(This would be a comedy routine, should I ever have the nerve to try such a thing. Who knows?)

I’m a painter, a housepainter in Georgia, and when you paint an exterior of a house— that’s the outside part, for those not in the business — and it’s, say, anywhere from May through September, it can be a little traumatizing. The heat, the humidity — I wish it were just a cliche. But a cliche has never given me crotch rash. (Walks like John Wayner up to pharmacy counter.) “’Scuse me, ma’am, where d’ya keep yer Gold Bond powder?”


His given name was Clarence Carroll

I turn to Medium when I need to compose a diary entry and I can’t find my journal. With my readership starting in 2012 at very low and gradually dwindling since then, spewing my thoughts here seems safe. If I ever kill someone and need to confess, it’s good to know Medium will be there for me.

So, I’m writing about what it’s like to perform music these days, now that music is being performed again, here and there. I’m also writing about being a visual artist in an era where everyone expects everything for free.

And I’m writing about…

Thank you for this. I am continually cofounded by people I know (some in my own family) for whom music does not register unless it's already lapped up by millions. (And I live in the nation that prides itself on free thinking!)

When I was sixteen years old, a piece appeared in Newsweek magazine announcing the much-anticipated return of John Lennon to the music world. A huge fan, if not flat-out worshipper of the former Beatle, I devoured the article.

Mildly troubled when I learned that Lennon, now a “house-husband,” passed the time watching a lot of TV, especially the commercials, I blinked and read on. Surely the old Lennon would surface soon. Answering the inevitable Beatle-reunion question, an annoyed Lennon retorted, “Look, whether George and Ringo are involved is irrelevant. Because it was Paul and I who wrote the music, okay?”

Last summer it was Lake Champlain. The year before it was western North Carolina. Previous vacations were spent in Sitka, Alaska, Boseman, Montana and the Shenandoah. Beautiful places, all — and each one virtually devoid of black people.

We started making a joke of it: “Look, a black person!” I’d shriek, spying a guy coming out of a CVS. Or: “It’s okay, honey, no need to lock the car, no black people here.” Rueful laughter.

It wasn’t that any of those places were politically inhospitable to minorities. Each town prides itself on its progressive stances on practically all issues. …

My wife, a self-described control freak, otherwise I’d never call her that, has gotten me to agree to a year’s worth of abstinence from alcohol. It starts on her birthday, which is — fittingly enough — March 1. As in, “March first; I’ll tell you why later.”

I’m not going to say this is an ultimatum, because that sounds bitter, like the ales I will soon have to give up. But I will say she’s a really fast packer of suitcases, especially mine.

I’m looking forward to the changes for the better! For one thing, I’m sure to lose some…

Is there anything more American than persuasive advertising?

I can think of one thing: vehement denial that one is affected by advertising.

No nation spends even a sizable percentage of what we do on advertising. Here, the marketing of a product has surpassed the quality of that product in importance. It would be laughable for a major manufacturer to fail to spend an enormous chunk of its budget and effort on the necessary evil of advertising.

It has replaced goods manufacturing itself as a major pillar upholding our economy.

It’s nothing to be proud of. Advertising depends on mass gullibility…

Robot: Welcome to Smokefree TXT. Congratulations on your decision to quit smoking. What’s your craving level? Reply: HI, MED, or LOW

Greg: Hi.

R: Wait it out. Even the strongest cravings will go away after a few minutes. Focus on something else and remind yourself why you are smokefree.

G: Thanks

R: If friends and family smoke, ask them not to smoke or leave their cigs near you. Change the scenery. Go for a bike ride to ride out the craving.

G: I did. They all laughed and kept smoking. …

Some time in the early or mid-eighties, there appeared in several national magazines articles that hailed my town as an inexpensive, quiet (“sleepy,” I think, was the term) and culturally stimulating place to live.

A few bands that had started here made the big time, which drew further attention. My little heaven was put at the top of several lists of cheapest and attractive places to move.

It was true. So people moved here.

They came mostly in vans, at first. The vans were full of musical instruments and people who played them. …

Genaro loves American music — classic rock, in particular. From the time when the nine-year-old boy first listened to his father’s records inside his family’s hovel in Jenahuaro, Honduras, he was transfixed by the sad laments of rock legends like Bob Seger, the Eagles and Pink Floyd.

“Here I am, on the road again,” sang Seger in the 1973 hit “Turn the Page.” If anyone can relate, it’s Genaro.

In early May of this year, he embarked on a road trip he’ll likely always remember. He and his parents, seven siblings and six cousins left Jenahuaro to escape rampant violent…

Greg Benson

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