Burnt Umber

Life is hard.

I know. Wise words, right?

Ofttimes life has the capacity not only to drag you down, put you to shame, give you a wedgie, stuff you into a toilet head first and flush (the dreaded swirly), but also cram you into that old lady in the Black Forest’s oven, where you’ll be proverbially torched like Hell-meat and served up as a smorgasboard for someone with a candy house.

Shoulda known..

Burnt Umber champions that lifestyle!

Burnt Umber is the color of our flag. We march into battle, equipped with our potent weaponry (minus the firing pins), led by clowns who have never read anything longer than a Dr. Pepper label, at the behest of a white male with a swimming pool and a dissatisfied wife at home (the latter needs the heat the former most certainly has), for the good of ?, and fall like the ships in my old Space Armada game for the Intell ‘O’ Vision.

What are we doing here? How many warnings must go unheeded before someone says, “Hey! Let’s march under a flag of a different color! Let’s march to the beat of different drum!” And everyone will break down into individual discussion groups to decide that it’s best not to stir the pot. Or do any other clichés.

It is the color of Salieri’s mediocre Army in ”Amadeus.” It is the color of failure. The hue of the rust eating away at the floorboards of the car my father picked my mother up in for their very first date-yes, she could see the ground through the holes between her feet and no, she was not impressed.

Burnt Umber is the smell that follows us into our dreams. Burnt Umber graced the skin of our last president. Burnt Umber is the color of our Heart Attack Submarines at Subway, the buns of our Fatburghers at Burgher Thing, and all of our doughnaughts.

Burnt Umber is the film covering the memory of the time we were abused. Burnt Umber is the chorus to our elegy, played by a Burnt Umber zombie, sung in the Burnt Umber Church, under the watchful eye of our shepherd, the good Reverend Burnt Umber.

Nothing depicts any of these ideas better than Jerry Lundegaard, protagonist of ”Fargo” (1996). Strapped for cash, he pays a couple of backwards-ass jailbirds to kidnap his wife, intent on collecting the ransom money from his well-off father-in-law.

Shockingly, the plan works to perfection, unless one counts the endless dead people that “happen” during its execution (haha!). The money is buried in a field in the middle of nowhere, and, fun fact, a woman really froze to death looking for it. The Coen Brothers may be a little at fault here, since the movie began with the words “This is a true story.*”

Anyway, near the beginning of the movie Jerry, a car salesman, takes a car from the lot and transports it to the other middle of nowhere to where the two jailbirds are waiting-it will be the car they use during the crime.

The car, a tan Oldsmobile Sierra, is not called as such by our hero Jerry.

It is a Burnt Umber Sierra.

Onward Christian Soldiers!

*-Perhaps the woman should have stayed till the end, where it was explained that everything in the movie was fictional (yes both things can be true).

Girl You Know It’s True

My brother always loved the Backstreet Boys. And Bobby Brown. And he still knows all of the words and all of the dance steps to ice ice baby [lack of capitalization intentional]. That’s all OK, I guess-everyone has their own tastes…is what I’m supposed to say. But the thing I will always hold over his head was his love for Milli Vanili.

[I can’t believe I’m going to do this paragraph-I’m so old! sobbing emoji] For those of you [sigh] who do not remember, Milli Vanili took the country by storm around 1989-they sang one inane meaningless superficial but ultimately danceable and hey! what else matters? pop smash hit after another seemingly without ever taking off those tight black “tights” even once for proper airing. They won three American Music Awards and one Grammy [Best New Artist] before it was discovered that they had never sang a single note of any of their songs.

Their Grammy stripped, their pride destroyed, they ignored the millions of fans still screaming for more and returned to whatever hole they crawled out of in the first place. Later, one of them even committed suicide.

But let’s leave whimsy aside…

I’ll admit it, I’m kind of a music snob. Many people along the way have reminded me that I will never get anywhere by pointing fingers or riding a high horse, which makes things complicated since I always want to take the high road, which is then OK somehow, but I get confused.

So I will start this piece..um..continue this piece by saying I am listening to classical music right now-The Four Seasons by Vivaldi. I am listening to..um..Summer? Wait, that was Winter! And now Autumn is on, which sounds totally different but ask me again when I can’t see my phone which Season is singing and I’ll have an exactly 25% chance of guessing right.

Thanks to Gravity’s Rainbow, and, like, my ears, I love Rossini, but I find Mozart to die for. Yeah, a lot of how I see Mozart has to do with Milos Forman’s movie, but if I shut the TV off forever and could only hear his music for a while I would die just as happy without the visuals. As a matter of fact, whenever other classical music comes on I generally recognize it instantly as “not Mozart.”

Pynchon made the point in Gravity’s Rainbow that the only thing one feels like doing after listening to Beethoven is “invade Poland.” Ergo: “not Mozart.” Then there’s Strauss, who wrote waltzes, which are wonderfully graceful dances performed equally as well by ceramic figurines on a Dollar Store music box. Definitely not Mozart. Bach is nice when you feel like you want to go completely insane, rip the couch open and eat all the stuffing, but should this not be the case I hear a ton of brooding “Holier than thou” no Mozart. Which brings us to the other classical musicist: Vivaldi.

For any of you daring enough to waste 20 minutes listening to Strauss trying to be Rossini trying to be Mozart and kind of giving up half way through while saying “why don’t we just break this hot mess up into 4 parts and name each after a season that’ll show ’em won’t it?”, this is the music for you!

Start with Spring, which begins, duh! slowly, without much fanfare, as the strings lead the budding return of life back through the last of the icy winter frosts and up into our strained eardrums. Then music happens, seemingly until the 4-5 minutes are up-which is when Summer begins…slowly! There are a lot of violins, and a lot of notes played by violins, and some of them sound quite pleasing together, until the composer guy decides to take a step back and “think” his way out of the season, which also sounds swell. The arrangements, melody, and cinnamon tones all inject the sweaty summer months with more authentic music until it is time, after 5 brief minutes, to bid Summer adieu and welcome Autumn!

The beginning of autumn sounds much like summer, and the ear-aficionado will quickly recognize that all three of these seasons are exactly the same up until that point. More notes are played at the listeners expense, but without causing the pesky nuisance of toe-tapping, or snapping, because the invention of rhythm remained an unreachable 233 years off in the future [Chuck Berry ,“Johnny Be Goode”, 1958]. I realize only now that Autumn has ended several minutes ago, which means it is time for dreadful Winter.

Here Vivaldi does not disappoint. Carrying on with his stated goal of only using strings, the Maestro enters the last season on a somber, dreary note that makes depressing November seem like Mardi Gras. Suicide is palpable-definitely an option. Then the violins start fiddling–you’ll hear what I mean– and the piece returns to familiar old territory: “Let’s just play this thing out!” Vivaldi utters in violin.

Perhaps it should be mentioned that the piece was composed in Amsterdam, though I can’t for the life of me remember where I was going with that smiley face emoji there should be a flamenco dancer emoji like one of them dancers at Mardi Gras you see spinning in yellow who is wearing a real flower and so much make up there is nothing anymore underneath her makeup OMG she is a sentient makeup figure in human form with God only knows what evil plans in her head OMG she HAS NO HEAD!!! and wait, where am I?

Winter has ended but I have no idea when. It must have been during somber while I was out carousing in Rio. Or A-dam?

Which brings me, directly, to Milli Vanilli. I obviously see Vivaldi as not Mozart. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t hear anything in his musicals warranting intense enjoyment. I don’t hear intense anything. I hear un-tense.

I don’t find anything there at all except a series of notes, played in a sensible order, light on the ear, soft on the attention span, undemanding, unchallenging, belonging nowhere else but in an elevator or a perfume shop, out of touch but, like a parfait in summer, with a touch of sweetness.

The Four Seasons is the white bread in the bakery-go hear you some if you’re in the mood for baloney. While you’re at it, Baby, Don’t Forget My Number!

About Jack

Jack Everly was born the moment Paul E. Fitzgibbons died in Vietnam. Throughout my life I have always been measured by my progress in comparison to my tall uncle, whose name I inherited and who made the ultimate sacrifice. Sadly, these comparisons always left me coming up short, and it was soon easy for me to stop trying and to fail again. 

All of us have our reasons for the lack of success that has come to define much of our lives. It took me a long time to realize something needed to change if I ever wanted to achieve anything at all. 

In 1992 I met my wife who was fighting her own demons. For ten years we slogged through the muck, making the same mistakes all of us make all day every day. Then my wife discovered Pilates.

Pilates changed our lives, first in a physical sense and later in a spiritual and emotional one. Everything in Pilates revolves around your core. Without a healthy core, you cannot perform any of the exercises correctly, you won’t make any progress, and you even risk injury. On an emotional level, if you do not care for your emotional core, the essence that makes you who you are, you will never perform any of your life tasks, like relationships or work, correctly, will not make progress and risk emotional injury. 

Over time we both learned to take better care of ourselves, we started offering classes, and finally decided in 2011 to open a fitness studio, one of the first in the area with the famous Pilates reformer. The years passed, I first became a trainer and then a personal trainer, started competing in Triathlons and eventually ultra marathons, but something was still missing.

Failure was still following me around like a lost puppy. 

My wife started to work with people and helping them overwhelm their inner demons. She has an almost supernatural gift at seeing what is bothering people before they open their mouths-sometimes before she sees them-and has, after extremely brief exchanges, already figured out a path people need to travel to arrive at their full potential. She was of course the one who gave me my Plan. 

At first she advised me to change my diet to alleviate my awful allergies that had plagued me since the sixth grade, and which had gotten worse since I had moved to Europe (I happened to be allergic to all European trees). Lo and behold-the first year I went vegetarian my allergies were about 80% better.

But this was just a superficial woe I had battled with. Over the last ten years, I have trusted her counsel and followed her plan, which gave me the strength I needed to 1), quit my well-paid job and start at the studio full-time, and 2), put the person I was, in gradual increments, behind me. I opened the door to a glorious future, no matter my age or financial status. There remained one last loose end to tie up.

Souls that die violently are not happy in their afterlife, and emotional ties to these people, usually relatives, can work against you. Everyone wants peace, especially those that have gone before us, and without this peace the soul careens through the universe like a bull in a China shop.

At the same time, running a fitness studio proved to be a Herculean labor. In order to get those bills paid, my wife settled in to a rigorous 6 1/2 day work week where she averaged 14-16 hour days. By 2018, she was at the end of her stores of fortitude, and realized she could not continue living that way if she ever wanted to be happy.

We decided to close the studio. It was extremely difficult to say goodbye to all of our customers, as most had become good friends, and watching them grow physically and as people was reward enough for our troubles, but we had more important business to attend to:

How does one achieve freedom and happiness in this life?

We decided to tour the world. 

After three hectic months of selling all of our possessions, up to and including my beloved blindingly yellow Fiat I christened “Carmelo” (Donovan, anyone?), we were off. A though coagulated in the back of my spacious mind that crystallized as soon as we hit Southeast Asia. 

I would visit the spot where my uncle fell. 

On a(nother) hot day near the Mekong Delta, I held a small, personal, and very intense rite which stripped any last hold the spirit of my dead uncle might still have on me and release him to the universe. Afterwards, there was no need for me ever to get frustrated anymore. There was no need to worry about whether I was good enough or not. I had no reason to fear the future or be angry about the cards I had drawn. I could shape my life the way I desired. I was free.

There is still a lot of good in this world. Nature presents us with the most daring, thrilling landscapes and the most magnificent settings for us to enact our plays on/in. Earth is a place to fulfil an ultimate life dream, but not the way we are doing it now.

We all have our battles to fight and crosses to bear. I have chosen to lay my cross aside because, to paraphrase Tom Waits, someone might “need the wood.”* Instead, I spend my time using the gifts I was born with, given to me by whichever deity you prefer, to do said deity justice in his choice of recipient. I choose to live, to love, and to laugh, and have made it my mission to show others how this should and can be done, no matter the circumstances in front of you.

*”Come on up to the House,” from Mule Vibrations.

Never Look Back

Do not turn around. Do not avert your gaze. Do no let yourself be distracted. Heed the plan, heed the rules, heed the strict guidelines no one has prepared and painstakingly not formulated to carve in stone nowhere you can find them. Do not listen to your conscience unless it is telling you to keep going without turning around. Do not listen to the gunshots. Do not listen to the cries of horror from men, women, and children who might look strangely familiar since they are all your brothers and sisters, but are hard to make out from under the advance of your Saint Laurent 30mm Brushed Leather Army Boot ($800)-clad feet.

Your wife depends on you. Her jewelry and golf club memberships depend on you. Your children depend on you. Their pets and toys depend on you. Your shit-brained selfishness and complete ignorance depend on you. Your pickups and Colt 45s depend on you, as do your Confederate flags. If you do not advance persons of color might get all of these.

Do not do research. Do not wonder if anything you are told is really true. You have already come so far, and to turn back now would mean you wasted half, or all, of your life doing something that was wrong. Fly a flag even if you have no idea which one that is, or what it stands for. Hit someone.

Do not open the door. Do not open the window. Do not open the shutters. Do not remove your blinders. Do not go outside or you might get hurt. Outside dogsaresnarling bloodisflowing insultsteargastelescopicbatonswatercannonsshockgrenades ‘n’ hypersonicmissiles fly Fists are clenched and only the sensible ones have no guns. You do not want to get hurt. You do not want to be exposed as being weak and mortal. Worse, you do not want to be unworthy of being a beacon of hope and light. It is best to draw the shade, close the blinds. TV will tell you everything you want to know, and if you don’t like what you’re shown, change the channel.

Do not watch anything but FoxNews, Blaze, The Daily Wire, Breitbart, The Freedom First Press. Do not listen to anyone except William F. Buckley, William Safire, Lou Dobbs, Bill O’Reilly, Russ Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter, Laura Ingraham, Steve Bannon, Tucker Carlson, and Stephen Miller (if there is no sunlight around).

Do not expect this to end. Do not expect peace. Do not hope for peace. Peace is a girlie-man, leftist pinko hoax dreamt up by the left-wing fake news. As is mercy, empathy, sympathy (yes these are 2 different things), honesty, tenderness, friendliness, kindness, emotions, feelings, human, shared dialogues, being adult, guilt, and fair-play.

Do not look for sense.

Do not look for sanity.

Do not hope for hope.

Do not look for love.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Nature V. Civilization

Nature is a self-sustaining entity. Our civilization knows only decay. Civilization demands that we turn our attentions away from the world around us and towards a new task, though which task, exactly, remains an ominous “player to be named later.”

Promise me you’ll stay

promise me you’ll stay, who will do the laundry?

you cannot go and put me in this quandary.

the dishes are piling up, I’ve no idea what to do!

why are leaving? what’s gotten into you?

promise me you’ll stay, I’ll shower in a week or two..

if it’s the food in my beard you can comb it out.

promise me you’ll stay and clean the bathroom grout

it’s funky in there; there’s mushrooms standing stout,

we’re a team, do your job, finally, and I’ll do mine

promise me I can bathe in a computer screen’s shine,

and play Cyberpunk 2077 until my brain forms a line.

why can’t you just be happy with your lot.

promise me you’ll stay and keep my KFC hot

I can’t keep checking or V might get shot

while attempting to braindance through Night City

promise if you go to take your white kitty,

though not having her as a tissue is a right pity.

Feeding her has really become a chore.

promise me you’ll stay, who’ll answer the door?

when I’m on a mission, can’t tell you what for

you’re not really going what have I done?

you’re the one I, like, love, our life’s just begun!

me and V could have so much fun

if you promise to stay and rhyme something with laundry

Beyond Greatness

Some may argue that a person is made or broken in her or his formative years. The events of one’s childhood play such a monumental role in defining who one becomes later it is easy to see the truth in the statement.

Martin Luther King, Jr, was born Michael King, Jr. on Jan 25th, 1929. In 1934 the Reverend Michael King, Sr. took a church trip to holy centers around the Mediterranean-Rome, Tunisia, Egypt, Jerusalem and Bethlehem. It ended touring sites associated with Martin Luther in Berlin, Germany. It was here where Michael King saw firsthand the rise of the Nazis and the racial hatred accompanying it. In reaction, the members of the conference released a statement:

“This Congress deplores and condemns as a violation of the law of God the Heavenly Father, all racial animosity, and every form of oppression or unfair discrimination toward the Jews, toward coloured people, or toward subject races in any part of the world.”

When he returned home, Michael changed his and his son’s names to Martin Luther King.

It was Martin Sr. who gave his son an interest in protest. He would often refuse to move to “colored” sections of a store, and once organized a march to protest voting rights discrimination in Atlanta.

Martin took an active interest at an early age in expanding his vocabulary, and was constantly harvesting the dictionary for more intelligent words. Typically, he showed no interest in grammar or spelling “rules,” only vocabulary.

He did well in school and was accepted early into the World War II depleted Moorehouse College. Martin Jr. decided to become a Reverend, believing he would be a..minister whose sermons would be a force for ideas or even, he hoped, social change.

His father, who, he said, had always been “a real father” to him, instilled in Martin a conviction that he might know the difference between right and wrong and also the strength needed to choose the wiser path.

Around this time in Montgomery, Alabama, Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat and move to the back of the bus, and King used this injustice to move in with some trusted, like-minded men to organize a boycott of the bus company. For these actions King’s house was bombed.

In Atlanta (Oct. 1960) he was sentenced to four months of hard labor in a maximum security prison for a sit in he took part in to protest the segregation of businesses and public places, and only escaped this fate because future President Kennedy pressured the governor. In Albany, Georgia (1960), he was sentenced to more jail time, and was only freed because the Reverend Billy Graham bailed him out. In Birmingham (1963), he was arrested for the 13th out of 29 times. In St. Augustine, Florida, (1964) they ran into counterdemonstrations by the Ku Klux Klan. In Chicago (1966) he was hit with a brick trying to combat racial steering in real estate offices there. 

He was always, if you’ll remember, an unarmed man merely trying to voice his right to speak. 

By the time 1963 rolled around, King was already the star of the Civil Rights movement. In August of that year the March on Washington was organized to end racial segregation in public schools, to demand meaningful civil rights legislation, among other things. The march was a resounding success, and helped pave the way for the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

By 1964-65, King was on top of the world, as much as such a thing may be possible and still be hit by a thrown brick. However, change was brewing. African-American leaders in general were under constant pressure from each other, their own followers, and of course white America.

The movements had all enjoyed an incredible amount of progress, yet it was still impossible to be content with the results. There was still so much injustice to fight. As Martin said:

“A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth. With righteous indignation, it will look across the seas and see individual capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries, and say: “This is not just.””

“The black revolution is much more than a struggle for [our] rights. It is forcing America to face all its interrelated flaws—racism, poverty, militarism, and materialism. It is exposing evils that are rooted deeply in the whole structure of our society. It reveals systemic rather than superficial flaws and suggests that radical reconstruction of society itself is the real issue to be faced.”

“I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Councilor or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice.. who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods..”; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom..and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a “more convenient season.”


These quotes reveal more than they let on. Because of his stance on the Vietnam War, he lost white support, including that of the President and Billy Graham. Also, reading between the lines, listening closely, you can still, after all these years, hear the bullets being fed into chambers and weapons being cocked.

All of the dangers he braved and the costs he paid were grave and steep indeed. 

After his death the true cost of his struggles was revealed: all of the vicious and violent attacks he endured breaking down the barriers white America erected turned his 39-year-old heart into that of a 60-year-old.

So why did he do it? This life is so much more enjoyable when one doesn’t try to change anything, least of all oneself. You get to eat whatever junk you like, say foolish things, spend all of your days without wasting any time or energy powering one’s brain. 

That is all fine and good if one is truly content. Few are, however, and that begets the need for change. Progress without change is not possible, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything (George Bernard Shaw). Martin saw recognized the need, and this need evolved into a very special dream.

What is so wrong about a life where our lives are more important than the profit motive or the GNP? What is so so wrong about a world where every person is afforded the same chances of success as everyone else? What is so wrong in not wanting to see black men’s necks kneeled upon for 8 minutes and 46 seconds? Martin saw it all and warned us over 50 years ago. Is it so difficult to actually do something about it? Now we live in the age Beyond Greatness; it is time to do Martin’s wonderful dream justice and make peace together, for the good of all.

I still have a dream, a dream deeply rooted in the American dream – one day this nation will rise up and live up to its creed, “We hold these truths to be self evident: that all men are created equal.” I have a dream …”

Water Striders

everlong labile legs

still supporting 15 times their weight

without sinking

to be as quick

a 6-foot human would need

to swim 400 mph

mating is less joyous for women

they know it entails, afterwards,

the male riding their backs lazily

for hours if not days

a “chastity belt” grew-

they cannot mate until it opens

males developed their own strategy

they strum the water rhythmic

predators like fish or backswimmers are alerted

males, on top, can dismount

scoot away, scot-free, anytime

females must choose:

opening their “belts” and

the tedious task of reproduction

or near-certain death by backswimmer

some water striders have wings

those living in rushing waters

and lush wetlands

have short or no wings-

long ones are easily damaged

and cost too much energy to maintain

but water striders are polymorphic

their progeny develop as needed

should the wetlands be small

or if the temperature rises

or if they live in a mud puddle

their children will have long wings

to fly them to a new home

i go to the fridge

i remove the can of canned cheese

i jam the can of canned cheese

between my lips

and spray

A History Before History

Abel made Cain envious because God preferred the former’s sacrifice to the latter’s. Why would his sacrifice not fail? Anything Cain offered would be harvested with violence, without respect, without gratitude. Here one group of people is distancing itself from all others, and choosing to play by its own rules.

Moreover, since these were very early times and Cain represented the first agrarian communities, we can say that this civilized “hero” was the first to oppose beliefs that had always been. Ullikummi and Kumarbi, conceived later on, were the first gods to oppose God/Nature’s plan. To this end, it is safe to say that the children of Adam and Cain became the first real devil-followers, if they did not worship him directly.  

At the very least these people-Adam and his descendants- turned their backs on all that was, which is why it says in the Bible they became restless wanderers. At that time there was nothing else besides Nature. What place had they?

Even if Cain is reduced to a metaphor, there is nothing that indicates anyone approving of anything Cain would have to offer. Of what benefit to anyone would it be, other than to give Cain’s progeny the feeling of having a full stomach? The tribe chose to remain outside any harmonious relationship with any creatures small or large, beholden only to itself, on account of its peculiar pipe dreams.

These people turned their backs on all the glory days of our past, and on whatever Nature promised them in the future, which is why the Bible depicts them as restless wanderers.

Day of Mourning

do not look for Thanksgiving

do not open your eyes

do not try and learn

do not ask questions about

do not look for Thanksgiving

do not ask about Abel and Cain

do not wonder about the latter’s mark

do not look in the mirror

do not look for Thanksgiving

do not wonder how those Pilgrims had room

do not ask what below their feet was already!

do not ask how the survivors of 1620 survived

do not ask about Squanto

do not ask about the Patuxet tribe

do not ask why he survived

do not ask about his scars

do not ask about Thanksgiving

or when the name was first used

do not ask about the Pequots

do not ask where they are now

do not ask about Thanksgiving

do not change anything

do not rock the boat

do not hamper chances at stolen wealth

do not ask about Thanksgiving

do not associate yourself with guilt

do not attempt to feel shame

do not ruin the vibe