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As hard as Apple i-everythings want us to believe otherwise, there’s no digital substitute for the charge that came from passing a note.

old-school texting

On that score, society is bored and desperate for a counterfeit. 

Old school flirting & texting had a much higher heat index.

I’ll never forget Sr. Josephine busting me in 8th grade passing a rather randy for-the-time note to a girl. She’d (not Sr. Josephinebeen  in the cross-hairs of my virgin, libidinous, adolescent love-radar all year. So nervous as to actually do anything about it, she lived only in the guilty-pleasure recesses of an altar boy brain formed in molds of shame and guilt.

After a recess game of dodge-ball on a warm spring day in 1968, I finally took a shot. 

Still learning about predicate adjectives modifying the noun subject, so please bear with me.

Where was I? O’ yeah…girls.

Catholic grrls have their own style and method. She (who shall remain unnamed) blushed and smiled demurely when handing her the note. Unceremonially busted by the evil nun in a quest to connect was no cause to abort the mission at hand. Chivalrous points were scored by not outing her as the recipient. Today, chivalry is not dead…only smothered by the oppressive Antichrist of political correctness. 

It was well worth falling on the sword. Two months later, the maiden of my affections reciprocated. She stalked me in the hallway with brown squares to line up on. With perfect timing, she pounced like a female leopard, and pushed me into the open locker in the hallway.  Being pinned in the locker for a kiss on the last day of school made it worth the first felonious charge of being  busted for passing a desperate note of longing.

kiss 4 editHer furtive kiss shocked my young eighth-grade sense of propriety inflicted by frustrated nuns.  Holy Guacamole Batman. That kiss provided a serious charge shooting from the soles of my feet through the top of an Irish melon that’s never forgotten it.

Her sweet, not-so-innocent kiss fired every brain synapse in a fractal cacophony of impact. As she withdrew from the strike and smiled, I could only slump in that locker and drool. With knees of jello later bent in a prayer of gratitude, it was a holy event.


She went on to Bishop Foley while I went on to moral bankruptcy and debauchery in the public system of More Fun. Truth be told, those Foley Girls could party like rock stars. 

But I digress…again 

Today, the PC Police might call that 45-year-old memory a source of trauma. Imagine being harassed, bullied & man-handled into a dark locker for a kiss. 
The horror, the horror…not. It was righteous, real and fun. Can’t do that with a smart phone. 

Seeing her happily married at the last Bishop Foley reunion, nothing needed to be said. For a millisecond with eyes locked, we smiled and connected. She may have even blushed.

Either that, or Hurley is just getting delusional in his old age. 

The art of kissing ought not ever diminish, fade or become boring. I was forty years old before learning how a well placed kiss and lip-lock of connection beats getting laid any day of the week.
The wisdom of that concept gets better with age.

old-school kiss

The options some fall for aren’t worth even considering.

Porn sucks. Being a promiscuous idiot is even worse.

Flirting is fun. If it leads to a kiss or brush of the tongue, that’s cool too.

Now either go rip-off your partner or take a cold shower.



The Greek word for Grace is “charis” and is used about 150 times in the New Testament of the Bible. The word refers to favor that God gives freely without expecting something in return. God provides his grace to us not because of anything we have done to earn it and not because of anything God desires to get from us. In fact, grace is dispensed in spite of the low-life scumbags we can be. God’s grace is free of charge…but it ain’t cheap.

The apostle Paul referred to the gospel of grace as a “mystery.” The inability to wrap our puny minds around something as awesome as grace doesn’t negate its profound reality. Like Paul, I sure don’t get it, but recognize grace when it presents itself.

Here’s an example.

An old friend called me fourteen months ago. Knowing I was struggling to get back on my feet after a sabbatical with the Michigan Department of Corrections, he wanted to help. He also sensed some kind of value in my writing and encouraged it. Without having to ask, this brother provided a flight to Florida to gift me with a 1997 Honda Accord and drive it back. He paid for everything, even the gas for the return trip. No strings attached. The only caveat was a commitment he wanted to pursue writing.

That’s a pretty good deal. We’re not talking the prison kind of Ramen Noodle grace. This was Radical Grace.

97 honda

The Honda has faithfully served this Irishman. I knew when receiving the car that it wasn’t just about my needs. Bill Keaton who was a brother, mentor and sponsor, spent the last year of his life rollin’ all over southeast Michigan in the Accord. It was an honor and privilege to be his chauffeur.  Now at 234,894 miles, my brother Joe would have quipped, “Hey! It’s just breaking in.” Alas, the reality is El’ Hondel started running a little rough.

Hoping to get by with a tune-up and the elimination of a “small leak” coming from “somewhere” (my words), I took the trusty Accord to a shop in Berkeley, Michigan my sister had recommended. The mechanic tried to break the news gently. Discerning he was a pro, Nick called me into the service bay to watch as he performed electronic diagnostic testing. Codes began flashing and numbers started jumping like my poor car was on meth. It wasn’t good. Then hoisting the car up on the lift, he grabbed a flashlight and invited me to join in for a further inspection.

The “small leaks” turned out to be rivers of un-living waters. An Unholy Mix of coolant, oil, power steering fluid and sludge coated the under-carriage of the motor compartment. At this point, I wasn’t exactly over-flowing with the joy of Jesus. The $1,100.00 estimate for a new distributor, crankshaft sensor, timing belt, water pump, axle boot, head gasket and a few other items did nothing to warm this soul on a cold Michigan morning.

After meditating on the situation, it became clear that getting a comparable runner for the cost of repairs would have been an exercise in futility. I told Nick to pull the trigger. Living in the “D”, you gots to have wheels.

That’s not the real point of this blog. We all go through this stuff. It’s called life on life’s terms. No biggie. In twelve step programs we call these “gold-plated problems” because we could be dead. Amen?

The higher struggle was this.

How could I afford the repairs, rent, bills and tithe at the same time? Having my butt planted at the Renaissance Vineyard Church in Ferndale, Michigan since being released from the Jackson Cage has been an awesome experience. They opened their doors and hearts to provide this prodigal with a place of restoration.  Now slammed with a demonic bill, what was a disciple to do? Because my faith & trust are still in the developmental stages, a short period of vacillation ensued.  After ten minutes of worthless bartering, the next right thing became clear as crystal . Tithing when everything is going great with money in the bank is one thing. To stop when things get tight is kinda’ lame. In spite of the present financial crisis, I’d feel like a punk for folding under pressure. We’re not called to give a tenth so we can barter with God or get something in return  It’s not about that. Father wants to know if we’re gonna’ be faithful stewards of the stuff  He’s provided. As I hit the “enter” button to tithe through PayPal, a sense of obedient joy supplanted anxious thoughts of the present moment. In fact, I started chuckling at the thought of how easily I can resort to being a dick. Then I started laughing at the thought of Jesus laughing with me. It made no sense, but it was sovereign and cool.

Within 24 hours, provision for paying for the car repair came from a couple moved by grace.

Tickets for a Chris Tomlin concert this month that came right after, serve as icing on the cake. Please hear my heart on this kids. I’m no spiritual giant. In fact, I really didn’t want to bake that cake. God knows the desires of our heart and will move heaven & earth to drive home lessons we resist.

Tomlin Toledo Tickets

None of this is written as any kind of boast.  There have been countless financial crisis’ where I blew off tithing in lieu of trying to figure things out on my own.  I’m ashamed to admit being such a petty jerk. At the end of the month, it never worked. Not once did I get ahead of the game by being a putz. When withholding from Father, I’m basically telling God with my actions;

“I don’t trust you.”

My sense is God doesn’t give one hoot about our money. He’s not bankrupt. He wants our abandoned trust. He knows how selfish I can be and only uses bucks to further His Kingdom. The choice is clear. Either we can remain bankrupt souls, enslaved to a world economy going south, or we can strap on a pair and trust God. Dad never gives up on His kids.

Just For Today, I thank God for his patient chastening, His long-suffering love & radical grace.

Mad props to Mat for the ride. Know that I’m writing up a storm my brother.

A very special thanks to Jeff & Karen. You guys are the bomb.

The Tomlin gig in Toledo is gonna’ be dope.

Check this out.


Flying down I-75 on November 29, 1986, the conversation with Kelly went something like this;

“OK…I got this! You cool?”

Tim…you don’t have to speed

“Whaddya’ mean I don’t have to speed?  We’re not going to 7-11 for a Slurpee!”

I know honey…it’s OK.  Ah’ wait. No it’s not…go ahead. You better hurry!

With the pedal to the floor we made the hospital in Detroit in record time

Wailing into the entrance with tires smoking, I slammed on the brakes…hopped out…flew past the guard…grabbed a wheelchair and bolted back out to Kelly before the rent-a-cop even knew what was happening.  Blowing past his wide girth in the hallway, he tried to tell me to wait and sign in.


“Now Tim…calm down” Kelly purred…only to have her tone change dramatically as the next contraction hit. No time for calm. We were on a mission from God!


While Kelly was in labor for almost two days with older brother Timmy, Josh was having none of that. In the time it took for Kels to get prepped and this Dad getting changed into scrubs…Joshua was ready to rock out within 55 minutes of arriving at the hospital. Barely making it into the delivery room in time, Josh emerged ass up…balls down…hung like a little race horse and cryin’ like a banshee.

 O’ yes my friends…Pure Michigan. Pure Hurley. That’s MY Boy.

He scored 10 on his initial Apgar Test

No he didn’t.

I just lied.

I don’t really remember the score. All I know is he had 10 fingers, 10 toes, had great color and was handsome as all get out. You know how most babies look like little wet shmooshed gerbils when they’re born? Not my boys. Those guys popped out lookin’ like Gerber Models and are still turning heads to this day.

That’s no brag…just fact. Given the copious amounts of hallucinogens this dad consumed during days of his misspent youth….it’s a miracle they didn’t come out with gills,  fish heads, webbed feet and two dicks. Really

To God be the glory.

So yeah…there he was. Did we ever shed tears of joy that day.

One of the first words Josh came up with was “Bop”. Eating food…Bop! Filling his diaper (gosh could that kid dump a load)…Bop! Hitting his brother Timmy…Bop! I mean…it was like he had this one word vocabulary for a couple of months. It was great. I’ve been trying to meet a woman like that ever since. Jes’ kiddin’. We’d have whole conversations where I’d look at him in his crib and go “BE!” Josh would look up and smile while replying with “BOP!”

So,  that’s how Josh’s first nickname became BE-BOP

What a joy it was raising you Josh. You really kept us on our toes.

After graduating High School–and like a majority of young folks away at college for the first time, Joshua found his new setting to be very liberating. At one point, Kelly and I had some parental concerns about the parameters of said liberation. We paid him a surprise visit one night at 10:00PM at his college dorm.

Josh greeted us in the hallway and asked…hahaha

“To what do I owe this surprise visit?”

O’…no biggie son…we just want to take you out for dinner.

“Like now?”

Yeah…let’s roll Buddy.

As we settled in the car, Josh broke the awkward silence with his patented wit & humor.

“So are you guys gonna’ tell me what this is all about? Or is it classified information?”

He was all of 17 years old when coming up with that one. O’ God…we laughed so hard, then proceeded to have a REALLY great meal together.

This song in his birthday video is significant between us as father & son. He played it for me on the way back from Western Michigan. Driving from Kalamazoo to Holland, Josh played U2’s “Sometimes You Can’t Make It On Your Own” …turned to me and sang this lyric; You’re the reason why the opera is in me.  At a very young age, Joshua learned an important truth, many guys never come to understand. Knowing when to play, hold & fold is an acquired art.

That you chose to drop out of college and come live with me in Holland for six months or so took me by surprise. Our time together there remains a very rich period of time between us. Now engaged and pursuing your degree with a great job…I’m very proud, happy and grateful for you Be Bop.

From your birth to that pivotal moment in Kzoo, until today….your life has been a real blessing to many Joshua.

Your Mom & I  still have your back. However, over the years we’ve learned with the wisdom that living brings…that you were never really ours. You were just on loan from God for us to parent for a season. We were far from perfect in that mission…but know this Josh, we love you with every fiber in our being. Whatever you choose in life is yours to choose. Honestly, for all our missteps, we never charted out a course for you. We only wish for this–that you fulfill whatever God’s plan is for your life and live it with a modicum of joy. Have the best year of your life.

At the end of the day, it’s still all about grace.

I love you son.



Saturday Night’s alright for jammin’…get a little action in.

I see it all before me:
the days of love and torment;
the nights of rock-and-roll.
I see it all before me.
Sometimes my spirit’s empty;
don’t have the will to go on.
I wish someone would send me

Give me something.
Give me something to give.
Oh, God, give me something:
a reason to live.
My body is aching.
Don’t want sympathy.
Come on. Come and love me.
Come on. Set me free.
Set me free.

The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures.
He leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul.
He leadeth me through the path of righteousness for His name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me.

Patti Smith/Easter/Privilege (Set Me Free)

On that note and with lyrics that abound, resound and rebound off  the ceiling of this soul, here’s a clip that might shake your money makers. Van just called Le’ Man Cave and said;

“Dig this Hurley, I need an acoustic rhythm backing track on ‘Wild Night’. Ronnie Montrose was only 17 when he laid down his opening riff. The kid did a good job, but I like the way you hammer that D string while playing the G. Put a little of that Irish Detroit on it. Check’s in the mail my brother.”

OK Van the Man…you got it. Strictly rhythm, I don’t make it cry or sing.


Technically perfect? Nope

Fun? O’ yes my friends!


My Dad use to tell me;

“Timmy…gratitude is the aristocrat of emotions, but it demands expression”

Consider mine expressed.

God bless your hearts.

Have the best Thanksgiving Day of your life….and for the love of God, keep on kicking out those jams!


Two of the finest young guys any man could be blessed with just celebrated a birthday with their Dad. Went and saw “Flight” with Timmy and then the boys took the old man to dinner @ Lily’s in Royal Oak.

“Flight” (starring Denzel Washington) is one of those movies that comes along once every half decade or so.

You were right Ab. Aside from excellent cinematography and a blazing soundtrack, this was THE movie to share with my oldest son on the best birthday I can remember in a very long time. Without giving too much away, the movie was awash in applicable metaphors that nailed this soul in a movie seat. Dads will get this movie. Less than perfect Dads will get it more. Denzel gives an academy award performance as a divorced, alcoholic father estranged from his son, friends and life in general.

Life under the influence dampens clarity &  luminescence. It makes love impossible.

A song by the Lumineers is Josh’s contribution to this inverted flight of a blog.

Being Irish and having been all of the above–it doesn’t take much to get this writer crying…but my sweet Jesus, I’ve never wept so hard in a movie. It’s really that good. My PCAP buds should go see this flic, if for nothing other than the final scenes. Dads might consider sharing this with their sons…though as that was just typed, three guys came to mind who have lost a boy. Go see it anyway. Trust me on this one. “Flight” is not some formulaic Hollywood product designed to be a tear-jerker. No…this one achieved something very special.

The Hurls won’t ruin it for you. Suffice to say, a thread of addiction & recovery weaves its way throughout the movie,  but not in any kind of clichéd manner.

As the credits rolled and the tears flowed, Timmy & I sat in stunned silence. Nothing really needed to be said. Of course…hahaha…that only lasted until getting to the parking lot. Pulling out onto 11 Mile, Timmer had to ask;

“So Daddy…what did you think about that flic?”

With a heart just slammed open by a reality shot I replied; “That movie was the absolute shit son. I’ve never witnessed Hollywood capture the real deal as it relates to alcoholism, addiction, recovery and redemption. That movie blew me away. Tim simply replied; “Good. Me too. I knew you’d dig it”  That’s my boy. 

We discussed things further and came back to my apartment. “Timmy…I’ve got to start a blog about this moving movie experience!“..I exclaimed. He sorta’ laughed and said; “Go for it Dad…how do you do it?” He’s a real good writer in his own right and can write circles around Pops. He sat and watched as the basic draft of this took form.  He remarked at how fast his dad worked. What a great kid. I just laughed and said when the spirit hits, I’ve got to get it down because of being so ADD. As we were doing this, Josh walked in with a big ol’ hug & greeting.

That called for a precious Kodak Moment.

November 9th, 2012

This is one epic snapshot of joy captured forever.

Da’ Boyz At Restaurant

Da’ Boyz

The boys were all about being with Dad today. Frankly, it was a bit of a shock. Really. They were hurt as the result of the inverted flight of my life for literally…years at a time. It’s like we’re getting to know each other all over again. The healing for them has been slow. It could not be forced. Sometimes we break stuff that never gets fixed again. I put those two guys through more shit than any kid should ever have to go through. To have a Dad go MIA over a liquid or pile of powder is a unfathomable and horrible experience for any child…at any age. My God…that one is still a bitter thing to own. But one must own it to stone it. Every junkie is not like a setting sun.

Something they both experienced was a Dad hell-bent on a death wish. No child should ever have to go through that kind of crap. Yeah, we package it up with trite euphemisms like “Dysfunction” and labels like “Disease”. At the end of their day, it’s just plain madness.  Pure anarchy and pain. Evil personified. In and out of recovery for decades, they never knew when The Call would come. One particularly gruesome safari where I had dropped off the map and into the abyss of a ghetto dope pad in Detroit, they once called around to hospitals and morgues to see if their dad was there. That’s pretty sick. It’s nothing less than soul murder for a child to go through. At the very least, it wounds and leaves scars.

That’s on a good day.

Flash forward to November 9th, 2012

This is what Timmer proudly laid out for my birthday.

unplugged birthday presents

Posting this just elicited another torrent of tears…the good kind. The key-chain is engraved with the Serenity Prayer. The cologne is named “Unplugged”. The two-post guitar tie pin is engraved with; “Ask me about Unplugged” What a kid. Hope you hear my heart on this tip. This isn’t bragging about “Look what my sons gave me” or any shallow crap like that. This is a testimony about what the Mighty God has done in our hearts and lives.

This miracle of restoration is nothing less than the Red Sea parting.

Malachi 4:6

And he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, And the hearts of the children to their fathers, Lest I come and strike the earth with a curse.”

Luke 1:17

He will also go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, ‘to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”

Can I get an Amen?

Dig…think about the heart and spirit behind those gifts. Here’s my take on it.

The Unplugged Cologne is gratitude expressed for a Dad that doesn’t smell like a filthy drunk or grimy junkie anymore. Hallelujah.

The Unplugged Tie Pin gets a little deeper. Both Tim & Josh have been to Vineyard services to watch this Dad play his acoustic guitar. They were both at the homecoming celebration service for Bill Keaton. Being intact at the time of their conception & birth, I use to press the bowl of my Ovation Guitar up against Kelly and play gospel songs to them while still in the womb. The strum of the strings would resonate through Kels Amniotic Fluid and provide spiritual nutrients for their ravenous little Hurley Souls. I’d get a real kick out of it when they’d start kicking out some jams in the womb and dancing like David danced.  To this day, their souls (at least unconsciously) resonates with gospel & worship. They have excellent taste in music. Some of their other choices are not necessarily my cup of Constant Comment Tea, but I can’t deny the talent thereof. I guess in that department, I wasn’t a failure as their Dad.  They dug the hell out of the blazin’ version of “Awake O’ Israel” that the AC Pick-Up Band laid down at Bill’s service.  Sooooo…I think the Guitar Tie Pin is an affirmation and reflection of their heritage and present reality.


The Serenity Prayer Key Tag pretty much speaks for itself. It’s all about the faith, hope, love & mercy that has bound us together before, during and after the deluge. There’s no need for any self-delusion. Had I discharged my parental duties service on a more consistent basis, they definitely would not have suffered so much.

For a long time, it seemed as though we’d never get out of these blues alive.

Now, we’re feelin’ pretty alright.

In closing, I’m cognizant there are parents reading this who have lost a child to death, addiction, mental illness and other horrors. Be of good cheer. If God can fix and draw a straight line with the crooked stick of this life and a wretch like moi’…He can do it for you. Our job is to never give up. Never lose faith. Never quit. Being alright trumps feeling alright 24/7.

Again, and without any grandiose or superfluous hyperbole’ I can share with a straight monitor that this birthday has been the best one in years…but not for the usual reasons.

The day didn’t really start out  that way. After Bill’s service on November 3rd, we lost another AC brother on November 5th. The service for Rick Gates was held today. There was no way to miss his homecoming as Rick was the first cat to provide a shot to play right guitar in a righteous Band Of Brothers (and Betty) after getting out of prison. While living in a 3/4 house in Pontiac and crawling from the wreckage, Rick let me sit in with the band that could play circles around me. They were cool and provided a means by which to get my chops back. Rick loved the Lord and the Lord loved Rick.

He was a gentle soul who died suddenly on Monday at the age of 53.

This blog is respectfully dedicated to his son Beau.

Why this writer was blessed to spend his 58th birthday with these two guys is beyond my capacity to comprehend.

Timmy, Joshua & Moses at Manistee Cabin

This is probably a favorite all-time shot of two young sons that could melt the hardest of hearts. They always liked to emulate dad by wearing their hats backwards. Pure Gangsta’ before it ever became fashionable.

I’m so proud and grateful for the fine men you’ve grown into. You’re the best. That you no longer have to sit and ask; “Who are you?” is a real blessing…in the truest sense of the word.

Love, Dad

P.S. Have a great day at work tomorrow Timmy. Josh…be sure to call me after you act on your important decision to make the Big Move…that I promised not to blog about. Oops…Hahaha…Dad wants to hear all about it.

P.P.S Yeah, there’s a lot of music in this one…again. But the vast majority represents songs from the soundtrack of “Flight”.


DATELINE: 11-10-2012/Royal Oak, Pure Michigan

The thing I wasn’t supposed to blog about last night…but sorta’ did anyway, just came to fruition!

Jenny’s Engagement Ring

Kelly and I are pleased to announce that our youngest son, Joshua Thomas Hurley…..

just got engaged. Jenny is a great gal. 

Josh & Jenny

Like his Dad…Joshua is definitely marrying up.


A Homecoming Celebration for William Ashley Keaton was held on November 3rd, 2012 in the year of our Lord at AJ Desmond & Sons in Troy, Michigan. It was a heavenly raucous affair that (in keeping with Bill’s style) seemed to take on a life of its own.

As evidenced by the picture of a young Bill posing above, he made his presence felt at the start and at the end of his time with us. The heavens shook with Sandy the very night God called his Billy home.

Now one might ask; “Why would Hurley start this blog with a song from Elton John?”  Fair question. For one thing, it’s my blog and I’ll put any damn thing in here I want…Mmkay? Bill & I were all about music. That’s how we rolled. Plus, it’s a classic jam of epic proportions. Davey Johnstone is on the all-time favorite guitarists list of Shredders With Ginormous Riffage.

Musically, it rocks. Lyrically, it works.

The roses in the window box
Have tilted to one side
Everything about this house
Was born to grow and die

I was playing rock and roll and you were just a fan
But my guitar couldn’t hold you
So I split the band
Love lies bleeding in my hands

And then, this classic verse….

I wonder if those changes
Have left a scar on you
Like all the burning hoops of fire
That you and I passed through

The burning hoops of fire we passed through…or more accurately stated…the burning hoops he walked this writer through, is the stuff of legends. No, that’s not written in some kind of self-delusional, alcoholic manner of superfluous hyperbole’. Anyone remotely familiar with our relationship as brothers-in-arms know it’s “The Trufe”…as we say in Detroit.

This is literally the last picture ever taken of us together.


Even a pagan could recognize and acknowledge the hand of God in this shot…were they inclined to do so. This was my last visit with Bill on the Saturday before his passing. What a great time it was. What a memory. What a guy. He was so happy, content, safe & comfortable. Had he passed while I was out on some God Awful Safari or locked in a cage, I’d never be able to live with that and would have ended up sliding the cold metal of a .45 in my mouth to blow brain matter out the top of my head. Really. Father had another plan…a much better scenario than even Steven Spielberg could have scripted. For that, I’ll always be grateful.

So yeah…today was tough. It was appropriate to cry and laugh–sometimes simultaneously.

You know, its fashionable today for our society to bitch and moan about the sorry state of the Church of Jesus Christ. Lord knows the minority of church folk who get busted or popped (like I did…amen?) while engaged in some very ungodly stuff sure helps to reinforce that negative image. However, I think it’s a safe and accurate thing to state that needy people avoiding the benefits of belonging to a tribe in the body of Christ have more of a problem with surrendering the lordship of their life to Jesus than anything else. C’mon…work with me…I need another amen. That is the real issue–more than any problem with the church.  Mmkay? Invalidating the church because of a few bad eggs is like forsaking cars because they crash or refusing to go to AC, AA or NA Meetings because of the reality and possibility of relapse. We must first suit up and show up before anything of substance can transpire. Only then can we begin to grow in the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ and begin the wonderful process of developing an intimate relationship with God as our Father. That’s where the rubber meets the road and the boys are separated from the men. Our part is to simply say, “Yes Lord” and follow it up by doing a whole lot of stuff our flesh absolutely hates. As we park our asses on His Potters Wheel, lives are transformed and hearts are transplanted.That’s just the way it works. There are no short-cuts. There is no magic pill. Sanctification and recovery are life-long processes–not events that can be generated by any chemical, sexual act, guru, false prophet, presidential candidate or spirit of religiosity.

Bill just told me he liked that one and Father dug it. Praise God! Glory! 

OK…that was a lil’ foray down a rabbit trail

What I’m trying to say is that I’ve never been more grateful to testify and share pure gratitude for being a part of  His Body in the Vineyard Tribe. I’m so proud and thankful for the service that my pastor Jim Pool officiated at today.

Jim was Bill’s pastor for the last year and a half or so of his life. He was very pleased to see Jim show up in a suit and tie today. While the casual dress code of the Vineyard was sometimes challenging to Billy…it was never a deal breaker. However, there’s no doubt Bill will continue to advocate before the throne on his pastor’s behalf for a clothing allowance.

But I digressed yet again.

Everything about today was anointed and special. My former wife and mother of Timmy & Josh was there and we sat together. Vacillating between extreme emotions and feelings of perfect peace to burnt toast, I asked Kelly; “Look, I’m not trying to get weird on you or anything, but can I lean on you today?” She smiled with tears in her eyes and said “Of course you can”.  So that’s what I did…even to the point of sharing the outline of my little talk with her for feedback.

Kelly was, is and remains a great chick and love of my life.

Timmy & Josh remain the apples of thine eyes.

 It was a blessing to sit together as a foursome with pastor Jim in the 2nd row.

After an opening of Amazing Grace played on bagpipes, there probably wasn’t a dry eye in the house.

Then Jim opened with a word of prayer and a word of encouragement.

Bill’s life was characterized by having been a Fisher Of Men.

Now THAT is a legacy to leave with us to emulate.

Bill was a Music Animal. He always loved this song…the first one of the service.

Then it was my turn to share. Speaking in public has never really been a problem, but this was an engagement I did not relish. One of the many things Bill taught me over the years was the principle; “It’s Not About Us…bahrutha”. With that in mind, the long walk to a vulnerable podium was made. Listed in the program as a “Spiritual Son” of Bill Keaton, I could see through eyes blurred with tears, a whole room full of spiritual sons & daughters of William Ashley Keaton.  After acknowledging as much, a sense of God’s presence filled this heart with enough grace to make it through the 12 or so minutes of a talk…that I really don’t have much recollection of.

The primary memory is one of being in a room full of folks deeply connected on a soul level through the obedience and commitment of one man. It is great to be part of this sub-tribe of recalcitrant maniacs..

Here’s a shot of some of those AC fellas taken in the hallway;

Left to right-Tim, Barry, Ray, Jerry & Steve.

BTW: Barry is my new sponsor…lucky him. As has been pointed out by a few good friends, Bill would not only want this protegé to get another sponsor but to continue to be one to others. You’re looking at five men who but for the grace of God would all be in some morgue with toe-tags. We can’t keep this new life unless we pass it on, attempt to carry the message and freely give it away.

2 Corinthians 1:3-4

New King James Version (NKJV)

Comfort in Suffering

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

This was a truth that Billy continually pounded into my soul over three decades of life–together in the front line trenches of battle. I tried to weave it through the fabric of sharing at Bill’s Celebration. Note how it says “are comforted”. That means present tense boys & girls.

After wrapping things up…whew…this version of Bridge was played.

Billy had massive spiritual balls and was never reticent to jump in your canoe for some white water turbulence. He was never afraid to get wet or dirty with you. He would never avoid a craft that appeared to most as a version of the Titanic. When they sang;

Sail on silver girl
Sail on by
Your time has come to shine
All your dreams are on their way
See how they shine
If you need a friend
I’m sailing right behind

…the Hurls just lost it. A weeks worth of grief, sorrow and longing came to the surface and erupted like a dormant volcano. You see, Bill did not just sail right behind you…he’d jump right in that bad boy and exclaim; “Let’s go brother! Praise God! Glory Hallelujah!”  His exhorting encouragement was always infectious.

He had the gift of hope, faith, love and grace, when all yours was depleted.

Billy was the coolest guy I’ve ever known. He put the “C” in cool…as evidenced by this mid seventies shot.

Hosanna in the Flyest!

Then brother Jeff Sheetz, present prez of AC got up to share about Bill’s impact on his life. O’ gosh…are we ever-blessed to have Jeff at the helm of the ship right now. After an eloquent testimony, Jeff made the analogy of how it was such a blessing and privilege to literally feed Bill in his final days…as he has fed thousands of us spiritual manna over the course of his life.


Not only that, but both of us made note at how Bill had come full circle in the last couple years of his life. He had returned to his 1st love. Bill & I had a private joke between us that can now be shared. He told me more than once that God had “re-kindled the dwindled”…and Bill knew it. He was like a big kid. There’s a major difference between becoming child-like and remaining childish. He was a blast to be around…just to share that reality. Everything was “The Best!” Every glass of orange juice, every meal, every teaching, every song, every ride, every outing and every meeting was the absolute BEST! Glory!

After Jeff spoke, it was time for a little Elvis…praise God.

It was an appropriately smokin’ version of anointed classic; “How Great Thou Art”. At this point of celebrating Bill’s life, Father upped the ante’ as He walked amongst us. It was great. We all started singing along with “E” and began to get our praise on. You see, there’s an inextricable link between addicts/alcoholics and music. The very heart & soul of man yearns to connect and express itself through music. That’s a given. But when it comes to wing-nuts like us, we tend to Take It To The Limit. That’s just how we roll.

Bill would never have it any other way. One day, we went out and bought a brand new computer with powered speakers and a router so he could watch Netflix movies from his new ‘puter and all the music he could handle. After setting up his new rig, I introduced Billy to this new-fangled marvel of technology called YouTube. “What do you want to hear first Bill?”

“Bahrutha’…play some Elvis for me…praise God!”

OK my man. You want Elvis…here you go. You should have been there. Bill sat transfixed like a kid with a new toy. It WAS a new toy and he dug the hell out of it. We must have stayed up ’till 3:00AM watching Elvis clips on YouTube.

While a plethora of empirical data exists to support the genetic transference for the propensity of parents to their children, that’s certainly the case with Bill’s oldest daughter Karen. She too loves Elvis and it was her turn to share.

O’ my. Talk about a block off the ol’ chip. Karen is every bit her Dad…and then some. She fought back the tears enough to wrap everything up from the perspective of  a Daddy’s Daughter. What a killer talk she gave. Eloquent, gracious, poignant, insightful, empathetic, intelligent and witty with a sardonic sense of her Dad’s humor are but a few of the adjectives to describe Karen. Though we’ve known each other since the early seventies, we’ve grown very close over the last year and a half or so…even though she wasn’t real wild about my setting up her Dad with a Facebook Account. But that’s another story for a different blog…amen?

Here’s a great shot of Billy during his brief run with Facebook and Netflix. Being technically challenged, he never quite got the hang of it. I so wish that I’d have saved all the voice-mails from Bill when he’d call at 3:00AM to ask how to work his remote or what tab to click on. One night, he called seven times between 11:00PM and 4:00AM…praise God.

With a midnight snack and orange juice at the ready, this remains one of my favorite memories of Bill that’s made me a wealthy soul.

Haggai 2:9

New King James Version (NKJV)

‘The glory of this latter temple shall be greater than the former,’ says the Lord of hosts. ‘And in this place I will give peace,’ says the Lord of hosts.”

Indeed, the latter years were much greater than the former and I thank God for that.

After Karen shared, pastor Jim wrapped up the service with a timely, insightful and anointed word about how Bill was a Barnabas Builder with a call to return to our first love…Jesus Christ.

Then…in true Alcoholics for Christ style, a band of crazed minstrels brought things to a close with a moving  rendition of “Farther Along”

Sister Betty Bridges sang this like an angel. Backed by moi’ and Jerry on acoustic guitars, Turbo Bob on bass, brother Wayne on slide and Johnny Ace on harmonica, we then segued’ into a very raucous version of “Awake O’ Israel” At this point in the celebration of Bill’s life, the service more resembled a Memphis bar than any kind of funeral.


After the service, Johnny Ace (who blew the harmonica) shared a vision.

“You know Tim,  I could just see Bill with Jesus watching us and telling Him…Come here brother. You are really going to like this.” 

As the bagpipes blew once last time, those fortunate enough to be in attendance quietly filed past Bill lying in state and said their goodbyes. It was a sovereign time of righteous fellowship in the truest sense of the word that one can find only in the Body of Christ.

Goodby mi hermano. I’ll see you on the other side…further on up the road in the land of hope & dreams.

God bless your heart Bill.

It was a great ride. From the bottom of this prodigal heart, I thank you my friend…for never giving up…for never losing hope…for being the surrendered man you were…never hesitant to jump in when necessary…to do battle…fighting the good fight of faith and for loving the unlovable.

Give Joe a big fat hug from his bahrutha’…bahrutha.


The first 48 hours are critical in any new endeavor. Whether finding a kidnap victim, solving a crime…or moving into a new crib, the first 48 hours really count. With that in mind, I’m happy to report Bill is settling into his new digs like a Seminole wind blowing like a long-lost friend.

This is one of his favorite jams 

Bill’s a pretty deep cat. The first time turning me on to this,  he went into great detail about the details of his native, American Indian heritage. Bill provided more history in two hours than ever learned in four years of high school.

Ever since the days of old
Men would search for wealth untold
They’d dig for silver and for gold
And leave the empty holes;
And way down south in the Everglades
Where the black water rolls and the saw grass waves
The eagles fly and the otters play
In the land of the Seminole;

So blow, blow Seminole wind
Blow like you’re never gonna blow again
I’m callin’ to you like a long-lost friend
But I know who you are;
And blow, blow from the Okeechobee
All the way up to Micanopy (pronounced: Meh-can-o-pee)
Blow across the home of the Seminole
The alligators and the gull

Progress came and took its toll
And in the name of flood control
They made their plans and they drained the land
Now the Glades are goin’ dry
And the last time I walked in the swamp
I stood up on a cypress stump
I listened close and I heard the ghost
Of Oseola cry

So blow, blow Seminole wind
Blow like you’re never gonna blow again
I’m callin’ to you like a long-lost friend
But I know who you are
And blow, blow from the Okeechobee
All the way up to Micanopy (pronounced: Meh-can-o-pee)
Blow across the home of the Seminole
The alligators and the gull.

Seeing as how it was a righteous Indian Summer Day, the song fits well. We took a stroll/roll outside his new digs. Upon spotting this brand new van, he said;
“PRAISE GOD TIM! Let’s go…you drive”

Ah’…that would be “no” Bill. I just got off parole.

Maybe next time dude. It’s time for dinner…

Note the two orange juices…he’s already got em’ trained. Then, Pam & Chris rolled in….

After did-din, it was time to break out the guitar in his room so we could get our praise on…
We went on for 45 minutes or so….this was his expression after playing “Awake O’ Israel”

That’s a look of post-praise satiation.

You can visit Bill @

The Oaks at Woodfield

5370 East Baldwin Road

Grand Blanc, MI 48439


Room 206

Basically he’s near the corner of Saginaw & E. Baldwin Roads off exit 106 heading north on I-75



O’ God…thank you. What an answer to prayer. When You deliver…You really deliver.
Riding up to the 2nd floor of the Heartland Georgian in Bloomfield this morning…stepping off the chrome box, it hit like a baseball bat. Eeeuw! What is that smell? Musty, rusty, stankin’, nasty…hanging in the air like an oppressive fog. O’ yeah, it’s the normal Operating Odor for this place. Human piss and feces. Wonderful. Poor old souls strapped to wheelchairs giving that 1000 yard forlorn look of  hopelessness & despair. God…what a way to live. Passing by them in the hallway en route to spring Bill, they don’t really look at you as much as though you.

Lullabies, look in your eyes, Run around the same old town. Doesn’t mean that much to me To mean that much to you.

Love lost, such a cost, Give me things that don’t get lost. Like a coin that won’t get tossed Rolling home to you.

It wasn’t very long ago that Billy was doing some serious Rollin’ In the Deep

This shot was taken in aisle nine of the Meijer’s Store in Rochester Hills. Bill takes his cereal very seriously. We became very intimate with Aisle Nine. Note the multiple jugs of Orange Juice in the basket. Make that Extra Pulp Please.

As time marched on, the ravages of age began to take a toll. One day, Bill was not answering his phone. You ever get a gut check about something that’s hard to shake? Got one that night. Arriving at his assisted living apartment, the sense to grab one of the staff was present. Upon entering his apartment, Billy was laying on the living room floor where he’d fallen. He was conscious and otherwise OK. Looking up from the carpet, he smiled and said;

“Bahurutha…am I ever glad to see you! I’ve been stuck down here for a few hours”

“Billy! What are you doing down there? Gosh, you’ll do anything for a little attention”

The nurse and I helped him up and we all had a good laugh. But behind the smiles was a deep concern that his days of independent living were coming to an end. When broaching the subject (very gently) with my friend, he would have none of it.

“Bahrutha’, don’t worry…I just lost my balance”.

OK dude…whatever…but I was still concerned. Those concerns were confirmed a few days later when the med nurse found him on his bathroom floor. He’d fallen again on the tile and received two hairline fractures to his pelvis. His daughters Karen & Pam jumped into action. Bill was taken by ambulance to Beaumont Hospital in Troy.

He was not a happy camper and initially gave the staff there a run for their money. Can anyone reading this claim to know what it’s like to be 84 years old? Do we really understand with any degree of empathy what its like to lose the ability to move around and be independent? This was a hard transition for Bill to make. Discharged from Beaumont to the Heartland Georgian in Bloomfield for “rehab” did not make it any easier. Still, he did the best he could and did not whine or bitch about it…like I probably would have.

The most positive thing that could be said about that place was the physical therapy and a small…count on one hand…group of staff members who were good to Bill. Other than that, the place was a real shithole and ought be shut down. Some day after Father calls Bill home…I vow before God & man to go viral on that evil, nasty, smelly, foul, unprofessional dump. They hurt more than helped and will be held accountable for their malfeasance. Right now, there are more important things to do. Arriving this morning, Bill was found dozing in his wheelchair. Gently shaking his knee, he slowly came to life. Looking up…a smile erupted like a dormant volcano from his countenance.

“Hello Bahrutha! What are you doing here? 

My man. Within earshot of the nurses station filled with zombies drinking coffee, I replied; “Bill, it’s moving day. You’re going to a new place that’s a lot nicer”. He looked a little surprised and then exclaimed;


The discernment of Solomon wasn’t required to understand Bill was ready to leave and I sure didn’t care that he called me by my dad’s name. Henri is a retired Chrysler employee now doing patient transport.  As is usually the case, he fell under Bill’s charm immediately and hustled him into his van. It was time to break camp and boogie. Bill was all smiles like a kid on Christmas morning while securing him into the van for this next Walk Of Life.

Following the transport van north on Adams, it was time to blow past it at 85mph when hitting I-75.

Arriving at this brand new facility was a relief. Get this kids.

Git to steppin’ my brother!

Walking into this place was like walking out of prison into a nice, cozy apartment in Royal Oak . The correlation was not lost on either of us. Grabbing his items and LG-TV (of course…first things first) the professional staff bent over backwards to get Bill’s room semi-setup. Five members of the staff met Bill to greet him. He was lapping up the attention in his inimitable, not so low–key fashion.

Aside from it being brand spankin’ new and gorgeous….

And aside from nice amenities….

The main thing…the most important thing…was to see the level of care he was immediately bathed in. I love this shot of how the staff are fawning all over Bill while making a wheel chair transfer. Note how he’s cracking up.

The gal in the door is Tracey. She’s the head chef and could not wait to feed him,even  though the pictorial evidence might suggest…aw’, who cares? The girl in the black T-Shirt is Kim…the future wife of my dreams, a consummate professional. What a babe. I remain smitten at 12:29AM by her care for my friend. Bill will have em’ all fighting over him within a week. Women love Billy.

This was his first meal…a dish of lasagna to die for.

Not a very shabby menu either….

It was a great day. There’s victory in Bill’s camp. He totally cleaned his plate…but not before grabbing this shot…

Don’t be fooled, He only looks slightly bummed because we caught him in mid-bite.

I’ve got to express my appreciation to Karen & Pam for how hard they’ve fought for their Dad. They went shopping a couple of days ago. Pam showed up with Bill’s granddaughter Ashley and a whole new wardrobe… including a nice pair of comfy sweatpants with the Detroit Tigers Old English “D” on it…just in time for the World’s Series. We’ll have to take a break from his beloved FOX News to watch it.

Don’t hold that against Billy.  Here’s a funny sidebar. A few months ago, while making dinner for Bill in his apartment, low, gutteral moans began emanating from the living room. Rounding the corner,I asked Bill what was wrong. Pointing to the screen and shaking his head, he just looked crushed an despondent. This is what he was pointing at…Greta Van Susteren’s mug plastered across the screen.

Sensing another comical FOX moment (they provide on a regular basis), I stifled a smile and asked in mock concern what was wrong.

“O’ bahrutha’…Greta’s gone left on me”

Hahaha…I began laughing so hard that I almost peed my pants.


After Pammy left, Bill finished his meal…with his year round Christmas Tree lit up in the background.

After giving a brotherly kiss on the forehead, Bill was left in the capable hands of a dedicated staff who were all too happy to finally have their first patient. I looked at Kim and told her; “All personal bias aside, you could not have asked for a better first resident”.

She smiled and replied;

“It’s obvious that he’s a real sweetheart Tim. We’ll take good care of him and give him a bath after you leave”. 

I think that may have been a clue…der’. Snapping out of momentary infatuation, it was time to go home for a nap, then get up a write a blog…and encourage y’all to go visit William.

The Oaks at Woodfield

5370 East Baldwin Road

Grand Blanc, MI 48439


Room 206

He’d do it for you

God Bless Your Hearts





It doesn’t get much better than this

HEADS UP: Great pains are usually taken to time the music to the reading. There’s just no way to do that in this blog. For this one, I’d suggest grabbing a pair of headphones, strap on a pair of rock n’ roll balls and get comfortable. For maximum efficacy…when playing a song, just stop reading until it’s finished and then proceed to the next…or not. 

Social Distortion played to a sold-out house at the Royal Oak Music Theater, Tuesday night, October 16, 2012 in the year of our Lord.

What a show. Almost missed it. Living right around the corner within walking distance of the venue, a strange kind of isolationist paralysis conspired to sabotage a great night of intense riffage from one of the last great American Guitar Bands. Why? What the hell was going on? Wassup wid dat? How lame can one become. I can literally walk to the gig. By grace, that’s just what the Hurls did. The deal maker was this. While sitting in a comfortable, cozy apartment, right on Lincoln Ave., the musician in me rose up thinking about the rig Mike Ness plays through as the spirit voice of my brother Joe could be heard speaking soul-to-soul. “C’mon Timmy! Don’t be an old man! Snap out of it and get with the program. Trust me on this. Life is short my brother. If you sit home comfortably numb, you’ll regret not going.”

Call me crazy, but hearing Joey speak really was the catalyst and solid rocket fuel needed to get off the launch site of a brown, leather recliner.  OK…now what? Shake off those heavy bands of shame & oppression. After popping 5000 mcg’s of sublingual B12, the inspiration hit to print up this sign on Kodak (extra glossy) paper.

Then, after slamming a cup of coffee, taking a shower and doing the dishes, it was time for a daily reading. Prior to that, some familiar bugaboos were renting space in the ol’ cranium. “You have no money. It’s not prudent. You don’t deserve it. You suck. Grow up. Blah, Blah, Blah” You know…the typical tapes that play in the head of a returned citizen from a hell hole of unredemptive blackness all conspired to thwart a few hours of good clean fun. Why? I dunno…still working on that one…but the reading sure helped.

Echoes of Eternity: October 16

“Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day.” Psalm 91:5

The night seasons, My child, are the seasons of battle. “Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night, nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday.” Others before you have endured the assaults of the enemy which came in the darkness. But in Me, darkness and light are both alike—for I am the inner Light which dispels the power of the outer darkness.

When you give ground to fearful thoughts and vain imaginations, you open the floodgates to your adversary. Your only recourse is to flee to Me. In this case, fleeing is fighting. You are no match for his wiles, and you need to stay very close to Me if you would know My victorious power. I will help you, but I will not force you to come to Me. Remember, My child, your pride—your spiritual pride—is being dealt with in these night battles. You are not a hero—just a frightened child whom I love.

So what’s with all the fear? At times, it can be a real ball & chain.

“Flee To Fight” sounded like a better plan

Then grace started replacing unfounded fear and anesthesia with vim & vigor. After putting on a pair of ripped up jeans and a suit coat, the thought to grab a hunk of silver duct tape for the sign took root. OK, keys-check; wallet-check; teeth-check; a couple of Tootsie Rolls-check; lights off-check; porch light on-check; test glucose-check (135…pretty good in my world)…then out the door. There’s something really invigorating about a stroll up the street on a crisp, October Night in Michigan. It’s a favorite time of year. Some memorable thoughts of other shows and nights of rock n’ roll rose up. Having partaken in this ritual hundreds of times, there was still some rust to shake off. Arriving at the venue with high hopes and no ticket, the looming view of a lit up Marquee blazing “Sold Out” only fueled more determination to make this a successful mission.

Affixing the wad of duct tape to the back of the sign and sticking it on a parking meter right across the street from the theater seemed like a logistical move. In full view of the line snaking around the whole block, I could prop my rock n’ roll ravaged arm on the parking meter and hold one finger in the air. For the uninitiated, that means “One Ticket Needed” . Only rookies will work the line and stick out like sore thumbs while conducting themselves like ravaged savages looking for a rock to smoke. Not the Hurls. Make em’ come to you while maintaining a panoramic vista of the whole scene is the way to do it. Sure enough, within a half hour, some guy came up and unloaded a ticket at face value for $25.00. There was only one concert in my whole life  where a breach of the security perimeter failed. That was a Tom Petty show at the Old Waldorf in San Francisco in the mid 70’s on his first major American Tour. The residual trauma of not making it into the gig that night remains a wound in need of healing. Now with ticket in hand, a batting average of .995 remained intact.
Praise God for a good score. That’s the story of my life.
After securing a wristband and entering the lobby, a sense of gratitude settled in. Just 10 days shy of two years ago, I was released from the soul-crushing clutches of the MDOC. If someone had told me that in just under two years, I’d be living in Royal Oak and getting to take in a Social D concert within walking distance of the crib…in spite of a bus load of hope & faith, this might have been too much to expect. A standing position right at the edge of the first rise of a 3 tier, general admission show was obtained next to a friendly guy. While suffering through one of the worst opening acts ever experienced (One must take the good with the bad. Their music sucked, was atonal and sucked. Did I mention they sucked? Not only that, but the frontman of the band had zero stage presence and personality. At one point between songs he quipped; “Hey! I took a tour of Detroit today and it looked all bombed out so I’m surprised to see you here”. That’s no way to endear yourself to a new town kid. What a dick) a few folks were texted announcing entry into the gig. More like 40. Call it immature, call it stupid…I don’t care. Joy is to be shared…not consumed. At 57 years old, it felt like being 15 years old again at the State Fairgrounds seeing the MC5 in 1969.
It was righteous.
About 20 or so responded with text messages along the lines of; Go for it! Kick Out Those Jams Hurley!”  Two in particular stood out. I’d like to share them with you. One text was from my good pal Sari who I met through the Prison Creative Arts Project after being released from the slammer. She’s a great kid who opened up her heart as I began to fellowship with PCAP. I really love her…in a fatherly kind of way. The excitement in her return text along the lines of; “Have a lot of fun! Social Distortion live is the best! I can’t  wait to hear all about the show!”…was quite evident. Sari gets it. She has great taste in music and has worked with hundreds of “returning citizens” from prison…most of whom don’t make it. She’s been in my corner from Day One and I in hers. We both knew no one was prison bound on this night.  Another heartwarming text came from my soul sister MB in Holland who said her fiance’ Duce was “green with envy”. There’s a story behind that one we’ll touch on later. As Mike “Eliot” Ness introduced the next song, resplendent in suspenders and a fedora, he connected with the audience by quipping; “It’s great to be in Detroit…especially after being in Cincinnati last night. Anything from there is an upgrade. No…really. Detroit is a great rock n’ roll town and I see a lot of criminals out there”  

My man…that’s the way you do it.

At this point in the show, things started warming up.

I’ve not danced like last night in years. It was invigorating to sweat & jam with a sold out crowd of maniacal fans. There was a real, sho-nuff mosh pit going with dozens of folks…some my age…crowd surfing to the front where bouncers would grab them gently and return them to the pit. If that’s your thang, cool metro…but for me it’s always about the music. With a front row, first riser, stage left, unobstructed view of the band at roughly 45′, I was content to soak in every note of Mike Ness’s rig and occasionally watch the crowd surf some bodies…when they were girls.

Speaking of rigs, this is the set up Mike Ness uses to get the job done.

I just burst into tears thinking about how much fun Joey would have had at this gig. The first thing he’d do would be to ingratiate himself into the fabric of the staff, find his way backstage and schmooze with the band. Then he’d lead me to the edge of the stage and school this big brother on the make, brand, age and purpose of virtually every piece of equipment on the stage.

Guitars-1976 Goldtop Les Paul Deluxes (Custom Shop Seymour Duncan P90 pickups), Gibson 1939 J-35 acoustic guitar, 1940 Martin D-18 acoustic guitar. Amps-1967 Fender Bassman amps (modified by Fred Taccone and/or Billy Zoom), Marshall 4×10 reissue cabinets with Greenback speakers. Effects-This is really cool. The only effect utilized is a Boss SD-1 Overdrive pedal
This classic set-up provides for a warm & rich harmonic assault that’s very pleasing to the ear.
Half way through their set, Social D began to feed off the energy of a Detroit audience in the throes of foaming rabidity. They started really cooking with Crisco when playing this jam. The Royal Oak Music Theater was now cackling with high energy from a crowd now clearly feeding their energy into the band. It was great. Social Distortion knew they were playing to a Detroit crowd longing to be satiated with a dose of that Rama Lama. The audience was slightly on the grey side of follicles with more than a smattering of hot rocker chicks. Pure Michigan.  Playing Detroit is legendary in the annals of Rock N’ Roll. All the big bands know it. Hell, it was a gig at the Grande’ in 1968 that gave legs to the WHO. Prior to that show, they were about to pull the plug before discovering what we were born and raised with. Detroit rocks harder than any city on the planet. That the R N R Hall of Shame was built in Cleveland remains the highest form of blasphemy. Father did not dig or authorize that move. As a result of that sin and transgression against the Natural Order Of Things, we’re now we’re forced to choose between two clowns running for POTUS.
OK…I digressed…again
This remains my fav all-time Social Distortion song and goes out to Marybeth & Duce…two friends from Holland who just got engaged. Both have experienced the cold, harsh, reality of life not lived on life’s terms. Having come full circle…by grace, my prayer is for the warmth of God’s love to permeate their entire married life. No more Cold Feelings In The Night.

I really love that acoustic version, but this is the electric one delivered with power last night.

When they ripped into that jam, these Irish eyes welled with tears of joy while considering this Scripture. (Yeah, that’s the way this brain really works these days) Joel 2:25-27 from the Message succinctly describes what was experienced when Mike Ness busted into the lead at the 1:24 mark of “Cold Feelings”. Last night, I lived that lead and busted into a virtuoso air guitar performance that surprised the hell out of the Detroit rocker babes who’d naturally gravitated to my table.

“I’ll make up for the years of the locust,
    the great locust devastation—
Locusts savage, locusts deadly,
    fierce locusts, locusts of doom,
That great locust invasion
    I sent your way.
You’ll eat your fill of good food.
    You’ll be full of praises to your God,
The God who has set you back on your heels in wonder.
    Never again will my people be despised.
You’ll know without question
    that I’m in the thick of life with Israel,
That I’m your God, yes, your God,
    the one and only real God.
Never again will my people be despised”.

O’ yes my friend. We’re talking ’bout Rock N’ Roll the way the good Lord intended it to be by “The God who has set you back on your heels in wonder” What a great line of interpreted scripture. No wonder some of my fundamentalist buds feel safe wrapped in a blanket dichotomy of man made “spiritual/secular” division. All music is spiritual. You just have to discern the spirits from the Holy Spirit. Der. Anyway… what a great lead! It rocked me back on my heels. The only response was to throw a few windmill air chords to the band. Suffice to say…The house was rockin’!


 It might help to understand that Mike Ness nearly died in his active addiction to heroin and alcohol. Now with years of being clean & sober under his belt, he played like a man who’s been redeemed from the pit of hell. When introducing this next song, he spoke of a Viet Nam vet named Charlie who “helped me in my early recovery”. He dedicated this rare gem to the memory of Charlie who has passed on. It was killer. So this goes out to all those who’ve helped me in my recovery. I never heard this song before last night. Enjoy this first encore song

On a street corner in Pittsburgh, PA
There’s a tough Irish boy with no dreams
But to be King for one day
And he’s schooled by the older ones
With lessons and the conduct of the streets
He’s got a mean right cross 
And a devastating left hook

He likes to drink and he likes to fight 
He likes poppin’ pills and Du-Wop 
and the boulevard on a Saturday night 
And he’s going nowhere fast
you know he’s happy just staying alive 
But you can always count on Charlie 
To be there if you needed him

In a courtroom on a December’s day
The judge said look here son 
If you wanna play 
You’re gonna have to pay
See these rules that you live by 
Don’t exist in a civilized world. 
So I offer you prison, or Vietnam. 

You know Charlie, he’s kinda crazy 
He just stood there looked at me,
looked at the judge, straight in the eyes 
Said I’d love to fight your honor 
And you know I’ve got nothing to lose
So send me off to war, I don’t mind.He spent two years 
Learning weapons of death
And a year in the jungle 
Like an animal where’s it kill or be killed
And the right amount of heroin 
Really seems to quiet the bombs
Back in Pittsburgh, things are rather calm

Now Charlie, he is my friend
Taught me how to hold my head up
Told me soon that I’d be a man
Says that Agent Orange is calling 
And the doctors have done all they can
Well Charlie, I’m gonna miss you 
after you’re gone
Well Charlie, I’m gonna miss you 
after you’re gone
Well Charlie, I’m gonna miss you 
after you’re gone

By this point in the show, there was only one jam left to play. You guessed it.


What a great night of blazing guitars cutting through a fall night. Pure Michigan. That gig  was so good, I now feel motivated to upgrade the ol’ tent. Being 30 lbs overweight and smoking is no longer acceptable. While dancing, I could feel the shitflab shaking around my mid-section.

That’s not very Rock N’ Roll.

The smokes and fat have to go.

Hold me to it.

God bless your hearts, kick out the jams and have a great week.

O’ yeah…this was the next to last encore song. It’s a new one


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