Get On The Boat (Mark, pt 3)

“Dearly Beloved,

We R gathered here 2day 2 get through this thing called life.

Electric word, life. It means forever and that’s a mighty long time, But I’m here 2 tell U…

…there’s something else.

The afterworld.

A world of never ending happiness.

U can always see the sun…


…or night.

So when U call up that shrink in Beverly Hills, U know the 1,

Dr. Everything’ll Be Alright.

Instead of asking him how much of UR time is left…

…ask him how much of UR mind, baby.

‘Cuz in this life…

…things are much harder than in the afterworld.

In this life UR on UR own.

And if the elevator tries 2 bring U down…

…go crazy…

…punch a higher floor.”

May your corporeal vessel, Prince Rogers Nelson, rest in peace, and your now unfettered spirit, O(+>,  travel eternally through the afterworld, resplendent on violaceous waves.

Today, we present to you, “Get On The Boat (Mark, pt 3)”

The music?  At the beginning, “Starfish and Coffee,” and at the end, well…no surprise, “Let’s Go Crazy.”


Sh*tty Poem

Who can go without having a thought encompassing the most inane circumstances yet placing monumental value upon it?

(Can you?)

Making relevant that which is irrelevant.

(Teach me.)

Yet…without such thoughts I perish at the hands of intruders, but not actual intruders.  Rather, psychic thieves who plunder the frontal cortex, awash in false emotions.  I retreat, I surrender…but in either case it’s no matter.  For the world is perfectly as the world is…perfectly as I exist and work and play and fuck and sleep.

Karma simply is.

Each of us travelling on our own trip as the others travel on their trips as all things travel on trivial trips.  The earth, the Solar system, the Milky way, the quadrant, the galaxy.


But then, is anything trivial…or is everything essential?

It’s impossible to make sense of anything.


I can look only through these eyes, can taste only with this tongue, feel only with this skin, hear only with these ears.  I can sense only with this brain.  But is this brain all brains?  All things?  Are we connected, interconnected, interdependent?

Where is Truth?

There is collective truth.

There is historical truth.

There is their truth, your truth, our truth, my truth.

But what…is…Truth?

I catch a glimpse

then there is nothing

and the memory fades


I sip coffee, drive the car, stop at the red light, go about my job, (…my profession, my title, my roles: Now I am husband Greg.  Now I am speech therapist Greg.  Now I am friendly guy at the counter Greg.  Now I am Mr. Gregory.  Now I am a complex nervous system interpreting this vehicle as Greg.  Now I am. What?…) I eat lunch, have a beer, sleep.

I seek truth, but I know the truth I seek is unattainable.  I continue to find my truth, yet I don’t know how close that is to the Truth.


You Say He Just a Friend (Mark, pt 2)


Thank you for your patience.

Now, grab whatever libation strikes your fancy, throw on your most comfortable headphones, and strap in for part 2 of our Mark pentalogy.  Today we begin with my response to, “What drove you to drink today?”

The answer?

Friendships, Facebook, and confrontation.  See, some friendships improve and deepen with age, much like the very spirits, wines, and beers which drive this endeavor.  Other friendships stall and shift in the direction of acquaintance, both parties perfectly content with the development.  Certain friendships fade away slowly, much like the resonance of a prayer bell, eventually becoming a vague, positive memory.  And occasionally things really change abruptly and for the worse.  When the latter happens, as it did for me, a decision must be made…to confront or not to confront?  Then, if one confronts, is the confrontation in the spirit of breaking up or reconciling?  But, I really don’t want to deal with any of this shit right now.  So…not to confront.  (But I know I should.)  And, do I want to reconcile or break-up?  (The very question points me in the direction of the answer…and again, I don’t want to deal with that.)  So, a quick Manhattan followed by a double Old-Fashioned it is!

In this episode, Mark and I discuss levels of friendship, and it seems like they shake-out as follows:

1. Kidney-giving level

  • Unequivocal kidney giving
  • Kidney giving with hesitation
  • Kidney giving as a last resort (i.e. “If no one else will, I suppose…”)
  • Begrudging kidney giving with the option of holding it over the receiver’s head (i.e. “Can you lend me $100?”  “Sorry, I don’t have it right now.”  “Oh, okay.  How’s my kidney treating you?”)

2. Premium level

  • Frequent hang-out, in home
  • Frequent hang-out, not in home, one check
  • Frequent hang-out, not in home, separate checks
  • Occasional hang-out, and all is well in the world

3. Acquaintence level

  • Infrequent hang-out, no time limit
  • Infrequent hang-out, time limit
  • Rare hang-out

4. Facebook level

  • Frequent interaction
  • Infrequent interaction
  • Unfollowed
  • Unfriended

The drink?  Wigle Four malt whiskey old fashioned

The music?  “I’ll be there for you,” by The Rembrandts and “Just a Friend,” by Biz Markie

We present to you, “You Say He Just a Friend. (Mark, pt 2)”

No kidney for you. And separate checks! Good day. I…said…good…day!


So How’s It Today?

(Tuesday, 4/19)

It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood, I just replenished my craft coffee supply, and I’ve been filling my head with Alan Watts.  There are times, I imagine, when filling one’s head with Alan Watts would prove much less powerful, challenging, and insightful than the impact my current head space is experiencing.  I’m quite aligned with almost everything that has exited Watts’ mouth, been archived, remastered, digitally transferred, and serendipitously placed for absolutely free on iTunes.  Serendipitously because although I feel ready for it all right now, I kind of stumbled upon a Watts’ lecture through an entirely different source.

Happy little accidents.


Also, putting in the work to (perhaps) inadvertently ready oneself for these happy little accidents.

They often find me, particularly when I’m seeking something entirely different.


I also feel like it’s about time for me to dive back in to the Tao Te Ching.  I’m not sure I’ll ever be truly ready for that, but I know it’s there for me.

So, how’s it today?

(Wednesday, 4/20)

Woke up at 3:30 after a “sleep” filled with not-quite-nightmares.  You know those shitty dreams that don’t offer scares, startles, or heart rate increases…but stick with you like dog hair on a black t-shirt.  Mild dread and Twilight Zonish non sequiturs serving as an undercurrent for the subconscious mind’s interpretation of and punishment for all of that emotional luggage.

I’ve consumed many ounces of shitty coffee to make me good and jittery but not really awake.

I’m waiting for my Mom, currently under a surgeon’s care.  No, the robot’s, controlled by the surgeon’s, care.  Something like that.  Any sharpness that might typically flow from these fingers dulled by exhaustion.  So I’m sorry.

But I’m not entirely sorry.

This is for me as much as it’s for you.  Today, perhaps 60/40, leaning Greg.

Love yinz.

(Thursday, 4/21)

I’d never, until right now, experienced an emotion and exhaustion fueled hangover.  It’s as if I have ADD today.  (Admittedly, I might have undiagnosed ADD anyway, but today my ability to plan and execute anything, including the walk from my bedroom to the bathroom, is fraught with any number of tangential, ancillary, or otherwise irrelevant (but powerful) thoughts.  Hell, it doesn’t even need to be a thought.  Often my brain will simply…like right there.  It went off line for a few seconds but then re-engaged at a place different from whence it came.)

Mom is fine.

When I left the SICU she was alert, drinking water, taking oxycodone (…lots of pain…), and dropping F-bombs like the old-school Catholic Lawrenceville biker broad she is.  But without her teeth, so she couldn’t properly make an /f/ sound…so it was kind of more like, “Puck you,” and, “It’ not pucking punny.”  Good times.

Thank you for being you.


My ride or die b*tch

Fella Under Construction, Kay!?


What’s happening?  I hope all is well on your side of the computer.  Right here, all is quite well…though I’m simply not in a headspace to put together the podcast for this weekend.  That’s a crappy thing to say particularly if you regularly listen.  (I’m a schedule guy myself, and this kind of thing is annoying to me!  So, sorry.  Really.)

I have the upcoming “Markisodes” of the Podcast ready to go, a few minis, and some ideas I’ll put to digital paper.  But, I really don’t like to put out a podcast unless it is a turd polished well enough for me to see my self-published but otherwise entirely unrecognized reflection.  (In all seriousness, I really do try to put out the best quality thing that I can muster with our equipment.)

All irrelevent, though…am I right?!

Point is, there will be no podcast this weekend.  Also, I’ll be helping out my Mom with a few things this week and perhaps the following, so things may get a little erratic.  Rest assured, I’ve yet to “mail in” a post or podcast.  (Really, I try to be honest and crafty every week.)

I love each of you reading this, and appreciate your eyes, brains, and those sexy eyes.  (That’s right, I’m talking to you mister/miss.)

Take care.





Have you been to a Panera recently?


I’m so entrenched in urban hipster culture that I had no idea what was happening in the suburbs.

I’ve spent entirely too much time, apparently, in craft coffee shops, micro-breweries, farm-to-table restaurants, artisan confectioners, rustic bakeries, and small-batch distilleries.

Recently I walked into a Panera in a northern suburb of Pittsburgh, PA. Surrounded by strip malls, every flavor of ubiquitous fast food, all-you-can-eat (…not you eat all…) Chinese food buffets, and prefab LEGO-like housing plans nestled together praying that whatever group might lower home values remains somewhere else.

No, I don’t like suburbia. But I digress.

I walked into a modern Panera but culturally stepped way back in time. Crackling over speakers that, just several years ago when I frequented these hip, upstart, not-quite-fast-food joints, played non-offensive vanilla pop and soft rock was, “The very thought of you.” Not a smooth jazz interpretation. The real deal. Around me were small clusters of retirees discussing politics, religion, and all the shit you’re not supposed to discuss in mixed company. I ordered a coffee, took my mug over to the large insulated vessels and poured 12 ounces of hot, caffeinated, over-extracted poo-water into my cup.  (It’s not good coffee.  It’s not even good bad coffee.  It’s the opposite…shit expensive coffee.  I would have killed for a cup of mechanic made Maxwell House.)  I then tried to find a spot that wasn’t occupied by Trump supporters, Hilary haters, Bernie enthusiasts, despondent Catholics, or, and this is apparently the other Panera demographic, young moms with frolicking, unsupervised toddlers and colicky babies. “Pardon me, boy, is that the Chatenooga Choo Choo?”

I repeat, yikes.

Now, I realize that I’m sitting in a sample size of precisely 1…which, in scientific terms is just about as valid and accurate as throwing opinions in the dark. In fact, with internet access and the ubiquity of information, a sample of 1 might be worse than just staring into the abyss of my phone to figure out what the hell is happening.

Everyone is white. Like, startlingly white.

I realize…I don’t belong here. Nobody is actively excluding me.  And yes, I know I’m white, too.  Indeed, I’m the one sitting here judging.

All of those little groups of geriatric pundits are happy as clams.

With free refills all damn day.

Oh, and the open kitchen.

It’s a problem.

I used to work fast food, and there’s no escaping the unique stench of whichever establishment one finds oneself…not without an aggressive shower and immediately washing the exposed clothes to hot water and the most violent cycle available.

I already smell Panera on my shirt…and it’s going to stay there because my day is just starting.

And the hits from 1921 continue.

It’s like I’m Stanley Kubrick’s, “The Shining,” and I should close this post and exit the haunted relic that’s attempting to make my parted, pomade-assisted coiffe non-ironically relevant.

“Wendy.  Honey.  Just relax. I’m not going to hurt you.”

“Why yes, Mr. Del Duca, you’ve been here all along.”

“Oh, you must’ve been a beautiful baby.”




When Is a Closed Road Not Closed? (Mark, pt. 1)

Strap in for a five part extravaganza of classic cocktails, a cappella reminiscing, friendship woes, and professional wrestling.  Yes, today we meet my friend Mark, whose heart and brain are exceptionally large and often in conflict.  Wait, that’s me.

Yes, today we meet my friend Mark, whose self-flagellating Catholic guilt runs deep and contrary to his tendency towards myopic judgement.  Wait, that’s also me.

Ahem…yes, today we meet my friend Mark, whose thoughtfulness is outshone only by his verbosity and tendency toward prepubescent boy humor.  Shit…also me.

Okay, apparently you’re meeting me today.  Have fun with that.

We begin with a discussion of “the facilities,” otherwise known as wherever I am with whatever I happen to have with a functioning microphone.  This situation needs to be upgraded, and we’re certainly in the process of making that happen…one amazon purchase at a time.  (Yeah, hey…take a look up there to the right of my head.  See that “a” with a smile?  That’s my amazon affiliate link.  You can bookmark that, or just use it…and when you do amazon recognizes that we sent you and gives us a little monetary thank you.)

We continue with a Manhattan incorporating Wigle straight rye, a fancy French vermouth I found at the store, a Luxardo maraschino cherry (…there’s an amazon affiliate link for you…), and lemon rind.

We move through how Mark and I met, which leads us to a Sazerac incorporating Wigle “Absent Minded” (absinthe), Wigle straight rye, sage-infused simple syrup, Wigle aromatic bitters, and lemon rind.

Now sufficiently buzzing, we reach the question at the foundation of our endeavor, “What drives you to drink, generally…and what drove you to drink, specifically, today?”

Mark, ever the rule follower, noticed a “ROAD CLOSED” sign at the end of my street.  (Water main leak/repair.)  He parked in the Rite Aid lot and walked down…as cars, bicycles, motorcycles, and all forms of wheeled transportation ignored said sign and passed him on his ambulatory journey.  Truth be told, I neglected to tell him about the sign to see what he would do…and I wasn’t disappointed.  Listen here, and hear all about it.

We present to you, “When is a closed road not closed? (Mark, pt. 1)”

Oh…the music?  Had to go full on a cappella…so, “If I ever fall in love” by Shai and, “Leave It” by Yes.  Oh, and a Pandora 80’s station will be playing in the background, sometimes the foreground.  Rest assured, I’m making no money off of “Easy Lover.”  She’ll get a hold on you, believe it!


Of Mice and Man’s Pale Blue Dot

I don’t have much comedy in my heart this week.  Had a couple of humor-driven posts complete, proof-read, and in the hopper (“haw-puh, kid”) but I’m just not in that head/heart space.

I’d begun to contemplate epigenetics, which involves the trait variations caused by external/environmental factors that can (and do) switch genes on or off and affect how cells read/interact with genes instead of being caused by changes in the DNA sequence.


It means the environment CAN impact genetic expression in the here and now.  No protracted evolutionary process necessary.  Just people, places, events, and things outside of us.

I recently read about an experiment in which mice were tortured in the presence of orange blossom.  It’s really fucked what we do to living creatures for the sake of science, but ultimately even more deplorable what we do to them for the sake of health and beauty supplements, including shampoo and make up.  However, the torture that animals endure in the name of science often yields important, perhaps even critical information…and so I think it’s important to respect that information and the lives lost for it.  Anyway, torture and orange blossom.  The offspring of that experiment, when presented with the scent of orange blossom, would react with a fear reaction.  That is, without any of the torture endured by their parents, the children somehow were epigenetically changed to fear the very scent that brought havoc on Mommy and/or Daddy.

I also read that pregnant women who survived the Holocaust as well as those who lived through the World Trade Center attacks on September 11, 2001 and who suffered PTSD (…and the reduction in cortisol that accompanies that experience and disorder…) had children who, when later tested, also showed the hormonal signs of PTSD.

Although this science is neither “airtight” nor devoid of legitimate detractors, I will venture to write the following: We know the environment, the “nurture” rather than the “nature,” which we discussed above, will have behavioral, hormonal, and likely epigenetic impacts on the humans within said environments.

Now consider war, genocide, slavery, and socio-economic oppression.

Might we not expect the people involved, including the offspring, and the offspring of the offspring, and perhaps multiple generations to experience the impact of those preliminary horrors?

Can we expect a black teenager today to overcome the residual impact of slavery, torture, and historic, systemic socio-economic oppression?  From historical, socio-cultural, biological and genetic perspectives?  (No, I’d argue.)

Can we expect a Jewish child to interact as if the holocaust didn’t happen to countless family members just several generations back?  And again, I’m talking about the neuro-chemical and genetic changes passed down from parent to child to child to child.  I’m talking about the socio-cultural and historical impacts on an entire subgroup. (Again, I think not.)

Hutu, Tutsi.

Suuni, Shia.

Serbian, Croatian.

I’m surely missing historic tragedies whose impact has rippled through tens if not hundreds of generations, thus changing the very nature of the humans whose ancestors faced unprecedented horrors.  Please forgive my ignorance and limited thoroughness.

It seems, to me, that we need to stop asking people to stop bringing up the past.  We need to stop making excuses for the sins of our ancestors, both biologically and culturally.  That is, “My ancestors didn’t own slaves,” is no excuse to ignore the repercussions and impact of slavery on U.S. society, economics, infrastructure, etc.  I can only take responsibility for my actions, but I should make myself as well-informed as possible about the history that led to my current milieu and the myriad people surrounding me with whom I’m interdependent.

Then, I can interact, advocate, collaborate, and simply build human relationship across any population.  Not race.  There is just one race.  A human one that had better start taking care of itself and the statistically miraculous environment on which we presently exist.

Think. Smile.  Relate. Communicate. Love.

Right now is all we have.



Will Somebody Shut That Bird Up?! (RJ, pt. 3)

I come with Arrogant Bastard Ale, and somewhere along the way we crack open the Lagunitas Hop Stoopid.  Fortunately, my wife agreed to be my Uber because I’m uber-inebriated.  Ubernebriated.  #FeelTheUbern

We continue our conversation about Dave Grohl as an important advocate and ambassador for music and expressive authenticity.  Neither of us particularly like Grohl’s music, but that’s not the point.  The man gives a shit, has a public platform, and is willing to (foo) fight for the arts. #FooFighterForTheArts

I ask RJ another misguided but often asked question:  Paul or John?  “This,” RJ is likely to say, “Is a trick question.”  There are so many of these “trick” questions in the world.  May the next person who utters the phrase, “There are no stupid questions,” be immediately barraged with a cluster of stupid questions. #ColdEnoughOutThereForYou

Regarding John and Paul?  They don’t work as well without each other.  “For Example,” explains RJ, “Imagine would be a much better song if Paul sang it and wrote the chorus.”  In any awesome band…everyone is integral to the sound of the band, and every player sounds uniquely like him/herself.  “Anyone can (learn to) play Tom Sawyer,” quips RJ, “But nobody will sound like Neil Peart.”

And can we make yet another Beatles/Pink Floyd comparison?  Yes, we can.  You’ll perhaps recall that RJ completed my analogy which began, “Ringo is to the Beatles sound as…,” with, “…Nick Mason is to Pink Floyd.”  (Neither were technically “good” drummers, but both defined the sounds of their respective bands.  And not just any bands.  We’re talking about the Beatles and Pink Floyd.)  So, further comparisons:

  • Paul McCartney and David Gilmour are Pop. (In RJ’s words, “They’re like, Yaaaaayyy!  Too much Richard Simmons.”)
  • John Lennon and Roger Waters are sarcastic bastards with venom.  (In Greg’s words, “They’re like, fuck off, you wanker.”)

RJ reveals his Mt. Rushmore of drummers and Beatles tunes and responds to a fun little wildcard question.  And he plays, “Enid,” by Barenaked Ladies.  Check out the Cuica. (“QUEE-kah”)  You know what it is, it’s the awesome sound from, “Me and Julio Down By the School Yard.”  You know what?  I’ll just put that song at the end of this.  It’s a great song.  And that cuica.  And the whistling solo?!  C’mon!!  And at the the beginning?  Let’s go with, “Money” by Pink Floyd.  It’s in 7/4, you know?  Except when it’s in 4/4.  It’s a badass tune.

Which brings us full circle.  Me and RJ are done.  For now.  There will be more.  But starting next week we begin an epic run of shows with Mark.  Mark’s awesome.  You’ll like him.

We present to you, “Will Someone Shut That Bird Up?!” (RJ, pt. 3)


Unibrow don’t lie. Shut that bird up!