Thursday, February 28, 2013


(my head just before it eclipses the sun)

The clock that rolls forward does not easily wind back. The gears do not allow it. 

Working out is hard. I get more noticeable results from just eating whatever I want, mostly high-fat foods. But the results have become too noticeable. Each time that I say I'm fatter than I've ever been before I'm telling the truth. I would not lie about such a thing. The number is so high now that I am ashamed to post it. I've set a personal record.

I need to lose 75 pounds. Never before, in all of my weight fluctuation, have I been able to say such a thing. But not too many years ago, in my adult life, I was 75 pounds lighter than I am now. Some said I was too skinny at the time. A friend told me that I was getting a "lollipop head." As you can see from the picture above I have an unusually large skull, but at least my nose is not so small that it looks odd. The picture was taken from 30 yards away. I have to sleep in the back yard now, where this picture was taken. I am happiest when floating in a pool, or drinking beer, or below 200 pounds. But that last happiness is still a long way away, like Oprah distance. 

I've tried dieting, it makes me moody. Testy.

I've told myself that I'm not going to shave until I lose 10 pounds. Shortly after the picture above was taken I shaved. My face looked fatter than I remember it being. It sagged in most places and seemed to be made of something other than skin, some additional and weighty substance appeared to be inflating from within it, insulating it against fitness.

Okay, I have to start working now. I better grab a quick bite.


Wednesday, February 27, 2013

No person with insurance

Finally sleep comes, lots of it. So much that I just kept falling back in, as if the motionless pool of it was expanding around me. I couldn't ever seem to reach the shore. Without a sound I just kept sliding back into the submerged dreams of it all. 

There must be something wrong with me. Who fluctuates this much in sleep? No sane person would stand for it, not one with insurance anyway.

But I feel good this morning, rested. 

Rhys is climbing, running and walking now. Everywhere he goes, doubling his overall speed in the span of a month. 

A few nights ago Rachel and I were standing in the kitchen/dining room area. She went to distract him from playing in the dog food bowls (a favorite pastime of his), he turned to run back towards me but tripped, an open drawer was between his forehead and the ground. He hit hard, the corner. The effect was instantaneous. Rachel snatched him up from behind as the tears and wails were starting to burst. We were both desperate to check. His eyes were fine, at least. He was really screaming but the skin wasn't broken. I prepared for a trip to the emergency room. Within a few minutes a nasty purple/black welt had emerged on his forehead. 

It was barely noticeable the next day. It seemed impossible. His recuperative abilities are nothing short of magical.

Mine are non-existent. Every ailment I take on has become a permanent one. The main difference between normal aging and having AIDS is primarily just an issue of time. The body's ability to protect and heal itself just starts to slowly diminish, eventually stretching on into infinity, never to heal again. All things become a threat. It is impossible not to notice. I want to take the day off from work but know that I will soon need them all saved up, safely squirreled away. 

We want to go to Italy, where people drink wine and eat rich foods all day with lots of oil, and then live to be a thousand years old. 

Or is that France?


Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Hunger Moon

Could not get out of bed easily, fatigued without knowing why. There is a hollowness in my chest; not empty but filled with a ghostly pain, an inability to breathe. Taking aspirin is but one clue to fear, of age.

It is not despair, I have yet to calm.

Last night was the Full Hunger Moon; the Full Snow Moon, depending. We slept in its light, crawling across our sheets as it stretched. February is haunted with chills, always seeming to be elsewhere, even when it approaches. 

Look what your wind has made of me.

We must travel soon. The morning, lying in bed, remembering when a glass of water would help me. Now it is only a prayer passing near, an asking of the universe. 

Please, let this work.


Monday, February 25, 2013

Dancing with gravity

Fuck. A friend accidentally took a picture of me standing at a park, watching Rachel play. My jeans are baggy, yes. But there is more.... I have a noticeable "muffin-top."  It is hideous. I have committed to going back to the gym, but this will require more than just working out. It will require a change in behavior, in eating habits. I don't really want to change my eating habits, but the evidence is circling up around me. 

Speaking of evidence... I believe I've put down the cop insurrection, for now. He was becoming really creepy. He had done a bit of background research on me, and Rachel. He kept dropping little bits of personal historical data into the thread: how long it took me to get my a.a. degree, when my arrests were, where we live, where Rachel works, etc. As I said the other day, if you give them a chance to prove who they are then they usually will. 

I'm watching the clock tick, with nothing to write about. The gym opens at 6am and it is only 5:25 now. I feel like I'm getting fatter just by sitting here. I wouldn't mind being a few pounds heavy if it didn't look so bad. But it does. It is difficult to align your idea of yourself with the reality when pictures like the one I referenced above make their way onto the internet, you find them accusing you in the early morning hours when you are defenseless.

Weekends are a day shorter than they should be. This one went by too fast. I would bet any amount of money that the two most popular days to call in sick are Monday and Friday. It's the only way that you can possibly have a day to yourself, and when else are you going to learn to hula-hoop?

Sunday, February 24, 2013

... and dreaming is nursed in darkness"

Today we go into Sausalito. A big dual-family day. I'm on the run. The ex-cop is still investigating me. I figure the best way to disguise myself would be as a law-abiding father and husband. That should throw him off my trail for a while.

He continues to post veiled information about where Rachel works and where we live in a presumably threatening way. You can imagine how many times I shit myself last night. I had to wear one of Rhys' diapers.

It's interesting, if you accuse cops (or in this case an ex-cop) of impropriety, or abuse of power, that pretty much guarantees that they're going to prove you right. This is no surprise to anybody who's had any level of interaction with them. But it amazes me: all of the things a detective is unable to detect, like why ex-firemen keep kicking his ass at online poker.

It must be a dejected feeling to sit at home doing investigative work from your aging computer, "hiding behind a keyboard" in a way... remembering fondly the days when you actually could abuse your power with relative impunity.

Stepping slowly away from the stench of the forcefully misguided...

 I already miss Thomas Jefferson. I might read another history book, though maybe not one of the founding era. A friend suggested Manchester's biography of Churchill, but it stretches on to three volumes. That might be too big of a commitment right now, with prison impending. I suppose I could read the war years, 1932-40, but I've never been much interested in war history. I have Keegan's "The First World War" and "The History of Warfare" but have not been able to bring myself to read them, I've only skipped through. I prefer reading about the lives of individuals to that of nations. Perhaps this is why I am such a graceful diplomat and not a warring general.

Maybe it is time for some more fiction. It might benefit me to study my nemesis more carefully, reading Genet should cover it, peering into the mind of his oft repeated fixations. Investigate that.

I paid for a year membership at the gym, hoping that guilt will serve as a motivating factor. I know that it doesn't last, but at least it can help get me started. I went yesterday and did light cardio and weights, then a moderate bike ride. I didn't think that I would be sore today. I was wrong. I was wrong.

Something must be done though, the middle years have pooled around me and the keystone cops are closing in.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

The patriot acts

The battle dwindles on. The retired cop that I've been arguing with online has resorted to doing background research on me. Apparently he used to be a detective. The one thing he has yet to detect is what an enormous douche-bag he is, and where exactly that smell is coming from.... He's found this to be a very pro-Xanax site, as he seems to have latched on to the one observation that really seems to stick in his craw. So, that was for you, my brown-shirted patriot of preservation.

Who knows what he does to blow off some steam. Maybe he just reads arrest reports, mine. Who can possibly guess.... He's just biding his time, salivating for torture to trickle down to the local level where it can actually do some good.

He's threatened to print out my statements online and fax them to the local police departments, so that my thoughts on police abuse of power will be well documented with those who might need it the most in a time of trouble. They should be notified that a dangerous "leftist" is living amongst them. 

He has accused me of "hiding behind my keyboard"... I'd offer to debate him publicly but it seems a great expense and an unfair competition. Beyond that, I'm not quite sure what he could possibly mean. He insists that he's not threatening me, or hasn't yet anyway. So, I'm not precisely sure what it is I could be hiding from. 

This is the kind of person he is.

I should contact my old buddy from Texas and let him know that a cop doesn't treat private domains as copyrighted material, see what his squadron of lawyers has to say about it. 

A mutual friend assures me that the ex-cop is a "good guy." But aren't they all, really? I mean, there are no assholes among them, they're just doing what they have to do. What would you do...? They have been trusted with a great responsibility and all of them treat the law with such high regard. If a loud-mouth stands in the way of a little routine police business then they do what has to be done to neutralize the danger. Mace is cheap and paid for by the people they use it on. When bought in bulk it just makes sense. It does have a shelf-life, for all goodness' sake.

Oh well, the weekend moves on.  

Rachel's grandpa arrives today. We will hear stories of a simpler time. Or, they at least seem that way when put in story form. 


Friday, February 22, 2013

The battle of medicinal half-life

Up late last night. Couldn't sleep. Finally, the anxiety of the coming day got to me and I drank a cup of Nyquil, am still fighting my way through the murkiness of morning.

Big day at work today. I will describe it some other time. It is in "the news"... the tech-news anyway: Wired, CNET, PC World...

Nope, just checked again. It made it to CBS.


Thursday, February 21, 2013

Mandatory Corruption Training

I've taken to arguing with cops online now. It's fun, because they're just as threatening, and just as willing to misuse their power, but it becomes more difficult for them to do so from a distance, though not entirely impossible. 

"Know in my heart that I am pistol-whipping your dumb ass right now." 

I wonder how many background checks were run on me last night.

Cops just seem to like me; they like handcuffing me, they like threatening me, they like screaming at me, they like punching me in the head, and they like taking me to jail. I don't know what it is. I must be a fun guy to arrest. But the internet deprives them of those immediate pleasures, so they resort to verbal threats, which is just so cute. 

There is something about my attitude that brings a deep and abiding joy to the cop heart. Particularly when I say things like, "Cops are just like anybody else, they are mostly incompetent when they're not too busy being corrupt."

I just feel safe knowing that there are such level headed professionals out there upholding the law, dedicated to the idea of being public servants.

I finally finished the Thomas Jefferson book. He dies at the end. It is a famous story that we all remember from elementary school civics class. He holds on until the morning of the 50th anniversary of the signing of The Declaration of Independence. His friend and political foe John Adams also died that same morning, on July 4th, 1826; also on the committee to draft the declaration, also a signer. What an odd and poetic ending to two lives dedicated to the cause of democracy. 

Now I am free to read other books. 

I thought it was funny and coincidental that the placeholder that I used when reading the Jefferson book was my receipt for having recently voted. I left it in the book for someone else to one day find. 

My take on the Jefferson book: "Man... Fuck Alexander Hamilton!"


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

"You can lead a horse to water, but how?"

I don't feel like writing this morning. Between this site, the aborted one that was ostensibly about drinking wine, and the laziest nerd ever I have written over 1100 posts, close to a thousand on this one alone. I have run out of things to say, and I have bored of repeating myself. Perhaps it is time for me to start writing about my experiences drinking wine again. 

Thomas Jefferson is about to die, a convenience that will free me up to do other things. 

The image above was taken in the Santa Fe historical museum, click on it to see. They asked me not to take pictures, though there were no signs saying that it was forbidden. It is a recurring theme in my life: being perpetually told not to do something, seemingly without any coherent set of rules in place. I couldn't resist snapping this one. It reminded me of the flying monkeys in The Wizard of Oz. It was almost as if the many crucified christs were going to fly right off of the wall and start swirling around the room, picking me up by the shirt sleeves, to take me off to another place. 


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

If life were made of mornings

It is 5:45am and I am already out of time. The day approaches, with it comes the job. I had a bad day yesterday. There's some reason for me to check my work emails on my phone, though it comes with the price of added stress. Sometimes it's worth delineating sharply between work and personal time. 

It's not worth writing or talking about. So, I won't.

I've just poured my second cup of coffee, on an empty stomach. That's certain to help. 

Ah, if life were made of only mornings.

I spoke with a fellow at the local pub yesterday. He was an interesting sort. A Brit who lived in Germany, spent many years of his life busking, and who now lives with his wife of 35 years here in Sonoma. He made some observations about the people who live here, about the people who have only lived here. "It's not that they're stupid," he said, "they're only limited by experience." It partially explains a thing that I have often wondered about, why people insist on the supremacy of locale, mainly theirs.

We, of course, like it here very much. But living here comes with a sacrifice. Our membership to The Moma has expired, even the SF Moma membership has expired. Going regularly to museums is a lessening event for us, in terms of frequency. Perhaps by doing it less the sensation of newness will increase. I don't know. Robert Hughes writes about museum goers as if they are binge drinkers, how they gorge themselves on new visual sensations, trying to intake as much of it as they can in a single day, so that the result is meaningless or worse. 

I want to travel again soon. Rachel and I have been talking about Italy, or Yellowstone. They would both be big trips, expensive, one much more than the other. Rachel said that portions of the drive down the coast beyond Big Sur reminded her of the Amalfi coast, though without the distinct architecture of Italy, and the cultural landscape, but more in the steepness of the shoreline, the relationship between traveler and terrain. 

I only stepped out of the car once to take a picture, the one that I used at the bottom of yesterday's post. I never wanted to be a landscape photographer. No matter how well I take a picture when I go home I do a search for the same region and there are many that are much better than mine. So, it ends up meaning little to me, nothing at all. For me, it is the human's experience, their relationship to the landscape (or set) that fascinates me, each person's approach to the world, the ways in which they present themselves, or hide. 


Monday, February 18, 2013

The beaches along the coast

Traveling with a child is not simple, or easy. Add a dog to this formula and everything becomes a series of cascading considerations, limitations, and needs. It's not that the trip was not fun but when we came home I was not relaxed, but only felt that something had been accomplished. We had done a thing that we had not done before. Effort was expended and it was now complete. We had driven down the coast, seen some things, then driven back. 

Now, I return to work.

Do not get me wrong. The beaches were fun. Watching Rhys discover them with the liberty of locomotion was charming, impossible not to enjoy. He was giggling much of the time. This was his second time at the beach, the first in which he could walk, which is quickly becoming a run. He is a natural for the ocean.  He darts towards the excitement of the approaching water as soon as you set him down, with Barkley galloping in tow. 

Barkley loves the beach with a comical naiveté. I think I mentioned that yesterday.

But traveling requires much preparation. Everything becomes a process about getting and being there. Packing and unpacking things from the car, often with the thing you need the most packed underneath the things you need the least. There is the eternal question, "Is this place dog friendly?" Some yes, some seem that way at first, some a much more decidedly no. 

Will he be warm enough? Will Barkley be too hot in the car? Don't forget to crack the windows. What do you want to do? Should we go this way? I have to use the bathroom. Are you hungry? When will he need to nap? How long can we park here? Do we have any change? 

Sometimes all of society seems structured just to punish you for being there. Petty restrictions on parking that are nearly impossible not to violate. 1 hour parking in front of an area where there are restaurants; restaurants that have predictably slow service. Why? Only so that they can prey on you. They want you to visit, then punish you for having done so. 

The California Highway Patrol has initiated a program to start fining seagulls that fly too close to the beach. Rules are rules, they must comply.

We tried to avoid the tourist areas, but it is not always easy, especially with a child. It is one of the many reasons I hate any place that invites people to be there. Tourists should be punished this way, through unexpected taxes and fines, but I'm one of the other guys. I don't even want to be there. I should be the recipient of parking violation funds, not the victim.

We went to Cannery Row. I can only imagine the pride that Steinbeck would feel at how the light he shined on that place transformed it from being a place of much difficulty during the great depression to a place of much commercial victory in our current economy. He seemed interested mainly in reducing suffering, injustice. It was one of the most authentic outdoor malls I had ever been to... People come from all over to buy useless things that they will go home and work to pay for. All the people seemed so happy. Everyone had two coffees; one for each credit card.

As for nature, we did get to see some through the windshield. 


Sunday, February 17, 2013


I am writing my first ever post from my phone. My suspicion is that the justification on the image will be all fucked up. We'll see. It is all that I can do today. We are in Monterey and there is no wi-fi.

We just went and had breakfast at Denny's, a thing we haven't done in years. It occurred to me that they should partner with the Quest Diagnostics clinic system. They share the same hours and clientele, 24/7 and the elderly. One practically begs for the other.

I had the Santa Fe skillet, in honor of having just been there. It was sautéed in a generous puddle of grease. Once the world-famous handful of Denny's cheese-product melted, and with some added Cholula sauce, it tasted pretty good, but it caused me to have a few flashes of pain down my left arm. I re-named the plate, "The forti-aorta!" (New on the Denny's menu! Recommended by our in-house doctors! Now with our exclusively patented heart-strengthening oils...)

I chewed two aspirin, just in case.

It's before 6am still. We were up at 4. Rachel's trying to put Rhys back to sleep. He's fighting it, as usual. Traveling with a child is particularly difficult. He doesn't seem to understand the changes, though he loved the ocean. He kept running right for the waves. It was really something.

Twice now that we've taken Barkley to the the beach has he turned his back on the water and paid the price. A wave overtook him right as he sat down. The wave drawing him back out towards the ocean as it receded. For an instant I had to ask myself which mattered more, the dog or my camera. We kept calling him to come to us but the water moving back to the ocean seemed to be scaring him and he kept backing up into the water. Luckily, the wave withdrew enough and Barkley made a wet and muddy run for safety, newly invigorated by his fearful experiences.

More later, Rhys is sleeping again. This is the only time that I ever get to kiss Rachel. Perhaps the Santa Fe skillet is an aphrodisiac. That could be yet another advertising angle for my new enterprise.

If a heart-attack lasts more than 4 hours, please contact a nurse.


Saturday, February 16, 2013

This is what you shall do: hate tyrants

(the camping Buddha)

Today we go. Down the coast to see what there is to see. There are elephant seals at Año Nuevo Point, a state park. They are mating and Rachel has indicated that she wants to watch this. Then, further down the coast to a point as yet undecided. We have a hotel booked in Monterey for tonight.

This will be our first trip without a real destination since having Rhys. It unsettles Rachel a little bit, I can tell. She keeps asking me what I want to do, what plans can be made. It is part of what constitutes our love, our differences in this way.  In a few years I will be able to take them tent camping. Rachel claims that she does not like it but I suspect otherwise. She prefers to sleep in a cabin, a room of some sort. I prefer the sound and feel of nature, even the cold.

One time I took a friend camping who was somewhat unsettled at the premise of setting up a campsite in total darkness. She stayed in the car while I assembled the tent and prepared the campsite. Once that was completed she ventured from the car to the tent with me acting as security, a park ranger of sorts, to shield her from savage nature. In the morning, with the sun up, the sound of the river trickling in the near distance, the fears seemed laughable, they were laughable. But in the darkness of night, there are many dangers, too many for most. There is often no end to fear, unless one is chosen in advance.

The other night I was talking to an old camping buddy of mine. We spoke of many things, but not of camping. When we got off of the phone I picked up a book of poems by Walt Whitman, a thing I rarely do, and did this night for no specific reason. There was a picture holding a place in the book. It was from a camping trip we took when we were young. We discovered a fire that an angry arsonist had just set. We reported it, took some pictures, and moved on, back to our camp. I have another picture from that night of an entire mountain that is on fire, a long exposure so that the sky appears blue while the mountain burns. The park ranger who came to our site later that night to question us about it told us that they had had some problems with a few brothers who were angry about various things.

I read a few pages from the book, then took a picture of the picture and sent it to the friend.

This is the famous passage that the picture held:

"This is what you shall do: Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul; and your very flesh shall be a great poem... " - Walt Whitman, preface to the 1855 edition of Leaves of Grass

(fire on the mountain)


Friday, February 15, 2013

Rising abruptly from the Pacific

Perhaps an adventure. Down the coast to Monterey, Big Sur, beyond. We will speak of Robinson Jeffers, Henry Miller, and Jack Kerouac. Others. We will summon memories, conjuring lonesome travelers.

Something, anything. It is time to get away. I will bring a book of poems and read them towards the air when no one is watching. 

A friend had a stroke. It was apparently quite bad. He has been in intensive care for some time now. The news that makes its way out is hopeful but somehow not encouraging. "He has been smiling" is the latest. It all sounds very bad, deeply unfortunate and saddening. There was no insurance. There will be enormous bills, much time spent recovering as well as can be done. It has been distressing but there is little that I can do, little that anybody can do, though there are many who are committed to trying, myself among them. We are going to buy him an iPad to assist in his recovery. There are specialized apps that are meant to help.

He is my age, though nicer than me. We know that fear and love have their source in similar mysteries.

I will go to the gym this morning when the clock strikes six; stepping on to the exercise machine, dreaming of the coast line, of freely moving south, towards the southern waters.


Thursday, February 14, 2013

"maybe it was the roses..."

The romantic new year. A day in which everything tastes like chocolate, and I the emperor of ice cream. 

I am having a New York Strip steak for breakfast, with eggs, over easy. That is my simple way of honoring the day. It is, as they so often say, the least that I can do.

If I had a nice bottle of cabernet then I would also drink that, just to show that I was not merely doing the least that I could, but going the extra distance to really celebrate. 

But alas, it's a work day, and I a worker. 

I almost finished the sentence above with the word drone. It's funny to think of how the word drone has changed meanings. Though the drone bee does not do any work, it is a common misconception. The drone bee fertilizes the queen and nothing else; they are fed by the bee masses, saving their strength for the queen. There is no such thing as a "worker drone" among bees. 

But, I still like my job, very much. A good friend told me that I was fooling myself and I would quickly hate it, but he was wrong (so far). His name is Pat, just so that he doesn't confuse those last sentences as being for anybody else. 

Rhys is walking now. Have I mentioned that here already? He no longer even needs help from a chair or couch to get himself upright. He walks around in the mornings with a waffle that Rachel has made him, inspecting all that there is to reach. Dusting the house with his newly toasted waffle.

I can hear them upstairs now, playing in Rhys' room. The sun has yet to breach the shallow mountain line. There is a coming milky blue.

I am cooking the steak on the grille, in the waning darkness.


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

... whispered

An 1890's decadent once met a young girl, of about twenty, "with a lithe body like a snake, a great red dangerous mouth, and enormous dark amber eyes that half shut and then expanded like great poisonous flowers. "Nuffing amuses me," she said, with her curious childish lisp, 'everfing bores me. Nuffing ever did amuse me. I have nuffing to amuse me, nobody to be amused with. I don't care for men, women's talk always bores me. All I care for is to sleep. Tell me what is there that will give me a new sensation?' And she lay back and gazed at me through her half-shut lids. I bent down and whispered "Opium." 

- Arthur Symons


An Official Red-Ryder

I want a new camera. Well, the camera is not exactly new, but it would be new to me. I probably won't buy it, but I enjoy wanting to. That is something, to want.

I want to have steak for breakfast, too. And eggs. 

And a glass of red wine, a cabernet. I have moved on from pinot's, for now.

Instead, I am pouring coffee into an empty stomach, writing this nonsense to you.

I should try to pick a subject before writing, not during.

Rachel just asked me if I wanted a steak for dinner tonight. Funny, that.

I responded before thinking about it. I should have told her I want " Official Red-Ryder Carbon-Action Two-Hundred Shot Range Model Air Rifle with a compass in the stock.

Or, the camera... I could have tricked her. 

She's been reading this site again though, so who knows. We've been struggling lately and perhaps for Valentine's day tomorrow she will realize the error of her wicked ways and buy me the camera (with the 35mm f1.4 lens).

Or, perhaps nothing would make her happier than to see me be happy. I should buy it for us

Then I could take pictures of her and Rhys for Valentine's day. We wouldn't be able to afford to do anything so we'd have plenty of time to experiment with the new camera, documenting the triumph of my decision. 

I have begun to remember more books that are missing, Joyce's "Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man" , T.C. Boyle's "East is East" , Styron's "Lie Down in Darkness".... It is inexplicable that some of these are missing as they should have been in the same box as the other books by the same author, one would think. Why do I have all of T.C. Boyle's except that one, why Joyce? It is a mystery without any clues. None of it makes sense. Was the box left in a hallway or on the street in NYC? Was it stolen by local crackheads? Anything can be true, with no scent back to them save for my fading memories.

But the list is growing.

They are only a box of books, but my life is splintering and I find myself struggling to hold the pieces. The history of my life is as a demented ping-pong ball, ever bouncing back and forth unpredictably, knocked from number to number, to the recurring reds and blacks of roulette. 

I have lived as an errant truffling pig, run amok, unleashed and unchaseable, doomed but laughing.


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

This Side of Paradise

Then wear the gold hat, if that will move her;
     If you can bounce high, bounce for her too,
Till she cry "Lover, gold-hatted, high-bouncing lover,
     I must have you!"

-Thomas Parke D'Invilliers



(Catholic Idolatry)

Fuck the Pope. I don't feel like writing today. I stayed up last night, reading. 

Thomas Jefferson just accomplished The Louisiana Purchase. Now that is how a president makes good history: declaring independence from England based on an idea of individual unalienable rights and then buying a nation of people from France, who only recently acquired them from Spain. 

He got them and the land they lived on from Napoleon for about $.03 an acre.

Lewis and Clark are preparing for their epic journey. When they finally do cross, after the purchase is complete, they inform the various Indian tribes along the way that they have a new Father now, and not to make him angry.

Things are moving right along with Sally Hemings also. Everybody knows now. Jefferson never addressed the issue of inter-racial relations, neither in conversation nor in writing. He never once spoke of his relationship with Sally Hemings, never once publicly acknowledged that she had birthed his children. He simply chuckled when his daughters would show him the newspaper clippings. His enemies did not make light of it though. Once can always count on one's enemies for such things.

It was a 37 year love affair, seemingly enlightened in every way except one. 

James Callender, the man who made the most of it, publishing a surprisingly factual piece in The Richmond Recorder drowned in a nearby river only a few days afterwards. Where are the attending conspiracy theories for that?  Without a CIA nothing seems quite as devious, I guess.

I'm also reading Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh.

Boarding school really fucks English people up. 


Monday, February 11, 2013

DJ "My Name Here"

(Does this bathroom make my name look big?)

Anybody that has been reading this site for a while, or anybody that knew me in my previous life, knows that I used to dj. I had a little mini-career for a number of years and was quite pleased with it, for the most part. It afforded me luxuries that I still remember fondly: lots of free time, expendable income, travel, etc. 

I still get invited to dj from time to time. On Saturday night I played in Santa Fe, New Mexico for a friend from the Florida/NYC connection, Melanie Moore.

How things usually go when you are invited to perform is that you are given a number of hours to play, usually two or more. In that time you might attempt to create a sense of musical topography, to give the impression that imaginary things are developing, or to keep the energy at a certain level and make sure that the people are dancing and having fun. This is an over-simplification, but usually each dj's time to perform is delineated this way. Sometimes dj's will play in pairs. This is as far as the concept of sharing time is usually taken.

When you are the guest dj you are often given the "peak hours" of the evening. The energy level of the peak of the night must not usually go below a threshold, though different dj's play with a varied degree of intensity and their audiences come to expect that from them. As a general rule, if you are going to decrease the energy level you must increase the interest level. You can play slower but the music must have some other special quality to it to justify doing so, or you will seem flat and dull, the feeling of the night will be one of waning rather than one of increased expectations. Only certain dj's wish to be perceived as flat and dull. Many of them spend their days imagining just the opposite about themselves, and structuring their lives such that others will think and feel likewise.

There is something to be said for feeling like a star. The dj status confers a distinction that is at once both difficult to achieve yet somewhat necessary to project. Those that do it regularly tend to do it well. It's almost as if they were born to do nothing else and there is an air of effortlessness about them that adds to the mystique. With some it is captivating, with others it can be tedious and forced. Much depends on the style of music that is embraced and the persona that is then projected from that. It is a purely subjective exercise, of course, but one in which I spent passing a few decades.

I do not say any of this with malice, or dismissiveness. While at times it can seem laughable there are other times when it is something very special and unique. The true fans of this music rarely disagree on those two distinctions. Conceding acknowledgement of the value of music that one does not care for is a forced application of objectivity. It requires a modicum of understanding. Others can not see it at all, in any of this. It holds no magic for them whatsoever, or it is merely elusive. They can not create an adequate understanding between themselves and those who live for it and (seemingly) nothing else. It seems foreign and possibly dangerous, if not foolish.

Few people, in their daily lives, are often cheered by a group. It is a special and empowering feeling. The world might be a different place if everyone received such occasional recognition and applause. Because what is being applauded is a part of you. It is an accumulation of years of private taste being made public, stylistically and in a moment. Few ever regret having been cheered. People within this subculture are quite desirous of its intoxicating effects. For a working dj there is (hopefully) a sense of being in demand. There is a cool-factor to being in different cities on successive nights. Sleep is cruel, so it is rightfully mocked.

Where am I going with this. I had hoped to write about my night on Saturday...

So, when I arrived in Santa Fe I was told that the format of the night was different, but that I would like it. When I stopped by the club earlier in the day there were several different dj setups lined up next to each other, stretching the length of an extended table: six specialized cd players, two turntables, three dj mixers, all being fed into a more traditional line mixer; then the amps and speakers on the receiving end, circling the dance floor. Right away I realized that this was perhaps a more democratic arrangement than one that I was used to. I told myself not to worry about it too much, that they do this all the time and it works for them. What possible harm could come from it?

I went back to the hotel and tried to sleep. The altitude there is such that I was lethargic but couldn't rest. I tried and I tried. I went and got a little sushi and had a beer. Yes, sushi at an elevation of 7000 feet. I know....

I went back to the hotel and prepared myself for a night's sleep at my usual hour, 8pm. I got into my pajamas and brushed my teeth, crawled back into bed. My friend was supposed to come get me at 9pm. I considered calling her and telling her that I had come down with narcolepsy and wouldn't be able to make it. Why do I get myself into these situations, I asked.  There was a can of air that had been given to me and I thought that maybe the combined effects of a double-expresso and a coffee would do the trick. I walked back downstairs to a coffee-house and came back to the room. I read the instructions on the can of air: "breathe"...  I felt ready.

I locked the hotel door.

The coffee didn't make much of a dent, but the oxygen surged through my veins and gripped my skull. I was prepared for anything. I felt like Frank Booth huffing on that can but had no Dorothy Vallens to cry at, no thighs to sniff.

I was pacing the downstairs lobby talking to strangers in a new language when the text came. It was time.

We went to the club and got started right away. There was nobody downstairs yet. The arrangement seemed strange at first and I privately wondered if it was going to have to hold all night. When was I going to get a chance to be a star.... But after about an hour it all started to make more sense. There was a feeling of giving over to it, that I could contribute to a thing but not control it.

This must just be the oxygen talking, I told myself. Why do I try new drugs?

But as the night went on and I got more comfortable with the arrangement I started to realize there were charms to it that there would not have been otherwise. Unexpected turns in the direction of the music, some that worked and some that didn't, but all requiring an immediate response. It forced a flexibility on the night that would not have existed otherwise. No tracks were played in their entirety. Bits and clips and pieces, suggestions making up the whole. Hints being completion. Less being more.

To the mind of a normal dj this might sound horrible, antithesis to everything that matters to them: them.  But it wasn't horrible at all, it was engaging on several levels. To relinquish that sense of control over the direction of the night actually caused me to try more, and to be more creative in phrasing, to communicate more to those around me, to give away a part of myself. The insularity that a dj spends his time developing suddenly dropped away, useless in new experience.

After all of these years, to be able to see a familiar thing in a new way, was almost shocking to me. It was one of the best nights I've had in a long time, for all of the reasons that I might not have ever guessed on my own. What is said just could be true, that sometimes the simplest lessons in life are the most rewarding, no matter how often we are forced to re-learn them. It's possible, and perhaps even preferable, to contribute but not control.

Surrender. It sounds so easy.


Sunday, February 10, 2013

Vagina Palace


I tried to write about last night but was unsuccessful. Not enough sleep, I guess. Difficult subject. Who knows.

Yesterday I went to the museums, the historical and the Georgia O'Keeffe. They did not like me very much at the O'Keeffe place. I kept asking why so much of her work was subpar, if not outright poor. They told me that I was not allowed to take pictures but I didn't see where it was posted anywhere.

Her work was always very inconsistent for me. The standout pieces are just that. I liked her take on modernism, towering vaginas in the sky and all that. 

When you go and look at a lot of her work, all hung together, you realize that she was not only referencing vaginas, there are also many anuses to be found there, if you stare. She denies that her flowers are vaginal but anybody that has ever studied the subject closely recognizes the immediate and striking similarities. Her work would bore me witless otherwise, like most of Kandinsky.

Her works were described as "broad and expansive," which is sexist on one count and vulgar on the other.

They were all humorless at the museum, guards often are. They probably dream of one day being customs agents. I queried them on who would win in a fist-fight, Frida Kahlo or Georgia O'Keeffe? I knew their money was on O'Keeffe. But Mexicans and the Irish have a proud history of producing fine boxers, and paired together they often make for good matches. 

I asked where the bathroom was and was instructed to walk down a specific hallway. At the end there were two doors, one said "women" and one said "men"... my choice seemed clear. I was there to learn. When I first walked in there was much excitement. I thought that I must be in the right place, the vagina palace. I took a look around. But the excitement quickly gave way to a graver tone, a hushed seriousness. The room emptied out. The cops arrived just as I was starting to get a feel for the place. 

They had no interest whatsoever in my story about door choices and unintentional aesthetics. I assumed that they were also philistines. They barked at me, as they were walking me out handcuffed, in front of all the staring people. They barked at me about privacy. 

Nothing at the time, to my mind, seemed more contrary.  

"What about the vaginas?" I offered. "What about them?"



Saturday, February 9, 2013

Many battles with the savages

(my new best friend: Cormac McCarthy)

I made it to Santa Fe, the famed birthplace of Santa Fe Claus. I flew into Albuquerque - taking the requisite left turn as warned against by Bugs Bunny - then took a beautiful drive through the desert valley into Santa Fe just as the sun was setting. I took some pictures with my little travel camera, but they can not convey the full richness of it, of course. Why do I do such things, you ask? Because I'm a fool and I like staring at the sun, but without all the danger and blindness.

The guy who drove me from Albq. to S.Fe was filled with information and great stories. He and I will be buddies by the time it's all over. In the late 60's he used to live in the Lower East Side, directly across from where the Hell's Angels NYC chapter is on 3rd St. He fell in love with a Puerto Rican girl and followed her out here. She lives in Abilene now.

We drove down the Pecos trail and then the more famous Santa Fe Trail. I only regret that I did not bring more furs and tobacco to trade.

Today I will go to the museums. There is an historical museum here that I want to see. As I was walking to breakfast this morning I happened upon a monument in the center of the square. It once read: TO THE HEROES WHO HAVE FALLEN IN THE VARIOUS BATTLES WITH SAVAGE INDIANS IN THE TERRITORY OF NEW MEXICO. The word "savage" has been etched out so that it is just a rough rectangle. It appears to have been done by hand. I was told yesterday that the chiefs of several of the area tribes were hanged in the square. The Indians lined up along the roads giving the Spanish settlers a chance to leave peacefully. The Indians killed about 400 settlers, the rest fled. They eventually came back and were substantially more persuasive the second time.

I had coffee at breakfast but I fear I will need another. The world is moving too slowly. I am tempted to crawl back into bed for the day.

Here is an abbreviated version of what I saw yesterday on the drive through the valley:


Friday, February 8, 2013

Sorry, NO More Potato

"A man who carries a cat by the tail learns something he can learn in no other way." - Mark Twain


Thursday, February 7, 2013

Jefferson, Hemings, Ferraro, Burr, etc.

Thomas Jefferson has just barely beaten Aaron Burr for the presidency. Tied him, in fact. The country was having one of its first Constitutional crises. They ended up amending it (12th) such that the result was it greatly strengthening and embedding party politics into the fabric of the country. The system used to be that the two men with the most electoral college votes became President and Vice President, irrespective of party. But there were 146 votes cast at the time. Well, I've told this story backwards, you already know what happened.... There was a tie between Jefferson and Burr that had to be decided in the House of Representatives. Jefferson was Vice President at the time, to President John Adams, a man who left the city of Washington and never returned. He did not even attend Jefferson's inauguration. 

After the 12th amendment two men ran together to form a party platform, opposing another party's platform, also of two men. Several hundred years later Geraldine Ferraro ran as a Vice Presidential candidate. When she made the cover of Time magazine several of our family's friends noted that she looked much like my mother, though I can't see it now. There must have been some truth to it then.

"Every difference of opinion is not a difference of principal." - Jefferson, from his 1801 inaugural speech

Jefferson used Hamiltonian policy to achieve Jeffersonian ideals. Don't ever believe what anybody in the tea-party tells you, ever. Don't believe any of the nonsense that the tea-partiers disguised as libertarians will tell you either. All of the founding fathers increased the size and strength of the federal government, out of sheer and obvious necessity. The need to do so was both domestic and international in nature. Hamilton, through Burr, aided in Jefferson's victory though he opposed many of J.'s policies and ideals. The animosity between Burr and Hamilton became so great that they famously engaged in code duello with only Burr remaining. 

Maybe I'll read "Burr" by Gore Vidal next, for my fictive historical pleasure. 

Things are also developing between Jefferson and Sally Hemings, a woman who was, by the few accounts that remain, one of the most beautiful women ever available to their owner. She was Jefferson's late wife Martha's half sister. That's right, Martha Jefferson's father was also Sally Hemings father. The painting above is not of her, there are none. There are only four remaining descriptions.

She went to France with Jefferson where she demanded her freedom from him. Under French law she would have been given it. Jefferson begged and pleaded. She returned with him and remained his property for 37 years. But he kept his agreement with her. As part of the deal they struck, all of her children - those with him unsurprisingly included - were granted their freedom at the age of 21.

I have slowed down in reading the biography, it is that good. The changes that Jefferson put into place, in many ways, helped right the country from Federalist policy. His principles are the ones now cherished most by those who seem to understand them the least. It is this early shaping of the country that made us what we now are, for better or for worse. The Alien and Sedition Acts of John Adam's presidency are finding their full fruition in our current President. Though J. also used them for his political gain, he attempted to righten the wrongs once in power, rather than what we seem to have now, a reversal of the same principle. 

I recently visited a friend's house in Los Angeles and saw the biography of J. on his shelf also. I had made a recommendation and voila', there it was. My friend had asked for a suggestion on RFK, FDR or Lincoln. Having only read an abridged version of Carl Sandburg's biography on Lincoln when I was much younger I had nothing to suggest. Only recently have I developed a sustaining interest in history. Most of it that I've ingested has been through fiction. It's no small wonder I am "proven wrong" so often online, on all points political.


Wednesday, February 6, 2013

I know you're in there.....

I got in late, then woke early and often. I said Hi! to Rhys and Rachel, then tried to go back to sleep. Rhys crawled to the door of the downstairs bedroom and pushed until Rachel took him upstairs. In a few minutes the clack-clack-clacking of a plastic toy on the floor punctuated my morning. So, now I'm up, home again for two days.

Next I am off to the snowy desert mountains of "holy faith" Santa Fe. I have not seen snow in two years. I hadn't realized that I would miss it. When I return I will be best friends with Cormac McCarthy. He and I will chat often on Facebook.

I will have a free day to wander the town on Saturday. Perhaps I will find Christ there. It seems as good a place to hide as any. For all one knows he has concealed himself for the time being in one of Georgia O'Keeffe's famous flowers.


Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Home again, home again

Though I went to bed early I stayed in bed late this morning, covering my eyes and trying to lie still. Risking erratic dreams just to get a little bit more of that precious sleep. I would go back now if I didn't have to work soon. Strange memories dart and skit about there on the periphery of consciousness. Somebody had printed the bible out on regular office paper and was insisting on its veracity. It was a monstrous pile of papers held together by some mechanical binding. I laughed in the faces of those apparitions, waking myself up again. Why do I dream of such things? I am plagued by the past, memory is half of the raw material needed to build a dream.

I return home today. Rhys has been walking lately. I have yet to see him stand on his own, unassisted by furniture or some sort of help. But he has been launching off from furniture and taking steps, standing, making turns, rounding corners, all of it. It is an exciting time. Yesterday I saw him briefly as Rachel and I spoke on "Facetime."  Technology truly is a marvel. We have been promised those types of communication since I was a child, before that even. Now it is here. That fact itself is somewhat underwhelming after a lifetime of promises but the ability to engage was quite charming. I spoke to him and he seemed to recognize me, his finger reaching out to touch the screen the way he does when I move in to take his picture.



Monday, February 4, 2013

Damn it!

 (Super Bowl reveler)

A disappointing game. What can be said. The Ravens played better, made fewer mistakes, ran better plays, tighter passing, all of it. It was an exciting end, though I don't know why they didn't play the last 10 yards the same way they had been playing the rest of the field. Teams get within 10 and suddenly they're trying to make a touchdown. If they had just tried to make another first down they would have ran it into the end zone.

Why I'm not a captain of an NFL team yet is a complete mystery.


Sunday, February 3, 2013


(Nelson, a good friend)

Yesterday went as planned. There was perpetual drinking, and then endless driving around. I don't understand how everybody in LA doesn't have multiple drinking and driving arrests. It's no wonder that the nation focuses on Lindsay Lohan's troubles as a personality to publicly admonish while bolstering their own sense of morality and personal responsibility. She just seems like a normal young woman around here, not even problematic, just famous. 

We took a drive up Mulholland and around to Sunset, commenting on the many legendary places and people. We stopped at the Frolic Room and the Blue Palms, experimenting with beers and then martinis and then beer again. By the end of the day I was exhausted. I took a couple Xanax, a pain killer, an anti-inflammatory, a cute little yellow pill that looked familiar though whose purpose I have long since forgotten, and some aspirin to thin my blood for whatever the night might bring. If I hadn't been drinking all day long I might have worried about my hydration levels, but as it was I felt secure that my body would find its rightful place, achieving stasis. 

By the time that I made it to the guest room where my air mattress awaited me I felt as comfortable as I ever remember feeling before. I vaguely remember waking up at one point to piss, then back to my inflatable cloud, not even interrupting my dreams. I must have slept for another 10 hours. Not even coffee can break through my tranquility this morning. I am as an old Zen master, calmed and meditative, all knowing. All of life merely a giant marshmallow, nothing can harm me.

Yesterday we visited one of the nicest homes I've ever been to. It was up in Beverly Hills. I would have taken pictures and used them here this morning but did not want to seem like a tourist. Having lived in New York for 12 years has taught me a few things about how to act, some traits being good, others not as much. But the house was a marvel, a visual event. That's where we'll go and watch the Super Bowl today. There is an impressive media room there. To get to it you must be willing to walk across a glass floor that shows the vast wine cellar below. The place is populated with much modern art, each piece an investment as well as a luxury. The entire guest house has been converted into a studio room, dedicated to music. There were two turntables set up in the "dj fashion" so my friend and I spent the evening reminding ourselves how old we are, taking turns at being fat with headphones on.

When Justin Bieber visited the house he offered to buy it on the spot, to give you an idea.

Now my friend is making eggs with vegetables and chicken. The vapors are working their way through my morning fog, reminding me that today is America's big day. 47 years ago we became a proud nation, with a sport that is larger than all other sports combined worldwide. It's annual revenues place it as being larger than many nation's entire economies. I mean... when Superman lets you use his name to advertise a game, you know that you've finally made it, that you've arrived on the galactic scene. Let's hope the dreaded General Zod from Krypton doesn't ruin it for us all.