Today started out as a tough day… A long night, then I awaken to downpours that don’t show any signs of slowing. Not the best setup for the long work day ahead, but time to soldier on like we always do.

However bad as the hum-drum may be, nothing takes me from “Hero to Zero” faster than bullshit, which I’m now forced to believe because it’s popular opinion.

When I was a kid, it was spider eggs in bubble gum, spider eggs in a cactus, a ghost that appeared looking for its arm whenever a car went off the road…

Those “Old Wives Tales” from my youth, somehow managed to make their way around the globe by simply being told in a movie, and then being repeated at adolescent parties. It was an antiquated system by todays standards, but it worked like a charm.

I don’t ever recall those old wives tales disrupting my life, but that’s no longer the case.

High powered computers and software are now the norm, and they’ve both made it into the hands of bored kids and shitheads all over the globe. Now, instead of having to wait until the next house party to tell your scary ghost tale, you can simply photoshop a pic of Princess Diana hovering over a poparazzi-car-wreck, throw it on youtube at 12pm, and it’ll make the 6 o’clock news.

This is what we all have to deal with every time we try to simply check our email or the weather.

CLICK-BAIT! The Taboo, never discussed, well guarded secret of the internet.

It’s funny that mainstream media has the balls to cry “fake news” on everyone except themselves, and yet whenever you go to any accredited, mainstream-media website, you’re instantaneously barraged with banners…

“The IRS doesn’t want you to know about THIS secret”, “This wardrobe malfunction nearly shut down the Teen Choice Awards”, “Armed and dangerous Kidnapper is on the loose in this US neighborhood, click here to find out where it is”.

Is this not fake news?

To a person with a brain, this is an obvious ploy to attract attention and erroneously inflate traffic statistics… But who among us is falling for this stuff? Someone must be, in fact, the majority must be, because the world is spending billions of time and money to create it… And no amount of education seems able to dispel it.

Today I read on FB (from a reliable source) that “China didn’t steal our jobs, corporate America gave them away”. That is a blatant lie.

The reality is “We” gave them away. We demanded cheap products, and we refused to pay for quality goods and services, so manufacturers were forced to send production overseas. And… because we’re “lying” about the reality of the situation, the cycle will continue.

But at what cost?

The American economy and our system of ideals and beliefs is the cost.

This is no victimless crime. Parents are pulling their kids out of school, walking away from their family homes, and committing suicide over the “hype and ruin” that mainstream media and the government have created.

This is a problem that we have the solution for, but we’re not executing the plan, because we’re still pretending that “someone else is to blame”.

Here’s an example: You need a landscaper, you’re too cheap to hire one, so you hire “some guy” to do it instead. Bam… You just cost someone a job and you hurt the economy.

Of course, the opposite of that is, you need a landscaper, you hire one, his business prospers, he hires more workers, buys more equipment, the equipment dealers hire more workers, the workers all get paid and go shopping, so the stores do more business…

That’s economics… But for some reason, even though it could save America, it’s wildly less popular than Paris Hiltons crotch as she’s exiting a limo.

If we all have to be stuck in this situation, then so be it. But if we’re here simply because we’re idiot’s, too lazy and consumed by pop culture to even bother trying to make a difference, then everyone needs to shut up about all of the “proud American crap”.

There is no pride in bastardizing the world that our grandfathers died to build. Talk is cheap. Waiving the flag at the soccer field, is not a substitution for “United we Stand”.

As the saying goes… If you’re not part of the solution, then you’re part of the problem.

If you have reproduced or you plan on reproducing, please teach your kids about economics… And the dangers of believing bullshit.

Its been several weeks since I’ve written something new, but you know the old saying… “If you don’t have anything to say, keep your mouth shut”.

Its less commonly known than the ever-popular “If you don’t have anything nice to say, then shut the fuck up”.

But my version is based on intelligence, whereas in the later version is based on manners, and it’s clear that society can no longer be trusted with those.

We live in a world where it’s better to hate someone and not mention it, than it is to be honest about yourself so that others can judge you accordingly.

People no longer seem to have their own opinions, which is funny considering how many times that we’ve gone to war to protect them. Nevertheless, most folks seem to be merely repeating and speculating on social media, and all hopes for any originality are completely gone.

Even “artists”, the people whom make a living off creativity and originality, have completely sold out to the lowest bidder.

Just look at the biggest box office hits over the last decade… remakes of Marvel Comics… And the biggest hits in the music studios? Covers of 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s top 40.

We continue to get our information from a source that popularized the Kardashians and the cinnamon challenge, and we continue to put quantity over quality.


We won’t accept cheap cars, food, alcohol, clothes, or phones, but when it comes to information and entertainment, we’ll scrape road kill off the highway before we put forth any effort.

I belong to a “lost pets” group, and nearly everyone there who’s searching for their beloved pets, state that “their collar fell off last week and that they didn’t get a chance to put it back on yet”. However, the same folks wouldn’t dare leave the house without their iphone.

Why? Because they care more about the land of make believe than they do about the life that they’re actually living. Which wouldn’t so bad if we all called bullshit… But for some reason, we all just “like” it and post some generic condolence.

We’re a bunch of politically correct pansies, and this is what you get when you take no action in life.

When I was a kid, if your pets collar was off and you didn’t put it back on, you were a lazy, dumb-ass… And… if I wanted coffee, I’d have taken it cold from my grandmothers counter.

But today’s 14-year-olds are commanding their parents to drive three towns away to find a Starbucks.

Well fresh off of the Memorial Day weekend, we here are grateful for the sacrifices of our forefathers, but we take it a step further by preserving the ideals that they died for.

Now that’s unique.

In the coming weeks, new doors will open, old doors will close, old friends will wither, and new friends will arise.

This is the land where truth prevails, and popularity and status hold no value here. If you’re wondering what this place is all about… It’s not complicated… It’s just forgotten.

The Golden Rule. Google it.

If it makes you nauseous to pretend that you believe everyone’s bullshit, you’re not alone.

Left to right – Courtney, Mike, and Jayke

Did you ever hear a song that you love, but you just can’t listen to it because you don’t like the artist? For me… That’s Kickstart my Heart from Motley Crue. A badass tune from a band that I don’t care for.

Of course… there are also bands that I adore, with songs that I despise… Like Crazy, Crazy Nights from Kiss! Where’s that throw-up emoji when I need it?

It’s a lot more difficult for me to fall in love with music. Maybe it’s because I’m a musician myself? I always thought that made me more forgiving of bands… but now I see that it makes me more cynical.

I don’t just want a catchy tune… I want the band to be cool too, I want their sound to be awesome, and I need them to be among the 8% of people on the planet, who don’t deserve a flaming bag of shit thrown at their front door.

Maybe you’re surprised that great people can be found in disguise and in unusual places? So if you judge a book by it’s cover, then you’re on the wrong website and you probably won’t ever find yourself at a Goddamn Gallows show either.

But if you’re like me…

You hate having popularity jammed down your throat. You prefer to stumble upon it when you least expect it, and sure enough, that’s how it went for me with the Goddamn Gallows. A beautiful thing when I least expected it.

I first saw them when they toured with the Koffin Kats in Philly… And while I don’t remember most of that night, a few days later, I saw them again at Roxy and Dukes in Jersey. On this particular night, The Koffin Kats wrapped up first, so I was on my way out the door… But as I was leaving, the Goddamn Gallows came on and played “Down With the Ship” off their new album ‘”The Trial”.

I turned around, gave them my full attention… And the hook was set.

Courtney – Bass and Vocals
Uriah – Drums and Vocals

I will forever describe that tune as Oscar the Grouch singing a nursery rhyme, and I loved it! So when I got home, I bought all of their albums.

Their genre was all over the place. One minute I thought that I was listening to John Denver, and the next minute I thought that I was listening to Necrophiliac from Slayer… The line between those two was a complete blur.

Mike – Lead Guitar and Vocals

Over the next few weeks, I struggled to make sense of it all and to find my “comfy zone” within their very large catalog… Finally, it was time to put their music to the test. And my two-step authentication process… Never fails!

Step One; clean my house with your music on shuffle. If I don’t have to hit skip… Then you’re in.

The Goddamn Gallows passed this test with flying colors… Scoring extra points because I was inspired to grab a beer and hit repeat a few times.

Step Two is a bit tougher; it requires me to shake your hand. That’s not so easy when a band is touring all over the world, 320 days a year. So when I heard that the GDG were coming to the Stanhope House in Stanhope New Jersey, I got ready to do some driving.

2.5 hours to be exact.

I arrived at 3:30 in the afternoon, and at 3:30 on show night, a band is always in a state of flux… They don’t know whether they want rest, alcohol, food, or action, and in my experience, the choices that you make early in the day have a lot to do with how your night will end. So, I opted to stay away from them until show time.

The bands manager Mike and I went for lunch, which consisted of my pre-show ritual… a juicy steak and frozen margaritas! After that, we headed back to chill at the merch table while we waited for the show.

As the evening unfolded, the rest of the band crept out from wherever they had been lurking… Each resembling a vampire whom was unexpectedly awoken from a 100 year slumber, but each just as cool as the ice cream man.

I was instantly confident that I didn’t waste a two and a half hour trip on a bunch of nut-sacks.

I’m high-strung and OCD, so I envy people that can just roll along, and the GDG roll better than most bands that I’ve seen. Relaxed, calm, and enjoying the evening… Not running around like primadonnas who were out of Aquanet.

I got to spend some time with Courtney (the bass player) and Uriah (the drummer) before the show. Both were down-to-Earth guys that I’d have gladly driven 3 hours to hang out with, even if they weren’t playing any music.

I barely got to see Mike and Jayke before the show. However… They’re rockstars, so you need to give them their space if you expect to juice them for a killer performance… At least that’s what they told me.

And that they did deliver!

The band hits the stage, and unless you’ve ever seen them before, you can’t possibly be prepared for what’s about to unfold.

Even if you were lucky enough to guess how it was gonna go, it’d be some place else long before you ever had a chance to brag about it.

Their cross-genre attack immediately explodes in your face, leaving you intrigued, captivated, and hot on the heels of toe tapping. And just when you think that you have them pinned down, the wind kicks up and the tide has changed.

Stand there long enough, and you’ll likely be inclined to start throwing bodies around the room.

To say that they’re diverse would be an epic understatement, to think that it can’t be done would be a rookie mistake… Whatever they do, they do well, and you’re well aware of the fact that they wrote the book on it all.

The audience was at full attention at all times, and it was clear to me that no amount of sweat, beer, or volume emanating from the stage could keep them at bay for very long. It wasn’t just a big crowd… It was a good crowd too.

A tough, rockabilly, punk gang on the outside, but decent humans on the inside… And that’s just how we like em’. Good people.

The Maker

The absolute last thing that a busy, adrenaline fueled stage needs is an idiot crawling around with a camera, but whenever an idiot is needed… I’m on it! The band let me creep around and get some good photo’s and video… and I made it out alive, so next time, I’ll bring better camera’s, cigars, and a bottle of bourbon.

I got to hear “Down with the Ship”, “Load your Guns”, and a cover of Venom’s “In League With Satan”… Which oddly enough is the first song that I ever learned on bass guitar about 35 years ago.

I couldn’t have been happier with the band and their performance.

The show was awesome, the talent was amazing, and when I started worrying that it all would be over too soon, it was clear to me that the GDG had also passed Step Two with flying colors.

If they were playing there every night this week, I wouldn’t have missed a single show.

To me, the Goddamn Gallows represent the little remaining great about America… You can be who you want to be, go where you want to go, and do what you want to do. Some of us choose to plant our ass on the couch and fritter our life away, others carve their path through the world, fully embracing everything that life has to offer.

The Goddamn Gallows have done this, and they’ve earned my praise and support.

They may represent the American dream… But behind the scenes, the dream requires incredible sacrifice. Life on the road, away from family, pets, comfort, and the security of a home, isn’t for the faint of heart.

When you consider that they’re doing it for you… How can it not inspire you to show up with a big appetite for a good time?

Take it from me… If you do, you will.

Go to their website, sign up, follow them on social media, and get out to see their show. You won’t regret it.

And… It’s a scientific fact that seeing a Goddamn Gallows show will dramatically improve your street cred… So it’s likely that you’ll walk out of there being up to 70% cooler than you’re telling everyone you are on facebook.

I arrived at the venue several hours before the doors opened for the show, and I was greeted by Jesse, the manager at the Stanhope House.

He was super cool and very accommodating… Especially considering that at this point, I was nothing more than a fan whom wandered into the show 3 hours too early.

The Stanhope House

The Stanhope House itself was awesome.

  • Good parking
  • Great beer selection
  • A terrific menu with delicious food served right on the premises
  • Plenty of shopping and attractions close by
  • Unusually courteous and helpful staff
The Stanhope House
The Stanhope House

The place itself was a cross between a road house and a Ripleys Believe it or Not… In other words… PERFECT! Lot’s of cool stuff to look at inside… Very nostalgic and authentic as well. Even a few families with kids were in there eating and having fun.

This venue is about 2.5 hours from home for me, and based on the quality of service and entertainment that I received, I’d have no trouble making the trip regularly.

If you have other dining requirements, or if you arrive early like me, there are plenty of other food joints close by. I had a nice big steak in town while I waited for the venue to open… and there’s a White Castle too.

So… hat’s off to Jesse for taking good care of my friends and I, and to Jen for being a great bartender. Keep the beer and soap dispenser stocked, and we’ll be back often my friends.

The Goddamn Gallows

This band has grown on me at an alarming rate. I met them on tour with the Koffin Kats, and it’s hard to say whether I had more fun goofing off with the GDG or listening to their music… Fortunately for me, I don’t have to choose.

Nowhere Left to Roam

As with the Koffin Kats, the GDG have an extensive music catalog… And that makes them a Grand Slam in my world. I throw on one album at the gym, another at work, another back in the studio… And then I still have a few albums left to crank up during my weekend war mongering.

The music is folk… I guess, but it has pepper on it… A lot of pepper. Think the Kingston Trio meet the Sex Pistols. I’m never bored while listening for sure. There’s plenty of diversity, intriguing hooks, first class writing, and outstanding talent pouring out of the speakers.

If you’re a fan of hard-driving music that gets you moving, and looking for something completely unique, then look no further. Wailing vocals, accordion, metal guitar, banjo, upright bass… It’s addictive.

They tour regularly and their live show is straight-up captivating, so I urge you to check their schedule and get to a show! They’re a musicians band, so whether you like their genre or not, you’re going to walk away in love with the band and a fan for life…

And if you’re lucky, I might even buy you a beer.

Take it from a guy who only steers half of you wrong 70% of the time, Support this band my friends. You’ll be glad that you did. Heck… if you post a pick at a GDG show, I might even send you a Genuine, Luxurious, Industrious Dudes SCTMMC Hoodie. Come and take it!

7 Devils

Here’s their Touring Schedule:

The bands albums are available on their website through Itunes here:

And Amazon, Spotify, etc. as well.

Check out this interview with the band:

The Bands Bio…

Spit from the heart of America’s Rust Belt, arising from a night of flophouse violence. Drifting across the states, they cemented their sound in Portland, OR and later in Los Angeles, CA, where they lived in abandoned buildings, squatter camps, storage units and shoebox apartments.

In 2007, they left everything behind and spent the next 4 years living out of whatever vehicle would get them to the next town. Building upon their original sound of twanged-out, punk rock gutterbilly (Life of Sin 2004 and Gutterbillyblues 2007), they began picking up stray musicians along the way and adding to their sound; washboard, accordion, mandolin and banjo (Ghost of the Rails 2009 and 7 Devils 2011) creating a sound referred to as “hobocore”, “gypsy-punk” or “americana-punk”, while never being stuck in any one sound.

Enter 2018 and The Goddamn Gallows have reinvented themselves once again with The Trial. From rockabilly, psychobilly and punk rock, to bluegrass and metal, The Trial infuses disparate sounds into a new strange recipe of seamless genre bending profundities.

Chock full of impromptu antics of the shocking variety and hauntingly eclectic instrumentation, The Goddamn Gallows have made legions of fans with their legendary, live shows.

Long long ago in a galaxy very far away from here 4 friends decided lets make some music in Cow Town New Jersey

Their names were:

ODM(one drunk motherfucker/old Dan McDonald) – Lead vox

Pistol Pete (Pete Schaller) – Drums

Randy Dammit (Randall Diedrichson) – guitar vox

Jorge “Whore Hey” (George Mottola) – bass

Together known as “The Y.i. Ought Ta’s”

After a lineup change due to previous commitment bassist Jorge was replaced by Mongo (Robert Richardson), a 19 year old punk out of the suburbs of south jersey. Skeptical at first due to his young age, in the end Randy Dammit, Pistol Pete, and ODM decided to have Mongo come out to audition. After having an instant chemistry with the band Mongo was quickly asked to join “The Y.i. Ought Ta’s however none of the members saw another lineup change coming like the next and last one otherwise known as “The End of the “Y.i. Ought Ta’s” and the Beginning of “Minor Setback”. After all the years of hard work put in by the band and himself included original member ODM decided to walk away. This is how “Minor Setback” got their name Randy Dammit told Pistol Pete and Mongo “not to worry. Its just a minor setback. Things will get better”

Pete decided to play guitar and sing for Minor Setback so the new band brought in Canadian Native Jake Green aka “Jake 40 oz.” on the drums. Moving from Canada to South Philadelphia PA. Jake 40 oz was always surrounded by the punk scene and you can tell. With his “IDGAF” attitude, impeccable timing, and abundance of stamina. It was clear to see why he was the perfect fit for Minor Setback. 

About a year or so later. The band broke up due to Pistol Petes Inability to tour or gig regularly he decided it was time to become a family guy, a regular Peter Griffin if you will say. 

After about a year and a half in hiatus and bands that didnt work out and dealing with musicians with no drive … Randy Dammit called Mongo while he was in Japan and the conversation went as followed

“Hey man… I been thinking do you want to get Minor Setback back together?”

With no hesitation the response from Mongo was a simple “Yes” 

Mongo came back from overseas in November of 2018 and met up with Randy at his house in Bridgeton New Jersey about a week into being home. 

After multiple tryouts that never worked out on drums and lead guitar, the band finally found their diamond in the rough. Out of Glassboro New Jersey, Drummer Ryan Keen aka Sajou Ho. 

Ryans dynamic drumming style and ability to learn quickly introduced a new idea to the band. Go on as a 3 piece. 

Today, Minor Setback is a three piece skate punk/punk rock band based out of Bridgeton New Jersey with the members being

Randy Dammit (Randall Diedrichson) – Guitar and Vocals

Mongo (Robert Richardson) – Bass and Vocals

Sajou Ho (Ryan Keen) – Drums

The band still throws around the idea of having another guitarist but have all agreed with Mongo’s statement being 

“Yea i will totally have another guitarist in the band. It would be amazing as far as filling out sound goes. But it would have to be someone committed that we are all comfortable with as a band”

As most of you know, I have a heavy passion for hot peppers.

I’ve been growing my own for about 20 years, and about 10 years back, I came up with recipe for hot pickled veggies that my friends and I adore.

Unfortunately, it requires harvesting peppers and then turning my kitchen upside down for a week to make them, so it’s definitely a treat that I don’t get to enjoy frequently.

As a result, I’m always on the lookout for similar items, so when my buddy Mktrat heard me talking about em’, he found just the cure.

Amish Country Sweet Hot Habanero Pickles

I got home and found these babies on my door step. So I went inside, grabbed an ice cold Go To IPA (the official IPA of all things Amy), made sure that the insurance premiums on my underpants were current, and I tried one.

Man are these babies delicious!!

I don’t usually go for anything sweet, but it’s just the perfect compliment to the heat, and I can’t see it working without it.

The first bite wasn’t too hot, but as with all hot pepper foods, it’s cumulative… So by the 2nd nibble, my mouth was a blazin!

As usual, Go To was perfectly refreshing… maybe a little too refreshing actually. It cooled me down so fast, that I began shoveling the pickles in at an alarming rate! Wow are they addictive.

I literally could not stop enjoying these babies, and I’m quite sure that this is exactly what the Amish were hoping people would do with them.

It’s been about 16 hours since I attacked the jar, and so far my ass is exactly where I left it… No ill side effects or weapons-grade-sprints to the bathroom either.

The label says that these things are “especially made for” Amish Country Bulk Foods… So I’m gooing to look into having them made for the SCTMMC too. They’re that good. And if not, then I’ll make my own again.

Either way… I won’t be without these suckers ever again!!

For the record… The same goes for Stone Go To! All hats of to Stone!

And special thanks to Mktrat for making it all possible…

Should my ass ever burst in to flames, then I will curse you the curse of a thousand scorpions on your breakfast cereal.

During a conversation with my old pal Spiderman the other day, he said to me, “I’m flattered that you’re wearing my underpants”. However, that’s not what intrigued me.

It was his statement:

I’m still a firm believer in, if you don’t like what you’re currently watching, change the channel…

Certainly we here know that, but have any of you ever tried to figure out what makes us different?

On the surface, I’d say that we were all willing to give up quantity for quality. Of course, we didn’t really give up anything. We merely stopped buying into the perception of value where there was none.

I was watching South Park this morn, and the episode about facebook was on. It’s amazing how those guys nail reality… And crude as it may be, reality it truly is. Hat’s off to them for calling the world out on its short comings.

Facebook is massive, but it’s filled with people who could care less about whether you live or die.

When I read the Talkbass thread that was linked to here, I realized that it was exactly the same there as it is on facebook… I don’t know why I never saw it so boldly before, but TB truly is as I mentioned in the Sad things that do Good story; Generic advice at best.

Other than one or two of us who went in there for comedic value, it was blatantly obvious that everyone posting in the TB thread had absofuckinglutely nothing else to do… The subject matter was 1st day material, which is typically sung to you while you’re learning to tie your shoe laces.

No offender walked away enlightened by the advice, no victim felt soothed by it… It accomplished nothing more than garnering fleeting attention and accolades for the OP, who’s now feverishly trying to top his moment in the spotlight.

And… All so that he can spend 24 more hours on a pedestal in a sea of shit, and all because he favors a sea of shit over a pond of beauty.

People love their own kids, cats, and dogs… Not other peoples. The random “look at what my kid did”, and the comments and likes that follow are meaningless preoccupation, which is evident in their actions… They don’t actually care in real life.

I then read another touching Fb post… a mothers “share” of a heartfelt statement to her daughter. I emphasize share, because it wasn’t even the mothers own words, it was someone else’s creation.

The statement informed the daughter that she should know, no matter what, wherever she was, that the mother always loved her more than anything.

It had several hundred comments, likes, and shares… And it was truly beautiful.

It was also complete bullshit, and thanks to social media, it’s politically incorrect for me to call it out.

The reality of that post is; it was created as a tracking cookie. Someone is getting paid, based on how many times that it’s liked and shared. It tells them how many friends that you have, who they are, where they shop, where they bank, what kind of car they drive, and what kind of porno that they watch.

For the record; If you truly love your kid, they already know it… and if they have to read about it on facebook, then you should be cancelling your internet service immediately.

No topic is off limits to a schmuck… Which is pretty much how you become one. I’ve seen fake posts about cancer, autism, racism, and even the holocaust. Things that society has perceived to to be socially off limits, are prime game for phishing trackers, because who’d expect a tracking cookie to be disguised as a story about breast cancer?

Many of you may recall my Philadelphia excursion at 3am, when I stumbled upon a group of kids staging and filming a car jacking. People are being duped into believing that is going on in their community, when all it is are a bunch of kids trying to get paid by Google.

But if the only time that you actually get involved with your community is when you’re on facebook… Then Ye shall reap… And duped you are.

Thanks to the Kardashians and Miley Cyrus, we’ve groomed the youth of the world to prize “views and likes” above all else.

14 year olds aren’t dreaming about what they want to be when they grow up. They’re financing $1000 iphones so that they can film a staged “puppy theft”.

Then, there’s the poor guy who had his guitar stolen…

His friends and followers will become obsessed with circulating and telling the story. Of course they will, because it’s drama and it’s front page news, and they’ll want to know every detail.

But how many of them will actually try to find the guitar?

Whereas… If that happened here, every one of us would join to resolve the matter by nightfall.

All I ever wanted to do, is exactly what everyone else on social media wanted to do; Be loved, respected, cared for, and treated with decency. The only difference is, I was willing to leave 6,000 people who were pretending to care about me, in order to live out my days with the 100 who actually do.

Life is about sacrifices. The sacrifices that it took to make the Sarcastic, Coffee, Technology, Music, and Movie Club, pale in comparison to the dividends that it pays.

Everyone reading this possesses the finest qualities that humanity has to offer. The SCTMMC was created to ensure at all costs, that good people like you would be united with the people who you deserved to be with.

The people who look forward to you. The people who notice when you’re missing. The people who might not give a rats ass about your kid or your cat, but who rejoice in how important those things are to you.

Always look behind the curtain. Spread the truth to all who will listen. And above all else, run like Hell from those who won’t.

Yesterdays passing of PJ, an employee of the now defunct “Oktober Guitars” in Maryland, brought up a lot of talk in the forum about how we spend our time here on Earth. PJ wasn’t a member here yet, but I have no doubt that he would’ve loved it, because he was just like us.

His story was tragic, and when I told it, it made everyone sad… but that wasn’t the reaction that I was going for. How do you write about death, while inspiring your audience to feel good and be happy? I don’t know… but I do believe that is how we should respond, and certainly what PJ would’ve wanted.

Many of us are career Heavy Metal musicians, so we’re no strangers to aggressive lyrics about tragedy and bad luck… As such, you’d think that we’d be more prepared for them when they occur… But the odd thing is; no matter how smart I’ve ever felt, or how prepared I’ve ever been.. I never seem to see the light when things are dark.

If you’re like me, then you hate the generic, cliche BS that people throw at you when you’re in trouble (and they’re not). But since it’s unavoidable, find a way break the cycle and be better.

While talking with Rattbones yesterday, I was throwing a lot that generic advice out there myself. I think that it’s instinct to want to help others, but I believe that the line is drawn exactly after that sentence. Yes you may want to help, but simply saying “I’m sorry for your loss”, well that’s just not helping at all.

The outcome isn’t what matters in life… it’s how you handle the situation that matters. PJ has passed, that’s the outcome… How I handle it is how you will judge me. So what good is it if I mourn him for the day, and then simply go back about my business on the following?

We all aspire to leave a big impact on the world, so I can’t imagine that I’d be doing PJ justice by being plain. This is my opportunity to find happiness in sadness, and all that’s required is for me to care enough to try.

PJ left a lot behind that can bring others joy for the rest of their lives. He especially loved to build and play guitars, and since we live for music, we’re enamored by his collection. No doubt that would make PJ grin from ear to ear.

Through his guitars, we can make PJ’s spirit echo on, and to me, that’s a genuine gesture to his family, as well as a refreshing perspective on making the best of the worst.

Most of us cherish a few inanimate objects… maybe a little more than we should, but it’s a tough world, so you have to adore what gets you through the day. If that’s a guitar, then so be it.

Music has a massive impact on the world, and we are the proud few whom realize that making music is the greatest feeling of all. Our instruments are our companions through life, so we protect them just as we do our families. As a result, you can’t help but wonder what will become of them when you pass on.

I’ve often thought about this over the years, and until PJ passed, I just assumed that family would get them, but that got me thinking… That means my guitar will likely wind up forgotten in a dark, attic or basement… or worse yet… a nameless piece on the wall in a pawn shop.

That is definitely not what I want.

Going back and forth with Tony from Oktober yesterday, I realized that what would really make me happy, is being able to put a smile on the face of someone who would otherwise not be able to smile. That’s the person who’ll cherish my guitar, and never forget who I was or what I did for them.

In this situation, I’m fortunate enough to be the person in need of a smile. And since one of PJ’s guitars is on it’s way to me from his family, even though he’s gone, he’s going to do something incredible for someone who will never forget it.

I will love this guitar like PJ did, and every time that I see or hear it, I’ll be inspired by its ability to make beautiful music… Every time that I show it off to other musicians, I’ll tell the story of PJ… And now that I’ve written this, whoever inherits it from me will know that it’s far more than a mere pile of wood and parts.

So whenever you see one of PJ’s guitars and you hear the story of that goes along with it, don’t be sad, and whatever you do, don’t pass on any generic condolences to me. Honor the men who made it and those before you who played it, by making the world a better place with it.

Help whoever you can, whenever you can, and be grateful for what you have. Never forget the sacrifices that others make so that you can have what you do, and do your best to give some one less fortunate a chance that they never would’ve had otherwise.

I adore this bass… and with PJ’s passing, it has found its way to my hands. My life is now better… and I intend to make a lot of people smile with it… Starting with PJ.

Have you given me a gift card lately? If so, chances are pretty good that I love you… Nevertheless… Please don’t do it anymore, because gift cards are the Devil.

To be specific, gift cards are the ninja’s of the market place… They strike so precise, that you don’t even realize your ass was just kicked. They’re the matured and refined version of shady business, and we just can’t get enough of ’em.

I discovered the fraudulent process way back in the mid 90’s. Back then, phones were frequently “refilled” using “cards”, which could be purchased in various time blocks. So you bought a 60 minute card, entered the code, and you could use your phone for 60 minutes.

It was a relatively easy process, so of course the billionaire companies that run the world, couldn’t wait to sink their greedy claws into it… Leaving us with the confusing, misleading, remnants of honest business… The Gift Card.

This is how I discovered it.

I bought a $25 card, which gave me 60 minutes of talk time, and I called and activated it. I later made a phone call for a few minutes. A few days later, I went to use the card again, and it didn’t work.

I called the company and told them about the problem that I was having, and they explained the following; The $25 card, had a $10 one-time activation fee, and if you used it during off-peak-hours, then they charged you 3 times the normal rate. Now there was only a few dollars left on the card, so unless I recharged it, it was worthless…

Well who in their right mind would recharge a deceptive card like that?

When I got home, I whipped out the magnifying glass, and sure enough, this was written on the back of the card, in hieroglyphics, upside down, and under a scratch off.

So I threw it away in 1995… Along with 2 million other consumers, but that $2 is still mine, and it’s sitting in a bank somewhere collecting interest… For the bank!

Turn the clock ahead 10 years… Verizon gives you a discounted cell phone with your plan, and when you buy it, there’s a mail in rebate. You go home, cut the UPC off the box (so that now you can’t return the phone anymore), and then you mail it off to Verizon… Along with a DNA sample, proof of citizenship, and a picture of your wife in the shower.

Three months later, Verizon sent you a $50 Visa Gift Card (if you were lucky), and you can just call this Game Over.

Their experiment was a massive success for them, and the businesses of the world followed their lead at an alarming rate.

Right off the bat, anyone who didn’t follow Verizon’s stringent eligibility process, was shot down in flames… So they probably made a good chunk-o-coin right there, but that’s not where the big bucks came from.

For those of us whom actually followed the instructions to the letter (which as I recall were only slightly less difficult than escaping Hell with your soul intact), we got a $50 Visa Gift Card!

Immediately upon receiving the gift card, you find your life becoming complicated. You have to carry it with you at all times, there’s no easy way of tracking the balance, not all places accept them, and some stores can’t run the cards unless you tell them the exact balance.

For those whom ever even use them… Just like with the phone card… you get down to $2 or $3 and you throw the card in your junk drawer.

Which brings us to modern day Gift Cards…

Now we live in gift-card-Utopia. Everyone gives them, everyone wants them, and everyone loves them. You might think that the store on the card is issuing it, but you’re probably wrong… It’s typically issued by a bank.

Why is the “hype” to use them so great? Because now your money is sitting in their bank, earning interest for them… and when you throw that card in the junk draw with only $1.75 on it… They’ll continue to profit off of you, for the remainder of eternity.

You might be thinking “that doesn’t sound very profitable for them”, but if you’ve read my other stories, then you know… That thought process in itself is part of the scam. Like I said… The Ninja’s of the market place!

No one’s going to complain about losing $1.75, and when they’re joined by 20 Million other consumers… The bank is sitting on the beach in Hawaii, drinking a Frozen Margarita, while you’re back at the stew factory taking meat in the can.

BTW, this is also how Credit Repair Services work too, and it’s why they’ve become so incredibly popular. They combine all of your debt, take a lump sum from you on the 1st of the month, and then pay all of your creditors on the 15th. Now all your damn money is sitting in their bank for two weeks a month, times millions of customers.

So what can you do… As for credit repair services… any creditor that you have trouble with, offers services for their customers in need. Sit down with your bills, call them one at a time, and do it yourself. If you got yourself into a mess, you’ll feel better if you get yourself out of it.

As for Gift Cards; Tell your family and friends about this story, and tell them not to buy you gift cards. That’ll cut most of it down right there. If you do get a gift card, take it to the store ASAP, and buy something that costs more than the cards value. That way, the card is spent, and you can light it on fire and send it back to Hell where it belongs.