Dark Ages

Dark Ages: (n) the whole of the Middle Ages, from about a.d. 476 to the Renaissance.

The difference between religion and the secular world is that the secular world scares the shit out of you.

Religion chooses to scare the shit into you.

Recently at a convention, a woman spoke aloud in front of one and all, and proclaimed, “Wouldn’t it be wonderful to live in a world where our faith, church and worship of God was in control?”

I held my tongue.

I did real well until I saw her out in the lobby, surrounded by gullible young kids, and repeated her statement.

I quietly stepped in, but resolutely pointed out, “My dear, we already had that opportunity to see what life would be like when God was worshipped and the church was honored.”

“It was called the Dark Ages.”

Much to my surprise, some of the older students started laughing.

She was upset—though I don’t know whether she caught my meaning.

“The Dark Ages” describes a time when the human race selected everything off the menu of possibility that was unnatural or unhealthy.

  • Blind devotion to God.
  • Kings and Queens in charge of lands and castles.
  • The rest of the citizens living as serfs to bless the church and the ruling class.
  • Ignorance promoted as unfaltering faith.
  • And a Bible blindly revered—even though nobody was allowed to read it.

It is easy to imagine a Dark Ages arriving upon us again.

It commences whenever we believe that one human being is better than other human beings and should be followed without question, because the church tells us that he or she is supreme.

And they know this to be true—because “God has ruled it to be so.”

Dark

Dark: (adj) having very little or no light

The human emotions need to believe everything will be alright.

Our spirits require alternatives that allow us to make intelligent choices.

The mind of a human being is in search of fresh ways to do things better.

And our bodies need to be exercised so that our respiration grants us the oxygen to be optimistic.

Anything that intrudes on these processes may seem entertaining, but ultimately will defile us.

For after all, “dark” is not the presence of anything.

Unfortunately, it is just the absence of light.

Dare

Dare: (v) to have the boldness to try; venture; hazard

I dare you to love an asshole.

Big talker you are.  Bet’cha can’t pull it off.

You’ll peer around the room at everyone, desperately looking for confirmation that no one could get along with the asshole that is plaguing your space.

I dare you to buy a canvas and some paints and let your mind go crazy and spill something out.

Are you more scared of humiliation or stagnancy? Which one terrifies you?

I dare you to admit your faults to other people.

Do you really think they’ll move in for the kill shot? And what if they do? Will you lose something by dying honest?

I dare you to change one thing tomorrow and see if it doesn’t have at least five consecutive results.

I dare you to start using your email to encourage people instead of complaining about your circumstance to a plethora of pitiful types who only desire to complain back to you.

I dare you to demand of God that He do something rather than just seek worship.

I dare you to stop being political, and instead, become so human that you actually join the race.

I dare you to change your mind.

I dare you to listen for ten minutes to someone who disagrees with you, without interrupting.

I dare you to learn the beauty of getting alone without feeling lonely.

I dare you to find that balance between loving yourself and needing to improve something inside you.

I dare you to find a legitimate difference between men and women that hasn’t been manufactured in Congress, the pulpit or the movies.

I dare you to let people be who they are, and if you find it uncomfortable, make them comfortable by finding yourself elsewhere.

I dare you to take a week believing in God, and then I dare you to take a week denying there is one. (Then I dare you to be fair in your conclusions after the two weeks are over.)

I dare you to have an experience other than a Biblical verse.

I dare you to give a helping hand to people who are ignorant instead of stepping on their face with your new Gucci boots.

I dare you to be dared.

Yes—I dare you to be dared until your daring adventure takes you to a double dare.

Dapper

Dapper: (adj) neat, trim and smart

There’s a huge difference between dressing up a banana and a grapefruit.

Take a moment and think about it.

A banana has lean, straight lines and almost anything you put on it looks rather dapper.

A grapefruit, on the other hand, is round—sporting a circumference—which makes almost anything you place upon it appear to be an overlay.

This was my situation growing up—wanting to be a musical artist and stage personality but having the body type of a beachball.

I wanted to be dapper.

What was that definition, again? “Neat, trim and smart.”

So I immediately eliminated “trim.”

“Neat” only required that everything be well-pressed and fitting.

“Smart” normally is considered to be an intelligence issue, but we’re all mature enough to know that “dressing for success” is not just a slogan.

When I was nineteen years old, traveling around and appearing in coffee houses, I wanted something distinguished to wear. At the time we were emerging from the hippie era, so I yearned to pursue that look and apparel.

May I explain to you, however, that if you want to dress hippie, you can’t be.

Hippy, that is.

There were no clothes my size at all. I tried.

I literally began to hate Ashbury.

So I convinced my young wife—who had never sewn before in her life—to draw up a pattern for pants that I could wear onstage, which had a button-up fly and bell-bottoms.

I can still remember the horror on her face when I finished my request. I tried to make it sound adventuresome and assured her that whatever she came up with would be perfect.

I was wrong.

I don’t know how she came up with the design for the pants—but the waist was too big, the legs too small, and the buttonholes, tiny.

So when I pulled the pants up, the leg holes barely let my feet pass through, the waist hung down as if severely depressed and it took me fifteen minutes to get the buttons to go through the holes.

After I was done, I looked in the full-length mirror.

I resembled a sausage in the midst of being cased.

I still loved them. I decided to wear them to the next coffeehouse.

I managed to get them off and get them back on performance night. But when I walked over to sit down at the piano, my chubby thighs burst the seams of the legs, as I sat there in front of an audience with my white skin protruding through every seam.

I will never forget that I had to wear those pants the rest of the night, covering up my protruding fat thighs with my hands, which is almost impossible to do while still playing the piano.

Due to a shirt that was more or less a huge poncho, I succeeded in coming as close as I possibly could to dapper—mainly because God was merciful.

And the coffeehouse room was dimly lit.

Dap

Dap: (v) to dip lightly or suddenly into water

Excuse me, America.

How would you classify your philosophy of life?

Pardon me, but I seem to have bewildered you with the question. Maybe I should clarify both the term “philosophy of life” and the word “classify.”

“Classify”—as in determine a common ingredient.

And “philosophy of life?”

The motivator that motivates you–to keep you motivated.

Does that help?

I see. You don’t misunderstand the question, you just resent it. After all, why should any one person be trapped into making a distinction on what is important?

But just for little ole’ me—how would you classify your philosophy of life? Just for conversation’s sake.

If you’re still unwilling to answer the question, may I offer an observation or two:

It seems to me that many of my fellow-Americans are very interested in the dap—or dapping—which might place them in the category of being dappers.

  • A little religion.
  • A splash of science.

A post or two on social media, with a tiny splat of generosity and a splurt of opinionated tweets, which some might deem prejudice.

Just a little, if you don’t mind.

“A little off the top. A little off the sides.”

A little off the norm so we can proclaim ourselves “inventive.”

Just a dap.

Because it is ridiculous to become sold out on a show that no one may attend.

What is going to be popular?

Where can I put my toe in the water without making a foothold?

Where can I taste it on my tongue without having to swallow?

Just a little.

Then, if it doesn’t work out, I can always say I was just curious—or deep in my heart, I always knew differently, and certainly, no one ever got me to definitively sign on the dotted line.

I smile when any politician believes he or she has gained the support of America.

Do you ever reach the heart of a dapper?

One who daps? One who just grazes opportunity?

If we’re not too involved, we can always have plausible deniability. That’s why gradually, America has gone from a 93% belief in God, down into the mid-to-high 70’s. And we will continue to drop our belief in the Divine One as we discover how unpopular it is to be registered among the faithful.

It’s much easier to say, “We are spiritual. We have a sense of wonder.”

Much better than proclaiming, “I believe.”

Because the pronouncement of “I believe” is always followed by someone staring you in the eye and challenging, “Prove it.”

 

Danzi, Franz

Danzi: Franz,1763–1826, German composer.

I listened very carefully as she exclaimed, “A German composer I do not know!”

I was a little bit surprised, since the woman speaking has a Master’s in Music and also plays a darned mean oboe. She’s been in orchestras for years and even taught Music Appreciation.

It made me interested in who Danzi was. (That’s when I’m suddenly grateful for the Internet, instead of needing to pull out my encyclopedia.)

In no time at all, there he was—with an artist’s drawing of a very small man wearing glasses—the personification of studious.

He composed a lot of music—a list of at least two hundred pieces.

So I asked myself, why don’t we know more about him?

Why do some people get recognition in their time and great placement in the history books, and others, second or third position in notoriety for their lifespan, and total rejection from history?

Then I looked at the dates of his birth and death: 1763—1826.

I immediately understood.

If you don’t know a lot about music, you might still be unaware of why there was a lapse in popularity for Mr. Danzi. (Or shall we be overly familiar and call him Franz?)

Franz had one big problem.

His lifespan nearly paralleled that of Ludwig von Beethoven.

So when Franz was writing one of his favorite pieces—like Symphonie Concertante in Eb Major for Wind Quartet and Orchestra, Beethoven was stumbling around the Germanic kingdom stunning audiences with his symphonies and antics.

Overshadowed.

You can be set aside because you do good work and somebody does it louder, or you can even be considered less malicious because a more malevolent fellow is in your era. For instance, there may be other infamous assassins, but John Wilkes Booth takes the balcony.

It was a good thing for me to read.

Talent isn’t always brought to the forefront.

It isn’t always appreciated.

Talent is often suffocated by other effort that sets off more fireworks or, as in the case of Herr Beethoven, pulls it off “deaf-ly.”

Danube

Danube: (N) a river in central and SE Europe, 1725 miles long.

Johann Strauss.

Ring any bells? No?

How about “The Waltz King?”

Still blank?

How about “The Blue Danube Waltz?”

Still have no idea?

How about this?

Da-da-da-dum! Bleep-bleep! Bleep-bleep!

If you discern my “da’s, dum’s and bleep’s,” you might know what Johann does. He was very popular.

He wrote dance music.

You might say he was the Beyoncé of his era. Whenever his music was playing, people were dancing. Dancing the waltz.

Certainly not as feverish as modern dance—but romantic enough to keep the birthrate rising.

He wrote many waltzes.

But since people don’t waltz much anymore, and not a whole lot of people allow classical tunes to decorate their personal music files, you probably don’t know him.

When Johann was alive, he would probably have been shocked to know that a day would come when his waltzes would be used for nothing more than car commercials.

But when he was composing—and The Blue Danube Waltz was played—the girls would shriek with joy and the boys would grab their hands and get to twirling.