Time Capsule – (A guide to Faith in the modern world)

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Time Capsule –

(A guide to Faith in the modern world.)

Introduction

First and foremost, I guess this is my Autobiography. I am sort of killing two birds with one stone. I want to leave my Son a good idea of who his Pop is/was. I have wanted to write a book about faith, God, religion, politics and all the things you are not supposed to talk about at the Thanksgiving dinner table. I want to tell some tall tales, help you make heads of tails out of this that and the other. I want to lay down some Myth! Spit it on the mic! One, Two, One Two, mic check, testing testing, Houston, we have a problem. I digress often.

To write about what I believe, first I think it would be important to state what I do not believe. Then, write about certain events throughout this life ( of a half century ) that have fortified what I have come to believe as of now. Today. This year. I also think that it would be important to give a bit of a historical context to the make up of the unreasonable reality from where this rendering of a life experience is coming from.

If there was one thing I would want to shine through this writing – that one thing would be a light of hope. I am dedicating this book to my Son, Jonah William Malik-Wright as well as dedicating this book to the youth. The new generation of seekers, poets, musicians and kids. Generation ?, whatever the hell THEY are going to call you to try and get you to buy some shit. THEY call me Generation X. With a big G.

I do not believe in God, Our Father, who art in heaven. I do not believe God is a person, place or thing. I do not believe that God lives in stone buildings, built hundreds of years ago or that God can be found in a book. However, I do think, Bob Dylan was on to something when he sang, “you don’t ask questions when God is on your side.” You will notice the word God will remain capitalized throughout this book.

That is because, although I do not believe in the traditional suggestions of God, I do believe in positive and negative. I do believe that at one time, there was a Buddha, a person named Muhammad, (pbuh). I think the Vedas are interesting as well as Jedi, Hobbits, and the Ring of Power and the Force and all that jazz is … I have seen the H.H. The Dalai Lama twice ( bless his heart! ) and not to mention, no matter how you feel about Jesus, in most hotel rooms in the USA, there is a Bible. So, Jesus exists there for sure. I would not call myself an atheist or an agnostic. I am a serious fan of Sun Ra. Space is the Place and dig this as we kiss the sky together, in my opinion, when Jimmie Hendrix played the guitar, I think he was tapping into that place where God is located, I feel the same way about John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme so … friends, dig this …

I was a deckhand at the largest riverboat casino in the world. The riverboat casino is an idea that is almost defunct. Defunct. When the Ohio River flooded, the company I worked for put us up in the casino hotel while we worked the boat. The company I worked for was Caesars. Get this, there is a Bible in the top drawer of the hotel, named Ceasers. WTF, LOL, SMHROTFL double plus good … go figure. Render unto Caesar the least as possible is my faith. Amen, and Womyn too. Good luck, you are going to need it.

Forward

The year is 2020. I started this book on March 22nd . There is a global pandemic that has spread across the planet and in a manner of weeks has shut down the economies of almost every country it has effected. Covid 19! A flu that attacks the victims respiratory system. The political fabric of the United States is split almost 50/50. There are only two political parties one can choose from. Corporate America has found favor in a President who infamously made his wealth by bankrupting the many businesses that he has owned. The POTUS rose to power from the fame and name recognition of being a media mogul, hotel / casino slash game show host. Go figure. LOL. SMH. Double minus good.

In the Commonwealth of Kentucky, where this book is being written, a Corporate Lawyer, son of a deeply entrenched Democratic Party political family is the Governor. The Kentucky Derby, a horse race built on the exploitation of horses and human vice has been postponed for the first time in it’s many year history. I have been furloughed from my job as Steamboat Fireman on the Str. Belle Of Louisville and am enjoying the hush money the government is giving out so as to keep people from hitting the streets in protest. Amazingly enough, there are pockets of people protesting. Some of the protesters are being paid to protest by right wing front groups, so I guess they are not employed? Who knows? The people who normally are accused of being paid protesters are accusing these folks of being paid protesters, so it is pretty confusing. If what they say about the Flu is true, Darwinian theory will tell the tale of the protesters assembling in groups to protest being paid to stay home. I am worried about small local business, however, I digress, often.

Except for the fact that Capitalism is still the economic policy of this country and most of the developing world economies, everything is going just fine. Past the normal levels of poverty and protection of the status-quo and unknown levels of violence and disaster from the results of various wars against people, small farmers and land . In the United States, War has been subcontracted out mostly to private mercenaries for the free trade use of the global oil and gas companies. Most of the population of the United States could not tell you where the United States Military is active or non active. The Internet is the main media source and Facebook ( a crowd sourced media platform built on human vanity ) is the mainstream media choice for many folks in their 30’s and older.

Christian Religions still find favor in the hearts and minds of a few pockets of American society. Science and Reason still exists, thank God, and folks are generally aware automation and technology is looming just around the corner to replace most repetitive jobs. The first self driving cars and trucks are being manufactured and tested. Freight trains are almost self driving and there are rovers on Mars still sending information back to a mostly privatized Space Program, Yet, we still do not have high speed rail. Many of the highest selling video games being marketed to the gamer populous are dystopian first person, doomsday, thematic, drone training exercises. Eastern religions and new age belief systems are on the rise, Yoga is a popular past time and there ya go, have at it … Let The Games Begin! Basically, everything has gone to pot. Weed is almost legal in every state in the nation. CBD oil and THC, USA and … GOD, guts and country.

John Paul Wright

Madrid, Kentucky

2020

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Romana Bereneth – A local “working” musician – writer

I am employed at the moment, however, at times I am a self supported musician. With the times uncertain as they are, direct action get the goods! So to be of service, I will be selecting local musicians, writers and poets to basically, adopt.

All sales of my creative work for the duration of this health emergency, will go to local folks who have had all their work canceled.

You can donate via PAYPAL by going going here ——> CLICK HERE

or support Romana directly by buying her musical work from Bandcamp or by purchasing one of her books from Amazon. She writes under the pen name, M.L. Mcintosh. Go here ——-> CLICK HERE



romanas book

Chapter 2 / Before N.Y.C

Chapter 2 – Before N.Y.C

When I posted chapter 1 on my blog, a person who I had been chatting with on Facebook showed an interest in this story. She called herself a “red diaper baby.” A red diaper baby is a kid raised by a political activist and I suspect I am one of those. She also mentioned that she thought the blogpost post showed “moral courage.” I asked her what she meant by that and she said it was courageous to be openly talking about mental health issues.

We chatted a bit and somewhere in the digital exchange, I mentioned my wife. I always mention my wife, especially if I am chatting over the internet with a woman. I also mentioned my mother, thusly the red diaper comment. My mother was my rock and moral compass. I told her that my mother was a political activist. My Facebook friend, wanted to hear more about my mom, Glenda the good witch.

My mother was the reason I ended up in the care of Central State mental hospital on a three-day self-imposed mental inquest warrant and property of the state of Kentucky. I freaked out. I yelled at her and accused her of brandishing a weapon. I left the house, I guess you could say I ran away to the loony bin by way of a teepee.

I had been living in her basement for a year, slowly slipping into a deep dark depression. I was suffering from the breakup of a two-year relationship. My life was collapsing. My girlfriend, who I had met at the food co-op where I was working several months before, cheated on me with a friend in our circle. I was also suffering heart problems.

My heart was skipping beats. Panic attacks were a daily event. Every day I walked across the park, that was my 46-acre front yard as a child, and go to the store and buy tons of junk food. I ate tons of sugar and tons of salt and then went home and slept for hours. My body was rebelling. I was getting fat and more and more in my head.

I was reading, listening to music and sleeping for hours on end. Sometimes upwards of eighteen. I was reading the Sufi books that I had been turned on to by the manager of the food co-op. I was reading Black Elk Speaks and a book with speeches from Native American Chiefs called Touch the Earth.

I was a young hippie, deadhead. The medicine man manager at the co-op, the teepee connection, had turned me onto a Sufi guru from Philadelphia named Bawa Muhaiyaddeen. I was deeply getting into the Sun Ra that he had turned me on to. I was listening to Sun Ra and reading all his poetry on the CD covers and starting an impressive Sun Ra collection.

Bawa’s books are deep! The idea of killing my self was on my mind, but not that kind of killing. I was deeply thinking about who I was. My friendship with my long-haired hippie herbal Sufi manager was deep. He is a very humble person and was always saying something that I thought was something I needed to think about.

Sun Ra, well, ifin you ain’t never heard of Ra, best be firing up that Google machine. My little trip up the river of life was starting to come to a delta. All my problems seemed to be rushing in on me. Over the course of eight months I had gained one hundred pounds. Something was going to break.

One morning, after one of those long dark days and nights in the basement, I had a crazy audible hallucination. I thought I heard my mother run through the house and get her .38 and pull the trigger back. I ran up the basement steps and told her that I had had enough. Then after a short freak out. I left.

She would not let me come back. She had had enough and didn’t know what to do. I am sure she was hurt, terrified and lost as to why her little Johnny, was so sick in the head. I didn’t have a plan as to what I was going to do. I was ready for some help. Several of my friends were on the crazy check. I knew that was an option. However, I didn’t think that I was that kind of crazy, so, I phoned a friend.

The friend owned a delightful home out in the south end of Louisville, had a nice family, who were then celebrating Thanksgiving. He drove all the way across town and picked me up from the Walgreens drug store where I had called him from a payphone. I stayed in his backyard teepee overnight. He built a fire. I had a big plate of food.

We talked about me being nuts and then, after a long night rearranging all the dirt, sticks and staring at the fire burn, I knew I needed help. I was not going to get this crazy out. I got a ride downtown and somehow ended up getting ready to have the meeting with the woman who handed out gum at the co-op, who was the mother of the young woman, who set up that table on Christopher Street that you were reading about a minute ago.


 

The Table – A Reading at Surface Noise Records


The Table is a book about becoming a radical activist. It is also a book about what happens to a person, a folk musician, radical activist when they burn out. This book is about being the first musician to open the I.W.W endorsed musical tour, The Joe Hill Roadshow.

This book is about inspiration, meeting famous people, NYC, Christopher Street and … meeting with poet Wendell Berry several times at his farm in Kentucky. This book is about railroading, hobos and darkness. It is a wee bit about wildness and want.

This book is about me, growing up with a mother who was a radical activist. This book is also a little about being diagnosed with Bipolar disorder, living with the scare of a relapse. This book is absolutely, punk rock and slightly a bit Grateful Dead, minus dreadlocks and rainbow family oiled hippies, but … add bikers.

I wrote this book because when I was in marriage counseling, the counselor suggested that we needed to know our story. I also wrote this book because a woman, who is also a radical activist, suggested that I should keep writing it. She was reading a few chapters that I had shared on social media and thought that I was being courageous talking openly about mental health issues.

It’s intended audience would certainly be for young radicals. It would also appeal to older folks who remember some of the names that I mention in the book. I hope the audience would be somewhat GENx. I am from that branded generation and think we might be stuck in the middle of something. I would also like to think that my involvement as the National Organizer with Railroad Workers United, my two year stint with Teamsters for A Democratic Movement, my folk music audience and my membership in the I.W.W. might add to the list of rad progressives who would buy this book.

The Cottonwood Local


The Cottonwood Local started out as a noodlin’ in the key of D on the mandolin.

When I would get off of my train, I would spend time sitting on the front porch of the Holiday Inn in Nashville playing my mandolin. Mostly people watching. I lived at the Holiday Inn in Donelson, Nashville, TN for 14 years. This was what we railroaders called the Away From Home Terminal.

One day when I was pickin’ …

A Locomotive Engineer friend of mine suggested we needed a song about a local job that we had on the CSX Mainline called the J765-J768. I already had the fiddle tune going when he made this suggestion and we sat there joking about all the crazy stuff about the job. My friend suggested the Cottonwood name because the two trainmen working the job at the time were Josh Cotton and Joe Woods, thusly, Cottonwood.

There were a host of Locomotive Engineers working the job, but mostly the ones holding the position were old heads. The job was a good one and it always went high on the seniority roster. A local is a job that does not work the entire length of the railroad. It does industry work and then either goes home, or in the case of the Cottonwood, stays overnight in a town like Bowling Green and works its way home the next day. Usually with a day off. My favorite Engineer, A.T Robb was one of the many characters who held the throttle on the local.

Artie, Atrimous Robb, RT, that’s me … had many nicknames. The reason he “tied it down in Shepheardsburg from the Main Line Friendly Local”, was because he retired and lived on some property out in Shepherdsville. He called the job the MLFL, Main Line Friendly Local and it stuck. On the engine, we called it the Main Line “Fuckin’ Local.

Mr. Robb called the railroad signal in Shepherdsville, Kentucky, Sheep Herds Burg. Why? Know body knows. We didn’t know why he would bring jugs to get what was left in the tank cars when we would pick up the empties from the Jim Beam Distillery. He said the white/clear alcohol was good with sugar and Kool-Aid, but it made his tractor run hot.

This song is somewhat a native language

that only exists in a time and place called the railroad.

In Kentucky.

It is a Kentucky folk song in a sense, that the people that are being mentioned have a place in the folk history of the people involved, now, especially, that the stories are folk tales and memory, it has slipped into history.

“Too bad Pauline’s ain’t around no more …” is bringing up Kentucky History about Bowling Green, Kentucky that is a deep legend. Not to mention history some folks do not want to talk about and would rather forget.

Pauline’s was a whore house. A bordello. A house of il’ repute. She closed her doors in the early 1970’s and moved away.. Get to talking about Pauline’s to almost any man from the region over the age of 70 and you will see a twinkle in their eye as thoughts of that place come bubbling into their blood. We had a railroad van driver out of Bowling Green who used to work for Pauline. He hated George McCubbins and the feeling was mutual. George was an Engineer on the local and either ya liked him, or ya hated him. He was the boss of the job or at least that is what he thought.

“You know, we know you got a lot of work to do,” came from another Engineer who worked the local from time to time. G.W. Haynes. Gross Weight. He was a very big man and sometimes not very nice. He came with loads of nicknames and his reputation preceded him. The song lyric means the local job will clear the mainline when trains need to get through. The working nature of the local meant that the mainline would be blocked when the local was out pulling or placing cars from the industries that it worked. Crews on the local would try and be in the clear for the “Big Boy’s.” Some just wanted to get their work done and get to the other side of the road or get the day over with and didn’t really care if mainline trains would have to wait for them to clear up … “get in the hole.”
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“Memphis Junction,” is the name of the railyard in Bowling Green, Kentucky where the job ended its southbound work. Back in the day, the L&N had a mainline that went all the way to Memphis, TN. Toby Asher was the mainline trainmaster who worked in Bowling Green at this yard. The “only regular job” lyric comes from the job having regular start times. Having a regular start time is the perk of a local job and this job would get pulled off from time to time thusly the jab of it being the only regular job he could find.

Toby was a strange guy. He was the boss. Somewhat spookily he would be somewhere on the mainline, at all times, day and night. He is the kind of boss the railroad generally doesn’t like. He knows how to railroad. And that term railroad means many things. He lived and breathed railroading. His father was a Switchman and he grew up admiring his father’s work buddies. He loved the railroad and had respect for his “men.” Love is not an easy word to define on the railroad. Respect for craft is something the railroad seemingly has totally forgotten about.

This song is a fragment of time and place that has mostly slipped into folk history. It was an honor to work the section of rail known as the L&N, Louisville to Nashville, Main Stem. The L&N railroad at one time was the largest railroad in the eastern part of the United States. This song comes from the namesake of that railroad. The L&N, Kentucky, known today as the CSX Railroad.

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Pauline Tabor

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Me and Van Driver Jimmy. Pauline’s cab driver back in the day.

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A.T. Robb

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Railroad Tag