Sikh And Ye Shall Find…

The idea of navigating the southbound 405 freeway, from LA to San Diego, at the start of rush hour is daunting.  However, that was the price I was willing to pay, to show my nephew the peak of the day at the Santa Monica Pier.

I have a genuine phobia when it comes to LA traffic.  Eight years ago, I witnessed an accident so horrific, it would reframe my perspective on the experience of being a driver southern California.  Since that time, I have had 2 legitimate panic attacks while driving in LA traffic, both times I had to call a friend to help me through them.  Yesterday, I did not want to have a 3rd, in the presence of my nephew.

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We had a great time at the pier.  We sunned.  We dined.  We talked, laughed, and philosophized.  We did pier stuff, and uncle stuff.  The time came though, for us head home with our memories tucked safely in our hearts and in our iPhones – it was 3:30pm.

The freeway entrance is less than a mile from the pier, so I had little time for the crippling anticipation of the traffic to come.  I don’t think I let on to my nephew just how worried I was that another panic attack might be forthcoming, but my hands were already a bit shaky as we merged into traffic, and my heart-rate was increasing.  I was more calm than I expected to be, but I could feel it coming on.

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Looking at the rows of cars barely moving before me, I couldn’t help but feel that I was born into the worst time in human history, and by choice, I was in the worst place – LA at rush hour.  Traffic, I thought, is like a pistol whipping – a dull pain that still has the ability to kill.  The good news was, that it was less of a merge, and more of crawl – it took nearly 5 minutes just to get on the freeway.

As we claimed our parking spot on the 405, I looked to my left and immediately saw an older Lexus, in weathered condition.  Inside was a man with a long gray beard – maybe 60 or so.  He was wearing a turban, nibbling on a piece of fruit, and bobbing his head up and down.  His passenger window was open, and we were moving slowly enough beside him that I could clearly hear The Patti Smith Group resonating from his stereo.

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I can’t explain why, and really, I don’t want to know, but I felt an overwhelming sense of peace with this scene.  My shaky hands calmed a bit, and my heart and senses eased up.  There I was, with my nephew at my side, driving alongside a Sikh in a tattered Lexus, eating an apple to the core, as the song, People Have The Power, gave rise to my spirit.

In that moment, I could not help but feeling that I was living at the finest time in human history, and in the best possible place to be – stuck in LA traffic.

For the next 3 ½ hours, we barely moved – to go 90 miles.  There was no panic though, no fear, and no frustration from the traffic.  Just peace in the idea the life can be still good, even  when anticipating the not-so-good, and that the people have the power… Jhciacb

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If you are not already a subscriber, please scroll up and do so.  Tell your friends about me — about what happens when I push the STOP button on the blender in my head. Oh, and there’s this from The Dogs O f Peace.  Enjoy…

Music Has The Power Of Wings…

Why So Many…

I was saddened when I heard of Merle Haggard’s passing last week.  I chose to take the rest of that day off to hike, to contemplate, and to write, just as I did with the passings of Glenn Frey, Michael Been, Christ Whitley, and Stuart Adamson.  Each has left substantial etchings on my psyche.

In 2016, people are asking the same question,

Why so many rock & roll deaths all of the sudden…?

It actually makes sense.  Like the big bang of the universe, Rock & Roll had a big bang of its own in 1954 when Bill Haley sang Rock Around the Clock.  That singularity set the Rock & Roll universe into motion.  Haley would be 91 if he were alive today.  But he’s not alive, he’s dead, just like everyone else is or will be.

Like any big bang, the Rock & Roll big bang resulted in an increasing complexity, creating more and more stars as time passed.  Whether they be stars in the universe or those here on earth, stars are born to grow bright, some more bright than others, and to ultimately perish.  With so many more stars existing than ever, that they are losing their lives with increasing frequency should not surprise us.

Despite the sadness we feel when they go, each passing star is the ultimate reminder of their work and their gifts.  So long as we remember it and pass it to the next generation, music can be eternal, if even the musician can’t.

On The Values Of Music…

“Music has the power of wings.”  Mike Scott

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Music has helped me frame moments and has provided postures that have salvaged me time and again.   In my post-divorce years, music helped me find faith and mindfulness.  On stressful days, music has been a release – a way to vent by listening rather than speaking.  Music has helped me relax when needed, and I have used music to amp me up when coffee had its limits.  Music has calmed a heart full of rage, and prevented a clinched fist more than a time or two.  Music transports.

Above all things to me, music has been about relationships. The relationships which have come my way because of music have had the power to endure in ways many of my nonmusical relationships haven’t.

When I was 15 my father caught me jumping on my bed and mimicking Jeff Baxter’s guitar solos in My Old School.  My dad, who hated rock music, found the humor, then joined me on his own air guitar, forging a moment in time I will never forget.

Music can help reinforce a strained relationship better than concrete and steel.  Had it not been for a common love of music during her teen years, my relationship with my daughter might have never recovered after her mother and I divorced.

In the 16 years since that divorce, my daughter’s mother and I remain close friends – largely because of a love of music.  Just three nights ago my lovely former wife called to ask me about some of the guitars Sister Rosetta Tharpe played. At first she chastised me for never exposing her to Tharpe

“Why haven’t you ever told me about her…?” she asked.

We stayed on the phone for quite a while and enjoyed some laughter.  I got a bit weepy when we hung up because the conversation was so dear; two divorced people laughing and talking about whether or not Prince’s guitars might be derivative of Tharpe’s, and whether or not it was a Gibson or a Gretsch.

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If being human is about relationships, then I know of no better way to enjoy or enhance a relationship than by exposing it to music.  Music can transcend politics, religion, philosophy and even social status when it is allowed to.  For this to work though, one’s ears need to be open.

I think of my camping friends who I meet most summers in Nebraska.  From working class schlubs like me, to educated working professionals – conservative and liberal, Christian, Atheist or Jew, when the campfire is aglow and the guitars come out, we harmonize as one.

Music To Our Children And Beyond…

As a child, when my father wasn’t playing Pete Fountain or Mitch Miller on the Sears Robuck stereo, my mother was playing Eddie Arnold and Bobbi Gentry.  On Brigadoon, they both agreed.  Music was encouraged.  In our house at one time or another were drums, trombones, a trumpet, and the ever-present untouched guitars.  Our musical dreams destined to be unfulfilled, though experienced quite well through the lives of others.

When my daughter was an infant in her bassinette, and just days old, her mother and I danced around the room singing to The Ramones…

Chel-sea IS, a punk rocker, Chel-sea IS, a punk rocker Chel-sea IS, a punk rocker oh oh oh oh oh oh

As part of the earthly autographs etched into the Golden Record aboard the Voyager I spacecraft, are recordings of Blind Willie Johnson, Mozart, and Chuck Berry.  How wonderful it would be, I have thought, that if the only thing an alien species gave a rat’s ass about in receiving this information would be Chuck Berry’s Oh Carrol…?  Surely they would put the tops down on their intergalactic Cadillacs and head our way with the best of intentions.  Maybe we could trade some of our vinyl for some of theirs.  And some dilithium crystals – we will need more dilithium crystals if we’re ever going to get out of here.  The God I believe in plays air guitar.  Be well…  rc

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If you are not already a subscriber, please scroll up and do so.  Tell your friends about me — about what happens when I push the STOP button on the blender in my head.  Oh, and there’s this from me, Roy Cohen.  I wrote this nearly 30 years ago for what was to be the world’s first rockabilly opera, but never completed it.  Enjoy…

Aja: More That A Continent…

The Era…

In the 1970s my social contemporaries we largely tied to the music of Led Zeppelin, the Moody Blues, Rush, Pink Floyd, and the like. Not that I didn’t have an ear for it too, I did. Listening to the rock & roll of the day was among my primary hobbies. It was an era when vinyl was king, and the thematic or the complete album was central to FM radio. Though this was also the era of disco and the early stages of punk rock, the FM radio of the day was all about dirty hippies making well-orchestrated masterpieces.

Counter to most of my friends at that time, one band I focused on more than Frank Zappa, Uriah Heap, or Deep Purple was Steely Dan. This was a band most of my friends couldn’t connect with, yet they were my obsession. With those who did though, it did seemed like we spoke another language.   Being a Steely Dan fan at the age of 15 landed one a very good seat at the rock & roll nerd table at school – just behind the kids from the short bus.

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The Scope and The Band…

Steely Dan’s heyday was from 1972-1977, though they are still active today. Starting with their first album, Can’t Buy A Thrill, the primary players were producer Gary Katz and musicians Donald Fagan and Walter Becker. Many musicians showed up on Steely Dan albums through the years. In the early years, the same dozen or so players were granted parts on most of their first five albums.

As the band evolved, the varying players were depended on to raise their game with each successive album. If they did not, they would be used less or not at all. Notwithstanding that as their music style changed, there might be less of a need for a flugelhorn, and thus less of a need for flugelhorn player Snooky young. By the time their 5th album, The Royal Scam was released, the hierarchy of Fagan, Becker, and Katz was firmly in place, but also beginning to strain. Though it would be a year before the world would hear their 6th album, that year took forever – at least for me.

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The Album…

We all know what it’s like to anticipate an album release. In the pre-internet, non-digital music days of my teens, this was the first album I remember truly waiting for. All we had in 1977 was teasers from Rolling Stone magazine, word of mouth from friends, and hints from DJs to tell us when a new album might be out. The buildup for Steely Dan’s 6th album was overwhelming – by design. When Aja was finally released in 1977, I was at Peaches Records & Tapes before anyone that day.   I took my fresh copy directly home and listened to both sides over and over for a couple of days on the Marantz stereo of my teens.

From the first track, Black Cow, I realized this album was distinct from any of their previous albums. It was large. Though they had always been a jazz influenced project, I never considered Steely Dan anything other than rock & roll. In hindsight so many years later, I consider Aja the first jazz album I ever owned.

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This was Steely Dan’s best album – period. Aja was made when producer Katz still had some say and control over the rotating players of the project that Fagan and Becker abused in process. Aja was Fagan’s vision, but it was to be was Katz’ finest work as producer. From beginning to end, there’s not a single bad track:

Black Cow

Aja

Deacon Blues

Peg Home at Last

I Got the News

Josie

No matter where my tastes in music have drifted through the years; punk rock, country, Americana, the paisley underground, blues, and jazz, Aja has been a constant, and has never been out of my rotation. I have owned Aja on vinyl 3 times, on cassette, on CD, and now I stream it digitally on a regular basis. Though the delivery system has changed through the years, the effect has not.

Listening to the song Deacon Blues frames my mind in the same way sitting on a jetty and staring the ocean’s vague horizon does. Time slows down. I relax. I breathe more deeply, and forget all things but the moment. Listening to the song Aja after a long day is like the first glass of wine before dinner; it subdues the monkeys perpetrating lesser thoughts in my head.

The Memory…

All these years later when I think of the 70s as a collective, I don’t default the image of a powder blue Volkswagen Bug with bold flower stickers all over it, Richard Nixon, The Godfather, images of Vietnam, hot pants, women’s lib, or even the Rolling Stones. When I think of the 70s, I think first of Aja, its album cover, the arrangements and the artistry it contains. I think of driving my Ford Fairlane to the edge of town alone on a Friday night, turning my Pioneer Super Tuner to 11, and laying on the hood — transporting my soul to a place I can’t fully define.

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If the fingerprints of my past are responsible for the all marks that have made my soul so scuffed and leathered through the years, being touched by Aja gives that soul a smooth feel and a golden tone – if only for an hour. Be well… rc

please take a moment to scroll up and honestly rate this.  thank you

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Please check back in a few weeks to see what happens when I hit the STOP button on the blender in my head.  Oh, and there’s this from Steely Dan’s album Pretzel Logic.  Enjoy!

Gimmie back my playlists!!!

Home is where the lyrics are…

Listening to, and appreciating music has been at the front of my existence since I was young.  I bought my first record, Harry Chapin’s, Taxi, when I was in the 3rd grade.  I was captured by the movie in my head.  I have been buying and listening to music of all kinds ever since.  I have often thought of music as my home.

Through adolescence, well into my adult life, I have always apportioned some percentage of my weekly wages, and directed them to the local record shops.  This had been how I collected music over time; 1-2 albums, 1-2 times per month.  I would dream about having a collection so vast, I would have instant access to any music I wanted to hear.

We live in an amazing age… 

In this era, electronic media and music sharing services have evolved, and platforms like iTunes and Spotify exist.  My life-long dream of instant access to all things music has been fulfilled.  Unlike cataloging records, cassettes, and subsequently CDs, tracking electronic music has required more structure due to the high volume of music available.  Playlists were born. 

My Spotify playlists were several years in the making, and ongoing creations.  They involved thousands of songs from many genres of music.  They represented the musical genres I have been most fond of including the Paisley Underground, Alternative Country, Blues, Traditional Country, Punk, Classic Rock, Bluegrass, and more. 

Of them all, my favorite playlist was titled, Old, Odd, And New.  It was an amalgam of alternative country, paisley underground, some Scandinavian hard rock, and a lot American garage rock from the mid-west and the east coast.  The primary theme of this playlist was that it contained songs with filthy guitar sounds, raspy voices, and consisted of songs created largely by artists who never had much success.  This playlist was the soundtrack of my recent life – it felt like home.

 Technical difficulties…

It may sound trite to compare the loss of music playlists from an electronic medium to the death of a loved one, but I’m about to do that.  Several weeks ago I woke one morning, turned on my Spotify browser, and attempted to queue up the playlist I named, Morning Start.  It was 800 songs or so, and was the music which lured me through my morning rituals of showering, making coffee, letting the dog out, checking email, and prepping for the day ahead. 

As I attempted to navigate my browser, it looked noticeably different – all my playlists were gone.  My Spotify browser had the look of an application just downloaded; a factory reset kind of look.  Morning Start was no longer there.  My stomach sank.

It felt like I was looking into my child’s bedroom, only to see the child missing from the bed – as though he had been kidnapped. ..

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Trying not to let my emotions get the best of me, I followed a progression of logical steps required when dealing with technical snafus.  I restarted my computer.  That didn’t help.  I uninstalled the Spotify program, and subsequently reinstalled it.  That didn’t help.  I began searching youtube and internet message boards to see if others had suffered similar afflictions, and to learn how they resolved the issue.  I had no luck there. 

Finally, I contacted Spotify for help.  I received only this simple statement several hours later:

“We are not able to explain why your playlists disappeared.   Short of the steps you have already taken, we have no suggestions for you.  We are sorry for your difficulties.”

Spotify 

My loved ones were gone.  I was sad, depressed, and very emotional for days after my loss. 

Humpty Dumpty, three chords, and the truth…

My playlists were art in continuum.  They were sculpted by me, malleable and always changing.  They were organic, and well represented the changes in my recent life.  Several days after they disappeared, I came to accept there would be no ransom payment, no search party, and no beautiful conclusion – they would never be seen again.  Closure. 

Each day, after I accepted said closure, and as spare time would permit, I attempted to begin the process of reconstructing those playlists.  With each attempt though, came an increasing realization that my playlists could never be reconstructed – no more than a lost loved one could be brought back to life.  It was time to let go and move on.

Home where the heart is… 

Two-thousand miles and several weeks removed from the playlist crime scene, I found myself in Chicago for the event of a lifetime.

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My daughter’s mother and I had just attended our child’s college graduation.  It was early on a Sunday, and before most people walked into church that day, her mother and I had watched our daughter walk, along with 3,000 other students, into the next phase of their lives.  By 10:00am commencement was completed, and the three of us were in a taxi headed back to our riverfront hotel. 

I was on one side of the bench seat in back of the taxi, my daughter on the other side, with her mother in-between us.  Shortly after we entered the cab, I looked over to see my exhausted daughter laying her head on her mother’s shoulder.  In that sweet moment, I knew at that my daughter was home.  She was at peace, in her happy place, resting comfortably on the one shoulder she knew would always be there for her.  It was music to my eyes. 

Playlists be damned, nothing else will matter to me more than that sight so long as I live.  In that pure, perfect moment, I realized how insignificant any material object is.  I also realized just how very significant family love is.  The love of a momma, the love of a daughter, and the man who sees them both with awe and with great appreciation; we were captured by the music of the moment, and we were all home.

The living versus the idea…

A child too, is art in continuum.  She was sculpted by me, by her mother, by her circumstances and environment, and by her own free will.  Malleable and always changing, she is organic, and well represents that which helped sculpt her.   

She is a playlist of another kind.  Unlike my silly music playlists, my daughter is the product of love, not of a need to fill a void of entertainment.  She represents the genres of joy, intelligence, happiness, love, humor, and many others.  Seeing the look on her face, as her cheek rest on her mother’s shoulder is all the music I will ever need.  Sometimes music is to be seen, and not heard…  Be well.  rc

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Please check back in two weeks to see what happens when I push the “stop” button on the blender in my head.  Oh, and there’s this from Townes Van Zandt.  Enjoy….

Music to my nerves…

I wrote this a couple of months back as a guest blog for Tamara at http://www.fitknitchick.com

I have been contemplating heavily in recent weeks about the idea of exercise being a physical form of music which offers parallel sensations and benefits.

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Music to my nerves…

I practice strength training for a multitude of reasons, not the least of which is that the connection it fosters between the thinking me, and the physical me can be as soothing and as formative in my life as music has been. In that sense, the act of strength training is music – physical music.

The body in motion, acting as directed by the mind, cooperatively though under stress, is a kinetic ensemble which can blend to create a satisfying result. That kind of ensemble movement can be to feeling, what an ensemble of sounds can be to hearing.

“Music has the power of wings.” Mike Scott, of The Waterboys

“Music has the power of wings.” Mike Scott, of The Waterboys

Being strong is a good problem to have…

The utility of strength training in the modern era is unequalled as a form of exercise.  That is just my opinion.  However, as a person who has taught exercise beyond traditional strength training, and as an athlete who over a lifetime has practiced and participated in many more genres of sport and fitness, I believe my opinion is worth your consideration.

It may be called strength training, but practiced properly its value extends far beyond strength.

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Sticks and stones…

There is no type of medicine that can reverse the inevitable loss of bone density which occurs in people beyond middle age.  There are some relatively benign medications which can slow down the loss of bones density, and a couple of more harsh medications that can cease it.  None of these medications though, can be taken without inherent vulnerabilities disclosed elsewhere.

The regular practice of strength training can slow down the onset of bone density loss in all ages.  So long as the strength training is practiced properly, it comes with almost no vulnerabilities.  Tension on muscles equals tension on bones, and regular tension on bones is what helps slow down the loss of density.

Love me tendon…

Strength training makes muscles stronger.  And trees are made out of wood.  What goes largely unrecognized with strength training, and largely unappreciated, is that strength training can promote tendon strength as well. Tendons are where muscles taper, become increasingly dense, and fuse muscles to bone – just above and just below our joints.

Having stronger tendons offers our joints greater support. For those who experience difficulty with joints due to injuries, arthritis, or other damage, having stronger tendons on each side of the joint can offer needed support.

The practice of traditional strength training, using lighter to more moderate weights, performed slowly, and through a complete range of motion will help tendons become stronger. The support increased tendon strength offers those with trouble joints can be summed up in one word; confidence.

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In transition…

Of all the values associated with strength training, the one that goes the most unappreciated, underrated, and the one which is rarely maximized by the general fitness population, is the transition phase during the lift.

When one transitions from the eccentric phase of a strength movement, to the concentric phase, and maintains absolute control of the weight during this transition, as he applies complete concentration to the muscles involved, true strength is developed.  This is the kind of strength that generates confidence as much as it generates power – everyday life kind of strength.

Strength gained from mastering the transition phase of a resistance exercise is most applicable to one’s daily life – much more so than the bragging rights associated with how much weight was on the bar.  This can be where mommy strength is created, where the might of a daddy is developed, and where the power of the employee can be cultivated.  This is the kind of strength one will appreciate possessing – beyond the gym walls.

(an example of a seamless transition in a strength exercise)

Beyond pop: melody, lyrics, and structure…

A pop song is often underappreciated – just something to be heard as background noise or to pass the time.  However, there is much more behind a pop song than most people will ever recognize or appreciate.  There are benefits to a pop song far beyond superficial entertainment.  When one extracts the multitude of values contained in a pop song; the lyrics, the intentions, and the energy, and applies those values to their own frame of mind, a person’s world can be changed for the better.

Traditional strength training is often considered to be superficial, like a pop song.  Lifting weights equals bigger muscles, and more strength – big deal.

Like music though, strength training can offer much more when accepted on a more visceral level.  When one extracts the multitude of values, and better understands the reaching benefits of strength training, a person’s world can be changed for the better.

Of course the benefits of strength training don’t end there.  With regular strength training, one’s blood pressure can be reduced, attention spans can be increased, and mental acuity can be heightened. Strength training can promote better balance, enhance flexibility, and of course, improve our appearance.

Of course all of that should be music to everyone’s ears. Be well… rc

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Please check back in 2 weeks to see what happens when I push the “stop” button on the blender in my head.  Oh, and there is this from The Cure, my favorite pop song — EVER!  Enjoy…

 

Been; gone too long…

Originally written in August of 2010.  Wishing you all peace this day…. ________________________________________________

Been; Gone Too Long

My life has been shaped almost exclusively by physical culture and by music.  Often these two paths intersect, but rarely do they weave together.   Physical culture and music are both deeply rooted in passion.  I will suggest that people who might have an interest in both, often choose one over the other since passion can rarely be divided.  Although I love music very much, when I felt I had to choose between the vintage Gretsch drum kit in my childhood basement, and the weight-set on the other side of the room, the weight-set won and my passion had an outlet that has served me far better than those drums would have.

Still, I greatly admire music and musicians; songwriters in particular.  In an inverse way, music has influenced my perspective on physical culture more than physical culture itself has.  Back in the 1970s and 80s while many of my bodybuilding friends were influenced by other bodybuilders, my workout life was more influenced by song lyrics, intensity in music, as well as the writers, pickers, drummers, and bass players who brought those songs to life.  Earlier this week we lost one – a bass player that is.  Michael Been of the band, The Call died of a heart-attack while mixing and engineering the sound for a concert of his son’s band, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club.

Though The Call is known more as an 80’s keyboard kind of band, Michael Been’s lyrics were as important to me as oxygen and water, and when I needed them most.  Been’s songs were an undiscovered gold mine of hope for me.  Been managed to write the Golden Rule into almost every song, yet they were seamlessly non-preachy.  His lyrics have both reflected, and influenced my life in ways which have often seemed divine to me – literally.   

During the years after my divorce, I would of often find myself sitting by the ocean’s edge and reading the printed lyrics of Been’s songs as I listened to them simultaneously on my MP3 player.  It was a church with plenty of hope and no expectations.   I was repeatedly astonished at how much richness lay beneath the surface of what appeared to be simple pop songs.  I often wondered if he was writing to me, about me, to god, about god, and how he could have known both god and I so well.

In my post-divorce years Been’s lyrics taught me mindfulness above all else; a much needed lesson for me at that time.  The Call was never classified as Christian band.  This was good since I was never classified as a Christian listener.  Still, when one seeks to extract wisdom from lyrics, there are obvious themes relating to the good side of the Christian faith – the side that suggests that though we may often feel all is lost, there is hope if we are simply good to people.

Been was 60 years old when he died.

There are many things which sadden me about Been’s death.  One is that I have found no report of his death from any major news source.  A sad reminder that a man who had so much to offer the world, was largely unknown by it.  Unfortunately The Call’s best work is not available on iTunes, and only scarcely available on youtube in the form of some choppy videos with bad sound. 

If you don’t know The Call, I suggest buying the CDs Red Moon, Let The Day Begin, Modern Romans, and Been’s solo album, On The Verge Of A Nervous Breakthrough.  Through his body of work one can’t help but appreciate the evolution of this man’s heart and soul through the decades.

If I could work in Santa Clause time this evening I would crawl down every chimney in America with a copy of Red Moon, that the nation might be a better place for all the wisdom in its content.  This time two years ago it was David Foster Wallace.  This week it was Michael Been. The two most influential persons in my adult life are now gone.  Mark Cohen, you are number three; please take care of yourself.  Be well.  rc

In Theory…

My Three Theories

I call it Rachel Theory, and I began developing it in the 8th grade.  Simply put, Rachel Theory suggests that there’s no such thing as an ugly Rachel.  I’m 50 years old and to this day I have yet to lay eyes on a Rachel who isn’t beautiful, or at least pretty.  I have not completed my work on this area yet, and likely will not have a conclusion until I draw my final breath.  So far though, my work on Rachel Theory seems solid.

Kitten Theory.  Kitten Theory is more complicated.  I suggest that if I engage in conversation with a woman I have not previously met, and within the initial moments of the conversation I flippantly refer to her as, Kitten, I will win her favor immediately.  I know this is counterintuitive, but it works.   The woman in question realizes that pronouncement is over the top and tries to be offended by it, but she just can’t be.  She’s arrested by the immediacy of it.  Add to that, who doesn’t love to look at, hold kittens, and appreciate the cuteness of a kitten…?   In an instant she will be associating herself with soft fuzzy cuteness.  From there, I will simply be my charming self and all will be good.  Again, my work here is not complete, but thus far Kitten Theory has yielded good results.

My favorite self-derived theory though, is Chili Theory.  Like Rachel Theory, Chili Theory is simple; there’s no such thing as bad chili, only different levels of good.  Of the healthy items I produce on a regular basis, my chili most resembles jazz or the blues.  Every single performance is different, and improvisation is the key.  So far, Chili Theory is holding up well.  The next bad batch of chili I make will be my first.

Constantly Testing The Theory

I make a pot of chili every other Tuesday.  Always slow cooked in a Crock Pot, always more meat than beans, and after my first taste it always makes me shout the word, Grrrdiggity.  Not a real word.  The music of my chili is classified in the genre of healthy eating – sometimes jazz based, sometimes blues based, but always organic in arrangement and unique.  I’m the producer, and I select the session players, but for the most part, I just assemble them and allow them to just do their thing.  One Crock Pot of chili kept in the refrigerator will supply a daily dose of taste bud music for about two weeks.

I made a simple pot of chili this week because I had little to work with in the ways of players and production time.  Still, this week’s chili has become an instant hit for me.  I’ve don’t offer recipes on this platform because that’s not what this fitness blog is about.  However, this week I’m going to share the chili that is currently climbing the charts and will likely end up in my chili hall of fame.  Like the music of Seasick Steve, it comes from simple stuff.

The Players

  • Two bounds of grass fed, steroid and antibiotic free ground beef
  • Twelve roasted chipotle chilies
  • Two cans of diced green chilies (normally I use fresh but limited time this week)
  • One can of black beans rinsed in a colander
  • One can of cannellini beans rinsed in a colander
  • Ten vine ripened tomatoes sliced in fourths
  • One white onion finely diced
  • Unidentified secret spices; you can choose your own (hint: one of them rhymes with rinnamon)

The Arrangement And The Playbacks

Put all the players in the Crock Pot, turn the volume to high, walk away and enjoy the scent of the concert.  Smell the music for about 8 hours or so and occasionally offer some production by stirring the players up – they love that.  This music will give to the nose first, but on completion, 4 large tablespoons at a time, this music will give to the taste buds every day for up to two weeks.

How is it, you ask, that just four tablespoons of chili are able to sustain one as a meal…?  Out there as this may sound, I serve it to myself over piles of steamed vegetables.  Usually over steamed broccoli, sometimes steamed Brussels sprouts, or steamed zucchini – occasionally a blend of all of the aforementioned.  Chili over vegetables you ask…?  Yes!

Okay, here’s the punch line; I eat this for breakfast.  Yes I, Roy Jhciacb Cohen, have eaten chili over steamed vegetables for breakfast nearly every day for two months.  What a great way to start the day; a right mix of protein, carbohydrate, and vegetables.  A breakfast without veggies is like a song without a bass – pointless.  My morning chili over veggies sustains me for hours.

Sometimes it’s a beef based chili.  Other times it’s turkey, chicken, or even bison which provide the back beat.  For time’s sake, the meat I use is usualy ground.  When time permits, I prefer it shredded or in chunks.  The session players change from week to week, and no two sessions are ever the same.  Next week, it’s going to be ground lamb and garbanzo beans, some Bearss limes fresh off the tree, and whoever else shoes up for the jam.   But it’s not jam, it’s chili – breakfast chili.  Be well.  rc

Please check back in two weeks to see what comes out when I push the “stop” button on the blender inside my head.  Oh, and there is this from Seasick Steve.  From such simple ingrediants…  Enjoy!

Fool For A Pretty Face…

When They’re Hot They’re Hot

My head turns too easily when I see them these days.  At this stage of middle age, I’m beyond the point of being able to control it.  I fall, if only for a moment, with every single one I look at.  The blonde ones, the ones with red on top, even the black ones.  I love the auburn ones.  If they’re bejeweled a bit with the shimmer of shining metal against their faces or along their necks, they steel my eyes more quickly.  The contrast of silver up against the faces of the black ones is striking.  I love the look of gold on the neck of a blonde.

I like when they have curves too, and I don’t mind admitting that.  The curves are what I notice first, even before I see their faces.  Not that I have anything against the thin ones with nice angles and clean lines.  I want to caress them.  I don’t want to hurt them, just hold them – to let my hands enjoy their bodies while my eyes appreciate their faces.  Natural selection made me this way.

When I hold one in my arms, I soon have an impulse to impose my will on her.  Sometimes gently, other times I imagine hardcore play.  I even desire to throw them around a bit.  It can be rough and still not be hurtful you know – still filled with love, appreciation, and pleasure.  There are times I fantasize of striking them just so I can hear them scream or weep.

I like the idea of owning them; mine to enjoy whenever I want, or to lock up when the mood no longer suits me.  My decreasing morality suggests I could never be with just one.  The thought of having a different one for every day of the week makes my heart race.  Still, I resist the idea of having too many because I know they deserve better than me.

No Dedication For Old Man

Sure, I can navigate through a few chords, but I can’t do much with them.  That’s okay, just seeing a guitar and holding it in my hands sooths me.  Despite that I have owned and sold many guitars in my life, I can scarcely play a lick.  I’m just an unworthy man who appreciates that kind of company.  I enjoy looking at and holding guitars almost as much as I enjoy listening to them – even if I can’t play.

Though I have never had the discipline to learn to play one, I have always had a supreme appreciation for the art of guitars; how they sound and how they look.  I know I’ll never really play the guitar and I’m okay with that.  My priorities are elsewhere, writing, cycling, and my weightroom to name a few.  There is only so much time in the week.  However, just knowing guitars exist offers much richness to my life.

Curves that make my heart race...

Curves that make my heart race…

Bowing Down To The Art And The Beauty

One thing I can do, that I always do, is to honor those who play so well.  I listen to guitar music every day of my life.  A variety of styles and genres to be sure, but listening to a guitar is as central to my life as exercise and writing.  I currently own two guitars, and I hold them just about every day.  I squeeze out a chord here and there, but Stroodle shrugs, hides, and I desist in favor of the real artists.  If I never release a decent note from a guitar I hold it’s not a waste.  It’s just nice to hold them and appreciate their aesthetic and their touch.  Music, I often say, is like sex and pizza, there’s no such thing as bad, only different levels of good, even the butchered music I attempt.

Ghosts And Inspirations

What I really appreciate about the guitar though, are the marks they have left on my soul by the thousands of players I have heard since I bought my first record, Harry Chapin’s, Taxi when I was in the 3rd grade.  I owe a lot of people a lot of gratitude for the ways in which they have enriched my life; my daughter, parents, brother, and friends.  In my day to day though, I often feel like I owe the most to the artists and the ghosts who have soothed my soul through the years by creating the soundtrack of my life.

I can’t imagine a life without guitars, and am grateful for the women and men who have played them so sweetly.  Without those musical brush strokes through the years, the canvas of my soul would display a more bleak picture.  When life gets rough, I turn to exercise or writing to feel better.  Just as often, I turn to the precious art of guitars. The power of music has wings.  The sound of a guitar is where fingertip athleticism intermingles with inner poetry to form a beautiful conclusion.  That they look as beautiful as they sound is the cherry on top.  Be well.

Though I have heard thousands of guitar solos in my life, many intricate and complex beyond comprehension, not one has touched me more than this brief and mild work of Sonny Landreth.  Please take time to view the video below, listen, feel, and enjoy…

It’s Not Momentum, It’s Cheating…

In preparation of this weekend’s column, I give you a message from Fitness Trainer, Hank Williams Sr.    More this weekend.  Oh, and if you want a hint, check out the tags at the bottom…

Your cheatin’ heart will make you weep
You’ll cry and cry and try to sleep
but sleep won’t come the whole night through
Your cheatin’ heart will tell on you

When tears come down like fallin’ rain
you’ll toss around and call my name
You’re gonna walk that floor the way I do
Your cheatin’ heart will tell on you

Your cheatin’ heart will pine some day ,
And crave the love,you threw away.
The time will come when you’ll be blue,
Your cheatin’ heart will tell on you.

When tears come down like fallin’ rain
you’ll toss around and call my name
You’re gonna walk that floor the way I do
Your cheatin’ heart will tell on you
Your cheatin’ heart will tell on you”