WWSP's Shadow of th Marigold

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Blow Shit Up

I'm working from the neighborhood coffee shop this morning. Free WiFi don't you know? I'm fuelled up, I'm lit up like a pinball machine this morning. I worked on some music tracks last night, and I got so hyped up, I couldn't sleep. Music was dancing in my head all night long. Restful sleep eluded me, so I'm a little edgy, a little briny, a little salty this morning.

I'm still going through my torture phase. My best laid plans have come up snake eyes. I'm kind of at a loss of what to do next. I'm thinking I must change my life, but not sure where to start.

I feel like I have made some poor choices, I threw my lot in with some very bad (okay, maybe not bad, just totally fucked up) people, and it is coming home to roost now. You must be very careful what you choose to do, who you choose to be with. These choices help determine who you really are, what you really do.

If you're not careful, if you're like sunny jimmy and you sometimes just wing it, you can end up in some deep shit. I'm in up to my chinny chin chin at the present moment. So, like Beckett's character, I'm buried up to my chin. Do I deny it and carry on? Do I pretend that I love being in this predicament, do I imagine another reality and try to forget? Or do I somehow explode the whole damn thing? If I do the exploding, how to make sure I don't damage myself in the process?

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Chase the Day

I've decided not the chase the day today. Usually I rise, have a few cups of coffee (the Breakfast of Champions), lace up my running shoes and go for a lively jaunt on the lakefront. I don't recommend this behavior for anyone else. It probably breaks many rules for health and nutrition, but it's how I live, it seems to work for me. I start my day by running after, or running from something, or no, maybe I'm just running, but something compels me. It has been my routine for many, many years. It sums up my life in many respects. I'm on the run, on the chase, I keep moving just to prove to myself that I am alive. My body has held up remarkably well. I must just be made right for long distance running.

So, today, I just decide, no, I'm not going to chase the day, I will let it come to me. Lately the chasing has not been so rewarding. Whatever I try to grab and pin down, seems to slip from my grasp. So, I sip coffee, I write some incendinary e-mails, I field some phone calls. I'm going to be a passive container today, like this coffee mug sitting next to me. I fill it up, I empty it. It sits content either way.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Bobby

In 1968 (I was 13 years old), I lived in Wisconsin. My father had gotten a "promotion," and we all packed up and moved up there. We arrived before the furniture, and I remember sleeping on the newly laid carpet in the living room, my little family unit huddled together like refugees. It was not a great time for me. Moving from the suburbs of Chicago, to a little conservative town known for Kleenex was an uprooting of major proportions, and I kind of sank back into my shell of unhappiness even deeper. I took up golf, it was the perfect sport for a lonely kid, with no friends, and no intentions of reaching out to anyone nearby.

I had only one golf club, it was nine iron, and there was a great open field where I spent many hours hitting a golf ball or two. I learned the special golf club grip, I actually had a flip book of Tony Jacklyn who won the British Open or something. I was an avid reader of Sports Illustrated and I was fascinated by some of the figures I discovered in the pages of the magazine: Jean Claude Killy, Muhammad Ali, Carl Yastrzemski. If I happened to whack the ball good, I could spend a lot of time wandering around that big, lumpy field hunting down my golf balls.

Anyway, last night, the Lovely Carla and I went to see "Bobby," a movie focused on one day in 1968, it's a really extraordinary movie, I believe that Emilio Estevez (remember Repo Man?), should be honored for his absolutely superb script and sure-handed direction. I mean, I really, really love this movie, eventhough, ultimately it is absolutely heart-wrenching.

So, I'm remembering Bobby Kennedy, I remember we went to bed before Kennedy was announced the winner of the California Primary, I remember things were looking good, my whole family was excited at the prospect of young Bobby winning. The next morning, my mom is driving me to school, (a big lonely monolith, I was the "gangster" from Chicago, I clearly did not fit in), and the news came over on the car radio that Bobby had been shot and killed. I remember my mother screamed out in pain, like she too had been shot. I was stunned. It did not seem real. It couldn't be real. I cried too.

I think I sunk even deeper into that protective shell. When some of the kids in school made fun of the tragedy, I knew that I was not like them, or at least, I didn't want to be anything like them. The year got even weirder later that summer at the Chicago Convention. Things did not go well - cops beating up long-hairs. Everything seemed to be spinning out of control. I bought my first album, the Beatles White Album. There were strange new sounds in the air. The world seemed like a big, crazy, hard place and at the same time there were hippies and flowers and love, and a counter-culture and I started to let my hair grow long, (I didn't cut it for a many, many years)...and things got weirder and weirder...and weirder...

Nixon Won...etc.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Let Go...

I've only read one Thomas Pynchon novel, Vineland. I don't remember much about it. I'm pretty sure I liked it, but it did not make a profound impression. Pynchon has a new novel, Against the Day. It sounds amazing, but coming in at 1,085 pages, I'm thinking I'm not gonna even attempt tackling it. Going in I'm thinking I just won't finish it. Do I want to punish myself like that? I have an unspoken rule, which I try to stick to, but, in fact, I have broken it many times - if I start a book, I finish a book. Those times I haven't finished, I look upon as some kind of defeat. My library of books is a record of my successes and my defeats.

Did I really just write that? Are even my reading choices my personal record of success and failure? Maybe I judge myself too harshly? I started out as an English Major and finished as a Psychology Major - there is certainly some confusion in that journey. And after I graduated, I realized I wanted nothing to do with Psychology. My fellow students and teachers seemed to be an extra-pernicious lot...and the trend had already started - psychotheraphy morphing into pharmacology, and hell, if you're gonna do drugs, it seems to me the only ones worth doing are the "recreational" kind.

So, I look at many books on my shelf and I see that what I thought I was seeking, turns out to not be what I was seeking. Or something like that...

Ok, so I'm reading a review of Pynchon's new novel (the review goes for pages too), and I come across this quote from one of the characters and it completely, profoundly resonates with me this morning:

"Let go, let it bear you up and carry you, and everything's so clear because you're not fighting back anymore, the clouds of anger are out of your face, you see further and clearer than you ever thought you could." - T. Pynchon

Sunday, November 26, 2006

French Press

Recently, when I was in New York, The Woman Who Would Be President, (yes, I'd vote for her!), the Lovely Melissa, asked me, (rhetorically?), as we were walking down the avenue, after our feast of mac and cheese, how to make great French Press coffee. I demurred at the time. It had been a while since I worked a French Press, I had grown lazy, grinding coffee beans, dumping them in our automatic coffee maker, and letting the machine do all the work.

Well, two days ago, my coffee maker died. So, desperate for a cuppa joe, I hastily dusted off the old French Press and went back to the fundamentals. Here is the secret to a great French Press:

1. Purchase a package of Fair Trade Coffee. It's essential to support a positive social movement dedicated to small environmentally sustainable local producers. The coffee will be good, and you will feel better about yourself and the future of the planet. (I prefer a dark roast such as French or Italian).

2. Grind the beans. You want the grind to be course, not fine. This is all feel. Your result should be asymmetric.

3. Boil water (filtered if possible) in an old kettle. It's best if it has a whistle, so the kettle lets you know when it's ready.

4. Pour the hot water into the glass container first. I like to fill it just below the spout.

5. Put 8 teaspoons of the coarse grind into the glass container. (I like a bold, potent cup!).

6. Stir Vigorously. I suggest you use a wooden spoon. I don't know why. A wooden spoon just seems to work best. I stir until a nice brown foam rises to the top. Again, this is an art, not a science, you must stir with style, panache, and most importantly, love. The more love you put into this process, the better the coffee will taste.

7. Take your pressing contraption and slowly and evenly press down until you can't press any more. Be gentle.

8. Pour into a favorite coffee mug, preferably one that you've used for a time, one that you have a certain connection to, maybe something with a witty saying, or maybe it was a gift from someone special, or maybe it just a plain old mug, friendly and stable.

9. Fill the mug about two/thirds. I then add about 1/3 vanilla soy milk. No cows have been harmed or milked the making of this cup of coffee! I'm a big fan of soy. It's amazing what they can do with that little bean. Although, how they actually milk a bean is a mystery to me.

10. Sit back and enjoy. Maybe listen to the news on the radio, or put a good CD on. If all went well, if you brought enough love and attention to the process, you will enjoy a great cup of coffee. Maybe you'll have another. And you'll wonder why you started using that automatic coffee machine in the first place.

All Done!

Saturday, November 25, 2006

I Cry

My world is topsy turvy. I cry easily. Every movie I've seen lately makes me cry. I cried at The Queen, The Fountain, I'm Your Man. I cried when I heard that Robert Altman died. Actually, whenever I hear that anyone died (which is a frequent occurance), I kind of tear up. I'm thinking I'm on the verge of a nervous breakdown. This could all be characterised as major "dumps" behaviour.

I'm a man, so I've lived with that "boys don't cry" ethic. I do most of my crying alone, or in the darkness of a movie theater. I usually wear sunglasses, day and night, which comes in handy if the tears start to roll. I'm good at crying without others knowing. It's not a public crying, it's a private, deep-type of sadness that I feel. I mean I don't feel it all the time, it just comes over me very quickly, unexpectedly. I've always been the sensitve kind. It's just my nature. If you knew my mother and my father, you'd know where I got it. They were/are very sensitive souls.

This crying has been very cathartic, cleansing. I think it's a necessary thing. I haven't reached for a life preserver, or a prescription drug, I'm sticking with coffee - nothing like drinking coffee alone in a kitchen, listening to the news of the day to bring on the flow of tears.

Of course, I laugh alot too. It's part of my divided nature. The tears are hard, the laughter is light. I laughed at times during The Queen, I laughed at I'm Your Man, I smiled thinking about all the great movies that Robert Altman made (McCabe and Mrs. Miller, Nashville, the Long Goodbye, MASH, California Split). Right now I'm listening to a new release, Neil Young and Crazy Horse at the Fillmore East in 1970 (they shared the bill with the Miles Davis Group and the Steve Miller Band), and their great music fills me with energy and joy.

Now, those times are gone (Danny Whitten died early on), and that was another era, but still the music sounds so good, so alive now...makes me smile...and tear up at the same time.

Friday, November 24, 2006

I've Been Here Before

Yes, well, I'm reading Oswald Spengler, and it's slow going, I read and re-read passages. No, I'm not just reading passages, I'm trying to absorb them whole. Spengler's trying to look at culture and civilization with new eyes. And as a reader, I want to see what he sees, to understand what he understands. I don't just want to read the book, I want it to change me.Spengler talks of "destiny," of doing the possible, which he posits as what is necessary.

Yesterday, I watched the Leonard Cohen movie, "I'm Your Man," once again, this time at the family get-together. Something in Cohen resonates with me. I see him as a teacher, someone who has something to impart to me. I need to hear his Zen message.

I want to change everything in my life. I want to drop all preconceptions. I want to be different. I'm in the process of giving up, letting go, and trying to fill with other necessities. I'm completely at a loss. It feels very odd...but, I have been here before...

Thursday, November 23, 2006

What I Seem to Be

What if Ahab would have given up on the whale? For one thing, it would have made for a shorter book. I'm not Ahab, but sometimes I see myself reflected in that character. My job is primarily chasing after deals. Much of my life I have been chasing after larger and larger deals. Kind of like chasing after shadows or dreams. After awhile it's just the chasing I remember. I've landed a few, but usually by the time you've brought the sucker into shore, it kind of resembles Hemingway's big fish in the Old Man and the Sea - all skeleton bones.

So, I saw a movie about Leonard Cohen, and the striking thing about him (besides his incredible catalog of songs and poetry), is his Buddhism, his Zen monk demeanor. There is a kind of sad fatalism in his eye, but at the same time a real joy at the absurdity of a life of struggle. Of course, all life is struggle. Is it possible to live fully without the struggle? Is it just another whale to chase? Another shadow, another dream?

And if you give up the struggle, if you let go, if you stop the needing, wanting, grasping, what then? So, the last few days I suffered a major defeat at my job. I have been driving hard on an opportunity and now, my enemies have taken the reins, they have undercut me, they have checkmated me. At first I raged. I tossed and turned, I fired off reasoned arguments, trying to retake the flag. All to naught. So, now I must resign myself to living without, to giving up, to letting go. I must find the Zen way...

It's difficult, it plays into my weakness, my fear of failure. Would Ahab have won if he had given up the chase? It seems so, his quest for the whale led to his doom. If he would have taken up a prayer mat, brewed some herbal tea and meditated on the great cloud of unknowing would he have been a winner? Are the only winners those who give up the game? I want off this wheel, but I fear it's built into my genetic code. How not to be what I seem to be?

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Christ

On March 4, 1966 John Lennon said this: "Christianity will go. It will vanish and shrink. ... We're more popular than Jesus now; I don't know which will go first-rock 'n' roll or Christianity. Jesus was all right but his disciples were thick and ordinary. It's them twisting it that ruins it for me."

I don't know about more popular. But hell, the Beatles wrote better songs and got more chicks than Jesus any day.

In 1969 Lennon wrote the Ballad of John and Yoko with the following chorus: "Christ you know it ain't easy, You know how hard it can be. The way things are going, They're gonna crucify me."

Lennon is displaying a little "christ complex" here, methinks. I mean, we're all crucified by something.

At the moment, I feel crucified by my own contradictions. I had a sleepless night. Tossing and turning over silly business battles. At 4:30 a.m. I awoke to what I thought was a loud knock at the door. I laid awake in bed and started to compose an e-mail to my business cohorts.

I have this incredible sense of wanting JUSTICE! I hate when I am misquoted or misrepresented. I have to get the last word in. So, yes, I'm on this cross - the thorny cross of success and failure. I seem to be nailed to it, maybe I nailed myself to it. I want to get off the damn cross. I want to blow up the dichotomy...still...I heard the knock...I wrote the e-mail, I got the poison out of my system. Now I'm toasted...like a big, old slice of wheat bread...kind of crunchy, maybe not too tasty...you know it ain't easy...you know how hard it can be...the way things are going...hmmm, well... how about another tune?

Turn off your mind, relax and float down stream,
It is not dying, it is not dying

Lay down all thoughts, surrender to the void,
It is shining, it is shining.

That you may see the meaning of within
It is being, it is being

Love is all and love is everyone
It is knowing, it is knowing

That ignorance and hate may mourn the dead
It is believing, it is believing

But listen to the colour of your dreams
It is not living, it is not living

Or play the game "Existence" to the end
Of the beginning, of the beginning

John Lennon

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Another Path

"I didn't find the girl. I didn't get rich. Follow me." - L. Cohen

Monday, November 20, 2006

Germs

Hey, did you ever wake up with a cold, and think, well, at least I'm not alone? I mean, there are germs residing in your body, they are living organisms, yes, they sort of make you uncomfortable, but they look at you as a friendly host, they take up residence for awhile and go through a set routine. So, you have company, you have other realities manifesting themselves, inducing your bodily tissues to respond in new ways. And suddenly you have become a factory of phlegm and mucous...

There's also a new layer, a layer of distance from the world that comes with sickness...I guess you could call it the "sick layer" which gives everything a new feel. For instance, right now, I feel like I have a pillow in my head. A sort of soft and fluffy pillow that takes up space in my head which is usually just a ball of confusion. The world seems all a little more distant with this pillow-reality in my head. I'm thinking the germs have kind of put another layer of distance between me and the hard reality of my life...so, sickness is a companion, it has it's own agenda, but it's content to go through the motions of the day with me, as if it's interested in me and all the silly things I have to do as a human being. We all just have to do what we have to do - human and germ alike...

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Carry On

How is it that a malicious, well-placed word can punture our little happy bubble of existence? A word is not a dart, or knife, or spear, or bullet, but sometimes all it takes is a word to do damage. I identify with the sensitive souls, those for whom sometimes the world and a word, is just too much. You come to understand that there are many, many people who do not wish you well. It's an important realisation, but you can't let it overwhelm you. There are also many people who just don't give a damn whether you live or die. There are also those who would miss you if you were hit by a truck tommorrow. It's a big world, with billions of human beings all doing their human being thing. It's a strange existence, and I guess, we all just need to make the world in our own image, or come to some happy co-existence, or rage into the night, or let it all pass, or, well, hopefully you don't have to harden yourself too much, because that hardening is kind of a deadening, and we are here to live, and I think it's best to use all that we have to use. So yes, a heightened sensitivity to the world, to the word is an important tool, it can come in handy, but then there's the wound, the sling, the arrow - we must take the blow, bind the wound, and carry on...

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Quotes

"Mankind has no aim no, no idea, no plan, any more than the family of butterflies or orchids." - Spengler

"What's important in life is life and not a result of life." - Goethe

"I see world-history as a picture of endless formations and transformations, of the marvellous waxing and waning of organic forms." - Spengler

Friday, November 17, 2006

A Spy

What happens when you mix Eddie Fisher's sperm with Debbie Reynolds eggs? You get...Princess Leia Organa! Puts one in mind of someone sitting in an orgone box with big muffin-like mounds of hair sticking on each side, doesn't it? Well, maybe not.

Anyway, Ms. Organa is known as Carrie Fisher in another galaxy far, far away...a strange place called Hollywood. She has a new one-woman show about her life. Here's a line that sounded oh so true...

"I'm a spy in the house of me." - C. Fisher

Thursday, November 16, 2006

The Wind

The wind is blowing out of the North today, 24 mph or more. I went for a run and the first half of the trip was directly into the wind. It was like running with a refrigerator tied to my leg. What an amazing power. The lake looked like a roiling sea, the water kind of slate-gray, with a greenish tinge. I ran past the beaches of Evanston, and there was a mini-sandstorm. Little grains of sand pelted my face...I felt like Lawrence of Suburbia!

The trip back was like having wings attached to my feet, or like having the hand of some god or devil kind of pushing me forward. There were times I felt I was gonna be blown off my feet. Now that's what we Chicagoans like to refer to as "The Hawk." There's nothing like a north wind blowing across the lake...so much wind kind of takes your breath away.

It felt great to complete the trek in one piece. There were only a few brave souls out on the path today. A small tribe of runners willing to take on the elements. Another day in the life.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Spengler's Giving

I'm reading Oswald Spengler's Decline of the West...just started, already it puts me in a worldly frame of mind. We are citizens of nature, and of history. Cultures are too. Spengler talks about how a man is born, lives, dies, there's young age, old age, a lifetime. The same can be said for a culture. History is the meaning we derive from these natural events. Do we live in a personal world that lives and dies with us? Or are we part of a larger historical reality that spans centuries? If it's the latter, we transcend our humble bodies via our consciousness of this greater reality, and we can derive meanings from this world narrative. This gives us a sense of connection to things larger than us. This also points to a symbolic understanding of the events of the world. We can see ourselves as one player, cut off from the rest, with no greater purpose, except our natural function, or we can see ourselves as a historical characters, informed by events past and present, which enrapts us in a symbolic or metaphorical suit of armour. We can derive meanings from this greater reality, we can invest our humble world with these grand understandings. We can read history, and the world, like we read a poem; the more you give to it, the more you receive from it.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Old Voices

Old voices are calling out to me this morning. Reading about comedy, Plato and Aristotle rear their hoary heads. Plato tells us that there is a metaphysical realm where perfect abstract forms exist. Reality is just a copy of a copy. Art and theater are then, copies, of copies, of copies - in Plato's retreat this is not a good thing. Aristotle takes a different tack. He tells us that art and theater help us reach a state of catharsis, a purification or cleansing through laughter or tears.

And then there's this: "The tears of the world are a constant quality. For each one who begins to weep, somewhere else another stops. The same is true of the laugh."--Samuel Beckett

It's time to brew another pot of coffee...

Monday, November 13, 2006

Eliasson Haiku

The latest New Yorker has a profile of an Icelandic artist named Olafur Eliasson. He's a great fan of Robert Irwin and Lawrence Weschler's biography of Irwin, "Seeing is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Sees." I am too, it is one of those books that can change your life, change the way you look at the world. Elisasson was so inspired, he actually decided to follow in Irwin's footsteps. The whole article is worth a read, but these particular lines, which I kind of took out of context, really captured my imagination, the lines are almost a haiku or are at least in the spirit of a haiku:

How high is the water?
How deep are the trees?
In warm weather,
people could bring
their sandwiches here.
In winter,
they could ice-skate.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

"I'm just doing it." - Y. Ono

Last morning at the Essex House...yesterday we walked over to the Dakota, it's kind of like going to Lourdes or Chartes, our secular saint (no, he was just a man, flaws and all, but that makes him even more admirable, right?) lived and died here...

Central Park was alive with people and fallen leaves...bikers, roller bladers (Watch me spin and twirl and skate backwards...Why do I do it? Because I can.), the human comedy in all it's vibrant glory.

We took the subway to Williamsburg, dined with friends...every meal has been a pleasure, it's all too much...can you have too much fun? This is the good life. But even as I'm in it, I question whether this is what I want...what is it little ole sunnyjimmy is looking for? Beats me...I'm just doing it...going through it...enjoying it too, but always questioning, wondering...

This morning in the NYT Sports Section (yes, words of wisdom in the sports section!) I read:

"True success is waking up every day realizing what a great life you have." - A. Quindlen

"It's what we do that determines who we are. It's not our past, it's our present." - J. Angelo

Saturday, November 11, 2006

The City

We went from Brooklyn to Manhattan. We're at the Essex House fronting Central Park. There's a TV channel in the room that gives you a panoramic view of the park. What an amazing resource. Olmstead was a visionary.

Last night we saw a Broadway show, Martin Short in his "Fame Becomes Me." It was superb, not a false note, very funny, a satire of one man shows (in Short's version, there's a full, very talented cast who help carry the show), poking fun at our celebrity culture, the burn-out and comeback saga of celebrity, TV talk shows, Broadway musicals, and the bloated ego-based culture celebrated in NY and Hollywood.

Anyway, we always do a lot of walking when we're in this town, we figured we must have walked about ten miles yesterday, from the Whitney to Times Square to the theater district and back and forth (this was after doing the trek back and forth over the Brooklyn Bridge). The endless waves of people, the ocean of energy from tourists, theater goers, hip-hoppers, music blaring, horns honking, a sea of humanity bursting from every nook and cranny, every street corner alive with every variety of human being. Kind of exhausting.

Today, a little less action, maybe hang out at the park, find a good restuarant. Dine with NY friends...it's the city life in all it's glory.

Friday, November 10, 2006

It's Just There

Yesterday I ran the Brooklyn Bridge. It is one of the greatest things to do - I mean it's not hard, it's just an awe-inspiring experience. I mean, it's exhilarating, and inspiring, and unbelievable. First, the bridge itself is an amazing engineering feat. Plus the human labor and dedication (how many men died building it?), is mind-boggling. The human animal is the kind creature that says, "hey wouldn't it be cool to build a road from Brooklyn to Manhattan?" It must have seemed impossible, "wouldn't it be cool if we could sprout wings?" And then years of hard labor, and finally, it's there, it's just there, like an inevitable, essential element to the landscape. And then, finally, it's taken for granted, or just accepted, it's just there.

Coming to it new, (every time I come here, it's almost like the first time), it blows your mind again. So, yes, it's just a bridge, but it's also a symbol, and then it's a symbol that is a reality that you can actually run across, and the journey itself is a nice workout, but it's also an example of the human spirit, nothing will stop us if we really put our minds and muscles to the task. We will find a way to get to the other side!

So it was sunny, blue skies, and the bridge was alive, with people, kind of like a community of bridge people, tourists, runners, bikers, cops, pretty girls, punk rockers, moms with strollers, shoppers going from one town to the next. And there's a journey that we all share, a slow incline, you reach the high point, and then a slow decline. If you run it, you multiply it all by two. You rise above the city, the car traffic, you look down on the bustling metropolis, and then you slowly come back down to street level. Running the bridge...it's time in a life...it's a reminder of what life is...and then again, it's just a bridge...it's just there...

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Mac and Cheese

What's the line from Richard Farina, "I've been down so long, it looks like up to me?" There's a little of that feeling as the reality of the new political tide splashes across the land...one thing I've learned, democracy is messy, and inefficient, and oh so vunerable to the inducements of power and money, but once in awhile you get a glimmer, a breath of fresh air, that gets your adrenaline pumping, and you get filled with happiness and hope...but of course, you wonder if it could really be true, and well, when is the carpet going to be pulled out from under our feet? But, even with those doubts, it's good to see people kind of rise up and make a statement, even if it's basically "we've had enough, let's try something else."

I'm perched at the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge, enjoying the sights and sounds of Brooklyn and Manhattan. Here for an energy conference - "energy is eternal delight." Last night, the Lovely Carla and I dined with the Lovely Melissa and her husband at Sarita's, a restuarant that serves one thing, (in infinite varieties), macaroni and cheese. There's something to be said for doing one thing well. James Brown once talked about songwriting - something to the effect - take one good idea and run it to the ground.

Anyway, I'm guessing Manhattan is one of the few places where you can have a successful restuarant featuring one thing on the menu. I hear it's a trend - a place for french fries, a place for pickles, a place for rice pudding. There are major benefits to having such a hugely diverse concentration of people on one small island. Anything, and everyting goes...now that's a great, American-type beauty.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Post Election

I'm blogging from the Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge. Kind of in a post-election haze...I have the TV on and the gloom from some of our highly-paid commentators is palpable...

Is Bush back on the sauce as of last night? Does Cheney look in the mirror this morning and say, "Maybe I am an asshole." George Allen is maccaca! Sometimes the news is good.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Yes, well...Vote!

Yes, well, all power corrupts. Rust never sleeps. Revolution is not a dinner party. We get the government we deserve. When the going gets tough, the tough get going. You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink. Waterboarding, it's not torture, it's entertainment!

Today we can vote the bums out...how about it?!

Monday, November 06, 2006

Eternal Waking

Somewhere around age 5, this realization came to me, whether I could really verbalize it or not:

"The world was a cheap and shoddy scam, a bad cover for something deeper and weirder and infinitely more strange." - Neil Gaiman

Gaiman is the writer of a series called "The Sandman." I haven't read it, but from what I can glean from accounts about the writer and his work, I think I can affirm that I have lived his concept of "eternal waking" -- "every time he thinks he is rousing from a dream, he has simply woken up in a new and different delusion from which he must again wake up, and so on into infinity."

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Scar Tissue

Sometimes I drink to excess. William Blake in his Proverbs from Hell wrote that the "road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom." It's important to be able to live to tell the tale. I have wondered if my binge drinking, (how many beers, glasses of wine, etc. can I consume, in the shortest time available?) has been some kind of search. Search for what? God? Nirvana? Oblivion?

Most of the time I live on a pretty straight edge. But, I have my moments, and when I indulge, I can't just dip my toe in the pond, oh no, I must plunge in head first, and hit bottom, and curl in a fetal position deep in the water, and see how long I can live without taking a breath. Sometimes I think it has to do with being a Catholic. But it's probably more or less encoded in my DNA. I come from a long line of broken men. Good men, but in some way broken too.

Anyway, I was reading Anthony Keidis' memoir, "Scar Tissue." Anthony for those who don't know him, is the lead singer of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. It's a long, sordid book, (not exactly deep reading, I know, it's kind of like eating a bag of potato chips, kind of an unhealthy indulgence), a record in excruciating detail, of one man's life of debauch. Anthony has smoked, snorted, injected, inhaled, ingested every illicit drug known to man. I haven't read St. Augustine's "Confessions" but from what I've heard of it, Anthony's descent into hell sounds deeper and more complete.

Anthony, rose from very humble, and not very promising beginnings to become a fairly accomplished singer and songwriter for a very entertaining and enthusiastic, funk-punk-rock & roll outfit. I'm sure you've heard "The Bridge," and who could forget, "Party on Your Pussy!" ?? Anway, it turns out the book is sort of insipiring, just like I'm sure St. Augustine's account might be too (I never read the old Saint's account, but I'm pretty confident Anthony gives the same old story a nice contemporary update.)

Anyway, the bottom line, by the end of the book, Anthony is living alone in the Hollywood Hills, with a dog, and lot of empty rooms, but he's meditating, and working on the holy grail of recovery --- the twelve steps! You put the book down thinking, "I hope he makes it." Later you look in the mirror, and you think, "I hope I do too."

Friday, November 03, 2006

A Spider's Web

The twists and turns of a life...yes, we are like that spider spinning a shining golden web, and then we sit back and try to derive meaning in the pattern of the filaments. We create the world, or we are in collaboration with what we call world. It's a strange alchemy. The web has all the purpose and meaning we want to invest in it. It's really a simple formulation and sometimes so hard to do...

So, lately I have pulled back from the battle field, I took my own advice...let it come down...don't fight, don't resist, be humble. Smile and create. Create a new reality, a new web. I have been re-entangled, and it feels good. My little web-world is a replica of a greater universe...very much like the one all around us...but in my web, there's a lot of smiling and laughter, genuine, not sarcastic. This old spider has banished fear, leave it for another day...hell, everything is as it should be, I mean, what could possibly go wrong?

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Death of an Anthropologist

I read NYT obits once in awhile. Sometimes people you wish you had met turn up. Clifford Geertz, a Cultural Anthropologist died at 80 years old. A good, long, life, it seems.

I like this quote, it seems oh so true:

"Believing with Max Weber that man is an animal suspended in webs of significance he himself has spun..."

Yes, we are like the spider, spinning our own little worlds, and then we look around and try to derive meaning from the slender, near-invisible threads that surround us.

Is it a fool's game? Clifford concludes that antrhopology is "an excellent way, interesting, dismaying, useful and amusing, to expend a life."

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The Loner

One day sunny and warm, the next dark and brisk...the weather has such a changeable nature...it is our teacher.

So I'm a little stiff and feeling the Chicago chill, walking to the 7-11, I open the door, and well, there's Neil Young's voice, and the words of "The Loner," from his 1969 debut echo across the shelves and linoleum of the store.

"He's a perfect stranger, Like a cross of himself and a fox. He's a feeling arranger, And a changer of the ways he talks. He's the unforeseen danger, The keeper of the key to the locks. Know when you see him, Nothing can free him. Step aside, open wide, It's the loner."

I think, well, yes, he's singing my song...the loner is someone who feels most alone in the middle of a crowd...and I think of a young Neil Young, driving from Canada to Hollywood in a hearse, looking to make rock and roll history, oh those many years ago.

I leave the store, kick on down the alleyway, singing the song myself..."nothing can free him. Step aside, open wide, it's the loner." This is time-tripping - the most exquisite kind...and it feels so good.

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