Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Song for Sonny Liston

Maybe some of you know who Sonny Liston was.  I had never heard of the man.  Not until I heard this song.

[The song is written and performed by Mark Knopfler.  He was the driving force behind the band Dire Straits, and is abso-fucking-lutely amazing.  An amazing guitar player, song writer, singer...  His sound I guess is a rock/blues thing.  Jeff was really into his stuff, and while I had heard some of it, really listening to Knopfler's CDs was life changing.  He's my top Pandora radio pick.  We've seen him perform here in San Diego - I cannot recommend this guys music enough.  Try the albums 'Get Lucky' or 'Golden Heart' to start]

So many mouths
To feed on the farm
Sonny was the second
To the last one born

His mamma ran away
And his daddy beat him bad
And he grew up wild
Good love he never had

He had a left
Like henry's hammer
A right like betty bamalam
Rode with the muggers
In the dark and dread
And all them sluggers
Went down like lead

Well he hung with the hoods
He wouldn't stroke the fans
But he had dynamite
In both his hands

Boom bam
Like the slammer door
The bell and the can
And the bodies on the floor

Beware the bear's in town
Somebody's money says
The bear's going down
Yeah, the bear never smiles
Sonny's going down
For miles and miles
Sonny's going down
For miles and miles

The writers didn't like him
The fight game jocks
With his lowlife backers
And his hands like rocks

They didn't want to have
A bogey man
They didn't like him
And he didn't like them

Black Cadillac
Alligator boots
Money in the pockets
Of his sharkskin suits

Some say the bear
Took a flop
They couldn't believe it
When they saw him drop

He had a left
Like henry's hammer
A right like betty bamalam
Rode with the muggers
In the dark and dread
And all them sluggers
Went down like lead

Joe Louis was his hero
He tried to be the same
But a criminal child
Wears a ball and chain

So the civil rights people
Didn't want him on the throne
And the hacks and the cops
Wouldn't leave him alone

Beware the bear's in town
Somebody's money says
The bear's going down
Yeah, the bear never smiles
Sonny's going down
For miles and miles
Sonny's going down
For miles and miles

At the foot of his bed
With his feet on the floor
There was dope in his veins
And a pistol on the drawer

There was no investigation
As such
He hated needles
But he knew too much

On his back
Scars from his daddy
Like slavery tracks

The second-last child
Was the second-last king
Never again was it the same
In the ring

He had a left
Like henry's hammer
A right like betty bamalam
Rode with the muggers
In the dark and dread
And all them sluggers
Went down like lead

They never could be sure
About the day he was born
A motherless child
Set to working on the farm

And they never could be sure
About the day he died
The bear was the king
They cast aside

Beware the bear's in town
Somebody's money says
The bear's going down
Yeah, the bear never smiles
Sonny's going down
For miles and miles
Sonny's going down
For miles and miles

Charles (Sonny) Liston was a beast of a man.  Became heavy-weight champ and then lost the title to Cassius Clay (Mohammad Ali).  But it's Sonny's story before that bout that we're looking at, the life story that Knopfler wrote about.  And it's that story - that childhood, that saddens and enrages me.

He was born somewhere between 1928 and 1932 - nobody knows for sure and he doesn't appear on the census reports until 1940.  It was that kind of life - nobody recorded your birth.  The event wasn't that big of a deal.  YOU weren't that big of a deal.  Just another baby in a long line of babies and who cares anyway?

Evidently his father had been widowed in his fifties and had already fathered twelve children with his first wife.  Reading the rest of the story I can easily believe she died of starvation, stress, or was beaten to death.  Once his first wife was dead, he took up with a 16 year-old child named Helen Baskin (don't know if they were married) and moved her to Arkansas in 1916; she then gave birth to 13 more children.  Read that again.  25 CHILDREN TOTAL.  Tobin Liston, called Tobe (Tobe.  TOE BEE - srsly) was a black sharecropper in backwoods Mississippi and Arkansas in the early 1900's.  He was dirt. assed. poor.  Here is a picture of a white sharecropping family from 1916, there are almost no pictures of black families from that time.  This family only has a few children:
I cannot fathom the poverty.  The despair.  A sharecropper is a euphemism for slave - it's what slave owners turned into after Lincoln freed their property.  Sharecroppers got to keep 1/4 of the crops they picked.  ONE. QUARTER.

That 16-year old girl kept on getting pregnant.  From the rest of this story, I'm going to assume she was getting beaten and raped by this Tobe piece of shit.  13 CHILDREN.  Giving birth 13 times, alone without pain meds or after care, without decent food in a dirt hovel - in the miserable summer and winter weather with no bathroom.  And NO JOY whatsoever.  Thirteen times.  Imagine how tired and afraid and weak and NARCED OUT this girl was.  Living this life of never ending days, never ending nights, never ending fear, never ending demands, and never ending children.  A couple of the eldest kids may have been gone, but for sure you can bet that he 'married' poor Helen Baskin in order to have childcare and to warm his bed - so I am going to assume (again) that there were probably at LEAST 8 children to take care of already, before the babies came and kept on coming.  ALWAYS pregnant.  Always.  Your body never your own.

The 'house' was more than likely a one room gig.  25 bodies.  No bathroom.  More than one baby nursing at a time, more than one toddler being potty trained without water, without diapers.  Everything that happened in that place was heard and seen by all of them.  Every time he yelled and hit and thrashed anyone, everyone was there.  Any time he forced sex on that girl, the kids heard it.  She gave up.  Sonny was quoted as saying she was 'helpless' - what could she do?  You fight, you get beat.  You cry, too bad, you have 3 kids sucking at the teat and 4 or 5 more needing wiped down and food for 20 or so to pluck out of the air and cook and - *shrug* you give up.  When he says "bend over" you just do it.  Why fight it - you can't fight it.

Talk about PTSD.  Wonder what happened to the rest of the family.

Feeding around 25 people on a sharecroppers wages.  All the kids put to backbreaking labor as soon as they were what - 5?  6?  weaned and out of diapers?  Tobe's opinion was quoted by Sonny as being "if he can sit at the table, he can work".  What would you cook?  How would you wash clothes for that many people - where do you go to get the water, the wood - the flour and beans?  Where does everyone sleep, and what do they wear?  Books.  Music.  Toys.  JOY.  What in the fuck kind of life is this.

This is reminding me of 'Breakfast at Tiffany's' - another thoroughly depressing story.

Sonny is believed to have been the second-to-the-last child and youngest son.  When Sonny was 13 his mother left with all the other kids and escaped to St. Louis.  She left Sonny behind.  I am halfway screaming furious at this, and halfway accepting of her choice - she took ALL THE OTHER KIDS STILL AT HOME and ran.  Old Tobe probably insisted on keeping one boy to work with him on the farm.  Sonny's back was already so scarred from whippings (A WHIP ACROSS HIS BACK) so many times before that the scars were visible for DECADES, and in fact are a juicy tidbit in the biographies written about him.  So she took a Sophie's Choice and ran.  As Spock said, "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few" - and yeah.  If you can save a dozen or more by leaving one, you go.

Imagine that day - the day she was leaving.  No WAY would Tobe have just LET her and all those kids go - those kids were HIS slaves, his way to food.  He worked those kids.  So how did she get out?  Either in the dead of night or with a nuclear war, and where did she get the strength?

AND - why leave the youngest boy?  Why didn't old Tobe insist on an older boy, one that was more used to the work, one who could help more?  Sonny - I mean, she called him 'Sonny'  (nope, bad info, that was a nickname given to him in prison) Maybe she doted on that boy - maybe he was something special to her.  Which would have made Tobe FURIOUS.  He would hate whatever she loved, right?  He had a special hatred for Sonny - so he yanked him back from freedom and made his life an even bigger slice of hell.

Exhausted, out of your mind with terror, weak, hungry, filthy and desperate.  I keep trying to get my head around that life.  I cannot.  Trying to save any of the babies you have, any at all, from the monster.

They ALL got beat.  A man like this, with this many children, does not have a golden child.  But Sonny?  Became the scapegoat.  THE scapegoat.  For all that went on, for all that was wrong before. 

From this website:  http://www.thesweetscience.com/news/articles-frontpage/15175-a-birthday-for-sonny-liston (Tobe Liston) was, by all reports, a man whose hostility could not be contained in the meager five-foot-five frame God had given him. It spilled out in torrents of abuse and the oversized boy who didn’t pick cotton fast enough and whose silence was mistook for a simple mind, bore the brunt of it. Sonny wasn’t sentimental about his childhood: “The only thing I ever got from my old man was a beating,” he said.

Sonny was abandoned (in his mind) by his mother and siblings, left alone with the monster who now had nothing else to focus on.  Sonny became the target - and imagine the mind fuck of all of this.  While I understand Helen's choice to cut and run, I can MORE imagine Sonny's state of mind at discovering he was to be the sacrifice.  His Mother didn't save him, his father was a terrifying demon.  He ended up working for one of his brother-in-laws, thrashing pecan trees for the nuts and selling them.  With what money he could scrape together, he traveled to St. Louis to re-join his mother and siblings.  Where else was he going to go?  A kid wants his mother, and wants answers.  Wants that Time back that got stolen - the time he should have been away from the demon like the rest of them.  I cannot imagine her pain - she loved him, no doubt:
A human being would want pay-back from the gods.  Retribution for the shitty hand he was dealt, and for the fact that the rest of them left.  There was no therapy then - no Dr. Phil show or internet websites.  There was only the noise inside your own head.  A cacophony of terror and rage.

He became a gang-banger - a mean street thug and served time in prison.  He was a 'bone breaker' for the Italian mafia.  He worked for some pretty bad dudes, he was a pretty bad dude.  He never complained about prison - he had 3 meals a day and a clean place to sleep.  Imagine that - prison is better than my other life.  It was in prison that he learned to box.  He had an amazing boxing career - I know nothing of boxing so I am going to give you a link to Wikipedia so you can read about it and research it yourself.  They called him 'The Big Bear' : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sonny_Liston

He was associated with the 'under world' and had a pretty long rap sheet.  He was essentially fighting for his life both in and out of the ring - his reputation caused a vicious circle of adulation and vilification.  When he won the title for Heavyweight Championship of the World, Liston had prepared a speech for a crowd that his friends had told him would be there to meet him at Philadelphia airport. But when he arrived, Sonny was only met by a few reporters and some public relations staff.  Where was the big celebration he felt he was entitled to - the celebration any other winner of that title would have been guaranteed?  Well, he was just kind of an asshole thug, is what.  Black people didn't get TV time unless they could be 'admired' - we all know the shame of the history of the way they were treated in this country - even Sammy Davis Jr., star of Vegas with the rest of the Rat Pack, wasn't allowed to stay in the very hotels where he was headlining.  So give a black man a history of prison time and rap sheets - there was no way they were going to celebrate him.

The Civil Rights movement didn't want him either - he wasn't the type of person they wanted to be a spokesman for them. 

Everybody both hated and loved him.  Then he evidently took a fall in the fight with Ali - was forced to take a fall - and his career went directly into the shitter.  I found a book written about him and the Ali fights, here : http://www.sonnyliston.net/.

There was huge controversy over his death in 1970.  It was declared a heroin overdose but there is incontrovertible evidence from many sources that Sonny hated needles, and even refused a celebratory over-seas exhibition tour of Europe because of the shots he would have had to get.  There are still to this day suspicions that he was murdered.

But what my point is - I guess - is his childhood.  The abuse <--that word just doesn't seem big enough for what he went through.  And?  He rose above it.  In his own way, he found a way out.  Yes, crime and prison, but he also had the stamina and drive to train his way to several boxing matches which he WON - and became Heavy Weight Champion of the World.  That is some serious dedication right there.

"Liston married Geraldine Clark in St. Louis, Missouri, on September 3, 1957. He had a stepdaughter and they subsequently adopted a boy from Sweden. Geraldine remembered her husband as, "Great with me, great with the kids. He was a gentle man."  He had a STEP daughter, and adopted another kid.  There were several more born out of wedlock - not sure of the timeframe, before or during his marriage.

He wouldn't have made himself an easy person to love.  He was damaged, and we all know how that goes.

Evidently he was very generous with his children and his wife.  He helped his sister Alcora financially during a very difficult time.  By all accounts he didn't pass on his legacy of abuse and neglect.  He stopped it dead.

He had not only tasted poverty, he had eaten a buffet of poverty.  If crime would buy him food and shelter - if that was the way to get money and therefore respect, then yes - hellz yes.  He went from that hovel, that hideous abusive shack in the backwaters of the south, to sharkskin suits and Cadillacs.  Hell yes he was a criminal.  I don't applaud the crimes but I do understand the motivation, the willingness to do whatever it took to not be that poor ever again.  And to not EVER be beaten and whipped again.  To be the toughest fucking dog in the pack.  Yeah, I get that.

He made mistakes out of the fear and rage in his head.  But he didn't swing at his kids.  And isn't that what we are all always talking about - how narcs always say "but my childhood was bad, I'm a victim, waaah" when NONE OF US did it.  And even someone who had it as bad as Sonny Liston didn't do it.

From  http://www.sonnyliston.net/
"Sonny’s immense talent has been largely ignored but it has never been equaled. Half a century ago, he was to boxing what Babe Ruth was to baseball, what Tiger Woods became to golf, and what Usain Bolt is to track.

The legendary Joe Louis called Liston the greatest heavyweight champion in history.  Boxing’s three best big men of all time were in awe of Sonny, as was the entire sports world. Gilbert Rogin’s characterization of Liston as the nearest piece of talent to Godzilla, was an accurate description both of his ability and the public’s perception of him when he was champ. Veteran trainer Angelo Dundee said Liston stood over the division like a colossus. When Louis said, “Nobody’s gonna beat Liston ’cept old age,” there was no reason or indication to think otherwise."

Monday, June 24, 2013

Don't rattle the serial killer's cage

The following was written by a friend of mine, in an email to me.  I obtained permission to post it on my blog.  Enjoy:

One of the things anonymous commenters lose sight of over here is that they are pestering a guy whose childhood was eclipsed and saturated by the thoughts and deeds of a homicidal maniac. Over the years I spent a lot of time in the hood and never so much as had as much as a single instance when I was in fear of just about anything. Not from crips or bloods or coke dealers because anybody looking on could see I was just a skinny white kid  passing through. Not to say I went there LOOKING for trouble and counting on my skylarking demeanor to keep me safe from a bunch of gun toting coke dealers. If I was looking for trouble I would have found it. I still don't look for trouble in or out of the hood. When I say trouble I don't mean pissing off some rich kid who is listens to rap music as he rolls up the windows in his BMW when he drives down Martin Luther King Boulevard. I mean real trouble, not a bunch of pussies hiding behind anonymity on the net  With a  mother like mine trouble found me on it's own. Anonymous posters forget about the little things that add up to a long and healthy life. Things like not pissing on electric fences, and telling the cop asking you to say your abc's backwards that he should fucking do it. And I don't pester people who I am clueless about their true nature about being a pussy. None of you know who I  really am. Most of the people that think they know me have a pretty good idea of what I am really about. But all they KNOW for sure is what I tell them and what I tell them is my mother was responsible in one way or another for more than one death. Isn't that enough?  I joked in my comments section about having a shrine of severed heads in my closet and who knows? Maybe I am joking and maybe I ain't.
Is this me?
Dennis Rader booking.jpg
Or this?
One of the common denominators about homicidal maniacs is our advertising budget is non existent. That and one of our parents was a homicidal maniac. It's hard getting the word out for new customers. Anon's seek me out and graciously provide me with an Isp #  One out of two is a bigger chance than I would be willing to take. So!
What'll it be? 

This blog is for entertainment purposes only - any resemblance between me and a garden variety killer is purely a coincidence. 

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Twit of the Year

So I commented on Q's blog about how wouldn't it be great if all of us ULBs could meet in person and then I thought, you know - we're all introverts and social misfits and getting us all to agree to meet would be tres difficult

Then I thought "yeesh, all of us in the same room acting like social misfits" and I laughed because can you imagine?  All of us asking each other if everything is OK and all of us needing to go hide in the bathroom to take a break and then - THEN I thought of this skit and come on.  IT IS US.

The Twit Contest.  I hope you watch it - and I hope it makes you laugh.  It's Monty Python and British humor but freaking FUNNY.

NIGEL HAS RUN HIMSELF OVER!, Oh what a great twit

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Passive Agressive attacks - the hallmark of a narcissist

There has been this thing with Q and his comment over on this blog

She wrote about poop, and then Q commented something about 'crap' - you can read the whole thing on his blog here

Firstly, how can you not get the connection between what she wrote about (poop) and his comment (crap)?  Even taking into account that inflection and tone is lost sometimes in the written word, that comment was sarcastic and funny.

two-ly (?), Q said he apologized and clarified to her with no response.  Weird.

thirdly - I tried to 'splain it to her, twice.  I was even being all REASONABLE and GROWN UP and shit.  But my comments are moldering in her in-box.  See below:

1st comment:
Your comment is awaiting moderation.

I think, knowing Q, that he was being funny with thge crap/poop thing. Like sorta Alanis Ironical.
2nd Comment:

Your comment is awaiting moderation.

I tried to tell you he was being sarcastic, but my comment appears to still be in moderation. He really was joking. Evidently he has tried to tell you he was joking, a coupla different ways (here and twitter?). I’m not understanding why you are continuing with your assumption that he was trolling you?
Your blog, I know I know, but why the insistence on being offended or whatever when he has offered a mea culpa… ?

So here's my question/thoughts.  Say someone says something to you and it hurts/offends you.  Then that person says "oh jeebus, sorry, I didn't mean it like that it came out wrong, here's what I meant, sorry" - sure, perhaps the sting is still there, but why not acknowledge the misunderstanding as just that, and move on?

In this case, the blogger is getting lots of hits (mine among them because I kept looking to see if she had published or responded to my comments) and perhaps that is her point, her prerogative and fine and dandy.  But she's a psychologist/therapist...

This insistence on being offended - Q is having problems with Lisa/John over this same thing.  Professional victim-hood? 

There is a level of self-honesty that I see in ACoNs.  We KNOW we are broken, and we take that into account (probably too much so) in all interactions with people. Some people are self-aware, and able to see both sides of an encounter.  We all know what it is like to be attacked, but do all of us remember what it was like to be the attacker in an erroneous situation?  ALL of us have used a nuclear bomb when a bullet might have done the trick.  We have ALL been SO OFFENDED by something that was innocuous and not meant. 

We have all also been the target of passive-aggressive attacks that can be hidden behind the exact same excuses.  So I'm guessing some people have not yet gotten beyond the hurt of those passive-aggressive darts.  Haven't gotten to the self-aware portion of the program.

The fact that the person in question is a FAMILY THERAPIST sends chills up my spine.

Friday, June 14, 2013

The alcoholic tries to dry out again.

All y'all have so much going on - still fighting the narc fight.  Still battling it out betwixt good & evil.  Still walking and talking the walk and talk.

All I got is an internal battle so old it needs Ben-gay to get its dander up.  I'm sick of IT and I'm sick of me and I'm sick of talk talk talking because here I am AGAIN fucking again, like a horse race I'm so far behind I think I'm ahead.

I get all centered and peaceful and something comes along and tosses me like a damned dwarf and I let it shape my reality.

I suffered under a narcissist but I harbor no illusions that he/they were of the malignant variety.  Where I was ignored and sidelined and yes abused (which was bad, don't get me wrong), most of you all were in the Auschwitz to my Orphan Asylum.  So many have dealt with so much worse and come out light years ahead of where I am emotionally.  Mentally.  Psycho-ly.
I srsly thought of taking my blarg down because SERIOUSLY.  I mean, read y'own archives, bitch! We been here so many times they save us a seat.

I read you all and read your struggles and your progress and your fucking BATTLES with like BRAIN TUMORS and horrifying mothers and fathers and BROTHERS and MILs and ET SETT ER UH. 

I have geraniums on my patio.  I believe in ghosts and positive energy wahhh! and I'm all personal power, wheee! and YET I'm fucking FIFTY TWO YEARS OLD and yes.  TW, you were so right, progress not perfection, right?  But I've been buying and selling this same shirt for so fucking long and look!  Nobody else is in line to buy it OR sell it!  LA LA LA it's just ME!

I married a broken guy, and lo and behold we have problems, but he tells me he loves me more than pants and I love him right back and I'm really fairly happy and HONESTLY NOW - wouldn't I have problems anywhere I was?  Cos, let's say it together - no matter where you are, there you are.

OH OBV., I am not taking this blog down.  I have to stop running away from myself.  How's this --> I HATE that I was honest and told all my crap in typical vomit-the-story-on-everyone fashion.  Because DUH I can't revise my own history now like I've been taught to do from the git go.  And no, I don't need y'all to tell me it's FINE because yes I know it is, it's FINE and I'm me and I actually DID get back up faster this time, I'm at peace faster this time, so yes progress but shitballs.  I bore myself.

When I hear the phrase "let's go have a drink", this is what I see in my head:

What a drink actually tastes like (so why drink it?  I dunno, axe my brain)

this is how I think we look at a bar:
And the reality:
And then there's this.  Like, too often to be ignored.
So yeah.  there's another truth to nail my mouth shut.