Monkey Power Trio 21… 60 hours in the Cleveland suburbs with a bullhorn


The weekend before last marked the 21st meeting of my one-day-a-year pseudo-band, the Monkey Power Trio. For those of you who might not be familiar with our origin story, it all began back in 1995 with a promise between old friends one hot, summer afternoon in Brooklyn. On the spur of the moment, we’d decided to make a record. We gave ourselves just one hour. We gathered whatever instruments we could find, and we made our way into an unlocked basement storage room somewhere, where we proceeded to scream and beat on things while an old cassette recorder whirred away, suspended from a string tied to a sewage pipe. The result was a 7″ record, which we decided to call The First Hour, acknowledging the fact that we’d agreed, shortly after finishing, to meet up and do the same exact thing every year until the point when only one of us was left alive. And, surprisingly, we’ve stayed true to our word for 21 years now, despite the fact that, every year, it becomes exponentially more difficult for the five of us to both get away from our real-world obligations and express ourselves creatively… This year, our destination was Cleveland, Ohio.

Why Cleveland? Because it was cheap and relatively central… Given that most of us typically have to fly to our session each year, we try not to spend very much, if anything, on accommodations. Whenever possible, we like to stay in the abandoned or otherwise vacant homes of friends, distant family members and casual acquaintances. Last year, we recorded in a soulless suburban McMansion of a recently divorced couple outside of Atlanta. The year before that, we recorded in some kind of converted grain silo outside of Jackson Hole, Wyoming that belonged to the mother of a kid who once took music lessons from an old college friend. And, the year before that, if memory serves, we recorded in a vacation home outside of Lake Tahoe belonging to someone who one of us met while out walking a dog 25 years ago. [note: If you’ve got a place you’d like the Monkey Power Trio to stay in 2016, just let me know.] Well, this year, having finally run out of friends and acquaintances, we chose a place that would be somewhat centrally located for all of us, and then resorted to Airbnb.

According to the Geographic Midpoint Calculator, the best place for the five of us to meet, seeing as how we’d be coming from St. Paul, Brooklyn, Atlanta, Ypsilanti and Portland, would have been Potosi, Wisconsin. [You might know it as “the Catfish Capital of Wisconsin.”] Sadly, though, it’s not near an airport, and there weren’t any rental homes to be had. So we started down a several-month-long quest to find a suitable location in middle America. And, finally, just as we were running out of time before the holidays, we settled on Cleveland, where we found a house within a few blocks of bar that could be had for about $175 a day… Here’s where our 21st day as a band took place – a nice little house full of Winnie the Pooh motivational art, on a quiet street in the Brooklyn section of Cleveland.


Here, to complete the scene is a photo from inside the house. This is the room where Dan and Mike, our guitar players, slept. [The best room in the house usually always goes to Matt, the horn player. The worst room then typically goes to the guitar players, as it should be. And Dave and I split what remains.] If we had the budget for color album covers, I’d love to use this image.


[We recorded just on the other side of that tropical sunset.]

The session itself was relatively uneventful. It was just too damned fast for anything terribly exciting to happen. We were there for just about 60-some hours, a good portion of which was spent trying to come up with ideas for songs. [We give ourselves a 24 hour period each year in which to write, record and mix down a record’s worth of songs, but most of that time is spent eating, sleeping, fighting, laughing at one another, and trying to figure out how to adjust things so that everyone can be heard. This probably leaves us with about 8 hours to actually come up with songs and record them.]

Following, in no particular order, are a few things that stood out about this, our 21st session.

1. It’s weird how it all worked out. This session, for all the months of agonizing over it, and trying to find a date and a location that people could make it to, just kind of suddenly fell into place at the last minute. Dave flew into Michigan from Portland on Thursday night, and we drove to Cleveland together on Friday morning. As my friend Caleb had just died, I think it was good for me to have that time, just staring at the road and talking about stuff with Dave. [I’ve found that cars make a good place for men to have meaningful conversations, as you aren’t expected to make eye contact.] I’d debated not going, and just giving Dave the keys to my car, but I’m glad that I went… Among the many things I’ve realized in the wake of Caleb’s death is that time together with friends is precious… So Dave and I just drove and talked about mortality, our jobs, our kids, and our relationships. And, when things got quiet, as they sometimes do when men talk about serious things not related to sports, we listened to recordings of Phil Hendrie. [Nothing cuts awkward emotional tension like a segment featuring Ted Bell.] It was kind of beautiful and cathartic, and it couldn’t have happened at a better time for me.

2. Speaking of Dave, I asked him what his favorite part of the session was just a few minutes ago and he responded by saying, “My favorite part was that, although we’d decided to record acoustically, you showed up with a bullhorn.” For what it’s worth, it’s a good thing that I did. If I hadn’t, three years from now, when we finally get around to issuing the vinyl from this session, you’d be making up your own lyrics to songs like “Olympus Mons,” which, if you don’t know anything about Martian topography, could be really difficult. [I was inspired to write a song about space exploration by the furnace we were recording next to, which, at times, sounded like a spacecraft disintegrating during reentry.] By the way, I highly recommend just hanging out with a bullhorn around your neck, regardless of whether or not you’re writing songs. I wore it for an entire day and said almost everything through it, and it was really kind of nice. Things like “Pass the chips,” and “Get off the couch,” come across a lot more clearly when said at 5-times normal volume, especially if there’s just a hint of feedback… But, yeah, I now have a reputation for being “the dick who brought a massive bullhorn to an acoustic session.”

3. This session may have been our fastest ever. Aside from going out to eat lunch on Saturday and dinner on Sunday, all we really did was hit one bar for a few drinks, and make our way through the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, where we posed for this photo.


[Dave, who is standing next to me in the above shot, shared this photo with his significant other, who immediately responded by way of text, telling him that he looked like our “case manager.” Dave thought that was hilariously funny. Dave, I should add, is a professional bass player. The rest of us play our instruments one day a year. So it’s kind of fitting that he would be referred to as our case manager. His role in the band is to set everything up, record everything, and answer our childlike questions, which are endless.]

4. The bad thing about limiting our creative time to just a 24-hour window is that we can’t do some things we’d like to. For instance, we can never do a live show in front of an audience, or perform on the radio. There’s just not time left in the 24-hour window after writing and recording our annual songs. And, this year, I found this particularly painful, as I had what I thought was a pretty great idea. I wanted to record a song in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame bathroom. I think it could have been awesome. And we had a song that would have been perfect, called Hello Cleveland, which you can hear in a few years. [It always takes us a few years to get records out. Our most recent record is from 2010, although we have a 3-year compilation hitting stores soon, which will bring us up through 2013.]

5. Speaking of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, I liked it. Yeah, it’s pretty much just a bigger, better lit Hard Rock Cafe without booze, but there was some good stuff, like the CBGB’s awning and David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust jumpsuit. My favorite artifact was Howlin’ Wolf’s “money case”. According to the accompanying note, he carried everything he owned of value in it, as he didn’t trust banks. [Here it is, along with his porkpie hat.] According to the signage, “He even carried the case with him on stage during performances.”


6. I mentioned earlier that there was a small neighborhood bar down the block from where we stayed. Well, it was called the Steelyard Tavern, and it was pretty lovely. There was an extremely diverse group of folks on the Friday night we stopped in… older black women, younger white guys. I was struck by how beautiful it was. I guess that’s what happens when it’s cold as hell outside and there’s only one bar in the neighborhood within walking distance. There’s a lot to be said for that, I think.

7. The house smelled aggressively of Fabreeze and potpourri. For the first few minutes after walking through the door, you’d swear that you’d never make it. Somehow, though, you’d acclimate… It’s amazing what the human body can withstand and adjust to if it has to.

8. Upon getting to town, before the other guys landed, Dave and I went shopping at the West Side Cleveland Market, which was awesome. I’d forgotten what it was like to shop in a market where vendors were aggressively trying to sell their wares, as most folks these days seem to be content to just wait until potential customers approach them. This place, however, was totally old school. People were at the top of their game, dragging you to their stalls, wheeling and dealing. Dave and I bought an entire crate of mangos for just $5. They turned out to be rotten, but it was worth it for the time we spent with the woman who sold them to us, who, although from Italy, was yelling a lot of Arabic at the other merchants surrounding her. It was nice to be reminded that sales, if done right, can be an art form… Oh, and we got some really good home-made smoked sausages from J & J Czuchraj Meats. [As we would discover, their “smokies” are delicious cut into small pieces and eaten between Cheez-Its.]

9. We watched an episode of Sanford and Son. Thankfully, it was an episode in which Aunt Esther featured prominently. This in turn led to an exploration of Redd Foxx’s standup work, which was considerably more strange than I’d anticipated. [I knew he worked blue, so I was ready for the graphic sex, but I wasn’t prepared for the tangents which seeded to come out of left field, like his extended riff on his violent hatred of midgets.]

10. This year, since I didn’t have to buy a plane ticket, I bought a good bottle of scotch. And, while Dave took my car to the airport to pick up the rest of the guys, I made dinner for everyone. I’d had this vision in my head that we’d sit around the table and have a “State of Monkey Power” meeting, like a grown-up board meeting, where we’d all report in on what we’d done for the band over the past year, etc. As it turns out, though, Matt’s flight was late, so I opened the Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban myself and proceeded to eat almost all of the food.


There was more, but it seems to me that 10 items are probably enough for the casual Monkey Power fan. [I’ll save my other 20 or so items for the real fans who visit our pay site. So, if you want to hear about how Mike pissed all over my shoes, you’ll have to pony up your $7.95.]

One last thing… Even though it’s harder every year, not just to find the time to meet up, but to come up with ideas for songs, I’m still convinced that it’s worth it. It’s hard in this world to find collaborators who you love like brothers, and, when you’ve got that, you should fight like hell to keep it, even if you’re just meeting in a suburban basement to churn out what are essentially good ideas for songs, and not actually songs themselves. [That’s what MPT is, by the way. We create the beginnings of songs. Our hope is that, one day, others realize that, and start helping us realize the potential of the ideas we’ve sketched out in verse.]

Oh, and here’s couch from Jimi Hendrix’s childhood home, which, in case it’s not clear, was not in the house that we rented, but on display in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I was not impressed in the least by Joan Jett’s Jaguar, which was nearby, but I could have looked at the cigarette burns on Hendrix’s couch for hours. In fact, I’d love a whole museum of the well-worn childhood couches of people who achieved fame or notoriety. And I mean that in all seriousness. There’s something about worn fabric that conveys history like nothing else. [For what it’s worth, I also like carpet.]


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Totally Quotable Arlo: in utero looking out edition


The kids and I were hiking around the woods this morning when Arlo announced to Clementine and me that he knew about things that we’d done as a family before he was born. When asked how he could possibly know what we’d been doing before his birth, he responded, “When I was a baby, I had a secret way to peek out of mama’s tummy.” Asked how the system worked, he would only say, “I had a controller.”

[If you’ve got a few extra minutes, be sure to check out our Totally Quotable Arlo archive.]

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The blood on Carly Fiorina’s hands

Not too long ago, struggling presidential candidate Carly Fiorina accused Hillary Clinton of having “blood on her hands.” According to the increasingly desperate former Hewlett-Packard CEO, Secretary of State Clinton, through her “gross dereliction of duty,” had cost Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans their lives during a September 11, 2012 terrorist attack against the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. Fiorina, of course, knew full well at the time she made the statement that it was bullshit. She knew that, despite there having been 32 separate, well-funded hearings on Benghazi, not one single instance of administrative wrongdoing had been identified, but she made the statement anyway… Why did she do it? Because she was lagging in the polls and she knew that the mere mention of “Benghazi” would bring conspiracy-minded, Clinton-hating conservative activists to her camp in droves.

Fiorina knew that, if she wanted to compete in the primary against the likes of Donald Trump, she had to aggressively bait the Republican base with red meat, and that’s exactly what she did. She insinuated that Clinton was somehow complicit in the murder of American citizens, and then, having done that, she turned her attention to Planned Parenthood, making the completely unsubstantiated claim that video existed which proved the women’s health organization harvested and sold the body parts of aborted “babies.” Again, it was proven to be completely false, but it served its purpose. Fiorina dominated a few news cycles, got a bump in the polls from primary voters who despise the idea of Planned Parenthood, and earned a place on the main stage alongside Trump. [The video Fiorina keeps referencing, despite her repeated assertion that it shows a Planned Parenthood employee saying of a living fetus, “we have to keep it alive to harvest its brain,” shows noting of the kind. The highly-edited video, produced by an anti-abortion group, appears to show, not an aborted fetus, but a miscarriage, and there’s no indication that Planned Parenthood had anything whatsoever to do with it.]

Sadly, though, it would seem that Fiorina’s repeated claim that Planned Parenthood traffics “baby parts,” did more than just move her up a few rungs on the Republican primary ladder… It’s now being reported by NBC News that Robert Lewis Dear, the man who killed three and wounded nine in an attack on a Colorado Planned Parenthood office yesterday, was heard to have yelled “no more baby parts” during his multi-hour siege.

While I suppose it could be a coincidence, it seems highly likely that Dear was referring to these anti-Planned Parenthood comments made repeatedly on the presidential campaign trail by Fiorina, who continues to challenge people to “watch a fully formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking while someone says we have to keep it alive to harvest its brain,” despite having been told several times that no such video exists. I suspect, if Fiorina were brought to court by the families of the three people who were just murdered, little could be done, as she didn’t explicitly call on her followers to kill employees of Planned Parenthood, but it would seem to me that we should at least try to hold her accountable for her actions. If nothing else, the next time someone in her position feels tempted to lie in order to inflame the passions of the violently uninformed, they may think twice. Maybe, if we’d done that back in 2011, when Byron Williams, after listening to one of Glenn Beck’s several rants about the Tides Foundation and the ACLU, set out to assassinate “people of importance” within those organizations, we wouldn’t be having this conversation now.

I know it’s asking a lot, but, at the very least, I’d like to hear someone during the next Republican debate, which is scheduled to be held in Las Vegas on December 15, ask Fiorina what she would say to the families of those murdered in Colorado by the man she likely inspired.

Fiorina likes to talk of others avoiding responsibility for their actions, and having “blood on their hands.” Let’s see how she responds when it’s brought to her attention that the bloodiest hands on the debate stage are her own.

[It should also be noted that others on the campaign trail, seeing how well this approach was working for Fiorina, joined her in attacking Planned Parenthood. Florida Senator Marco Rubio, for instance, suggested that women were getting pregnant just to sell their fetuses to Planned Parenthood.]

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Happy Thanksgiving

A few years ago, I made the decision not to write anything new for Thanksgiving, but, instead, to recycle something that I’d written the year before. And, ever since then, I’ve been posting the same damn thing. Well, here it is again. I was tempted to remove some of the old references, and replace them with new ones, but it occurred to me that altering this post, which is fast becoming a family classic, would be like changing It’s A Wonderful Life so that Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed dance Gangnam Style instead of the Charleston in that scene that takes place over the high school pool. So, with that in mind, here it is, untouched… Enjoy….


This Thanksgiving morning I’m tempted to get political and say that I’m thankful above all else for things like the fact that a majority of Americans still think of Sarah Palin as being unfit to serve as President, and that former U.S. House majority leader Tom DeLay was found guilty yesterday of money laundering. But, I’m trying to think less about politics today, and the swirling gyre of retardation that is the Tea Party, and focus instead on friends and family. I probably don’t say it here as often as I should, but I’m incredibly thankful for both. Without my family, I wouldn’t be here. And, without my friends, I wouldn’t be the person that am today… Sure, I might be a better, more successful and more productive version of myself without them, but I wouldn’t be the person that I am today. So, before I get started with this post, I’d just like to note that I’m incredibly thankful for everyone that I’m related to, from my grandmother in Kentucky, to my daughter, who is now in the other room, looking at our enormous turkey through the little glass porthole in the oven. There have been some bad times, and we’ve lost some people over the years, but, all in all, I’d say that we’ve been really fortunate as a family. As far as I know, all of us that are alive at the moment, healthy, happy, employed and have roofs over our heads, which is quite an accomplishment in today’s world. As for friends, the same, for the most part, goes for them. A few are temporarily without partners or between jobs, but, as far as I know, the people in my friendship network (“tribe” sounded too new age) are doing pretty well, and I’m thankful for that. But, what I want to write about today are a few of the less obvious things that I’m thankful for – things that I don’t think I’ve ever shared with you before.

I’m thankful that my friends Dan and Matt, when they’d graduated from college, moved to Ann Arbor to live with me. If they hadn’t, I might never have had the misdirected encouragement I needed to start a band. And, if the three of us hadn’t formed a band, I probably wouldn’t have ever ventured into Ypsilanti, where I met my wife, Linette. There are others that played a role as well, like Ward Tomich, who booked us to play at Cross Street Station that fateful night. Without al of these folks, I’d likely be living in the forest today, sucking nutrients from moss-covered rocks.

I’m thankful for the car crash that my dad had in the late 60’s, which almost tore his arm from his body. If it hadn’t happened, my dad surely would shipped off to fight in Vietnam, with the other men that he’d been training with. Of the dozen or so men in his group, only two returned alive. I cannot imagine growing up without a father.

I’m thankful that my mother encouraged my father to apply for job at AT&T after he was released from the Navy. (He worked at the Portsmouth Naval Hospital after recovering from his accident.) He’d been working highway construction jobs when she talked him into applying for a position at a remote audio relay station of some kind near Monticello, Kentucky. He got that job, flipping switches and listening in on people’s private phone calls, and the rest is history. He steadily climbed up through the ranks, ending his career at the company headquarters in New Jersey – probably one of the few people without a college degree to do so. If this hadn’t happened, I would likely still be in the same small town in Kentucky today, instead of in the worldly, sophisticated metropolis of Ypsilanti, Michigan.

While my parents never graduated from college, they did both attend classes as they could, which wasn’t easy with full-time jobs and two kids to raise. I remember pretty clearly my mom studying Spanish late at night at the kitchen table. And I remember them proof-reading class assignments for one another. It made an impression on me, and I’m forever thankful for it. It’ll probably make my mom cry to hear it, but I’m also thankful that they stopped taking me to church at a young age.

I’m thankful that my parents valued education enough to settle our family in a decent school district, instead of closer to where my father was going to be working. My dad, most days, left for work at 5:00 AM to catch the bus, and didn’t return until 7:00 PM or so at night. He did that for over a dozen years straight, and, because of that, I got to attend a great public school, where I met people like Dan and Matt – the guys I mentioned above who moved to Ann Arbor to make noise, drink $1 pitchers of beer, and publish zines with me.

Speaking of sacrifice, I’m also thankful that my distant relatives made the decision to come to America when they did. They did so without knowing if they’d ever see their homelands again. They left everything they knew in England, Sweden, Scotland, and Poland, in order to make a better life for their families. And, it’s because of their sacrifices that I’m here today, not having to work in the fields from sun up to sun down as they did.

Oh, and I’m thankful that, of all the mental illnesses in the world, I got OCD, which kind of has its up-side.

OK, there’a whole lot more I’d like to say, but that’ll have to be it for now, as the buzzer on the oven is ringing.

Happy holidays.

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Farewell Caleb


Late last week, I lost a very dear friend. His name was Caleb Brokaw. Some of you who live here in Ypsi, I’m sure, knew him. He lived just east of Depot Town, and he could often be seen walking happily through the neighborhood with his wife, Sue, and their daughter, Evie. He and Sue settled down in Ypsi at just about the same time that Linette and I did, fifteen years ago or so. In fact, they considered buying the very house where, with an incredibly heavy heart, I’m writing this tonight. We wouldn’t know that until years later, though, when our paths crossed here on this site, and we discovered that we’d been living somewhat parallel lives.

I’m not sure how Caleb found his way to this site. I never asked him. One day, he was just there, in the comments section; making me laugh, pushing me forward, and engaging me, and everyone else without earshot, in truly open debate on everything from transportation policy and our local schools, to public education and gay rights.

Late at night, over beers, I would post things to my blog, and wait. Sooner or later, if I was lucky, Caleb, also over beers, would respond. Of course, at first, I wouldn’t know it was him. I’d just know him as his alias.

His comments stood out from all of the others. While often biting, and hilariously funny, they were distinguished primarily by their gentle thoughtfulness. “This man who calls himself Ol’ E Cross,” I thought, “is someone who I could be friends with.” And, in time, I’d get my chance. Several weeks into our online relationship, exchanging witty banter about Ypsilanti politics and social issues, Caleb reached out to me and asked if I’d like to have a beer… And the rest, as they say, is history.

I can’t remember what it was that brought him to the surface, and made him step out from behind his alias and identify himself. If I had to guess, I’d say it had to do with a mayoral election the better part of a decade ago, and his desire to discuss things that he felt might better be communicated in person. [Caleb was a brilliant communicator.] Whatever it was, I’m sure that both he and I thought it was incredibly important at the time. None of that matters now, though. All that matters is, for whatever reason, we met one another and hit it off.

Maybe it was the fact that we were both liberal southern transplants who had purposefully adopted Ypsilanti as our home. Maybe it was the connection we shared as fathers of kind, thoughtful and imaginative daughters of the same age. Or maybe it was just the beer. Whatever it was, I think the attraction was immediate. At least it was for me.

There was something beautiful and warm about Caleb, an easiness and openness that I immediately took to. It’s an analogy that I don’t imagine anyone here can appreciate, but Caleb reminded me of an older folk artist that I’d struck up a friendship a decade or so earlier in Atlanta by the name of Ned Cartledge. Ned’s incredible humanity was evident to me the moment I first met him. And the same was true with Caleb. It’s difficult to articulate, especially as someone who, for the most part, is pretty cynical by nature, but both Caleb and Ned had a way about them that totally disarmed me and cut right through all of barriers I’d spent my life constructing.

When I consider ending this blog, as I do on occasion, I invariably start a list of pros and cons. I’ve probably done this at least a few dozen times over the past decade or so. And, while the list of items in each column is always changing, the one thing that remains constant is that Caleb’s name has always been at the top of the pros column. While I’ve met a lot of truly incredible people through this blog over the years, I don’t think any one of them has brought as much to my life as Caleb Brokaw, who I think is probably the most truly kind, thoughtful and genuinely decent human being that I have ever had the pleasure to have called my friend. While a lot of people inspire and challenge me, I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that Caleb actually made me think about life differently. And, if the tens of thousands of hours I have invested in this site returned nothing else to me but an introduction to Caleb, it would still be worth it.

And we didn’t just become friends. Caleb became a part of our family. He became Linette’s business partner. And his daughter became one of Clementine’s closest friends. And, so, I didn’t just get to see him through my own eyes, but through theirs as well. I got to hear from Clementine about the beautiful exchanges she witnessed between Caleb and his daughter. And I got to witness just how much he meant to Linette, both as a coworker and as a close friend. Everything I learned about him over this past decade, just made me love and respect him more.

Since Caleb passed, I haven’t wanted to post anything here. The thought of posting about his death seemed somehow wrong. [I mean, how could I even attempt to distill this man’s life, and what he meant to me, into a single, little blog post?] And the thought of posting about anything else, in the wake of his passing, just seemed so trivial and meaningless. [As Caleb is the first close friend of roughly my same age to pass away, there has been quite a bit of internal debate taking place these past several days, as I’m sure you can imagine, over the meaning of life and what really matters in this world.] In the end, I felt as though I at least needed to make an attempt to put into words what his friendship has meant to me, and to do it here, where we first came to know one another.

Caleb was a beautiful, thoughtful, often hilariously funny man. He had a sly sense of humor. And, as those of you know who read his comments on this site, he was one hell of a writer. He was also, above all else, incredibly kind. [Imagine Kurt Vonnegut performing the part of Atticus Finch.] And he was a man of immense faith, who, having grown up in the church, stayed faithful to the principals of his religion to the end. He reminded me, through the compassion he showed others, what it really means to be a Christian, and I will be eternally grateful to him for that.

I’ve spent quite a bit of time these past few days, going through the letters we’d written to one another and the comments Caleb left here on the site. [This reference will probably mean very little to most of you, but there’s a scene in the Henry Fonda movie Mr. Roberts in which, after the protagonist dies in war, the men he once served with read a letter that he’d sent to them just prior to his death. One of these men, before touching the letter, stops to remove a work glove from his hand, after pausing for a split second to consider the significance of the written words left behind. As I made my way through our exchanges, this scene kept replaying in my head, as I considered the words he left behind, which had now taken on so much more meaning.] While there are any number of brilliant, thoughtful examples from the ‘Ol E Cross library of comments that I could share, here’s something that I think very much reflects the man that I knew. It was posted a while back, when, for personal reasons, Caleb chose to stop commenting here as ‘Ol E Cross.

Speaking without wit or humor… I was raised to think it was my job to change the world. I tried my hand at it, but it didn’t last long. In brief, I eventually realized the person I most wanted to emulate was my grandpa from a nothing town in NY, who worked a nothing job, but was decent to all and, to varying degrees, encouraged the lives of those around him. I decided my life would mean more if I shoveled my neighbor’s walk than if I strove to stop apartheid.

I don’t think this blog will stop global warming, but I think life in Ypsi is better for it. I’ve met neighbors, engaged in issues, and attended events that I’d otherwise have been ignorant of. And, I think dialogue, even the basest, is useful. We’re often too proud to admit it when it happens, but dialogue does soften and shape our views.

And, this blog gives some angry, otherwise ignored people a bit of attention. And even the worst of us deserve attention.

For the amount of work you put in, I doubt it’s worth “It.” But it’s worth something. Maybe that’s all, maybe that’s it…

Goodbye friends.

Last words:

God love fucking Ypsipanty.

God forgive us all.

To paraphrase a poem by Ken Mikolowski:

“I am drunk.”

Goodbye you fucking beautiful motherfuckers…

Ah. So farewell.



Goodbye, my friend. If there is something beyond this life, I know that you will find it. And I will do my best here on earth to keep your memory alive, not only in my heart, but, to the best of my ability, in my actions. And I know that I am not alone. You touched a lot of lives, and there are a lot of us who are much better for having known you.

[If you haven’t already, and would like to donate to the fund set up to help defray the expenses associated with Caleb’s nearly year-long battle with cancer, you can do so here.]

Posted in Mark's Life, Uncategorized, Ypsilanti | Tagged , , , , | 29 Comments


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