Monday, December 30, 2013

I Got This!…Ah, no you don't

It was a quaint 75 degrees out with a slight westerly breeze. I use the word 'quaint' to try it out, see how it fits. Sadly, it's not really me. But there I was with two other pedestrians and a jogger in his late fifties waiting for the walk signal. Or in the case of the jogger, the 'get your ass moving again signal'. As the light changed we moved into the street. The jogger sprinted ahead. I took the pedestrian lead with my non-Starbuckian coffee in tow. I was mid-crosswalk when 'something' told me danger was near. I looked around as one does and there it was; a black late model mercedes and he was coming in hot. A voice, perhaps an ancestor, told me to imitate the fast jogger and high-tail it out of there. The mercedes came at me at close to forty-five mph and he wasn't slowing. I picked up the pace and shouted to the ladies behind me, "Look out! This guy's not stopping!"

Thank god they heard me and stopped with a collective gasp. I barely made it through the intersection unscathed except for the coffee burn on my hand. A woman that was about to cross from the side opposite me witnessed the event and said, "Oh my god, he just ran that light!" When I turned I could see that the guy was on his cell phone. I wanted to give chase but the last time I sprinted 45 mph with a coffee in hand was…well I can't remember the last time I was able to accomplish that…if at all. Either way I was pissed.

On another pleasant day with the temperature at similar quaintness as the above story I was driving my old truck. A line of cars did that annoying repetitive dance common on L.A. streets where because the lights are timed just-so, the group must stop at every dang light. It's a situation where lane changing and accelerating get you nowhere so its best to accept it, drive the speed limit and get 'there' when you get 'there.' As I stopped at red light number three hundred I received a little bump from behind. I checked my rear view mirror with a gentle curse word. A thirty-something brunette was talking on her phone and looked shocked when our eyes met. When we pulled over to assess the damage the dialog went as follows: (she was a soccer mom decked out in Lulu Lemon wear and brand new Shape Up shoes by Skechers. I hate those shoes by the way).

 "Hi, well, no damage to you," she determines as quickly as possible. Perhaps she works as an insurance claims adjuster part time.

I get low and have a closer look. She keeps talking. "You see it's these shoes they're really comfortable but horrible for driving."

"So why are you driving in them?" I ask.

"I know right? Duh. So I think we're good here. Again, no damage to you and you know I really need to get my daughter home she's starving."

Judging by the brand new Range Rover and high end yoga get-up I'd bet the daughter was anything but starving. And oh, how Mommy must cherish the poor girl as she drives around the city chatting on the phone while running into unsuspecting semi-good looking brothers.

"My thought is that you run into me and talk about your shoes. I would think the first thing you'd do is apologize?"

And no word of a lie, I kid you not she smiled at me and said NOTHING! A certain word came to mind but I kept it to myself. "We're good," I said and got back into my truck and it was there within the confines of my vehicle that I uttered the word that begins with 'B' and rhymes with 'pitch'.
I Got This...

Where are we? What happened? What's going on? I'll tell ya what. We live in a time where (almost) everybody thinks "I got this." News flash: You Don't! You can't drive a 3700 pound vehicle and talk on the phone while wearing goofball gimmicky weight loss friggin' shoes! Nor can you drive a brand new 400 horsepower mercedes benz down the road while talking to your broker. You Don't Got This! You're actually three quarters of a cell phone minute past useless!

When I'm Mayor of Everything…

The fine for talking or texting while driving will be $500. The first $100 will go to the arresting officer so that that she will be incentivized to make the bust. The next $100 will go to an inner city or low income school (TBD). The third $100 will go toward road maintenance. The remaining $200 will be placed in an account. At the end of the year a vote will be held to determine how the excess money will be spent. But it will be school related for example: it will go to iPads in schools, or music programs in schools or school science labs will acquire extra bunsen burners (do they still have those anymore?).
As worn by The Mayor of Everything...

And for those with polished monocle that would guffaw at $500 be advised that the fine will double with each offense. Oh, I almost forgot: A portion of the '$200 account money' will go to judges so that when citizens attempt to fight their infraction the judges may be better able to render a just and fair judgment.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Rock Ain't Dead...A Different Kind Of Truth... Says So

Hey! Why didn't anybody tell me that Van Halen was back?!? Yes, I knew that Diamond David Lee Roth came back to front the band in 2006 and that Eddie Van Halen's son Wolfgang was playing bass. And yes, I knew that they pumped out a new album in 2012. (Correct, I still call them albums). But where was the press on this massive rock renaissance? My Halen buddies Mashman and Thunder should have text, tweeted, called or sent me word by carrier pigeon that the new Halen sounds like the good ol' Halen.

There I was last week in an F.Y.E record store. (CD store). Your brow is probably knitted in confusion but it is true; L.A. still has a slight sprinkling of brick and mortar music stores. And this left-over platinum-haired, nostalgic o'l skool cat can occasionally be seen strolling their aisles. I was innocently heading toward the heavy metal section to peek in on Megadeth--the bone crushing band fronted by Dave Mustaine that causes my wife to karate kick me in the ribs every time she hears them. While on route I glanced at Van Halen's column. Hmm? I thought. I hadn't bought a Van Halen record since 1984 (Album title). I hefted the latest album; A Different Kind of Truth and found the only functioning listening station (of about 20) and gave her a listen. It took fifteen seconds each of the first 5 songs and 'boom', I was sold!

The Album

In a word this album is; awesome! Diamond David Lee Roth sounds great. Sadly his signature screams of yesteryear have all but disappeared but he gets a pass as the guy is 59 years old (according to Wikipedia). Take it from me; a guy who's been imitating Dave's screams as well as rockin' my own it aint easy to bring the consistent scream...and I'm barely knocking on 50's door. But Dave's control and pitch is better than ever. I'd bet there's been a vocal lesson or two in recent times for Mr. Roth. And why not he's the frontman all dude's used to want to be and the singer all hot chicks wanted to be with--a guy's gotta maintain. Furthermore, his signature tongue and cheek lyrics rich with innuendo and double meaning are back with a hard rock vengeance.

Eddie's guitar playing is just how we all remember it from his hey day back when we'd pause while dancing with rocker-chicks on the dance floor to assume the pose and shred on our air guitars. And can you believe we thought we were cool? Over a handful of years Eddie's battled cancer, alcohol and perhaps a few other substances in the rock and roll party bin. Today his licks, riffs, trills, hammers, pulls, squawks, taps, sweeps, crunch and more are right on the hard rock money and the currency is not bitcoin but shredcoin! His brother Alex on drums continues to give it to us the way we want it. Check out his double handed 16th note hi hat groove on "She's The Woman" it is phat with a capital PH! It's a groove forged at the intersection of metronome precision and trashed-hotel-room-dirty-swamp-slop.

The newest member Wolfgang lays down some heavy bass lines that I'm sure make daddy proud. The original bass player was Michael Anthony (pictured far left). He'd bring the heavy bottom and all of the high vocal harmonies. I admit that for a time I had a one-man somewhat lethargic semi-boycott of Van Halen due to the way the Van Halen brothers treated Michael. Alas, Michael, the Van Halens and yours truly have moved on.

A Different Kind Of Truth has 13 tracks and I'm delighted to say that of the 13 songs I crank up 11 of them with a sly grin and one eyebrow cocked. Being an expert on all things that rock I recommend that kids today should buy this album--the whole album and listen to what rock and roll with melody and crunch is meant to sound like. I further recommend that left-over rockers of my vintage get out there, grab this album and roll your volume dial to the far right. It will make you feel like jumping through a plate glass window, doing a shoulder roll and coming up shouting, "that didn't hurt a bit. What else ya got?"

Note: This blogger does not recommend that you actually jump through the plate glass window...

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

ADHD Is On The Rise. Who's Benefitting?

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or ADHD is on the rise. We've all heard of it, some of us have it and more than some of us have had some type of contact with it either through family members, co-workers etc. But it is time that we spread out all of the pieces of the ADHD puzzle on the table and take a close look because with any subject that becomes the 'flavor of the month' we tend to get ahead of ourselves.

According to Forbes magazine the Center For Disease Control claims that in 2011 8.8% of children were diagnosed with ADHD as compared with 7% in 2007. I don't necessarily challenge the statistic but my antennae get up with the 'diagnosis' word. Let's face it we are in a time in the U.S. where (some) doctors are over diagnosing on a variety of illnesses and disorders. Why would this be? Some docs are paid by pharmaceutical companies to move about the country and give lectures on the rise of ADHD. Regardless of whether they believe in what they are saying they are not unlike the traveling vacuum salesman from yesteryear. Furthermore, a doctor will be paid more quickly to diagnose and prescribe medication than if said doctor takes the time to do a detailed examination of a patient. Sorry to rock your faith in the hippocratic oath but this type o' doc does exist. (Anybody remember Michael Jackson's doctor Conrad Murray?)

It is believed that the disorder is caused by genetics, environment, economic status and a few other determinants. Oh, is that all? Does this seem vast and vague at the same time? I thought so too. Genetics are genetics, agreed? Ok, moving on. Environment, let's look at that. We are talking about brain function. Naturally children are susceptible to environmental conditions due to the fact that their brains are still developing. Thus, pollution, diet, second hand smoke etc. are all factors that no doubt come into play. Let us not forget over-stimulation. Take a child raised in an environment of book-reading and limited television vs. a child allowed to play video games several hours per day. Which one is more likely to have focus and attention issues? Then there's food; I'd argue that additives and GMO's have a hand in ADHD's creation. Scientists have discovered that low levels of dopamine in the brains of children are a common denominator in ADHD patients. Natural foods that aid in keeping dopamine levels up are bananas, and almonds. Also, antioxidants like greens, fruits, asparagus, beets etc. aid in keeping the levels up. Without proper nutrition-often due to economic conditions-ADHD has a better shot at taking hold.

We've Come A Long Way Baby:

Back when I was coming up whenever we'd start 'acting up' the parental set would bark, "settle down…sit still…don't fidget…don't make a fuss…(and my favorite)…pay attention!" Problem solved right? The extreme cases of hyperactivity were given Ritalin. But by the late 1970's-early 80's Ritalin began to fade until its resurgence in the late 1990's. Maybe our parents/ doctors misdiagnosed some of us back in the day but now that hyperactivity has grown to ADHD not only is Ritalin back but Adderral is huge…and sadly abused. Doctors are over-presrcibing it and college students are going nuts on it. The pendulum has swung too far in the opposite direction.

Take Big Timmy Timmons For Example:

Timmy was the captain of his high school football team. He had the hottest gal and a Burt Reynolds era Trans Am to match. College studies being a bear Timmy innocently takes the Adderall given him by pill peddler poindexter Paul Patterson (affectionately known as P5) as a study aid. But over time addiction kicks in. What once helped Timmy stay up and study for his history exam of which he hammered out a 73%, now owns him. The drug on its own doesn't cut it anymore so Timmy chases it down with Jagermeister and crappy American light-beer (which ironically should be deemed un-American). This works for a time but not forever. Eventually Timmy dives deeper into the drug sea only to find Father-Cocaine waiting with his gentle arms extended--a mound of blow in one hand and a glass crack-pipe in the other. You know the rest.

La Solucion (The Solution)

ADHD is very real and very serious but the science isn't locked up just yet--unknowns still abound. Parents hear me roar. Think of the pharmaceutical company as a drug pusher because he is. I am not saying that drugs don't work, nor am I saying they don't have their uses. HOWEVER, be ever cognizant that drug companies are in the business of making money. They have shareholders to which they are beholden. And, they have doctors and so called 'experts' spreading their message. And, they have big television ads which play on your fears. These ads will tell you that your child will fall behind, be ostracized and fail at her studies if they don't get on the Ritalin/Adderall train. And these companies have senators, congressmen and lobbyists in their pockets. And they've corrupted several Food & Drug agents. (**Note, the fact that  I cannot prove that last statement does not make it necessarily untrue nor does it make me a liar. Perhaps I'm merely a thought provocateur.)

good parenting!

Next, you need to research. Research like the wind! Read medical journals and not just from U.S. doctors. What are doctors saying overseas? Know your doctor. Check him/her out. If his last name is Murray check out his family tree. Do you want to take your child to Dr. Jack Murray, Conrad Murray's evil-er twin? Feed your kids healthy organic foods and make sure they exercise and get the  recommended amount of sleep. Last, limit the amount of stupid video games they play. Get them outside. Make them look you in the eye when they speak. Demand that they pull their pants up. And the occasional shouted, "Pay attention!' never hurt anybody, in fact it's good for what ails 'em. At the very least it keeps them on their toes and let's them know who's boss! Good luck!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Alert The Media, Kanye West Is Upset!

You cats will never believe this but Kanye West is upset again. But of course he is, it's Grammy season and his latest album is only nominated for two grammies. The audacity, the nerve, clearly this is a conspiratorial witch hunt. West claims, "If I don't win album of the year I'm really gonna have a problem with that." I wonder if he stomped his foot and folded his arms when he said that. Kanye has won 21 grammies out of 53 nominations. I'm sure in Kanye's mind that's nearly 50% which would presuppose that perhaps all 53 grammies should rightfully have gone to him…to be fair. In the lad's ten year-ish career he's lashed out at several award shows, namely the ones that haven't named
him the victor.

Wikipedia tells me that in Greek mythology Narcissus fell in love with his own image when reflected in water. Would it be going out on a limb to conclude that Kanye is a narcissist? Sure why not. But there's more, there's got to be more to the man. In 1984 actress Sally Field went down in history during the Oscars for her quote, "…you like me, you really like me." She took a little heat for the comment but in hindsight it was cute, hell it was damn near adorable when compared to Kanye's need, nay psychopathic obsession with the world loving him. He practically crawls toward society like a dehydrated man dying of thirst in a vast desert crying, "love me, love me, love me…and give me awards and shit."

He once (or perhaps more than once) claimed that he was a god, and his latest album is entitled Yeezus.  We must now add egomaniacal to his list of fun traits. Sure I'm splitting hairs with the egomaniacal vs. the narcissistic but so what, my poetic license ego says its cool to do so.

Some would say Kanye is a genius. They would be wrong. (more on that in about 3 sentences) Nevertheless his fans will continue to put up with his childlike tantrums and toddler-esque outbursts because they love his music. The music industry execs will also 'play along' so long as he's putting money in their coffers. Back to why he's not a genius. First of all the 'genius' word is so over used that the term has lost a sh**load of impact. Knock it off people. Second, can Kanye sit at a piano and silence an amphitheater with beautiful notes? Can he do the same with a violin perhaps? Can he stand with nothing but a microphone and sing A cappella and move us they way Nat King Cole once did? Can he sit down and write a concerto on par with Chopin or Bach? If he could perhaps he would be brushing up against genius' door.

Kanye is a rapper; a producer. He's a man that takes previously recorded music by those that have already created it and re:works it. Is the result pleasurable? To some yes. But genius? Nope, sorry Bub.

Let's wrap/ rap it up shall we?

In order for society to advance in a positive way y'all need to pull back on the overuse of 'genius'. And whether you are fan, friend or foe to a celebrity you need to reach out to them (via twitter, Fb, Instagram etc.) and ask that they stick to the artistic task at hand and keep the dumb-dumb egotistical god complexical comments to themselves. And if you think inventing terms like 'god complexical' as I've done here today is egomaniacal perhaps you're right. But I can't worry about that now as I have a date with my reflecting pool…I just love that pool, she's pure genius!