Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Stevie Joe Reaching Some Common Ground

Back down at Prudy's Junebug Cafe and Internet Lounge, I'm beginning to feel a bit more at ease. I've regained my confidence, and the local citizenry have been assured that I am not, indeed, losing my mind. Conversation is once again flowing smoothly.

With Election Day less than a week away, our daily discourse has once again turned to politics. Normally, one approaches this season with a great deal of trepidation. Calm and polite discussion can quickly escalate to red-faced, spittle-spewing emotional contests. I will not hesitate to take some of the blame for these occurrences. There is a child-like joy in winding up Dickie Jensen and setting him loose. It's too damn easy.

Yet, the political talk over the past few days has remained subdued. The mood has been sour. It is quite possible that the tone of political advertising in the US of A has reached a new low. No longer does a candidate stand forth to announce his or her stance on the issues of the day. Rather, strategists have determined that the most effective means to garner votes is to paint a picture of one's opponent as a monster intent on destroying our beloved country. Any joy we once had in participating in the electoral process has been drowned with negativity.

Yesterday, I set about furthering the sciences by conducting a little study down at Prudy's. While the regular crowd sat back to watch Ellen on the big screen, I counted the number of political advertisements during the show. I also made a note of how many were "issue" ads.

There were a grand total of 16 advertisements from both Republican and Democratic candidates seeking office at the county, state, and federal levels. Of these, a total of zero were about actual legislative issues. That's right. Every single one of them suckers was nothing but name calling.

If a visitor from another planet were to plop down and examine this year's election, they would come to the conclusion that the planet is about to be infested by criminally psychopathic elected officials and, as a result, is on the verge of social, economic, and environmental collapse.

By the end of an otherwise stellar Ellen, the gang could take no more. In a rare moment of solidarity, it was decided to turn off the damn TV. Silence filled the room while we all collected our thoughts and pondered what to do next. Dickie said that he just got his disability check in the mail today and maybe he and Junior should set about getting it cashed and buying themselves a case of beer. And all was back to normal in the Holler.

I'm Stevie Joe Parker, and I Approve This Here Blog

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Stevie Joe and the Chilean Miners

I believe that my long journey back to some sort of normalcy is nearly complete. The former Mrs. Stevie Joe is gone for good, and I'm OK with that now. I have regained much of my confidence and feel ready to tackle the world once again. I feel good.

So, in the past couple of weeks, I've rejoined the regular gang down at the Junebug Cafe and Internet Lounge. Several days ago, the topic du jour was the on-going rescue of the Chilean miners. It was up on the TV above the main counter, and all eyes were affixed. I was a bit confused by all the attention. Then, Juanita began to cry. She was followed by Prudy, Dickie Jensen, and Junior. However, I'm pretty sure Junior just bit his tongue while trying to eat his Denver omelet.

So, I asked, "What are all you crying at?"

Prudy answered, "Well, look! They pulled up another miner! Isn't it just fantastic?"

"Aren't you getting a bit carried away?"

Dickie's face carried a look of shock that slowly changed to anger. "It's a damn miracle, Stevie Joe! A triumph of the human spirit!"

"But you don't even know those folks! How are you getting so emotional about people you never heard of before and will forget again in a month?"

Juanita jumped in, "They are human beings, Stevie Joe."

"You don't really care though. You're crying like you would watching Brian's Song. It's not a real connection. If those folks died down in that mine, you'd just flip the channel over to Jeopardy!" I declared.

"Oh, we would not. That would be a real tragedy, Stevie Joe. We have feelings. We're human," Prudy replied.

I knew I had them now. I was ready to turn it right around on them. Gosh, I missed this stuff. "Then, why aren't you crying about the 20,000 Chinese miners that die every year? They are dying for you! They are dying for that fancy, high-definition television set up there!"

Dickie was just getting madder, "Oh, what the hell are you talking about, Stevie Joe?"

"Simple economics, Dickie. See, we Americans are just addicted to cheap Chinese goods. Can't get enough of 'em. They keep building more and more factories to keep up with the demands. The problem, however, is that can't provide enough electricity to keep all these factories running. So, they built up a bunch of new, coal-fired power plants. Now, remember, they got to keep this cheap. So, those power plants can burn the dirtiest, cheapest coal, and they don't have any extra equipment to help them run clean. They get the coal out of hastily-planned coal mines that rely on cheap human labor rather than expensive machinery. No environmental safeguards. No labor safety standards. So, 20,000 of those poor folks get killed every damn year! Where are your tears for them?"

Just around that point in my rather eloquent verbal volley, the group began to stare at me sternly. It was then kindly suggested that I was not quite ready to return to polite Junebug Holler society.

Maybe they have a point. Usually, I am a bit more subtle with my repartee. This was more of a rant, and a preachy one at that. Perhaps, I should retreat for a while. Perhaps, I should spend more time sharpening my wit.

Hell no. I'm back baby!

Living Large Once Again,
Stevie Joe Parker

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Stevie Joe's Long Haul

Howdy, Stevie Joe fans. I know that the wait between installments can be quite dreary and inevitably slow progress towards world peace. However, Stevie Joe has his own demons to deal with right now.

Overall, the battle is going quite well, but the war is long. As I rise out of my hole searching for glimpses of victory, all I see are odd glances in return. See, one does not emerge from this type of thing exactly the same as when one went in. Rather, it changes you. Some of my own demons come from this change.

Yet, those around me aren't sure what to think. I am not the old Stevie Joe that they loved and flocked to. Yes, it is true that I no longer have the satellite dish and big screen TV for their viewing pleasure, but I'd like to think that they came for more than that.

I believe that their real fear is that I have somehow gone insane. I'll grant that it is a possibility. If it were true, I'd be the last person to know, wouldn't I? Anywho, the nature of the insanity is what concerns them. I mean, we can argue that half of Junebug Holler is nuts in their own special way. Junior alone could fill a college textbook on the matter.

It is insanity in the extreme that they fear. When folks like Junior lose it, they walk around town with their pants tucked in their socks and cardboard boxes balanced on their heads. When folks like Stevie Joe lose it, they are likely to become the Unabomber. That's what the good citizenry here fear, but I think they're wrong.

For now, I wage my battles from the comforts of Junior's couch taking heed of all the advice offered by Junior Junior, Junior's dog. You may scoff but never underestimate the wisdom of dogs.

Yours in battle,
Stevie Joe Parker

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Stevie Joe and Road Construction

Now, putting one's life back together takes some work. And sometimes, that work requires a bit of automotive travel. So, the big blue wagon and I have been tearing up the local highways and byways of late. Unfortunately, that is easier said than done.

You might remember those folks back in Washington DC talking up various stimulus packages when we were smack dab in the heart of this most recent recession. The idea was to put folks back to work by borrowing some dough from the Chinese and having the government spend it. Much of that spending went to improve our transportation infrastructure. There is no doubt that our transportation infrastructure is in some dire need of repair and upgrade. Sounds simple, right?

Here's where the problem comes in. Politicians know that most folks have short memories so they wanted to spend money right away. Unfortunately, upgrading our mass transit, freight rail, airports, and crumbling bridges requires engineering, and engineering takes time. Sure, you can spend money on engineering, but that's not visible to folks until you have a completed project.

So, they decided to limit spending on projects that already had completed engineering work and projects that required minimal engineering. Number one project requiring little to no engineering? Resurfacing existing roads.

Hence, my problem. The Feds doled out lots of cash to the states to resurface roads. The states, not wanting to appear ungrateful, set about resurfacing as many roads as possible whether they needed to be resurfaced or not. So, all about the Greater Junebug Holler Metro Area, roads are all torn up. Perfectly good roads. Roads that didn't have so much as a single pothole or frost heave. There are also lots of giant, orange signs reminding folks who is paying for all this.

You would think that if a road is under construction, hence a delay is to be expected, one might take another route, a detour. Unfortunately, all the alternate routes are also being similarly resurfaced. So, there ain't no way out of the Holler for ol' Stevie Joe. I'll just have to sit back and down some beers with Junior. Nothing else I can do.

I'm thinking about writing a letter to those folks in the state DOT. Perhaps, they need some reminding that the "T" in their name stands for "transportation" and there ain't much of that going on right now.

There's Stevie Joe, he's movin' kinda slow at the Holler, Junebug Holler,
Stevie Joe Parker

p.s. You know those "flaggers" who hold the "Stop" and "Slow" signs whenever there is a lane closure? I'm sure you already know that due to the enormous physical toll on those poor workers these signs now have a rotating base. The flagger need only turn it from one side to the other every few minutes while the base holds up the sign for them.

Well, apparently even with such a modern marvel, too many flaggers were struck down in their prime with "flagger's elbow." So, they've got a new device. I swear to JC this is true. The signs are now motorized. So, the flagger can now sit back and simply push a button on a remote control while the sign spins itself. Of course, you and I both know that sooner or later, all that button pushing is going to give someone a severe case of carpal tunnel syndrome. You read it here first.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Stevie Joe On Pain

The last few months, I've had plenty of time to ponder pain. As many an amateur philosopher has uttered, "Life is pain." Buddha knew this, and I know it. So, is it any surprise that when the pain of life becomes too much to bear, we search for the painkillers?

Yet, we have made the most effective painkillers taboo. If we feel happy all on our own, all is good. If we feel happy because of a pill, a drink, or a toke, all is bad. Why is this so? Why is it so wrong for a substance to make us feel good?

Of course, allowing a medication to take away the pain is usually accepted as long as that medication doesn't go so far as to make us feel good. Ibuprofen, and acetaminophen are just fine even though they are toxic to our bodies. Morphine, which is not toxic to our body, is used only as a last resort because it provides a feeling of euphoria. Eegads. Not that. Of course, too much morphine (or any other opiate) will eventually stop you from breathing, but it won't fry your liver or kidneys.

Take a look at this here chart. Look long and hard. Some study might be required to really take it all in. Then, tell me why LSD and pot are illegal but caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine are not. I'm not saying that these LSD and pot should be legal. Just that it seems fairly arbitrary. Why shouldn't we be allowed to decide for ourselves?

As you probably know, many folks who are in pain, either physical or psychological, wind up self-medicating. They might use legal drugs or they might use illegal drugs, but let's not pretend that it doesn't happen. How about having an open discussion about how to handle it?

Stevie Joe Parker

Friday, July 9, 2010

Stevie Joe's Descent

Loss brings many emotions and even more actions. Depression alone can manifest itself in a nearly complete Hunter S. Thompson novel. In my case, I didn't sink into the drugs like Raoul Duke en route to a desert motorcycle race. Maybe I would have done so had I known where the heck to buy them. I mean, there's a lot of drunks around Junebug Holler, but those other drugs are mostly something done by someone else somewhere else (unless you mean stuff like caffeine, nicotine, prescription opiates, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, and various ED remedies).

So, I took to White Russians and Stingers depending on the state of my liquor cabinet. On those truly desperate nights, it was straight tequila. Cuervo Gold. I blame it on Steely Dan. The one indulgence that differed considerably from those of my fellow Holler citizens was a powerful Kava tea made from root imported directly from the island of Vanuatu. Good stuff. Do not mix with alcohol.

As you may have already deduced, while such behavior might result from loss, it does nothing to get one beyond it. In fact, the booze just led me down the dark path to an even deeper hell. Sure, there would occasionally be a party or slot machine along that path, but it led to hell nonetheless.

More soon,
Stevie Joe Parker

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Stevie Joe Is Back!

I arise from deep in the muck. So deep that you must claw away at the filth above your head for hours and days and weeks and months. All in a desperate attempt to catch a glimpse once again of the sun.

Mrs. Stevie Joe is gone. Finally fed up with me and who can blame her except for that constant voice way in the back of my head that searches for someplace, any place, to point the finger except right back here at ol' Stevie Joe.

I've resorted to living with Junior and his dog, Junior Junior. I have often made light of Junior, but he is a true friend. He alone was there to take hold of my hand when it finally emerged from the ooze. I suspect he believed that I had a beer in my other hand, but I want to push that from my thoughts and focus on the good.

I've yet to cleanse myself of all the debris and negativity that has pulled me down these past few months, but I'm looking forward. This here will be my testament.

Stevie Joe Parker

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Stevie Joe is Off Planet

Will be back soon.

Eep, Opp, Ork, Ah-Ah,
Stevie Joe Parker