Monday, September 1, 2014

moose/deer vs. cars

A news filler warns drivers to be
cautious in September, the month when
deer and moose are likely to breed.

Given the quality of today's cars, the
friskiness-alert may be taken more seriously,
I think.

yesterday is soon enough

At about 5:15 a.m., I heard the newspaper slap up against the front stoop. It was a morning ritual I hadn't really expected on Labor Day, yet here it was, fresh as a daisy ... brand-spanky new: Yesterday's news. And the first thought into my head was, "Yesterday is soon enough."

Suggesting that anyone consider his or her own presumptions about time often leads to beard-stroking ruminations and sundry other profound observations. Time is so woven into everything that ... well, you can understand why anyone would say "fuck it."

But, with a light touch, I think time is worth considering.

And always it strikes me as true: "Yesterday is soon enough." Time invariably means time-past at the very moment when anyone might be asserting time-present. It's a disconnect hunkered down in the DNA. (I'm not interested in T.S. Eliot here ... it's the personal stuff that catches my eye.)

When I was a kid, there was snailmail and no email. Letters arrived two or three days after they were posted. The news they contained was old according to the sender, but became new with the opening of the envelope.

And when I was not even a twinkle in my daddy's eye, written communication might take weeks or months to arrive ... and be old even as they became brand new.

Internet users might sneer at such antiquities, but there is the same (if shorter) disconnect in the processing exercised by the Twitter-savvy. Yesterday is soon enough.

On the one hand, 'we' communicate in the present. On the other hand, and simultaneously, 'our' present is just a version of the past. Those who are 'living in the present' would be wise to consider their satisfaction. The price for not considering it is endless doubt ... I claim to be in the present by asserting the past. So, is the present nothing but past and if it is, then what is the past? I would like to repeat a past that was pleasant and avoid a past that was unpleasant. I would like -- or say I would -- to stop living in the past and live in what is plainly the present.

Oh well ... the tendrils reach out: Believe in the present and live in the past; disbelieve the present and receive the same result. How, I wonder, can anyone live in the present when they are already living in the present....

Or past....

Or whatever it's called?

Sunday, August 31, 2014

hot air on Labor Day

Missing as yet from the Labor Day Weekend skies are the hot-air balloons that take off from a jam-packed fairgrounds perhaps half a mile away and then float, hissing and silent, over my neighborhood.

Wikipedia describes the Labor Day holiday in the United States as:
Labor Day in the United States is a holiday celebrated on the first Monday in September. It is a celebration of the American labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of their country.
Given the economy, the definition has a kind of icy ridiculousness -- a holiday to keep the peasants happy since honoring its accomplishments ... well, those with hot-air balloons know the value of hot air.

Many people get Monday off by way of celebration. A long weekend is probably welcome to those whose "productivity" inflates the pocketbooks of others, if not their own.

Yesterday, two immaculate automobiles from the 1920's puttered by my house on the back road that leads to the fairgrounds. Boxy, buffed and utterly nifty. The fixed horse races that once marked to fairground celebrations have been done away with (gambling is so déclassé, dontcha know) so there are fewer drunks driving by my house: The fair these days is top-heavy with music and kiddie rides and farm animals... a small venue that resembles gatherings in Hollywood and Versailles -- a place to see and be seen.

But where are the balloons? The weather is good -- clear, with small breezes -- but the balloons have not yet appeared. In years past, they dotted the skies and there was something delightful and uplifting in it. Who knows -- maybe there is another new and improved rule that disallows them.

Or maybe it's like owning horses -- another mark of casual wealth: Ballooning is a fairly expensive hobby and in 'productive' times, even the wealthy feel the pinch: What would the peasants do with a balloon if they saw one? It's more pricey than it's worth ... as, for example, to the Chinese middle class that is currently buying up Manhattan. Let's skip the balloons and add another bathroom. Wealth trickles down, right? Fried dough and Pepsi are enough.

The hot air has gone out of the hot air that once inspired the 'productive.' Or anyway, that's how it currently seems. Whatever the case, I do miss the balloons: They have no concrete meaning and from that perspective take on a meaning of some delightful kind.

Hot air and colorful floating. Hot air and labor gets a pat on the back. Hot air ....

Saturday, August 30, 2014

where did I come from?

My neighbor Joe and I slowed down a little yesterday and met in the street that separates our houses. Our meetings are never deliberate, but when they happen, they are pleasant enough.

Joe said he was just back from a couple of vacation months in Canada. He was packing the car to return for a couple of more months after which he and his wife were headed to Sicily and a trip that would help Joe fill in some of the blanks in his lineage.

Joe sounded enthusiastic about the small villages near Palermo that he had already researched: Relatives reaching back in time had lived there. Imagine that! Imagine knowing where you came from, who your forbears were, and possible common threads of interest or profession might exist! In his retirement, Joe seemed to have found direction and purpose, partly in a lineage investigation and partly in an eventual plan to move -- perhaps to Kenya -- where he could put his Christian convictions to work helping the poor.

Mostly our conversation centered on lineage and Joe's gathering of information. Joe obviously took it seriously. I had a hard time being quite so enthusiastic. As I said to Joe, I had done similar research in the past and invariably ran into a brick wall: To know where or when someone lived and to know what they did for a living and the offspring they sired ... well, it's interesting up to a point, but then I always get stuck wondering what a person's favorite color might have been; what cheese excited his/her palate; whether they ever tried bigamy or robbed a bank; what made them angry or sad; what a best friend did for a living; what vanity was most appealing ... you know, the human stuff.

I can sympathize with a clinging to lineage, but in the end, I am not interested. If you knew where you came from, what, precisely, would you know?

This is not so suggest that lineage be ignored. It is merely to suggest it does not hold much water when adored.

Yes indeed -- mother, father, sister, brother and on an on into the unfathomable past ... and the toilet bowl still leaks whether the king or scoundrel provides a backdrop. Intellectually, this is fun, perhaps. But I am interested in the personal seriousness anyone might be willing to apply.

Friday, August 29, 2014

police department upgrades

Passed along in email was this reminder to local police departments ... yes, you can upgrade.

skunk perfume

Sashaying through the crisp light of dawn today, a local skunk unwittingly tints the neighborhood silence with her scent.

It's not as if s/he cared or as if s/he didn't. Like the rest of us, s/he may carry the responsibility, but paying attention to every jot and tittle of import and impact is wasteful in the end: A skunk smells -- get used to it; what is vast importance to one is not all that important to another.

The desperate search for something of cemented importance may be desperate indeed. Check the human landscape. Check the bathroom mirror. Things refuse to stand still, the little fuckers!

Imagine the horror of World War II's D-Day landing in Europe. Imagine the horror of the Holocaust. Imagine the pain of a splinter or the sweetness of a kiss. The impact, the importance, the value of -- of anything at all ... it's no damned joke and yet it may as easily be a joke: Who, for example, can slip on the shoes of the poor soul shot dead on a Normadie beach -- cast casually aside after mother, father, sisters and brothers so lovingly raised him up and loved him and helped to instill the love-ability that raised the horror to its screaming status.... or know the sigh within that tiptoes behind a sainted kiss?

It sounds so wise and yet smacks of silliness: "He knows the cost of everything and the value of nothing." Don't be ridiculous! Skunks smell. The most far-reaching god or saint or notion of importance ... it doesn't work everywhere and always, no matter how desperate the search for cemented importance. And yet the longing is there and the insistence can be worthy of bloodshed.

Today, for example, I considered the possibility of selling the Buddha statue that stands in the small zendo behind the house here. The statue is about two feet tall, is made of African Wonder Stone, and
was an unimaginable gift from a woman with whose son I am friends. I imagine it weighs 50 pounds. It has been with me for years and weaves in and out of my gratitude glands ... Jesus! what a present! Jesus! What an impact! Jesus! The importance! I cannot begin to compass its cemented meaning ... and yet ...

The roof on the zendo needs fixing. I am getting old and will die and would like to think my family might get some use out of what does not interest them in the way it interests me. The statue's cemented importance -- like the cemented importance of all household gods -- is strictly skunk aroma on a crispy dawn.

This is not a bid for sympathy. Whether I find something vastly valuable or dismissively ordinary is simply something I, or anyone else, has to cope with. Still, the idea of selling the statue came as a bit of a surprise. The present was such a blessing in its time... full of implication and love and friendship.

Now, a little at a time, it is rock.

A bit like skunk perfume.

A D-Day landing.

I haven't quite learned to laugh at myself yet.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

shaping a best-seller

I was talking on the phone with my sister (actually, half-sister, but she's my favorite relative whatever the designation) a couple of evenings back and we rambled through recent family and personal happenings before settling like a couple of bumble bees on "the organ recital."

At 68, my sister is six years my junior, but that doesn't mean she too isn't feeling the pinch that older people feel. She was telling me a story about going out to dinner with a bunch of similarly-aged people and how the conversation, somehow inevitably, sank like a flat-car in quick sand into a recitation of various aches, pains, doctors, hospitals, exercise and other fixer-upper activities which young people find boring, even when they are willing to imagine the same may at some point afflict them.

My sister and I agreed: The older you get, the more likely the organ recital is likely to insert itself in the conversation. My sister and I laughed ruefully -- we too had found ourselves sucked into that maw of physiological frailty.

But another thing we agreed on was this: Not only was the topic likely to bore the socks off anyone else participating in the conversation; it also bored the socks off the one making the conversation. My aches and pains bore me. I would far rather talk about something more imaginative or funny or socially relevant ... and yet here I am, writing about the organ recital. Shiiieeeet!

We laughed about it, my sister and I, and yet when I said there might be a pretty good self-help book in how to avoid or sidestep the organ-recital earth, my sister said immediately, "So write it!"

Or, if not write it, at least think it through. Those unwilling to play the kidney or liver game might write/talk about something else. The trouble is that the something else is too often a regurgitation of someone else's analyses and the speaker is left either being a bore or a pimp. Originality seems to have flown the coop together with youthful energies and there are all sorts of socially-acceptable issues to keen about, but original thinking -- the emphasis and care it once commanded -- has lost its oomph. There is the pretense of 'caring' but the caring is largely on vacation.

I really do think there is a best-seller in this arena -- and not just from some do-good 40-something who uses the word "we" without a second thought -- but I can't think of the hook, the alternative, or the area of relief.

The organ recital is boring.

The second-hand social observation is, well, second-hand.

Perhaps candy bars really are the answer.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014


What is death but openness?

What is music but openness?

Why is music sometimes so heartening and sometimes so sad?

You can sort of see why those intent on war always bring music to bear, striving to open in others what no heartened soul prefers.

Wide open.

Perhaps this is why some take up whistling..... or something similar.

musical miasma

law stuff

A report out of Rotherham, England, finds that  some 1,400 children -- some as young as 11 -- were sexually abused, trafficked and officially ignored between 1997 and 2013. The specifics are horrific. Everyone is very sorry.

There are many aspects to the abuse and the unwillingness/inability to take corrective action in the matter, but one stood out as commonplace in the world of the good-hearted -- the fear of being accused of racism. Most of the perpetrators in the Rotherham case happened to be Pakistani ... but officials admitted they were afraid to say so for fear of being accused of yet another social-no-no. And this unwillingness to face one aspect of the tragedy, far from ameliorating it, instead drove it further underground.

Interesting aspect -- everyone trying to be politically correct in an effort to make things politically correct. In essence, a Pakistani lawbreaker was a Pakistani first and foremost and a lawbreaker only coincidentally.

And similar aspects are evident in the decades-long revelations of sexual abuse within the Roman Catholic Church ... put the abuse on the back burner and remember that these (largely) male perpetrators were priests first and foremost... divert attention from the breaking of the law. Morally, the argument may not hold water, but it is a palpable diversion: Let's not tar the entire institution or accuse it too broadly and hence bring down the curse of unwarranted generalization. Let's not be knee-jerk anti-Catholic.

One bad apple -- be it Pakistani or priest -- is no reason to tar the lot and call down an equally-invidious charge of "racism." Good-hearted people would like to be thought good-hearted through and through and not bring down the slimy tendrils of racism on a pristine parade.

Taking its cue from Ferguson, Mo., where an 18-year-old, unarmed black man was shot to death recently, Dallas has taken up the cry to establish "trust" in the black community. Will it work? History suggests that is unlikely, though there will be earnest and good-hearted talk. And one of the aspects to consider is this: Anyone can be a jerk -- black, white, Pakistani or priest. Fearing an accusation of pointing out who IS a jerk is one way of assuring that little gets done. Without laying all the cards on the table -- that's 'all,' not just the good-hearted and well-intentioned -- the old doubts will simply dig a deeper hole.

Oh well ... this goes on and on. I just dislike the notion that the law does not apply to everyone. A white asshole is a white asshole. Ditto a black asshole. If there is a law about such behavior, I would like to see it enforced for young and old alike.