Saturday “VIBEttes”…..Corn a’plenty?

 (c) Photo by Vincent J. Kern — 2008 — Copyright and All Rights reserved

Kindling collected from a neighbor’s May camp-cleaning and a “vintage” wicker fireside box-seat  was found at our Squaw Beach getaway a month ago when we arrived to perform ours last month.

 

No one particular Vibe today, just a bunch of “Vibettes” from the week. It seems that after another long, intense and busy week at work the Vinman’s noggin is working in smaller snippets:

CORN A’PLENTY?

Man, folks out here in semi-rural Livingston County are trying to grow corn in places never before planted! It’s not even knee-high yet, but high enough to distinguish as a new cornfield in places I drive by routinely.

We’ve got lots of cornfields and land out here in Pinckney, MI just northwest of Ann Arbor but far fewer than 10 years ago when the land began to host housing developments in the real estate boom, now crashing. A number of spots that were just acres of raw land waiting to be sold are now turning into the golden crop of corn.

One new plot in particular, is just next to the Barnstormer, a local bar and grill located near and the intersection of M-36 and US23 and host to numerous weddings and banquet gatherings. Driving by, I thought about how smart a planting it was with the price surely to be inflated even more now with the flooding in Iowa.

We don’t get many floods destroying crops in these parts, but we have other dangers: In this case, I can just see a bunch of drunken best-men and bridesmaids frolicking in the cornfield next door when the crop is high enough to get lost in.

Field of Dreams? Who knows. But it brought back a recurring though someone put forward a couple of years ago to help the city of Detroit. Why not develop Urban Farming in Detroit’s unrecoverable housing wastelands that sprawl parts of the city? Some of the most fertile soil in is this part of the state and the theory has it that if the land is used for productive farming, folks will eventually return and rebuild the housing in a more relevant and useful manner. How long? Who knows? But I know it won’t happen in my lifetime.

MORE PROBLEMS FOR THE CITY

Sad thing is, even if someone put forth a no-brainer-miracle-idea in Detroit these days and even offered to fund it nothing would happen. We read today in the Free Press that the FBI is investigating the City Council (and may have possibly already pursued wire taping) in a sluge reclamation project. So far, just anonymous sources and no comments by anyone except one of the Council members who acknowledges talking to the FBI but says he is not a target.

Kwame and his cronies are not the only problem this city has. Nothing good or bad will move through the political machinery of this city for a long time. It’s paralyzed on more fronts than we could imagine.

COMMUTING REQUIRES BALANCE

I got lucky.  A colleague who has also beceom a good friend who lives about halfway along my monster-mileage (57) one-way commute has been my commuting partner for almost a year now. And a couple of months ago, we invited a third person who lives just a few miles from me making a commute for each of us almost a full trip’s worth.

Yes, it saves money. By my calculations, just once a week saves me about $14.00. We’ve managed more than that and in fact got pretty regular for awhile.

But let me tell you, it isn’t as easy as one would think. There’s a whole new routine to be met. Arriving on time requires some easy precision timing. Leaving is dependant on who has to stay the latest and can everyone live with that. The tendancy is to say “sure, I can always find work to do.” But the reality is that sometimes after 5 p.m. and a long day you are just ready to go home. And if you’re fortunate (as I am) to somewhat dictate your own schedule, trying to “find” work to do can sometimes be tedious.

Then there’s the shopping/workout thing. For me, at my best, I can manage at least two and often three or more good early mornings in the gym. Up about 5:15, into the gym and working out (at my midway point of the commute) by about 6, done (including a decent sauna) and at work by 8 or 8:30 or so.

Balancing all of that is tough. I had to take a week off (thought I’d get to the gym, but didn’t) and all I managed to do was reclaim some of my personal time on the drive (which is amazingly important) and do some shopping for quality food to eat at work instead of the high-fat cafeteria stuff.

So, as with everything else, it becomes a matter of prioritization. With gas the way it is, the commute must remain in some form, but how often? We’ll see.

– 30 –

 

Whatever it is…..it’s good.

(c) Photo by Vincent J. Kern — 2006 — Copyright and All Rights reserved

 

It’s just time for a Vibe.

 

Saturday, 10:16 a.m. and two cups of coffee down, the Sounds of the Season cable music channel is playing music that makes tapping a Vibe easy. Nothing special, nothing I know, but most everything I’ve heard at least once or twice before on the same channel as it rotates through it’s repertoire.

Soothing Saturday mornings are requisite to make weekends whole, but they’re not guaranteed. We’ve had a mix of bad weather, too much spring cleaning and some left over fall cleaning that was left unfinished to allow for a mellow, come-what-may-morning.

Until today.

And man is it welcome.

One cat, our pure black Bombay (we call him Nick Bombay, private eye) has been outside and is now comfortably lounging in the cool confines of an open window frame while the music gets to a twiney blues guitar riff backed by electronic beats.

It’s getting hotter outside, but there’s a welcoming breeze.

And all of this is melting away one long-ass week of work that included the unfortunate corporate norm of stress induced by pension freezes and rumors of another round of involuntary severance offers that serve only to make thing more “interesting” operationally.

You’ll note that I don’t write about work on this blog. Don’t want to and don’t believe it’s ethical. I’m the kind who folks call naive, but I would rather rest in the blessings of this life and relegate my work to an important but not consuming level. And I direct a 24/7 intense operation that requires a lot of energy.

But in the end, just being here at home with my wife, our health, our music and some good weather for a change is enough to begin the transport into the weekend with some first-class environs.

Hence, this morning’s Vibe……..I’m already thinking ahead to a Crown Royal on the rocks later, but I’ll need some different music ’cause this stuff is getting too trippy.

– 30 –

 

Freedom to be yourself across the Universe…

Freedom to be yourself across the Universe…

saturn_rising_by_truegravar-d5prl6y

A funny thing happened as Vinman’s Verbosity sped quickly toward the intersection of Blog-Kill Ave. and Creativity-Silenced Blvd; another Vinman inadvertently gave me my voice back! Here’s the scoop:

Friday, I received an email from another Vinman in London who visited Vinman’s Vibe. He said he is “a pillar in the rock and roll community” in Europe.

A Google search revealed he is, indeed, correct in this regard. He then offered the following in his note…….

“…now from what i gather, you play hockey on ice. because of this i will not threaten you but kindly ask you to respect that i am the original vinman.

all the best,
vinman

His real name in unimportant in this context, but he must be in tune with all the good karma that exists in the world because his email was like a giant Bic flame igniter touching the charcoals of my creative soul which had been smoldering from inactivity.

The ensuing combustion of creativity created a blast that knocked my BBQ off the porch.

You know these elements from your own battles. For me, it’s The Vinman stifled by the oppressive soggy bad spirits of “Who am I really, and what do I want to create?” and that especially-negative “No-time-to-write” fellow inside crashing against the always-flowing-somewhere-inside-just-waiting-to-come-out-Vinman, otherwise known as “Be Yourself.”

A day later, I realized that this Vinman from London provided a gift that cannot be placed in a wrapped package on demand or even bought. It came in a hardened conclusion that we all must be who we are created to be.

For me that means I must write and express, no matter if it means writing a best-selling novel, creating photographs, newspaper columns, in a blog once a day or whenever the spirit moves me. I simply must do so and I must do it for myself and no other intended audience. If you enjoy it, I am doubly blessed and eternally grateful that I could share it. But that’s the trouble with having experienced and feeling comfortable with audiences large and small, one finds oneself spending too much time about the audience and not about the art. So, Vinman’s Verbosity took a turn last fall toward the cyberdump of blogs and it might have been the end. Except that I always still have something to say. I just lost the desire to say it for awhile until this Vinman from London came calling.

I am going to assume, for now, that this man’s note is a tongue-in-cheek greeting of sorts, you know, one Vinman to another. “Hello, Vinman, from the Vinman from London!” But until or if I hear otherwise from him based on my reply, I am not so certain. He may, indeed, be claiming this name for himself, believing he is warning me off. And if that’s so, we have some more talking to do.

Let’s examine this note he sent a bit closer, shall we? The first thing I notice is that there is zero capitalization in his writing. No problem, not offensive, but it seems a bit hurried, i.e., dismissive of the formalness and politeness the Brits are so renowned. I envisioned he was simply surfing the web and Googled Vinman and found my site, decided to jot a quick hello and had no time for caps.

Quick note, back onstage…..groovy! Vinman from London correctly infers that The Vinman does play ice hockey. And maybe that part is the proof I need to believe this man is genuinely happy we share the same moniker. For if he were desiring to threaten the ice hockey part would be of no regard.

And so goes the thought process about receiving such a note. But only regarding the note itself. It’s what the note spurred inside that is important to me and if you apply it to yourself, for you as well.

The bottom line is: WE are the art. Individually and together, we are the art. No word I write, or note the Vinman from London plays, is original. It’s how we shape them that makes the art. Of the millions of people who could access this site, one 24-year-old musician (a seemingly genius musician at that) unknowingly connected dots of the “Who am I” question and brought my voice back to my fingertips by making me answer to myself. I can no more reach across the ocean and diminish his worth or self-understanding by requsting possession of a name than he can mine.

Think of your own life for a minute. When you think about yourself, what comes to mind? Your name? Your family? Your occupation? Your personality? Your legace?

What do you do to spark that creative fire and nurture your soul? Is there one good thing you have never given up, despite all indications that you were about to? Why didn’t you? Or, is there something you should be doing, but are not?

My guess is that we all realize sooner or later that each breath is Heaven on Earth and not a recap of the day.

It’s the step before it’s the walk. It’s the journey before it’s the destination, and then onto another. Look at the photo of Saturn above in this post again, even though you’ve seen it once. Doesn’t it sing hope of a vast Universe where more than one Vinman is allowed?

That’s my universe, I am The Vinman and I thank the Vinman from London for reminding me that in order to be yourself, one has to be one’s self. I also hope the Vinman from London finds Lee Ho Fooks and gets the big dish of beef chow mein he’s seeking.

P.S. Happy Independence Day.

Copyright Vincent J. Kern — 2004
All Rights reserved

An early evening before the ballgame……….

MAGICAL MOMENTS FROM MEN IN HATS
(2003)

meninhats-tops
Photo by Vince Kern (c) All Rights Reserved
Orlando Hundson (left) and Eric Hinske spend a moment chatting  after warmups.

……..I found the spirit of the game in watching the Toronto team warm up, stretch and sign autographs for children who still admire ballplayers and adults who never escaped a childhood need just to have an autograph to say, “Hey, I met this guy.”

Baseball is one sound cure for the blues and I should know that by now.

I remembered that it’s not so much the game being played that counts — it’s taking the time to admire the athletic preparation, the skill and the joy that young men posses in their hearts as the ball is batted and tossed around for nine innings or so.

It was a magical night, Wednesday, despite the hometown Detroit Tigers getting a clock cleaning by the Toronto Blue Jays 8-2. Detroit (with about 20 wins and well over 60 losses so far this year) had the unmitigated gall to beat Toronto TWO nights in a row Monday and Tuesday. The evening was magical because the weather was perfect — 76 degrees at gametime with just enough of a breeze to keep things cool — and The Vinman and his wife were sitting behind first base just down from the visitors’ dugout. Having a team with the potential to set the worst record in MLB history has one advantage: These seats were $30 apiece and few people were around us.

Baseball, as it is meant to be enjoyed, demands to be viewed up close and personal rather than in a corporate suite with knuckleheds you see every day at work talking about nothing meaningful all night. On the field music is made by the pop of the leather glove catching a fastball, the plop bank of a runner hitting the bag at full speed and of course the crack of the bat.

The perfect summer weather, coupled with the lack of a crowd also enabled The Vinman to fully christen his new digital camera and revisit his days as a professional photog. More than that, I was after the art of baseball looking to take photos that reflected the spirit of the game and not the technical photos you see in the papers.

And so, tonight I begin a series of pieces on the events at the ballpark last night. Every moment was fun from the warmups to the positive heckling going on around me that I eventually engaged in.

And I can’t wait to write about “Autograph Boy,” the six-year-old shy black kid with a Cincinnati Red’s cap (white shirt, black pants and red hat) who was as enamored by seeing the ballplayers up close as I was and how he got his nickname from The Vinman.

Before the ballgame…..

AND HE LOOKED AROUND

 

sittingcropped
(c)Photo by Vincent J. Kern — 2003 — Copyright and All Rights reserved

 

Almost 20 minutes to game time the third baseman finished his requisite stretching, sat on the field on a perfect summer evening and looked around.He had arrived in this town three days earlier and played two games in Detroit so far. Tonight would be the last before heading to Baltimore in the morning for another set. But right now, as the ground crew in maroon shirts took to the infield to prepare it for nine innings of ball, Eric Hinske just sat on the plush grass of Comerica Park and gazed at his surroundings.

 

If he knew I was there at the edge of the field, he didn’t let on. Perhaps it was that a camera is such a familiar site to him or perhaps he knew I was after candid shots and he understood the framework that is required for candor in art. Maybe he was thinking of his girlfriend or wife and was oblivious to the few people in the ballpark so far.

I have been where he is in so many ways. Although never a professional athlete, I have played baseball and hockey at very high levels in my younger days. I have traveled professionally and found myself sitting on a plush grass carpet preparing for the next game. And as I snapped photos on that perfect summer night last week I wondered how it really would have been if my dream of being a Major League ballplayer had come true.

Eric Hinske and the ballplayers were giving heavy vibes that night and I was there to feel and record them. And on I wondered, who is this guy who now is being published on the web? What do I really know about the man behind the image — a piece of personal art?

Here’s a few things I can tell you about him: He’ll be 26 on August 5 and was born in Neenah, Wisconsin. He’s 6’2″ and weights 225 lbs. is hitting .249 with 39 RBI and 6 Home Runs and he earns $600,000 a year playing baseball for a living.

Surprisingly enough, that’s near the minimum salary for baseball players.

But I’m not writing tonight about money. It’s about the looking around.

When was the last time you had a chance or took the time to really look around? I don’t need to describe it, you know what I mean.

Out of the blue a couple of days ago came the story about the Iranian twins who were joined at the skull and were about to undergo surgery to separate them. They never knew the simple pleasure of looking into each other’s eyes without a mirror or picture. They had separate professional desires but one bowed to the other’s preference hoping to pursue her own after the operation.

The government of Iran paid the $300,000 cost of the surgery and so yesterday it started. And today, on my drive to work I had to flip my pager to find news — I needed to know how they were enduring and needed to know now. I read the three sentence brief that they had both passed away and minutes later my wife called to ask if I had heard.

I spent the rest of the day looking around.

I looked closer and softer at all of the human life that surrounded me. I marveled through my office window at the local NBC affiliate’s helicopter taking off and landing as it does routinely five or six times a day across the street. I read the paper about how the nation of Iran had adopted these twins as national figures and how a whole country grieved for two of its own. Everyone had hoped………

But sad as it was, the looking around provided clarity. A few days ago, I watched Eric Hinske prepare to go to work. How different is he than anyone else? Surely not much.

He probably left the ballpark that night, got some dinner after work and retired to his hotel and checked in with his loved ones before nodding off to sleep and preparing to do it again the next day.

Another day to look around.

Uncle Albert, my sister and me……….…….

We’re all in a 1968 Ford Country Squire station wagon cruising somewhere across the Midwest on vacation………..Paul McCartney was singing as Uncle Albert, my sister Co and I were singing as ourselves (see above column). This became our personal song, OUR song, although I don’t recall just why. I think there’s a mysticism and philosophy in this song that is unrivaled. But these days, the why is not important, that it is ours is ever so important.

Hand across the water (water) Heads across the skyHand across the water (water)

Heads across the sky

Co turned a milestone age today on the 4th of July as she does each year. Her own personal Independence Day! Since she is so important in giving me the independence of spirit to be me (again, see column above) here are the lyrics to Admiral Halsey.

Bet you had some of them WRONG!!!!!

We’re so sorry uncle albert

We’re so sorry if we caused you any pain

We’re so sorry uncle albert

But there’s no one left at home

And I believe I’m gonna rain

We’re so sorry but we havenÂ?t heard a thing all day

We’re so sorry uncle albert

But if anything should happen weÂ?ll be sure to give a ring

We’re so sorry uncle albert

But we haven’t done a bloody thing all day

We’re so sorry uncle albert

But the kettle’s on the boil and we’re so easily called away

Hand across the water (water)

Heads across the sky

Hand across the water (water)

Heads across the sky

Admiral Halsey notified me

He had to have a berth or he couldn’t get to sea

I had another look and I had a cup of tea and butter pie

(the butter wouldn’t melt so I put it in the pie)

Hand across the water (water)

Heads across the sky

Hand across the water (water)

Heads across the sky

Live a little be a gypsy, get around(get around)

Get your feet up off the ground

Live a little, get around

Live a little be a gypsy, get around(get around)

Get your feet up off the ground

Live a little, get around

Hand across the water (water)

Heads across the sky

Hand across the water (water)

Heads across the sky

Ooo————ooo————-

UNDER THE EAVES……….

(c) Copyright Vincent J. Kern — 2003

All Rights reserved

Things I found while cleaning out the eves for the first time in eight years………………

>> It’s easier to start with throwing away ALL old clothes in any closet so you have a place to store the crap you are going to need to pull out from under the eves so you can get in.

>> The cat had made a nice little bed out of cardboard boxes and wandered back there, sat down and looked at me with that “this is MY spot, Pal!” look.

>> An old blue Samsonite makeup case that contained dolls my late father-in-law brought his grade-school daughter upon returning from service in Vietnam. It also held her baby rattle, a small gold ring with the Vietnameese flag logo, her wisdom teeth ad a box of matchsticks in a replica Marlboro cigarette box.

>> A large box of The Vinman’s special cowboy clothes he bought in Lakeside, California prior to attending the Riders in the Sky concert and a Western gals for the newspapers. EEE Haw!

>> My old yellow bike racing jersey I wore 12 years ago while doing 50-mile races in the mountains of California and Mexico. It doesn’t fit anymore!

>> There’s a helluva lot more room “in there” after organizing it than you’d think!

>> That “room” will soon be filled with more stuff.

It took all of about a full day of labor, but The Vinman scored big on the home chores this weekend. The Shewoman (as in Sheila the lovely wife) decided that on our “recovery” day upon returning home from our two-week vacation we needed to purchase a leather couch, a coffee table and two new end tables.

They were the “find of a lifetime” and since my find of a lifetime has a birthday coming up (one of the “biggies”) I could not hold back the tides of female shopping estrogen.

The deal was she would have to be home to receive delivery and she was. But that prompted the 1) Disassembling of a futon so that the old couch could be moved there and the storing of the pieces of said futon somewhere. 2) The storing of the old coffee table and end tables. 3) The need to find space in the eaves to accommodate the “stuff” that accumulates over the years. 4) The tossing of other “stuff” that HAD to be saved for future use.

The only future use ever had for all the stuff the Shewoman saves is the exercise The Vinman gets by tossing it out or moving it to another place to stay until The Vinman throws it out.

So, The Vinman also threw out a lot of stuff this weekend.

I think the most tugging question on my mind right now is: What the hell is so fascinating about wicker gift baskets that they require permanent storage. I counted no less than a dozen around the house in my weekend travails. It’s as if they are some presidential memento or gift from some foreign ambassador that will eventually be in a presidential library after his/her term in office.

I can hear it now, “Honey, what ever happened to all those wicker gift baskets we got over the years? I really want to line the shelves of our (retirement) mobile home. Gee Honey (emphasis retracted), I WISH you would have saved those like I wanted!”

Well, the job is done. The futon pieces are neatly stored in another “eaves” spot in the garage. The futon mattress is back in our walk-in closet off the bedroom folded up like a giant uruly cotton taco behind Shewoman’d clothes rack. The stuff from under the eaves that needed top be tossed is.

And of course, I had to make a new and better bed for Dudley the drug-rehabbing cat (it’s a lifelong struggle for him, you know). It’s base is a couple of good cardboard boxes lines with some old blankets that otherwise would have been tossed and it’s strategically places way in the back of the eves behind boxes so he thinks he’s in his own kitty universe.

Damn cat’s been in it all day, too!

Now it’s back to the rest of Sunday afternoon. Finishing up the laundry, having a bite of dinner and perhaps some more writing before bedtime.

Monday, Sept. 22 means back into the gym and my training regimen.

Too bad cleaning the eaves doesn’t count.