Wednesday, October 8, 2014

We are the champions my friend....

When Freddy Mercury sang those words he meant it. The rest goes,"and well keep on fighting till the end" ....remember that? This week was a challenge for me in many ways. I ran into the old food "sabotage" a few times this week. That's where people offer you food to knock you off your path. Whether these folks' intentions were good or not the fact is I had to deal with it. Not like it won't happen again... So I delt with it. Usually I might run to retail therapy or start a new painting but this time it got in my head. Self doubt and depression set in and fuck that shit, so in case you want the story of why I have decided to turn my life around here it is. My knees started giving out and it was getting hard to stand. My doctor had just told me I was pre-diabetic and diabetes had recently killed an uncle of mine. My wife turned to me and asked me with fear in her eyes,"what if you have to be in a wheelchair and are too heavy for me to push" ....that's called shit got real. I made changes which helped a lost weight by going once a week to weight management classes and I talked. I talked a lot. Sometimes I made others in my class uncomfortable about discussing why I had problems with food, but like I said... This is it. Do it now. Last chance. Your life sucks or or life rules. Take your pick. I am sorry if I hurt anyone's feelings from my class, but this is my life and I only have one and it's mine. I still don't like exercise, but every time I take even the smallest steps I am always glad I did it. That doesn't mean a dicathalon... But if you start small by the time you know it you might want to try one. I'm not a sports guy. I have always been a cruiser not a competteter but I am not afraid of a challenge either. Last year I planned to ride my bike in the long beach marathon bike tour. The weather and life issues set me back and I did not train enough and was in no shape to even attempt it. I failed. Now my intention to to walk the Vincent Thomas bridge next year in the bridge walk. It's walking. Not as hard but still hard enough. It's five miles across. If I conquer it I will attempt long beach again. This week I am signing up for the excercise fitness class my health care plan offers. It is step one. I will make better choices this week and I will take no shit from jive turkeys. Make it happen. That is all for now. Be good to each other humans. See you on the bridge.

Rock and Roll

I thought I would write about my favorite rock band Kiss today. I find the tension that drives rock bands to create great music is always alive in any Kiss fan. Gene Simmons steers the ship and he would have you believe he was captain, but clearly the wind in the sails is Paul Stanley. Often questioned is his sexuality, but clearly and secure in himself just like many from the glam era he lead the band though battlefield arenas to fame. After reading his book it's clear he had a rough childhood, but did not let that stop the music. Kiss has always been considered a joke band due to the simplicity of their songs and for the seventies their appearance was shocking but has become so iconic and familiar it has become part of our culture. For the fans the music is something we connected to because the make up made it counter culture and the music was some of the hardest rock of the time, but within those live albums was where the community started. Paul would lead the crowd with "do you believe in rock and roll?" And often shouted, "we love you!". Obviously those live records were studio enhanced, but as a young boy who needed something to believe in I bought it. I spent any allowance I had on records and magazines I would get from the grocery, record and liquor stores. It was right there in the songs where to get your teenage fix "around the corner at the liquor store". They talked to us like adults. It was intended as adult music but because of the image kids were drawn to it like horror movies. I remember in 1975 I had their first record and my friend gave me Dressed to kill for my birthday. We had not even seen the costumes yet because they had suits on, but the suits with the makeup made them look like scary thugs. The Warriors movie was out the and some of my friends from school had got to see it when their older brother took them to the movies. The make up theme made me start drawing the make up. I thought it would be easy to draw so I had contests with my friends in school drawing kiss and warrior pictures. I soon found a compulsive urge to perfect my drawings. I entered a school drawing contest in 1978 after getting the Ace Frehley solo album for my birthday that year. My parents encouraged me to enter my drawing of the Ace record cover in the contest. It was a pretty good drawing and I thought I would do really well with it because by that time I had built up my skills drawing everyday in my room with my headphones on listening to kiss, Sweet and Aerosmith (those were the 3 records I owned.) my sister was younger and did not understand the attention I was getting and decided to add her touch to my drawing. Let me say for the record I forgive you Jenny. She still remains my biggest fan and wether she knew it or not became my first critic. (I drew it over and won second place.) I forgive you little sister, and second place is o.k. Sometimes. Peter Criss in 1976 had all the girls singing Beth (including my sister) and made all us young boys understand how we got here in the first place. The only other sad song of that year that made me cry was "only women bleed" by Alice Cooper (which was of course where kiss got the whole idea) this song would become the theme song of the beginning of the end of my parents marriage. They fought a lot then and did their best to keep it behind closed doors but my door was just down the hall. Ace Frehley was the main man for me in Kiss. Mostly because he was reluctant to be a singer at all but when he did it was real. You can hear it on any of those early records especially Alive 2 where he was formally introduced as a singer as well as being the most important part of kiss's music the lead guitar player. He sounded like he would mess up even as he played which was his trademark of his playing style. On stage he had swagger where Gene had the theatrics and Pete (with the same kind of style as ace) kept the beat. I had the smoking guitar poster on my wall then. My dad smoked then. Soon my buddies and me would be smoking too. Sooner or later that ended, but in the 70s and 80s we had smoke. I was always at least aware that it was only entertainment (it's only rock and roll) but I still like it even if today I don't have the smoke and booze to go with it. I don't want to go back because life move forward but now and then I follow the logic of Cheap Trick and get my Kiss records out. I still collect Kiss merch now and then, but I kind if feel like the man in charge (Gene) has steered the ship into the rocks for good. The reason most fans got into the music is we wanted to play it too. I wanted to design Kiss record covers like the great Ken Kelly did for Love Gun, Destroyer and just this year Ace Frehley's new cd Space Invader. One day my personal hope us that visual art meets up to the same kind of importance music artists have. On thing is for sure I don't have any desire to play football for the L.A. Kiss football team. Most of the jocks bullied kiss fans back in the day so I guess it is what it is. I do remember the god of thunder (gene) in make up on the poster on my wall scared me at night when I was young and I had to overcome my fear of the demon. He is a great bass player and I do dig his solo lp too. Defiantly Paul and Gene where going for the Beatles and Ace and Peter were more Zeppelin and Stones and no they all don't get along. I really would like to hear a record from Peter and I love the new Ace record. I loved Sonic Boom but the long wait for Monster and promises that never happened like vintage Kiss DVDs let me down, but it's only entertainment. I don't want to see a second reunion but I do still believe in Rock and Roll which despite the wishes of Mr. Simmons, will never die. Today I will turn up the music and paint into tomorrow, hope to see you there.... Goodnight!