YOU JUST CAN'T WIN. THERE MUST BE A BETTER WAY.

I can recall the long days working at Marty's stone cutting shop in Islip, NY. Each worker had a station from where they could see their fellow workers in their general area of the production line. However, because we cut stone, seldom could you hear anyone speak. My closest friend and fellow worker at the shop, Dave, called use the mole people because we were at work before the sun rose and left after it set; everyday but weekends - when I then cut stone on cemetery grounds.We worked hard but family expenses, LILCO (Long Island Electric Company) and Marty's shop pigeonholed us from a life worthwhile. Often Dave commented, and I agreed that YOU JUST CAN'T WIN. THERE MUST BE A BETTER WAY.

At that time my lifelong friend, Artie Turco 1949-1996, visited me one Saturday while I headed out to St. Charles Cemetery to inscribe additional names to existing stones above newly interred burial plots. He flagged me down along Sunrise Highway between Deer Park Avenue and Hubbard's Path (pointedly mentioned because in 1975, except for a nondescript motel that sat on this strip that is also part of Belmont State Park, Artie and I sat on the busy highway alone except for the stretch of trees that filled the park. Clamor to one side, nature at our sides.) Artie's wife, Bessie, had just delivered Evans Colby - known to the world today as Bucky Turco, publisher of NY Animal Magazine. The tiny family of Artie, Bessie, their daughter Jess and now the boy overwhelmed Artie. YOU JUST CAN'T WIN. THERE MUST BE A BETTER WAY. So he came to tell his closest friend that from that spot on Sunrise Highway he was headed directly for the road and California; alerting no one else. He returned many years later, but the Artie I grew up with never returned.

YOU JUST CAN'T WIN. THERE MUST BE A BETTER WAY. Those words rang in my ears for a long time. Especially while I built businesses and had social and monetary success; all earned dearly and filled with toil.

Then I met Desert Joe. While schooling for my architectural drawing degree at Island Drafting Institute a student had arrived from "out west." Because I was many years older than anyone in my classes and the Joe from "out West" was a couple years older than I, we were purposely introduced. Imagine "Jim from Taxi" and you got Joe. And he gained the nickname Desert Joe because he had spent the last 10 years in the Mojave desert - after being the United States' number one programmer during the 60's - all that Assembly language made him take a left turn one day and never turn back - like Artie did. YOU JUST CAN'T WIN. THERE MUST BE A BETTER WAY.

But DJ - Desert Joe - found the better way, the sleigh of hand that can win the game - "Don't play." He told me. "The rich require you to work, so they don't need to. The 'MAN' needs you to step in line so he can watch you. Big money needs you to struggle in order to make themselves money. Drop out and that all goes away. Don't play." There is a better way - don't play.

 
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