Sunday, December 18, 2011

Go, tell the Spartans

Ώ ξεϊν΄, άγγέλλειν Λακεδαιμονίοις ότι τήδε

κείμεθα, τοϊς κείνων ΄ρήμασι πειθόμενοι.

“Go, tell the Spartans, Passer-by, that HERE by Spartan Law we lie.”

That was said by Simoneides over 400 years before the birth of Christ, after the battle of Thermopylae.

Many of you only know it from the movie ‘300’.

Basically, it was saying “Remember us.”

“Remember us." As simple a request as a man can ask. "Remember why we died." Leonidas didn't wish tribute or song. No monuments, no poems of war and valor. His wish was simple: "Remember us." That was his hope.

I recently had the honor of hosting an event in our little town known as ‘Wreaths Across America’, in which Christmas wreaths are laid on the graves of The Fallen.

We do it to Remember.

We gathered to remember that we are one nation, under one flag. We are many races, have many religious beliefs, and come from many walks of life. But the freedoms we enjoy have not come without a price.

In Hallowed Ground all across our great nation are men and women who paid that price, who gave their lives so that we can live in freedom, and without fear. We can worship as we choose, we can raise our children to believe as we do. We can travel from one end of this great nation to the other freely, without having to ask permission to do so. We are free to vote for whomever we feel should hold office, and we answer to no one but ourselves. We have the right to succeed and the right to fail at any endeavor we wish to pursue. The United States was founded on the principles of Freedom, Justice, and Equality. Our nation alone stands as a shining beacon of Liberty and Freedom to the rest of the world.

We have the obligation to thank those that have served, that are serving, and those that paid that ultimate price, who gave their lives in order to keep us free. We should not forget them. We must always remember.

“Remember us.”

In your neighborhood you may just know Veterans or the families of Veterans of wars and conflicts that America has had to fight to protect the innocent and oppressed. Our country has always been the first to stand up for the freedom of people all over the world. Many of us answered that call and served our country proudly.
It’s time to take a moment to say ‘Thank You’. Thank you for your service and your sacrifice.

There are many men and women serving today in all branches of the military, both here at home and in distant places that many have never heard of. These men and women, Brothers and Sisters in Arms, are a part of the best-trained, best-equipped military force in the entire world; the United States Armed Forces. We must honor them and their families for the sacrifices that they make, and the hardships that they endure each day, as they strive to keep our country safe from terrorism, hatred, and injustice that plague the world community.
"Remember us."

George Orwell once observed, “You sleep soundly in your beds because rough men stand ready to visit violence on those that would do you harm.”

When you see a Veteran, or Active Duty member of the armed forces, take a moment to say ‘Thank You’. We all owe them our way of life, and a moment of your time is well spent.
"Remember us."

Our 40th President, Ronald Reagan once said “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in their bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day, we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States when men were free.”

“Remember us.” Let us remember the Fallen that have served in the Army, the Navy, the Marine Corps, the Air Force, the Coast Guard, the Merchant Marine, and let us never forget the 93,129 United States Servicemen from all branches whose last known status was either Prisoner of War or Missing in Action. They have not yet returned to their families and homes. They must be remembered. They must never be forgotten.

As you go about your routine, take the time to remember. Remember those that have served our country. Remember those that now find themselves in distant lands, serving to keep our country safe. Remember those who are missing, who have not yet returned to our shores, and remember the Fallen, those that paid the ultimate price so that we can enjoy the freedoms we all too often take for granted.

 Since the birth of this great nation 235 years ago, men and women, our sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers, have answered the call, and have willing gone into Harm’s way. For generations they have stood resolute upon the walls and their message has always been the same to each and every one of us. “Nothing’s gonna hurt you. Not on my watch.”

“Go, tell the Spartans, Passer-by, that HERE by Spartan law we lie.”

Remember us.

So, What's WRONG with Tradition?

With the disaster that is ‘Big Government’ upon us, not the mention the looming threat of the year 2012, (according to the Mayans, that is) I thought that perhaps this was as good a time as any to take a long, hard look at those things we hold dear, our ‘Traditions’.

Each of us, whether we admit to it or not, has a certain set of rituals we perform for given events. No matter if it’s inviting your boorish brother-in-law over for Christmas dinner, although you’d rather have your manhood squeezed in a vise than listen to his pompous attitude about the state of things in Bahrain, (of which he couldn’t locate on a map) or celebrating the arrival of Friday afternoon with other drunken co-workers in a specific tavern, far from prying eyes (or so you think), we all have Traditions. But, in this day of e-mail, i-phones, holistic healing, and self-service vasectomies, we must ask ourselves the question; Do our traditions even matter anymore, or are these simply things we cling to for comfort in a ‘Brave, New World’? I asked myself this question recently, and I discovered that the answer was…’C’.

I grew up in the hill country of Eastern Tennessee, a place where tradition goes hand in hand with inbreeding. Growing up in what many would call a ‘backwards culture’, I was forced to consider if any of my own traditions still held merit today. The answers surprised even me.

As a young boy, I remember taking my first deer, and being told that, in order to pay homage to the animal, I needed to drink the blood, then eat the heart. I did these things without argument, and, tradition being a ruthless master, passed these things on down to my own children. Of course, I now know that drinking animal blood is considered barbaric by some, (even by members of ‘Team Edward’) and eating too many organ meats can result in a nasty bout with gout, but I continued to hold onto these traditions for years. Until, that is, the doctor told me that the red stains on my teeth and painful feet were direct results of this practice. (He also informed me that he had taken a 12-point buck with his Buick Electra over the weekend, but that’s another story)

Okay, you say, I’m not from such a backwards, inbred culture such as yourself, so how does this pertain to me? Well hang on, kiddies. Let’s just take a look at some so-called ‘Cultured Traditions’.

We awake from a restless night and head into the kitchen for that first cup of coffee, followed (by many) with that first cigarette. Not coffee, you say? Well then, perhaps tea, or one of those energy drinks. Regardless, you have a routine you follow. Maybe it’s the route you take to work, or to drop off the younguns at school. Maybe it’s the fact you always check your e-mail on your i-phone, right after you get on the onramp, moving along at 65 mph, oblivious to the geriatric driver who refuses to let you merge with the flow of traffic. (This is WHY we have handguns)

Or maybe it’s your Saturday afternoon routine of taking the fucking loved ones to the park, or the zoo, to better expose them to the wonderful world of nature held captive behind electric fences and lying uncomfortably on cold, damp concrete.

Perhaps it’s ‘Game Day’, where you invite the same guys you hung out with in college over to your house, (as you’ve been doing for well over 20 years) and you sit around in front of the TV cheering on the Michigan ‘Wolverines’ as they hand the Texas ‘Longhorns’ asses to them in overtime, (even though you all graduated from Ohio State) and spend several hours in drunken oblivion, as your wives, girlfriends, and significant others tell stories about your shortcomings in bed, your desires to get a lawn tractor, or your odd habit of handing out subscriptions to ‘Playboy’ to all the little kids during Halloween. All of these, are TRADITIONS. But, do they even have a place in society anymore?

There was a time, long ago, (5 years) when we sent out a plethora of Christmas Cards during the holidays, and tackily displayed the ones we received on the refrigerator. Now, we send out our wishes for a ‘Happy Holiday’ via e-mail, and delete the wishes that come to us in the same manner, or move them to a file labeled ‘Bullshit from the family’.

There was the Saturday night tradition of going to the drive-in, and, as a child, fighting in the backseat with your brother, while smelling the mosquito coil burning on the dashboard. Then, as we got older, finger-banging Lori Looselace in the backseat, the aroma of some good Thai wafting within the car, while watching ‘Plan 9 from Outer Space’, or ‘Attack of the Killer Tomatoes’. Nowadays, it’s sitting there watching ‘Survivor’, ‘American Idol’, or (God help us) ‘Real Housewives of Omaha’.

We had role models. For my generation (‘Gen-WTF’, remember?), it was guys like Audey Murphy, Lee Marvin, George Foreman (he didn’t always sell cookware), and even Michael Jordan. Now, it’s people like Brett Michaels, Bradley Manning(who should be hung for treason), Julian Assange, some pale-assed vampire wannabee, or (again, God help us) Super-slut Snookie. (I SO want my grand-daughter to be like her.)

There was a time, again, long ago, when we celebrated each Sunday by sitting around the dinner table and engaging each other in meaningful conversation,. But these days, we have to pull little Johnny away from the PS-3, and yank the earbuds out of Jane’s head as she listens to Lady Gaga (is that REALLY appropriate for a 7-year-old?) before we can sit down to enjoy our low-fat, low-carb, non-existent taste microwavable meal. And let’s not forget that dad has to be called several times to come up from the basement, unwilling to tear himself away from the cool porn site he found while surfing the net looking for the keyword ‘Barnyard’.

We celebrated Memorial Day by flying the flag and remembering those who had fallen to preserve our way of life. Now, we protest military funerals, chanting ‘God hates fags’. Where the hell did this come from? How did things get so fucked-up?

Kinky sex meant that your girlfriend would swallow. Today, it means receiving oral sex from a vampire, or sharing your partner with a host of others as you videotape it to post online (see ‘Barnyard’ above).

Coming of age meant that your 8-year-old wanted to get her ears pierced. Now, it’s the 8-year-old wanting to get HIS nipples pierced. (It WILL look great with that ink he had done last month)

School was a chance to see our friends and act like total idiots, and learning useless facts about our Founders, the California Gold Rush, or…the Mayans. Today, it’s learning how to sneak a Glock-17  through the metal-detector, or making a big score on some crystal-meth. Maybe even shooting that bully that called you a retard in the head with the Glock, rather than going behind the gym after school to settle it.

Sports meant shagging flyballs with your dad, or going fishing. Today, it’s rooting for ‘Team Edward’, or sitting in front of the Wii, eating energy bars and washing them down with Red Bull. (and we wonder WHY we have increased incidences of ADHD?) Fantasy has become the reality, and reality is the fantasy we try to escape from.

Back to the Mayans for a sec. These guys had some really GREAT traditions. Virgin sacrifice, tearing the hearts out of ‘the chosen’, self-imposed penis mutilation, and dressing up in some really cool outfits. But one day, they saw change on the horizon. And it wasn’t good change (or ‘HOPE’ either, for that matter). So, they disappeared. They became an unknown part of history, leaving behind only a veiled threat of disaster looming on the horizon. (plus the premise for a really crappy movie of the doomsday date)

(Personally, I think that sacrificing all the virgins had something to do with their demise, but what do I know? I’m from a culture of ‘backwards inbreds’)

Already, the nutcases are already out on the street, preaching about the impending ‘End’, just as they did in 1984, the year 2000, (remember the discomfort you felt with the arrival of Y-2K), or the Halebot Comet, in which some of the wiser among us decided to remove themselves from the population (and you call ME backwards?).

But, maybe it IS time to take a long, hard, critical look at our traditions, and see if they still manage to hold a place in our present time. A time, I might add, full of uncertainty.

And while you do that, I’m going to sit back with a nice, warm cup of deer blood, and finish off my third cigarette. Besides, Lori Looselace is coming over with a can of Crisco, a package of Pampers, and her pet Mayan vampire iguana, ‘Eduardo’.

Sic vis pacem, parabellum, (or is that portabella?)

Wiley (Coyote)

Friday, December 16, 2011

Gen-WTF and WHY I'm here


This is my first foray into, I guess, what one would call a 'Blog’.

It's simply a recce, a recon, a preliminary look into the landscape ahead. I'm new at this, so I need to know what to expect. I’m a stranger in a strange, unknown land. Out of my element, bringing with me nothing more than desire and ethic. Many of you will say “Go away, Old man. This is not for you. Cyberworld is ours. You don’t belong here.”

But, you need to understand something. I'm NOT the only one out there like me. We are an entire GENERATION.

We're the 'Geezers', the 'Men of a Certain Age', or the new term, 'Old Dogs'.

WE, are GEN-WTF!

We're your fathers and grandfathers, the ones you've forgotten. We once had a place in society, but technology and evolution, (not to mention a healthy dose of 'ADHD'), replaced us and set us aside. That's why I'm here. To introduce, and in some respects, RE-introduce, what we like to call GEN-WTF.

It seems like one day, we woke up, took a look around, and asked ourselves "WTF?" Things had suddenly changed, right before our eyes, and we didn't see it coming. "How did this happen?" we asked ourselves, not really comprehending the fact that the EVIDENCE that changes were on the horizon had been right in front of us for years...

We were just too stubborn to even believe it.

(Okay, by now you're either bored, in which case you jumped back to the homepage, or you stuck around, wanting to know more, and if so, YOU are the one I'm interested in knowing.) But first, a little background:

All my life, I worked. I held a job. I brought in money to pay the bills. (Okay, I took 12 years off to serve in the military. But that kinda counts as a job too. MAYBE even the most important one I ever held) 

I was creative. Be it building houses, repairing homes, or creating unique custom furniture, I created. My clients loved my work... 

And then, 'IT' happened. 

Imagine for a moment, not being able to ever again do that one thing you had done for so long, that you knew nothing else. Imagine never being able to do that again. I always took it for granted that I would be doing this everyday, for the rest of my life. It was what I DID. When 'IT' happened, I just one day thought to myself "What The F..K?" I knew I couldn't handle that, so I decided that I WOULD! And all the while, wondering "What the FUCK happened? When did things get like this?" I pushed on.

Of course, the signs had been there for years, I now realize. But because I had grown up believing that you 'suck it up, deal with it', and holding to the mantra that 'Pain is weakness leaving the body', I pushed myself. I had a job to get back to. I had to get back to doing the ONLY thing I knew. So I pushed myself, more and more, not acknowledging what my body was telling me. Nope, stubborn me, just pushing on forward like the bull I have always been... 

And then, the damage became permanent. And that one thing was gone...forever. 

I went trough all the stages: Anger, Denial, Depression, all of 'em, but it took me awhile to finally reach 'Acceptance'. 

...and that's the why of WHY I'm here. Now for the HOW.

I've always had friends that were younger than me. In some cases, no more than little kids. But I have this one group from Gens 'X', 'Y', and even 'GEN-WHINE' that like to hang out with me. Some are kids in the neighborhood, some are from the university, all with varied political and lifestyle views, and they range in ages from 18-34. They call themselves my 'pups', and have always considered me their 'Alpha', the one they come to to either fix something, or give advice, and even twice, for protection. 

When 'IT' happened, my 'pups' were first on the scene. They helped me reach the 'Acceptance' stage. 

So, there I was, now depressed over the fact that there were certain things I could never do, when I bounced around the question "Now what?"

"Become a writer," one said, a look of total seriousness on his young, innocent face.

"What the hell do I have to write about?" grumbled I, as I poured myself another shot of Jack Daniel’s.

"All that cool shit you know how to do," said another, as she snatched the bottle from my hands, capped it, and set it aside.

Now, I couldn't picture myself doing a 'How to...' book. I just don't have the patience to explain certain things that you should know by instinct, but for whatever reason, SOME of you don't know enough that you have to HIT the nail with the hammer in order for it to go into the wall to hang the picture from, (I blame all the drugs my generation did on this), so I politely told this one pup that she was full of pig excrement.

"I don't mean a 'how-to' book," she said. "I mean a book about the things you 'Old Dogs' know how to do. All those cool things you know, the places you've been, the cultures you've seen. Write a book about some of the things you USED to do, and that some of you STILL do." 

Not a bad idea, thinks I in my sour mash–induced stupor.

So, I did. "Now what?" 

"Get it published," says another of my pups.

So, knowing NOTHING about book publishing, or anything remotely pertaining to the book industry, I plod along, receiving rejection after rejection, some kind, others more of the mocking variety, until I discover that I lack any form of promotion, particularly, that of the 'Shameless-self' variety.(My personal favorite, I might add)

So, another of my beloved pups tells me all about social networks, blogs, and the whole wonderful world of 'Digital Shameless Self-promotion', and shows me how to get here. 

So, here I am, on my initial recce of this uncharted (for me) land. I'm hoping to run into a few friendly locals on the way, to keep me out of hostile territory, and avoid the minefields and sniper hides that I'm certain lie in my path, but I'm forging ahead... 

After all, it's all I can do. 

Sic vis Pacem, Parabellum, (or is that Paralegal?)

Wiley (Coyote)