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Dear Robin…

Robin WilliamsDearest Robin,

Although I doubt you and I would have ever met face to face in this lifetime, I always held out a small glimmer of hope that we might. I watched you for years and laughed so hard sometimes that the exhaustion would carry from my jawbone all the way down to my sides. I know that I would have been a blubbering idiot if given the chance to share a moment with you. Sadly, although the odds were stacked against us ever being in the same immediate area, you guaranteed by ending your life that it would never come to pass.

People are in shock, Robin. They don’t understand how someone so funny and constantly upbeat could have been in so much pain inside. They don’t get it.

I do though. I get it. Although it may sound presumptuous of me to say that, I’m fairly confident that I get at least some of it.

I get that if you were frustrated that the best times of your career were behind you, it was easier to end things on your own terms, maybe on what you would consider a high point.

I get that if you were scared of suffering from Parkinson’s, you wanted to take care of yourself so nobody else had to when you could no longer.

I get that your addictions kept lurking around the corner, always looking for a weak moment to attack.

I get all that, I do. What I don’t understand is, as your daughter Zelda put it, why you “could be loved so deeply and not find it in his heart to stay”. No, you had no idea that I even existed out here but I grew up watching you, wishing I could be as funny and spontaneous. I knew that you were more than just one of our funniest guys; you were a force of nature in the comedy world. When I first saw you in a dramatic role, it was obvious that it wasn’t just comedy that you could dominate. Dead Poets Society and Awakenings both blew my teenaged mind. The movies didn’t necessarily (although they both are excellent films), but the fact that this funny man could put aside his mile-a-minute laugh factory persona and become a different actor entirely was a sight to behold.

This country has the oddest fixation on celebrities. Once you’ve reached a certain point in your popularity, you are relegated to almost an object to be admired, an object that doesn’t have feelings and doesn’t do anything other than keep the entertainment rolling. What most people don’t think about is the fact that the sensitivity to find humor in all of life’s inconsistencies is also the same sensitivity that can be damaged easily. To be sensitive is to be vulnerable.

All I ever was allowed to know of you was what I read in papers and heard in interviews. I would never assume to know any more because, as mentioned earlier, our paths had not crossed.

As the world moves on, and insecure people poke fun at a situation that they know little about, I wish I could tell you how much you meant to me and how much you will be missed. I too, suffer from putting on a happy face even when things are going on inside that don’t match up to the outward appearance. I have entertained the notion myself of ending things on my own terms several times through the years, but I enjoy life too much. There is so much in life worth sticking around for, even with the pain that comes and goes.

I know that death is coming for all of us, but I want to live life as long as I can and as fully as I can. I wish that you could have continued on, but I understand all too well that overwhelming sense of sadness.

I am fully aware that writing to someone who is no longer here would be considered a fruitless endeavor by many people, but your loss will be felt by so many more whose lives you brightened during your time with us.

Thank you for all the side splitting laughs and I pray your family finds peace during this difficult time.

Sincerely,
A saddened lifetime fan

+++++

To anyone reading this, please don’t take your own life. You may think you’re alone but it’s not true. There are good people out there who are more than willing to lose sleep for you, to miss work for you, and do what they can to move mountains for your well-being. If you can’t find anyone, or don’t think you can, drop ME a line via email at crzydjm AT gmail

Let’s make it through together.

All Along The Watchtower

micMusic is one of those experiences that is so many things to so many people. From the beginning of civilization, people have been creating unique sounds that gave them enjoyment. The subjectivity of music makes it enjoyable to some and a nuisance to others. Although I’m a huge fan of instrumental, I enjoy something from each genre of music. I’d like to tell you about one of the most incredible musical experiences in my life.

FIRST A LITTLE BACKSTORY.

During the early stages of wooing my wife, we would spend our Sunday nights in the back room of  “Bukkets” in Jacksonville Beach, Florida. Jacksonville has a pretty impressive local music scene (MANY musical acts have originated there, including Limp Bizkit and Lynrd Skynrd. Whether or not you consider them “substantial” is up to personal interpretation; I, personally have always liked them.) and we were there to see “Monkey The Fish”, a now defunct group of three guys who went their separate directions. The lead singer, Lucio Rubino (or, as we called him, “Lu”) went on to found Storyside B, which has also broken up.

ANYWAY.

I had gotten to be a regular in this dark back room, and always wore my Nebraska Cornhuskers ball cap turned around backwards. Even before I began dating my wife, I would show up with a couple other friends, have a couple drinks, and sit on the couch to cheer on Monkey The Fish. From covers to original tunes, these guys were killing it up on stage. One of my favorite covers of theirs was “In The Air Tonight” from Mr Phil Collins. As I became a regular, Lu would holler off the stage that they would be playing “In The Air Tonight” for their red-ballcap-wearing buddy, Dave, and each time was better than the last.

ONCE AGAIN, I DIGRESS.

Another song that has been covered countless times by countless artists is none other than Jimi Hendrix’s “All Along The Watchtower”. Like I said earlier, Monkey The Fish played their share of covers and this particular night was no different upon first glance. What started out as just another run of the mill cover of a timeless classic, became what I consider the most incredible musical experience of my life. I love All Along The Watchtower, honestly. It makes for a great cover.

This particular night, they had played their usual playlist and then, just as it was getting close to closing time and the patrons were petering out, the bartender turned to us “regulars” (there were less than a dozen people left in the bar at this point) and told us we were welcome to stay a few minutes longer as she cleaned up but drinks were finished for the night.

From Lu’s mouth came “There must be some kinda way outta heeeerrreee…”

The guitar work by Lu and Mike was so fluid and partnered well together. Lu would sing the lyrics and then there would be a thirty second instrumental of just the guitars, then he would sing the next round of lyrics. It was incredible, and it only got better. Hendrix’s classic leaves itself open to a lot of interpretation and slight modifications, and Monkey The Fish did THE BEST job of that. Ten minutes into the song, Lu grabbed an extra guitar and invited one of the bar patrons up on stage. Now there were THREE guitarists playing at the same time. Lu’s singing took a back seat to the strumming of the guitars and we were given ANOTHER ten minutes or so of instrumental. After his set was finished, the nameless patron set the guitar back down and took his seat with us mere mortals, and Lu’s voice continued on.

By the end of the set, over twenty minutes had passed and I’m pretty sure that we all knew we had witnessed something incredible. To this day, when I hear ANY version of Watchtower I’m taken back to the night I heard a 20+ minute cover by a fantastic local band.

Unfortunately Monkey The Fish broke up before they released a second album. I have the first album but the only clip I could find was the following. The track is called “Through” and was a constant on their weekly playlist.

A Kind Love Letter

kindDear Kind Bar,

I have been watching you for awhile now. It has been several years since we were first introduced and it has been so difficult to not share my true feelings with you. I have spoken to several other people about my deep affection for you, but I have not talked to you specifically about my feelings.

I love you and I do not care who knows it.

There, I said it. Now that it is out there, there is no need for the awkwardness that comes after a deep, meaningful conversation. In the interest of full disclosure, I went through that phase where I was trying other bars, and I hope I didn’t hurt you by doing so. The bottom line is that I came back to you. I always have come back to you. With your pronounceable ingredients and incredible flavor lineup, I am done playing around. I am fully committed to you, from this point forward.

Those other bars just can not come close to you. I spent a good deal of time with your cousin, Lara, but even though she was pretty tasty and involved minimal ingredients as well, she kept getting smaller and smaller while her price tag both stayed the same and even increased in some stores. I don’t know why I even stayed with her for so long. Your size has remained constant. You don’t have much in the way of curves, but what you lack in that area is made up for in some of your spicier options. As someone who pays attention to the amount of sub par ingredients going into my body, a couple of the main things I make an effort to avoid include high fructose corn syrup and any soy. You have done a fantastic job of excluding both from your bars.

As a pretty active guy, I have involved you in every long journey I’ve made. From my day to day work hikes, to my twenty mile ruck on Memorial Day, you have been there every time. As a matter of fact, the Dark Chocolate Cherry Cashew was the only flavor I took on my ruck. I have been so happy to have you by my side.

Your new protein bar options have me head over heels. The Sweet Thai Chili makes my mouth water just thinking about it and the Roasted Jalapeno puts my heart aflutter. I want you to know that I will always be here for you, and I hope that you will always be there for me. Whether I have to get ahold of you individually at the local grocery store or in a case via Amazon Prime, I want you near and dear to my heart (and waistline).

The fact that you invest time and money in “Kind Causes” each month just makes me love you more.

Oh, Kind Bar, you complete me.

 

The Man List…Chapter One

manlyPeople LOVE lists. Regardless of the number of bullets in said list, people love to read “Top Ten Ways to ___” and “Worst Twenty ____ Of This Year”. Well, let me go ahead and toss my hat into the ring and drop what I would like to say is “The Man List”, or at least MY man list. This is in no way all inclusive and there may be more to come. This is just off the top of my head for now.
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Writing about riding…

kate001I would have to say that it is incredibly difficult to quantify the exhilaration of being on a motorcycle. In a day and age where driving is less about keeping your eyes on the road and more about how much multitasking can be accomplished during your commute, there is no comparison to the bond between a man and the two wheels he balances on (or as we’re seeing more and more of, the three wheeled contraptions).

Maintaining your balance and attention is paramount on a motorcycle and even the slightest distraction could end your ride abruptly and painfully. Keeping your head on a swivel and letting your eyes hit every visual nook and cranny along the way is one of the biggest keys to success. No one has ever said that riding a motorcycle was a simple task, but just about everyone who takes their two (or three) wheeled beauties out on the road seem to feel that it’s worth it.

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Carpe Diem (or YOLO for the youngsters)

wpid-wp-1402766357498.jpegHeart palpitating. Beads of sweat forming on your forehead. The bottom of your stomach dropping even lower than what seems physically possible. The saliva vanishing from your mouth.

Sound familiar? Of course it does. Everyone has had their own experiences with being nervous. My most recent was as a result of “performing” stand up comedy this past week.

Laff’s Comedy Club in Tucson, like quite a few other comedy clubs across the county, has an open mic night where anyone willing to make the lonely walk to the stage containing a solitary microphone stand is welcomed.

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Favorite Books

books02My son asked me, a month ago or so, to list my top ten favorite books. As I told him then, it’s not quite that simple to just spout them off immediately. As an adult, you’ve gotta let those types of answers “marinate” before putting them out there.

Remember when you were a kid and you were so adamant about your favorites? My favorite movie for years was “Patriot Games”. I had read the book and then saw the movie and LOVED it. Time has softened my opinion, like it does for all of us, and although it’s not a bad movie per se, it’s definitely not one of my favorites. My favorite movies are a whole other monster and I could write several thousand words on them specifically. We’re not here for that though are we? (Sidenote: I discussed TV back in 2011)

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