Saturday, February 12, 2011

Planning My FUN-eral

I had a conversation with my cousin awhile back. We were talking about our own demise and the subject naturally went to funeral services and how odd they really are when you step back and look at them critically. In our culture, we generally like to have a viewing. You know, we have the deceased laid out in a coffin and people come up and look at them and say nice things like; "Oh, he looks so good." or "She seems to be sleeping peacefully.".  Well, those are nice things to say, but really, the person doesn't look good or natural....they look dead. Yes, I do realize that the viewing is a comfort to some people and I don't want to play that down. Whatever works to help with grieving.

I suppose I just want my send off to be a little more about me and my life than I do about flowers, a pretty casket, and someone who doesn't know me talking about how everyone else feels about me and how I'm looking down smiling. If there is a place to be looking from, it's probably not going to be looking "down" for me, if you hear what I'm saying. I've always thought that the eulogy should be given by someone who knows the deceased. It just makes good sense. I'm sure in most cases that wouldn't be an easy thing for a grieving person, but by golly I want someone who has known me personally to talk about me.

With all that, I will outline and explain the way I want my funeral arrangements. Or, I suppose I should call it a FUN-eral.

First off, I hope I die in my sleep or fade away in a marijuana stupor while listening to a really good album, like "Tilt" by Scott Walker or "Evil Urges" by Morning Jacket, or "Donkey With A Limp" by Herb Alpert and The Tijuana Brass Band. But, like most people, I probably won't get to choose the time, place, or manner in which I go. Just please don't let it be like Elvis or that kid on "World's Greatest Dad".

Next up......burn me up. That's right. Don't stick me in the ground or in one of those brick walls that looks like a memorial to war veterans. Either way, after I'm gone nobody is going to want to walk up and stare at a rock with my name on it. What the hell does that accomplish? "Hey, here lies Freddy's rotting bones. Wish we could see 'em."  Nope, burn me up and put my ashes in some sort of can that has a lid on it. Don't lose the ashes, they will come up again later.

OK, I do not want, if at all possible, to have my "service" at a funeral home. They are sterile, impersonal, and who wants see some guy walking around with his finger tips pressed together, with a half grin, telling you how sorry he is for your loss and there are ham sandwiches and punch in the basement. No, rent out a space or one of you with a big house can host my farewell party.

Here is one thing that I really don't Come on, save the money or send the money you would have spent on flowers to some non-profit group that is trying to help abused or sick kids. Flowers die and they are just a huge waste of money. Just one more way to screw grieving people out of money.

Wherever my FUN-eral is, I want it to reflect my personality and life. Put up some pictures. My old ball glove. Pictures of my closest friends and relatives. Pictures of my favorite actors or ballplayers. A couple of books I loved. Any mementos that would remind people of things that I did or loved will be appropriate. Stuff that I liked, basically. Make the moment memorable by being able to remember me as I was. The pictures and items will also serve as conversation pieces. Because we all know that it's hard to come up with stuff to talk about. You never know what's OK to bring up or whatever. Hell, I want to be remembered, talked about for who and what I was. No need to sugarcoat anything.

Music is a very important part of my personality. Everyone knows my favorite bands; The Beatles, The Replacements, The Jayhawks, Waylon Jennings, Ryan Adams, Wilco, etc. So, I have a list of songs that I want playing during my FUN-eral and they are on my I-Pod, so you won't have to guess what songs I would have wanted played. I also love film. So, there can also be a small TV and DVD player running a couple of movies I loved like, The Godfather, The Big Lebowski, Almost Famous, or Faces Of Death (OK...just kidding about that one). I'm serious. Do it. If not film, put on Louisville winning the 1986 basketball championship.

If you wanna serve food, go for it. But no vegetables. Hot wings, pizza, stuff like that. Iced tea....sweet iced tea, is a must. Yes, Big Joe, you can have alcohol there. I prefer Buffalo Trace, Makers Mark, or Woodford Reserve be served over ice......NO cola or anything added to it. Only water or ice. If you want to be wimpy, drink Amaretto Sours or something like that. It also would be pleasing to have bowls of Reese's Pieces sitting around.

Here is where things will get a little dicey. I'm sure most of you will agree that the above is unusual, but really not out of bounds. Well, I'm getting ready to go out of bounds and if you don't like it, up yours, it's my big day, so don't come if you don't want to share in the fun. I would like for my eulogy to be given by a couple of people......or everyone. My first pick is for my cousin Chris. My second choice would be Nancy, my wife, but that is probably asking too much (as if the rest of this shit isn't, right?) I also wouldn't mind some of my friends who knew me at various times in my life to speak about what they loved or hated about me. Perhaps about things I had done, good or bad. People I would love to have chirp on my big day would include, but not be limited to; Larry B, Kristina, Joey W, Joe H, Jere', Craven, Randy C, and Matt T.

Next up on the creep-o-meter is that I would love to have a small, out of the way area, with my Darth Vapor set up and some really nice marijuana available (perhaps Northern Lights or Sour Diesel) to anyone who would like to get a little buzz on. Here goes nothing......the more adventurous types should have a small sprinkling of my ashes added in. Yep, I want a small portion of my ashes sitting right beside Darth Vapor. If someone feels the want (and, really why would you? I mean, I would probably do it, but I know that 99.9% would find that vulgar.....and I do understand it), they can invite me into their system and I'll be a part of them until their big moment comes along!

This needs to be a one day only event. No repeats, no refunds, no skipping, jumping, or running please. Take the ashes that were not smoked up to some place cool. Niagara Falls would be my very first choice. Dump my "asshes" in and let me roll over the falls and into oblivion. Next choice would be for my ashes to be poured out on the outfield grass at Fenway Park. If those things are not possible, give me to Walter Sobchak and let him distribute them into the bosom of the Pacific Ocean.

I know you guys think I'm having a laugh. But I'm not. All that stuff is for real. That's really how I want it to be. Just remember me and have a good time doing so, for one day. Much of my life was spent not understanding people or the world I lived in. I used to be depressed, hard headed, and judgemental. But that's not me anymore. I want people to enjoy their lives. I'm doing my best to enjoy mine. The above would really please me, if I were able to see what my own funeral would be like. My wife understands where I'm coming from on this. I love her and my kids with all my heart. My friends know that I love to have fun and share in laughter and amusement. So why shouldn't my last hurrah reflect my life? When I do go, don't feel bad for me. I'm prepared to go. The only regret I will have is that I don't have more breaths left to laugh with or more time for my eyes to look at my girls. We are all going towards the same end. Let's enjoy what we have now, the best we can, and give a great effort towards eliminating, forgetting, or ignoring all the shit we have to deal with that doesn't lead to our happiness or living a fulfilled life. Life can be fascinating and fun. So, let's do it that way and let the things we can't control blow in the wind.

Give me my freedom
For as long as I be
All I ask of livin'
Is to have no chains on me
All I ask of livin'
Is to have no chains on me
And all I ask of dyin' is to
Go naturally, only wanna
Go naturally
Blood, Sweat, & Tears

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Vintage Christian Album Covers

I've wanted to do this for awhile and another blogger has pushed me into doing this now (thanks Mike!). I read a blog yesterday on Christian rock (like heavy stuff....Stryper, etc) and it got me to thinking about some of the bad album covers I have saved on my hard drive. So, I'm breaking some of them out. There are a few that simply need no caption. Then there are those that NEED captioning.

As I look at some of these covers, I have to wonder what the hell was the criteria for releasing an album in the 60's, 70's, and 80's? Could you just show up at a photo shoot with matching, bad clothes on, horn rimmed glasses, and a terribly false looking background? Are these albums as funny to listen to, as it is to view the album covers?

These covers create more questions than they answer. So to over analyze would be fruitless. Kind of like quantum physics. Once you think have one part of it figured out, there are 1,000 more questions to answer. Some times, there just are no answers to those burning questions. For example, why do most Christian women over the age of 45 wear the big bun hair style?

This is sort of a personal favorite. I found it several years ago and just couldn't get over the background. The sweater vests were obviously a bad idea, but what's with the barn in the distance? How much farming are they doing in those duds? Seems like showing a church in the background would have been more relevant. But really, nothing says spirituality like 3 eager guys, a woman, and a barn.

Not ashamed? I guess not. Look at that ride and those outfits. The Lord has been good to them and they have in turn put that grace to good use by purchasing what looks to be a Rolls Royce and some tuxedos with lapels that could serve as hang gliders. If not for the guitar and the words on the cover, this could almost serve as a late 70's prom picture.

I appreciate the simplicity of Father Robert White. He isn't going for the hard sale. Father White is rockin' "Moon River", and "Tiny Bubbles" with a bit of tact. Father White is obviously a rhythmic man. I have not heard this, but I'm guessing "Danny Boy" is probably his biggest hit. This album was a fairly huge hit for the Reverend. The follow up release "Beach Party Baptism" was both a critical and commercial failure.

Poor Freddie Gage. All his friends are dead. Apparently so was Freddie's sense of style. He has a wardrobe that Herb Tarlek and Cousin Eddie would be apprehensive about wearing in public.

Honestly, what the hell do you want from me on this one. Any way you slice it, this goes in a bad direction. I'm going to go ahead and assume that this kid released a Pink Floyd-esque concept album about his days as an altar boy. See....I told you this couldn't lead to a good place.

I'm thinking that these guys wanted in on the act too. Poor Greg Kendrick. His smokin' hot Beatles cut was bringing all the boys to the yard.

 Mike Adkins is a bird lover. He wants to be sure that whoever gave him the dove was properly thanked.

Where in the hell did all that hair come from. And no way that person on the right is a way. The Faith Tones released a string of albums in the 70's, but couldn't break out of the expectations of their fans. Their lesser known releases were "Jesus Abuse Me", "Jesus Pay Attention To Me", "Jesus Help Me", and "Jesus Are You Even Fucking Listening To Me?" and sold an average of 3 copies each. And on a side note, lead singer and slide guitarist Eshter Martin-Tong (the woman on the left, with dark hair) choked to death in 1988 while taking communion at a Unitarian Church in Brooklyn.

Ira had to be a millionaire record label owner, because there is nobody on this planet or in heaven (or in hell for that matter) that would be a part of this release from modern music icon Ira North. Some of the more notable songs on this record are "Take Me To The Kitchen", "What's For Dinner", and "Jungle Boogie". Ira was not done with the music business, as he put out two more albums after this debut, including "If I Were A Jew".

What kind of exploitation is this? The Singing Midget? Really? Are 50% of all backing bands named "The Crusaders"?

I'm going to wrap up with this one. First, these guys really have a bad sense of style. I mean, really, wearing white in hell? They are just asking for pinhole burns and sweat stains. And it's going to be a little hard convincing people Satan is real with that depiction. That's less scary than the South Park Satan. Hell, it's less scary than Sponge Bob. Unfortunately for us, this was the only official release for The Louvin Brothers. They both died of venomous snake bites trying to prove that spiritual healing "Is Real".'s the encore. And I don't have much for this one, because anything I add to it, will diminish the hilarity. So, add your own caption or just gaze upon the elegance.

Addendum for C9!!!