FACE VALUE

I have been thinking about something for a while. It has been on my mind and there are many reasons why it keeps coming back to the forefront of my mind. I used to be a huge Phil Collins fan when I was younger and that originated from my love for Genesis. Or maybe it was the other way around, I don’t know. When I was in high school two of my favorite bands were Genesis and The Who. Face Value was one of my favorite records and I used to listen to it all the time. Especially when I was jogging or working out at the gym. That music had a quiet fierceness to it that motivated me.

I happened to see it the other day in a box and decided to listen to it. It brought back a ton of memories but mostly it reminded me of a conversation I overheard when my mother and her friends were playing cards. Now they are Octogenarian’s. The Greatest Generation  according to Tom Brokaw. So one night my mom and her friends were playing cards and they started talking about how different it was from the way it is now.

They said that back in the day, people said what they meant. They took people at Face Value. There was no innuendo or sub context or hidden messages or agenda’s that they had to sift thru.

This meant This and That meant That. We didn’t have to worry about the stuff you younger folks have to worry about. Think about that. They took people at Face Value. Back in the day people just said what they meant. Hmmmm….It made me think.

Ok I know. I know  There were hucksters, hustlers and Snake oil salesman and con men, that generation had them but they were the exception not the rule. What my mom and her friends were saying was it was just easier. There were no games, you didn’t con your friends. You said what you meant and you did what you said and you kept your word. A handshake was a handshake.

People don’t even handshake anymore; the fist bump is now more the norm. I wonder if that is a sign of today’s unwillingness to trust each other.

So they believed what people told them. WOW! What a concept.

If you were lucky enough to see the Movie Nebraska you would fall in Love with Woody and his son.

Well I did anyway.

Slowly. You fall in love slowly. They aren’t lovable characters at all but if you just keep watching….

They are lovable in a less conventional way. If not love ….your heart if you have one will melt at the end of this father and son movie.

Woody, the main character was a man that was going to get his Good Housekeeping Million dollar award before he died. Everybody told him is was a farce of the most common kind, the biggest most obvious scam around but he insisted on taking the Pilgrimage miles and miles away to get his millions.  He believed the letter he received that said he was a millionaire. It’s one of those movies that you know will have a beautiful message with a sad twist. When the son couldn’t change his father’s mind to abandon his misguided dream he decided to go with him. He unexpectedly learned some interesting things about his dad along the way.

He became aware of why his father might have drank so much over the years. A strange and sad childhood. A bad marriage and a wife that really didn’t love him. He did meet the woman that really loved his father and still did from the longing looks she gave as she reminisced about him. But mostly his sadness stemmed from a characteristic flaw in his personality. He believed what people told him. WOW. Here we go again. That same theme. He took people at Face Value.

He never got the respect or the courtesy or the friendship he deserved because he was a sucker, the lame duck, the naïve loser that kept falling for the same tricks and lies.

Woody was the but of all the jokes.

He drank to make all his bad decisions, including his choice of the wrong woman a little bit easier to swallow. His son slowly started to understand. Woody’s life started to unravel slowly like a ball of yarn in a kitten’s command.

So they finally make it to the prize office after many miles and adventures along the way. He is finally at the place to collect his million dollars prize and the secretary is more than shocked that someone actually showed up for the prize and she says;

Receptionist: Does he have Alzheimer’s?

His Son:   No, he just believes what people tell him.

Receptionist: That’s too bad.

 

 

 

I won’t tell you the ending but its a great Movie and I highly recommend it. So after watching Nebraska and listening to my Mom and her friends I realized we live in a time where the snake oil salesman is the girl next door and the Con Man can be your priest or Minister and the Hucksters and Hustlers are all around you including people with authority. Who should you believe? Who do you trust?

It makes it really hard, everyone has an angle, a scheme, a get over, a hustle, an agenda. American culture is made to be a game and those who win do not win on their Face Value skills. It’s one big poker game and the guy with the best Poker Face wins. They win on the ability to get over more than their peers do. It’s a big game?

Those that live like Woody, the Naïve Slow unsophisticated losers are losers and deserve to lose. The qualities that made people great, integrity, salt of the earth honest folks are now looked upon as almost a flaw. The suckers, Losers in Life.

Someone called me Naïve the other day. I’ve been called a sucker too.  Someone said I had no people skills. I disagree. I think I have amazing people skills. I think It’s called emotional intelligence.

I admit it. I do not always read between the lines well. I do like to take people for face value. I am a lot like Woody that way. Shame on me.

I see the good in almost anyone. Is that a personality flaw? Probably Yes. So be it.  But the  whole “me and mine’s” mentality sucks. I hate when people say that. I believe in helping people. Am I a sucker? Maybe sometimes and sometimes maybe I am not. I look after myself and have learned some hard life lessons that go along with having a big heart. I get it. But I also know I can sleep at night. If I had to be the con man or the mark I would go with the mark every time. I sleep well.

I just really want to see the good in people and I just really want the good to be there. If that makes me wrong I don’t wanna be right. If that makes me lacking in “People Skills” well then so be it. I know there are people that feel like me, that want to imagine the good in people and sometimes if you imagine the good in people you find the good in people, like a beautiful self fulfilling prophecy.

Virtue and generosity will be rewarded in ways that one cannot know~ Nelson Mandela

I would never believe in the Good Housekeeping— you are a millionaire letter like Woody did but I consider him a compadre,  a throwback when kinder gentler souls existed and could exist without getting swallowed up but the fast and furious.

Remember Freddie in the Curtis Mayfield Song. Yeah, Freddie’s dead.

Everybody’s misused him
Ripped him up and abused him
Another junkie plan
Pushing dope for the man
A terrible blow
But that’s how it goes
A Freddie’s on the corner now
If you want to be a junkie, wow
Remember Freddie’s dead

To all the Woody’s and Freddie’s out there,  The Losers in life, Compadres and Gentle Spirits…..  I salute you.

 

Love and Happiness,

Jloz

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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