Billy William's nuts itched, but he was in church and afraid to scratch them. The fear of doing profane things in the house of the holy had dogged him his whole life, or at least since he had first sat in Sister Blowney's Sunday school class when he was eight years old, and she had told him and the other kids that they were going to burn in hell unless they fell in love with Jesus.
Billy, young and naive at the time, had had the great temerity to ask, "Why? What have I done?"
Sister Blowney's eyes bulged out when she talked and her face turned red, " Original sin, dumbass!"
Well, she really didn't use the word dumbass, but she might as well have as Billy remembered that he had walked into church feeling pretty good that morning but had left feeling somewhat like a dumbass. I say somewhat because, even at the young age, he didn't really buy the message one hundred per cent. However, it deeply influenced his thinking well, always. It was why he wasn't scratching his nuts.
And every time he would get aroused from that point on, (well, not exactly every time) he would think of Sister Blowney's bulging eyes and the concept of original sin. He remembered one time in seventh grade English class while watching Evelyn George walking down the aisle in tight black dress, her hips swaying like a seasoned pro. He was trying to write as essay about what he wanted to be when he grew up, but all he could think about was that he wanted to be somewhere safe with Evelyn discussing the effect that that dress had upon him.
Suddenly, an image of Sister Blowney's bulging eyes interrupted his thoughts. He was really going through a hard patch at the time. The move across town to the new school didn't help things. He was popular and did well at the old neighborhood elementary school that he had attended up until the sixth grade. At Andrew Carnegie Middle School things were different. He had no friends and became a little shy and withdrawn. There were cliques there, the most popular being compose of the richer kids who lived on the North side of town.
Every time he got down on himself, or life got down on him, as was fond of saying under his breath, he become more susceptible to the frightful image of Sister Blowney's bulging eyes and the saliva shower with which she said them. This particular time, he quickly averted his eyes away from Evelyn George's walk and said a prayer asking Jesus to save him from lustful thinking. Every time she rose, which was often as she couldn't sit five minutes without being overcome with the desire to show every boy in the class how nice she looked in the tight black dress, Billy would close his eyes and pray.
The mixture of limitations that church and school had placed on Billy's thoughts and actions were strong. Once, he had cheated on a math test in sixth grade, and the idea that it made him unworthy plagued him for years.
The schools, he learned, were more about socializing then bringing out the best in an person. For every Johnny Lemaster and Carla Heinz they produced twenty-five kids like Billy. Kids whose personal growth was stunted by weird teachers, power tripping principals, lowest common denominator peer pressure, and lots of self-doubt.
In third grade, Billy peed his pants because he was afraid to raise his hand in Mrs. Glenn's class room. In sixth grade, Mr. Graldeck made him cry when he made fun of the diorama that Billy had made of Californian mission life. Using Barbie and Ken dolls as Mission Indians probably wasn't such a good idea Billy realized afterwards, but that didn't give Graldeck the right to put his head down on his desk and pound upon it because he was laughing so hard he couldn't talk.
Then there was the time that time when Donald Glasky copied Billy's answers on a history test, and the teacher gave Billy an F because they had the similar answers. Billy felt it wasn't really cheating if you knew the answers.
By the time that Billy entered the job market, he was already well indoctrinated into what being a successful American was all about. Work taught him two things. First, you have to do things you don't like doing for money. Secondly, that work days go by quicker when you wish your life away to make it to the week-ends.
Billy got married right before he turned twenty-six. He loved his wife Jenny and his two pretty daughters. He traded all his dreams in for thirty years of domestic bliss. But once he firmly committed to the idea that one day he would retire and then start living the high life, his wife left him for younger guy with a Ron Jeremy porn mustache and a Kawasaki.
After that, Billy spent many an hour on the back patio of his home, watching the palm trees in his neighbor's yard dance as the sun sat in the west and contemplating his lost relationship with the long gone Jenny. There were times when he thought that would be good because he finally had the freedom to get some strange tail and stay out all night at the Indian Casino in Haborville. Trouble was, he was worried if he could even get it up, and he was far too shy to ask his doctor about the little blue pills that placed lead in the old pencil. Drinking beer only hurt his head in the morning and made him think of Sister Blarney's eyes.
Then, that would make him think of the grim future that lie ahead for a man who couldn't even use lustful thoughts to add flavor to his boring life. He read Tolstoy on a whim and Dostoevsky on recommendation of a friend. That was huge mistake because the stories were essentially grim arguments against existentialism which ultimately said that the secret of life is to give your life over to the service of others and have faith that it means something. Billy came out of the experience thinking, "Damn, I don't even care to help myself. How am I supposed to learn to care about others?"
He lacked faith and wanted so desperately for God himself to speak to him and tell him that everything would be okay. He wanted to hear a voice say that the life that Billy had lived up to this point in time was enough to keep him from burning forever in a lake of fire.
One night, he was so moved by the idea that he needed to hear God that he finished off the final beer of the six pack he had bought to watch the palm tree dance, as he called his back yard ritual of watching the sun go down, and went inside his house, took a shower, dressed in pair of slacks and clean white shirt, and drove to church.
He drove across town and parked his pick-up in front of the large building that housed the Temple of the Holy Redeemer, entered the chapel and at once felt calmer and more at peace. He kneeled down in prayer and started to conjure up a question to ask the Lord. His thoughts darted to and fro. Then he started itching.
He had entered church ready to listen and believed that he was emotionally primed for his conversation with God, yet the only think he could think to ask was would it be ok for him to scratch his nuts.
Chapter 21 - The Games People Play
I was still having trouble believing that Jill Booth was with me. I kept thinking that she was far too lovely and desirable for this to be true. Yes, we were still going out, but it wasn't a traditional type of dating by any sense of the word. She would sneak away and come over most of the time. At other times, I would meet her somewhere in some out-of-the-way location, and sometimes, very rarely, I would go over to her house.
The friction with her step-dad kept getting more and more intense. I guess at some point he had talked to Mickey, probably on the golf course or someplace like that. And I'm sure that Mickey left out the things they had done to provoke Dean and I. Anyway, Clark was getting relentless in how he came at Jill about her seeing me.
There were also the things she did. Once, she told me she couldn't come over because she was grounded, and later, I saw her standing outside Roy's Burger Emporium with her cousin Beth. She was laughing and appeared to be having a great time, which was far from the picture she was painting on the phone. Talking to me over the phone she was an oppressed prisoner of love surviving on crusts of dark bread and cups of water.
Then there was the time Mickey's name was mentioned, and she recalled a memory of him where he had been nice to her. I didn't want to hear that. To Dean and I, he was nowhere near nice. His and his friend's attacks had intensified in fact, and now he was using other people to fight his battles too.
Once, Dean was in a line ordering a burger when a car screeched to a halt behind him and someone threw a empty beer bottle which hit him behind the head. He had to get some stitches behind his ear. Later, he told me that he recognized the car as belonging to a football player from Hartford. Word reached us that Mickey had paid a bounty of $25 for the attack.
When Jill had mentioned how nice Mickey use to be, I wanted to scream at her. I wanted to ask her what kind of nice guy would throw pieces of bread in the streets on a rainy night to draw cats out and then come back in the wee hours of the night to see how many he and his buddies could run over. Often, the road kill would find it's way onto the top of my car or Dean's car. Also, someone shot BB's threw two of my apartment windows.
But I didn't scream at her, I just swallowed it whole and kept it to myself. It was the only way I could see for it to play it out. Arguing would have only made it into a comparison of my merits versus Mickey's, and that was where I worried that I might come up on the short end.
"Hello," I said as I picked up the phone. It was her. "Hey, Babe, what's up?"
" Hi, Sweetie. I wanted to call you and tell you that he did it again?"
"Clark? What did he do this time"
"I'm grounded, and I can't go to the baseball game tomorrow night."
"Oh no! I was looking forward to that. The local team is playing for the regional championship. Scott's pitching." My brother's baseball team was pretty good; they had shocked the entire tournament field and made it to the championship game.
"I was too! I came home fifteen minutes late from band practice. I told him that Janie's car wouldn't start, and Mr. Torelli had to give her a jump. It didn't matter to him. He just jumped from his easy chair and started screaming at me, accusing me of sneaking in a visit to see you."
"That's not right. You didn't do anything. I won't go either. I stay home and we can talk on the phone."
"No way, that's your brother. You gotta go to the game."
We left it at I would go to the game and call her later. It rankled me somewhat, but I couldn't decide whether I was more mad at her step-dad or anxious because these groundings were becoming more and more frequent.
I decided I would go catch up with Dean. He had called earlier and said he was hanging out with Donny Leonardo, a good friend of ours, at the bowling alley. I had one of my brother Glen's driver's license and the bartenders were a little lax on checking on them anyway. Danny was two years younger than I but almost never got carded.
It was about 7:30 in the evening when I got there. I pulled into the parking lot parked in a space up front where the lights were the brightest. I reasoned that if Mickey or someone messed with the car they'd at least be noticed.
The parking lot was smallish and only had about 30 parking slips around the side there was a big dirt field where a lot of others parked. In the back of the huge pink building there was another asphalt lot where a lot of kids parked and hung out. The owners were cool with it as long as they didn't have to pick up the bottles and the trash.
I walked in blinking. The lights in areas surrounding the bowling lanes were kind of dim. Joe Tilly, the dude who ran the place, felt that it gave it a more grown-up atmosphere and discouraged adults from bringing their kids and have them running wild everyplace. The bar was at up front of the building where you walked in. It was in a room with two big dark glass doors that helped keep the noise of the bowling out. Behind the bar was a large glass window, also dark. You could see out, but the people bowling couldn't see in.
I found Dean and Donny sitting at the bar. There were a couple empty Bud bottles in front of them.
Dean saw me enter, "Well, look what the cat's drug up!"
Donny stood up, and we shook hands and embraced. I hadn't seen him for a year because he had enrolled in a junior college at the coast.
"Donny, the Man! What the hell? I haven't seen your ass in over a year and you don't even call?"
He laughed and sat back down and pulled out a seat between him and Dean, " I know dude. I just got back in town yesterday. I was helping dad coach your brother's baseball team. I got all the baseball equipment in my car. I was going to hang out with the parents tonight, you know. Then dad got called out to work, so we put it off until after the game tomorrow. I came down here looking for you two and saw Dean in here by his lonesome. Hey, what's this I hear about you getting married?"
Dean shot beer out of his nose. "Damn it, Donny! I told you not to start in on him about that shit! Now, he'll want to run to a phone and call Jill up and tell her I said they were engaged or somethin."
Donny just laughed when I flipped Dean off. " That's just a vicious rumor, Danny. I don't which one my low life buddies is responsible for spreading that rumor around." It was Dean's turn to flip me off. " I do know that it gives her step-dad a conniption fit every time he hears of it."
"Then it did some good then, " Donny looked at Dean and grinned.
It was like old times sitting there and drinking beer with Donny and Dean. I laughed more and harder than I had in quite a while. It was easy to forget that we were being stalked by some sadistic and goofy sons of bitches.
I went to the bathroom and on the way I passed a friend of Jenny's named Holly Guillen. She was on the pay phone. She looked at me kind of funny like, but I just said hello and walked right by her.
The men's bathroom at the bowling alley was kind of gross. It was long and narrow with dark red walls and two stalls and a single urinal. There was a dirty sink with a scratched up mirror at one end. The window over the sink was big enough to crawl out . It looked out over an alley that ran between the bowling alley and a field where drunk kids would spin donuts raising up clouds of dust.
Dean and I used to do just that when we came with our church group. We would sneak out, smoke a joint, and then sneak back in with the chaperones, posted at each entry, ever suspecting a thing.
While washing my hands, I studied my face in the mirror. I was drunk and trying to think why I seemed to be happier when I was out like this and not worrying about a thing. When I came out, Holly was still on the phone and acting stupid. She stared at me the whole time that I walked toward her and then averted her eyes when I got up close to her.
Right before I ducked back into the bar, I saw Mickey enter the bowling alley. He looked straight at where Holly was, and when I looked back toward her, she was pointing toward me.
When I entered the bar, Dean saw the look on my face right away. He stood up and looking out of the glass behind the bar, saw Terry Kenneshaw, Lester Lewis, and Booby Lyles coming in the door on the other side of the building. Mickey had halted when he came in. He was waiting for Rigo and No Neck, both of who stumbled in a few seconds later along with Vern Jenson and Mike Malloy.
Dean looked at me, "What the fuck we do now, Ke-mo sah- be?"
"How fuck would I know, dumbass?"
"You the one who reads the books all the time, dude."
Donny started to stand, "What the hell's going on?"
I motioned him down, " Just sit here. It's got nothing to do with you. You'll be safe."
I grabbed Dean and thrust him toward the rear of the bar. There was a second door to the bathroom there. Earlier, I had used the outside way to check out who was in the bowling alley.
We both scrambled in that direction and left the dumbfounded Donny sitting at the bar. We locked the outside doors as soon as we got inside. Dean went out first. He opened the window and thrust himself outside in a blur. I followed right behind him falling to the ground when I let go of the ledge.
When I stood up, I saw Moose Miller holding Dean over his shoulder, and behind him were three other of Mickey's friends.
Moose laughed in way that only a demented three hundred pound left tackle could laugh. "HA! You think we didn't know about the back window, Dumbass!"
I ran across the space between him and I and kicked him in the nuts as hard as I could. As he crumbled, he let Mickey down slowly. The other three started toward me.
"Wait a minute! Wait a fucking minute!" It was Mickey coming around the corner." I get first punch on that punk Danny Wilson! And the second, the third, and the next fifteen. You guys can make short work of that other greasy fuck." Around the other corner, I could see Terry Keneshaw and his friends making their way towards us.
It looked like we were fixing to get the living shit pounded out of us and there was no way out this time. Then I heard Wagner.
No shit; I heard Richard Wagner's Ride of the Valkyries blaring loudly. I looked up and saw Donny Leonardo's Blue El Camino come sliding around the corner. I remembered that he had placed outside loudspeakers on it so that when we partied we always had loud ass music.
All of the others turned to look stunned by what they were hearing and seeing. I smiled. I was standing there like Custer, surrounded by guys who wanted to kill me, and I started laughing like I was fucking crazy.
The bodies cleared out of the alleyway as Donny barreled toward us. He had pushed up the baseball equipment bag toward the opened side window. Dean and I moved while the others were still frozen in disbelief. When Donny screeched to a halt, we both reached in and pulled a bat out of the bag. Donny killed the engine and jumped out swinging a bat of his own.
And that was how the Battle of the Bowling Alley started. We were still outnumbered by a lot, but the bats helped even things up a bit. There were also a few guys in the parking lot behind the bowling alley that didn't like Mickey and his friends. They were chunking beer bottles from the dark. It was pretty good fracas for a while. We'd get a lick or two in, and they would retaliate. The tide was starting to turn a bit just based on numbers. We were getting tired, and the numbers were on their side.
The music kept right on playing through the whole thing. Finally, someone yelled cops real loud and the Mickey and his bunch started sliding away leaving the field. When they left, Donny and I were backed up against Donny's car. Seeing no one else to swing at, we tossed the bats down and collapsed on the ground. Dean picked himself up off the ground, spat out a mouthful of blood, and gave us both a hand up.
He put his arm around Donny, "Welcome home, Motherfucker!"
"Nice to be back," Donny laughed and spit out a tooth. "Don't worry it's a crown." After catching his breath, he went to the driver's side window, reached in, pushed a button, and the Beatle's And I Love Her poured out of the speakers.
"I give her all my love
That's all I do
And if you saw my love
You'd love her, too"
Dean and Danny put their arms around each other and started dancing in the headlights of the El Camino. I could see the kids who had the thrown the beer bottles laughing and pointing at them. The cops never did show-up.
I was bruised and battered but felt good. That is, until the song made me think about Jill.
I have often wondered how it happened. I went to sleep one night loving Willie Mays, the San Francisco Giants, and playing whiffle ball in my front yard with my buddy Frankie, and the next day I woke up a long haired, narcissistic, rebellious, dumb ass drug head. It happened pretty much that swiftly and without any apparent rhyme or reason.
The only thing I can figure out about how and what happened back then was the media influence. I lived in a pretty closed-in environment on the south side of Corcoran. It was a culture dominated by Okie and Mexican influence and traditions. Television was just starting to spread its all-pervasive wings. I can remember the ripple effect of the Beatles' explosion reaching our distant shores in the sixth grade when a teacher formed a Beatles club at lunch. It had been a lunch time Let's Do the Twist club with Chubby Checker only a year before.
My mother subscribed to LIFE magazine and there was the Beatle cover that made my little parochial eyes open wide with amazement. Ed Sullivan was a mainstay in our house and watching the energy unleashed in their first appearance on the show was life changing for many us.
My point is, it was all pretty much virtual reality. That cultural movement had no real substance for me for a such a long time, at least until I got in high school and start seeing other people dressed in tie-dyed shirts and bell bottom pants and then started going to the dances where the bands were playing music covers from bands like Iron Butterly, Steppenwolf, Blue Cheer, and Them.
It was a lapse of a couple of years before I actually saw the environment change, but I first started seeking out ways to get high in junior high. Why?
I have always been something of a conspiracy buff. I don't know how anyone who witnessed JFK's murder and the subsequent deaths of his brother, Martin Luther King Jr, and Jack Ruby would not be something of a skeptic too.
It has a contemporary influence too. I can not stand to listen to most of these social justice warrior types rant on and on about things they only superficially understand with their mantra of "We Need to Act Without Thinking or Talking" perfectly suited to aims of the people who pull their strings. They remind me so much of those earlier times and not in a good way.
Someone killed a president and for all intensive purposes got away clean. We bought a story and let it go. Then they killed his brother, and the same thing happened. People blew up a lot of buildings in those days; they now teach in our universities.
Something strange was going on here, and, and to paraphrase the words of the Buffalo Springfield, "What it was ain't exactly clear."
Chaos: Charles Manson, the CIA, and the Secret History of the Sixties by Tom O'Neill is a book with some answers but also a lot more questions. In it, the author lays-out a scenario backed by many creditable sources and documents that almost, but not quite, places Charles Manson in the same room sitting across the desk from one Dr. Louis Jolyon "Jolly" West, an infamous pyschologist, and a well established participant of the CIA's MKULTRA program.
The book notes the fact that Manson's parole officer had only one client and yet failed time after time to pull Manson's parole despite numerous violations and an attitude that suggested that Manson had no fear of it ever becoming an issue. That parole officer and Dr. West worked for a period in the same building in Haight Ashbury. Manson and his girls went there often.
Dr. West worked for Dr. Sydney Gottlieb, the overall head of the many mind control projects that proliferated throughout country back in the 1960's. One such project involved having San Francisco prostitutes dose their clients with LSD while their reactions were viewed via one way mirrors.
The author does a masterful job of debunking DA Vincent Bugilosi's Helter Skelter narrative and, in so doing, exposes the cover-ups involved in hiding the Hollywood connection to Manson and his family. (David McGowan's Weird Scenes Inside the Canyon: Laurel Canyon, Covert Ops and the Dark Heart of the Hippy Dream, although it often overreaches, is fascinating book to read on this subject.)
Bugilosi's actions in the prosecution of the case, leads to some speculation as to his own involvement in managing the evidence and the public perception of what happened. It certainly appears that he was doing an awful lot of destroying paths that might have led to a more truthful understanding of what went down. For example, he barely touches upon Manson's time in San Francisco in his all time best-selling crime novel Helter Skelter.
He was trying to firmly establish that Manson used drugs and mind control techniques to incite the murders, and yet ignored the fact that San Francisco was where Manson started the family, first took LSD, recruited many of his girls, and was home to the CIA's efforts to explore the use of drugs, deprivation, and mind control to create operatives to commit acts like political assassinations. Did he omit this information purposefully?
It is the author's ability to ferret out the long hidden documentation that causes me some deliberation. He prefaces his account of gaining access to some valuable lost documents, which were thought to be destroyed years ago, with a scenario where his dad offers up much needed help and advice about his research. It sounded somewhat like an effort to buttress his account on how he gained access to those files. Which in turn leads to the question why did he think it needed to be buttressed? Which leads to the question how did he get the access? Which leads to the questions "Why now? and Why this?"
To his credit, O'Neill lays out a lawyerly case that our government may well have been involved in the creation of Manson and his family and in covering up its role in the tragedy that later took place, a tragedy that many, many journalists felt effectively closed down the hippy experiment. He also shows that a lot of Bugilosi's efforts were certainly open to question. Thirdly, O'Neill shines a very bright light on the powerful and widespread efforts of intelligence services to brainwash and control unsuspecting victims in an effort to influence both the political and cultural climate of America.
When I read this book, I kept stopping and thinking about strange events that occurred in my own life during this period. I never had any real intent on becoming a rebellious, foul mouthed, drug using teenager. Everything in my background up to that point spoke out against that ever happening. But happened, it did.
O'Neil's book helped me to look at the why of things from a different angle and exposed a lot of hidden facts and feelings that have been long buried and heavily redacted in my own personal history.
The weakest part of the book is that after making his case, the author fails to provide the summation. Instead, he wanders off into detail how another obscure murder in the desert can also be linked to the Manson Family.
Either, he doesn't want to be like Bugilosi and leave something behind for others to poke holes in later, or could be, he is setting up the sequel where he explains how the death ties in to the larger picture.
Maybe, he just wants us the readers to provide the connections ourselves.
But this leads me to the question.............
I would recommend that people interested in this subject also read:
Acid Dreams- History of LSD: The CIA, the Sixties, and Beyond by Martin A. Lee
This books reveals just how deeply our government was involved in
the promotion and use of the drug. Very interesting book.
Weird Scenes Inside the Canyon: Laurel Canyon, Covert Ops & the Dark Heart of the Hippie Dream by David McGowan
This book has it flaws as it gets carried away by its own momentum and often overreaches. Never the less, it provides a lot of unknown facts that somehow never became part of the narrative and a lot of strange coincidences that will give you pause to wonder. For example, it shows how many of the most famous musicians of the day had connections to military intelligence. Sharon Tate's dad was in intelligence too.
JFK: An American Coup D'etat: The Truth Behind the Kennedy Assassination by Col. John Hughes-Wilson
A very good book. It is not well sourced or foot-noted as some others, but does provide a lot of insight and detail. For example, the guy who owned owned Dealy Plaza publicly called out the president at an event not long before the assassination, the Dallas Police Chief's brother was not only a high ranking CIA official but also hated Kennedy, and the fact that the guy who owned the Book Depository wasn't much of a fan either. Highly readable.
"Yes, these are the things, these kite strings and olive oil cans and Valentine hearts stuffed with nougat, that form the bond between the autistic vision and the experiential world, it is to show these things in their true mysterious light that is the purpose of the moon.”
After taking a hiatus of a couple of weeks, time spent getting my mother's house in order, my blog readership has fallen almost to nil. When I opened it a couple of nights ago to check, it was exactly nil. It was disheartening as I had put a lot of time and effort to get it to where it was. Now, I have to start back at square one.
Strangely enough, the low feeling did not last long. These last few weeks have given me a sense of accomplishment that I haven't felt in a long, long time. I've been too busy pulling carpet, loading dumpsters, and painting to feel sorry for myself.
Instead of the constant whisper of incrimination, sorrow and shame a new mental dialogue is starting to assert itself and sounds something like this:
Me: My wife left me and died.
Voice: And a very bad thing it was, but are you going to sit on
your ass whining about it the rest of your life? There's
things to be done. Your family needs you now more
Me: My dad died in the shower. I took his pulse as he lay
naked on the bathroom floor.
Voice: Was he a good man?
Me: A very good man.
Voice: Then glad you had him in the first place. A lot of us
never had a father.
Me: You never had a Dad?
Voice: I am a disembodied voice, you bleeding idiot. Get off
your ass and do something.
I'll admit this new voice is somewhat querulous and brusque. It is, however, fortifying and is exactly what I need to hear after the last several years of nothing but " Poor, Poor, baby! You should be feeling bad, after what you went through and all."
I came home the other day, drenched in sweat, tired beyond belief, bones aching all over, and covered it blotches of white paint with just a tint of yellow. I peeled off my outer clothing and jumped into the pool. I cooled down for a while and dragged myself out, covered my self with a large towel, and sat down in a deck chair.
It was a very hot day, but the wind suddenly picked up. It blew a very pleasant warm breeze across my body. It felt as if the universe was reaching out to acknowledge that I was doing something good for a change. I cried, and it felt good.
In the last 13 years I have developed the inability to be still, and after I was afflicted with tinnitus a few years ago it became even worse. Where I used to love the mountains, the lakes, the streams, and the ocean, I could no longer stay still long enough to enjoy their ability to calm the soul. This time, I sat outside and enjoyed the summer breeze for several minutes.
I began to wonder. I have been fixated on the problems of numbers. I started to do some math in my head. In my thinking, the number one signifies the wholeness of all things. The number two, on the other hand, represents something that exists distinctly separate from the whole and yet is part of the whole which certainly seems to be an impossibility.
The existence of this separate entity automatically creates the number three which would be the interface between the whole thing and the separateness. I was working out what the numbers would be if I added another separate entity, and another, and another. How many interfaces would it create? Would all of them be joined in common interface with the one, or would each have their own separate portal? Would they each share a separate interface with each other?
I know that this sounds weird and complicated, but it somehow soothed me as I understood that it is all somehow related to the existence of all things, and how we as distinct creatures interact with each other.
I was watching a couple of palm trees in the distance sway back and forth in the breeze and started to look on their strange dance as being consciously motivated as if each palm tree was a separate individual acting out its creative urges for my edification. It made me wonder; do palm trees wonder too?
I don't mean do they sit and try to solve riddles and shit, or try to work out weird math questions, but do they anticipate and feel like something is happening. Right before human life appeared on this planet, did nature increasingly hum with anticipation?
Anybody who has ever listened for the sounds of reindeer on Christmas Eve, or stepped outside on that night and blew smoky breaths as the moon hung silent, knowing, and mysterious behind a cloud would know somewhat what I am talking about.
The Ancient Greeks had this word Chthonic (pronounced thon-ic). It references things below the surface, things that inhabit the underworld. They had Chthonic deities which brought forth the power beneath the surface of things but were always limited somewhat by their attachment to the ground or their locale.
The holy tree Yggdrasil in Norse mythology embodies the same idea. The tree has deep roots in the underworld but emerges from the ground reaching toward the sky.
This is man's position in the universe. We have deep roots and we are to build ourselves a strong material body with which we reach for the stars.
In the story of Oedipus, this idea was represented by the wound to the main character's feet. The word Oedipus actually means "swollen foot". He was child of a king and queen who was cast aside as his father tried to avoid his ordained fate. In his rootlessness, Oedipus inadvertently carries out the grim orders of human destiny and slays his father and has children with his mother.
At the end, after being confronted by his actions, Oedipus pokes out his eyes, turns his vision inward and eventually gains true wisdom and becomes something of a saint.
It suddenly seems that we are now being surrounded by a bunch of people without roots who can never gather the minerals, strength and sustenance from the ground below. They claim to be woke, but woke only seems to mean that they can't ever close their eyes, or see the mysteries at work behind the scenes.
They only look in magic mirrors that reflect images of them with their weird hairstyles, tattoo covered flesh, wearing summer dresses and knee pants while licking on giant rainbow colored lollypops. The only thing the mirror reflects that is truthful is the rodent like nature of their always opened eyes.
They never reach for the sky but are content on building crumbling structures without meaning which will later be used to, not so successfully, hide all the bodies.
This detachment from the world below makes them truly dangerous.
It is no time to lie around feeling sorry for the past.
Ralph and Polly Hallwell-Berry, a very happily married couple, liked having daytime sex. Ralph farmed a small piece of land near Suffolk in East Anglia. Ralph would often come for lunch and find Polly standing at the door of their comfortable cottage in a French Maid costume or something of that sort.
When they indulged in a little afternoon delight they would often become quite raucous and loud. This presented something of a problem because they also had parrot, also named Polly (Don't ask, it's a long and boring story) who repeated almost everything she heard during the day. All you would have to do is say, "And what does Polly say?" and the bird would loudly recite what she had learned.
Polly, the wife, was quite nervous because the bird cage was only a few feet away from their bedroom door. So, when Ralph came home one afternoon when a bouquet of fresh cut flowers, Polly ordered her compliant husband to place a cover over the cage. Polly was a pretty, rosy cheeked farm girl of the buxom variety, but she wasn't by anybody's standards, the sharpest knife in the drawer.
And it turns out that she had good reason to be worried because that very afternoon, Vicar Morton Cawley and his aide Sheila Maxwell-Simmons showed up at her farmhouse door after Polly and her husband had engaged in a particularly passionate bout of love-making. She answered the door with cheeks aflame.
Ralph came around the corner after feeding the ducks and chickens to see his wife talking with the Vicar and Mrs. Maxwell-Simmons on the front steps.
"Good Afternoon, Vicar, Mrs. Simmons, to what do we owe the pleasure of this very pleasant surprise. He nodded to the assistant and shook the hand of the Vicar.
"Good Day, yourself Ralph. Sheila and myself were going round the parish speaking to our membership about coming together this Wednesday next to talk about the Spring fundraiser. This year, you know, our goal is to put a new roof on the main chapel.
"Yes," said Mrs. Maxwell-Simmons, "Since your farm is in the center of things. We were wondering if you would consider hosting the gathering?"
Ralph grinned, "Well, it's jolly-oh-fine with me, but I'll need the approval of the Missus." With that he looked at his wife.
The Vicar encouraged spoke, "Yes, well what does Miss Polly say?"
From inside the house a voice suddenly rang out, " Oh, Daddy, Yes! Oh Yes, right there! Right now. Give it to me, Daddy. Harder! No Harder! Great God Almighty." The last three words were emitted in a kind of a scream that lasted for about twenty seconds then tailed off as if to announce an ending of something.
Needless to say, they were all mortified. After a moment, the Vicar saved the day by shaking Ralph's hand and saying, "We'll take that as a yes then." Then him and Mrs. Maxwell-Simmons waddled off their heads shaking and whispering as they went.
The next day, Ralph moved the the parrot's cage to the other side of the room near a window that opened out above the duck pen.
A couple of weeks later, Farming Inspector Twillinger and two of his assistants, Mr. Budwig and Mr. James showed up to do a bit of snooping about. This was actually the description of their jobs, to snoop about and cause problems for the farmers there about.
" Hullo there, Mr. Hallwell-Berry we're here to inspect your cages and your pens. If it's not too much of an inconvenience, we'd like to get it done forthrightly. Tottingham and Liverpoole on the telly tonight, you know."
Ralph was annoyed but too good natured to express it, so he led them to the back of the cottage where the chickens, the cows, and the ducks were kept
"This here's where we pin the ducks."
Budwig and James took out their notepads and started writing and Twillinger opened up his the case of his glasses and perched on his nose. About the same time, Polly the parrot started quacking in her cage which was next to the opened window."
"What, pray tell, is that?" asked Twillinger.
" That is my parrot, Polly"
"Sounds like a duck."
"May sound like a duck but it's na a duck."
Twillinger walked closer to the opened window and stuck his head into the house. " We seem to have a problem here, Sir."
"And what problem would that be?" answered Ralph.
"That cage is an inappropriate size for a duck."
"But I told you, it is not a bleeding duck."
Twillinger said nothing but motioned for his aides to come near him. They engaged in a whispered conversation, but Ralph could hear everything they said.
"Mr. James what sound does a duck make?"
" Well, I'm no expert on these matters, but I suspect they say something to the effect of Quack."
"Thank you, James. And you, Budwig?"
" I studied Advanced Mathmatics, myself, but if I was compelled to give an answer, I would have to say Quack also, or maybe even Quack Quack."
Mr. Twillinger thought for a moment, placing his finger to his chin, " I'm sorry, Ralph, but I'm going to have to write you a citation for illegally harboring a duck."
"Illegally harboring a Duck! You idiot! That's na a duck. That's a sodding parrot!"
"Now, now, no need to be abusive. We reached a consensus and the three of us distinctly heard the alleged duck make the requisite noise that a duck would make given the circumstances."
Before Ralph could answer, Budwig, who had wandered off, emerged from inside the barn, "Chief, you must come see what I have found."
The other three quickly walked into the barn where Budwig was pointing a large cage containing a mother fox and four newly born fox pups.
"And how do you explain this?" Twillinger said officiously.
"Explain this!" roared Ralph. "I captured a fox trying to eat my bleeding chickens."
" Mr. Hallwell-Berry, I have warned you about your use of profanity!"
"No, You haven't! You said na one word."
"How do you explain the pups being in this cage?"
"She must have been pregnant when I caged her."
"Aha! So you're admitting to caging a mother fox and her pups!"
"She was going to eat my bleeding chickens! I didn't know she was having critters!"
" I'm so thoroughly fed up with you and your type. This here fox is one of God's creatures and deserves a far better life than this."
"And, my chickens don't?" screamed Ralph.
They argued back and forth like this for about five minutes more. Then they walked back toward the duck cage where the argument had began.
"Well, I will have to take you in you know. Harboring ducks and caging fox pups like you would a common criminal are serious offenses around here, you know."
Ralph was beside himself. He turned fire engine red and lost control of his breathing for a minute. He bent over and placed his hands on his knees and tried to get his breathing under control. After a few minutes, he straightened up and muttered, "It's not like I invited the things in to eat my chickens."
Budwig produced a pair of handcuffs from his coat pocket. He had gotten them as a present ten years before when he first had joined Her Majesties Agricultural Service. This was the first time he had ever used them, and he was surprised to discover, thatit had given him a bit of an erection. He strategically placed his coat to where he hoped the others would not notice. Then he placed Ralph's hands behind his back.
Ralph suddenly remembered that Polly his wife, visiting her mother, would not know where he was. "I need to speak to my wife,"
The three inspectors looked at each other suspiciously. Then James spoke, " I suppose we should, you know. It's only right."
Twillinger snapped, "What is only right, you blithering idiot?"
James snapped back, " To see what Polly says."
From the opened window, a voice screamed out, " Oh Daddy! Oh, Daddy! Give it to me hard! Right here! Right now! Harder! G-r-e-a-t G-o-d A-l-m-i-g-h-t-y!"
It was six years later when Ralph was finally released. He returned to his farm. Polly had gone. She left him because of the scandal. Harboring ducks and caging fox pups was bad, but engaging in sex with parrot that identified as a duck was a far worse transgression. The judge had thrown the book at him.
Of course, Polly knew the truth, but she could never bring herself to publicly admit to the carnal lust that started the whole thing off. She went to see Ralph once or twice, but eventually she up ran away with Twillinger and moved to small beachside cottage in Portugal which he had bought with the bonus awarded him for arresting Ralph.
The cottage, once a happy place, was old and deserted, the paint peeling, and the roof partially caved in. It was dark and gloomy and spider webs hung from the places where Polly had once hung her pots of fresh cut flowers. Ralph sat down on the porch and hung his head. Not long after, he heard a noise and looked up in the rafters of the overhanging porch roof.
Polly the parrot was there. She looked a lot different, having lost a lot of feathers to age and an eye to an angry cat. Ralph didn't say a word. He just took out his pipe, stuffed, and lit it.
He hung his head again but he heard someone whistling approaching which cause him to look up. He saw a long haired shabbily dressed stranger walking down the lane toward the cottage.
It was Jesus. Yeah, that Jesus. He didn't look anything like the Jesus found in church pictures, but more like Warren Oates in the movie Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia. He didn't appear in a flash or anything like that, just kind of ambled up and sat down next to Ralph. Ralph just knew. He nodded.
After several minutes of silence, Ralph broke down and asked, "Why? Why here? Why now?"
Jesus smiled and said, " Just seemed like a good time. I tried to speak at Cambridge and these crazy people started calling me names and throwing rocks; they said I was a lot of things that I am actually not."
Ralph smiled back and offered his pipe. "Believe me; I know the feeling. What next?"
"Don't rightly know. Thinking about traveling around some, checking out the lay of the land. See if there's anybody out there worth saving. How bout you? You care to join me? Looking to get a new posse together."
Ralph took the pipe back and thought a minute. He chuckled. Jesus looked at him with questioning eyes.
" Aw. I was just thinking there was a time I'd have to ask my wife." He looked down at his feet. " I'd had to ask what Polly says."
A voice came from the rafters, "Ahem!"
Day 7 - Our Mutual Friend - Charles Dickens - plus books for consideration
“No one is useless in this world,' retorted the Secretary, 'who lightens the burden of it for any one else.”
I became obsessed with reading Dickens after watching a PBS series based on this book. It is my favorite Dickens book and that says something because I have actually read most of his novels, even the unfinished one. Oliver Twist, David Copperfield, Great Expectations are all great, and in those books Dickens has created several of the greatest characters in English literature, but Our Mutual Friend, in my opinion, is his greatest story.
It was hard to settle on just seven and I have a lot of books that I could have put on this list. The following come immediately to mind.
Sirens of Titan
Breakfast of Champions
God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater
Maps of Meaning
Venus on a Halfshell
The Crying of Lot 49
Man in Search of Himself
The Courage to Create
Carl G Jung
Modern Man in Search of a Soul
Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious
The Undiscovered Self
The Sirius Mystery
War and Peace
Sir James Frazer
The Golden Bough
The White Goddess
On The Road
The Brothers Karamazov
Practical Modern Basketball
Gertrude Chandler Warner
The Boxcar Children
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
The Hero With a Thousand Faces
Fear and Trembling
If you are big fan of reading, please accept this challenge to help promote literacy. I was supposed to challenge someone daily but didn't want to put anybody on the spot.
FLOW: The Psychology Of Optimal Experience - by Dr. Mihaly Csikszenmihalyi
This book talks about a study that reveals that the two most important elements for successful living are 1) the desire to do what is right 2) to do it for the right reasons.
These two elements combine under the term non-narcissistic individuation. It translates loosely into the idea that when a human individuates or follows his/her path toward wholeness, they need to focus on doing what is right simply because it is the right thing to do. This sounds like a spiritual viewpoint being backed by scientific study.
I read The Divine Code of Life about the same time as I read this one, and, together, they totally overhauled my belief system. I think that this idea is what we should be teaching in out schools: We are hardwired to be the best that we can be, therefore it should also be our purpose in life, and, in order to do that, we need to desire to be the best for the right reasons (i.e. not for fame and fortune).
This establishes a purpose that has been so lacking in modern life, combining scientific reason with spiritual ideas. This blend is the only thing that will save the human race from the problems generated from our shallow thinking. People who believe in a lack of fundamental purpose, are often neurotic individuals. Their attacks on religion are usually attacks on the creations, understandings, and ideas of human beings, and rarely, if ever, cross over unto the essence of true religion.
And while I believe that atheists should be free to believe whatever they want to believe, when they insist that others should forced to believe that life is pretty much meaningless, they reveal themselves to be some dimwitted sons-a-bitches.
The Divine Code of Life
If I am going to talk about the most influential books that I have ever read, The Divine Code of Life by Dr. Kazuo Murakami has to be on the list. Murakami, a Nobel Prize winning scientist talks about how human beings are hardwired to be the best that they can be. He also tells how positive things like humor, wonder, and curiosity keep the the switches in our DNA in the ON position while negative factors like frustration, fear, and anxiety can turn the switches off.
If we are hard wired to be the best, it doesn't take much thinking to recognize that maybe that is the purpose of our existence on this planet. It matches up perfectly with what Jesus relates in the Parable of the Talents.
"There was a wicked messenger
From Eli he did come
With a mind that multiplied
The smallest matter."
I have often used the allegorical image of someone half in and half out of a grave to describe my ongoing battle with depression. I got bitched slapped out of that scenario about a month ago when my 86 year old mother turned in her kitchen and broke her hip.
Since that day, I have devoted much of my time trying to get my mom's situation in order so that she can return to her house (her wish) when she gets out of rehabilitation. I don't begrudge a single minute of the time, however, it has cut seriously into the time I spend reading and writing.
I had been working on establishing a routine of rising, reading with my coffee, then writing from about 10:00 till noon. I enjoyed the way it disciplined my thinking. Now, I worry that by leaving my perch looking out from the grave (symbolically) and maintaining a more solid presence in the material world I might be cutting myself off from the source of my creative waters which always seem to flow best when I felt emotionally troubled.
I hope not. I hope it's just fatigue. I am very tired when I get home, and my bones hurt. I close most of my days off with a visit to mom at Hanford Post Acute where she currently resides in a room with my Aunt Sue who has also broken her hip. It's a depressing place for sure, a destination that awaits many of us as we outlive our usefulness. I usually get home about 9:30-10:00 in the evening which leaves me just enough time to check my facebook, read a few pages of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil before I fall asleep.
It has been good for me mentally to face the challenges that have come my way and I hope that I can hang on to the will that allows me to power through these stressful times. I might actually get something done.
And there's also plenty of things to be depressed about if that is the issue. I almost can not handle the complete and utter stupidity of this world. If it wasn't so tragic, it would be a brilliant comedy of errors. Well, it is a comedy, but a very dark and bitter one something like Quintin Tarantino would write. You know the stories where you get about half way through before you shut it off because you have listened to a lot more "motherfuckers" than you care to and have seen about 10 times the ugliness that your mind can handle at one sitting. Sometimes, I feel like writing him and asking him if someone burned his testicles with a curling iron when he was young.
This actually brings me to the real subject of this treatise. I think the world has taken a serious wrong turn somewhere and it has gotten to the point that there is a missing bridge looming up ahead somewhere, and we are all far too busy listening to Shannon and Skip arguing about whether Kevin Durant should have stayed with the Warriors to do anything about rectifying the problem.
I read somewhere that we are in Stage 2 lunacy with Stage 1 lunacy being the damage caused by the sixty-seventy years of weird thinking created by television viewing. Stage 2 would be the increased detachment from reality brought about by the invention of the internet. This has stuck with me and also influences the way I look at the world and people.
There is so much diversionary information that no one can think seriously anymore. It started when pastors and preachers started cutting sermons short in order to get home to the football games. Well, really way before that; it really really goes all the way back to when the church told Galileo that the earth didn't move around the Sun.
It didn't take a genius to see where that mistake would end up. Science slunk out of that room red-eyed and with one thing on it's mind: Revenge.
Tolstoy wrote about it later and told us exactly where it would eventually lead, as did Dostoevsky, and Nietzsche too. They each described in powerful detail the horror of what would come from mankind's overweening pride in its ability to reason.
There's the rub. No one reads anymore, or if they do, they prefer the blather of the misinformed and the permanently distracted and treat it with all the reference due to something that is both real and valuable, which it is clearly not. Which is something that they should know, and would know if their heads were not so partial to the sights, sounds and scents coming from the inner lining of their own asses.
I once read a Rolling Stone article that called Eminem a genius. If he is a genius then the fat kid I sat next to in 6th grade who could fart on demand is a genius too, and so is Taylor Swift, and Pee Wee Herman, Barry Manilow, Joy Behar, etc.
We have all but forgotten what is good and what is not. We live in a world where the news channels make up their own fucking news and are insulted that we have developed trust issues because of it.
Our sermons now come from politicians who in happier, more honest times would have been employed as circus clowns or classroom tattle-tales, people who constantly not only sell us wolf-tickets but get butt-hurt and angry when we catch them in the act. And get this, they have a cadre of devoted followers who are not only willing to call everyone else out as liars and fools, but are also willing to suspend their own good judgement in order to belong to a cause, no matter how unworthy. And you cannot convince them otherwise because they have been permanently blinded by their own need to feel virtuous, even when they are not.
And it all comes down to a simple argument, does life have meaning or not. One side either no longer knows what meaning really means or never has and has passed on oh so many opportunities to forgo the Blockbuster Movie or NBA game to spend at least a little more time thinking about truth and reality, while the other side is convinced that life is so meaningless that the world would be better off if we didn't exist at all.
But we do. Go Figure.
Day 4 - The Shining Stranger