Flashback Friday: Take the Long Way Home

Last night my wife and I took a little trip down memory lane and revisited one the best concerts we’ve ever attended. The year was 1983, The venue, the fabulous Forum! the group, Supertramp, one of the hottest groups of the time. It was an incredible evening! They were awesome! However the concert ended on a somewhat sad note, as co-founder Roger Hodgson, thanked the crowd he announced that he was leaving the band to spend time with his family. An audible gasp filled the Forum, then several moments of shocked silence, followed by a well deserved standing ovation.  Hodgson was the voice, sound and backbone of Supertramp, and wrote nearly all of their biggest hits. It was sad, Supertramp had left the building… They were never quite the same band after his departure.

Yesterday afternoon we jumped in our time machine and drove out to Temecula. After a little wine tasting adventure and dinner at the Lazy Dog Cafe with my cousins Dave and Wallie, and good friends Dave and Barb, We headed over to the Pechanga Resort & Casino to see Supertramp’s Rodger Hodgson! Backing Hodgson were four extremely gifted musicians, a drummer, bass player , keyboardist and a multi talented back up singer who also played keyboards and all the wind instruments. They were excellent! They added fullness and texture to Hodgson’s songs and sounded as good as, if not better than, Supertramp of old, belting out tunes like School, Dreamer, Take the Long Way Home, the Logical Song, Give a Little Bit, my all time favorite, “Fool’s Overture” and many more!

I was blown away! The music evoked a flood of memories. I smiled, cried, sighed and remembered, but mostly I enjoyed. Roger’s songs are deeply personal and he sang them with a grace and style that brought true meaning to his lyrics! His stage presence is incredible! He is a sincere, humble English gentleman, and by the end of the evening you feel as though he has been your friend forever. I was deeply moved by his performance. He touched my soul. Being in attendance for the opening of Roger’s 2011 American tour was one of the best concert experiences I’ve had in this new millennium. (Donavan would be a close second) If I had only known that it was going to be as fantastic as it was, I would have bought tickets for both nights!  I can hardly wait til next time!

Thomas Wolfe was wrong, you can go home again, but be sure to take the long way home…

 

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Plastic Fantastic Oceans

Apparently whoever coined the phrase “nothing lasts forever” had never heard of plastic. Plastic may not really last forever but pretty damn close! Researchers estimate that it takes hundreds, even thousands of years for plastic to breakdown. Truth be told, plastic hasn’t been around long enough for us to really know, but believe it or not, all the plastic that’s ever been manufactured in the U.S. is still around today in one form or another, much of it as discarded waste. At best guess that’s about a billion tons of plastic waste.

Now I’m not an avid environmentalist nor do I go around hugging trees, but I do have a genuine concern for our planet. Until yesterday I had no idea there was so much plastic waste! It all began with an eye opening article I read yesterday afternoon about how tons of debris from Japan’s tsunami last year is caught up in the rotating currents of the Pacific Ocean and is making its way towards the west coast. Estimates are that debris could reach Hawaii sometime this year and our coast within two years.

But not all the debris will wash ashore. Some debris will break up in transit, some may split up and be carried north towards Alaska and a large portion will make its way into what is referred to as the ‘Great Pacific Garbage Patch!’ How much actually reaches our shores depends on the types of materials, buoyancy, wind and other factors. Most of the debris that reaches us will be plastics and other things that float easily and don’t break down easily in the salt water.

‘Great Pacific Garbage Patch’? Huh? I had no idea what that was, and the article only said that it was a part of the North Pacific Gyre. Okay, so what the hell is a gyre? Well, needless to say, I had to look them up, inquiring minds need to know, you know. Well, after a little Googling and a stop at Wikipedia I learned that the North Pacific Gyre is the largest ecosystem on our planet. It covers an 8 million square mile area of the Pacific Ocean and is the site of an  incredibly massive collection of man-made marine debris, mostly plastic. It’s actually the largest landfill in the world, a swirling sea of debris, plastic bags, bottles and other consumer products and it floats in the middle of the ocean, like a thick plastic soup.

This plastic wasteland just keeps growing and growing. 80% of the waste comes from land, another 10% is from plastic commercial fishing nets that are left behind, and the rest comes from recreational boaters, offshore oil rigs and large cargo and cruise ships. There is plenty of metal, glass and rubber in the garbage patch but most of it sinks to the bottom or biodegrades, so the majority of material is still plastic.  The microbes that break down other substances don’t recognize plastic as food, leaving it to float there forever. The rays of the sun do eventually degrade the bonds in plastic polymers, reducing it to smaller and smaller pieces, but that just makes thing worse. The plastic still never goes away; it simply becomes microscopic and is eaten by tiny marine organisms, and enters the food chain. How wonderful! Toxic fish, just what we need.

Biodegradable, reusable plastic bags

So what can we do about this floating plastic wasteland? Of course the most logical move is educating the public of this potential disaster and the importance of wholesale plastic recycling programs and expanded research on a productive use of this potentially plastic waste. Some have suggested using our plastic cast offs as a fuel source which brings to mind the time travelling DeLorean of  ‘Back to the Future’ fame. Remember the doc using waste products to fuel his machine? Plastic bottle fuel? Now wouldn’t that be special?

The larger this floating ‘garbage patch’ becomes, the more dangerous it becomes, or so they say.  As you’ve probably guessed there is a whole other side to this plastic disaster tale. A growing number of people believe that the whole garbage patch, killer plastic thing is grossly exaggerated and is simply a grand hoax perpetrated by leftist environmentalist and is not nearly the threat it’s made out to be. In fact they claim the garbage patch doesn’t even exist. Perhaps the fact that much of the plastic in the patch is in small pieces below the surface of the water lends a degree of credence to their reports, but just because bottles and other plastic debris isn’t bobbing around on the surface doesn’t mean it isn’t there.

And who are these people who dispute the claims? Would you believe that plastic bag manufacturers like Crown Poly are behind it? Well they are! So once again their protest is about the money they’re losing and not the safety of the environment. They even have there own experts to bolster their claims. Just another example of typical corporate greed and bullshit.

The fact remains that big or small, the garbage patch does exist and is a plastic problem that will only get worse unless something is done about it and soon, This is our home, if we want it to continue to be home for  future generations then we better do something about these pollution problems now before it’s too late or worse yet too expensive…

Okay, I’m done preaching, but I’m just saying…

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Throwback Thursday: Are We Not Men? 1/2011

“We don’t need more education. We need more spirituality –                                                     more of a sense of how to live happily with less.”                                                                                                                                                                     Zubaty

 

Have you ever attended a men’s group meeting? Do you even know what one is? A good friend of mine had long been active in men’s groups, and although he had mentioned his involvement before, I simply assumed a men’s group was a club or lodge, like the Fraternal Order of Eagles, Elks Lodge, Moose Lodge, Lions, Kiwanis, Knights of Columbus or Rotary Club.

It wasn’t until I was 46 years old that I fully came to understand the concept of a men’s group when my friend Bob invited me to one of their meetings. I recall in the days leading up to the meeting having serious second thoughts about attending. Bob had invited two more of our friends but both had backed out, so I was to be the lone ranger. After much thought, I decided I didn’t want to let Bob down so I went ahead and attended the meeting. As it turned out, it was quite an enlightening experience.

I remember driving to Pasadena that Saturday morning where the meeting was being held. I was a bit apprehensive as I wasn’t really sure what to expect. Bob had briefed me but not in great detail. I knew the meeting had to do with men rediscovering their roots and sharing in a very personal and spiritual way. I’d also heard from someone at work that drumming somehow played a part in it, but I wasn’t really sure. Funny, but even as nervous as I was, I was kind of looking forward to finding out what it was all about.

The meeting was held in a small basement beneath a very quaint bookstore near the corner of Lake and California Ave. Bob was out front when I arrived. We talked for a few minutes then he asked me if I was ready for an experience of a lifetime. I said sure and we headed into the store.

We walked through the aisles of books to a small staircase at the rear of the store and started down. As we moved down the stairs, the first thing I noticed was the sweet smell of incense. It was powerful and filled my head with memories of my youth, my altar boy experiences whirled around in my mind, then slowly melted into a series of sixties flashbacks. I swear I could hear Donovan’s Sunshine Superman playing in my head.

Once downstairs we entered a large room with a low ceiling. The wood beams creaked and groaned whenever someone passed overhead adding a kind of surreal quality to what I was already experiencing. On one side of the room, there were perhaps a dozen or more drums of different types, in a variety of sizes and shapes. In the far corner, there was a large table set up as a make shift altar with a collection of artifacts from many different cultures. There were small statues and incense burners, a conquistadors helmet, a sword, stone tools and amulets. On one end there was a statue of a saint and a Buddha, some old keys and polished stones, several photographs and many other items. While in another setting I may have seen the assorted items as a collection of rubble, here, in this basement refuge, I saw treasures which added to the mystic, spiritual and magical feel of the experience. I felt as though I had entered into some ancient sacred cult hidden away in a deep, dark cave. My curiosity was fully aflame!

I walked around the room for several minutes meeting and greeting the others in attendance. There were 14 of us in all, each of us there searching for something meaningful that we could hold on to and take away with us into our everyday lives.The meeting was actually more of a workshop, with a series of directed activities. The speaker/director was an extremely passionate gentleman by the name of Zubaty (I can’t recall his first name) an author, who spoke with real conviction and had a lot of good things to say. I really enjoyed listening to him, but he was a bit of an anti-feminist. Bob directed an incredible story telling activity and yes, there was drumming and it was relevant. It was a very moving experience and quite an inspirational day, I’m glad I was there.

The following morning I awoke thinking about the men’s group, the sense of community and brotherhood I’d felt, remembering the personal stories, the shared victories and sorrows, the honesty and mutual respect, all of us together in a safe place supporting one another, growing together on our journey towards wholeness.
Then I remembered what Zubaty had said about spirituality and surrendering yourself to God, and as I lay there I suddenly felt as though God was calling me, beckoning me to go to his House. I immediately got up, dressed and went to 8:00 mass. Ironically, in the sermon, Father Peter spoke about surrendering yourself to the Lord. It’s strange how many times I’ve gotten this urge to go to church and once there, the sermon winds up being totally relevant to my situation. Coincidence? I think not.

Later that night after I turned out the lights I laid awake thinking about the men’s group again and the message I came away with. I really believe that my experience there was a good one. I know that what we did, opened my eyes to many, not new things, but things I had simply overlooked. I know that what I came away with changed my thinking and my way of life. I highly recommend it to all men looking for a deeper meaning, inner strength, and the comfort of knowing we are not alone….

 

 

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