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Entry date: 6-6-2024 – I don’t Gamble with Money – Letters to My Friends

Dear Friends,


Very rarely do I gamble with money.  Rare enough that I can honestly say that I don’t gamble. I just don’t have that magic hunch for picking winners and such. In Vegas, for example, I’ve gotten lucky a few times on slots or the poker machines, but I’m sure I’m a little underwater with that town.


One time, I saved $100 to play black jack with because in the movies, it looks like fun. I did pretty well for a bit, got up about $120 but then ended up losing it all. I wasn’t bitter or anything because I saved it to play with and assumed I would lose.


I’ve played poker with friends a few times for money and in those situations, I typically break even. I enjoy the game a lot, but I would never say or think that I’m good at it. I’ve played on-line a bunch and I always end up losing. Last summer I was playing one of the bigger poker apps and ended up getting kicked off of it for calling them cheaters.


They are cheaters, by the way.


Where I do my gambling, though, is with my emotions and the emotions of others. These bets come from thinking I know how or why someone is feeling a certain way. Sometimes I am right and I have the perfect thing to say at the perfect time and sometimes my words or actions come back to bite me in the ass.


I call this gambling because I’m not always the best or bravest when it comes to dealing with interpersonal tensions and frustrations. I’m learning, though, to be better, I think. I gamble less and am proactive more than I used to be. Funny how being aware, prepared, and calm allows you to avoid gambling.




I didn’t get laid off from summer camp. Somehow, I survived the cut, but the easy, piece of cake aspect of the day is long gone. There are only seven more days of camp, so I think I’ll make it. I may have to tell some middle school kids to go fuck themselves, though.


I can do it without swearing.




I think I might start making art with my Dremel. Not that I have time to start a new hobby, but it seems like it would be fun to carve stuff and polish it and such.  But first, I need to finish the Bet.


I wrote something for it, but I’m not sure if I want to share it just yet. I am so behind on updating the site. When the bathrooms are done, though. I will find something else to take my time away.




No, I won’t.



In 1984, my mom was sharing an apartment on 28th Street and Osborn with my Aunt Julie. Ben and I would be there on the weekends and for weeks at a time during the summer. During that time, we met a kid our age, same year in high school as me, named Eric.


Eric and his family lived upstairs and pretty close to us. I think he and Ben struck up a friendship first, but I joined in soon after. He was super cool and, if memory serves, they had moved from Milwaukee or somewhere nearby. Eric was going to Camelback, but when we first met, neither Ben nor I was going there yet.


Being a black kid from Wisconsin, Eric knew about a lot of music that Ben and I didn’t know about, but one artist we had in common was Prince. Ben and I listened to a lot of Prince with our moms as one of them had the 1999 album and we listened to that a lot. Eric was a huge Prince fan, too, and when Purple Rain came out that summer, we were all over it.


I’m guessing that Eric, Ben, and I went to see Purple Rain (the film) at least five times together if not more. I think he got the record before us but would bring it down to our apartment and we would listen to it, as well. I think we turned him on to a few things that he ended up liking, but for the summer of 1984 and into the fall, it was all Prince, all the time.


I certainly didn’t mind. 1999 and Purple Rain are great records. I can still sing most, if not all, of the lyrics to the songs on Purple Rain, although I’m not sure when the last time I watched the movie was. I doubt I’ve watched it in 20 years. The record, though, is a different story.


“Let’s Go Crazy” is a great opener. There is some great guitar work on there. I love that line about someone asking Eric Clapton what it was like to be the greatest guitar player in the world, and he reportedly said, “I don’t know. Go ask Prince.”


The thing about Purple Rain is that every song on the record is fucking good. There are some that don’t capture my attention like they did when I was 14, but even at the album’s least interesting moments, it’s still just as classic, rockin’, and full of glittery soul.


“Take Me With U” hasn’t held up as well as some of the others, but the arrangement is crazy good. “The Beautiful Ones” is still gorgeous. I used to wonder what it would sound like if Jane’s Addiction covered it. I think they could have done a killer version of it at the height of their powers. They definitely have similar songs (Think about “Then She Did.”



As a fourteen-year-old boy when it came out, “Computer Blue” seemed so raw and sexual to me. I loved this part of the movie. All of us red-blooded horny toads did. But, of course, then came “Darling Nikki.” That song is pure sex. I would have liked to have heard Bauhaus or Tones on Tail cover it.


“When Doves Cry” is another one that just straight up rocks. Even with the keyboard part that segues out of the great opening guitar riff, at its heart, it’s a giant rock and roll song. That’s one of the great things about Prince’s music. He had a great sense of multiple genres. That’s what makes a great songwriter.


I didn’t care much for the movie part around “I Would Die 4 U” but over the years, the song has grown on me. It’s solid pop, for sure, but I think the words kind of lost me back in the day. I feel kind of the same way about “Baby I’m a Star.” It is the closest thing to filler on the record.


About six years ago, I was teaching social and emotional learning at a school in the Washington District and one of the teachers and I decided to play some music together for the students. They requested that we play “Purple Rain,” so we did. I never thought about covering Prince before (or after) that, but it was a lot of fun.


Such a great song, the title track, and even though it is kind of sad, it ends triumphantly. For a song that is almost 9 minutes long, it made it to number two on the Bilboard charts. That’s amazing. Could people have the attention span for it now? I doubt it.


I should probably watch the movie again, but I’m scared. It probably didn’t age well.


Long may our memory of the greatest guitar player of all time. Viva Purple.


See you tomorrow.

Ask AI for a water skiing Prince and you shall receive.

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