I hate to begin with Facebook, but I must, I must.

I’m only a casual Facebook user, which, I imagine, is sort of like being a casual crack cocaine user. (In a hundred years, people won’t even know what crack is. They’ll be foraging for radioactive mushrooms or jacked into some kind of technological future-dope a la the novels of Philip K. Dick or William Gibson. Either way, good luck with that, people of the future. I hope you still have baseball and Buddy Holly songs, but you probably won’t. It’s possible there will be a huge shift in human consciousness and people will stop abusing their brains, bodies and fellow beings, but I doubt it. This concludes a gloomy parenthetical aside for a gloomy November day.)

My Facebook fever is low-grade, but a fever nonetheless. In my defense, I would like to point out I live on a mountain in the middle of nowhere, and social networking via the interwebs comprises about 95% of my social life.

The other five percent is spent talking to Bob Johnson and two varmints of the feline persuasion, Scrappy Pappy and Da Rat Jr.

Bob Johnson (“BoJo” to the cognoscenti) is a yellow lab mutt. Like me, he is an astoundingly self-confident waste of space.

When it’s cold outside, Bob Johnson curls up on his deluxe doggie pallet in front of the TV and snores it out. Sometimes he dreams of the chase, and his paws paddle furiously in the air.

“Get him, Bob,” I say. “Good boy.”

Here’s my favorite thing Bob Johnson does. Sometimes, maybe once a week or so, Bob Johnson will wake up from a nap in a state of total alertness.

Most of the time when he wakes up, he’s like the rest of us – fuzzy, yawning, perhaps in need of a beverage or a bite to eat.

But every now and then, Bob Johnson wakes up, sits perfectly still on his haunches, and gives me The Look.

It’s a bright-eyed, open-mouthed stare of insane joy. In ten seconds, he goes from sound sleep to full-on Wonderland.

The Look can last up to a full minute. If I had to guess what’s running through Bob Johnson’s mind at such moments, I’d say this:

“Everything is great. Boy is it ever! I know every secret of creation and existence. It just came to me in a dream. I’ve already forgotten the dream and all the secrets, but it doesn’t matter, because this is even better.”

Submitted for your approval. I know, Bob Johnson, I know. Because the front has passed and the sun is filling the room with faultless morning light. I am listening to Brahms on satellite radio. I have lived 18 years longer than Alexander the Great, and the gauges look good.

Only a jerk would ask for more.

We do live in interesting times, as the apocryphal saying goes. (There is apparently little evidence to support the claim this is some sort of ancient Chinese curse. We can be thankful for ancient cultures without attributing spurious quotes and ideas to them. And if time does not end in 2012, everyone must shut up about the Mayans and all that woo-woo stuff about their calendar. Human beings have always constructed narratives to give meaning to their lives. Sometimes these narratives are ridiculous. There is no end to the silly things some people would like other people to believe. This was true for the Mayans. It is true today. It will be true in 2013.)

A friend of mine, Jody, posted a link to a great alternate mix of “Gimme Shelter,” the opening track of The Rolling Stones’ Let It Bleed (1969), on his Facebook page.

The alternate mix is similar to the album version. Stones fans will enjoy the extended vamps and the stripped-down arrangement, which highlights Bill Wyman’s bass guitar. As always, Merry Clayton’s guest vocals elevate the effort. In an instant, the mood goes from slinky and creepy to epic, unforgettable. I think it’s arguably one of the greatest moments ever in studio recording.

“It’s in the air,” Jody wrote on his post. That was all, those four words, and I agree with his assessment.

We’re all susceptible to the feeling that something big and not very nice is coming down the pike. Meet the New Dread.

But the odds on the end of the world are long. Bet against. Ask the Stones. They’re wise old men.



John Hicks is a lobbyist for the happy-go-lucky industry.

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John Hicks

Havin' a wild weekend.

John Hicks lives outside the city limits, where eagles dare.

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