Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Nazz Nomad and the Ecstasy of the Squares

Fans of Poetry is for Assholes should be following the tormented artistry of Nazz Nomad at Bleedin' Out.  In addition to being a family man, a native New Yorker and the bane of Brooklyn Hipsterdom, Nazz is also a salesman for a large concern. What the fuck were they thinking?

I've been following Nazz for at least a couple of years now. We've gone so far as to share our secrets in personal emails. I've come to like the guy so, when he told me he was coming to Reno I decided I would have to drive over the hill and check him out in person.

Nazz it seems, was visiting Reno for some sort of business related convention. He was going to try and have "fun" while he was in town. Here he is pictured having "fun".  You can read his impressions of fun in Reno at his blog. I had my own opinions.

I have never liked Reno, or Nevada or casinos. They give me horrible headaches. By they I mean all of the aforementioned three, Reno, Nevada and casinos.

As fate would have it, Nazz was in Reno on the high holy day of the lunatic right, the happiest day on the Teabagger's calendar, September 11th. This year September 11th didn't just fall on the 11th of September, it was also the tenth time in a row that it was September 11th. Tell it to the fuckin' Chileans you flag waving phonies.

I had to respond to Nazz' comments on his tour of Virginia Street. Here's what I had to say.

"Comrade, our differences are slight but I did reach a somewhat different conclusion based on my own experiences in Reno. 
My conclusion is that I am the worlds biggest fuckin' hippy. You know, I live in the heart of the hippy beast. You really can hear conversations here like, 
"How you been man?"

"Not so good man. I'm really missing Jerry, man." 

That's an actual conversation. 

Everyone here claims to be a Buddhist and everyone here meditates and they all own hacky sacks made from recycled organic hemp and they all go to Reggae on the River and catch hepatitis A and dysentery, just like the '60's. They all drive Volvo station wagons and I DRIVE A FUCKIN' VOLVO STATION WAGON. Let's call that clue number one. I live in a town where the McDonalds and the KFC went out of business because no one would be caught dead eating corporate food but they will sit in their Volvos for an hour in hopes of getting a parking spot at Whole Foods Market. Everyone here has opinions on farming and agribusiness. Everyone here also has opinions on wine. I didn't have an opinion on wine even when I drank but people really have opinions as to what would go well with a nice seitan, quinoa and arugula salad. 

Are you beginning to get a picture? Let's not consider the other, invisible everybodies who bus tables, drive old Buicks, pick grapes and live 7 families in 7 rooms. See that's why I mostly dislike the local hippies. They are completely oblivious to the presence of a massive underclass that exists only to serve their phony Buddhist asses. 

Ok, so in my heart I am a Moslem. In my heart I am an American artist but at heart, when I'm home here in racist hippy liberalville, I am no fuckin' hippy. 

That is until you transfer me to Reno, fuckin', Nevada. Jesus Christ, that place is some kind of heaven for the creepiest squares in existence. I am all in favor of excess but I mean the kind of excess represented by The Cramps or the kind of excess that leads to William Blake's palace of wisdom but Reno's excess is an extra jumbo large deluxe economy size can of spray cheeze food. It is an excess of bosco chocolaty flavored syrup mixed with vodka from a plastic bottle and served as a cocktail for people so hopelessly dull they imagine that they are jaded. 

People work hard and save their money so they can come to Reno and enjoy hideous, square fun which essentially involves squandering their pathetically diminished wages on shit that no one in their right mind would want if it was free.

Fuckin' squares. I can't fuckin' stand them. Alright, that's a bit of an overstatement but I don't much like them and I don't share their enthusiasms.

Which leads me to my conclusion, the synthesis of ideas originally introduced in my opening thesis. I will freely admit that, by local standards, I am not any sort of hippy. However, by the standards of much of my native land, America, the beautiful- And here I must point out that we were celebrating, communally, all of us gathered in Reno, the ascension to martyrdom of the only innocents every to die in an act of war. That highest of holy days. The date, that by it's mere invocation, acts as a license for the shittiest political behavior in the history of our short lived and soon doomed nation- by those standards which a certain class of fuckin' moron would call 'American', I am such a fukcin' hippy that people wretch at the excess of patchouli stink that wafts their way as I amble by missing Jerry.

So Nazz, Rico, dude, you were there at the 2cnd tier regional magazine publisher's convention and awards dinner but I've got one question for you: ARE YOU GONNA BE THERE AT THE LOVE IN? I know I am.

Now If you'll excuse me, I've gotta go tie dye everything I own. It really was fun driving over the mountains to meet you. Next time meet me in the fucking parking lot and I'll get you a little ways out of squaresville. You were, after all wallowing in marshmallows and polychlorinated biphenyls in the shadow of John Muir and Ansel Adams' "range of light". 
Art and beauty everywhere you look. 

A world of pleasure for the connoisseur 

As Johnny Paycheck once said,  "Splendor, Lord you've got it wall to wall.

Donner summit. I'd rather eat you than spend another minute in Reno

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Living on the beach.

Peter Fonda, Jane's brother, rides out of Venice back when Venice was slummy and the living was easy.

My good friend, Ib, posted something about gentrification and Venice Beach. Ib is in Glasgow and I'm not altogether sure what he makes of Venice. Better to read what he wrote, here.

I'm kind of unmotivated on my own. Somebody has to inspire me but when they do, I don't know when it will stop. I ended up writing this as a comment on Ib's blog post.

"It's necessary that we recognize the realities of the market. In the case of mutts like ourselves the reality is that the market is a bunch of rich hoodlums wrecking our lives just 'cause they can.

I live in terror of real estate developers. I was nearly driven out of my little California hidey hole and forced to live someplace so squalid it failed to attract their attention. California was becoming unlivable as all anyone ever talked about was equity. As in "How much equity you got in that place?".
I'm so fucking glad the real estate market went to shit. I feel sorry for a few friends who bet their lives on the equity fairy dust but the truth is that my life has been vastly improved by the collapse of the real estate market. Bad for my friends who work in the construction industry too, and I know a lot of those guys, but I could tell them stories about industrial collapse that would almost make them grateful for what they've hung on to. 

I spent a winter, drunk on my ass in an apartment on Venice Beach. I had just turned 21 and I stopped off there on my way from the collapse of Detroit to the gentrification of Oakland. Actually, I was wandering back and forth from Echo Park to Venice while I waited a couple of months for a check to arrive in the mail. My Echo Park hosts were cranky old (like 30 years old man) Trotskyists who were content to leave me starving and lonely in abject misery. Periodically I would find a few quarters under a cushion then I would walk down the hill to Burrito King where I would gorge on plain bean burritos. Nothing in them but beans and lard. I longed to be able to afford the bean and cheese burrito. 
That was the longest I have ever gone without eating; about three days as I recall. I was very depressed. Periodically my hosts, senior comrades, would look up from their reading (The philosophic and economic manuscripts of 1905- VI Lenin) and scowl at me. "Stop looking so goddam pathetic would you!". I don't recall them ever offering to feed me. 

This was all part of some Trotskyist factional intrigue. I was supposed to infiltrate this other, equally tiny and irrelevant, group and report back to my scowling hosts in secret. They hatched this plan when I showed up, unannounced to them, from Detroit. I had been told by the senior comrades (also about 30) in Detroit that my coming would be announced in advance and that I would be welcomed in Los Angeles by friends who would be only too happy to help me to anything I needed. Instead I was met with suspicion and indifference that only let up a little when phone inquiries had been made to Detroit and New York. 
The infiltration plot was hatched when the elderly Bolsheviks of Echo Park found out I had high school friends living in Venice. I would be shipped off to Venice where I would intercept the hated enemy faction and become part of their circle, reporting back in secret to the wise elders of Echo Park. 

Does this sound fucked up? Yeah, well it was. 

So off I was sent for a multi hour long ride across Los Angeles on the LARTD. It takes most of a day to get from Downtown to the beach by bus, stopping every block. I'm sure the senior comrades would have given me a ride but they had some important documents to review preparatory to the next faction fight. 
My Venice Beach hosts were two goofy friends from high school. They had moved to Los Angeles with the intention of attending film school. They had gotten as far as renting an apartment when their ambition ran out. One of them was working nights in a donut shop while the other survived off checks from mom and dad in New Jersey. 

They were happy to see me. They fed me donuts and introduced me to avocados. We bought bags of cheap produce that we stir fried in corn oil and washed down with quantities of real cheap beer. Brew 102 and Lucky Lager were our favorites. "It's Lucky When You Live In the West". 

The only furniture in the apartment was a card table, a folding chair and a tiny portable TV. We slept on the floor. The walls were decorated with front page headlines from the LA Herald Tribune. "BANANA KING LEAPS TO DEATH" was a favorite. An executive from United Fruit had committed suicide.
 During the day we tended to stay inside. We were from New Jersey. The Venice Beach scene weirded us out. Sometimes we would walk up and down from Muscle Beach to the Santa Monica pier. It looked just like TV and we had absolutely no ability to relate to the muscle freaks, roller girls and drug creeps we ran into.
 When we were thoroughly drunk, the night belonged to us. The surf was experiencing an episode of bioluminescence. We would stagger into the glowing waves and marvel as our footprints lit up in the wet sand. That was as close as I felt to happy during that dismal time.

I was allowed one friend in Santa Monica but what a friend he was. He was a comrade in our little cult who has gone on to become a public figure in Los Angeles. The names have been changed to protect the guilty. 
Max, as I'll call him, had started the original FM underground rock show in Cleveland. He was a hero of the '60's Cleveland music scene. He had come west to make a name for himself in broadcasting. He ended up as one of Wolfman Jack's writers on The Midnight Special TV show.                                                               

That's right, the Wolfman did not spontaneously quip, "Outta sight baby" between acts on the show. Max and a crack team of LA writers had to confer and come up with that shit. Los Angeles. Show biz. What a pile of crap.

Nonetheless it paid the rent on a pleasant apartment in Santa Monica. At that time Jane Fonda was married to Tom Hayden and they were radically slumming it by living in a huge house in Santa Monica. It so happened that Max's apartment was right next door. I spent hours on the front porch, hoping to catch a glimpse of Ms. Fonda. It turned out she was out of town the whole time I was there. I never saw Tom either but it takes an enormous staff to be famous in LA. People were coming and going from that place all the time.

Max had a great record collection, a fantastic stereo and part time custody of a charming little boy named Martin. I got to babysit Martin a few times. I really enjoyed my time with him. He thought it was incredibly cool that I knew how to drive a city bus and he would ask me about bus driving. He was a great kid.
Max has gone on to become a well loved figure on LA Public radio and Martin has had success as a character actor. He specializes in playing creepy little guys. His most memorable roles were in "Drugstore Cowboy" and "Gummo". 

Finally, the time came for me to begin the planned infiltration of the enemy sect. I was put on yet another bus where I was driven across interminable miles of Los Angeles to some sort of radical event where I wandered up and introduced myself to the enemy youth group. They were, not surprisingly, a geeky, enthusiastic crew almost exactly the same as the young people in my own little cult. I ended up spending a day or two with them. I don't remember. I didn't learn any secrets. I doubt there were any to be learned. I did have one of my many brushes with fame when I was introduced to a cute young comrade, Susan. She was bright, energetic and insanely seductive. For a second there I thought we were going to start taking each other's clothes off, just by way of saying hello. Then she walked away. Man do I wish there was more to tell but there isn't. 

Years later I came across the name Susie Bright. I love that woman, and I love her writing. One day I was reading her account of her time in a tiny Trotskyist youth group in Los Angeles. I realized that she was the Susan I'd met years before. I was impressed. Maybe you aren't.

About that time my overdue check arrived from New Jersey. I treated my friends to drinks in a phony English Pub that sat in a haze of smog between two freeways. I think I did anyhow.

I reported back to Echo Park and the wise elders determined that it was time to send me on to Oakland. For once they were nice to me. They drove me to the airport where I stood in line to board a bizarre California institution, the first come first served Midnight Special flight from LA to San Francisco. You showed up early and stood in line at the gate. When the gates opened you handed over ten or twenty dollars (I can't remember now) cash only to the man at the gate. The line filed on to the plane until all the seats were taken at which time the plane took off. Drinks were served, cash only, from take off to landing and I arrived, somewhat drunk in San Francisco. That's another story."

Saturday, September 3, 2011


I am getting restless as hell. I'm not feeling like a wage slave. I'm not hanging with wage slaves. My part time hippie bus job is about to end for the season and I'm wanting to see the big world. The great Madame Pamita just did a reading for me and she assures me that love and adventure await me on the road.
I do not have a plan. I am not that good at plans. I am not going to do anything desperate like give up my house but if anyone would like to rent a room here at the Super Secret Pony Ranch arrangements might be made. My hot rod friend, Nic, has dubbed this place Jon's Super Secret Pony Ranch and I like the name. Rent would be around $450 a month but it's a really small room in a pretty small place. The location can't be beat and you will have the place to yourself for good chunks of time.
Initial plans call for a foray into the great Pacific Northwest, possibly as far a north as Abbottsford, BC, home of the great Mr. Beer N. Hockey.
If that's successful there might be a journey to the east coast in my future. Far off Brooklyn, the home of The Cahokian, beckons. There are still a few folks there I'd like to see and there are a great many demons I'd like to slay in my people's short lived homeland of New Jersey, or, as I like to call it, 'The scene of the crime'. I'd really like to see this hip new version of Brooklyn that the young people talk about. Brooklyn, for me, is the place where we visited Grandma and watched the relatives drink and complain about, "The goddam Puerto Ricans".
If money was no object I'd love to visit North Carolina for the annual performance of the Neil Diamond Allstars. I have a standing invitation and I'd love to honor it.
Then there's the friends all over the middle of North America. There's a chamber of commerce president I'd love to see in Joplin a tattoo artist in Detroit and a survivalist in Colorado.
There's a good chance I'll get seriously off the tracks I have beaten and go to Austin and I might even make it as far as Anniston, Alabama but I dunno. I am a yankee to the fuckin' bone. They might chase me back home.
So really, this is mostly a shopping list. If anybody would like a moody houseguest who snores but does put the toilet seat down, let me know. If you're interested in a temporary residence in a trailer on the edge of hippieville let me know.
Some of this is going to happen.
I never drove a Freighliner but I have driven a Road Commander. That was back before the short nosed conventionals that have become standard today. Me and the road, boy. I can go away but I can't stay away.
Steve Earle- White Freightliner Blues (Buy) 

Saturday, August 13, 2011

More to come

I am sorting myself out. More posts to come soon. There's actually some interesting stuff going on in the world of poetry. I mean, I try not to take my poetic mission altogether seriously but sometimes it demands my attention.

Oh this is such a good poem and story. I read it and I had to say something. I might have told this story here before. I don't remember.

Here, somewhat edited, is my response-

 I turned out for a few of those predawn hiring lines. Hours standing in the rain and the snow. When I was desperately trying to finish my apprenticeship at US Steel I drove overnight to Ohio to get in line at 5:00 AM. There were already a couple of hundred people in the line. By sunrise the line extended for several blocks. There was snow on the ground and the temperatures were in the 20's. I talked to the guy next to me about welding and stock cars. I had a fake local address for my application. He kept asking me about my neighborhood and I told him just moved there. I didn't know anyone. Finally at 10, a man came out on the front steps of the personnel office. He had a bullhorn and he told us that there were only two openings and that they would only be giving out applications to the first 50 people in the line. Someone threw a snowball at him. Then another. Then more. He ran inside and everyone started throwing snowballs at the building. Then chunks of ice. A window broke. Smash. Then another. Then more. People started kicking at the locked doors of the personnel office. The glass cracked. They tugged at the doors and the glass broke as the metal frames twisted. The windows to the building were broken. The doors were smashed. Hundreds of people milled around the doorway. The bullhorn man pushed a group of terrified young office girls into the doorway. Each of them held an enormous stack of applications. I walked up the steps and grabbed one. I mailed it in the next day. I never heard back. That mill closed a few years ago.

I dunno. Life is so interesting; so hard. Here's what I'm thinking today and I hope it doesn't disappoint those of you who are expecting me to be tough and ironic. I think that the world is complicated and cruel. I think that the only reasonable response is to try to be generous and simple. I'm not having an easy time of it but neither is anybody else. 

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Just wondering

Who is it that keeps coming here from Cocoa Beach, Florida? You're one of the great mysteries of this blog. I often wonder who you are. I also wonder what Happened to Sarah from Mississippi. She used to comment here all the time and then she disappeared. She left behind a cryptic hint as to her email address. I figured it out and wrote her. I never heard back.
What's to do in Cocoa Beach now that you can't watch the space shuttle taking off? The weather there must be awful this time of year. The weather here at the other end of the country is overcast and somewhat chilly. I like it. I like it here but that's a long story.
I had a little adventure for a couple of months. It was good. I'd do it again. What do you do for adventures in Cocoa Beach?

Life's A Gas- Southern Culture on the Skids (Buy) 

In the summer time there are little frogs in my bathroom. I like them. They're almost tame. Sometimes They'll stand on my foot to keep from getting washed down the shower drain.

I know I should be concerned about politics right now, but I get so pissed off when I try that I stopped trying- for the moment. If anybody wants to actually, you know, do something, count me in. I mostly listen to music. Music is good.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

I'm crazy now but I won't be crazy long.

Beloved leader of the people, Mick Farren, was unhappy about some of the rehab industry ghouls hoping to turn a buck off the recent death of a popular singer. I share his disgust. However, he described one celebrity rehab guru as an, "unctuous TV network 12 step fascist". I have no problems with calling the guy an unctuous fascist and God knows I don't have much use for TV networks but Mick, like a lot of people doesn't know nothin' about the the 12 steps. I wrote him the following, 

"Chairman Mick, As a hypnotized 12 step zombie who has lost all sense of self and surrendered all independent thought to the anonymous mind control cult, I can assure you that anyone who claims to be representing the 12 steps or any anonymous group associated with them is, by definition, a fucking fraud. Truth is that all of the various groups ending in A are composed of anonymous amateurs. People who share a common problem and seek a common solution. There are no leaders. There are no professionals. There is no money. I have hung around people professing to be anarchists since my teens. The closest thing I've seen to pure anarchy is a good 12 step group. It's true, you can go to meetings of some 12 step groups and hear some incredibly stupid things being said. That's because anybody is welcome, no one can be denied membership and anyone can say whatever he wants. Even if he's an idiot and a fool. 
Speaking only for myself, 19 years ago I was clinging to a shotgun, hallucinating rather vividly and drinking myself to a lonesome and early death. Fate in the form of the crazy girl I was living with intervened and I was introduced to a group of people, many of them almost as crazy as me, who had found a way out of the madness that had engulfed me. They came from all kinds of backgrounds, professed all kinds of beliefs. The only thing they agreed on was a simple plan that included helping other people who suffered from their condition. 
19 years later, is my life without problems? Of course not. This is life, not Candyland. I can say that my life means something to me, that I care deeply about the people around me, that I am curious and eager to see what life will throw at me next. 
Comrade, I know a fuck of a lot dead people. Many of them were smarter, more talented and better looking than me. I don't envy them even though I still love a lot of them. 
Amy Winehouse was more talented than most of the dead people I know but she died about the same as the rest of them. Truth is that there are also a lot of famous and talented people in 12 step groups. You don't know about them. You're not supposed to. I've met plenty of them. When they come into "the rooms" as we call them, they're exactly the same as the newest fuck-up loser to crawl through the door. 
I'm not saying the 12 steps work for everyone. I don't actually know everyone. We haven't been introduced. They worked pretty good for me."

I've been pretty wrung out lately. Your heart can take you on a hell of a ride. I did a lot of stupid shit. I did a few things that were flat out fucked up. I did a few things that I'll smile about till the day I die. I'll do what I can to clean up my part of the mess. It won't be easy but it will be OK. 

Honest, there's no significance to my choice of songs. I've been listening to The Greenhornes a lot lately. This was playing while I typed. 

Don't Come Running To Me- The Greenhornes (buy) 

Monday, July 25, 2011

The secret world of compulsive writers.

Tim, from Poop In The Pipes dropped by for coffee today. Tim is like me, he writes because he has to.

Look, I have posted some fairly personal and emotional stuff lately. Let me make something clear, what I'm doing here is called writing. I am not ranting. I am not engaging in emotional diatribes. I am thinking my feelings through as best I can and then writing them down while they are still fresh. I review what I've written. I make revisions. I discard drafts and start again. I am trying to take raw emotions and make them into something like literature.

You can dislike what I've written. That's OK. Just understand that I am trying to take my experiences of life and understand them by writing about them in a conscious and deliberate way. If I was a songwriter or a painter some of you might understand what I am trying to do. You might enjoy my work and say that I was "passionate".  You might even understand that, even though I usually write in the first person, I am not always the person who speaks in my writing.

I have friends in the real world. I have a support network. I am part of other people's support networks. There are wise elders and trusted counselors in my life. I don't write because I have no outlets. I write because I have to.

And what exactly is it you do with them when they can't take a joke?

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Monday, July 18, 2011

Shit happens.

I was kidnapped by a mermaid. She took me to her underwater lair and showed me the secret pleasures of the sea. Now I find myself washed up on shore, wandering the waterfront where the other sailors consider me mad.

Damn, life, boy, it's the only thing worth living for. 

Saturday, July 16, 2011

This happened to me.

One time I got up really early in the morning and went for a walk. It was winter time and everything was covered in rime frost. As the sun rose, the frost lit up in brilliant yellows and reds. It dawned on me that everything I thought I knew was actually on fire. Soon enough the world I thought was real would be nothing but dust and ashes.

When I got home from the walk I started to run a high fever. I was feverish all that day.

This was not a bad experience at all.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

What I hate and why I hate it so much.

I sure am glad I don't have a television. I mostly stay away from newspapers too. It's not hard to keep track of whatever I find interesting. I like the internet. I can filter out some amount of the crap that is being fed to me.

So Mr. Hope and Change is escalating four wars while negotiating cuts in social security and medicaid. Let's get clear on something, sociopathy is the norm. We live in a society where virtually everyone has embraced the role of victim or perpetrator. Most of us are happy to play either part depending on which role the masters demand of us. Our job at the moment is to uncomplainingly shovel babies into the jaws of Moloch, 24/7. Whatever it takes to keep us on the job is what we can expect. The word from on high is that Moloch hungers and we must have our rations cut to satisfy him. Buckle down and hope for better times. His appetites cannot be denied.

So that's what our free enterprise system looks like to me; a world of slaves who feed themselves to an inhuman archon and struggle to meet his expectations; a death camp where the prisoners guard each other while they wait for their time in the ovens.

But what about our exciting lives? Our favorite shows? The edifying spectacle of news and information that forms our opinions. Why am I talking shit when some woman has murdered her own child? Am I incapable of compassion? Why can't I see that I am engaged in idle chatter while a terrible injustice has gone unpunished?

My fucking point exactly. A woman has failed to meet her assigned role. Her job is to prepare that young life for destruction not to destroy it herself. Who does she think she is? That child will never be free to know the joys of subservience. Isn't that woman contemptible? Well, I suppose she is and even our bleak world has it's bright moments. Everyone deserves their chance at whatever happiness this world might afford them. No one should be murdered. Right?  Especially not by their own mother.

Let's get clear on something else. Society talks a lot of shit. We find it convenient to talk shit about protecting the innocent but societies reproduce themselves. Every institution in any society exists to perpetuate that society and regardless of any pious hypocrisy, when ever an institution, the family, the church, what fucking ever, is doing something again and again, no matter how little you like it, that is one of it's functions. Brutality, terror, rape, murder and incest are as common as bullshit in our society and that's because they are functions of society. I'll admit they're some of the more extreme functions but they serve the same purpose as every other mechanism: to produce properly functioning members of society.

And so what if some percentage of society is broken and insane? Let them serve as a warning to the rest of us. Let them bear the burden of society's dark side. Let them remind us of what good mommies and daddies and babies are supposed to be like. So long as we have bad TV mommies to hate we don't need to look at the whole evil institution or question our compliance with it. The archon reigns supreme and we live at his sufferance.

I know that I'm damaged and not quite sane. I know that anyone I will ever love will be damaged and insane. I know this too. Of the many damaged and insane people I have ever loved the only ones I will ever love without reservation are the ones who have declared war on the system of mental slavery, who struggle to break their "mind forg'd manacles". 

Look, I will not do all of your home work for you. Google the word "archon". Consider the possibility that you live in a false world created by a false god. Consider the possibility that you have worshipped him all of your life.

I am hurt and angry right now. I am not avoiding the specifics of my feelings. My mood will change. My heart will lighten. I will not worship the god of this world.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Not quite dead poets

I once lived in a place that looked almost exactly the same as this. It was a tad crude but I was happy.

I'm sorry I haven't been keeping up here. I've turned into a facebook asshole; flirting with elderly high school crushes and posting you tube videos with witty comments.

So, once again, the writing bug bit me at an odd moment and I went into a long reminiscence about a landlord I had more than twenty years ago. We had a falling out when his wife decided she didn't like my girlfriend and evicted us. I'm glad I had a chance to make up with him a few days before he died. He dropped stone dead while working. He was always working. I doubt that death will find me working.

Here's what I had to say.

"Good news is that it's been a hell of a spring for birds. I've got bluejays, house finches, and gold finches at my feeders. In the winter I also had juncos and sulfur crested sparrows. A pair of western bluebirds are nesting right outside my kitchen and a pair of hawks are nesting up high above them. Wild turkeys, which had disappeared from the county back in the '40's are now so common that everybody is sick of them. An immense herd of tom turkeys wanders back and forth through my yard, gobbling and displaying.
I was renting from an old time bird watcher, and Klan sympathizer and general racist nut case, when the first turkeys were seen around here. He was thrilled. He was a hell of an odd guy but we got along. He knew more about local wildlife than anyone I ever met and he managed his farm using old time sustainable practices. He composted religiously. He had planted douglas firs as windbreaks when he was very young and they had grown into magnificent stands of trees around the property. He made it a point to leave hedgerows and wildlife corridors around his orchards.
There was an old Pomo indian shell mound/midden heap in his lower pasture. He told me about it but he swore me to secrecy. "If anyone finds out about it, I'll have the goddam government all over me telling me how to run this place." He did spray chemicals on his orchard but I have never seen as many different birds as I saw around there.
He and his wife were both addicted to pain pills and they were mean as cat shit when they got a few drinks in them. His wife was a literal castrating bitch. The old man got prostate cancer and the doctors cut off his balls to try and stop it from spreading. I rarely saw her as happy as she was the day he came home without his nuts. I think she kept them in a jar and hid them.
He was quite well to do and lived very comfortably but he worked constantly. When he was in his 70's he was stronger than I was in my early 30's. He worked every day, all day, on his many cars and trucks, or cutting down old trees and bucking and splitting them for firewood. He had a beautiful old barn full of every kind of tool you can imagine, many of them antiques handed down to him but still in use. He had a complete set of 19th century hand logging tools.
For all of his tough guy bluster he was really a gentle guy. He knew and loved the wild animals around his property. I never liked his wife, partly because she made him kill some of the hawks after one of them killed some of her pet chickens. It clearly cause him great pain to go out after those beautiful hawks. The old lady gloated over their corpses.
I always figured he was such a racist because he was trying to add a little glamor and excitement to his life. He was extraordinarily privileged and comfortable and I suppose that seemed sort of dull to him. He liked to imagine that he was facing all sorts of adversity but he was tough enough to handle it. I'm sure that his fantasies about having to protect himself from the government, the Jews and the Blacks were very pleasing to him."

I'm back to work two days a week. I'd like more money but I don't want more work. I actually love my commute. I get up early, ride an express bus to San Francisco, stop for coffee and then head over the Bay Bridge to West Oakland. I love sightseeing along the way. I get to see all of the construction on the new Bay Bridge and I see how many ships are in the port of Oakland. I like living in the country but I am not an anti industrial neo hippy. I love seeing big, big things. The port is the product of thousands of years of human endeavor. People have been crossing seas and trading goods since before we took up agriculture.

After working 22 years for a bridge, I love bridges. The new Bay Bridge is huge and might actually be beautiful. I love seeing the hundreds of cranes, work boats and barges working on it. I feel lucky to even look at all that knowledge and skill in action.

I'm doing paperwork and learning the Department of Transportation's new system for quantifying bus safety. It makes some sense and it holds bus companies responsible for some of their unsafe behavior. Ever since deregulation in the '80's the trend has been to let companies engage in wildly unsafe practices and then hold the drivers responsible for accidents. I am really unimpressed by the performance of the Democrats in Congress and the White House but Obama's appointees at the DOT and the Department of Labor might actually do the world a small amount of good.

I'm lighting candles to the Virgin of Guadelupe and Kali Ma, keeping the spiritual road open and trying to do my little bit to make the physical highways safe.

The Victory Travelers- I Know I've Been Changed (buy)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

In which I offer criticism of a major American poet.

So, my friend, Alice, posted this video on Facebook and I had to make an observation. This is by way of getting some general bitching outta the way.

I dunno, isn't she bitching because the old timers won't let her work harder? I had just turned 19. I was a new hire at Ford's Dearborn Assembly Plant, the mothership of the Ford Motor Company. I was given a pointless, but easy job on my first day. I wanted the boss to like me. I wanted the job to work out. I threw myself into it.

After about an hour an old timer, a battle hardened veteran, a grizzled old autoworker in his late twenties walked up to me smoking a cigarette.

He watched me work for a minute then said, "Kid, come 'ere a minute. Do you like work? Lemme tell you somethin' kid. The more work you show 'em you can do, the more work they'll provide yer ass. Slow down."

He meant that, if I let them, they would work me until my back was ruined. Until my knees and shoulders were grinding bone on bone. Until I lost a finger, or maybe a hand in the gears of some machine. Until the smoke and fumes had destroyed my lungs. Until my heart gave out or the cancer ate me alive. He was trying to tell me to pace myself for a life time.

I'm glad Patti ran away to become an artist but that doesn't mean she understood what was going on. I love Patti but this time she got it wrong.

Honest, my faithful anonymous reader in Cocoa Beach, I'm working on an original post here at Poetry Is For Assholes. Trouble is I'm not much for work. If you catch my drift.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Poetry is also for dogs

I really should do more with this blog. I didn't want all of February to go by without a post.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

More posts at other people's blogs

So, I watched this movie, "Agora". It gave me a lot to think about. My friend, Ish, at The Cahokian, wrote about the movie. I liked what he had to say.

I am an occasional communicant in the Episcopal Church. I don't talk about my religion much. I figure my behavior will say more than my words. Besides, I don't feel like answering a bunch of questions. I don't have good answers for all of them. I don't believe Jesus rode dinosaurs. I do think evolution is a perfectly sound scientific idea. I don't think it's a very good creation myth. I do believe women have every right to choose in matters concerning their own bodies. I can't justify the Spanish Inquisition. I don't think there's an invisible old white man in the sky who hates us and punishes us. I do favor secular society and the separation of church and state. I am afraid of the Christian Right. I do think they are fascists.

As usual, I save my best stuff for other people's blogs. Here's my first impressions after reading Ish's comments on "Agora":

"I'm familiar with Hypatia's story and I want to see this film. As one of your Christian friends I do have to jump in with something. I wasn't in Alexandria so I don't know for sure, but Roman Paganism was not kind, open minded or nature loving. I think Alexandria's brutal Christian mobs had more in common with Paris's brutal mobs during the French Revolution than with the mobs that Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin are threatening to unleash. I think many of the violent and intolerant Christians imagined, falsely, that they had been empowered by Rome's decision to make Christianity the state religion. I think it was Reinhold Niebhur who said "Religion is very good in the hands of good people and very bad in the hands of bad people."
Still trying to take in the history of Christianity and relate it to Christ's ministry. I haven't gotten very far."

So, I was happy when I got ahold of a rental copy of "Agora". Here's what I wrote to Ish after seeing the film:

"I got a chance to see Agora. Wow. A great film that asks more questions than it answers. Here's a question for you. Haven't you ever wanted to smash all of their idols? Haven't you ever despised the long thoughtful moments that make up the life of Hypatia, knowing that every leisurely moment was purchased with years of suffering by a slave? Haven't you ever been willing to see the whole body of their knowledge smashed and burned, knowing that their universities are monuments to oppression and cruelty?
I know I've felt that way more than a few times. What would it look like if I was allowed to act on my anger? Could I stop myself at some decent moment and only destroy what needs to be destroyed?
I know that I pray in a church that was built by former Confederate generals who were hoping to recreate the decadent morality of the southern elite in a California valley. I know that the head of my church, The Archbishop Of Canterbury, presides over the church from Lambeth Palace, a palace built with profits made in the gigantic slave plantations of the Caribbean. I know that millions of young women were worked to early deaths to pay for that splendid building.
How much of this am I willing to see destroyed? If I was given free rein to destroy all that I despise what would prevent me from becoming a monster?
I suppose the good news is that I am not likely to have to answer those questions in real life. I lead a quiet, pleasant life paid for, in part, by the suffering of countless others.
I remember when we were young radicals, people from other tendencies would criticize us for refusing to compromise with reformists and labor bureaucrats. We were afraid to dirty our hands is what they said. Is that idealistic avoidance nothing more than privilege? What if saving your soul is the best you can hope for; knowing that you've betrayed your ideals in the endless battles of life?
Damn, too much to think about. I've got errands to run."

Poetry is for assholes and I know I'm one. Who the fuck can afford the luxury of philosophy? Who the fuck can do without it? Please, no glib replies.

I know I've worked up a pretty good ukulele version of "There Ain't Nothin' To Do" by The Dead Boys.

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