HELLO FROM EAU CLAIRE, WISCONSIN - merchants slogan: "We don't have it but we can get it for you."

Saturday, March 24, 2018


I am currently watching the thousands upon thousands of people that have gathered in Washington, D.C., and I am at times in tears just listening to these young people testify so eloquently. I remembered this chapter in my writings, my memoirs, and I think today it should be published:


In an earlier chapter, I remarked that I found most comedians that I worked with over the years to be rather shallow, insecure and self centered . However there are some comedians that will always stand out in my mind as real people, One such man was a young Black comedian from Chicago, Illinois, that I worked with on another of Ken’s Comedy Productions Midwest tours. In addition to having a great sense of humor and a pleasant comedic style, he was a pleasure to be around, not the kind that only used me as a sounding board for new jokes written.

I cannot recall clearly in which city we were performing when, less than an hour before
he was to go on ahead of me, he was called out of the green room to a waiting
telephone call. When he returned, it was written on his face that he had just received
bad news. He told me that the call was from his mother. His younger brother was just
shot and killed on the streets of Chicago. We both sat, staring into one another’s face,
unable to even speak. I began to consider exactly what he was trying to fully
comprehend and how anyone in that circumstance would react. I found my voice and
said: “Listen. There is no way I, nor anyone associated with the club expects you to
go on stage tonight. I will go out and start the show by explaining that you have
taken ill. I have been working clubs for years and have well over two hours of material I
can use to fill both our time.” He continued to look into my eyes and after a pause said,
“No. I will do my time. I want to do my time, and Larry, I want you to know that I am
dedicating my performance to my brother.” With that, he got to his feet, paced the open area of the green room, rubbing his hands together, deep in thought and concentration.

The appointed time arrived. I went out on stage and introduced him as I had all week,
then went back around to the front entrance to watch his performance. I slipped just
inside the door of the darkened room and watched him work his audience as he had
done all week only tonight he was somehow even better, more inspired, smiling, joking
with audience members, taking everything they had to offer and multiplying it times
ten in the giving back. By the time I heard him begin his closer, and headed quickly back around to be ready myself, I realized that he, indeed, was going to be a hard act to follow. I cannot tell you how very proud of him I was for what he did that night. I can tell you that he showed all of his love and courage for his lost brother that night, as well as his own.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Patrick O'Brien Brings it Home . . . All of It.

Last night, Saturday, January 27, Kim and I had the distinct pleasure to be able to see "Whisper in my Good Ear", a two person show, performed brilliantly in a one hour and a half scene by Larry Ripp and Patrick O'Brien. Pat O'Brien is an alum of the UWEC Theater Department, one of many who has gone on to a highly successful career in professional theater.

Kim was first introduced to Pat when she performed with a company he formed to do dinner theater at Fanny Hill, just outside of Eau Claire. I, because I am much older then Pat, worked the same Kjer Theater stage as Pat, but was not fortunate enough to get to work with him during the legendary summer theatre years. In Dr. Wil Denson's newly released book "Life Upon the Wicked Stage", both O'Brien and another actor that has gone on to become a nationally known figure, Laila Robbins, are discussed and given their due.

Kim and I had the usual fare at The Court-n-House and had great seats in the third row for the show. I was disappointed to see that there was not a full house, but for those who did not see the performances, either Friday or last night, I can only say: too bad for you, it's your loss. . Both actors held us spellbound throughout the entire show. The hour and a half performance felt like half an hour.

Both actors played off each other with a convincing ease. It was obvious that these two characters, both lonely old men, had been friends for a long time. The scenery? Minimal; a park bench. But the dialogue made it abundantly clear, through dialogue, that they were in Central Park, Manhattan, New York City. Eeffortlessly, the two actors had my imagination seeing the lake in the park, young lovers in the distance, and mention of Park Avenue widened the scope and brought back memories of my own experiences in the Big Apple.

Although the play had some laughs in it, it became amply clear that this was a portrait of two men who knew that their "good lives" were now far behind them. Both Ripp and O'Brien took me somewhat by surprise with their portrayals, as I am at the age where everything that transpired between the two tugged at my own spirit. I certainly still have a love for life every morning, but these two men made me give pause; made me realize just how fortunate I am at this juncture in my life.

After the performance, the actors invited us to join them at the Court-n-House, which we, as well as many others, did. Although we only spent a few moments with Pat (their were many others awaiting their turn) it was just good to see him and to tell him how he had moved us so deeply. The last time I had seen Pat was at Steve LaVigne's apartment in Minneapolis, at a delightful gathering of many people from the Arts.

While driving back home, with Kim and I marveled at what we had just witnessed. Kim told me that she would loved to have had a chance to see it again. I concurred. Thank you, Patrick O'Brien and Larry Ripp for bringing such class to Eau Claire. It is truly refreshing to watch professionals at work.

Sunday, December 31, 2017


. So it ends; a year of great disappointment if you, like I, am what the loyal followers of the Gropenfuhrer, like to refer to as "libtards".

The Donald has done nothing but devolve all the steps that were taken in the previous eight years to make our world at least a bit more livable. Every time that Americans think the Donald can sink no lower, he proves that he can. He is the master of the concept of "Divide and Conquer", and unfortunately even here in my home state, our governor kisses up to him, a true disciple, a man who had the audacity to even use the term "divide and conquer" in an interview with Beloit Millionaire, Diane Hendricks, also a supporter of The Donald.

Divide and Conquer. What's very disconcerting is that it has worked. It has towns, neighbors, even best friends, that are no longer speaking with one another.

I recently lost one of my very closest friends, an avid Fox News watcher, who has several televisions left turned on in his house 24/7 to the latest "news"; Right now, Fox, Trump's favorite channel, the only one that doesn't carry "fake news", is busy crucifying Robert Mueller as a traitor and a threat to overthrow our government. My friend invited me over to watch a Packer game, and late in the game, wanted to "discuss" politics. Over and over I told him that I valued our friendship too much to even "go there". But he likes "stirring the pot", he likes to see if he can get his libtard friends angry and then belittle them for not being civil.

He succeeded. Then, when I told him that I could no longer deal with it and that I was leaving, the became extremely angry with me.

I have stop watching the news nightly as it only increases my stress levels and makes me physically ill. I will always remember 2017 as the year that not only were our elections tampered with by Russia, but a minority of Americans swallowed the lies of the world's sickest narcissist.

So here comes 2018. I don't feel much like having a "whoop-te-doo" over the future of the earth, much less our country. "Happy New Year" is something I will not be able to regurgitate to anyone today.

This afternoon, all the "old guard" Kjer Theatre performers of past glories will once again gather for a late lunch, as we do each year. Most of them are libtards. I think it will make for a pretty somber welcome to 2018. God knows, all of us old timers will have gone to bed, hopefully to sleep, by the time it officially arrives.

By the way, the tee shirt in the photo is one that I wore while Bush/Cheney were killing the brown man and making millions. Back then, I found them both repulsive. Well, now itH is the end of 2017. welcome to Really repulsive!

So, I won't say the "happy" part to anyone who reads this. Just "New Year". Now what?

Saturday, December 2, 2017

August 29, 2016. The Day My Live Changed

On August 29, 2005, my life changed.

At the time I was once again band leader of a four piece combo. We had played a gig at Lehman’s Supper Club on the edge of Rice Lake, Wisconsin. Butch always paid me by check, and I, in turn, wrote each of my band members a check so that we were all square before we even left. When I had finished writing checks, I realized that I would be overdrawn come Monday.

When my bank opened on Sunday morning, just after eleven in the morning, because it was a beautiful late summer morning, I decided I would use the Honda 500 motorcycle to deposit the check. I also decided, for the first time since I had purchased the shiny, new, burnt orange bike two months earlier, that I was not going to wear my helmet as I was only traveling less than three miles at speeds of no more than 30 miles per hour. My route would take me past the mall on Golf Road, to the intersection of Golf and Highway 93. Golf Road, newly widened and repaved, at this intersection now had painted arrow indications for a right turn only lane, a straight ahead lane, and a left lane with both straight ahead and left turn arrows painted on it. Golf Road was my usual route to my bank, Royal Credit Union, which was located just across the junction. The past few times I drove to the bank, because of the new changes, it was anybody’s guess if drivers would end up in the correct lane at the intersection and the confusion made it dangerous.

This morning, traffic was already heavy and when I approached the intersection, there were vehicles already at the stop light in all three lanes, and others slowing down and choosing lanes. I decided I would take the straight ahead middle lane which meant that as I approached, there would be vehicles on both sides of my bike. I was less than 20 yards from the light; and that’s the last I remember.

I regained consciousness several hours later, looking at the ceiling of a patient room in Luther Hospital, my right lower leg shattered in several places, already in a cast, and a severe concussion. One of the staff informed me that I had been in a bad motorcycle accident, had been delivered to Luther Emergency by ambulance, that I had already had surgery during which an artificial knee and a titanium rod was placed in the leg.

What exactly happened that August morning, my memory will not allow me to see. Because the bike had jumped the curb on the right and I plowed into the light pole, and because later a friend brought me a photograph of the chalk outline of my body on the street, I can only surmise that at the last moment, a driver to my left realized they were in the wrong lane and wanted to move over into the lane I was in, didn’t see me in the mirrors, made their move, and I must have reacted instinctively and swerved hard to my right, fell off the bike as it careened into the pole, totally destroying it, or I was still on it when it hit the pole, and the result of the impact threw me back on the pavement. I don’t even know who called it in.

I will spare the details of the lengthy recovery. The most difficult part, emotionally, was to miss my nephew Michael Heagle’s wedding and a chance to spend time with my two sons Jonathan and David, who had flown in from Brooklyn, New York,.

The specialist who had done the surgery told me that I would have to return in a year’s time to have the rod removed. Looking down at the lengthy scar that went from four inches above the knee to mid ankle, I thought to myself I don’t think so, Doc. I’m not going through this again, I will live with the metal.

When I fully recovered, the band reassembled and we worked pretty regularly until the following Autumn. We were on the bill at Chippewa Falls annual Oktoberfest and it was at that point, with arthritis setting in so badly that the pain became unendurable. I would have pleaded to have the surgery. However, because after the first surgery, the leg had not been set properly. I wore a brace for several months which was supposed to straighten the lower leg but didn’t. I knew I would have to have a second surgery, but decided it would not be in Eau Claire.

One afternoon I was just coming out Menard’s when I crossed paths with Jim Carter, former Green Bay Packer linebacker, and now Ford dealership owner in Eau Claire. He nodded to me, seemingly recognizing me, so I engaged him in conversation, told him what had happened to me, and then asked: Jim, as a retired NFL linebacker, did you have to have work done on either of your knees?
Yes, both knees.

I then asked where he had his surgeries, the surgeon’s name, and if he would recommend him for my second knee operation. I wrote down the pertinent information, including the surgeon’s office number, thanked Mr. Carter, and began to make plans.

Again, I will spare the details of a lengthy recovery in Minneapolis, but at least the leg no longer had hardware, was set using a Global Positioning System, and was now straight. However, I found as the months passed, I was still dealing with constant pain in the lower right leg, especially the newly replaced knee, so much so that I could not kneel on it. My physician at Marshfield Clinic first suggested over the counter pain medications, but nothing assuaged the pain.

After nearly two years of experimenting with anything and everything non narcotic, I pleaded with him to allow me to use something stronger, There was a new drug on the market, the long term effects of which were not yet known, but it was a recommended drug for those in chronic pain. However, my physician was reluctant to allow me to begin using it; he warned me that it was addictive but I pressed. I told him I was 66 years old so what if it is addictive? Who knows how much longer I will live anyway.

Finally he relented and gave me a prescription for Fentanyl, an opiod, which within ten years would be the scourge of Americans when people began overusing, becoming severely addicted, so much so that increased dosage was necessary to achieve the same results. In my case, I was on 75 milligram Duragesic patches which were changed every 72 hours, covered by Kim’s health insurance through her long and dedicated service as an Eau Claire Public Schools Kindergarten teacher. I continued to regularly refill my prescription until early 2017 and the death of Paisley Park’s Artist Known as Prince. When I read that he was addicted to Fentanyl, I knew that I had to get off the drug as its effectiveness had already begun to wane for me as well.

Because of insurance coverage changes, I had to leave Marshfield Clinic and become a member of the Mayo Clinic Health System years ago. When I made my decision, with the strong support of my wife, Kim, who has always stood by me through sickness and in health, we visited my new physician together. He suggested that I begin tapering very slowly as Fentanyl is stronger than Heroin. He lowered the dosage to 50 milligram patches and I did well for some time, but now my insurance company began to be a hassle with the changes, and every time I would go to renew my prescription, the transaction would not be completed with one trip.

Disgusted with the whole routine, we once again visited my regular physician and I told him that I wanted no more patch use. He gave me a prescription for Tramadol, a much weaker form of Fentanyl, to see how that would go. After the first week, however, Dr. Larry decided he didn’t need the Tramadol and would go cold turkey. I stopped taking the Tramadol, against Kim’s better judgement, and consequently, a few days later ended up screaming in pain, being driven to Luther Hospital’s emergency room at 11 P.M.

I was given a one time injection of some other narcotic to ease my withdrawal pain and when I was ambulatory, Kim drove me home and I returned to my doctor’s recommended withdrawal schedule. April 11, 2017, will always stand clearly in my memory as that is the day that I began withdrawal in complete dedication. That first month was agony I would not wish on my worst enemy. It got so bad, in fact, that I once again ended up at Luther Hospital Emergency, this time screaming at Kim as she drove. Kim! Don’t pull over! Just undock the car doors and let me jump out !

Once again a very patient, kind, compassionate daytime shift of nurses and doctors slowly brought me down. This time around, they gave me a one time prescription of a non narcotic pain reliever, Toradal, which is mostly used for women after child birth or other short term intense pain encounters. I am still using the generic, Ketorolac, but I use it very sparingly for two reasons: some of the side effects, which I have experienced, are small itchy red spots on the arms and torso, increased swelling in the lower legs, and secondly, I do not want to abuse my prescription by increasing intake as my physician keeps a close eye on that.

After a little over a horrific month of intense pain that seemed to know exactly where the weakest points of my body are and settle there, coupled with diarrhea, intense stomach cramping, two separate tones ringing in my ears, one a piercing high, the other the sound of a rumbling railway train or a furnace running, unimaginable pain in my low back and between my neck and shoulders, I knew that the Fentanyl was finally out of my system one morning when Kim gave me my now one half of a Tramadol and it made me very ill.

Although still taking non narcotic pain meds, I did go through a time when food tasted better than it ever had and my body told me that I needed fresh fruit and real oatmeal. I could not bear to look at Payday candy bars, once my favorite when I drove for Markquart Toyota as a car jockey, swapping brand new cars color for color. I had used them for the sugar rush, which helped me stay alert at the wheel.

During the month of May 2017, I was still not steady enough to drive myself. I tried it once, on a short jaunt, and the car frightened me. At that point, it may as well have been a navy cruiser, because that’s how it felt to drive it. May is also the month that I began to experience Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome, a phenomena which is still bandied about by some experts as not real, a figment of the imagination, a mind problem. I can assure you that PAWS is real.

That first month, I would be fortunate to have two days in a row where I could operate at about a 75% capacity before all the symptoms of withdrawal would reoccur, including the return of the loud ringing in my ears, diahrrhea, extreme amounts of intestinal gas, returning pain and swelling to the injured leg, high anxiety levels as well as irritability. On those days, I could not think clearly enough to be able to perform song lyrics or drive for Markquart Toyota. The first time I played a one hour set of music, the songs of which I knew every lyric, for Oakwood Villa in Altoona, I would get into the second verse and totally lose it.

Fortunately, I took Peggy McGraw, the entertainment director, aside before my show and explained what I was going through, and she, wonderful person that she is, would come to my rescue, filling in the blanks. There was also a Catholic Nun who was always in attendance as her mother is a resident, and I could tell she knew that something was amiss, so after I stumbled through my hour, I approached her and explained. She said Well, I could tell that you were on something or coming off something. i’ve been around the block more than once, you know. The first grade Catholic boy inside me was relieved and she and I had a good laugh about it.

As I write this, Thanksgiving 2017 is part of a very stressful weekend past, which ended with an email telling me that my dear friend of some 30 years, Matthew Capell, had died. As a result, the stress and overwork of handling all the Thanksgiving cooking, and the further stress of the sad news, set me back to nearly zero in the PAWS scale and the ringing in the ears, loose stools, irritability, and inability to sleep returned, but with the help of Toradol, which I haven’t had to use for nearly a month, the continued withdrawal has begun to stretch into a continuous line of two steps forward, three steps back, three steps forward, two steps back, and although it has taken all of seven months, I am beginning to have longer stretches of pain free days, as long as I watch my parameters closely, and avoid extreme stress.

If publishing this helps in any way for others to avoid using Fentanyl, or of, like me, you are an addict, take comfort in knowing that you are not alone and never give in to the urge to go back. I have never had that urge because I have been through so much that I don't ever want to go back. My good friend Sarah Herrell sent me a card while I was in the midst of withdrawal that said simply "When you're going through Hell, keep going."

Wednesday, November 1, 2017


Yesterday, while dropping off equipment at Mike Schlenker's Speed of Sound, I got into a discussion about politics with a nephew of a close, now deceased, former teacher friend of mine from the "good old days".

His main point: neither the Republicans nor the Democrats are worth our vote as they are indebted to huge campaign funders instead of us. "Until", he said, (and I am paraphrasing here) "Big Money, i.e. corporations are no longer considered as individuals, there is not going to be a candidate that will truly represent the middle and lower classes." And I totally agree.

when Kim and I attended the celebration of Minnesota's great Senator Paul Wellstone two weeks ago, we were both struck by the early panel discussion and an author's view that not only has the Republican Party lost its way, but the Democratic Party has as well.

The "new" Democrats are as hung up on expensive trappings, the finest wines, coffees, and boutiques as their Republican counterparts.

during the last election cycle, I didn't decide upon voting for Clinton until my candidate favorite, Bernie Sanders, an Independent and a "socialist", (OOH! there's that scary word again) was rudely removed from the run with a lot of help from Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

The point that was made in Minneapolis that afternoon is that it is about damn time that the Dems get back to being the party of Franklin D. Roosevelt, a President who cared about the average American citizen's well being. The last Democrats that really showed that they would look out for us were both assassinated.

Which brings me to the problematic situation here in our own once great Progressive state: Wisconsin. Our present "Governor" has used the same tactics of Donald Trump, continually finding ways to divide and conquer us instead of uniting us.

Before Walker's last attempted recall and then re-election, I was astounded by conversations with total strangers in parking lots who are lower middle class but supported Walker. How could anyone not know that any votes cast for this should be-pariah were votes against their own self interest????

Now we have another chance to rid ourselves of Governor Wanker coming up in the next election cycle. I have long admired Eau Claire's Dana Wachs, even wrote an editorial praising his work in the State Senate at one point. I still appreciate everything that Dana has done and the fact that he is running against Walker.

But here's the deal with me. As an after dinner comic, I have worked a lot of banquets in the past five years at which the keynote speaker was Mike McCabe, an immediately recognizable honest man who talked about "the blue jean nation" that Wisconsin needs.

the last time I heard him speak was at the State Farmers Union Cooperative Convention in Wisconsin Rapids, and once again, he proved himself to be an intelligent, unassuming Wisconsin citizen who has worked tirelessly for his state.

this week I received a mailing with the heading: "McCabe - Principle Over Party" and I want to share it with any of my readers who will take the time to read it:

ITS OFFICIAL.. I'm a candidate for governor.
Wow, when I was growing up on the farm I never thought I'd be saying those words.

Can't say it was my idea. I was drafted. But let me tell you why I allowed myself to be talked into this crazy idea.

Wisconsin is becoming a shadow of its former self. So much of what made Wisconsin special is being dismantled. I'm having an increasingly hard time recognizing it as the place where I grew up. Never in my lifetime have I seen our government less responsive to regular people. Never have I seen our public institutions so disrespected and distrusted. Never have I seen both major parties this fouled up. Never have I seen the political establishment so corrupted and out of touch.

I am running for governor for one reason and one reason only. To do everything I can to get our government working for all of us and not just a privileged few.

Party insiders and those currently calling the shots at the Capitol are quick to say I lack what they consider the proper credentials to run for governor. It's true, I am not a professional politician or career office holder. That's something I have in common with over 5 million other people in this state. I don't belong to any political party. That's another thing I have in common with almost everyone in Wisconsin. When you think about how badly all those experienced politicians and party leaders have messed things up, it's clear that people like you and me need to take matters into our own hands.

So I'm running for governor. I need your help. I can't do this alone.

When you run for office the first thing you're told is you have to spend four or five hours a day, every day, asking rich people for money. No! That's exactly what got us into the mess we're in.

I am doing it differently. I'm going to rely on small donations from regular people. And I'm going to spend 8, 10, 12 hours a day raising a citizen army. Our campaign is going to be headquartered in living rooms and kitchen tables all across the state.

State law allows candidates for governor in Wisconsin to take $20,000 checks from individuals and $86,000 donations from political action committees. But here's the thing. You and I know those huge donations that flow so freely in our elections amount to legal bribes. I cannot in good conscience accept them.

Our campaign will be people-powered and crowd-funded.. I won't take a single contribution over $200. Supporters will be allowed to give more than once but no more than a total of $1,000.

Yes, there is risk involved in taking this stand against the influence of big money. but there is an even greater risk if everyone is going along with the corrupt way election campaigns are regularly being funded. If big money rules again in the next election for governor, some candidate will win. But the people will lose. You will lose.

If big money rules again, we'll all continue to be stuck with elected representatives who don't really represent us. Our own elected representatives won't be free to lead and act according to our interests. They'll have no choice but to scratch the backs of those who scratched theirs. Our government will continue to be controlled by the wealthy and well-connected.

Breaking free of this trap involves risk. It requires faith and the courage of conviction. We can do this.
with heartfelt thanks,

Mike McCabe

I am sending my funding to Mike McCabe. I feel that we need Dana Wachs in the state governing body to help this man, as Dana has done so faithfully these years.

Friday, October 20, 2017


It was on Friday, September 15, that I suddenly became aware that cyber-thieves, scammers, hucksters, are not all in Nigeria and in addition, they are getting more sophisticated in their approach. I had driven down to Mondovi, Wisconsin, to play for the residents at The Home Place of Mondovi in mid morning. I was double gigging that day, but the second gig was at the Home Place of Durand, Wisconsin, and not until 6PM. So I returned home for two reasons: I had the time; I was having some sort of electronic problems with my amplifier.

While I was back at my office, I was also at the computer when I got a message through "Messenger" from whom I thought was a friend, Jim Smith, a fellow guitar player who quite often sends me videos of guitarists, so I didn't find it unusual. However, this time he sent, instead, a message asking if I had looked into getting that federal grant that he had told me about over a year ago.

Not wanting to appear to be completely ignorant, I wrote back, apologizing for not recalling that conversation, which, unfortunately, opened the door to my "friend" Jim, who wrote back to tell me that he had requested a federal grant several years ago to help him as a writer and to pay off debts, and surprisingly was eligible and did receive aa $90,000 grant from the federal government. He suggested that I do the same.

At this point, I had no idea that the real Jim Smith's Facebook account had been hacked and that I was not really communicating with the Jim that I know, but instead to a criminal hacker. So I asked "Jim" who I needed to contact and he told me that her name is Mary Habberfield, the person on charge of grant disbursements.

"Jim" then forwarded a link to her Facebook page, which I clicked on and up popped her home page, complete with photo and resume. No sooner had I gotten this up on my screen when "Mary" asked: "Good afternoon, sir. How can I help you?" So I explained that my friend Jim Smith had told me to contact her about a federal grant. She asked what I would be using the money for and I honestly told her I would be using it by applying the money to the Arts, reproducing my first album onto CD disc and any money left over would be used to help publish an autobiography I was compiling on my travels.

She said that I would first have to provide some basic information to see if I would be eligible and forwarded me the following questions: Full Name, Full Address, Telephone number, Married or Single,, House or Apartment, and if house, how much owed. She did not ask for my Social Security number, which made it more believable.

I submitted, she wrote back in a surprisingly short amount of time saying that she would have to enter my information into the system to see if I was eligible, and for how much. Within the hour, she wrote again, saying I was eligible for a federal grant of $150,000. Well, that didn't sit very well with me at all. That is a hell of a lot of money for the small amount of time she supposedly spent checking me out.

So before I answered, I messaged "Jim" again, telling him the large amount and that it sounded fishy to me. "Jim" assured me that it was on the up and up and how pleased he was that I was doing this and how surprised he was that I was able to get such a large grant, but good for me!

So, still thinking that I was talking to my true friend, Jim Smith, I recontacted "Mary" and asked what the steps would be. The more she told me, however, the more skeptical I became. First . . . questions: "What are your assets?" "How much in savings? "How good is your credit rating and do you have a credit card?" Boing! Up goes the first red flag.

"Why do you need this information?"

Then this: "Well, in order to fully process your grant for $150,000, you must first pay earnest money upfront to cover all inter-departmental paperwork, final approval, and express shipping of the check. That amount will be ten per cent of the total, ($1500) of which you can send the first $50 of earnest money to a Mrs. Rodgriquez, ( she then gave me a box number address) in Houston, TX with a money gram you can purchase through your local Walmart. Then Monday you can use your credit card to pay the rest."

Now I am really certain this is a scam but can't believe that a friend of mine would actually set me up for this! So I message "Jim" again, saying please call me immediately, as I am becoming very suspicious about this grant thing.

I get an immediate response: "I can't. I am in a meeting right now. But if there are problems, just keep messaging me and I will help you through it." "No", I say, "I need to actually talk to you in person. When is your meeting over?"

"Can't tell how long it will take"

"Well, can you meet me in person right after the meeting?"

"No, I already have plans."

I then write: "Please send me your phone number so that I can call you at a designated time."

Then he writes back: "I don't understand why you are having trouble understanding that this is legit. But then, again, when I applied, I was skeptical, too, and when the check was delivered, I couldn't believe it! Larry, take it from me, as your friend. You have nothing to lose."

I write back, knowing this next question will really throw him: "What does Joyce think about this?" (Joyce is Jim's wife). There is a long pause and then he totally disregards my question and says: "Look, Larry. I can't meet with you today as I am in Pennsylvania with investors."

Busted! Two reasons: the real Jim Smith was in a very serious auto accident several years back and does not work. There is no way he would be in Pennsylvania on a Friday afternoon "with investors".

"Okay, Jim . . . if I can't talk to you first I am bailing on this because it's a scam."

"you would be making a big mistake, Larry."

"Well call me then, and let's talk about it."

"As I told you, I am in a meeting. I will try to call you later if I get out in time. Why are you in such a hurry about this?"

End of conversation. I go to the house to get dressed for my second gig and my phone rings. It's a Pennsylvania number. I cautiously tap the phone on, but say nothing. What comes through is about 10 seconds of garbled sound, then a voice says "Can you hear me?"

I am already aware of this scam. A voice asks if you can hear it and if you say yes, it is recorded and then they use your voice to agree to whatever they want to bilk you out of. So I hang up.

Then I get a text: "You asked me to call. Why did you hang up?" I write back: Because I am on to you, Scumbag! You are an internet criminal and think you can take advantage of me because I am older. So fuck off!!!

Now its time to deal with his partner in crime, the "grant distributor", "Mary Hadderfield. I email her and tell her that I am aware of what she and partner are doing and to leave me alone.

She quickly writes back (even though it would now be after office hours if it were really a government office): I don't understand what you are talking about.

She then sends the resume again and at the end tells me she is quite hurt by my accusations. I give her the same good bye as I gave her partner.

So, if you think you are visiting with someone you know via your computer, remember this, and be careful, please!

Sunday, October 15, 2017


I am not even certain of the time line, but feel it important to share this. Almost ten years ago I was involved in a serious motorcycle accident which shattered my lower right leg in multiple places.

Two operations later, I was still in a great deal of pain and consulted with my physician several times, finally asking if there was some sort of pain relief that could be administered. The doctor mentioned Fentanyl but was hesitant to prescribe it as was just being marketed and might be very addictive.

Ultimately, I accept responsibility for finally talking the physician into allowing me to use duragesic Fentanyl patches to control the constant pain. I am in no way accusing anyone but myself. I used the patches, changing to a new one every three days for over nine years.

Within the last year, my use became more of a hassle, as I had decided, with a new physician, that I would start weaning myself from the drug, so the first step was to go from 75mg to 50mg patches. For some unknown reason, at least to my way of thinking, this caused all kinds of problems with my insurance coverage, and in addition to not being able to get refills with any regular schedule, the price of the patches increased substantially.

When the artist known as Prince died of an overdose of drugs, one being Fentanyl, I made my decision that I wanted out. Not realizing that the drug is considered to be 100 times stronger than heroin, and even though my doctor had told me that the withdrawal would be as long, slow process, I thought I could go "cold turkey". The date that I began my long journey back to normality is etched in my mind forever: April 11, 2017.

When the effects of not using the patches regularly struck me four days into the process, I went to a horrible place of pain that I have never experienced before. I ended up in the emergency ward, not once, but twice during the first month.

I was given Tramadol, which is also an opiod, but of a much weaker strength. The entire month of April is mostly a blur, although I do remember small rallies from time to time. I found that driving my car was out of the question, as I attempted it once early in May and it scared me so badly to be in traffic behind the wheel of what seemed to me to be this huge vehicle, that I didn't start driving again until months later.

It took a little over a month to get the drug out of my system and in that period I lost 22 pounds. I knew I was finally through the initial phase when the reduced dosage of one half a Tramadol made me instantly sick.

Once I was at that point, food tasted better than it ever had. I had always been a craver of sweets after a meal, but at this point anything with sugar I found to be totally unappetizing. There was a short period of feeling like I was going to be through with the hell.

Then the next phase began in earnest. I would have a day or two when I felt that I was operating at 60 to 75% full health, then I would suddenly plunge into two weeks of exactly the same symptoms I went through in the original withdrawal. I found I was battling on two fronts: the purely physical and in addition, the mental.

I came to realize that stress was my biggest enemy and also if I tried to do too much on any given day, I would suffer for it. It is very difficult for me personally to not stress out, so there were many days when I was certain that I still had not gotten "clean" of the drug itself.

I began to do extensive reading on the subject of "PAWS" . . . Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome, and the facts that I found were another set back. At first the articles that I read led me to believe that within a few months the back and forth between feeling pretty normal to once again descending into the hell of pain would ease up, but the more I read the more I began to realize that the longer a person had used, the longer it would take to break through entirely. In my case, because I had used so long, I was led to believe that it could take up to three years before my life would return to normal, and in some cases, people find that even when they might feel good for months at a time, they will inevitably have recurring episodes.

I began seeing a behavioral therapist as often as I could and quickly learned just how many of us are really in deep trouble as my appointments were at least a month apart. I cannot say enough good things about the young woman to whom I was assigned. I could tell that she really cared about my well being and was a very good communicator.

Another aspect of recovery that I found very alarming is that at times, for no apparent reason, everything and everyone would make me lash out in unsubstantiated anger and my wife, Kim, who is my true shelter in the storm of life, would suddenly be confronted by this unruly, continually upset man who would say things that even he couldn't believe he was saying. I am now in my sixth month of recovery and for the first time, the "up" days are beginning to outnumber the "down" days and there is a direct correlation to the amount of stress and the amount of overextending myself that will put me in the "down" days. My personality is such that all of my life I have been going 90 miles an hour
or near nonfunctioning at all, so it is a continual challenge to find my parameters, to know when to say yes, when to say no.

I am back to performing my music again, which has always been great therapy for my soul, and to supplement my meager Social Security checks, I am a "car jockey" for the regional Toyota dealership, driving a new vehicle of a wanted color or style to a different dealership, and then returning in a vehicle that is needed at the regional dealership.

There are times when I still have difficulty with self-loathing issues, when I turn the anger on myself, but I have an amazing life partner who helps me immeasurably at those times. I know that I am far from being totally "out of the woods", but my life is better than ever before and I feel that this experience has made me into a better person.

I can tell you this with complete certainty. I will never use an addictive pharmaceutical again I read and hear of people who were users, got clean, then returned to using; to me, that is total insanity. I don't ever want to go through what I have gone through and am still recovering from, ever again. I wouldn't wish that descent into Hell on anyone.

At a point in my recovery when I thought I would never make it, our dear friend Sarah gave me a card that is still displayed prominently where I can see it every morning: It simply says: "When you are going through hell, keep going." I shall.