Cuyahoga Falls

Cuyahoga Falls: (n) a city in Northeast Ohio, near Akron

 The reason essays are often long is because the author feels compelled to place the reader in the exact moment and space of a given time.

Suffice it to say, today I am talking about a season in our history when boys were dying in Vietnam, hippies were walking the streets and young lads and lasses from the Midwest were desperately trying to be neither.

I grew up in Ohio.

Ohio insists it’s a single state, but anyone who lives there knows differently.

If you lived in Columbus, you might as well be from Iowa, or any other Midwest hold-out to social progress.

If you lived in Cincinnati, you were more like Dixie, with grits in your teeth.

And to the far north was Cleveland, which desperately tried to imitate New York City, complete with crime and a filthy Lake Erie to mirror the polluted Hudson.

I lived right in the center.

No, it’s true. My hometown was exactly ten miles from the geographical center of Ohio. That in itself should have afforded me great honor, but I was stuck, like everyone else, trying to prove myself and do the best with the talent shoveled in my direction.

Mine was music.

But my music was not quite suited to the genre that was rattling and reeling in the time capsule of hippies and soldiers.

So one day, I wiggled my way into scheduling a coffee house in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio—very near Akron. I didn’t know much about the place and they didn’t know much about me.

So my little band, excited about actually going somewhere to play a road gig, dressed up.

For the guys, that was pants and a long-sleeved shirt with a tie.

And for the ladies—well, they basically wore their prom dresses.

We arrived at the coffee house, which was called Avalon, and everybody there was in bell-bottom blue jeans, t-shirts, with long hair and sneers.

It was a long night.

Every song we tried was met with chuckles and everything we said was ignored, as they turned to one another and carried on conversations.

I became angry, mainly because I was young, foolish and felt it was my right to be offended.

I told them they were a bunch of snobs. I also told them they didn’t have the wardrobe for it.

This was my first and only laugh of the night.

The proprietor of the coffeehouse stood to his feet and said, “Be cool, fool. You just don’t fit in here.”

He was right—while simultaneously being wrong.

Because if we’re waiting for everyone to mature or expand to be welcomed into our little utopia, we’ve missed the whole point of having one.

A utopia is meant to be a place where anyone is welcome without fear.

 

funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

Crop

Crop: (n) the produce from the ground.

As the piercing tones of the political pundits wrangle with one another over decibel level, it never occurs to anyone that the United States of America cannot be compared to any other place, because unlike these other locations, this nation has a heart, a soul, a mind and a body.

Without understanding this, you begin to believe that you can nurture the mind of America while ignoring the heart, soul and body—or foolishly believe that you can honor the soul and ignore the other parts of innovation.

During my nearly thirty-five years of travel across the country, stopping off in villages, towns or bustling cities, I immediately understood the crop that comes from the soil of this great nation.

America has heart.

It has emotion. If you live on the coasts, you may think that the middle states are agrarian and backward. Matter of fact, there are people who would not even know what the word agrarian means because they consider it backward.

On the other hand, if you land somewhere deep in Nebraska, the antics of the West Coast may be discussed over the dinner table with a sneer and a frown, as those huddled around faithfully consume their biscuits and butter.

You cannot love this country, its people, its purpose, nor envision its destination without traveling to its heart, musing over its soul, mulling its mind and allowing the body to bring strength to the economics and the gross national product.

What is the crop of America?

  • Iowa believes it’s corn.
  • Silicon Valley in California would insist it’s technology.
  • The Ivy League schools on the East Coast would certainly extol the importance of higher education.
  • And those who dwell in the South will spend hours testifying of the importance of family, devotion and hospitality.

It is difficult for us to be at war with each other.

We need one another so intensely that we end up really fighting ourselves.

So when I drove my van into beautiful downtown Cedar Rapids, Iowa, with corn fields and soybeans surrounding my journey, I knew I was in for an evening of warmth, reflection and conservative reaction to new ideas. They were never averse to progress—just wanted to make sure that no sacred lanes were destroyed to make super-highways.

When I went down to Lebanon, Tennessee, I was fully aware I was in for an evening of a probable potluck dinner, some hand clapping and folks who were frightened that they might lose the spirit of their faith by accepting too much of what, for them, seemed abnormal.

In a journey out to Palo Alto, California, surrounded by the students and faculty of Stanford University, my heart was engorged with the explosive energy of learning, experimenting and researching to find answers to problems that plague the populace.

And then, finding myself weeks later in New York City, I watched the ships come and go, feeding an economy which generates the crop of prosperity, making the whole landscape well-funded.

What is the crop of America?

It is the freedom to have a heart, a soul, a mind and a body—and to treasure each and every part.

funny wisdom on words that begin with a C


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Cowtown

Cowtown: (n) a small town, especially one in a cattle-raising district in the western U.S.

 As a boy growing up in Ohio, the pecking order was very obvious.funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

Cleveland was a city that was so metropolitan that it had pollution. Nobody talked much about Cleveland—it didn’t even really seem like it was part of Ohio. It was more like a piece of New York City, stuck up next to Lake Erie.

So for the people of Cleveland, coming down to Columbus was journeying to a Cowtown.

Now, to the folks in Columbus, there was a city just to the north, which was smaller and perceived itself to be intellectual. But for those who lived in the Capital, it was their Cowtown.

Westerville. Westerville looked ten miles to its north to find a village that was mostly farmers and a few people who commuted to the capital city for employment, called Sunbury, and considered it a Cowtown.

That was the Cowtown I lived in.

But Sunbury wasn’t going to put up with that, so we decided to pick on a little town called Centerburg, which we believed had barely emerged from the caves to discover fire.

Centerburg was our Cowtown.

Now, poor Centerburg had trouble. It needed some community to be its Cowtown, but most of the areas around them were the same size. So because a nearby burg, Johnstown, had an occasional murder, Centerburg decided to make it Cowtown.

Just outside Johnstown was a little spot in the road that had a couple of antique shops and a bait store.

Alexandria. It was the Cowtown of all Ohio Cowtowns.

The goal, I assume, was to make sure that even though you were going to be overwhelmed and disregarded by some larger metropolis, there had to be a less robust region that you could feel free to look down on due to their lack of sophistication.

Now, I thought it was something that just went on in Ohio, until many years later, I was sitting in a restaurant in Manhattan of New York City, and heard a waiter refer to Philadelphia as a Cowtown.


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Confetti

Confetti: (n) small pieces of colored paper thrown during a celebration

Becoming overly philosophical is a good way to end up staying home, watching a lot of “Me TV” and eating Cheetos.funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

On the other hand, having no philosophy is how we end up with the world we have.

There is a correct amount of empathy we human beings need muster, produce or manufacture to make us of any value to others.

I am not an empath–but I have taught myself to be aware that for every action there is a reaction, and that retaliation is always equal in force and opposite in direction.

It’s not so much “what goes around comes around,” but instead, “what goes around just keeps going around.”

So when I watch old footage of parades through the streets of New York City, honoring the astronauts who just returned from the moon or the Boston Red Sox winning the World Series, and I see all the confetti flying through the air, I always stop for a moment and envision myself wearing a dark blue jumpsuit with the words “City Sanitation” stitched on the back … glumly pushing a broom.


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Cab

j-r-practix-with-border-2

Cab: (n)  short for taxicab.

Even though we contend that honesty is the best policy, sometimes the dividends are questionable.

Often I will admit my weakness or even ignorance in an attempt to create empathy with an audience–only to have someone come up to me afterwards, shaking their head and saying, “You really feel that way?”

So with that in mind, with some trepidation, I offer the confession that I have only been in a taxicab four times.

I don’t live in New York City.

I have never been without some sort of vehicle for my own personal use.

So the idea of climbing into the back of a car and telling a driver where to take me, as a meter continues to remind me of how much I’m going to have to pay for the opportunity, is a little unnerving.

I also have this flaw of wanting to converse with everyone I meet. During my taxi drives, this became problematic. All four of my drivers were apparently advocates of maintaining their language of birth instead of pursuing the local dialect. So they did talk to me, and I tried to catch a word here or there, but I am sure I nodded my head at the wrong places and remained silent during awkward intervals.

I also remember that I was always surprised at how much it cost. Matter of fact, when I watch a TV show based in New York City and see them taking all those cabs, I always wonder how they can afford it–unless they don’t have an apartment and sleep in a box somewhere near a subway grate.

So it is difficult for me to talk about cabs.

Does it help that I like the game show where the driver asks the passengers questions– Cash Cab?

Pretty lame, huh?

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Buzzards

j-r-practix-with-border-2

Buzzard: (n) a large hawklike bird of prey

Sometimes I find myself discontent with my status and very fussy about my being.

Even though the more religious souls around me would disagree, I believe the Creator was much better intentioned than adept at design.

You know what I’m saying? Every once in a while, each one of us gets in a mood to buy some watercolors and try to paint a picture. Even though the experience may be pleasant, the results of the painting adventure need to buried in the back yard.

Yet what often causes me to recover from my spiritual swoon is considering how fortunate that I am not another type of creature.

I would despise being a cockroach.

Being a rat living in the sewers of New York City seems uncomfortable.

And I wouldn’t want to be a buzzard. Job description: flying around the sky all day long looking for dead things. Sometimes really, really dead things–so I can eat.

Now, I know that hamburger is just the remaining flesh of a cow, but when you add some ketchup, pickles and onions, it can be quite good.

Buzzards have to land and pick the bones of the dead.

I don’t want to be a buzzard. And I especially don’t want to be an emotional buzzard–flying around looking for the disasters in the lives of others so I can chew the fat with the old birds about their demise.

I don’t like buzzards–but they are part of creation.

So may I say, “Carion, my wayward son.”

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Bred

j-r-practix-with-border-2

Bred: (adj) of a person or animal reared in a specified environment

No one will actually allow you to be an individual.Dictionary B

What you are permitted to do is clump in a well-recognized region of the country or the world which has already established a persona and system of mores.

For instance, you can’t live in Birmingham, Alabama, and be too unique without finding yourself ostracized by a “crimson tide.”

If you live in China, you may consider yourself to be a free thinker–as long as the government is allowed to define the term “free” and “think.”

Even the various boroughs of New York City, although close in proximity, establish turf and technique for the residents so they can be deemed “well bred.”

There is an immense hypocrisy when each one of us is told that we can “be ourselves,” as we are ushered into a social gulag … to be trained to be regionally normal.

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Bagel

Bagel: (n) a dense bread roll in the shape of a ring, made by boiling dough and then baking it.Dictionary B

I like bagels.

Of course, considering the fact that I am a food addict, there’s nothing unique about that statement–I rarely run across any particular food that is distasteful to me, unless someone has over-explained where it came from.

One of my favorite stories about bagels revolves around my first journey to New York City. I was a little intimidated to be driving my vehicle in the huge metroplex, especially when I arrived at the George Washington Bridge and saw the back-up of traffic.

Historically, I have made great efforts to stay away from gridlock, because I have no desire to try my patience behind the wheel.

But since I was trapped on the bridge, I decided to make the best of it by looking around at other cars. As I inched my way up the ramp to the bridge itself, I looked to my right and left, and scattered all over the terrain, adjacent to the road, were little, tiny bits and pieces of discarded bagels.

I do not know why this specific location became a dumping ground for the remnants of the breakfast of hundreds of motorists, but there were so many pieces of these bagels lying around that you nearly could not see the ground.

So I put my mind to it.

Obviously, somewhere along the line, this area was bagel-free. God did not create the Heavens and Bagel Earth. In other words, the original earth was free of bagels.

So ONE PERSON decided, looking ahead at oncoming traffic: “Hey! I’d better stop eating this bagel and focus on this driving. What should I do with it?? Look! There’s a completely open field, where I can cast it aside and no one will be the wiser.”

Then the guy behind this pioneer noticed that his fellow-traveler was casting a bagel onto the turf and thought, “What a damn good idea!”

Perhaps thinking there was even some sort of roadblock ahead, to trap a bagel thief, he likewise tossed his.

This certainly created intimidation in Cars 3, 4, 5 and 6, as each one noticed what had to be presumed to be the official “Releasing of the Bagels.”

Of course, by the time eight or nine bagel pieces were thrown aside, it began to appear to the rest of the travelers that this was an official New York Bagel Dumping Ground.

So it certainly did not take too long for this region to become a bagel cemetery.

It gives you pause, doesn’t it?

Sometimes we think our individual actions are so insignificant, unnoticed and lacking in meaning, when actually, the first person who does something can often prompt a mob to join in.

 

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Aloft

Words from Dic(tionary)

dictionary with letter A

Aloft: (adj.) up in to the air; overhead: e.g.: the congregation held their hands aloft

A loft–a warehouse that’s been converted into a living space in New York City, renting 750 square feet for approximately $2500 a month.

That’s what the average person living in the 21st century thinks “aloft” is.

I have no intentions of reviving this word, to have it come back into our society so that pretentious people can tout it.

The word that is more common to us is lofty. And I dare say that anyone under the age of twenty wouldn’t even know that word.

But there are a myriad of things which are presently over our heads which should be in our hearts, and there are things attacking human emotion which should be put under our feet.

I think the primal example of this is God. I am sick and tired of talking about God as a concept, a deity, a theology, a belief system or a heavenly goal.

The God we present is similar to a person who shows up at a party and sits around for hours, explaining all the things He intended to bring as treats, only to conclude by proclaiming that He was so indecisive that He brought nothing except His presence.

  • Descriptions are nice.
  • Hopefulness has its moments.
  • Promises can build up expectation.
  • But sooner or later you have to deliver something tangible or it is of no use to humanity.

In other words, nothing that is aloft ever actually has any value–because we have to look up to see it, instead of keeping our eyes on the road.

The only politics I need in my life are the principles that allow laws to be passed which benefit the common good.

The only entertainment I require are pieces of art that inspire me to be a better human being–more intelligent and creative myself.

And the only God that is of any use to me whatsoever is one who not only comprehends humanity from a scholarly point of view, but also shows up every day to join in the grit and the grind.

There are too many things in our society that are aloft–over our heads, trying to make us feel inadequate or to overwhelm us with pseudo-intellectualism.

“Keep it simple” is not a condescending statement alluding to mankind’s stupidity.

It is the realization that ideas are only valuable when they grow legs, sprout arms and move us closer to solution.

Across

Words from Dic(tionary)

by J. R. Practixdirtied by bigotry.

dictionary with letter A

Across: (adj.) 1.the motion of moving back and forth; e.g. I moved across the table  2. an expression of location; e.g. the store is across town.

I was trying to count it in my mind.

I think it’s about twenty-five. Yes, I have gone across this nation of the United States about twenty-five times in my life. Somebody asked me if I did all of this “jaunting” because I enjoy traveling.

Absolutely not.

I hate long drives. My butt gets tired sittin’ in my van–and how to stay regular on an irregular schedule has yet to be discovered by any mortal.

I was just never satisfied to believe what I hear.

Case in point: growing up in Ohio, I was taught that people in the south hated blacks. I was informed that folks who lived in California were all hippies. And New York City moved along so fast that if you stopped to catch your breath, you would probably get hit by a bus.

It’s just easy to sit at home and listen to all the tales about humanity and start thinking they’re part of your own experience instead of just rumors floating your way. That’s why we get the notion that “Asian people are good at math” and “Europeans make the best wine.”

Prejudice is not the by-product of an experience. It is the absence of one.

I wasn’t satisfied to listen to the tales of travelers who brought back THEIR rendition of the human race. I guess this is why I like the statement in the Bible where it says that “Jesus passed by.”

After all, you can’t sit your butt down in a carpenter’s shop in Nazareth and spout what you think about the world without going across the land to meet real people in their real situations. If Jesus hadn’t been itinerant, he would have been just another Jewish prophet instead of a friend to the world.

So when I went across this land to the south, I found out that people there didn’t hate blacks any more than folks in Cleveland.

  • Citizens of New York actually DO slow down–because honestly, there’s a lot of traffic jams.
  • And Bakersfield, California, has fewer hippies in it than any place in the world.

But you have to go there to find out. You won’t learn it on CNN or Fox News.

So perhaps my most joyous achievement is that I’ve gone across America, met her people and can truthfully tell you that I love them.

I can recommend getting your information from the horse’s mouth, instead of having it handed down to you from paws that just might be dirtied … by bigotry.