The Grind of Getting By

John Huston’s Fat City

What is your blood and sweat worth? This is the question Bill Tully, a boxer, asks his manager in Fat City. John Huston’s 1972 movie tackles a few serious topics, one of which is what it means and what it takes to get by.

Fat City

Fat City is approaching fifty years old and it definatley has the look and feel of the early 70s, but the story (I am reluctant to use words such as theme and message) is as relevant today as it was when it premiered. The characters struggle with the everydayness of work, relationships, and a desire to do more with their lives than simply get by. The movie is a slow paced character study that peels back the layers of a man’s life and examines his efforts to do more and be more.

The movie has a collection of characters who struggle to get by, from the main character Bill Tully, Bill’s buddy Ernie, and Bill’s opponent Lucero. Without giving too much away there is a scene in the movie where Lucero walks out of the arena after the fight that is itself a study in getting by. Fat City is worth a watch if you are interested in a character study in getting by.

-K-

Fat City (1972) with Stacy Keach and Jeff Bridges. Directed by John Huston.

When you can’t seem to get from behind it, whatever it is.

-K-

Getting By in 2020

and Getting Ahead in 2021

We spent the last year or so in a variety of ways but I dare say the most common were isolation and idleness. Getting by appears to be the default mode of 2020. We experienced isolation from acquaintances, friends, and family. Hell, I’ve had friends tell me they miss the staff from the local Dunkin’. Many of us found ourselves in some form or another of forced idleness. Our jobs, hobbies, and assorted pass times were not compatible with a lockdown lifestyle and forced many of into a year long holding pattern of sorts. Simply getting by was the daily grind for many of us last year (and the first part of this one too).

One use of alcohol in 2020.

But we got by in 2020. We didn’t give up. We embraced the distance in our interpersonal relationships and made them work. We found ways around the idleness. Those ways may have added a few pounds or worked the liver a little too hard, but we ground it out and found ways to keep active. We got up, and we got by. Now that there seems to an end in sight to this craziness let’s move from getting by to getting ahead in the rest of 2021.

-K-

Dose of Dr. Gonzo

“The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, but to those who can see it coming and jump aside.”

-Hunter S. Thompson-

Getting By: The Mix Tape

Side A

1. “House Rent Boogie”—John Lee Hooker

2. “Fast Car”—Tracy Chapman

3. “Marie”—Townes Van Zandt

4. “Another Day in Paradise”—Phil Collins

5. “Sittin’ on a Poor Man’s Throne”—Bobby “Blue” Bland

“Couple at Jukebox”

Side B

6. “King of the Road”—Roger Miller

7. “Broken Down”—Eric Clapton

8. “Times Gettin’ Tougher Than Tough”—Them

9. “Hard Time Losin’ Man”—Jim Croce

10. “Hard Time”—Gillian Welch

-K-

Four Line Blues Poems

“12”

Friday night gambled on being gone.
Monday morning pay the aching empty.
Where have I put my lost tomorrows?
Highway gone-stole my yesterdays.

-K-

Some Thoughts on Getting By

How to Measure Success?

All too often we feel the need to measure, evaluate, and/or judge our current position in life. We wonder if we are falling behind, coming out ahead, or maybe we’re just getting by. Wherever we find ourselves in life it is almost always compared to some other place or position we think (or others have convinced to think) we should be or wish to be in order to be succesful. With all this in mind I decided the next topic of conversation will be getting by.

“Road Block”

Getting by can and does refer to many different things varying from one’s mental state to job/economic status and a whole bunch more. It’s usually just used to reference that general place and time in life where we are but not necessarily where we wish to be. For some getting by is a layover of sorts, a temporary state of being. For others getting by is the final stop, a way of life.

Getting by has become a way to measure where we feel we are in life. It is also a way to measure ourselves against some sort of definition of success (a definition that is often not of our making). Let’s take a closer look at getting by, what it means, and how it reflects our views of self and others.

-K-

A Few Final Thoughts on Selling Out

What’s Relevant?

We’re on the tale end of a couple rainy days over here in the Midwest, and rain always puts me in a contemplative mood. Figure now is as good a time as any to tap out a few thoughts to wrap up the conversation about selling out. I’ve come to think that there are a three points to consider when it comes to the idea of selling out, and only one point is relevant.

“After a Rain”

The first irrelevant point is the accusation of selling out. It’s naïve to think peer pressure ends with high school or that accusations (or opinions) are incapable of ruining lives, but we can’t allow ourselves to be judged as sell outs by others. Shakespeare has that line about being true to yourself. As long as you stay true to yourself the accusations of others shouldn’t effect how you view yourself. Subscribing to some generic definition of selling out is the second irrelevant point. We shouldn’t worry ourselves with the accusations of others or try to live by their definitions either. It is all too easy to criticize ourselves or to think less of ourselves when we apply some generic definition of selling out to our lives. The third and only relevant point is whether or not we believe we sold out. If you can look in the mirror and live with what you choose to do then the accusations of others and their definitions don’t matter.

The only judge of whether or not you’ve sold out is you. The accusations and definitions of others are irrelevant. I’ve dedicated the past month to the topic of selling out and now it’s time to move along to a new topic. I hope you found something interesting (or at least entertaining) among these posts.

-K-

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