Sunday, November 27, 2011

Humility


There will be no greater lesson in humility than watching your firstborn venture out into the world, and having to accept that anything that you may have thought to tell him or teach him, but haven't yet... is simply too late. I want to spin like Columbo and raise a finger and say, "Uh... just one more thing." There will always be just one more thing.

There will be no greater reminder of your powerlessness than when when you are watching your firstborn venture out into the world doing exactly what you told him not to do, and no greater curiosity than when he gets by anyway... because maybe he is smarter. Maybe things have changed since you were that age. Perhaps someone or something greater than yourself is the one watching out for him and just maybe it's been that way all along. Someone or something has had him in their/its care to protect him from you?

There will be no greater sense of hopelessness and futility than when living with your firstborn seems an impossibility and you battle with them on their way out the door and they swear to never talk to you again. No greater fear than the possibility that their proclamation will become reality. No greater relief than when it doesn't, but then you have the new fear that the fighting will start all over again, so you tiptoe around each other, like thieves sneaking past a sleeping guard dog.

I wonder sometimes if any parent is exempted from this, and I watch other families closer to see if it's just me, and mine. I take wicked pleasure when I see a crack in the veneer of perfection and happiness, and then feel guilt. It's not like I truly take pleasure in the strife and hardship of another, though I really sort of do. Or relief that it's not just me. I am wildly envious of others until I discover that they are also going through it. It's not something I'm proud of, but it's there.

There may come a time when you are going through photos of those first weeks with your newborn and wondering what you could have done differently and you simply must accept that there is no going back. It's probably important also that you accept the possibility that the outcome isn't the wrong one, even if it isn't what you had envisioned.

There are days when acceptance seems not so much like letting go, but like lifting an impossibly heavy stone. This is not necessarily one of those days. It is rather one of those in-between days when I can't tell if the weight is in my hands or on the ground before me. When I don't know whether to stoop to lift it or to walk away and not look back.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Perspective on heroism...


Let me preface this by saying, RIP Steve Jobs. You seemed like a decent guy. You were certainly an enigmatic, pop culture icon. You are now gone and your commercial legacy will live on. You are the champion of really neato stuff. Thanks.

But some perspective on the hand wringing and worldwide moans: See above photo.

What was life like before Steve Jobs?

It was exactly the same.

Exactly

the

Same.

We had music.
We had telephones.
We had games.

It is easier now to bring music and telephones and games wherever we travel in the world. The cannot be denied.

Otherwise...

Saturday, September 03, 2011

September 11


There will be enough people, in coming weeks, waxing poetic, nostalgic, horrific, demonic etc. about September 11th... 911... The Day The Earth Stood Still. I don't want to be disrespectful to the families who lost loved ones, nor irreverent, nor is it my intent to minimize or be dismissive. Sometimes, however, I think about what that day may have meant to me if not for... Well, we know what happened.

September 11, 2011 will be the 2nd anniversary of the death of Jim Carroll, a poet, memoirist and musician that has meant a great deal to me over the last 35 years. It started, I guess, with the release of the album Catholic Boy, which stood well apart from the pack in the era of Southern Rock, Disco, California-Lite and Arena Bombast. What we came to call punk and new wave was not getting a lot of airplay, even on the FM stations, which like Liberal Democrats in the U.S. and the Labour Party in the UK, had long become staid, stodgy, dogmatic and somewhat constipated. There were exceptions. People Who Died, was an exception among exceptions, but it wasn't even the real poetic dynamic stand-out for those brave enough to buy the Catholic Boy album. The title track, by the way, is still rarely heard unless you own it.



The real impact of Jim Carroll, in my life was that he inspired me to write. Yes, a good part of it was teenage, romantic, fantastic stuff about sitting in a tenement, hunched over a buzzing Selectric next to a bottle of bourbon. These notions led me down the garden path to twisted places, admittedly. No, I never published anything of literary import. What writing has offered me though, is an avenue by which I might express feelings and words that I've never been able to articulate in any other way. If nothing else...

Catharsis.

This one single avenue down which my darkest fears could be paraded away from me may have ostensibly saved my life.

Did in fact, give me a reservoir, or a catch-basin in which I could open a valve and relieve pressure, and still have everything at hand, in a safe place until it could be dealt with.

I've been writing a lot more recently--diaries if you will--nothing even vaguely resembling a coherent memoir. Again, it keeps me level. And having turned 50 this past weekend, I had actually wanted to express that making this far was a surprise. I have, as a loved one pointed out, given my past behavior, stunned the actuaries. It doesn't make all that much sense to pontificate on aging. You either will, or you won't. This ramble aside, I have been trying to recall a bit from Carroll's follow-up to The Basketball Diaries. It was titled Forced Entries and was in many ways, better than its predecessor. My copy of the book has long since disappeared... probably loaned out to someone else who is foolish enough to romanticize junkie poets. It began like this though and fairly well describes what keeps me scribbling and tapping:

>>>The fact is, in many ways, I hadn't planned to make it to this age. I think of my past as if it were some exquisite antique knife. You can use it to defend yourself or slit your own throat. But you can't just keep it mounted on some wall. I can no longer allow the past, however, to interpret my future. Not dying young can be a dilemma.

Such notions, I see now, are an indulgence. I inhabit a different body now. Each day, it seems, another self wakes up and heats the coffee. I can distinguish, even gauge, the passage from a disturbed youth to a disturbed adult by the subtle aggressiveness in my anxiety..

So, having lived, it seems only proper to begin keeping track again, to record the flux of each self, and weigh the shifting landscape of the city. I've given much of myself to feed its insatiable, tick-ridden underbelly, and I expect the use of its character, without threats or intimidation, in return. If you haven't died by an age thought predetermined by the timing of your abuses and excesses, then what else is left but to begin another diary?<<<

I feel this right to my bones.




Sunday, August 28, 2011

Economy of Language


I needed only 12 short hours of smoke deprivation to realize that every last noun in my vocabulary could be readily replaced with a particularly unpopular word beginning with the letter "C."


The path to enlightenment is often much shorter than we might imagine it to be.



Down the Rabbit Hole


Brief update... Irene's big ol' backside is still kicking up a mess along the shore, and there has been considerable damage up and down the coast, but it must be said... NYC dodged a bullet. She slammed ashore at Coney Island as a tropical storm at about 8 this morning. It's my not so humble opinion that people who are now griping that there was too much hype really need to count their blessings.

My fears, down here in the bunker, were not entirely unfounded. The water started coming in just before 1 a.m. The blessing was that it was clean (semi-clean) rain water from somewhere above, and not from the Ghostbuster's river of slime that runs under the street. Over the course of a very long night, I filled a five gallon bucket eight times, and got about an hour of sleep sitting up on the sofa. My preparations, putting everything up high, did not go unrewarded. The only damage is to the sheetrock low along the back wall of the apartment. The landlord has already called.

I can think of several dozen things I would have rather done on a Saturday night, but the upside is that once you've wrung out a string mop several hundred times, you can crack coconuts in your hands. I just have to be careful not to hurt myself... uh... THAT'S A JOKE SON! LAUGH! You know, one of those thinly-veiled, off-color things.

Never mind.

It's all good. I'm glad it's mostly over, and we all got to see Mayor Michael Bloomberg BUST OUT HIS SPANISH.

Cheers.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Irene


Light rains all day, and it's just picked up a bit with a low roll of thunder. We'll see how this works out. There have already been fatalities down south, but I've seen no word if it was water, wind, or something collapsing that caused them. It's going to be an interesting night up and down the coast.

Perhaps the most alarming local news so far is that THERE ISN'T NOW AND NEVER HAS BEEN AN EMERGENCY EVACUATION PLAN FOR 12,000 INMATES ON RIKER'S ISLAND. This is a particularly disturbing scenario, as these men and women are locked away on a very vulnerable patch of land right in harm's way. Say what you will, but a large number of these human beings are in there for crimes that many of us have gotten away with repeatedly. The phrase, "there but for the grace of God," applies every which way to this situation. Fatalities as a result of this criminal negligence will be on the hands of Mayor Bloomberg and the Department of Corrections.

There have been many other sound preparations. At-risk neighborhoods are divided into three evacuation zones and the most vulnerable have been mandated to pack up and leave. Those who decide to stay are, as the Mayor has stated, on their own.

I am several blocks uphill from Zone C so I'm theoretically safe, unless the drains and sewer are overwhelmed by rain and back up into the houses. There are many advantages to a basement apartment, but they are pretty much nullified in these rare cases. There isn't much that can be done, so we've made basic preparations to fly on a moment's notice. Miss Jane Pitbull has been on edge and growing increasingly squirrelly, but that may have something to do with several feral cats trying to pry their way into the back windows. I feel badly for them, but... We will see how it goes.

There are two schools of thought on the perceived danger of this storm, in regard to the city. One is to prepare for The End of Days. The other is like the grasshopper from the old fable. Dance, fiddle and sing... we're not going any damn place. Few appear to be holding the middle ground.

I headed out to Rockaway Beach early this morning, hoping to catch a bit of a thrill. While it is always awe-inspiring and humbling to sit before the ocean, it was just a bit more so facing the higher-than-average surf and infinite mist. There was simply a greater awareness of the vast forces that dwarf even our imaginations. Or the imaginations of anyone grounded in anything resembling reality. It doesn't take much more than the approach of a huge storm to become right-sized against the world and/or any Higher Power you claim a connection to.

It was mostly just peaceful there in the mist, which would clear just enough every so often to reveal dozens of surfers out just beyond the breakers, waiting for something just a bit bigger than the last one.

And that is the day, thus far. I turn 50 years old tomorrow, and though I couldn't imagine even at 40 that I would be around at 50... and no, I'm not being morbid or ego-stricken as I am just an average man... and yes, anything can happen on the overnight... it is pretty much as inevitable as this rain and whatever is behind it. It's supposed to be one of those benchmark birthdays, just as Irene is supposed to be "THE BIG ONE," but against the greater scheme of things, time and the universe, it's just another day. It doesn't matter how much you talk it up.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Maelstrom?


Or is this IRENE CHICK simply a manifestation of the last vestiges of my arrested development meeting a new force in my life.

I will let you know when the storm surge subsides.

How long can I sit here watching the news reports before it becomes tiresome? What age marks the onset of Weather Channel Syndrome? You know what I'm talking about. There is an older person in your life whose television is always tuned in to cyclones and tornado strikes in parts of the world that he/she has never even visited. You spend hours wondering what is so damned fascinating that they remember the storm track of hurricanes from 40 years earlier. Then you sit bold-upright on the sofa and realize you've been watching an hour by hour update of a storm in Guam all morning. What age can you expect this?

I don't know, but I can tell you that I just watched Irene News on NY1 for the last two hours. I am frightened. Not of the storm really, but that it's happened to me. Early onset of Weather Channel Syndrome.

I took precautions. I never stopped listening to The Ramones. There are no velcro shoes sticking out from beneath my bed. There are no trousers with an elastic waistband in my bureau. I've never owned a reversible belt.

Yet I can now give you a comprehensive summary of evacuation zones and shelters all over the borough.

This is a cry for help. Maybe I should just go stand on the beach tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The end is nigh...

Or so some people believe...




I broke down a while back and called the cable guy, who in an impressive feat of scaling fences, walls and poles... and operating a drill straight out of that Brian DePalma film the title of which I can't remember... hooked me back into the mainstream media. I've spent the last three months watching mostly highbrow stuff like Comedy Central, Adult Swim, and HGTV, and wondering why I suffered under the delusion that something had been missing in my life.

Of course there are those odd anthropological delights, like Intervention and Hoarders. There are cultural studies like Billy the Exterminator. I have mostly, however, been disappointed with the fare. There are few programs that I make it a point to watch regularly, and none that I can honestly say I look forward to.

That's why I nearly jumped from the sofa in delight when I saw that there will be a documentary addressing one of my pet topics.

The Apocalypse!

LIVIN' IN THE APOCALYPSE (click here)

It's not that I really believe that it's coming, or even care. In fact...

It's the people, though, that fascinate me. I am simultaneously drawn to and repelled by the seemingly growing number of people who believe that we are, at any moment, going to be facing the fire. That whether by God, or death comet, or nuclear holocaust, it's coming, and we'd best be prepared! They are a special breed and I cannot turn away from any program or article or book that features them. They range from rugged survivalists, to cults, and as evidenced by events earlier this year, otherwise regular folks who are prone to media driven hysteria.

I know, from a personal standpoint, that if things get that rough, I'd rather go in the first wave than to be trapped in a bunker or cave with any of these people. Call it misanthropy but just look at some of the photos in that article, or scroll back a couple months to the Rapture Hype. No, I think I'd rather put on some proper Apocalypse music... maybe Motorhead... kick back, and die. The thought of sitting underground munching Dinty Moore, cleaning my rifle and reading the Bible just doesn't appeal to me.

And I would really miss some of you.

Most of you.

I will, in the meantime, await the premier of Livin' In The Apocalypse impatiently. Thank you, Cable Guy.

Thank you.


Sunday, August 14, 2011

Fisherman


A lifetime at the tiller, piloting my toy sailboat through the swells and surges in the gutter, has left me with callouses. Blisters on top of callouses on top of blisters. A ruined back as well. I wonder sometimes, often now these days, what romantic notion carried me to the decision to go to sea. To spend my life fishing waters that I was duly warned were devoid of any catch that could sustain life. To fish for creatures that I would be better off leaving to their own devices there in the muck at the bottom. To explore waters that no experienced sailor would dare bother with.

But you can't, at the end of any day, even the best of days, tell a young man anything. I ignored the warnings, put my back to the tiller, and didn't look back until I was out there alone. I caught what I caught. I came back from time to time and would, when the opportunity arose, kidnap a reluctant ear, and overfill it with fantastic tales of storms, horrific beasts, and frightful misadventure. Then it was back out to the dirty water.

And now as I am greying at the temples, my back sore, and my hands twisted like tree roots reaching up from shallow sand, I am back on firmament, still looking for my land-legs. I still haunt the piers where my toy sailboat is dry-docked, and daily I am drawn to the mystery. To the notion that there is some treasure out there. The catch of catches that I might, to the amazement of everyone, dump triumphantly on the pier. Where people will shake their heads in wonder and admiration.

I will most likely leave that to younger men who cannot and will not be told that there is nothing out there under the waves. And I will wait down at the docks to see what they bring back, because I'm still not entirely convinced either.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

At 50


I find myself, at 50, or at least approaching the day, far more uncertain of the world around me than before. I am somehow more happy for this. From this. About this. I don't even know how to phrase this and I'm not bothered by not knowing.

I find myself, approaching 50, with fewer opinions and feel more at peace. Every uncertainty is one less fortress to defend with my life.

I find myself, nearing 50, not needing so badly to be right. I will now, sometimes very quiety...

VERY QUIETLY!

Concede that I am... shhhhhh....

incorrect


You may see, from the look on my face, that I am not yet altogether comfortable with that. That will take time and effort.

I find myself, inching towards 50, coming to the realization that there is far less time in which to make an effort, any effort really. Lest I be misconstrued, effort I make will not be/is not driven by any cognition of imminent judgment. This isn't about redemption or salvation.

I simply grew weary. It must be said that others certainly must have grown weary also. Maybe we have shared a moment of mutual exasperation with... me.

This isn't a morbid aging and dying bender, merely an observation. It took me a very long time to realize that the heaviness of my step and the weight I felt across my shoulders was perhaps the ripe fertilizer that fed my...

How did Fitzgerald put it in Gatsby?

My "platonic conception" of myself.

Nor is this self-flagellation. I've spent enough time engaged in that. There is a thin line between self-hate and self-love, opposite sides of the same coin perhaps. It is merely an observation that having jettisoned some cargo, forward motion (not in the sense of linear time) has accelerated.

I have found, as I careen towards 50, that I no longer grip the wheel as tightly. It's not like I will be able, at any point, to make a sharp turn away and avoid the mark. Release the wheel and stay true to the path. There is no brake pedal either.

Imagine that.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Poem of the Day | Barbarian, by Arthur Rimbaud


Barbarian

Long after the days and the seasons, and the beings and the countries,
The pennant of bloody meat against the silk of arctic seas and flowers; (they don't exist.)
Recovered from old fanfares of heroism—which still attack our hearts and heads—far from the ancient assassins—
Oh! The pennant of bloody meat against the silk of arctic seas and flowers; (they don't exist)
Sweetness!
Live coals raining down gusts of frost,—Sweetness!—those flashes in the rain of the wind of diamonds thrown down by the terrestrial heart eternally charred for us.—O world!—
(Far from the old refuges and the old fires that we can hear, can smell,)
The live coals and the foam. Music, wheeling of abysses and shock of ice floes against the stars.
O Sweetness, O world, O music! And there, shapes, sweat, tresses and eyes, floating. And the white, boiling tears,—O sweetness!—and the voice of woman reaching to the depths of the arctic volcanoes and caverns.
The pennant .....

Monday, July 25, 2011

Finding meaning in Everything?


Egocentrism can render a man prone to finding hidden meaning in anything and everything. There was a King of Spaces playing card on the ground right outside my door this morning. The appearance of a face card in a game of Blackjack always brings on that hair-raising mix of anticipation and dread... a 50-50 shot of winning, or losing miserably. It is the same in life if you are one given to reaching too far for meaning and metaphor in anything that comes your way.

I knew the card meant something but had to turn to the oracle Lord Google for the answer. So the meaning of the King of Spades:

KING OF SPADES VICTORY Triumph; physical or mental release.

Aces! (no pun intended) This could be a good day!

Unless of course the message was left for my neighbor... I won't know for sure until I walk outside and live it.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Oxymoron of the Day: High Class Prostitution Ring


This is why they call them "mug" shots. To quote the revered social commentator, Mr. Bugs Bunny, "Just lookit dem mugs!"

Anyway, I must take exception to the phrase, "high class prostitution." Paying to get hosed involves very little in the way of "class" whether at any price. No judgment here. Just saying, it's a simple business transaction, and as far as I'm concerned just like every other business transaction. Some people shop at Macy's, and some at the dollar store. BFD.

You can READ THE STORY HERE if you like. It should come as no surprise to anybody to find a prostitution ring anywhere in any cit in the world. I just balk at the phrasing, and honestly, that a crew of such exceptionally ugly clowns could be gathered in one place.

Internal Monument, by G.C. Waldrep... This floored me this morning.

Internal Monument

A man was sad—for himself, maybe for someone else, maybe he had lost something, or someone—so he hired some workmen to erect a monument. He was not surprised when they came calling early one morning, while he was still in bed, but he was surprised when, with a practiced slash, the foreman opened his chest. "We build the monument inside," the foreman said. "But who will see the monument?" the man protested. "It's a monument for feeling, not for seeing," the foreman replied.

The operation was unpleasant but was soon over. And sure enough, after a brief interval of recuperation, the man felt, he thought, a little less sad than before.

This lasted a while, but then he felt the sadness returning, in spite of the dark, heavy space in his chest where the monument rested, nestled in flesh. He called the workmen again. They obligingly came and repeated the procedure.

Over the ensuing months and years, the man had cause to call upon the foreman and his crew repeatedly, as new life brought new losses, new sadnesses. His chest became a jumbled cabinet of monuments, the fatty tissue of his upper arms and thighs, his bowels: even his fingers and toes felt weighed down by his commemorations. At length, it was all he could do to lift the telephone receiver at his bedside. He called the foreman. "I can't get up," he said. "I can't even move." "An unfortunate side effect," the foreman told him. "Really, there's nothing we can do."

Bedridden, the man felt deprived even of what had been the most mundane pleasures of daily life: strolls down the avenue, the smell of bread baking at a neighborhood patisserie, autumn leaves. It was not turning out at all as he had expected, this life.

Inside his body the monuments huddled. Mutely, he thought, though sometimes, late at night, when he tried to shift position, they brushed against one another and made what could only be called sounds, though no one else could hear them, and he heard them, if he heard them, with his body, rather than with his ears.

When the man died, his landlord, his executors, eventually the city authorities all attempted to wrest his body from what had become his deathbed. No one could move it. Finally, they called the foreman, who agreed to try one last procedure on the corpse.

The foreman unzipped the body like a flimsy valise and, with the assistance of his workmen, slowly, carefully turned it inside out. Now everyone could see the monuments, but no one could see the man.

They were beautiful, his monuments. People traveled into the city from miles around to view them. The city graded and graveled lanes in what had been the sad man's body. Clerks and engineers began to take their families there for picnics. A bandstand was built. Lovers gathered at dusk for concerts and, later, laid out blankets on the generous lawns, over which the monuments stood like sentinels. "Look at the stars," the lovers whispered to one another. "Look up at the beautiful stars."

G. C. Waldrep

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Where the sacred and the profane meet...


His Purgations

Argyle shat himself and, truth be told,
but for the mess of it, the purging was
no bad thing for the body corporal.
Would that the soul were so thoroughly cleansed,
by squatting and grunting supplications.
Would that purgatories and damnations
could be so quickly doused and recompensed,
null and voided in the name of mercy.
He made for Goleen and a proper laving
of his crotch and loins and paltry raiments.
Outstretched on the strand, his body's immersion
in the tide was not unlike a christening:
two goats for godparents, two herring gulls
perched in the current his blessed parents,
a fat black cormorant the parish priest
anointing him with chrisms and oils,
pronouncing him reborn, renamed, renewed
in the living waters of baptism.
In every dream he dreamt after bathing,
the guilt and guile of his sin-eating
and all accrued perditions were absolved
and he was named after an apostle
or martyr or evangelist or saint,
welcome everywhere, forgiven everything.

Thomas Lynch

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

News of the Very Bizarre World



There really isn't much need to bore anyone with further details of the latest troubles in the Rupert Murdoch Empire. Things have gone pear-shaped on The Death Star, and it's going to be strange when the media network most famous for covering things up (and inventing other things) is standing buck naked before the world.

A few points of interest, however:

1) The man that dealt the first blow to The Empire SEAN HOARE, WAS FOUND DEAD (click here). Police are still saying there is no reason to suspect foul play. I don't know how to insert a very long pause here. Really? No reason? Okay. Whatever.

2) On a lighter note, check out Wendi Deng Murdoch in the pink blazer pulling out the Kill Bill moves on the pie thrower! Wow! Who knew that the old man had hooked up with the OGB? ORIGINAL GANGSTA BITCH! The Lee Press-On Scowl she's exhibited through these proceedings is precious. This is a woman you do NOT want to mess with!

3) Yes, that is ex-NYC Schools Chancellor Joel Klein sitting ringside for this fight. They say you can judge a man by the company he keeps. Murdoch > Klein > Bloomberg > NYC Voters Who Will Vote For Yoda's Evil Twin Again (if given the chance).

I'm really struggling to find a light side to this mess. It's not like there is any love lost between me and any Murdoch media holdings. I don't watch Fox in any form and I wouldn't let my dog crap on The New York Post. Alexander Hamilton, founder of The Post and by many accounts a creep and proponent of galactic-scale fuckery, must be spinning in his grave. The Empire is mostly built on tabloid sleezery, and while I'm not beyond a bit of the old bodega-style bochinche (see above), I've no real interest in taking bullshit beyond the corner store or the front stoop. To build an entire print and broadcast dynasty on messing with people... The very best you can hope for after being near any of these people is a stain that won't wash out.

This is going to be an interesting ride.

Friday, July 15, 2011

From the IJustCan't.com Files

and other things I am incapable of understanding...


I often find, at this advanced age, that there are many phenomena at work in the world around me that I remain incapable of understanding. Now granted, this is an extreme example, this...

PARAPHILIC INFANTILISM (click here)...

I don't even want to understand this. It's not really necessary that I do. There are, however, less extreme examples that create static interference in my day to day life. Some days are an exercise in sorting through and collating events and experiences that I learn from, filing away some to examine more closely at a later date... and sending some to the shredder. Take a look, say a prayer, and release it to the universe. I am mostly successful in getting things in order, or at least a manageable order. Then there are other days when the bits and bytes come like flurries of punches.

The story above though, is one that I hope to forget soon. It has, for the time being, no immediate relevance in my life. It is strange to think though that as we walk about, we pass by people with secrets we might never imagine them capable of harboring. Baby Bunnykins here might be an accountant, or a dentist, or whatever. My own secrets, by comparison, are very tame. Don't expect any kind of a confession or testimonial on this page. We all have secrets. Yet some...

Thursday, July 14, 2011

On Bravery and Fear...


From A.A. Milne, because his words are better than mine... And I think of the lessons in courage I find in this story. It's about attitude I suppose, and there are days when it seems the wind will certainly carry us away, or cause heavy things to fall upon us. Most days that doesn't happen, despite anything else that does. His words:

chapter eight

In which Piglet does a very grand thing

Pooh and Piglet are sitting together in their Thoughtful Spot, halfway between their two houses, trying to decide what to do with their day. Pooh suggests going to see Eeyore in case his house has blown down again and needs rebuilding. Piglet says that they should go and see Christopher Robin, if only he would be home, which he wouldn't be, and then Pooh says that they should go and see everyone, because then they could turn the day into a Friendly Day, which is obviously preferable to an Unfriendly Day, being friendlier.

Piglet says that they should come up with a reason to see everyone, like an Expotition or an Organdized Search, and Pooh says that they can wish everybody a very happy Thursday, what with it being Thursday and everything.

So they stand up, and Piglet sits down again briefly because he didn't realise the wind was quite that strong, but he is helped up by Pooh, and they set off together. They go to Pooh's house first (luckily finding that Pooh is home at just the moment they arrive), and have a little something, and than carry on to Kanga's house, battling through the very strong wind.

They stay for lunch at Kanga's house and then move on to Rabbit's, and Pooh wishes Rabbit a very happy Thursday, after he has gone in and out through the front door a few times, just to check that he can. Rabbit isn't terribly impressed with their Thursday greeting, because he is such an Important Animal anyway, and so Pooh and Piglet press on.

"Rabbit's clever," said Pooh thoughtfully.
"Yes," said Piglet, "Rabbit's clever."
"And he has Brain."
"Yes," said Piglet, "Rabbit has Brain."
There was a long silence.
"I suppose," said Pooh, "that that's why he never understands anything."

Pooh and Piglet arrive at Christopher Robin's house, and Christopher Robin is home from school now as it's the afternoon. They have a Very Nearly Tea with Christopher Robin (one you forget about afterwards), and then head off to Pooh Corner to see Eeyore.

They greet Eeyore, who asks them if they have got lost and ended up there accidentally, which of course they haven't, as they have come especially to see Eeyore himself, and his house, which is still standing! Eeyore says yes, it is, which is quite strange, as surely someone should have come and pushed it over by now.

Pooh says he was a bit more worried about the wind blowing it down, and Eeyore says that that is probably why no-one has bothered to push it down, as they were just waiting for the wind to do it instead.

Pooh and Piglet say how happy they are to have seen Eeyore, and mention that they are now going to see Owl. Eeyore says that they will like Owl, and that in fact he flew past Pooh Corner only a day or so ago and noticed Eeyore, although he didn't stop to say anything, but still it was Encouraging.

Eeyore says goodbye to them, and advises Piglet not to get blown away by the wind, and off they go again. The wind is still very strong, and little Piglet's ears are streaming behind him like banners. Eventually they arrive at the Hundred Acre Wood and the shelter of the trees, although the trees present another problem...

"Supposing a tree fell down, Pooh, when we were underneath it?"
"Supposing it didn't," said Pooh after careful thought.
Piglet was comforted by this.

They reach Owl's door safely, and they knock and ring as per his written instructions. Pooh says hello to Owl, and then says that he hopes they are not too late for...and then stops himself, and says how are you, Owl, like a well-behaved bear is supposed to do before he asks for a little something.

Pooh and Piglet get settled in Owl's house, and Pooh explains that they have been hurrying to get there in time for..., uh, in time to see Owl before they went away again.

Owl understands, and asks them if it is very Blusterous outside. Piglet says that it is definitely very Blusterous, while quietly thawing his ears out and wishing he was at home. Owl says that he had thought that it must be very Blusterous outside, and is just about to launch into a long and complex story about his Uncle Robert when there is a loud cracking noise...

Pooh cries "Look out!", and warns Piglet that he is about to fall on him. Piglet cries "Help!", understandably. Owl's house is tilting, and everything in the room is sliding downwards onto what used to be the floor, but is now a wall.

There is another loud crack, and then silence. A tablecloth in one corner starts to wriggle around, rolls across the room, jumps up and down a bit, and then turns out to be Piglet.

"Pooh," said Piglet nervously.
"Yes?" said one of the chairs.
"Where are we?"
"I'm not quite sure," said the chair.
"Are we - are we in Owl's House?"
"I think so, because we were just going to have tea, and we hadn't had it."
"Oh!" said Piglet. "Well, did Owl always have a letter-box in his ceiling?"
"Has he?"
"Yes, look."
"I can't," said Pooh. "I'm face downwards under something, and that, Piglet, is a very bad position for looking at ceilings."

Owl emerges from behind a table, looking rather irritated. Owl asks Piglet where Pooh is, and Pooh replies that he isn't sure, and Owl turns to Pooh and frowns at the bits of him he can see.

Owl asks Pooh if he is responsible for their current situation, and Pooh says that he doesn't think that he is. Piglet says that he thinks it was the wind, and that Owl's house has been blown down. Owl says "Oh," and that he thought that it was Pooh, and Pooh says no.

Owl and Piglet struggle with the armchair that is on top of Pooh, and after a little while they manage to free Pooh successfully. Piglet says that they need to think of something to do now, and Pooh says that he has thought of a song, which he sings, and although it is a very nice song, it doesn't get them out of their State.

Owl says that they can't go out of the front door because it is now blocked, so they are going to need another exit. Pooh puts his mind to the problem, and considers the fact that he is sitting on a floor which used to be a wall, and above them is the ceiling, which used to be another wall, and has the front door in it, which used to be a front door but is now a ceiling door, with a letterbox right in the middle of it.

Pooh suggests that Owl could fly up to the letterbox with Piglet on his back, an idea that Piglet quickly vetoes, and anyway, Owl explains the role of the Necessary Dorsal Muscles, something which he has explained before but is one of those things that often needs two explanations before anyone knows what you are talking about.

Pooh explains that the idea is to allow Piglet to squeeze through the letterbox and go and get Help, and Piglet says that he has put on some weight lately so that plan wouldn't really work, unfortunately. Owl says that he has actually had his letterbox made bigger lately in case he received any large letters, but then Piglet reminds Owl about the Dorsal Muscles situation, and they try to think of something else to do.

Pooh comes up with another plan - they should tie Piglet to a piece of string, and then Owl could fly up to the letterbox holding the piece of string in his beak, and then he could push the string through the wire, and then bring it down to the floor, and then both Owl and Pooh would pull hard on the string on one end and Piglet would rise up to the ceiling on the other end.

"And there Piglet is," said Owl. "If the string doesn't break."
"Supposing it does?" asked Piglet, really wanting to know.
"Then we try another piece of string."
This was not very comforting to Piglet, because however many pieces of string they tried pulling up with, it would always be the same him coming down; but still, it did seem the only thing to do.
So with one last look back in his mind to all the happy hours he had spent in the Forest not being pulled up to the ceiling by a piece of string, Piglet nodded bravely at Pooh and said that is was a Very Clever pup-pup-pup Clever pup-pup Plan.

Pooh reassures Piglet that the string won't break because Piglet is so small, and Pooh will stand underneath anyway, and if Piglet manages to escape and get Help then that will be a Very Grand Thing, maybe so grand that Pooh will make up a song about it and people will talk about it afterwards.

Piglet now feels much better about everything, so the animals prepare the string, and then Piglet is lifted slowly up to the ceiling. Piglet is rather proud of himself and wants to call out "Look at me!", but he doesn't in case the others look at him and let go of their end of the string.

Piglet successfully reaches the letterbox, opens it and gets in. He unties himself from the string and squeezes into the slit, and after a little bit more squeezing he is free! Calling to the others through the letterbox he lets them know that everything is OK, although Owl's tree has blown over and a branch is blocking the door, but with Christopher Robin's help he can rescue everyone, and it should only take about half an hour.

Owl decides to make use of the half an hour at his disposal, and settles down to tell a long and convoluted story about his Uncle Robert. Pooh closes his eyes.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Why is this man smiling?


He is Rupert Murdoch. That is why he is smiling.

HE OWNS ALL OF THIS (click here)

You might be smiling too, if you were Rupert Murdoch. Or not, considering recent problems with the law. I have to ask, as the New Corp. scandal widens (click here), just how deep is this going to get? How many of these other Murdoch "assets" are going to be involved? It seems to be going well beyond News of the World already. Phone hacking. Payoffs to police and government officials. Which of his other companies are involved in their own... pecadillos?

I've been watching the other news media dance around the story. It is out there, to be sure, but one might have expected the biggest feeding frenzy in the history of the Western World. Nobody seems to be asking any big questions, but rather waiting quietly in the corner, biting their nails as details emerge.

I've watched reporters on other networks run down brief lists of News Corp./Murdoch holdings. There is ALWAYS one glaring omission. Why is nobody mentioning The Wall Street Journal and other Dow Jones publications? They are really the crown jewel of the opinion-forming media in the Murdoch treasure chest. Is it that nobody can bear the thought that...? Ha! I won't say it. I will say that it has always seemed strange to me that such a major power in financial news should rest in the hands of a powerful man who could ostensibly stand to profit handsomely from what, where and how financial news is reported... or isn't reported.

We know this: Truth and Murdoch-owned media are often mutually exclusive entities. We're now getting solid evidence that there are those within his empire that will go to ANY lengths to get what they need, including breaking the law. I think it only stands to reason that if they're willing to break the law to get information, they would have no moral quandary at all about disseminating misinformation. If you're not outraged, and at least a little frightened, perhaps you should be.

We are, in the end, proper... ahem... We're out of luck. We re-wrote laws even in New York City, to allow this man to control more major, opinion-forming media outlets than were allowable even 30 years ago. We let it happen, and now we're getting a little taste of the Fox News we let into the henhouse.

This one might be considered a rant...


This is, of course, Michelle Obama, The First Lady of The United States of America. She looks pretty good, right? Nah man, more than that. She looks damn good! I don't know about the rest of you (nor do I truly care all that much), but I feel it's kind of nice to have good looking people in the White House, considering we have to look at them so much.

I do have a question though. Every time I turn on the news or pick up a paper, I have to see some duff-ass journalist trying to "expose" the woman as some manner of hypocrite for throwing down every so often with one of those "guilty-pleasure" meals we all love so much. (Note: It's not a goddamn guilty pleasure if you chow down 6000 calories every day. That makes you the sort of pig that has to rent the Lil Rascal at the mall to drag your ass around the food court.)

CASE AND POINT click here)

Get a clue. Obesity kills more people yearly than crack. That makes Ronald McDonald a killer clown. Michelle Obama fronts a campaign to fight one of the nation's #1 killers. She cares about children.

Note that she is not fat. She obviously takes care of herself. Her children are not fat. Her husband is not fat.

You may note that this story is from The Daily Fail... okay, point taken, but it is one of dozens of these stories that have confounded me for the last 6 months. Why do I have to see this? You (the press) are going to have to try harder. Get this crap out of the news.

SHAKE SHACK rocks, by the way! I wish I was there right now.

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Someone else's words for once...


Second Row at the Ballet


That night at the Orpheum, what had I been trying to tell you? I remember
going over it in my head, testing the words
against the silences they would replace. The old theater at Beale and South
Main had been spared the wrecking ball,

its façade and marquee, ornate friezes and delicate gold leaf deemed worth
conserving after decades of neglect. Our seats were so good
they were bad. I couldn't see the dancers' feet for the footlights, and the sweat
on the ballerinas' backs wasn't a romantic glow, it was sweat.

This cluttered world is constantly encroaching and tangible, but it's hard
not to reduce it to something imagined. From where we sat
I could see into the wings, the lead dancer listening for her cue. She violently
wiped at her nose with the heel of a palm. Moments before,

a piece of her shadow had spun huge as a movie projection on the backstage
wall abbreviating the motions she was about to perform,
the way a mechanic tearing down an engine finds a way to remember the
orientation of each piston and cam and rod. We have learned

to practice until it isn't practice anymore, until the history of repetition
falls away as it did for the carefully costumed dancer
when she flung herself across the stage on the exact right beat and began
to inhabit the ghosted images so perfectly arranged in her mind.

Bobby C. Rogers

Sunday, July 03, 2011

There is still more to it than making it in...

"Where the hand of opportunity, draws tickets in a lottery..."



Millions of us will be looking towards the harbor tomorrow night. There will be pomp and circumstance. There will be excitement. There will be rockets. There will be a sweeping view of The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island... the first sights seen by millions of hopeful and often desperate immigrants who have fled circumstance and loss in their homelands. Independence Day has become not only a celebration of freedom from foreign rule, for what it's worth, but a statement of the promise offered by a new life in a new world. That is the legacy, true or false or in-between, that we herald around the world, and our shores and borders are still crowded with newcomers looking for a foothold. Some make it in. Some don't.

This latter category is growing as we struggle with recession, joblessness, and an increasing fear of the "Ausländer." That fear has always been part of the game. The Lady of the Harbor says, "Give us your poor..." etc., but it's a bit of a misstatement, as THIS ARTICLE FROM THE NY TIMES (CLICK HERE) describes. We've always had lists of rather nebulous disqualifications, the early version of the "no-fly list," as it were. The immigrant question still weighs heavily in our political discourse, and on the hearts of many.

It's never been an easy ride for most that make it in, and perhaps that's just the way things go anyway. Should there be an easy passage? It just always struck me as ironic that 12 hours washing dishes in a steam bath, or day after mindbending day picking fruit... or standing on the corner of McDonald Avenue waiting for a chance to do three days work in one shift, and be paid for half a day... to go home to a subdivided apartment that you share with strangers... it's ironic that this represents opportunity. I shudder to think what this life may be better than, and I'm grateful that I've never known.

But curious...

All this and still trying to hold onto some shred of identity. The line from the song above says, "wherever we go we celebrate the land that made us refugees," chills me every time I hear it. There are many Americans that will begrudge and condemn the newcomers for this celebration, but still fete the lands that ousted their great-grandparents, and call it "heritage."

In the end though, so many people breaking their backs to look for the promise. It's inspiring, but frightening. Still looking for the promise where there is none. That's when and IF you make it in.

More than anything, this is humbling.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

We saw this slo-mo train wreck from the 1st day... The Big Lie?


The prosecution of the victim in the Dominique Strauss-Kahn case started the very first day when The New York Post thought it prudent to "remind us" that she lived in housing reserved for HIV+ people. This, of course, raises questions about her credibility that the subtleties of being a woman, a minority, and an immigrant may not.

Not two months later we learn that the prosecution has uncovered startling evidence that will blow the case out of the water.

CLICK HERE FOR THE STORY

Now, I realize that we are never going to know the truth about what happened in that room, but the case against the victim is already sounding a bit... remarkable, if not fantastic. Call me a cynic, but she seems to have some pretty big connections for a hotel housekeeper living at least to some degree on public assistance. Where is the defense going with this? Well, that's easy enough to see but it brings to mind an age-old strategy for swaying public opinion:

"…in the big lie…the broad masses of a nation are always more easily corrupted in the deeper strata of their emotional nature than consciously or voluntarily; and thus in the primitive simplicity of their minds they more readily fall victims to the big lie than the small lie, since they themselves often tell small lies in little matters but would be ashamed to resort to large-scale falsehoods. It would never come into their heads to fabricate colossal untruths, and they would not believe that others could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously. Even though the facts which prove this to be so may be brought clearly to their minds, they will still doubt and waver and will continue to think that there may be some other explanation. For the grossly impudent lie always leaves traces behind it, even after it has been nailed down, a fact which is known to all expert liars in this world and to all who conspire together in the art of lying."

"If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State."

The first quote is from Adolph Hitler's Mein Kampf and the second is an expansion from Nazi propaganda minister Josef Goebbels. Yes, I went there.

"There" is where I will stay. I don't like this one bit. It stinks.

H&H Bagels is closed


But this is not a tribute... It's a... cry for help?

I have been trying very hard to spend the remainder of my days in this mortal coil within the spirit of "live and let live." Some days are easier than others. I am, at best, a simple man. Some would say I'm too tightly wrapped. There are many things that I don't understand. I am learning that my growth really depends on letting some things go.

THINGS LIKE THIS (CLICK HERE)

Okay, you're young. You're hip. You want to make a bold statement to the world proclaiming that you are... a bagel? That the inside of your head is made of cream cheese and smoked salmon? That your parents neglected you?

I told you. I'm simple. I don't understand self-mutilation.

Start a band. Write a book. Put crazy shit on your Facebook page. Adopt a pet. That actually works. I was lonely, and now I haven't gone to the bathroom alone in several months!

Do something.

File this under: Things I Didn't Need to See

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Put this argument the F**K TO SLEEP!

The term "politically correct" is the most obnoxiously misapplied and most overused phrase in the English language. It is most often used by half-bright, cruel-spirited cretins with the IQ of Forrest Gump and the heart of Leona Helmsley, to discredit criticism of statements and actions that are racist, misogynist, homophobic, xenophobic, or all of the above. I'd like to declare a referendum on its use/misuse, starting right after I use it here.

We recently witnessed the release of a delightful parents' lament titled GO THE FUCK TO SLEEP. There was an equally delightful audio version featuring Samuel L. Jackson, that nearly redeems him for Snakes on a Plane and Black Snake Moan.


It was short, sweet, hilarious, and struck a chord with parents worldwide. We knew, in a sense, that it was "wrong," but it was harmless. Innocuous. No blood, no foul, as they say in professional sports. It was too good to be true.

I sort of knew there would be a backlash from some self-righteous, imperious twat somewhere, but it still came as a surprise when I read this today:

WHY SO ANGRY, DAD?

And then this:

GO THE F*** TO SLEEP NOT FUNNY

Consider this an appendix to yesterday's missive about over-parenting. It's the sort of entirely disingenuous manure that comes off more as a cry for attention from the author than it does about the subject. Hey, look at me! I'm setting myself apart from the pack, because I have seen things you simply cannot imagine, and if you saw the world like I see the world... and blah blah blah off into the realm of indignant, egocentric blathering. It comes from a place of self-ordained, moral superiority that has no place in any kind of intellectual social discourse.

It is politically correct bullshit. I say to these authors:

We've all thought on this hard and long.
The jury's in and you are wrong.
Your argument is neither pithy nor deep.
Please, please please... Go the fuck to sleep.

Thanks for listening. I'm going off to read horrible things to my kids, and then maybe whip the stuffing out of them, because I have such latent anger.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Is Happiness Is Overrated?


Lest anyone think this is going to be yet another bout of deranged, middle-aged vituperation, it's not. I am the same man who has accused most parents of believing they gave birth to the Baby Jesus, but these are just some thoughts generated on reading this article that was the talk of the Baby/Mommy Blogs last week:

HOW TO LAND YOUR KID IN THERAPY (CLICK HERE)

Dont worry. You can click it. It is safe for work. It's a very thoughtful article on the much-discussed subject of the deleterious effects of raising your children with too much affirmation and validation. It raises some interesting points, many of which I agree with wholeheartedly. My reservation may be that denying and depriving them of such affirmation and validation is worse, but that doesn't negate the salient points within. There is probably a balance somewhere but even that is probably more dependent on the individual child than any rule of applied, sustained parenting technique. It's not a one size fits all situation. I have witnessed in my own children, the need for very separate approaches. It may be argued that this recognition came far too late, but that's another story. I am sure that there are as many ways to fuck up your child as there are children, and maybe more.

One of these ways, I am also certain, is to raise them in an emotional terrarium, protected from not only the outside world, but from the consequences of their bad instincts.

We are also doing ourselves and our children no favors when we suffer under the pressure and delusion that we can right every wrong, thereby guaranteeing them the perpetual happiness we are convinced that we deserved but were denied in our own childhoods.

The article put me on a train of thought, though, about the premium we put on our own perpetual happiness. We actually STRUGGLE to find happiness and to be happy, and that presents a conundrum. How can we be happy if we are struggling, firstly? What is it that we think we need or deserve that we are struggling for? Secondly, how do we inure ourselves or reconcile the inevitable obstacles we face during this struggle? How do we reconcile failure to achieve the goals that we have convinced ourselves we need to achieve? When do we let go and find out how happy we can be without these things?

I'm not talking about settling, nor complacency. I'm talking about letting go of what might be driving us beyond our abilities to attain. I'm talking about contentment. I'm talking also, about accepting that things don't always work out the way we would like them to.

We then, as we become parents, combine these drives into a double helix. We are genetically engineering our dissatisfaction as parents, dissatisfaction for our children when they discover to their dismay that the world is bigger than each and all of us... and we predict their unhappiness as adults just as certainly as if we sold them into Dickensian servitude at 11 years old.

Again, the article, despite it's Apocalyptic title, raises some very good points. It merits mention, however, that we cannot protect our children from the realities of the universe with any more certainty than we have protected ourselves. We are ultimately not responsible for their happiness, and we'd better think hard on what happiness really entails before we shoot for it.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Let's Make a Deal


There are odd twists in the road in any journey, and with inner voyages even more so. You do the work. You look long and hard at life as you've known it, and you're moving forward, and you reach a checkpoint where your progress is halted. You come to the realization that you're going to have to move farther away from your comfort zone than you had originally expected when you left home base.

The world can be funny that way, like a primetime gameshow. You're standing in front of Monty Hall. He's holding a check for $100,000.

Monty: What's it going to be MacGregor? You can have this check for $100K and walk away a richer man. OR, you can have what's behind Door Number 1!

MacGregor: JESUS MURPHY, MONTY! THAT'S A LOT OF SHEKELS!

There's a voice whispering frantically in your ear. It's a lot of money. You can pay some bills. Get some things straightened out. Have some left over for...

For what? You could take the check. It's guaranteed. Money in the bank. You could really use it. You could buy a lot of instant peace and comfort with that money. It would take care of quite a few immediate problems.

You also know it's not all that much against the greater scheme of things. There is the upside that you know how far it could go. The downside is that you know how far it will go. You spend it, and you're pretty much right back where you started.

You have no idea whatsoever what Monty and the producers have behind Door Number 1. It could be nothing. It could be everything you've ever dreamed of. It just might be everything you need. Something you need more than that check Monty is dangling in front of you like a carrot.

Consider now that you haven't come this far just to fall back on the familiar and comfortable. You've done too much work to opt for the easy way out.

Keep the check, Monty. Give me what's behind Door Number 1. I know from watching night after night that the contestants rarely go home empty-handed.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Fickle Nature of Pop



I'm through with trying to explain why I like what I like. I may still suffer from this odd affliction whereby I feel compelled to explain to others why they shouldn't like what they like, but I'm a work in progress.

That said, I am really very fond of FITZ & THE TANTRUMS. It matters very little to me what anybody else thinks. They are relatively popular. This confession isn't going to do anything for my street creds, but I'm growing comfortable in the knowledge that I never really had much of that anyway. It might have been nice if I knew sooner, but so be it.

Yes, Fitz sounds an awful lot like Daryl Hall, which is funny because beyond Sara Smile I never liked Hall & Oates.

I'll shut up now. I'm just sharing something I've been enjoying.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Stay in the day...

That's what we're told. Live in the day. It's rather a slippery concept in a very complex world, even with the knowledge that many of the complexities are constructs of our mind, and have very little to do with reality.

I read somewhere yesterday, that depression is caused by living in the past, and that anxiety is caused by living in the future.

Again, slippery...

It often seems that the good things go by so quickly that we barely notice them before they're gone.

Whereas the weird shit... the often unpleasant things... are the things that are prolonged across a long period of time.


And of course we prolong them with worry. I will readily admit that I have spent months fretting the outcome of things that once passed, really weren't so messed up at all.

This is just an observation. I DO find that when I can let go of outcomes that I can more easily recognize and appreciate the fleeting moments of joy that ride the second hand of a racing clock.

This discipline of letting go is antithetical to everything I've learned until recently. We are a culture obsessed with clocks and calendars, each measure of time imbued with some totem of significance. I have, at times, felt infected by time... by a mathematical measure.

There must have been a serene point in the distant past where people lived in freedom from this time virus. It took a godawful long time to get anywhere, so my guess is that there was less hurry. Ecclesiastes makes it sound so peaceful. Born, die, sow, reap, dance, cry, gather, scatter etc. It all sounds blissfully spread out, one thing at a time.

Anyway, just an observation. I need to release myself from this time prison.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Apologizing in advance...

My 30 free New York Times articles per month ran out a few days ago, and I'm running out of real news to make my standard pointed commentary on. You know, the good shit you've come to expect from this blog.


So you're stuck with this, from The Daily Fail in the UK. We can always count on them to feed us back all the weird stuff that our tabloids miss. Even if our people do cover it, it's seldom with the panache and flair of the English. For example:

'I thought she was 13': Amish sexting pervert 'busted after driving horse and buggy to meet 12-year-old girl'

Okay then... He thought she was 13. Well, that certainly explains everything!

Except maybe the haircut, but I guess the Dutch Boy still gets a guy a lot of play in Amish circles. Or maybe not? So will he get a chance to go the same rehab as Anthony Weiner? (Have we ever figured out exactly what Weiner will be kicking?)

I'll say this: This little girl's parents showed remarkable restraint in involving the authorities. I'd have been sorely tempted to set Willard up and then used his own horsewhip on him when he arrived.

Just for starters...

Where do we go with this? Is there any lesson we can take from this, as parents, or as anybody who is inclined to believe that sex with children is wrong? Keep an eye on your kids? Get into their business? Is it invasion of privacy to monitor their text messages and e-mail and such? How do we instill trust in them if we don't grant them some kind of leeway first?

Ah hell, I can't pontificate on this. I'm putting this story up because it's scary and weird and if you share my prurient interest in such things, that's great!

And the guy has a really bad haircut! And he went on a booty call in a horse and buggy. That would have been a hoot had his intended target booty hadn't been a child.

The Burning Question: EVOLUTION!!!



Yes, I admit that beauty pageant contestants are an easy target, but given that one of our front-running presidential candidates (though undeclared) started her career representing her home state in this capacity, they're fair game. Deal with it.

Firstly, why do the pageant folk persist on asking quasi-intellectual questions when everybody watching is really just wondering three things:

a) When are they going to cut the crap and get to the swimsuits?
b) What does she look like naked?
c) When is this chick going to crash & burn and end up in the tabloids?

Secondly, just listen to a few of these women. Some of them seem quite unaware that most public schools are already teaching evolution theory. Sort of makes me wonder if they are aware that math is taught in public schools.

It's also curious that so many of them say that there are "so many different theories and we should give all of them fair time!" (And they say this so passionately it's almost cute... almost.) Um... as far as I know, there are only two theories in contention for the hearts and minds of American school children. If there are more, can someone please let me know what they are so I can hear them all and make up MY mind???

There are a few among these young ladies that sound like solid "B" students. Okay, well, maybe B-minus. Still, maybe these arguments are best left to the thinkers in our society.

And what does any of this have to do with beauty? Unless of course they are still promoting the idea that inner beauty and intelligence are sought-after qualities in our culture. All evidence from everything else on television suggests the contrary. There is, of course, PBS... but I suspect that none of these ladies, nor the men watching, are sitting home on Friday evening enrapt by Masterpiece Theater or the re-broadcast of Equus. There may be exceptions.

I'm not even going to pretend to understand Beauty Pageant Culture... or the national fascination with Figure Skating. Don't get me wrong! I'm waiting on pins and needles for next week's season premier of Ugly Americans. I'm currently punchy from staying up too late watching Hoarders. There are limits, though. Beauty pageants to me, have always seemed fraught with dishonesty, promoting a manufactured ideal of a something that never really existed in the first place. I can't buy into the the affected (seemingly) wholesome, virtuous stage-lit aurora, that to me comes off as an irksome glare... similar to highbeams in the rearview mirror. I can't speak for other countries either. I don't know if they cloak their beauty pageants in the veil of national "goodness" that we do here... again... the dishonesty. It's the sort of thing that creeps about when I'm lying awake at night thinking...

Something is not quite right.

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Art of Invisibility

Alternate title: We are all magicians!

Alternate title: Blindness is epidemic!

Douglas Adams, in his HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY, described a perceptual/contextual phenomenon he called The SEP, shorthand for Someone Else's Problem. The phrase has since been adopted in Pop Psychology circles and is described thusly:

Various areas of psychology and philosophy of perception are concerned with the reasons why individuals often ignore such matters. Optimism bias tends to reduce the subjective importance of some matters. Where multiple individuals simultaneously experience the same stimulus, diffusion of responsibility and/or the bystander effect may release individuals from the need to act, and if no-one from the group is seen to act, each individual may be further inhibited by conformity. On a wider basis, all members of society are exposed to so many messages about pressing matters of concern that information overload may play a part. There may also be a tendency to argue that "I can't fix this problem, so I need do nothing to reduce it" (a perfect solution fallacy).

However, taking responsibility for negative events that are outside an individual's control can lead to depression and learned helplessness, particularly in adolescents.[2] Part of the solution is to help the individual to realistically assign a proportion of responsibility to herself/himself, parents and others (step I in the RIBEYE cognitive behavioral therapy problem-solving method).[2][3][4]


In short, if nobody else is going to say something, I'm going to pretend it's not there. Or... I'm already so overwhelmed by other things that I simply don't see this otherwise really twisted event occurring right next to me.

This latter angle may or may not be a legitimate defense in THE CASE DESCRIBED IN THIS NPR PIECE that was posted on my Facebook page earlier this morning. (Thanks, T... for getting my wheels spinning. My first thought, upon reading of how a policeman on the chase might have failed to see another crime in progress, was The SEP Field. But is it a reasonable argument? Perhaps. I really can't say.

I know the human brain is a wee, funny machine. We do tend to operate in constructs and contexts. We may fail to recognize a neighbor when we see him in Target. He is outside the construct/context in which we usually place him. Alternatively, we can read words and sentences where letters are scrambled and some omitted, because enough of the familiar context is there to know what it is. Educators have found that elementary school children grasp mathematics more readily when teaching is accompanied by constructs like block groups and number lines. It is simply how we are wired.

Who is to say for sure if Officer Conley saw an undercover colleague being beaten by uniformed officers, except for Conley himself? I can affirm that I have missed all kinds of things going on right next to me because my limited brain power was otherwise occupied. I remember taking no end of pleasure in watching the quota-rabid traffic cop writing moving violations, while countless dope transactions carried on unchecked on the adjacent corner, in plain view.

I firmly believe that we have unlimited capability to render objects and events invisible for a variety of reasons... we do it as individual, and as groups. Sometimes it's rampant denial. Other times we just have our heads jammed firmly up our asses.

HOWEVER... BUT... in the case of the hapless Officer Conley, my experience... my familiar contexts and constructs based on what I have witnessed all too often, leads me to one conclusion. IF... and I repeat IF, he didn't see this crime taking place, it's because he is so accustomed to seeing his colleagues delivering what they believe to be a righteous and fully justified ass-whipping to a black man (and they seem to always believe it is righteous and fully justified), it's because such a thing is fully within what he considers a normal context, and therefor it has, in effect, been rendered invisible.

Pro-WTF?

I'm still catching up after the WEINER-INDUCED NEWS BLACKOUT of recent weeks. The dick was flying around so hot and heavy it was hard to keep abreast (no puns intended) of the world beyond. I don't have any confirmed measurement of big it was, but it seems to me that Weiner overshadowed THE RAPTURE!

Astounding headlines aside though, I don't see how I missed this one!



Having viewed the trailer for THE LIFE ZONE twice, I suspected that it was a hoax. My instincts told me it was a bit of dark humor. Poorly executed, but just some Hollywood Shits 'N Giggles.

It's not.

The Pro-WhatTheFuckever Movement have really outdone themselves with this gem. It goes so far beyond the streaming stills of aborted fetuses (with crying baby accompaniment) of yesteryear, so ambitious that it's hard to even say what side they're on. It travels very closely to the edge of Saw VII, with a little bit of Touched By An Angel thrown in for good measure (don't even ask me what the title TBAA invokes in my 14 y.o. brain). It's so stupid that I'm legitimately baffled.

And as an aside, WTF is Robert Loggia thinking? I can see the bit o' fluff from True Blood getting involved. She's too young to be held responsible, even if her handlers might have steered her off. But Loggia? Anyway...

How is that sound that Lurch makes spelled? I keep thinking that I've been Punk'd, but this appears to be "next-level" assholery from our friends on the right who I'd thought out-sphinctered themselves years ago.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Fathers Day


I am famous (semi and among friends) for taking music and film clips out of context, and on this Fathers Day I am hung up on a bit of dialogue from Barcelona. It's hard to say exactly why it resonates, but it has something to do with how the day has always been more about reflection than celebrating myself...

"Sometimes we think ... we almost always assume, we're going through life surrounded by people. Then something happens and you realize: We're entirely alone."

He continues very seriously and pausing often, gazing into the room, as Marta listens musingly,

"Tonight, while shaving, I always shave against the beard, for a closer shave, I remembered this razor ad on TV, showing the hair follicles, like this." (He says the following as he mimes a razor cutting hair follicles with his hands) "The first of the twin blades cuts them here. Then the hair snaps back and the second blade cuts them here. ... 'for a closer, cleaner shave'. That we know."

"But what struck me was, if the hair follicles are going in this direction and the razor is too, then they're shaving in the direction of the beard, not against it. So I've shaved the wrong way all my life. Maybe I misremembered the ad. The point is, I could have shaved the wrong way all my life and never have known it. Then I could have taught my son to shave the wrong way, too."

Not understanding, Marta asks "You have a son?"

"No," he answers, "but I might someday. Then, maybe I'll teach him to shave the wrong way."

"I think maybe my English is not so good", Marta concludes."

Nobody taught me to shave. In all fairness, I was sort of a late bloomer and by the time I needed to shave even weekly I had long since fled the nest. Shaving became an exercise in tedium, trial and error. Much blood was shed. There have been many times when I have been tempted to just tie off my neck with a tourniquet and forget about shaving for good.

I have not taught my sons to shave either, and if I had, I can't say for sure that it would have been the right or wrong way. Parenting, like shaving, is often an exercise in trial and error. You never know the outcome of any lesson until blood has been shed, or not. If you haven't learned yourself, then you really have nothing to pass on. This isn't a case of letting myself off the hook for errors made. It's merely the conundrum of parenting. You tell them what you know, or what you think you know, and if you're a really good parent you send them to someone else to learn what you admittedly cannot. These admissions don't come easily though, and you can catch yourself making it up as you go along.

Making the best of what you've got... It can be a pain in the ass. No, it is often a pain in the ass. There will be blood.

Happy Fathers Day to all of you guys out there, and to you women also, who are doubled up. Can't leave you out of this equation.

Black Death Vs. Hairless Weiner

I'm still catching up on news that fell by the wayside while we were being beaten senseless with WEINER. As a woman on NY1 said, "Every time I pick up the paper all I see is Weiner, Weiner, Weiner!" And now you shut up! It's impossible NOT to make a pun with this name. Just try it.

There were most certainly other things happening in the world. Wars still raged. People across the tornado-belt are still digging out of the rubble. Joblessness still plagues us... wait... plagues us. Here's news:

PLAGUE IDENTIFIED IN BOULDER, CO.

Whistling... images conjured...

Thats right, folks! The Black Death! With a capital B and it rhymes with... Tea?

Whose idea was it to preempt the world for that other nonsense? I mean, The Plague (La Peste in French) pops up here and there every year. The first confirmed case this year was in New Mexico in mid-May. It's still news though. Did you hear about it. Can anyone confirm that Boulder is still out there? I'll take it for granted that it is, because I havent turned on the television and been told otherwise. Yet I wasn't told a hell of a lot FOR TWO DAMN WEEKS BECAUSE SOMEONE THOUGHT I WAS MORE INTERESTED IN STUPID SHIT!

Exhaling. Deep breath through the nose, exhale slowly through the mouth.

I pretty much count on the news going for the lowest common, sensationalist denominator. That's been the rule for long enough. It's just caught me off guard, this plague business aside, that I missed so much.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

My Bricks

These bricks have a relationship. They are like objects. They share the same space. Their many uses are under-realized. They might ostensibly be used as weapons.

coughcoughGazacough

hackwheezeBelfastsnort

But I digress...


These bricks have a partnership.


We are not bricks. We may, if we like, choose our role in the world around us.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Oh look! I'm in a box!

Crap! I'm lifting weights! I'm playing tug of war!


Have I have mentioned that I don't like mimes? I've just never been able to make that leap to willingful suspension of disbelief.

Illusion...

Don't get me wrong! I'm really big on delusion, and have on more than one occasion, found myself in imaginary crates, clean & jerked crushing weights, battled at the end of imaginary ropes, and shadowboxed opponents that don't exist. I've mimed for an audience of one! Er... without the makeup and beret, thank you very much.

Fear is a funny thing. Fear is the magic ingredient that makes doubt gel. It opens the door to the willingful suspension of disbelief. You see the box. You feel the weight. There is someone at the end of the rope.

Until you stop being afraid. You let go of the rope and step back. You look over to where you thought the other end was, and there is nothing there.

I still find mimes tedious to the point of annoyance.

Overexposed


WEINER IS OUT

Not mine, clowns!

The word is out that Congressman Anthony Weiner is bowing to the pressure following his self-imposed over-exposure, and resigning. Is he still capable of doing the job he was elected to? I believe he is, but that's not the point any longer.

This would have been a minor distraction in a more mature political climate, with elected bodies capable of offering meaningful solutions to real problems. The people we've put into office, however, don't seem capable of that, so the focus has shifted to unrelated, non-political issues.

What exactly is it about Weiner's digital pecadillos that render him incapable of doing his job effectively? The most common answer is, "Well, if he lied about this..." And so on...

Can a surgeon or an accountant or a stockbroker who has done the same things still be capable of performing his work duties? Are we holding Anthony Weiner to a higher standard with this than we would ourselves or someone we loved?

Too late to worry about that, at least with this case. That just leaves me with one very big question.

Do I un-friend Weiner on Facebook?

ATTENTION ANGRY STAT GEEKS


I usually try to maintain a degree of levity in these public missives. There is little more tedious than an endless runner of bile strung out from the shuddering jaw of a dyspeptic, middle-aged man. There is none of this levity here, unless you find humor in the idea of my spleen exploding. I can find no humor whatsoever in this topic:

DISPARITY OF WEALTH DISTRIBUTION IN THE UNITED STATES

A fellow from University of California at Santa Cruz put together this report. The figures are from 2007, but it's pretty obvious that the housing crisis and Wall Street collapse haven't improved the situation. This report is really very telling.

Your favorite political candidate can tell you that cutting capital gains taxes will help, but you can look at the charts at periods when capital gains were lowest and see that it didn't. You can look to 1976 and see that wealth distribution for the lowest 80%, having peaked then, has been spiraling downwards ever since, NO MATTER WHAT PARTY WAS IN POWER! Consider the lowest 80%, which includes those on public assistance, the union members that your favorite political candidate may have convinced you is the whole problem, and everyone in between. Remember that most of our country's tax revenue comes from the lowest 80%.

DON'T BUY THE LIE. FOLLOW THE MONEY. LAUGH IN THE FACES OF THOSE WHO TELL YOU THAT TAXING THE TOP 20% IS PUNISHING PEOPLE FOR HAVING MONEY! REMEMBER THAT WHEN WE CUT THEIR TAXES TO CREATE JOBS WITH THAT GODDAMN TRICKLE DOWN THEORY, THEY TOOK IT AND RAN AND JOBS HEMORRHAGED TO FOREIGN SOIL.

Whew! Look! I don't want to punish anybody. I want them to pay at least the percentage that I pay. Isn't that fair.

We are broke. We are in crisis. The evidence is in. It's not the burden of a "welfare state." It's not abuse of credit in the working class. It's not the unions. It is the people at the top of a food chain that we allow to continue unchecked.

When you are at the beach and someone yells shark, you don't go in and start treading water. You get the hell out! Why are we still in and flailing away, awaiting the next bite?