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Finding Stepping Stones Across the River

Stepping stones for life's balancing act

Stepping stones for life’s balancing act

This year my birthday falls on Black Friday which somehow cheapens the experience into a 50% off or 2-for-1 deal.
As far as milestones go I’m turning 65, a cross road where most of someone’s life comes together or should. The big retrospection and the choices and options for the future. The point where the inevitable decline of the body’s physical abilities meets it mental acceptance.

Somehow I have arrived at the intersection of who I once wanted to be and the one I have become. A man who struggles and triumphs (luctor et emergo), a man who doubts and searches, who gains insight and sometimes feels like crying for a world that has lost its direction once again. A man who fakes fights with his past while nourishing the unfulfilled dreams. A man who had his heart broken by some, just to have it glued back together by others. The sum of a life that saw pendulums shifting direction as often as politicians break their promises. And in that spectrum of life’s possible outcomes, I found virtue between the extremes of excess and deficiency.

I’ve learned that many things are the way they are. If I leave an open can of beer on the counter, it’s going to go flat. It doesn’t matter what I or anyone else thinks about it. Step off the curb at the wrong time, and a crosstown bus will flatten you. No point in arguing with it. That is objective reality. That’s just the way it is.

I have also learned that reality doesn’t correspond to what the crowd thinks or what it wants. I have found that ‘something for nothing’ is a sadly misguiding human survival incentive and I have learned that what people expect almost never comes into existence; at least not in the projected timeline. And then there are things that exist because we just think (perceive) they do, without ever looking for objective proof. Religion calls it dogmatic acceptance.

Many subjective realities around us are perceptions, much like government, wealth without worry, religion, institutionalized education. None of them disperses warranties. I have learned that I can only guess how much upside or downside there is left in every swing of the pendulum, but I am now officially old enough to know that when thoughts and actions consciously focus on the positive, you will change the world. I’ve also learned that the secret of happiness is not something you feel, it’s something you do.

Therefore I am now much more than the sum of my regrets or accomplishments. My mind’s hard drive was formatted by the seventies, but my heart always stayed a child of the sixties. Without regret I report that it took me 45 years to learn and accept that when you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change. And yes I have often wished that I didn’t know now what I didn’t know then, but really it doesn’t matter, because I have also learned that the heart always has the last word.

The heart has the last word

The heart has the last word

So when I awake tomorrow morning, life will look me in the eyes with a faint mysterious smile around her lips, as she knows where I came from and senses where I’m going to.

“Surrender”, she will whisper seductively yet stern. “Follow me. I need men on my path. Men without labels; men who are not solely fed by materialism and hunger for power, men devoid of the narcissistic need for recognition and admiration. Real men, whose successes I have quietly shared and who I embraced in their deepest failures.”

“I will touch your courage when you cross your river at this 65th bend and surprise you with new horizons. And then, hopefully years from now, when you’re finally done exploring the mysteries of life, you’ll know the exact place where you will bloom for the last time in rich colors and scents and you will measure your life’s meaning only with what you had to give up to get there. And only then will you know for certain if you made a difference.”

Last Night Your Shadow Fell Upon My Lonely Room

Webb Wilder: guitarist,singer,songwriter

Webb Wilder: guitarist, singer, songwriter

“Last night your shadow fell upon my lonely room
I touched your golden hair and tasted your perfume
Your eyes were filled with love the way they used to be…”

Oh where to start this story that takes me back to 1967, but isn’t really about me, or child hood memories. When someone sends me a press release to consider for Searchamelia, I usually go a bit further and research backgrounds of the story and a clearer all around picture about the message in the release.

So a couple of days ago I got a release in my inbox from island resident Michael Rothschild, mostly known locally because of his involvement with the Amelia Island Jazz Festival. Michael also has a record company he started in 1981 in Atlanta GA, Landslide Records, and since those early days he has made it his life’s work to scout and produce amazing and promising talent, mostly in his favorite arenas of blues, jazz and americana. He stood at the crib of quite a few genre greats such as Bruce Hampton, Tinsley Ellis, Sean Costello, Derek Trucks, Widespread Panic and others.

So when he sent me the following press release about Webb Wilder, I have to admit that I had no idea who he was talking about, but armed with this past experience I went on a hunt for more information. Needless to say the rest of my morning was gone. It was foremost revealing to find that Michael’s greatest music industry pet peeve is, that there’s no radio format here in the US that covers music which falls between the cracks.

My childhood friend Jack Bruning, who in the sixties was a hit DJ for Radio Luxembourg, often complained about the same, as we explored programming concepts such as the Dream Machine. It reminded me that success in popular arts; whether music, movies or painting and writing, was and has always been largely depended on exposure in the right places at the right times, preferably with a mass market appeal.

And honestly this is not a country specific phenomenon. In the Netherlands where I grew up, you had to be in Amsterdam or the Hague in the late 1960s to have any shot at stardom. The Beatles would have never found the spotlight if not for the affiliation with the Reeperbahn in Hamburg, followed by exposure in London’s Soho district. If you were Bob Dylan or Joni Mitchell you had to be in the New York Village in the early sixties, just as country stars even today head to Nashville and the love generation musicians found themselves in Haight Ashbury San Francisco.

My friend Joe Bonamassa moved from New York to LA more than 10 years ago and found the right audience to propel him from an amazing guitarist into a world-famous guitar player; Stevie Ray Vaughan, who sadly passed away exactly 25 years ago today (8/27) went to Europe to find recognition for the giant he was on guitar; the same goes for Jimi Hendrix, who made $100 a week as guitarist for the Isley Brothers in New York, but once discovered in London’s Hotspot Soho in 1966, he never looked back and became the highest paid performer at the Woodstock Festival.

My friend Chris Kellam, who fronts Jacksonville’s hard rock bank Blistur on lead guitar and vocals, deserves a global spotlight, but would only get the proper attention if he moved to LA. With wife, daughter, family and friends in Northeast Florida however that’s a hard choice to make, so consequently a lot of his talent unfortunately falls between the cracks of stardom.

Music that falls between the cracks.

Michael Rothschild promotes music and talent that has a propensity to fall between the cracks. I don’t think it was a conscious career choice, but it just turned out that way. A handful of years ago he let me in on a secret called Sean Costello . Since that introduction, I have collected every album Costello put out in his tragically short life. Simply amazing!

Experiencing a same vibe of recognition with this press release, I set out to find more information on Webb Wilder and it did not disappoint me. Rather Webb Wilder strikes me as another greatly underrated music performer who spent a lifetime in the trenches of music, never gaining a tracking momentum outside of the chitlin circuits, yet always hoping for the lucky break. Because that’s what it is, a lucky break, hardly ever related to talent, but almost always directly related to the right time and the right place.

While tackling Webb Wilder’s youTube presence I immediately recognized 2 songs that my band the Surgeons featured in our repertoire line up in 1967: ‘Baby Please Don’t Go’, a 19th century blues tune from the Mississippi delta, brought to Europe and the world by then 19 year old Van Morrison as frontman of the Irish blues-rock band Them, and a garage band front-runner of the psychedelic era titled ‘I had too much to dream last night’ by the Electric Prunes. And that’s when I lost a couple of hours reminiscing the sixties, when rock, blues-rock and beat were still new and later superstars were still learning to master their instruments.

Guitar God Jimmy Page, who later starred in Led Zeppelin, was reportedly the session guitarist on Them’s ‘Baby Please Don’t Go’ and “I had too much to dream” was recorded at Leon Russell’s house on a 4-track machine.
Kudos to Webb Wilder for bringing these cherished memories back to me and especially for the quality of his voice and guitar playing. I had fun spending a couple of hours back in 1967 and I will make an effort to attend his new album release party on September 25 in Nashville, TN when we’re visiting our old friends Ric and Kay Ronveaux who moved there 6 months ago from Amelia Island.

BABY PLEASE DON’T GO

Press Release

Webb Wilder IS Mississippi Moderne on New CD Coming September 25 from Landslide Records

NASHVILLE, TN – Landslide Records is proud to announce a September 25th release date for Mississippi Moderne, the all new album from veteran roots rocker, Webb Wilder. A 2011 inductee into the Mississippi Musicians Hall Of Fame, Wilder has crafted a lively recording that pays homage to his home state through a striking set of originals, coupled with distinctive cover renditions that stretch from tunes by the Kinks to Charlie Rich and Jimmy Reed. Given superb backing from his highly accomplished and longtime bandmates, the Beatnecks (Tom Comet, bass, Bob Williams, guitar, and Jimmy Lester, drums), Mississippi Moderne captures the full flavor of Wilder’s raucous style, based on his singular baritone vocal delivery, solid guitar, a tight, punchy rhythmic foundation and some surprising touches of the heart added in as well.

Tracked at Studio 19 (originally Scotty Moore’s Music City Recorders) in Nashville and produced by Wilder, Tom Comet, Bob Williams and Joe McMahan, Mississippi Moderne represents the first new Webb Wilder album since 2009, and it shows that the man has, without question, furthered his charismatic singing style while maintaining a strong group of musicians who are well-schooled in cranking out Wilder’s unique brand of energized rock and roll music. The package also showcases Wilder’s compelling ability to write catchy melodies and lyrics, either on his own or with notable co-writers Dan Penn, John Hadley and Patrick Sweany.

The Hattiesburg, Mississippi native first hit nationally in 1986 with the now iconic classic, ‘It Came from Nashville’, and ever since he has confounded a slew of fans and critics attempting to define and categorize his style. As 20th Century Guitar Magazine noted, Wilder is “a master at scrambling the sounds, songs and threads of country, blues, British rock, rockabilly, and the freedom and emotion of soul music.”

Wilder has always described his sound as simply “a roots band for rock fans and a rock band for roots fans. On Mississippi Moderne, we’ve kept some of our trademark craziness, but there’s also a lot of roots solidity and some balladry to boot.”
To celebrate Mississippi Moderne, Webb Wilder and the Beatnecks will appear in Nashville on September 25th for a CD release party at the Basement East. On September 30 in Franklin, Tennessee, Webb will perform as part of a Music City Roots Benefit Concert for Tommy Womack that also includes Jason & the Scorchers, Todd Snider and Will Kimbrough & Friends at the Factory (www.musiccityroots.com).

And on September 28 at 7:00 PM Central Time, Webb will be the featured interview guest on the Roots Radio Hour, streaming live on the Music City Roots app and WHPY 94.5 Hippie Radio (www.hippieradio945.com).
In addition, a full slate of bookings in the United States and overseas will follow that feature Webb Wilder in both a solo setting (including shows as special guest for Dave & Phil Alvin) as well as full-out band shows with the dynamic Beatnecks.

For more information, visit www.landsliderecords.com and www.webbwilder.com.

I HAD TOO MUCH TO DREAM LAST NIGHT

Why is Capitalism So Misunderstood?

Zombie workzoneThere is a strong and growing misunderstanding about Capitalism, both in structure and application.
Capitalism is not a “system” like democracy or a chemical reaction. It is not something that anyone designed in particular. And it is not something that can be consciously improved or retrograded for that purpose .

Capitalism is – or should be – the result of free markets, including the insights, work, gambles, and composite luck of millions of people all over the planet.

You want to improve it?
You might just as well try to “improve” the price of Walmart shares or of a pound of potatoes.

Capitalism is not a system that you can take or leave, or take some parts of and leave the others untouched, thereby making it more suited to your needs. It is not created, nor did it evolve.
Capitalism is just what you get when you respect the rules of civilization.

Don’t kill. Don’t steal. Don’t bear false witness. Nothing else much matters, so I haven’t taken the trouble to think about them too much, because Jesus condensed these three rules into two big ones when he gave his Sermon on the Mount: “Love God. Love and respect thy neighbor.” Even though I’m not much of a Jesus promotor, I think he was pretty spot on with this.

The Jewish scholar Hillel the Elder later put it in terms a child could understand: If you would not want someone to do it to you, then don’t do it to someone else. This is obviously transferable into any action or thought you can come up with.
All the rest is detail. You can’t love thy neighbor and steal his stuff. If you follow that rule, capitalism is what you’ve got. There is no way to improve it, in spite of all the claims of those who plan to rob you blind. Those are the zombie parts of the human race, always ready to find wrong in the details, so they set out to correct what otherwise comes natural.

I can bring up a thousand examples of this behavior, but prefer to show you our future as it develops right in front of our eyes.
My example here is Uber, the transportation sharing online company, but could easily be Bitcoin, AirBnB, Roomorama or any online development that innovates the sharing economy as a natural progression of capitalism at work.

So along come some clever people with a good idea – a “ride-sharing” app called Uber.
You find a ride easily. Rider and driver are tracked by Uber’s system to provide a quality and reliability trail on both sides.
And it costs a fraction of a regular cab ride.
If customers don’t like the service, they don’t use it.

Simple, right?
Fair? Honest?
Capitalism doesn’t know or care about that. That’s up to buyers and sellers.

Wait! Can we make this system better? Improve on it?
Yes, say the cronies.

How?
Shut it down!

That’s what vote seeking idiots threaten with across the globe. The latest news from Paris says it is illegal to use the Uber app in the City of Lights. Funny that they chose the month of August to impose this, considering that the city is empty in that month, when everyone leaves for the coast. Furthermore….try to enforce this and you’ll have a revolution on your hands.
But in New York, Mayor Bill de Blasio wants to limit the number of new drivers Uber can take on. What a way to boost employment!

And on the campaign trail, Hillary Clinton, champion of zombies and cronies everywhere, is taking aim at the “sharing economy” – in which innovations such as Uber and Airbnb allow folks to share and redistribute excess capacity without any top-down control. She promises to take a “hard look” at it if elected president. The city of Fernandina Beach wants to come down hard on illegal short term vacation rentals. It will take a whole new enforcement agency with a price tag and in the end the city will admit defeat, because online sharing has taken off and will maximize capacity use.

But for now love thy neighbor – as long as he gives you a campaign contribution.

Things You Realize When On Vacation

Pitbul

Allow the experience of a lick on your nose to be pure ecstacy

On one of our daily walks through downtown Charleston a couple of weeks ago, we were welcomed by the shaking tail of a full blooded pit bull sitting next to his owner on a sidewalk bench. This brief but wonderful encounter with Maggie made me somehow think back of the days that the sight of a pit bull in public raised urgency awareness levels to full protection mode usually followed by a frantic search for something that could be used as a defensive weapon. And as with so many things in life you realize that people’s actions are a product of their “promoted” perceptions. Rarely to never are these perceptions the result of actual personal experiences, but almost always have a questionable origin of the multi-layered story-telling of someone who knew someone who’s third cousin’s uncle’s niece had been attacked by a vicious dog…and the government should do something about it!

In a crazy throwback in time it reminded me of the first days I spent on this country’s soil in the summer of 1980, when I came to photograph mega cities for a coffee table book called “METROPOLIS” New York finest “caught” me loaded with equipment taking, a nap in Central Park or entering nightmare neighborhoods in Spanish Harlem, Bedford Stuyvesant, Hells Kitchen or Fort Apache. “You won’t come out alive”, they said. “You’re crazy, you’re playing with your life.”
Seeing Maggie on a touristy street in Charleston, wiggling her tail and smiling at us, reminded me of the friendly welcomes I received in those supposed hell holes. It also reminded me of a story I read a while ago and copied to my desktop for later revisits, whenever I need reconfirmation that the human race still contains positive elements beyond the zombie acceptance of sensationalized crap. I’d like to share that story, credited to either Ashley Gulla or Olivia Maximo here:

WHAT THEY SHOULD HAVE TOLD ME BEFORE I RESCUED MY PIT BULL

They said, “he’s strong, about 67 lbs, and he’s a puller but with some training he’ll be great.”  Okay, I thought.  Easy enough.  But what they should have told me was something entirely different.  What they should have told me was this: This is an adventure. Welcome to the best years of your life.

Where misconceptions, stereotypes and judgments are now personal attacks against not only someone you love dearly but you, yourself.  And how you will feel like it is your personal mission to show the world how his “kind” is completely misunderstood.

Then you will read up on all the facts and statistics about Pit Bulls and realize half of what people believe is completely false or terribly misconstrued.  Like pits having lock-jaw?  False.  Pits are born aggressive.  False.  Pits have stronger jaws than Rottweilers.  False.  Pits don’t make good family pets. FALSE.

Also, in the midst of being accepted into his pack, you will learn what loyalty really means.  You will also know what it feels like to be scared half to death every single time your doorbell rings before explaining to your mailman, “he’s nice, I swear!  Sorry…thanks for the– sorry again.”  Then you both will laugh, well, you will and he will look at you proudly, expecting a treat.

You will also walk with a little extra bounce in your step because this powerful, gentle giant stands beside you.  You will feel a kind of pride you’ve yet to experience because you know you’re not only doing your baby justice but you’re part of the millions who are pleading for the rest of the world to give these amazing creatures a chance.

But sadly, your heart will break every time you hear about a Pit Bull who has landed in the hands of a wrong person or found himself in an awful situation. Whether it was dog fighting or an abusive owner or left tied to a park bench with nothing but a blanket.  Your heart will break because you will come to understand the heart of a Pit Bull.  Your heart will break because you will experience the love they, without question, give and with every tear you cry from hearing these awful stories, you will wish you could end it all.

Then you will feel incredibly grateful.  Because this guy is yours and you are his and that’s something that can’t ever be taken away.  Even if you don’t believe in a God above, this bond will feel like it was magically planned many moons ago, where the stars aligned perfectly and placed you two exactly where you needed to be to find one another.  And you will be so blessed.

You will learn the frustration you feel when he is destroying your kid’s toys or eating food he’s not supposed to or barking when you wish he wouldn’t, fades quickly.  That snuggling has now taken on a whole new meaning called: all over you, all the time, no matter what.  And now you make it a point to never appear to do ANYTHING that could look like you’d be hitting him because seeing him duck his head out of fear hurts.  You will also learn when he’s sticking his big head out your car window to expect 1 of 2 responses – a dirty look or a smile and nod.  You learn you’ll smile in both cases.

Nobody tells you your heart will change.  But it does.  You judge less.  You care more.  You learn how to accept life a heck of a lot better than before.  You learn how to forgive and how to let go and how to live in the moment.

They should have told me I was going to learn how to love better.  That loving this Pit Bull was going to change my whole life.  And that he would make us so so happy!
But chances are I wouldn’t have believed them anyhow.  I guess it was something I had to learn on my own.

A Short But Complicated Exam

The urge to complicate things

The urge to complicate things

The following short exam only has four questions, rather complicated I may add, but the results say a lot about your thinking processes and mental alertness. Be honest and don’t even glance at the answers, before you answer the questions.

Question 1: How would you put a giraffe in the refrigerator?

The correct answer is:

Open the refrigerator’s door, push the giraffe inside and close the door.

This question tests your tendencies to look for complicated solutions for simple tasks

Question 2: How would you put an elephant in the refrigerator?

If you answered: Open the refrigerator, push the elephant in and close the door, than your answer is wrong!

The correct answer is: Open the refrigerator, take the giraffe out, push the elephant in and close the door.

This question focuses on your capacity to consider consequences of previous actions.

Question 3: The King of the jungle, the lion, is throwing a party. All the animals in the jungle are present, except for one. Which animal does not attend the party?

The correct answer is the Elephant.

You do remember that the elephant is still in the refrigerator, don’t you?

Obviously this question was testing for your memory.

OK, if your answers so far are less than satisfying, you have one more chance to proof yourself a capable, intelligent person.

Question 4: You have to cross a deep and wide river where lots of crocodiles live. How are you going to do this?

Correct answer: you swim relaxed and quietly to the other side. You want to know why?
Because all the crocs are attending the lion’s party in the jungle.

This question tests your capacity to learn from previous mistakes.

Note: Don’t be too frustrated. 90% of all people participating in this exam, have all questions wrong.
Interestingly enough however, children that have had no contact with formal education yet, answer most questions correctly.

Have a great Sunday!

Winter Preparedness Tip List

This is how Amelia Island's Beach looked just a couple of days ago.

This is how Amelia Island’s Beach looked just a couple of days ago.

Yes I know, on the first sunny Spring-like day in what seems years down here in Florida, I’m writing this story about winter preparedness. It came as the result of a very recent conversation with our dearest and oldest friends, Ric and Kay, who five weeks ago moved to the outskirts of Nashville to be closer to the kids and grand kids. After 20 years of salt life on Amelia Island, the decision to move had been somewhat painful, but financially and emotionally right as they’re closing in on age 70. They hadn’t seen or experienced snowstorms in decades and were therefore ill prepared for the onslaught of storms that hit their new residence in Tennessee in the past several weeks.

Ric, originally from New York, has spent many decades in the south and Kay, a Georgia Peach, does not know or remember too much either, of what it takes to survive in snow and ice country, so when we learned a couple of weeks ago that they had been side-swiped by an SUV barreling through a red light in a snow storm, a dialog started between Kay and my wife TJ, who had spent the better part of 10 years in Wisconsin, driving a large Fedex truck summer and winter through walls of snow and over icy bridges.

It had taught her winter preparations, some of which Kay had never even heard of. When I saw the initial list TJ sent to Kay the other day, I immediately recognized a quick reference list that everyone not familiar with extreme winter weather conditions could benefit from. No it may not be an exhaustive list, but it’s most definitely a practical list that would help anyone’s survival chances greatly, if caught in a winter storm.

So here is a list of items TJ put together from here experiences up North, to keep in your vehicle when you need to battle the unexpected:

• Chicken grit – For traction if you get stuck in snow or ice. If you get two bags, put one on each side, in the back because it gives more weight for traction while driving.

• 2 – Wool blankets – Walmart has cheap ones

• Flashlight and extra batteries

• Cell phone

• Windshield wiper fluid with de-icer

• Emergency Car Kit – It should have all kinds of things but mainly look for one with flares

• Can of De-Icer

• Ice Scraper

• Always carry coats or windbreakers with you.

• Gloves and earwarmers

• Small crank or battery operated Radio (important)

• Small First Aid Kit

• Beef Jerky, Granola Bars and such that won’t go bad but be some sort of nutrition.
Don’t store liquids to drink, as they will freeze. You will have snow for hydration, so have a couple of plastic cups stored.

• Tire Sealant

• A small camping shovel if you have the space

• Lighters and Stick Matches

• Sterno Can to heat car’s inside if you are stuck inside longer than normal. Look in camping section.

• Rubber boots and extra socks

• Some hand warmers, also can be found in camping area of Walmart

Shadow: One Magnificent Dog

Shadow checking out what's going on inside.

Shadow checking out what’s going on inside.

This is a story about man’s most amazing companion.
We lost our all-time incredible doggie Scootertje almost exactly a year ago and it was a devastating loss. He was only six and cancer took him from us fast and furiously. Many people would ease the pain by quickly finding another companion and that is probably the best way to get over a loss like that. We couldn’t, so instead we decided to sponsor and donate as much as we could to save other animals and slowly rebuilt the courage to get face-to-face involved again. Several dogs in South Africa and the Ukraine received our help, were healed and placed in forever homes. We still get happy updates on how well they’re doing.
But then at the end of 2014 we decided we needed to expand locally and took in a foster dog from the Nassau County Animal Control Humane Society.  On New Year’s Eve the four of us drove over to pick up Amos, a black/white spotted Lab/American Bulldog mix from the pound. He was suffering from skin ailments and was diagnosed with low to moderate heart worm. He had been at the Humane Society since July and desperately needed a temporary home to get him through the invasive heart worm treatment process. At 58 pounds he also needed to get some more “meat” on him.

We bonded instantly at the yard and after some basic instructions from the kennel’s trainer, Amos jumped into the truck and sat prince-like between our two adult sons on the back seat. His friendliness and ease showed us immediately that he had been used to car rides before he came to the shelter.
After one or two mishaps on the first day, we quickly learned his daily routine and no accidents in the house ever since! The shelter named him Amos but after trying multiple names on him (as he paid no attention to the name Amos) we found his name to be Shadow. He answers to this and seemed much happier that we “knew him”.  We wish we knew something about his past because he definitely was loved and cared for at one time.  We also were told that Shadow is 3 years old, but question that assessment as well, because he still has all the makings of a puppy, eager to learn, please and being playful.

We’ve worked with Shadow now for 3 weeks and found this dog to be exceptional in so many ways that we can recommend him to anyone looking for a life companion or family friend. We work from home so yes we have a lot of time to observe and correct, but also to mold his personality, and this sweet dog has tons of it. Honestly we’ve never seen a dog with so many expressions in his face and eyes.

So here is the situation: We are the foster parents to Shadow and we can only foster until February 15th and we would like to find him another foster home or even more preferably a FOREVER home. We would be happy to let you meet him. Since we are just fostering, you will have to adopt him through the Nassau County Animal Services and we will help with that if you so need. Our goal is for him to never go back to the shelter.

shadow 3

Very expressive

We cannot believe someone has not fallen in love with this special, loving, sweet and obedient dog. He is truly amazing and we have had many dogs. The skin rash he had is in the process of clearing that up and its already so much better that our neighbor, who came back from a week cruising was astonished at how good he looks. He also came back NEGATIVE for mange.
He has tested positive for heart worm but it is in the low to moderate stage. He has began receiving antibiotics and will get his first shot soon. FAN is picking up the bill for his heart worm treatments. All you have to do is make the appointments and take him to his vet. His first shot is scheduled for January 26th, which we will take care of. He will have to receive one more shot and should be cured completely, but he will definitely need to receive monthly heart worm prevention medicine as prescribed by the vet. The vet said other than these two issues, he is very healthy and should be fine while being treated. He takes medication just fine, just put it in his dry food and he chows down.

Whoever is lucky enough to adopt him will be getting a healthy dog who is all caught up on all medical and already neutered.

Below are some of our experiences with Shadow.

• He would love to sleep on the furniture but since most of ours is white, that is a no-no in our home. However he is quite happy to lay on his blankie, but he definitely likes to lay on something. He prefers something besides the hardwood floor. A wonderful woman, Debbie, gave us “the cadillac of dog beds” and he loves it dearly. He will even go into his room and put himself to bed. It’s so cute.

• He has never gotten into the garbage. This I find amazing. We have a lid on ours (kitchen) that he could easily knock it off, but has never even tried this. He will occasionally walk by and sniff it, but that’s it.

• He does not dig holes in the yard.

• You can pet and touch him while he is eating and he could care less. He is not protective over his food bowl or toys for that matter.

• For now he will counter surf, so we keep everything pushed to the back or put away. We are working on this with him. He has never seen jumped on the counter though. He is only interested in food that is left within reach on the counter.

• He walks on his leash like a perfect gentleman. Never tugging or pulling. We have on occasion had him off his leash while in the garage and one time he snuck out the door when it did not close correctly but he never tries to bolt or run off. As soon as you call him, he comes back. Actually he doesn’t even try to venture away from the house.

• When eating he wonders what your having but when you tell him to go lay down he will. He never just sits and stares at you while you eat. Most of our previous pets did!

• He did not bark for the first three days he was with us. He now only barks if he sees someone go by the yard, or knocks on the front door and he stops when you tell him to quit.
We can only assume it’s because he now feels at home, comfortable and protective.
He is protective of his people and will give warning barks. Never snarls though.
He oddly understands or feels when someone is not a “dog” person and prefers to have nothing to do with them. I think this is the only dog that can give dirty looks. It is very amusing and everyone gets a chuckle out of it.
There is a barking dog next door, who Shadow cannot see due to the fence, and he has never barked back.

• He has zero fear of fireworks or thunder. He will lift his head to look around, but that’s it. (On New Years Eve there was a lot of fireworks going off on the beach, as we live across the street.)

• He easily walks up and down the stairs, so two-story homes are no problem.

• He is okay with being bathed, not thrilled, but will listen when you tell him to settle down.

• He loves car rides. He is perfect in the car. He likes looking around. He has not tried to poke his head out the window, but that’s not saying he would not if given the chance.

• He does not “mark” every inch of his territory like some dogs. He does his business and pees outside and that’s that.

• Because he initially needed to gain approx. 5 pounds, we have been feeding him 3 cups of vet recommended Purina One food at each feeding. It looks like he’s gained at least 2-3 pounds by now.

• He drinks a lot of water.

• We tried crating him the first two nights and he does not like it, nor is he used to being crated. He is an extremely chill dog and does not bother anything. He has his own room where he sleeps on his bed and is quite happy about that. Frankly however wherever his bed is that’s where he will sleep.

Boy I love the beach!

Boy I love the beach!

• He mainly likes playing with his toys “with you” like tug-o-war. He loves a good chew bone. He thinks small or tennis balls are for eating, so we do not give him those.

• He is the biggest people pleaser we have ever encountered. He is extremely obedient. He wants to be near his people and is happiest laying or sitting close by to his humans. He would be happier in your lap but obviously he is too big for that. However, he likes nothing more than sweetly laying his head in your lap.

• He will occasionally get excited and jump up but stops when you tell him no. Very rare for him to jump on anyone. He has never jumped on the grand children. Also on the occasion when he does jump up, he does it so gently that it does not knock you over. I call him a circus dog. He also loves to give hugs.

• We have three small grand children (five and under) who all love dogs and he is great with them. He patiently lets them pet him, will sniff at them sometimes, but other than that he does not bother them. He realizes they are little and just leaves them be. He seems very aware that they are smaller than him.

• He is walked on the beach daily and when he encounters another dog (big or small) his tail is wagging and he just wants to sniff and say hi. We are taking him to the dog park soon to see how he interacts with other dogs. We do not know how he is around cats.

• He has never once shown any sort of aggression, even when at the vet getting unpleasant things done. Does not even growl. He did whine some poor baby.

• He does not try to be the alfa dog. He is very content to let you be in charge, and rather seems to prefer it that way.

Last but not least, the 64 dollar question? Why don’t we keep him ourselves? Truth be known, he has already stolen our hearts, but after 10 years not visiting our family in Europe, we made the plans to go visit for at least 2-3 months this year, before we get too old or bogged down by age and work. Rest assured that if preparations had not been in a far advanced stage, you would not read this story here and Shadow would have found his Forever Home already.

FAN will finish supporting his heart worm treatment until he is cured, even if he is permanently adopted.

Call us if you would like to meet Shadow and possibly be his foster parents or more deservedly a forever home. (904) 310 6153 – (904) 430 7075

My Hit-List for 2015

Wide Open Spaces for 2015

Wide Open Spaces for 2015

And yes once again the Holidays are behind us and a New Year has cautiously opened its sliding doors to the future. What will it bring? What will change and what will stay the same. And for whom and in what areas of life? Will the global economy finally collapse under the weight of its debt? Will 2015 be another politically inconsequential run up to election year 2016? Will we find a cure to cancer, ebola or even the common cold? Will gas prices drop under $2 at the pump? Will Florida learn and accept that homosexuality is not an aberration and that gay marriages are just as normal as hetero-sexual ones? Will Marijuana get its day this year?  What will change and what will stay the same?

We know that nothing changes until we take action, which is why I have been contemplating a lot lately what Einstein really meant with his observation of insanity. We incomplete earthlings call his observation a definition without considering the context in which he made it. This has resulted in us simpletons abusing his brainfart rather than applying it to the never ending series of experiments that life is supposed to be. Life evolves and within the onslaught of opinions promoted in a functioning democratic society, we all need to carve out our niche, the things important to us and experiment with them, rather than dogmatically kill progress through polarization.

Now, I don’t believe that you specifically have to wait for any landmark day to change certain aspects of your life with resolutions, but sometimes it’s just easier to create a memorable point that coincides with social and financial commitments, especially because it breaks things down in numbers, something we’re comfortably accustomed to.

Just think about it, it’s so much easier to say on January 23 that you have not had a cigarette in 23 days, than when you quit on December 19. We humans are like that, we know how to quantify in numbers. There is quantity and quality in life, but no-one really knows a measuring stick for quality. Quality is an emotion, numbers create statistics, something we can compare to, but also something that can easily be manipulated into lies. These days many of us live by the motto that MORE IS BETTER. From the number of presents under a Christmas tree to the glasses of Champagne chugged down on New Year’s Eve, as long as we can quantify the numbers in our heads, we can equate an emotion and confuse it with quality.

Over the holidays I heard a lot: “We had a great time as we ate and drank ourselves into oblivion over the holidays.” Another one I overheard was: “I got so many presents I haven’t even opened them all yet”. More is apparently equated with better, with More being the quantity and Better being the quality. I guess it all started when MTV in the 80s proclaimed “Too Much Is Never Enough”, or maybe it’s just ingrained in the human race.

An Insane Amount of Resolutions

So now here we go again, the new year is already 6 days old and I’m finding myself with a mile long list of goals for this year; somehow confusing the 2015 list of things to accomplish with a Badge of Honor. But then it hit me: Einstein really was talking about people and not quantum physics, because physical laboratories experiments have different results all the time. That is the nature of the universe.

For us humans it is slightly different. We do not operate in a controlled environment. Here is an example of what I mean. Both my wife TJ and I started what seemed to be a successful campaign in the Spring of last year to loose weight and get active and healthy. We were on the right track until “Life Happened” in the form of serious setbacks. Result? By the time the Holidays came around the gym was a distant memory and the pounds had -not so mysteriously- reappeared.

So yes one New Year’s resolution was definitely to get back on track. She ordered a very successful diet plan, is starting up the activity levels to feel better and better about herself, and then……… we get an invitation to attend the Start Off Dinner Party at the Ritz Carlton next week Thursday for this year’s Amelia Island Restaurant Week. Our friend Joe Murphy, head of PR at the Amelia Island Ritz Carlton made his invitation email so mouthwatering that a decline would be tantamount to mortal sin. So yes, we will attend.

Another invitation came from The Boys and Girls Club for their January 17 Annual Gala, followed by a number of private dinner party invitations and engagements which are now cluttering our dining room table in an ironic display of epicurean will power (or lack thereof). Obviously we don’t live in a vacuum and most definitely not in a lab with a controlled environment, so a resolution to loose weight is nothing more than our best attempt to stick with it until we accomplish the objective.

And looking at the long hit list on my desk I knew that there was no way in this 2015 world, that would make daily life distinctly different than last year or the year before, or before, unless I could bring down the focus.

So instead of pursuing all kinds of different things as I have done for years, I changed course and now focus on accomplishing four specific things… things that I’ think a lot about and are important to me. I have set one goal in each of these four areas: 1) My health; 2) My wealth; 3) My personal self (hobbies and interests); 4) My social self (friends, family, and community).

I am working on making each goal significant, yet specific; like eat and exercise better, writing an essay every day, playing guitar every day, writing an e-book about my 3 years as an Innkeeper, regularly visit with friends, help an animal in need. Yes, the specificity of my goals is quantified in numbers, but the significance gives it the quality I’m looking for.

Right now we’re fostering a 3 year old Lab mix who listens to the name Shadow and needs to go through heart worm treatment before he can be adopted. He’s a fabulous dog but more about that later. I walk him 3 times a day on the beach, good for him and great for my health. As I’m writing this he’s laying on the carpet next to my desk in a deep sleep after we treated his skin with ointments and neo-sporin. He’s a happy camper and my heart is lighter looking into the future. Yes, 2015 has new opportunities for all of us.

I can suggest or strongly urge you to do what I’m doing… and take some time to write down what you really want to accomplish in 2015. Don’t try and accomplish 101 things and lose what really matters to you. Step back, cut your list down to the most important items and dominate with quality.

Turning Sixty Four on Thanksgiving

Gratitude crosses  species and time.

Gratitude crosses all species, boundaries and time.

Turning Sixty Four on Thanksgiving Day is in my very personal opinion an invitation to clamor back into the annals of a very busy life and come up with a million reasons to be thankful.

I was born a blue baby and as medical insiders know, that was almost as serious as a death sentence especially in 1950. My 80 cm umbilical cord had wrapped itself 3 times around my neck like a boa constrictor on a Paleo Diet. No wonder that the midwife upon seeing this immediately opened the window to my mother’s room and called in the gardener to serve as the male witness to my emergency baptizing. I’m not sure if there was a divine correlation between that urgent sacrament action, that was supposed to give me protection from evil on my imminent journey to heaven, and the fact that I desperately fought for my life from that moment on. It was a long fight of almost 6 years in and out of hospitals, before I finally seem to get a grip on life. I’m thankful for everyone who saved me on that first day and played a part in that healing process.

At age six it became time to grow stronger, or else my frequently returning bouts with pneumonia and asthma would still get the better of me, so my mom and dad sent me to Sensei Dreu, who taught Judo, Jiu Jitsu, Karaté and Tai Chi. I became a ‘fanatic’ follower of his arts and I am thankful for that as it has guided and saved me on many occasions since. The fact that so many years later I still remember Sensei’s name points at gratitude for his lessons.

I’m grateful for the family I grew up in and the fabric of value that was installed. My family believed in travel, languages, compassion and lack of judgement without knowing the facts. This has helped me greatly to become a better person and understand or at least tolerate many human idiosyncrasies. I’m forever grateful for the many dinner table discussions we had as a family, as they have guided me like a laser beam in the process of understanding myself.

Paul McCartney wrote “When I’m Sixty Four” and the Beatles put it on Sgt. Pepper and we all sang it for a week or two. We never caught the meaning nor the message, it was something to just sing along with until something came along. It was 1966 or so and Kennedy had been murdered and the Cuban Missile crisis was fresh in our memories, Vietnam was an ugly enigma and Berlin had a brick wall through its heart. Turning 64 seemed a galaxy away. I’m grateful I didn’t catch the message either, because it kind of meant that my early teenage years were uncomplicated. The Who sang “Hope I die before I get old” in their hit song My Generation and Elton John sang the eternally beautiful “Sixty Years On” and we were all young and innocently oblivious of the facts and realities.

As a teenager who entered adulthood in the late sixties, music and flower power walked hand in hand as we preached to love each other while storming the barricades of perceived oppression with angry slogans and molotov cocktails. In hindsight it was all a matter of helpless frustration with the manipulations and machinations of power. I’m not particularly fond of the fact that this has not changed since those days, but I’m extremely grateful that I survived the following dozen years, often tarnished with darkness, violence and pain. I am grateful that I was allowed to shake the bad memories and embrace the good ones as they have helped me become a much better person.

I am grateful to the 3 women who courageously tried to stay at my side during those years, probably knowing or at least sensing that one day I would move on in a continued search for my true soul.  And I’m extremely grateful that in my sliding door life of a thousand changes, my true soul came to find me ten years ago, when she traveled to a land she had never even heard of and found me against all, even abnormal, odds. The stars were aligned then and have been guiding us ever since. And to boot, she came with an instant family of great children that now light up our Holidays and our lives.

Yep I’m grateful to be sixty four today, even if that means having outlived my all time favorite four legged Scootertje and my brother and pal Thom. I’m grateful for having had them in my life and I say thanks for the many blessings, family and friends that have come my way over all these years.

Happy Thanksgiving

When I’m Sixty Four – Paul McCartney

When I get older losing my hair, many years from now


Will you still be sending me a valentine, Birthday greetings, bottle of wine?


If I’d been out til quarter to three, Would you lock the door?


Will you still need me, Will you still feed me
, When I’m sixty-four?


Life is a Fleeting Fantasy

screenshot

Stories lost in the background universe of Fantasy

What you see in the picture dear reader is a screenshot of one of my 30 inch monitors filled with stories I intended to publish on Searchamelia over time. Mostly true, mostly cynical, mostly infuriating, increasingly defeatist.
Stories about global warming’s effect on wine production, stories about self serving economists/authors like Krugman, Gruber and Friedman who sold out their professional integrity to the highest bidder, stories about how we are losing the republic to the empire, stories about the growing militarization of law enforcement, stories about Bin Laden’s legacy and the crippling price of security, stories about abuse, corruption and simple ignorance, individual tragedy stories such as the one of Orville (Lee) Wollard who is serving a 20 year mandatory minimum sentence for protecting his family against a violent individual in his Florida home by firing a warning shot.  Nobody was injured or hit. But unless Governor Rick Scott grants him clemency, Lee will be in prison until he’s 73, stories about elections and why on the state and federal level elections don’t mean a thing, stories on politicians, bureaucratic choke holds, taxation without representation, the Raisin War, special interest corruption, Big Pharma, Military Industrial Complex and the precious media who sold out critical observation years ago. And more stories about piss poor education results, security requirements in high schools and the size of a required nest egg for retirement.

I realized that none of it really matters when I checked out of the Supermarket the other day when the conversation landed on fuel prices and a short discussion on why and for how long they would stay this low and right then and there I realized that I knew the reasons and answers, but nobody would want to stand there in the check out line for 30 minutes to learn the real why. Life is a Fleeting Fantasy. At that moment my alarm clock went off and I woke up from a nasty dream that began when I was ‘enlisted’ into an experiment what years later became officially known as the Marshmallow Experiment, and was the only one in my group who saw the benefit of delayed gratification. Maybe a story for later.

In the meantime stock markets go up and down, Presidents and heads of State behave as divine rulers with the right to tell people what to do and people believe ever since antiquity that their leaders were (are) divinely appointed – which is really a step up from the believe that they were Gods before.
Today most people believe that God has nothing to do with it. Voters elect their leaders, who do what the public wants them to do.
Or so we think, because we all like to live in a world of Fantasy. And that realization made me wipe my monitor screen clean.

We all play our roles in the big Fantasy: rulers, advisors and recipients.

From the Egyptian Pharaos to Montezuma and Genghis Kahn, from Caesar to Caligula to Charlemagne, from Louis The XIV to Napolean and from George W to Obama, they all played their role in the fantasy. Contrary to previous beliefs I now have to admit that the typical voter is probably no dumber than the typical person he votes for. Voters have better things to do than to study the rampant folderol of the legislative process. It would be time wasted, anyway, because he can do little to nothing about it.

Besides, he is just doing what he should do: playing his role in the fantasy.

French king Louis XIV reportedly believed God gave him his job assignment. The king was supposed to rule; the population of France was supposed to submit to his rule. Each had a role to play.

Likewise in today’s America, the elite who control the workings of the government are supposed to pretend they are acting on behalf of the voters. Voters are supposed to believe it.
Voters could perfectly well understand what is going on if they invested the time and energy to look at it closely.

But what would be the point?

The system depends on the cooperation of the connivers as well as the goobers. Both must work together to make a more corrupt world.
USA Today helped elucidate the mechanics of the fantasy in an article on “dark money” last week.

Big Pharma sets up “advocacy groups” that pretend to be genuine public interest outfits, but whose real purpose is to push drugs.

The nuclear power industry operates a “Clean and Safe Energy Coalition.” It sounds like a citizens’ lobby; in reality it is an extension of the industry’s lobbying efforts.

And the Center for Consumer Freedom is a front for the junk-food industry, says USA Today.

Why do I wanna do something to stop it?

Like an alarm clock going off at 4 a.m., it disturbs the dream.

Suburban Community Outcrops are the Loneliest Places on the Planet

Why do I envie these people?

Why is it that I envie these people?

What you don’t know, you won’t miss my wife claims and in broad lines she’s probably right. If you don’t know freedom, you probably believe that what you have is freedom, bought by money that is earned by participating in a corporate institutional cocoon. You probably don’t see the daily onslaught of sales messages as a subliminal mind attack, that over time will mould you to be digested into the “body” of a larger host.

For 3 years now I have lived in a suburban HOA setting of hollow unison, where on weekdays you can count neighbor encounters on one to three fingers of one hand and weekends are rudely interrupted by whining, smoking, obnoxious tools that keep the yards manicured. The sprinkling systems more often than not overshoot their intended targets and water the asphalt on a daily basis, not from recycled water, but from pure potable water.
I know the neighbor’s face on one side and a couple of times have gotten into a brief conversation with a neighbor across the street. That’s the sum of neighborhood contact in 3 years. Of course we could have continued to invite them to parties and get togethers, but honestly after two time no shows and keen observation, you basically know that you’re not playing on the same field.

It does however remind me vaguely of 50-60 years ago when the first corporate institutional era came into existence. World War 2 had raged and people across the globe wanted peace and prosperity. A Happy Life was translated as having a corporate job, a nice modest home with picket fence in suburbia, a wife, a couple of kids and dog and/or cat, a green lawn and a shiny car. Life was an emerging institution. It ruled the 50s, was almost demolished in the 60s and 70s, idled in the 80and early 90s and since has made a comeback of giant proportions. Cheap money was the engine and the institution was the dictating enforcer: certified, polished, homogenized, hollow. Cheap money was created with exactly this outcome in mind and now in the second decade of the 21th century, we’re well on our way to having created a world with totally scripted rules (laws) to support the institutional ideology that the real world is make-belief from the cradle to the grave.

Most children these days are born in a medical institution and registered at a government institution. They get some token names, but the only important attribute they get is a number (SS), supposedly unique as it will follow them to the grave. The 9 digit social security number system technically allows for 1 Billion combinations, which means the system for counting people will be around for quite a while longer. The financial part of the equation probably not.

In any case, once babies and toddlers go through a couple of years of home-training, heavily guarded by institutions (government, medical, media and product preference corporations (Gerber, Pampers etc.) we will send them to daycaree, kindergarten, grade school,high school and college because:

– a college degree is the ultimate necessity to make it in this life.

So you take student loans from an institution (financial) and get your degree from an institution (education) and then you take a job in an institution with a number of benefits that are offered from a mix of institutions (health care, insurances etc.)

Then when the student loan allows it, you take out a car loan and a house mortgage from banking institutions, because you are climbing the corporate ladder and status becomes a new Mammon.

You put something aside for your old age, because the system teaches that retirement at 65 is good and deserved and your retirement savings are supposedly safe in the hands of another institution.

Because the corporate cocoon depends on you not being too critical, you are “invited” to believe in democracy, a hugely layered institution of disputable value. So you vote and trust that those you vote for will keep their promises about Social Security and Medicare, two mammoth ponzi institutions.

And when you come back to your suburban neighborhood in the late afternoon or early evening, while playing the rebel with music on Pandora in your car, you exchange your corporate costume for clothing promoted by the best corporate logos (name brand institutions), you turn on your entertainment of choice supplied by Hollywood institutions and distributed by media giant institutions. And let’s not forget the ultimate Vampire institution named Facebook where you conduct your relationships from a lost and lonely existence – without even realizing it most of the time.

Residing in the institutional hollowness of corporate cocoon living is not persé evil; but to call it living is a sad attempt to justify living vicariously through false perception, rather than real experience.

When I say that I don’t envy kids today this is what I mean: McChildren are strongly prevented from interacting and experiencing the real world as they are rushed from one institution to another and at the end of the day numbered, evaluated and tested, while under constant surveillance.

Yes I concur, I’m a tad cynical, especially when I get to write this as the result of an HOA letter about the poor status of my lawn, knowing that this piece of dirt cost me $3,500 a year in water, fertilizer and mowing to look like a dry-spot on the moon. No matter how much potable water you poor on beach sand, it won’t turn into a golf course. But the cynicism really explodes when I realize that geezers I don’t know by name or address, take it upon themselves to turn a simple HOA into another institution that claims enforcement rights. Can’t wait to leave this sad abomination of pretend freedom for a real neighborhood where people interact, even if they get pissed at each other every now and then. Suburban neighborhoods are really the loneliest places on the planet.

The End of a Jam Band’s Era

ABB finalThe sad, yet totally expected news of the Allman Brothers Band’s break up after their final Beacon Theater show on October 28 may to many seem like a irreplaceable loss, but maybe founding member Dicky Betts put it best when he said that today’s Allman Brother’s Band was rapidly becoming an Allman Bothers Tribute Band. By closing the book at the Beacon where it all began, was the right gesture.

Not that Warren Haynes and Derek Trucks are not masters of their craft, but without Duane Allman and Dicky Betts on lead guitars, a lot of the jam band flavor that made the Allman Brothers Band’s New York Beacon Theatre Shows so special, was starting to fade. No not to the fans, who always want more of the same, but mostly to the performers, who feel straight jacketed while on the look-out for new and creative expressions.
The early days of hunger and begging for cigarettes and making food arrangements with a soulfood kitchen in Macon, Georgia is long forgotten; money is no longer an issue and the passion to create and explore new directions keeps getting stronger, but the industry professionals and the fans won’t let you move on, so that 40 years later you still find yourself playing what you wrote as a young dude.
I guess that’s why bandmembers Warren Haynes and Derek Trucks decided to call it quits before rigor mortis sets in. Pretty much in the same manner as Robert Plant rejecting an $800 million dollar Led Zeppelin reunion tour earlier this week. The passion to create new experiences is so much stronger than constantly repeating old successes for the sake of more money.

40 years have passed since these Ramblin’ Men were “just tryin’ to make a livin’ and doin’ the best they could”. They accomplished a legacy in their 40+ year career, that few bands can match. Decades of music, stories and brotherhood is what has been left behind and it all started here in Jacksonville Florida in late March of 1969. Woodstock (remember Woodstock?) was still more than 4 months in the future.
The Allman Brothers Band original lineup consisted of brothers Duane Allman (slide guitar and lead guitar) and Gregg Allman (vocals, organ, songwriting) both from Nashville, as well as Dickey Betts (lead guitar, vocals, songwriting) from West Palm Beach, Berry Oakley (bass guitar) Chicago, Butch Trucks (drums), and Jai Johanny “Jaimoe” Johanson (drums). And they were all congregating in Jacksonville Florida. A month after the band was formed however, they moved to Macon Georgia, away from the moniker “Southern Rock” and into the arms of Capricorn Records, which had such a profound impact on Southern Music fusions.

In interesting side note I found was that keyboardist Reese Wynans, one part of Stevie Ray Vaughn’s Double Trouble in the 1980s almost made the cut during one of the many free jam sessions in west Jacksonville’s Willow Branch Park, but in the end Duane wanted his keyboardist brother Greg to sing in the band and did not envision two keyboard players, next to two lead guitars and two drummers. Having two of each was already a stretch in the days that bands had one lead, one rhythm and one drummer.

And now that it’s all over I want to share ABB facts,  some you may not have known about the Allman Brothers Band’s legacy.

1. Duane Allman, Warren Haynes, Dickey Betts and Derek Trucks have all been named as one of Rolling Stone Magazine’s Greatest Guitarists of All Time. In 2003 Duane came in at #2 and Derek Trucks was the youngest on the list.

2. Since 1989 the band has played the Beacon Theater in New York over 173 times known as the annual “Beacon Run” in early Spring. People came from all over the world to see the band play the sets at the Manhattan theater through March and April.
The album “The Allman Brothers Band” released in 1971, is widely considered the best Live Rock album ever released.

3. Duane and Gregg Allman had several shots at fame before they broke big with the Allman Brothers Band.  Their first band Allman Joys released a cover of Willie Dixon’s “Spoonful” and later created a short-lived new band called Hourglass when they exchanged Macon Georgia for a brief stint in L.A.

4. The Allman Brothers Band began when Duane Allman was signed as a solo act to Fame Studios. When Phil Walden started the Southern Rock powerhouse label Capricorn Records he wanted Duane on his label so he bought out the guitarists existing contract. Walden wanted to build a band around Duane and his talents so Allman enlisted his brother Gregg, and friends Trucks, Oakley and Betts as well as a local drummer named Jai Johnson and like that, the Allman Brothers band was born.

5. After three decades of successful albums and singles, the Allman Brothers band finally received their first Grammy in 1998 for the Best Rock Instrumental Performance in their song “Jessica”.

6. Duane Allman and Berry Oakley tragically were killed in motorcycle accidents a year apart from each other on the same Macon, Georgia road. The tragic early loss of Duane Allman on October 29, 1971 after he crashed his motorcycle in Macon, Georgia, shortly after the release of their At Fillmore East album. Berry Oakley did not die on the scene of his accident however. After he lost control of the motorcycle he went to hang out with friends at home and passed away three hours later due to brain hemorrhaging from a skull fracture. Both Duane Allman and Berry Oakley are buried next to each other in the same cemetery as Elizabeth Reed, whose name on a headstone was the inspiration for Dickey Betts’ song “In Memory Of Elizabeth Reed.”

7. Writer and movie director, Cameron Crowe wrote his first cover story on the Allman Brothers Band after he went on tour with them for three weeks when he was 16. His movie Almost Famous is a semi-autobiographical story of his time on tour with the band.

8. The band’s famous mushroom logo was inspired by the hallucinogenic mushroom extract pill that the band used to take in their earlier days. Duane made everyone in the band and the crew get mushroom tattoos on the sides of their legs. Renowned tattoo artist Lyle Tuttle did that up in their room in the Holiday Inn. Warren Haynes is the only band member who does not have the mushroom tattooed on his calf.

9. To not be drafted into the Vietnam War Gregg Allman shot himself in the foot. Duane was exempt from the draft since he was the eldest son and their father passed away when they were very young.

10. These and only these guys have been official members of the Allman Brothers Band
Original Members:
Duane Allman
Gregg Allman
Dickey Betts
Jai Johanny “Jaimoe” Johanson
Berry Oakley
Butch Trucks

Reincarnation Members:
Chuck Leavell
Lamar Williams
David Goldflies
Dan Toler
Mike Lawler
David “Frankie” Toler
Warren Haynes
Johnny Neel
Allen Woody
Marc Quiñones
Oteil Burbridge
Jack Pearson
Derek Trucks
Jimmy Herring

In closing I want to thank the originals and many reincarnations of the Allman Brothers Bands for what in my opinion was probably the best all round musically diversified progressive rock band in history. Listen to a 20 minute jam of R&B inspired “Whipping Post”, then listen to Elizabeth Reed’s Jazz improvisation, Melissa’s Folk-rock blues performance and Country-inspired “Rambling Man” and you may get. Thanks Allman Bros, it was a huge pleasure to live my life alongside your music.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9eqSFMOZxeY

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Locals go all out for Chef’s Benefit Concert and Auction

thomas tolxdorf benefitA flood of donations for the Chef Thomas Tolxdorf Benefit Concert and Auction has led to the organizers starting out the Benefit held at the Green Turtle Sunday afternoon at 2:30pm.

A flood of auction and raffle items have been donated by local individuals and businesses, so much that raffles and auctions have to be spread throughout the afternoon and early evening in 4 raffle breaks and 2 Live auctions in between the music performances. “It’s amazing,” says TJ Seaton, the auction and raffle coordinator, “how many people have given for this cause. I’m still getting phone calls with donations today (Saturday). The retail value of all donated items has far surpassed $13,000. We’re proud of our community.”

Island Vibe will start off the benefit at 2:30, while throughout the afternoon being joined by Chris Kellam and drummer Neal Gupton of Jacksonville’s famous rock band Blistür, local singer Jennifer Burns and guitarists Joel Venditti and Sheila Johnson and several of the Fernandina Beach Farmer’s Market performers.

Ritz Carlton Amelia Island’s Executive Chef Thomas tragically passed away in a car accident last June and this tribute benefit is a 100% donation geared towards supporting his wife and two young sons in this difficult time.

Below is a yet unfinished list of auction and raffle items donated so far.
The Green Turtle and adjacent Florida House Inn will open the stage area in the back for this event, something that ordinarily opens only during Shrimp Festival Weekend. We are ready for a large audience. Please come and join. Food will be available for free but donations are welcome.

The printed Thomas Tolxdorf T-shirts and Coffee Mugs are donated by P5 Productions and are for sale at respectively $20 and $10 each. Rain checks will be available when we run out. Bring cash, CC, DC or Checks.

AUCTION ITEMS (all bidding starts at the reserve prices)

From $100 Gift Certificates to $2,500 Initiation Fees
• Omni Plantation, Dinner for Two at The Verandah Restaurant
• Omni Plantation, Brunch for Two at Sunrise Cafe Restaurant
• Omni Plantation, Two Night Stay for Two in Deluxe Ocean-View Room
• The Ritz Carlton Amelia Island, One Night Stay for Two
• The Ritz Carlton Amelia Island Spa, Gift Certificate
• Amelia River Golf Club, Foursome of Golf
• Amelia River Golf Club, Waiver of Initiation Fee
• Second Amendment Outfitters Gift Card
• Scott & Sons Jewelers Wristwatch
• Amelia Boat Club & Rentals, 2-hour Boat Rental
• Andrea Wallace of Cormier Salon Gift Certificate
• Paul Laubach, Car Detailing Certificate
• Artist Charlie Weisenborn “COCKTAIL” 12×12 original oil on canvas
• Joe’s 2nd Street Bistro, Gift Card
• One Year Advertising Banner on Search Amelia
• Authentic Piece of the Berlin Wall
• Cooking With Intuition Cookbook and Brewery Tour
• Amelia Oceanfront Bed & Breakfast, Two Night Stay for Two
• Farmer’s Market Basket
• One Year (52 Heads) of Hydroponic Grown Lettuce
• The Ritz Grand Cayman (Two Night Stay for 2) & Six-Course Dinner for 2
• Oyster Roast for 8 People, Hosted by Ange Wallace
• Well Traveled Living, Gas Patio Heater
• Collector’s Box Set of Pink Floyd’s The Wall
• Matted & framed “Doors of Amelia” poster

RAFFLE Items ( 1 for $1 / 6 tickets for $5 / 12 tickets for $10 / 25 tickets for $20 )

From 25.00 Gift Cards to 120.00 Matted Art to a Signed Electric Guitar
• The Surf Restaurant Gift Card
• Red Otter Outfitters Gift Card
• Michele McMurray Peterson, 7 jars of homemade jams, jellies, fruit in sea grass basket
• Speakeasy Vaporium Gift Certificate
• Hot Paws Pet Grooming, Spa & Resort Gift Basket
• The Surf Restaurant Gift Card
• Artistic Flowers Gift Card
• Retail Therapy Gift Certificate
• Mandi Vest of Janet Lynn Salon Gift Certificate
• Artistic Flowers, Designer Snowman
• The Surf Restaurant Gift Card
• Michele McMurray Peterson, 7 jars of homemade jams, jellies, fruit in sea grass basket
• Nate & Sassy’s Gourmet Granola Basket
• Joleen Jensen of Cormier Salon Gift Certificate
• Michele McMurray Peterson, 7 jars of homemade jams, jellies, fruit in sea grass basket
• The Surf Restaurant Gift Card
• Sandra Baker-Hinton of Amelia SanJon Gallery, 16×20 Matted Baby Turtle Picture
• GG’s Bistro, Dinner for Two
• Amelia River Cruises, Two Tickets for your choice of Cruises
• Omni Plantation Oceanside Restaurant, Dinner for Two
• Michele McMurray Peterson, 9 jars of homemade jams, jellies, fruit in sea grass basket
• Victoria Cochrane of Cormier Salon Gift Certificate
• Artistic Flowers Christmas Basket (items can be exchanged at store)
• Micato Safaris Lion Head Cufflinks
• TWO – 13×15 Matted Art Prints by Sidney Carter Creations
• Red Lacquer Washburn Electric Guitar with soft case, Signed by Musicians Playing Today

Things Have Changed (a lot) Since We Were Young

Heerlerbaan

About half a mile from where I grew up

Things have changed since we were young a guest at the Inn remarked recently. It came kind of as the conclusion to a conversation about fast food and home deliveries of food. Working on our AmeliaBites.com restaurant review website I had noticed how many restaurants these days offer take out and delivery, so when that guest’s teenage child asked me, “What was your favorite fast food when you were growing up?”, I must have looked a bit dumbfounded. After a couple of seconds I said: “We didn’t have fast food when I was growing up. All the food was slow.”



“C’mon, seriously. Where did you eat?”

“It was a place called home,” I explained. “Mom cooked every day and when Dad got home from work, we sat down together at the dining room table, and if I didn’t like what was put on my plate, I was allowed to sit there until I did like it. And that could be the next morning or lunch time.”

By this time, the kid was laughing so hard I was afraid he was going to suffer serious internal damage, so I didn’t tell him the part about how I had to have permission to leave the table. And no there was no TV blaring during dinner. Typical table conversations ranged from stories we heard in the village to vacation plans, to politics, religion, school and sports. Here are some other things I would have told him about my childhood if I hadn’t been afraid that his system could not handle it:

• My parents never drove me to school (or even Kindergarten!). The walk to school must have been a little over a mile and was through the neighborhoods. I walked there after breakfast for 9-12 noon classes, walked back home at lunch time, and walked back to school for 2-4pm classes and played my way back home after classes were over at 4pm. Sometime the 4th year of Grade school I got a hand-me-down bicycle that had one speed: slow.  I was the third son in a family of 5 sons plus parents, so hand-me-downs were pretty much a natural. If it was too cold or snowy, I walked.
• We didn’t have a television in our house until I turned 9. It was black and white, reception was accomplished with rabbit ears, and later an antenna on the roof, and the station went off the air at 11pm, after playing the national anthem and a religious message(?). It came back on the air at about 9 a.m. the next day and there was usually news to begin the day followed by women’s exercise and domestic care programs. On some days there was not enough programming available on Dutch TV but we were lucky to catch the airwaves from Germany (all of 2 stations) and Belgium (two as well, one for Flanders, the dutch side and one for Wallonia, the french side) and good old Radio Luxembourg. No wonder speaking Dutch, German and French at an early age came naturally to us.
• I remember listening to the World Cup soccer on the radio and the highlights of the year were the rivalry match between Holland and Belgium and the daily results of the Tour de France.

 Oh and I never had a telephone in my room. The only phone connection in the house was on a party line. Before you could dial, you had to listen to make sure other people weren’t already using the line. But I still remember the phone number 805 which later became 5805!
• Pizzas were not known to us, unless on our summer vacation trips to Italy, and certainly not delivered to our home… but milk and eggs were and our baker bicycle delivered personally our favorite breads and cookies on Tuesday’s and Saturday’s. His customer route encompassed about 30 miles. His name was Bakker Mueller. Of course we had another bakery 200 yards down the road, but Bakker Mueller was special. Harrie Pasmans was our dairy farmer who brought fresh milk and eggs every morning, horse and wagon and all. My older brother Eef loved to jump on his wagon and help deliver in the weekends. Harrie Pasmans lived about 300 yards to the right of us. About three hundred yards to the left was Farmer Roumans, whose horse and wagon delivered fresh fruits and vegetables and potatoes before noon every day. I fondly remember the days that white asparagus freshly out of the ground and the circumference of a thick hot dog, were the culinary highlight on the dinner plate at home: topped with a special softly spiced real butter sauce reduction and slices of hard boiled eggs and small cubes of delicious cooked ham. I felt closer to Culinary Heaven in those days then ever since.
• The butcher shop was 300 yards to the west and offered a delightful selection of meats I’ve never even seen this side of the Atlantic (no not even at Trader Joe’s). Chicken were not sold in stores then. That came later. If you wanted fresh chicken, you went into the coop and selected one for consumption. And I personally can attest to the truth behind the expression “running around like a chicken without a head.” Come to think of it, we ate a lot less chicken in those days than we do today.
• 500 Yards to the East, almost directly on the border with Germany, stood my grandparent’s home, just a short walk through grain fields. If she had wanted to, mom could have watched us walk to our grandparents from the upstairs bedroom. She probably never did, because raising five sons takes a lot of energy and leaves little time I imagine. Mom had a little trick to make sure however that she got some private time with dad. As toddlers we often got half a glass of red wine with dinner. We were asleep by 8, often by our own choice. But Mom never had to worry about us being safe. Everyone in the neighborhood knew each other well and looked after each other. I still remember the names; the Theunissen family, the Donkers family, the Keulen family, the VanderMeulen family (mom’s sister); it was a square mile of pure, fresh, tasty, playful, safe and innocent heaven on earth. Yes things have changed quite dramatically since I was a teenager half a century ago, but at least I can truthfully refer to something called “The Good Old Days!”

Revisiting the Darwin Awards

darwin-awardsIt has been four years since we reported on the Darwin Awards, not because the human race has become smarter, but because on a daily basis we get bombarded by so many voluntary acts of stupidity all around us, that we barely have enough time to shake our heads in disbelief. And besides that, we always have America’s Funniest Home Videos as a barometer of growing stupidity. For those who are unfamiliar, the Darwin Awards “salute the improvement of the human genome by honoring those who accidentally remove themselves from it.”  Beware however, there needs to be a certain level of creativity involved to qualify and the Darwin Awards Moderators have been raising the bar of late. Any shooting death too common does no longer qualify  Now there is a fine precision technique when selecting candidates for this prestigious award, which is why I love the following example from the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, that did not even result in death:

Two local men were injured when their pickup truck left the road and struck a tree near Cotton Patch [Arkansas] on State Highway 38 early Monday. Woodruff County Deputy Dovey Snyder reported the accident shortly after midnight Monday. Thurston Poole, 33, of Des Arc, and Billy Ray Wallis, 38, of Little Rock, were returning to Des Arc after a frog-catching trip. In an overcast night, Poole’s pickup truck headlights malfunctioned.
The two men concluded that the headlight fuse on the older-model truck had burned out. As a replacement fuse was not immediately available, Wallis noticed that the .22 caliber bullet from his pistol fit perfectly into the fuse box next to the steering-wheel column. Upon inserting the bullet, the headlights again began to operate properly, and the two men proceeded toward the White River Bridge.

After traveling approximately 20 miles, and just before crossing the river, the bullet apparently overheated, discharged, and struck Poole in the testicles. The vehicle swerved sharply right, exited the pavement, and struck a tree. Poole suffered only minor cuts and abrasions from the accident but will require extensive surgery to repair the damage to his testicles, which will never again operate as intended!

Wallis sustained a broken clavicle and was treated and released. “Thank God we weren’t on that bridge when Thurston shot his balls off, or we might be dead,” stated Wallis.
“I’ve been a trooper for 10 years in this part of the world, but this is a first for me. I can’t believe that those two would admit how this accident happened,” said Snyder.
Though Poole and Wallis did not die as a result of their misadventure as normally required by Darwin Award official rules, it can be argued that Poole did in fact effectively remove himself from the gene pool.

Priceless in my opinion, especially the various names that add magnificently to the story. Imagine Thurston, Billy Ray, Dovey all concentrated in a location called Cotton Patch. Can’t make that up. But one thing’s for sure:

Darwin+Award“Life is hard. And it’s harder when you’re stupid.”

Well here are some other runners up who all paid the ultimate price for being stupid, (removal from the gene pool) which makes their departing stories even more alluring.

Nominee No. 1: [San Jose Mercury News]:
An unidentified man, using a shotgun like a club to break a former girlfriend’s windshield, accidentally shot himself to death when the gun discharged, blowing a hole in his gut.

Nominee No. 2: [Kalamazoo Gazette]:
James Burns, 34, (a mechanic) of Alamo, MI, was killed in March as he was trying to repair what police describe as a “farm-type truck.” Burns got a friend to drive the truck on a highway while Burns hung underneath, so that he could ascertain the source of a troubling noise. Burns’ clothes caught on something, however, and the other man found Burns “wrapped in the drive shaft.”

Nominee No. 3: [Hickory Daily Record]:
Ken Charles Barger, 47, accidentally shot himself to death in December in Newton, NC. Awakening to the sound of a ringing telephone beside his bed, he reached for the phone but grabbed instead a Smith & Wesson .38 Special, which discharged when he drew it to his ear.

Nominee No. 4: [UPI, Toronto]:
Police said a lawyer demonstrating the safety of windows in a downtown Toronto skyscraper crashed through a pane with his shoulder and plunged 24 floors to his death. A police spokesman said Garry Hoy, 39, fell into the courtyard of the Toronto Dominion Bank Tower early Friday evening as he was explaining the strength of the building’s windows to visiting law students. Hoy had previously conducted demonstrations of window strength, according to police reports. Peter Lawson, managing partner of the firm Holden Day Wilson, told the Toronto Sun newspaper that Hoy was “one of the best and brightest” members of the 200-man association.

darwin-awards-2014-10Nominee No. 5: [News of the Weird]:
Michael Anderson Godwin had spent several years awaiting South Carolina’s electric chair on a murder conviction before having his sentence reduced to life in prison. While sitting on a metal toilet in his cell, attempting to fix his small TV set, he bit into a wire and was electrocuted.

Nominee No. 6: [The Indianapolis Star]:
A Dunkirk, Indiana, man, using a cigarette lighter to check the barrel of a muzzleloader, was killed Monday night when the weapon discharged in his face, sheriff’s investigators said. Gregory David Pryor, 19, died in his parents’ rural Dunkirk home at about 11:30 p.m. Investigators said Pryor was cleaning a .54 caliber muzzleloader that had not been firing properly. He was using the lighter to look into the barrel when the gunpowder ignited.

Nominee No. 7: [Reuters, Mississauga, Ontario]:
A man cleaning a birdfeeder on the balcony of his condominium apartment in this Toronto suburb slipped and fell 23 stories to his death. “Stefan Macko, 55, was standing on a wheeled chair when the accident occurred,” said Inspector Darcy Honer of the Peel Regional Police. “It appears that the chair moved, and he went over the balcony,” Honer said.