Sunday, June 9, 2013


Now you see me … and POOF … 80 years later now you don’t!  According to the latest baseball stats, I shall live (as other males my ilk) until I am 78 years of age.  The ladies of my eye ball shall dance until they are 82 years of age.

This was a glorious week for busking.  I doffed my hat and ruffled my shock, sported a white t, faded blue jeans and green leather Rockies, and made considerable coin, whilst strummin’ my twelve-string and blowin’ my harpoon.  

This was not a glorious week for a couple of (past) acquaintances.   I was in attendance at their funerals, which no doubt inspired this particular blog topic – DEATH (so euphemistically referred to as LONGEVITY in my title).

With regard to death, historically, here is how we humans have fared to date:
In 1798 there was a person who lived to be 103.  In 1898 there was one who lived to be 110.  In 1990 one person lived to 115.  And in 1997 the longest living human, whose dates of birth and death have been verified with both Guinness World Records and the Gerontology Research Group, is on record as being 122 years of age.  Her name was Jeanne Calment and she lived and died in France.

As we crawl in inchmeal fashion along our continuum of life, how do we compare with our other-type sisters and brothers and cousins under our sun?  (Being positioned at the top of the food chain does have certain survival and psychological advantages, but longevity is not necessarily one of them.)

A house mouse can squeak and nibble cheese up to 4 years.  A dog can yip and chase its tail for 29 years.  A cat’s ninth life can happen at 38 years.  Polar bears can guzzle ice-cold coca cola until they are 42.  Asian elephants have trumpeted until 86.  Polly parrots can want crackers for 90 or so years.  Galapagos tortoises have raced with hares until they were 190 years old.  A Bowhead whale was recently killed (not by Captain Ahab) having a harpoon stuck in its body which dated back to 1890.  A carbon analysis of that harpoon indicated that this particular whale likely died at the age of 211. 

Ah, in spite of their comparatively long lives, they do have one common quality.  They are finite.  They do die.

We, as humans, differ quite innumerably from these other aforementioned creatures.  We, as a species atop the food chain, tend to glorify busyness.  We count our successes according to the number of inbox messages, and according to the many circled days on our calendars. 

We, as a species, distinguish our shiny selves from those other prosaic selves through forms of cultural beautocracies.  We draw bright-lines between bon-vivant and boor. We engage in conversations pettifog, shaggy-dog, and monologue.  We are zoomorphic, and we are sun worshippers and mooniacs.       

We are a species that spreads itself thin.

We’ve just two creatures on our planet that do not have a finish line.   

One is a distant cousin, a special species of jellyfish, the Turritopsis Nutricula.  Rather than dying after reproducing, this jellyfish somehow manages to revert backwards to a sexually immature stage.  Consequently, Turritopsis Nutricula, is considered biologically immortal!

And the other is our incestual cousin, the vampire!  One such vampire was Dracula, introduced to us in Bram Stoker’s epistolary horror of 1897.  Dracula was a folklore being who fed off the blood of the living.  On a good day he was a gentleman, tall and aristocratic, dressed to the nines in a jasper suit with puce trim, and living faraway in a frightening castle on some mountain in Transylvania.  On a bad day, Dracula, when thirstily blanched, transmogrified into a blackened sang-froid blood-sucking murderer.  

(Fortunately for us, we know that Dracula met his maker more than a dozen times on the big screen.  Also fortunate is the fact the Vampire Killing Kits are readily available -- just google vampire kit for more information!)  Except when they get their heads chopped off, or a wooden stake pounded through their heart, or when they're forcibly scorched under the burning sun, vampires have the capability of lasting up to a million years!

A million years!  Wouldn’t that be nice?  Maybe.  Maybe not. Let’s examine the Dracula advantage in the areas of love, work, and play.

Love.  Conservatively pretend that any one of us could experience one sexual encounter a year; then, given a million years we could wriggle and writhe and wag our tongue and sweat sweetly with a million different lovers.

Work.  We’d have a million years to work at googolplex jobs.  This would give even the most ordinary bloke plenty of time to climb to the top in any company.

Play.  Our entire existence could be nothing but.  We could party from dusk ‘til dawn (pun intended).  But alas, as my buddy, Father Basil, pointed out (quoting Richard Rohr) … 

If we knew we would never die, then we would never grow up.


I had a few characters marching in my Chaucerian Parade this week who are worthy of mention.

  • Kaydon … a young and generous consumer with that 60’s hippy look, stated that he’s off to the center of the universe (Toronto) to study ukulele.

  • A plump and pleasant woman dropped oranges and bananas into my guitar case.

  • My busker buddy, Dylan, left his guitar under my watch while he bought groceries for his family.  (Dylan gladly took the oranges and bananas when I offered.)

  • There was the superannuated doxologist schoolmarm who insisted that I had lots of original songs in me because the Lord told her so.  (I’ve seen her twice since and the Lord has yet to tell her to toss some coin into my guitar case, or if He did, she didn’t listen!)

  • There was a ragtag who wanted to borrow my health card so he could purchase codeine from the pharmacy, and got angry when I refused.  I’m a framer with a bad back, he insisted.  He stumbled into Shoppers Drugmart but hastily exited with a security guard close behind!

Phenomenology haunts me always.  (I know this is because I’ve studied phenomenology and therefore, am always receptive when it arrives.)   

This week one of my favorite students asked me to work on BAD THINGS, the theme song from the television vampire series, TRUE BLOOD.  I did work on it and even performed it a few times while busking.  (I’d like to tell you, fellow buskers, that singing this hot song is one long strong pick-up line for attracting the most luscious and voluptuous of the opposite sex.  However, this is certainly not so.  If anything … it is creepy, creepy.


Em            B7              Em
When you came in the air went out
Em         B7            Em
And every shadow filled up with doubt
Am                   Em                   B7                Em
I don't know who you think you are but before the night is through
Em       B7                Em
I wanna do bad things with you

Em          B7                 Em
I'm the kind to sit up in his room
Em          B7                 Em
Heart sick an' eyes filled up with blue
Am                   Em                   B7                Em
I don't know what you've done to me but I know this much is true
Em       B7                Em
I wanna do bad things with you...okay

Em            B7              Em
When you came in the air went out
Em            B7              Em
And all those shadows there are filled up with doubt
Am                   Em                   B7                Em
I don't know who you think you are but before the night is through
Em       B7                Em
I wanna do bad things with you

I wanna do real bad things with you!

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