didn’t want to be in a classroom learning math, of all things. Nonetheless, that’s where I ended up. I was terrible at it too, nothing came easy. Memorization, neatness, everything required for math was no longer supple in my wild 21 year old mind. That is, until one day when I got some golden advice.

My professor was a hippie “free love and peace” kind of guy. I recall one day he saw me doodling lyrics on my notes. He suggested I make math an art project. See every equation and challenge as a doodle. I started by getting a clipboard and a ton of paper and pencils. I wrapped about 100 sharpened pencils in a rubber band and always came to class ready to make a Picasso. It got me interested in detail and logic. Mr. Sommers also suggested the Theory of Time Spaced Learning to me. This is basically the idea that if you take more breaks, your mind will retain more. I loved that. I’m living proof it works too. Cramming for hours on end really does little. A little bite of work at a time will allow your brain to digest more over the whole session. My grades became A’s and I passed College Algebra in Summer of 1993. I was 23 years old. After that I would become passionate about English, language, writing, and rhetoric and eventually teach. I never had to do algebra like that again but I could never have enjoyed my English life without that one class. Try to transform your talents into the subjects you have difficulty with.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Land of Confusion.”

Zen and the Art of Image Management

Most people these days don’t need more than their Facebook for managing their photos. Still, If you blog like I do you need as much halo as you can get with it. I have lots of advice and services to recommended but Flickr is the most basic foundation that every blogger could benefit from. flickr … Continue reading Zen and the Art of Image Management

Larry Crowne (Movie Review)


Though the critics are slamming this movie, it’s not all bad. It will sell on VOD and show up on Netflix soon I am sure. It won no awards with me. If you plan to see it, I should warn you that Larry Crowne is no top shelf Tom Hanks or Julia Roberts film. Neither it is worthy of co-writer Nia Vardalos, for that matter. It is corny writing akin to an after school special only its audience is unclear. It could be middle aged or 20-somethings, I am not quite sure. It is lost on me. In truth, I do not care about the intended audience. I do wonder however who will get this film.

IMDB synopsis: “After losing his job, a middle-aged man reinvents himself by going back to college.”

Commmunity college is misrepresented along with human patterns of relationships. This film isn’t horrible though. It’s a vanilla way to bide your time in between meals. It will not teach you anything profound however about real tragedies like downsizing or foreclosure. It’s a happy message … phrases like “Grin and bear it” and “Just smile” come to mind. As long as you expect that crap, you may enjoy this little fling at junior college. (That makes it sound like more fun than it is)
[xrr rating=1.5/5]

Rome Wasn't Built in a Day

That’s an old saying and it’s about having patience. What if you were Rome? Would you listen to that advice and have patience with your own growth? You ought to. We are all in process. I think we yearn for that feeling of completion when we try new projects or expectations of ourselves. The truth is however, we need time to complete most things we set out to do. For example, they don’t give High School graduates the high paying science jobs right?

Got a vision or desire to do something with your life? Congratulations … cherish it!

Relationships, college, reading a book, … these are just three things that take a while to complete. Other endeavors can take months or years longer at times, like adult acne, just to name one. Just because it takes a long time to treat, should a person not try? Patience here is the key. There can be great satisfaction in knowing where one wants to go. This is true despite the fact that things take time.

I think the best way to go through life is to learn to be thankful for goals and directions you make for yourself. They are really where accomplishment begins. If you can be “at peace” along the journey.

Weekendend

I have no affinity for Sunday nights. I do have a couple 3 day weekends in February, so those Sundays will be nice. I’m a firm believer that relaxation breeds creativity and productivity. If employers believed this, weekends would last longer than 2 days. It was a wonderful weekend and I am set to have the best Monday of my life.

The Lovers, the Dreamers, and Me

Do you recognize that title line? It’s from an amazing song that Kermit the Frog made famous in the 1970’s, “The Rainbow Connection.” I find the music clever and entrancing. The lyrics are even more mesmerizing. I glean strength from this song now at 40 years as I did as a kid growing up chewing Star Wars cards bubblegum. Since then, songs come once in a while like it, but so far … nothing QUITE like it.

If you’re new to the song, check out these lyrics. If the song is an oldie but a goodie for you, see what you think of my notes:

Why are there so many songs about rainbows
And what’s on the other side?
Rainbows are visions, but only illusions,
And rainbows have nothing to hide.
So we’ve been told and some choose to believe it
I know they’re wrong, wait and see.
Someday we’ll find it, the rainbow connection,
The lovers, the dreamers and me.

The line “Rainbows are visions but only illusions” is powerful to me. When Guns and Roses released their monster huge album “Use your Illusion” it had be thinking why they named it that. I get it. It’s because our “illusion” is like the rainbow and it can lead us to all-time great heights if we follow it. We should never let anyone tell us it isn’t real. That is the rainbow connection between all of us.

Who said that every wish would be heard and answered
when wished on the morning star?
Somebody thought of that
and someone believed it,
and look what it’s done so far.
What’s so amazing that keeps us stargazing?
And what do we think we might see?
Someday we’ll find it, the rainbow connection,
the lovers, the dreamers and me.

Same type of thing. We all marvel at the idea of wishing on a falling star when we’re young, but why not now? Why not now?

All of us under its spell,
we know that it’s probably magic….

I get this from it: We follow the visions of others and they follow ours. It IS magic and it IS the way of this life in this world. If you can see the beauty in it, it is a great thing. If not, I suppose it could appear as black magic. Follow your vision though. We are all counting on you.

Have you been half asleep
and have you heard voices?
I’ve heard them calling my name.
Is this the sweet sound that calls the young sailors?
The voice might be one and the same.
I’ve heard it too many times to ignore it.
It’s something that I’m supposed to be.
Someday we’ll find it, the rainbow connection,
the lovers, the dreamers and me.
La, la la, La, la la la, La Laa, la la, La, La la laaaaaaa

Folks, this is the section I wrote this post for. I have rarely heard such a hauntingly beautiful piece of poetry and music. What is the arcane “sweet sound that calls the young sailors?” It could be the robust desire to conquer the seas. BUT, I can’t help but get an inkling that it could be the legend of the lusty, sweet singing sirens luring them to their deaths. How is that like the rainbow connection?  I can think of a few ways.

The rest of the paragraph seems to connote he is captivated by the sound. It is as if he accepts his fate: bad, good, or otherwise. This is the rainbow connection in all of us. It is what binds us together … since I stated Star Wars ’77 earlier, it’s a bit like force indeed. Go do a YouTube search and give it a listen. Who knows, it may be what you’re missin’ this week. Do you have any impressions of this song to share?