Some Thoughts on Vanishing

Keeping Track of What Vanishes

Ever wonder where things go? Where do plans, places, old friends, and missed opportunities end up? Sometimes we can pinpoint the exact locations of these things, but other things simply vanish. There is the slow fade that we don’t notice until that thing we admire, desire, or hold close to us is gone. Then there is the quick vanishing act, as if some unseen magician has played some sort of cruel trick on us.

As I grow older it feels as if more and more things are vanishing (maybe I was too busy to notice them when I was younger). We live in a world of vanishing things such as objects, animals, places, and languages just to name a few. There are those things that have a personal impact on us when they vanish for one reason or another, and entire cultures are impacted when other things vanish. As I write this the word “thing” feels vague but when dealing with such a wide array of concepts what other word works (there are probably many better words that could be used but the 90 degree weather and the sixer of Miller High Life may be impairing my vocabulary)? Maybe the best we can do is to remember those things that vanish the best we can.

Empty Hospital (D70-editj17
“Empty Hospital”

Whether it is a slow fade out or quick disappearance things vanish all around us.  Some of these vanishing things impact us on a personal level and the vanishing of others may impact entire cultures.  This month is about those things that vanish and the impact their absence may have on us.

-K-

One More Cup and One Last Smoke

or A Moment to Get Sentimental

June is leaving a heat wave in its wake in the Midwest, and with June’s departure the topic of coffee and cigarettes has come to an end. I feel as if I only scratched the surface of this topic. I started the month mentioning an individual’s relationship with coffee/caffeine and cigarettes/tobacco. Hopefully some of this month’s posts got you thinking about your own relationship with coffee and cigarettes, it did for me.

Caffeine and tobacco are vices for many people, but vices tend to provide some of the best memories. This month got me thinking about how many hours I’ve spent in various cafes drinking coffee while reading books and how the two activities are interconnected for me. I remember reading Still Life with Woodpecker at a Borders Café on a rainy Sunday. The book cover got the attention of an inquisitive redhead and the caffeine gave me the courage to start up a conversation. The redhead and I didn’t work out it but it is a fond memory. I’ve also been thinking about the many nights spent smoking cigars and playing euchre with friends when I was in my early twenties.  I’ve lost touch with most of those old friends, but the cigar talk and trading stogies are memories I’ll never lose.

DV IMAGE
“Sunset at Cafe”

I mentioned at the start of the month that an individual’s relationship with coffee and cigarettes (caffeine and tobacco) can give you a bit of insight into that person’s character. Thinking about your own relationship with coffee and cigarettes can also give you personal insight and maybe stir up some fond memories.

-K-

John Lee Hooker, Black Coffee, and Cigarettes

Something For What Ails You

Another Sunday morning suffering the side effects of Saturday night. I’m no doctor. I have no cure for what ails me, but a healthy dose of the blues does treat the symptoms. My current prescription is John Lee Hooker’s “Never Get Out of These Blues Alive” (I recommend the version Hooker sings with Van Morrison).

The Best of John Lee Hooker (cover)
The Best of John Lee Hooker 1965 to 1974

If you have ever sat up all night drinking black coffee and smoking cigarettes then this song is worth a listen. If you have ever spent your nights pacing the floor then you want to download this song. If you have ever stayed up all night obsessing over a woman (or man or whoever) then this song will speak to you. If you have ever wondered if you will escape the blues then this song should be on your playlist.

John Lee Hooker’s “Never Get Out of These Blues Alive” is quintessential blues (Hell, John Lee Hooker is quintessential blues). Whether you are new to the blues or already have an extensive playlist consider adding this song. There is one important thing to keep in mind when listening to this song (or the blues in general for that matter). The blues isn’t just about how bad things are, the blues is about a hope that things will get better.

-K-

The Best of John Lee Hooker 1965 to 1974 (1992) by John Lee Hooker

Black Coffee and Cigarettes: The Mix Tape

1. “Coffee Girl”–The Tragically Hip

2. “Smoke Rings”–Sam Cooke

3. “Cigarettes and Coffee”–Otis Redding

Red Cup (Optio-edit)
“Red Cup”

4. “Rum in My Morning Coffee”–Jan Smith

5. “Three Cigarettes in an Ashtray”–Patsy Cline

6. “Don’t Smoke in Bed”–Nina Simone

Apt. Cigarette Break (edit)
“Cigarette Break”

7. “Cigarettes, Whiskey, and Wild Wild Women”–Jim Croce

8. “Coffee Blues”–Lightnin’ Hopkins

9. “Never Get Out of These Blues Alive”–John Lee Hooker

-K-

Making My Own Cuppa Joe

or Why I’m Going to Pass on the ‘bucks and the Dunk’

I am a creature of habits (some bad, a few expensive, but most relatively harmless). As the state I live in moves into the next phase of its quarantine I feel like some raggedy ass bear coming out of hibernation (if you saw my beard you would have a better visual). One habit that this forced solitude has allowed me to break is my ‘need’ to stop at coffee shops.

I always make coffee in the morning whether it’s a K Cup or a full pot, but on most days I stop off at a coffee shop after work to get a caffeine boost. I’ve come to realize that this coffee shop habit is mostly laziness on my part. It’s just as easy (and hell of a lot cheaper) to make a cup of coffee when I get home. They (insert name of major coffee brand here) want to convince you that their coffee shops are a “third place.” They want you to believe they are a home away from home, a caffeinated version of Cheers where every barista knows your order. These branded coffee shops are nothing more than big box retailers on a different scale. They are creating a ‘need’ I don’t have or want (three months of quarantine cold turkey have proven this).

Coffee Pots #2 (D5300-editj24.86)
“Coffee Pots”

So here’s to staying home and brewing your own. Here’s to sipping coffee (cold brewed or regular) on your porch, patio, deck, or front stoop. Here’s to making a cuppa joe and going to the library which is a much better “third place” (they have free internet too and books, oh so many books). Here’s to being you and realizing you don’t ‘need’ to conform to somebody else’s idea of where to get a good cuppa joe.

-K-

When Cigarettes are Currency

War Profiteering in Blue Helmets and Black Markets

Most of us have spent more time than usual at home over the past few months. I spent some of that time reviewing my current events/history bookshelf (yep, I’m the kind of person who has organized and dedicated bookshelves). It’s interesting how current events become history. Today’s newspaper is nothing more than tomorrow’s fish wrapper if we don’t take the time to study, analyze, and learn from current events, history, and were the two meet. We should all keep a current events/history bookshelf and review it on a regular basis. One of the books I recently reviewed is Peter Andreas’ Blue Helmets and Black Markets The Business of Survival in the Siege of Sarajevo. Its message is as timely today as it was over a decade ago.

Blue Helmets and Black Markets (book cover)
Blue Helmets and Black Markets by Peter Andreas

History can be viewed as a series of specific events over a general period of time. Some of these historical events can be too specific to appeal to a wide audience. Andreas’ book covers the Siege of Sarajevo which lasted from 1992 to 1995. This event, and time period, may be too narrow to appeal to some readers but it shouldn’t be a surprise that wars tend to be wars and politics tends to be politics. Andreas contends that various political and military groups, including UN soldiers, profited from the black market that existed during the siege. This profiteering also served to prolong the siege for the citizens of Sarajevo. Andreas states, “Cigarettes were so valued in wartime Sarajevo that they became an alternative form of currency.” At another point in the book reporter Maggie O’Kane states, “The UN soldiers here are making themselves and the Sarajevo mafia rich. The soldiers are the importers and the locals are the middlemen for a trade in cigarettes…worth millions of dollars.” This is not the first, or last, time soldiers and politicians have profited from war, but without analysis of historical events it is difficult to develop an understanding and learn from history.

Peter Andreas’ book is an insightful look into the lives of the citizens who lived through the Siege of Sarajevo and the politicians and soldiers who prolonged and profited from the siege. It is a book worth study and analysis for its historical context. It is also worth a read in a time when current events are fraught with individuals who willingly manipulate and prolong conflict for profit.

-K-

Blue Helmets and Black Markets The Business of Survival in the Siege of Sarajevo (2008) by Peter Andreas.

There is nothing quite like Waffle House coffee at three in the morning.

-K-

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