Overrated Places

Felt like a ranty post this morning.

Starbucks: overroasted, overpriced. Especially when you can go into Portland, Maine and go to get excellent coffee at places like Coffee By Design, Bard, Arabica, Others …. If you are having coffee at Starbucks when Bard is across the street, Arabica a block away and Others 3-4 blocks away, you are doing it wrong. Also pretty terrible pastries. Although I do enjoy a frappucino but that’s almost closer to a milkshake, it’s certainly dessert.

Dunkin’ Donuts: I haven’t figured out Mainers insane love of Dunkin’s. There is almost always a line for the drive thru on Main St. in Westbrook, and the coffee is fine. Although I do like cream and sugar in my coffee which is the regular at Dunkin’s. I honestly think the Cumby’s (Cumberland Farms, i.e. a gas station/convience store) has better coffee. As does Big Apple down the street with Green Mountain. And the donuts are terrible, not longer made fresh, but in a big facility where they are frozen. Most of the food is really bad too, although I do like the hash browns and the bagels are okay. I do love Tony’s Donuts, but the Holy Donut didn’t speak to me at all.

Applebee’s: How is there so many of these across the country? No food is more likely to feel sick after. Ewww.

Olive Garden: I grew up in New Jersey with real Italian food. The unlimited breadsticks and salad is nice and having 2 waitresses in a section is a good idea. But the food, meh. Of course, Maine isn’t exactly an Italian food capital? Does anyone have a favorite place? Really need to go to the North End of Boston at some point.

Macy’s: Federated Department Stores is bad at running retail stores. They can have all the celebrity lines they want but the quality is just mediocre to fine usually. Some good stuff but a lot of crap.

Johnny Rockets: Johnny Rockets makes a good shake and ok burger for a pretty high price. But, could be so, so much better. Always disappointed. It’s a good concept but can’t compare to a good local California burger place or In-N-Out Burger. If they actually spent the time to have employees learn to make a great burger and paid better this could be much better.

Panda Express/ Sbarro’s: Basically very similar, mediocre food that often feels old for a relatively high price. I think school lunch pizza is better than Sbarro’s.

Abercrombie and Fitch: Ick. Overprice, crappy clothes with overloud, terrible music and obnoxious employees. And the CEO of Abercrombie seems like a hard core douchebag

The Apple Store: Sure it’s shiny. Sure it has Apple stuff. But at full price. I found the service “genius” annoying. When I did need to get an iPod fixed I got the same model at a cheaper price, should have just upgraded to the new model but wasn’t even given a choice. Apple is great at getting high margins. They do have good products but at an incredibly high pricepoint. And with their price they could easily afford to manufacture in the US. I know Appleheads may hate this one.

Neiman Marcus: Been inside one a few times. Saw high prices, and not great service. Don’t get the brand equity.

Barnes and Noble: There is a reason big box bookstores like Borders closed and Barnes and Noble isn’t doing well. All I saw at the Barnes and Noble in Allentown area of PA was full prices and boring books. No real service just some people at registers. It seemed like a ghost town. I love books but would rather get them at the library, Longfellow Books, Goodwill, Amazon, etc. Barnes and Noble dying wouldn’t be a huge loss, hopefully it would be a chance for a town to gain a better bookstore. Portland is lucky to have Longfellow books.

There is some for now. Any others you would want to add.

Sunrise, Sunset

As I draw to the end of a tough and long 2013, the beautiful song from “Fiddler on the Roof” has been one of my big songs in my head.

The lyrics are beautiful. About children growing older, turning from children to adults, ready to marry. About the years moving across. For me about being 39, 40 on June 23rd. Being without a dad who I expected to have for 2 more decades (he died at 66). About missing my wife’s absolutely amazing father Walter Maheux, just a completely good guy who died with a “Satisfied Mind” like the great standard wonderfully sung by Johnny Cash.

For my dad it is more about jazz. It was always his favorite, listening to WBGO 88.3 out of Newark, NJ and Temple Radio which went half classical/half jazz which definitely annoyed him. In retirement, my mom and dad were going to many more jazz shows. I wish he could have gone to more.

Surprisingly for me, I have mostly thought good thoughts about my dad and father in law. They are there in my mind. With memories, with smiles, with lives well lived. Me and Lanna were lucky to have great fathers. Always there, always supportive, both wonderful men.

We were also blessed to be with loving couples who were clearly each other’s life partner. Both are struggling with losing a partner but mostly seem to be doing well at least publically. My mom is taking classes and seeing a therapist. My mother in law goes to the pool every morning and often goes to the gym. I think for me and Lanna also we didn’t forget to say anything. I especially was able to be with my dad for sometime, even though he lived 8 hours away in Allentown. He lived 3 1/2 years with brain cancer and it was only after his second surgery in September, 2012 that things got much worse. Strokes, paralysis, hospice.

For Walter, it was really fast. He was hiding symptoms like far too many men in Maine. “I cough up some blood and then I start my day.” President’s Day he was in the hospital, less than 2 months later he passed away. Friends and family coming down to see him mostly from central Maine, sister from California, sister that was so close, not seeing him even though she ended up being a mile away. That one hurt. On really in the last week or two did he really show he was dying soon. I was there to see him pass and it was a very spiritual moment. One moment he was there, the next gone and just a body. Made my really understand the concept of a soul.

When my dad died, some rang the doorbell asking about a drum kit to sell. I wasn’t in the room just mom. We were all close, my sister Mindy, brother in law Robert, wife Lanna and me, but no of us in the room. Maybe that’s what he wanted, she was so close to my mom. They were always in love and best friends. So I didn’t see him pass, but was grateful to see him no longer suffering. He barely got up the last 6 months of his life.

So I try to move on but have been so exhausted since April. The odd surge of energy of hypomania and then full blown mania in April. Two weeks mostly at Spring Harbor, but including 36-48 hours in jail where my mania went from full-blown to off the scale. Literally performing for almost 24 hours straight, unable to sleep, in a cell with 2 blankets. Jail and prison just aren’t right. And that’s right no clothes on suicide watch. In a mental health crisis the Westbrook Police brought me to the Cumberland County Jail not Maine Med or Mercy hospital. Then relieved to get to Maine Med. Hearing that I would only be there shortly. But no one even talking to me for a while. I didn’t want to sign papers. Wanted to just touch the metal detectors. Demanded to leave and forced down. Got loud. THen pushed down on the bed including on the neck and given an unknown shot. I didn’t now what it was, thought it was going to be a fatal dose of morphine.

Sitting waiting on Cumberland County jail in that period, told I could leave with only a $150 bail I had left the house with only a pair of pajamas and a t-shirt. No shoes, I don’t think any underwear and no wallet. If I had a wallet, pants on and shoes I may have been able to post bail. And the jailers who admitted me may be four of the most evil men I have ever met. The ones in jail were sane, often people homeless or a little crazy. The jailers were the ones who belonged in the cells.

My performance in jail was based on Kurt Vonnegut’s memoir/masterpiece “A Man Without a Country”, a small book I have probably read every year since it came out. Maybe 10-12 time since 2007. We are in terrible times. An NSA security state, millions of Americans in jail often for consensual crimes like marijuana possession, drug offenses, prostitution, etc. It’s a bizarre land when rapists get less jail time then people with a few grams of crack.

Yelling in jail, mad at things saying things needing to be destroyed with an often refrain of “AND I’M NOT KIDDING!”. I was in a bad place. Prisons are no place for mental health problems. Jailers and police officer want to fight you, arrest you, consider you often a threat, male energy. If you are in a mental health crisis you need someone to listen, someone to calm you down, someone to call you on your shit. You need therapists, and nurses. Caring people, female energy.

Spring Harbor was critical for me. Still didn’t sleep well at the beginning but the lithium calmed in what was probably the most intense mania of my life in prison. My uncontrolled mania I had at the Oxford Trade program where I didn’t get medicated or see anyone in August, 2001 was the worst. I was not myself for months after that, especially considering 9/11 happened about a month after. Was planning to finally explore Europe, ended up return to the US feeling broken.

Since late April I have been healing well. I miss the slam scene but I don’t have the spiritual and psychic energy for it now. Hopefully it comes back next year.

Saturday was the Winter Solstice, the Yuletide. Feels like it’s the beginning of a calmer year with new beginnings. I am glad I had heart-centered meditation from Whispering Deer at Rites of Spring to use. Glad I had work for money and to be something to go to. Happy about lithium and Spring Harbor and psychiatrists, although it’s a drug that calms me, it also numbs my mind quite a bit so happy to go from 1200mg to 300mg. And very, very thankful of my wife Lanna Lee Maheux and my therapist, not sure if I should give her name.

Have a Merry Christmas, Happy Yuletide and Wonderful New Year. May the world gain some sanity in 2014. I know 2013 was a rough year for me.

edmund

(Tevye)
Is this the little girl I carried?
Is this the little boy at play?

(Golde)
I don’t remember growing older
When did they?

(Tevye)
When did she get to be a beauty?
When did he grow to be so tall?

(Golde)
Wasn’t it yesterday
When they were small?

(Men)
Sunrise, sunset
Sunrise, sunset
Swiftly flow the days
Seedlings turn overnight to sunflowers
Blossoming even as we gaze

(Women)
Sunrise, sunset
Sunrise, sunset
Swiftly fly the years
One season following another
Laden with happiness and tears

(Tevye)
What words of wisdom can I give them?
How can I help to ease their way?

(Golde)
Now they must learn from one another
Day by day

(Perchik)
They look so natural together

(Hodel)
Just like two newlyweds should be

(Perchik & Hodel)
Is there a canopy in store for me?

(All)
Sunrise, sunset
Sunrise, sunset
Swiftly fly the years
One season following another
Laden with happiness and tears

Here is the beautiful song. Like the Zero Mostel original version the best.

Short Days of Winter

Total darkness at 5am, total darkness at 5pm.
Short days, gray skies.
Light snow, panicked shopping.

Giving of thanks, buying of things.
Christ is our lord.
Happy Holidays.

Icicles on roof.
American flags blows in the snow.
Maine flag smaller, blows lower.

Gloria
In Excelsis Deo.,

Joy for all.
Enjoy the short days, they are only getting shorter for a couple weeks.
Then the cold days of January and February the days get longer until the Spring Solstice.

It came upon the midnight clear.
Snow falls slowly on winter trees.

Quieter place out the window,
the tool of a poet, with eyes, pencil or keyboard.

Flag blows
in the wind.
The slushy roads.

Time to celebrate
for Yule, Solstice, family.
Christmas, Hannukah, the created holiday of Kwanzaa.

The blessed angel sings.
I love Christmas music (when I can choose it).
In Excelsis Deo.

Paw marks on my window.
Probably Squiggy.
I think there was a squirrel hanging out there.
I need to clear cups from my desk.

Still in observation mode after writing a journal/blog post on the #4 bus.
Choral Christmas music is calming.
Pop music gets the hairs on the back on my neck rising.

Last Christmas should be destroyed, banned from retail stores.
Same for So This is Christmas.
Bah humbug. We all have Mr. Grinch during the holidays.

Snow falling in Westbrook.
My cat Squiggy wondering what I am doing.
The soft sounds of fingers on a keyboard.
The winter season, a time to reflect.
A time to rest.
No reason to go crazy.

The mall is a place best avoided.
You don’t need to give so much.
You don’t need debt.
Put away the credit card.

Have a Merry Christmas,
Happy Hannukah,
happy Yule,
wonderful Solstice,
Remember to breathe.
Have some colorful candles for Kwanzaa or ignore it like everyone else.
Wear something warm, have some egg nog or cocoa.
Put your feet up.
Turn on the fire.
Get cozy.
and have yourself a merry Christmas season.
Remember to enjoy the winter
with the trees in slumber
waiting for Spring’s return.

Ghosts of Franklin Street

Old Neighborhoods
Irish, Italian, Armenian…
Immigrants
Drinking, big families, loud.

Connection of East and West on this peninsula of fire,
drunkenness, prostitution, Neal Down and prohibition.

Now big wide road, two lanes a side, useless median,
lonely trees and grass cut off from the city.

Scary pedestrian crossing,
gash between East and West.
Marginal Ways across the median,
immigrants crossing to the center, downtown, the Old Port.

Coming home to East Bayside
Bringing back the grid.
Old family ghosts in the median.
Houses of generations.
Of loss, of celebration, of feasts, of famine.

Hard work, low pay, discrimination.
Big families, church, celebrations.

Armenians, immigrants, the other.
Rabble rousing against the “natives” of Portland.
English, “more white”, more “American” than the Irish,
the Armenians, the Italians, the Sudanese, the Somalian and the other.

Know-nothings, birthers, Anti-Immigration,
Klu Klux Klan, all drinking the same tea.

Families grow roots: brother, sister, cousin, niece, nephew
uncle, father, son, grandfather, mother, daughter, church friends.
From the same town, from the same place, with the same ingredients.
The rich feast of people making a new life.

Elder, crone, mother, child.
All living together.
Lots of people in a small place
to just get by.

People watching for each other,
keeping their language,
keeping their customs,
keeping their food.

Having celebrations,
big suppers,
huge families,
loud, drinking, smoking,
farting, music, a good time.
Too loud for some,
too ethnic,
conservatism is old.

Growing roots in a place,
becoming home, first generation discovering a town and country.
Second generation, roots in the old country and new country.
Third generation an integral part of fabric of a city.
Part of the government.
The “natives” grow afraid of the outsiders.
By their different ways, their different practices.

Some wearing white masks,
some in government,
some in planning.

Architects, planner,
drawing maps,
needing “progress”,
needing a big road across the middle of the peninsula.
The middle of the city.
Cutting Portland in two.

Resurgam.
A city reborn
from fire
from Depression
Let’s rebuild the broken scar
of Franklin Arterial.

Time to mend this error,
time to bring back houses
to Franklin Street,
bring back the grid.
Slow down the cars,
it’s only a mile anyway.

The city of Portland,
the peninsula is a beautiful, colonial
special pace.
It’s one of the great American spaces,
a wonderful small city.

The ghosts of Franklin Street are calling.
The trees miss their neighbors,
the families want to find roots again.

East Bayside,
immigrants coming,
refugees,
Somalian, Sudanese, Burundi.
Making roots, making families.

Let’s connect to all,
everyone makes for a great city.
Immigrants most especially.
A place of green, trees and ocean
needs it’s roots.
Let’s replant them.
And give love to all.

(c) 2013, Edmund Charles Davis-Quinn

Charles Bradley: Soul of America ****

This is what American music is.

Blues, soul, James Brown, horns, motown, honesty, all of it.

Charles Bradley has lived a tough, tough live and spent 42 years until he got known.

Playing at small bands covering as James Brown Jr.

And Charles Bradley has a lot of James Brown in him. The honesty, the screaming, the putting it all out there, it’s glorious.

He is exactly the kind of music that should be on top of the charts. Popular music does not require Autotune.

Let’s bring the soul back to American music. I wish Charles Bradley nothing but the best. And keep some tissues ready for this superb documentary. It’s free with Amazon Prime I am not sure about Netflix streaming.

If you liked “Searching for Sugarman” you would like this.

****

Pain

To be human is to know pain.

Emotional pain, physical pain, psychic pain, hidden pain.

When we are young the pain can be temporary and heal quickly.

A toddler can fall, cry and then be okay, quickly.

When we get older we learn about emotional pain. Losing a pet, a relative, having a friend move away. Losing a friendship.

It just gets harder.

I am in a lot of pain right now. My dad passed away on April 1st and I am still healing.

And unfortunately lots of physical pain. Had an issue with plantar fascitis on my right foot for sometime now, several years. Have a left knee I twisted golfing 2 1/2 weeks ago. That was a scary pain where I could hear something. Was worried I would have to go to the urgent care or ER but was able to walk it off. Occasional headaches, other pains.

All are draining. Mourning is the largest drain on my psychic energy.

Pain is part of being human. I am glad we have Tylenol (although it’s a common drug for overdose), ibuprofen, aspirin and naproxen. I am trouble by the narcotic drugs like Oxycontin that are now commonly prescribed and often addictive, and very often abused. Oxycontin by far is the most commonly abused drug in Maine. Pot of course is the most commonly used, but it is absurd that that is class 1 and illegal.

I hope we get better at pain soon. It’s only going to get harder in an aging society.

Maybe we aren’t meant to last so long as humans.

Edmund

Six Months Later

My dad died on April 1st.

I thoughts I was ready.

It had been a tough decline since his second brain surgery in mid-September 2012.

It hasn’t been.

April was a month of writing, creativity and madness. Full blown mania returned. Been away since 2001.

May a month of slow recovery. Staying on LOA at work. Just enjoying the church bells and becoming more normal.

Rites of Spring my spiritual retreat in the Berkshire over Memorial Day was tiring. It was also cold, wet and very powerful spiritually. Easily my most internal Rites of Spring. The week was a time to rest. Rest is good.

Since then I am slowly becoming myself more. Have been challenging myself to write everyday over the last 2 weeks. And have still missed a couple nights.

Poetry nights that I have loved the last several years are still exhausting. Three hours of emotional poetry is simply too much for me right now. I think that will take time.

I am still not reading as well. I heard this is common from many friends. Graphic novels I can still read easily but novels are hard. Hopefully this gets better over time.

I was mean to my wife in April in the mania, that I regret. Mania is a strange, strange thing. Early on it can be energetic and full of creativity. When full blown it’s all over the place. If you are locked up with it, it gets even worse. This is all too common in America.

So I am grateful for hospice, grateful for my wife, grateful to my therapist and psychiatrist. And grateful to Lithium although it seems to affect my brain.

May the coming months bring more healing.

I am also happy how well my mom is doing. I was worried she would be much worse.

I think I am ready for some change soon. I am not sure what that might be. I am curious to apply for some jobs in advertising after watching “Art and Copy”. Advertising has intrigued me for a long time.

Blessed be.

Edmund

My Rock

This was read yesterday 5/18/13 for my dad’s memorial service.

——————

Dad has always been my rock
Now he’s gone
and that hurts.

38 years together
66 years on the Earth
Married 42 years to my mom
4 1/2 years with brain cancer.

I wanted two more decades
We all wanted two more decades.

I am glad he is no longer suffering.
But would love to have years at Ferry Beach
and the ocean of Maine together.

Walking, laughing, being together and listening to jazz.

Dad has always been the rock in my life,
it hurts, it will always hurt.

I miss you dad.
Sadness comes in waves.

(c) 2013 Edmund Davis-Quinn

Blue Gold: World Water Wars ***1/2

Definitely preachy at times, but water rights are a huge issue.

We need to stop thinking the World Bank and the IMF are doing things for good.

They have both been failures. Privatization hurts not helps economies. Austerity turns recessions into depressions. Giving local utilities, especially water to private multi-national corporations is utter madness.

People deserve the right to safe, cheap drinking water. Just like in America everyone deserves the right to free health care.

Corporations in our era are all about profit margin for the “stockholders.” Forgetting of course that stockholder value is an important to a company as say how the Red Sox are doing is important to Boston.

We need to have less greed in our society. Simple businesses like Jiffy Corn Mix. Good price at forty cents a box. The CEO makes a fair wage, the workers make a good wage, the farmers get a good price, everybody wins.

In our time of greed, we will have someone like Bechdel or Suez come into a country in crisis and make the water both more polluted and substantially more expensive. We need to do better.

We also need far more sustainable agriculture and animal husbandry. It’s a big effort to make for better water. To me a big part of it is buy local, eat local, when possible.

We need to stop the big corn subsidies, which just make for large corn fields, huge chicken farms, huge fields of shit with cow and pig production, and terrible produce. We can do better, we must do better. Better food, better use of water and a better America.

Trickle up economics has been with us since 1981 with Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, it just doesn’t work. Making finance a bigger industry, and worshipping Wall Street just doesn’t work. Simple way to pay off Sallie Mae, which is an utter failure, have free health care, and a basic safety net in America? Raise capital gains from 15% to 25% and estate tax over one million from 0% (how did that happen) to 10%. Also kick out the five members of the Supreme Court who made the egregiously bad decision that the preamble of the United States “We the People of the United States…” doesn’t matter by saying it’s “We the Corporations of the United States, in order to have homeland security, patriot acts, a huge prison-industrial complex, and corporate welfare…” They are: Chief Justice John Roberts, Antonin Scalia, Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas and Anthony Kennedy. It’s probably the worst Supreme Court decision of all time. Here is the Wiki on it.

We all need clean water. It’s a right. Let’s not forget that. We don’t need much, but we need food, water and friends.

Let’s hope it gets better, it can’t get much worse.

edmund

Greedo Shot First !??!?!?

Calm
at Peace
Passive.

I am not of these things
watching Star Wars Special Editions.

Greedo shot first???!?
That’s not how space cowboys survive.

Stop all the effects
George special effects without a story are boring.
You said that yourself.
Stop.

Allow fans to see the original editions.
The spareness and quiet let the story sing.
Disney let this happen.

Glad to see they got JJ Abrams to direct Star Wars 7
that should be fun.

And there will be droids.
Oh yes there will be droids.
The special relationship between
R2D2 and C-3PO.
Let the fan fiction begin.

ed2d2