A Lack of Vision

Tumbling, tumbleweeds.

Tumbling, tumbleweeds.

Where there is no vision, the people perish…

People and places without a plan for the future—a vision—are doomed to failure. Equally worse in my opinion is a plan that takes you in the wrong direction.

I grew up in a community that at one time was a vibrant little place. Main Street had a number of places where you could shop, buy ice cream, pick up auto supplies; there was a barber shop (there were actually two, at one time), a hair salon, and several department stores. All of that’s just a memory that people rehash ad nauseum on Facebook these days. There’s a lot of hand-wringing going on, too. Rarely do they look behind the memories and wonder what happened to what was once Lisbon Falls. Continue reading

Moxie Season

The Moxie Boy wants you to drink Moxie!

The Moxie Boy wants you to drink Moxie!

Moxie is a distinctly different soft drink that was once more popular than Coca-Cola, or Pepsi. Now, it’s an iconic regional soft drink with a cult-like fan base and a festival in its honor.

For the uninitiated, the Moxie Festival occurs the second weekend in July, just like it has been now for the past 30 years. The place is Lisbon Falls, the town where I grew up and still live across the Androscoggin River from. Continue reading

The Power of Words

I’m reading Death of the Liberal Class by Chris Hedges. The book’s been on my shelf for a year and for some reason, I took it down two nights ago and began reading it.

Actually, I’ve been on a bit of a Hedges kick the past few weeks, having reread his engrossing and enlightening, Losing Moses on the Freeway: The 10 Commandments. It’s a book about theology, or at least theological concepts without being religious—if that makes any sense. It’s at least a theology that is rooted in this world and one I can stomach. Continue reading

Let’s Hear It for the Working Class

[I’ve tried to refrain from politics on this blog. For the most part, I’ve stayed true to that end. However, sometimes something occurs that makes it impossible to remain silent. In fact, I’ve had to hold my tongue over and over since Paul LePage was elected governor. Yesterday was the final straw for me, when the governor made a comment so crude and offensive, and well beyond the pale of civil discourse, while attacking another elected official that I decided I had to weigh-in on the matter.–jb]

Standing with Troy Jackson, a logger, and a champion for Maine's working class.

Standing with Troy Jackson, a logger, and a champion for Maine’s working class.

I don’t know Troy Jackson personally. I had the good fortune to meet his son back in March, a young man who left the region and state like many of Maine’s best and brightest, but realized at some point that he had Aroostook County in his blood and came back to see what he might do to turn the tide and make a difference in rural Maine. I’m guessing the apple didn’t fall too far from the tree. Continue reading

Convenient for Whom?

7-Eleven--feeding our dysfunction.

7-Eleven–feeding our dysfunction.

There was an old advertising campaign for the 7-Eleven stores that had the tagline, “thank heaven for Seven-Eleven.” It was prominent during the 1980s, I think.

7-Eleven is one of a plethora of convenience store chains dotting the American landscape. Coffee and convenience foods are an American birthright, and stores like 7-Eleven keep our addictions sated, and employ a segment of the American workforce that lack skills and other intangibles. Continue reading

Sons and Fathers

Beaver with hid dad (and mom).

Beaver with hid dad (and mom).

I heard a news story last week that spending on dads for Father’s Day is 40 percent less than similar spending for Mother’s Day. I probably could have guessed that. Father’s Day has always seemed to possess less luster than May’s paean to mothers, at least on the Hallmark side of things.

Dads are still important. I’m sure daughters have their own thoughts about their fathers. Boys, dads, and the dynamics inherent in that relationship are an entirely different animal. Continue reading

The Power of Local

I received an email the other day. It was from someone who I once had a secondary connection to. While this person is certainly an intelligent, thoughtful person, their email was another one of those Henny Penny, “the sky is falling,” type of screeds. I read the email and the link attached and felt powerless. There was nothing I could do to change the problem being highlighted because it was too big for me. It was a macro level problem, and I need to stay focused on the micro level realities of life.  Continue reading

The Devil’s in the Details

The Devil depicted in the Temptation of Christ, by Ary Scheffer, 1854.

The Devil depicted in the Temptation of Christ, by Ary Scheffer, 1854.

There is a story about Martin Luther, the esteemed 16th Century Protestant theologian, where he was said to have turned from his desk, and hurled the ink well he was using at the Devil, who he thought was standing behind him, ready to cause him harm. This may actually be apocryphal—but it does indicate that for men like Luther, the Devil, aka, Satan, was so real that waging warfare against him and all his works occupied their waking hours. Continue reading

The Best Kind of Partner

Heading out for the Pirate Tri, 2013.

Heading out for the Pirate Tri, 2013.

On Sunday, I completed my first sprint triathlon. I’ve waited five decades to literally “take the plunge” and make this happen.

My wife, Mary, competed in her very first tri in 2010. Her coming out event was also the Pirate Tri, at Point Sebego Resort. I was a spectator at that one.

For the past few years, I’ve wanted to join her, but I considered the swim portion more than I could handle. I didn’t believe that something that I have never been very good at, could be brought up to a level where I could complete a 1/3rd mile swim, followed by a vigorous 15-mile bike ride, and ending with a 5k run. Continue reading

Music in my Life-Silkworm

Silkworm: Michael Dahlquist, Tim Midgett, Andy Cohen.

Silkworm: Michael Dahlquist, Tim Midgett, Andy Cohen.

Back in the days before interwebs and free music downloads, people went out to venues and saw bands play. Sometimes these bands were obscure, hinting at danger and the unknown.

There was a place in Portland on outer Forest Avenue called Raoul’s Roadside Attraction. Some of you remember it, I know you do. You may have seen some big time artist, playing in a small, intimate setting, and like me, you might have gotten to talk to your music idol like I did, when I met Jorma Kaukonen; that was probably after my journey with God in some place called Hammond, which seemed more like a post-industrial hell, than heaven. Continue reading