Bad Houses **

Bad Houses by Sara Ryan (story) and Carla Speed McNeil (illustration).

Story just didn’t grab me.

I think there definitely could have been more there.

I think graphic novels are most interesting when they either embrace the spare in a beautiful work like Jeff Lemire’s Essex County. Or if they provide a snapshot of an unknown world in Guy Delisle’s Pyongyang or Marjane Satrapi’s “Persepolis”.J

There is also the power of work like Palestine by Joe Sacco. But for relatively standard storytelling the effect can actually be pretty thin.

I feel like this could have been more interesting in more traditional narrative, like the characters live richer lives that what is shown in the book. The central couple’s story is just beginning in the book, and I think can get richer.

Ok at best. Definitely disappointing.

Numbing Agents

We are often uncomfortably numb.
Not engaging.

Using crutches
pain pills

Keeping feeling internal
hard to shar

Afraid to say what we feel
Worried about offending others.

Wanting to be the good guy.

Not connecting to people in person,
social media isn’t that social.
It’s a lot of words,
a lot of noise
not much connection.

for hours
for hundreds of messages
while driving
while with an actual person
in front of you.

There are a lot of things out there
retail therapy
you need more crap, more stuff,
more shit.

We live in bizarre times.
Don’t know out neighbors,
have hundreds or thousands of “friends” we hardly know.
That are at most acquaintances.

I like social media,
I can like TV,
like beer.
But there is just too much noise right now,
too much static.

We need to connect,
need to talk,
need to interact,
with people in-person,
not just online.

Need to connect with people,
of different classes,

Realize we have more in common,
than different.
That those with a difficult life,
little money,
families in jail,
need love.

What a better life we would live if
we could just be
“Excellent to each other.”

Don’t be a dick,
too many people are bogus.

Love people for who they are,
“party on dudes,”

The world needs you.
Needs you to love.
To listen, to write, to create,
to be only the person you can be.

I am trying,
it’s not easy,
there is so much shiny, so much debt, so much hardship.

We are all in this together, kid.
Cliches and all.

Love. Love. Hug. Cry. Listen. Or just be there.
There is someone who needs you,
and someone you need,
blessings to you all.



Time of Renewal, Time of Peace

Time of Renewal.
Time of Peace.

Green slowly returning in Maine,
an explosion of color in most of the world.

April in Paris.
Cherry Blossoms in Washington, DC and Japan.
Magnolias in the American South.

Time of Egg hunts
and chocolate.

Of the scary bunny,
with hollow dead eyes.

Of eating off the top of
chocolate bunnies
head first.

Jelly Beans.
Easter Grass,
odd plastic stuff.
What weird times we live in.

Of thankfulness,

Of praying for your sins,
to improve.
To flower along with the trees
and grasses, annuals and perennials.

The Prince of Peace.
May you help heal a broken world.
Help the meek,
help the poor,
help those suffering.

People need help
in these greedy times.
Capital is merely a tool,
Capitols aren’t supposed to
controlled by capital.

Enjoy the green,
enjoy seeing winter trees slowly bud,
the birds slowly return.

The sun is almost set,
Easter in the morning.
Blessings to all
in this holy time
of Easter, Ä’ostre and Passover.

May it bring renewal to your life.
May it bring peace.
After a difficult 2 years I could use peace in my heart.

Blessed be.

A Day Without a Smartphone

Smartphones are amazing things. What would be considered a super computer not that long ago in the palm of your hand.

The ablility to send a Tweet around the world. The ability to send a Facebook message to all your friends and followers. Amazing apps, games, messaging ….

You know you can turn them off. No, seriously you can.

My phone died on Tuesday afternoon. Put it in my coat pocket, went to fix my car and then weird squares on the bottom left.

I went to the Great Lost Bear for mac and cheese and beer and it wouldn’t work. I tried removing the Otterbox (which has a horrible design on the Galaxy S4 that already broke from Thanksgiving with loose rubber and breaking plastic that doesn’t seal), and changing the battery but the problem continued.

I want to tweet and message about the the first date going on next to me. It did seem to be going relatively well and I think they will have a second date, not sure if it will be a long-term relationship, but they will likely be friends.

I also tried the crazy mix at Great Lost Bear that is mac and cheese, topped with baked beans, topped with cole slaw and then three fried pickles in a mason jar. It was good but I think wicked farty.

Yesterday, I didn’t really miss my phone that much. I was mainly zoning out and watching stuff like “Orange is the New Black” (which is awesome.)

Usually at work I use my phone more. I check in with my wife, I use it to listen to music since I lost my iPod a few weeks ago, and I play smartphone games (been addicted to FIFA 14).

But the Galaxy is down for the count and the SD card is missing from my old Evo so most of the apps don’t work.

So on my downtime I read more. Read a bunch of the April “The Bollard” (easily my favorite free paper in town and favorite newspaper considering the Portland Press Herald kind of sucks these days.) And I read quite a bit of the 2013 Entertainment Weekly with the 100 best of all time. Really “My Dark Twisted Fantasy” by Kanye West is the 8th best album of all time, really? Between Aretha Franklin and “Pet Sounds” by the Beach Boys, really?

And as much as I love Woody Allen and adore Annie Hall, I just don’t like Manhattan **, I have tried multiple times but it’s just ridiculous. Why would he really fall for Muriel Hemingway’s HS character, does he have some weird thing for young girls?

But, when I left work I felt like my mind was working on writing ideas. That I wasn’t as distracted all day. That I had a very good day.

So, I am getting my phone back on Monday, ok a replacement phone, but I think I will just turn it off more. I really don’t need to keep checking Facebook or Twitter or FIFA 14. It’s a weapon of mass distraction.

I am ADDish enough without it.

So, I hope to read more and smartphone less.

One of the things I love about my retreat every Memorial Day weekend in the Berkshires is that phones and the internet don’t work. I engage with people more. I don’t hear the traffic. I hear the running water, hear the birds tweeting their songs, not the clatter of millions in under 140 characters. I experience the green and beauty of a sacred place. It’s magic.

I have been feeling the need for a smartphone vacation. I miss my old Evo dying of battery faster. The Galaxy is too good at being a mini-computer. The Google Chrome works too well. Sometimes it runs better than my laptop at home.

So, I don’t think I will disconnect, but I will connect less. People are much more important than devices, if you find you can’t ignore your phone at a poetry reading, turn it off. If you can’t ignore your phone while having lunch or dinner with someone, turn it off. Seriously. If you want to connect it will still be there. If you really want to connect with actual people you should turn if off.

Seriously. Try it!

C’mon. Try it!

I know you don’t believe you can, but your public can wait. Especially if you have to pay attention to the road.

Be safe. Be mindful,


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.


Is this the little girl I carried?
Is this the little boy at play?

I don’t remember growing older
When did they?

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

Wasn’t it yesterday
When they were small?

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

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

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

Now they must learn from one another
Day by day

They look so natural together

Just like two newlyweds should be

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

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.

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…
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.

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,
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.



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.