It's been kind of a disturbing day. I'm new to the twittersphere but have become amazed and worried at just how many vicious dumbasses there are on the platform. And the thought that there are people who actually use it to get some idea of what other people are thinking scares me no end. Heaven help us all.
If God ever stumbles on the site we would be well advised to buy an inflatable raft or two. Strike that; I forgot; it'll be fire next time. we'll need to buy some industrial size fire extinguishers, some hand sanitizer, and plenty of toilet paper. I heard it makes a good fire retardant.
I usually don't like talking in public about the Great 21rst Century Brouhaha, or the political mess that we currently find ourselves in because perfectly normal human beings become rabid animals with a casual mention of anything to do with politics. Things escalate fairly quickly and a lifelong friendships are sometimes lost in the time it takes for an average person to prove that he/she is pretty much a complete dumbass (about five seconds for the curious).
I would rather keep my friends, as dumb as some of them silly fuckers are, than lose any of them. I love them all and care more about their character and hearts than I do about their politics. They're all on this crazy journey with me, and it seriously makes me sad to lose one to sickness and death and even more so to politics.
However, there are a lot of things I don't like that have become a part of our everyday life. It's hard to keep it bottled up inside especially now when so many truly stupid people, who really ain't got a whole lot say, either can't shut-up or are being highly paid to blather.
I know that the first amendment is a good thing, make that a great thing, one of the all greatest things the human race has ever come with as a species. But lately, I've come to realize that although it guarantees our right to voice our opinions, too many people think it guarantees that all opinions are equally valid.
And I don't want to come off sounding like a dick on this. But if I had a friend who went around saying shit like, "Damn, I used to drink Corona until CNN did a expose on its connection to Wuhan," I'd feel somewhat disloyal if I didn't kick that sumbitch under the table or give him a hard nudge or two with an elbow.
Here are some of the things that currently bug me about our world.
1) I don't like the missing middle. It was there up until a few years ago. I believe that there's a need to investigate and find those sumbitches who destroyed it. People used to disagree and still retain friendships. I feel it's desirable to get back to that.
2) It bothers me that politicians get to make all the decisions. They don't seem like a very trustworthy group, most of them seem to have a buttery sheen about them now.
3) I don't like celebrities who hire PR people to tell us how trendy, compassionate and empathetic their clients are. If you want to send some burgers and stuff to first responders, nurse, etc. Just send them. If a photograph of you doing so makes it to the internet, even it from someone who claims to have captured you doing it incognito, it's pretty freaking suspect. And I don't really need to know that you duped 25 million not too bright human beings into thinking you are the greatest thing since rootbeer floats.
4) I don't trust people who bite into a rotten apple and then claim that all apples are rotten. It's even worse when you didn't actually bite the rotten apple but just shared the anecdote for the fifteenth thousand time. I especially don't like people who paint all people with a broad brush because a dumb individual or two did something wrong.
We use to call that prejudice, and it was a bad thing. Now, depending on which side of the aisle you are on, it's considered being loyal to your tribe. It wasn't a valid excuse back then, and it's certainly not a valid excuse now.
People need to quit paying attention to fools who walk and talk like they accidentally put on their little brother's underwear.
5) I don't like the news media. I used to, but ever since Uncle Walter crossed that line back in the day, most news reporters think that they they're supposed to be virtue signaling Mohandas Gandhis Then, when they realize how hard that shit is, they try to fake it by spreading untruths about their network's enemies.
6) I really don't trust people who get only their news from the people mentioned above. People who aren't willing to look for the truth shouldn't be too surprised when everyone tells them lies. One day they'll all find themselves living in a world created out of all the lies that they accepted which would be poetic justice of a sorts except for the fact that a lot of us will have to share that world with them.
7) I really don't like most of Hollywood. A bigger bunch of whiney, self-righteous phonies have never existed. The victims of Stalin's Show Trials spoke more a lot more truthfully even though they were being forced at gunpoint to tell lies. Movies stars lie for money then try to act like normal people. You live in the hills, folks. Normal people don't.
8) I don't believe that people who throw footballs, hit baseballs, shoot baskets, or talk about sports are any more essential than my friends and I. I would never think of getting in front of a camera and weighing in on our economic policies or blathering about what wonderful person Xi Jinping is. They shouldn't either. It's bad enough they are making millions throwing footballs, hitting baseballs, shooting baskets, or talking about sports.
We used to think that that was just the way that things went, but in these troubled times, I doubt that we should still think that way. Hell, it wasn't right when we thought it was ok. Same thing goes for movie stars, singers, and news anchors too.
These are just a few of the things that bug me. For the sake of brevity, I have kept the list very short. I'm still hoping that all this time spent in exile will help us to clarify what is really important and what is not. I'll get back to you later on that point I'm sure.
I've been in a real writing slump lately because I been obsessively stuck on the thought of how millions of years of bat evolution has led to the creation of a virus that only targets old, fat people and leaves the young alone. This shit would have had Darwin reading his Bible while scratching his nuts.
This morning I went to Visalia to get my allergy shots and remembered how important that this drive was in stirring my creative juices. Right off, I used a trick to focus my thoughts where I hold an imaginary conversation on some important topic, in this case, it was with my doctor. I wanted to ask him about what he thought about all of this Coronavirus shit and needed to be prepared in case he responded.
"Hey, Doc. What do you think of all this virus shit?"
"Well, Doug, I don't feel real comfortable discussing my thoughts on the matter just yet. Ask me when you come back in three weeks."
"You're assuming I'll make it back. May I remind you that I got millions of years of evolutionary Bat poop scouring the world looking for my ass."
"How does that make you feel?"
"Well, yeah! I mean shit, I've done some dumb shit in my life, but dying just because I got old and fat seems kind of pointless to me."
"You are aware that's the way it usually works though. Tell me, are you afraid of death?"
I stared at him in disbelief, "Damn, Doc, I could get asked better questions by my dumb-assed buddy Leonard, and he has trouble opening an aspirin bottle."
"I guess what I'm asking if you think life is worth the pain and suffering that it takes to live."
"Well, that's what it all comes down to; is life meaningful or meaningless?
"What are your thoughts?"
"Since my ex-wife died, I've read both War and Peace and The Brothers Karamazov because they supposedly contained the best answers to that question."
"Well, did they?"
"They were very long winded arguments in favor of the idea that life is meaningful, but only if you learn to love your fellow man."
"The late, great John Prine stated my thoughts on the matter far more succinctly in just two lines from the chorus of his song Fish and Whistle, 'God, forgive us for what we must do. You forgive us and we'll forgive you.'"
"You didn't answer the question."
"Put it this way. On the way over here, I saw a hammock stretched between two shade trees. I saw more meaning in that than all the books ever written."
And I did too. The image reminded me that creation is a lot more than some random puddle of piss. Random puddles of piss don't need hammocks; they do just fine in small indentations and ruts formed by accidental movements of wind, water, or earth.
Humans, on the other hand, are capable of looking at two trees and envisaging a hammock. I don't think I've ever seen a hammock formed by a random force of nature, or even two or three acting in concert for that matter.
At the height of all the media enhanced fear, I sat down on the the loveseat by my window. I was at least six feet away from my own damn thoughts, sheltering in place of living and worrying a lot about what the future holds for our species.
The thought crossed my mind that I could die while going to fetch a corn-dog. Which would be a damned shame considering I don't even like corn dogs.
For a moment, I was pretty scared. I prayed to God to forgive every sin I ever committed even the ones I been keeping secret for most of my life, especially those ones.
I started thinking about if I had done enough to merit going to heaven. I drew a line down the middle of a sheet of paper and started listing my good deeds and my bad deeds.
I had two whole pages of bad deeds down before I even got one down on the plus side. I started stressing and had to put down things that I could've done but didn't do in order to restore some balance to the list.
For example, I could've been a politician who took selfies of himself handing out needles to drug addicted homeless people. Had the chance and didn't do it. Gotta count for something, right?
After a while, I got kind of depressed and decided it would probably be best if I didn't go outside for a while, or at least until I dyed my hair with some Grecian Formula and lost some weight, or they found cure for this shit, whichever came first.
I did learn though that it's one thing to think you are a good person and quite another to actually be a good person. It's one thing to puff up your chest with phony accomplishments and stand there telling lies to your mirror as you shave and a whole nother thing to make a list that could actually pass St. Peter's smell test.
Lord, please give me enough time to plant two trees.
I came out of the movie theater after watching The Joker with an unshakable feeling that as a culture, we had crossed a line, a tipping point, if you will.
I had also recently watched the coming of age movie The Good Boys, another pile of donkey feces masquerading as cinema. I wrote the following at the beginning of my review of that movie.
"The world is so crazy nowadays that you are made to feel quite priggish for pointing out the flaws of a movie like this, but you
should also feel guiltier if you don't. Moviegoers have gotten quite
used to feeling slimed, so much so, that even though the slime is
always there, we no longer think of it as as a something bad, more
like sunscreen or something.
Hollywood has gotten pretty ingenious over the years in knowing
just how much shit they can put in a milkshake without taking away
A few months later the pandemic occurs. I'm not crazy enough to admit to thinking that there's a causative relationship there. I'll just state that quantum physics is some weird shit and let it go at that.
The Good Boys is a masterpiece of movie making art compared to Addicted to Fresno which could quite possibly be the worst movie ever made. I know that there's a short movie about someone taking a shit out there somewhere, and I'm taking that into account. Cats too.
According to the review site Rotten Tomatoes, a lot of people loved the movie. They claimed to have gotten the jokes even though there were no jokes to speak of just an endless parade of crude, banal blather. You're trying to be too hip for your own good, people. Saying that you get it is not a sign of hipness, it is a cause for concern. Really.
Some critics have praised the acting and even referred to the movie as being somewhat cute. It has some big name stars too. I'll do them all a big favor and not mention their names. One critic stated that the, "Strong lead performances and an energetic supporting cast elevate the uneven material." Uneven material? The script would have been a better if they had lifted one from the worse porno movie ever made.
It is so bad that Andrew Dice Clay would be justified for trashing it for lack of taste. One would have to think that the actors were being paid by having compromising photos destroyed.
The director has a sterling reputation as a TV director. I can't understand why anyone would think that poking fun at Fresno would serve as a good premise for a movie, especially a movie that is clearly more about the moral decadence and corruption of Hollywood. (If you want to argue it is not actually about poking fun at Fresno, explain the title.)
I've always hated the word shit used in a musical lyric. It is such evocative word that does it best work as an adjective, but never as the focus of discussion. I can not figure out why Hollywood has become so obsessed with the pushing of envelopes that they are mining beneath outhouses for new ideas.
I recently read a Saul Bellow quote that referred to the relationship between common sense and good humor by saying, "A sense of humor is just common sense dancing." There's some dancing in this movie but it's got little to do with either humor or common sense.
The Hollywood movie industry is increasingly and unashamedly catering to infantilism. If it continues to seek out that perfect recipe for sweeter tasting feces, it'll need to invest more money in baby wipes, adult diapers, and way stronger antibiotics.
How about a movie based on the Emperor's New Clothes? It could be set in Hollywood and the tailor can be an earnest young exec who tells the hot shot director, "Hey! That script is shit!"
Somebody needs to.
It's a crooked piece of time that we live in
A crooked piece of time
All in all and all in all
It's a crooked piece of time.
I wake up every morning to an argument about the necessity of getting out of bed. Can't go nowhere, can't do nothing but peek out the window to see if the Rona's still out there, or maybe, go outside the check the flowerbeds for tracks.
Done watched everything worth watching on the TV, and can't watch the news anymore because it ain't nothing but a bunch of over opinionated jackasses arguing like two year olds. Sumbitches done forgot that they are supposed to be focused on truth telling instead of reliving all the traumatic moments of their own childhoods.
What can we really expect from an industry that has the nerve to label soap operas as "reality" just because they pretend they are not using actors. I mean watching someone gut a fish with their teeth has a certain fascination I find irresistible, but so did Kill Bill: Volume One. Something I quickly got over about five minutes in.
So, I read and think about what I read, and if I'm lucky enough it creates an urge to write. Writing is a harder than it looks. It's a lot like organizing closets or garages, not that I am adept at either. It forces me to put my thoughts in some kind of order lest they continue to run around willy-nilly like the Duggar's on crack.
This morning I read from Martin Amis's The Rub of Time, a collection of essays written from 1994-2017. Amis is the son of British author Kingsley Amis and a essayist of some repute. I rate him right up there with Christopher Hitchens and Joan Didion in my pantheon of people from whom I steal ideas.
The essay I read from this morning was about the porn industry. I can't use the title. In it, Amis explained the difference between "features" and "gonzo" pornography. The first came about in response to a Supreme Court ruling that said that porn had to contain some kind of 'artistic' merit. This has led to a lot of sex films with a ridiculous amount of meaningless dialogue and pointless narrative structure.
He wrote about a film centered around the loss of a fireman performing his duties.
"The next sex scene, which occurs about a millennium later, is also triggered by grief counseling. Here a male porno star comforts two female porno stars, one of them anally."
It's hard to come up with a line that can strike you with the force of a hammer to the head and yet is also capable of cutting through illusion and delusion like an obsidian knife. This one does. The shock value of being about anal sex is completely obliterated by the incisive truth that is revealed about how just how far humans are willing to go to hide from truth.
Gonzo porn is more unscripted and aggressive, and sells itself as being more honest. Remember "reality shows"? Amis responds to the statement that a gonzo porn producer makes at the beginning of the essay that pain and pleasure are two sides of the same coin.
"No they're not. The distinction between them has always been perfectly clear, whatever, 'the market' might choose to claim."
After reading the essay, I needed a palette cleanser and picked up a Saul Bellow quote in an Amis essay about Bellow entitled Bellow's Letters.
"Common sense and a sense of humor are the same thing, moving at different speeds. A sense of humor is just common sense, dancing. Those who lack humor are without judgement and should be trusted with nothing."
God, what a truth, and what a phrase, "common sense dancing!" And how relevant in an age dominated by late night political operatives posing as comics and where common sense is being relentlessly shouted down by virtue signalling hucksters posing as saints.
I have this book so hoary with age its pages are yellowed and it has no cover. I bought it a long time ago when I was desperately seeking answers that would elevate my mind from the hedonistic muck of a misspent adolescence. It's was written by an eccentric thinker, some would say crackpot, named John Michell and titled City of Revelation: On the Proportions and Numbers of the Cosmic Temple. I remember buying it because of the chapter entitled The Number 666, curious to know his thoughts on what gematria had to say about the issue.
I have since become interested in the concept of a cyclical version of history, and Michell was a fierce proponent of the concept going so far as to blame most of the ills of modern society on educational systems that produce people who because of their endless diet of secular thought, "retain into mature life the adolescent ability to adopt a committed position in debate, and to put forward decided opinions on issues which wiser men would scarcely feel disposed to judge."
I mean the jury is out on the crackpot charge, I haven't read enough of Michell's work to make an informed opinion, but he certainly drove this nail through a six inch board. It accurately describes a great deal of not only the educational establishment, nearly all of our politicians, ninety-eight percent of current celebrities, and sadly to say, most of our journalists, preachers, and scientists.
There is definitely something bigger going on here, yet we seem so ill disposed to find out what it is. Fatigue? Maybe.
The passage that caught my attention this morning I had highlighted in yellow many years ago, as if a younger version of myself was signalling the quarantined senior.
"The most cherished possession of every race was its sacred canon of cosmology, embodied in the native laws, customs, legends, symbols, and architecture as well as in the ritual of everyday life."
You have to admit that for the last fifty years we have allowed those who profit most from our ignorance to tear down most of our cherished foundations with promises of brighter future. We are starting to see that all they ever had were promises, and all we seem to have gotten out of the deal is a religion based on the foolish worship of the non-essential and a bunch of tone deaf videos of clueless people singing.
I try not to put too much faith into the idea that something good will come out of the Coronavirus, and I'm often overwhelmed by the feeling that the worst is yet to come. I do think that some things will prove to soften the pain. However, if nothing else, we can hope that this experience opens our eyes to the fact that we can't foolishly keep pushing the lemmings along with electrical cattle prods naively trusting in the wisdom of idiots (God, just look at them all) to guide us to a better place.
My mom plays rummy like an accountant. It takes an act of God to pry a card from a pair or a potential run out of her hand. It's a slow, steady game that usually gets her beat by more than a hundred points, but there are times that she emerges on the other side of the five hundred point bar and flips my brother and I off with two extended middle fingers.
Well, to tell the truth, she would never be so crass as to flip anybody off. (I'm still working on it, and when it does happen, I'll post the picture.) Instead, it's the Baptist Mama bible version of a two-fisted middle finger, one that must be decoded by sons who have studied the archaic language for over six decades.
Her weakness is in how she uses the discard pile, often handing my brothers cheap points like a drunken politician on shore leave. When I tell her to tighten that shit up, she looks at me with one cocked eye and hieroglyphically lets me know that if I want to remain in the will, I had better shut the F**k up and concentrate on my own game and leave hers alone.
"How the heck am I supposed to know what he has?"
"Well, it could he he still has the king you discarded right before you discarded that one."
I which point she resorts to the time worn trick of back handing me with the hand she wears her ring on.
"Mom, you better watch out. They got laws about child abuse that they didn't back when we were growing up."
"Child Abuse? Well, they would just look at you and laugh.
"Ha! Ha! They got new laws against elder abuse too."
"I'd just act like I was crazy."
"That's not acting; that's like being the collapsible hose on the infomercial."
"You saying I can't act."
"No, I'm saying you are crazy."
"I'm still your Mother! And I brought you into the world, and I can take you out."
I got nothing to say to that, so I just let it go and took it, but mumbled stuff under my breath.
"What are you mumbling about?"
"I didn't say nothing....but, Steve looked at your cards when you went to the bathroom."
Steve didn't even respond, just his raised his chin and gave me a disgusted look that said., "Don't even try to put me in the middle of this."
I picked up a three of clubs from off the deck, one of the most pathetic cards in the deck. I tossed it immediately.
Ma Barker picked it up, laid down four threes, and slammed down the Jack of hearts I had needed for the last twenty minutes right in front of my nose. "Rummy!.....Dummy!"
First, the Virus, then Shelter in Place, now this. Life ain't the least bit fucking fair.
There's a picture of my dad placed near the small sofa by the window where I take my morning coffee. It was taken when he was suffering from dementia, and he thought that I was up to something.
The look on his face clearly begs the question, "What the fuck are you up to?" My dad never used that word. I add it because the picture always kicks me in the ass in the morning, and I've often needed a little more of a thud to get me going. I have a better picture of him teaching me how to tie a tie that chokes me up and reminds me that Pop was always a teacher even after his boys got older and didn't think they needed to learn anything else that he had to offer.
I put this one in a frame though and placed where it can ask me that question every morning and remind me just how stupid the young me was ever to think I didn't need to listen to what he had to say, and just how much I need to ask myself that question every day in the morning before I've had much of a chance to go screw up another day.
I sit there on the small sofa drinking coffee by the window, soaking up some sunlight, and wondering. During this quarantine, I've often looked at the picture and said, "Pop, this is some crazy shit. You would not believe it." This morning I realized that, just like so many times in the past, I was just talking to make conversation and not waiting for a reply.
This time I waited. My dad would have handled this with the knowledge he had gained from growing up in the hard wind driven dust of Oklahoma. He had worn masks before. He would have handled the grief with the knowledge that he had gained with losing his mama when he was young and his teen-aged sister who was also his best friend. He would have looked back at death with the hardened eyes of a cockroach who had watched his whole family die and understood that it had made him into a simple point in time and place from which the new heaven and new earth would originate.
Then I started to think what would he have done when the whole world came to a screeching halt and the powers that be ordered his bow-legged energy to go inside and just stand still?
He Would Have Called Us All On The Phone
My dad was a confident man up until the dementia robbed him of
the ability to place the universe into the framework of the house of his own understanding. There's a scientific name for that place, but I can't recall it. I prefer to think of it as the house he built from scratch using some wood and nails that him and grandpa had carried out from Oklahoma when they came and some boards, sheetrock, roofing, and cement they bought down at Farmers Lumber.
After his sixteen-year-old sister died in a car wreck while he was at boot camp, he developed a deep seated anxiety that manifested itself when he couldn't sleep until all of us were home in bed, and he had locked the door himself.
Even after we had married and started families of our own, Pop would call us every time he heard a siren. He would call us when he heard of tragedies on the TV set, acting like he was telling us about it, but in reality, making sure that we were nowhere near where it was happening, Bangladesh, Bhopal, Chernobyl, it didn't matter.
It wouldn't be any different with an invisible virus that's everywhere at once. He would have warned us all it and told Mom to give some us money to buy some hand soap and pinto beans.
He Would Have Made Us All A Mask With A Strap Made Out of A Leather Belt
Pop was a problem solver. He would have started in making them damn masks before anyone else had suggested it. The only problem with this would be his use of unconventional materials. He would have experimented with making them out of used carpet thinking the thicker the material the better they would work. After mom had informed him, "Dang it! Bill, no one could breathe through that crap," he would have tried different stuff before finally settling on old pillow cases, the thicker the better.
With a leather strap. The man had more leather belts than a dominatrix with a leather fetish. He had a thing about working in leather. I can imagine the grin on his face when he showed me how he managed to attach the leather to the cotton.
He Would Have Made A Big Ol' Pot of Beans
Pop never tired of telling the story about how he ate beans morning, noon, and night during the entire length of the Great Depression. He would often elaborate on the story and tell us that because of this steady diet of pinto beans, he became a world champion gas-passer, winning the blue ribbon for this artistry at the 1932 World's Fair in Chicago. He would laugh himself almost into a fit as he would describe how him and his brother Melvin practiced for the tag-team version of the contest at night while everyone else was asleep.
We knew it was story because Pop had never been to Chicago.
I'm sure the quarantine would have triggered him into breaking out the pots and pans. He liked making beans almost as much as he liked tinkering with broken lamps and radios. They made him feel safe.
He Would Have Done Everything In His Power to Keep Us Calm
My dad went almost straight from the Dust Bowl to a troopship heading for the Philippines. He was like that guy on the Allstate commercial, "We know a lot because we seen a lot."
People like that are worth their weight in gold. The one thing that I'm glad he's not around to see is how the media, the politicians, and some stupid kids in Daytona write us old people off as an acceptable price for dealing with this Virus. I think it's a sign of what's to come.
I am happy to see how people have responded though. We were headed in this direction anyway. Now that people are forced into thinking about losing their grandparents and their own parents and visualizing a world without them, it has made us all think of prioritizing our lives to where there's more time for Granny and Grandpa and less for Gal Godot and her friends.
My dad would have said something like, "We've been through worse; we'll get through this. Might have to eat some beans though."
He Would Have Said a Prayer
Pop trusted in his savior Jesus. When I have my own doubts because of all the people who I've known who have said they speak to Jesus daily, yet everything they do suggests they are lying to both him and me, I think of the changes that I saw with my own eyes with how my dad viewed the world before his own moment on the road to Damascus and afterwards. Whatever him and Jesus talked about that day. It worked, and it left me with the distinct notion that Jesus had a love for corny jokes because you could've distilled moonshine with the jokes my dad told.
He Would Have Died Himself To Keep Us Safe
Pop was that kind of a guy. A lot of people like that are out there still. They are working to save lives even as I'm typing. They aren't real famous, and they can't throw a football the length of the field, nor are they particularly good at pretending to be someone else. What they are good at is resisting the urge to sell their souls for golden mansions and political power.
If there's one thing that we should promise ourselves not to forget if this ever gets over, it is that it has always been the fear of dying that has kept us from feeling alive.
We should recognize what life really means and quit letting the unknowing others, explain it to us.
If we ever manage to get out of our houses. I'm going to blow that picture up to poster size and stick it in my front window looking outward, so that if you read this, and are driving by my house, you can ask yourself the question, "What are you up to today?"
Today lacking any specific subject to write on, I decided to just take the day in stride and expand on my thoughts about the small events that help make up my day.
First thing after I get up, I watch a video that someone has put on my facebook feed about the so-called humorist Bill Mahar interviewing Congressman Dan Crenshaw, a former Navy Seal.
I don't like to get into arguments about politics on Facebook. I normally don't. If someone puts something I find politically distasteful, I hide the post because I would rather keep a friend than win an argument. I have never liked Bill Mahar, however, finding him extremely smug and totally unqualified for the position that HBO has placed him in. In addition, I've never considered him to have ever ventured within a hundred miles of a sense of humor.
He became famous for making the movie Religulous which poked fun at religion. He was extremely happy with himself for having done so, and I guess kind of fancied himself as a comedic version of Richard Dawkins or Christopher Hitchens. In my book, it marked him as something of a dumbass bully. What he did was like gloating for beating up an old lady in a wheelchair, or stealing a first grader's candy.
What he failed to realize was if you think that are proving the failure of theological thinking by attacking the foibles of human beings, you are essentially acting like a spoiled kid with daddy issues. You are no Martin Luther just because you can point out some people take belief to some ridiculous extremes. Now, if you could expound on why Descartes and Newton were foolish enough to believe in God even as they laid the groundwork for modern science, maybe you would have done something to gloat about. Pointing out that snake handlers are a little strange, not so much.
Mahar's normal modus operandi is to stack the panels on his show heavily in his favor, and to pass out knives and stake down the sacrificial goat right in the middle of them. His audience reminds me of the crowd at a medieval witch burning where a jester warming up audience would up a sign that said, "Laugh-This could be you!" In other words, The View with a slightly more intelligent audience and without all the annoying cackling.
This particular video was interesting because it was one-on-one, a socially distanced interview, where Mahar was without all of his snickering toadies. From the first question, you could tell that he knew he should have slipped Crenshaw a barbiturate or two. After the second question, you could smell his fear. After the third, Mahar tried his typical ruse of distraction and diversion to no great effect. The one-eyed man proved unflappable. There was no friendly bloodthirsty audience to help drown out Crenshaw's words, and finding himself all alone with a script written by third rate intellects, you just knew that Mahar wished that he had worn an extra large Corona mask his fear.
The second thing that caught my attention this morning were these two doves walking in the middle of my lane on a quiet neighborhood road in Hanford. I had gone to make a deposit in the bank.
I decided to bring my mom home some chicken from KFC ,and turned on a tree-lined side street to get over to the road that the restaurant was on. I was driving slowly when these two doves walked in front of me. They kind of strutted like they were daring me to hit them. They flew off, but I thought I could hear them laughing at me.
I thought to myself that the doves in Hanford are more than a little bit spoiled and rude to be acting that way. I also thought as I drove by them that there was a time when I was a lot meaner and ruder myself and would have been laughing while I looked back in my rearview mirror at couple of feathers floating slowly down to the ground like in a Roadrunner cartoon.
At the KFC drive-thru, there was a pretty girl working the window. I told her, "I can tell that you have a pretty smile even though your ar wearing a mask." I could too. Her eyes lit up and crinkled at the corners. Then I told her, "Now, I can tell that you're blushing." I could too. She was laughing as I drove away
I drove away feeling a little stupid at the sudden realization that it had taken me 67 years to discover that I had x-ray vision and wondering why it had taken a virus named after a beer to figure it out.
I have been inside the belly of submarine for what seems like an eternity hiding from a virus with a bone to pick with seniors. Whatever I did to piss it off, I couldn't tell you. But it's out there hiding in plain sight like an invisible Jack the Ripper.
I have binged watched enough reality TV recently to understand that they are all the same show, adjusted to variance in our temperaments, our accents, skin color, age, and even our sexual preferences. I've learned that whoever watches the Kardashians has serious emotional issues, that there are real housewives (apparently the words used together like this means fake or overly dramatic) in nearly every major city in America, that the word reality in reality TV also means fake or overdramatic, and that the image of a nice butt or just a hint of boobage will make people watch commercials for shit they have no intention of ever buying
When you are 1000 feet below the surface of reality with nothing to do, there's really only one thing that makes sense, and that is try to learn a little something about truth everyday. I have a theory that this whole fucking existential crisis with this damn virus has come about because that for many years so many of us have been totally willing to sell our own reality out and not even to the highest bidder.
I have been reading while submerged, and this is some of what I found.
“If there were a man who dared to say all that he thought of this world there would not be left him a square foot of ground to stand on [. . .]If now and then we encounter pages that explode, pages that wound and sear, that wring groans and tears and curses, know that they come from a man with his back up, a man whose only defenses left are his words and his words are always stronger than the lying, crushing weight of the world, stronger than all the racks and wheels which the cowardly invent to crush out the miracle of personality. If any man ever dared to translate all that is in his heart, to put down what is really his experience, what is truly his truth, I think then the world would go to smash, that it would be blown to smithereens and no god, no accident, no will could ever again assemble the pieces, the atoms the indestructible elements that have gone to make up the world.”
Henry Miller - Tropic of Cancer
I always have a copy of Tropic of Cancer around somewhere I can pick it up. I've had it for years and have never read it cover to cover or in sequence. I just enjoy picking it up and opening it to a random page and finding little nuggets of truth and beauty.
Great writing needs to be like a bunch of grapes. Miller's books are wineries. Compared to him, most writers you come across are more like raisin farmers. It's rare to find a writer was never afraid to reach his hand into a clogged toilet bowl to find the gold nuggets that no-one else knew were there.
There are a lot of authors writing nowadays who try to be like Henry Miller in the same sense that Quentin Tarantino tries to be like Orson Welles. These writers will reach into the same toilet and pull up a disgusting turd and hold it aloft for everyone to see, seeking praise for their willingness to fish for shit.
They lack not only the vision but the willingness to openly expose the darkness of their own despair. You have to be willing to sleep in a gutter. They could also use a lot of help with the authenticity of their adjectives, similes, and metaphors.
I have been in love a few times, and I more than recognize this feeling. I had to look and see if he hadn't torn it out of the pages of my own biography before realizing that there's probably more than a couple of people who have felt this way. I have felt it every day since my first love broke my heart in high school, and that was in a different world, in another century.
“I couldn't allow myself to think about her very long; if I had I would have jumped off the bridge. It's strange. I had become so reconciled to this life without her, and yet if I thought about her only for a minute it was enough to pierce the bone and marrow of my contentment and shove me back again into the agonizing gutter of my wretched past.”
People are strange: they are constantly angered by trivial things, but on a major matter like totally wasting their lives, they hardly seem to notice.
Bukowski was nothing if not an iconoclast. He was an upright middle finger with legs and a drunken grin, a big thumb in the eye of anyone who has never felt the twisted urges or wrestled with the anxious thoughts of modern American life. If you were a preacher, he was the drunk guy across the street who kept shouting piss and fuck while you greeted your flock on Sunday Morning. If you were a politician, he was the same drunk guy who laughed uproariously all through the humorless speech you spent two days writing. Bukowski could be annoying, but he was also honest and funny and saw and wrote about the ghostly things that most people miss as they go about their business.
He was very fortunate in that most of us secretly feel the things that he puts forth in his writing. Most of his poetry would be middle school bad except every couple of stanzas or so, he puts in something that stops our thoughts in their tracks and makes that little voice inside our head say Fuck, why didn't I think of that.
He was a lot like Henry Miller too in that he was a gutter sleeper and often mined for gold nuggets in toilet water. Also, because his similes, his adjectives, metaphors, and allegories are not only beautiful, they are as honest as Abe Lincoln's reputation. Look at this passage from his poem The Genius of the Crowd and tell me it doesn't sound like The Sermon on the Mount.
"beware the preachers
beware the knowers
beware those who are always reading books
beware those who either detest poverty
or are proud of it
beware those quick to praise
for they need praise in return
beware those who are quick to censor
they are afraid of what they do not know
beware those who seek constant crowds for
they are nothing alone"
I just ordered one of this first books. I'll let you know later what I think of it.
In the meantime, learn something new.
My musical tastes were set in stone in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Well, maybe set is stone is factually wrong, only God and nature can create stone. Encased in concrete might be a better way of looking at it. God wrote the Ten Commandments on a stone tablet a long time ago. I never thought about the idea that it was an allegory for the long natural process for how the true guidelines to man's better nature revealed themselves over time.
In the late 1960s, we would have whipped up some fucking cement, and, because we were such an impatient bunch of twits, we would have engraved it with one written rule, using Jimmy Page's erection (rumored to be able to cut diamond) to do the honors, "Do what thou wilt" or Aleister Crowley's Law of Thelema, the saying that was engraved in the grooves of the album Led Zeppelin III.
When people from the 60s brag about their music they have a lot to be proud of, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Hendrix, Grateful Dead, Dylan. In was, in fact, music that changed the course of history. But all of our boastful arguments can be brought to a screeching halt if someone mentions that the era also produced the likes of the 1910 Fruitgum Company and their scintillating hit Goody Goody Gumdrops. (In one of the world's greatest displays of misplaced temerity, the group actually put out a best of LP.)
The era can also be shamed into silence by bringing up the several hits by faux rock group The Monkeys. There's also The Strawberry Alarm Clock, Tiny Tim, Richard Harris's version of MacArthur Park, the totally insipid lyric 'Yummy, Yummy, Yummy, I got love in my tummy', and any and all of the John Lennon and Yoko Ono collaborations.
In truth, most of us made no actual effort to listen to any of that crap, but it was there. You could never fully escape from its ubiquitous presence; it was part of the soundtrack of the era. For every "A Day in the Life" there were four or five songs like "Crimson and Clover."
Which brings me to the the ultimate musical contribution of the era which was the crass commercialization of the music industry. The Monkeys were the iconic example, a fraud perpetrated on the public. They outsold both The Beatles and The Stones in 1967, the year The Beatles came out with Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (arguably the best album ever) and the Stones released Their Satanic Majesties Request. The Monkeys, on the other hand, were a made for TV band who only sang on their recordings.
A lot of the real bands recording in the LA music scene couldn't protest too loudly though, as the same crew of backing musicians who provided the sound of The Monkeys were playing the music on their records too.
I got caught up in defending the musical greatness of the era mainly because of watching the music industry do its thing of convincing the young and the gullible that the music of their own era was the greatest music ever produced. This process has continued down to these times where singers no longer have to be able to sing and musical nonentities like Miley Cyrus will one day be considered as legend.
I traveled through the 90s in a musical cocoon. I heard the backing track but never paid enough attention to focus on any one thing. I had discovered my holy trinity by then, Bob Dylan, John Prine, and Al Stewart and felt little need to listen to anything else, in fact, dismissing everything else as either irrelevant or mere noise.
I'm older now and when looking back, I have come face to face with just how much I missed living in that cocoon. Every era has it jewels. That's just as much a statement of fact as the truth that every era creates a way more shit than jewels.
I was watching Youtube videos recently and came across the song Lovers in a Dangerous Time, a Bruce Cockburn song covered by the Barenaked Ladies. The lovely opening lyric caught my attention,
"Don't the hours grow shorter as the days go by
You never get to stop and open your eyes
One day you're waiting for the sky to fall
The next you're dazzled by the beauty of it all"
Lovers in a Dangerous Time - Bare Naked Ladies
(I don't own the rights to this music)
The song made realize that there was a lot of good music in the 90s that I had intentionally rejected out of loyalty to my own era. I spent the next few nights looking for jewels from the era. I know that there is a lot more out there. These are just a few that caught my attention.
Don't Look Back in Anger - Oasis
I don't give a rat's ass about which brother is the good guy and which one is the dick. I heard one of them say some pretty dick like stuff once, and it stuck with me, so I wrote Oasis off. I've never been one to think that a prancing rock star in eyeshadow is any more than someone who makes music, the make-up, the prancing and the preening and the ninety pound snarl is off putting.
The song is formidable though. I like the lyrics,
"Take me to the place where you go
Where nobody knows if it's night or day
But please don't put your life in the hands
Of a Rock n Roll band
Who'll throw it all away"
The song's melody has the wistful quality which was always the best part of the song "Imagine" by John Lennon. Noel Gallagher said he inspired by Lennon's masterpiece when he wrote the song.
(I don't own the rights to this music)
Soul Shine - Govt. Mule
Lets face it, Govt. Mule is an extension of 70s band The Allman Brothers and Warren Haynes is inarguably the best practitioner of the the sounds of that era still around. But he's a lot more than that. He is able to take the sounds and influences of the late 60s and 70s era and bring them into a new time period while amplifying their beauty and making them sound fresh and relevant to the modern ear. This song is a direct descendant of the Robert Hunter- Jerry Garcia collaborations that once filled the San Francisco night with strange colors and the pungent odor of cannabis. The melody and these lyrics could have been lifted whole from the Dead's American Beauty.
"I grew up thinkin' that I had it made
Gonna make it on my own
But life can take the strongest man
And make him feel so alone."
(I don't own the rights to this music)
Why - Annie Lennox
Annie Lennox reminds me a lot of Van Morrison, great look, better voice, uneven choice of material. She had the looks and the talent. She was real big for a while but never as big as her talent warranted.
This song is taken from the 1992 album Diva. She's singing about her concerns with going solo and the anxiety she felt for not having her writing partner Dave Stewart around. It proves she had nothing to worry about.
"I tell myself too many times
Why don't you ever learn to keep your big mouth shut
That's why it hurts so bad to hear the words
That keep on falling from your mouth"
(I don't own the rights to this music)
Hero of the Day - Metallica
I have a hard time dealing with the imagery and swagger of heavy metal. I was around when it started up with bands like Blue Cheer, and I was there when it became kind of artistic when groups like Black Sabbath and Deep Purple came out. I owned all the Black Sabbath albums. I finally quit buying them because all the anti-god, Satanic imagery made me feel guilty and confused.
The Greeks were the ones who first created the heavy metal perspective with the invention of Tragic drama, and they swore it was cathartic and helped humans deal with the dark vision of our own mortality. At some point there has to be hope though; this was why they also created Comic theater, two sides of the same coin paired together to show the two extremes of being human. The ratio was a trilogy with two tragedies to one comedy with the comedy letting us know that we can also laugh at our morbid destiny. There is a need at times to soften the message or else you could just as easily turn Marilyn Manson fans into Charlie Manson fans.
I started to feel that the heavy metal groups knew nothing about the ratio and were always, probably at the command of their record companies, spewing out an endless stream of despair and existentialism upon their fan's frustrations.
Metallica has two songs that I find beautiful. Nothing Else Matters and this one. I've read that their true fans are dismissive of Hero of the Day because they don't think it's true metal. If so that's a pity. Someone should point out that the fucking songs aren't actually made of metal and all of the machismo existential warrior shit is still just armour to protect the human within. Even Achilles, the greatest warrior ever, had a weak spot. It was what made him human. It was his lack of attention to that one chink in his makeup that got him killed.
"So tear me open and pour me out
There's things inside that scream and shout
And the pain still hates me
So hold me until it sleeps"
(I don't own the rights to this music)
Like I said, I'm totally new to the idea that other musical eras had something worth listening too besides the tinsel wrapped bullshit sold to the easily fooled and often misguided youth of any era. I am finding it a very interesting task to find what I had missed. I know that I left out a lot of good stuff from my excursion into the 90s only because of space and time.
Maybe, next time, I take on something a lot more challenging like trying to find a jewel or golden nugget in the huge mountains of steaming vulture shit coming out the anus of the only in it for the money music industry of today. Even the maggots are starting to say enough's enough.
I know it is a week later but it must really be Good Friday, someone must have bumped the 2020 Calendar so that it was a week off. Last Friday, for me, wasn't all that great with everybody hiding in their houses and whining about toilet paper and politicians.
This morning, however, I woke up to the sound of the mail carrier pulling away after putting my state tax return check in the mailbox. Getting that check allowed me to send my daughter some money, a thing I've been wanted to do for a while.
As I typed her a message, a big fat blue bird landed on a branch outside the window. It was like a message from the Universe saying, "So you're locked down at home dude, drinking coffee, and sending your daughter some money; try doing that shit while laying in gutter wearing piss soaked undies and holding up a cardboard sign that says, 'wil werk 4 fude.' Cheer the fuck up dude, you troubles ain't that real."
I was reading some more Tropic of Cancer and thinking about Henry Miller. His writings were banned in this country for a long while for the sin of being too openly honest about the fact that mankind's two greatest motivations in life were eating and screwing. Yet, the same people who fought for him then would probably now take his writings out of context and try to shame people for his treatment of women.
I say out of context because you have to be very narrow minded to miss the fact that Miller's perspective writing about the human condition has always been from the bottom of the basement stairs. He writes about prostitutes, alcoholics, and two-legged weasels, but just like Dostoevsky and Tolstoy, you could feel the pages bursting with love for life with all of its warts, blemishes, deformities and foul odors.
Unlike the Russians though, Henry Miller smiles as he kisses a ancient, wrinkled, garlic breathed whore full on the lips with as much passion as he could muster up on an empty stomach. He's going to smile about it, but unlike a lot of authors, he's not going to leave out the part about the garlic, the wrinkles or the fact that she's a whore.
Miller describes his own friends in the novels as flea and lice infected vermin; most of them come across like skids marks on the underwear of humanity. Yet, you can always tell that he loves them and, more importantly, he learns from them and sees their worth in spite of the fact that it's nearly always invisible to the untrained eye.
I was stunned by some of the passages. He talks about bleak things with such beautiful phrasing, it's impossible not to see the beauty in the darkness. Take this quote about how the importance of art to human existence, "The monstrous thing is not that men have created roses out of this dung heap, but that, for some reason or other, they should want roses. For some reason or other man looks for the miracle, and to accomplish it he will wade through blood. He will debauch himself with ideas, he will reduce himself to a shadow if for only one second of his life he can close his eyes to the hideousness of reality. Everything is endured- disgrace, humiliation, poverty, war, crime, ennui- in the belief that overnight something will occur, a miracle, which will render life tolerable. And all the while a meter is running inside and there is no hand that can reach in there and shut it off.”
This passage makes it all too evident that Miller willfully climbed down into the swamp mud, so many others only look down at the world from a upright position. Miller recognizes that tremendous amount of beauty and wonder exists beneath the shadows of our noses and looking at it from ground level is the only way to squeeze out every tiny particle of beauty out of human existence. There are lots of writers who will hand you bouquets and spray cologne in order to distract you from the knowledge of the grave, not Henry, he'll point out the beauty all right, but never at the price of losing sight of the truth.
And that was just the beginning of the day. Later, I rediscovered the works of Los Angeles poet named Charles Bukowski. I watched a couple of podcasts about him including one where he talked about dying and writing. His advice was good. He basically said don't take forever to get to the point; every line needs to loaded down with the juice. He said that it is the boring writers who try to build the anticipation for the passages with the juice.
There are a several lists of his quotes. These are a few that caught my eye.
The problem with the world is that the intelligent people are full of doubt, while the stupid people are full of confidence.
We’re all going to die, all of us, what a circus! That alone should make us love each other but it doesn’t. We are terrorized and flattened by trivialities; we are eaten up by nothing.
If you are losing your soul and you know it, you still got some soul left to lose.
We don't even ask for happiness, just a little less pain.
The day still wasn't finished. I also listened to some podcasts about two musicians who were destroyed by their LSD use. The stories about Craig Smith/Maitreya Kali and Skip Spence were quite interesting. Both went completely off the rails after over indulging in LSD and other drugs, and both released some interesting music after having their personalities wrecked.
Spence, who was one of the founding members of both the Jefferson Airplane and Moby Grape, released his only solo effort Oar after writing the songs while locked up in a mental institution for taking a fire ax to hotel room door and trying to stab a record executive.
This is the song All Come to Meet Her from the album Oar.
Craig Smith was a successful folky and songwriter before he decided to take a trip across Asia to India. He went crazy in a market place in Kandahar and locked up for several months. He was never the same and eventually tried to kill his mother before dying homeless on the streets of LA. Before dying, he recorded two albums in a limited self-release that are now worth thousands of dollars to collectors.
This is the strange and etheral song Sam Pan Boat off of his very rare album Inca.
I believe that any day you can see a bluebird outside your window, help your daughter out, and learn something new is a great day. So, all in all, April 17, 2020 was a very Good Friday.