Category Archives: Arts & Culture

TRICK OR TREAT OR MURDER

I have killed many people over the years; too many to put a number on, I’ve lost count. The first, I remember like it was yesterday, I was eight-years-old, he was in high school, I don’t know why he picked on me, but on the fifth day of him stopping me on my way home from school, when I was sure nobody was watching, I plunged a linoleum knife into the soft spot between his rib cage, I pulled the hooked blade down to his groin and my hand was warmed with what once was inside of him—it was no longer his, it was mine. As he fell to his knees, I stepped around his back, reached around his neck and cut his throat. Since that day, I’ve killed to protect myself, I’ve killed for financial gain and I’ve killed for pleasure. And under these categories I have killed every type of person, while I prefer the bully, the big shot, the alpha male most of all, I have equally destroyed the young, the old, the female, because I am a killer, I kill. Every moment, of every day, I desire nothing more than to unchain my true self and pulverize into lifelessness, that which stands before me and breathes. Continue reading

BLUEGRASS

Some years ago, I traveled around and I happened upon a little town.

Winfield, Kansas was its name, and Bluegrass Music had brought it fame.

You see when Country Music from Appalacia is fused with Jazz, then you see what the music has.

It has soul, it has a life that transcends and no one can see where the Bluegrass ends.

To Winfield folks come from all around, just to hear that Bluegrass sound.

Thousands, maybe ten’s of thousands, camped out in nature among the stages, often forgoing a week of wages, because some things have no price.

The formal name of this event, is the Walnut Valley Festival, but everyone from somewhere else just calls it Winfield, and the people of Winfield just call it Bluegrass, and after all what’s in a name, it doesn’t matter having achieved true fame.

My first experience at Bluegrass I sat at a campfire and then I walked around, following along with some people from town—they seemed more interested in drinking than listening to music.

They say you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink, true of most people I have come to think.

I don’t know which night it was, but it had stormed and it was cold, yet Matt, Skyler and I, sat in the wet bleachers under a dark night sky.

Tommy Emanuel played, I had never heard anything like it, and I’ve heard a lot, and I’ve seen a lot, and I’m always thankful for what I’ve got, and that evening I can say, I got Bluegrass.

A couple of years gone by, I found myself making my way to Bluegrass with a wedding cake in hand—I had baked it for a friend with a Bluegrass band.

Good old Barry Patton had decided to get married to Rene on Stage Five, on these experiences I truly thrive.

You see I’m of the belief that life is for living and to get the most out of living, you have to be giving.

So I gave my friends a cake.

Another year gone by and I was blessed to have my sister and Kasey encamp at my home, which happens to be a place of food and hospitality, really the nicest reality for those of the artistic mentality, such as I.

And to those who think as I think, there’s nothing as cool as those on the brink, the brink of greatness.

Helen Avakian, sat at my place and stood at this brink, which of course made me think, “Helen, why don’t you play here tomorrow for the Music Crawl?” Well she played and two days later she won it all—the International Fingerstyle Championship, the first woman to do so, and I don’t like to tell people I told you so, but I told you so…

The night at Bluegrass with my sister was a magical night, there’s nothing like your own people to make you feel right.

We stopped by the Picking Parlor to here some picking, and the guy on the banjo was world class kicking.

On Stage One, we caught John McCutcheon and Steel Wheels, you just have to do this to know how it feels.

On Stage Two we listened to The Greencards and Socks in the Frying Pan—not so hard to be a fan.

We ended the night with Detour, the air had a chill, but this did not distract from their skill and skill they did have.

We walked away from all of these goings on, late in the night, knowing that in the Universe something was right.

And right is friends, family, good food, good music, all mixed into a better humanity…

You see when Country Music from Appalachia is fused with Jazz, then you see what the music has.

It has soul, it has a life that transcends, and no one can see where the Bluegrass ends.

 

THE COWLEY COUNTY FAIR

THE COWLEY COUNTY FAIR

By Stan Lerner

There was something in the air, something that I feel compelled to share, I’m speaking now of the County Fair.

You see I am a man of middle age, seemingly past the County Fair stage, but I did not grow up doing such things, my perspective is that of one raised in the city, dirty, grey and all too gritty.

A memorable line, a hook, I should put one here, so people do hear, what I’m about to say, funny how things work this way:

The wind blows the wheat fields, causing a gentle motion, as beautiful a sight as any ocean.

Back and forth, to and fro, stand at the break and watch it grow.

And it is in this land that you will find Cowley County, a place much blessed with beautiful bounty.

Did I just learn that there was something called a County Fair? Why would it take a half of a lifetime to get to one? But who doesn’t have things undone?

Maybe this is why my father said he believed in keeping life small, because from this place there’s nowhere to fall.

A year gone by now, I moved from a big place, to a small place, at least that’s how it appears on the matter’s face.

But I’ve learned in the last year that big is small, this is not discovered in a crystal ball—but by living life.

And the small life, the real life, the good life, well it turned out to be larger than I could have ever conceived, it is this life that the Lord is more easily perceived. The quiet, the calm allows one to contemplate Gd.

The Ranch Rodeo, night one, who would have thought that wild cow milking was fun? Three cowboys, one cow on the run, and a bottle to fill, fifteen seconds and team Buford was king of the hill.

Night two, the Demolition Derby, the definition of fun going topsy-turvy! Continue reading

WHEN DEATH IS BEHIND YOU

WHEN DEATH IS BEHIND YOU

“Go check out Pratt, it’s a good place to do business,” the owner of the Inn, had said.

The visit was a short one, weather had interceded and now I did not see the land I had come to love the varied colors of. My eyes could only stare into the rearview mirror at the monstrous cloud, veiled in the drops of rain, dark and gray spinning behind. The road that I traveled upon was straight, straight in front of me. The same could not be said, of the road of life that had brought this moment to be, it had been filled with twists and turns, steep declines, followed by ascents to heights that most should not go—for the air is thin at the great altitudes of life and can cause one to lose the sense for what is and is not real.

The noise from the radio blared. This tone is one that penetrates the ears and stabs at the brain, with an icepick like sharpness. Again and again, the horrible tone screeched and the prerecorded voice warned to take shelter. But on the highway from Pratt to Wichita, there was no shelter. I thought about the flimsiness of our human composition as this warning was repeated. “We are able to build a shelter that can withstand this giant funnel pelting my car with hail, but it takes time, a lot of time, something that you do not have…”

A live voice emanated through the speakers of the truck. “A category 5 tornado has touched down outside of Pratt and is traveling east down Highway 54, at 50 miles per hour.” I looked down at the speedometer, I was doing 70, but the funnel was gaining. “I think it’s going faster than fifty,” I said aloud to the radio, “but of course not the first time you’ve been wrong about the weather…Like this morning when you said this storm wouldn’t get here until 4:00, which would have given me plenty of time…” The voice. “You must find shelter underground, there is no chance of survival above ground if you are in the path of this storm. Again, there is zero possibility of surviving this storm if you are not in a storm shelter, do not delay seeking shelter for any reason, your life is what’s most important, get underground now.” Then more of the shrill squelch… Continue reading

THE NIGHT

The night is cold, dark and bleak, and there are hours to go before I sleep.

Gone, gone away is freedom’s light, empowering the perverse to their own delight.

But the time has come for them to die a terrible death, the time has come for their last breath.

Who first? I think about this as I pace, who first is to lose their face.

I ponder the landlord, the lawyer, the banker, the politician, who first to my knife’s fruition…

The night is cold, dark and bleak, and there are hours to go before I sleep.

The Landlord, mostly an inherited man, a man who gains wealth by another’s hand.

But the worst of this type, actually believes he is Lord and it is this man we can no longer afford.

So over his gate I climbed and into his house I did walk, and smiled at the splendor meant to make others gawk.

Soon it would be covered with red, soon this temple of doom would be a place of dread. The wife, the son, the daughter, the Man, I cut and peeled off their face according to plan.

The night is cold, dark and bleak, and there are hours to go before I sleep.

The Lawyer, is there one that won’t burn in Hell? Maybe one, the scriptures tell.

With so many of these to cogitate on, I decide who would not see the dawn.

A despicable little man, who lies as he breathes, and at the point of my blade he knelt on his knees.

“This is mad, I was just doing my job,” these were the words that he sobbed.

And he did sob, as the sharp steel cut his throat, no more would this creature gloat.

The night is cold, dark, and bleak and there are hours to go before I sleep.

The Banker, the man who takes from the poor and gives to the rich, then laughs in our face and says, “Ain’t that a bitch.”

Yes, Master Of The Universe, Man of Wall Street, it is my blade the you will soon meet.

And there he was taking a walk in the night, and on 5th Avenue he discovered his plight.

First I ran the bodyguard through in the middle, why him you ask, because the hired gun of the evil is part of the task.

The banker shrunk into the gutter, part of the trash, part of the clutter.

“I have money, a lot of money, I’ll pay for my life.” I stared at this pathetic being down in the street. “You exist for a number in an account and for this you must account. You are an abortion, you were born dead.” And then I put the blade, into his head.

The night is cold, dark, and bleak, and there are hours to go before I sleep.

Oh Politician, you are the ultimate betrayer, it is time for you to meet your anarchist slayer.

So many reasons for you to die, perhaps even more than the stars in the sky.

But really it is the promises that you break, it is for this most of all, your life we must take.

Who first? The man that calls himself the lawmaker, who is known by all to be the lawbreaker.

This loathsome whore gorges his belly full of ill gotten gain, while delighting at heart, of the hard workingman’s pain.

I found this devil asleep in a luxury hotel, so I raised my knife to send him to Hell.

Wait! No! This is too good for such feces, he must be an example for the rest of his species.

I returned that very night with knife, rope and gas can, everything necessary to put an end to this man.

I stabbed him, and he awoke screaming, “You can’t do this to me!” “I can, and soon you will burn, and swing from a tree”

Swinging, he kicked and hoped to detach, but there was no escaping my match.

The night is cold, dark, and bleak and there are hours to go before I sleep.

I pace back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, contemplating how many more of these evil oppressors must I purge, how many to put an end to this scourge?

All of them! Their blood must run like a river through the land…And until then, the knife is in hand.

 

Chef’s Table Episodes Three and Four

Have you been enjoying the Chef’s Table YouTube Channel? Great! Here are the next two episodes!

In Episode Three, we witness how chefs really cook when customers aren’t watching. Chef Stan listens to ‘Let Her Go’ by Passenger as he preps some tomato soup. What happens during prep time will surely make you laugh.

 

In Episode Four, Chef Stan is being spied on again. This time, it’s while he does his morning workout. The life of a chef is a busy one, so a trip to the gym isn’t always the easiest option. Instead, you must improvise. Chef Stan has perfected the art of the Chef’s Secret Workout.

 

 

THE GREAT DEPRESSION OF 2012

I woke up that morning, a few months ago, I’m not sure what the day or date was then—the importance of days or dates are no longer.

I don’t know why it came as such a surprise to so many people, in reality the European Union had failed when it bailed out its first member, but Spain and Italy were the final blows, which never needed to come, the EU should have ended at Ireland.

If there are economist in the future, or a United States for that matter, they’ll want to look back at the failure of the European Union, the national strike in China and the revolution in Saudi Arabia as the perfect storm that brought the Great Depression of 2012 to shore and now what appears to be the end of the world as we have known it. But just as they were wrong in the past, as this is now self-evident, this too would be a wrong-minded conclusion. And with riots in the cities, millions of Americans dying of starvation, and the Capitol burned to the ground, I don’t want to say I told people so, but I did write extensively on the topic for more than a decade; time will tell who did and did not heed my advice…

As I write this account, both for my own satisfaction as a writer, writers write, and as a history for future generations I sit in my home surrounded by more than a thousand acres of my own land. I have often been asked if, after a lifetime of the extravagances of the city, I did not suffer culture shock from living in such seclusion? Truth-be-told, for all of the excesses of my youth, I have always been a man of simple taste, preferring hard work, to mindless leisure. And nature has always struck me with awe. However, it would be disingenuous to say that the place, which I call home, is void of the necessities of culture. Like the storehouses I have filled with many lifetimes worth of food, I have supplied my home proper, with every type of musical instrument, thousands of books, records and movies—digital and hardcopy’s of all. I even went so far as to build not only a grand ballroom, but a theatre for plays and an outdoor amphitheatre, so Shakespeare may still be recited under the stars.

Also, it should be noted; that while I built what I simply named “The Farm”, as previously described, I lived in a small town, which gave me ample time to adjust to the pace of rustic life. In a very real way, I weaned myself off of the night and day continuum of social interaction I had been accustomed to all of the days of my life. Although I have enjoyed every minute of it, sad and cold is how I would describe the early part of my journey into solitude, but as time has advanced I find more moments of happy serenity in the hours of the day. I can offer this insight, I feel the least alone while tending to my farm or in the time that it takes to make my bread and churn the butter. I laugh aloud for a moment, because of the paradox presented by the occupation of my day—I feel the least alone when making bread, yet because I am capable of making more bread in a day than I can eat in a month, my own bounty is cause for concern, while at the very same moment in time the masses, who are far from lonely, starve. And this leads us to the discussion of producers and consumers, of which I wrote of for many years.

As the new century approached (2000) I was far more concerned about a shift in the core values of our nation than a computer glitch, known as Y2K. I wrote: code can be changed by the simple act of adding a zero, but a profound shift in the paradigm of the values that built our country, well, that could very conceivably cause a fracture of the foundation of our world, a defect that will lead to collapse. Continue reading

IRON GATE AND THE OPERA STARS

The reasons I put my life on hold in Los Angeles and moved to Winfield Kansas are many, but the one of which I write about now, is perhaps the most interesting, at least to myself.

What would the world be like if society dedicated itself not to the purely personal accumulation of wealth, but rather the personal accumulation of wealth through individual efforts, which make society better? What if the bottom line wasn’t a number on a ledger, but an unequaled experience of excellence, having been provided? What if one lived a dignified and comfortable life, while at the same time creating a better world for others? In a sense a philosophical protest against a culture that looks to something other than individual effort, accepts mediocrity, a culture with a sense of entitlement, entitlement to what, they do not know…

I took over Iron Gate because it was built by a man who understood that his own fortune was only as valuable as the community in which he lived. I perceived the value of Iron Gate, not as some wood hammered together sitting on a tract of land, but as a place that represented a man and a time in which great individuals did great things for their communities. However, all individuals were expected to strive for their own personal greatness at their respective pursuits. There was no desire for a nanny state and there were no coattails to ride. Often, men born to advantage struck out on their own, to make their own way in the world.

From the moment I first set foot into Iron Gate, I hoped that it would be a place where people could come and stay and rediscover that feeling of what made America the greatest country the world has ever known. I wanted Iron Gate to be a place where people could come and recharge themselves with the positive energy that it takes to do great things. And I even imagined it being a place, where people could come and stay and do more than recharge—they could stay and create. And to this end, no expense would ever be spared. Iron Gate would be a place where the most is done for the least, an oasis, in a culture that now often desires to give the least for the most.

Now imagine a little country radio station, KSOK, that gets the notion that it should bring one of the world’s best tenors to small town America for a night at the opera. That tenor, would be Dominique Moralez. Continue reading

RICHARDSON AUDITORIUM BETTER THAN EVER

I’m pleased to say that the Richardson Auditorium / Richardson Performing Arts Center, Southwestern College and the town of Winfield, Kansas have decided to NOT participate in the decline of America. Saturday night, the great auditorium, which resides in the great building on the hill, overlooking the entire Walnut Valley, reopened. Having undergone an almost three million dollar renovation Richardson has been transformed into a performance art venue, which to my ear, seems to have the best acoustics to be found, not just in the state of Kansas, but very possibly the entire Midwestern region.

To rededicate the stage Southwestern College President Dick Merriman presided over the always-enjoyable ribbon cutting ceremony. I love these nostalgic traditions. And the campus minister offered a nice prayer to the Lord. As the four hundred plus people in attendance offered a prayer for the occasion, I wondered how many knew that sundown concluded the tenth day of the Hebrew month of Tishri, the day when the fate of all is sealed. I decided not to inquire, because an intentional selection of this day would be very impressive, but the unintentional selection of this day is even more so—

The performance, called Kaleidoscope, consisted of a mix of music performed by the South Kansas Symphony, A Cappella Choir, SC Singers and a truly beautiful violin solo by Leora K. (Martin) Kline. Conductors Daniel Stevens and David Gardner could not have performed their respective duties with any greater class or musical fluidity—yes, the music simply flowed. On several occasions during the performance my mind wandered back to Los Angeles, I was sitting in the Disney Concert Hall and Gustavo Dudamel was conducting Shakespeare & Tchaikovsky, such a beautiful flow it all was, from one great musical experience to another. Continue reading

GET THE RIGHT GUY

Foreword by Stan Lerner: WARNING FOR WOMEN READERS  if you want to spend your life alone or enjoy unfulfilling going nowhere relationships this blog is not for you. If on the other hand you want a real man, that knows how to treat a woman to share your life with, read away!!!

Get The Right Guy

Introduction

Ladies, since so many of you have wanted to read my book for men, “Get Chicks 101,” I have decided to write you your own book. Now, I realize that you have good intentions when you go snooping around “Get Chicks 101.” But it is indicative of a far greater problem, which we will attempt to solve in this new book.  In my book for guys, I was trying to turn them back into men. In my book for women, I am going to enlist your help in this effort. However, at the same time, I do want to have a serious discussion about the type of woman the right guy is looking for.

What qualifies me to advise you? Well growing up with a mom and two sisters, for starters. Perhaps even more valuable is this painful fact of my life: I have dated so many of you, I have frankly become an expert through life experience. Also, I am your average forty-something bachelor and I am qualified for that reason alone to tell you what men are really thinking about you.

Just to define average, let me tell you more about myself so that you truly know where I’m coming from. I am forty-two, I have never been married, and I have had no children out of wedlock. Most of the time I make a good living and I am my own boss. I own a home and drive a convertible SL500 Mercedes Benz. I do want to get married and I treat women well. I don’t smoke or do drugs and I only drink socially.

Not enough? I love kids and I am good with them. I write and paint as hobbies and I am handy around the house. I workout six days a week and I enjoy dressing well. I come from a good family. My parents were happily married for thirty-eight years and we talked almost every day while they were still alive. I love to have fun—movies, pool, dancing—all are big with me. And I am fine to stay home with some candles and a good dinner, which I am more than capable of cooking. So, if you are looking for a guy that fits this general description, I am qualified to tell you how to get one.

If on the other hand, you are looking for a guy who will treat you badly, be afraid of commitment, not make a good living, and cheat on you, then this book is not for you. You certainly don’t need my expert advice on how to land this guy—he’s everywhere!  Women write most of the books that will tell you how to land the wrong guy ironically enough. I cringe every time I see one of these authors being interviewed. They make their money by steering you towards your next relationship disaster, only so they can write a sequel to their first book—which is usually on coping with the unhappiness of being alone. Ladies, when you see these authors being interviewed, do they strike you as role models? I have yet to hear one say she knows what she is talking about because she took her own advice and landed a great guy.

No offence to Dr. Laura, Dr. Ruth, Oprah or Rosie, but trust me here. When it comes to guy advice, what are you thinking by listening to them? Dr. Phil? Would you date him? I didn’t think so. My point is simple. Women are the victims of bad advice—volumes and volumes of bad advice—political correctness gone crazy mixed with feminism. So, I have decided to step up and speak-out.

Why have men been keeping silent so long as women constantly drift down the wrong road? It’s complicated. But the short answer is simply that there are secrets that are supposed to be kept just among the boys. To get us, you need to understand us—and that information till now has been verboten to women. In the old days, your mother would have told you how to get a man. But most of you stopped listening to Mom a long time ago. And these days, sadly enough, Mom has her own problems. So, what you should have learned about men growing up, from other women, can now really only be told to you by a man.

Listen to me closely because there are a lot of great guys out there and one has your name on him. I am going to tell you many tightly held guy secrets. Don’t misuse them. My goal is to get you back on track to getting the right man. And I’m warning you now; some of what I say may come as a shock. But in the end, if you take my advice, you will have an exponentially greater chance at not only getting the right guy; you will have a great chance of keeping him. Continue reading