Cocaine: (n) an addictive drug derived from coca

Some folks might find me very interesting if I talked about my use of cocaine or my addiction. But even though it was plentiful in Nashville, Tennessee, in the 1970s, and I was offered the white dust frequently, I passed.

Now, I did not decline because I was self-righteous or anti-drugs. I passed because of the reasons I was given to snort.

“You’ve gotta try it, man. It makes you more creative, it makes you more horny and it makes sex feel twice as good.”

That’s some pretty heavy-duty advertising. But I went down the list:

I did not want to be creative because a drug expanded the walls of my arteries and forced blood to my brain. I wanted creativity to come from a different place in me. I wanted it to be real. I wanted it to be mine. I was jealous. I didn’t want cocaine taking credit for my writing.

I didn’t want to be more horny. The danger of being more horny is that you start screwing people you don’t care for all that much. I like a little romance with my sex, if you don’t mind. I did not want cocaine picking out my sex partners.

And you can call me conventional, or too well-satisfied, but I have found that the big bang available at the culmination of the sex act is quite enough for me.

Of course, the danger is that if you convince yourself that you need cocaine to have good sex, the intercourse, which would be very beneficial to your health, might be greatly diminished by the cocaine, which is similar to setting off a hand-grenade near your heart.

Beware of those who always want more.

Honestly, I don’t settle for anything–but I do have the capability of “gettin’ my own” without taking a hit from anyone or anything.


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Beatnik: (n) a young person in the 1950s and early 1960s belonging to a subculture associated with the beat generation.Dictionary B

Trends and fads have one thing in common: they have a commencement with no graduation, also having a beginning minus destination. For that reason, it’s difficult to assess their genesis, or comprehend their exodus.

But if you take a moment and think about it, every movement goes through three stages:

  1. Purity
  2. Parity
  3. Paltry

Our new ideas often begin with purity.

Like beatniks.

I believe the purpose of such a social awakening was to become more introspective and discover our inner selves and how we relate to the world around us.

Quite noble.

But for an idea to become popular, you have to be able to market it without promoting its more cerebral aspects. So eventually the beatnik generation sought parity by wearing black berets and turtlenecks. It was an easy way to identify a fellow beatnik.

Yes, often our greatest movements are shrunken to a simple fashion statement.

Then, once they became tired of wearing their costumes, they decided to just maintain the angst. Thus, the 1960s and 1970s.

We ended up with a paltry representation of self-realization–actually merely an adolescent temper tantrum to anything our parents did.

After all, there would have been no objection to the war in Vietnam if there weren’t a draft blowing young men into military service.

So how is it possible to keep the purity without insisting on parity and ending up with paltry?

I don’t know.

But I think it is the job of writers, who detour their material through the brain, to insist on considering such idealism.


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Auditorium: (n) a large building or hall used for public gatherings, typically speeches or stage performances.

dictionary with letter A

I love auditoriums.

I think anybody who performs looks forward to being on a big enough stage that it provides for a backstage.

Backstage is fun.

It’s where you sit or stand and wonder about how many people are coming to the concert, or you slide into a side room that’s been provided for dressing and make-up.

When I graduated from high school I started a music group, wrote two original songs and actually built up the courage to raise some funds to record them.

I made a 45 RPM.

I know that doesn’t sound like a big deal, but in that era it made me nearly a god. Having a record made you look like you were not only prosperous, but talented.

So I was able to get a gig at a large auditorium on the Ohio State Fairgrounds. I loved that building. I had been to concerts many times in the facility, and now I was going to get to play in the auditorium.

I dressed everybody up and we even hired a drummer to come in and perform with us. I thought we sounded pretty good.

Unfortunately, the gig was for a religious church group youth rally, so there was an air of stuffiness surrounding the event, and a lot of rules and regulations laid on us, which honestly, I just didn’t listen to.

I found out later that:

  • We weren’t allowed to have drums, which we had.
  • We weren’t permitted to be loud, which we were.
  • And there couldn’t be any rock and roll in the sound, which there definitely was.

So we were halfway through our song, jubilantly sharing our talents, when suddenly the curtains started to close in front of us.

At first I thought it was a mistake, so I ran forward while the band still played and tried to pull them open. But they continued to close, because there were two austere men of dark countenance pulling on ropes, making sure that our sound and appearance were terminated.

I was furious.

I demanded they reopen the curtains, but they refused.

So the young audience booed for a second, and then were rebuked by their elders.

We still sat in the lobby offering to sell our 45 record to anyone who might have enjoyed the 16 bars of the tune we were able to pump out.

Only one girl of the 728 present was brave enough to come to our table and see us. The rest of the kids avoided us like we were an unwelcome leper colony. The young lady bought our 45, told us that she thought the grown-ups were assholes, and as she left, she raised her fist and said, “Rock on.”

I did.

And I’ve never stopped.

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Answering Machine

dictionary with letter A

Answering machine: (n.) a tape recorder or digital device that supplies a recorded message to a telephone call and can record a message from the caller.

A “Duophone.”

You see, I even remember the name.

It was one of the first answering machines put out by Radio Shack in the mid-1970’s, for those innovative, upbeat, contemporary souls who wanted to make sure they didn’t miss any calls or commercial opportunities.

I had to have one.

I bought it and after about four hours of comprehensive attempts at understanding the directions, I successfully hooked it up to my over-priced AT&T phone.

I then spent another four hours deciding what message to leave, gyrating between a brief but officious speech and a more silly, fun-loving and comical greeting.

Worst of all, I decided to blend the two. I even remember what I came up with as the final product:

“Hi, there. It’s not really me, it’s my Duophone, which enables me to get your message so I can get right back to you if I end up being right back. Just kidding. I mean, not about getting back to you. About when I will be here to hear the message. Anyway, call you soon.”


Amazing, though–after you listen to something four or five times, one convinces oneself that it’s really cool.

The problem with my Duophone, other than the fact that it had a hit-and-miss quality to it, having been spawned from Radio Shack, was that one of my friends thought it was really funny to keep calling and leaving abstract, silly, or even profane messages until he totally filled up the space provided.

After a while, when other people got answering machines and it was no longer a novelty, the American public became perturbed with having to listen to a contraption instead of completing calls, so my playback upon returning was often a series of hang-ups or disgruntled complaints over my absence.

Mercifully, on one of my moves to another location, the Duophone fell out of a truck and crashed on the pavement and I selected never to replace it.

The problem with answering machines is that they really don’t answer. They just put off a much-needed conversation to a later and usually less fruitful time.



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Alda, Alan

Words from Dic(tionary)

dictionary with letter A

Alda,  Alan (1936 – ): U.S. actor, director and writer, he won five Emmys for his role as Hawkeye Pierce on the television series M.A.S.H. (1972-83). His movies include Same Time Next Year, California Suite, The Seduction of Joe Tynan and Everyone Says I Love You.

I tried last week.

I attempted to watch an episode of M.A.S.H., which had its heyday in the 1970’s.

It was entertaining. But with the presence of never-ending one-liners, plays-on-words and physical comedy culminating in someone falling into mud, I was quickly aware that the gods of comedy had departed from this Olympus to different mountaintops of humor.

It was weird. I used to love the show. I especially enjoyed Alan Alda as Hawkeye. But now it seems kind of old–almost like Catskills comedy translated to a war zone with occasional serious overtones.

There are exceptions. Certainly the final episode, when the cast members go their separate ways, is a classic for all time; or the entrance of Radar into the operating room to announce the death of the commanding officer. Stunning.

And I’m sure if you talked to Mr. Alda, he would agree that although he is still quite proud of the work, he is not afraid to move on to other possibilities and new horizons.

Matter of fact, of late I have seen him in more dramas than comedies. Maybe a wise choice, Alan: because the kind of comedy that is prevalent today demands more ridicule, embarrassment and mocking than setting up a punch line.

Abrahams, Harold

by J. R. Practix

dictionary with letter A

Abrahams, Harold (Maurice):(1899-1978) English athlete. In 1924 he became the first Englishman to win the 100 meter race in the Olympic games. His story was retold in the movie, Chariots of Fire.

I was traveling in Jacksonville Beach, Florida, when I went out with two friends and saw the movie, Chariots of Fire. Although it was a bit maudlin for my taste, I was still captured by the story and moved by the message–so much so that when I arrived back in my motel room, I slipped on a pair of sandals, and even though it was nearly midnight I went down to the beach by myself, determined to duplicate the running along by the sea I had just witnessed in the flick.

It was a beautiful night–one which the Chamber of Commerce would love to have bottled and sold at orange juice stands as evidence of the beauty of the community. There was a fine mist in the air from the waves hitting the shore, and I was tingling all over with the anticipation of duplicating the emotion of the movie.

I looked off in the distance and set a marker in my mind of where I wanted to end up at the conclusion of my sprint. I was Abrahams. I was the great English racer. Even though I had quite a few more pounds than he did, in that moment, they were shed from my mind by the sheer awesome wonder of being transformed into the realm of Olympic training.

I started to run.

I got about four paces when my sandal stuck in the wet sand. I tripped and fell on my face, burying my nose deep within the beach. Determined, I got up and tried it again. I repeated the same process with great proficiency.

I do not know whether the terrain on Jacksonville Beach is so much different from England, or if it was perhaps because I was not quite as light of feet as Abrahams–but I just I sank deeper into the dampness. Or perhaps running on sand is just the stupidest thing that anybody ever came up with on earth.

But try as I might, I was only able to run about twenty feet before my heart was racing much quicker than my legs. I fell down, exhausted, and stared at the ocean.

I stayed there for a long time–because my legs ached, my knees were sore and my nose was full of algae. Gradually I worked my way to my feet and walked back to my motel room. In the process of that brief stroll, I recreated my story. Upon arriving, I told my traveling companions that I had duplicated the scene from the movie–and had run at least one mile down the beach and back.

Their eyes gleamed with admiration.

I went to sleep that night a liar. But I felt very little shame. After all, Hollywood and movies are just fairy tales. And fairy tales can come true.

It can happen to you.


by J. R. Practix

dictionary with letter A

About-face: 1. (n.) {chiefly in the military} a turn made so as to face the opposite direction 2.(v.): a command to make an about-face.

I don’t like to be ordered around.

Of course, if you say that out loud, people think you’re too spunky or too touchy. I’m not saying that I WON’T be ordered around. There are people who have the right to do so, and I respect their position.

I guess what I really mean is, I don’t like to be ordered around simply because someone has run out of things to do, so they come up with a new command to bark at me so they will still feel in control.

It reminds me of when I was a kid and would occasionally make the mistake of acting like I was bored. Before I could correct my error, my mother or father would always find something for me to do to fill my time in the most unpleasant way possible–a meaningless chore like cleaning out the attic, which no one ever visited anyway.

I do think there are things in life which demand an about-face. I would hope we would be intelligent enough to figure them out on our own, though, without someone having to scream at us to get our attention.

I think it would be wonderful if the President of the United States made an about-face and quit the Democratic Party, becoming an Independent, to communicate to the nation that he was no longer President of a club, but instead, the leader of all the people.

I would love to see the Catholic Church do an about-face on its traditions, which have generated sub-par human beings who abuse children out of their frustration over the lack in their own lives.

I would love to see the corporations in America do an about-face and realize they will not be able to make lavish profits if they continue to destroy the confidence of the consumer, raping them of money for often-inferior products.

I would like to see the entertainment industry do an about-face and add a little bit of conscience in with the effort to make a dollar at the box-office.

I would like to see the nation make an about-face on the issue of anything that kills people and put our freedom above the Second Amendment.

I would like to see myself do an about-face on believing there is a short list of things that I cannot overcome because I’m either too old or too stubborn.

About-face is a good idea–especially when you’re not waiting for a drill sergeant to give the order.

Yes, I guess I am much more pliable when the commands come from my own heart, through my soul and register in my brain.