Thursday, June 30, 2011

"...the true nature of your existance.. not such and easy task."

By coincidence a "conversation" erupted on Facebook yesterday concerning the likelihood of a god, and one person's insistence on the presence of one, or many, or that each individual is part of a celestial godhood.  Facebook is quite possibly among the worst places for this type of thing but I was not about to allow atheism to be entirely misrepresented by a believer.  This particular Facebooker was a self-proclaimed adherent to many, many disciplines, all of which he melded together in an incongruous blend of cosmic assertions. Proof of god if there ever was...

Here is an example:

(click-on for best results)

I don't know what I was hoping to disprove.  "Conversations" on Facebook often end this way, with abbreviated resignation and hopeless surrender.  I think it perfectly fitting and appropriate that they are referred to as "threads." A thread is used in sewing but on its own it is somewhat incomplete, easily broken and does not function as fabric.  Well, that's the gist of it anyway...

I really don't know why I get involved in this sort of thing.  There is some trigger inside of me that takes me from casual browsing of Facebook to my involvement in all manner of lunacy; truncated and telescoped quasi-debate.  Then somebody will use the fantasy word "unlogical" and I can't help myself.  I feverishly check my phone to see what new words will get created in this outpouring of religious belief, this moment of extraterrestrial creation, this linguistic birthing of universal worlds.

Ok, I went back and read even more and have to post it.  This is among the most bizarre collections of beliefs that I've ever been witness to:

(click-on for best results)

I'll stop.  It is too much for me.  "Your" probably tiring of it also.

I have a sickness, atheism is perhaps but a ghost symptom.  The thing that I find so unexpectedly funny about atheism is that ultimately it is a disbelief in man, not god.  Once you can accept that belief systems are uniquely man-made, that they arise and then flourish at certain points in man's history, out of need, developed over time, then it is simply a denial of that creation.  Atheism is merely a rejection of man's collective fear and accepted ignorance. God has very little at all to do with it, other than being the main talking point from one side of the debate.  

In other modes of thought a premise that is found to be faulty is discarded.  We no longer believe the earth to be flat because we have made other discoveries concerning it.  But the older a religion is, no matter how absurd and twisted, the more credence people will likely give it.  Judaism is a famous example. The Red Sea was never parted, Jonah did not sleep in the belly of a fish for 3 days, there were no giants named Goliath, bears don't maul 42 children to death at god's command for making fun of Elijah being bald, god does not kill people for masturbating, donkeys don't talk, and on and on and on.

Oh wait, there's more.... god tries to kill Moses because his son's not circumcised.  

He has the power to have children magically mauled by surprise attack bears but he's not able to take Moses down for having not sliced off part of his son's penis. Don't worry though, Moses's wife quickly does the job then throws the discarded flesh at Moses's feet, prompting god to quickly walk away.  

Sensible.  It's what I would have done also. 

If anybody can read the entire old testament and still believe any portion of the judeo-christian myth then you will be gladly received in heaven and spend eternity in blissful harmony with your creator.  

But it's not just this biblical blathering, it's from all sides.  Each of the religions has these absurd tales, some worse than others.  But what do I know?  I'm just a "spiritual light being" trying to make some sense of it all.

I fluctuated back and forth for several years, wanting to find some belief system that did not sound hysterically ill informed, but there really isn't much of one out there. I needed a replacement for christianity, or the feelings that christianity gave me as a youth.  I wanted some celestial comfort there in the darkness.  None came.  Not mother nature (pictured above), not pantheism, not even agnosticism sat very easily on me for long.  

Then in the last few years it's finally dawned on me... I'm an atheist.  I don't believe in any spiritual or religious doctrine but I also don't deny the benefit of faith to believers.  I have witnessed the rewarding feelings that arise from yoga and I don't deny the possibility of order in the universe. In fact, I still very much believe there is order in the universe. I just don't assign this recognition to deist sources. I simply don't have patience any longer for spiritual whimpering and gibberish from my fellow mankind.  Too much damage has been done to the heart of man with it. 

Oh christ almighty... I took a break from writing this post and just went and read Selavy's post from this morning... He is right of course.

I will stop here.  It is more than enough wisdom for a lifetime.  

"But I must not allow myself to forget that drifting, bored look in her eye and hearing my voice coming at me from all sides like talking in an empty room or seashell. " - Selavy


Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Cloisters

A friend of this site asked me in private a few days ago what I believe about god.  My response was, "More and more I believe less and less."  I was raised as a christian, a catholic.  My father is Irish.   Though he never exhibited any strong discernible religious bearings when I was growing up I see now that he privately harbored the catholic impulse.

I begrudge nobody their set of religious tendencies and I can see how believing in a god helps some people through difficult times. I believe there have been studies that show that faith is a healthy behavior.  I am glad the church is there for those who wish it to be there. For the most part the church seems to be a harmless social event.

Though we all know that it was not always this way.  

I suppose it depends on what level you look at it.  A grandmother taking joy and pride in participating in her community is a touching thing, it gives her life meaning and purpose where it might otherwise lack. 

The church's rapacious pillaging of 3rd world economies is quite another.

Faith might be healthy, but I avoid many healthy behaviors.  I am an atheist, though I came to this through simply retiring from christianity.  I am perhaps the least devout atheist you will find.  Mostly it is because I don't care. The question of god is and always has been beyond humanity's sphere of knowledge.  Some might say that this makes me an agnostic, but once you admit that then the christians around you will never leave you alone. They figure that you're on the fence and there is still a chance to save your mortal soul. 

It seems self-evident to me that religion is an exclusively man-made construct and as such I have found several other constructs that I prefer.  Art, literature and science highest among them.  But what of religious art? For the most part it only interests me in that it made possible the development of modern artists as we know them.  It created the environment in which artists could practice their trade and later it gave them something substantial to rebel against.

When I was younger and more impressionable I became involved in an enthusiastic church. I believe the term used now is "evangelical."  It was our task to save lost souls and we would do so wherever we could.  It gave my life a sense of meaning and it did yield one lifelong friend, who has also subsequently slid into the greedy hands of the dark lord.  She is a yoga instructor.  I think back to how our little church group would frown on such quasi-demonic impulses. 

I mean, she's not out there hunting unicorns or anything, but she professes adherence to a doctrine outside of the sacred central text of christianity...

I have included many pictures above and below to give you an idea of how bizarre religious art can be. Let them take your imagination back to a time when unicorns were hunted into extinction and art was filled with many symbols and allegories.  I find this stuff fascinating to look at.  

Once when I was in Ghent, Belgium I took a tour of the Gravensteen castle.  There was a torture chamber there.  One can not really grasp the barbarity of such a place until you can get an up close look at the devices and procedures for extracting proclamations of faith from the iniquitous unbelieving. The success of Christianity through the dark and middle ages is an unrestrained triumph of intolerance. 

Here is a unicorn in captivity.  This picture seems quite peaceful, but I assure you if that godless fucker gets out of that pen he will be raping the village children in a matter of seconds. If good christians can not come together to rid the world of dragons and unicorns then imagine the world we would live in... groups of religious believers would be free to wander the world, defiling at will. 

Just look at the little glowing child-like faces of the piously god-filled...

You can't blame them for appearing a little hard-hearted. Notice the directing fatherly hand on their youthful little heads, and the sheer convenience of their kneeling height, their submissive postures, preparing to receive the sword of the lord.

But don't worry, I'm sure they were only using the priest to get to god.... sucking up to him, as they say.

Christ returned to Jerusalem riding a Donkey on Palm Sunday.  A fitting fable.  The proper name for the day is Donkey Palm.  Many believers do not know this, or believe it.  A donkey, when used in this way, is an animal of peace. 

This special donkey function can be witnessed in many border towns along the Mexican-US perimeter.

Ok, I am just kidding around, being sacrilegious.  I took all of these pictures yesterday at The Cloisters and didn't quite know what to do with all of them.  

I hadn't suspected this post would end with old Father Fellatio and Donkey Dong.

Let this last image of maternal love calm thee and refresh thy humbled spirit.  Mother and child, life's receptacle and womb.... the nutritive role of the earth, our redemption from impurity and death, the very symbol of the erotic nature of life, the harmony of opposites.  


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Dial M for Murder

We went and saw the Hitchcock classic yesterday, in its original 3D, at Film Forum.  It is one of the things I'll miss about NYC, Film Forum.  Rachel and I have made a bucket list. We're going to do some of the things we never did while we've lived here, or things we have done that became our favorites along the way. Today it's The Cloisters and then dinner tonight at Il Buco. The first of which we have never done the second we have. 

Dial M had a few scenes that were designed for, and made much more funny by, the 3D process.  It was a minor eye opener for me.  3D at the time this film was made was in its primitive form. There literally are 3 layers of depth. All things exist on the same plane in either the foreground, the mid-ground, or the background. There is no sense of continuous depth the way that there is in animated 3D features now.  

Grace Kelly was good but the movie centers around Ray Milland's character.  His devious and plotting wit, which ultimately fails him, though only by chance.  Grace Kelly does well as the unfaithful victim. As with most of Hitchcock's films her best scene is the attempted murder scene.  It is all true, the things they say about Hitchcock, the blondes, of course.  No other filmmaker exhibits the "reverence to rape" theme greater or with more impact and urgency. 

Ok, out of time already today, shopping for houses in Sonoma online.... pray for us.


Monday, June 27, 2011

happily ever after...

(Melvin Sokolsky)

A thing occurred to me yesterday.  Consider how many same-sex relationships this new law in New York will destroy. There must be couples out there that have always maintained that they would get married if they only could and that they're not going to go to Connecticut to do so, that they should be able to do so in their own state.  Then the law changes... followed by the uncomfortable conversation of, Well, we don't have to run out and do it right away...  I'm not sure if I ever really want to get married.... Yes, it's nice for those who want that and fought for it, but I don't  need my life to imitate a straight couple.

Oh, the agonizing painful silences that follow, the arguments. The disappointments. The bitter tears.

I don't wish pain on anybody. But the unintended outcome of this law will be some re-negotiating among certain couples. It will force a new understanding upon them whether they wanted it or not. There is so much pain and uncertainty to endure in life as it is. The question of marriage is now forced upon many who might not have wished for it, and perhaps at some late date into the relationship. Imagine those who have lived as a married couple for years but without the legal obligations.  At some point that advantage must have occurred to one of them, if not both, for better or for worse.

Breaking up will become a much more complicated affair now. There will be much more to consider.

I am very pro civil liberties and a believer in the legal need for equality.  I believe that it is a noble endeavor for any society. Marriage is a legal arrangement that should not be denied to these people based on their sexual orientation.  I found that almost all of the arguments against same-sex marriage were faith based. An argument which should immediately be taken out of consideration except as their religious doctrines and causes can be advanced through democracy and the voting process. But it has no place in the creation or interpretation of law, either state or federal.  See: Amendment 1 to The Constitution.

The secular arguments against it avoided the concept of equal rights altogether and tended to focus on the history and definition of marriage as an argument against its change.  Or, that it is merely a tax break for those who are likely to produce children, a sort of governmental form of population growth promotion. One writer even went so far as to argue that the justification for denying individuals in same-sex relationships the benefits of marriage is the same as denying polygamists the right to exercise their enthusiastic brand of population promotion.  But very few of the secular writers I read touched upon equality as a reason for granting them the legals rights they deserve. They simply asserted that they were not being denied equality in any meaningful way.  Which is absurd when one considers things like insurance, inheritance and security of shared property.

So, it will make for some interesting stories, I'm sure. I work in a place where there are many people involved in same-sex relationships, or hope to be.  I hear a fair amount about the difficulties of these situations and the unique struggles to be had there.  As always I am interested in the stories there are to be told, though not as much in the ones that end in happily ever after...

"Marriage: a friendship that is recognized by the police." - Robert Louis Stevenson

(Melvin Sokolsky)


Sunday, June 26, 2011

Ave.C of Forgotten Dreams

This was a wall photo made by a New Yorker 32,000 seconds ago. A tenement building fell and closed off the entrance to the avenue where it remained undisturbed for another 20,000 seconds.  This artist with the crooked finger made several other Ave. C photos.  It was easy to recognize them because they were all done with an iPhone 3GS. 

We sat and looked at these strange dreams, speaking to us from across the millennia, uttering their silent stone incantations...

Holy Crap! I just went to Rotten Tomatoes and saw that Herzog's film got a 96% rating.  The images were good, the dialogue and interviews were mostly abysmal.  The film could have only been half the length and it would have been better. There was far too much weird filler in this documentary just to get it to feature length.

I don't have anything to write about today.  I know this and soon you will too.

Ok, I was going to go on and prove my point, but I concede defeat.

Well, Selavy is sick, very sick.  My church group has been having a prayer vigil for him.


Saturday, June 25, 2011

Happily Married, NY

Last night New York voted to allow same-sex marriage.  

I think back to some of my friends from youth who are probably enraged and also convinced that this signals the end of western culture.  In some ways it does. The open acceptance of homosexuality tends to occur in the late phases of an empire's arc.  Though this became less and less true after the Christian and Islamic empires emerged as they had central texts by which they were morally guided and bound to, texts which denounce homosexuality as a sin.  For better or worse, some might say, the Assyrians, Greeks, Romans, and the pre-Islamic Persian empire tended towards sexual openness in society mostly during their waning phases. 

That homosexuality has always been under complete societal oppression is an historical falsehood unsupported by fact. Many have fought for it and created it at various times in history. Some societies did not even require this struggle. It simply became openly accepted once the societies had achieved a certain level of self-assurance, wealth and centralized political power, as it did in the Greek and Roman empires. 

It is easy to say that the western empire (if it can even be called that) differs because it was established partially on the very premise of human rights and equality. But that forgets that none of the individuals or groups fought for (or mentioned) this particular aspect of equality during those many years of inception.  It is a late addition to the concept.  In fact, many of the original framers of these concepts argued only for equality among men. Though there were those who included women in the premise also, and still others who used the term "man" to denote all of humanity. A term which still serves that purpose when used in that way.  Though many might disagree.

Yes, it was mostly white men who initially fought for and developed the concepts of equality before the law and human rights.  Though it has been a broad spectrum of ethnic and religious groups, and those of diverse sexual orientation, who have fought the ideas through to continued fruition.  This perhaps partially explains now why it is a passe' concept somewhat, or one that is vaguely ridiculed when discussed.  It seems to either align the speaker with an ideology or an oppressed struggle.  The assumption is that white men embracing either is done so out of a combination of that same ideology or guilt, or both.  Easy targets.

Many of the left-leaning liberals I know seem to feel that it is a battle that has been won and there is no need to continue fighting towards its completion.  As if the juggernaut of liberalism is one that can not be stopped, or has accomplished all that it can and it is pointless to continue in.  But much like modernism it is something that only finds periods and places where it can flourish.  It is not a universal value and one that exists beyond the constraints of politics and power.  It is instead enabled exclusively by those politics and that power.  

So, I have mixed feelings.  I am pleased for those who can now enjoy the same privileges that I can but also recognize the many various indications of a waning culture.  It is an odd position to be in. To recognize the value of the thing that perhaps indicates a collapse, though to see it as a victory rather than a potentially larger failure.  The fluctuation between the triumph of the individual and the sliding of the center, and the whole, towards its historical fortunes.  

I am happy for those that I know who can and will enjoy this new liberty granted to them after years of long struggle and perpetual denial.  To be able to enjoy the rights that have been denied them and to establish the legal grounds by which they can share both the struggle and benefits of life together. It is a victory for all of those who believe in the equality of enjoyments under the law and individual human rights.  The law is but one force that keeps us from barbarity, servility and arrogant oppression.  


Cafe Selavy wrote this morning:  "I have a feeling, though, that I would like to explain things.  A life is never what it seems to be.  The underlying motives for an action is the story, not the action itself.  At bottom, we are all fools and simps stumbling about, bumping our noses in the dark, driven by partial understanding and ignorance. "

All true. 

But in that darkness there is also impulse and pleasure. We construct a partial vision of the world there.  Always in pieces we pursue or deny, always alone.


Friday, June 24, 2011

What happens in Vegas?

I went out drinking last night. A friend was in town from Las Vegas with his girlfriend.  They were at a local bar.  I thought to myself: harmless

It is all that I remember.  

My wife woke me up on the couch this morning. It was 6am.  

I had neither pissed nor feced myself but have no recollection of how I got there. I felt like I had a mouthful of cat litter.

I was waiting by the the bathroom door at the bar.  I farted.  I swear this has never happened before (not the fart, but the next part)... It smelled of vitamins.  I've had vitamin burps before, but never a vitamin fart.

Sometimes I will pretend that by breaking a slice of cheese in two it reduces the total calories.  

I thought there was some rule about having to stay in Vegas. 


Thursday, June 23, 2011

The dog star is closing in.

The coming of the dog days.  We are all waiting, waiting for a thing that can hardly be escaped.  The warm skies are lowering, bringing with them the layers of sticky water vapor.  Sweat refuses to evaporate. It just sits across the skin, collecting unwanted atmosphere.

Even the dog park seems sullen and oppressed.  Dogs will just watch the ball roll away under the benches, disinterested.  Tongues hung out in surrender and defeat.  It is like a prison yard.  

Barkley scarcely wants to walk.  It brings him very little pleasure.  His greatest joy is returning home, running up the stairs to get back inside.  His hair sticks to my hands every time I touch him.  

I imagine mold developing deep in my camera lenses.  I see it growing there in the darkness of my mind. I wonder if there are other things I should be seeing there in the recessed darkness.

There must be other things to consider.  
Perhaps in the relief of autumn those other things will come to me.


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

the race

the race

it is like this
when you slip down,
done like a wound-up victrola
(you remember those?)
and you go downtown
and watch the boys punch
but the big blondes sit with
someone else
and you've aged like a punk in a movie:
cigar in skull, fat gut,
but only no money,
no wiseness of way, no worldliness,
but as usual
most of the fights are bad,
and afterwards
back in the parking lot
you sit and watch them go,
light the last cigar,
and then start the old car,
old car, not so young man
going down the street
stopped by a red light
as if time were no problem,
and they come up to you:
a car full of young,
and you watch them go
somebody behind you honks
and you are shaken back
into what is left
of your life.
pitiful, self-pity,
and your foot is to the floor
and you catch the young ones,
you pass the young ones
and holding the wheel like all love gone
you race to the beach
with them
brandishing your cigar and your steel,
you will take them to the ocean
to the last mermaid,
seaweed and shark, merry whale,
end of flesh and hour and horror,
and finally they stop
and you go on
toward your ocean,
the cigar biting your lips
the way love used to.

-Charles Bukowski


Just Stars

I finished reading "Just Kids" by Patti Smith.  It was a good and easy read, a time in New York to which I am drawn. The rock, art and writing of that decade (the late 60's and 70's) still has a lasting effect on me.  I used to sometimes get a copy of The Village Voice when I was young and I would scour through the pages to see what was going on in New York, who was playing at CBGBs, thinking it to be the center of all possible universes.  This continued all the way up until the 90's when I developed further interests, in other places, other types of music.

The story that Patti tells is partially a convenient falsehood, but a charming one.  It is as if she never met an ordinary person in her life outside of her family. She goes out of her way to tell us that after a specific incident with Robert Mapplethorpe she goes to get a sandwich and on that day she meets Allen Ginsberg, who gives her a dime thinking that she was a very pretty boy.  Ginsberg plays no further role in the story, it was just a perfect time to tell the audience that she had met him under funny circumstances. Her encounters with Jim Carroll, Sam Shepard, Todd Rundgren, William Burroughs, and every other celebrity are told in the same manner. As if they're the only people that she ever met and it was always a coincidence, and also on the same day that some other memorable thing happened with another celebrity.  She tells an elaborate story about being asked out to dinner by Sam Shepard and not knowing it was him.

For somebody who has their eye so keenly fixed on celebrity it is difficult to believe her. 

Poetic license, I believe it is called. 

Bullshit, also.  I pity anybody in her world that might have had a profound effect on her life that did not subsequently become, or already arrive, famous.  They would have been left out of her reminisces altogether, coincidentally.  But it was still a good read, even if her attempts to convince the world of her reluctance towards rock success start to sound as if she's just trying to convince herself of greater unused talents.  I mean, she has talent, lots of it.  The book is very well written, thoughtful, beautiful, and even heartbreaking at points. 

She acts as if she was never really interested in being a rock star either, and didn't even know that it was going to happen, much less really wanted it to. But was rather an odd by-product of her pursuit of poetry. Perhaps this is a partial truth.  But albums like "Horses" don't just magically appear in front of people that don't want to be rock-n-roll performers.  It is a great rock-poetry performance and one that did not happen by accident, but rather by very specific design. 

But just like a kid she tells tales and takes joy in telling them.  One can't really fault her too much for it.  It was a dynamic life and one worth reading about.  It was a look back into a time and place that I so wanted to participate in, but only got glimpses.  

Well, this is my book review of "Just Kids" by Patti Smith.  It won the National Book Award, which is only given out to the Nobel Prize Winners of Literature, Astronauts, Popes and Saints.  Patti Smith is all of those.  No, wait, maybe that's Laurie Anderson.


I can't even write about something that I liked without being critical of it.  I need to practice civility and benevolence.  They say that you get better at that which you do more.

So: I really, really liked it.  You should like it too.  Liking things is healthy.  If Christ were on Facebook I would absolutely adore him.  I can see it now... "like" not, lest ye be liked.

I still haven't gotten my mind back in full yet.  I don't even know where the christ/herpes/fountain came from earlier this morning.  I tried to tell a sweet story about a place of tender memories. Before I knew it I was screaming bloodshot kamikaze daydreams.

Christ compels me.


Sodom at the healing waters

This place has special significance for my wife and I.  Though I'm confident that it also holds special significance for many both here in New York and elsewhere.

We were watching a documentary series on New York recently and it chronicled the creation of Central Park.  There were shots documenting the building of the fountain and the surrounding area.  There were details about the cost of labor and the tough economic times. The park is one of the great achievements in urban planning foresight.  Very few other major cities have anything that even compares to Central Park. Or if they do then the surrounding city holds very little comparison.  It is like nothing else, it is a triumph of urban restraint.

There is a place called The Boathouse not far from here.  When Rachel and I returned from our first real trip together we went there and sat and drank wine. It was there that we decided that she would come to New York to live with me.  We had just gotten back from a week in Costa Rica.  It was the week that we fell in love.

The sculpture on top of the fountain was the first major public commission ever  granted to a woman in NYC.  It is an angel, I guess.  I always imagined angels to be more flight-ready, but what do I know of such things... the wings have a very feathered-pterodactyl form to them. As if an angel, through celestial inter-species mating, took on the partial form of a bronze bat and a steel dove.  After many years it is still perhaps rabid and to be avoided.

The surrounding area is called Bethesda Terrace, named after the healing pool of Bethesda from the Christian myth, according to Garp.  Ok, no more of that talk.  People have been praying for me lately... It is not nice to be ungrateful to the cosmic well-wishers, mumbling their folksy incantations to the stars.  To be sacrilegious to the great Jesus in the sky is a bad idea, rapture or not.  That is how people get herpes, and why that particular affliction is permanent.  It is God's reminder.  He doesn't want to have to work as hard on judgement day.  He never really predicted the population explosion. He got in a little bit over his head and he's been doing a little pre-judgement in the last few centuries or so.  I bet he wishes he had two sons now...  Looking back at Christianity I do see that Jesus acts just like an only child.  He just lays it on so thick with the whole "christ" thing.  I am the chosen one.

You don't want herpes do you?  Speak up Lazarus...!

Though... the pool at Bethesda is said to have healing powers, once it was blessed by the angel.  Could anything reek of witchcraft more than these silly bible stories?  But if there is any truth to this then all of those inflicted with herpes, syphilis, or worse should meet at this fountain and bathe their genitals in it together, to heal their iniquitous and rotten organs.  I'm sure the bronze angel of Bethesda will restore their aching mucous membranes, cleanse their Sodoms and Gomorras

Weren't those well-named biblical locales?  They sound just like ancient venereal diseases. Sodom became so famous for its particular brand of impenitent deviance that we named some crucial hate laws after it.  Why is a hate-crime punishable with mandatory sentencing guidelines but a hate-law practically irrevocable?

Lot famously would not hand over two male guests to the men of Sodom so that they could know them. Instead he offers two female virgins that they can do with as they like.  Weren't those just charming times.... Just a paragraph or two away from chucking the virgins into a volcano to appease the father of Abraham.

Before somebody issues a fatwa against me I had better stop.

Well, anyway... I had nothing to write about this morning and I found the picture above. I was doing pretty well up until The Old Testament jumped onto this post from out of nowhere and sodomized it.

In truth I have mostly come to peace with the concept of Christianity, though not as much with Christians.  There was a time when they made some good buildings.  I'll leave it at that.

For those of you also seeking to come to terms with Christ an interesting piece to read is Oscar Wilde's De Profundis. It is worth doing research about this piece before you read it.  An article that I found helpful was Jacques Barzun's introduction to the reprinting of Wilde's letter.

If you have no impulse to make peace with the concept of Christ then the alternate pieces to read are anything by Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins or the Marquis de Sade.

"Lust's passion will be served; it demands, it militates, it tyrannizes." - Marquis de Sade

"Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else's opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation." - Oscar Wilde, De Profundis


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

John Locke triumphs in self-publishing

My wife pointed out to me this morning that John Locke has sold a million copies of his self-published book for the Kindle.  At first I thought she meant the father of liberalism. But then I realized that this other guy just happens to have the same name.  He is a writer from Kentucky and one of only 8 authors who have breached the million mark. I didn't read any further.  Self-publishing seems to be the authentic new thing. I wonder if it will have the effect on traditional publishing that the digital revolution had on the music industry.  If so, then now would be the time to publish a book, not in two months, not in three months, not in ten....  but NOW...!!!!

I went to the doctor and he told me I have a stray piece of bone coming from my heel. This is why it is so painful to jog, and the reason that I have stopped. He told me that I'd be jogging again in "no time."  I have gained much weight and it is time to reverse the trend, to fight it off.

Here is a picture of the heel.  For those of you used to looking at foot x-rays you'll see the problem. For those of you not used to looking at them you'll notice a "hook" of bone near the underside of the heel (the dark region that juts out towards the center of the image). It is irritating the surrounding flesh (seen as a grey-ish halo around the bone). The image is of the right foot as if I myself was looking down towards the heel, with the foot held slightly to the outer side. The toes would be off the screen to the left, towards the bottom, etc.

Now that is self-reflexivity.  He gave me a shot of cortisone in the foot and it has done wonders to reduce the pain I've felt.  But the pain started coming back this morning, just barely. It has been almost a week since I saw him. 

I will be posting my entire medical file later for those interested. It includes all operations, hospitalizations, emergency room visits, and private counseling.  It is really something. 

Yesterday's post was incomplete, as all those type attempts inevitably are.  I went back and read it just now and saw the glaring flaw of omission. It is impossible to adequately convey your changing impressions of your father in such a way, over the course of a lifetime.  It was just a small attempt at documenting our changing relationship and my pleasure with those changes. 

One thing that I left out was that for most of my life I felt justified committing any manner of atrocity towards him, because I felt that he deserved it and I was the victim. But as I grew up I started morally re-evaluating myself and it turned out that whatever he had done to me was long ago.  I had many more recent transgressions... unexplainable emotional outbursts that were usually, if not uniformly, inappropriate.  

A victim never needs to morally evaluate themselves. They cloak themselves in the shield of victimhood and then act as they wish, with total self-justification. As I get older I see it everywhere around me. What shocks me the most is how unwilling people are to examine the behavior. To even suggest that a "victim" has responsibilities to also examine their behavior is a shock beyond comprehension.  Very little will generate as much anger as the suggestion that nobody gets to act with total impunity. 

I had written more yesterday but it had lost the vaguely humorous air that the first few paragraphs had, so I trashed them.  My father is not Scandinavian. He is Irish.  I confused a few people with that comparison; people who have long known me to be Irish, those who secretly suspect there is Polish blood in there too, partially explaining the shape of my head.

That is yet another subject that is addressed in my full medical records. 

I must stop deleting paragraphs from this site.  I'll never get my memoirs published on Kindle at this rate....

Monday, June 20, 2011

Heritage: Scandinavian

I have perhaps wrongfully found humor in my father's aging. As he hit his mid 70's I chuckled to myself at his sometimes bewildered line of conversation, his loss of hearing, his withered stature.  I was wrong, of course.  He's 79 now.  He is still together but no longer the father-threat that he was in my teens.  Now he is just an old guy whose friendship I seek, though under the diminished and irreversible terms of age.

I'll probably never get it right, age.  When I look back at my life and the various ways that I've lived it I see lots of error, decades of missteps.  I didn't spend much time growing up because I thought that I'd never need to, that it was possibly a bad bet.  This almost earned me an addiction to any number of things. Some would probably say that my use of the word "almost" in that last sentence would be funny if they were only reading this without actual reminiscence. I have an obsession-based personality.

But as for my father... I only began to really like him in the last few years. I built up a pseudo-hatred for him that was perhaps based on my literary idea of what a father is, and why it is important to resist and deny such a beast, as much as it was built on the actual man who seemed distant and cold for much of my youth.

My father's ideas of love (I'm making assumptions here) was to provide for his family. To make sure we had: "a roof over our heads, clothes on our back and food on the table..."  In this way he was much like a Scandinavian country. His reformed socialist agenda was admirable and functional if not examined too carefully.... If it seems to have failings then just compare it to America to improve results, etc.  


Ok, I wrote more but deleted it.  Time to move on with the day. This post would have worked better yesterday perhaps...


Sunday, June 19, 2011

Sunday Morning

Sunday morning
praise the dawning
It's just a restless feeling by my side
Early dawning
Sunday morning
It's just the wasted years so close behind
Watch out the world's behind you
There's always someone around you who will call
It's nothing at all

Sunday morning
And I'm falling
I've got a feeling I don't want to know
Early dawning
Sunday morning
It's all the streets you crossed, not so long ago
Watch out the world's behind you
There's always someone around you who will call
It's nothing at all

Sunday morning
Sunday morning
Sunday morning

-Lou Reed/John Cale


Saturday, June 18, 2011

Luke's Lobster Sandwich

I fear that I might miss the food of New York. It is like nowhere else on earth. Pictured above is a lobster sandwich from Luke's here in the East Village.  This is as close as I get to food porn. I took this picture before mating with it. Becoming one, as they say.  Making the beast with one mouth. But it is delicious. Even looking at it makes me feel funny. It's triggering some primal pleasure center in my "old brain." I might just hump the dog, then make a tuna sandwich.

We went to dinner at a friend's house last night. He's a very good cook. We had chicken based on a Mario Batalia recipe.  Delicious.  It was just a casual little house dinner but it was far better than most things you get in any restaurant in most cities in America.  Trust me, I've been.

I'm sure Sonoma has its culinary charms. But we're spoiled New Yorkers. I wonder how long it will be before we stop talking about how good the food is in New York. Hopefully before we hear people imitating us under their breath...  Oh god, please, not us....

I have been listening to Phish for a few days to prepare myself for the transition. A friend recently gave me an enormous collection of shows.  I made a playlist of all of the shows I have and called it "The Aquarium."  I trust that I am not the first person to think of this.  I don't even really like Phish all that much. Well, I should say that I like them reasonably when they're covering other people's music and even then I like them most of all when Trey is not singing. That is also true for their original material.  

Luckily we have a cook friend in Sonoma also, a Phish fan in fact.  We will accumulate more, out of need and fear.  Cooks, I mean. I will be able to have a garden and a bbq grille. Who knows, one day I might not crave kale. Once my body returns to a normal level of vegetable ingestion. 

Speaking of food.... when I went canoeing with my friends Tim and Meg we stopped to get some BBQ at the end of the day and we chatted amiably with this fellow. He was a very pleasant sort and he was quite proud of his smoker. He told us (adopt a southern/Floridian accent for this)... We had some international bbq guy come down here and tell us that we had the best brisket between here and there...

And there you have it...!


Friday, June 17, 2011

The Tempest, Cain

In the darkness the rain came. The rolling thunder preceded by its flashes far. The order of rumble not usually heard here.  Sometimes coming from a great distance and then to another distance going, always, the sound it seems.  Other times mysteriously lighting up the apartment as if it was for us alone, soundlessly and only for an instant.  And yet again the occasional immense burst of boom...

The rain filled the air around us, falling for us, at the windows, and just inside. The winds moist with the noise. We both awoke and stayed at first very silent in the darkness, touching only hand to waist, or arm.  Murmuring gentle awarenesses.

It was the type thunder that we are familiar hearing mostly in open places, the beaches, the mountains, elsewhere.  It delivered its forceful message of authority in bolting demands.  It was a thunder of unbroken space, impossible to run from, or to.  Difficult to tell when each clap had stopped, impossible to miss its start, whether near or far, the reverberations hit amidst the buildings. 

The returning fade of god's voices, questions... 

New York, "Where is your brother?"

It was comforting; reducing the size of the city. The immensity of the concrete giving way to the voice of nature, as if for us.

Neither knew what it was doing here, rumbling through the night uninvited, unannounced. Perhaps it wandered in from the Atlantic, distracted by the lights, unable to get out, to get away.  Looking for trouble, dashing from avenue to avenue, trying to find the Hudson, the bay, anything it could cane.  Crazed with confusion, fear, desires, on a lost god bender.  Impossible to get a cab in this condition. 

"Am I my brother's keeper?"

Not when he's like this....


When we finally got out of bed this morning, my wife already in the kitchen. It was as if there had been a massive underwater love affair just outside, but soon to be forgotten.  

The type thing that really finds its center in Miami...  

The tempest had possibly moved south in darkness, towards an after party in a land of liquid sunshine.