Wednesday, August 20, 2014



    Let me tell you, it doesn't shovel any easier than secular earth. Now that I've finally closed on the shul, the reality of owning Glen Wild's only 2 remaining sacred structures is sinking in. The consistency of theme between the Judeo and Christian traditions is apparent immediately. Both congregations let their sanctuaries go to Hell. I'm neither Christian nor Jew, so I have no vested interest in reaming either tradition. I find both belief systems confounding, filled with rules and rule breakers and followers. But speaking as a carpenter, I hate them both equally.
    When I bought the church it was listing to one side, a sad relic of the 1860's. The main roof leaked and rain literally poured through the steeple into the bell tower. The walls had begun to separate and large flat foundation stones were squeezed out onto the lawn. The first thing I did was grab a shovel, crow bar and pick ax. By hand, I dug footing drains around the entire church, dumping wheel barrow loads of drainage stone into the ditch. Then I jacked the side and laid new stone. Windows were re-glazed, and roofs followed,  until it was water tight. With the help of Al and bro Duke, it was functioning by 2010. Thank God I bought it 20 years ago.  I'd never be able to do it today.
   The shul was built in 1923. Around the time I was fixing the church, the congregation Anshei (people) held its last service, grabbed the Torah, locked the doors to 380 Glen Wild rd and never looked back. The rain poured in, destroying the tapestries, books, and anything else of value. Cinder block walls cracked and shifted. A river poured through the basement kitchen. Large chunks of plaster unkeyed from the arched ceiling lath, crashing onto the ark. By 2013 they decided to sell the shul and put the money into keeping up the cemetery. The dead now took precedent. The last thing I was looking for was another wreck of a building to pay taxes on. But like they say, they made me an offer I couldn't resist. The difference is, I'm only keeping it from falling down....not restoring it. Leave that for the next guy.

   The past three days I've been back in the ditch, bent over, trying to find a footing in the soggy mud. There's a hole in the cinder block wall you could drive a freight train through. I have to fix it before snow flies. Hunting season's right around the corner. I pray it doesn't come crashing down on my head.....and curse all believers who let their places of worship crumble. It's a shanda fur die goy. I hope their souls fare better than their property.



Friday, August 15, 2014



Thursday, August 14, 2014


 I've never been a big Robin Williams fan. He always made me a bit nervous with his manic delivery. A friend of mine attended Mill Valley high school with RW back in the 60's and said he was always like that. That said, I think he was a real talent and died way too young, by his own hand. According to all news accounts he was battling depression. A few months back a friend of the CLGM, Christine, also took her own life. Like Williams she hanged herself. Like Williams she was depressed. And very possibly like Christine, Williams was eating SSRIs. In Christine's case it was Zoloft.
   I know a little something about SSRIs. Around the turn of the century, I was broke, a bit lost, recently divorced, working a job i hated and dealing with a few personal demons. According to a couple of medical professionals I was severely depressed with bi-polar tendencies. One Dr. suggested anti-depressants. Why not? I'd self medicated for years with pot and booze and it no longer seemed to be working. I felt shitty enough to try anything. Prozac, Zoloft and Welbutrin were the popular SSRIs of the day. I'll take Zoloft.
   The medical community will tell you it's a lack of serotonin that's causing you to feel bad. They also will admit that these drugs may increase your serotonin....but they don't know how. Most of these drugs were designed to take care of some other problem. Welbutrin was developed to get people to stop smoking. They will tell you it may take as much as a month for them to work. In the meantime you should stop drinking. 14 years later, they now will tell you the opposite. It's a 20 billion dollar business. So what if they don't get it right immediately.
   After two weeks on Zoloft I was ready to stick the 12 ga. in my mouth. I was hyperventilating, on the verge of tears all day, and completely despondent. I called the Dr. and explained how i felt. "Give it some time." he said calmly. "It takes a while to work." I was at their mercy. I pulled the covers over my head and stopped answering the phone.
   I am blessed to come from a tight family. It wasn't long before Mupp showed up at my door. If he hadn't I probably wouldn't be writing this. In between wrenching sobs, blubbering like a baby, I rolled a joint and lit up. I'd stopped taking the pills the day before. I felt a little better. Mupp listened and nodded. My parents called. Ever the pragmatist, my old man suggested I get off my ass and exercise. I started running 6 miles a day in the April cold. Within a couple of weeks I was on the road to recovery.
   Depression is one of those maladies that feeds on itself. You become depressed. Then you continue to feel shame and more depression for being depressed. It's a lonely road. Sometimes someone else's perspective on the disease will make one feel a little better. But more times than not, it won't. I still can get depressed, but it never lasts. I'm very thankful for that. Pharmaceutical companies make big bank on depression. So there is little incentive for them to suggest alternatives to SSRIs. From my experience those fucking little pills only make things worse. But that's just me. Take it for what it's worth. As my suicide prevention hot line phone machine message used to say "Get your head out of the oven, and leave a message at the beep!" If you are depressed here's my prescription- twist one up and crack a cold one, after your run. You'll feel better. If not, keep running.