Monday, September 29, 2008

Fox Chase Reading, September 27th 2008


Me, Autumn Konopka, G Emil Reutter (photo by CelticGods)

Many thanks to the MAD POETS and G Emil Reutter for having me down to the City of Brotherly Love. More thanks to those who came out, including Mr. & Mrs. CelticGods. And more to the other poets as well. I had a great time and I'm looking forward to the Fox Chase 2009.

Special thanks to the Big Man for the hospitality. I can still taste the Wild Turkey!

Check out the FOX CHASE REVIEW. It showcases some really talented folks and I'm damned flattered to be included.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

All That Jazz

And so you come to find, there is no lonelier place in the world to be lonely than New York City. Anyone who has been here long enough will say the same. 7 million-plus people. Water water everywhere.

And all that jazz.

We are a city of refugees. Some political refugees from here. Spiritual and emotional refugees from there. That's me. That last one. Seeking that sacred place. To be all I ever wanted. Away from all I never was. Streets paved with golden me. Ego is a funny beast.

And so you come to find that getting involved with New York City as a young man is very much like falling in love with a really hot, older woman. I'm here to tell you. She takes you and teaches you things. Makes a man out of you.

And all that jazz.

You love her like you never loved yourself. She's under your skin. Part of you. Who would you be without her? Then somewhere down the line you come to find shes been doing all your friends too. And you love her anyway.

You will come to find one morning when you wake up that nobody but nobody stays in one place anymore. Some people die. Some just make other plans and go off someplace else to start anew. You come to find yourself alone with the old woman and she looks bored. Love is a funny beast.

And all that jazz.

People are escaping, like Rod Stewart collecting his books and getting on back to school. And so it happens I've begun planning my own escape. But I made one big mistake. I watched Midnight Cowboy. And started thinking about ol' Ratso Rizzo. Hey Joe, when we get to Florida, do me a favor? What? Anything? When we get to Florida, Could you call me Rico? It's... it's my name. So I'm thinking maybe I'm too old to run off. Go through all that hassle. To reinvent myself again. I'll get by here in Brooklyn for now. Sitting in my favorite boozer, maybe quoting F. Scott Fitzgerald.

And all that jazz.

"And so we beat on, boats against the current, born back ceaselessly into the past."

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Oh, but for a little Common Sense!

"Billions of people are scared out of their minds that the world as they know it might disappear at any moment, because of the financial turmoil rapidly spreading globally. To these people wealth is an abstraction, something possessed by somebody else. Few realise that it is they, the workers and peasants of the world, who create wealth and that the world's financial system is a means of abstracting it from the poor, consolidating it and consuming it in ways that the creators would find fantastic."

It's out there. I'm waiting for even a single American journo to say something like this. The above referenced article (click the link) by John Maxwell is what I've been waiting to see.

John McCain has been running around for weeks now saying he never would have let all this happen. Let's tell the truth here. He is part of the reason all this happened and has even admitted. He only just boasted, "I was there at the beginning of the Reagan Revolution." Thanks, big fella. The Reagan Revolution was actually, in simple words, a case of government revolt against the people.

I have a hard time believing that John McCain, and the entire GOP for that matter, truly want to win this election. They're definitely hedging their bets though. On November 4th, right before the election, their engineered bailout will slamdunk the next president and all of us a trillion dollars further into debt. That's very convenient timing isn't it? It really wasn't all that long ago that we had a surplus. Just look at things now.

John Maxwell is right on the money though, no pun intended. Wealth is an abstraction to me. The motivation to take it this far eludes me. How much is enough? Why? It's an abstraction in the same sense as the true nature of evil -- bizarre and mindless. And then they turn around and parade into church in front of television cameras. Watching them file into church every Sunday in front of the ubiquitous media is recalls nothing else but the traditional perp walk, except in this case the news is there in support of the criminal, not to condemn.

How do I tell them... Listen, pal... I don't believe in your gods, so why the hell should I believe in you?

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Totally Wired: An Open Letter to a Friend

Dear Peter,

Weird that you have visited me again in my dreams. I thought maybe the last time would be the last. You seemed so angry. There you were though, and you don’t seem to have aged a day.

Hard to believe it’s been more than twenty-years since that totally wired sunrise on the roof, the sky all pink flake and Jose Cuervo.

Red sky in the morning – Sailor take warning.

You remember that morning? We won that game the day before in Tomkins Square Park when you drove the lane and dunked over that big kid from Avenue D. It seems like just this morning I was hunched over that mirror, clutching the dangerous dollar between taped fingers. You snapped that cassette into the box. The Fall.

That is punk rock, you said.

Yes, that is punk rock.

That was such a crew back then, Peter. We were swashbucklers. We were pirates on the bounding main. Fearless and invincible. Snarl and swagger. No risk too great.

You remember that time we floored it down Terrace Avenue with that rock vendor still hanging out the car window? You remember how we laughed? I have to tell you something, man. I was terrified. No joke. I was scared.

Or that time we went to cop down in Jackson Heights and those crazy Puerto Ricans held us with guns in that booth? They thought we were narcs or something. What was the name of that place?

You weren’t with us that last night on Murder Avenue when we all got the fear and decided to head back to port once and for all. Where were you? I don’t think you ever told me. I don’t know, buddy. There were a lot more close calls, like spending the weekend with all those messed up drag queens in the Bastille. That stupid possession charge. We were slowing down. Time to count losses and hedge bets. Nothing more useless than an old pirate when his sea legs get rusty. But you decided to stay out there and ride out that last squall.

I guess it’s been 16 years now. You showed up downstairs at my place on 22nd Street at 5:30 a.m. with that chick with the crazy hair, looking for a place to crash. Totally wired. You should have understood, Peter. I wish you weren’t so angry. I had a brand new baby upstairs and a new wife. No more pirate life for me. No more punk rock. I told you that was the way it was going to be.

I put forty bucks in your hand and told you to go home. It was all I had. No I’m not asking for it back. Just saying it’s all I had. I thought I was helping too but when I saw that nasty chick smiling I knew I was putting three more bullets in the chambers and telling you to take another spin. You were just going back out to put everything in your pocket on black. Going for broke. High diddle dee dee, the pirate’s life for me and all that. I remember that I laughed at first when you turned back at the corner and swept your hand up into the air with a grand flourish. It took me a moment to see in that pink dawn that it was your middle finger and you brought it back down like a cutlass, spun on your heel and disappeared. So punk rock.

Peter, my brother, I’ve never stopped wondering what became of you. We all got together a while back, the old crew. It was just like you said it would be. Old and fat. We became our parents, just like you said. Not very punk rock at all. I asked for you but nobody had recent news. Last someone or another heard, the crown had locked you up at some place out on the island. Piracy, presumably. You were never one to turn away from a challenge… and open door or a window of opportunity.

Hardly a day goes by that I don’t wonder where you are, my friend. I appreciate the visits and all. Those were good times. And don’t think I don’t feel bad about that morning on 22nd Street. I just couldn’t do it any longer, and that girl with the hair gave me the fear. We talked about the fear all the time. You remember? Hardly a day goes by though, when I don’t wish I’d let you up and left that devil out on the front walk. Some days I think maybe I’ll see you out on the street, all dressed up and on your way to work as a banker or something that. A stock broker. Then I see that weird hair bitch smirking and telling me…

Don’t bet on it, bub.

It’s not so bad on this side, Peter. I don’t miss being a pirate. I don’t miss being punk rock. And that fat little baby boy… you remember him from the Christening? He’s 6 feet tall now and plays drums in a band. I wish you could see him. And his brother too! It’s not so bad on this side. I wish every day that you’d come with me.

Peace,

M

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Handwriting On The Wall

It's easy in the hustle and bustle of a big city to focus on the horizon and walk by or step over a lot. Things you might not want to think about. Things you might be better off not thinking about. It may or may not register in your subconscious as you hurry by and get on with the business of taking care of business.

My company moved its offices back in the late winter forcing me to change a five year old routine, wearing a path between one place and the next and wearing out my shoes. I'd grown accustomed to the routine of ignoring daily sights that I know I'm better off not thinking about. My subconscious does register them though and they've got this irksome tendency of revisiting me in the wee hours.

Consider this: Walking down the tunnel under 35h Street between 6th Avenue and Broadway -- there was a homeless guy sleeping in one spot. He was there every single morning, buried in newspapers, coats and blankets. Same place every day. One morning in his place there was a pile of ashes. I did pause for a brief inspection. That it looked like mostly remnants and ashes of old papers did nothing to push back the shudder... the fear. Nothing on the news in the following days though so... Push it back down. Don't think about it. Just a coincidence. The tiles in that spot are still brown and scorched. Whatever it was that burned there burned for a while.

Last week a cryptic message appeared on the wall above that spot. In 4 inch letters scrawled in what looked like dried blood it read, "LISTEN TO THAT MACHINE." Perhaps not so cryptic? Twenty-five years ago, or more, in the midst of a substance induced mania, a demented stranger ran up to me and with his hands on my shoulders and his face close, he asked me, "Can you hear the machine, man? Can you hear the machine???" Yes, I heard the machine. I've heard it my whole life. I assured him that I did, and I wasn't lying.

Not so long ago, on a blazing hot night in an all night diner in Queens, with a geriatric air conditioner heaving and groaning, a waitress looked up from the counter, exasperated and asked nobody in particular, "Can you hear that machine?" Deja vu. Ice in the veins. Yes, I hear that machine.

And now the handwriting on the wall, which has incidentally been bleached away leaving a broad smear, more brown around the edges... It has occurred to me that I've an unfortunate tendency to connect dots that form a may or may not mean anything. Always finding metaphor and meaning. Drawing pictures that revisit in the early morning hours. Maybe this is the true nature of madness. Not an instant split with reality but a slow, gnawing noise, like laying awake at night and listening to the mouse in the ceiling chewing away.

The Machine. Le Machine in French. A slow processor that mixes things slowly until you can't tell one bit from the other. Osterized life.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Hellbillies

I do so love dear, old Brooklyn most of the time, but time and time again I'm reminded that my home is unenlightened as any corner of the globe. Last night was just the most recent smack upside the head.

I went out to the stoop at about 9 to escape the oppressive tropical heat of top-floor living--yes, I'm still toeing the Al Gore line on reducing my carbon footprint--and finish off one of my famous 32 oz. V&T's. It was a quiet night and very few people were out. The traffic on the expressway was light, and like so many nights here in the last five years I closed my eyes and imagined the swoosh of the odd passing car was a wave hitting the beach, and I was transported to some exotic locale... momentarily.

There was a clatter of broken glass down the block. My neighbor down the way... the woman with the Neil Armstrong white space helmet beehive was with her husband and granddaughter taking out the trash. Taking out the trash. On Saturday night? Oh yes, they were taking out the trash. They were walking it across the street and heaving it over the rail onto the side of the expressway. Really nice, right? It might have been easy to wait one night and put it out on Sunday. The garbage men are very obliging and swing by before the break of day on Monday morning. It would have been very easy. But no... They just had to be outlaws! Rebels!!! Why. Bear in mind this is the same woman that called me over one evening to warn me that she had seen "a long haired boy and a colored boy" going into my place that afternoon.


"We look out for each other on this block," she said. "I just thought you should know."

Thanks. And thanks for not leaving that unsightly garbage on the sidewalk too. Nobody looks over that rail anyway, right?

These are the moments that vodka was invented for. I had a few more. Alcohol being what it is, if nothing else a diuretic, I had to get up at about 4am to drain the radiator. I was bursting. Upon leaving the bathroom, having of course fastidiously shaken, flushed and washed my hands, I heard an argument between a man and a woman out front. I crept to the window and threw open the sash in a dramatic night-before-Christmas fashion. There were four couples on the sidewalk across the way. Three of the couples were standing together making quiet, casual conversation. A couple of the men still carried the big, styrofoam cups from the landmark Farrell's. The fourth couple were in a face-off about 20 feet away screaming at each other. I saw his hand go up several times. Train wreck. I saw it coming. There it goes. SLAP!

So I'm standing there in the dark, in my Calvins (boxer briefs, if you must know) overlooking this scene. What to do? Seriously outnumbered. Outgunned? What to do? The sound of the next slap was jarring. Ooooh man, I've got to do something, right? What do I take out there? The 12 gauge Ithaca FeatherLite? No, I shipped that off for safekeeping years ago. Kitchen knife? Machete? Cell phone? Would you believe a serious case of self-righteous indignation? Several loud smacking noises had followed while I panicked. Another sound came too. The sound of the young woman apologizing to the oppressor. And the sound of the other men and women laughing while they watched.

Jaw. Chest. My own. Connect.

There are things in this world much larger than myself. I am not Batman, no matter how many long nights I spend watching over Gotham. There are bigger fish to fry, or at least maybe a battle somewhere that is not an exercise in futility.

I shambled back to my bedroom, having taken note of faces, clothing... descriptions. Just in case. In case something else was found down over the railing next to the old door, the chicken bones and empty bottles. I felt shame, and a few other things. I turned on the radio and pulled the sheets over my head.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Super Collider?

Alternate title: Tedium

Scientists this week completed the first test of the world's largest atom smasher.

We're still here! Whaddaya know?

I sit here on a Saturday morning, under a damp-ish blue sky, celebrating my own success. How many pairs of bloomers can you fit into one dryer, armed with 10 quarters, and get them to dry in the allotted time? Quite a few, apparently. My underwear is clean and I'm still here. Crack the bottle and twist the cap, brothers and sisters. Technology has overcome adversity in the bosom of Brooklyn, God's little grey-green acre. Onwards and upwards. Life is short and you have to celebrate even the minor triumphs. Hurrah!

Hurricane Ike came roaring ashore in Texas, proving once again that there are forces in nature more powerful than anything we apes can muster. Tina Turner could have told them that if you name something Ike, somebody is bound to get their ass whipped (ooooh man, yeah I know!) Yet Texas seems so far away when I'm at the launderette watching my belongings spin in the dryer. If you don't separate colors it doesn't look all that different than the satellite map of Ike smacking Galveston about. Texas seems so far away. Brooklyn doesn't seem like such a bad place to be right about now.

What do you intend to do for the weekend, MacGregor? I'm going to clean up my stuff. I'm going to cook up a new recipe. I'm going to inflict myself upon the world, one smashed atom at a time. I'm probably going to call up my pal Sobieski and smash more atoms. I'm going to embark on a new search for the perfect Bloody Mary. I'm going to have slurred arguments about politics, religion and science. I'm going to write bad poetry and regret having picked up the pen. I'm going to be self-indulgent and see every detail of my surroundings as a perfect metaphor for my life.

That old sneaker hanging up there from the telephone wire? That's me!

That soaked glove lying mashed into the sidewalk? That's me!

That old greyhound with the bald ass (why do these greyhounds always have bald asses? Did you ever notice that?) Nevermind. That's me!

I'm going to laugh at myself. I'm going to take naps. Speaking of which.

Why I Love Country Music, Part 169

HE STOPPED LOVING HER TODAY

IF DRINKIN' DON'T KILL ME

THE GRAND TOUR

SOUVENIRS

IT MAKES NO DIFFERENCE

Okay, so The Band aren't widely considered country music, and they're mostly Canadian, but if you've ever been to the country... well, they qualify. And Rick Danko just twists my heart singing this last one.

And while we're at it, some Merle Haggard:

MISERY AND GIN

Friday, September 12, 2008

Why I Love Country Music, Part 168

Alternate Title: 'Til Death Do You Part

So we all hit this moment, at some point or another, when in that Robert Frost sense you have to bow gracefully and accept the end of a love or a season. You say that's that and decide it's time to move on. I suppose that's easier for some than others. Maybe some of us have more practice? There are some things you just don't want to be an expert at though, and getting over stuff is one of them. You want to know that you can, no matter the odds, but you'd rather be the one doling out the advice. But you reach the point where all that's left is the souvenirs. Gifts. Tokens of affection. Greeting cards and letters penned in that special flourish that connotes... passion?

I spent a couple of the wee hours on the phone, talking a friend out of a tree. He was okay when she first left and did what most guys do, throwing himself into a newly single life. He partied. He dated. He hooked up. He drank heavily. And apparently he cried privately. And at some dark moment last night he realized he would never see her again. So there he was sitting with a box of letters that he had faithfully preserved like museum pieces. And I remember his wedding where even I was taken aback by the way they looked at each other. You rarely see such devotion, unless you've studied photos of Nancy Reagan looking at old Ron. I have to wonder what happened though... His heartache though... I didn't think I'd ever witness that either. And his confession of love...

The way my brain works though... everything at some point... every event, translates to a song lyric. Song lyrics being the way at a very young age I found a means to process emotions I had no vocabulary for... As my friend confessed his doubt in his own ability to move forward, the soundtrack started to play, in this case it was George Jones singing He Stopped Loving Her Today:

Written by R. V. Braddock and C. Putman, Jr.

He said I'll love you 'til I die
She told him you'll forget in time
As the years went slowly by
She still preyed upon his mind

He kept her picture on his wall
Went half crazy now and then
He still loved her through it all
Hoping she'd come back again

Kept some letters by his bed
Dated 1962
He had underlined in red
Every single I love you


I went to see him just today
Oh but I didn't see no tears
All dressed up to go away
First time I'd seen him smile in years

(Chorus)
He stopped loving her today
They placed a wreath upon his door
And soon they'll carry him away
He stopped loving her today

(Spoken)
You know she came to see him one last time
Oh and we all wondered if she would
And it kept running through my mind
This time he's over her for good

I'm no less sentimental than the next person and maybe even moreso. There was a time, back when I was a young man, that I held onto every letter, every card, every totem that told me that at some brief moment, somebody looked at me the way ol' Nancy looked at Ron. Things have changed though and call me hard-hearted, but maybe I'm just more self protective. I told my friend last night...

Get rid of them. The sooner the better.

But maybe that's because I've got a better memory for song lyrics. Like The Band:

These old love letters
Well, I just can't keep
'Cause like the gambler says
Read 'em and weep
And the dawn don't rescue me no more

I spent a few dawns, as a young man, praying to a god I never really believed in for deliverance from nights alone... even just the end of one single night, when I'd get up and go to work and have something to take my head out of my own ass.

And there's John Prine (or Steve Goodman, if you will:

Broken hearts and dirty windows
Make life difficult to see.
That's why last night and this morning
Always look the same to me.
And I hate reading old love letters
For they always bring me tears.
I can't forget the way they robbed me,
Of my sweetheart's souvenirs.

My friend seemed a bit taken aback. That's pretty cold, he told me. There was a tone in his voice that implied, dude, I don't think you understand. Maybe I don't. It took me about 24 hours to clean house, at least in a literal sense, after my last couple relationships. Healing of course takes a bit longer but if you cut yourself you don't watch it bleed for a bit because you miss what your skin looked like before. I don't think he'll take my advice though and it's awful to think of him there next to his box of kryptonite. Something infinitely more sad when it's a big man reduced to tears. Someone who always seems so solid. So fierce that just a look can make other men shrink.

I think I do get it though. I'm as scarred up as the next man, maybe moreso. And maybe they aren't scars at all. Maybe they're more like the crinkles around the eyes. The ones that get deeper as you get older. The ones that crease your face when you smile when ol' George Jones comes on the radio and he bends that sweet note and you sit back and remember.

Hold tight, buddy. Like the other song says, the one by that Jamaican cowboy, Delroy Wilson (hold tight for Why I Love Reggae, Part 147.)

Better Must Come

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Seven Years On

There will be more than enough opportunities to commemorate this day in any number of ways. Services, prayers, and memorials. It is certainly hard to believe that it's been seven years since New Yorkers and Americans received one hell of a wake-up call. That in mind though and with all due respect, it might just be time to move on. I'll keep this short.

Perhaps it's time we started to connect the dots and put some of this in perspective. If we are to commemorate this day year after year, I believe we should start to look at it globally. New York and the United States are not alone in the world. There isn't a corner of the globe that's been untouched by war and violence... maybe Antarctica but I don't even know if that continent has been spared. Every day of the year marks the anniversary of some act of horrible violence. Just this past week we saw photos of Afghani children killed senselessly by a U.S. bombing run. Terrorists? not at all. Just kids.

So if we are to do this yearly, maybe we could move forward by considering it in light of international fellowship. Let's make it a day of memorial for all the innocent victims around the world. We have surely not cornered the market on heartache and hardship. Maybe we can make September 11th bigger than our own bad memories and loss and fear... perhaps an international day of peace. At the very least a symbolic gesture to tell the rest of the world that we feel for their loss too.

Let's roll...

Monday, September 08, 2008

Twilight

It's only just 7:30 as I'm sitting down to write this. To record something or another but I'm not quite sure what. A feeling. Feelings. The sun has already set though and the temperature has dropped and summer has just about faded into darkness to the east. Twilight can be such an eerie time at any time of year. The Scottish call it "the gloamin' and superstitious lot that they are have endowed it with tales of faeries and pixies and odd beasties that awaken to wander about. Perhaps that's where I get it from, this haunted feeling that comes over me as the day ends. We'd sit out front at my aunt's place on the hill after supper and the stories would start. My uncle was always the best at scaring the bejesus out of us and before long I'd be torn between just one more and hey how about we just go inside and watch television. There would always be sounds coming from the forest around the house. Branches cracking. Rustling. Calls of unfamiliar creatures. Even the adults would sometimes jump up with a start.

The early sunset and journey into "the gloamin" is always more unsettling when you're still in a state of disbelief that another summer has come and gone. And despite that I'm never sorry to see it go, it always comes as a surprise. Outside just now there were no faeries, or pixies or beasties though, unless you count the sprite from down the street wrapped up in her hoodie and woolen socks with shorts. Ghosts though, are another story. There are always ghosts, but maybe more of them in the twilight.

People in the Caribbean, being not unlike the Scottish, as there are deep common roots in this hemisphere, are also a superstitious lot. And I say that out of admiration because it's always been my belief that there is more to it than meets the eye. (Is it odd that I have no firm belief in any god, but believe that the dead are among us?) My friend Franz, born in Trinidad and a scholar of Caribbean history and culture, told me that back home the old people said that when the hours of darkness are longer, spirits, both good and not so good, are more abundant and wander amongst us unchecked. My experience with this, based on the increase in the number of times the hair on the back of my neck (now mostly white even when the hair on top is still mostly dark) increases tenfold in the autumn, is that there is something to this lore. There is always something right behind me. Right over my left shoulder. When I look back quickly I can almost catch it. A movement. A shadow. They're watching. Like the little girl in the movie said, "They're here."

Oh, I know ghosts. My life has always been full of them and remains so. From my past life. From all my past lives. Do I believe in reincarnation? Why not? In fact, I believe that most of us exist in several incarnations simultaneously, so why not die and come back? Why the hell not? But yes, I do know ghosts. They come in hot and heavy. They visit when I'm awake. They visit in dreams. Some just take a peek and leave. Others stay for a while. Voyeurs? Strangers? Relatives? Just bored? Fascinated? How about all of the above? And how many are here right this moment watching? Probably laughing and shaking their heads. Talking amongst themselves.

He just doesn't get it.
No. Maybe he does.
I don't think so.
No, just maybe. Should we tell him?
Why? Can't he get it right on his own?
Maybe...

There is something or someone though here in the twilight. And you can call me mad, if you will. You might be right. I'm in good company though. Take that how you may.

Perhaps autumn is my favorite season because of the twilight and the early darkness. There is some comfort in the sense that there is something... a lot of something... in the murky light. Something more. Something to believe in? Or maybe it's nostalgia for past lives and it comes easier when there's less of this one to look at.

But now a mere 30 minutes later, and it's gone completely dark outside. As dark as it gets in a city of millions. I'm looking over my shoulder, always my left shoulder, every few minutes.

Nothing.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Gandhi On Iraq & Thoughts on Democracy

sort of...

"What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or the holy name of liberty or democracy?"

The Mahatma has a point there, doesn't he?

More food for thought from Aristotle: "Democracy is when the indigent, and not the men of property, are the rulers."

Or Louis Brandeis, if you will: "We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both."

Though I think more people, if they were to answer honestly, maybe promised complete anonymity would echo the thoughts of Langston Hughes: "I swear to the LordI still can't see Why Democracy means Everybody but me."

I am, by nature, a cynic. Call it the Scottish birthright as I was born into a long line of cynics. It is my opinion though, based on decades of listening to the same rhetoric bandied about and hearing (and at points almost believing) the same promises, that November will come and go without much change. There will be fireworks and hoopla and hand-wringing, and come this time next year we will still be beating our chests and shouting about this great thing called democracy.

I want to believe that it is truly significant that blacks and women have been allowed to the top of the political food chain... and make no mistake, I'm not convinced that it's not. When I read the transcripts though, with words that are gender and race neutral, I'm frightened by the thought that perhaps we're just packaging the same tired ideas in a new wardrobe -- the Emperor's New Clothes.

Lest this come off as yet another holier-than-thou screed, I plead guilty to treating Democracy and the democratic process as a once a year observance. With every election I watch impatiently while they wheel out the golden calves. I stand in line, despite my crises of faith, with the other believers and agnostics, and await my chance to, at the very least, hedge my bets so that if it all turns out to be true I just may be allowed into this Land of Milk and Honey they speak of. Then I walk home and await a sign from above that "IT" exists. It never comes and before the next Electoral Holy Day I've declared them all false prophets and I've cursed and spat on their graven images... and started looking for the 2nd, 3rd or 412th coming.

(insert Jimmy Swaggart voice here) OH DEMOCRACY I HAVE SINNED AGAINST YOU!

It's probably best to defer back to the Mahatma at this point though -- whose name I've heard invoked in so many contexts -- and not without good reason.

Or perhaps we can even defer to the Bible, at least in a metaphorical sense. We might just be idolators in the sense that we've created this graven image called Democracy and prayed to that image without giving much thought to what it truly is. A lump of clay will never be gold no matter how you adorn it and kneel before it. We will be wandering lost in the desert, both figuratively and literally, until we sort that out.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Tropical Depression

Someday a real rain will come and wash all this scum off the streets.

The rain, the promised remains of some anthropomorphic storm came in overnight at a 45 degree angle and has continued in waves through most of the day. It's given me an excuse to stay in and do next to nothing... not that I've ever needed much of an excuse. Inclement weather is a convenient excuse though, and why turn yet another $5 umbrella inside out? I'm certain though that when responsibility drags me up and out tomorrow, it will all still be out there... dead leaves, eviscerated rain gear and strangers. Consistency... very little every truly changes. The names are changed to protect the ____________ (fill in the blank).

I managed a couple errands early on, between downpours... 13 spent shirts out to the cleaner and two liters of tonic water back in. Lightbulbs to replace the ones I haven't bothered with because only a couple weeks ago the sun was setting late... and so was I. Birthday celebrations, going-away functions and work dysfunctions precluded any need for extra wattage around the homestead.

Lock the door. Turn off the phone. The lightbulbs are still sitting in the bag on the counter, and I've never been afraid of the dark anyway. They may just stay there for another day or so.

Denial. It's not dark, man. Your eyes are closed.

Mark Lanegan is on the stereo, his voice a force of nature, not so dissimilar to the rain that is still coming in hard and sideways, from somewhere far away. There are times like today, up here at the top of the Slope, when the wind comes in laden with salt and sea. The roof timbers groan and the chimes out back ring, and I am Ishmael going down to the sea in ships, or perhaps more like Ahab? I am Travis Bickle, an accidental hero in my own fiction who has spent a lot of time wondering when the big one will fall and things will be clean.

"June twenty-ninth. I gotta get in shape. Too much sitting has ruined my body. Too much abuse has gone on for too long. From now on there will be 50 pushups each morning, 50 pullups. There will be no more pills, no more bad food, no more destroyers of my body. From now on will be total organization. Every muscle must be tight."

"Loneliness has followed me my whole life. Everywhere. In bars, in cars, sidewalks, stores, everywhere. There's no escape. I'm God's lonely man... June 8th. My life has taken another turn again. The days can go on with regularity over and over, one day indistinguishable from the next. A long continuous chain. Then suddenly, there is a change."

Then suddenly there is a change... We'll just see about that.