Coshocton

Coshocton: (n) a city in E central Ohio.

My body was twenty years old, my heart, fifteen, my soul, sixty-five, and my mind, ten.

Yeah. That’s about right.

I had started a music group and was convinced it was just a matter of time until we would have a record contract, dazzling the airwaves, and in the process also impress my family members who thought I should get a job at a local department store called Buckeye Mart.funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

Gigs were hard to come by. We were performing contemporary music with a rock edge, but it had a Christian message. In that season, those elements were not allowed to combine.

So I was absolutely thrilled when there was a Bible college in Coshocton, Ohio, which contacted us and said they wanted us to come and play for their morning chapel.

I had long hair, and our group dressed like hippies who had put together their wardrobe with an Ohio mindset. We headed off to the college—which was rather conservative, and upon arriving, immediately ran into trouble.

The dean of students did not think it was appropriate to place us on a “platform of importance” when they had a dress code at the school which included that all men must wear their hair off their ears.

I kept my cool. This was the “old soul” part of me. I explained to them, in a comical way, that I was going to use part of the twenty-five-dollar honorarium check to get a haircut, because up to this point, I had not been able to afford one.

They looked at me with sympathetic eyes and actually bought the story—so much so that I was embarrassed that I lied to them.

Nevertheless, the Dean of Students included that part of our interchange in the introduction before we came up to sing our two songs.

I should say “prepared to sing our two songs,” because when we began, the bass guitar and drums were so foreign that the teaching staff came forward, objected and stopped the program.

The students were alarmed and perhaps offended that we were not able to continue but had drunk enough of the Kool-Aid to remain silent.

The ten-year-old mind and the fifteen-year-old emotions got together—and I threw a shit fit right there in front of everyone. I quoted Bible, Bill of Rights, Constitution and even something I had read in their school charter about “allowing the Spirit to move.”

It didn’t make any difference.

But apparently, I was eloquent enough that they decided to give us the twenty-five dollar check anyway, so it wouldn’t look like they were welchers and had cheated us.

So having only sung a half of a chorus on one song, we packed up our equipment and headed down the road.

By the way—I never got the haircut.


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Chord

Chord: (n) a group of three or more notes sounded together, as a basis of harmony.

Mrs. Bosley never told me.

She was my piano teacher when I was a boy. I took lessons from her for two years–and she never mentioned that music is very mathematical.

For instance, making a chord. You have a root note–like a C. You go up two steps to get your third and another step-and-a-half to get your fifth. There. You’ve got a chord. And it works with any key.

Once I discovered this magic, I realized any song could be played in any key as long as the chords could be attained by using my mathematical little formula.

My theories were put to the test when the music group I put together lost our piano player because her father thought it wasn’t good for her to be hanging out with a bunch of boys. He was also pissed at us because he insisted our hair was too long. So he told us that she was no longer allowed to play piano for us.

He thought that would be the end of our little group.

But instead, I grabbed the kid brother of our tenor singer, sat down with the mathematical formulas aforementioned–and in six weeks, taught this kid how to “chord out” five songs.

You cannot imagine how surprised people were when this boy walked to the piano and started playing.

Honestly, we kind of did this on a lark–but it ended up being a transforming experience for him. He went from being human wallpaper to decorating rooms with his talent. Within five years, he was in demand from every group in Columbus, Ohio.

All because he learned his chords.

We do a disservice when we try to complicate the good things of life, and make them seem inaccessible. Music especially needs to be available for all of us.

If it is, maybe we can all live in one a-chord.

 

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Cherry

Cherry: (n) a small, round stone fruit that is typically bright or dark red.

Rhonda wanted to impress me.

Traveling on the road, feeling young, my hair down to my shoulders, in a beat-up van, with a few songs I had written and dreams of
greatness, Rhonda had bought into my whole delusion and was along for the ride.

Our relationship was an interesting mingling of respect, lust, spirituality and availability.

One day Rhonda went to the store.

It was rather ironic that she was there because we didn’t really have any money. I had given her just two dollars–one to buy some bologna and one to buy some bread and mustard. (This was back when you could buy bread, mustard and bologna with two dollars.)

About forty minutes later she was back with the entrees, but also with a huge bag of cherries. It seems that she had arrived in the produce section just about the time that the manager was ready to throw away a whole bunch of cherries which he had over-ordered for the appetite of the community.

She saw him heading for the dumpster and she asked if she could have the sweet treats. I guess he must have looked at her bell-bottom jeans, hemp blouse and long, stringy hair and felt sorry for her.

He gave her the whole bag.

There were probably three hundred and twenty-eight cherries in there (not that I counted.)

We ate bologna sandwiches and cherries until we could eat no more. Some of the cherries were old and grumpy and others were soft and too mushy, but most of them were deliciously ripe and ready for consumption.

About an hour later, after eating all these cherries, a volcanic rumble began low in my belly, and crept its way up to my chest. Rhonda too.

We both were in horrific pain from a cherry juice hangover.

We needed to go to the bathroom, but there was no real indication that anything would happen.

So we rolled on our bellies all afternoon with a mixture of pain and gratitude over such a cherry experience.

 

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Bracelet

j-r-practix-with-border-2

Bracelet: (n) an ornamental band or chain worn on the wrist or arm

I have never been satisfied with my appearance, yet oddly, I have never been dissatisfied.

I have always landed in the “midlands” of being curious about improving my package.Dictionary B

This has caused me to do many interesting things.

When I was much younger I grew my hair out very long. I did it because I thought it made me look cool–and I could. Another wonderful byproduct of having flowing locks was that it seemed to make older folks really pissy.

For awhile I wore jewelry around my neck. I liked the way it flew around when I was walking fast, and it popped and bounced against my pecs, making me feel macho (since I left two buttons unfastened at the top of my shirt).

But most of all, I made a decision to wear an ID bracelet. I forget who purchased it–obviously someone who could afford the adornment, promising that it was gold plated. It is possible that it was, but whatever gold was on my ID bracelet quickly headed for “them thar hills.”

I was left with a two-tone piece of metal dangling from my arm, causing my skin to turn green.

I didn’t care. I continued to wear it because I believed it made me look more attractive.

Then one day I was sitting on a bench and a young lady moved to sit down next to me, and pulled back in horror, exclaiming, “Ooh! Your arm is green!”

She decided to seek a perch elsewhere.

So I scrubbed my arm and returned it to its former beige condition, and stopped wearing my bracelet–reluctantly. I did not feel nearly as appealing.

I realized that I was trusting my two-tone, green-spreading-on-your-skin piece of jewelry to be the spokesman …  for my true beauty.

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Aberration

by J. R. Practix

dictionary with letter A

Aberration: n.  a departure from what is normal, usual or expected, typically one that is unwelcome.

A black man reading a book

A woman voting

A glass bulb which produces light

Removing leeches from the body to assist in healing

The knowledge that tiny bacteria cause disease

The earth is round

People of different races marrying each other

An evolving universe

All men are created equal

For God so loved the world

Jews are not rats

Rock and roll is really great music

Long hair, as it turns out, is not going to destroy human sexuality

God loves everybody

All of these were once aberrations–unwelcome departures from the a “normal thinking.”

If you will excuse me, I must leave now, to discover the next aberration–and do my best to keep from fighting it.

Abbey Road

by J. R. Practix

dictionary with letter AAbbey Road: a road in northwestern London in England, west of Regents Park, the site of recording studios that are associated with the Beatles and other pop music figures.

John, Paul, Ringo and George were so upsetting to my parents that even though they were not religious people, both of them were convinced that the fab four collectively were the anti-Christ, even though my mom and dad were not all that pro-Christ themselves.

The "funeral procession" on the cove...

The “funeral procession” on the cover of Abbey Road (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I don’t know whether we’ll see another phenomenon like the Beatles in the next one hundred years. It was kind of the perfect storm of cultural upheaval. They had the look of anarchy with their long hair and pointed boots. They had the music of anarchy, which included blues chords taken directly out of the Mississippi Delta from the Negra culture. They had the habits of anarchy in the sense that they appeared to be clean-cut young men until you got close to them and found out that they were rather renegade. And they had the philosophy of anarchy because they didn’t believe that Jesus was as popular as they were.

I was not allowed to listen to the British invasion in my home as a youngster, but rather, had to escape over to Paul Morgenstern’s house to hear the wicked tunes on his radio. I was so obsessed with both the melodies and the general rebellion of being away from home and frolicking to the tunes that I took my clumsy, white, doughboy body and danced in their living room–until Paul’s mother walked in one day and caught me, and wasn’t sure whether to scream, giggle or run out the back door into the outhouse and hide.

I wasn’t invited back much after that. I kept up with the Beatles’ career by going to friends’ houses for overnight stays, where I would gluttonize on the hits, hoping that in the days of musical starvation to follow, I would be able to sustain myself.

My parents have since passed away, leaving behind adequate gravestones to mark their presence. Meanwhile, the Beatles failed to end the world, but instead, granted it a few moments of pleasure from their recording perch up there on Abbey Road.

It gives me pause today when I see people wrangling and wrestling over cultural phenomena–to stop for a moment and not participate simply because I am age-worthy.

It is rather doubtful that the world will end with a great rock and roll song. My guess would be the closing gavel at a political convention.

Abate

by J. R. Practix

dictionary with letter AAbate: v. 1. become less intense or widespread: the storm suddenly abated. 2. cause to become smaller or less intense: nothing abated his crusading zeal

My parents certainly wanted to abate long hair and rock and roll. Facts are, they are dead and the Stones keep rolling–and the world is a’Gaga.

And the North wanted to abate slavery in the Southern plantations. It took a bloody Civil War but now black folks are allowed to vote at large instead of “tote that barge.”

It seems like every day of the week somebody wants to abate something. But here’s a clue: if you don’t have the right “a-bate,” you’re not going to get what you’re fishin’ for.

After having traveled this planet for some time, I have boiled it down to discover that if you want to be on the right side of history and end up looking smart later on instead of like a dumb old fogey, there are only two things you need to stand against and abate: killing and judging.

My experience is that everyone who has encouraged the death of anything has ended up looking like they brought chips and dip to a formal dinner party. Likewise, every individual who has tried to alienate one group, or place their clique above another, has gone down in the history books as foolish and bull-headed.

So I will tell you that I am for abating killing and judging. And because that’s too general, I will get more specific and talk to you about the promoters that put these two nasty boogers into business.

  • What causes killing is weapons.
  • And what promotes judging is prejudice.

Now, I don’t care if the weapon is an assault rifle or a scalpel held by a doctor in an abortion clinic. It could be a lethal injection on death row or people who just don’t have any sense of humor and murder all the good cheer in a room. It is the responsible use of weapons that causes us to put killing in a position where it is not only the last resort but even at that ugly hour, is reconsidered one more time in the pursuit of mercy.

And it is the removal of any notion that one human being is better than another that cripples judging–stifling prejudice.

You’ve got to be careful what you abate. You can lose an awful lot of good music and eliminate a whole race of people. But if you abate killing and judging, you’ll find yourself with an excellent mention in the history books and I believe, a pat on the head from the Almighty.

Let’s get sensible about weapons and let’s curtail our prejudice.