I just created a new page on my website called, “g’s Favorite Links.” I wanted to accomplish two things with it; 1- to pay tribute to certain friends of mine and 2-I thought visitors to my site would enjoy their links. As I built the page, memories of some extraordinary experiences I had with some of my oldest and closest friends came back to me. Those who know me know some of these tales and can attest that they all really happened. As they say, “you just can’t make this stuff up!” Well, I thought I would start a series of articles that would chronicle them and entertain those of you who read my blogs. In order to do justice to the tales, I have to tell them in parts – so this will be like one of those old serials you would hear on the radio, “Tune in next time for the continuing story of g & his merry mates!”
A few rules I decided to follow: I will re-tell the experiences exactly how I remember them, that is to say, to the best of my recollection, so I invite those of you who may have taken part in them to comment, correct, revise or add to them; and I’m not changing names to protect the innocent …although, anyone that knows me knows that I can hardly remember my own kids names. So here goes and please, everyone that reads these exploits, feel free to leave a comment with your own thoughts!
Nicky & g: The tale of two knuckleheads – 1st encounter – part I
In April 1984, the band AMERICADE, for which I was the guitar player, broke up. Details of the breakup are a story for another day; suffice to say that the age-old reason “personal differences” took the life of another band- victim. My life hit rock bottom, I had quit high school to join the band, so my prospects of finding a good job were nil and none; I was engaged but my fiancé left me a month after I came home to New York (we were living in Atlanta recording with producer Jeff Glixman, at the time); and I was left with no alternative except to go to work for my dad’s manufacturing business …did I mention that my parents weren’t too happy with me either.
I was a musician my whole life – I read music before I read English, but for me, my music was like falling in love with a harlot and the music industry was the seediest of settings for our love affair. The problem back then was that music was the only thing I really knew how to do. So, after a few months of working in my dad’s factory, my brother PJ and I (PJ was the singer for AMERICADE) wanted to record a few demos. We booked time in a studio owned by Ben Rizzi (or as we listed him on our 1st album, “Len Frizzy”). Ben was a mountain of a man – he stood about 6-foot-12 and had to weigh about 350lbs. We had no idea how he maintained that weight though because the only thing we ever saw the man eat was oatmeal and TUMS – yes, I mean the antacid! Ben kept an industrial-sized bottle of TUMS on the studio console and he would pop them like they were candy, a handful at a time (and the man’s hand could hold about 20!). Sometimes he would wash them down with some chalky white medicine (some other stomach medication).
It didn’t take a gastro-entomologist to diagnose that Ben had an ulcer and at his size, I was sure I could probably walk through the hole in his stomach. It was quite obvious that Ben had a bit of a temper, one that he tried to control with TUMS and at his size, no one wanted to be around if and when he went postal – so needless to say, there was a bit of tension in the studio. I could go on about Ben, as he was quite a character, but he is also dead so I will leave it there (no I’m not sure if his ulcer did him in). Besides, this was a story about Nicky and me…
(Continued… Part II will appear on Monday, March 01)
Whenever I talk to my sons, I find myself comparing “how it was when I was a boy” with how it is now for them. I usually get looks of total disbelief from them and to tell you the truth, I’m beginning to think that it couldn’t have been as I remember it …it’s just too different. Well, that compelled me to do a little research on the subject. I thought you’d enjoy some of these fun facts, comparing now with the past: (I didn't even have to go back to when I was a boy with some of this, in order to really open your eyes)
· In the 1970s, around 47% of Americans were overweight or obese; now 66% of us are. (http://www.divinecaroline.com/79975/49492-portion-size--vs--now)
· In addition, the number of just obese people has doubled, from 15% of our population to 30%. (http://www.divinecaroline.com/79975/49492-portion-size--vs--now)
· Check out these portion differences: (These portion comparisons, adapted from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute’s (NHLBI)) ***No wonder we have such a hard time losing weight!***
SERVING 20 YEARS AGO TODAY
2 slices of pizza 500 calories 850 calories
Those extra 350 calories, if eaten twice a month, would put on 2 extra pounds per year, or 40 pounds in the next two decades.
1 cup of coffee with milk & sugar 45 calories (8 ounce avg.) 330 calories (16 ounce avg.)
When our parents ordered a coffee two decades ago, they weren’t given as many size options—a standard cup of joe was eight ounces, the size of a small coffee cup. Nowadays, most of us feel like we don’t get our money’s worth unless the cup is at least twelve ounces; it’s not unusual to see thirty-two ounce coffee cups, four times the size they used to be. When made into mocha, the morning coffee has as many calories as a full meal.
1 bagel 140 calories (3” diameter) 350 calories (5”-6” diameter)
Because portions are now so large, it’s hard to understand what a “serving size” is supposed to be. Today’s bagel counts for three servings of bread, but many of us would consider it one serving. Larger sizes at restaurants have also contributed to larger sizes when eating at home. A study comparing eating habits today with twenty years ago found that participants poured themselves about 20 percent more cornflakes and 30 percent more milk than twenty years ago
1 cheeseburger 333 calories 590 calories
According to a 2007 paper published in the Journal of Public Health Policy, portion sizes offered by fast food chains are two to five times larger than when first introduced. When McDonald’s first started in 1955, its only hamburger weighed around 1.6 ounces; now, the largest hamburger patty weighs 8 ounces, an increase of 500 percent. And while a Big Mac used to be considered big, it’s on the smaller side of many burger options. At Burger King, you can get the Triple Whopper; at Ruby Tuesday’s there’s the Colossal Burger; and Carl’s Junior has the Western Bacon Six Dollar Burger.
· Technology 10 years ago vs. now
o You can now buy a 1tb (1 terabyte) = 1,000 gigabyte = 1,000,000 megabyte external hard-drive for $170.
o 10 years ago, the same amount of money would have only gotten you a 250megabyte zip drive. So, $170 got you 250MB 10 years ago and now gets you 1 million MB! (http://katak.kapoosh.net/rollercoaster/comparing-technology-10-years-ago-and-now)
· Mortgage Rates (Average 30-year fixed rates)
o 1971 = 7.3%
o 1974 = 10.0%
o 1981 = 18.45% (Record set in October 1981)
o 1988 = 10.0 to 10.7%
o 1990 = 10.48% (in May)
o 1998 = 6.94%
o 2000 = 8.71% (in January)
o 2003 = 5.83%
o 2004 = 5.84%
o 2005 = 5.87%
o 2007 = 6.34%
o 2008 = 6.43% (July)
o Today = 4.4%
Nintendo to XBox 360; pay phones to iPhones; paperbacks to eReaders; Going to the park to hang with your friends to going online to Facebook with your friends ...it seems that the only thing that hasn't changed is death and taxes!
From cheeseburgers to mortgage rates, things have certainly changed a lot in a relatively short time and I left out things like movies, TV, books, games, school, sports, etc. <whew>
How about you, do you ever think about how it was or where you were in 1990 (can you believe 1990 was 20 years ago??) Peace, g
After watching the televised broadcast of Tiger Woods apology yesterday with my two oldest boys, the three of us decided that we would forgive Tiger Woods. “To more who is given, more is expected” came to mind to me as I watched Tiger Woods explain that he had done wrong knowingly because of feeling “above the law.” The entrapments of fortune and fame are ever-present and so, yet another “role model” seemed to fall the day we saw Tiger’s car hit that tree, but it occurred to me that perhaps Tiger Woods wasn’t a role model before, but that he could be now.
Tiger apologized first to his “friends” in the room in which he was speaking. In attendance were some of his family and many of his close friends. He explained how he hurt them. Then he apologized to his fans and business associates and explained how he let them down. Finally, he apologized to parents like me, who had used Tiger Woods as a role model-type to my four boys. I taught them the important lessons of how a person can reach the top his profession, against many odds (the color of Tiger’s skin prevented him from even being allowed to play in some of the tournaments that he later dominated) by discipline, practice, consistency, and focus. Tiger Woods certainly demonstrated all of those qualities up to now. Tiger’s rise to fame was also important to me because of his special relationship with his dad, Earl Woods. To a dad like me, I found it inspirational and thought it beautiful, the bond between a boy and his dad, from which a legend and a superstar grew.
I watched his news conference with a critical eye, not so much because I didn’t want to forgive Tiger, but because I did! All I wanted to see was sincerity …and I saw it. As he mentioned, he has a long journey ahead of him in many ways piecing back his life and earning back the trust, respect and friendship that he lost with his wife, mom, friends, business associates, fans and dads like me. Yet, I believe he has taken the first steps down that path and as we all know, the first steps are sometimes the most difficult steps to take.
When the scandal first broke, I was angry, not so much at Tiger, but at the look of sorrow and confusion on my boys faces. All they perceived was that Tiger Woods did something very wrong. It was like seeing boys who just saw Superman steal and beat up the store clerk – very disheartening. Great, just what we need, I thought, another fallen hero, another tainted reputation, another example of how sinful we all are. Most regular folks like us say to ourselves, “the guy had it all, how dumb could he be!” In the end, just another target for jokes on late night TV, but this time, they’d be joking about someone that I wanted my sons to be like! It made me sick!
Well now, after seeing his apology and discussing it with my boys, we decided together to forgive Tiger Woods. It is our faith to do so, but in the process I discovered something else. Perhaps Tiger Woods wasn’t the role model I thought he was before this incident, but perhaps he can be a role model now. We all sin and fall short of the glory of God.
Tiger hurt lots of people – perhaps his wife and mom and close friends will also emerge as role models for the rest of us, by their actions from here on in. While we all sin, we all don’t have to go on global TV and apologize to the world. Our children don’t have to be followed, tabloids don’t publish lies about us and comedians make jokes about us - that comes with his fame, as does his fortune, if he accepts one, he must accept the other.
I pray that Tiger and his family make it through this embarrassing ordeal. I pray more that Tiger will ultimately establish himself as a role model again – one who had fallen, but who asked for forgiveness, believed that he received it and has learned enough from his transgressions never to repeat them. That would make him a role model indeed, someone who I wouldn’t mind my sons wanting to be like.
What do you think?
Like more and more people in this age, my day began by putting on a pot of coffee (at least that hasn’t changed) and making a beeline to my laptop. I first checked my emails, I had 68 (non-spam) this morning – a combination of news feeds, discussion updates that I’m following, a few notifications that people are following me on Twitter, three messages from my brother, one from our kid’s little league, one from a friend (an invitation to get together this weekend), and one “eReminder” that my car insurance bill will be automatically deducted from our checking account (just lovely, I already spent money today and I haven’t shaved yet). After that, I replied to the most pressing ones and then I logged onto my favorite news websites (for me it’s FoxNews & FoxSports) to find out what was happening in the world (always nice to know if World War III had begun or if my beloved YANKEES or RAIDERS have made a great trade – the YANKS just did, but I digress) …and all that before 5:30am! That’s been my morning ritual for the last few years, a marked difference from what it used to be just ten years ago, and totally alien to my ritual back in the prehistoric 20th century!
When I stopped to think about it, so much of my family’s existence is dependent on our eExistence (the “e” stands for electronic, to those few who may not know it). My wife orders our groceries via our supermarket’s website; our dentist, kids’ orthodontist, and our doctors all update us about our appointments via email. I pay all of our bills online and we order many other products (like our vitamins) online. In fact, my new career as a writer is almost completely dependent on the internet – my website, this blog and my social networking – and there’s more and more of a chance that my debut novel, THE FIRST SEAL-Year of the White Horse, will be released as an eBook (go figure). My family, wife and four sons even send calendar entries to each other updating us on our individual schedules via email …amazing stuff indeed, but here’s one irony:
I don’t even know my next door neighbor’s last name – I never speak to the man or his wife/significant other!
I know, not a biggie, but it still amazes me that I now have “friends” that I converse with regularly in 6 different countries (4 different continents) via email, message boards, and the occasional chat room (my wife and I attend Penn State and we have to use chat rooms for some of the classes), but I NEVER had a conversation with my next door neighbor …and I live here 8 years!
The PROS of our “eExistence” are obvious and manifold:
· Convenience of being notified, kept informed and connected to friends and acquaintances
· Almost infinite resources of data and information
· An increased awareness of the “world view” by taking part in the global community
· Ability to connect with like-minded people – people with which we share common beliefs, likes and interests
As you can see, I seem to be a proponent of our eExistence but I do recognize some CONS:
· Nothing can replace meeting people, speaking to people and spending time with people, face-to-face. One thing I’m sure will never be replaced is bending an arm with a friend at the local pub (thank you Father!) …ePubs just aren’t the same!
· TOO MUCH INFORMATION! Yes, there is such a thing – In one article alone, about the “5 best new gadgets for 2010” (yes, I’m a sucker for the “X best” lists), I spent over 2 hours of my life clicking on 16 links!!! Yikes …didn’t mean to do it, I just got carried away and the way things are (so convenient) it’s easy to waste your life away “CLICKING INSTEAD OF LIVING!”
All in all, I think our 21st century eExistence is a positive thing. I’ve been able to get back in contact with old friends and family, I’ve edified myself via the infinite online resources and I’m more connected than ever before to the “world village.”
You know what, now that I think of it, maybe I can “Google” to find out my next door neighbor’s last name! lol…
Where do you weigh in PRO or CON on our new eExistence? How is it intertwined with your everyday existence? Leave a comment and tell your thoughts …Thanks!
For 2,000 years there have been Christians. From the time our Lord Jesus Christ (Yehushua Ha Mashiach) sacrificed His life for us and then rose from the dead, those who believe that He is the son of God have been called, “Christian,” and it was not a term of endearment. Two thousand years and things haven’t changed – Christians are still persecuted for being Christian, but nowadays we are not so much stoned as we are ostracized. The latter in some ways can be worse because, at least when one is stoned to death they have a chance to become martyrs and thus not forgotten. Martyrs have the ability to inspire others to energize their faith, which is a blessed thing, but nowadays society’s mechanisms are set up to ostracize anything labeled Christian. By ostracizing, they marginalize and thus are able to contain and diminish anything branded with the Scarlet “C” – aka Christian.
Take modern music and literature, for example, both topics and industries of which I am intimately familiar. With modern popular music, whether it is rock, hip-hop or anything else, you can write songs all day long about every sin and vice under the sun and not be branded in a negative way. The industry loves to promote songs and artists that openly promote drug use, violence, profanity, and prejudice, not to mention the more fringe topics of Satan worship, witchcraft and sorcery – and how are these songs and acts categorized? As plain ol’ “Rock” or “Hip-Hop,” etc…, but let there be a song or act that promotes Christian values, even in the most subtle and unobtrusive ways and the music industry is fast and voracious to brand them “Christian” as in “Christian Rock” or the even more career-damaging and demeaning, “Christian Hip-Hop” (b/t/w have you heard any Christian Hip-Hop on the radio lately? Neither have I.)
I’m sure there are people with diverse views about this. Some Christians would say, “Its okay, we have “Christian” rock radio stations, so we can just tune into them – but my point is, so YOU might tune into a Christian rock station, but what about the rest of the world? Most people, me included, don’t consider “Christian” to be a type of music, let alone a type of rock music. One of the reasons why we all listen to radio stations at all is to hear a MIX of songs and acts, within a genre. If everyone else were treated like Christian artists were, then we should have “Druggie Rock” featuring such acts as Guns-n-Roses and the Grateful Dead and “Gay Rock” featuring Elton John and KT Lang, etc. Yeah, there was “gangsta rap” but that didn’t last very long, did it? The industry is well aware that it is much better NOT to label these artists by their messages, because who would listen to them then? The industry knows that if you want to give an artist or song the widest audience, you DON’T label them too specifically. So, Classic Rock is good enough for some of these acts and Hip-Hop is good enough for others, but NOT SO when it comes to any act that promotes Christian values or world view – then they are slapped with the Scarlet C.
I’m dealing with this now in my new career. Here I am, an aspiring author writing what I think are good works of entertaining fiction, but as soon as the “industry” saw that I had a positive-Christian world view and message, my works were branded with the Scarlet C and by branding my work as “Christian” they have marginalized it to the point that virtually no one would read it (if they got their way).
Do you want to know what is more insanely ridiculous? Even the so-called “Christian fiction” industry doesn’t want to promote my debut novel because it doesn’t fit with what I call their “dismal demographic” – that is – can you believe this – the average person that walks into a “Christian” bookstore and purchases Christian fiction is a middle-age+ mid-western lady who currently likes to read novels about the Amish!!! Now, if you are scratching your heads reading this and saying out loud, “WHAT?!” imagine how I feel?!
What really ticks me off is that nowadays, a person can write fiction novels about boys growing up to be sorcerers, we all know Harry P., but Ms. Rowling’s novels weren’t branded “Sorcerer Fiction;” and one can even write novels with OPENLY BLASPHEMOUS premises, like THE DAVINCI CODE, about the possibility of Jesus Christ of Nazareth having been married to and fathering a child with Mary Magdalene! (If that ain’t blasphemy, then I don’t know what is) and do you know what genre the industry labeled it, “mystery-detective fiction!” Hmm, you mean they DIDN’T label it “OPENLY BLASPHEMOUS FICTION?” lol…
Now, let me end this by making my feelings clear on all of the above. I am NOT saying we should brand Elton John “Gay Rock” or categorize The DaVinci Code “Blasphemous Fiction,” in fact quite the contrary! What I AM saying is that, MY WORK SHOULD NOT BE LABELED CHRISTIAN FICTION! I know, “g, you’re shouting at us” – no, I’m not …I’m shouting at these industries!
I AM going to release my novels – if I have to sell them directly to the world! I AM not satisfied with – the best I’m supposed to hope for is to get picked up by a “Christian” publisher, who probably won’t promote my novel because it wouldn’t appeal to the average middle-aged lady living in the mid-west who is looking for the next novel about an Amish girl’s sordid romance with the farmer’s daughter from the next town over! It’s true, my novel probably wouldn’t, but then again, it WOULD appeal to the hundreds of millions of other readers out there that just like to read great works of fiction… like me.
What do you think?
Books: What was the first book you ever read? What was your favorite book(s)? Who are your favorite authors? What are you reading now?
Growing up in Ridgewood, New York in the 1960’s-‘70’s, long before the age of the internet and cable TV, going to the library was one of the delights of my youth – right up there with going to the candy store, toy store, hobby shop and movie theater!
I vividly remember my very first trip to the library, mostly because it led to reading my very first book. It was in August, 1976, right before I started 8th grade. Kids in a neighborhood like Ridgewood really start getting bored around August. The novelty of the summer has long worn off by then, being replaced with hot, wet heat – too hot to play any sports at the park or even hang out on the street corner. August in old neighborhoods is all about finding something to do, preferably in a cool environment. Well, guess what – the local library wasn’t air conditioned back then, but it had a high ceiling with high windows, which were kept opened and they had these wonderfully massive fans that seemed to suck the hot air out of the building and toss it out of those windows. So, the library was literally a “cool” place to go!
My friend Jimmy Donovan and I were the first two (and sadly about the only two) to be brave enough (and could barely afford) to board a bus and travel to the library. It was Jimmy’s idea. He told me that his Dad had taken him there once before so he had already read his first book, The Call of the Wild, by Jack London. The way he described the plot to me, I was hooked and so excited to go get a library card and rent it myself. As it would sometimes happen, someone else had rented the book out – I was so disappointed – until I started looking at the other books that Mr. London had penned. That’s when I came across the first novel I ever read, White Fang!
I couldn’t wait to get home and read it! I will always remember the excitement I felt – just a kid from an inner-city neighborhood – but when I was reading White Fang, I was transported to the wilderness of Canada with wolves! What more could a boy want!
I have read countless novels since the summer of 1976 and I can tell you that I still feel the same excitement, every time I read a great novel!
Now, let’s see my favorite books… too many to count, maybe I should just mention my favorite authors – Jack London, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Tom Clancy, W.E.B. Griffin …to name a few!
As for what I’m reading now - I’m about to start Griffin’s The Honor of Spies.
Hey, do me a favor …leave a comment answering one or more of the title questions! For one, I’m sincerely interested and for another …I’m a writer locked in a room all day …alone …scared …did I mention alone? 9-)
Hope to hear from you! Peace, g
Do you know where my characters and story ideas originate from? I'll tell you... they come from the spaces between when I CLICK on something with my 4-year old IBM ThinkPad War Horse ...and ...when something actually happens!
Let me demonstrate…
I am clicking on “Add Comment” …NOW!
Hmm hmm… yup …<deep breath> ...<tapping fingers on my desk> …<grinding teeth> …thinking to myself, “What exactly is “IT” doing? I have a degree in Information Sciences & Technology and yet, I have no idea what IT’S doing! …maybe IT’S not an IT …maybe, ITS alive! If it is alive, is IT doing this to drive me out of my @#$% mind?!
Is IT …laughing at me? I hear laughter (does anybody remember – laughter?)
It’s doing something, I see the hard drive light is lit, IT’S making a whirring sound, but then …nothing! …nothing … n – o – t – h – i– n – g…
I’m in control…
I’m in control…
I’m… IT’S in control…
IT’S in control?
IT’S in control!
“IT’S in Control,” the next novel by Christian fiction author Gerard de Marigny, available late 2010. Stop by www.GerarddeMarigny.com for more info!
Another thought that crossed my mind this morning... this might be helpful for others too, thought I would share it...
After 14 years of marriage, 4 children, our jobs, commitments, activities... I find myself thinking of "novel" ways to prolong lovemaking with my wife and one came to me while brushing my teeth this morning... when commencing lovemaking, excuse yourself... run to your bathroom and turn your electric toothbrush on (presuming, of course that you have an electric toothbrush. If you don't, it may be a wise investment in your intimate relations...)
You see, I noticed that time seems to slow down when I turn my electric toothbrush on. My wife usually, invariably asks me an assortment of questions the MOMENT I begin to brush my teeth, while I'm literally foaming at the mouth - a number of which I find it extremely IMPORTANT to answer, like - "g, is it okay if I go shopping for shoes later today?" <no reply from me because my bloody toothbrush is still going strong> My wife continues, as she leaves the bathroom, "You don't have a problem with that... excellent! Thank you!"
By the time my toothbrush ends its 3-minute cycle, my wife is already miles from home, content in the fact that she thinks I APPROVED of her buying her 200th pair of leather heels!
I'm telling you, ORAL-B has created more than an electric toothbrush. They've created a "Time-stopping vibrating wand!" 3-minutes becomes 3-HOURS, while I foam and fumble for the button. BUT, be careful trying to stop the cycle before it's thru, lest you accidentally start a NEW 3-minute/HOUR cycle! And don't even THINK about pulling the brush out of your mouth while it is operating or be prepared to be pounced relentlessly and covered by slimy toothpaste-saliva goo!
Another novel I intend to write, "THE ORAL-B INCIDENT"
Do you have similar experiences?
I think it was that wise sage, Gene Simmons that coined the term, “If it’s too loud, you’re too old,” but I rather think it’s more apropos to say, “If it’s new and you don’t like it, you’re too old!” That’s the way a lot of us have become, including yours truly. Little by little, I found myself listening to less new bands/artists/music and more “classic” rock. Now, let me state clearly, there are bands that transcend the passage of time, QUEEN, LED ZEP, THE STONES, BEATLES, AEROSMITH, FLOYD, STYX, BOSTON, etc. and dozens more (I’m sure you’re thinking of several others right now) to whom I will always listen. Nevertheless, when we were younger, we embraced new bands/artists/songs/albums with unbiased excitement and I think we may have been a bit fairer when it came to critiquing new stuff!
Personally, I found myself starting to “dis” new stuff around the time grunge came out. I do think that the music business itself is partially to blame for my lack of enthusiasm. By the 80’s, the major record labels began operating more like public corporations hocking toothpaste, instead of acting like the preservers of the medium (music). Accountants began running the show, which lead to new acts and music being considered “widgets.” Record companies no longer were looking for the next new band with their own sound/style; instead they began looking for exactly the opposite. They looked for plug & play forgettable bands/artists that sounded EXACTLY like what was already selling for them. I don’t need to tell you what happens when inbreeding occurs – lots of retarded babies and weaker and weaker strands of DNA …overall a sorry state of affairs indeed!
Still, as my Pop used to say, “the crème inevitably finds its way to the top” and bands like SOUNDGARDEN, PEARL JAM, U2, CHILI PEPPERS, NIRVANA, etc. proved that true! Sadly, though, for every PEARL JAM, it seemed that there were 100 other “JEARL PAMS” that just tried to copy/paste identical but decidedly less interesting music and worse, these bands were getting signed by the majors as fast as they could copy/paste. As a result, I and others like me began losing interest in anything new. Combine that with getting older and by the 2000’s, I sadly found myself listening to the same 20 bands that I was listening to when I was in high school (150 years ago) …but then came my wife and kids to the rescue!
While my wife Lisa loves classic rock as much as I do (one of the reasons why I married her is because she knew every single QUEEN song ever written and I was captivated by how she’d perform them for me), she hadn’t become tainted to new music. For years, she tried in vain to get me to listen to one new band/artist/song after another, but I grudgingly refused – I don’t know why, at that point, I think I was just acting like an ex-heavy metal old fogey. After awhile she gave up and started sharing her music interests with our oldest son Jared – which for some reason, made me insanely jealous – she and I always shared our love of music and I felt left out.
Well, one day, when they were both out, I put my son’s earphones from his i-thing into my ears and found the “play” button. For the next six hours I was rocking to three bands in which I hadn’t taken any real interest – NICKLEBACK, CREED and DAUGHTRY …and I was blown away! The bands all had a fresh sound, the musicianship was first-class (something I thought missing in some of the grunge bands of the past) and most importantly …they rocked! It was like falling in love again for the first time for me!
I recently went to hang out with a few of my “old” heavy metal mates and brought these “new” bands up (they’re really not that new), but I was saddened to see that they were as tainted as I used to be. One of my friends even dared me to ask a bunch of strangers in the pub we were in, if they ever heard of those three bands. I smugly took his dare, but was dismayed to hear over a dozen people (a bit younger than I) tell me they had only vaguely heard of NICKLEBACK …a sad state of affairs indeed! That gave me the idea to SPOLIGHT a band here on my blog. The first band I had to SPOTLIGHT was DAUGHTRY! This band rocks! TURN UP THE VIDEO, if you haven't already! Chris Daughtry has a voice that permeates my soul as does their music. I’d love to hear what y’all listen to and like (and it doesn’t have to be Rock) – leave a comment and let me know …I might feature them next! Peace, g
You know, I spent from 2004 to June of last year in the financial industry and I have to tell you – I felt like I was losing my soul in a godless world …a world where there was only one rule – GREED IS GOOD (GIG)!
The current state of affairs in the world is the result of the GIG principle – millions of people now out of work; people losing their homes to foreclosure; bank closures; business closures leading to more people out of work!
Here is a brief of what happened: (being a simple fool, I’m going to keep it simple)
1. Those in the financial industry all wanted to turn more profits (GIG in action) than they could with the status quo – so the “geniuses” devised a number of “legal” ways to invest in highly risky investments (like SWAPS), putting very little to none of their money at risk (that is, as long as everything in the world remained stable).
2. Lenders start loaning RIDICULOUS amounts of $$$ to people to buy things like homes and gave people all sorts of credit facilities like CREDIT CARDS – to the point that people ended up owning homes they could not possibly afford, on top of having more credit card debt than they could ever hope to pay off! These financial institutions didn’t care because they could basket all those risky loans and sell them to other institutions (see #1 above).
3. #1 & #2 caused a FAKE bubble in housing prices and in the economy as a whole (people spent the money they were GIFTED in the form of home equity loans, credit cards, etc…). This kept a lid on the bubbling and expanding cauldron for awhile (between the tech bubble of 2001 to around 2007.
4. THE PARTY WAS OVER!!!!!! Easy money/easy mortgages lead to over-building, too many homes on the market fueled the DRAGON, making lenders lend even more $$$ in the form of “sub-prime” mortgages, basically the legal term for your local loan shark! Yeah, they’ll lend you all you want – and break your knee-caps (interest/penalties) when you can’t pay! GREEDY people with too much debt started paying their mortgages and credit cards late! We're all a bit guily of that.
5. The industry answered with their normal DRAGON’S BREATH – foreclosures, insane interest and penalties! That usually "fixed our wagons"… but wait… by 2007, it didn’t! People stopped paying their mortgages, credit cards, etc…
6. The lenders started foreclosing and taking homes away from the folks BUT WAIT – now they had TOO MANY HOMES and combined with the over-building – NO ONE WANTED THESE FORECLOSED HOMES! This stuck the lenders with $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ of useless real assets! These financial institutions were now insolvent in a BIG WAY!!! BUT WAIT…
7. THOSE SWAPS… you know, the so-called “impossible scenario” investments were all being called in! These dumb, idiotic “geniuses” in these super-huge financial institutions (banks, insurance companies, pensions, etc) had basically fired the torpedo that turned and killed them! (Think of the scene from my favorite movie/book THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER, “…You fool, you killed US!” The institutions that took positions covering these defaults, DEFAULTED! What does that mean? It means that there was no one to cover the defaults of all those mortgages!!! This basically caused a MASSIVE GLOBAL cascade effect (Since the world invests as the U.S. does).
Okay, so what does all the above result in?
- Millions of people lose their homes!
- The entire real estate industry goes belly-up including lenders like Countrywide (my lender), construction companies and anyone else associated with real estate.
- The home values across the nation drop significantly, due to a glut of too many homes on the market and most everyone being broke!
- Credit dries up! The party is over for all of us “CREDIT ADDICTS!” We all became used to being able to find someone to lend us money (credit cards, home-eq’s, etc) whenever we wanted something – and MAN, most of us went BONKERS CRAZY! We even USED LOANS TO PAY OTHER LOANS! When the train stopped, everyone got caught holding the bag (lol… I know, I used a double-cliché, but it reads funny, doesn’t it?)
- Financial institutions go out of business… or do they? Oh no, some don’t because the U.S. GOVERNMENT decides to buy their debt, pay their bills (and wipe their… well, you know)!
I hate to tell y’all this but… there is no fix for this! The world melted! Now the U.S. prints funny-money to pay for all the sins of the past several years! Guess what happens when there is too much money printed – we call it inflation and man is it coming!!!
There’s even a scarier monster on the horizon, it’s called STAG-FLATION… that’s a situation where on one hand there is inflation and on the other, the economy does not grow to offset the former. What does it mean? It means that stuff will cost A WHOLE LOT MORE but none of us will make more!
I was so disgusted with the industry; I quit it and vow never to go back to it! I’m going to stick to writing my fiction …and stockpiling canned goods!
It’s been said that truth is stranger than fiction, because fiction has to make sense …ain’t that the truth!
That's my "scare-blog," please enjoy the rest of your day! 9-) (Comments, rants and raves are welcomed)
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Dean Wesley Smith