Archive for the Friends and Family Category

Why I Don’t Hate you…

Posted in Friends and Family, Masonic Insights, Reflections on February 1, 2017 by Verge

I’m in Houston for 10 days.  I’ve never been to Texas.  I’ve never needed or wanted to go to Texas, but here I am.  I’ve nothing against this state or the people that live in it.  I guess some people from “the North” might think that it’s some kind of terrible “South” state where hate is everywhere.

I’ve yet to had even a sliver of hatred pointed at me.  Me, part of a group of outsiders that have literally invaded their city for two or three weeks.

Over the last few years, I’ve never weighed in on what’s going on in our country, either on my blog, or on Twitter, or especially on Facebook.  I’ve kept my opinions to myself and my close friends, my wife, my family (who I most often disagree with).  I haven’t put out ultimatums to my contacts to “unfriend” me if they don’t agree with me.  Perhaps they unfriended me, but the digital friends that they were, I didn’t notice.

I’ve been a Freemason for a long time.  I’m a brother to all of them.  I don’t hate them, I don’t love them, necessarily, but I am their brother because that is a necessity.  Without a doubt, the most important thing I’ve learned is so simple it’s absurd.  We don’t ever talk about religion.  And we most certainly don’t talk about politics.  Those of you who know me well might find it hypocritical that I was the Chaplain of my Lodge for three years, but my brothers always appreciate my words.

Now, I find myself in an awkward place, both physically and in history. I don’t know what will happen this week, this year, this term, or ever.

Tonight, on my way home from a staff party late in Houston, I encountered a woman who just wanted to get back to her hotel, but couldn’t find her way, and just wanted someone, anyone, to help her.  A friend and I went out of our way to walk her back to her hotel so she was safe.  I’m not asking for a medal.   What I am saying is that I didn’t care about who she voted for, or if she went to church, and she certainly didn’t ask those questions of us.  We helped her because she is a human being .  She’ll forget our names tomorrow, but she won’t forget the help that we gave her.

I don’t care about your political or religious beliefs.  If you’re not willing to be human, and be a decent person to others, than you truly are no “friend” of mine.

Dystopia Issue # 2

Posted in Creative Writing, Friends and Family, Reflections with tags on May 31, 2016 by Verge

Back in the early 90’s, the Internet wasn’t really a “thing” so much.  It still sucked.  Not as bad as the Prodigy days, or the simple BBS days, when there weren’t any GUIs, but just a bunch of people tinkering around and even flirting.  But, you know, no youtube, no facebook, no wordpress.

Back then, I started something called a fanzine.  I mentioned this to Chelsea the other day at work, who is 25, and she had no idea what the hell I was talking about.  But Mike, who IS my age, spun around in his seat and was like, “that’s cool, I remember those, what was your’s called?”  My answer…”Dystopia”.”

So for all the people that are older or younger than me by 15 years or so, a fanzine is basically an analog blog.  It’s not made out of technology.  It’s made out of paper.  It can be about anything, but most of them were about bands.  Maybe an entire genre.  Or maybe a sub culture, like skating, or art, or writing, or punk, or goth, or raves.

In High School, I was in a after school club that focused on creative writing.  And, we did publish that stuff a few times a year, but it was kind of limited.  My writing and English teachers at school were wonderful people.  They were the reasons that every elective I could take for three years,  I took extra English courses.  And then I gave up my study hall to take even more English courses.  I took so many extra electives that I could have graduated in 3 years except that the state wouldn’t allow it.

The writing club was cool, but I wanted to be in charge, so I started my own fanzine.  I asked all the people I was friends with who were artists, or poets, or writers, to share what they had been working on and promised to put it all in my fanzine.  At one point, I had a rival fanzine in the school that was called “Bite Mari,” which was published by these two younger girls, Elysa and Jenn, and even though we were my competition, their’s was pretty bad ass and hilarious.  So I went on to date Elysa, the publisher, for 6 years or so.

My parents have just retired, and are selling their house in New Jersey and moving to Florida.  We’ve been helping clear out the house because it’s already been sold and everything either needs to go to Florida or the kids or in the trash.  I’m not sure exactly how my mother hid so much shit in that house, because it always looked amazing clean and organized, but they hoarded a ton of stuff.  It kind of scares me that that gene is in me somewhere.

So, they’ve been going through the piles of memories, and sorting them into boxes for each of us kids.  Mine contained a copy of Issue number #2 of “Dystopia.”  So, for what it’s worth (which is apparently $1), I give you the now, newly improved, totally digital, Blog version of Dystopia.  Thanks to all the people that helped me and had fun with me back in High School.  We always made it interesting somehow, and there was only so much cough medicine us kids could drink together to amuse ourselves.  Cheers!

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If and when I find the other issues of my fanzine, I’ll post them here as well.  I know I have them all, buried in my attic somewhere, to discover when I start to sort through my old memories.

Rivers and Bruises

Posted in Daily Pictures, Friends and Family, Good Times, Reflections on August 20, 2015 by Verge

Today, during a lull in work, while attempting to solve a puzzle which has nothing to do with life at all, I received a horrible message, which at first I thought must have been an attempt at sarcastic humor, but was instead  a very brutal kick in the side from reality.

And as I lost track of my thoughts, and tried to curb my tears in public, I pretended to search for the answers to clues in the newspaper instead of the ones in life that can never be answered.  Why him?  Why now?  How is this fair?  Or, what is the five letter word for “bluish-greens?”

I still vaguely feel the blow to my left kidney I received when I fell down in the river two weeks ago.  But bruises heal.  We get up, and move on and pretend that it doesn’t hurt quite as much as our insides truly tell us.

I’ll travel back up the river and attemp the journey again.   We won’t always make it to the end of our adventure at the same time, but for parts of it, we’ll drift downstream over calm and turbulent waters the same, together.  And that, in the end, are the parts worth remembering.

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Rest In Peace, Rich. You taught me much more about life than you could have ever taught me about how to brew beer.

All Apologies (eh, it was late)

Posted in Creative Writing, Friends and Family, Reflections with tags on January 6, 2015 by Verge

what if the world were ending

in flames and fire and wrath,

could we ever come to forgive one another…

would we still be enemies in death?

they tell you there’s too much to live for

when you’re drowning under water

and then tell others there’s dignity in death

when a cause or war is what you’ve died for.

and families split, and friends are betrayed

in the worst of times that haunt us

and apologies are often not

enough to help to heal us.

but what if the world and all of us

were coming to the end,

would we find it in our souls

to just let old wounds mend?

The Night before Christmas

Posted in Creative Writing, Friends and Family with tags , , on December 24, 2014 by Verge

Tonight my parents come to visit.

We serve dinner and they bring gifts.

Afterwards, my wife hears stories from the source

that shed light on why I am the man I am.

My earliest memories are of passion…

anger and love the same.

They impressed me for a lifetime.

We’ve set up our tree for eight years in a row.

My in-laws just one time.

And as crooked as it may be,

it’s still the warmest thing to me.

Phillies Game

Posted in Daily Pictures, Friends and Family, Good Times with tags , on August 8, 2014 by Verge

Monika scored field level seats to last night’s Phillies game complete with free VIP parking.  And amazingly, I had the night off.  We pregamed a little bit, grabbed our two friends to come along with us, and headed out.

We don’t watch baseball.  I couldn’t even tell you more that two players on the Phillies, and even that would be a guess.  I don’t know the starters, the manager, the coach.  Shit, I don’t even know all the rules, official or not.  But, I do know that watching baseball during the summer is a great time.

We scored our vegan cheese steaks from the stadium, Sam spilled her french fries, Monika nearly got me in a fight with some punks sitting behind us, I nearly caught a foul ball, and the Phillies ended up hitting a grand slam at the top of the 8th to win the game the next inning.  It was an awesome time, and quite memorable (I also I took pictures).

 

 

Kentucky Bourbon Trail Day Three – Buffalo Trace, Town Branch, Evan Williams

Posted in Distilling, Friends and Family, Good Times, Reflections, Vacations with tags , , on July 26, 2014 by Verge

After a busy first three distilleries on a guided tour, we decided to head out and explore on our own.  Buffalo Trace used to be on the official trail, but it isn’t anymore.  We went anyway early in the morning to check out their delicious libations.  Then we headed out to another official stop in Lexington and included a tour of their brewery as well.  Town Branch was the most modern facility on the tour, but it was well worth the trip.  I doesn’t have the charm of a 150 year old distillery, but it was a really great tour and our host, Steve, was hilarious.  Then we headed back to downtown Louisville to go on the Evan Williams Bourbon Experience tour, which is kind of like Disney for bourbon drinkers.

 

We had vegan chilli dogs and cole slaw for dinner like true Americans at the local ice cream stand

 

Then we watched some fireworks with our new friends (our hosts from BnB and their chickens) while sipping bourbon on the back porch until the middle of the night, and lit off some of our own.

We really couldn’t have planned for a better Independence Day than they way this trip turned out.  We got to see a ton of distilleries by this point, met some great people and hung out at a bunch of local places, and met some really great people.  And got to blow shit up drunk in the middle of Louisville.  Can’t wait to go back.

Sam’s Birthday – Hibachi and Whiskey – AKA How to Throw a Birthday Party

Posted in Daily Pictures, Friends and Family, Good Times, Reflections with tags , on April 21, 2014 by Verge

Sam’s birthday usually lasts a month.  It’s getting more difficult to make that happen with all of us together.  We’ve all got multiple jobs that conflict with themselves, let alone jive with all of our schedules.  But, once in a while, we can make this happen:

Reasonably Polite Dinner with Friends (whisper the dirty jokes, and make sure the birthday girl doesn’t pay the bill)

 

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Toasts and Candles and Cake and Kisses (every party needs them, and kisses can be bites! )

Group Poses (because at this point, you might not remember everything, nor should you)

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Inevitable Dancing (notice, I’m the photographer, not the dancer)

Sappy Walsh Reflection About Friendship and Life

Birthday parties, Easter, weddings, Passover, New Years, Hanukkah and Christmas, Valentines Day, anniversaries.  It’s easy to let these events grow stale.  Let’s face it, they happen every single year, year after year.  And even though I do think that my birthday is just another day of the week, and another number of my life, there is something more.

I recently bought a new laptop.  I had to copy every digital photo I have ever shot  from my old drive to the new one.  All 81.1 Gigs, all 661 folders, all 30,263 individual photographs.  Every one represents some moment in my past that I chose to keep, to remember, to hold onto.

Because, in life, you can’t hold onto everything or everyone forever.  My blog is something that reminds me of all the amazing times I’ve shared with the people in my life.  And birthday parties, no matter how old you are, no matter how you don’t “need” a party, are a golden opportunity to align our busy schedules and figure out a way to to get back together with the people we love.  And…sometimes (just sometimes)…just dance.

Dirty Robots Play the Voltage Lounge and Penguins Pub, Philadelphia

Posted in Daily Pictures, Friends and Family, Good Times, Reflections with tags , on April 2, 2014 by Verge

We got a middle slot last Saturday night to play all original material for an hour over the bridge at the Voltage Lounge.  It’s in the same building as the Electric Factory, and used to be called Whiskey Dix.  I don’t remember when they changed over.

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We were on early enough not to piss me off, and late enough that there were actually people in the bar when we took stage.  The sound was awesome, and I truly enjoyed myself.  Monika and Cynthia came to the show as well, and we all had a good time.

You know, being in a band is really a bitter sweet kind of a thing.  I love playing, whether it’s cover songs or originals.  When it all comes together, it’s a great feeling to be part of a live performance.  But, like anything you love to do, to be good at it, it takes a lot of work.  A lot of hard work.

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It’s kind of funny.  People I talk to about a lot of the things I do are often impressed.  Being in a working cover band.  Working for the NFL.  Going to the Super Bowl.  Brewing beer at home and working in a homebrew store.  Working in a yoga studio.  People are always like, “wow, that’s so awesome, you must love it.”

And the truth is, I do love all those things.  But there’s a lot of hard work in all of them, and sometimes the job at hand ain’t exactly a walk in the park.  If a brief introduction at a party with a stranger turns into deeper small talk about what I do, and they start to scratch the surface of my life, I start to sound cynical pretty quickly.  Hey, that’s just who I am.

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I joke with people that I’m busy.  That I have 3 or 4 or 5 jobs.   I swear, just keeping my schedule straight counts as another one.  But, what you call a job is sometimes a lot of fun, and perhaps should just be called “something I do, and sometimes I get paid for.”

That’s what being in the band is like.  It’s nice to make some money.  And it’s great being onstage.  Being the center of attention for a few hours once in a while.  Having people look up to you, admire you, applaud you.  But guess what.  This is how my typical Wednesday night gigs go down.

4 pm:  Leave work after working a 8-10 hour day, in which I woke up between 5am and 6 am to get to.

445pm:  Arrive home, do normal house shit.  Collect mail.  Update my finances.  Let the cats out.  Normal shit.

6pm:  Begin writing the three 1 hour set lists that will be our show for the evening.  This includes my own personal set list with some of the chord structures printed out, because when your going to play 40-50 songs that night, sometimes it’s nice to remember what the first chord is.  Print all of them out for the rest of the band.

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630pm:  Pack up the studio with all the live gear.  Make sure we have everything we may need for the show, which is pretty regular.  Double check that everything is at least semi ordered for unpacking, because at the end of the last show played, no matter where, it wasn’t an orderly pack up.

Items usually needed and brought:  Two bass guitars in cases, 2 9-volt batteries, a small tool case, three sets of strings, bass amp (80 lbs), guitar amp (another 80 lbs), power for both of them, power strip, two 50 ft extension cords, 2 or 3 extra power supplies, two power strips, two mic stands with clips, two microphones, 6-8 20 ft microphone cables, music stand, set lists for 3, mixer and mixer case, speaker cable (50ft), guitar stand, some random adapters for weird situations, a direct box, ear plugs, gaffers tape and some other random crap I can’t remember.

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When I was in film school, they taught us some really important lessons that I’ve really held onto over the years.  When you’re on a shoot, and you’ve got every one on set, and everything set up, and everyone is really to go, you can’t have anything fail.  You don’t have the time or the resources or the money for a do over.  So, bring extra…of everything.  Double the amount of stuff you absolutely need, because if one thing you NEED fails you, everything else fails as well.  Good lesson for life right there.

7PM:  Finish my beer and get on the road.  The current gig on Wednesday is at Penguins Pub, which is just over an hour from my house, if there’s no traffic.  The back roads way to the gig is tore the hell up from the harsh winter, so I can’t go that way.  I have to take the NJ Turnpike to the PA turnpike, which is fine and all, but then I’m cutting into the money I make cause I’ve got to pay tolls.

815PM:  Arrive at the gig.  Find decent parking and start to unload ALL the gear.  This place is fine because they’ve got a nice parking lot and a back door to the stage.  But that’s a rarity.  Places in Philly are usually either double park, throw on your four ways, and unload all your shit onto the curb.  Hopefully the cops don’t hassle you and there’s a band mate to watch your shit while you go try to find a parking space within a few blocks of the bar.

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Then, if you’re lucky, it’s not raining (which happens a lot, or some reason), and you get back to the gear quickly.  A lot of times, you’ve got to navigate a bar room full of people drinking to get your gear to the stage.  Hopefully the stage is nice.  hopefully it’s not the corner of the bar that they’ve just moved a few tables out of for you to set up.  If that’s the case, hopefully THEY have moved the tables, otherwise, guess who gets to.  Shit, hopefully THEY have stopped serving people at those tables, or literally people could be having dinner on your stage.  All this shit has happened to me.  And this is just the tip of the iceberg of the bullshit you have to deal with when your not  the only band playing that night, but one of four or five.  That’s a whole other mess and perhaps another blog.

Being a musician ain’t all fun and games, kids.

850 PM:  Hopefully my drummer and singer have set up by this point, because, lucky me, at this particular gig, I’m also the sound man.  So, I get to do sound check.  Luckily, I know to to run a sound board, but that doesn’t mean the last few people who touched it actually knew what THEY were doing.  So, this usually involves a good deal of trouble shooting and cursing.  Cue the first round of beers.

910PM:  We take the stage.  Since we don’t have a sound man most places we play, and because we’re using stage volume, and our own PA system most places (which thankfully, my singer brings, but I have to set up), inevitable the bar owner tells us to turn down our volume.  A bit hard when your using live drums.  We managed to lie and placate them somehow, having to neuter rock and roll down to mere jukebox background noise.  FML.

10PM:  First break.  We try to bring in guest acts to play some variety of music between our sets because it keeps the live music feel in the room, and keeps the attention the stage.  Since this gig I’m playing sound guy, I don’t get to go directly to the bar like my singer and drummer get to do.  I’ve got to wait around for the next act to set up and do a sound check for them as well.  Fun stuff.

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10:30 PM:  Second set.  Usually my singer and I have done a shot or two during the break, which is nice because it gives just enough of the “I don’t give a fuck” attitude you really need when you realize that learning how to play bass all those years ago in high school didn’t make you famous, get you laid, or bring you any serious money.  No.  Sadly, it’s brought you to a smoke fulled bar north of Philly at 10:30 on a Wednesday night to play Oasis covers to a bar that doesn’t give a shit, an owner that hates musicians, and rednecks playing pool that only really know Elvis, Kenney Chesney and Jimmy Buffet.

11:20 PM:  End of second set.  At this point, we’ve played 30 or so songs, are pretty tired and sweat form the heat of the stage lights, and I’d just like to go home.  I realize this is very far away.  Second intermission band act goes on and I get another drink.  Sigh.

Midnight:  Start of third set.  At this point, my singer has had too much to drink, and that joint in his car during the break didn’t exactly “hone his skills.”  We stumble through the last set not really caring too much about things like correct lyrics, repetitions, and tight endings.  People are generally leaving drunk at this point of the night anyway, and the ones still there are drunk enough to care even less about how well we’re covering songs.  Shit, most people don’t remember how the 90s songs we still play went originally anyway, because, let’s face it, that shit is over twenty years old by now.

1:00AM:  We wrap up around this time, give or take 15 minutes.  Either we run out of songs, or we replay ones that people seemed to have liked from the earlier sets.  Then, we end the show.  But that’s hardly the end of the night.  All the gear on stage is ours, and we have to break it down and load it up into our respective cars.  The nice part of gigs where we are the the headliners is that we can take our time breaking down gear.  Other times, in shit bars on South Street, for instance, you have about five minutes before the next band starts bringing their gear onto stage, and ten to wind your way through the crowd out to the curb, which is where the owner, bar tenders, and sound guy wants you anyway.  When we play the whole night, we can at least grab a beer to drink while we are wrapping chords and taking amps off stage.

2:00 AM:  Sigh.  Finally done and ready to drive home.  This gig is about as far as I’ll drive these days.  About and hour and fifteen minutes.  I’ll stop on the way home at a Wawa to grab a sandwich because I haven’t eaten since the afternoon before.  Monica will be asleep by the time I get home.  I’ll make a martini to wind down, watch a little tv, open some emails and check the stats on my blog and browse the internet before I go to sleep.  Then I wake up as early as possible to get to work the next morning.

And here’s another reality of being “in the band.”  These are pictures of what backstage really looks like at a music venue.  Enjoy!

 

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There’s ugly sides to every endeavor.  But, I do enjoy playing.  I enjoy all my hobbies.  The cleanup always sucks, though.  Making a mess is the best part.  Realizing you have to put your toys away when you’re done having fun is always a drag.

Fourth Wedding Anniversary – Valley Green Inn – May 17th, 2013

Posted in Friends and Family, Good Times, Reflections on August 9, 2013 by Verge

So, I’m a little bit behind, and I wanted to write a great, from the heart, amazingly tear-jerking blog about our anniversary.  Truth is, that I just don’t have the time right now to express how wonderful it is to celebrate my life together with Monika over these past four years.  So, here’s some pictures of our annual excursion to Valley Green Inn.  Not exactly where it all began, but, where we and 70 or so of our friends declared it was officially a love story.

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