Mr. Jingles, my cat and closest compadre, was killed by a coyote early in the morning a few days ago.
All things must pass as George Harrison said, but since this was so gruesome, it’s the filter I’ll experience my life through for at least a little while.
I’m heartbroken and I miss him.
Sometimes we miss the love a person or pet gave to us and sometimes, probably more often than not, whether we realize it or not, we miss the love we were able to give. And I think that leaves a bigger hole in us.
What’s my point in sharing this? I have none. These are just words on a screen. But I appreciate you reflecting on them. I really do.
“Of course I know you have twins Mike. I know everything about you.”
With a smile, Rory, my brother-in-law, said this to Michael Jordan who was sitting right behind us at a restaurant in New York City. We were there for my nephew’s twelfth birthday. They’re twins. And a moment before, Jordan entered our conversation by saying to Rory, “Hey man, I have twins too.”
They spoke for awhile, father to father, and I am holding back tears as I write this.
But I was totally unable to hold them back in the theater last night as I watched “Air”. I was hit hard like shotgun blast to the chest a moment after it arose in me to text Rory and my nephews. I was going to be sneaky with my phone to tell them to see this movie ASAP. But the thing is, Rory died from pancreatic cancer about two months ago. And since it was such a reflex to think of the three of them, it’s like I forgot for a sec. So, sitting in the dark last night, surrounded by strangers, was probably the hardest I’ve cried since.
Now with all of that said, what point am I going to make about this?
My days of point making seem to be behind me. At least for now. But you can do the math for yourself. It shouldn’t be too hard. Don’t forget to carry the one.
P.S. Before they shook hands and parted ways, MJ asked Rory for his home address. Two weeks later, my nephews wore the freshest pair of Jordans to school and rocked everyone’s world with their never-seen-before sneakers (I wanted to leave this piece in a happy place but I can’t help but to think, and I guess to also share, that their birthday is coming up in a few days and it will be the first without their father. And I’m crushed for them. Utterly crushed. Alas, such is life).
Let’s all take a deep breath together for her and her family since they are fellow humans.
With that, I just wish people gave one one-hundredth of a fuck for the 10,000 children who die every year from not having enough food. Oh, I’m sorry, did I say a year? IT’S A DAY – NOT A YEAR. EVERY GODDAMN DAY.
Or, how about the 200 million land animals slaughtered globally EVERY GODDAMN DAY (72 billion annually)?
We make sure to feed them all nice and fat of course. To unnecessarily kill them. For our dumb greedy dinners.
So, excuse me for not giving a rat’s dick about your “mourning” over a 96 year old multi millionaire who was about as close to you as Superman.
Until we care more about what actually matters, we’re doomed.
I stood there in the kitchen and thought of all of the people throughout human history who literally had to scrape for every last grain of rice.
Either from poverty, from famine, from war, or from poverty and famines brought on by vile wars.
Reflexively this all just arose in my mind as I found myself losing patience with scraping the last bits of rice I cooked for dinner onto my plate from the bowl.
But those stubborn little sticky fucks just clung to the sides with the audacity of an octopus while I tried super hard not to waste food.
I soon relented though. And ended up just rinsing the rest of them down the drain into the darkness of the sink’s belly.
The truth is, obviously, no matter how good of a grandson from Depression era grandparents I was, children in Ukraine and everywhere else across this merciless globe will still be dying of malnutrition as we speak.
“We need to be more mindful of our food and make sure we eat every last drop.” No, that’s not the point I’m making here. “We need to be more grateful our food and everything else.” Yes, but that’s certainly not the point I’m here to make either. I mean, c’mon, that gratefulness thing has been beaten to death and hardly anyone is listening anyway.
My point is, is that I have no point. It’s just amazing to me how much we have and how miserable we still are.
Although I still consider myself a writer, I’m completely out of words.
It’s been this way for a few years already.
And no, it’s not that I have writer’s block. There just isn’t anything worth saying anymore.
I bring this up today because it’s my dad’s birthday. He would have been eighty if he didn’t brutally die from a brain tumor. And I would have liked to put down a few words about it but as I said, there aren’t any left.
It’s like I’m sitting next to a stream of water running down a mountainside. Watching leaves and pebbles float by. Thinking, I am those leaves. I am those pebbles. I am this river.
Normally, right at this point, I would say, once again, that I’m not posting about my dad for social media sympathy or “likes”, but I’m doing it for anyone who might need to hear, whether they know it or not, that time is passing, as Dylan would say, like a jet plane. And we need catch up with our loved ones while we still can. And I would probably add a little bit about kindness too. But how many more times can I say the same thing about the only thing worth saying a thing about?
So, I’ll just continue to sit here by the side of this stream. Missing my dad a lot. But no more than yesterday. And no less than the day before.
Waiting for the day Love transcends ego. Because life, obviously, will just continue to be an endless circle of violence, inner and outer, until that day comes.
These words, and the thoughts behind them, are intended with love and with gratitude for the goodness in the world and for the goodness which will prevail.
As soon as they sat down I thought of my friend Rob.
We’ve been close buddies since the 7th grade and that’s like 900 years in dog years (37 in human years). I don’t know how often these two get to see each other at Starbucks but Rob and I meet up for a quick coffee, which ends up turning into two to three hours, nearly every week.
And I thought of Rob as soon as they sat down because I can just picture us at that age, sitting across from each other as old men with our cups of coffee, shaking our heads in disbelief at the time that zipped by as if someone pressed fast-forward on that old yellow walkman I used to have.
With wrinkled faces, loose skin and white hair, we’d certainly say to each other, “What the hell happened to us?”
And that almost made me cry while I was sitting there at Starbucks today. Thinking of being old. Missing our youth. The end approaching sooner than later.
But just then, out of the clear blue, the universe baptized me in the waters of perspective and before my mind made tears through some sort of alchemy, I was caused to think, “Wait. If my best friend and I still look relatively healthy like those two, and can still laugh lightheartedly like they are, it would be a goddamn gift. We’d be so lucky.”
I also thought about how my dad never got to grow old with his friends. And I thought about the 812,205 Americans who have died, so far, from covid. And about those kids who were killed in that Michigan school shooting the other day.
(I’ve been sitting here for a few minutes trying to find a way to end this piece but everything which needs to be said was said two paragraphs ago. But with that, I’ve been listening to Abbey Road as I type away to you on my ipad and within the last few seconds the lads sang, “And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.” So, let’s just leave it at that. I love you all. No, for realz I do. )
I was just sitting outside of a cafe with a coffee and my ipad when this bone thin woman around my age, a Karen, jettisoned out of the place and said with exacerbation, “I can’t believe people are still wearing masks!”
She spewed it into the wind with no audience in mind but certainly was eyeballing me for a dose of “you agree with me, right?” which I sure as fuck wasn’t going to give her.
Instead, I said, but only because she put her stuff down near me in order to take photos of her food for some inexplicable reason, “Well, there’s a pandemic going on out there.”
And I swear I said it sweetly, mater-of-factly, without any aggression or sarcasm. Just your friendly neighborhood Gaberman imparting a bit of common sense about current affairs.
That is, until she, like a snot said, “No there’s not.”
Which was the catalyst for me to say, “Wait, you don’t have a newspaper or TV?”
She smugly smiled like I caught her farting. Like a Karen.
That’s also the moment when I noticed she had, not just one but two crosses dangling around her neck which was, for the record, wrinkling prematurely.
I continued by asking, “Why would you even care if someone wore a mask to protect you from getting sick?”
Still trying to get a good shot of her carrots like it was some sort of goddamn GQ cover, she looked up at me and laughed in my face as if I was one of those poor beggars on the street that I’m sure she never ever ever gave a single cent to.
That’s it cunt-rag. Gloves. Are. Off.
“Hey, I see those two crosses around your neck,” I said. “I wonder if you have any idea, at all, what it’s like NOT to serve two masters.”
She nervously smiled and kept her head down.
I continued with, “I wonder if you have any idea at all what it’s like to ACTUALLY love your neighbor.”
I let that sink in for about a half of a sec and then said, “The truth is, you point your bullshit to a complete stranger without even knowing or caring how I may feel about it. You walk around with those two crosses around your neck and you wouldn’t know the first thing about what Jesus said. Would you?”
At this point in our story, you might be asking yourself, “Why did I go for the jugular like GI Joe and the kung-fu grip?”
Because she, along with her demonic death-cult ilk, is directly responsible, and continues to contribute to, all of the ills facing our country. From covid to this constant constitutional crisis that causes anxiety to arise incessantly in me and anyone else who is good hearted.
Therefore, when the opportunity arises, I am, as John Lennon said, Instant Karma. Or better yet, as Radiohead said, the Karma Police.
So, fuck you and your phony Christianity. How dare you do this to us.
But what did I say to her as she picked up her shit and left in a defeated huff? Well, because I know the real real and live it, all day everyday, I said, “Hey, regardless, I hope you stay safe and I hope you don’t get sick.”
And for all you out there reading this and think I went too far with her, or wasted my time with her, or think shouldn’t have typed the word cunt, well, I hope you stay safe too.
“For what shall it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, and suffer the loss of his soul?
I saw a guy on the beach yesterday smoking a cigar while getting his fishing rod ready to cast a line into the sea. He looked like a smug Stanley Tucci character in some Meryl Streep movie you’re just too goddamn lazy to switch off. But who knows, maybe he’s actually a nice guy in real life and I shouldn’t judge a book by its cover.
Either way, this Tucci fellow, in order to relax, and/or feel more like a real man, was willfully pulling cancerous smoke into his body while trying to kill innocent beings for the sheer joy of it. And as I walked past him, I thought of a Facebook memory that popped up for me earlier in the day. It was a screenshot of something I wrote (just in my head at first) while walking along a beach up north on Long Island a few years earlier.
“Humanity will amount to nothing more than a murderous and suicidal plague on the Earth’s surface until the love of love transcends the love of money.”
But in this case you can swap out “selfishness” for “money” because really, whats the fucking difference?
Thankfully though, while I was reading at a park later that day, I saw a monster of a guy, with huge tattooed arms and a menacing beard, wearing one of those front facing knapsack things and inside of it was the most adorable little baby girl you’ve ever seen wearing a perfectly pink little hat. And. He. Just. Loved. Her.
I waved to her and said in the voice I reserve for toddlers and kittens and puppies, “Hello little one! I love your hat.”
And then I looked up to him and said, sans puppy voice, “Hey man, she’s sooo cute.”
He smiled genuinely through his beard of fury and then gave me the most sincere, “Thanks so much man.”
And this, right here, proves the point I’ve been making since the beginning:
Underneath all of humanity’s bullshit, we really just want to love and to be loved. It’s our instinct. It’s our reflex.
You see the toughest looking guys wanting to hold their girlfriend’s hands. Then there’s this Wolverine dude in the park yesterday adjusting his baby’s pink hat to keep the sun out of her eyes. And you always always always hear about people jumping into freezing waters to save absolute strangers from their certain deaths.
Hmm, maybe I’ve been wrong about something all along. I always say that we need to evolve to the point where kindness becomes our set-point if we hope to survive, but maybe it’s actually the opposite.
Maybe we need to devolve instead of evolve. Devolve to our instincts. Our instinct to love. To love all people, fish and everything in between as if they were ourselves.
So, with all of that said, thank you once again for trading your time to read my words and thank you even more for considering them.
And since it’s almost Halloween, here’s a photo of me dressed as Batman. With vampire teeth of course.
“We do not want merely to see beauty… we want something else which can hardly be put into words – to be united with the beauty we see, to pass into it, to receive it into ourselves, to bathe in it, to become part of it.” – C.S. Lewis
That’s exactly it.
Because I, maybe like you, feel a constant longing. A homesickness. A homesickness for a moment that is, well, more real than this current one. A moment that I don’t feel like I’m waiting for something better to come along. And when I turn away from social media and submerge myself in beauty, either as the fully abiding witness or the creator through the means of what seems like divine design, it feels, well, more real.
Like it’s Thanksgiving. And I’m walking into the house I grew up in for the first time in a long time and everyone’s home and happy to see me.
P.S. I am actually drinking coffee in this photo because I hate it in movies or on TV shows when the cups are so obviously empty.