Thursday, November 11, 2010

Late For My Own Funeral

Who the f--- is Ricky, you ask? Ricky is an old man that lives in New Orleans, LA, fights for Charity Hospital after it’s demise, not due to Katrina but to the shallow pockets and greedy appetite of Louisiana State University. After Katrina hit New Orleans, it gave the government and powers-that-be, an excuse to shut down institutions they could have only dreamed of scraping from the picture.

Charity Hospital was one of few hospitals that took care of people without health insurance. The gamut between haves and have-nots, in New Orleans, is far enough to fill several charity hospitals, and to shut down the one that catered to an impoverished city, set a fire under Ricky’s ass. Veteran activist, protested the Vietnam war, lead the Socialist Worker’s Activist Union in New Orleans, dropped out of college to write for the Militant in NYC, didn’t get his driver’s license until thirty-something, ladies and gentlemen… I give you Ricky.

Aside from all the civil rights fighting, freedom fighting, and public speaking, the special thing about Ricky is…he’s my dad. We totally don’t get along, the fire under his ass is an eternal flame, if you Wikipedia “curmudgeon” (def: a bad tempered, difficult, cantankerous person) his picture pops up, nuff said. Ask either of us to speak ill of the other and we could go on for days, but at the end of every phone conversation we wrap with “Love you”. Crazy and off-the-wall as it sounds, we get along through the thick of it. We have to. For as many times as I’ve walked away, he’s walked away, we’ve written each other off, the fact is…I’m his son, and he’s my father and ain’t shit gonna change it.

When it comes down to it between any two people, there is the potential for love, given both parties have to chip in. Scratch that, sometimes to love you have to have faith, and I can’t count how many times I’d sit and pray in church, as an 8yr old, and pray for my dad’s health and safety. No clue who or what God was at that point… still don’t, but I’d kneel and pray for the man. Scary as he was, loud as he’d yell, much as he could be a prick, I’d pray for him. This. For me, became the roots and practice of unconditional love. Shit’s hard, but somebody’s gotta do it, and it’s the same regards I’d like him to hold me to.

Anyways, getting to my point, Jake and I finished a song a few days ago in regards to Ricky. I played it for my mom, Jane. She liked it. Volume’s gotta come down on the vocals a lil bit, but aside from that it might suffice as the front runner for the mixtape. We perform it next week Friday, Nov. 19th at the Varsity Theater, a show I put together with Prof as the headliner. Got the idea for the song from a story Abigail had given me, The Return by Roberto Bolano (squiggly line over the “n” of “Bolano”. Never really figured out how to do that. Result: numerous points docked in Spanish classes). Roberto Bolano wrote The Return as a hypothetical as to how he died, what it’s like on the other side, and everything he experienced. Loved it, had to try it myself. We’re all goin’ at some point, might as well start writing thanks.

Yesterday morning, after hearing the song a few more times, my mother, in tears, poor woman, weeps, “Are you thinking of killing yourself?” “No mom. Roberto Bolano wrote it, why can’t I, it’s just a song”. “Who’s Roberto?”. Christ, the communication has come down to this. Yea yea, the song is dark, I get it, but not enough to pass the impression “I’m gonna end this thing today”. C’maaaaaaaaan. Check it for yourself here. If links aren’t your thing, you can jump to and click on “Late For My Own Funeral”.

Here’s the lyrics:

Ya see that thing up there, it’s called the sky
And I’m gonna give it to you someday, but only when it’s right
You see my time here isn’t long, matter fact I’m already gone.
They buried me yesterday with my backpack and a song
Well first things first, tell Carol she was my earth
I enjoyed the long talks over Szechuan after church,
The long prayers through it all, the long stares at the wall
Makin’ waits to hear your fate from doctors at the hospitals.

And we made it, well at least you did, so tell Jane
She’s the ink for those “World’s Greatest Mom” t-shirt templates
We fought like deadlines, set-backs, age and time
And worked out like deadliner, set-backs, and age and time
Rock on Janer, you last minute lane changer
Combattin’ cancer on the daily all love and no anger.
Tell your daughter, Annie, to take it easy on herself
She’s come farther than her father could ever help.

Yea, I dig that guy, but he’s a sketchy profile,
And I’ll be damned if I’m not the one to walk you down the aisle
I have a few words for Ricky, but we’ll save that for the end
So for now, sister, know your brother loves you after death
And I’m still lookin’ for Chase, Jerren Schaden and Doc
Maria Croix, Barb Jones, and Joe Sodd
It’s crazy up here, I’ve been in line since I landed
Fillin’ out paper work to make sure I am who I say I am, but

What I miss most is your voice
My memory’s still the same even though my life has change
Cos’ what gets me by are the simple joys.
I was late for my own funeral so I could spend the day as a ghost on your shoulder.

Anyways, over here the roads are pristine
I only wish I could’ve brought my Honda with me.
That things gonna out live your kid’s kids
So don’t forget, every 60,000 give the transmission fluid the business.
Drive it back to New Orleans, have a hand grenade for me
And kill the hangover with PJ’s in the mornin’
I wanna hear you laughter in the hereafter
Unconditional, no matter where luck steers the dagger

Smile, it may not feel like a lot,
But trust in the end, it’s the only thing you’ve got
I don’t mind that you don’t care, I don’t mind
And I’ll be late for yours too, so I guess it’s only fair
It’s clear you pick the moments you choose to be a father
And I’m guilty of lettin’ my mood determine what I call ya
Derek, Mr. Morrison, Dad whatever it is today
I’m your son, and even in the next that won’t change

But what I miss most is your voice
My memory’s still the same even though my life has changed
What gets me by are the simple joys
I was late for my own funeral so I could spend the day as a ghost on your shoulder.

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