A few days after the demise of David Bowie, we lost another one.
Glen Frey’s death at 67 took this writer by surprise.
First off, may God bless his wife and kids in their grief.
Now, his death hasn’t had the impact of Bowie’s death, but because I process stuff by writing, I’ll give this a stab. If the shoe fits…dig it. If not, no reason to get tweaked.
Frey, being born and raised in the Detroit area meant exposure to some of the hardest, kick-ass rock n’ roll on the planet. To leave Royal Oak for LA and become an Eagle must have involved a degree of soul-selling. Their talent, and tightness notwithstanding, Frey & Co. came to represent everything wrong with what rock n’ roll became. IMHO, the ingestion of copious amounts of blow didn’t lend itself to the jams. It’s a cold, anal-retentive drug. They placed musical perfection over cutting loose and kicking out the jams. In everything I’ve read, Henley and Frey ran the Eagles like a business with themselves as co-CEO’s and were basically pricks to work for. While certainly their right as free Americans to do so, it didn’t engender any sense of continuous longevity as evidenced by numerous personnel changes. In short, I personally never viewed them as a band…because they weren’t.
To be sure, they had their moments. “Already Gone” is one rocker that comes to mind. “Peaceful Easy Feeling” (written by Jackson Browne, though Glen contributed the line “It’s a girl my Lord in a flatbed Ford slowing down to take a look at me”) was a nice cut to smoke a joint with, but their music never instilled a need to get up and dance…or play air guitar. Insofar as making any real rock n’ roll, were it not for the contributions of Don Felder and Joe Walsh, the Eagles wouldn’t have amounted to much.
None of this is to burn bread on an alumni of Royal Oak Dondero High School. Glen Frey had a vision, plan, and executed it. He lived his American Dream. More power to him.
I play their shit from time to time. It’s okay….kinda’ like white bread okay. There’s no real “ummph” to their music. From my experience and historical perspective, the Eagles made “chick music” and no real rocker would be caught dead with any of their albums visibly seen at a party. Their first album came out the month I graduated from high school. By the time of landing in San Francisco after my first experience with a “therapeutic community,” the Eagles were well on their way up the charts.
In 1975, my sister Nora Hurley Galdiero got me a job as a gopher/dishwasher at Harpoon Louie’s, a bar/lunch spot in the heart of SF’s Financial District where she also worked. That whole scene was the living embodiment of every 70’s stereotype imaginable…including a jukebox blasting so much Eagles music, it drove me nuts. I came to HATE “One Of These Nights” for the limp flaccidity and lameness it evoked to a disco beat. Arghhh…there was a bartender who came in while I was prepping for lunch with Ching our Asian cook. Without fail, this bartender would cue up “One Of These Nights” to start his shift. Ching and I would look at each other, he’d roll his eyes and smile because of the volcano of disgust about to erupt from the soul of a guy who missed his Grande Ballroom daze.
But that’s my puny little trip with Glen & Co. which admittedly, doesn’t amount to much.
On a macro level, there just wasn’t much substance to their music. It captured the hedonistic, cocaine snorting, self-obsession of the 70’s pretty well, but ultimately, in categories that count, the Eagles missed the mark. The power was lacking. Their big monster hit “Hotel California” was never an anthem of the stature of the Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again.” Music was created by God as an expression and celebration of everything transcending the human condition–a vehicle from the finite to the infinite. I’ve never been moved to contemplate spiritual matters as the result of listening to the Eagles in a manner Van Morrison & Bruce Springsteen have challenged this hungry, Irish soul.
But hey, what do I know?
I pray Glen found peace with God and was able to repent for “One Of These Nights.”
The Call came at 5:30PM on Halloween of 2006 that forever changed the trajectory of many lives. “He’s gone. We lost him”. That simple, brief message from my sister hit with the force of a sledgehammer. Knees buckling under the weight of denial & grief, a loud wailing emanated from a place never tapped. The room spun. I began to hyperventilate, screaming “NO! NO! NO!” All to no avail. Death is never an easy thing–especially the passing of a brother.
Nine years and two months later, the sledgehammer swinging against souls of Joe’s family still hurts, though the pulverized mush of trampled hearts, mixed with begrudging acceptance still stings. Yet a longing to connect with an undefined yearning grows stronger. It still sucks. It still hurts…deeply. Though sorrow lasted for many a night, slivers of sunlight & joy continue to break through the dark night of Joe’s absence ever so slowly. A new morning emergent springs to life whenever a slice of the soundtrack of his life is played.
Life is tougher without your infectious smile and cans of 12 oz. Cokes you kept on the back seat of your Joemobile to chuck at cars who cut you off. Even your brand of Road Rage was unique…like the time you threw a McDonalds milkshake through the window into the face of a driver who pissed you off. When counseling Aunt Mary to keep warm cans of pop in her car for such occasions with that beautiful straight poker face, your response to her incredulous laugh was “What?” When we didn’t seem to get a particular coping skill you discovered, “WHAT?” was a favorite response of yours. You’d disarm everyone with an Irish mug suggesting we who did not Get It somehow missed out on a key component of truth & justice you meted out on the highways and byways of life.
We’d give anything to see you dance again like a kid again, hear your laugh or watch you swing Scar the pit bull around by a Frisbee. Check this out guys. I’ve been rolling with these kids at the University of Michigan as part of a Documentary Theater class. Our final test was to write, produce and deliver a play entitled “While You Were Away.” You shoulda’ been there Joe…you too Danny. We killed it. Your big bro earned an “A” for the course. Part of the assignment was to develop a thirty minute set of jams for the pre-play as the audience was being seated. One that you’d love is this version of Where Did Our Love Go? In fact, here’s the whole set. Both of you continue to be a big influence. Dig it brother men.
What a legacies you left. Danner & Joey, you’re so alive in our hearts, but living life without you isn’t the same. In just a couple hours or so, I’ll be mixing sound at the Renaissance Vineyard Church in Ferndale for Christmas Eve while the rest of the fam meets to celebrate the birth of our Lord & Saviour Jesus Christ and the birth and newest addition to Hurlco.
Just about everything learned about the harmonics of sound were taught by you Joe & Danny. I wish you could be there in the booth tonight. We’d have so much fun. Barring that, lemme’ know if you see I’m about to screw up with a whisper in the heart.
Keep those amps on warm-up and know you’re missed by many this Christmas Eve. So how you like Simon? He’s quite a package.
All my love
The Confederate Flag has become the latest hot-button topic promulgated by a national press dedicated to a narrative dictated by intolerant tolerants. Well isn’t that special? No, it really isn’t church lady.
A savage barbarian walked into a church and murdered nine disciples of Jesus Christ on Wednesday, June 17th, 2015. They had gathered in the Name above all names in the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church located in Charleston, South Carolina when a hate-filled racist snuffed out their lives. What a way to go. I can only pray to be in a place like that when Father calls me home in lieu of some dope pad on Derby St. near 8 Mile And John R in the mean streets of Detroit.
Among those murdered was a state senator who was pastor of the church who’d just driven two hours from the state capitol to make the Bible Study. Clementa Pinckney, 41, was married with two children. Emanuel is the oldest AME church in the South and has one of the oldest and largest black congregations south of Baltimore, according to its website. Denmark Vesey, executed for attempting to organize a major slave rebellion in 1822, was one of the founders.
This unfathomable act of murder set off a reactive mushroom cloud encompassing the nation. To their credit, the citizens of Charleston didn’t seize on this hateful genocide as a pretext to riot. Choosing instead to gather in prayer was indeed the high road to take in Charleston and other churches across the land.
As has become a predictable response from the press, they chose the low road. No surprise there. Rather than focus on the core issues of justice, racism, and healing, the press has championed a boogeyman. Get rid of that goddamn Confederate Flag and all will be well. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss…this week’s bandwagon model. Jump in or else. Horrible grief and anger demands a boogeyman.
Zug aufspringen ar die SS Div der politischen Korrektheit Ihnen mitteilen zu Mein Führer!
Any idiot is aware the Confederate Flag was co-opted by white supremacists hiding under white sheets to cover their 2″ members. It’s def a symbol of an oppressive ideology subjugating black brothers and sisters to the status of slaves. That would be on a good day. Other days, it’s displayed by meth smoking, toothless, peckawood rednecks–believing a symbol representing the “old south” will offer an elusive salvation. It’s also displayed by others without a racist bone in their bodies as a symbol of Southern Pride. Some rock n’ roll bands have displayed it as simply a symbol capturing the rebellious nature inherent in dangerous rock n’ roll.
This blog isn’t really about any of that.
Fascism masquerading as universal rights with a blatant narrative of political correctness is a bigger scourge than the Confederate Flag could ever be, which I really don’t give a shit about one way or the other. I do care about the current atmosphere created by self-described “Progressive Tolerants” who may have good motives, but wind up fueling the very thing they claim to loathe. Being all about inclusivity, diversity, and pansexuality is something cherished by tolerants…as long as nothing comes along challenging their myopic viewpoint.
Near-sighted vision never has room for real tolerance. Not really. In fact, man-defined tolerance absent of grace never reflects true inclusivity. This blog is about the press seizing an opportunity to manufacture yet another “hot button” issue in an attempt to determine the directional narrative everyone ought line up and goose-step with.
Self-differentiated lives molded by God’s hand are threatening enough to evoke oppositional dissonance disproportionate to the matter at hand. Disagreeing to the point of becoming the very thing they project onto others (particularly Christians) as hateful, bigoted, narrow minded, intolerant, racist jerk offs, sets up the potential for fascism.
For some, all that and more is in store for those who fly a flag, watch a certain news outlet, believe in a different faith, or don’t fall for jails, institutions and death masquerading as freedom. Those popular “Coexist” bumper stickers don’t really reflect reality as practiced by those who’d demand no one display the Confederate Flag. They want to only coexist with others they agree with. Anyone disagreeing with their warped value set is now branded a “hater” in a society gone mad.
At the end of the day, none of this has any real significance, so be of good cheer. All of this has been prophesied about years ago by folks gifted with a vision above and beyond the limitations of man.
1 Timothy 4:1 – Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;
Luke 21:36 – Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.
You know I took the poison
From the poison stream
Then I floated out of here
Singing…ha la la la de day
Ha la la la de day
Ha la la de day
Dateline: Chicago, 1971
The acid kicked in while strolling through Old Town with a band of merry pranksters from Lamphere High in Madison Heights, Michigan. Ostensibly there for the purpose of a school field trip, we had our own definition of what a trip entailed. The specimen ingested was in the form of a small, light green pill, affectionately known to us as “Green Flats” LSD.
Bright lights burned brighter from head shop windows enticing mad-dog youth with “counter-culture” paraphernalia. Music resounding and abounding through the haze of Marijuana smoked openly on the street was a norm for the time. Far out…killer…groovy. Hallucinogenic visions took hold with counterfeit magic. Our group no longer appeared as young tourists–we were Eight Miles High above the clouds. Laughing at otherwise innocuous forms of reality through a prism of an illicit organic compound (C20H25N3O) had us rolling on the sidewalk.
Finally, near the midnight hour, we made it back to base camp. Ensconced in the YMCA next to the L-Tracks, the boys were on one floor and the girls on another, separated fiercely by a rent-a-cop with a bad-ass weapon that looked more like a mini-candelabra than a knife. While most made a night out of eluding the guard by going out windows, and scrambling up fire escapes in a quest to biblically connect with the opposite sex, Murph & I stayed sequestered in a dark room. Plans made before the trip included experimenting with my first shot of heroin. By the early morning, my mind felt like runny, scrambled eggs. A year of intense, cognitive-shifting research with a powerful hallucinogen left this young mind dissociated from reality. Every high came with a ball-busting bummer of a down and I was ready to graduate to the Hard Stuff. The transition from lysergic utopian fantasies to grimy spoons and spent needles commenced.
Connection with God ~ Not detected
Connected with self ~ Fahgeddaboudit
The cooking smack had an unmistakably unique smell that filled the hotel room. After drawing the contents of the spoon into a syringe, Murph slipped the needle in my vein and drew back enough to see a squirt of blood confirming a “hit” followed by a pushing of the plunger to nirvana. A pleasant, low-key sense of warmth filled a soul left ravaged by irresponsible choices and the depravity of sin. For the first time in a long time, things were chill & mellow. It was like taking a warm bath on the inside while going on vacation without ever leaving the room.
Authenticity ~ Not detected
That one shot led to a 43-year losing battle with the White Witch. Left swirling in the wake were many close friends and family members deeply hurt by my love affair with opiates. A subjugation of the call on my life by a loving God with a much higher purpose planned than that of a dope fiend was the worst of it. The low-lights of broken promises included; unfulfilled dreams; the deaths of three family members, deep wounds to the souls of two sons; divorce; complete estrangement from family; firings from three bluechip jobs; lies; deceit; jails; prisons; two cults; institutions & six near-death overdoses–only begins to scratch the surface of a scab covering decades of pus.
Near the beginning of this deviant living entered a man with a capacity for love like no other I’ve known. Bill took me under his wing through 31 years of incarceration, freedom, defeat, victory, relapse & recovery. Were it not for him, I’d have probably not been blessed to experience good periods of recovery in between pilgrimages to the wasteland. When doing so, he never lost hope when the mounting stack of empirical evidence would suggest otherwise. Remaining clean & sober for the last two years of his life, is something I’ll always remain grateful for. We had a non-stop blast walking down his final days on this temporal planet. This shot was taken at the last Alcoholics for Christ men’s retreat Bill attended.
Waking one day in a psychiatric ward where I’d landed after Dan’s death. the guilt and shame was so oppressive, suicide had become a viable option. Contrasting that reality against the years Danny and I were as tight as brothers could be, proved impossible. There were decades when we loved our children, music, rockin’ out, the Lord, and each other like no others. That’s the trufe.
Tight with a capital “T” doesn’t begin to define our brotherhood. We were thicker than thieves and jumped at every chance to experience live, rock n’ roll music. During most of the go-go seventies, we took up residency at various addresses in San Francisco. This spot in Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco was my favorite. Dan would probably rate our flat on Potrero Hill as his top spot. Wherever we lived, we worked hard and partied even harder. There ought to be a law against having so much fun. Actually…there was.
Renting out the top flat of a massive Victorian in the Haight, near the Golden Gate Park’s “Panhandle” In the mid-seventies seemed like a good move. The Haight was considered a rough hood by San Franny’s Wimp Standard. Being from Detroit, that didn’t faze us one bit. On a fairly regular basis, we’d back off wanna-be gangstas–laughing in their faces as no more than a nuisance. Exercising big brother prerogative, I set up camp in the top corner turret bedroom. Did you ever try to hang wooden shutters in a curved Window? That one job took more than a week, requiring four grams of cocaine to complete. Danner chose the bedroom at the end of the hall with the big square window. With six large rooms, there was plenty of space for Joe after springing him from Synanon. Collectively, we gave Keith Richards a run for his money on the party tip.
There’s a period of substance abuse where it definitely has the potential for serious fun. That’s not said to glorify it, only to state the truth. Addiction is a cunning, insidious and baffling malady. People take drugs because they work. As it progresses from use, to abuse, and then finally addiction–the user is the last one to know, long after they quit working. Taking responsibility for his death (a POV held by most family members) would be the height of alcoholic grandiosity, because that’s playing God. Moreover, to define the totality of our brotherhood based on the last night of his life would besmirch our bond of brotherhood as road dogs on the Road Most Traveled. For years, Danny and I lived by the words Springsteen sang in “No Surrender”
Well, now young faces grow sad and old
And hearts of fire grow cold
We swore blood brothers against the wind
Now I’m ready to grow young again
And hear your sister’s voice calling us home
Across the open yards
Well maybe we’ll cut someplace of own
With these drums and these guitars
‘Cause we made a promise we swore we’d always remember
No retreat, baby, no surrender
Blood brothers in the stormy night
With a vow to defend
No retreat, baby, no surrender
In the end, our respective addictions had eroded our bond to the point where we only got together to get high. No more music, no more joy, no more nothing–except drugs. On the last night of his life with Danny, he overdosed and died just three feet from me. Being too screwed up to even notice at first, it was too late to do anything about it. In the end, at the minimum, I broke the vow of promise to defend Danny, failing as his big brother, something oldest brother Tom has never done.
For reasons I may never understand, my fiance’ at the time, chose to stick it out and walk through a fire that consumed others. Dropping off a stack of support letters from friends five days into the psych ward stay, a note from my pastor had the most impact–expressing something along these lines;
“Megan & I miss you. We miss your ‘Amens’ during sermons. We miss your love for life and love for God. The kids miss your willingness to pop out your dentures when they scream; ‘Take out your teeth Mr. Tim!‘ Despite your present circumstances, God hasn’t given up on you…nor will we. Praying for your recovery brother. Love, Jim”
Setting down the letter, an awareness of a power greater than I rose from the catacomb of a soul-dead heart. For the first time in years, I could sense God’s alive, palpable presence.
Hope ~ Detected
Over the next nine months, reality would hit hope, slamming me down like a drunk on the barroom floor–followed by enough grace to get up, strap on a pair and keep moving forward. After a lifetime of episodic debauchery fueled by self-will-run-riot, this very human temple took some hellacious hits. Apparently, it didn’t discourage Amy from marrying me, but were sufficient enough to warrant concern by my primary physician, who’s the absolute bomb. Over the ensuing months, she’s engaged in a vigorous, intentional mission to put humpty-dumpty back together again. Amy, granted access to details of a prescribed health regimen, provided some motivation to press on when stuck in moments of rebellious, cantankerous silliness.
Direction ~ Detected; Simplicity ~ Detected
Dateline Berkley, MI 2014
Amongst the many referrals made by Dr. Dillon to a myriad of specialists, one of them warrants noting here. Dr. AlSabie at Beaumont is quite the character and explained my hepatitis C had a viral load of over three million. A viral load 800,000 and above generally is indicative of a need for treatment.. Probably contracted around ’89, I came to the dance 25 years late. He prescribed two drugs costing approximately $50,000.00/month for three months. He said not to worry because they worked hard on insurance companies for approval. One week later, a call came in from the Beaumont Specialty Pharmacy instructing me to come and pick up the prescriptions of Sovaldi and Olysio. My normally stingy Part D prescription plan approved the $150,000.00 treatment.
It was all systems go
Grace defies any human limitation of measurement. Grace defies the lie of Karma. What a crock of crap Karma is, because if what truly went around, came back around…I’d surely been dead many years ago. For 90 days, this was one prescription not to miss. Mixed with hope and folks willing to stand-in-the-gap for a wretch like moi’, treatment proceeded propelled by prayer. The goal is to achieve what we Heppers and Doctors refer to as SVR (sustained virological response), which means that you have no detectable hepatitis C virus in your blood. The results came in yesterday.
HCV ~ Not Detected
Sharing the good news first with Amy, we just hugged while tears of gratitude dropped. That the results hit on my oldest son’s birthday is not lost on this writer. Calling to wish him a birthday greeting via a twist on the Stooges “1969” sung into a speaker phone, Timmy cracked up. After the greeting, it seemed timely to share the good news with him.
“That’s great! Does this mean you’re cured?” Timmer asked, adding he’d been praying for a good report. “Yes it does son. There’s a follow-up confirmatory test in another 90 days. Don’t sweat it Timmy and thanks so much for the prayers. because they had an effect on the outcome”
This blog is dedicated to the loving memory of nephew Ryan and brothers Daniel J. Hurley & Joseph P. Hurley
Through the miracle of social media coupled with God’s grace, Murph called recently after hooking up on Facebook. His purpose was to make amends for introducing me to heroin. Of course, I received his heart-felt apology. Then he shared how he’s been clean & sober for 27 years “carrying the message” to other suffering alcoholics and addicts. That’s how it’s supposed to be. The therapeutic value of one addict carrying the message of recovery, hope and grace to another suffering addict is without parallel.
We’ve got these two cats named Ramona & Beezus. Talk about double trouble.
Now take it easy. This isn’t gonna’ be some lame blog expecting the reader to interrupt their day and salivate over the antics of boring ass cats.
Pets are cool. However, I’m not one of the animal rights activists flooding social media in a quest for their elevation to sainthood. Animals are animals, Period. Besides, I’ve always been more of a dog guy. However, upon meeting these two felonious felines, one is struck by how approachable and tolerant Beezus is. She’s more like a little puppy. You can pick her up and rock her furry eyes to sleep. A real cozy lover she is. The only irritating thing she pulls on a regular basis is to prowl table & counter-tops in the dead of night, taking great glee at knocking stuff on the floor…just to hear it fall. Glasses, drinks, candles…you name it. Everything is fair game. She’s also somewhat of a bread junkie. Her jones for it is ravenous, necessitating the use of a metal bread box to keep her away. Other than that, she’s neat, clean, and fun to be around. In the dysfunctional family of roles, Beezus is…
“The Purrfect Child”
Ramona is a whole other story. She’s our “Special Olympics-Challenged” cat. In contrast to Beezus, she’s overweight, messy and loves to lay her fat ass right smack dab in the middle of a doorway or some other highly traveled route in the house. She’s highly proficient at getting under your feet. That’s always fun when getting up in the middle of the night to drain your vein–as she does her damnedest to trip you up. She’s got this tail with a chunk missing and a bend at the 3/4 mark. When excited, it does this twitchy meth thing as if plugged into an electrical socket. Well…you might have some of those qualities if you had her unresolved kitten-of-origin issues. As a young kitty scampering around her environs, Ramona gave new meaning to “Curiosity killed the cat”
While looking for kicks on route 66 one day, she snuck into the clothes dryer while my wife was doing laundry one day.
Ramona ended up in a hot dry cycle for more than a moment. Ames thought it sounded like a pair of kids tennis shoes banging around the drier. When those shoes started meowing on steroids, Ames freed her from certain death with slightly burnt paws and kinda’ on the warm side. But she’s one tough cat and made it through many dangers, toils and snares after being checked out by the vet. Two weeks after that, Ramona made her way into the refrigerator. Thus, a template of extremes was formed in her psyche’. At first, I was a tad slow downloading her peculiar mannerisms, and frankly, thought of her as a pain in the ass.
Add to that, she shits outside the box.
That’s right readers. In the basement are two large, aluminum trays filled with kitty litter for them to do their business. Beezus on the right, Ramona on the left. For reasons not quite known, Ramona can’t even get taking a dump right. She’s on the chub side and can’t clean her butt very well. I’ve never seen a cat with a dirtier ass. We’re talking major, dried dingle balls clinging to her anal fur. That makes sense when viewing the periphery outside her dump box. Like little claymore mines, Ramona isn’t particularly fussy about where she lays her funky IED’s. It use to piss me off to no end. Seriously. What kind of cat would defy the Natural Order Of Things to take a dump outside her box?
One day while in the bowels of the basement folding some laundry, I caught Ramona walking sideways towards her box, ostensibly to purge her system of effluent and digested cat food. You ever watch how a cat will hide their head behind a table-cloth and think you can’t see them? That’s exactly the tactic I employed to gather some Intel on her droppings. Without her knowing, I watched as she took a squat about 6″ outside the box and let it fly. What followed cracked me up. After depositing a small-cow pie on the floor, Ramona jumped into the box and began furiously scooping litter in a futile effort to mask the stench left in the wake of her damaged little mind. With great determination, she scooped left, then right, and then seemed to say; “That’s good” and moved on to other amusing tweaky behavior.
At that point, my attitude started changing regarding my Ramona-Bona. As I grabbed the plastic putty knife to scrape the residual of her basement visit off the floor, that still, small voice began speaking in my heart. When balanced on the Triple Beam of the Trinity I get a kick out of what God will do–and use, to connect with His kids.
Take a look Tim. See that pile? Pretty disgusting…isn’t it?
That’s you outside My will and plan for your life.
Messy, isn’t it?
It’s pretty stinky as well.
That’s right. See how Ramona tried to cover it up? See any parallels there?
Er…now that You mention it…Hmm, I think I know where this is going.
No matter how many times Ramona tries to mask her mess with a thin coating of her choice…
The ends are always the same?
Actually Tim, it gets progressively worse. Those who loved you the most, those who hung in the longest–were exposed, hurt, damaged, and wounded by your discharge. That was on a good day.
Yeah…been dreaming a lot about Danny & Joe lately. In the dreams, they’re alive and with me, but I always feel like a piece of shit.
Embrace dreams. There’s no condemnation for those I reside in. You need to get with this in order to make the best of whatever time is left. They are alive and with you. No one can take that from you son. I don’t define the totality of your existence based on your last day with them. Your brothers are in good hands…My hands. Right?
You can’t go back and clean up your past. The consequences of your sin aren’t anything you can handle, own, or even look at without My grace. Only then, will you surrender so I can make beautiful art out of the cacophony of dissonance and train wrecks of your life
How do you do that?
You and I need to operate on a “need-to-know” basis. Right now, you don’t need to know very much. Start with the small things
Got a suggestion?
I AM the author of every good “suggestion” that permeates your rebellious brain. Here’s one for you. The energy you waste getting upset over petty stuff is beneath you. Clean that litter as an act of worship. Embrace Ramona with a gentle spirit. Cultivate gratitude for the next leg of the journey. I AM the restorer of the breaches. Slow down…take a look. Love Amy. Embrace those boys. Play more music and for the love of Me, quit hanging out unsupervised in that Irish mind of yours
It’s a petty, vindictive, unmerciful & boring place anyway
I know. Choose to get outside. Find the Radical Middle. That’s been an elusive thing. Right?
One more thing
You’re My train-wreck and I love you with an everlasting love
I’ve gotta’ run now because Ramona just dragged her butt across the clean bed sheets, and it really…
Pat was the AFSCME Union Steward on day shift at the City of Warren’s Wastewater Treatment Facility, often times a thankless job. The guy was humble, quiet, intelligent, and endowed with a pair of union balls most scabs secretly covet.
We became soul brothers during an attempt by an outside company of hired guns to implement “best practices” at the WWTP. Among many “recommendations”, it meant “relaxed” job descriptions and the loss of overtime required to run and maintain a facility designed to operate on a 24/7 basis. Briliant. The citizens of Warren won’t restrict the elimination of body waste to just day shift. As that penny-wise, pound-foolish notion became our reality, two shift supervisors decided they would exploit the new directive on eliminating overtime by grabbing it up for themselves. Their combined abuse of OT was nothing less than staggering. In no time, they were raking in more than their base salary. When operations & maintenance began to question the fairness of this new “best practice,” upper management ignored and chose to silver-tongue their subordinates. After a year of this bullshit, some of us met in the locker room one day, deciding our next move. Concluding the only option left was going outside the department, we wrote and distributed a petition everyone signed (except three guys bereft of a spine on the midnight shift) exposing the overtime abuse by two specific shift supervisors who were making more than the mayor.
Pat hand-delivered copies of the petition to every council person. After doing so, He made sure his last stop would be the mayor’s office. It had such an impact, a council vote on the Water Board budget was held up while they researched the merit and allegations of the petition.
The retaliatory fall-out was immediate and very direct. Because I wrote the petition and Pat delivered it, we were in the cross-hairs of the two supervisors who’d been exposed for their greed, hypocrisy and malfeasance. Neither of us had ever experienced the kind of explosive rage those two guys unleashed. Looking back, I’ll admit to using some fairly inflammatory language in the petition that was read at a meeting of the Warren City Council and broadcast via cable to residents of the City.
This statement didn’t go over real well.
“While operations & maintenance rank & file bust their asses in their part to facilitate a more efficient workplace for the benefit of taxpayers, two shift supervisors continued engorging themselves like feral swine at the trough of the rate-payers. Their unfettered abuse of overtime is so egregious, every resident should rise up and inundate the Mayor’s Office with calls of protest, demanding these two pigs be stopped in the repugnant swill they revel in”
On the basis of said petition, we were both called into Chief Engineers office the next day and chastised for lacking “loyalty” and losing the “vision.” Proper etiquette (never a strong-suit) flew out the window. My immediate response was to inform management to be grateful two of their darlings were exposed. They didn’t quite see it that way.
At any rate, it was now time to cue up Warren Zevon’s “Lawyers, Guns & Money” because the shit had hit the fan.
Dad…get me out of this indeed.
Ponch & Nick went about the business of creating a textbook “hostile work-place.“ Of the two, Ponch wasn’t the sharpest tool in the shed. Barely functioning on a “challenged” level in an effort to extract a public retraction, he wrote up and/or suspended me a total of 14 times over the next 8 month period. Things got pretty damn intense around the plant as an unholy jihad revved up. One day, a scream above the roar of machinery could be heard. “Hurley! Get your miserable ass over here and fill in this big hole now! A cursory examination of the task at hand revealed a broken 4″ PVC Line in the deepest part of the excavation. After preparing for the arduous task at hand, I called my steward to inquiring about being been taken off of operating equipment to do a maintenance gig. At the job site. Pat smiled and observed;
“Hey Tim…does that line look repaired to you?”
Again, Pat smiled and said with a wink;
“Use your best judgment”
After filling in the hole with cement over the broken line, the plant email internet went crazy with messages flying around questioning Ponch’s sanity. He arrived back at the job site just as the last shovel full of dirt was tossed awaiting maintenance to cement it over. Bloviating about my judgement, we feared for his health. When stopping to catch his breath, my response was measured and calm while feigning ignorance, while underscoring the importance of following orders.
Stuff like that went on for quite some time. His frustration and rage only grew in his effort to retaliate. He never really made any progress as Pat, and I continued to take the brunt of his futile assaults.
Patrick was The Rock to lean on and would always would say;
“Don’t give him any bullets to shoot you with. Never be insubordinate, do what he tells you, ‘cuz I got your back brother Hurley.”
True to his word, Pat beat, reversed and over-turned all 14 of the write-ups and suspensions.
Some of you anti-union folks out there might sing a different tune if you worked for those two geniuses. Terms like Maximized Efficiency; Downsizing; Multi-Tasking and Flexibility became plant buzzwords on cultish emails emanating like sludge from management. We knew they were trite euphemisms for getting rid of employees.
Truth be told, Budgets were tight everywhere. The Plant had to adapt to changing times. The only problem with the kind of “progress” they were selling (at an exorbitant rate) was this: Over the next few years, management began replacing senior $31.00/hr state-certified professionals with $10.00 grunts. That was our reward for loyalty and trust. Guess who never went with the program? Nick & Ponch. As operations and maintenance became flexible with job descriptions (ostensibly to save jobs), those two did everything to sabotage anything they perceived to threaten their rather opulent existence.
Their attacks drew Pat and I into a very tight friendship. In fact, we became “blood brothers in a stormy night with a vow to defend…no retreat baby, no surrender.” As the hostility morphed into personal threats, conflicting work-orders, assignment of the dirtiest jobs and so forth, their deleterious effect on the operation of the plant became obvious.
For instance, one day, Ponch ordered us to abandon the operation of the plant to weed-whack a hill of grass in 98 degree heat.
After a year of this crap, I was getting pretty pissed. However, Pat always kept his cool and never would give management the pleasure of blowing his lid, er…hard-hat. The issuance of AVOs (Avoid Verbal Orders) job assignments only applied to us.
So there we stood in the blazing heat with two gas-powered, industrial weed whackers strapped on our backs like rented mules. As sweat poured down our mugs like a leaky effluent discharge line, Pat calmly adopted his inimitable, shit-eating, handsome Italian smile while reading the AVO and said;
“Hey Tim…listen up. This work assignment doesn’t specify how high or low to cut the grass, so just use your best judgement. Amen?”
In the twinkling of an eye, great joy replaced the tension & anxiety as grace replaced a desire to mace Ponch’s face. Firing up the weed-whackers, our laughing could be heard above the roar of the machines. It took all shift, but we did manage to butcher the hell out of that hill of grass. Two brother operators in a maniacal state had lots of fun decimating the big hill of grass to a state it would take a year to recover from.
The hill was the first thing visitors saw when driving onto plant grounds. Management didn’t think it was so great. Upon inspection at the end of our shift, Ponch was livid. Pat calmly informed him it would be in his best interest to act in a more professional manner, or we’d be filing a grievance against him. As he sputtered in frustration, Pat waited patiently for his wrath to wear out and with perfect timing, asked him about the wisdom of abandoning the jobs we were hired to do.
“Why sacrifice the operation of the plant? So you could get your little rocks off retaliating because of the petition? What you’re doing is illegal, but you’re too blinded by an exaggerated sense of importance to see it. O’ by the way, we had a lots of fun manicuring that hill while getting in a work-out. In fact, we’d respectfully request weed whacking every blade of grass for the rest of the summer, providing you approve the overtime.”
Pat just stood there and smiled, while Ponch looked like he might cry. In the end, there wasn’t a thing he could do.
Though quite the passionate man, Pat knew to hold back until alone without witnesses to really lay into those pricks. He taught me about grace under pressure. He also did his job without the backing the AFSCME hierarchy, including the local president who was a buddy of Ponch. That meant Pat took shots from all directions with both barrels, but NEVER flinched. The irony was he wasn’t a troublemaker and never instigated a thing. Pat had a heart for the underdog. He’d think and pray about a matter and then proceed with a response while avoiding ill-conceived reactions. He had a particular distaste for any kind of bully.
Today, ten years later, I miss my friend and brother. He was a guy who understood how a work-place should function and fought hard for everyone he represented. But it went way beyond that with Pat. He was a man who walked out the courage of his convictions with an ability to see the Big Picture. He thought ahead and played those two fools the chess-game of their lives. His Cheshire Cat smile was something that never failed to lift our spirits. He was a steward’s steward.
Guys like Pat come into our orbit, but a few times in life.
Many lives were blessed & enriched by our having crossed paths with Patrick.
Speak to me
Speak to me heart
I feel a needing
to bridge the clouds
A way I wish to know
A way I wish to know
Oh you’ll ride
In a ring
Backwards and forwards
Those who seek
feel the glow
A glow we will all know
A glow we will all know
On that day
Filled with grace
And the heart’s communion
Steps we take
Steps we trace
Into the light of reunion
Paths that cross
will cross again
Paths that cross
will cross again
Speak to me
Speak to me shadow
I spin from the wheel
nothing at all
Save the need
the need to weave
A silk of souls
that whisper whisper
A silk of souls
that whispers to me
Speak to me heart
all things renew
hearts will mend
round the bend
Paths that cross
Paths that cross
will cross again
Rise up hold the reins
We’ll meet again I don’t know when
Hold tight bye bye
Paths that cross
will cross again
Paths that cross
Will cross again
RIP brother Pat.
I’ll see you further on up the road in our Father’s house
The swirling cold winds of an autumn night blowing leaves from trees beckoned a chance to test out a new leaf blower purchased with a gift card sent by my friend Karen as a wedding gift. Fashioning a leather guitar strap into a sling for the blower served to preserve what’s left of the L1 vertebrae in my back. With gardening gloves on, the blower blowing at 225mph, I started attacking the dead leaves. Blowing their life-less corpses into piles ISIS would get a collective erection over, the lawn underneath revealed itself. Within a short period of time, I discovered the art and rhythm to blowing leaves. A normally mundane task takes on new meaning and perspective with the slightest attitude adjustment.
Bill taught me that.
Soon, a zen-like quality of blowin’ in the wind settled down this restless soul. Taking inventory of those moments in life when God allowed two lives to intersect led me to thoughts of Billy. That last year of late nights, calls, remote controls, meals, rides, grace and service while esteeming a brother higher than I flooded my head with gratitude. We were brothers in arms. Bill loved music. Here’s a song I never got to share with him.
Just like a castaway
Lost upon an endless sea
I saw you far away
Come to rescue me
Cast away the chains, Darling Pretty
Cast away the chains away behind
Take away my pain, my Darling Pretty
And the chains that once were yours and mine
Without any pedestaling intended, I might not be here were it not for Bill’s influence in my life. Bill “carried the message” with efficacy because he never forgot our chains were his. It’s that simple. There’s no PHD required to share one’s strength, hope, experience and failure with another. All it takes is a willingness to be transparent and being tuned into whatever is in front of our faces.
Bill taught me that.
Near the end, Bill had become very child-like in the truest sense of the term. Everything was the best. A fire burned deep. He referred to it as God wanting to “rekindle the dwindled” The elderly babes at his place of residence loved his company. He had such a great sense of humor, an infectious laugh, and a lust for life. Grateful this is our last picture taken together.
at the end of this day
established a pact
made for all nations
changed the fact
how grace and salvation
made possible with pain
the Lamb’s shed blood
poured and rained
down that hill of mud
gave all He had
on Golgotha’s hill
the place of the skull
that we could soar
empty lives made full
cries & roar
just a few years back
locked in a cage
choking on rage
today a visit
a bro in a hospital bed
neither one dead
playing guitar for the King
at the Vineyard tonight
thank you Jesus
for dying on that rock
opening the lock
silencing our wail
renting the veil
all doubt diminished
gasping…”it is finished”
t. hurley 2013
t. hurley 2013
a warm greeting…our first meeting
the pearl bore witness…a man polished & stoned
sautéed & seasoned…no longer free
bereft of all reason…locked on tier three
in the jackson cage
flopping like a fish…on a dry river bank
a desperate wish…earl took pity
a place so oppressive…mayor of jack-town city
unlikely neighbors…earl “the pearl” cross
dug this sailor…the cross a rock-boss
no, more like a tailor…sewing up failures
in a small, safe ‘hood…where no one dared
to cross Cross…or mess with hurls
earl looked out…when good lookin’ was needed
down twenty-five to life…after reluctantly pleading
called out for his wife…coming home early
it was way too much…drove pearl squirrely
some punk biblically knowing…everything showing
the bride of his youth…in their wedding bed
earl whipped out a heater….shot him in his ass
he didn’t beat her…gave her a pass
rage exploding…wrong or right
snuffed out a life…leaving behind
two wounded sons…and a horny wife
the hurls could relate
we had that in common…surviving as clowns
for a life mostly down…devoid of dignity
no freedom or semblance…of any respect
a fight for survival…he knew the drill
taught by earl with style…put the “ch” in chill
i was pearl’s nigga’…his words not mines
so try to relax…with your PC crimes
that never can see…past the nose of your face
or a condescending finger…that has no place
devoid of grace…in the jackson cage
under his wing…with much love & respect
ain’t no thang…but a chicken wang
black & white no barrier…what a team we made
we banged hard…confounding the guards
earl would smile and say
”fuck those bitches today”
riffing off…my twelve steppin’ ways
earl got high…it made no sense
iron sharpening iron…cutting down a fence
that otherwise kept…two men from knowing
how precious it is…when brethren dwell together
meetings a source of force…earl had no time for
as a matter of course…would gladly trade
a carton of squares….for a tab of morphine
offering pills of nirvana
In the jackson cage
laughing so hard…gosh was he funny
earl schemed hard….playing a card
a 40 gallon rubber can…gettin’ over on the man
cooking in his cell…belching putrid smells
defiant when busted…sent to the hole
for a 90 day season…released but not trusted
for very good reason
did it again…second time’s a charm
mason jars filled with scars
souls laid bare…8 ounce drinks
for a pack of squares…to stop the thinks
and ease the pain…that living brings
while grace was present…for hurls to refrain
saving the brain…it sure was tempting
every cell screaming…for chemical salvation
saturday night dreamin’…cell-block one north
on gallery three…in the jackson cage
earl ran numbers…the hurls would type
way before learning…rejecting all hype
big-time burning…by a major ticket
had to quit it
resignation tendered…for services rendered
pearl just smiled…in a place so vile
invoking yellow bile…toxic shame and remorse
stacked in piles…against cold tiles
where all we could do…at the end of a day
finding solace in the word…on knees we prayed
tough guys calling…that’s how we rolled
God funneled grace…to the face of our souls
on cold cement bawling…we cried for a touch
from the king of kings…in that jackson cage
heard earl scream once…a letter from home
hit like a punch…a black face drenched
tears of remorse…for sons never seen
dad’s tortured soul…contenders now pretenders
on the brink of abyss…smelling like piss
“this ain’t no way to live! your boys need you! get out and stay out!”
more to give…word on that one
took up earl…a cage is no fun
a promise kept…fifteen years
then sobriety lost priority
tsunamis of addiction…building off coast
smashing the shores…the weight of sin
on those who love most…did it again
during the hit…of a second bit
earl wouldn’t be pleased…thought of him often
he once was my POTUS…found out through OTIS
life came to an end…in the jackson cage
a crushed heart in pieces…hep c releases
to life eternal…no burning infernal
he was my brother…with more faith, balls & class
than most guys I’ve known…in any church service or mass
a visual remains…a big drum of spud
like a bear with her cubs…protecting the suds
from scandalous buds…gurgling crud
to break chains and annihilate brains
with societal misdeeds…in spite of the losses
earl lived by a creed…old-school to most
with a faith so deep…it could keep
spirits revived…souls psychedelisized
pearl oft would say…as a greeting of sorts
”Youse a crazy muthafucka hurls”
well, for my two cents…earl was a saint
most wouldn’t dissent…meeting this guy
the epitome’ of sorry…on a god awful safari
earl’s pot calling
this white boy black
once prostrated on altars
of smack, jack & crack
stopped from free-falling
sprung from unholy hells
it hardly seems true
these skies of blue
but I’ll take it
over being locked up
in rooms with chipped paint
staying busy with brooms
we made it through
human auctions of flesh
redeemed from death
turning back no option
by God’s love & grace
takes every breath
to avoid anything like
the jackson cage
rip my brother