Sunday, January 28, 2007

A letter to my Dad

My dad passed away 3 years ago and I really never told him all I felt. This particular post is going to get very personal and if you're not sure that you should be reading it or not, then you should probably skip to the next one. First of all let me say that what would be considered abuse today, was just part of growing up back then and nobody went to jail or became mass murderers or any of the " I'm bad cuz my parents were mean to me" crap. You get over it, get away and move on with your life. I also want to say that as much as I hated my dad, I loved him just as much. So anyway, here goes...

Dear Dad,

Looking back and sifting through the memories of my life, I found some repressed memories that I wonder if we share. I remember when I was a little boy that I was real quiet and shy and now have figured out why. As I look back, I remember when I was 6 and sitting in church. A friend of mine was a couple rows ahead of me and turned around and waved at me. I waved back and said hi. The service hadn't even started yet but when we got home, you whipped me with the belt for talking in church. I wasn't allowed to speak unless spoken to and I remember getting back handed if I did. Right around that same time, I remember we had company over and you were in the living room drinking a beer. I asked you what it was and if I could taste it and you punched me in the face so hard that I filled the toilet bowl with blood and then you grounded me for being a baby and crying. I was only 6 dad. I remember when I was eight and it was a Sunday after evening service and a bunch of families went out for pizza. I was in a booth next to my older brother and he called my name. I turned around and he blew pepper into my eyes. It burned and I cried. When we got home, you whipped me again for embarrassing you in public. Then there was the time when you worked for the police force. I got up in the middle of the night to see my dad in his uniform. You pulled your gun on me, stuck it to my head and said "Get back to bed or you're dead." I thought you were kidding at first but you weren't smiling. Mom told me when I grew up that she had called the department later that night and told them. That's why you lost that job. I'm sorry, but what the hell were you thinking. Then there are all the times I tried to get you to come to my baseball games but you insisted that I probably $ucked and wasn't worth your time. Thanks for the support there. It's no wonder I eventually became rebellious in later years. A little support and I may have turned out more like you wanted. Then there was the time when I was in junior high and my English class had read Outsiders and a group of us decided to split into a couple of gangs, for fun, and "rumble" at an abandoned train depot. Well, local PD got wind and showed up and took us into custody even tho nothing really happened. I remember telling the cops to put me in a home cuz I didn't want to go home with you. They laughed and sent me home anyway. The minute we got in the house, you started strangling me. I couldn't breathe. Mom had to kick you in the balls to get you to let go. Ya good times. Then there was the time I didn't finish my chores by noon and you chased me with a knife threatening to cut my throat. You constantly told me how you wish I was never born, how I was never going to amount to anything. Yet what did you ever do to help me amount to anything. All you ever did was put me down. I'm not the only one either. Unfortunately one of my brothers has never been able to forgive you for what you've done to him and I think my sister has but deep down she still has a lot of pain. I remember when I was 15, asking if I could grow my hair a little longer cuz that was the style. You kicked me out of the house cause no son of yours was going to look like a girl or commie pinko hood, whatever the he!! that meant. So there I was, 15 and living on the streets. Yup life was good. Then you wonder why I started living with druggies. They are the only people that would take me in. Remember? I went to the church that you went to and they said that I must be on drugs or something and didn't want me in their congregation. I wasn't allowed...guess you got to them first. I wasn't on drugs...then anyway. Oh and that cured me of having any faith in any religion once I saw that they were only in it for themselves, not to help anyone. Then when I was 17 and the police had forced me to move back in with you, I had managed to get my girlfriend pregnant. I wanted to do the right thing. You did allow me to go into the military but did nothing to encourage my decision. All you did was not only call her names, but constantly told me that I would never be a good father and that the best thing I could do was stay out of their lives. Thanks for the vote of confidence. I guess I could go on and on but I just chose to name a few things that stuck out in my memory. I could sit there and blame you for a lot of things, for instance, not having a relationship with my oldest daughter because of things you kept telling me, or for another example, I had a chance when living in Hollywood to become quite accomplished as a musician but constantly heard your voice in the back of my head telling me that I would never amount to anything. I ended up quitting that band, regrettably. But instead of blaming you, I also realize that these were only my own shortcomings for not being strong enough to get past your mental grip that you love to have on people. In the last few years of your life, I had thought that you had come to terms with your illness and were really trying to make amends but heard later that you were still abusing mom verbally and whatever way else you could when no one was around.
Well despite all of this, you're my dad and I have elected to get past all this. While growing up most of my life, I never thought you liked me let alone loved me. But then I remembered one day in March a few years before you passed. I wanted to stand up at your funeral and relive this day but chose not to. If I would have, this is what I would have said... I think you should know this.

"My father and I never saw eye to eye. In our worlds, I was always wrong in his eyes and he was always wrong in mine. To say we always were butting heads would be an understatement. Nothing I ever did was to his satisfaction. I remember back when my life was spiraling downward and I had moved back to Michigan for a short period to try to change the course of destruction I was heading towards. I knocked on my parents door and my dad wouldn't even let me in the house..told me to get off his property. Well I was determined to convince him that I was a better person than he thought. During the six months I was home, I had written him letters, worked steadily pretty much cleaned up my act. It took a while but I think he eventually saw who I was and accepted me for me and not who he wanted me to be. In March, the following year, when I had decided to return to California, he was surprisingly supportive. He even offered to take me to the bus station. As I was getting on the bus, I looked at him and could see tears welling up in his eyes. This was something I had never seen before. As the bus pulled out and turned the corner, I could see him running to the corner so he could keep waving goodbye. He was actually running down the road trying to keep up. When the bus turned onto the main drag a block later, there he was, he had ran to that corner as well and stood there waving goodbye. That was the first time in my life that he had showed me any type of emotion. That moment changed our relationship. The years remaining after that, we stayed in touch and made our peace. In closing, I'd like to say that I am nothing like my father, but because of him I am a better man."

Love Your Son

Friday, January 05, 2007

Playin on the Big Stage

A few of my friends have asked me to comment on some of the major acts that I've been on stage with. Keep in mind that these things happened quite some time ago and although they are memories that will last forever, good or bad, alot of that era in my life is a blur due to over consumption of "coca-cola" and brownies. Also, I feel that I shouldn't give names of bands for fear of a law suit should they ever read this. Not being paranoid...well maybe a little.

So here goes...The first major show I ever played at was in East Lansing at the MSU campus in the early 80's. We opened for Bands A and B. Band A was huge and on tour with Band B. We having the chance to open for them was a dream come true. At last I would be on the big stage in front of thousands of people playing my rock and roll. We were just a local bar band and had a pretty good following but for us, this was huge. We didn't really care that we weren't allowed near the dressing room of "A". The exposure we were going to get would be amazing.

"A" was in a transition period and their original guitarist had left the band and they had these other 2 guitarist to take his place. Basically they were filling in until the main guy got thru his sabbatical and came back the following year. So I didn't get to meet the guitar legend but that didn't really matter. We were on stage with the big boys.

It was decided before we went on that the bass player from band "B" and the drummer and 2 guitarist from band "A" would come on stage in our last 10 minutes and jam with us. A treat in itself. Everything was fine up to this point. It was time for them to come on and do a couple blues tunes and I handed my bass to "Mar". He thanked me and complimented me on my bass playing which really shocked me 'cuz, to me, he was a bass guru. Anyway "A's" drummer went up to our drummer and as our drummer was leaving from behind his drumkit, "A's" drummer pulled down our drummers shorts. About 15,000 people found out that day that our drummer doesn't wear underwear. I don't think I've ever seen that deep of shade of red on anyone before or after in my entire life. I also can't remember laughing that hard ever before.

Althogh we weren't allowed in "A's" dressing room, we were allowed to stand on the side of the stage during their show. I don't know how else to put it. The singer for "A" was pretty disgusting and I was really quite disappointed. He was pretty wasted before the show even started, which was the norm back thenfor most bands, but he was so wasted he had to have the lyrics for all his songs laid out on the floor in front of him and he was reading them as he sang. I don't understand how you can forget songs you wrote that are number 1 hits. Especially when they are being played on the radio on almost an hourly basis. I guess he was pretty wasted to say the least. Also, he was continually spitting on the guitarists that were filling in. I felt sorry for them. It didn't seem to bother them tho'. I, to this day, still have no idea who these guitarist were, but I don't think anyone should have to put up with that, no matter how bad you want to be a rock star. I know I wouldn't. Anyway, not much else happened that evening that is worth mentioning as this concludes my first experience on the big stage. It was a night full of ups and downs... depending on who I was with, just kidding. I learned not to idolize anyone because, unless you know the person personally, you are only setting yourself up for disappointment. I can appreciate and respect them for their contributions to the music I base my life on, but I no longer get star struck. They and us are all only human and in the end, that's all that really matters. You reap what you sow.

Sorry, wasn't trying to get philosophical. I'll have some more stage stories for you coming soon.
You Are 87% Grown Up, 13% Kid
Your emotional maturity is fully developed, and you have an excellent grasp on your emotions. In fact, you are so emotionally mature - you should consider being a therapist!
How Emotionally Mature Are You?