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Monday, February 28, 2005

"I'm Only Sleeping." -- J. Lennon

Yes, I watched some of the Oscar show. It reminded me of events I have tried to avoid all my life: the yearly school picture, Homecoming, Prom, all the Graduations (Grade School, High School, College) etc. This ritual celebration by the Establishment, has always seemed a little hollow and creepy to me, (others will judge, label, catalog) although, I just read an article in the NY Times that Oscar winners live longer. It seems there is a global phenomenon that rewards those at the top of any social hierarchy with greater life expectancy. It's not the money (although, obviously money is one of the means) no, the key factors: health, autonomy and opportunity for full social participation. People can acheive this in any profession. Another article I read, mentioned that Hairdressers are some of the happiest in their chosen profession (Lawyers, Teachers, Nurses - not so happy).

Anyway, yesterday, the real mind-blowing experience had to do with sleep and lack of it. Carla and I went shopping for a new mattress, (it seems our present one is no longer doing the job - I actually woke up with a bad back - no, I swear, it's not the man!) So we went to the store and the first question out of the mouth of the sales guy: "Are you a back-sleeper, or a side-sleeper?" (I guess you could also be a 'stomach sleeper' but that practice is considered so hideous it isn't even broached). I recoiled, never having really thought about it; did I ever have a choice, are there really only two choices (like Democrat/Republican, Northerner/Southerner, Catholic/Protestant, Optimist/Pessimist), did I make some kind of unknowing, irrevocable, existential decision early on when I was sleeping? Which is better to be? Can I change my ways?

I clammed up, I wasn't going to admit one or the other, so, Carla jumped into the breach and offered up the goods: "We're both side-sleepers!" So the cat was out of the bag. This dictated what type of mattress we should purchase. It was all over fairly quickly, the appropriate choices were pointed out, tested, purchased, and we were out of there. I felt strangely unsettled, was it really that simple? I wanted to think about it, maybe decide what I would choose to be, but no, that decision had been made long ago, kind of like the color of my hair, my height, my genetic makeup. I was a side-sleeper and that was that! I had been judged, labelled, and catalogued. I don't like to be put in a box like that, as Groucho once said, 'I don't want to be a member of a club that would have me as a member.' But of course, there are some clubs you just can't escape.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

'Everybody's Talking...'-- Harry Nilsson

I must say I have been 'oddly inspired,' by HST's suicide. I have been reading J.P. Satre, who talks about the responsibility and burden of freedom. He points out we always have a choice, that even a 'slave,' has a choice. As Jimmy Cliff once put it in 'The Harder They Come': I'd rather be a free man in my grave, than living as a puppet or a slave.

Yesterday, I had two computers humming simultaneously; on one, I was editing 'Free Henry Goodbar' into a 2 minute, and 33 second highlight reel, and on the other (while the editing program was 'rendering') I was writing a new monologue for the new work we've tentatively dubbed, 'the three boxes of transformation.' Oh boy, what a mouthful that!

So, I'm thinking this new piece will be an extended monologue that starts with a suicide, the end is the beginning, but it's gonna be a musical, a delightful romp; funny, and hopeful, and well, who knows really what the fuck it's gonna be?

I've had my feelers out this week, and suddenly I hear voices everywhere. Here are some quotations that have stuck in my craw.

Napoleon Bonaparte: "There are only two forces in the world, the sword and the spirit. In the long run the sword will always be conquered by the spirit."

Gypsy Rose Lee: "God is love. Get it in writing."

Kurt Godel: "If it's not provable, it's true."

Kurt Godel (again): "Chaos is a bad appearance."

J.P. Satre: "There are no excuses."

Charles Bukowski: "Love is a dog from hell."

Aleister Crowley: "Do what thou will. All is permitted."

Donnie Darko: "What's the point of living if you don't have a dick?"

Saturday, February 26, 2005

'Wake Up' -- Frank to Donnie in 'Donnie Darko'

I stumbled across this quote, while stumbling across another blogger's stumble (if you know what I mean).

"This universe is a dream that all six billion of us are collaboratively dreaming up into materialization together. When we realize this, we can put our lucidity together in a way where we can co-creatively dream up a much more grace-filled universe into incarnation. This is nothing other than an evolutionary quantum leap in human consciousness, unimaginable until now." - Paul Levy

Sounds right to me. This guy Levy also wrote an article explaining that George W. Bush, his regime, and his supporters are manifesting a collective madness called 'ego-phrenia.' It's a 'field disease' that transcends individuals and can inhabit a group, a nation, a world - all of us. The source of the malady: displacing or denying one's shadow, one's capacity for evil, and projecting it onto others - those shadowy 'evil doers.' So the righteous man, the righteous nation, is unable to look in the mirror, 'the shadow holder,' unable see beyond the 'ego reality,' unable to recognize the evil committed in the name of good, freedom, democracy, etc.

The righteous, born-again, man is truly an adolescent entity unable to incorporate the shadow of his own being. Bombs are dropped, cities are levelled, people are rounded up and tortured in the fight against the evil 'out there.' The 'ego-phrenic,' has banished the shadow to the shadows, and any evil can be unleashed in the fight for 'the good.'

The only cure? To see, to wake up to the shadow in ourselves. To see our capacity and culpability. To incorporate this knowledge and to approach the world with humbleness and grace. And oh yes, to bring a 'fierce compassion,' where we engage the world with the deep knowledge that we must fight the evil that bubbles up within each of us. We have a dual nature - light and shadow, good and evil, etc. Our task is to find clarity in the duality.

Friday, February 25, 2005

The Players

I don't know why (another gnarly 'growth period?') I woke up at 4:00 a.m. with vivid images of guitars and guitar players, in my head, but I did. I shuffled the pictures like a deck of cards. The sturdy, Firebird Red, alien-like Gibson SG - weapon of choice for Pete Townsend and Carlos Santana (Woodstock and beyond). The hefty, elegant, beautifully designed Gibson Les Paul played by, of course, Les Paul, Jimmy Page, Peter Green, Duane Allman, Neil Young (Neil owns a 1953 Les Paul named 'Black Beauty' that plays like no other, Neil can make it rage, wail and squall like a demon burning in hell-fire), Jeff Beck, Mick Taylor, plus millions of hard rockers (heavy metalists love this axe) all over the world. The long, lean, futuristic, Fender Stratocaster - Eric Clapton (Slowhand - written on the walls in England late sixities - 'Clapton is God'), Jimi Hendrix (long-fingered, left-handed, he reversed the order of the strings and played upside down - Jimi was/is the Shakespeare, the Picasso, the Electric Kool-aid Acid Test of the electric guitar) and oh yes, Bob Dylan plays one too.

Then there are the outriders - The Ricknenbacker - bright, chiming - the sound of early Lennon (The Beatles on Ed Sullivan) Tom Petty, Roger Mcguinn (all those brilliant, shining Byrds songs - a Rickenbacker 12-String). George Harrison played everything - an SG, a Les Paul, a Gretsch Country Gentleman. Later, John Lennon modified his Epiphone Casino by stripping it of it's Sunburst paint job (going for a more natural sound) it's the guitar he played on the White Album, Abbey Road, Get Back. Then there's the Fender Telecaster - Keith Richards, Bruce Springsteen. I own a Fender Telecaster Slimline, a hollow-body cousin. It's light, easy to handle, sweet, easy, action, it plays like a dream. What's amazing, is all that these players have a distinctive sound and style. If you listen closely you can tell who's who. It's not just the equipment - it's the pulse in the finger of the player, the indescribable something in the heart and the head, the instinct, the muscle memory, the soul, the human touch. So anyway, after I paged through the list - guitars, magnificent creatures, alive, exotic beings made of wood and electronics - I dozed off again, waking up at six. I got up, brewed up some coffee and wrote this down.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

We Control the Vertical, We Control the Horizontal

Yesterday, the day after my trip to the coast, turned out to be a 'virtual,' day. I existed in the quiet and safety of my humble abode, but my head, my thoughts, my voice, my typewritten words, went out into the ether via the internet and my cell phone. It's amazing how well this works for me. I was able to 'move things forward' in the world of business, by 'speaking my truth,' formulating thoughts into sentences, speaking these sentences into my little hand-held device. Arguments were won (without appearing to argue), agendas were set, I was able to tread the tricky roads of status (who's the First Clown, who's the Second, etc.) and class that define human interaction, without breaking a sweat, without getting emotionally enmeshed. I seemed to be able to work from a place of clarity of vision and purpose. Damn, I love it when that happens! So, this morning, I wonder: whence comes the next little atom bomb to upset the apple cart of my reality?

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

"I can do anything I want, and so can you." - Frank in 'Donnie Darko'

Not a one of us gets out unscathed (to scath means to injure), or as Jim Morrison so eloquently put it: 'no one gets out of here alive.' Every one's basic trajectory: born, lived, died. Once you get past the basic storyline, all hell breaks loose, each and every one of us is a unique manifestation of energy that has never existed in quite this particular configuration before, plus the universe is expanding (improvising) time is moving, bending, shaking, we are unique, constantly changing, morphing; and so is the river. As Lewis Black has said, and my father has strongly endorsed: "WE'RE ALL SNOWFLAKES!" Of course, you become too different and then you become a subversive mother (thank you Woody Allen, HST).

So there's these broken dreams, broken bones, nicks and cuts, bruises and scars; we can hide and mourn them, or celebrate and brandish them. I'm all for celebrating. Glad to be (or aspire to be) a subversive mother (Frank Sinatra and Sid Vicious both sang: 'I did it my way'). When one of us dies (the mystics say life and death are the same state) it is like a star dying, or really a universe passing. And of course, since it's all energy, this passing away, this death is just another transformation of energy. We don't really know what this means, all the major questions of life will remain questions, probably because the question misses the point: Is there a God, is there life after death, is there a meaning to life? Projected answers: maybe, could be, and sure, but 'meaning' comes in a do-it-yourself kit, batteries are not included.

The universe is expanding, it's speeding up, the astrophysicists speculate that it will continue to expand, it will stop and freeze, it will collapse and everything will go in reverse. The universe begs the question (in some totally cosmic incomprehensible language), the only answer can be 'yes.'

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

'Why are You Wearing that Stupid Human Suit?' - Frank in 'Donnie Darko'

I woke up at 3:00 a.m. Pacific Standard Time in room 405 at the Laguna Riveria, the ocean crashing outside my window, the rain pelting down. I heard a voice in my head (was it my own?) say: "God is built into the fabric of the universe." And then this little addendum: "And it doesn't matter." I turned over, wrapped the covers tighter around my body, and went back to sleep.

It's afternoon now, back home. It was a whirlwind of a day: cars, planes, lattes, chocolate, headphones, music, cruising at 30,000 feet, runways, terminals, taxicab. Business-wise, the trip was successful, it looks like a deal (no money was exchanged, so it's not a 'real deal' yet), but there's always more to do.

Not really feeling tired, but really feeling empty. Too much business and social interaction is not good for me. I realize, I am bascially a solitary soul who needs space (who doesn't?). So much of human interaction is idle chatter. I need to turn off the 'chatter channel' and put on my 'third face.' This endless searching for a 'creator,' is a dead-end. There is only the process of creation. The universe is this incredible master of improvisation, always saying 'yes!'

Monday, February 21, 2005

"There's nothing like a man in the throes of an ether binge." - H.S. Thompson (R.I.P.)

As that Elvis Costello song puts it, "Welcome to the the Working Week.' I had a fitful sleep, woke at 3:00 a.m. then 5:00 a.m. finally got up at 6:00 a.m. eventhough my wake up call was set for 6:30 a.m. Pouring rain again today, and the same forecast for tomorrow. It's almost as if the vision of L.A. depicted in "Blade Runner," has been realized; the weather pattern has changed drastically, and the City of Angels is always dark and rainy. There was about an hour of sunshine yesterday, and I strapped on my trusty 'trail runners,' and ran through the lonely streets of this pre-fabricated, futuristic, technology cube city called Irvine. This place has no past, no history, no character, it looks like a fake movie set let over from Woody Allen's "Sleeper.' I ran these perfect sidewalks (has anyone ever walked or run down these streets?) until the sidewalks ended. I kept going until I was surrounded by fields of strawberries. It was definitely the one moment of bliss for the day.

In the afternoon, my business colleague and I did a coastal tour, encapsulated in the warmth and safety of our little white rental car: Laguna Beach, Long Beach, Marina Del Mar, Venice Beach. We saw the industrial side of the oceanside: oil derricks, oil tankers, huge outlandish cranes, loading docks, massive and endless numbers of containers, plus the Queen Mary cruise ship (now a tourist attraction: a hotel with multiple restuarants). We listened to music on the radio, ("all eighties, all the time"), and talked about everything 'under the sun,' or in this case, 'under the weeping black clouds.'

This morning, I log onto the internet and the first news that hits me: Hunter S. Thompson has killed himself (a gun blast to the head). I must say I'm not really suprised, I always figured he'd go out with a bang. This man has been of one my writing heroes since high school. He wrote like a man possessed by demons (internal and external), and what came out of him, was honest, hard-nosed, brilliant, crazy, funny, outrageous. His political writing was extreme and over the top. It turns out his dark vision of Richard Nixon, who was truly his doppleganger, was perfectly dead on target. 'Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail," and "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas," are two absolute masterpieces of a certain time and place. I was there too. It was a dark and extreme time in our country and Dr. Hunter S. Thompson (Gonzo Master, Doctor of Theology) plugged in and wrote it down in streams of brilliant, ranting, gibberish, and cold, hard, beauty.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Mundane/Majestic

I’m in Irvine, California, Southeast of Los Angeles. It’s lush green, rain is pouring down hard and steady. The flight yesterday was both mundane and majestic, maybe a good illustration of the reality of modernity. On the one hand, everything was as expected, taxi, to check- in, to boarding, to smooth takeoff, a four-hour flight, and easy landing. Nothing special. On the other hand, coming into LA, soaring above the clouds, circling over the Pacific, the sun glinting off buildings and cars, the Who’s ‘Live at Leeds,’ (circa 1971) crashing in my ears, hurtling in a arrow of steel at high-speed, if you can really take in the enormity of the moment - absolutely extraordinary.

My business colleague and I decided to ignore the gray clouds, the intermittent showers, and headed over to the Santa Anita Racetrack. Couldn’t get my hands on a Racing Form, so I was basically a blind man in the dark, trying to decipher which ponies liked to run in the mud. Kind of hard to tell, so I took a couple of wild guesses. I hit one, lost a couple more, the trip was basically a wash.

Checked into our hotel late in the evening, had a good seafood dinner, then a long, dead-man’s sleep. This morning I ordered up a pot of coffee (not so good) and logged on to the Internet (the connection is mysteriously flaky). On the road, you discover all the things you take for granted at home. Today is an ‘off day,’ might go to the ‘workout room’ (I need to work my instrument) and then do a little exploring, Laguna Beach is nearby, definitely want to acknowledge the ocean. ‘Hello. Here I am!'

Saturday, February 19, 2005

'Heading into Los Angeles' - A. Guthrie

Up before the alarm. I'm leaving on a jet plane this morning, heading to Los Angeles, CA. I've got a two day business meeting, Monday and Tuesday and I decided to fly out early so I could make a visit to Santa Anita Racetrack and commiserate with the ponies for a bit. I get a kick just typing the words 'Santa Anita'; it's probably one of the most beautiful racetracks I've had the opportunity to visit, what with the mountains in the background, the faux Spanish decor, and some of the classiest thoroughbred horses in the States. I've made the trip to some of the best tracks: Hialeah, Gulfstream, Longchamps (outside Paris), Arlington, Calder, El Comandante (San Juan, Puerto Rico) Golden Gate, and spent plenty of time at some the worst too: Maywood, Sportsman's and Hawthorne (nothing quite like the smell of freshly-concocted chemicals wafting over you as you sit in the stands at Hawthorne, worrying over eleven old, sore horses in a $3500 claiming race). So anyway, by mid-afternoon today, I hope to be sitting in the stands with my program and racing form, trying to decipher the hieroglyphics of past performances, speed figures, class and distance. I guess you could add 'playing the horses,' to my list of 'addictions' from yesterday, but it's a vice that I visit quite infrequently. Is there anything more hopeful, more expectant, more exciting than: 'They're loading into the gate...they are all in... and they are off!'

Friday, February 18, 2005

The Prisoner

Can this possibly be 'true'? Ivan Illich - 'In a consumer society, there are two kinds of slaves: the prisoners of addiction and the prisoners of envy.' If I were to accept the terms of this little game, I guess I'd have to put myself in a cell with the addicts. I'm addicted to music, running, writing plays, coffee, blogging, cheap thrills, etc. At least, I believe I freely choose the addictions I prefer to cultivate. I don't have much going on in the Department of Envy. I figure we're each on our own private journey, and although, it's sometimes amazing what others do and have, or don't and lack, I don't believe I harbor any 'discontented desire or resentment' over it.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

The River

This morning there's this phrase in my head, 'the shifting sands of reality.' I have this sense that I can hold onto nothing, that everything is changing (as I change, the world changes too), and, whether I perceive it or not, this movement forward/downward is inexorable.

"The universe is a sphere whose center is everywhere and circumference is nowhere." J. L. Borges

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Metamorphosis

Is there anything worse than having to do business with someone who is openly dishonest? Is it a suprise that the most egregious case I have come across would be someone involved with Homeland Security? My experience dealing with local government has been instructive. My key contact is a nice enough guy, he's sometimes genuinely funny, but it turns out he's absolutely unreliable. I think some of this is attributable to working with someone embedded in a big, bureaucratic structure. Usually, I work in a realm, where it's assumed that a man's word is his bond; not so in this environment. Here words and actions don't match up. There are appearances, there is a shadow play of power, there's an attitude of 'if you want to work with us, you do things our way.' I find this all very difficult, off-putting, contrary to how I like to work with people. This is just another game, but the rules to this game are different, they change day to day, words are meaningless. Franz Kafka's novel 'The Trial,' comes to mind. Hope this doesn't lead to dreams of large, evil-looking bugs.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Unbearable Invisibleness

One of the great books I read long ago, 'The Unbearable Lightness of Being,' came to mind this morning. It's one of those books that changes the way you see the world...forever, or at least, for awhile, or at least, until you don't think about it any more, or until you stop forgetting it and recall reading it one morning in February years later. Or...something like that.

I've got a 'bug,' in my system, feeling 'under the weather,' and I have this sense that I'm deeper into my body and less in the world. Maybe that's one of the side benefits of illness, it reminds you of the primacy of the body, and the insubstantiality of the world. I was thinking of an Invisible Man in reverse; a man who drinks a concoction that makes him visible to others, but invisible to himself.

Or how about the Completely Invisible Man, who is invisble to himself and to others and as 'he,' walks around, he actually erases the reality he encounters? That's kind of how I feel this morning, but this feeling vanishes as soon as I feel it. So, maybe I'll erase these lines, or maybe not, or, oh well, you get the idea.

Monday, February 14, 2005

The Creators

I throw my lot in with the 'creators,' those who are willing to spend their time and energy making things: paintings, music, movies, plays, novels, sculptures, etc. This activity, in itself, is hopeful; there is something to do, something to say, and there is someone to see, hear, and respond to it. This working in the world of imagination is not an evasion of the world, it is a plunging into the world. Whatever meaning and purpose we seek in the world, must be created by us.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

'Come On Rise Up' - B. Springsteen

I went to sleep late last night, I was psyched up from a great jam session with the 'Telepaths' yesterday afternoon, (I thought we sounded pretty good - what we lack in polish we make up for with...spit!) and a great night out at the theater, we saw A Red Orchid Theatre's 'Gargarin Way' a bleak comedy written in 2001 by a Scottish playwright. It's a great piece, very dark, very funny, strangely exhilarating; it was about globalism, about how much of the world has been left behind, about how we all work for the multi-nationals now. It depicted a world where we all look a little stupid and crazy.

Good work like this confirms my belief in the power of live theater. Since I hit the pillow late, I was planning on sleeping in, but I woke up early, the Bruce Springsteen song 'The Rising,' was actually rattling around in my head, The Boss' words beckoned me: 'come on rise up, come on rise up,' I thought, 'why fight it?' so I got up. While I was brewing my coffee I heard a radio program about the 'theologian,' Rienhold Niehbur. He talked about the moral man in an immoral world, about how paradox and conflict are the normal state of things, how most choices are not between good and evil, but between evil and less evil. Oh how, Samuel Beckett, oh how Jean Paul Satre. Niehbur was billed as a Christian Realist, I think Satre would characterize him as a Christian Existentialist. Niehbur was against idealism, thinking it was simply arrogance, instead, he counseled a humble realism in order to try to understand the world as it is...at the moment, with the knowledge that what looks fixed and unchanging... is not.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Fight Terror with Terror

I have a suggestion for a mind-bending exercise. First, get a copy of Martin Amis' 'Koba the Dread,' and read about Joseph Stalin and the brutal police state he created in the Soviet Union. Read about the many people Stalin terrorized, tortured, and executed. Learn how one man, in a position of unchecked power, ruled a large population of people with patriotism and terror. Marvel at the brutality of a sophisticated bureaucratic terror mechanism created from the fear of 'enemies to the state.'

Then, after you've digested that stinking hair-ball of history, get a copy of the latest New Yorker, and read Jane Mayer's story, 'The Outsourcing of Torture.' Learn how the USA has created an extra-legal category of human beings, 'illegal enemy combatants,' who have no claims to any legal process or rights. Learn how the President's lawyers have declared the President (a flawed, fallible human being just like any of us) above any law in the fight against terror. Learn how our supposed champion of freedom and democracy, has conspired in secret, and considers himself answerable to no one. Marvel at the ability of the CIA to kidnap people and whisk them off to other countries (Syria, Egypt) so they can brutally torture them. Savor the new term for this lovely practice: 'extraordinary rendition.' Learn how we've created a whole new class of people who have been rendered useless by prolonged, repeated torture. Learn how the press and the political class have basically responded to this new approach with silent cowardice.

Try not to feel guilty and implicated in crimes against humanity when you realize that your tax dollars help fund this new bureaucratic terror state and support obsecenities against man and basic principles of freedom, democracy, and the rule of law.

Friday, February 11, 2005

My Own Private Idaho

Sometimes you just get slapped upside the head, and you realize, you don't know 'jack.' Yesterday, I was reminded of my limits. Every action, every gesture that one makes, is judged by 'others' out in the world. What one 'intends,' may not be what is 'perceived.' This little lesson, this yawning gap between the thoughts and feelings of one person and another, made itself apparent to me in one of my business transactions. Here I was, thinking I was one step ahead, making all the right moves, Mr. Smooth, Mr. Natural and BLAMMO! I was perceived as overstepping my bounds, being Mr. Arrogant, Mr. Fool. It was like my head and an immovable brick wall met at high velocity. The details aren't important, let's just say, my good intentions opened up a little door to a private hell. I guess it's good to know that there's so much you don't know, even the things you know. You know?

Thursday, February 10, 2005

'Will they Call Him a Wise Man?' - D. Hopper

Yesterday morning, I was running along the lakefront, and out of nowhere a scruffy-looking dude popped out behind a hedge. The guy looked to be one of the denizens of the half-way house that resides on Chicago Avenue. The house is a collection of unfortunate souls 'down on their luck.' This scruffy dude shouted at me to 'stop.' Of course, I just kept on moving, I adhere to that rule I learned watching 'Apocalypse Now,' (remember when 'Chef' goes looking for some leeks for a soup, and he encounters a tiger? He runs back to the boat in a totally rattled state.) 'Chef's' credo: 'never get off the boat.'

So, for me, it's like this: when running, never stop, especially when a total stranger addresses you as if you were an intimate acquaintance. One time, Carla saved me from an unexpected thrashing when I inadvertantly looked into the eyes of another guy who had that same 'homeless guy' demeanor, part Long John Silver, part Grizzly Adams, who recoiled in horror when I looked him in the eye. That guy actually lunged at me and swung a plastic bag at my head as he screamed, 'Get out! Get away!' I almost walked right into that one with this goofy grin on my face thinking, 'hey, I always had a fond feeling for 'Treasure Island.' Luckily, that time, Carla grabbed me by the sleeve and pulled me out of harm's way.

So, anyway, I'm running along yesterday, and this dude in a scruffy old coat, with a plastic bag in his hand, sees me and tries to get me to stop because he's got something important to tell me. Of course, like I said, I don't stop, I just keep right on going. I mumble something like, 'hey, man,' as I go by. So, the guy turns and shouts after me, 'HEY, LISTEN, LISTEN TO ME, THEY PUT US ALL IN THE ARMY WHILE WE WERE SLEEPING. WE'RE ALL IN THE ARMY NOW.' I didn't turn around, I didn't say anything in response. I picked up my pace and continued down the path. The whole way home I'm thinking: 'You know, I think that guy is right!'

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Everyday I have the Blues

According to Native American Tradition, there are four simple 'rules' for a successful negotiation: 1. Show up. 2. Pay attention. 3. Tell the truth. 4. Do not be attached to outcome. Simple, clean; the key is to incorporate them into your being. I've also discovered that it is counter-productive to 'chase a deal,' instead, it's best to set the conditions so the deal (your opponent, your Customer, etc.) comes to you. Reminds me of this: people scatter from the man shouting on a street corner, they draw closer to a man whispering to himself.

I made myself scarce yesterday, played blues music ('everyday, everyday I have the blues' - how come it feels so good to be blue? Peter Green plays the sweetest, most mournful electric blues I've ever heard) and worked on a couple of proposals. I found a little solitude, and suddenly all these people started calling, e-mailing; I was a man in demand. I say, let it all come down!

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

I Can See for Miles - P. Townsend

At work I seem to be one step ahead of everyone. I have been 'seeing clearly,' anticipating the next moves of 'my opponents,' as if it's all one big game of Chess. In the business world, it turns out, everyone is an opponent, even those (maybe especially those) who are on your team. I position myself as the ultimate team player, but in my heart of hearts, I am a team of one (a renegade freelancer: 'sunny jimmy likes to play in his own sandbox, does not mix well with others'). I'm constantly playing a double or triple game, where I coax, cajole, and defer; I'm constantly trying to bring my team along with me. I need to do this with ultimate subtly and craft. I not only need to 'play humble,' I need to 'be' humble at all times. I am convinced that meditation and all the meditation tools I use have made this all explicit, so that I am totally aware of what I am doing while I am doing it. This sense of 'watching oneself,' was the essence of Guardieff's mystical technique. This is powerful stuff. It's funny too, because others seem just as transparent as I do myself. Everything is much more 'visible,' especially the supposedly 'invisible.'

Monday, February 07, 2005

The Spectacle

Super Bowl Sunday - a day of solitude and spectacle. Those twin pillars of philosophical wisdom were swirling around inside my head:

V. Lombardi - When the going gets tough, the tough get going.
J.P. Satre - A man has no excuses.

Both of these guys offered hard-nosed philosophies. One was a man of faith, the other was not. I adopted a 'tough guy' stance, and kind of skated on the periphery of the day. I had a 'breakthrough' meditation, a long, exhilarating run on the lakefront, worked on notes for my new play, ordered Indian food for dinner, and watched the Super Bowl. I loaded up the cd player with an appropriate soundtrack (The Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Boz Scaggs, Neil Young, The Animals, Harry Nilsson). This disconnection from the silliness and bombast of the spectacle was absolutely essential. The commericals were stupid and relentless (hey monkeys are funny!) but the game was pretty good.

I had no money riding on the contest, I liked both teams, so I just kind of rode along with the momentum of the moment, thinking, 'I wonder what's gonna happen next?'

Sunday, February 06, 2005

A Buffalo Soldier

Listening to the BBC this morning, I hear that today is Bob Marley's birthday. If he had lived, he'd be 60 years old (he died of cancer at age 39). 'Free your mind from mental slavery.' This man's life was a 'Redemption Song.' A young kid from the slums of Jamaica becomes an international music star, introducing a completely new form of music to the world: reggae. Bob was a 'Rasta Man,' who smoked large quantities of ganja, sang about 'one love,' and gave people everywhere a reason to smile, to love, to dance. There was also a political message: 'Get up, stand up, stand up for your rights.' The man is gone, but his example stands, and the music endures.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Sweet Morning

Some days its just good to be alive. Optimism bubbles up unbidden and carries one into the sweet morning sky like a cartoon Zeppelin. What's different? It's Saturday, the sun is up in the blue sky, the temperature has moderated; nature seems less of an opponent and more of a caretaker. I'm listening to Boz Scaggs' first album, featuring one of my seminal guitar heroes, Duane Allman. Duane was Georgia boy with big fat mutton chops, who played slide guitar like no one else in the world. He died young in a motorcyle accident. I did get to see him play with the Allman Brothers Band, in 1971 at the Chicago auditorium, when they were the best band in the universe.

No plans today. I figure I'll just wander around, take in the vibe of the day. This is 'anything can happen day.' No matter what happens, it's all good. I figure, hell, even if the sun, moon and stars came crashing down around my ears, it'd be ok; the coffee is superb, the music sounds sublime. A bolt of lightening could come out of the sky and strike me dead, and I'm sure I'd still have a big fat smile on my humble mug.

Friday, February 04, 2005

A Badly Drawn Circle?

I mark the passage of time each morning via the squeeze of the toothpaste tube. The tube is now over half squeezed out. I remind myself that 'you can't put the toothpaste back in the tube.' This morning it's 'sweet love blend' in the coffee pot, yesterday it was 'witches brew.' Today I feel lively and positive, yesterday, I felt tired and negative. Charting my feelings is like charting the direction of the wind; the one constant: the wind will blow.

I think I'm heading into a new phase: my head is swarming (kind of like a colony of mad bees) with new ideas. I've been tapping back into the flow. Playing my guitar, writing notes for a new play, taking long runs on the lakefront, listening to old records (John Mayall, Harry Nilsson) ordering some new books (Michael Frayn's latest play 'Democracy,' Jean Paul Satre on Existentialism, and Guy Debord's 'Society of the Spectacle' -- since the French are in such disfavor in the U.S. at the moment, I have decided to plunge into the core of French philosopy and intellectualism).

I'm convinced there is a purpose to this mad journey, even if I don't know where the hell I'm going. Maybe that's part of the beauty - the not knowing. Wouldn't it be funny if after a long eventful journey you realize you've just been running in large, badly drawn circles?

Thursday, February 03, 2005

You are a Star

I'm still mulling over Samuel Fuller's concept of 'A Third Face.' Reminds me of the Buddhist Zen Koan: what is your original face before you were born? I'm thinking that the meditation work I do is a means of re-integrating with this 'secret self.' There's the idea that we are more than our bodies, more than our concept of ego, more than what can be named. There is a place of solitude and strength that we can glimpse when in deep meditation. Is this some kind of 'universal consciousness?' A state beyond time, kind of like a river that one can enter to heal and restore? Or is it like Jung's 'collective unconscious?' Except it's not just a human unconscious, it's a state of energy, a universal energy that is made of up everything that lives (hell, this would include, rocks, planets, stars, galaxies, etc.). We have these feeble instruments of perception (our senses five) so we are inadequate in a very human way, but we are also 'star stuff' (thank you Carl Sagan) made of the same stuff as the heavenly bodies in the firmament. How about getting your head around that this morning? And what are we to do with this universal consciousness? Well you can't take it to the bank and redeem it for valuable prizes, but maybe it just might give everything a shining, blazing, shimmer.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Our Secret Selves

Yes, well, 'man is mere complexity.' I think Sam Fuller puts his finger on why this is true. To me the following, (we finally find out why his book is called, 'A Third Face') seems new, and full of wisdom:

Fuller: 'See, you've got three faces. Your first face is the one you're born with, the one in the mirror every morning...Your second face is the one you develop thanks to ego, ingenuity and sensitivity, the one people identify as you...Then there's your third face. No one ever gets to see that one. It'll never show up in any mirror nor be visible to the eyes of parents, lovers, or friends. It's the face no one knows but you. It's the real you. Always privy to your deepest fears, hopes and desires, your third face can't lie or be lied to. I call it my mind mistress, guardian of my secret utopias, bitter disappointments, and noble visions.'

And what does this knowledge mean to Fuller? 'Not finding a catchy name in psychology for the private me, I came up with third face. It wasn't just a concept for me but a very real locale, captivating and whimsical, cozy and seductive, the geisha girl of my brain. I welcomed solitude because I wasn't really ever alone. Maybe I was an old fart, yet a helluva lot of dreams and desires were still knocking around deep down there. My third face always reinvigorated me. There was no chance of me drying up, no way I'd be running on empty. For me, the perpetuation of our secret selves is what makes life both survivable and glorious.'

Thank you, Mr. Samuel Fuller.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

A Life at Full Boil

I have been absolutely riveted by Samuel Fuller's autobiography, 'A Third Face.' As Sam might say, 'it is a damn good yarn that grabs you by the balls and won't let go.' I'm not quite done, I've got less than a hundred pages to go, but what a journey. Sam's story is also the story of the Twentieth Century, the American century. We get a front row seat to key events: the newspaper business in the 1920's, the depression, the union movement, World War II (Fuller is actually part of the invasion forces in Africa, Italy and Normandy), the Cold War and the movie business in the 50's through the 90's. Through it all (from hell and back) Fuller keeps his energy and optimism at full boil.

What is that cliche? 'The Triumph of the Human Spirit?' Yeah, well in Sam's case, it's an apt phrase, except, you can leave the bullshit at the door. Late in the book, Sam meets up with another old Lion in the hills of California, the novelist, Henry Miller. Miller seems to sum up a certain viewpoint that, whether you believe it's true or not doesn't really diminish the attitude behind it: 'Don't look for miracles. You are the miracle.'

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