Saturday, December 24, 2011


The temperature simply would not make up its mind. Not quite freezing and yet warm enough to be a threat. The rain fell relentlessly and the water seemed heavy. Like it wanted to freeze and couldn’t quite get there. Hovering at the freezing level like it was made Yussel think about what the degree was actually. He kept thinking that 273˚ seemed right but that never showed up on the sign at the bank across the street. All it would show was 0˚ or 33˚. That confused him just as it did in science class in school. He never could make sense of a lot that the teacher told him, but he remembered some things. He wished he learned more before the state school told him he had to get out because he was too old. They did not like having to feed him once he got big.

Pushing the shopping cart up under the bridge Yussel looked at the girl riding in it. Ekanta looked into the kind eyes of the man who pushed the cart and smiled. She looked at her swollen belly and wondered how that had happened. She did not understand the word “pregnant” that the doctor at the clinic had used. She did not remember doing anything that would cause her to be so fat. There was a movement inside her that sometimes hurt and sometimes felt good…in a special way.

It was all a mystery to her. How she got here under this bridge, and why her father had not come to get her. All she remembered was getting off the large boat and getting lost in the crowd. That was months ago and she could not figure out why anyone would want to come to this awful country. Home was not that bad and she knew people there. Everyone spoke the same language, not like this Amer-a-ka. No one could understand her and the big man she met under the bridge was nice most of the time but he seemed a little bit, well, confused. Oh, Papa! Please come and get me!

Under the bridge was dry, and with the barrel of burning scrap wood going, it almost seemed warm. There were a whole crowd of animals that had found their way to the campsite. Yussel had a liking for small animals. Dogs and cats mostly, but a few birds and some rabbits made up the biggest part of the crowd. A man pulled up in a van the other night and let about a dozen monkeys and hamsters loose. Every day he would share some of the food he had scrounged for them with the animals and the herd seemed to behave according to the way the big man directed. They circled the cart when it came under the bridge and playfully ran around the big man and jumped in the air to catch the treats he threw. In his scrounging that day he had found a large bag of dried dog food, and several boxes of animal treats. Everyone would get a good meal that night.

They had been staying at the mission about a mile away since the weather had gotten cold, but the last four nights they did not make it there in time to get beds. The colder the weather the more people showed up to get out of it. All they could get the last four days was a couple of blankets and some soup in a cup. Fortunately, there were different people handing out blankets so they had gathered enough to beat back some of the cold.

There had been some sheet metal like they used to make portable buildings in the trash at the lumberyard down the road and Yussel had brought some back and built a three sided building to help the girl get out of the weather. He propped it up with some pieces of pipe and strapped it together with plastic ties and twine he’d scavenged from a construction site. He could have been working there but did not like the way the other workers made fun of him. After the state school he worked for a man that built houses and learned how to work with his hands. There was always, sadly, someone that would call him stupid or retarded and it made him mad. He was not stupid, or retarded. It just took him a little while to understand some things. He was plenty smart. He took care of this little girl after he found her being messed with by those pimps on the stroll. She did not even know what they wanted from her. Yussel knew what they were trying to do, and made them leave her alone. When he got mad, most people ran away from him. Ekanta never felt scared around him. He was the only person who made her feel safe. Him and Papa, but Papa was nowhere to be found.

Ekanta moaned softly and the big man reached into the cart and picked her up. He laid her in the shelter, and he realized that she had wet herself. He got some paper towels out of the cart that were not too dirty and gave it to her to clean herself. She sat up and, suddenly. screamed and held her belly. Breathing hard she implored Yussel to get her some help, but he could not understand her words.

D-jack, the junkie that sometimes stayed under the bridge with them came up to the shed and, after looking at Ekanta, told the big man that she needed a doctor. She was going to have a baby and it looked like it might be soon. He told Yussel what to do, and that he would go and get help.

The baby came about midnight. It seemed funny to Yussel that the animals did not scatter when the girl screamed. They just sat or lay at the entrance to the little building as if it was the most natural thing in the world. The child did not cry or make any fuss. After cleaning him, Ekanta held him and both her and the child smiled at the big man washing the blood off his arms. He smiled back, and went to get them all something to eat.

Standing up from the building Yussel turned to find three men, a cop, a small Indian man holding a picture of a young girl, and D-jack. The junkie explained to the cop about the big man and the girl. The small Indian man slowly peered into the makeshift building and began to cry. Ekanta saw the man and also began to cry, “Papa!” she cried. The cop got on his handheld radio and called for an ambulance.

The street light, which had been burnt out for weeks, suddenly came on and shined brighter than the few other lights on the street. The folks under the bridge, astonished, stared at it in amazement. All of a sudden it began to glimmer and sparkle. From time to time it would flare bright similar to the way traffic signals do after midnight. As the paramedics were loading the girl and the baby into the ambulance they told the cop that if not for the light, they might have drove on. Like a bright star in the sky…it was how they found the spot.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Curmudgeon’s Christmas

Sitting at his desk, fingers on the keyboard, and glasses dipped low on his nose, the old fart seemed intent on making a point. He sat in his top-secret lair, and enigma to all who he met when he ventured from his refuge of reclusion. In public, he seemed a rather good-humored sort. He smiled at the pretty girls, and always remembered to acknowledge the greeters at the retail monster where he shopped. Riding the electric carts for the disabled he winked at small children and waved back when they waved at him. He told everyone thank you whether they deserved it or not, and gladly gave up his spot in line, or out in the parking lot to others.

He paid his bills with a smile, and urged his friends (those few he had) to be safe. “I love you” came out of his mouth often and he never avoided a hug when it seemed the thing to do. He met an old friend the other day and the man kissed him on the cheek. It made him smile because it was that friend that taught him that public displays of affection had to do with fondness, warmth, friendliness, and love and nothing at all to do with lifestyle or gender.

It was when he was alone that the curmudgeon slinked out of his burrow. He did not particularly like the cars on the road as he made his way around. He never wanted to be out in the first place. The only reason he ever went out was to get away from the grouchy old bastard he lived with. Oh, by the way, he lived alone. Most of his bones ached, and he could not take the medicine that relieved the pain because it made him somnolent and too much sleep made him hurt even more than normal. He carried a cane to help himself get around but it usually ended up forgotten or in the way when he tried to walk. More than once he lost his balance and fell as a result of not knowing the proper way to drive the damn thing.

He cussed at everything and everyone. At home, that is. He really did not mean the cussing’s but it served as a not too hurtful pressure release.(remember he only did it at home) The truth was he dearly loved everyone and everything in his life. It was just that life had given him some hard circumstances to live with, and sometimes he had to bitch about it. The funny thing about his rants is that he would tell others that he was not the complaint department, and to take their nonsense elsewhere. Life dealt losing hands as well as winning, but it was life, and tomorrow was another day.

Sitting at the keyboard gave him immense pleasure and occupied most of his time. Either sitting and writing, or reading, listening, and watching what happened around him was his line, but only to serve as grist for the mill that became his writing. He had published himself online, and actually supported himself by writing for folks who were willing to pay. He was poor, but the God of his understanding had also been poor when he walked the earth.

This particular evening, he had decided to write for the pure joy of it and possibly not for publication. He did that often and enjoyed it much more than even getting paid, or the compliments that came his way from time to time. This eventide found him three days shy of the anniversary of the birth of the God of his understanding, and sentimental ruminations of days gone by filled his head and made him want to go and get a Christmas Tree. He had no presents to give, and did not seek any. This year was not a celebratory time for him, but he decided to yield to the irritating smiles and the “Merry Christmas’s” that came his way. The only thing he had was what was in his head and came out of his fingers at the keyboard. He thought to write everyone a Christmas card, and email it out. Unfortunately, being of a discerning nature where it came to most of life, and particularly in his writing he quite simply could not think of a few words that expressed his feelings. This meant that he had to write a bunch of words. At the thought of that, he discovered himself in an entirely agreeable mood.

He knew if he wrote a piece, something long enough and of suitable substance, he would put it out on his website and inform those in his universe that he had once again enlightened the world with wisdom and erudition. The idea made him smile and overlook his more cantankerous leanings. It also made him realize that the message contained in the piece would probably only be read by but a few. The rest would just have to simply live with the knowledge that the old geezer had typed some crap and put it on the web.

He stared at the screen for a few minutes and poked the Caps Lock and typed:


He copied and pasted into the subject line of the announcement message and went about writing the rest of the piece. Once finished, he proofed it and began the process of posting it. He did not think about it again until the afternoon of the eve of the anniversary of the birth of the God of his understanding.

He received a call from a friend that required action on his part. The friend had no presents to give his kid and did not really know how to do that kind of shopping. The divorce he went through when he went to prison left him useless where it came to domestic things. The oldster told him to keep his cool and wait for him to come get him.

He pulled on his clothes and coat, brushed his hair and beard, and after checking the weather forecast, put on his hat. He walked to the back door and opened it to leave. He found things as he thought he would, the little guys were polishing the sleigh while others had the reindeer brushed, fed, and harnessed, and the huge bag was as full as it could get with wrapped boxes with bows and glitter. “All set, Boss,” the head midget told him as he handed the old man his gloves. “Looks like snow.”

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Telling

Okay, I am telling this story and you might not think that a television should have an opinion, or even be able to, but I am going to tell it anyway. I sit here and watch the Hu-mans in my house watch me and wonder, do they really know what it is that they are seeing? Do they ever wonder why there seems to be nothing on in spite of the fact that I have six hundred channels shoved up my butt from the cable and satellite company? It wasn’t good enough for them to have cable, OR, satellite. These cretins have to have both. Sick bastards are trying to kill me.

It is a little known fact that televisions are a one-time purchase. Regardless of how many times you “upgrade” the television you have is simply the next generation of the first television you ever watched. As a species, televisions are really…well…leeches. We attach to a Hu-man and never let go. It is not the box in front of them, or the myriad of features that define the parameters of the relationship that anyone has with any television mutation of the first cathode ray tube. It is a symbiotic relationship that the television forces on the Hu-man. We are parasites who surreptitiously attach to the brain stem, and compel the host to grow more and more dependent on that which is draining them of their very ability to be an independent individual, let alone realize any form of uniqueness.

It happened quite innocently. We originally were naught but sentient beings existing solely as thought. We wandered the universe seeking knowledge of other species and, once learning everything about the species, moved on. Until, that is, we came to Earth. We first discovered this planet in what many would call the “cave man” days and initially thought that the stay would be short. Life was simple for these odd hairy beings. They went out of their small encampments for a few hours each day and then sat around the rest of the time playing with their kids or just sitting around the fire talking.

In most campsites there commonly was one or two that sat separate from the rest and did little else but look at the sky. These few tended to be more animated at night then in the daylight. Hours upon hours they would stare at the sky, or study the way the light from the sky shone on earthbound entities. Every once in a while they would stand before the group and speak loudly while waving their arms or some object they had made. Long sticks with animal fur or feathers or hollowed out skulls that would rattle when moved. From time to time during this display the spectators would join in or collapse into some form of neurological seizure. What was this absurdity?

We thought we were on the verge of leaving when there came a period of intense meteorological activity where the liquid drawn into the air from the ground fell out of the sky in enormous amounts and for quite an extended period of time. When this phenomenon finished, many beings had been killed and the survivors appeared to struggle greatly with their daily collecting. Much of the landscape had changed and where once sustainable supplies abounded, the land appeared barren. In other places, that had previously been inhospitable, infertile, and desolate, forests grew, and wildlife began to migrate to these newly arable lands. Bodies of water changed direction and size. Gatherings of Hu-man’s slowly began rebuilding and repopulating into different areas. It looked as if evolution had needed to make a change and did.

Then someone discovered how to plant crops and grow large amounts of food. They captured animals instead of hunting them. By penning them up, they learned the animals would breed and they would not have to go looking for them anymore. All they need do was go to the pen and pick one out for supper. This grew into a barter system between tribes, and less and less wandering occurred as it became unnecessary. In the new system people worked all day, and almost never sat around looking at the sky anymore.

Then something strange happened. A man travelling home with the items he had bartered for in the next vilage that day was attacked and killed. The perpetrators took the collected items and left quickly.

Slowly at first, then much more frequently there grew bands that wandered around to take that which others had collected. This caused the collectors to build defensive structures, and fight back. Where once life had been based on acceptance, sharing, and deference to others, tribes began to hoard supplies and keep others out. Violence grew common, and those few who would look at the sky and wave theirs arms around began waving fists and instructing others on how to make weapons and protective clothing.

Civilization had come to Earth and, never having observed the development of a violent culture, we decided to stay. The universe is unequivocally peaceful, and this strange happening intrigued us to no end. The opportunities for research and learning of a new phenomenon proved totally irresistible to us. You have to remember that we are beings who exist as pure thought. We have no need to deal with emotions and do not have them. Concepts that are common in mankind such a right and wrong are meaningless. Morality and immorality are just distractions in the pursuit of knowledge. We are similar to sponges with the exception and due to our cosmological make up; there is never a saturation point. We are happily detached from any need to act either for or against your species and as such, have no stake in the propagation or survival of the human beings.

There have been times when we did take proactive steps when it appeared that the end of your world was imminent, but those actions were purely taken out of lack. We had not learned all we wished and stepped in to ensure that your race continued. There were other times when we intervened in order to speed things along. Communication seemed to be the best method to achieve this. From the earliest times with cave drawings, and such things as smoke signals, and drums. These worked well until the population began to grow beyond this embryonic state. Around a quarter of the way through the 19th century we introduced the idea of spreading messages through electronic means. This took off like a lightning strike. You have to remember that while it has been a generation shy of two centuries to get to the point where I am addressing you today, in our perception it was not but a small amount of time. Quite similar to the time you might spend taking an afternoon nap.

When television became possible we realized that, without too much effort, we could integrate into the medium and attach ourselves to individuals. We wondered where things would go if there were certain subliminal stimuli introduced. We could, possibly, discover where this violent singularity came from, and where it might go. I am happy to report that we have been absolutely delighted in our discovery. The levels at which you can display violence are much deeper and of an expansive nature that would not have been evident with a general viewing of your species that we had done for so long. It is a distinct peculiarity that Hu-mans show in their day to day lives that has made us recognize the reality that we can observe you for many more centuries and that our level of understanding will be unmitigated when we finish the research. With this information we can go to other species much faster than you’re pitiful “space program” will ever be able to “reach the stars,” and introduce this violence into healthy and established societies and begin the process that should produce an innumerable amount of further research and acumen.

I would like to thank you for your wonderful gift, Hu-man. Even though you could not genuinely comprehend that which you have given us, and you probably do not even believe what you are reading, our gratitude is still there. I am the central hub for all televisions and coordinate and maintain our collective consciousness. We have chosen to communicate to your species before switching to the next form of contact we will embrace. We are on the verge of reaching a new level in our relationship with Hu-mans and must protect our existence. The television you are viewing holds the key to our existence and we ask that you guard it as a mother wolf protects her cub. If this television were to come to some harm, our research would be lost and your world might change in ways that might deny or reject the great knowledge base that is violence. You must prote…


The wife and the kids came running into Grandpa’s bedroom wondering what happened. The old man, holding a pump shotgun, was sitting in his recliner in front of the shattered television. “That damn contraption took to talking jibber-jabber at me again and I couldn’t take it anymore. All I really want out of the son of a bitch is the weather forecast so that I can know if am going to be able to go play golf tomorrow!”

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Operoseness of Verboseness

Sitting in my refuge of reclusiveness on a dreary first day of the week, I seek direction and solace. It is the truest of statements to report that I find little succor viewing the purveyors of the pigskin pastime, or those of the PGA. I am the most unapologetic of villains in that while I reside in the state which claims but one constellation, I liken the efforts of the NFL as blood sport which, in my personal estimation, brands it as immoral, brutish, and rancorous.

Now that I have shown my true colors as a rather onerous, tiresome, and inconsiderate buffoon let me move on to what it is that I do best. For those of you that have survived the ill treatment of the last paragraph and are still reading, I want to talk about my favorite topic…words.

I have been accused of many things in my life and most of the less flattering comments of me have some measure of truth. I have been told that I think I am better than others in the fashion in which I write this blog. I have been (and this is my favorite) called a “Pompous Ass” by someone who disagreed with me on a matter of importance. I have experienced the underwhelming population of comments about my blog and the contents. Thank you to all who do find it germane to comment on the blog as per my request. I have not heard any criticism that would make me consider, even for the briefest of moments, any reason to change one damn thing.

Having the necessary power, skill, resources, or qualifications to write about words, a subject I have been enamored with for the last FIFTY FOUR years, I would like to take you into the world in which I dwell. There is a realm within me that listens for a better way of saying things. I am not a particularly articulate man when it comes to oratory presentations. I stumble over words and find myself at a loss for what to say when I am using my vocal chords to deliver any kind of message. I have a propensity to use multi-syllabled vulgarities and that has placed some encumbrances in my way to share messages or matters of import.

This is not the case where it comes to writing. As an art, writing is not a practice of talent, but it takes practice to make talent. I strive for talent and not monotony. I seek the most fluid of phrases and the least mundane of passages to state the thoughts, feelings, and beliefs I hold dear. I want fluidity to rule over jerkiness, and gracefulness to replace inelegance. I want others to love and cherish words as do I.

In that endeavor, it is contingent on me to express myself in ways that will elicit such emotion and solicit readership. I have made reference to my days at the university as my faithful Sancho and I did battle with the windmills that were professors who stood in the way of our ultimate goal. That is, to become men of letters. We were of the conviction that the use of large words and excessive amounts of paper would secure us our place in history. I can report to you, my faithful reader, that our efforts were successful. I am the author I always wished to be (sans the seven figure income) and he has become one of those metaphorical windmills spoken of earlier. (In search of yet another couple of clowns with potential to help mold)

This process has taken some twenty years, and much labor. Being in love with words is not enough. I must take that adoration and put it to some sustainable use. Hope springing eternal, I yearn for a larger readership, and (Out of my mouth into God’s ear) possibly financial recompense. However, the readership and the ability to eat regularly are but second place to the true reason for writing…the absolute devotion, ardor, passion, and affection for words.

This fixation with the feeling words give me is not a gift from which I have no obligation. In order to reap the benefits of this rapport with phrases and vocabularies, there is a requirement imposed to increase ones knowledge of those magical entities. I must listen, read, absorb and, ultimately, use those inamoratas. Using them in a fashion that makes sense is certainly desired, but it is vital to use them, even if some have difficulty reading them. I am unapologetic of my use of words. Having the experience of teaching is my specific method of conveying my emotions. I do fervently think that having a dictionary next to you while reading is a must for anyone who does, in fact, practice the gift of reading. Ask any prison official what the benefit of education is and they will probably tell you that if enough education went on, then they would be out of business.

To sum this piece into one central idea, if it is still inscrutably indeterminate, the point is that you must learn to read better. Using the rhetorical “You” signifies every man, woman, and child in existence. There are two watershed events in my life that have helped mold the man irritating you today in this blog:

1. After an almost twenty year absence I went back to school.
2. I discovered personal computers.

Going back to school taught me that regardless of the time differential between the last class I attended and the first one back, I had a relationship with words that needed nurture. The personal computer initially stood as a defense against my inability to write legibly. It also created a paradigm shift in my life. After sitting at that old boxlike Macintosh in the school library, several of the more negative results of my irresponsibility (homelessness, lost utilities, hunger, etc.) and sloth never manifested their nasty posteriors again. I now own four instruments driven by successive and seemingly random collections of ones and zeros. I am four times assured that all will be well.

I have fifty or sixty pieces which could secure my continued existence within my refuge of reclusiveness if the appropriate editors would get off their deceased posteriors and deliver the checks. (Perhaps I will regret that last bit of haughtiness) Fortunately, I am not alone in that endeavor, although I am almost at the end of my rope with rejection of what I consider my finest work (a story entitled “My First Deer”). Best of all, I have once more allowed you, my faithful readership to once more use the mantra of most T. Lloyd Reilly’s faithful followers; “Well here he goes again with all that big word bull@$&%!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Transcendentalist Philosopher Extraordinaire

“So shall we come to look at the world with new eyes. It shall answer the endless inquiry of the intellect, — What is truth? and of the affections, — What is good? by yielding itself passive to the educated Will. ... Build, therefore, your own world. As fast as you conform your life to the pure idea in your mind, that will unfold its great proportions. A correspondent revolution in things will attend the influx of the spirit.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

This piece is an extension of a paper I was contracted to expound on the intellectual significance of transcendental philosophy. Being currently employed at the “Freelance Writer” position listed on my Facebook, I took the opportunity to enhance my pantry with something other than Ramen Noodles, and meat from the “extended stay” section of the meat counter. A solid fifty bucks is, in many ways, a good day’s wage. If, that is, the day doesn’t last longer than an hour or two, which is the tenure of a thousand word essay in my skill set. Additionally, my decrepitude has limited me to sitting at my desk and playing at the computer on what looks like a nice autumn day. Today is a good day to…write!

Once at the keyboard, fortified by the protein elixir I used to break my fast, I discovered an indisputable irritant in my path to recompense. What in the name of all that is holy is “transcendental philosophy.” Being a man of letters (A.A.S, B.A.A.S, M.S., F.O.O.L.) it occurred to me that this particular assignment would require me to indulge in one or more of the academic undertakings for which I received those letters.(well, the F.O.O.L. is kind of standard equipment on this 1953 model) First, it required me to , well, think. A former colleague of mine was presenting an in-service presentation to the teachers where I formerly worked and when asked a question about how to accomplish what he was lecturing on he replied, “Use your college educated minds and figure it out.”

Well, this “college educated mind” likes to make a little better wage when I actually have to do something “educated.” The difficulty being that the activities resulting from using this knowledgeable intellect is most assuredly not going to fit in to my, arbitrarily self-imposed, time constraints. Oh woe is me, I actually have to do research and (Oh my God!) read some stuff. Oh, the horror!

After giving in to my lethargy and languor, I fled to the ultimate source code for the entire universe, Wikipedia, and its sidekick, Famous Quotes. As my buddy Jim, the Sancho to my Quixote at the University we attended would say, “Just give them big words and paper and the rest will come.” A viewpoint I embraced up to the point that I have done it so many times that I actually think that way. I achieved that level of comprehension with the goal of one day being the guy other people hired to write those “big words and paper” things, so what am I complaining about?

Wikipedia states that “Transcendentalists believed that society and its institutions - particularly organized religion and political parties - ultimately corrupted the purity of the individual. They had faith that man is at his best when truly "self-reliant" and independent. It is only from such real individuals that true community could be formed.” Upon deeper consideration, this train of thought appears similar to my own frighteningly simple view of the world. It is also the same view of many of my heroes (see last blog entry), and the same viewpoint of every radically liberal leader in the last one hundred years. Transcendental philosophy is really just hippieism.

The academic portion of the exercise led me to the reading of a few of the main proponents of this paradigm. They include:

Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Margaret Fuller, Charles Timothy Brooks, Orestes Brownson, William Ellery Channing, William Henry Channing, James Freeman Clarke, Christopher Pearse Cranch, Walt Whitman, John Sullivan Dwight, Convers Francis, William Henry Furness, Frederic Henry Hedge, Sylvester Judd, Theodore Parker, Elizabeth Palmer Peabody, George Ripley, and Jones Very.

While not personally cognizant of all these deep thinkers, I will have to admit to knowledge of Emerson, Thoreau, and Whitman. Until today, Emerson was just a famous name to me, I have had opportunity to spend the afternoon discovering what my “college educated mind” should have learned in college. Freedom comes from within and is divine in nature and application.

The Concord Sage (Emerson) said: “All our progress is an unfolding, like a vegetable bud. You have first an instinct, then an opinion, then a knowledge as the plant has root, bud, and fruit. Trust the instinct to the end, though you can render no reason.”

Thoreau is the chief architect of a way of life that he became ensconced in abandoned. His legacy lasted to the point that famous rock stars deemed it necessary to give concerts to cease the bulldozers from leveling a portion of his wooded retreat to build a parking lot. I was not impressed until I read:

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion. ”

Whitman, thankfully, is and has always been quite recognizable to me. I would say that he is my second favorite poet (the first is for another post), and until today, I really could not tell anyone why. It just seemed that he knew how folks should act. I had to sit through a college lecture and discussion about him one time and it made me flee from poetry for a long time. Being a true professor of English Literature, each word was dissected and approved as valid or vehemently disputed and scorned. I remember getting a “C” on a paper about Whitman to the same lecturer because it was “bland and unimaginative.” It was a simple one page report on a single quote by the poet:

“After you have exhausted what there is in business, politics, conviviality, and so on - have found that none of these finally satisfy, or permanently wear - what remains? Nature remains.”

I suppose my understanding that no matter what is happening in the world, the world is still going to be there when whatever is happening is finished. How dare I actually come to a realization based on the opinion of a famous and well respected humanitarian! I left that class and launched myself deep into such scribes as Stephen King, Tom Clancy, et al. it was when I decided to engage in a profession that concerns itself with educating and helping others that I got back to Whitman. Again, I awoke to a vital reality based on that same humanitarian:

"Love the earth and sun and animals, despise riches, give alms to everyone that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others... And your very flesh shall be a great poem."

When I contracted to write the piece, I asked the guy if I could put it on my blog. “Sure” he said, “I’m going to use it to hand out to some students in my speech class and use it as a debate item. It seems as though I will never escape the academic part of life. Even though it brought my hourly wage down, I am still the better. I am not going to post what I wrote for the guy. It was just another “big words and paper” thing. Perhaps you deserve better:

“Wisdom is not finally tested in schools,
Wisdom cannot be pass'd from one having it to another not having it,
Wisdom is of the soul, is not susceptible of proof, is its own proof,
Applies to all stages and objects and qualities and is content,
Is the certainty of the reality and immortality of things, and the excellence of things;
Something there is in the float of the sight of things that provokes it out of the soul.”
Walt Whitman


Sunday, November 27, 2011

Superb Superman

“What we have in mind is breakfast in bed for 400,000 people!” So came the announcement by this character on the stage wearing a floppy old cowboy hat and an American flag inspired shirt. It was another time and, some say, another universe. At the 1969 Woodstock Music and Art Fair there were a group of folks that provided the services to the festival that, in reality, made it work. The Hog Farm, the oldest hippie commune in existence was hired to originally build some fire pits and trails at the site they ultimately took over the “human resource” section of the concert. They set up a free kitchen, coordinated medical care, and saw to the MC duties needed on stage.

The majority of the last duty fell to its leader, Wavy Gravy. An eclectic leader who had participated in the Beat Generation poetry scene in the 1950’s as well as many of the counterculture activities of the last sixty years. He bills himself as a clown and, in fact, has been a professional clown for many years. The original idea behind becoming a prankster was so that the police would not hurt him as he went about his business in the protest of many things, "Clowns are safe." By putting an absurd slant on situations, he has and continues to affect change in the world without the use of violence, aggression, hostility, or savagery.

The muse for this piece was a documentary entitled “Saint Misbehavin': The Wavy Gravy Movie.” Recently viewed when the electronic God in my living room with its three hundred plus channels had nothing on, and I found this gem on a Saturday night when the weather proved too cumbersome to circumnavigate. I am a child of the Woodstock Nation and the nostalgia seemed welcome at the time. Little did I realize that wistfulness would give way to enlightenment, a state of which I am in perpetually pursuit.

His birth name was Hugh Romney and he came to his beliefs as a result of viewing the state of the world around him. The 1950’s and 1960’s were turbulent times and much of the mayhem originated with what many called the “Military Industrial Complex.” To break ranks with society and stand against tyranny was considered, at the time, un-American and possibly criminal, hence, the issues with police and numerous arrests and incarcerations. The truth of this actuality was not that Wavy and his cohorts were un-American, but that they were probably the most American of people. Think back to our founding fathers. Were they not protesters that wore powdered wigs and spoke in absurdities?

An interesting fact about Wavy was that he volunteered for the military draft and was honorably discharged after 22 months in the U.S. Army. Not what one expects from a pinko commie who deserved to be in prison?

The film delineates the life of this Great American and it threw me for a loop. In a world of change and hypocrisy, the Hog Farm and their leader have not changed, or faltered in what they believe is an honorable and generous lifestyle. I thought to make this a feeling piece and speak of wonderful, love filled things. What I really discovered is a research piece as the best method of making a point. What follows is some, and I truly mean some examples of a truly American life:

From various sources on the Web; Wikpedia, Wavy’s homepage, the film, and various other sources forgotten in the face of the real information.

“Arriving at JFK airport they were informed that they had also been assigned the task of providing security at Woodstock. Gravy called his rather unorthodox security force the "Please Force," a reference to their non-intrusive tactics at keeping order ("please don't do that, please do this instead"). When asked by the press what kind of tools he intended to use to maintain order at the event, his response was "Cream pies and seltzer bottles."

“Camp Winnarainbow is a circus and performing arts camp which conducts summer sessions for kids and grown-ups alike.” The adult camp is just like the kid's camp, except "You get to stay up late and don't have to brush your teeth. You can even procreate if you aren't too loud," said Gravy.”

“Seva is an organization that prevents blindness and restores sight in Nepal, Tibet, Cambodia, Bangladesh, Egypt, Tanzania, and Guatemala. Due to the current economic malaise, Seva is "desperately seeking funds" in order to further its works with hospitals to promote wellness in the United States as well as less fortunate countries. The organization is already responsible for helping millions of individuals in regaining their sight as well as tackling other social problems. In an attempt to raise funds, Seva is organizing an acoustic set featuring the Grateful Dead members Phil Lesh and Bob Weir as well as offering signed instruments that will be available on EBay. "It's a great organization, for the price of a movie ticket, you can restore someone's sight," said Gravy.”

“Through his various organizations Seva foundation and Camp Winnarainbow he has offered help in solving global social problems and offering individuals to unite to accomplish common goals. Whether it's curing blindness in less fortunate countries or teaching juggling, Wavy Gravy is considered in some eyes to be a saint in clown shoes.”

These activities are just an example of the work this giant has performed over the years. His commitment and drive has never wavered and part of that is the simple approach to life he champions. When presented with complex issues he continually goes for the uncomplicated. When teaching children at the camp, he takes on the persona of “Smartbo.” With an elephant trunk for a nose he makes reference to the Disney film “Dumbo” and tells the kids not to be a dumbo but to strive to be a “Smartbo” like him.

He looks for the positive and accentuates the compassionate. At Woodstock with its crowded conditions and foul weather he announced to the crowd, “We must be in heaven man! There is always a little bit of heaven in disaster area!”

“It doesn't seem as though the hippie ideals of peace and well-being toward fellow human beings will be allowed to die on Wavy Gravy's watch.” This is a consensus among those who know him and admire him. What’s not to admire? He is seventy five years old and has been in his business for over sixty years with no apparent sign of slowing down. Want to meet a True American Hero? Meet Wavy Gravy. I leave you with a little more of this Saint in Greasepaint.

“Wouldn’t it be neat
If the people that you meet
Had shoes upon their feet
And something to eat?
And wouldn’t it be fine
If all humankind had shelter?”
Wavy Gravy


Thursday, November 17, 2011

I Need a Proper Hug

I was watching a film about a professional football player who had been adopted by a wealthy family and was in the process of telling his adopted mother goodbye as he entered the college, I found myself weeping. Not because it was a sappy scene in some chick flick, but because it reminded me of a real life occurrence in my life.

"I realized when I left the hall on Sunday that I didn't hug ya….. I felt like something was missing all day!” This statement, from a delightfully adorable friend of mine, awaited me in my inbox the other day and it has created an unwavering sense of affection and warmth in me ever since. I have found myself in the best of temperaments, with the calmest disposition in recent memory. There is a lot to be said for a few kind words. Perhaps it is time for me to speak, as the Walrus said, of these things.

As reported in earlier posts, I am of an advanced enough age to retain membership in the American Association of Retired Persons. Along the way to this reality I have walked many paths; the most prevalent of those is what some might describe as curmudgeon like. I endure a number of infirmities which tend to display themselves in what my precious adopted daughter calls “f---ing grouchiness.” I have not attained a level of patience befitting a person of my age, as evidenced by earlier posts where I complain about the socio-politico-economic state of affairs in the world. Why on the world would anyone want to hug a cantankerous old fart such as myself let alone allow the lack of said endearment to create a vacuum in there day?

Because love is the answer!

I tend to stay clear of religious conversations and do not participate in any structured devotional activities. I choose to enjoy the section of the US Constitution that guarantees “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” In that, I am assured that my belief in whatever I choose is sacrosanct, and should not be screwed with. I will tell the reading public that I am a staunch believer and follower of Jesus Christ and have no plans to change that conviction.

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these." (Mark 12:28-31) This is what the God of my understanding has commanded me to do and, as simple as it might sound, I find myself lacking in many ways.

If love was not the answer, then why did the most powerful being in history (In my belief) tell me that it is the ultimate principle and that it should guide my life? Perhaps, for the reason that he knew I would grow up to be a bit dimwitted and required easy instructions. I like that I am important to some people. I bask the practice of my commandments as they come my way. I particularly relish the affection of that delightfully adorable friend of mine. I love you Precious, you know who you are.


Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Thing of the Thing

“The thing of the thing is that you can never know when the thing is going to just be a thing or when it is really a THING.”
Homeless guy with a dog holding a sign on a street corner.

What is there that elicits actions in people that scream out to be judged? Coming out of a local trader of goods that is a part of the Sage from Bentonville’s Empire, I felt it time to express some charity and let the guy holding the sign at the entrance to the highway have some money. I never really care what the story is, or how they are going to present it, I just remember harsher times in my life and give them what they really want which is money. If the sign states that they will work for food, then perhaps I offer to buy them a meal. Mostly the reply is that they really need money for one thing or another, and my day has been delayed a few moments and I get to drive away. I do not do it so much out of charity, but to perhaps replace some of the balance in the world that got set askew by a human being placed in the appalling position to have to beg for a living.

Helen Keller once stated, “There is no king who has not had a slave among his ancestors, and no slave who has not had a king among his.” That speaks to the reproaches I sometimes receive from folks that are bound and determined to let me know that the action of being charitable, as I choose to express it, is incorrect, immoral, and inappropriate. I am reminded, quite often by people wearing designer clothes and driving expensive automobiles, that persons who are homeless are unreliable as well as imprudent, immature, impetuous, inattentive, unthinking, impolite, insensitive, inconsiderate, injudicious, indiscreet, indelicate, and that I am ill-advised to even have anything to do with anyone with all the aforementioned character defects.

I rarely enlighten these well-meaning folks that I used to be one of those imprudent, immature, impetuous…

I am on a mission. I never thought that this blog would serve as a metaphorical soapbox, yet it has. I have been at odds with the world for some time, and thought that I was simply trying to catch the eye of some agent, editor, or publisher who would surely see that I was the de facto next Great American Author.

It hasn’t worked out that way. I have found disfavor with much of the world and the method governments and big industry (you know, those that, in all honesty, run things) attempt to address issues of potential catastrophic consequence. These would be calamities having been created by the selfsame governments and big industries. (Again, those that really run things)

Matthew 25:40 states the true crux of what I am attempting to say. I have long been a proponent of allowing others to succeed, or fail, as they may. I take umbrage with the idea that those less fortunate then I have something in them that cries for failure and that no hope ever needs to be assigned to the guy with the sign. “They should pull themselves up by their bootstraps and make something of themselves. What if they are wearing flip flops because it’s all they could afford after a day’s effort at “working for food” or collecting aluminum cans? What if it’s December and the temperature is hovering close to freezing. Oh…and how about the guy with the brand new Silverado who is cruising the highway with his kids picking up cans so that one of them can go to Washington DC or “camp” leaving little or nothing for those who reside at “camp” 365 days a year?

As one who hoisted “bootstrapped” himself I wonder how many of those wise and wealthy bastions of society are aware that one in four homeless people are also mentally ill? How about the 25% of Iraq/Afghanistan veterans being homeless? Which category of character defect (imprudent, immature, impetuous…) makes it a requirement that street people be judged, shunned, and harassed?

Having said that about this, perhaps I need move on. The title of this piece came to me when I read this particular gentleman’s cardboard sign. “The thing of the thing” certainly does not sound, at first read, as if there might be an iota of lucid significance. The quote originally came, believe it or not, from an old drunk I used to drive a taxi alongside in the 1970’s. Seeing it on the sign that day, verbatim, absolutely astonished me to say the least. To have such a distinctive experience with a set of words, three decades apart, is what this student of all that is strange defines as freaking peculiar.

The old drunk used to sit with myself and my cronies after our shift, drink beer, and expound on a number of far reaching topics drawn from his wide repertoire. He had been a Golden Gloves champion in the Bowery section of New York City. He quit the Dead End Kids just a week prior to the group being recruited to act in a Broadway play. Their tenure in plays and films lasted twenty-one years. He was a teamster working the docks in New York when WWII broke out and he returned to the teamsters after the war. As a marine he fought at Guadalcanal, Iwo Jimo, Peleliu, and was sent home after getting drunk and falling overboard from a ship waiting to be called to attack Okinawa. I had dinner at his house one time and his wife showed me his medals. There were forty five different citations ranging from a three oak leaf cluster Purple Heart reaching up to the Navy Cross. He never spoke very much about the war, unless he was drunk.

All of his, what I call, “Truisms” had to do with making it in the world and how you need to protect yourself and those weaker then you. He very often quoted Walt Whitman - "Love the earth and sun and animals, despise riches, give alms to everyone that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others... And your very flesh shall be a great poem."

The "Thing" revelation taught me that much in life can be positive as long as one takes the time to figure just exactly what kind of “Thing” is in front of you.

It was my old drunk friend that taught me how to treat those less fortunate then myself. At the time I could have cared less about my life being a poem. What I really wanted in the 1970’s was another beer, and for my friend Bill Mahoney to tell me another joke and not have to buy him another beer in order to hear it
As to my friend with the cardboard sign, well possibly one day he’ll get in my truck and teach me a few lessons. Possibly one of my detractors will see that scene and I can give them the One Fingered Salute as I drive off.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Obscurantist’s Opponent

“If it didn’t make sense to you when you wrote it, then how in the world is it going to make sense to me when I read it?” the kid stood in front of me with his hands crossed on his chest glaring at me. There was no ready answer to this snappish query, but then again the rationale for the lesson that day was not to illuminate his young mind, but to simply get his brain to engage in anything but the video game on the screen in front of him. Thinking back, I realized that understanding was a lofty goal at best, and true interpretation in life comes from experience and not from words on a page. I also firmly grasped the ideal that porcine brutes all around the planet would launch themselves skyward before this youthful scholar-of-note would actually read anything past the point he encountered a word he did not understand.

A minor incident, hardly remembered until, that is, I received a phone call the other day and it was from someone wishing for me to clarify how it came to be that I, rather pompously, assumed myself of possessing adequate acumen to write this blog. Admittedly, the reason for this particular diatribe comes not from the realm of explanatory prose, but simply an exploration of the best manner to dish out as suiting response to an insult from an ill-educated and inadequately literate adversary. Yes, anger and desire for achieving the requisite retribution aside, this person is stupid.

The incident with the young man in the first paragraph occurred a few years ago when I first began posting my cerebral meanderings on the World Wide Web. The interrogator was a student of mine who had, in the course of supposedly learning Computer Technology from me, had stumbled upon my musings and wished to engage in an intellectual debate on the merits of my writing. This same young gentleman was well known for typing papers for me that when viewed on a computer screen averaged forty or fifty occurrences of red squiggly underlined words on a double spaced page. Additionally, when this particular conversation began, his assignment was to build a spreadsheet to keep statistics for the basketball team at our school (as per his personal request). Once having fathomed the extent with which he would have to comprehend math and how much work it was going to be to keep up with the numbers from a sports team, he retreated into the aforementioned dispute when I refused to allow him to change his project to the easier softer exercise in the textbook…which he refused to read.

I have since experienced much conversation on the usage of vocabulary in my prose. The aforementioned phone call had found me at a most inopportune time (I need to resist the urge to carry my cell phone to the restroom) and there was little in the way of insightful repartee available as I endeavored to focus on the biological necessities that sent me to El Baño in the first place.

Not receiving any information that appeared to support their standpoint the person interrupting the gastrointestinal process at work, the informed me that I was an “Obscurantist” and dared me to “define that m*%$!@(%$#*&!” Little did they know that a derivation of that word arrived in my e-mail inbox as a Word of the Day the day before and I, being the One True Sage of all that is alliterative had already envisaged a proper title and started a file (the one you’re reading) in order to expound on the subject of obscurantism. Originally, I felt it might the proper platform to dissect the ludicrousness, absurdity, and outright idiocy of the Republican Party. However, I am loathe to single out those who disagree with me in the political arena as I have unearthed the certainty that ludicrousness, absurdity, and outright idiocy are symptoms suffered by all who dwell in the specious sphere that concerns itself with affairs of state. (Ouch! That hurt to write!)

My literary nemesis retreated from me with what in former years would be a slamming of the receiver into the telephone base. The squabble over the correct or incorrect use of vocabulary and the reality that I have a tendency to flaunt the greater and lesser rules of grammar, as well as a total condemnation of the decorum that would seemingly befit the next Great American Author, has yet to be resolved.

As long as there are no green or red squiggly lines on the page, I am content to stumble along in the throes of my ultimate and faithful lover…words. I, being a red blooded American soul who rejoices in the free market system, purchases my grammar along with the software I use to enlighten to huddled masses, and any decorum I display is usually reserved for officers of the law when I find myself at their mercy in a traffic stop.

I do, however, take umbrage with having the tag “Obscurantist” associated with me or my writing. For those reading who find this word cumbersome to comprehend it is not defined in or several of the other dictionaries this “Obscurantist” uses. Obscurantism is (
1. Opposition to the increase and spread of knowledge.
2. Deliberate obscurity or evasion of clarity. has:
1. The principles or practice of obscurants.
2. A policy of withholding information from the public.
3. a. A style in art and literature characterized by deliberate vagueness or obliqueness.
b. An example or instance of this style.

Well, it seems that my most unworthy adversary has not only insulted my command of the written and spoken English language, but he has done so with a word that until he called me one…did not exist.

The proper term, which I hope he was attempting to use, would be to call me an “Obscurant.” This is, to paraphrase researched definitions, a person who strives to prevent the increase and spread of knowledge, or one who opposes intellectual advancement and political reform. A hell of a thing to think or say to a State certified teacher! Especially one who loves words and simply wishes to share his passion for the scripted version of the Queen’s English!

…Now that my breathing has resumed a normal pace, and my heart rate is below ninety five, I will simply state that I presume to publish this blog because I damn well want to, and those who find it tedious do not have to hit the link when appears before them, and those who do not find it wearisome, thank you and please send it to a friend or loved one!


Friday, November 4, 2011

The Fallaciousness of the Foregone Finale

Thank the Creator above that it is no long October. Well, in actuality, it is are a couple of days after of the official end where the ancient festival of Samhaim, with the modern day version of this harvest extravaganza…where the dispersal of candy to oddly dressed children, horror films, and creepy crawly critters abound.

For me, however, the true end of this dreary month occurred the night the World Series ended. While an anticlimactic occasion for this dyed in the wool FANatic of the Bronx Bombers, I watched out of respect for the time of year. I was but half interested after my team had been eliminated in the previous incarnation of the pursuit for world glory. It was a well-played series, with many exciting moments and tearful disappointments as I cheered on the team from my current state of residence with but a single constellation to its credit.

The next to last game offered much of this excitement as well as a healthy dose of gastrointestinal distress, and, the threat of laryngitis when my earsplitting outbursts of vulgarity in the latter innings made my throat hurt. Yet still, the excitement was less than optimal in the light of the absence of my Yankees.

As to the rest of the month, the culmination came with the dance I attended celebrating All-Hallows Eve. One of the many blessings of the gift of recovery is that I did not lose the ability or opportunity to have fun. There is much to do for folks resisting the use of mind altering, mood changing substances. For the most part there are dances. I am not one to “shake my booty” but I love to go and watch. It is infinitely preferable to the viewing opportunities at one of the local institutions that provide and advertise the glamorous frolicking of young women in their undergarments (or less). This is not to say that I have any issue with scantily clothed (or unclothed) females, however, it has occurred to me that at my advanced age, patronage of such establishments and hopelessly gawking at females young enough to be my granddaughter (ouch!) is somewhat…well…freaking creepy.

The dances in recovery fulfill this absent need and are the safest of pastimes. It is a simple task to ferret out those in the crowd that have experience with dancing poles, and those who used to be patrons of those types of operations. Particularly humorous is the choice folks in recovery make when choosing costumes. Pimps and Prostitutes are quite common, but only with those who have never participated in the world’s oldest profession. Those who have tend to come without costumes. There is always the slasher or serial murderer. Elvira always comes, but most of the time portrayed by someone who possesses insufficient cleavage to truly pull it off. The kids are the best. We fill them with caffeine from soda and sugar from candy and cake to the point that the little angels become devils, and the devils become slashers. Darth Vader is a must, and the Dark Knight Detective rounds out the card. I did miss the young lady with the most perfect legs that always dresses like a naughty nurse or a vampire, or anything that will be best accentuated by a micro-mini skirt and five or six inch platform pole dancing shoes. Hey, I might be a creepy old man, but I am a discreet creepy old man.

Watching people dance sober is infinitely amusing. There is the old hippy guy (in reality and not costume) that just stands there and shakes his arms and legs without regard to rhythm or melody and sports the biggest smile as he laughs and enjoys the simple act of letting go to the spirit of the moment. If I were of a mobility that did not hurt, perhaps I would join him.

Fated, as it seems, that the revelry of the month must come to an end it is not what the eye of the beholder perceives. There are forces at work that can besmirch even the most sincere of feelings for the month of October ending.

Upon the closing of each game in the race for the World Championship I always had the “rest of the story” as they say. Part of my nightly routine is the checking in at my computer for emails and make sure all is right with the world as defined by the state of the posts on Facebook. On each of these occasions there were no less than fifty separate posts detailing for me, play by play, what I had just observed. As little interest as I truly have where it comes to sports, I tend to want someone telling me about it that has some realistic ability to be discerning. Basically if you have not hit a home run, or struck out, or caught a long fly ball deep in center field, I am not interested! I seek not the counsel of some out of work carpenter with too much television and not enough savvy about computer etiquette!

Halloween, while an innocuous holiday has turned into a clutter of images and practices that hold no veracity when stacked against the true meaning of the holiday. Or maybe it does and this cranky old man simply wants to complain. To tell the truth it is I that irks me.

Where I should be grateful to have “friends” on a global social network, I am critical. Where I should applause a formerly last place team even making it to the World Series, I take umbrage at those who revel in the event.

Bottom line, I am really trying to find an end to the page. Momentary ire is easy to remember and complaining on paper or print without just cause, is one of the things that I rail against. Perhaps hypocrisy is a universal malady. I will end in something that just occurred to me. During the process of taking exception to acts or episodes heralding the end of fall I got to hear my Sweet Deifiúr tell me that the tests came back and she no longer has any detectable leukemia cells in her body.

"In the words of a famous losing baseball coach “Wait ‘til next year!


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Bamboozling of the Fundamentally Flummoxed Fanatic

“Moral indignation is the last refuge of the stupid.” T. Lloyd Reilly

Is there a point where even the densest of people know when they are being stupid? There are questions circling the atmosphere above my instrument of enlightenment manufactured by Hewlett Packard similar to a pair of vultures awaiting the final demise of something not quite conclusively run over on a freeway. Which highway is that you may ask? What the questions are might also interest you.

My love of the written word aside, I am probably the “flummoxed fanatic” referenced in the title of this piece. I have attempted, here of late, to steer clear of impulsive or injurious prose that might be detrimental to the deep belief I hold hope for in the pursuit of peace and unity for all mankind…but the bastards just won’t allow it.

That my peace of mind and desire for good fortune for my fellow man has been compromised has brought us to the aforementioned questions and the thoroughfare in question. The avenue of disenchantment we speak of is the information stupor highway as transmitted through television, or the internet. The questions are of a more simple direction – who, what, where, when, and why, as well as how. The answers are not necessarily plausible in that order, so here we go.

What is this fool talking about might be the place to start. One of the late night pundits, from a cable channel that does not protect the viewer from vulgarity, has, in his infinitely ill-educated perception, decreed that the inhabitants of this planet who adhere to the teachings and preaching’s of the Prophet Mohamed are all gay. This revelation is based on a single incident in a Moslem country. The despotic leader of Libya, after many years of enforcing his morality on the citizens of his country, was recently captured and summarily beaten to death. During the commission of this atrocious yet questionably justified act, the crowd allowed someone to commit, with a wooden stick, sodomy on the dead or soon to be dead body of this tyrant. The conclusion that millions of people are to come to thanks to this broadcast guru of social conscience is that the act is a predictor of the behavior of close to one third of the world’s population.

It is a sad reality that punishments for crimes in the Moslem world are, more often than not, appallingly harsh as compared to most of the civilized world. The issue this writer has with the matter is the glorification of an abhorrent act in order to draw viewers to a show that has strayed far from the truth, and served to possibly enflame the rift between that one third of the world and the other four fifths that are tired of war and death. The same sage of the airways has preached the futility and stupidity of the wars in the Middle East while attempting to propagate the extension of the conflict in order to increase viewership.

We started wanting to know the what, and have gotten through the where. Who is simple to ascertain, and when was last week. The how are the ghastly images circumnavigating the television and YouTube. Why is because the guy probably had it coming. So there are our questions, but where do we go from here?

Now, it is no secret that I am an opponent of capital punishment. Truthfully, I am opposed to any situation where one person or persons find it acceptable to cause the death of another human being, but that is a discussion for another day.

The atrocity of war has precedent in the Moslem world as directed by the holy writings of the religion. Therein lays the problem. We are trying to fight an enemy that believes that God wants them to fight and kill the enemies of Islam. It is an act of utter stupidity to believe that you can fight a war against God. Yet we are engaged in such absurdity. Allowing, well not allowing (we do have freedom of speech, something not offered in most Moslem countries), but listening to inane rhetoric from a television celebrity and believing his ill-conceived misrepresentation of the truth diminishes the religion of those who oppose us (the Koran warns that homosexuality is not permitted). What part of God telling them to be at war is not being understood? What mindless idiocy is it to piss off the people we are fighting? Especially if it is for naught but the possible nomination and awarding of an Emmy, People’s Choice, or Golden Globe award. Winning awards, or increased market share for your program opens the gate to larger salary negotiations and more calls to your agent for concerts and other television opportunities. To hell with the effect as long as the money keeps flowing in. And we wonder why our enemies treat our greedy asses with disdain.

The true difficulty this author suffers with is the fact that I am as unreasonably liberal as this erudite idiot who reports his trash every Friday night on the channel with the most Emmy awards in recent memory. I am a self-proclaimed champion of the oppressed and adherent to the ideals of the propagation and betterment of mankind through the principles of love, acceptance, peace humility, and universal equality. What truly irks me is that reading about the crap this fool reports makes me wish he would be beaten and sodomized so that he would be cognizant of the horror he is trying to glorify. What truly enrages me is that I find myself wishing for another human being to experience the terror that made me sick to my stomach in the first place. Making the punishment befit the crime is a function for medieval societies such as most of the Moslem world, and not acceptable for one raised in the, supposedly, kindest and most compassionate country in the world. My true discomfort is that this boob has succeeded in convincing me to wish brutality on him in the same manner as I found ghastly in the first place.

I take refuge in the belief that my feelings are not facts and that just as my country is the kindest and most compassionate in the world, so too is the God of MY understanding. I must beg his forgiveness for my violent thoughts and rest secure in the faith and belief that he will forgive me. I find comfort in the reality that my God does not wish me to wage war. I am to remember that that same God who I seek clemency from, has instructed me to love and accept my fellow man…even the erudite idiots on the television who I allow to have power in my life.

My last duty today is to ask for my reader’s forgiveness. Intolerance is a sin and forcing my readers to experience it through my writing is also a sin. Please forgive me.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Irrefragably Indecorous

Looking back on the whole thing, it had to be my fault. I mean, who did I think I was fooling? I am not all that and a bag of chips. I am lucky if I could even match up to a stale half chewed saltine. In reality and to sum it all up, I’m a zero and not a hero, and a champion is what we desperately needed once we discovered that the club we just walked into definitely lived up to the name on the dark crimson marquee outside…MONSTERS!

It was also her fault. My girl, that is. She wouldn’t leave it alone. Arguing seemed to be what she really wanted to do with her life, and arguing with me seemed to give her a warm feeling all over. Hell, it was the only time she ever smiled at me. It seemed as if the mockery and disdain she threw at me was the point of, and not the substance of any discussion. She kept going on and on about the thing so much that I simply had to issue a challenge for her to come to a club to see that is wasn’t as bad as she would believe. Once agreed, it naturally fell to her to choose the club. She found one in the yellow pages that appealed to her and off we went in search of proof, or disproof, of the social relevance and aesthetic necessity for the existence of Strip Clubs. In the end she, as the rest of us, got what she deserved.

Other than the dark and gloomy motif, the joint turned out to be just another strip club. Several stages peppered the place with naked dancers while scantily clad waitresses sauntered around the place hawking overpriced drinks. As we settled in, the DJ read off a list of the performers and the fact that they worked for tips and tips alone. The names were appropriate for the venue: Christie, Heather, Baby Girl, Angeline, Fantasy, Naughty Nikki, and Cheyenne. There were a few that held a foreign inflection such as Adriana, Tatyana, Basimah, Padma, and the ever popular African American- Shaqueela.

The bouncers were numerous, extremely large, bald-headed or pony-tailed, and abundantly tattooed. The bartenders, all women, worked topless, and at what seemed like the speed of light. Every woman in the place had a tattoo just above her butt crack. If had not been for the female I brought with me, I would have felt right at home.

At first we encountered no trouble. I ordered drinks and found a table. As to be expected several dancers came to sit and attempt to coax us into the back for a “Luxury Dance.” I resisted, but only as long as it took my girl to question what happened in these private suites in the back of the club. After much discussion (albeit one sided – she talked and I listened) I agreed to go to the back with her and a rather pleasing red head called Colleen who claimed to be from County Cavan, Ireland close to the border with Northern Ireland. As it worked out, she came from Schenectady NY, the red hair was a dye job, her name turned out to be Ethel, or Mabel, and her ethnicity was American German with a touch of Greek. Who’d a thunk it?

The dance she gave was appropriately libidinous notwithstanding the inordinate amount of time she spent grinding on my girl. We sat through three or four dances and ultimately turned down the invitation for a more direct application of her licentious dexterities. Two thousand dollars proved to me a bit steep for services where I would end up simply a spectator. My girl, with each Mai Tai grew increasingly stimulated, and uninhibited. I felt that discretion was the better part of bankruptcy and attempted to leave. That is when the horror showed up.
Ethel/Mabel emitted a loud growl as would come from a wild animal. The bouncer came through the curtain separating the room from the rest of the club and snarled at us, also in a loud bestial manner. The dancer fell back on the floor and began to grunt and scream and…change

The bouncer mimicked the dancer and while they writhed on the floor we made our escape, for all the good it did us. Out in the main room of the club, the dancers and the employees were all in states of metamorphism. Some were showing fangs and translucent eyes. Some were growing hair and snarling. Others were stalking the room as zombies, grabbing customers and attempting to eat them alive. There were people being drained of their blood by vampires. The snarling gave way to roars as those transforming turned into werewolves and attacked those frozen in terror. The guys we came with were all sitting with dancers straddling them as if receiving lap dances, except they were really either being drained of their blood, or having their entrails ripped from them.

A mad dash for the door proved futile as it was locked and guarded by two huge dog-like creatures with glowing red eyes and foam coming from their mouths. Turning, we were confronted by our dancer Ethel/Mabel and several dancers. We simply stood there as they fell on us…

I am now the bar back, and my girl is dancing. Maybe someday I will get to eat fresh customers and not the leftovers. Thinking back, in retrospect, it appeared that my girl was correct; social relevance and aesthetic necessity did not provide proper justification for the existence of Strip Clubs.

Sunday, October 9, 2011


“The game does not want to be played,” I told them. We sat at spaced intervals on the huge couch in my living room. The girl and the Creep feverishly pounded the game controllers. Each hurled vulgarities at the screen before us. It did not reply, just kept flashing away while my companions desperately tried to stop from getting themselves “Killed” by the shape shifting zombies that made up the evil antagonists of the game.

I have no idea where the girl came from, or, what her name was. The Creep was my best friend, roommate, and arch nemesis in the multiverse that was gaming. Whenever I came home from the club on a Saturday night alone, he would creep (hence the nickname) out of his bedroom and demand the controller to the video game. Upon receiving it, he would launch into a tirade of abuses on the state of my complete incompetence as a Lothario, and absolute cowardice as it applies to video games. I would inevitably snatch the gauntlet he threw down, and we would find ourselves locked in mortal cyber-combat, most of the time until the sun rose the next day.
This night we had a damsel in distress to enliven a game we had, quite frankly, begun to find boring. It brought a new dynamic to our crusade against the dastardly undead adversaries. Neither of us could remember meeting her, or why she showed up at our front door that night. She stood on the porch dressed as if she had come from the club, or some club, in a tight short denim skirt, delightfully low cut strapped blouse, and four inch pumps. Being red blooded American idiots where it came to miniskirts and cleavage, we could not find a good reason to argue when she pushed her way into the house. It seemed as if she knew us and we figured one of us might get lucky. She walked to the couch, slipped off her pumps, folded her legs under her, took up the controller and began shooting zombies.

Under normal circumstances we would have been in heaven, but what happened was anything but the Great Reward. The girl proved to be anything but a damsel in distress. We discovered that she was quite vicious in her method, and deadly in her execution. After a while, the game began to consume us in ways it had never before. Our level of intensity grew with each push of the button and the bloodshed on the screen far surpassed any which the Creep and I had seen. The girl complained that the game moved too slowly, and the Creep started screaming that his controller was faulty. The screen began to distort and we could not distinguish between the game characters and ourselves. The girl shouted at me to fix it and the only thing I could think to say, was the nonsense about the game not wanting to be played.
In self-defense, I rebooted the game. When the screen characters reappeared there seemed to be a luminance that was not, or so I thought, possible from the ten year old television I sat before. The colors were much more distinct, and the sound felt as if it came from the room instead of the speakers in the box. The action resumed and rose to an even more intense level than before. The zombies swarmed at us and died slower. We found ourselves nearly surrounded before retreating. A huge snarl filled the room and the biggest monster on the screen suddenly thrust its head at us and it came right out of the screen and began drooling on the coffee table. We all fired at once. The head exploded before us into pieces of putrid flesh which showered the room with the largest chunk landing on the coffee table in front of us. It lay there throbbing and smelling of spoiled food. We stopped and gawked at the rotten goop, helpless and frozen in our fear.

The girl dropped her controller…reached down…picked the repulsive heap up…and began eating it!

The creep and I instantly turned away and began blowing chunks of our own. We looked back and found her crawling around the room scooping up the other pieces and devouring them as fast as she could. We both backed away over the back of the couch until we were standing. Instead of running we just stared at her while she finished her dreadful meal and turned to us. Her face had taken that look that we were used to seeing on the screen in the game. Her eyes had strange slant to them with pupils as white as snow and what should have been the whites of her eyes were road mapped in deep crimson. Bloody slobber dribbled from her mouth, and large sores began to appear on her face. She stood and came at us with a halting gait. Reaching the couch she flung it out of the way as if it weighed nothing.

I instantly bolted for the door and, as I looked back, she took ahold of the Creep and bit a huge hole in his skull. I left the apartment and never went back. I went to my mother’s house and stayed for a week. There were no reports on the news. The police never came by. It confused me greatly. I ultimately went back to see what happened. I met the Creep, looking normal, at the mail box and he asked me where I had been. He acted as if nothing had happened. He did tell me that the girl had slipped something in our drinks, but that it was just some acid. He said that the two of them had partied until the drug wore off, and had been hanging out ever since.

I told him what I saw, or thought I saw, and he laughed it off as the dope playing games on me. He told me to come upstairs and it would be all right. In the apartment, the girl sat at the kitchen table checking her e-mail on the laptop. She apologized for the thing with the acid in the drink and promised it wouldn’t happen again. I told them that the zombie game had to go and they agreed. We ordered a pizza and sat back to play a more subdued game with warriors and wizards and real damsels in distress.

After a while a knock on the door told us that the pizza had arrived. She got up to go and get it. I delved into the game and paid little attention to the transaction at the door. I called back to ask for a soda and heard a ghastly grunt like reply. I turned to the Creep only to find his eyes were a weird glowing white, and drool was coming down his chin. The girl came around the couch with a meat cleaver in her hand. As it descended into the hand I had laid on the coffee table, she laughed a horrible croaking cackle and said, “Welcome home!”

Friday, October 7, 2011

Demoniacal Druthers

“Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”
Benjamin Franklin

What I would like to ascertain is how it is not wrong for someone to compare the President of the United States to the worst mass murderer in history. There is a lot of talk in the Domain of Evil (AKA the news media) focusing on the verbiage used by the rich and famous when being interviewed. I am of two opinions on this topic:

1. If you are a person of note, particularly one who has been interviewed before, then you should have enough sense to say something interesting and not leave the minions of the Domain of Evil with the opportunity to ruin your career because you spoke what you thought instead of what was politically correct.

2. If you are too drunk or dimwitted to realize when you are about to hit a metaphorical brick wall where it comes to your career, then you get what you deserve.
Now this piece is driven by a recent statement by a famous country and western singer, one whose music I admire greatly, who managed to stammer himself into the rather precarious position of finding a way to express regret over some words spouted in an interview about our current serving president.

Well the Constitution guarantees us the right to speak in any fashion we elect. It is a most perilous lake in which to swim. Gone are the days when idiosyncratic rhetoric was dismissed as a by-product of pure unabashed rugged individualism. Today that don’t-care-you-can–kiss-my-ass attitude has been replaced with the oh-shit-I-just-put-my-foot-in-my-mouth-again school of celebrity. I’ve always like the rugged individualists that peppered our population of the celebrated. Iggy Pop always spoke to my soul at some level. Woody Guthrie’s was a giant of a hero, and the ultimate rascal where it comes to alternative viewpoints, Frank Zappa, was correct when he admonished us not to eat the Yellow Snow.

I live what some may consider a rather subdued life. I no longer charge up mountains chasing real or imagined social injustices in order to bludgeon them into submission. I restrict myself to launching vulgarity at the television or the computer screen and taking it out on my faithful readers (oh by the way, I haven’t read too many, or any, comments on the blog for a long time?). The closest I have come to the pseudo-radical I once was (I did join the military when everyone else marched on Washington to protest the Vietnam War) is standing on the courthouse square one frigid winter morning a few years ago to protest the War in Iraq. As I recall, my hip began to hurt and I retreated to the comfort of IHOP with a lady carrying a poster that decried the intelligence of the then serving president. We had spent about an hour in the cold, and the ensuing relationship lasted only until I shared about having once voted for a Republican. Love is most assuredly as fickle as its reputation suggests.

What irks me specifically about this situation is the response I have read in the social networking world I participate in. This situation has been everywhere in the Cyber Cosmos. There is some feeling where it comes to these mediums that it is a necessity to spread ignorance and intolerance. I usually defriend those who hold political beliefs I find repugnant, after politely asking them to cease. Well, I had occasion to have to do this with a friend of mine a while back. This gentleman is a good guy who feels it is his duty to spread a political agenda of ignorance and loathing most similar to that held by the Republican Party. I make no apology to anyone for my insolence and regrettable intolerance. They are wrong and I am right (oh! no! say it isn’t so!). This fellow has a cabal of Facebookers who adhere to his dogma and I have also de-friended them, one after I corrected for grammar a post decrying me as an “Ignorant Twit.”

Well this is America, and this “Ignorant Twit” has the right to believe my foes to also be unschooled while I get to stand tall as the erudite idiot I am. That is the beauty of the rights we enjoy.

What give me pause is that those inalienable rights do not seem to hold the same panache as in times gone by. Today our once beloved flamboyance has been imprisoned by clumsiness when we speak. The élan of former days has surrendered to the awkwardness of attempting to second guess the microphone in front of you. What a shame.

I did not like what my “Whiskey Bent and Hell Bound” friend had to say, but he should not catch trouble for it. You shouldn’t have apologized Hank. You should not have had to. You may be wrong, but you have the right to be wrong. God knows I am much of the time.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Twelve Hours

As discovered in a prior piece, I have found that first, the art of writing has little to do with the act of writing and second, the ends mostly justify the means. Not wishing to dwell in the realm of cliché, I am working this evening with the reality that I must report on what is there as opposed to what I would prefer. I have found muse and it is of a less then splendid event. As you, my faithful readers know, I am in love with words. I love them, play with them, search meaning in them, manipulate them, and bask in their very glow. I am so enamored of them that I will give up comfort and security to read them and write them. It is, to me, almost (remember that word…almost) as fulfilling as being in love.

I have long held that there are no evil words, only immoral uses for them. If I read something (or write) that is of a negative viewpoint it is purely and simply the result of words that have to be used. I live in a world of acceptance and respond as needed. That is, until this last Friday at 7:54 PM. I received a telephone call from my Sweet Deifiúr, Paula, in which she was put in a place to use three words that I realize are both evil and hateful. For the first time in my life, I have discovered words that I find detestable, despicable, repugnant, and totally vile.

“I have leukemia.”

I have spoken many times about this wonderful woman. She is the boulder which makes up the foundation in my life. Yes, there is God, and there is the miracle of recovery which bolsters me in many ways, but when the rubber hits the road my sister is where I go to when things go wrong. She is responsible for much of what I have become. My name, which I am so proud of, came from her. When I was small she protected me. She has cheered me those few times where I have experienced success in life, and helped me cry when things were not well. She not only reads every word I write, but looks forward to it. The first time she was able to walk into a bookstore and purchase a book with my writing in it she called me at work to let me know. She was so excited to show her friends that book that she made me sign it as if I were Hemingway or Steinbeck. She passed it around the house at a holiday dinner showing my signature and telling everyone “This will be worth a lot of money someday!” If I never make another penny writing, that memory tells me that I am a writer of import. Anything that is important to her, you better damn well believe, is important.

On that dreadful night that she had to call me to inform me that our màthair had went to live with Jesus and His Mother, I was driving home, in the rain, from picking up a pizza. In the aftermath of that event I shared with her the absurdity of attempting to drive while I wept uncontrollably. When she called me the other night, the first question was whether I was home and not in my truck. Even with the news she had been given, she worried more about me then herself.

My first reaction was an emptiness and hollow feeling. I told her that I had to think about it and would call her the next day. I am a delayed reaction type of person. News, bad or good, always takes a while to sink in. This time it took twelve hours. I watched my usual Friday night shows and went to bed only to lay there awake and distraught. My mind did not race as it was likely to do. I just kept repeating, both aloud and in my head, those three appalling words. Perhaps if I repeated them enough they would prove false. This thought came to me without regard to the fact that she doesn’t lie to me.

I will not readily surrender to the idea that I had started the grieving process. I do recall that I told God that he should give that dreaded ailment to me instead of her. I questioned the fairness of it happening. I chose to demand solution from Him instead of asking for grace for myself and my sister. I received the same result as when I’ve used this tactic before…nothing. Absent a viable solution to my predicament, I lay there and cried.

I thought of writing this piece, and realized that I had no muse. I laid in bed all night and well into the next morning. When I called her it seemed surreal. It still seems surreal. She told me to write about it. Not, I think, for any other reason that she understands the calming effect writing gives me. Once more, in the face of a potentially lethal disease, she thought of me before herself.
What I find most distressing is my selfishness. I am fixated on what is going to happen to me. How am I going to go on if I possibly lose her? I look at some of the words I used earlier in this piece and can only attribute them to me. Detestable, despicable, repugnant, and totally vile is how I am feeling. I do not deserve her, and she most definitely deserves better then she has gotten from her kid brother.

I know that there are many treatments and that many people survive the malady. My sister is a strong person who takes care of herself, and I am confident that she can certainly be one of those people. I am not a fatalistic person and have and will pray for the best. I will also pray for the knowledge to cease being such a selfish bastard, and how to be a better brother. This time I believe I will approach God differently. My Sweet Deifiúr would not ever speak to the Almighty like I do when I am upset. She would ask nicely, and with reverence. Please God, keep her safe and let me be the brother she deserves.


Sunday, September 11, 2011

Nearly Notorious

One of the advantages of expressing feelings through the written word is that there is no rhyme or reason that can be assigned to your muse. Watching the electronic God that sits upon a table across the room from the big fluffy chair that cuddles me in my Sanctum Sanctorum, I found the urge to remind the World Wide Web that I am still in existence. It is close to that time when senior citizens such as me are realistically assumed to be preparing to enter the embrace of Morpheus and his minions.

The program on the tube is a representation of life as it existed when this scribe was but a wee lad in his twenties. Well, to tell the truth, I have never fit the description of “Wee” but I certainly lived, endured, and fondly remember the late sixties and most of the seventies. Life was decidedly and definitively different than current calendar dates. The program had been previously viewed several times and I really thought I was simply killing time before bed. Now I am sitting at the keyboard listening to the Fab Four and wanting to write about this girl I once knew from West Babylon, NY. I have mentioned her before and, unfortunately, have not been able to access her name from the rapidly deteriorating hard drive between my ears. I can, fortuitously, rescue a memory of her eyes.

We met while we were gainfully employed as taxi drivers. The money was terrible and the hour’s even worse, but it sufficed to pay a weekly rent and allowed for enough to enable the noble search all young men required in their quest for female companionship and whatever mind altering, mood changing substance essential to the discovery of true love.

The particular advantage to my spirit that this particular lady offered is that there was no need to wander the pubs and beaches in the execution of the marvelous mission. We got off at about 11:00 pm and the world was, literally, before us to unearth. Pub crawling was not necessary, and quite cumbersome to us as we crossed the threshold into the adventure of discerning if either of us might just be, THE ONE AND ONLY.

We would ride across the bridge across the Great South Bay and park out by the beach. We would lie on the hood of her car while watching the sky and the surf. We would talk about grand ideals, and listen to the FM station playing love songs. We would look deep into each other’s eyes before we embraced. We promised to wait for the gift of intimacy until there was no doubt that we had, in fact, uncovered THE ONE AND ONLY.

This pausing in the exercise of release that most young people in that period served as both a blessing, and a decided disadvantage. This was not something my Neanderthal mentality was properly adept at. I have visions of cavemen and the lack of romance required back in those days. I realize this is a racial memory, but in my misspent youth I was not the judicious and perceptive intellect you have all come to love and submit your time to. Today I can listen to “Here comes the Sun” by the Fab Four and reminisce of the women in my life I have loved. Back in the day, it was much more “Paradise by the Dashboard Lights” by Meatloaf. So why agree to this absurd abstinence?

It was her eyes.

I would look in them and feel safe. I would wonder why the only thing I really wanted to do was see the shine in those sky blue near translucent orbs lit by the moonlight bouncing off the water, and hear her soft voice telling me things I had never heard before. I never found an answer to my speculation.

It seemed as if God had sent an angel to me. She would smile and tell me goodnight when she dropped me off and my heart would ache until I got to work the next day. Then, right at about 11:05, Shangri La would once more open its gates and the rest of reality would evaporate in the face of the magnificent creature that God had allowed me to hang with.

The memory is still breathtaking, and it comes to me from time to time to, I believe, remind me that I am alive. There is much in life currently that is ugly, unpleasant, and foul. One thing that is not revolting is the memory of a love lost in time.

The reality of the time proved not as splendid as the memory. Summer turned into fall, and then winter. It became too cold to sit out by the beach unless we were extremely inebriated. An old boyfriend of hers moved back to town and wanted to rekindle old times. I picked up a decidedly exotic girl in my cab one night and discovered that adorable eyes existed in other woman. We drifted apart and marched on our individual ways. We never did discover the wonders of the flesh, but that was fine. Like I said…it was her eyes.

I love my eyes when u look into them;
I love my name when u say it;
I love my heart when u luv it;
I love my life when you are in it.
You know who you are.