Monday, September 30, 2013

Glossophagia Best Practices Edition

via The Neighborhood Studio

The Hardest Lesson...

There are things we just aren't going to want to hear.  There are things we would rather were different.  There are things we insist we can change by force of will.

We are going to hear them.
They are what they are.
Good luck with the last one.  Better people than you have failed.

The hardest lesson that I ever had to learn (the hard way) and then pass on to my sons, was:

By and large, the world doesn't care.  Everybody has their own shit to deal with.  

Nobody cares.
Not that you had a shitty childhood.
Not that you are poor (or rich, for that matter). 
Not that you're going through something.
Not that you are having kind of a bad day.
Not that you don't feel well.
Not that you would prefer to be doing something different.
Not that you have dreams of being an artist or an astronaut.
Not that you are sensitive.
Not that you have bad associations with the name Norman.
Not that you don't understand why something has to be a certain way.
Not that you don't think it's fair.  It may not be.  That's not the point.  

None of your excuses matter.
Nobody cares.

It's not that people suck.  People, for the most part, aren't mean.  Some things just work a certain way so you have to get with the program.  It's just how it is.  

I repeat:  The world doesn't care.  

Don't take this the wrong way.  I am not without compassion.  Most other people have plenty also.  I saw this bumpersticker on the back of a ChevyVan once years ago, and it took me a long time to "get it."  It read simply:

Gas, Grass or Ass.  No free rides.

And that's how life works.

Jesus, this hurts to read back to myself, because I know it's going to hurt.  Been there, ya know?  I'm not saying it to be mean.  

Ouch! That hurt!


And the people all lean to one side...

Where the prevailing winds go to die...

The Sum of all Evil

Jake and Dinos Chapman

I'm vexed that this show (click link above) is in Hong Kong and not New York City, but that's what we have come to.  The art world exists with or without us and it seems increasingly without...

I've long been a fan of The Chapman Brothers, though I must admit I was first introduced when Charles Saatchi brought scandal to stodgy NYC by housing a good chunk of his collection up in The Brooklyn Museum of Art some years ago.  They've only gotten better since then.

The Sum of All Evil is... from what I can tell from the photos... awe inspiring.  Tagging along to the concept that art should be a hammer and not a mirror, this show breaks things wide open.  It does recall, in some ways Garden of Earthly Delights, the famous triptych from Hieronymous Bosch.  That is the only reference point I have for the twisted vision of Hell and horror that SOAE portrays.

 I need to see it.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

FACT or Fiction?

Any music magazine that calls themselves FACT is going to instantly draw my suspicion and my skepticism.  Fan-dom is fraught with adolescent absolutes probably pre-dating the horrorshow demand that scarred my childhood, "THE BEATLES ARE THE BEST BAND THERE EVER WAS OR EVER WILL BE!  END OF STORY."

Fuck The Beatles.

Yes, I said it.  Yes I do feel better, thank you very much.

Anyway, the interviews aside there are dozens of "best of" lists, and despite that they are always contentious, lists do serve the vital purpose of re-igniting passions, arguments, etc. about music.  I am still distraught that music isn't shared the way it used to be, in tribal basements and listening parties.  Yes, this was back in the days before personal devices.

But without further ado, I simply cannot resist a list called"

The 20 Best Krautrock Records Ever Made

Just drive, she said...

via Wooster Collective

Friday, September 27, 2013


via StreetArtNews

I don't know if this is inspired by Gulliver's Travels but I can't help thinking that Swift would be gleeful.  I am overjoyed just looking at photos.

Once were warriors...

William Wray via Empty Kingdom

If you can get through these without feeling "some kinda way" then you are a better man than I, Gunga Din.  Something in the style and technique... my mind wants to fill in and sharpen the focus to build a bridge back somewhere in time.  Cognitive dissonance... there is no security in the familiar, happy things from childhood.  It is nearly painful, like a hunger pang.  So perfect, though.  So perfect.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Your Past

Sitting in the cozy corner spot and drinking tea with your pinky waving like Ol' Glory isn't going to help you outrun it.  I'm just sayin'.  Don't even try.  Wear your bygone misdeeds like a tiara.  Enjoy.

Via Trixie Delicious

Holy Sh*t: A Brief History of Swearing

If you're going to kiss your mom with that filthy fucking mouth, you may as well KNOW WHERE ALL THAT SHIT COMES FROM!  Know the difference between an obscenity and an oath, and a shit ton of other stuff!

The Right Place at the Right Moment

George S. Zimbel

If you blink, you miss it.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Best "date movie" ever...

No, really!

I always find out soon enough.

via DogHouseDiaries

Brooklyn: From Biggie to Buffy


Year of the Depends Adult Disposable Undergarment

Can Ted Cruz talk all night about nothing just to be a dick?  Thank you for telling us that you have nothing better to do than try to screw people out of not only affordable healthcare, but their hard-earned paychecks, as early as next week.

If I had wanted an idiotic, retromingent, mean-spirited backwardsass idealogue having any impact over my life whatsoever, I would have moved to Iran.

You get Dick-of-the-Year Award, Ted.  It's not because of your male endowment either.  One look at you is enough to know there isn't much going on there.  Listening you seals it.

No rest for the wicked...

No sleep 'til Brooklyn?

Maybe that's "wicked" in the sense that the kids up in Baaahston say it, like "man, that's wicked cool!"  Take it any way you want.  Times have changed and the laws had to change with the times.

Governor Andrew Cuomo says to give the people what they want.  The embedded link there has a list, by county, of the new "Text Stops."  I suppose you can rest in a Text Stop too, or text in a Rest Stop.  Either way, the message is clear.  Pull over if you're going to rest or text.  The people have spoken and Albany listened.  Nobody wants to be alone anymore so they have to have a way of being connected at all times, but you have to connect safely or you run the risk of connecting at 80 mph, and that's a hell of a way to get to know a family of 4 and a dog in a Dodge Caravan on Route 17, isn't it?

I don't know about all that.  I know I have to plead guilty because people have witnessed me perambulating down the avenue going at my mobile phone like a neurotic Buddhist with a prayer wheel... lunacy, really.  Holding it out in front of me like a crucifix to ward off loneliness or random conversations with strangers... or vampires.  Whatever.

Yet I remember the joy of driving out on the open highway, alone in the car and hurtling down the line with the music blasting and my head empty.  There were few greater pleasures in my life than that freedom of movement.  I've no recollection of feeling lonely.  Quite the opposite, I felt simply free.

Tell you what though, pulling up to a stoplight and seeing someone texting is a shit ton better than other things I've seen them doing with their fingers.

The Job Scene

You may or may not be old enough to remember the Sony Betamax, and if you are then you may have those days when the 20th Century artifact, relegated to obsolescence before its time, can seem an apt metaphor for your life.  For those of you who aren't, well, goodonya then, mate.  Here's a brief history lesson.

In the early days of home video there were two competing standards:  Betamax, which was the superior option, and VHS, who made a powerplay and rather than remaining proprietary, licensed their format for other brands.  Furthermore, they contracted early on with content providers so there were more convenient video offerings for the end consumer.  This rendered Beta obsolete, despite that everything else about it was the better choice.

Sony, however, took their lumps and learned their lesson.  How did they survive the drubbing?  Well, they saw the handwriting on the wall and already having a substantial share of the film and music (content/product) set about building a larger share.  They lost the battle, but in many respects won the war.  They weren't beaten because they were able to build on their already considerable strengths and grow.  They also adapted on the delivery end so they didn't fail on that side either.  Think of it this way:  What would a farmer be if he had the best hogs and no way to get them to market?  The answer is simple.  He is done.  Similarly, what good is owning a truck if it is either too large or too small to deliver anything that is in demand.  Worse yet, what if nobody is using trucks to bring their product to market?


So why am I carrying on about this?  Why does it say "job" up at the top of this ramble?  Simply put, I am the trucker.  I spent my entire career delivering other peoples' products/content to market and now fewer people than ever are using trucks.  At 52 years old, I have the option of learning to drive a boat or fly a plane or whatever else the content providers are utilizing, and make less money than ever -- and this has to be part of the plan -- or I can focus on growing my own crops, or rather creating my own content.  That's the name of the game now, and I'm not alone in this.  There are a lot of men and women like me who are too skilled to be written off and too young to retire, but still largely considered 20th Century artifacts.

We are the Betamax Generation.

1)  Concede the battle is lost.
2)  Learn the new rules.
3)  Play by the new rules (it's not enough to know them).
4)  Diversify.
5)  Adapt.

Retiring at 52 sounds pretty sweet, and if you can, God bless you.  But really...


Edward Hopper, I thought I was over you...

Room in New York

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

State of the Union

via Retrogasm

Oh, how I wish this didn't strike so close to home.

Most ignorant public comment of 2013.

I'm closing the ballot boxes on this contest right now.  Yes I know that it isn't even October just yet, but you would have to resort to dishonesty to say something more offensive than this:

The uproar over bonuses “was intended to stir public anger, to get everybody out there with their pitch forks and their hangman nooses, and all that-sort of like what we did in the Deep South [decades ago]. And I think it was just as bad and just as wrong.

You can read the rest right here, but voting is done.  I'm calling this one.  

Sherwood Anderson

“On the trees are only a few gnarled apples that the pickers have rejected. They look like the knuckles of Doctor Reefy's hands. One nibbles at them and they are delicious. Into a little round place at the side of the apple has been gathered all its sweetness. One runs from tree to tree over the frosted ground picking the gnarled, twisted apples and filling his pockets with them. Only the few know the sweetness of the twisted apples.” 
― Sherwood AndersonWinesburg, Ohio

And so it is with people and most things in life.  Winesburg, Ohio changed my entire relationship with the world within the first 50 pages.

“From being quite sure of himself and his future he becomes not at all sure. If he be an imaginative boy a door is torn open and for the first time he looks out upon the world, seeing, as though they marched in procession before him, the countless figures of men who before his time have come out of nothingness into the world, lived their lives and again disappeared into nothingness. The sadness of sophistication has come to the boy.”
Sherwood AndersonWinesburg, Ohio

And I will insist to this day that this rite of passage is inevitable.  The boy will go out to meet the world, or the world will come to him.  

I used to hide from books set in smalltown America.  It was my own personal vanity, really.  Who wanted quaint?  Who wanted staid, laconic wit or Garrison Keillor or Norman Rockwell (I still don't care for Rockwell).  Winesburg, Ohio pretty much set me straight with these prejudices though.  

Deja vu... again, and again, and again...

Tim O'Brien

I do often feel these days, at least where foreign policy is concerned, that the POTUS is channeling The Great Orator.  The return of acid-washed jeans isn't the only reason I feel I'm reliving the 80s.

Sad, really.

Live Fat, Die Young

No, it's not a fucking typo!

The Deep Fried Bacon Cheeseburger

McDonalds kills more people than guns, but nobody stops and frisks clowns.

Just something to think about.

Eat up, tubby.

More writers writing on writing.

This may take a bit to unpack -- not just this article but my whole process of excavating lost pieces and attaching them to pieces and sections I've only just seen for the first time.  My instincts tell me there is a continuum -- a circle to be closed.

In the meantime:


My self-directed cynicism tells me today that my ideas come from vanity and egotism and the perhaps delusional belief that I am seeing and experiencing events that others are not, or in a way that others are not.  And furthermore, that it is important for me to pass all this information on.

But realistically speaking, I write because there are things that I can't hold inside.  It has to go somewhere and I've no other means of excising (exorcising?) it fast enough.

Where do the ideas come from?  I don't know if I can answer that beyond that they come from things I see and hear and feel etc.  They come from the 5 senses, for example just now walking down 7th Avenue in Brooklyn watching people transporting their children by car, bike, bus, train and tennis shoes to school.  The looks on many of their faces tell me that they are overwhelmed and fearful.


Those final moments right in front of the school -- did you do this?  Do you have that? Do you know where to go?  Can you?  And it is clear that the children want nothing more to escape their parents' panic and make their transition from "Baby Jesus" to "I am my own person."

More stories.

More often the stories come from the moments of my own fear, and when I was/am most overwhelmed by my own life.  The really funny part of that (not necessarily haha funny) is that I am often most overwhelmed when things are going well.  That's another tale for another day.

The point is that the ideas are there all the time, hanging like ripe fruit from trees waiting to be picked.  The hard part for me has always been the dearth of plenty -- which one do I choose when there are so many, and how do I best describe the flavor and the experience of consuming it when my vocabulary always seems so deficient?

And there are always so many distractions...

I think that, mostly importantly though, one has to remain actively engaged in their own life.  That means both their internal life and their external life out in the world.  There has to be continual self-examination balanced with sympathetic and empathetic identification with the world and humanity at large.  You have to be ready, willing and able, to take on both joy and pain -- your own and that of other people.  You have to have points of human reference to write anything meaningful.  There is a lot of lip-service paid to art and alienation and a feeling of distance and "other."  That sense of alienation though is a feeling.  It doesn't mean it's real.  In fact, I would wager that the feeling is driven by too too much connection and identification.  It is a defense mechanism that comes when in some inner way you know that not only are you not "other" but that you are one and the same.  You share the same experience, the same heart, and maybe even the same cells.

You just have to be engaged.  You can only hide away for so long and dredge up the past.  The world is a living organism and you are one cell of the whole.  When you tell your story, you are telling their story.  When you are telling their story, you are telling your own.

Subway to the World?

Via B in Ol' Blighty... Thanks!

Sunday, September 22, 2013


Cueva de las Manos

I don't know why this shakes me the way it does.  No clue at all why it raises goosebumps, these stenciled hands, all between 13,000 and 9500 years old.  It seems so... personal.  Much more so than a representation of a man with a bow or a spear or whatever.


Ugh, I feel like such a Dick York...

photo via SimplySassy


James C. Lewis via Sinuous Magazine

Photo representations of Yoruban Orishas... beautiful.

Blue Caprice

I'm possessed of neither the ability nor the inclination to write a proper film review so I'm not exactly certain what I'm doing here.  It has something to do with an ongoing theme of our common definitions of good and evil, and also of redemption.  Several days ago it was a brief monologue on Travis Bickle and Taxi Driver, and the formless anger that drove him to violence.  It was about cognitive dissonance and moral ambiguity.  It was about events I've witnessed and conversations I've been privy to.  Media fixations.  Language.  Finger-pointing.  Blame.  Definitions.

I've been beating about ideas of how we struggle to assign people and things and events to this "other" thing, because we can't, or rather won't and don't want to, explain it.  We battle to distance ourselves from everything ugly around us, and deny any connection to it.  

Blue Caprice, the story of Beltway Snipers John Allen Muhammed and Lee Boyd Malvo, sort of dropped into my thought stew conveniently.  It's strange how the events had slipped my memory entirely until reminded by a friend, "Hey you want to go see..."  The memories came right back as soon as it was mentioned.  This case had people up and down the East Coast, and particularly in the DC/Maryland area, thinking twice about their relationships with the God's of their youth, and was less than a dozen years ago.  There was so much conjecture.


I recall going to visit friends in DC during the time that these mysterious shootings were happening.  We pulled into a strip mall near Annapolis and I ran a serpentine pattern (remember the movie In-Laws with Alan Arkin and Peter Falk?) to the liquor store and back to make my friend laugh, and she did, sort of.  Was I afraid?  Yah, a little bit, I was.  It occurred to me how ironic it would have been to get picked off while I was clowning about shit that really wasn't at all funny.  I wasn't all that afraid though and it also occurred to me that the absence of the fear of being a random target might indicate something was amiss with me spiritually.

But Blue Caprice...

It's not exactly sympathetic to the shooters, but it does defy the conventional reporting of mass murder stories, in that it attaches humanity to the perpetrators.  It doesn't allow room for a sweeping comparison of good and evil.  It does insist that it's just not that simple.  Monsters aren't created in a vacuum, and more importantly, the monsters look just like us.  They live among us.  They are out friends, and family.  They are fathers and mothers and sons and daughters, cousins, neighbors etc.

You can try to play the good vs. evil thing, but if you want to be honest, you're just not going to get off that easy.  .

The film isn't a blood bath.  It's more an exercise in tension and anxiety.  It records the slow, methodical breakdown into... whatever words you want to assign to it.  My vocabulary fails me here.  The soundtrack, the cinematography, both stay on the edge, alternately jumping, or moving glacially.  Unpredictable.  It is artful, and they work it.

A sore, left unattended, can become infected.  What happens from there becomes less controllable.  The infection could worsen, or not.  Etc.  My thoughts here are admittedly half-formed.  I sort these things out as I sort myself out.  I wonder aloud.  I invite feedback.

It's not that we can always use these extremes as self-comparison, but they are helpful in that the clues are obvious and the evidence tangible.  We/I can scale the identification back to less extreme circumstance.  This good vs. evil thing and the value judgments we put on others and ourselves are generally disproportionate to the truth of who we all are.  That means that the polar opposites are a lot closer to each other than we might believe, or want to believe.  The overwhelming majority of us are never going to go all the way over, but if we can find the humanity in those that do, perhaps we can apply that to ourselves and our immediate neighbors.

Or maybe all my words can be backspaced over and erased, and then replaced with "There but for the Grace of God."

Loaded gun...

Alexis Hunter

Alternate Title:  Be careful what you wish for.
Alternate Title: Happiness is a warm gun.
Alternate Title:  Shot in the dark.

Never mind.  I tire easily of puns and word play.


via You're All Just Jealous of My Jetpack

Friend good.

Fire bad.

Friends aren't so much fun when you always have to explain yourself.

Ah, were it so simple...

via Tim Lahan

And I tried... God only knows I tried, but it's just not that simple.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Russell Banks on Writing & Personal Mythology

I guess THIS ESSAY describes pretty succinctly what I've been getting at about the persistence of memory and honesty in writing.  You put it together with the best of intentions but sometimes what you remember often comes out in the version that you would prefer to remember.  It's not even a case of intentional lying but maybe more like the body creates a harder scar tissue to protect the soft tissue that had previously been injured.  

Some particular quotes that resonate and if you've been reading along at home might sound familiar.  This was just my first reading of this so it's not like I plagiarized on purpose or by accident:  

1) Back in the winter of 1961, I said, I was a 21-year-old dropout, a kid with little more than a fantasy that he was a writer, living in the Back Bay demimonde among poets and hustlers, artists and drug addicts, musicians and con men. I was literary, but not very literate, a late-arriving beatnik with a taste mainly for getting wasted.

2)  When you meet a witness to your distant past, your memory tends to improve.  (This quote, in particular, recalls an essay I posted a while back by Oliver Sacks where he spoke of the fallibility of memory.)

3)  I  asked Jocko why he'd hung around with all those poets and artists and musicians back then. "You were one scary dude, man," I said.
He said: "Yeah, well, artists are a lot like gangsters. They both know that the official version, the one everyone else believes, is a lie."

And there you have it.  To what extent any single one of us is a work of fiction is between them and God.  Even if you relay the events of your life accurately, each and every one of us is to some degree a model of calculated artifice and actions.  And then each of us carries with us the mythology of those around us, these stories that we've been told so many times we come to believe they are true and that we were actually there to bear witness.  

It's a sobering thought that many of us may not even know the whole truth.  

Writing & Honesty: What did you write on your College Entrance Essay?

The best advice I ever got on writing came relatively early in my life, when a teacher, having heard me express my interest in a career in writing (as of yet mostly unrealized), taught me two simple rules:

1) Be honest.
2) Write about what you know.

I used the "taught" only in the most loose sense of the word.  She laid out the rules.  I heard the rules.  They seemed simple enough, or simple enough that I was taken aback.  

Be honest?  Of course!
Write about what you know?  Hell, I know everything!  

See where I'm going with this?  The Two Commandments were almost too simple.  How easy was it to diverge from this path?  Well, think about how many exceptions to the Ten Commandments people have found.  Thou shalt not kill... 


I suffered no small amount of difficulty in sticking to this path writing fiction.  The biggest shortcoming there, aside from innate laziness and a tendency to act out the boho author stereotype, was that my fiction was never entirely fiction.  Everything that ever poured forth from the opposite side of my pen &  paper, or IBM Selectric, or beleaguered MacBook, was really a veiled attempt to self-eviscerate and tell my own story.  I was writing a memoir peppered liberally with fictional events.  I would have denied this vehemently at the time, and I did so mostly to myself, but that's the long and short of it.  I desperately wanted to tell my own story but didn't want to be exposed and judged for the events contained therein.  There were glaring sins of omission committed both to protect myself and others that might be enraged at being held up to the light for examination.  There were other egregious fabrications to build up a false image of my terminally hip self.  

I quit writing altogether for a while as I dealt with these issues.  I knew I was a fraud.  I could not for my very life be honest.  There came a point down the line when I started again, determined to do it the right way.  I was going to go straight memoir and the consequences be damned.  It was my life, after all.  What did I owe anyone else?  Yet I still got hung up on the Second Commandment, the Second Basic Rule:  Write about what you know.  

It's not just about getting the events straight, and fearlessly including all the vital details -- the truth -- but finding one's own narrative voice and not hiding behind artifice or wittingly or unwittingly copping another author's style and flow.  And more importantly it's about self-awareness.  Know yourself as you are and not who you would prefer to be, or prefer to be seen as. This has been a monumental task, but I do feel like I'm making headway.  

I am one of those people who reads essays and op-ed pieces by writers on the topic of writing.  I leaned towards authors I really enjoyed at first but have since branched out more on topic.  There is a better chance that way that I don't emulate a personal favorite or hero.  I was scouring the web this morning looking for any kind of inspiration when I came across THIS PIECE ABOUT WRITING THE RIGHT COLLEGE ENTRANCE ESSAY.  It resonated with me because it came back down to the two simple rules that have housed the framework for my own writing explorations.  

1)  Be honest
2)  Write about what you know.  

For every teacher I ever had that exhorted me to tarry forth fearlessly and tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, there were other dark forces pushing back and telling me to do exactly the opposite.

1)  There are some things you don't want people to know.
2)  What happens in this house stays in this house.
3)  Show gratitude to the people that brought you this far.  
4)  What will the neighbors think.
5)  Don't be yourself.  Be the person that THEY want to see.

The Commandments of Fear are countless and we are all familiar with them.  But fear smells.  Dogs can smell fear on a person.  People can smell fear on a person if they pay attention, and if you write your fear down, it stains the pages.  Dishonesty is like a fingerprint smudge.  It tells more about you then just telling the truth.  Even people who won't tell the truth themselves can recognize it.  It's like a long look in the mirror for them and they will be repelled.  

Trust me on this one.  

And from a parental point of view, just as an addendum, what are you telling your child when you tell them what to say and more specifically what not to say?  Or worse, have someone else recreate them as something more desirable than perhaps they can pull off on their own?  


The article resonated because it really cuts right back to the crossroads that took me down a path parallel to the one that I wanted to be on.  I've always been able to actually SEE where I wanted to be but couldn't figure out how to get over to that other road.  I feel now, and only now at 52 years old that I'm on the gravel on the side of that road.  I'm looking back over my left shoulder and coursing along slowly waiting for an opening to pull in.  


Call me Ishmael...

via I Love Charts

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Do pigs in a blanket feel pain? Are they sentient?

reposted from Drew's Grooveland

Earlier verbal and reading development linked to increased alcohol use later?

The results of THIS STUDY sound counterintuitive, and I've known some hard drinking dunces... but I'm not really qualified to get too deeply into this.  This is not the peer-reviewed publication either.

I do have a hunch though, that might later be an opinion.  That's how I roll.

Perhaps... just perhaps... that there are factors that drive early language development in children, and maybe external forces, that demand that a child learn to speak and read earlier to communicate more complex needs or feelings.

Maybe whatever internal or external forces (or a combination thereof) that drive the compulsion to communicate earlier are the same as those that my lead one to self-medicate later on.

Still a hunch...

The big questions...

via Hooligan

More on Taxi Driver

via Pulp International

"Bickle is a mutant who can blend in only because he’s surrounded by people so overworked or beaten down or self-involved or dwarfed by circumstance that they don’t notice that something is very wrong with him."

Not so unlike this guy that shot up the Navy Yard in Washington a couple days ago. Only after a massacre, and with cameras in their faces to shock them out of their self-coma, will people who knew him say, "Oh yah, he was a hot mess!  Why didn't anyone do anything to prevent this?  Everyone knew!"  How many more of those stories are there?  The capsule write-up from the above link cuts right to the chase on this anger thing.  It's worth the read.  

Many of us walk around with this "formless anger" that they discuss and it manifests in so many different ways, from non-specific passive-aggression that we act out on with people close to us, to domestic violence, to road rage, to acts of grotesque violence in some cases.  

I used to walk around with a lapel button that read, "IF YOU'RE NOT OUTRAGED THEN YOU ARE NOT PAYING ATTENTION."  It was ostensibly a statement about what goes on in the world around us that we take for granted as being "just the way things are."  Our government commits acts of insane institutional terrorism abroad and we turn a blind eye.  We support, with our tax dollars, any number of dictators.  Children on our block go to bed hungry every single night.  There is a lot to be angry about.

Yet it has to be more than that, or it wouldn't be so easy to set people off.  Look at how bent people get over sporting events, or non-issues like Miley Cyrus, or... make a list of other things that really have no real bearing on our lives.  People are pissed off at STUPID stuff, and my guess is it has nothing to do with anything they could mention.

People get pissed off because they are powerless.  They feel beaten.  They feel insecure.  They feel less than.  They feel afraid.  It stands to reason that a percentage will go over the top and never come back.  

Travis Bickle ended up committing what many would consider a noble deed.  It almost overshadows the fact that 20 minutes earlier in the movie he was about to pick off a random politician that he had fixated on... not so different than Gabby Gifford, or the Pope, or Gerald Ford, or Ronald Reagan or, or, or... Oh wait.  Hello John Hinckley Jr.! A direct connection there to Taxi Driver, which may be exactly what makes Taxi Driver among the most important films of the 20th Century.  

I hear a lot of people quote the film.  I have witnessed countless people do Bickle impressions.  I have heard people declare Bickle "crazy."  Yet I've never heard anyone discuss what might have set him off.  Nobody every mentioned PTSD in conversation, or any specific motivator, or even a list of motivators. That's pretty much what we do whenever anyone goes over the top in real life (heh.... real life).  We write them off as crazy and broken and hopeless, or my other favorite... EVIL!!!!  

A monster... more than two centuries later and we're not willing to listen to the Mary Shelley example.

There is a rage threshold in the world.  There is only so much cognitive dissonance a person can handle before it starts to short circuit the critical decision making process that governs moral decisions... right and wrong.  I mean, we know intuitively that right and wrong are absolutes that exist somewhere beyond our relativist actions, but where.  

I threw out my OUTRAGE button when I realized what a burden it is to be angry -- when it became clear to me that the burden of my anger wasn't simply about the moral ambiguity in the world around me with dictators and armies and nuclear weapons and oppression.  It's not that these things don't piss me off.  It's a question of my ability to carry the weight.  I don't have it in me to carry mine and yours.

I realized that I had to let go.  I'm pretty certain that I was always further away from the threshold of violence than a lot of people -- most of my anger was manifested in acts of self-destruction -- but who really knows?  There are a lot of really profoundly pissed off people around.  You get enough people that already feel like crap about themselves, and keep them on a diet of cognitive dissonance, violence and neglect, and someone is going to go off.  

Maybe, as this little article suggests, there is a bit of Travis Bickle in all of us.  Maybe we can't afford to keep giving these extreme cases the assignation of "other."  

If you see something, say something.

Adrian Piper

Confront it head on where you find it.  Don't back down.  Call it what it is.  Take people outside their comfort zones.

Use your words.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Black & White

Benoit Courti

That ability to not only stay in the moment but to suspend time entirely.  It's not a trick.  Just a quick reflex and if only I was that quick because there were so many impulses that might have been checked and maybe walked back.  You need to be fast enough to pull the trigger somewhere right in that nano-second that the idea hits the brain, and fires the charge, and... and... and... well, you know the story.

Dice... hmph...

Super Bad!

RIP Ken Norton

Your tax dollars at work...

Sex education in schools:  This is a fair representation of how the class time breaks down after the powers that be (read: local politicians, paranoid clergy, neurotic parents) decide what you can and cannot teach children in school.  There will be some footage of a bee pollenating a flower, some music the kids can't relate to, nervous laughter, and lots of terrifying photos of scabby genitals.

via I Love Charts

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

You always wanted to see...

Moses riding bitch on a Vespa?  So it is said, so let it be written.  So it is written, so let it be done.

Menage a trois?

Just a friendly game but Bingle probably should have reached for his wood.
photo via ThisIsNotPorn

You say goodbye...

and I say hello...

Monday, September 16, 2013

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Taxi Driver - "All The Animals Come Out At Night."

The animals come out when you write...

The thing about keeping a diary, or more specifically about blogging as a diary, is that when you read it back it can often sound like Travis Bickle.  That's not really an issue when you're scribbling in a Moleskin or a black & white composition notebook and you can just stick it on a shelf after, or in a big box in the hall closet.  It may or may not be an issue when you click "publish" or "send" and it goes out into the world.  The jury is out on that one.  Do your deepest and darkest belong out in the world, for all to see, including family, loved ones, potential employers and law enforcement?  Can you even be entirely honest when you know that anyone can see it?

What gets held back?

What gets fabricated for the sake of presenting a front?

I am more honest that I was.  I am guilty mostly of sins of omission and faulty memory.  Of the former I am still trying to figure out just how much is mine to give away (or sell).  On the latter count, I posted an article a while back by Oliver Sacks where he confessed to have inadvertently lied in his memoirs, and he only found out when his brother told him that some of the events he was recounting happened before his birth, or while he was away.  He had only been told about them.


Who can I trust to fact check on my past?  My suspicion is that many of the stories would be retold by other people with decided spin and bias.  No offense to those of you who read this.  It just is what it is.

Travis Bickle (a fictional character) didn't intentionally spin.  He reported on events in his life as he experienced them.  I also suspect that outside of a fictional context that is very difficult to do.  You may try, because you don't want to end up in one of those Oprah scenarios where she has decreed that you are a fraud, the lowest of the low akin to child rapers and the like.  How much is possible?

And then, if the details of your story, in all its honest, truthful glory, are particularly bleak and dire, you have to know that these are the experiences that you will be judged by for the rest of your days.  Even if yours is a story of a fall and redemption, readers will decide for themselves just how much you have been or can be saved.  They will measure against their own experience or lack of experience and deem you either an inspiration, or someone to steer clear of.  Travis Bickle, or Robert Deniro, accurately captured that nervous energy that you can almost smell before you see the person possessed of it.  You know instinctively to stay away.

There will be some people who THINK you smell that way based on what you say, or what you have been through.  So how much do you want out in public?  I can say that I have no fear and that I'm willing to put it all out there, but...

Anyway... watch Taxi Driver this weekend.  Great film.  Forget everything that I've said here.

Black Panther | Ep. 1

It will only take a few minutes to see why this was never broadcast in The United States.  Bear in mind that's not a value judgement on my part.  Well, it is, but in my world, or at least in this case, that speaks of a standard of excellence.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Black President?

via Louxo's Enjoyables

It took about 36 more years before this became a reality, didn't it?  I've only a passing familiarity with Punch Magazine so I'm not certain if this is a parody of America's worst nightmare, or if they're... Let's just say I'm not quite sure of the context here.

Make it rain tears.

via drew's grooveland