398. Sanguine in Sedona

Nothing surprises me anymore. Here I am checking my blog traffic in the lobby of  the hotel in Sedona and “Play that Funky Music Whiteboy” is on the muzak soundtrack. I suppose it all has to do with the cosmic confluence of energies and vortexes that New Age folks in this town blather about. If you want your soul’s aura mapped, hey, no problem. Consider it done. Need your energy balanced?  Boom, level as a bevel. Raki and yoga are also available across a vast spectrum so that you can get your inner chakras aligned with the great Giver Bear’s liver.  Crystals and readings are omnipresent for whatever ails a weary spirit. You can get a quinoa enema with jasmine highlights at bedtime or snort gluten free steel cut oatmeal for breakfast. Okay, I am making some of this up, but it’s like the Grateful Dead’s tour bus blew a tire here and never left. Hipsters, dipsters, whipsters, and post-menopausal slipsters all chug about in their karmic glory.At any moment Vishnu could sit next to you at the organic deli.

“Is anyone sitting here?” says Vish.
“Dude, you should know that one.”
“Sir, I do indeed know all, but I do not vish to be so conceited as you.”
“Okay, sorry. What are you ordering?”
“I love the hot bean curd.”
At the next table…

“So, like, I was in Glastonbury, you know, and it was, like, such energy, you know, and I was buzzing with it in my lower spine. Don’t know what that means, but it was sooo coooool. Better than an iced colonic.  My aura was pulsing. I could feel it moving… you know?”

“Totally. Glastonbury vibes with Stonehenge and other alien sites where crop circles just erupt from the earth mother like pimples on a teenager’s face cuz the earth is going through adolescence. Sedona is so like that, man. All these canyons vibrate with past and future spirits that course through them with the monsoon rains. And it all comes to oneness in the vast random non-uniformity of nature. The Flow is where the power rolls, the current, the frequency, the quirky quarkiness of it all.” Blather, blather said the big guy who needed deodorant a year ago last winter. Arrogantly grandiose, he carried on without taking a breath while his two disciples breathed in every stinky molecule of his wizzdum. I’ve run into folks like this on a few occasions in my life, but they were on their way to psych wards.

The waitress takes their orders. “We’ll share an unsweetened iced colonic with spearmint and lemon in a recyclable paper cup that was not used in experiments on animals.”

“Great choice. We are the world. What’s inside is out, and what’s outside is in.”

Seriously? Even Jerry would hurl at such b.s.

 

I’m thinking we should never have come to this vegan garden of vectors and vicissitudes, but my wife and daughter were salivating over the menu of organic, gluten free, flavor free offerings from the Vedic beyond, imagining all their special dietary needs would be soothingly and enthusiastically  accommodated. So I drove over there in a psychological headlock, feeling like a virgin on prom night in a frat house. Nothing good was going to come of this adventure. My pessimism was not disappointed. (Is that a triple negative? What ever happened to Heidi the goat herding virgin? She got sick in the low valley as I recall.)

I was also thinking that a cheeseburger would be good, but we were immersed in a meat free/ preservative free/ hormone free / neo- Fascist food zone. I feared that the truly unwashed crowd might turn on me if I dared to suggest anything carnivorous. I ordered the Sedona Burrito. It seemed the least offensive thing on the limited menu. Beans, sprouts, quinoa, kale, and various other death defying ingredients. I washed it down  with a vodka/Pepto Bismal shake. Very proactive but to no avail. Nasty is what nasty does. It was nasty, lemme tell ya.

It was the worst meal I’ve ever paid for, even surpassing old Leroy’s Jamaican Jerk Chicken that I had on a local adventure years before. It’s hard to ruin barbequed chicken, but Leroy met that challenge before he died. And until this excursion to vegan land I thought I’d come to the end of Gastronomical Nightmare Lane. But I was wrong. This vegan burrito tasted like a dirty sock taken off a death row prison inmate and then dragged cell by cell through prison soup de jour until it dripped no more. Laid out on an unadorned white plate, even the flies would not land on this thing. In perfect hindsight I should have just eaten the plate.

My wife and daughter choked down salad somethings. I wondered if this was really a training camp for sadistic chefs and masochistic diners. No one could serve this sort of slop daily and stay in business, unless, unless every other customer were stoned out of his/her brain. Hmmmm, then even dirt would be palatable and full of cosmic vibes. It was my fault for coming here sober with taste buds that were not hobbled by psychedelics. If only I’d known and smoked up a bunch of Hawaiian herbs, I could have been in the vortex with the others instead of standing outside the party separated by plate glass. A stranger in the great ape house.

The next day we were all suffering buyers’ remorse. Immodium was coveted by all. I’ll skip the sensory details.

“Wow, I feel so freed up, unbound from intestinal fortitude but chained to the porcelain bowl.”

“We are never eating crap like that again. And don’t even say ‘I told  you so'”.

“How about ‘So, I told you’?”

“Don’t make it worse with your verbal incontinence.”

“Okay. But you know what I’d like right now?”

“Surprise me.”

“That milky chalk solution you have to drink before an MRI. It gags you and you think you’ll explode if you have one more sip, on top of Johnnie’s new dog food…”

“Shut up!”

Thank God it’s so beautiful.

 

390. Almost Breaking Amish

Rainy AfternoonIt’s time for the next installment of The Silly Id and The Oddity, by  Homer Simpson. “Gather, my wet duckies, around the flaming hearth and hear, the stories of wet woods and rained on deer.” My buddy Clark just informed me that we have had twelve days of rain and two with sun here in depressed central Pennsylvania, home of mildewed burghers. This was not news. Some part of the mammalian brain keeps track of these dismal facts without any outside instruments. I don’t need a rain gauge to know it has rained a lot. The ground is near saturation. I don’t need a light meter to know it’s cloudy again or night for that matter. (I know you sharpies out there are going to play the eclipse card here. Go ahead. I can take it.) My pupils are dilated in the low light while my sunglasses are getting dusty from lack of use. So gloomy I can’t see them anyway.The weather, as it does so often in these damp parts, just sucks. The only consolation comes from relocated residents of Erie, who tell us they’d still be shoveling snow off their roofs in May. “May is when we dig out our cars”, they say as if talking about gardening tips, ya know? Like “Late May is when we pull up our first radishes.”

All the while I know that out west the sun is glowing clearly and cleanly, radiating and mesmerizing the sparsely populated landscape into a holy lethargy like a warm glazed donut. (In Tucson you can order glazed lethargy donut holes with a large coffee at Starbucks for under 5 bucks. Sometimes Shirley, the barrista with the face tattoo of Ghandi, gets it and slips me three metaphysical scones in waxed paper with a glazed wink. “Go forth in restful peace,” she whispers in yogic syllables.) The air is dry and fresh.  Cactuses are blooming and hummingbirds are buzzing. Feathered lizards run on grains of hot sand, leaving hardly a trace of their travels behind. Whoosh. Legal psychadelia.

The pull of what I want and the ballast of what I must do rock me like a cop car in a Baltimoron riot. I might be pushed over if lawlessness overrides the laws of gravity. (Or is it freedom fighters and tyranny?) Stay the course and get to the finish line with dignity… sure, as contemporaries die or become disabled by the myriad ailments and diseases available. Hmmmm,  this might explain why we have so many obese residents in Central Pa:  we eat chips and brownies rather than jumping in front of trucks hauling chickens to the slaughter house. Slow or fast? How do you like your death? “Neither,” you say, “I’m chicken.” Deep fried chicken.

I read a story about an Ohio State study claiming the Amish are very physically healthy, maybe the top 1% of Americans in that medical arena. The possible explanations for this statistical fact included their lack of smoking tobacco and drinking alcohol; the ever-presence of fresh foods full of vitamins and minerals without pesticides and herbicides; lack of sluggishness inside fluorescent lit environments;  and the biggest contributing factor of all seems to be hard outdoor physical labor. Well, what do you know? All this industrialization and technological advancement that the Amish refuse to participate in turns out is killing those of us who do partake. Shukkamukka!! Instead of getting out in nature and doing something vigorous, we watch Survivor and vicariously survive via the boob tube with our Diet Pepsi in one fist and ranch flavored nachos in the other. One thing is certain: we will not perish from starvation. Brain atrophy or death by a million potato chips, yes.

“Amen!! Preach it!! And, while  you’re up, pass me that onion dip, willya?”

I don’t want to make you feel bad. I’m just muttering and stuttering aloud on an ashen gray day that can’t help but disappoint you. I mean it’s the final shot at Special Olympics for the special needs kids, and it’s raining again!!  I know, God, it’s all good somehow, but if I were throwing the slippery shot put in this chilly weather, I’d break someone’s toe for sure.  Then that someone would limp through life with a hammer toe, having to tell curious podiatrists about a rainy Tuesday in their adolescence at the Special Olympics when the shot put went kaput. My empathy stops me from such violence. Not to mention the toenail would be all gray, grisly and mangled, and hard to pedicure.No visible incision scar on the top of the foot

All of the above feels like being stuck in an elevator in a Russian submarine with the Doors playing “L.A. Woman” over and over, as Russian sailors bang the doors outside the shaft, “Komrade, be cool. Ve vill get beeg rench and free you, good American proletariat man. Leesin to de Doors.” Kind of cool the first time through, and then you want to dig up and re-kill Jim Morrison, “Mr. Mojo Risin”. You know he rearranged the letters in his name to come up with that refrain, right? Not Amish.  Anyway, when the Ruskies finally ruskue you (I know, it’s not an accidental misspelling), you are so oxygen deprived that they put you in a stale donut hole of a windowless nursing home in Odessa run by expatriate Amish widows. I bet you didn’t see that coming, didya? And it rains every day, dark greasy rain that makes Odessa feel like the far side of the River Styx. Oh blighted fate!!

And sort of like that movie The English Patient, one day you awake from the haze of your oxygenless existence in Odessa. Slowly a face comes into focus as old words flow gondola like through your filthy Venetian ear canal. Familiar somehow. “Go forth in restful peace,” saturates the dry sponge of your abandoned soul. Shirley, surely it’s Shirley. But how?

As she helps you sip cold water, the mystery unfolds at last. “Those scones were laced with lysergic acid, Dude. I’m sorry. I thought you knew. You’ve been trippin’ for three weeks now, singin’ L.A.Woman like with a Russian/ Amish accent. Too weird, man. ”

“Shirley, it wasn’t the scones. No, it was that damn rain.”Image result for psychedelic rain pictures

381.Decaf, Please

I shuffled in to the coffee shop this morning as usual, hoping to get a muffin and medium coffee for the breakfast I skipped as I did yoga moves in front of CNN’s coverage of the Bloviator Trump’s vast empire of victories. “He’s only saying what all of us think. He’s not into any punkass thuggery political correctness. Nosirree.” Wow!! That (sorta) said by a former vice presidential candidate, who, God forbid, would have been one heartbeat away from leading the Free World. [Is it too late to charge John McCain with treason for selecting her for vp?]  Sarah Palin speaks in word salads, uttering tortured words and phrases in ways no one else can master or understand, nor should they. Except maybe lunatics from another dimension.

Whew!  Pink Floyd sings “the lunatic is in the hall, the lunatics are in the hall” in “Brain Damage” on Dark Side of the Moon. Never a truer word, but nowadays the lunatics are in the Convention Hall counting delegates. “The paper holds their  folded faces to the floor, and every day the paper boy brings more.” Whatever that means, I affirm, is just as valid as the trifling tripe that spews out of Palin’s pouty lips. She’s mad, I tell you, Mad. And still the crowds erupt in applause. Doesn’t matter if she’s speaking in Norwegian to Eskimos at the Equator. I guess they applaud because the demonic seizure is over. Commence the snake handling. That’s when the other theys bring out Hillary dolls and set them on fire while punching professional wrestlers hired to be beaten with wooden gavels. “Punch him in the face and I’ll pay your legal fees.” …. “We all love one another,” says the Strong Man. “It’s a veritable love fest. Woodstock for bigots. Who doesn’t love a pin the tail on the donkey game with hunting knives, or a beat the snot out of a Hillary piñata?”

So I opened the green door to the coffee shop and walked across the dull white asphalt tiles. A whacked-out unmedicated crone leaped out of her seat and screamed at my beige suede slip on shoes. Her eyes were wild. So was her hair and the clothes she swam in. I was surprised, as if a strange dog had come nipping at my heels. She spoke in mixed green salad talk– some iceberg, some kale, some spinach, some dandelions. Radishing, so it was.  I’m not sure that any of the patrons who witnessed this verbal affront could recall the blather verbatim. It was hysterical and guttural, full of anger but no thought. She might as well have accosted me in Mandarin Chinese. I know all of the invertebrate patrons went quiet and made shocked faces at the crone’s shoe mating display. Her tail feathers were spread out to make her look bigger and more intimidating. Everyone shrank back from the crazy.

I figured out in a half second that she was psychotic and was not taking the 15 medications she had just recently flushed down her toilet. I replied, “Yes, Ma’am” to her mad, Palinesque verbal pecking.  She came at me again like a goat at a matador  training camp, more comic than threatening. More gobbledeegook gushed out of her pie hole. She turned; gathered her purse and whatnot; and stomped out the door. Whew!! Crank up the Pink Floyd…

“And if the dam breaks open many years too soon

And if there is no room upon the hill

And if your head explodes with dark forebodings too

I’ll see you on the dark side of the moon.”

I  scurried off to my office and worked the other side of the psychological street, non psychotic folks who managed to regulate their feelings, make appointments, and verbalize their issues. No word salads. No Chinese. No Norwegian. No Eskimos.

I  went back through the green door for lunch, thinking it was safe to get back in the water,  so to speak. I was mistaken. While waiting in line behind a collared priest, a usually shy woman named Who came up to me with a smile and a half hug, something I had never witnessed from her before. “How are you, Who?”

“Great. I’m on Abilify now”, she offered loudly and fast.

“That’s terrific.” I wanted to ask her if she’d slept in the last three days and if she was hallucinating at the moment, but she had that tequila smile and a lusty look going on in her eyes.

She asked about my wife and daughter and then volunteered that she needs to take my daughter to  New York to make a record with her brother who works in a recording studio. Whoa! It was on now, buddy.

Mercifully, young S’mantha waited on me promptly and I sat down to eat. Who continued talking non stop and loudly to the next woman in line behind us. “You need to leave that man. He’s abusing you”, she nearly shouted. “Call Women in Need. Get a PFA. That’s what I did.” Who was becoming aggressive verbally as she invaded personal space and ignored social grace.

Then she swung around to sit opposite me. My lucky day. Two nutty nuts on the same day. I didn’t even have to go to them; they came to me both times. Who continued talking in the textbook manic manner. I asked her if she had slept recently.

“They made me sleep for 7 and a half hours last night.”

“Who did, Who?”

“The doctor.”

“Which one?”

“The best one in town.”

“Who is that?”

“I’m not saying.”

Just then a behavioral health professional walked by in a white lab coat. Who said hello and obviously recognized her. “I saw you last night. Where are you working now? I need a therapist.”

Lab Coat smiled and said while nodding at me, “You have a therapist.”

Panic shot across my medulla oblongata. I held my breath so I would not vomit.

“He’s not my therapist. He’s my friend.”

Relief and concern arm wrestled armlessly.

Fortunately Who had to get to an appointment or go swimming. She couldn’t decide.

“Well, it’s a bit chilly for swimming today.”

Guffaw. “I swim at the Y. That’s where the police found me last time. I just kept swimming for hours.”

As she left, Andrea asked if I noticed a change in personality with Who.

“Just a bit, like 359 degrees. You know, you ought to apply to United Way for funding a drop in center for the demented. Just video record a typical day here and they will write you a check. A big one. Boom!”

I scanned my way to the door and asked S’mantha, “You blogging this one or am I?”

“It’s yours.”

“Awesome.”

334. International Blogationalism– Greatest Hits

A really neat feature of  the WordPress blog tool bag is the tracking of hits by countries. At the end of  a day, week, quarter, year or all time, I can hit the country summary prompt and get a list of all the countries that have accessed my site. I am amazed, of course, since I find my writing hard to understand, and I am the author. I think I am. Pretty sure I am. At least it started out that way.  Anyway, I have had to go to the map three times for countries I did not know existed. In alphabetical order they are the Faroe Islands, Kyrgyzstan, and Reunion Island.  Now my little Blog globetrotters, can you guess where these places are located without Googling?  I didn’t think so.  Allow me to geo-educate you.

About the time I had my first hit from Reunion Island it happened to be on the news cycle as parts of Malaysian flight 370 washed up on its shores. The astute blog reader will recall that I wrote about this doomed plane way back in Post 210. Lost. Not my best work, but then, what is best when you are spreading psychic fertilizer as a hobby? Now, true, I had to look it up since I’d never heard of the tiny nation either. It’s in the middle of the Indian Ocean. Why oh why were they cruising my blog? Perhaps they were lost or hungry since my blog title is a popular food. Imagine their horror when they tapped into my site via dial up, after waiting 3o minutes for a new recipe, and finding my soporific prose served on a delightful platter of greens. A lot of hangry islanders who won’t be inviting me to their next Reunion…unless they are cannibals.

I wrote about genocide and mentioned Namibia in post, 209. False Springs and  Genocide. Dang if I didn’t get Namibian hits. Actually they were nibbles. Now I can sort of understand that connection because I mentioned them by name. And Namibians have so little food in general that they usually just nibble to make it last longer between famines. But Kyrgyzstan?  I had to look it up– landlocked and mountainous in Central Asia. Apparently they have wi-fi there, glued in among China, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan.  I’ve often wondered where the Stan came from.  My unvetted theory is that a guy named Stan the nomad traveled through that region selling early model vacuum cleaners and got jiki with various women– Kazakh, Uzbeki, and Tajiki. Not to mention their cousins Afghan, Paki, and Turkmeni. [I have ruled out Lichtenstein from this list. It’s seems improbable according to my in depth research. Plus, what an unfortunate name for a girl, Lichten. What were the parents thinking?] Now I am theorizing that I will get some blowback hits from these countries, perhaps offering to hack me to pieces for insulting them or questioning the virtue of their female ancestors. I plead ignorance in advance. Can I get an “Amen” on that, Blog Nation?  [A thunderous AMEN rumbles across the globe.]  Okay, okay, that’s enough. STOP ALREADY!!  I didn’t ask for a tsunami.

Let’s see, where was I?  Yes, I wrote about how to make vodka in post 91. Brains and Potatoes. I am not saying what I’m saying here, I’m just saying it– a bunch of Russians lit me up. That post was a call to use one’s brain for the good of mankind instead of pickling one’s brain with home made alcohol. I can’t say for sure, but I think most of the Ruskis checked in for the recipe I scarfed off an internet site. Please don’t cut me up and make Irish Whiskey from my old carcass, Komrades.

Perhaps the best example of bait and switch blog posts was post 204. Local Navel Dancing, live, Tonight 6-8 p.m. I still get hits on that from India and the Middle East, which is why I have the justified fear of being hacked to pieces, not for false religion but for false advertising plus bad manners.  I blame the whole incident on Suzanne and Gary who basically forced me to go to an Indian restaurant with them while belly dancing was erupting at waist level, i.e. my eye level. I’m still in therapy for the disturbing visuals.

Okay, the Faroe Islands are located between Scotland and Iceland. Sail to the Shetland Islands, pet the adorable ponies, and hang a left at the fork. If you run into Norway, you took the wrong left, so turn around and take the right one. (Yogi Berra paraphrase) Speaking of Norway, in an old and bizarrely prophetic post, 158. Totalitarian Penguins, I mentioned that the Norwegian slice of Antarctica will be the launching pad for penguin revolution and total world domination. “Whaaaack Whaaaack”. You can’t make this stuff up….well, I guess you can if you have a fevered imagination and no job and are devoid of a conscience. Fortunately I meet all the above criteria.

So, you may be wondering how the name came about for the Faroe Islands. Yup, you guessed it already. The Egyptian connection ties this little known nation to the Empire of Egypt. If you know your Bible well, you know that Moses was set adrift in a basket and found by the Pharaoh’s people, then raised as an Egyptian until a bunch of plagues broke out and Revelation Zombies overthrew the Death Star. Just trust me on this.  Unbelievably at the same time Moses was basket skiing on the Nile, another prince and future Pharaoh was set out on the same river, which is why no one noticed when the baby shuffle took place and the wrong Egyptian baby was brought into Pharaoh’s house. The real heir apparent, named Sam, sailed right out into the Mediterranean Sea, where his little basket continued to float with the currents and winds, past Cyprus, Gibraltar, Portugal and other countries that have hit my blog posts before the internet had even been imagined.

Sam eventually washed ashore on the rough rocky beaches of what we now know as the Faroe Islands. He was greeted by wild wooly people known as the Wooly Bullies. They took him in and sang around fires in the winter nights. Sam somehow recalled his pre-Pharaotic life in Egypt. The people were so amazed, but one called it all a sham. And you know that they all got together and cut a record in the early ’60’s called “Wooly Bully” by Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs.

 So kids, it’s important to know your geography really well just in case your plane disappears or your baby floats away, you need to make vodka, dance navelly, survive famine or overthrow the world. If you can’t find a globe, you can just trust my blog posts.

 

 

 

312. Facebook Fascsim

Hitler and MussoliniI just finished my first Facebook Fanatic encounter. Wow! It was creepy and felt like a bar fight from a different time zone via Skype. I briefly opined about my least favorite human being, Donald Trump, and a highly educated, erudite scholar sucked on to my whimsy like a leech. It was actually funny from my side, but I am troubled that Professor Righteous is grinding his molars tonight instead of sleeping peacefully. An old friend once shared the saying, “That guy is so tight that you couldn’t pull a pin out of his ass with a John Deere tractor.” Here is another example of such a vacuum sealed  tightness. I posted a brief snarky comment about the Trumpster being an insult to thinking people and smart dogs, and my cyber adversary took off, accusing me of calling him a stupid dog; me being a liberal; not a Christian; a hypocrite, and more. He even said that I was Trump-like in my rhetoric.  Well, I asked him, if you find my impersonation of the Great One insulting, why cling to the original, Mr. Logical?

Man, it was fun. I teed up twenty words and he wrote an angry reactionary dissertation like a mad golfer hitting a jumbo bucket of balls. I speculate that he’s probably still seething with rage against these meager snarky comments. I wish there were a way to cash in on words generated by others on the internet. From one jokey line of mine, this guy made himself a running joke of a thousand words or more. Vitriol makes a bad salad dressing, Dude. I don’t care how good your olive oil is. He is still chewing on the rubber worm bait, thinking it’s some opening shot in the Revolutionary War. No chance.

Charlie Chastiser got his panties in a wad. And being a moralist of the first order, he declared war on all the folks who did not agree with his extremism or the Donald. It was great stuff, lessons in rhetoric and logic were self soothing for him. But guys like that worry me. I fear that his vain attempts to rally the troops will fail and he will wind up in a movie theater with a legally purchased submachine gun and kill everyone who came to see a mildly spicy chick flick starring Ben Affleck… all in the name of National Purity. He has swallowed the poor victim pill and can now justify all genocidal tendencies. In the post-homicide interviews with his neighbors and coworkers, they will say things like,

“He was a very intense man who broke the decaf pot when it was introduced as an option.”

“He was very neat and punctual.”

“His desk was immaculate… but I didn’t really know him well.”

“He had a cat.”

Inside the loner’s mind he monologues to no one…

“Surely others cannot have value or meaning when they fail to toe my Fascist line. And I wouldn’t have to be a Fascist if they would just do what I expect. So, logically, I must exterminate them in the name of my superior beliefs. I am, therefore, a modern knight killing in the name of a just cause.”

It’s a scary world, blogistas. Don’t trust me, please. I am not a reliable source. I prefer good stories to great ideologies. But do trust your own assessment of weirdos who cling to ideology like a lab monkey clings to its wire cage mother’s breast. Something is wrong with such fear driven intensity. It promotes survivalistic reactions, an “us versus them” mentality.  The Donald is good at channeling this primal anger. He bloviates against the Chinese, as if they are a monolithic group of same think.  The Yellow Threat. He blows hard against Mexicans, as if they are all greasy rapists  posing as lawn care technicians in high brow neighborhoods just waiting to pounce on Republican housewives. The Brown Threat. He knows, because, you see, he has talked to one Border Patrol agent in New Mexico once. And that is gospel, after all. God Bless America. The White Threat to the multicolored world.

Image result for xenophobic pictures

To reject xenophobia is not an unpatriotic act nor is it a soppy milk toast liberal position. Being xenophobic does not make you a red blooded American either, whatever that is. Immigrants built this nation. Some came legally as slaves or railroad workers. Some came illegally by jumping ship in the harbor. Some came through Ellis Island. But please, do not believe the mythology that everyone came with good hearts and tears at the Statue of Liberty. After all, she didn’t get here from France until 1886. And let’s not forget that some U.S. citizens were here to begin with. Our Native People tried to stem the flow of the self righteous and better armed European illegals who used the self serving rationale that they had a God given right to occupy “unused lands”. It didn’t turn out too well for the Native Peoples, but let’s not dwell on that ugly chapter of U.S. history. No, America would never again relocate other people groups based on fear or greed until the Japanese were interned in WWII. Xenophobes have feared Catholics, Japanese, Chinese, Irish, Germans, Jews, Mexicans, Moslems, Russians, etc. over the past two hundred years. It’s the same old “us vs. them” reaction steeped in fear of the different.

[Rick is such a good neighbor, hardworking, honest, decent Christian man.]

We can thank The Donald for digging up the immortal head of the Hydra so simple minds can play with it again. This week’s feature is “Phobia from the Planet Xenon”. Feeding the hate and fear machine will always draw an audience… just like horror movies manage to continue their tradition, reproducing faster than mice. However, every so many generations the throttle gets loose and a majority sate themselves on easy to digest propaganda, no hard chewing required. In that dark world dentists and minor office clerks become judges, jurors and executioners, all quite legally, thank you very much. The xenophobic genie is hard to get back in the bottle once uncorked.

262. Coffee, Constitution and commandments

Despite the utopian nature of the Coffee Summit and the wonderful cacophonous harmony of disunity that has persisted for the past five years, it is time for some tweaking of the original charter. The genuine Magna Carta napkin has been misplaced, possibly in a washing machine. I thought it was in my old wallet, but when I switched to a new wallet at Christmas, aghast! The most important napkin in Christendom was gone!! It was an agreement among unemployed giants of our time inked out during one of the bleakest periods in our collective history. Like Washington at Trenton or Meade at Gettysburg, the future of the nation was at stake as Tim the Silver Back and Chuckles and I stood in a wooden canoe crossing the Conococheague. (It was shallow there and narrow. Okay, we just walked across on a June morning, but it was powerfully symbolic.) And rather than wave a blank napkin of surrender, we (really I) wrote down on one powerful 3″ x  3″ square eternal truths to live by. And I-uh-I seem to have lost it.

I must, however, persevere and recall as much as I can of the Constitution of Coffee Nation before it deteriorates in the landfill of wasted time and wasted minds. First of all, it was decided by voice vote that we would meet Thursdays at 8:30 a.m. unless otherwise directed by the Supreme Imperial Leader, which I decided was me. For an entire college semester, however, we met on Fridays at 8:30 due to a teaching commitment I had made. It was Abnormal Psychology. Shocker. I drew heavily on my interactions with the primates at Coffee Nation for the class I taught. (Sotto voce) “Here are lowland gorilla men grazing at a coffee shop. The one on the bottom is thought to be a direct link to the Himalayan Yeti. Note his ululating calls… ‘Ugggguggggllll. Uggggugggglll’. We call him Chuckles. The one on the top is from Allentown.  His call resembles human speech… approximating the expression of pleasant surprise…’That’s so coooool’. ” He’s Timmy.

It was simple then… Two articles: No politics. No religion. Bodily noises were permissible and continue to be.  Mild violence is encouraged but not required. No outside food or drink is permitted, however. It is not forbidden so much as ridiculed. Brother Lance brought a purple lady’s coffee travel mug once. ONCE. It was a long day for him. But I am getting far ahead of the Nation’s coffee creamer thimble of tears.

We grew one unemployed and undeserving man at a time. Matt the creeper tried to deny his predilections while only reinforcing our beliefs. He ranted on about astral physics while staring at women’s physiques. He was sanctioned. Low octane Walt rolled along for a while. He didn’t even drink coffee. However, we puttered along through his successful chemo treatments. Truly, there are far more departed Nation brothers than active ones. Rob the candy and ice cruncher moved on. Josh the armed American bull rider came faithfully but got a job and married into the System. He was always good for NRA propaganda and outrageous right wing conspiracies from Fox News Nation. “Did you know more people were killed by water heaters last year than by guns?” Many times he was sanctioned for offending Our second amendment– no politics– and for being downright naïve.

The artist formerly known as Egginator was a faithful attendee and chess opponent, but the coffee was too strong for him and he fled back to his Motherland. Ron 1 used to keep the bar up with his aging frame, while chatting amiably to the pretty young barrista-ettes. We talked for  a while about him putting me into his will, but he was hung up on the fact that I was older than he was. “You could die first, Ron. You need to be prepared.” He could not see the logic in my argument despite his End Timer tendencies.

Chuck the Cowboy came for a few visits. He was too busy, though, and could not take the constant demand for sluggishness by the group. He had to rope a calf or canter about. This is the existential problem when it comes to do’ers versus be’ers. Coffee Nation is all about being and is on record against doing. Anything! Once Lance suggested a purpose for our aimless crew. He was severely sanctioned. “Ignore that voice of doooty. We are here merely to be or not to be. Doing is not in our Declaration of Indolence. Heel!”  Dave dropped in for chess a few times and disappeared into that blind alley of upper mobility like a character from a Springsteen song.  We of coffee nation curse the cruel JOBS that have decimated our ranks. As the chart below illustrates, happiness comes from set points, which means inertia. Studies in the UK have determined that working toward specific goals actually hampers perceived levels of happiness in mental patients and sluggards. You just can’t make this stuff up.

Rob 2 affiliated with us for a few weeks. He was between financial gigs but graced us with his starched white shirt appearance for a while. Gigilo Gene took some offense to Rob’s eccentric white collar mojo.  D.J. helped mediate that fraternal fracas before fists flew. His MP background has come in handy a time or two in disciplining Big Steve, perhaps the most faithful National among us. Though fully employed by an international corporation, Steve routinely goes in late on Thursdays. When he dies we will bury him with full Nation honors as outlined in a previous post. (240. Time is Short)

And then there was Gary aka Jerry who tried after a brief internship to organize a coup d’état. What saved the Imperial Leader for Life’s life was the fact that no one speaks French, and therefore they thought Jerry was coughing while sneezing. “Make up your mind, Dude. Either cough or sneeze.” He was sentenced to a North Korean firing squad in Hagerstown. Actually we tapped Josh and his personal arsenal to shoot a precise outline of .17 caliber bullets around Jerry to warn him against insurrection. He was sentenced instead to a lifetime of servitude under a different dictator.

Oh the humanity!

261. New Year Yanging

The morning ice is melting, kids are off school and sauntering about town as Outside becomes more bearable than the Inside of their breathless grimy abodes. It feels like Russia, and I like an overly dramatic Dostoevsky in my wretched office hovel.  Tom Waits is wistfully singing a dreadful song about a murdered woman on Pandora. Crime and Punishment comes to mind. And I’m here (Raskolnikov) looking for inspiration or redemption or both. A bad version of Elvis comes on next.  “I can’t help falling in love with you”, live with an orchestra and 27 backup singers.  Sad work, Elvis. Someone sold you Vegas and stole your Memphis mojo. Tragic. I keep trolling for the right feel…Over the Rhine, yes, an old melancholy sound like treated paint being spatulaed off gorgeous ancient wood. A woman’s velvet skirt voice swooshes low near the floor. That’s it. Deep swirling grain embedded with lacquer and pale green lead paint from the 50’s is revealed. Yeah, now it’s  right. The wood beneath must be superb to bother with the stripping away, but it’s an itch that must be scratched with a wire brush on this dismal and forgettable day. Penndot trucks memorialize the moment with burial mounds of dirty snow and ice. Modern yellow overtakers. I feel like spray painting palm trees against the snow banks just for the irony of it. It’s good that I don’t drink liquor. I can imagine guzzling a two finger tumbler of scotch right now. But I need to clear my own snow covered neural pathways.

But I don’t so I won’t, drink that is. Instead I need to find a warm dry nest to settle into as winter consolidates its gains. Pull the extremities in closer to conserve body heat– finger to finger, hand to armpit, foot to thigh like some energy efficient yoga master. Snuggle with other mammals too. Maybe a bear. Layers of fat help. Then again dancing with my wife in our living room raises the temperature and blood pressure to alarming levels. But that’s too up tempo and hopefully yinny. I am in a yanging mood here. Let me explain.

“Yang 陽 or 阳 Bound morpheme ① [Chinese philosophy] positive/active/male principle in nature ②the sun ③ male genitals ④ in relief ⑤ open; overt ⑥ belonging to this world ⑦ [linguistics] masculine ⑧ south side of a hill ⑨ north bank of a river”  Wikipedia, the foremost authority on everything.

I hope that clears it up. To yang is to be bright (unyinny) but male and overtly worldly while acting like a north bound relief penis in a river below a south facing hillside. Picture that, a cargoless but macho canoe adrift on a sun speckled river.  “Don’t use the binoculars, Claire! Just take my word for it.” Wait a minute, I hear Vin Scully’s voice, “It’s the bottom of the ninth, with the tying run on first and the winner at the plate. Time to go to the bullpen for that new Korean reliever, Lee Yang.”

It’s a complex palette of emotions and sensations that can only be explained by clever use of metaphors and symbols. Straight forward language fails to capture the yangness of the word and its world. It’s the difference between beef and Angus beef for the unenlightened.

Sometimes it’s considered vulgar or crude to yang about.

In the Orient, I have this from good sources, NO YANGING signs are not uncommon in Bejing and Hong Kong. In Laundromats in Saigon, I am told, “No Loitering, Littering or Yanging” signs are everywhere. The exception in Asia is, of course, North Korea, where yanging is punishable by death. Public yanging often results in whole families being executed and their ancestors being exhumed, shot, and neatly reburied. It is never allowed to yang in Pyongyang. They will not hesitate to pyong you if you are so bold to pyang in front of one of their militarized pyungs.

“Read the charges, comrade bailiff Sung.”

“American spy was pyanging forbiddenly in public near our most revered militarized pying. Law say he must be pyonged right away, honorable Comrade Judge.”

“Let it be written. Let it be pyonged.” The bailiff paddles American spy with ping pong paddle until he cry.

They have a saying in North Korea that is punishable by hanging if uttered aloud… “better to be pyonged off than pyanged on”.  Shhhhhh. Their soldiers wear hats that are made from repurposed Chrysler Imperial hubcaps. Huge saucers held in place by subcutaneous magnets. Look at how the magnetic field actually pulls this soldier’s lips into a scowl. He’s never yanged in public in his short miserable life. Not allowed. He chomps at his inner lips as if they are Imperialist Yangers.

 Here is where literary skill comes in, my two faithful blog readers. I’ve written myself into an exitless corner. I’ve typed myself into Oblivion’s oblivion. My spell checker is cursing at me with the pulsing cursor. And I bravely peck on, undaunted, bloviating about nothing.
 What to do, what to do? I must pull this together in the next 100 words, yang it all! I need a reason to finish so that you don’t feel deceived and get all yanged off.
So here’s what we’re gonna do. You are going to walk out backwards, my friend, close the laptop and forget we ever came here. Got it?
Cause I know what you’re thinking: Did he fire six yangs or only five?  Well, to tell you the truth in all this excitement I kinda lost track myself. But being this is a twisted up blog entry that could blow your head clean off, you gotta ask yourself one question: Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya, Pyunk?

 

 

 

213. nothingness

How can you hang a noun ending on something that does not exist in the material world? Okay, abstract nouns, I get it. But the -ness of nothing? The state of being nothing. What’s that? I imagine it’s like pulling into your designated parking space at 6:43 a.m. as usual and then the defining lines fade away. Your space boundaries vaporize. And then your car follows suit. It leaves you there on your butt on the asphalt. Whoa!! Did you take a hit of acid with your Cheerios? Did someone put a psychedelic sugar cube in your coffee? You reach into your pocket for your cell phone, wondering if you should call 911 or your insurance agent. But your hand disappears into the feel of your pocket like a phantom sensation from an amputated limb. A rabbit down its hole…You yank your now stumpy wrist out of the void only to see your vacant sleeve hang limp. You can’t stand up because your legs are just breezes in fast disappearing slacks hung on a laundry line blowing out to the horizon like a great blue heron. Your sensory system is rapidly failing, overwhelming your ability to intellectually deal with this unreality. Cognitive concern turns to fear which turns to panic. Gravity becomes irrelevant. You float like a wisp of smoke or a line from an old song on a distant radio…”breathless, you leave me breathless.”

Derealization, you think. Okay, I can name this phenomenon and therefore claim and control it. “Al Haig, I’m in control here,” you say to nobody, not realizing that these are the last audible words that will come out of the face hole that used to be your mouth. Is it possible, you wonder, that listening to Jimi Hendrix and the Dead can destroy the listener’s neural pathways and put him in an LSD coma by proxy? No, no, no. But you’re not sure. The Loch Ness Monster of Nothing is rising wildly the way flames fly up from a bonfire, which after all is the fire of bones. This is nothingness, you guess, cremation in a downtown parking lot. Disembodied consciousness is all that remains, or is it cremains? Ghastly paranoia, well, no. It’s just noia at the extreme end of the leash. This is really happening, dammit. Why do I not cast a shadow? My tattoo devolves into a small ink puddle.  “Sic semper tyrannis” updrains into a hypodermic needle of black fog. What’s happening? My wholeness has turned into a void. I am a hole outside the real.

No one can hear what I cannot speak out. I can still see and hear and smell, but I can’t be seen, heard or smelled. It will pass, this dissociation, won’t it? I have moved across the time/space c0ntinuum. That’s all. I must have gotten the other Kevin’s coffee order, the four shots of espresso and I am just racing out ahead of reality, waiting for it to catch me. Right? Right. I’ve  broken the sound barrier, that’s all. Sure. But my heart rate is not all that accelerated except for the panic. Plus there is no bladder irritation that would come with mega doses of caffeine. Where does that leave me? Not so much lost as stolen.

I know I am not dead. At least I am pretty sure. I read a book on after life experiences and this is not what was described. No angels attend me inside a beam of brilliant light. No demons either. I could not write a book about this lost body experience. No hands, see.  And I don’t want to. I want my body back. I want my voice to make sounds that my ears hear. I want skin over muscles that can feel the wind and humidity… like it was before I became a gas. I feel as if I checked my body in the coat check and now that the concert is over, I’ve lost the ticket…my body has been hijacked by deaf theater ushers. I scream silently, “Give me my body back!”  Nothing. She looks away as if… well, I guess I don’t exist…materially.

Dream? Even cruel ones end with this much activity. Once the brain begins problem solving, it wakes up the body… which I still am lacking. Think harder! I shouldn’t have gone out on that existential limb, wondering what the spiritual world was like, the after life, the great Beyond. Cuz here I am with an experience but not an answer. What is emptiness, the gap, the blank space? Perhaps if I had Asian philosophical roots, I could enjoy this swirling balloon release. The whoosh I don’t hear is my life emptying out itself. This is great news if your name is Lao Tzu and the end of desire and seeking The Way is the beginning of true consciousness. But my last name is Irish. I used to be sure of that.

What to do? Wait, it’s always about waiting, the art of waiting. For what, though?  Oh, yes, nothing. If I had hands I’d slap you off your bull, Lao! I desire my bodily desires back. I want to be hungry and thirsty and tired… or do I? This whole time I have been fighting nothingness instead of embracing it. I’ve been trying to conjure up exits based on my own strength. But I have none, and that is humiliating. Eviscerating… which is maybe a good thing. If I just surrender my will, my guts and desires, I can sit on that bull with Lao and find the Way.
Hmmmm, the spirit thing is not so bad. No sooner do I think something than I am there. It’s like Googling an entry and BOOM! I’m there– Singapore, Mongolia, Newark. No, forget Newark. In fact, since I have transcended my desires, let’s skip Vegas and Miami, Bangkok and Amsterdam.  Rather, I am simply a grain of sand on a deserted beach, a particle of a speck of dust on the ocean. Even that is too much thingness but will have to do for now.

 

171. Adolessons 2

I recall a night in mid-May of 1975. I had just gotten home from my first year of college. My buddies came by and we drank some beer and perhaps smoked some pot. It was a long time ago. All these things were legal then if you were under the influence of adolescence. There was Craver, Tim Gulley, Gerard Windt, my older brother Steve, and me. Craver and Gulley were big boys– 250 each; “G” was like a piece of shoelace licorice; and my brother and I were average size 20 and 19 year olds. Anyhow, we wound up at Craver’s kitchen table, blathering and joking, and we were looking for some adventure. Gulley was blathering on about his father and how he worked at the White House. I challenged his b.s. He called the White House and handed me the phone. “Good evening, this is the White House. How may I help you?” said the very adult voice on the other end. I hung up. “I hope they don’t trace prank calls”, was my lame reply to Gulley. I wouldn’t want Mark’s dad, Colonel Craver, to get that follow up phone call.

Image result for vietnam era army ranger pictures

 

“Uh huh, they did what? Why that’s un-American. I’ll take care of it with my Ranger-trained hands.” He served much too long in Vietnam, and the country changed on him while he was deployed. That’s another blog post.

I suppose the conversation moved on to our girlfriends. Somehow I mentioned that mine was stuck at college in Richmond till her mother could drive down and fetch her on the weekend. Gulley, ever grandiose and seeking universal approval, offered that we all pile in his Volkswagen and drive to Richmond and bring her back immediately. “Gulley, there are five of us going down in a VW Beetle. One of us would have to get out and hitchhike back.”

“No, we’ll squeeze in on the way back.”

The funny thing about substances is how they can make what is clearly impossible seem viable. We piled into his Beetle. It was tight. Gulley was over-excited and did a very Gulley thing: he punched his windshield and made a fist-sized spider web appear. Now usually such a bad omen would make an audience reconsider what’s up. Nope. We just headed down the road in the dark. Luminescence became pleasantly kaleidoscopic as we passed streetlights and other vehicles.

Now a careful reader might ask at this juncture, “Don’t you ever learn?” I mean there was the broken foot while skipping school; the mangled deer with the headlights out; the somnambulance ride to Ocean City; not to mention the ticket Sam got when three of us rode on the hood of his Falcon to keep it from bottoming out on a back road in Fauquier County, and a local sheriff couldn’t see the wisdom of that move.( Another pile of guys had decided to go camping in the middle of another bored summer night.) And the answer is an unequivocal “NO”.

Our first destination was the 7-11 store for more beer. Strangely, we thought, they stopped selling beer at 2:00 a.m. We could not figure that one out. Again, another bad omen, but we forged onward, down 95 to Richmond.

It must have been 4:00 a.m. when we arrived, unannounced and strolled right into Johnson Hall, the dorm I lived in as well as my girlfriend Sara. I think after brief introductions we all slept on the floor of her dorm room, or maybe it was mine. In any event the sun came up soon after and the alcohol’s effects were worn off. What seemed gloriously fun and cool and inimitable the night before looked like a dirty Volkswagen with a broken windshield in the pale morning light. Reality was like a flea in our sleeping bag. How to squeeze six people into an overcrowded VW? Sara had to go in the back seat, and though her weight was welcome at first, after an hour it was painful and then numbing over the final hour as the sun heated up and the engine whined under the strain of 1,000 pounds of human cargo. If nothing else, my respect for clown car passengers in the circus grew immensely on that morning. It was wisdom born from pain.

Back at my house, where the saga had begun twelve hours earlier, the VW disgorged its occupants. Normalcy returned in the daylight. And here’s the odd thing: normalcy is forgettable. The mundane is not memorable. Just ask a tollbooth worker what moments were memorable in his/her career. Was it the 12 millionth suit and briefcase or the nude woman with a pet zebra in the back seat who whispered ala Marilyn Monroe, “This is my birthday zoot suit” ? That’s not a fair question, I realize this.

Those days were thirty eight years ago. Gerard lives in San Francisco now and has an awesome life according to his Christmas card letters. The last time I saw Gulley he picked me up hitchhiking on the way to California in 1978. Craver died in 2004. In 1979 I married the only girl in the VW, and my brother Steve is still her brother-in-law.

What to make of these adolescent lessons, because logical outcomes and life altering wisdom are not the only lessons we gather in life. Life rushes out of us, even on boring summer nights that seem to lack meaning and purpose. Some heavily potentiated moments gel into little gemstones that we bury in the subsoil of our consciousness. Somehow these stem cell moments achieve critical mass and arc into the idealized timelessness of nostalgia. And that has to count for something despite the mixing of metaphors.