HELLO FROM EAU CLAIRE, WISCONSIN:

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

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

PRINCIPLE OVER PARTY? YOU DECIDE.

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
GovernorBlueJeans.com

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

BE CAREFUL WHEN VENTURING INTO CYBERSPACE. IT'S A JUNGLE OUT THERE!

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 ONE OF THE MILLIONS IN THE OPIOD EPIDEMIC

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.

_________________________________________________________________________

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

PLAYING FOR AND DEALING WITH AGE

Last week I worked several gigs at area nursing homes. At all of them, I arrived so early that the directors of each thought that either they or I had made a time mistake. This brought back memories of when I was a younger man, in my fifties, and working conventions and banquets quite regularly.

I shall never forget the day I was to entertain a luncheon of senior citizens at what was then known as The Hoffman House in East Claire, Wisconsin Having worked "senior banquets" before, I knew that they always arrived way too early. I supposed the reason being that it must have been that this luncheon was all they were doing that day. So I decided, since they were to begin at noon, I would get there extra early at 10:30 in the morning to insure that I would have a clear path to bring in my sound gear and get set up before the hall outside the dining room became jammed with hungry people.

When I arrived, I was astounded to find the hall already jammed full of people! I went out to my van and brought the first load in, constantly having to say excuse me to even get them to step out of the way at least a bit. That was when I found out that the doors to the banquet hall had not been unlocked!

So I took my speakers in hand again, and put them back in the van, excusing myself yet again, as the seniors parted like the Red Sea and then closed behind me just as quickly.

I came back and and reconnoitered the entire outside of the banquet hall and way off to one side found an unlocked door.

About the time I was through bringing all my gear inside and was beginning to set up, the crowd suddenly came rushing in like a raging stampede. They had found the door that I had used! At the time, none of the wait staff was in the room. they had just finished putting out the salads at each plate and had returned to the kitchen.

The diners all sat down and commenced to eat their salads! It was at that point that the wait staff returned, mouths agape. The one nearest the stage was very upset. She looked up at me and asked: "Who let these people in here???"

"I don't know", was my reply. Well, it wasn't really a lie. I didn't "let them in", they just came in on their own, uninvited!

Now I have to laugh at myself because I have turned into a geezer who arrives way too early. Well, I would rather be way too early and have time to set up at a leisurely pace, than have the stress of rushing around, trying to make certain everything was operational.

__________________________________________


I have been frustrated for a long time, not having written any song lyrics that I considered valuable enough to keep. but September 1, 2017, my muse finally struck! As one ages, it becomes more and more difficult to actually look at what is supposedly your image in the mirror. What the Hell happened???

that's how I arrived at the inspiration for these lyrics:

"My Mirror Broke Down" lyrics, music written by Larry Heagle, copyrighted, September 1, 2017

Ma gave me that mirror when I was ten
Thought I'd look great ever since then
But my mirror broke down, yes, my mirror broke down
My mirror broke down, It just don't work for me

That mirror looked good when I was sixteen
The girls all smiled, if you know what I mean
But my mirror broke down . . .

It worked really well at twenty one
My, my, my, the gals sure were fun
But my mirror broke down . . .

When I looked in it at forty two
It made me look fat, nothing I could do
Cuz my mirror broke down . . .

At fifty five the glass was looking bad
It showed wrinkles that I never had
Cuz my mirror broke down . .

It got even worse at sixty six
So I took it to the glass man to get it fixed
Cuz my mirror broke down . . .

He checked it out and just shook his head
said there ain't nothing wrong, it's all in your head
But my mirror broke down . . .

So I gave it to a young man of twenty three
That fickle mirror'd been playin' with me
That mirror broke down
Yes that mirror broke down
that mirror broke down
But only when it looked at me.


Saturday, October 7, 2017

How Very Fortunate I Am

This morning, although not often enough, I want to express just how fortunate a life I have lived. I have been lucky enough to have taught hundreds of 8th and 9th Graders for over a decade before moving on to a more or less full time career as a traveling entertainer.
I have made some fast friendships with some of those now more than mature people and even still, while playing locally at area nursing homes and other senior facilities, I meet up with former students who happen to be visiting a parent while I am there.

When I realized in 1976 that I had lost my original enthusiasm for teaching, I also knew that I refused to be one of those teachers who, although, "burned out", continued on for as long as necessary to draw a good retirement.

I have always loved performing both music and comedy for people as I find it extremely rewarding and feel that over the years I have honed my craft enough that even though I am now on the down side of my 70's, I still have something to offer.

I cherish the opportunities that have been afforded me by my wonderful wife and partner, Kim Wilson, who works many hours to keep me booked into various senior centers as it is not only still very rewarding to me, but it is also a way for me to express my thanks to the Chippewa Valley and beyond for allowing me to spend time with all the people I have been accepted by and taken from over the past thirty some years.

when people ask me why I am playing at senior centers, I kiddingly tell them that I am just following my fans, rather than having them attempt to follow me.

I have also been very blessed to have had opportunities to open for some of the biggest names in the music industry, but two stand out best in my memory. The first opportunity I had to be an opening act for someone was for Emmy Lou Harris at the UWEC Field House, lo, those many years ago.

As I said, it was my first, and wouldn't you know, I committed a faux pas that I learned from immediately. My half hour warm up went well. The crowd kept applauding and wanting me to do more; a cardinal sin for an opening act! But I was an ignorant small town guy who didn't know that rule and went back on and did one more novelty tune.

As I went back through the darkness behind the stage, who should I come face to face with, but Emmy Lou! She, being a really classy lady as well as a class act, extended her hand and said: "Thank you. You did very well. The audience really enjoyed you." She could have and most others would have, rebuked me for what I had done.

I recently saw her on The Big Interview with Dan Rather and was struck by how similar her attitudes toward life are with my own. I love her to this day and always will.

Some years ago, (when you get to my age, everything is some years ago), I received a telephone call from Perla Batalla's Midwest booking agent, Andrea Hansen, who explained that she was good friends with a mutual friend, Dr. Judy Sims, of UWEC, and had asked her if she knew anyone that she could consider using as an opening act for Perla, as an Eau Claire stop would fill a gap between performances, and, thankfully, Dr. Sims recommended me.

Perla was performing at The Stone's Throw and would be arriving by rented car with her backup duo nmusicians, around 3 PM, so I wanted to be sure to meet her and do a sound check.

As soon as I met Perla, I was immediately struck by her warmth and openness. I remember her remarking, having just flown in from California, how, on the trip over from Minneapolis, she was just really taken with how green and beautiful western Wisconsin is.

Knowing from my own experience as a road performer, just how monotonous staying in hotels night after night is, I took a chance and asked Perla and Andrea if they would be interested in staying out in the country at my "office" bungalow, as I would love to make them one of my home made pizzas after the show, and they graciously accepted my offer.

Perla's performance, was stunning. It only convinced me further that she was a very warm and open person, not in the least haughty, as many can be. After watching her perform, we came out here in separate vehicles, I think, but this is hazy; Think that I left a bit early to get the pizza stone heated and to get started with the dough for a pizza Margherita.

It was a very special evening for me and after saying good night, I asked what time they would like to be up and that I would make them Popovers for breakfast. Imagine my dismay when months later, when I found out that Perla's husband, Claud Mann, is a world class chef, who at one time hosted the TBS program "Thursday Night: Dinner and a Movie", on which he prepared fascinating recipes during the running of a film. I was a big fan! Had I known, I would never have had the cojones to suggest baking for Perla! (I also found out at her concert at Cedar Avenue Cultural Ccenter that her mother is an incredible cook.)

That was the last I saw of her in person, but she has kept in touch with me both in e mails and she sends me her newest CD's, autographed. During our correspondence I would continually ask when she would be returning to Wisconsin and at one point was negotiating with Big Top Chataqua, but that fell through.

I made certain I was own her mailing list and watched closely for an appearance any where near us. When she released her CD saluting the music of Leonard Cohen, with whom she traveled the world over as one of two back up singers, she again, sent me copy, which I played over and over. I was really taken by "Bird On a Wire" which every time I listened to her sing it, gave me goose bumps.

She let me know that she was appearing with Leonard on The David Letterman Show, and although, most of the time, understandably, the cameras were focused on Mr. Cohen, I did get glimpses of Perla.

Then early this past September I found out that she was scheduled to perform at the Cedar Cultural Center, Cedar Avenue, Minneapolis, and I immediately ordered tickets on line, the kind that you print out so you have a hard copy immediately. Kim, at the time, was in New York City with her sister, Kristi, and our two good friends, Wes McClain and Bill Peisert, taking in Broadway shows, including Kim's all time favorite, Bette Midler, in Hello, Dolly.

The week before Perla's October 5th performance, I went searching the net for a very good Jewish Deli where we could celebrate Leonard Cohen's heritage, but could find nothing close by. So I decided we would try LaFresca, an upscale "Mexican" restaurant whose chef, trained in South American cuisine, as well as French cooking in Paris, and served dishes combining the two cuisines, celebrating Perla's Chicana heritage instead.

we left early so that we could have a leisurely dinner before the 7:30 performance. It wasn't until just after eating a fantastic dinner, while Kim had left for the ladies room, that I suddenly thought about whether we had remembered to bring the tickets!

Kim returned to the table and could tell something was on my mind. I said: "I'm afraid to ask you this: Did you remember the tickets, because I didn't until just now!" Her answer: "What tickets?" Just after she got back from NYC, still burdened with unpacking, etc, we talked about where to put the printouts so that they would be safe and we would remember where they were.

But neither of us did! Senior moment? So we fretted our way to the Cedar Cultural Center, making wrong turns most of the way, fighting parking lot ticket machines, but still managed to be inside by 7:20PM.

I explained to the lady at the ticket table that we had bought tickets online but forgot them. she asked whose name they were under, pulled out a spread sheet, went looking for the "H" section, and said: "Yes, here you are. two tickets purchased back in September." Sighs of relief.

Perla was magnificent, as usual, accompanied by her pianist, Michael Sobie, a very talented musician as well as an occasional harmony voice. What made the entire evening more special was that she took the time between songs to fully explain how and when Leonard had written them.

I was, of course, holding my breath, waiting for "Bird on a Wire" and when she told the audience how she came to first perform it on her own, it became very clear to me why I had considered the song so very outstanding to me.

Leonard was throwing a party and asked her to sing it at the party. Perla immediately rejected the idea as she has so much respect for his works and didn't think she would do it justice. But Leonard insisted that she at least give it some thought.

So a week or so before the party, she decided, just for Leonard, to give it a try, with her husband, Claud, accompanying on guitar.

Perla told us that after a week's practice she realized that she CAN sing it! She told Claud: "You know, I feel like I own this song." Claud's reply: "No, Perla, that song owns you." She sang it and brought tears to this old man's eyes.

It was an evening that no description I would provide would do justice. Kim and I talked about it much of the way home and still the next day.

If you would like to hear her perform, please call the Cedar Avenue Cultural Center, Minneapolis @ (612) 338-2674. Perla told me that if enough people call and ask when she will be returning, the possibility will be much more likely.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

RAPE WISCONSIN . . . ELECT SCOTT WALKER

I haven't blogged in quite some time; truth be told, state and national politics have driven me into a deep depression. Only the correct medications have helped keep me from ending it all.

I truly do not understand what is happening to my once progressive state. How could so many of my fellow Wisconsinites be taken in by a man who is easily the most egotistical,self-serving demagogue to ever come down the pike???

From the get go, Walker made it very clear ON TAPE, TELEVISED, speaking with his billionaire donor, Diane Hendricks of Rock County ABC supply, with this telling conversation:

Hendricks:
“Any chance we’ll ever get to be a completely red state and work on these unions and become a right-to-work state? What can we do to help you?”

Walker replied: “Well, we’re going to start in a couple weeks with our budget adjustment bill. The first step is we’re going to deal with collection bargaining for all public employee unions, because you use divide and conquer.”

Yesterday I received an e mail from my old friend, Dr. Ron Keezer, musician and etcher extraordinaire and the article he sent really NAILED IT:

Citizen Dave: Scott Walker and the politics of resentment

Credit:David Michael Miller

If Scott Walker were in governor's school he'd be earning an "F."
Let's look at the record.
He promised he'd create 250,000 private-sector jobs in his first four years. Less than half that number were actually created, and Wisconsin underperformed most Midwest states as well as the national average.
He promised he'd balance the budget. He produced a projected $2 billion deficit for the 2015-17 biennium.
Failing at his employment goals, last year he touted an $800 million tax cut as the way to create jobs. Minnesota's Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton didn't follow Walker's standard ALEC policy playbook. The result? Unemployment in Minnesota is 3.7%, while the unemployment rate in Scott Walker's "open for business" Wisconsin is 5.2%.
And while Wisconsin legislators struggle with that $2 billion deficit, liberal Gov. Dayton's Minnesota just can't agree on what to do with their almost $2 billion surplus.
Walker's refusal of Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act will cost our state $345 million over the next two years and result in 81,000 fewer Wisconsinites being covered. That's right, we're paying more to cover fewer people.
He turned back $810 million, again of our own federal taxes, that would have gone to a high-speed rail system knitting together Chicago, Milwaukee and Madison. That system would have been up and running now for over a year if he hadn't narrowly won election in 2010.
So just between Medicaid and rail alone, Walker has turned his back on over $1.1 billion in federal resources that will just be spent in some other state. Did I mention he's running a $2 billion deficit?
In any school he'd be failing. In any private company he would have been fired a long time ago. If he were a city manager he'd be sued for malfeasance in office.
So, how did this guy who the record shows is incompetent or reckless or both, get elected to begin with, become the only governor in American history to ever survive a recall, and then win reelection to a second term, all in the space of four years?
Answer: He knows how to play on people's resentments.
Let's start with high-speed rail. Walker was actually open to the idea early on in the 2010 Republican primary. But when one of his opponents went hard against it, Walker responded immediately with absolute statements saying that he would turn down the federal money. It became a significant wedge issue, playing on resentment of Milwaukee and Madison in the rest of the state.
Act 10 was all about playing on resentment toward local teachers and "Madison" bureaucrats (but really state and municipal workers all over Wisconsin) in the wake of the Great Recession. Rather than trying to put in place policies that would build up private-sector workers' pay and benefits to equal or exceed their public-sector colleagues, Walker sought to drum up hard feelings between private- and public-sector workers, who should have been on the same side.
The Medicaid refusal is all about capitalizing on resentment of working-class whites against working-class African Americans. Medicaid is often heard as code for black and urban.
Walker's attacks on the UW and the Wisconsin Idea are intended to highlight the differences between those with university degrees and most Wisconsinites, who don't have one, at the expense of all the economic development that comes with a strong higher education system and a better-educated workforce.
And last year's senseless tax cut was mostly about keeping government in a constant state of fiscal crisis so that cutting programs will always be on the table. Walker doesn't want fiscal stability. He wants to gut government. In this way he plays on the resentment of the very idea of government.
So, Walker seeks to divide rural against urban Wisconsin, better-educated Wisconsinites versus blue-collar workers, private-sector employees versus those in the public sector, white Wisconsinites against their black fellow citizens.
My point is that if you want to look for the secret to Scott Walker's success, don't look to the higher human values of the common good. Instead, examine the politics of "divide and conquer." Walker succeeds by employing a remarkable and laser-like focus on exploiting and inflaming human resentments.
This is not the kind of man to be leading Wisconsin, or Wauwatosa for that matter, or any private company or, God help us, the United States of America.

**************************

NAILED IT!


The problem with my fellow citizens is not that difficult to discern. Nobody READS anymore. We have become a state of half-wits who don't really give a shit what is going on around them as long as they can watch FAUX News, (which they actually believe is really news!), and get the latest "smart phone" to stick in their ear.

Want to make you Sunday a real Funday? Read this article on our beloved governor's favorite masturbator:

http://wepartypatriots.com/wp/2012/05/16/walkers-billionaire-divide-and-conquer-backer-diane-hendricks-isnt-paying-state-corporate-taxes/

If this doesn't piss you off, then you are absolutely getting what you deserve: LESS AND LESS OF EVERYTHING.