Tuesday, October 31, 2006

you say you want, diamonds on a ring of gold.

from Cannery Row:

"It has always seemed strange to me," said Doc. "The things we admire in men, kindness and generosity, openness, honesty, understanding and feeling, are the concomitants of failure in our system. And those traits we detest, sharpness, greed, acquisitiveness, meanness, egotism, and self interest, are the traits of success. And while men admire the quality of the first, they love the produce of the second."
"Who wants to be good if he has to be hungry too?" said Richard Frost.
"Oh, it isn't a matter of hunger. It's something quite different. The sale of souls to gain the whole world is completely voluntary and almost unanimous...."

loved this story....read it for the first time today...book club meeting is in less than an hour. In lieu of looking for work as I was supposed to, I spent the day pondering the great John Steinbeck.

Forever a wayfaring disillusioned young soul.
(happy halloween b.t.w.)

Monday, October 30, 2006

double dose

"The moment I have realized God sitting in the temple of every human body, the moment I stand in reverence before every human being and see God in him - that moment I am free from bondage, everything that binds vanishes, and I am free."

"The Vedanta recognizes no sin it only recognizes error. And the greatest error, says the Vedanta is to say that you are weak, that you are a sinner, a miserable creature, and that you have no power and you cannot do this and that."

Swami Vivekananda

Thursday, October 26, 2006

duct taped feathers.

Rain pours down from the heavens. A shadow glides across the surface of a red BMW. It's dark and the streets are empty. A young man sits hunched over in the car. Drool drips from his chin and onto a red track suit. The shadow circles two times to assess the situation and disappears.

A shockwave of bioelectric impulse kickstarts the young man's system. His eyes open to raindrops marching across the glass pane. Vision blurry and head pounding, he's still unsure of the where and why's to the here and nows. He looks left and sees an unlocked door. He pauses and looks right to see an empty seat. A glance down reveals the outfit from the previous evening's Halloween Festivities. A chill slides through cracked weather proofing.

From what the young man can gather through the haze of a foggy night's past, there was plenty of weed, flashing lights, discussions of grand delusions, single serving friendships, giggles, shots, and blank stares. In an attempt to swallow, he winces his eyes shut and draws his lips wide. It's an uncomfortable look, one of foolish youth regretting the perceived sweet embrace decadence and debauchery. To his friends and family, it's obvious that such a life is not for him. As much as he tries to will himself from the precious lullaby of clubland, his attempts are futile. There are friends here, and models, passion chasers, progressive movers and shakers always willing to get high with a little help from some friend. Even amongst the in crowd, he's always one to end up alone and regretting the things he'd said while under the devil's spell of disillusion.

"You know you're the most beautiful woman I've ever met," he whispered to his favorite waitress the night before. Sloppy drunk and slurring his words, it was no wonder she rolled her eyes. She saw not the passionate artist rather a bumbling buffoon. He was just another horny guy no matter how eloquently he tried to put it. One could only feel empathy for his plight. It wasn't as if he was an unattractive lewd and lascivious American dirtbag. Cordial, caring, genuine, anxious, perpetually inspired, and trustworthy not to mention loyal, courteous and kind, his mother would have otherwise been proud of her son. In moments brief yet powerful, he'd display signs of breaking through psychological bondage that convinced him of being a lesser mortal. Dreams of serene days of love in love with his very on Angel on God's green earth poured from his soul to blank anythings: notebooks, napkins, brochures, skin….everything became a canvas for lyrical expression of literal emotion.

Many viewed this as a gift but he forever saw his penchant for lyrical verbosity a curse. To him the power lay in images, both moving and still, celluloid and canvas; in either case acute in their impact, and embraced or denied by the masses in an instant. At night he'd pray to exchange lyricism and its arduous internal analysis for a full refund, a heavenly credit he'd charge against skills in the visual arts. "If only I could draw…see the angel hidden in the blank page like Michelangelo to a fresh block of granite," he'd scribble in many a 'successories' notebook. In his mind people hardly had the patience to follow his nonsensical streams of fluid consciousness past village after sacred village, through dense and dangerous jungle and ultimately to a shining sea of accomplishment.

"Jesus Christ it's freezing in here," he thinks aloud. He starts the car, cranks up the heat, and the radio kicks on. "Good morning, this is Marcie Metermaid for Metropolitan Public Radio on Monday November the 1st. Traffic is a mess out there today with delays up to 2 hours. Bring your inner peace with you this morning, the expressways are full of accidents."

As he surveys the damage, he notices a bag of records sitting ever so pleasantly on the back seat. Two hundred dollar headphones lay strewn out beside the bag. On the passengers seat lay his wallet open for all passers by to see. A cough stirs the silence of his motel on wheels. He glances at the clock and registers 7:30 AM. Through the foggy car windows he sees a parking meter which reads, 2 hour parking, 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM.

As much as he wants nothing more than to curl up in a fetal ball of absolute acquiescence, he knew he must make a move. The city's parking enforcement team would be out in full force to search for lawbreakers upon whom to bestow hundreds of dollars in fines for coming up fifty cents too short. "I can't believe this shit," he whispers as a tear streams down his face. The morning is gray and hazy yet his stupidity bright as a thousand suns. He's stupefied to think of falling asleep in an unlocked car drunk, high and drooling on his only supply. Anger and frustration rage inside his fragile mind, beggin to be released as a torrent of tears, but the antidepressants hold him back. Instead he slams his fist to the steering wheel in and act of defiance. No one else could be indicated in the case of last evening's decadence. His stomach begins to roll over itself in disgust as he remembered the closing moments of a night which could have been his last. In a drunken stupor he had left the club alone and wandered the Metropolis' streets back to his car. He had parked a few blocks away on a downtown sidestreet. Somehow he managed to find his car, step inside, fumble for the ignition, and make it as far as the second click of the engine. Fatigue commandeered his consciousness and lulled him into never never land.

By the grace of God not a single the homeless wayfarer tossed him from his seat and stole his car. His wallet and his person were still in good tact save the physical anguish of too much partying. Although he didn't believe in God, to him it was all talk of magic. "Just my dumb luck," he thought to himself barely able to crack a smile. He wrote the night off as a stupid lesson from which he'd learn next time.

On a park bench some fifty feet away, a man with missing teeth, one hand, and a menacing look upon his face sits under a poncho. He looks down at the morning's meal, a discarded half eaten burrito from the local bar goers 4AM food runs. His toes are open to the weather through a makeshift pair of sandals. A grocery cart is filled to the brim. Old newspapers, phone books, matches, a rusty razor, a weathered copy of a Gideon's bible and three picture frames make up its contents. A pigeon lands on the bench next to the old homeless man and coos. The man breaks off a piece of burrito and feeds it to the bird. He hears an engine start and looks up. He smiles, makes the sign of the cross, and places his palms in prayer as the young man perks up and drives away.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

there's a skeleton choking on a crust of bread

On how I view the hamster wheel....

"In a world of fugitives, those taking the opposite direction will always be said to be running away."

T.S. Elliot

On Being and Becoming.....

"Every particle of the world is a mirror, in each atom lies the blazing light of a thousand suns. Cleave the heart of a rain-drop, a hundred pure oceans will flow forth. Look closely at a grain of sand, the seed of a thousand beings can be seen. The foot of an ant is larger than an elephant; In essence, a drop of water is no different than the Nile. In the heart of a barely-corn lies the fruit of a hundred harvest; Within the pulp of a millet seed an entire universe can be found. In the wing of a fly, an ocean of wonder; In the pupil of the eye, an endless heaven. Though the inner chamber of the heart is small, the Lord of both worlds gladly makes His home there. "

Mahmud Shabistari

Friday, October 13, 2006

"In a time of universal deceit — telling the truth is a revolutionary act." George Orwell

Humans tend to recoil when faced with the disfigured. Injuries twist the gut in a visceral reaction to the unfamiliar. We can put a name to that which we see and leave no sense of uncertainty as to whether another is in pain. Three weeks ago, having seen the physical and psychological impacts of war, I left the local cineplex feeling humbled and impassioned. It was a Friday night and I was dead set on seeing The Ground Truth, a movie whose ad I happened across in the great Chicago Reader. All I knew of the film was its subject, the Iraq war, and its tagline “sometimes the greatest act of courage is to tell the truth.” I feel a need to resist stating that I had the luxury of sitting in a comfortable cushy stadium seat, drinking fresh water and eating gummy bears. I was in no imminent danger of being shot at on my way home. It was much more likely that a group of drunken Lincoln Park trixies would throw up on me than some cloaked terrorist praise a false Allah before executing me in an explosion of crude technological warfare. The struggle my brethren are enduring in Iraq might as well be a fairy tale to me, the people of Chicago or any other major city in this still great nation. Walking the streets late on a Friday night, a casual observer could not ascertain that thousand of miles away people are losing their lives in a desert of perpetual warfare.

The Ground Truth is a documentary that looks into the lives of Iraq War Veterans who’ve recently returned from the hellhole that’s become the Middle East. The film is not about politics, nor does it attempt to understand why we’re in Iraq. Instead the filmmakers work to demonstrate the impact that our government’s policies have on the human beings who comprise the Armed Forces. Through a series of interviews, the viewer is lead down the path of the post war impact on the lives of American veterans. We see the physical impacts of bravery through the missing limbs of one soldier and the disfigured face of another. We hear of the social discomfort and alienation these once well adjusted individuals experience upon returning to the daily doldrums and illusionary drama of American culture. We understand that those being sent to destroy terror and bring democracy are our brothers and sisters. They’re the kids from down the block with whom we played ball. They’re our friends from high school, our cousins, our sons and daughters. The 10 faces we see interviewed are human beings first, whose lives are more precious than a million barrels of oil.

The sentiment amongst the few soldiers interviewed is an inability to reconcile the thought that they’re considered war heroes. “What is heroic about killing innocent civilians,” they ask. “What’s heroic about placing your life on the line for the freedoms those back on the mainland take for granted?” Thirty years from now this will all be but forgotten by so many. It’ll be one for the history books. Parents will be without children, children without fathers and mothers. Wives will be without husbands and no one will be able to explain why? Why did daddy go to Iraq?

It’s true that the army is volunteer basis and the argument could be made that those who sacrifice their lives in the name of false ideals and illusory promises agreed to horrific mental and physical anguish of doing the Government’s business. Yet once they’re taken from this world by bullet or IED or any number of tragic consequences of war, there’s no turning back on that agreement. They’re a statistic, a number, a “brave soldier who dedicated their lives to the fight for Iraqi’s freedom.

Through the interviews, the audience sees that these heroes will always be scarred, if not physically then mentally. Any who aren’t were surely, as the Army states in the film, exhibiting manic symptoms prior to deployment. My stomach turned over itself when I listened to the parents of a soldier who died not in a tour of duty, rather by taking his own life here in the states. He was driven to the edge by Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The war continued to rage in his mind until he felt suicide as the only escape. It sickened me to hear stories of the Army questioning the validity of such a disorder. The same establishment that craves our votes and our tax dollars, has the gross audacity to turn young men and women into killers, lead them to the battlefield, and question whether they’re experiencing post traumatic stress. To be sure, the Armed Forces does offer palm pilot questionnaires to all returning soldiers regarding their mental state. With promises of being kept from family or ostracized by fellow troops, it’s no wonder why more don’t claim to be psychologically disturbed.

To this humble blogger, the true maniacs, the true numbers to question are not those who return from the battlefronts with psychological issues, but those who have not. To kill another man in the name of any man made designation is insanity. To return from sanctioned death on a mass scale and live at perfect ease without any need to internally and decompress is an amazing feat. Man has an innate impulse to preserve the sanctity of life. What the moviegoer sees through the director’s lens is the ultimate goal of basic training, to turn an average joe into a G.I., a government issued killer protecting our nation’s freedom by imposing the USS Reagan’s paradoxical philosophy of “peace through strength.” A bullet in between their eyes will send a message only not of our good intentions, rather our pompous mission whose intent is ever illusive yet whose impact has been captured in the raw. We witness the annihilation of an insurgent, dead bodies lining roads, children burned with their faces frozen in agony; it’s enough to wake any civilian from the trance of paparazzo’s flash. Through human testimony, the viewer is confronted with the question of whether the relative peace we’ve formed stateside can or will be implemented in the once fertile crescent and if it’s worth the lives of our loved ones.

Rhetoric only goes so far these sinful days. Smut and throw away television have permeated the minds of the obstinate lazy American throughout the classes, rendering them useless in the grand fight of dark versus light. All too often ignorant people reiterate shallow opinions spoon fed to them by Sean Hannity or Stuart Smalley…”this war is about avenging Sept the 11th, lock and load, let’s get those (insert racial epitaph),” or “President Bush is an evil traitor, read all about it in my new book.” It seems as if we Americans fail to realize is that rallying behind one side or the other is fine, but shouting half baked opinions at one another does nothing to help the state of any nation.

Movies such as the Ground Truth serve to bolster the turning tides in this great country of ours. We as citizens of the most powerful free nation in the world have a voice and a choice to stand tall and proud, flex our hard earned dollars in the name of ideals for which we burn with fiery passion. Even if we are inspired by a film such as this, though, that passionate call for action fades quickly as a strong breeze of Congressional Sex Scandal subjugates the candles flame. Persistent action is the only aspect of our country’s policy to which we as civilians can individually contribute. Demonstrate, donate, write a letter to your congressman, let a solider know that he’s welcome home; there are myriad small ways by which one can make a difference. The Ground Truth website even has a program by which one can host a screening.

Through small daily actions, the citizens of this great country can come together and speak loud and proud their voice through progress. Bloviating, gossiping, hearsay, rallying behind sensationalism, such inaction renders impotent the battle citizens who care are faced with. Support this movie. See the terror for yourself and decide, for yourself, whether your dollars and your voice will be heard. If you believe in that which it speaks, then spread the word and join the underground revolution. If you want more information on the film itself, check out its website, thegroundtruth.net.


Thursday, October 12, 2006

me + 2 much caffeine - sleep + anxiety x disillusion = mish mash prose

they sit around all day and talk about money…..money….money, they obsess about money….a false god and yet God’s tool…learn how to manage it…learn how to flip the script…lift the rocks under which they hide their avarice and lies…they kill for money, destroy their bodies and families for money….and yet how else could the world work? Liberation from it, not a slave to it…..enough to live comfortable only creatively reimbursed…..but how can it work… I'm a mess….disheveled…disorganized…..inspired by the breath of God……tempted…frustrated…deluded…progeny of a very similar man…..what am I worth….what secrets do I hold and who wants to hear them….why do so many believe they can be like Donald Trump? Why does his face pollute newspapers and billboards with false promises of instant wealth? why do I have so many questions that are otherwise better left unsaid, contained like my personality on 200 mg of Zoloft…..pay attention, stay focused, why is this being released one day too late.....it’s all nonsense, it’s all futile…all that matters are human relationships….don’t you see…don’t you see the futility of your obsession with money, greed and senstationalism: if it bleeds it leads? Do I see or is it merely ADD tricking me? The power of lyrical aggression, a stream of self expression describes a mental battlefront of scattered thoughts. This has been an exercise in futitily, expounding all for naught.

Friday, October 06, 2006

to the mummy....

also a quick thanks to anonymous for passing along the word of being inspired.....

that's what I'm here for. comments are always pondered.


Those who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night. Edgar Allan Poe

My Home Sweet Home

(friday flash friction)

"Extra Extra" shouts the boy in the wool cap. He's holding a paper high in the air. Above the din and scurry of rats racing towards an imaginary chunk of cheese, I hear his voice echo, "extra, extra, read all about it." Louder it grows, distracting me from the cacophony of awkward silence through which I progress. Diligent in my stride, I attempt to stay focused on the task at hand. I must make it to work and keep my job. I must stay the course. Yet I can't will myself away from the boy's call. I can't control my desire to be let in on the extra extra secret which he holds in his hands; ink stained paper which quite possibly could reveal the meaning of life. God or serendipity could be residing in his hands right this very minute and I'm passing it by. I'm so focused on the task at hand, which was, shit I forgot. I'm so focused on the paperboy that nothing else matters. I break from the herd and in the process cut off an obviously irate rich greaser who shouts an epitaph of my perceived sexual orientation. "Fucking faggot," he swears into the silver bluetooth microphone which dangles from his left ear. In his right hand sat a venti latte which now stains my designer blue jeans. "God damn asshole," I hear his voice trail off as he continues following the river of rats northbound on Michigan Avenue.

"Way to go," the inner voice without reason states. Anxiety begins to trick me into believing my leap was all a big mistake. For a second or two I doubt my intuition. Maybe I should step back in line; I will be late for work. But the voice of intuition has grown powerful. It reaffirms my decision. "You've wasted too much of your precious life following these robots, break away," the voice speaks, inaudible yet registering loudly in my conscious albeit tired mind. "Didn't have enough caffeine this morning,' the voice of anxiety fires back. "You have A.D.D., you can't focus, you're tired and you need caffeine," it continues. "Follow your footsteps one by one and I'll lead you" responds the voice of intuition. I think back to a recent yoga workshop. "Breathe deep, focus on your breath and only on your breath." Feet progressing one in front of the other I take a long deep breathe and watch for angry pedestrians.

A face of beauty crosses my periphery and I turn to look. She's gorgeous, perfect for me. "She's the way out of this lonely misery," the voice of depressive tendency chimes in. "Don't be a fool, stay focused," retorts the voice of intuition. She's beautiful, a living renaissance painting: long slender legs, dressed smart in light green and khaki, hari curly and still wet, dangling seductively around her shoulders. In two seconds time I see no imperfection in her complexion. She's carrying a book whose cover I recognize from days spent daydreaming in Borders bookstore. "Look out jackass," another angry commuter chimes in as I nearly knock him over in my early morning reverie. I regain my footing and realize the paperboy has disappeared. In my minute by minute dose of deficient attention I come up empty handed. The former Marshall Field's clock strikes 8 and I'm now officially late. I'm still ten minutes from the office. My jeans are completely stained and I'm the formal enemy of two Chicagoans.

My boss indicated earlier in the week that if I was late one more time I'd risk suspension and or firing. The outcome would depend on the will of his board of directors. I know through reconnaissance work late one evening that one of the directors, Mr. Board Member, is cheating on his wife. I smile as I'm reminded of his incessant boasting of being a righteous Christian. This much information is enough to blackmail my way out of losing my job, but I feel an urge to let it be and leave the outcome of his illusory life to the heavens above. Or at least I think as much as I regain footing and find my way back into the crowd. Three people in front of me, a redhead inhales a final puff from her cigarette and drops it to the soil of a tree aligning the concrete avenue. She reaches in her purse, pulls out a Razr-phone, snaps it open and begins to gab. Under her right arm sits a copy of the paper boy's paper. Determined not to leave the street empty handed, I speed my trot and pass three dazed and confused commuters. I'm right beside her as the light turns red.

"And you will not believe what Charles did to me last night, the fucking asshole," she shouts. I cringe at the shrill of a voice better left calm. "Charles," the voice of intuition ponders, "I know a Charles." I listen intently as the conversation unfolds. Behind me a sea of eager beavers waits for the light to change. To my left the details of a sin-filled evening unfold. "He told me he needed to go back to his wife, he'd had enough of living the lie. Of course it was after he fucked me." The sordid details are too much not to handle. "Yes, yes, I know," she continues, "I'm headed there right now to tell that son of a bitch what a cocksucking liar he is." Assured that I've found by serendipitous luck a scoop I can't refuse, I step back from the redhead decked in silver and gold and fall behind. Her pace picks up as she begins to approach the 10 story concrete and brick building. Angels peer down from the concrete façade at the commotion below.

A silver 7 series BMW pulls up to the curb a hundred feet in front of me. I recognize the license plate as that of the board member, "Life2Swet." Life is too sweat? Life is too sweet? I can make heads and tails of its meaning yet choose not to. Out of the passenger's side door steps a woman in light blue yoga pants. I see her figure come into focus. The redhead approaches the vehicle ever so swiftly. Always a "leg man," I'm completely hypnotized by the perfection of Ms. Blue Yoga Pants who I've now understood to be Mrs. Board Member. Mr. Board Member, a man five feet four inches tall, balding, skin orange from too much fake baking, and an air of absolute arrogance steps out from the driver's side and meets his wife. She stoops down to hug him and seals the departure with a kiss to his cheek. Anxiety of eager anticipation is stoked inside me as the redhead disrupts the otherwise tender romantic scene of a man and a woman in love with illusion and ostentation. "You fucking asshole," she shouts as she raises the newspaper. She runs into traffic and begins to beat the board member over the head. He takes the blows much harder than one would expect for a newspaper striking one's head. Ms. Blue Yoga Pants intervenes, shouting at the redhead and pulling her hair. Cars honk and pedestrians stop as the two women engage in a catfight. The newspaper falls to the ground revealing a frozen herring. Blood drips from Mr. Board Members head onto his Armani suit. Sirens wail and two police cars pull up. Luckily for Mr. B.M, the police station is three blocks away. A group of pedestrians forms a circle around the melee as if watching an impromptu street performer. Minutes pass and an ambulance comes. Mr. B.M. is taken away in the ambulance and the two women are handcuffed and taken away in separate cars. A female cop enters the BMW and drives it away.

I'm now officially forty five minutes late to work, but can hardly resist the temptation to pick up the blood stained paper. The police were careful enough to take the frozen herring as evidence, but the wind carried the paper away from the crime scene. I followed its path towards Washington St. and intercepted it just before it blew into Eastbound traffic. I step towards the shadow of the Cultural Center to regain my composure. Taking a series of deep inhales and exhales to better process the morning's events, I fall back into a hyped state of relative calm. I place my briefcase on the ground and grab the paper with both hands. On the cover in a Rorschach blood blot which appears to depict the origin of man, is a picture of President George W. Bush. In bold black letters the headline reads, "There's an old saying in Texas...!" Convinced that I'm about to lose my job, I take a deep breath and begin to read.