Posts Tagged ‘Zavacki’

It was exactly twenty -one years ago yesterday that OJ Simpson led police on a slow speed car chase in Al Cowlings white Ford Bronco.

Now, I don’t know if you remember how shocking the thought of OJ Simpson killing someone was at the time. He being a star of stage and screen, a beloved sports hero, and for all we could see in the public, a generally good guy. Now we hear he’s suspected of a brutal murder, which is weird enough, right? But no! NOW he’s got his best friend driving 30 M.P.H. on the LA freeway, followed by an army of police, lights and sirens ablaze, while he talks on a carphone (remember carphones?) to the very cops chasing him the whole way!

Odd stuff, right? But wait! There’s more! My own special brand of weird was added to the mix! I didn’t WATCH it as it happened! Oh, no! I LISTENED to it on the RADIO!

See, my then girlfriend and current BFF, Bubba and I didn’t have a TV. What with us being in our early 20’s and it being the early/mid 90’s we were not only full of idealistic youthful disgust for all things mainstream, we were also basking in the glory that was 90’s music (we were and are consummate audiophiles; Elastica, HUM, the Birthday Party, Counting Crows, Black Sabbath could all be heard at one point or another in our pad. Except Prince. Bubba despised the Purple One and I could only listen when she was out. She’s since come to her senses), and we were, most importantly, broke.

So we listened to the radio CONSTANTLY. Local folks will remember when WRTI played ONLY jazz, Fred Williams being obnoxious and Terry McNulty doing his “Goose Pond” shtick on WILK (AM, mind you! Not their fancy new FM station.). Late night was the always gloriously weird and campy ‘Coast to Coast AM’ with Art Bell. Weekends were filled with the hysterically entertaining Car Talk, A Prairie Home Companion, Marian McPartland’s ‘Piano Jazz’ and Fiona Ritchie’s ‘Thistle and Shamrock’ on PBS. Laced between it all was a great new Alternative station called “The Mountain” (not to be confused with the current station of that name, this mountain became “the Bear” and featured a then still-relevant Howard Stern…but I digress) that filled the place with a solid mix of both new and old Alternative music. The Replacements to Prodigy. I miss that station to this day.

It was the perfect time to NOT own a TV!

So, here we were, both home on a Tursday afternoon (it was around 6:30 in LA, making it 3:30 ish here in PA). The fact we both had the same day off was an anomaly, as we both worked in the Steamtown Mall (when it actually had stores). Retail gigs never have set schedules, and neither, then, did we. Bub went to school full time and managed a jewelry kiosk that was in the center of the mall, directly in front of the where I had a gig in a poster framing shop. When we did work the same hours, we’d call each other and gab while we looked through the window of my shop and made faces at each. Or call and pretend we were idiot customers asking the most bizarre questions and watch to see each others reactions. Work was a good time back in the day, yo. I have much blog fodder compiled from those days.

Okay, back to my actual story… so, here we are, milling about the house. I seem to recall one of our famous two-man house cleaning parties was happening, when suddenly there’s a station break during Rush Limbaugh (settle down, Beavis. We all go through phases. Like I sez NO TV!) telling us OJ’s ex was murdered and he was a suspect and…wonder of wonders, he was leading the police in a slow-speed chase. We all know what that means NOW, but in 1994 when the words “slow speed car chase” wafted from the speakers, it broke my brain. “Dafuq?” was the only thought it could muster after such an announcement. BUT WAIT! THERE’S EVEN MORE! Al Cowlings was driving. But Al Cowlings wasn’t a suspect. But it WAS Al Cowlings’ car. Not OJ Simpsons’ car. But OJ WAS a suspect. MAYBE. Or maybe just a ‘person of interest’…

Now I’m thinking… What exactly was IN that bowl I smoked before I started scrubbing the toilet? Isn’t this really only a bunch of people driving and one dude just happens to be in front? And OJ? Nordberg from ‘Naked Gun’? (No relation to Mike, yo) 1968 Heisman winner OJ? NFL Hall of Famer OJ? The fucking Hertz airport sprinter? Getdafuckouttahere!

I distinctly remember standing in our living room, intently listening. I remember we each had these huge glass mug filled with ice water that we got at Boscov’s department store that I adored and we seemed to alway be chugging from (I have since broken both and never found replacements). I can also remember thinking for the first time “Fuck. I wish we had a TV”. I promptly stated said thought out loud and received “Fuck yeah, ainah?” as a response.

That moment is frozen forever in my head. As is the moment we heard his not guilty verdict while in the long gone Woolworth’s in the South Side shopping center. I actually was convinced he was innocent. Again… a phase, Homes.

We listened all day, enthralled. We listened for the next four months to the trial, Cochran, Dershowitz and Kardashian making a case that, in retrospect, was Barnum-esque at best, but certainly did it’s job establishing reasonable doubt. We listened to Marsha Clark being picked apart by commentators for not being Hollywood Fantastic and looking, instead, like a prosecuting attorney. We listened to Kato Kaelin pretending to be stupid while successfully milking his 15 minutes to a full half hour.

It was our entertainment for nearly all of 1994. It was ‘The Trial of the Century’. Everyone knew the latest developments. Walk up to anybody over 40 right now and say “If it does’t fit, you must aquit” and I’ll give you a donut if they don’t know what you’re talking about. It was the single most culturally dividing and at the same time unifyin event of it’s era.

It was, as were the 1992 Rodney King verdict riots, a bleak exposé and harsh commentary on the realities of our society during that decade, a decade that saw the ugly truths of racism exposed, a decade that got lazy, disaffected suburban kids to get off their asses to change things (like their parents 30 years previously), and a decade that nurtured artistic freedoms like no other, acts like PJ Harvey, Bjork, Spacehog, Alice In Chains, Ministy, Beck and of course, Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Soundgarden were played on COMMERCIAL RADIO! A glorious decade of possibilities. Until it ultimately all came to an end, at least symbolically, with Woodstock ’99. The death knell of positive youth culture happened at a concert. Again, just like our parents generation at Altamont speedway 30 years before…

But what stays with me the most, the longest lasting, most indelible impact of the entire event, the only thing I could think about when I finally saw it on TV a few days after we stood aghast in our living room with our ears glued to the radio like Grunge era Walton’s, the only thing that came to mind yesterday when I heard it was the 21st anniversary was “It sounded faster…”

That’s what my friends Phil, Gopher and myself have. A combined age of 137 years.

Today the three of us hung out, griping about the winter weight we’ve accumulated, the blues that accompany Winter and Winter weight, etc.

And we’d have continued in the complaint vein if it weren’t for our shared passion- BICYCLES.

Goph has a sweet roadie he’d recently converted to a tourer-ish composite bike and rolled it into Phil’s garage where we were changing my brakes (by we, I mean Phil, who actually did all the work) and we three stopped our bellyachin’, and marveled at it. It has beautifully clean lines, gorgeous wheels. He added new straight bars, shifters and brake levers, and the new brake assemblies themselves were just gorgeous. It all went together beautifully. As a salvaged, 90’s American Schwinn, it’s classic grace combined with modern updates made it… sexy.

After having an actual bike in our midst, it inspired us to turn the conversation immediately to fat-bikes.  We raved about how they will not only extend next years riding season several months by slicing through the snow on their uber-chunky tires, but how they’ll gracefully meander mountain tops we tend to barrel across because the terrain is such that on a narrower rim, the rocks, roots & stumps will simply knock ya the hell over if you don’t bomb over ’em at speed.

From there, some back slapping at our ability to out-ride guys 20 years our juniors, due almost entirely to the determination, finesse and experience that come with getting older and being on the tenacious side to begin with. I know for a fact my 20 year old self would never be able to outlast my current 45 year, 11 month old self. Especially on long, murderous inclines (Ever driven from Starrucca to Stillwater Lake? We did it on MOUNTAIN TIRES ON THE ROAD last summer. With no training and a 20 year lapse in having ridden AT ALL.)


We’ve all got physical issues, some of which we had 25 years ago, some new ones, but all of this kind of melts away when we ride and quite honestly, the more we ride, the fewer aches and pains we have. It’s remarkable. And whenever we roll past a group of dudes our age, we get the “Lookit them guys. Who do they think they are riding bicycles at their age?” and we all kinda wish we could get ’em on a bike for one good ride themselves. We know it’d change their lives for the better, forever.

Winter’s been rough on everyone this year. It’s been dark, and really REALLY cold! It seems like it’s taking longer to hit the road than any other Winter, ever. We know it isn’t, but it FEELS that way.

But Spring is coming!

We’ve taken little walking tours of some trails we intend to his the instant Spring gets here recently, and we got to ride well into the winter, sometimes in temperatures well below zero due to some amazing tech advances in riding clothing.  Stuff like that has tempered the nastiness Winter a tad and made the blahs & blues a little less severe.

But the one thing, the ONLY thing that grabbed us by the lapels and dragged us through the darkest, shortest, coldest days of the waning Winter was thinking about, shopping for, deeply discussing and constant daydreaming about RIDING.

Spring is nearly here, our bikes are in the final stages of post-hibernation dialing-in and we are chomping at the bit.

Bicycles have enriched, lengthened and, ultimately saved the lives of myself and my two long-time trail partners, Goph & Phil.

Thank you, bicycles everywhere!

“Every time I see an adult on a bicycle, I no longer despair for the future of the human race. ” ~H.G. Wells

“Learn to ride a bicycle. You will not regret it if you live.” ~Mark Twain


Stinkin’ Thinkin’.

Posted: February 2, 2014 in Sometimes...
Tags: ,

Sounds dopey, right? “Stinkin’ Thinkin'”? Sounds like something a new-aged eight year old would say.

But it sticks in your head. And that phrase, and it’s stickiness are responsible for allowing me to change EVERYTHING about my life!

When my Z-Wife and I finally divorced, it wasn’t a 100% amicable thing. We both still had tons of hurt and anger and, quite frankly, neither o us were even remotely complete human beings. Way too much shitty stuff had either happened to us, or been perpetuated BY us for any sort “inner peace” business. (I dislike greatly using pop-culture terminology to describe life-changing events. Bu yo, sometimes, they be the bestest word for the occasion!). Both of us have found better, separate paths that have ultimately led us to the reality of one another. She’s my best friend. Divorce was the best thing that ever happened to our marriage and it was this unlikely event that set us on our respective journeys to ourselves. Here’s a but about mine;

Anyway- I wound up having to go to a therapist. And I did NOT want to. I was fine, rest of the world is fucked up, yadda yadda. And I went in with a bit of a chip on the old shoulder. But see, what I wasn’t expecting was this- she was WAY smarter than me, and, albeit in the most pleasant and kind way- she took ZERO shit and called me on EVERYTHING. However, her most constructive contribution to me fixing myself was that silly-assed term: STINKIN’ THINKIN’

And it was ME fixed ME. She just read the instructions to me- same for everyone, gotta do it YOURSELF! If you go into it thinking somebody else is gonna do the fixing, you’re fucked from jump street. But I digress…

Here’s how the term is applied- Say you’re driving down the street and somebdy cuts you off. Normal reaction (mine, anyway) “That motherfucking fat fucker! He didn’t even look! Trying to kill me! Bet he drinks! Bet he lies to trip old women carrying their grceries! Ten bucks says his mother hated him….” You get the drift.

Here’s the thing- what if I apply all that to the scenario, only I didn’t even SEE the driver, so even my assumption that they were a guy is based ONLY on speculation. So…where does that leave the entire pile of assumptions I based on THAT one? STINKIN’ THINKIN’! My therapist told me to repeat that word whenever a situation arose that I compounded my anger with assumption.  And because it disguises itself as such a moronic term- you almost CAN’T forget it! It pops up whenever you start working yourself up just by nature of it’s absurdity, then it triggers you to THINK about what you’re doing- eventually CHANGING the way you think!

Now, I was used to Freudian therapists who had never made any progress with me. “Tell me about your muzzer” didn’t help me, because my mom was kind of awesome, plus, MY problems, not HERS were the issue! This new therapist was a cognitive psychologist. Change how you think NOW- not WHY you think that way. Not that past issues aren’t something to be dealt with, but if you think like an asshole, you won’t ever be able to deal with them properly anyhow, so… learn how to think CORRECTLY first! A simple “Free your mind and your ass will follow” process. It was an amazingly different approach and although I’d STUDIED cognitive psych in college, I never actually saw it applied in a practical situation. Now, suddenly, it all began to make sense. It eventually resulted in the archetypal “AH HA!” moment.

So- once I realized nobody was telling me I was sick, once it was established that the ultimate goal was that I STOP needing to come, not that I need to visit her in perpetuity, I felt at ease and safe enough to dive in. An it worked. Not in a few months, or a few years- within days. Within days the “Stinkin’ Thinkin'” phrase popped into my head whenever I assigned attributes to a situation I had no evidence of.  Anger, I learned, was a natural and real emotion. All the shit after it, I made up.  BOOM! That’s the “AH HA” right there.

So- I steadily became a much, much less angry person. Something I never even WANTED to do- I always thought anger was bitchin’ and these peaceniks were idiots. But again- that was Stinkin’ Thinkin’ based on a paradigm I’d set based on one or two people who rubbed me the wrong way, and used to generalize anyone who reminded me of them even a little, combined my own feelings that mean meant safe. Took me a while to separate mean and tough. Tough guys are at peace, and they can take whatever is hurled at the, mean guys ain’t, and tend to create their own misery. Well- THIS mean guy, anyway. I can’t speak for any other mean guys, I don’t know how or why about nuthin’ but me. I was beginning to realize how little of what I thought was real was simply imagined, and if it was imagined- any anger attached to it was imagined as well… I was changing from the inside out!

Think about that for a moment- freedom from the misery of anger. Freedom from useless shit like road rage, bar fights, family arguments that last years- all because instead of going “They think they are so much better then me, THAT is why they talk to me that way” or some such stuff, you instead say “That dude is angry.”.

A few years after my therapist sent me on my merry way, I finally committed to Buddhism, which I’d been dipping my toes into for years, but too afraid to dive into. While studying, wouldn’t you now it- there is an identical philosophy to “Only see what is there”. As a matter of fact, it was a large factor in taking the actual first step into re-defining my ideas of faith and salvation, happiness and right-living. By only seeing what is there, you remove fear of the unknown, without removing caution. Because the old adage “Just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it’s not there” is reduced to “I don’t know if it’s there unless I see it”.  It’s friggin sweet, man.

Basically, what I have found to be true (because I’ve SEEN the results) is this : If you want to be truly free, truly at peace, truly fulfilled- then stop reading BETWEEN the lines. There’s nothing there except Stinkin’ Thinkin’.