Monday, July 30, 2012

The Time Machine

John Smith statue and the James River.
Although it’s a hassle and always requires more energy than you expect, vacations are worth it. I’m not talking about a trip to Six Flags or Cedar Point. That is nothing but a road trip to a headache. I’m also not talking about going to Disney World to experience “Europe” or an all-inclusive cruise where you spend most of your time in the buffet line with Frank from Poughkeepsie who has abandoned personal hygiene for four days and three nights. Real travel is going to a place you have never been before and experiencing something you cannot online. It’s risky, unpredictable, and ultimately one of the most enriching activities imaginable.

I’ve taken several vacations to Virginia’s historic sites. Being a historian interested in the colonial period of American history, Virginia offers a host of incredible destinations. I wrote the Threefold Law song “Old Dominion” while sitting on the banks of the James River next to the remains of the Jamestown fort. I got inspired to write my historical fantasy “Gold Within” after spending portions of the last ten summers in Colonial Williamsburg. You cannot visit these places without feeling awestruck by the history.

Colonial Williamsburg is one of the few places in the entire United States that has not been paved over or razed for a corporate-sponsored sports stadium. Strolling down Duke of Gloucester street is a trip in a time machine to the 18th century. From the foundation’s website, history.org:

“The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation operates the world’s largest living history museum in Williamsburg, Virginia—the restored 18th-century capital of Britain’s largest, wealthiest, and most populous outpost of empire in the New World…In Colonial Williamsburg’s 301-acre Historic Area stand hundreds of restored, reconstructed, and historically furnished buildings. Costumed interpreters tell the stories of the men and women of the 18th-century city—black, white, and native American, slave, indentured, and free—and the challenges they faced. In this historic place, we help the future learn from the past.”

Colonial cannon with the magazine in the background.
A trip to Colonial Williamsburg is different, engaging, exciting, and unlike an overcrowded amusement park visit (although Busch Gardens is nearby should the urge for water-park diarrhea strike you). If you can escape the gravitational pull of your window unit, I’d recommend you head for the Old Dominion before Disney gets to it.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Don’t Ask Why Because it Doesn’t Matter

Like many of us, I am still numb from the massacre in Colorado. I woke up today with a screaming headache to more suffocating humidity on the 18th 90+ day here in Cleveland (our average is 9) and immediately cursed myself because at least I can still play cards with my six year old daughter. There’s a family in Aurora that will never get that opportunity again. The endless newscasts and major media bobbleheads are full-on into the “how could this happen” or “why did this happen” mode which usually results in endless hours of speculation with little more information than was reported in the first hour after the tragedy. I try not to become too angry with the coverage as it wouldn’t exist if we didn’t watch it. However, the Chardon shooting is too fresh and I simply can’t tolerate the exploitation of the victims through their “personal stories” reported by the anchors. My heart goes out to those families and I hope they find the peace of mind to keep going.

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Rock of Ages

In late December of 1983 during an event known as “Christmas Day” I received one of the most glorious gifts in the entire world. It came in a huge box and complete with the synthetic smell of electronics; my very own boombox. Let me begin by saying that I was not a Beastie Boy in training or a breakdancer. I was a burgeoning metal head with a need for more volume.

I found the picture while visiting my parents this past weekend and it put a smile on my face. That boombox WAS the music as far as I was concerned. If something happened to it, I’d be left listening to “Kenny Roger’s Greatest Hits” on my parent’s turntable.

While visiting the Zombie Museum in Monroeville Mall, I saw a kid drop his phone (with earbuds dangling). He kicked the smartphone and then yanked it into the air by the cord. He kicked it. I’ve seen this countless times and I’m sure you have as well. It probably cost his parents one dollar plus a one-year contract with the cell provider and his music streams to the device from the cloud. What does he care about the phone? If that phone were to die, get kicked through a mall, or dropped in a toilet, he’d have another within hours and his music would be restored to the new device. The device seems as replaceable as a Styrofoam coffee cup because it is.

If, in 1983, you had kicked my boombox through the mall, I probably would have thought really hard about kicking your ass before crawling to a corner to cry. Without my boombox, the world would have been a very quiet place.

And cut me some slack on the Def Leppard swag. I became a fan after “On Through the Night” while most of my other classmates were worshipping Michael Jackson and Madonna.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Screw Citibank

I’d like to give the middle finger to Citibank. When I first moved to New Jersey in 1994, I opened up a checking account and credit card account with them. Over the years I’ve been a loyal customer, never once late with a payment. Never once did I splurge at Guitar Center and then claim my card was stolen. Not a single issue for almost 20 years. Since the financial collapse of 2008, I have been actively closing my accounts with the irresponsible institutions that took bailout money. For example, I refinanced my mortgage which was held by J.P. Morgan Chase and closed a Bank of America credit card account. For some sentimental reason, I kept my Citibank credit card even though I didn’t use it much anymore. Apparently that lack of activity caught the computer algorithm’s eye over at the Citibank mainframe.
Last week, I received this cordial and personalized letter from “Your Customer Service Team”. This is the courtesy Citibank extended to me for being a loyal customer for 19 years. No auto-generated email warning, no form letter, no robocall, and certainly no contact from a human being which they clearly eliminated from their customer support center unless you call during the rush hour in New Delhi. You’ll find “Frank” to be a bit less helpful than you’d like. Nope, I got none of that. Not even an overseas call from “Sally”. They were kind enough to print an 800 number on the letter should I be interested in any of their other services. I mean, the customer service was so fantastic on this credit card account, how could I resist!

If you’d rather not take the time to read their letter, here’s the short version of it:
Dear dickhead,
Your account is closed because we can’t suck any more finance charges from your flat teat. 
From,
Your Customer Service Team
They have the right. I’m not claiming they don’t. But this is exactly why those huge douchebags on Wall Street will not make another dime off of me as much as I can help it. So long, Bank of America. Goodbye, J.P. Morgan Chase, and Citibank.


Monday, July 2, 2012

The New Threefold Law Website

I just began writing my next novel which will be the sequel to one that is currently in rewrites. It’s always exciting to start fresh and I hope to have both books out in late summer/early fall.

Because of that, I’m putting up a brief post today. As some of you may or may not know, I front the Cleveland band Threefold Law. We’ve just moved our official website to Blogspot along with some good, old-fashioned HTML to enhance the pages.

You can get to it with the old address, http://threefoldlaw.com or the direct Blogspot address, http://threefoldlawband.blogspot.com/

I’d appreciate any thoughts or feedback.

Thanks!