My Brand Of Freedom, Frustration & Finality.

My first car was a Volkswagen. A 1969 VW Fastback. It came on the heels of my bothers both having Beetles – cars that were fun to drive but did not seem “cool” to me. So the Fastback was bought, without a working clutch thus the affordability for a 16 year old.  So I learned how to repair VW’s too. That car was the enjoyment of my high school years and got me to sports games after school for my newspaper reporting gig. I had to sell it as college did not allow freshman to bring cars.


My 1981 Rabbit after college was a serviceable car but a bit of clunker until after a year of a video shooting & editing  job in NYC, where I’d pass under the World Trade Center (that’s another story) gave me funds to buy a “new” used car not a VW. A mistake. I learned the meaning of reliability of that clunky old Rabbit and remember its drafty sun roof well.

A life partner, then marriage. A home then child came in Boston. A winter ready jeep seemed right but after it ran its course I was back to VW. And not to my own accord. The 2003 New Beetle was bought by my wife, as she was working on their “Drivers Wanted” Ad campaign, seemed to fit our life perfectly. The single child family of suburban living, with creative executive jobs that needed to be commuted to – our daughter drew in that car, threw up in that car, basically grew up in that car. We paired with a 2006 Jetta Wagon so we could go camping, golfing, vacationing and drive to the country, to a piece a land we dreamed to build on one day.


The opportunity to build a house and move to the White Mountains of New Hampshire allowed us many options – hiking, kayaking, cross country skiing, snow shoeing and general merriment but a Beetle had become to small for our lives. A few years later a brand new jeep was nice but when wife’s new job travel called, a 2013 Diesel Golf responded. The new car bought during the move it ran its course and it was paired with a 2014 Diesel Passat sedan.

So all is good, right. No. Two words – Diesel Scandal. WTF! VW! – I was a committed, passionate brand evangelist. Then you tricked me into doing more harm than good. I was really saddened. I really liked that Passat. My wife was more pissed than I – see for yourself

Well your buyback program for one car afforded me a Mini Cooper on your dime. And when time for the other diesel to be sold back we went for a 2016 Golf because the deal was too good to pass up. Two cars – no car payments, thanks VW!  But while the anger slowly goes away I think of these VW’s and its brand that made an impact on my life. I think of the few other V-dubs who were used/repaired/sold and did not make the cut for this story. I think of the VW schwag my daughter grew up with. The VW agency pals of my wife’s who became friends. The VW ads I awed, mocked and eventually taught with.  I think of all the mile and memories we’ve had with Volkswagen. A brand that greatly impacted me – sure. Yeah, I guess the folks in Wolfsburg ain’t that bad.



Welcome to Vermont Veterans

Thank you for your service. I had a friend in the Green Zone two years ago for a year. And a friend in Kandahar during Desert Storm.

Vermont Vets

This site is dedicated to news and opinion pieces for and about Veterans in the Vermont Army National Guard.

My name is Jessie Hazen. I am a 3x Veteran of the Iraq war. After my service in the active duty and reserves, I’ve settled down and have spent the last 6 years with the Vermont National Guard. I have a wife, an 11 year old step son and a 3 year old daughter. We have 3 cats, a German shepherd and I have a fish breeding hobby. I was born and raised here in Lyndonville, and other than my 5 years of active duty time, have lived here the whole time. My desire to post specifically for Vets of Vermont is to keep my buddies informed of what’s going on around the state, and the global sphere. Hopefully this site can be used by vets to gain information they otherwise…

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I had the pleasure of reading an interview with Rick Rubin and his insight into the creative process blew me away,  You might not know his name but you definitely know his music.  MTV has called him the most important music producer of the last 20 years. He’s produced everyone from Adele to ZZ Top and he’s worked in all genres. He produced Johnny Cash’s last album, where he covered Depeche Mode’s “Personal Jesus” you must check it out.

Rick shared some of the lessons that he’s learned along the way which can be applied to all areas of your life:

1. Only Compete Against Yourself: If you set out to only write songs that are better than The Beatles, it’s gonna be a hard road. But if you only try to write a song that’s better than the one you wrote yesterday, that’s much more realistic. If you do that everyday, you’ll get better. Take small steps.

2. Study The Greats: Competition is only good if you’re looking at the big picture. Don’t try to write a song better than the current hit on the radio. Submerge yourself in the great works from all time and try to learn from them. You can get inspiration from all different kinds of media not just your own. Watch great movies, listen to the best albums of all time, read the classics.

3. Be Extreme: People like extreme things, so don’t water it down. The best art divides the audience: Half love it and half hate it. If everyone says, “That’s pretty good,” why bother making it?!

4. Be Coachable: Rick lost over 100 pounds and part of the reason for Rick’s success is that he made a commitment to do whatever his doctors and trainers told him, no matter how ridiculous. Wake up in the morning and go outside for 20 minutes to soak up the sun. OK. Abandon your vegan diet for a high protein animal based diet. OK.

5. Anything Is Possible If You Break It Down Into Small Steps: Don’t expect to be great at something right away. You’re going to fall down a lot in the beginning. If you can break complicated projects into small, digestible pieces then you can tackle anything.

6. Have A Mentor: Rick mentioned having lunch with his mentor, Mo Ostin, who told him he was getting fat and he was concerned for his health. Having a support system with people you respect and aspire to be like is important to personal growth.

7. Don’t Think Too Much: Creativity is more emotion and heart work than head work. The head work is later for organizing.

8. Hang With The Winners: Rick mentioned hanging with big wave surfer Laird Hamilton, NBA player Jokim Noah, and the magician David Blaine. These guys may not have much in common other than being exceptional at what they do. If you want to be great, you need to hang with the winners

9. Don’t Beat Yourself Up: You can’t expect to be great out of the box, yet a lot of us put unrealistic expectations on ourselves and get down on ourselves when we fail to meet them. .

10. Define Your Success: Rick defined it as being great at what you do, being passionate, and truly enjoying life. He said he knows a lot of people who are successful in business and entertainment and have a lot of money but are miserable. They’re not successful in his eyes. A guy like Don Wildman.

Give Your Brain A Happy New Year

I found this a worthwhile approach, so let 2018 embrace Boring!

Train Your Brain to Focus on Something You Find Boring

We all have a few subjects that we find boring or dull. Fortunately, it’s possible to learn to like — maybe even love — topics that make your eyes glaze over. First, you have to overcome the pain. When we think about something we don’t like or want, it can activate a portion of the brain that’s connected to our experience of pain. This means, for example, that thinking about statistics (if you don’t like statistics) can cause you actual physical pain. As a result, you brain may divert your attention away from whatever sparked the pain — in other words, you procrastinate. So the next time you need to study statistics, force yourself to focus. Turn off all distractions. Set a timer for 25 minutes. Focus intently for those 25 minutes. And then reward yourself for at least five minutes by listening to your favorite song, talking with a friend, or getting coffee. Taking little breaks helps the brain consolidate what you’re learning, which builds understanding while minimizing frustration.

FM is On!

One film that was not part of the Cinema 3320 was “FM”, a musical calvacade of 1960’s counter culture expressed in the 1970’s. The fight for rock and roll, free airwaves and the push back against growing corporate overreach.   This film lead to the develop on WKRP in Cincinnati, an impactful TV show that made music lovers reconnect with FM radio int he 1980’s.  The film launched the careers of many unique talent like:

Here is more about the film:  &

The rock culture put forth and followed by FM proves that fans or listener can be engaged to find kinship with content that represents their values. Thus the success of  WKRP can be drawn from the irrelevance championed in FM.  In Hit Makers: The Science of Popularity in an Age of Distraction (Penguin Press) music is used as guide for design how items or issues in our world become popular.

Also check this out…

Rock History Straight as the Crowe Flies

My favorite thing about the film Singles is the way that the cinematography, the art direction and the wardrobe show the importance of music by its unique imagery. As well, it allows the characters a lot of room as they try to express themselves as a well-developed person due to the music and art that visually represent their lives.



The apartment dwelling music lovers stress their attitude through clothing – the T-shirts and coats they wear. When you look at their apartment musical design it’s reflected with tickets of shows or posters for events they’ve been collecting, These love of rock cultural references bring light to the shadows of their personalities. Singles and rock ‘n’ roll movies talk about how music inspires the expression of love. When you look at the characters; like the our hip architect or the environmentalist, the waitress and the struggling rock ‘n’ roll star; they all have rock ‘n’ roll tributes, designs, posters and experimental content in their homes so with listening the music you see them experience music.


Their Community

Grunge Music, a style of hard rock and alternative rock and angst-ridden lyrics was created for people in the 1990s. Certain pieces of music represent drivers to the storytelling – whether it’s seeing Chris Conrnell and Soundgarden or hearing Paul Westerberg and the Smashing Pumpkins reflects the key moments of the story in Singles. Through story/performance segments, the music underscores the story the way American Graffiti licensed songs added something of purpose. An orchestra of songs and different artists made a wise showing off the Seattle cultural music that was wise for Seattle startups pocketbooks, be it coffee shops or non-profits.


Citizen Dick

Another key aspect about Singles and modern rock ‘n’ roll soundtrack films is the way that music makes characters find love, whether it was each other across the room in a club or because they hear music. Rock to musicians channel the wild sexuality tied to music by bring to feeling an expressive moment of their relationship with the listener. Music clarifies what they’re trying to do, why they’re trying to be and how they’re trying to express themselves to their partners.


The intersection of life

Music pieces of Singles do a great job of capturing the commitment to the environment, open to drugs, ease sexual contact and raw power of music that existed in Seattle in 1985-1995. That sound of alternative lifestyles is shown in another way shape or form – that I don’t care how I look. Just how it sounds

Singles is Cameron Crowe’s love story to rock ‘n’ roll and their music movement and the burgeoning idealists wanted to do good do well by doing good. But then what happens is Crowe can’t let that of love rock ‘n’ roll get away and really he begins to explore his own personal love of rock ‘n’ roll through his wife Ann Wilson and part of the friendship with Peter Frampton to look at his old life in the film Almost Famous. His success as a writer for Rolling Stone and his life story to becomes a tale of how rock ‘n’ roll creates love between artists and roadies and Band-Aids and parents and teachers and writers and sometimes even having that sort of develop into a lifestyle.



Almost Famous becomes a bible of great rock ‘n’ roll stories looking at the life fantastic. The 1970s, the man of the time David Bowie, Led Zeppelin, Rolling Stones pop up as sort of counterculture musicians to express what society was stealing so they are revered and enjoyed. Even the bus ride with Elton John’s Tiny Dance celebrates writers. Later you want to root for the song Fever Dog for wannabes like Stillwater so that writers get great comments said about them and groupies want them. Not just the hot guitarist.


WIlliam & Penny

At this time in US society the “rock ‘n’ roll star” was at his highest influential level. The film talked about how to become famous and how to deal with babes and how to overcome buddies when they turn you into something more than a human being. Remembering the qualities that you should have it that human dealing with other humans it staked in the audiences ground. And we see how Russell deals with his feeling for the boy and girl. Especially when there is a love triangle of guitar god, groupie and wide-eyed journalist.



Almost Famous chronicles a version of Cameron Crowe being a cub reporter, William, and getting an opportunity to write for the most famous rock ‘n’ roll newspaper at time and looking at a band whose only goal is to realize that famous song: “I want to see my picture on the cover of the Rolling Stone” It culminates with what they go through hurting helping ignoring and loving each other to get there.


The Cover!

The band leads find their success in celebrity, and young man finds his success in freedom and their groupie Penny takes her shot at her success and search for freedom. She realizes she should be searching to not just be almost famous. Yet they use their love to motivate each other. Every time I watch the film, it makes me long to work in the record business music business and radio business in that time period. It made everyone feel like they are all on the cusp of greatness.





Time, Space and Drugs Breed Rock

In my humble opinion, Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” (1982) could be one of the most intellectually provocative rock ‘n’ roll films I’ve ever seen. The album as a soundtrack to a film was deep in meaning and introduced the world Bob Geldof, of the Boomtown Rats, who plays a young boy, Pink, whose father died in the WW II. The film is similar to Tommy, who is channeling the British reconstruction postwar imagination. The Wall’s Composer/Director Roger Waters (a founding Pink Floyd band member) following in Townsends logic of some type of rock opera or rock animated film, is where the story of Pink and his search for A connection, some emotion or recognition.



The Wall is the story of a boy who becomes a famous rock ‘n’ roll star who then finds himself depressed, his girlfriend cheating on him and the only way out is becoming the leader of Third Reich type neo-Nazi organization.

Pink finds himself as the leader of the children, who use music for power and that’s Roger Water’s story of The Wall. It’s all a provocative fantasy in Pink and Water’s head. Again with great rock ‘n’ roll soundtracks comes the mixture of teen angst, raw sexuality sexual expression. In The Wall, teens are bullied by British strict professors that don’t allow them to have any creative freedom or any artistic freedom because their mother-like wives pressure those same educators.


Kids vs Prof.

The kids have to fight to have their freedom of expression and part of the musical expression is expressing themselves sexually. That sexual context is mostly brought forth through animation and a nod to 1970’s Monty Python like Basque women who are pollinated by roving flowers which could be the young men of the 1980s generation who are looking for love/mother because they didn’t get any love from their mother. Again we see Waters expressing what him and the band grapple with and want to articulate onscreen. Their music is choreographed to animation, live-action and futuristic expression of a world driven by hammers, barbed wire and broken glass under their feet with intention towards changing society’s rules and norms. The Wall is mesmerizing as it is mysterious and it allows audiences to make up their own mind on how to use the music and lyrics in their lives.


Heil Pink

There are some sneaking comparisons to 24 Hour Party People (2002, like the neo-Nazi movement in the UK that flares us every time the Labor party makes strides or the labor unions strike to try improve their economic situation. They obscure Joy Division’s fame and create a poor image of the young adults wanting artistic expression. But opposite of The Wall who looks back, 24 Hour Party People looked forward at how society had to move on from the post war industrial society that was impacted by the early 1989 financial crash in the UK and the Eastern European move towards openness. 24 Hour Party People is the story about Tony Wilson, who created the Manchester tech-rock music scene and wanted to be a rock imprassario no matter what it took. With his influence Manchester went to “Madchester”, it was the early 1980s to early 1990s, which was a very hedonistic time in British music because of the impact of the recession on English manufacturing.


Joy Divison rocks

The recession impacted cities like Manchester and rural UK cites, that began to lose manufacturing business. This gave young people angst combined with a music show that was produced by Grenada TV in Manchester and Hosted by Wilson that drove musicians to try to develop their careers in the punk genre. Artist like Joy Divison, who went on to become New Order, A Certain Ration, The Durutti Column and the Happy Mondays were connected to society by the amount of fear and the punk movement, so their music had meaning.


Tony’s Show

The malaise of not having jobs engaged their fans and we’re looking for an escape, which came through ecstasy and marijuana. That drug pull created a decadent club scene. Joy Division, The Happy Mondays spawned bands like The Farm, EMF and 808 State who expressed feeling of anxious and oppression against society, that they were being left out left behind. 24 Hour Party People music represented rock ‘n’ roll music as the escapism of the rave party lifestyle. The film placed little values on relationships between, husband & wives, artists & managers, even bands and their fans.


Rave man!

What was unique about 24 hour Party People, is while the music scenes, the music artists and the bands were all real people – it was a story of the life and times of a journalist who largely builds his career off the music scene he instills. He is played by Steve Coogan, a very successful actor in England and all historical people a played by actors, even a few cameos by the real participants where in the film. While more straightforward, Pink Floyd’s The Wall has Geldof inhabit Water’s musical personality and with the help of Bob Hoskins in a cameo and other actors they convey The Wall’s attitude of depression. But similar to A Hard Days Night, and Purple Rain, music as art and the ironic comedic style in a film help portray a story that revolves around a real music scene.


Steve Coogan is here


The Wall

Fame & Fortune? Have to Risk the Soul

The 80’s and 90s had an explosion of rock and roll due to the advance of technology. With the Walkman, MTV and CDs it allowed for artists to expand their impact on the community faster than albums and radio did.


The Album Cover Launch

But nothing advanced the creation of an artist with more impact that the film – Purple Rain (1984) was the modern generation of rock and soul about the innovative stylings of Price and the Revolution. The Commitments (1991) was the celebration of the rock and souls revolution by black artists in the late 1960s that impacted the culture of Ireland 30 years later.



Prince more than used rock and roll to express himself, he used rock and roll to create himself. When looking at Purple Rain, one of the themes is that love is expressed through music and that emotion can be suppressed by music. It’s a double-edged sword of love. The father cares so much about the mother but is so conflicted because of his musical failure. Prince is conflicted with his friends because his infatuation for Apollonia is so intense. He plays it all out on stage hoping to change her feelings for him.


The boudoir

Love is a many splendored thing sometimes it is a splintered tool. And anyone who has had a splinter does not remove it can cause infection, and fester. Festering is his parent’s relationship. Yet, Prince sees his future, and understands that he can’t just live in his own little world. He has to allow women his world with you. Lisa, Apollonia and his mother impact how he sees love and he sees passion doesn’t have to be violent like in his home.

Another fascinating aspect of Purple Rain is how a subset of rock that existed in Minneapolis. Morris Day & The Time, Prince & The Revolution and Apollonia 6 were showcased at venues that were leading sort of this cultural revolution where technology, techno music, keyboards and synthesizers are tools for rock ‘n’ roll not the replacement of the guitar and the drums. By mixing the two – rock and techno it creates a cultural revolution like Prince and The Revolution. Second, it is that this cultural revolution of concert attendees with face painting, skinny mirrored glasses, earrings , laces – all were really the alternative lifestyle coming out it’s black-and-white history to a world of color where music students express that cultural change in song.

The Commitments was film that equally loved the music stylings of rock and soul. It was a film the brought a new meaning to the working class rock image of Ireland where everyone was doing what they could just to make a buck. And The Commitments was a band willing to risk its personality to become a success. But in the strive for celebrity and adoration, the rock standards of sex and ego stands in the way of their pursuits.


Lips leads the way

The band comes together as the brainchild of the movies lead, Jimmy, the manager. In his hope for fame, he tries valientley to mix a unique group on want to be, established and utterly confused musicians. He builds what can be and looks by ¾ of the way through the film, going to be, a successful group that has its finger on bring back the classic. Yet Joey The Lips Fagan putting his lips on all three Committmentettes, the back up signers, is the straw that breaks the camel back in the band trusting their growth as musicians. Here the love expressed and fame wanted is what drives the artist to compete for the attention. That competition undoes the band in the film.


Lively ladies

The film reinforces the fact that rock and roll can create celebrity. In June of 1990, Director Alan Parker travelled to Dublin and placed an advertisement in the magazine Hot Press, requesting young artists to audition for roles in the film. Parker wanted actors who could play a musical instrument and resembled the characters from the novel. Similar to Purple Rain and its array of bands, The Commitments had its array artists put on display. They put their emotion on display in more ways than one.

The soundtrack still drives the films interest. A key song for the film Treat Her Right
Written by Gene Kurtz and Roy Head
Performed by Robert Arkins, with Angeline Ball, Maria Doyle, Bronagh Gallagher and Andrew Strong. Artists were having success to the point where the Special features on DVD include, a music video for the song “Treat Her Right”. Many of the actors/artists went on to pursue various acting and musical careers.


The Film Poster

To this day, most Americans who were influenced by Prince’s arrival, their first connection to him was though Purple Rain. The film and album was considered a masterpiece and sold 1.5 Million in its debut week in 1984.While only a modest success with North American audiences, The Commitments has since been regarded as a cult film, and one of the best Irish films ever made. The Commitments was present for a total of 76 weeks on the Billboard 200, and peaked at number 8.

Both these films created a mood and aura during 1980 -90’s where anything is possible it your take a chance, put the in the effort and let the movie going audience share you with society.