Thursday, February 16, 2012

Love and Guns

Can you remember the first time you felt love?  Not the butterflies associated with your first crush or the day you laid eyes on the one you just knew you would marry.  Can you remember the first time the concept of love as a feeling and an experience entered your world?  I can.

Long before the strangle hold of political correctness and cultural emasculation, little boys played with toy guns. Cops and robbers, good guys and bad guys, war games, and yes even the now taboo cowboys and Indians.  We built and defended back yard forts, ducked and rolled, hid in trees and threw caps, pellets and self made sound effects that would make the hottest beat boxer in the world say “dang”. We “played guns”. 
They looked real.  The classic, silver, simulated six shooter that smelled perpetually of sulfur, the rat tat tat of toy machine guns and everything in between.  There was no red tip on the barrel and the cylinder on my toy revolver worked just like my Dad’s real one. My arsenal was full and my time was my own.

My neighborhood friends and I would do battle non-stop, day in, and day out. Never did we hear anything about it not being “nice” or anyone worrying that we would one day fall into a life of crime.  We were boys. It’s what we did.   Proof of my parent’s support of my firearm obsession was a summer stop at New Hampshire’s Six Gun City.  Here in New England we have some pretty incredible tourist attractions.  Clarks bears, Santa’s Village, Lost river, Story Land and more obscure places like Laconia’s (now defunct) Chief Red Dawn’s Indian Village to name a few. 

My favorite however was always Six Gun City.  In the 70’s it looked like a western ghost town.  There were a few rides and every day they had stuntmen dressed as cowboys putting on shows.  Today there is a waterslide and it has become an ultra modern, old time ghost town.  I don’t know if they host old time gunfights anymore.   But this is not a story about gunfights.  This is a story about love.

We spent the night at a motel, which was also a first and my excitement made it nearly impossible to sleep.  It also made it utterly impossible for me to let my parents sleep in.  They didn’t seem to mind and that is where the love story begins.  I was dressed and ready to go.  On this day being “dressed and ready to go” included a cowboy hat, bandana, gun belt and that shiny silver cap gun that I waxed about earlier. 
Standing in the motel room, a chubby little over excited cowboy I squealed to my mom the questions “are you happy?”  And “are you having fun?”.  “I am happy when I know you’re happy” she replied.

I am happy when I know you’re happy…  I was six or seven at the time and I have never forgotten that moment.   Love is a lot of things to a lot of people.  We understand it in different ways and we see it clearly in some moments more than others.  In all the ways we attempt to show love to others in our lives I am convinced that love is beautifully displayed when we are joyful in the joy of others and when we learn to love what our loved ones love.

Who do you love?  What do they love?  How do you show them love?

Is your love for them tailored to them or to you?

Friday, February 3, 2012


Unless your town is my town, then your town doesn’t have this.  Have you ever eaten food?  I have a pretty good sense that you have (what with you being alive and all). We have this much in common. We all eat food.  Alrighty then, do you enjoy really delicious food?  How about kindness?  Do you appreciate community and creativity?  How about one stop shopping?  I hope you do.  (If you don’t let’s talk off line and I will try to help you out). So we have all these things in common and yet as I said in my opening line, unless your town is my town, then it doesn’t have this.  The “this” in question is a place called Shubies.  

Some of you just sighed and thought “ahhh yes”.  You either live here or have been here and if you have, then I don’t even have to tell you where “here” is.  Others of you are thinking that I am talking about a restaurant.  Nope.  To call Shubies a restaurant would be like calling the Beatles a band or Ginger Rogers a dancer.  For those of us who live in Marblehead Massachusetts, Shubies is an institution.

Started in 1948, family owned and operated Shubies has taken over sixty years to develop it’s own brand of culinary prowess blended with community spirit.  The Shube family has also developed a family within a family.  You will always find an authentic Shube family member ready to offer a suggestion or a bit of direction, but the family within the family are the non-Shubes who serve as though it was their own name on the awning. 
What exactly is Shubies??? They do indeed sell delicious food that is prepared fresh and ordered from a menu.  It is therefore, in one sense, a restaurant.  It sells beautiful groceries as well though.  Not the kind of stuff you’ll find at Market Basket or Stop and Shop, mind you.  Shubies has the best versions of familiar staples mixed in with the kind of things you see on the Food Network and wonder about. (I once ate ham that was made from special pigs who roamed the countryside and lived off of acorns… seriously). So Shubies is also a market.  Markets generally don’t sell Le Creuset pots, Wusthof knives or hand-made Vietri Italian pottery, but Shubies does.  I suppose that makes it a kitchen shop as well!  But kitchen shops rarely employ a pastry chef, a sommelier (wine expert) or an executive Chef classified by Esquire magazine, as one of Americas top chefs (Shubies executive chef, Lynne Aronson holds that distinction though she blushes a little when I bring it up to her.)  So do you get where I am going?  

Shubies, simply put- is an award winning, community minded, restaurant, market, bakery, cooking school, wine and cheese shop, Asian noodle bar, liquor store, prepared food seller, salad bar, kitchen store with a cigar humidor, world-class staff and is run by a family that genuinely cares about their staff, customers, neighbors and each other.  

I am fortunate to be a five-minute walk to my dear Shubies. George & Carol, their great kids (Douggie, pictured above, is the man!) as well as the staff that make up their family within the Shube family, are an important part of why I love this little town.  

Shubies 16 Atlantic Avenue  Marblehead   MA    (781) 631-0149

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Right and Wrong - new song

Last year my friend Shyla made me aware of this Rumi quote:

“Out beyond the ideas 
of wrong doing and right doing, 
there is a field. 
I'll meet you there.”

She brought it to me during a season where I was attempting to write a complete song every single day.  As you might imagine a lot of those tunes were total dogs (some even had fleas) but as I look over that batch of songs there are a couple that I am actually proud of.  These are the words to a song I wrote based on this quote.  I think it may even make it’s way onto the new album.  (Spring 2012 hopefully)

Someone once said that we are all trying to be advertisements of better versions of the real us.  I can totally relate.  There is this space between wanting the real Jim to be the best he can be and at the same time extending myself grace to receive grace in the areas where I need it.

“extending myself grace to receive grace”

Man… there is freedom in allowing ourselves to be wrong from time to time.  To admit being wrong and confessing it to whoever is affected by it is such a freeing proposition. 

Anyone you need to call? Go ahead then.... This can wait.

Ok… welcome back.  Hope that went well.  Here is the song.  Working title is I Will Meet You (in between).  Consider it a poem for now.

I will meet you in between

The things you love and the things you’ve seen.

Where condemnation takes a rest

and mercy does what it does best.

And the way we were won’t matter

and we will fail to see

 the counterfeits we really were

instead of who we were to be. 

I will meet you in a far off land

where struggle struggles to even stand

You’ll take my heart

I’ll hold your hand

I’ll meet you in a far off land.

And the way we were won’t matter

and we will fail to see

the counterfeits we really were

instead of who we were to be. 

I’ll meet you at the end of the road

For the part of the story that remains untold

where angels sing and love unfolds

I’ll meet you at the end of the road.

And the way we were won’t matter

and we will fail to see

the counterfeits we really were

instead of who we were to be. 

You’ll be you and I’ll be me.