Monday, May 29, 2006

Night Air

This poem was written in the year 2000, though I don't recall the month or date. Hope you like this entry from the past!

Night Air

Gazing up at the night sky in wonder
I watched as the moon began to melt,
Its contents spilling down upon the Earth
In a tidal wave of deep blue.
All it touched began to glow
In colors I can't describe.
The stars in all their splendor glowed
With an intense light, unnatural and strong.
The ground was bathed in their light,
The waters reflecting a million million dots
Of precious light.
The night air hit me in the face,
Intoxicating me with the essence of its spendor.
An awkward moment, stumbling back,
Unsure of this moment, unable to comprehend
The changes.
Like a bolt out of the proverbial blue,
Realization struck me full force,
Answering my unasked questions.
You were nearby....

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Believing In An Old Promise

A guiding star once rose in the east
Showing the way to those seeking the truth
And the promise that created the answer
Man had seeked thoughout the centuries.

Blood was shed in the past, blood continued to be shed
In that present time,
And finally blood was shed
For the salvation of all mankind.

False gods, demonic leaders of violence
Misguided masses continue even unto
This day.

The ultimate promise made,
The ultimate price paid,
Yet for so many that seek the truth
It still wasn't enough.

And mankind still follows blindly
The teachings of those whose only promise
Is the bloodshed of the innocent.

How can good be found in the greed
Of the insane, who hide and command others
To destroy and give up their own lives
As the evil ones pull the strings of their
Ignorant puppets?

The promise of the lamb has been fulfilled
Yet so few follow that promise and seek
Its comfort.

The promise of a second coming
Though not yet fulfilled,
Is a promise that only can be coming
As the word has taught us
And we have seen accomplished up until now.

The bird of peace shall come
When time is right,
The king shall sit at the throne
And only the blood of the evil shall be spilled.

And those who are misguided into believing
That it's better to reign in Hell
Than to serve in Heaven
Will truly have their eyes opened
When the final days arrive
And the followers of the word
Shall receive their just rewards.

I trust I shall be there.

Your Demented Ways

Deep down, burrowing beneath the surface
Boils a tangle of emotions,
Amassing a web that frightens one
Yet intrigues and confuses
Those who fall within its

Discarded feelings, buried memories
Unbridled passions
Surrounded by hysteria
Yet comforted by relief.

Down within the confines of such a small space
There lies confusion
But knowledge as well.

Out of this deep and dark abyss
Terror tries to begin its reign,
Allowing common sense a brief moment
Of entanglement
And emotional release.

Broadening in spectrum
Reflecting a light sparse in its luminesence
Hiding yet seeking escape
And searching for truth.

Born out of the dark side
Wallowing in its creation
Crying out in total desperation
At wit's end.

Forgotten promises, failed relationships
Lies made in haste
Disgusting human waste.

A flame finds spark,
Kindling itself and seeking eratic fuel
In an effort to burn and seek creation
And a new birth.

Confusion abounds, mindless creations
Grope for existense
Love becomes hate
Hate becomes love
And time no longer heals the wounds
Of long ago,
The cancer has spread
Its malignancy growing out of control,
The damage done,
No cure available
As apathy grows and consumes reason.

Why do you enjoy what you yourself
Have created and developed this desire
To manufacture the pain in so many hearts?

Blindly and sadistically you move forward,

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Indy's Fan Friendliness Addendum

Well, folks, it's been one week since I posted my blog regarding the fan friendliness, or rather, the lack of fan friendliness at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway this year, and I even took the time to send my blogpage to the IMS public relations department, who e-mailed me back and advised me that they would forward my blog to the correct people and I would receive contact from them regarding my comments.
So, one week has passed, and no one, not a soul from the greatest speedway in the world, has taken a moment to answer my complaints. So much for caring about your spectators comments and feelings.
Also, last Friday, my friend John and I did indeed attend the rained out version of Fast Friday, and upon entering and finding a Customer Service station manned by three very nice men, we asked them if they were going to open any seating that had cover over it to keep people dry while waiting for the rain to stop and the track to open. One of the men radioed his superior and his superior's answer to this question was, "We won't be opening any seating with protection from the elements unless they start putting cars out on the track."
Excuse me, but does that make any sense?
If the cars are running, it's not raining, so sitting under cover and it not raining does indeed NOT give spectators protection from the elements, unless that would be the hot sun, which sure didn't shine this year on Fast Friday. Matter of fact, it didn't shine throughout the opening weekend of qualifications, either.
So apparently, all IMS is interested in is for people to show up, pay their admission fee, and be uncomfortable, wet and cold and they have a "Who cares?" attitude when it comes to taking care of the faithful fans who follow the dying sport of open-wheeled racing.
Therefore, before I make my plans next year to take a week's vacation and attend a venue large enough to accomodate over 400,000 people, I'm going to have to ask myself the question as to whether or not I want to continue to pay money to be uncomfortable should the weather not be good. If the management of Indianapolis Motor Speedway doesn't give a hoot about the people who faithfully try and follow the sport, why should I continue to make the drive and spend my money at IMS when I could take vacation time and go somewhere else where at least management cares about the comfort of their guests.
I do have my week for Brickyard 400 already picked, and as much as I enjoy going to see the Nextel Cup cars run at the Speedway, I'm already thinking about going somewhere else and spending my money there instead.
IMS management really needs to look at THEIR attitude towards their clientle and decide what's going to put butts in the seats, because their present policy SUCKS and it doesn't make attending events at the Speedway very attractive anymore.
After last year's Formula One fiasco, you would think the Speedway would be more than willing to give more to the fans and quit taking more away from them. Personally, I know for a fact I would never, EVER attend a Formula One event held on Amercian soil, and I'm truly beginning to think twice about ever attending anything at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway ever again.
Time will tell, I guess, and should I receive an answer to my complaints I addressed in my last blog from the Speedway, I promise to share those with all of you as well.
Until then, I guess the new famous words at the most famous track in the world should be changed to "Ladies and gentlemen, start your bitching!"

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Fan Friendly? Not in May...

To anyone who follows the sport of auto racing, it's no news to them that open wheeled racing has been taking a beating for years. A lot of people like to direct that blame towards Tony George, founder of the Indy Racing League. I don't think Tony was wrong with what he tried to do, because frankly, when it comes to open wheeled sanctioning bodies, the IRL has fast become the leader of the sport, at least in the United States.
Tony's original idea was an open wheeled league of inexpensive cars, American drivers, oval tracks only, and all races held within the confines of the United States. His problem was during his opening of the new league, he decided to "reserve" the top 25 positions for only those drivers who were members of the IRL, which meant rival CART drivers would only be eligible for the last 8 positions.
Without going into a long diatribe spanning the last decade, let's just say that although Tony had a great idea, he really loused things up with the top 25 Indy qualifying positions, and soon that idea was scrapped. Problem was, the damage had already been done, and rival CART decided on holding an alternate 500 mile race the same day at Michigan Speedway. Thus the war of the open wheeled sanctioning bodies began.
Now, all these years later, although the IRL is the leader as far as the two factions go, the cars are not inexpensive, there's many foreign drivers that are full time drivers in the IRL, the body decided last year to begin road course racing(BORING!) and the IRL is now racing out of the United States.
So much for offering the small town driver without much money the chance to participate in the greatest auto race in the world, huh?
Because of the friction that the open wheeled wars has caused, crowds have dwindled at most venues, CART has filed bankruptcy and is virtually a non-existent racing faction now, and one only need to travel to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway during the month of May and see the vast masses reduced to just a few die hard open wheeled fans and curiousity seekers.
I can remember over forty years ago the entire month of May was a buzz and crowds flowed into the Speedway daily. Pole day the front straightaway was packed, and race day was sold out a year in advance.
Pole day is now lucky to draw 10,000 fans, the race hasn't been sold out for the last two years and the practice day audience dwindles year after year.
One need only attend the practice sessions each year and can see part of the reason why. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway isn't very fan friendly during the month of May anymore.
If you go to any of the activities related to the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard in August, you know what kind of a crowd attends the Speedway for this major Nascar event. Although it hasn't sold out either the past couple of years, the crowds that attend the one day of practice and the one day of qualifying are massive. On those days, stand after stand is open to accomodate the fans, and you can't pass a vending stand that isn't open and selling refreshments or souvenirs.
Each year that I have attended Indy 500 sessions for the past four years, I see less and less stands open for the spectators, and vending and souvenirs stands sit empty and unopened. Four years ago I attended the entire opening week of practice, save for the first Sunday, but I was there five straight days and sat in a grandstand one stand north of the media center. The next year, that stand was closed. On fast Friday, up until last year, Grandstand E down in turn one was open. Last year it was closed.
This year, half of the section I sit in that sits in front of the medial center has been closed, and Monday, the stairways that lead up to the stands from the back were closed, meaning that if you wanted to sit up at the top, you had to climb over 30 rows of stairs leading up thru the stands without handrails. And while this may seem unimportant to most, it really bugged me this year.
Due to a careless accident on my part, I severely sprained my left ankle and tore the main ligament that runs across the bottom of the foot. It's been very slow healing, and yesterday, because of the back stairways being closed, each time I wanted to go down out of the stands whether it be for refreshments of voiding myself of refreshments, I had no choice but to go straight down the stands, and seriously, the last time I started up those stands, I didn't think my left ankle was going to make the trip. Today, I took a cane, and lo and behold, one flight of stairs had been opened up. Today, however, I got smart and used the handicapped facilities one flight down from where we were sitting.
I went online earlier this week to check out what seating is going to be available on Fast Friday, and guess what, dear friends, there are even less stands open this year than last. Last year, my friend John and I sat in our favorite seats in front of the media center on Fast Friday and were almost ran out of our seats by a group of men in their late 50's t0 early 60's who were trashing the entire area of seats by throwing not only their empty beer cans down, but they brought in big bags of peanuts and were throwing the shells down in all directions and eating fried chicken and throwing the bones down as far as four rows in front of them and to the side of them. After about an hour of this adolescent behavior from this group of grown up delinquents, John and I traversed under the track thru the tunnel and sat directly behind the flagman's stand on the top row and were treated to a grand view of the track. That was, until the mid afternoon thunderstorms came and drove us out of the stands and out of the Speedway entirely after it was decided the track could not be dried off before the track closed.
This year, however, that stand is not among those listed as being open.
Go figure.
You hear the public relations people of the IMS wondering why the crowds are dwindling away. If you attend each year like I do, it isn't hard to see why people aren't going. IMS is not fan friendly in the month of May. They close so many spectator areas, they close down refreshment areas, more and more each year, and then scratch their heads and ask"What can we do to get the people to come back like they used to?"
Trust me, I truly expect to back next year and find an even smaller area in front of the media center open to the public. I expect less seating next year open for Fast Friday. Probably less vendors will be open, too.
It's a shame that Indy can't be what it once was, and no, I don't think that will ever happen again, because the open wheeled wars took care of that and sent fans scurrying over to Nextel Cup and Nascar. But they can at least put up an effort and at least try and make more seating available that's in the shade, provide access for people who are injured or handicapped and provide better security for those of us who sit in the stands and don't wish to be the target of chicken bones that are being turned into projecticles you have to dodge just so you can sit and watch some of the sport that many of us still love to watch.
Without a fan base, IMS runs the risk of losing their faithful few. I take a vacation every year so I can attend the practice sessions, but this year it's not been fun, it's been a pain and an inconvenience. It makes me wonder how much longer I'll continue to make my annual trips to the Speedway for IRL practice.
I don't think I'll cancel my plans for next year just yet, we'll see how Fast Friday goes this year.
But, if I go back next year and less and less is open and it has become even more inconvenient, my trips to my favorite race track might come to an abrupt end.
And, if I quit going to Indy during the month of May, I just might quit going during August, too. After all, it's the same people running the facility, and if they don't care about my comfort or convenience during the month of May, then maybe those same changes in August just might come along to.
Hope someone at the IMS wakes up before it's too late and all of us have gone home, never to return.
It's a sad situation and only getting sadder as the years go by.
Funny, too, that it's the 90th running of the Indy 500 this year, too.
You think that in itself should make those in charge want to attract a larger audience.
Apparently they don't care as much as they profess to.
The Greatest Spectacle in Racing?
Maybe, but for how much longer, Indy?

Monday, May 08, 2006

A Battered Guitar Shall Lead Them

It was a beautiful Sunday morning, and a good crowd was gathering inside the confines of the Mill Valley Church of Christ. The crisp clean morning air blew into the windows allowing a nice comfortable and cool breeze to accomodate those in attendance. No need for air conditioning today, God and Mother Nature were providing natural air conditioning of their own.
Mill Valley Church of Christ was a very formal church, following a strict schedule each week, song accompaniment always provided by the church pianist, Martha Graves and the church organist Harold Marvin. The songs were always sang the same, nearly in a monotone, and the same deacons each Sunday passed the collection plate and provided the Lord's Supper to those who wished to partake of the loaf and the wine. The deacons always walked the aisles in unison, forming a line, two abreast, and marching five deep on each side as they approached the pulpit to place the collection plates on the table in front of the pulpit and to return the trays of eaten unleavened bread and empty glasses of grape juice to the same spot.
Week in, week out, the same format, the same schedule, and always, before the minister came out and delivered his sermon of the week, someone came up, presented a song or two of special music. It was generally the same people, who normally sang twice each year, about six months apart. Occassionally someone would be invited in to provide their own music, usually bringing along either their own pianist or organist, and occassionally someone would bring in an acoustic guitar and accompany themselves while they sang. Never, ever, at the end of any presentation, would their ever be any applause, only a few utterings of "Amen" from the older men in attendance. To someone who attended Mill Valley for the first time, it would no doubt appear to them an almost rude finish to a song or two of praise to the Lord. But such was the case in Mill Valley Church of Christ, and nothing, but nothing would ever change the pattern, because it was a matter of heritage.
This particular Sunday morning, at the close of the observance of the Lord's Supper, a young man rose from the audience and walked toward the stage behind the pulpit. He had long, unkempt hair, looked badly in need of a shave, and wore a pair of badly torn and worn out blue jeans with holes thoughout the legs and both knees exposed.
Cold stares from the attendees followed him as he walked up onto the stage and picked up a battered electric guitar. He cautiously placed the guitar around himself with a leather strap that simply read: "Christ died for me!" He plugged his guitar into a rather large amp, turned it on, and immediately the halls of the Mill Valley Church of Christ were filled with feedback, which the young man quickly got under control by turning himself and the guitar away from the amp.
He walked up to the microphone rather nervously, head down, barely looking out at the crowd, and announced to the congregation, "I'm going to sing for you this morning and play my guitar, and would like you to know that my accompaniement this morning is a pre-recorded tape of a background band, but I will be providing the lead guitar and my own singing. I hope this blesses your heart."
Somewhere offstage someone was in control of a CD player, which was going to play thru the church's PA system. And whoever was in charge of that music, had the volume really cranked up loud! As the music started, someone who had been around in the year 1970 would recognize the heavy strains of Frijid Pink's psychedelic version of the Animals classic hit "The House of The Rising Sun." The fuzz tone of the guitar work and the wah-wah sounds which had died out in popularity three decades earlier filled the sanctuary of the Mill Valley Church of Christ, and the young man standing on the stage went wild with his accompaniment, slamming his hand across the strings with his pick and his fingers moving expertly, sending out a driving riff of a song from so long ago, a song no one would have ever expected to hear on the Sabbath in such a strict and holy church such as this one.
As he finished his opening instrumental, he walked to the microphone, and began singing different lyrics, MUCH different lyrics...
"Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me...
I once was lost, but now am found, was blind
But now, I see..."
His voice, though overly driven by the volume, was breathtaking, and to hear the words of such a beautiful spiritual song being sang to such a heavy metal sounding song, was almost too much for those in attendance.
People looked at each other as the young man sang the second verse, many in disbelief, trying to envision why this young man, dressed so shabbily would be singing such a sacred song to such wicked sounding music. Such sacrilege was unforgivable, yet there was nothing anyone could do to stop him as he played the middle instrumental, again his fingers moving magically across the guitar strings. The sacred halls of the Mill Valley Christian Church sounded like the hall of a heavy metal concert, but the young man never wavered from his playing, and began singing the last verse.
"When we've, been there, 10,000 years,
Bright shining, as the sun.
There'll be no less days
To sing God's praise,
Than when we first begun."
And after a short riff, he went back to verse one and sang,
"Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost, but now am found
Was blind, but now, I see..."
He finished with a dramatic solo on the guitar, faced his amplifier and got the utmost volume and feedback that he could, and just as quickly as he started, he was finished.
He turned off his amp, took the guitar from around his neck, set it down, and headed back to his seat on the front row.
No applause, no comments of "Amen" followed.
Only utter and complete silence.
The young man never looked at the crowd, whose eyes bore deeply into him. If he had, he would have probably simply walked out the door, because those looks were looks of anger and hatred, and certainly not the looks of crowd of Christian's gathered on a Sunday morning to worship the good Lord.
As the good Revererend Paul Michaels stood and walked to the pulpit, there arose from the congregation whispers suggesting of their outrage and shock and displeasure and what they had just witnessed. Just how he was going to get their attention and calm them down he wasn't sure, he just knew he had a challenge facing him.
Revererend Michaels said a quick prayer, "Lord give me the words, YOUR words, to get me thru the next 20 minutes and to keep peace in this church."
As Revererend Michaels opened his Bible to read his opening scripture, he opened it to the wrong page, but looked down at where he had turned to in his Bible, and smiled.
The Lord works in mysterious ways, he thought, and began reading from the book of Psalms, Psalm 100.
"Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands. Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing. Know ye that the Lord He is God, it is He that hath made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto Him, and bless His name. For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, and his truth endureth to all generations."
Those words seemed to have a calming effect on the entire congregation. Faces that had been twisted into anger and disbelief, now relaxed, and smiles replaced those looks of anger and resentment. Several members of the older generation in the church erupted into a chorus of "Amens." A few members even began to laugh, despite how they had felt just a few moments before Paul had read his scripture.
It began to occur to those in attendance that this young man who had just performed a very strange version of "Amazing Grace" had been singing his praises unto the same God they all worshipped, and he had done it in his own way, and it had actually been done with a great deal of talent.
Reverend Paul smiled, thanking God for the words, His words, and looked down to see how the young man was reacting to all this.
But his seat was empty.
Later on after the service, people commented about the young man, wondering who had invited him to sing and how gutsy a move that had to have been, but no one seemed to know who had asked him to sing. Even more remarkably, no one had seen the young man get up and leave, either. There were many who wanted to thank him for coming and "waking" up this congregation and setting them on the path to a more upbeat and more modern look at the way they conducted their worship services. But again, he was nowhere to be found.
All that was left behind was his much used guitar and amplifier.
No one could be found who had run the CD player offstage, and no one could find either the CD player or a CD, either.
No one had gotten his name and no one could ever remember having ever seeing the young man before that day.
However, and never telling a soul, lead Elder Dave Ritchie had noticed that the young man had scars on both hands, like something had been driven thru them, and he had a series of scars that resembled puncture wounds around his forehead. He wasn't sure anyone else had seen them, but he knew that he had.
Besides, if he told anyone, did he really think anyone would believe him?
Better to keep still than to make others in the congregation think he was losing his mind.
But he knew who had performed that day, and he knew that a miracle had indeed been performed as well.
Mill Valley Church of Christ had just been reborn.