Saturday, September 30, 2017

San Diego

I arrived yesterday and met my buddies at the airport. We had a lunch on the bay where the view of two aircraft carriers could be casually contemplated in peace time. Then, a dinner in Encinitas, interspersing domestic suburban activities throughout - a walking of the dog to pick the kids up at school, a football game, some chatting and laughing around the kitchen with a little red wine.

I stayed up late hoping that my sleep patterns would somehow coincide with other people's schedules and I nearly succeeded. I am still up early while everybody else is sleeping. The mildly cool wind coming in off the coast is pleasant. The sound of life beginning its day at the open windows is fine and peaceful as I sit and drink my coffee.  

We discussed politics in its social sense and the daunting possibility of (gasp!) living in a red state, the failure of the democratic party and perhaps of liberalism itself, as well as the potential charms of a place like Des Moines, Iowa. I tried to argue for living in a place that possessed some cultural vitality, that there was more to choosing a place to live than the cost of housing and low crime rates, though the voice of being a father was nagging at me, telling me that perhaps I do not believe so much of that that any more. 

Sonoma is far from being vital. Its charm in that regard is mainly its proximity to San Francisco. The majority of the "culture" that I now consume is streamed into my living space by choice, such is the embodiment of the American model of culture, it is only immersive in direct relation to the size and placement of your television. The days of regularly going to the Moma and the Met are no more. 

So, I checked on broadband speeds in Iowa. Don't tell...

My friend from Washington said that he never goes to the Seattle opera, so what does it matter to him. I questioned whether Seattle even had an opera. I checked; they do. The point was taken though. Why do I live in such an expensive place if it confers no special advantages, either real or imaginary, to me. 

Sonoma is naturally beautiful, I suppose. There is that. Culturally it is no more advanced than anywhere else. The region is mainly agricultural, the county religion is yoga, whose principle advantage seems to be the indeterminate physical and spiritual benefits it bestows on its most disciplined adherents. So there seems to be some imaginary competition for the achieving of those benefits, even though they can be had freely by many. Its truths are fundamental in a personal capacity. I suppose that may be preferable to the truths found in politics, the religion of fundamental social management. 

Choosing to live in a place based on the options available there is a clever choice only if you exercise those options every now and then. Otherwise, too many options creates a crowding of inner and outer space. Choices become fatiguing noise when not regularly exercised. 

We discussed the failed assumptions of liberals, the idea that somehow being right should mean that they were also destined to win. The condescension they possess towards any and everyone else has become tiring, the moral surmising of their own superiority no longer worth the argument that would ensue to have them clarify their position on most things, or to point out that their value judgments are not nearly as implacable as they seem to believe, or at all. 

Being correct means little compared to winning elections. Smugness turned out to be a bad platform for winning over the hearts and minds of the stupid and angry.

It is difficult to be at a place in life where you still very much wish to believe in liberal ideals, but to watch those ideals thrive in their abbreviated form, winning on the lips of people who seem to have embraced them from expediency rather than conviction. Their most comprehensive message has to do with the wrongness of others, which can have a rather limiting capacity when attempting to advance or justify one's' own questionable postulates.

I know, dear reader, I well know... I am smug, but also vain, arrogant, and loud. What I lack in nuance I adjust for in volume. 

Maybe young people are still expounding, testing, arguing the edges of liberal thought. Who knows. The people in my age group seem to have conceded intellectual defeat and exhaustion. Opinions advanced in silence or not at all. Those who now self-define as liberals do not interest me much beyond them all being my friends. Those who self-define as conservatives have always been my moral enemy, which leaves me in the party of shut the fuck up and leave me alone. My only political agenda is advancing the proposition that you shouldn't talk to me about what is best for America, or worse, what should come next. 

As an experiment, ask everyone you know who should be the next democratic presidential nominee. The crisis is not only not over, it's worsening. The dems don't have a very deep bench when it comes to potential leaders. Trump took advantage of that as well as the desperate confusion on the right. He won in part because of there being too many options on the right and not enough on the left. 

CS said it well - he'll vote for whomever doesn't destroy his retirement quickly, thoroughly, or both. He said something like that. If I had any retirement funds then maybe I'd feel the same. I want a young charismatic Bernie Sanders type of anti-politician to tell me that people have already made enough money, but that sadly I am not one of those people and something should now be done about it. An untested political remedy is what we need most.

I'll vote for whomever tells me that I am owed a Prius. 


Friday, September 29, 2017

Define - Pornography

(Sally Mann)

It's a noun.

A Google search results in this: printed or visual material containing the explicit description or display of sexual organs or activity, intended to stimulate erotic rather than aesthetic or emotional feelings.

I'm not sure how the determination is made as to the intention of an image. Do they use the moment of creation, knowledge of the life or beliefs of the photographer, or is it the image's effect on the viewer? How can we know if a given viewer possesses any aesthetic faculties? A person like that might perceive the intention of all things as being erotic, even if they are incapable of those sensations themselves. Do they measure a physical reaction? I had believed that erotic stimulation was emotional.  Do they mean feelings that are openly displayed?

Again, the terms used to define seem intentionally confusing and contradictory.

Define - intention, also a noun: a thing intended; an aim or plan. Or, in medicine: the healing of a wound.

That clears things up, if you were curious about photography's intentions. As long as your desire to heal a wound is aesthetic and not erotic then you should be fine.

When an artist like Sally Mann takes pictures of her own children then we can safely assume that any effect they have is entirely within the viewer. Who would ascribe erotic intentions to a mother looking at and photographing her daughters, right? So, Sally Mann's intention exists wholly within the pornographic viewer, I guess. You should only experience the emotions of the aesthetic. If you look at these images as being sexual and not sensual then you begin to understand what is meant by the definition.

The only monster in any room is always you.

We know a mother is always pure, almost virginal.

I'm preparing a loosely legal, mostly social, argument for a friend. I'm trying to find a safe, responsible way to discuss Hugh Hefner with people under 30. Or, was it Howard Hughes? I forget.

Whichever one objectified, then died - that one.

(Sally Mann)


Thursday, September 28, 2017

Then, a decade

(Yes, recycling older pics)

Yes again, documenting my life, that's what I'm doing in pictures and personal essays. This site will soon be in its 9th year. After that, a decade of course. A personal monolith of toy nihilism.  What does it all mean. 

I tell myself that it might be useful if I die younger than I would have preferred. That a document of my life might be of interest and value to my son. But I question if my temperament here accomplishes what I hoped for in that regard. Thinking that way prevents me from writing with a semblance of honesty, and when I am not being honest I rely on vulgarity. When I lean on vulgarity, it leans inside of me, smokes its cigarettes.

I can not write here for very long this morning - I go into the city to work, then some loud rock show tonight with Cato, then to San Diego for the weekend, then home again. I go to sunny San D to visit with two old friends. 

I have been friends with both of them for many years. One since early childhood, 3rd grade, the other since early adolescence. I have told the story here before over the last ten years so there is little reason to tell it again, but we have each known one other for a very long time. They met each another in college, both friends of mine independently. They came to know one another once departing high school, upon recognizing one another as familiar in that strange and exciting new place: Gainesville, Florida. My buddy CS went there also - Univ. of Fla., the Gators.  He studied photography under a famous photographer and others. 

I never truly studied photography. Even when in film school I avoided the more technical aspects of the art, of learning those facts. I have just picked things up here and there along the way. Knowing only the basics even of my own technique, if it can be called that. Photographing a child, a woman, and a dog as if they were candid fashion subjects, celebrities amongst civilians. Documenting those lives living nearest mine.

The night is long, the sun is coming, in the distance memory runs the horizon line.


Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Pirates, daddy, pirates!

"Did pirates make this music?" - Rhys, this morning in the car, listening to Tom Waits' Rain Dogs.

"Yes buddy, in a sense, it was made by pirates."

Okay, so what? I have been digging through old pictures. 

Don't look at me... don't look at me...

I like that I am documenting my life now. Decades passed with no record beyond my systematically blurred recollections. It helps arrange the memories around an organizing principle: time. I can tell how long ago some events were now, when I inspect the metadata.

Speaking of, I've spent too much of my time today arguing with experts on police brutality. One way that you can determine that conservatives are wrong with everything they think and say and do: cops will agree with them on all social issues. With liberals it's never quite as easy. Let them talk enough and nobody will ever get to agree again.


Tuesday, September 26, 2017

The South Will Fall Again

(Brian Brown)

The only coherently consistent message from Trump has been that of racism. He has flip-flopped on every issue except that one. It seemed as if maybe he even flipped on that subject, but when you realize he was just reading a prepared statement that he would double back on a day later - as soon as he is speaking for himself - then you know.

You've always known. 

Those that continue to show support for Trump are also racists. Ask any of them what their support for him consists of and they won't quite know how to respond, or if they do blather out something other than hatred for others then be prepared to point out to them that his stance on any issue other than "the unwanted otherness of others" has fluctuated greatly. The overarching message of his presidency has invariably been racism. Its effects are evidenced nearly everywhere you look. Who knew there were so many rocks to crawl out from under. 

Yes, you - Trump supporters, are racists. It's what we knew all along, but now they get to announce it proudly and publicly, and they should. Why not be proud of what your race is doing and has done? Why indeed. If I didn't know better then I'd think that Obama was just trying to rub your nose in the history of slavery. My god, just his presence in the White House was divisive, wasn't it? You suddenly felt divided from something and Trump brought you back into the fold. That's called whiteness, and you are a racist. 

If you have ever had any question about the origin of "southern pride" then it is worth reading the almost word-for-word copy of the US Constitution in the form of the Constitution of the Confederacy. It only differs from ours in a few places, most importantly where it explicitly allows for the exclusive ownership and importation of African negroes to the slaveholding states. Their big fear, it seemed, was that the north might beat them at buying and selling slaves. They wanted to make sure that couldn't happen.

If you had any remaining questions about why the Civil War was fought then that should satisfy those lingering curiosities. The very concept of southern pride is wrapped up in their definitive loss, and their continued belief in the supremacy of their white way of life. 

The intentional echo of The South Will Rise Again found in Make America Great Again is no mistake.  It speaks its truth directly to the brain stem of those that wish hear its message, those that need to hear it, those that need to believe its tired call to the bullshit glories of its imaginary past.

They long for a day when the south is more like a kudzu covered Sweden, I guess. You know, sweet racial hegemony, but without all of that nasty, suspect socialism. 

To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

Shakespeare, Macbeth


Monday, September 25, 2017

Enchantments lure

I sometimes feel silly going through old pictures, almost ashamed. The past can be a mildly dangerous and intoxicating place. It can also be unexpectedly sobering, pictures can be. Maybe a danger in other ways. There is an occasional feeling of guilt there, in that it's almost nostalgia, without the pleasures of longing, where sentiment always turns or softens. All of it odd, the feelings of wistful uncertainty. So much from the past is paradoxical, some of it busy with taking over the future in its aggregate form. All of it becoming aged together, a panorama of blurred curiosities. 

This image above was a mistake. I was trying to do a quick shoot with Rachel in front of a local restaurant and I was hoping to emulate Grant Wood's "American Gothic" on the fly, but had neither a tripod nor pitchfork with which to complete the scene. Rachel and I had just had baby boy wonder, Rhys, and were out pushing a stroller around the neighborhood. 

Don't read anything into what I have written here. I chose the picture above because it did not represent the feelings I attempted to describe, not as example of them.

A bit of aging, dusting the room for sorcery.  


Sunday, September 24, 2017

America, the gloriest of holes

A lost Sunday, nothing to report. A lazy day spent mostly relaxing. 

There is much hue and cry over NFL players kneeling for the national anthem today to protest police violence and injustice against people of color. In this, many see disrespect for our military, or perhaps for the nation itself. 

We are told that this expressive political act somehow harms those who have fought for our liberty. Or that maybe it hurts cops feelings, and pride is an important part of what they need to feel to conduct themselves authoritatively. 

This country has ceased being worthy of such defensiveness. Any nation that can elect a person like Trump to the presidency, and then allow him to stay in office after his continued racist behavior proves him to be perpetually unfit, is not worth standing or singing or fighting or arguing for any more. We elected a president that genuinely reflects just how ignorant and bigoted we are as a people. It must be so difficult for Trump right now, the poor guy...  you know if he could he would want to decree an all white American football league. 

All of my cracker friends excitedly agree, Trump was just what America needed. 

The Star Spangled Banner is a terrible song, and fuck that abysmal pledge of convenience, also.

Somehow peacefully kneeling to a song no longer fits within the scope of acceptable freedoms. 

Who knows, maybe some of those second amendment people can do something about it. 


Saturday, September 23, 2017

Hills Like White Elephants

("The American")

I just opened the back of a film camera to see if I had wound the film properly. I had, ruining the roll of film that was already loaded there of course. So, I took a few bullshit shots around the house, wound the film back onto its spool inside the protective canister and threw it in my desk. Who knows if I'll get it developed now. I probably will. I like to throw money at useless things, failure especially. 

I've shot about twenty rolls of film on this camera and somewhere near half of them have been exposed. I was loading the film incorrectly all along, assuming the take-up spindle went a direction other than what it does. I even watched a YouTube clip showing how to correctly load film into this specific camera, but I only watched it up to the point where I thought I knew the rest. I was wrong. It spins inward, towards the body of the camera. Oh well.

What else was I going to do with that money, dear readers? I'm like a child with cash, everything I love appears as candy behind the glass in my mind. I am eager to quickly pass over the wrinkled paper for the sugars that seem to orchestrate life. 

I would be broke and temporarily happy if I didn't have so many bills to pay.

I have loaded a roll of black and white into the camera now. I love the grainy look. I remember shooting the beautifully grainy 16mm Tri-X reversal on a CP-16 in film school. 

I made a student film based on the short story "Hills Like White Elephants." CS was involved in the project, though it could have used him there on the day of principal photography. The project suffered greatly from my inexperience. My actress backed out at the last second - she was incapable of shooting in the nude, a thing she insisted she could and would be able to do, no problem. CS had suggested that I shoot some tests to confirm. He was, of course, correct. No man that I know has experienced as much female nudity as he, and without what might be considered traditional male interests. He recognizes the suffering of innocent loneliness, the need for reification, the transitory beauty of youth and its loss. 

Since I've told all of my life stories here twice, let's make another run at the Hills:

At the last minute, the morning of shooting, my then wife stepped in and played the part. The film suffered for this a little bit as well as other setbacks, many self-prompted, though the piece would have been vastly different had she not offered to play the role. Originally it was meant to be shot in a restaurant, which completely misses the point of the story occurring between two sets of train tracks going different directions. Also between two mountain ranges, each differing in their terrain, one being barren and the opposing being fertile. I wished to make the piece claustrophobic and I did so to a fault. The audio and photography are menacing and poor. If you can not hear the actors speaking then almost everything is lost. 

I tried to upload a standard VHS transfer to my server so that I could share a link here, but the file is too large to effectively do so from my home system (2GB) and any further degradation of the already poorly produced piece would be unacceptable. These screenshots somehow look worse than the actual film. Oh yes, also I ruined the moment in the story when the woman asserts herself by having my wife speak the lines. 

It is hard to watch, but it is mine. 

It's a feminist piece that explores the dynamic between what is now called toxic masculinity and what was then recognized as subservient femininity. If you have not read the story it describes a conversation in which a man attempts to coerce a woman into getting an abortion that she does not want. The question is never answered. This lack of resolution leads many to believe that the woman acquiesces, though I am not so sure she is willing to accede to his masterful male persuasion. Hemingway hints in subtle ways that the woman's wishes will prevail. A careful reading shows her gaining in assertiveness and resolve throughout the story, her sarcasm and silence being the anti-articulation to match his many explanations and directives. 

Here is a visual representation of their intoxicating indulgences at the table, and of the abortion that hangs between them. The camera pans down from here to where the wine flows from between her legs onto the floor, forming a fresh red puddle there of course.



Friday, September 22, 2017

Man Down

One of my old buddies from Apple passed away the night before last. Cato texted me yesterday to let me know. It seemed like the type rumor that might be spread about him, so I checked and sadly yes, he is gone. The confirmation coming from a mutual friend, our manager when we worked together on the overnight shift at the corner of 5th Ave and Central Park. She had received a text from his father letting her know. How heartbreaking those simple words must have been to send, or to see. 

None said it openly, but the silent presumption was misadventure, and that very well might have been the case. It would likely not surprise anyone that knew him. He was that type of guy - troubled, vibrant, eager to escape. Not troubled in the weighty way, making himself a perpetual burden to those near him, but in his pursuit of indulgences. He would smirk, smile, or laugh knowingly at any hint of excess, the silent understanding that often passes between other people's problems. The issue that can become its own disposition, circling the person in nearly invisible orbits, such that its avoidance becomes as telling as its presence. The shared currency of certain complicated and delicate lives.

He laughed at my jokes, so of course he had his problems. He was a good natured guy, very easy to laugh along with. He will be missed, and I make no apology for the truth of that cliche. 

There is something large, empty, and funereal connected to his demise, arriving at the arrival of recurring Autumn.

We were both part of an ongoing group text, a thing that most people publicly advertise hating, though somehow with them not only do I not mind it but enjoy it and look forward to seeing activity there, if not always as an active participant. It's somehow better than social media, a proxy substitution for hanging out together over beers. A private conversation in which jokes could be made and laughs had with neither reprimand nor ill intention. The way it's supposed to be, this life. 

I won't go on, I could. Last night while trying to sleep I was reminded of various interactions with him - his name is Tim - laughing and smiling inwardly at the foibles of a personable life. The struggle that forms the bond of having worked together closely.  

A response in that text group from another friend was the phrase that we used to indicate that someone had called out sick and would not be at work that night, or for any other purpose when someone was absent, or in remote need of any kind. It nearly broke my heart when I saw it again in this irretrievable context: Man Down.


Thursday, September 21, 2017

The contrary opposition

I almost started explaining to my son last night that there are starving kids in the world that would just love to eat his dinner, but no, I stopped myself before the words formed. He is arriving at the age where he is beginning to test the differences between must-do, might-do, and not-a-chance. I'm not sure how effective the punishment/reward system is on a  five year old, especially when I am using ice cream as both - he either gets some or he doesn't. 

Is that how it works? I may need to expand my parenting beyond the bargaining stage. Who knows. I'm beginning to suspect that good parenting is a myth that only comes to life in magazines. The more I think about it the more misty the concept becomes. Being a disciplinarian doesn't seem to work, but the boy does struggle when we attempt the laissez-faire model. What is the opposite of non-intervention? Somewhere along the way I may have forgotten to adopt a parenting strategy. 

Okay, before the day begins I sit here, waiting in the dark as the sun appears, a 200 pound cat purring without fur.


Tuesday, September 19, 2017

... nothing to do with this

(The embodied joy of household chores)

Later he sat at this desk wanting very much to write a poem about piglets, not a comic poem. It would have to be a private poem for his eyes only because you need only utter the word "pig" and some people would begin chuckling in their superiority. Pigs were of course edible but contemptible. He seethed in resentment in defense of pigs. The human race shits in its pants for at least the first year. Who else laughs in ridicule of fellow creatures? How could he write a poem if he was angry? Historians said that pork fueled the western movement. Without pigs there would be no west coast. Pigs would follow the wagon trains, their minds on a little corn for dinner. They would root for edible vegetables while cattle would wander off with their eyes on greener pastures. 
- Jim Harrison, The Ancient Minstrel

That ^^^ has nothing to do with this:

I've discovered the key to keeping my apartment clean - perhaps not keeping it that way, but achieving it as an occasional state - it's easy: invite women over. I have of course known this for many years, but it has become more obvious again recently. It started when I invited my friend Regan over to conduct her warmup rave in my living room, with Cato and myself as audience. Once I knew she was coming over I found myself cleaning the toilet, as a bare minimum. Women put their butts on those things, so you know... they should be clean and invitingly functional, not the other way.

This weekend after a cub scouts hike I had one of Rhys' buddies come over to go swimming. I realized that soon after this his mom would swing by to pick him up. An understanding friend nonetheless, but again the cleaning commenced. Then, another buddy was bringing her son over to go for a bike ride around the same time. In about one hour while the boys were playing in Rhys' room I was able to orchestrate a perfunctory cleaning on the four important zones: bathroom, bedroom, living room, and kitchen. The bedroom only because that serves as the main entrance to the apartment. Yes, I know it's rather unusual, but when I moved in here I was not thinking about guests, I was only thinking that I needed my own place near my son. 

That being said, what I had believed to be an overwhelming amount of cleaning turned out to only be about one hour's worth, at least to reel it towards being in a manageable state. 

So there it is, the key to maintaining a clean apartment: women. 

Not in that way... I meant having them around makes me clean more. 

In NYC I had a few Jewish friends. They were perfect for this sort of thing. The first thing out of their mouths when they would come over and point at my life would be, You know this is why you don't have a girlfriend, right? 

It was motivational, in a sense. 

It must be the inheritance of some of that Irish-Catholic guilt that fuels this sort of behavior. I respond positively to guilt and shame, but it must be uninvited and from someone who will then go home afterwards and not look me in the eyes about anything. 

It's therapeutic, I think - the demands and results of ignominy.


Monday, September 18, 2017

The Rural Legends


My immediate plan is to put every other children's face paint artist in Sonoma out of business. They're a bunch of clowns. They have no chance against a true artist such as myself. After that, I take over the west coast, then the red states, and then of course the world. My dream is to be the first children's face painter to set up a storefront on uncolonized Mars. 

Think of it patriots, no taxes.... nothing but red as far as the eye can see. All the liberals will be on Uranus, being taxed into submission. How else to fund the war on the Sun? 

I am happy with it though, it's fun. The kids seem to simply love it. I've painted Rhys' face about five times now. He wants me to shave so he has more surface area to work with, but I'm no fool, my facial hair is what makes the Mascara really pop. 


Sunday, September 17, 2017

Face Paint

The boy and I had great fun yesterday, doing mostly nothing at all. We had big plans here and big plans there but did none of them. Instead, we fooled around the house until we were tired enough to go to sleep. We bought a face painting kit and each did yellow and red flowers on the other's cheek. I attempted a killer whale for the boy. The boy loved it, but I kept my critical reservations intact. I demanded new brushes and threw a temper tantrum to ensure that my artistry would soon shine through. No, of course there was little artistry involved.

I recommend everybody paint someone else's face. It tickles and there must be some trust when painting near the eyes. While seated we shared a focus that was touching, at least for me. But when we were each finished we had done something tremendously simple, sweet, and transitory. It's like roller-blading for the mind, good practice for other ways to live. We ran around the house laughing before and afterwards, looking at ourselves in the mirror, laughing at the victory of our efforts.

Then, there arrived a monster patched together from pieces in the laboratory of Dr. Frankenstein, a fearsome a fellow as ever there was.


(Apple juice is loose)


There will be a hiking trip this morning, then there might be a trip into the city, or maybe a spaghetti dinner at school - adventure that is deserving of the energetic stylings of a five year old. The type things that keep me from sitting around the house too much and from ever doing laundry. Something has to exceed my guilt threshold before it gets any of my attention, much less my effort. Independence is fine and fantastic until there is housework. How does anybody ever do it. 

So, hiking, driving, possibly spaghetti noodling, maybe more face painting, some swimming at the pool, all of it cradled in the leisure of one soft Sunday.

And as I was green and carefree, famous among the barns
About the happy yard and singing as the farm was home,
     In the sun that is young once only,
          Time let me play and be 
     Golden in the mercy of his means,
And green and golden I was huntsman and herdsman, the calves
Sang to my horn, the foxes on the hills barked clear and cold,
          And the sabbath rang slowly
     In the pebbles of the holy streams. 
- Dylan Thomas


Saturday, September 16, 2017

Jack London Ranch

(Not Jack London Park)

I can too easily fall into routine and stay there, sometimes, convinced that I am managing my happinesses well. 

There is a ride that I would consider my "daily ride" that is fantastic by nearly any standards, excepting perhaps that the roads in Sonoma could use some fresh taxpayer revenues. The ride takes me 60 minutes. Anything more is a mild disappointment, anything less is a victory, anything less than 58:20 is a personal record. But I do it almost every day, to economize time and to get the best workout that I possibly can in the shortest period of time. The topography of the ride is just about perfect for warming up, raising my heart rate and holding it there, achieving a summit, a long loop road that feels victorious in the sun, then the mostly downhill ride home done at top speed to keep my heart rate at or near 150 bpm. The last portion of the ride is a long slow incline to the stoplight near our place where I start and stop the clock.

It is all very sensible and pleasant. But, when I meander on the weekends I tend to enjoy it more. It triggers some sense of euphoria in wandering, a simulacrum of lust. There is something very sensible about it, also. 

This morning I went up to Jack London's house and ranch. I am well aware of this route and this hill by car - it passes Benziger Family Winery, a biodynamic farm - but, for whatever reason I have never bothered riding it. 

Then; today.

The first seasonal chill has arrived in the morning wind, just enough to welcome the warming-up phase of the ride. There is a country road named Arnold that will often make me sing one of my favorite Syd Barrett tunes. Then, at the center of the hamlet north of here that is Glen Ellen there is a road that departs up into the hills towards the ruin of the Wolf House and all else. This road is maybe only a 12-15 minute ride, maybe less, but it is uphill and heart healthy.

Midway up, the tree line clears and one can see well over into the next valley towards Rohnert Park and beyond, to the hills between here and the Pacific. The fog lies dormant as a distant dream, nestled into the valley crevice. Looking into it seems to give the eyes both wings and flight, a sense of lift and glide, the mind becomes an ascending murmuration, a flock in flight of itself.

Once to the ranger station there is a turnaround, then the swift downhill run where there is no gazing off into the near or far valleys, only the road and its curves, its dangerous inconsistencies of surface. 

There exists a thrill in speed, the intoxicating reduction of daydreams; rendering the rider lissome, slender, and pleasantly free. Hands compressing the curved levers of both brakes.


Friday, September 15, 2017

Sketch For A Job Application Blank

My left eye is blind and jogs like
a milky sparrow in the socket;
my nose is large and never flares
in anger, the front teeth are bucked,
but not in lechery--I sucked 
my thumb until the age of twelve.
O my youth was happy and I was never lonely
though my friends called me "pig eye"
and the teacher though me loony.

       (When I was bruised , my psyche kept intact:
       I fell from horses, and once a cow but never
       pigs--a neighbor lost a hand to a sow.)

But I had some fears:
the salesman of eyes,
his case was full of fishy baubles,
against black velvet, jeweled gore,
the great cocked hoof of a Belgian mare,
a nest of milk snakes by the water trough,
electric fences,
my uncle's hounds,
the pump arm of an oil well,
the chop and whirr of a combine in the sun.

From my ancestors, the Swedes,
I suppose I inherit the love of rainy woods,
kegs of herring and neat whiskey--
I remember the long nights of pinochle,
the bulge of Redman in my grandpa's cheek;
the rug smelled of manure and kerosene.
They laughed loudly and didn't speak for days.

       (But on the other sided, from the German Mennonites,
       their rag smoke prayers and porky daughters
       I got intolerance, an aimless diligence.)

In '51 during a revival I was saved:
I prayed on a cold register for hours
and woke up lame. I was baptized
by immersion in the tank in Williamston--
the rusty water stung my eyes.
I left off the old things of the flesh
but not for long--one night beside a pond
she dried my feet with her yellow hair.
       O actual event dead quotient 
       cross become green
I still love Jubal but pity Hagar.

       (Now self is the first sacrament
       who loves not the misery and taint
       of the present tense is lost.
       I strain for a lunar arrogance
                             Light macerates
                             the lamp infects
       warmth, more warmth, I cry.)

- Jim Harrison


Tuesday, September 12, 2017



Tell it to the forest fire, tell it to the moon,
mention it in general to the moon
on the way down,
he's about to have his lady, permanent;
and this is the worst of all came ever sent
writhing Henry's way.

Ha ha, fifth column, quisling, genocide,
he held his hands & laught from side to side
a loverly time.
The berries & the rods left him alone less.
Thro' a race of water once I went: happiness
I'll walk into the sky.

There the great flare & stench, O flying creatures,
surely will dim-dim? Bars will be closed.
No girl will again
conceive above your throes. A fine thunder peals
will with its friends and soon, from agony
put the fire out.

- John Berryman


Monday, September 11, 2017

How histories are made

"How often have I lain beneath rain on a strange roof thinking of home." - Faulkner, As I Lay Dying 

I was chatting with an expatriate friend. We were commenting on the twenty years that we've known each other. She pointed out that it actually does feel like twenty years, an oddity for that type of time passed. When I think of other relationships I marvel at time's oddness within them. Events seems further distant or heartbreakingly close when felt through the curved corridors of the mind. 

Our friendship seems as if it's lasted about twenty years, though. It's very no-nonsense, you see. Or rather, post-nonsense might be a better description.

She lived in my apartment in NYC on September 11th, but that is not what I meant.

I was with Rachel on the afternoon of September 11th, when we got the news. We were in Manchester, so it was shortly after we had arrived at the studio and lunch. We were already playing around with loops and riffs and stabs and samples, having finished the basis of what became this track. Coincidentally, it is one of the few "fun" tracks I have ever produced.  

British Airways lost my passport shortly after that. I stayed in England while my studio partners flew off to do a gig in Japan a few days after. It was a surreal experience, and I'm no stranger to those. There was a time when my entire life seemed surreal. Though being out of my country with an airline having lost my passport added to the weirdness. 

What did Villon write: 
In my own country I am in a far off land.
I am strong but have no power.
I win all yet remain a loser.
At break of day I say goodnight.
When I lie down I have a great fear of falling.

I was, at least, with another expatriate - Rachel. The days and nights passed so strangely, waking each morning with new and unfamiliar fears. We talked a lot during those two weeks. The world we knew spun up and away from us, even as it spun around us.

She and I drove down to Chester, over the border into Wales. This is why Rhys' name is what it is, Welsh in origin though my heritage is Irish. I found the use of the y as the name's only vowel to be poetic in a way that I liked. The cities named or ending in "chester" in England indicate that a Roman fort had once occupied those cities, though most of the Romans are long gone now, at least from industrial Manchester. They all went back to Rome in the 5th century, handing the island back to the barbarians who were so willing to fight for it. 

I wonder how they all turned out.

I have nothing to say, really, neither grand nor sweeping opinion on September 11th, and I'll generally avoid, taunt, or encourage those that do. The event seems to have had a galvanizing effect on some, but towards what precisely it is hard to say. Patriotism, maybe. Nationalism, more likely. Then there are others who enjoy the passions of doubt about the events of the day. What can be said to them? Of course there is reason to be suspicious. It's how we know the government is on to us.

I like the image above. It is known as "The Falling Man." I don't like what I see so much, but rather like the power that it has. Of the many things to have come out of that day and all that followed the image has contained both a visceral effect and an intellectual interest within me. I see and feel and think a number of things in it. I almost bought a print when I lived in the East Village. There was a storefront set up to sell them to raise money for charity to help the responders. This one was there for a while, but then it disappeared when I went back in, the partial story of which is told in the link provided above. 

I never bought it because it is not an image that you would hang anywhere, not if you cared about your own feelings regarding where you live. Its power is that of a bad magic, also. But I wanted to be able to look at it anyway. The print was much better than is any online version. Standing in front of it is not like looking at it on your screen at all. It becomes less transitory, the fleeting death and life captured become more material. People want certainty. Caprice in too many things is discomfiting, disquieting, even impossible. A print of an image is its assuredness of itself. 

I just read in the article that the most accurate number of jumpers that day was approximately two hundred, culled from eyewitness accounts and forensic evidence. 

That grim certainty has made me not want to write any more this morning.  


Sunday, September 10, 2017

What passes as hunger

I was chatting with a woman at work, relaying that I was happy to be back doing cardio, longer rides on my road bike. She is a jogger and we have discussed the effects of cycling/running a handful of times, so this conversation was not as odd as that first sentence might have suggested. In any event, without thinking much about what I was saying I equated a unique sense of happiness, control, and contentment as being the result of this specific type of exercise, and the singular power that this offers in my ability to manage occasionally acute anxiety.

She responded with something along the lines of, Well, that's not good. 

I thought it was a great thing, that I have this way of directly mitigating stress. I hadn't thought about how precariously balanced my well being is, with distance-cardio being the main thing that exerts a direct effect over this sense of chaos and somatic strain.

I suppose she's right. I could probably improve my diet, also. 

I just get so fucking hungry when I'm wound up with worry, thinking too much. Some days it feels as if I could eat my way into another mood. 

That can't be right. 

We have seen the city; it is the gibbous 
Mirrored eye of an insect. All things happen
On its balcony and are resumed within,
But the action is the cold, syrupy flow
Of a pageant. One feels too confined,
Sifting the April sunlight for clues,
In the mere stillness of the eve of its
Parameter. The hand holds no chalk
And each part of the whole falls off
And cannot know it knew, except
Here and there, in cold pockets
Of remembrance, whispers out of time.

John Ashbery, excerpt from "Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror"


Saturday, September 9, 2017

The Strychnine State

(Florida Man)

The hurricane hasn't quite begun to hit Florida yet it's already the worst thing to happen there since the advent of democratic elections. Just look at what the storm's doing now to Cuba. Nature abhors an empty voting booth. 

I don't normally become fearful of things at a distance - except maybe the idea of a nuclear exchange between the cities of our own nation - but this hurricane has me worried. I realize that my concern is useless from here in sunny California. Less than useless. I have long claimed that a category 11 hurricane is the best thing that could possibly happen to that god forsaken peninsula, but I was only kidding.

CS wrote to me this morning - Nobody is going to be killed - but he is of course wrong about this. Looters will be. This is the moment that so many in Florida have been praying for: a justified reason to kill. I'm just hoping that it's nobody that I know. Math favors the necessarily complex. 

I do care about the amorphous anonymous, but not nearly as much as I do about the people I know. Is it wrong that I feel like I'm missing out by not being there? This is the Burning Man of storms. 

Rhys and I were in Florida less than two months ago, enjoying the hurricane heat, so I get to write about the storm as if my surviving of it is the most important possible aspect to today's post. Except that I do know many people there. 

I hope those fuckers think twice about voting for somebody like Trump next time. Though, if there is one thing that Floridians are not quite known for it's thinking twice about something when thinking once about it or not at all will suffice. It's part of why the good men and women of Florida create the most salaciously absurd news stories one can possibly click on. 

That, and all the meth. 

Free to be; free to base.

One thing that might help the feelings of helplessness in the face of all of the impending destruction is to do a Google search for: Naked Florida Man - Felony. Trust me on this. If there's one thing I am always sure of it's Florida and its cadre of naked men always making the news.

I swear it's not me.

Here is a rare school picture (clothed) from Florida, in what appears to be a simpler time. 

(Florida Boy)

Friday, September 8, 2017

The storm is threatening'

It's hypnotic to watch - the storm moving across the waters, watched from above. The safety, of course, the convenience. Also the abstraction of terror, lust, the matched fascination with both. People wish to participate in things, perhaps those things. It is a perfect event for compassion, afterwards. A maelstrom menacing the traces. You stare through the clouds, if you can, looking for the lines below that separate state from sea. Tracking the black contours along the curving surface.

I remember being at the beach in Florida, maybe two handfuls of years ago or more. It was at our friends' house. They had a beautiful place on the thinnest southern portion of Siesta Key, facing the Gulf. A few people were there while they were gone, so it was up to us to prepare for it, wait it out, which we did. I remember sitting in the dark, listening to the wind blow against the boards we had put up on the windows. Everything held, though there were moments when it did not seem possible that it would. We did not get the full force of the thing.

When I was a child we would have those eery days that preceded the landfall of a tropical storm and worse. I think it was waiting for the arrival of Dennis, I stood out in the street as the clouds rippled and rolled above. The local radio station - I want to say it was WDIZ 100.3 -  uncharacteristically played Queen's "Another One Bites the Dust."  

The phrase "Something Wicked This Way Comes" kept repeating in my young mind.

The storm fizzled out. I share the sinking feeling that this one will not. I hadn't started to worry until I wrote this.


Thursday, September 7, 2017

Ideas for a new tattoo

The emotional weight of grief arrives later, now that I am older, I guess. My fear is that I won't be able to experience grief for my own death until it's much too late. I might find myself dead with lingering regrets.

The grief arrived in a full form on Tuesday, after some time had passed. I was finally alone; less than busy. I began to feel some guilt because I reacted poorly to an interaction with Rachel's father while we were in Oregon. Where I should have been more understanding, I was not. Nobody noticed, I do not believe, but it was bothering me. 

Then he passed away. Time seemed to just freeze where it was. Only now have the emotions of it finally caught up with me. 

A similar thing happened to me after my own father's passing. A week or more went by before it landed on me. I had wrongly believed that the psychological preparedness of pre-acknowledging his age and the likelihood of his demise had adequately prepared me for what was going to happen. That's not really how grief works, though.

Not even death seems to arrive and do its damage now the way that it once did. If ever there was a better indication of aging being in part a loss of immediacy then this just might be it. I'll be cutting out coupons from what was once considered junk mail soon. 

It's like throwing away money, I'll one day think. 

Until then, I'll be muttering questions to myself. 

Like, What ever happened? 


Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Tago Mago

I read that Holger Czukay passed away. He was 79. He must have seemed like an older brother to the musicians around him in Cologne in the late 60s, being about 30 by then. Remember "Never trust anyone over 30" was a popular mantra from the Free Speech Movement of those same times. 

I just put Tago Mago in my car last week. Listening to it yesterday and over the weekend it occurred to me that their music sits somewhere between the electric Miles Davis and Pink Floyd, with the vocals falling towards an almost proto-punk tribalism. They were more coherent as players than were Pink Floyd, though their music still seemed more experimental, which it was. It must also sound like pure erraticism to those not accustomed to it.

If you don't want to be occasionally screamed at by a Japanese front man then early Can just might not be the band for you. It's not for everybody, but fuck... it's good at what it is. If Pink Floyd attempted to bridge the imaginary gaps between pop and space-rock then Can successfully bridged what Pink Floyd was trying to do with something that was immediate and interesting, and did so a few years before the Floyd fellows. Compare Meddle to Tago Mago, I dare you. Can was somehow both more accessible and more obscure, beating Floyd at the game they were trying to create by posturing to be the sole definition of it.

It's not really rock and roll, or not in the traditional sense of what rock is and does. It uses the same instruments but the results were otherworldly.

I have always liked Ege Bamyasi and Future Days more but many consider Tago Mago their early masterpiece, and it is true that nothing else really sounds like it at all, particularly in the below linked version in which it is being played back at half the intended speed. It's not like listening to the album twice, at all. 

Here is the album, Tago Mago, at half speed... if you have any remaining curiosity concerning the fucked up state of my musical sensibilities. You might want to try listening to it at regular speed a few hundred times first.

I could listen to this stuff all day, and this, also.

I think they're both beautiful, in the way that honest yearnings are. 


Tuesday, September 5, 2017


Something doesn't feel right; no idea what it is. Perhaps the result of the recent death. The thoughts that death provokes. That must be it. 


Monday, September 4, 2017

Valley of the Rave

I went and picked up my friend Cato from the city yesterday. We had no real plan in place except to have dinner with the boy - some sushi, chicken, and wine. Then my buddy Regan texted. She was in Petaluma house-sitting, so we decided to have an impromptu rave at my apartment. She came over and set up het dj rig. I ran to the store to get more wine. We were off and raving. 

I think it was called Kratom. It was disgusting to taste. I was told that it would make me feel "warm and fuzzy..." The other side effects of it - sedation, nausea, sweating, dry mouth, increased urination, loss of appetite, itching, and constipation - were not mentioned. Those all arrived this morning. Or, I could be hungover. 

Either way, I'm sitting on the couch now, looking forward to tomorrow, in the hopes that I'll feel better than I do today. 

I gave up early and went to bed before the rave was over, a first. 

I suppose I could convince Cato to go get a beer now. This was all his fault, though there's no way to transfer this feeling to him where it belongs, as a reward for his encouragements towards drinking and imbibing the demonic Kratom. 

The hair of the dog doesn't work, though. Or, it does, but only for about an hour. After an hour of drinking I am already working on ruining the following day, with no one left to blame.


Sunday, September 3, 2017

... as being

I think I want to buy a new car today, or maybe tomorrow, or sometime soon. I know that I shouldn't, but knowing things is not what makes me happy. 

I'm relieved that this is a holiday weekend. The extra day offers more time to escape and recuperate, by a factor of 50%. From what it is that I am escaping or recuperating I'm not quite sure. The last few months have been taxing for some reason. Perhaps it is the result of the foot injury in early summer. It kept me from enjoying this summer quite the same as I did the last one. I have gained ten pounds back from where I was last year at this time. Twelve pounds when I am being honest. I'd like to claim that my happiness is not derived from such a superficial condition, but it's not true. It's not superficial, I mean. It is internal and works towards my unhappiness. 

Fat does make me unhappy, but food is much better than Kate Moss has claimed. There are few easy answers for a nearly fifty year old man, and few can remain actively interested in the struggle. 

I just woke up from a nap that lasted about an hour. I had written the above and below paragraphs and now I don't want to publish them, but neither do I wish to rewrite anything. It's similar to the fat conundrum - happiness matters less than laziness, particularly over time. 

I am not a role model for young vulnerable women, that I know of, so I can repost Kate Moss' words somewhat confidently, sure that they won't malevolently encourage anyone to accidentally be skinny.


Saturday, September 2, 2017

Google searches after one bottle of wine

(Hola Tiburón!)

Well, I needed a new kitchen table, now I have one with four matching chairs. It was Rachel's father's table. He had just bought it. So up to Sonoma it came with us in the car. I can't wait to have a dinner at my place. 

Today we will bring the boy to breakfast and tell him about his grandfather. I'm not quite sure what to expect. There is no way of knowing what a child's reaction to such news will be. I have pondered whether or not we tell him about the process of cremation if he asks. What effect would such a thing have on the mind of a five year old. How long will it take him to apply any new knowledge he gains to myself and his mother. I suppose these are the things that we will find out. Or perhaps more troubling is the idea that we'll never quite know what the result will be.

It seems that the simplest question, Where is grandpa now? will either lead to some nonsense about heaven, a place where puppies play and bark all day long, a place where there is no pain and where a person's spirit is no longer attached to their body.... or it will end in a technical description of how we rid ourselves of the burden of the bodies of the dead. 

It's easy son, we reduce their once substantial self into a very fine dust. Oh sure, it's right here, have a look. Be careful, don't spill that, that's grandpa now.

Something doesn't feel quite right about that explanation, for a five year old. I'm certain there are websites designed to assist with this process, but I can never read through those types of sites. Invariably, by the third paragraph they have written something that makes me question their authority on death.

I suppose I could just sit quietly and watch mom handle this. Afterwards, I could explain to the boy that mom is mostly full of shit, grandpa was abducted by aliens and she knows it. 

There are a handful of directions this thing could go today and I'm not entirely sure that I trust myself with this potentially fascinating responsibility. Why do I always have to be the one who does and says the right thing? I've never shown any signs of maturity and still people look at me as if I should magically possess it as a quality.

For this reason alone I am against the basic principles of democracy. People have no idea what the fuck they're doing. The certain ones are clearly wrong.

It is a record breaking heat wave here in the Bay Area lately. It was 107 degrees yesterday. We all went to see a movie just to enjoy the cool dark of the theater. When I came home I watched Mulholland Drive and Stroszek while enjoying a delicious bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon, a Joel Gott. I sat on my new couch and enjoyed the feeling of my changed living space. I was texting like a teenager with my old buddy who also loves film. It was nice just to feel that I could watch an entire movie by myself. Time passed as a luxury. 

While I was watching these films - both of which I had seen before so the obligation of studying and understanding them as a student was somewhat lifted - I was also browsing Facebook and Twitter and  it occurred to me that without my group of friends then that nurse in Utah might be in some pretty serious trouble. Luckily, a bunch of people posted about it which should help the laws that are already in place come into effect. Everywhere there is injustice and a growing distrust of the process to correct it.

It occurred to me that people believe in conspiracies, at least in part, because that would mean that someone must be conspiring against them, which is perhaps easier than is facing the reality that living a mostly anonymous life is both meaningless and futile.

Quite literally, belief in a conspiracy is a way of publicly stating, "I am worth deceiving." It is the near socio-political equivalent of an infidelity. It's similar to claiming that mysterious people that you've never met are cheating on you.

Someone who cares enough to do so is betraying me.

One must first assert there is someone who values lying to them, then that the lie itself has some value. So it follows that the lie must also be big, commensurate with a person's social stature. They then impose this value on you in the form of a conspiracy that they are magically intelligent enough to be privy to. Yet they'll direct you to informational sources that are freely available and just as easily debunked. You will be met with confusion and consternation that you do not also embrace the full revelation of the secret plot against you.

In the future everyone will have their own conspiracy. It will be crafted from your metadata.

It is very difficult for some people to accept that an admission of the boring and much more likely truth renders them less valuable. Without the existence of an exploit then the individual describing the conspiracy shrinks in value. Making oneself a target is the goal. The subscribers to conspiracies are attempting to transmute their own suspicions and lack of faith into an important conversational commodity.

This realization came quite easy, you see. I was watching Mulholland Drive, which has the narrative structure of a conspiracy. You are given just enough information to be certain that something malevolent is going on but never enough to draw any conclusions from those facts or that feeling.

Don't worry, I didn't spend the entire night intellectualizing my cinematic experience. I was also doing Google searches for Why do people poop in the morning?