Sunday, December 31, 2017

a new year

only humans mark time with a numerical value and give that value significance.  a solar year is a matter of physics.  how humans mark a solar year is discriminate.  we can start from zero if we wish.  or we can found a new calendar and call the years something different.  for it makes no cosmic difference if we call the new year 2018, or 18, or 3018.  the universe does not care how we measure time.  only we human beings care about such values and labels.

2017 was a punch in the solar plexus and a kick in the teeth.  2016 seemed pretty bad too.  but '17 was awful.  name your poison, and you'll find it in abundance in '17.  now we face a new year.  who knows what the fuck will happen in 2018.  more extreme weather events.  a hotter earth.  economic volatility.  tumult in our politics.  these are happening right now.  if 2017 taught us anything it is that predicting the future is a cod's game.  we do know our politics are fucked up.  and we have destabilized the climate. 

but now is a moment of reckoning.  perhaps my vision is blurred by the chaos of our society but i don't see shit getting better.  i may be wrong.  i hope i am wrong.  and if i am wrong then i am happy to admit to it.  however, we are living in extreme societal, economic and climatic upheaval.  the times are a'changin'.  AI and automation are only just beginning to change the economy.  you think shit is bad now, wait until you are outsourced by an algorithm.  think i am joking?  look around you.  look at the device you carry in your pocket.  think about how futuristic sci fi that phone is.  if someone told you 20 years ago that you could talk to your device and have your device talk to you in return you would've shit your pants.  what kind of technology do you think we will have in another 20 years?

still, we are human.  and we are a cooperative species.  2017 was rough.  2018 might prove to be rougher.  it may not.  but at any rate, i wish for you and your loved ones a happy new year.

i found this cartoon tonight penned by the great gary larson.  it encapsulates my own philosophy about the meaning of the universe.  because the net sum is zero we are free to make our society in to whatever we want.  let us hope that what we want is, in the immortal words of nick lowe, peace, love and understanding.

peace love and understanding, brothers and sisters.

quote unquote [how to live at the end of our civilization]

 Everybody’s going to burn,” Mabel said. “That’s what I see now.” She was looking at the very dry, late September hills near Highway 80, just east of Fairfield. We were on our way back to the Rumsey Wintun Reservation, where Mabel was living at the time, after she’d given a talk to several students and faculty at Stanford University about her doctoring and basket-weaving. It was late in the day, early evening, and the thick autumn light had turned the hills ocher red. The ocher red color no doubt called up her Dream. She’d talked a lot about her Dream lately, and I knew enough to know what she was referencing: her vision of what would happen near the end of the world as we know it. “‘Everything’s going to go dry’, Spirit said. ‘No water going to be anywhere.’” “What can we do?” I asked. “How do we live?” Mabel began laughing, chuckling to herself out loud. “That’s cute,” she said, then, mocking me, repeated, “What do we do now? How do we live?” I was used to her making fun of me, of my countless questions — as used as I was to her talk of Dreaming. “No, seriously,” I countered. “If the world’s going to dry up and burn, what do we do?” She turned to me, took a moment to make sure she had my attention, then she answered, plainly, “You live the best way you know how, what else?”

--greg sarris [mabel mckay: weaving the dream (quoted by john b-r in an email)]

Monday, December 25, 2017

happy christmas!!!

i am not a believer in JC but i do think his philosophy of forgiveness, charity, love for everyone, the meek, the poor, the down&out, and his loathing of money and money-changers etc etc. is a pretty solid philosophy.  let there be peace on earth.  peace won't come but we can agitate for it and we can, in spite of our bloody natures, practice lovingkindness.

these are serious times but we can be un-serious too.  so here is a christmas movie that i grew up on, Santa Claus Conquers the Martians [1964], a deliriously goofy flick that simultaneously tests your patience and cranks up the awe when you consider how this film got the greenlight in the first place.  but hey!  this movie cost about a buck and a quarter and all it required is that no one laughed during production.  i'm sure that laughing their asses off on set was hard to do.

by that measure of keeping the art of laughter alive in these fucked up days i present this movie.  i wish you a very happy christmas.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

catching up on blogs and twitter feeds i have the TV on in the background and my attention returns to the movie total recall [1990] starring arnold schwarzenegger, sharon stone and michael ironside, and directed by paul verhoeven.  this flick is the best of the bunch for schwarzenegger.  a serious mind-fuck of an action film we are tasked to ponder the human mind as it perceives time and space.  this movie asks us to wonder what is real, what we remember or what we do.  i think camus would've shit his pants at the thought of this movie.  for schwarzenegger's character, douglas quaid, is asked by the leader of the mars resistance, are we not what we do rather than what we remember?

and as i type there is that scene where quaid uses a hologram to trick the bad guys into thinking they are shooting at the real quaid rather than a reproduction of the character.  the scene is set and we are left without a firm answer.  what defines us, action or memories?

could it be both?  the brilliance of this flick is that we are never given the answer.  played for a roller-coaster ride the action feels oneiric.  we are in the liminal space between waking and dreaming.  what is real?  riddle me that one, batman.

i took a catnap this afternoon.  my dreams were quite vivid, but not interesting enough to record.  indeed, i have long thought that dreams were the fictions created by our mind to work out issues that exist in our waking life.  but the content and substance of the dream is of little consequence.  like this afternoon.  i knew i was dreaming.  i can't tell you how i knew that i was dreaming.  but i was able to step outside of the narrative, as if i could edit a piece of writing.  even if i could not shape the story i knew the story was not my waking life.

but the shape, feel, texture and taste of my dreams did follow my waking life.  much like this flick that i am watching now on TV.  we are the dreamers of the dream.   we can shape our stories as we are shaped by them.  especially at the end of this film where the action concludes with the thud of a fist landing on a chin but is shaped by the cloudiness of the dreamer of the dream.

Friday, December 22, 2017

a cure for your blues

does this age of fuck get you down?  are you bummed by the continuous stream of bad news.  hate humanity because it seems whatever humans do we do it so fucking badly?

then try a little tenderness by otis redding.  the great singer died fifty years ago this month.  but not before filmmaker d.a. pennebaker shot redding performing at the monterey international pop festival that augured the summer of love.  i was born in that summer.  and it is weird to consider that half a century has passed between today and this great performance by one of the greatest soul singers of the 20th century.

but by the strength of this film, and the voice of otis redding, shall your faith in humanity be partially restored.  for a race that can produce a sound and film of such fine emotion and intensity can do some things right.  let these videos be a salve for what ails you.

behold the great otis redding shot by the filmmaker d.a. pennebaker.  i dare you to not shake your booty.

from the dept. of dig this: my favorite christmas song


Thursday, December 21, 2017

haiku in california

even when dreaming in california
i'm california

what is age

yeah, the present state of the world is a huge shit sandwich that we are all forced to take a bite, but life must still be lived, hopefully at the first intensity

so when i stopped at the grocery store this evening after work i hopped among the aisles picking up my usual array of items, i'm a boring shopper, i buy the same stuff all the time

the hip and the want-to-be-hip [like me!] shop this particular store because it is located in, or at the edge, of midtown so it is not unusual to find the tattooed, the bohemian, the odd duck etc etc.  and most of these shoppers are young people

so when i was gathering my stuff i thought, a hundred years from now not one of us in this store will be alive

especially me, i'm 50 now, an age that is quite simply heading into geezerville, AARP territory, senior citizen country, but i don't feel old, i feel i'm still an idiot kid, around 25

and sometimes my inner idiot likes to come out and say hi

i put my purchase on the conveyor so the clerk can ring it up, the couple ahead of me were young, hip and the woman was voluble, she had a large personality that filled up the space with positive energy

this couple was a nice change from the usual nutters and beatniks who mumble to themselves, or try to convey such conviviality that when the clerk perfunctorily asks, how are you, the timbre of their voice changes to fake emotion

not so this couple whose pleasure in living seemed and sounded genuine, and when the clerk asked for her i.d. because she was buying a six-pack of specialty brew she laughed and produced it with a flourish

i don't know how old that couple was, i can't judge age anymore, but they sure seemed to be way over the age of 21 so i wondered why the clerk asked for her i.d.

then it was my turn at bat and the clerk asked for my i.d. i was buying a pale ale, i looked at the clerk and asked, you are kidding, how young do you think i am

i look like an older dude, my hair is grey, my disposition is, at times, cranky, but i produced my i.d. for the clerk, he read the date and said, that's not so old

for me, no, i said, but for you i'm ancient, i laughed

age ain't but a number, he said

no it is not, it is the measure of our time on earth, and no matter how old one might get, it is still a short time in the cosmic scale

but fuck me hard, the bags laden with my purchase were heavy and i was feeling every day of my 50 years as i took them home from a long day at work

i feel i am 25 but physics and biology tell a different story, one that says, don't lose your humor, big boy, for the years will fly by faster than the speed of light and you have only a short time here, better enjoy it as best you can, old man, for you have a free ride on the rickety rails to geezerville

Monday, December 18, 2017

carl sagan's pale blue dot

voyager i  has left our solar system and is now, right now, traveling in interstellar space.  it is most likely the only thing that will survive our civilizations, our ecosystems, our planet, our solar system.  long, way long, after we are gone voyager will be sailing thru interstellar space, intact, for at least another billion or two years.

in 1990 voyager turned its camera toward the earth and captured this photo that has become known as The Pale Blue Dot.  carl sagan, a poet and scientist, composed this little piece detailing our utter insignificance on the cosmic scale.  all we will ever know is carried out on just 'a fraction of a dot' in the great cosmos.

rather than being bummed by our utter insignificance i am buoyed by the ordinary -- dare i say this word as an atheist -- miracle of living.  for i don't consider the human race as being special, or divine.  i think of our species as quite ordinary.  know matter how special each one of us are, and i do say that we are indeed each one of us unique and special, we are less than a grain of dust in the cosmic order.  every great person we admire, whether that be in politics, economics, arts etc etc, matter little in the vastness of space.

so humility is in order, brothers and sisters.  when this world ends there will be no one to mourn its loss.  it only matters to us, and we shall be long gone.  so enjoy what you have, and take care of what you inhabit and know.  for these things won't be around for much longer, even if our species lasts another several thousand years, for in the cosmic perspective even several thousands of years is just a blink of the eye.

don't get depress on our cosmic insignificance.  instead let it inspire you to be the best, kindest, person you can be.  for in the end what matters the most, i like to believe, is what the beatles told us, 'in the end the love you take is equal to the love that you make.'  why?  because love is harder, and greater, than hate.

remember we live on just a fraction of a dot in the great vastness of the universe.  but it is our fraction, the only one we shall, i believe, ever know.  this is where we make our cultures, our civilizations, our technologies, our ideologies, our arts, our economics, our laws.  we make it up because we are a pattern-making, and story-telling, species.  we can make the world into whatever we wish it to be.

what do we wish for?

Sunday, December 17, 2017

a few notes on night walking

i am a sub/urban kind of guy who loves walking in his city after sundown when the lights turn on for the city looks best at night especially on chilly winter nights when each outline of the buildings frames the black sky

* * *

at night i can get lost on familiar streets the dark is delicious and disorienting and each step is fraught with the possibilities of finding new things

* * *

it is best when it is cold outside but not too cold a california kind of winter that chills exposed skin and makes the eyes water at such a degree that passersby might think i have cried tears of either pain or happiness

* * *

at night the streets are paved with poems but i often forget to write them down so when i get home my head is as empty as sieve

* * *

the blues are chased away by walking at night for i forget who i am and so i forget that which ails me so that the action of walking takes on a salubrious charge

* * *

love flourishes at night with each successive step i might not know where i am going but i fall deeper in love with every gait

* * *

i prefer walking in winter i feel like i can better express myself when i find my stride when it is cold outside i can't explain why

* * *

the city at night is something jim morrison sang about i almost understand what he means because my city feels less inhibited at night for it turns on its lights and comes alive

* * *

walking in my california city makes little sense because it is a town made for vehicles but i love to make my own stride on its streets

* * *

i feel anonymous when i walk which is the ideal state for the writer but because i am a creature of habit and take the same routes every day i am sure there are others who take similar same routes every day and say there is that crazy old dude walking again

Sunday, December 10, 2017

as the Buddha said

be ordinary as fuck

a night with Mr T

a couple of weeks ago my good friend b. and i were hanging out drinking a few beers and bullshitting.  it's what we do.  he asked me if i wanted to see the comedian Christopher Titus.  i said hell yes.  i remember Titus eponymous sitcom from the early 2000s, co-starring stacy keach as the comedian's abusive, alcoholic father.  that's Titus stand-up act: the fuck up high school drop-out who survived a nightmare of a childhood.  i could, on a couple of levels relate.

but i forgot about our date.  the next few weeks are gonna be packed with activities.  holiday stuff, poetry stuff, family stuff.  did you know nick will be thirteen years old next week?  that blows my mind.  i recall my own thirteenth birthday like it was, almost, yesterday.  now i have a son who has reached such a remarkable age.  so i wasn't thinking about seeing Titus at the Crest Theater tonight.  until b. called this afternoon and reminded me of our date.

my yes stayed yes.  b. went online, purchased our tix, and said he'll pick me up at 7:00.

my neighborhood is well-known in Sac.  well, the well-known part of the neighborhood begins a few streets behind mine. this is the part of Sac that is called the Fab 40s.  the Fab 40s is full of mansions on tree-lined streets and is picture-perfect.  indeed, the neighborhood is prominently featured in the movie Lady Bird [2017].  and it really gussies itself up for the holiday season.  when b. and i were settling into our seats at the Crest anna texted me a photo of the 40s.  she and nick took a long walk in the neighborhood, and. man!, the traffic, both vehicle and foot, as well as horse-drawn carriages and party buses, are crazy.

i  don't know why i wrote the previous paragraph except so the holidays matter a great deal in these parts.  downtown Sac has really lit up the past year since the new Kings Golden 1 Arena opened.  traffic and activity has increased so when b. picked me up to go see Titus he had to contend with a shitload of people and stuff and going to and fro.

the Crest Theater has been around since the 1920s.  it has wonderful inlays and lighting.  it has survived misuse and neglect.  it has survived several administrations and changing tastes.  it has survived, period.  and i hadn't been inside the theater for several years.  the Trash Film Orgy -- now no more -- a paean to cheap exploitation movies and silliness, set up shop at the Crest.  b. tells me he, and c., saw a great performance by Thomas Dolby here at the Crest.  i've seen punk shows, films, and plays at the Crest.

now i've seen Christopher Titus at the Crest.  now Titus' themes run the gamut from a thinking, angry, white trash young man to an older thinking, white trash man.  his set includes a lot of current events and politics.  and this being the year that is the start of the end of civilization as we know it, Titus talked about last year's election, the current occupant in the oval office and the general mean [both in the average, and the asshole, definitions] of the US voter.

was he funny?  Titus had his moments.  the house sound was shitty.  Titus is such a fast talker that his words often blurred together.  both b. and i shrugged our shoulders when the rest of the audience was doubled up in laughter.  Titus did nail our crazy age when he talked about the willed stupidity of the average american.  how, in an age when we all carry nearly all of human knowledge in our pack pockets, and with just a couple of mouse clicks, or taps with our fingers, we can find out about nearly almost everything, including science, history, mathematics, art, geography, and -- gulp! -- facts, can we remain so purposely stupid.

that is a good question.  one that can't be answered by a few op-eds, or stand up comedy acts.  instead, b. and i set thru Titus' performance laughing when we could.  the audience skewed toward the older spectrum.  b. and i are both 50 and we weren't the oldest dudes in the audience.  we weren't the youngest either.  but it seems the audience got their money's worth.  Christopher Titus said his hero is George Carlin.  Carlin is one of my heroes too.  in fact, i think of George Carlin as a philosopher.

and yet, Carlin took a firm stance in the shit of things.  Stevens said, reality is the base, but it is only the base.  that is the base where all good comics start from too.  the base for Titus is looser ground.  our footing is not so sure.  Titus wants to please both sides of the conflict.  Carlin knew that you can't please both sides.  i don't blame Titus.  i would like to please all sides too.  but by doing so might mean the base is built on shaky ground.

at any rate, Titus does comedy as well as he can and he can be quite funny.  his sitcom was good.  when he talks about his dysfunctional childhood and family he is hilarious.  but topical, political, comedy?  i'll leave that for others to judge.

we left the theater in good spirits.  we drove around downtown and Old Sac to see the city dressed in its nighttime finest.  Old Sac is a tourist destination but it has a few clubs and restaurants.  this time of year it has a Christmas Light Show that is quite entertaining.  downtown is quite lively and the Golden 1 Arena is pretty at night.

but Midtown is where the night life lives.  we drove thru a few club sections, such as the L St corridor and Lavender Heights.  lots and lots of young, and youngish, people out on the town.  we were tourists in our own town driving among her streets.  and then it was time to go to our respective homes, and say goodnight.   

Saturday, December 09, 2017

by 'home' i mean earth
by 'our' i mean

all of us

brothers & sisters

this is our home

reading/writing/viewing is the resistance

Friday, December 08, 2017

don't get pithy with me


          is the art
the craft of speaking
even when you don't know
what to say