Shootin' the Breeze

by "Bummer"

bummer @ abate

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February 2017

    I love words (obviously)...

    There are now well over 171,000 words in the English language according to the Oxford English Dictionary and that number grows each year. Those words can express anger, love, hate, grief, excitement, and any other emotion known to mankind. They can describe beauty, desolation, science, nature, and everything we can see or dream of. They communicate solace, explanation, and on top of everything else... entertainment. And there would be absolutely no progress on any level if what is thought or intended couldn’t be communicated to others clearly.

    Words, whether written or spoken, can carry you back to places you’ve been, can take others there with or without you, and can take any of us to places that can only be imagined. Even our imaginations couldn’t function very deeply without sorting out what we imagine by using... you guessed it, words. In short, I’m sure that the greatest creation that has benefited mankind the most throughout time on any level has been written and verbal communication through languages whether with others, or even internally within our own minds. The act of thinking itself would be too confusing to be productive without words because the simplest things would befuddle you. That’s why your dog doesn’t drive a car. Instead he can only stick his head out the window with that befuddled smile on his face while he grooves on some kind of “Hell yeah!” as his tongue flaps in the wind. (I know the feeling because I’ve reacted that way to seeing certain women and it’s embarrassing.)

    I was talking to a teenage son of a friend the other day and was struck by the different way generations use English and to be frank, how hard it was to understand what the hell he was saying as if he was speaking in a foreign language, which would have been fine with me if I could just understand that language. A while back I overheard a few young people talking to each other, and the funny thing about that was in their attempt to sound “cool” they kept misunderstanding what was being said and had to repeat or re-word some things a few times.

    “Texting”, being the shortened version of speech that it is, tends to abbreviate words to the point that what is said can certainly be perplexing to anyone who isn’t familiar with it. Of course I understand the reason it’s done... to conserve cost, effort, and time... but I wonder how much conflict and confusion is the result of important “texts” being misunderstood.

    Now, slang is good. We all use it. Slang is colorful and sometimes necessary to describe something for which there might not be any readily available words. Bikers use their own slang words and phrases often, as have beatniks, hippies, the military, cops, doctors, butchers, bakers and candlestick makers. Even Shakespeare used it repeatedly. Slang often simplifies what you’re trying to say while making it clearer and often more vivid by “leaning” things a certain way. And wouldn’t it be a real hassle to have to precisely spell-out everything in proper English without it? Listening to anyone saying anything would put ya to sleep! In fact I’m using way too many words right now while stating the obvious, so I’ll move on before ya say, “Screw this!” and turn the page. And speaking of turning the page...

    I just heard that our annual state legislative seminar will be held on April 7th and 8th this year instead of the usual late January-early February. It’s going to be near Akron (not too far from my home) and a few buddies and myself are planning on going together. Hope y’all can make it. It’s much fun and very worthwhile. Anything bikers do usually turns out to be a blast. Hell, if we decided to put on a baking contest, it could turn out to be illegal and X-rated! LOL! I’m sure for the next few months there will be a flyer/advertisement in each issue of this magazine showing the specifics, so look out for that if you’re interested (and I hope ya are). Now, changing lanes again...

    I’ve been going to a few “open mike” nights for the past few months and I wish I woulda started doing this long ago. There’s at least one in any town that has a few bars with stages (or sometimes without them) each week. In my immediate area there are two different ones and a few more if I drive or ride a few miles further. Usually there’s no cover charge and you never know what you’ll be hearing or who you might be playing with. I think any of those reasons are extremely cool by themselves. Working a serious gig as a paid musician can be a total pain in the ass sometimes, but this is all for fun and fun only. The bar either supplies the sound system or hires someone to supply one while keeping track of everything and hosting the evening. So, keep your eyes open for one near you if you sing, play an instrument, tell jokes, juggle, yodel, or ya just wanna see and hear some amateur performers. Some of these people either are or were in professional bands and do this just for kicks. You’d be surprised how many absolutely great REAL artists don’t get paid for it and just wanna share because they’re truly into the music. Like my old man used to say, “Everyone has a song to sing.”

    I started doing this one night when riding with a friend and she suggested we stop at the bar where her daughter worked (who, we found, wasn’t even there working that night). A kick-ass bluegrass duo (mandolin and guitar) happened to be running the show for this bar’s open mike night, and since I always carry a few different keyed harps (harmonicas) in my saddlebags I asked to sit in with them. Soon both a banjo and a fiddle player showed up and it became a foot stompin’ hillbilly explosion! These things often urge anyone to join in, including the audience, and they can encompass any kind of music that you’re into. There are a few in nearby Youngstown that can be hard-rock, metal, or anything else you might be interested in on specified nights (of course they usually have larger stages and floors). I haven’t taken a guitar to one yet because none of mine fit in my bags LOL, but now that it’s too cold for a bike maybe I will soon. For now I’m just the “Harp Guy” and I think I prefer that because I get to play with anyone who wants a harp added, which seems to be just about everyone whether it’s blues, rock, folk, country, or whatever. A harp can fit in well with anything and can help “support” any song being played, which helps take a load off other performers, so that’s always welcomed. On a side note: A niece of mine heard from someone that I played “harp” at these often and asked how I carry something that big around with me. I told her I had a special trailer designed just for my harp and the little stool I sit on to play it. LMAO!

    Well, like usual I’ve been a bit “wordy” so I guess I’ll give y’all a break and shut this down. I’ll be talkin’ to ya next month. Oh and by the way... don’t forget that “Valentine’s Day” pops up on the 14th of this month. Make sure ya do something for yer honey (if ya have one) before you start wondering why she isn’t talking to you and why she’s making you sleep on the couch next to your befuddled dog (who doesn’t want you there either).


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