:: the myth of the self ::

''Sanctification of the self as a refuge from the existing social malaise.'' When the individual will (autonomy) is given stubborn priority over collective this begs the question; how can the individual can be free ... e.g. free from internal oppression since the ''self'' is evidently a conglomeration of competing continuants. I am hounded by my own constituents - internal and external, real, super-real, and imagined.

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:: Wednesday, May 21, 2003 ::

Frank is Marc is Otis is Art ...
"Art is" googled thus:

Art is Art
Art Is A Tart
Home Is Where the Art Is
The Art is in the Code

Art is OK
Art is Life
Art is for Everyone
Your Art is Ready

I Believe that Art is Magical
Medium Isn't the Message; Art Is
Art is Art, or Is It?
Art is Still A Mystery

Digital Art is Now at Hand
Modern art is a load of bullshit
If ASCII art is present, provide a means to skip over it.
Art is not a brassiere

Art is Bloody Society
Iranians say Buddhist art is from Afghanistan
Stained glass art is what we're all about!
Ancient Chinese art is as good as it gets

Art is a literacy as basic as reading
Art is concerned primarily with aesthetics
Art is (postage) stamps

Art Is The Process of Destruction
Art Is the Destination,
Art is a half-effaced recollection of a higher state from which we have fallen
Art is dead; your kooky uncle has kicked the bucket
Art is Hell


:: Wednesday, May 21, 2003 ::

Exit Before Entrance

It's a simple precept. Maybe not as easy to learn as fear of snakes but come on people! The elevator door swooshes open and invariably it's the widest bedlamite with a carriage like an SUV that heedlessly shoves by as if they were already leaning forward, forehead against the doors as they opened.

It's simple. Egress before entrance. Out before in. Let people off the bus. Think of it as an investment in empty seats. Don't be an ass and you'll get a spot to park your ass.

Simple. Expel before ingest. Purge the bladder before you pour more whiskey down the gullet. Make room before you consume. You wouldn't put a shiny new set of strings on your git box before taking the old rusty one's off, now would you?

It's the same with relationships. Off the boat before on the boat. It's far more stable. End the one before you begin the next. Not that I'm one to talk. It's old Barnacle Bill the sailor; crusty, ornery, drunk with one foot on the dock the other in the dingy. Hanging over the rail of a relationship passing in the night. There she blows.

But I'm learning. Nowadays when the elevator doors part like silver waves I'm at ease, a few paces back, waiting for the decks to clear. All ashore who are coming ashore. It's a matter of pacing and I like to keep my ocean half full.


:: Thursday, May 15, 2003 ::

No Peace (A Rant)

"There's no treaty can solve this problem. There's no peace agreement, no policy of containment or deterrence that works to deal with this threat. We have to go find the terrorists."

Dick Cheney

This is the voice of righteousness. And righteousness is a heinous malignancy. The meat-headed (dare I say "Dick-headed"?) insanity of this is only made more nauseating by the fact that it elicited applause. I imagine the support for this perspective reflects the impatience of humans hell bent on reducing existence to absolutes. These yahoos will beat the world black and blue in their quest to paint it black and white.

What does it take to utter such words ... to so imperiously ignore that the effort to eradicate "terrorism" might include a multitude of approaches and efforts. Hunt down those individuals who planned 9-11 ... sure, please do. But to act as if those who did are a finite number of identities who absence from existence will solve the problem is willful lunacy. How do you fight cancer? By hunting down each cancer cell and blasting at it with a magnum? Certainly we needn't suffer a cancer cell to live ... but to suggest that eradicating each individual cell will rid a body of cancer (much less society) is an obvious piece of lunacy.

Cancer is fought on many fronts. We attack the tumors themselves ... with weapons (chemicals and radiation etc.) This part of the fight is unavoidable but costly. There is much "collateral damage" and all to often the cancer returns. So we also examine what triggers cancers. We struggle to learn how to make the body more resilient against their spread. To do so is not to take sides with tumors. When one acknowledges that one's appetites and behaviors might require modification to prevent a cancer from forming it is not confused with complicity with cancer cells. It is neither an apology for tumors nor is it seeking to blame the cancer patient. When the smoker dies we acknowledge that his habit was a contributing factor, regrettable if the victim was unaware of the link and perhaps shameful if they knew but refused to heed. Yes, we can point this out without fearing the charge of "being soft on lung cancer".

Cheney has twisted a truism here. One ought certainly doubt the wisdom of any attempt to make treaties with the likes of Bin Laden. And the avenues for direct deterrence are limited. But treaties and deterrence is a critical part of dealing with this threat. Finding the terrorist is not unlike finding the tumors, i.e. a partial and temporary solution. At it's best it is a reprieve but you've attacked the symptom not the disease.

What does it take not to see that fighting cells gone malignant is the same as fighting individuals gone malignant ?

What it takes is blinders. The gray and complex world is made more palatable by viewing it through the narrowest of tubes. The narrow path of righteousness is the barrel of a gun. This is the world viewed through the scope of a high powered rifle. There is no peripheral vision, no perspective, no depth of field. The world is rendered monochrome and returned to that state preferred by the faithful ... i.e. flat.

To be a serial killer one must objectify the "other" ... reduce it to something other then human. A thing. An evil with a capital E. And to justify this myopia any trace of humanity must be denied and nullified. In the Silence of the Lamps the killer refers to his victim as "it". It. The thing. The beast. It is through this reduction that "moral clarity" is achieved. Do not horrendous acts require just this sort of moral clarity, this mighty indignation?

Where have we seen this? Well, Nazi Germany of course. But also Israel ... from Jewish relatives here in the states to various native Israelis I have heard the denouncement of Arabs in terms utterly righteous and absolute. The phrased I heard used without a trace of self-irony is one all too common in history (indeed, in our own history of "settlers") namely, the only good other is a dead other. It is no exaggeration that even amongst people thought liberal, tolerant, thoughtful and intelligence the Arab is seen and spoken of as a cancer - a plight on the land justifiably removed.

Is it just me or does the highest level of righteous bombast track with the highest levels of greed, corruption, cronyism and disregard for the very things we claim the enemy covets and seeks to destroy? The most strident calls to unite against some "evil" seem to herald the creeping rise of intolerance, categorical thinking, fundamentalism and fascism.

The irony here is that those who dare to consider the all-too-human dimensions inherent in the deranged desperation of the suicide bomber are refusing to be complicit. It is this administration that is complicit. Did Bin Laden infect us? He certainly hasn't inoculated us. We seem to be responding by the sincerest form of flattery; imitation. Of course, Bush and kin need no role models. They are steeped in the same carcinogenic "god on our side" ideology. It may be notably less virulent then the strains manifested by the Taliban (for instance) but the pathology operates the same way.

We will not see the end of terrorism in our life time because those who have hi-jacked the reigns of power will never admit that the body in which the cancer grows is the collective body of humanity and that to treat the threat we have to treat our selves. Those of us who question our behavior and appetites will be demonized. Demonization is the plan. We will see evil with a capital E. In our fear and frustration we revert to a childish love of simplistic dichotomies. We'll be blinded to the nature of the disease by this all-too-human penchant to see demons when reality demands more subtle, enlightened, and self-reflective perspectives then we have the will to collectively muster.

And how do you fight demons? You get the cream of the crop ... of charlatans, huskers, snake oil merchants, and high priests to administer the time honored panaceas offered by con games, opiates, blood lettings and exorcisms. War is waged ... and as with the war on drugs this heavy handed and invariable corrupt and corrupting strategy will leave the symptoms barely altered and the disease itself ignored and virulent as ever. The tragedy of it almost begs to be called evil. The sickness spreads and maggots rule the land.

The beast is within us and we are the lord of the flies.


:: Tuesday, May 13, 2003 ::


"Trusting to escape scrutiny by fixing the public gaze upon the exceeding brightness of military glory, that attractive rainbow that rises in showers of blood --that serpent's eye, that charms to destroy, he plunged into war."

Abraham Lincoln


:: Monday, May 12, 2003 ::

Pillow Talk

Signals and signs. Are there any tea leaves in my eyes? Sometimes a train is just a train ... of thought derailed? A dear friend often tells me "words are shit" though often I won't listen not wishing to concede the conceit. "Words belittle us" I've often enough said myself ... to myself and to others for all the good these words do.

Sometime my jaw throbs, my teeth ache, and my tongue lays inert in my mouth like a tide-abandoned fish. Not even a flop. Not even a flippant remark. Dumb and mute. Words come to me over the bedding turned tundra and take the form of baited hooks trawling in the dark waters for a lost shoe.

Talk or walk. I dream of flounders with migrating eyes gone opaque. I pull murky green marbles out through wasted gills. I was tired and just need to dream these lurid dreams. Fizzles bubbling up through a Sargasso sea.

In one of my dreams I and a friend (Joe I think) set off for work only to find the bridge under repair. We had to walk up a quarter of the way over and then down balancing along steel girders into a tunnel carved in plaster. Intrepid commuters, we start down this white walled shaft until it curves back upwards. But it progressively narrows. Ahead I see a woman. She is working on the tunnel, carving away at it with small finely wrought tools. She is naked, pale, skin translucent and ... how do I describe this? ... there is another person attached ... no, more like growing out of ... her torso, facing forward but askew. A woman, or girl, slightly more then half her size with the same pale translucence but with features not fully formed.

She sees me and understands that I am trying to get by and backs up as I move forward but I find the passage has narrowed. I think I could just squeeze through if I stay relaxed enough ... then I wake up.

I was just tired. A cigar is just a cigar. We had stayed for Bridget and Zack's set at the Midway (halfway down what tunnel?). It had gotten late. I was grumpy and wanted to skirt my own mood if I could. I felt the void, the lack, the empty, the vacant seeping into me. I heard my own words forming tin plates like scales on a reptile dog. I just wanted to flop. I wasn't resisting and not quite withholding ... but I was a clog in repose.

And then suddenly the words worked again. I found words to say worth saying. And the tundra thawed and the ground turned cotton and sleep came. And my mind cleansed itself with translucent dreams free of all meaning.


:: Thursday, May 08, 2003 ::


Yesterday I gave a guitar lesson to an eight year old girl. I confess I was quite nervous about it. She is the daughter of a co-worker who happens to be a fairly accomplished jazz guitarist. Why hire me to teach what he has plenty of expertise in? Well, there is something about teaching one's own kin that is innately problematic. I'm put in mind of a time when I was complaining to fellow musician how frustrating it was to teach my (then) wife anything about music. (In this case some specifics about playing a piano piece I had written for her). My friend turned and said something like "Oh, didn't you know, one cannot teach one's spouse the piano" as if it was a venerable and ageless proverb.

I do know from experience how difficult it was to teach my own children. It's very frustrating. I wanted to do a brain dump. I wanted to flash bequeath to them all I knew. I was choked with the desire to have all my knowledge and talent implanted in one shot ... strap them into some sort of device, hook a cable between our heads, and just cram it all into their craniums.

I manifested a wee bit of impatience, if not a few other less than savory emotions. Poor Nikko. He would freeze in terror wanting so much to be the grateful disciple while I foamed with frustration. I think this dynamic is partly the nature of the beast. But yes, it was partly my own shortcomings in the patience department. In any case, I did learn to shrink down the size and depth of each "lesson". It got easier as he grew older and developed his own habits of practice and exploration. We evolved a regular pattern of knowledge transfer that is very relaxed, informal, flexible, and I extremely pleased to say, rather effective. He really does me proud. Thank you Nikko, thank you so very much.

So I knew why I was being asked to give lessons to the young daughter of a musician. It went quite well. She is very precocious. It really was a pleasure. I was reminded of my days as a camp councilor when I had kids of that age group. They are, or can be, so receptive. Their minds have yet to calcify. They absorb so freely. Their intelligence is right there unfiltered by the prejudices, preconceptions, and habits of mind we all develop. You can see it working, right there in their eyes, shining.

I'm not talking about a blank slate. She certainly had a unique and complex perspective on things that was all her own. But she reminded me of what wonderful sponges bright children around that age are.

Teaching. It's just amazing. Even when it's the most basic rudiments the teacher learns too.

And one thing I learned was where the women's room at work is.


:: Wednesday, May 07, 2003 ::

What's In A Hobbie?

Now that the weather has finally warmed up I'm once again practicing outside during my lunch break. Normally I practice my "main" instrument, the mandolin.

The mandolin is not the most common instrument. Many people don't know one to see one. And most folks with a notion know the Italian bowl back type. Looks a bit like a large ladle. More sauce on your meatballs? I play an "F" style mandolin, an ornate thing with a carved top and a scroll where the neck meets the body. I must admit that I find it's form quite beautiful though that's a bit odd given how I generally prefer simpler if not austere forms. Yet I've actually sat with the thing propped up on the couch next to me staring lovingly at it with a glazed look in my eye sighing at it's curves.

Ok, so it can be a tad annoying when someone stops, stares a moment, scratches their chin, and asks "what is that?". I dutifully tell them "it's a mandolin". They shrug and wander off barely appreciative of yet another piece of data they've no real need of. On occasion they guess what it is. That can be amusing. But most often they say "banjo". Why that is particularly galling isn't completely clear to me but I tend to indulge in the image of them wearing a banjo, the busted skin of it's body like an Elizabethan color around their neck.

So today I'm giving someone a guitar lesson after work. Instead of the mandolin I have my guitar with me. It's a Martin. It's your basic guitar. If they had an engraving of a guitar in the dictionary it would be this kind of guitar. So as I sat by the canal with it I figured I would at least be spared questions and ignorant guesses as to it's species.


Where I sit is a bit lower the sidewalk. So my view of this person was from a disturbing angle. "What is that you are playing?" The accent was slightly british. I looked up to see a pair of legs ornate with varicose hieroglyphs. These jutted out from a very frumpy house coat and ended in a pair of slippers covered with what I can only imagine was cat hair.

I was a bit drop jawed. Who was this and who put her up to it? Surely this was some sort of prank? But no, she was too un-real not to be real. So I said "a guitar" almost as a question. She thought about that for a moment then asked "Are you sure it's not a Hubbie?" Maybe she meant "tipple" (an interesting and somewhat rare cross between a guitar and a ukulele). Maybe she was suggesting that it's was just a hobby (a suggestion that would can earn you a new smashed guitar hat in my book). Maybe she thought it was my "hubby".

"No, it's just a guitar".

She shrugged and shuffled off as if there was an easy chair and TV set for her to settle in front of just a few yards down the path.

Next time I'm bringing a banjo.


:: Tuesday, May 06, 2003 ::

Intimacy Is A Promise.

It can't be helped. And what a strange and strained notion to want to help it. Intimacy is intimacy of course. Perhaps the promise lies within that tautological circle. Put your arms around me like a circle 'round the sun. I do suggests I will.

Always connect. That was a meme we mouthed. Nerves snake out and entwine. The twigs of our fingers entangle. it can't be helped. It needs no help. Do nothing and it will rain into your lap. You know I love you baby when my easy ridin's done. We're all so suggestable.

Scratch that itch. Risk anything just to be touched. My kingdom for a back rub! There are places back there that connect directly up the spine to my reptile brain. My snake is charmed and I lay on my back like a sedated crocodile. If you don't believe me look what a fool I've been. The smell of musk wafts over like so much caution tossed into the wind.

And it's buckets and brooms and boxes. Swept away and swept up and boxed and off we go. If you don't believe me look at the hole I'm in. We pause, we stop time. We feel our pulses inside and hold it there as tight as we can daring time to stand still. But it doesn't. It never does.

It's borrowed time. Moments lifted, minutes made off with, seconds absconded. Stealin', stealin', pretty momma don't you tell on me. The instant here is an instance of not being elsewhere. Gotta go. Gotta get off the phone. Things to do.

In time we return to ourselves. I'm back. Me again. Changed and unchanged. Rocks in bunches in my buckets and my pockets. And I'm still me.

Cause I'm stealin' back to that same old used to be.

In time we cry. In time there is mercy. In time we see. Intimacy.


:: Wednesday, April 30, 2003 ::

How Many Rocks Can My Pocket Hold?

The season has started. Gig under a huge blue tarp (surrogate "blue heaven") in the courtyard of an MIT dorm. Always a tad worrisome trotting out the Bag book to that particular demographic. But they boogie and shuffled and shook their young tuckuses (tucki?) to all the music our cold fingers could chunk out. Paid with a check and some brownies wrapped in tin foil secured with strips of tape embellished with a iconic representation of a well know five fingered leaf.

Then off to Cape Ann. The Atlantic churned and roiled. The rain was beautiful from inside the nifty bar and grill where two elegant handsome women tied the knot and jumped the broom. After our 2nd set they brought out some belly dancers.

"We're beyond Wahoo" I shouted to Sister G over the rim of my sloshing Cosmopolitan.

But no, they demanded another set (past the contracted for time) and then sort of stiffed us out of what we thought should be some "above and beyond the call of wahoo" pay. Oh well. Still was a mighty fun wedding.

But back to the rocks. I pack belongings ... plates and tapes and the miscellaneous detritus of a relationship that hit the shoals. Things have been floating up on the shore of my kitchen table for the last few weeks. This is hers ... oh and this too.

I go along the beach, ponder the horizon and scan the sand for what may catch the eye. This rock, fits the hand so sweetly, I must take it home with me ... but lo, my pocket is full and I must choose one to leave behind. And so it goes. Gain and loss, get and lose, again and again.

I wish I could hold them all and give up none. Shovel wishes into the tide ... if wishes were ponies boy would we ride ....

In the middle of the ocean there grows a green tree
And I'll never prove false to the girl that loves me

Paint old paint, I'm leaving Cheyenne
Good bye old paint, I'm leaving Cheyenne
Paint's a good pony and she paces when she can.


:: Tuesday, April 22, 2003 ::

Stray Heart

Just past infancy the couple posing as my parents decided a human heart was too much for me. "A human heart is not for you. We knew this the day we met you. You are much too wayward and stubborn a child for such a heart. It will only bring conflict and pain". At such tender years, and in spite of my innately annoying tenacity, I took their advice to heart, the one I had then but now no longer. Surely my guardians knew best.

So they decided on a donor, a stray dog from the neighborhood. No amount of water from garden hose could dissuade this mangy interloper from trampling geraniums precious to the woman posing as my mother. So it was, perhaps, with a vision of two mutts with one stone that my father figure fashioned this ingenious plan.

The doctor's warned my parental epigones that my all-too-human body would reject an organ coming, as it was, from a source so assuredly foreign to my nauture, species, and immune system. But as it often the case with stories like this the outcome came out recalcitrantly contrary to the assured. My body nurtured it's new heart.

And so I have lived my life hence, with a dogs heart. There are, to be sure, some interesting side effects. I have been ticketed far too often for stubbornly parking in front of hydrants. I fear newspapers, even those unrolled. I kick and make small woofing noises in my sleep. I have never been truly and completely house-broken.

And to this day I ramble, I ramble 'oer the town.


:: Thursday, April 17, 2003 ::


Court. Judge is late. An interesting hour spent. Talking, getting both more relaxed and more anxious. Hispanic couple behind us. She has Tammy Fay Backer eyes. Yow. She arrives before her not-so-soon-to-be-x husband. Not so soon because they're in the pool of couples designated "non-contestant" but let's face it, they're in the wrong pool. Oh, argument? That's down the hall. She's got an "agreement" she's waving around but it's very existence seems new to him when he arrives. Spanish always sounds fast to me but these two are veritable gatling guns. The friendly bailiff (if that's his title) tries to help. He brings them out into the hall and back a few times.

Finally the judge comes and we get to rise. We're up first. We were already told that we'd approach the bench and stand here. Not here, and not there, but here ... the woman gesturing a precise imaginary line on the floor. Ok, so we have our mark. We approach. This is where your hands and arms seem embarrassingly superfluous. Stick 'em in your pockets? No, not a respectful pose. Cross over your chest? Akimbo? I settle on letting them hand like useless weights.

The judge is judge-like. Stern disposition. Pursed lips. He's got some sort of minor laceration just above his left eye brow and it's coated with some sort of petroleum jelly. Disinfectant perhaps ... neo-sporin or some such. It's glistens annoyingly. I try not to look at it. I'd say it's ruining the mood but what mood might I be talking about? Probate court ... has all the charm of a seedy motel except with the trimmings of officialdom.

He thumbs through the agreement and asks some gruff questions. After seven minutes that feels like ninety he mutters "Ok, I'm satisfied."

It was all so satisfactory. The knot is undone.


:: Tuesday, November 26, 2002 ::

Inside Out

Am I outside now? The door ... it's behind me and I'm not looking over my shoulder. I use these shoulders to shrug with. Shrugging equates with wisdom ... somewhere ... read something like that. I can't remember. And I always got insouciance wrong. Or she did when she called me that. Blithe lack of concern; nonchalance. I wish. When it comes to detachment I've got my dendrites all in a bunch. Caring by not caring but not careless. What do I care? How does one care? My lack was not so blithe I'm sure.

But am I outside? The door ... could be locked. It's cold and I use my shoulders to shiver. What to make of the shrug that shivers? It's too soon to look for new doors. Not sure I belong indoors. Thinking about old doors. Old insides. My gut aches like a ditch.

I'm outside in the wind. All I want is a room that won't go away. Would that be enough. Inside but alone. Would that do? Hell is other people ... starting with me. Keep me from myself. These shoulders are for you to shake me with. I look back at the door, squinting to see if it remains open. Warm but claustrophobic. Snow is expected.

I didn't come out here for a stroll. I'm not walking the dog. I had a conversation. I told that person no, no? I had to repeat myself. She wanted to know that I wanted to. I didn't. Not the way she wanted. Because she couldn't want that and couldn't offer it. I never went there, not even inside. That thought had no insides. So I traced an outline and that had to suffice. An empty breadbox. It did the trick. Now other's wonder. A friend said "You didn't ... with her ... ". No. I didn't. How that empty balloon ever floated I don't quite understand.

Back inside, peering through the peephole, all sorts of things get imagined. I'm just out here juggling snow. Does it really matter who I converse with at the garden gate? The grape vine is a cruel filter. My shirtfront is wine stained. I do not want to be wine stained, to bear that mark. I haven't gotten this detachment thing at all right.


:: Friday, November 1, 2002 ::

Fear of a female planet

Which do I fear more, the anger of women or the anger of men? Guess.

The great otherness, cradle of salvation, that which can make the world soft again. Men shake road rage fists and a well-flipped bird suffices. But a woman you have failed to please is a bed on fire.

What is hard to hear is no compassion from the place you desperately hope it will bubble up from. Draw a circle of chalk, make it big and round. Bury it in the ground till it ferments into a bone of contention. The bed is burning and my hat is tragic.

The anger of a woman pickles in a mason jar way back in the cupboard where black widows lurk. Blood trickles through an hourglass. Fissionable materials grain by grain by migraine reach a critical mass. Massive attack of unbridled criticism, real and imagined, and the home explodes and your stock plummets and it all goes to hell like an anvil in a handbag.

Some of us don't have the genes to bat for the other team. So hang with your buds all you want, sans the girl you find yourself in bed still wearing your shirt wondering you’ll muster the will to get up and brush your teeth like you oughta. Oh to please your women. Make her happy and your life means all it need mean. This pearl of wisdom only comes into focus in hindsight. And that sharpness of vision is lost in the next episode when the music goes pearly and camera lens gets that Vaseline glow. 

I will slowly disappoint one woman after another ...

It's in my jeans.

 :: Tuesday, October 15, 2002 ::

Blank Checks

My reading of late has included John Adams. I just ordered some Steven Pinker. His new book "The Blank Slate" has been getting reviewed. The quick glance paraphrase of it might: Nature and nature can be teased apart such that we can learn the degree of comparative influence each has in specific contexts - and it would seem that nature has much more the upper hand then has typically been allowed. That imbalance might result in some unfortunate policy choices.

 The connection I'm making this morning is that I believe Adams had something quite right. He believed that human nature was not to be trusted - that people, left to their own devices yield a multitude of vices. Hence the need for a system of checks and balances.

 And it seems all too germane now, as the man who is currently holding the office of the US Presidency (much to my ongoing mortification) treats the need for checks and balances with arrogant disdain. The balance is tipping precariously on so many fronts. The check that should be in place is instead a blank check. Congress has more or less rolled over and played dead. Those entrusted to check the abuses of unrestrained avarice and greed are hell-bent on laxity. Dissent is maligned as a heinous lack of patriotism. The media is at least somewhat muzzled by the monopoly of it's ownership in insidious if not flagrant ways.

 Christopher Hitchens has his shorts all in a bunch about those who question if Bush, Chaney and  Ashcroft might not warrant the term "evil" as much if not more then Bin Laden and his ilk. He has a point ... up to a point. Bin Laden is not constrained by (what's left of) a system of checks and balances. But what, I wonder, would Ashcroft get up to if he had the opportunity to lead a following of ass kissing zealot?. Is he not a ripe ideologue all too ready to take on a holy mission? What confidence could there be that he would not act in ways even more abhorrent then he currently does given half the chance. We may find out more then we care to if indeed the system of checks and balances is in a downward spiral of disintegration.

 :: Wednesday, October 10, 2002 ::

Community. I pine for it. Felt I had it, back in the days of both Debris, Inner Beauty, and the old Bags. Bands and the extended families. It sure felt great, at least in retrospect. Like how Joe and Steve and Bob and I would roll down the stairs. We did it one new-years, somewhat drunk, and proclaimed it a "tradition".  Then we did it the next three or so new-years. Once I was sore for weeks afterwards.

 Then we seemed to not be together at new-years. Time changes everything. The social fabric tears and frays. I hardly see Steve anymore. He and Janet come over to the Plough now and then, which I am extremely grateful for. I keep meaning to call them ... and what? Invite myself over. I suppose that's better then not make any effort to stay in touch.

 When young I moved from school to school. Three years was a long time to be in one place. I lived nine years in my house in Melrose before moving out last March. That was by far my longest stay in one domicial. Now I feel "homeless" though using that word seems inappropriate given what homelessness can really mean. But to have a place where folks would come, like the old times. At present I'm wondering what I'll do when my lease is up in March.


:: Around about October 5th, 2002 ::

This morning riding up in the elevator, late for work, the Captivate screen treated me to something that felt absurd. Normally I enjoy absurdity but this had an odd tinge of nausea which I'm not sure I'll be able to describe.  

My feeling about the Captivate screen on the elevator is a microcosm of my feeling about the flood of media I wallow in daily. I could complain how I'm "subjected" to it and point out how sickeningly apt the "Captivate" brand name is. But I am addicted to it. When entering the elevator I jockey for the best viewing position. In the morning I wish to be there in a full elevator so that there are numerous stops and hence more viewing time. I'm captivated.  

But this morning’s fix left me with the bends. Of late the screen has been displaying a new "feature" - a quiz sort of thing where a question is displayed. This morning the quiz question was this: What "beat-generation" writer accidentally killed his wife attempting to shoot a glass off of her head.  

Maybe it's the way the question was phrased. Maybe it was because such a scene from Burroughs life is now vulgar fodder. In any case it left me feeling like my head was ridiculous and my guts bankrupt.

:: Friday, September 13, 2002 ::

Dervishing dervishing dervishing.

Nausea as my insides swill and sour. My blood collects briefly in odd places, leaves my head leaving me faint and dizzy, returns to swell my cranium with reoccurring ache. 

A not-so-merry-go-round. Maybe it's spiraling in a general or at least cumulative direction of betterment. Or am I just periodical mollified when I'm on the part of the revolution that moves away only to be whipped back around into the next nexus of woe? Frantic fluttering of an albatross necklace. 

At dawn and dusk moments of respite but the heat comes ... or the rain, or crashing planes, dipping markets, mosquitoes vectors of threatening strains ... all the escapes of the pandorean cigar box of terrible trinkets. A circle of torn arcs. Black fabric torn and frayed. This umbrella keeps no flood out. A bucket with a hole in it. The flood fills it but only briefly. Always draining or drained.

:: Frank Drake 7:29 AM [+] ::

:: Thursday, September 12, 2002 ::

Is Black Hawk Down?

What to do when faced with discontent so indulged as to bleed rancor into every utterance? I recoil. I step back, defer. I must. I know too well my limitations. I am at the best of times thinned-skinned. Even in the past when I was able maintain extended periods of confidence and optimism I remained all to vulnerable to fruitless indignation when confronted with criticism. Even well intentioned and/or warranted expression of discontent would all too easily strike me as grossly unfair attacks on my character. I would all too easily fulminate against these perceived injustices and in the process exacerbate an altercation that may not have needed to even be. This failing has cost me dearly.

Now it is difficult to take stock of situations in which I feel the target of spurious attack, gratuitous venting, passive or not so passive aggression. My confidence is at best shaky. I delay and equivocate and even prevaricate. Only with great hesitancy do I reached conclusions. My resolve comes late and is subject to vacillation. I go through convolutions desperate to short circuit confrontation. I send mixed and confused signals. Maybe this is due diligence but I fear the damage of action postponed, of making my stance clear enough to be reasonably responded to.

I must find resolve. I

At what point will I say enough? At what will I reconcile myself to the reality of diminishing returns? Am I doing now what I so often have counseled against? I seek resolve. must step back. I must refrain. And I must brave the consequence of seeking a distance from a loved one that may facilitate if not engender a regrettably deep and irrevocable distance. It is the best strategy I can think of to avoid engaging with rancorous discontent. I have not the resources to handle it well. Handling it less well is fuel for the fire. I must risk this detachment I need to avoid harmful contention.

:: Frank Drake 7:39 AM [+] ::


:: Wednesday, September 11, 2002 ::

Two blogs and I blogged out. I'll try again.


Son Nikko was diagnosed with West Nile. It freaked me out something fierce. I've been reading David McCullough's biography of John Adams. In those days folks regularly got ill, had fevers, and died. Of what was anyone's guess. Vapors. Blood too thick. It's interesting to ponder the how they named and classified these ailments. People suffered from "bad air" and such. They where clueless, but then, where they? Nikko spent four days in the hospital and we had no idea what was it was in spite of spinal taps and blood work and MRIs. Still, I was comforted by the sheer level of attention and scrutiny. It wasn't till he was home a few days, the fever abated and him feeling almost normal again, that they called. Fox sent a crew out to his school and interviewed him. I missed the broadcast (which made me feel like bad father - it doesn't take much to twinge that nerve). Joe saw it and told me how well Nikko had deported himself.


Interesting what Dave says about turning off the media. I do get a sense that what I find so depressing about today is that on top of the terror and horror of the event there is the way the government has responded to it. I know I can find others as appalled as I but that only comforts me a little. Does one believe the approval ratings? I commiserated with Heidi (pen-pal) and that helped until she paddled out into the deep end with her rant about how the whole pyramid of control has as it base a conspiracy to have us all eating grains. Grains are not for humans she says. Had the flavor of the communist fluoride conspiracy theories. She can be so wise and sensible only to veer into lunacy at the drop of a hat. That's not a rare talent I'm finding.

Things are tenuous with my girlfriend. Here's what I said to her about feeling sad today:

Sad for the day. In many ways I associate 9/11 as demarcation that sits on numerous tangents. Although that day I might not have sensed it as such it seems, in retrospect, to be the moment of puncture. Prior to that date I had a sense of contentment and optimism. The trajectory of my life felt fortuitous. Though it had veered and jerked in unpredicted directions and though there had been losses and dead ends, I still felt this confidence in myself and the path of my life ... that in sum it was growing and improving and all would be well if not endlessly sweet.

Since then my faith in nearly everything has taken a hit. My view of humankind, of the future, of my own abilities and fortunes are greatly deflated.

Cheery fellow am I, eh?


:: Wednesday, May 15, 2002 ::

Knowing this from that ...

Trying to figure out what "makes" me happy/sad. I have my moods, dark and bright and I roller coaster about through them twisting and turning. These convolutions makes me ill on some meta level. It's the lack of apparent connection. How the peaks and valleys track to events seems so convoluted as to defy correlation. If I were to trace the spastic spirals of emotional states I doubt I could map that tangled skein to a chart of significant events in my daily life. If there is a connection it must be so non-linear and distorted by various inertias as to defy discernment. I'd have just as much luck with stichomancy.

Pick a word, any word. Yesterday's word of the day was lassitude. (Been there, done that, saw the movie, bought the t-shirt). Today's word is esurient. A plausible enough word to cook up some divination with.

I was looking back at the on-line journal I kept for a while at chastityhat. Nietzsche had some idea about inevitable cycles, no? Eternal reoccurrence. I have fought that notion but I find myself in the same binds time and time again. I chant softly to myself my every intention to retain my composure. I take stock all my red buttons. I mentally check my baggage at the door. I cover my ever-so-thin skin with the foil of forethought. Then I waltz in and wig out. I depart once again stinking of the same juices I invariable sulk off stewing in.

As it happens I am, today, for now, in a jolly mood. There are "reasons" ... like the fantastic rehearsal with Bobby Bag - founding father and former spiritual center of the Bagboys. Plus the fortuitous and auspicious inclusion of newly found fiddle player Nick. Closing the Cantab last night head to head with Sid bellowing "40 years of suffering" into a mic while Joe and all hooted and hollered by the bar. And the free tickets Susan has for us to see the Socks at Fenway tonight. Good reasons no doubt but still ... there are plenty of alternative elements I could dwell on to dampen my spirit. I still wonder if it's just some inner soup of chemicals, or the shape of the clouds, or the status of the sunspots ... something indifferently skewed to the stream of events in my little world that allows me now to put aside worries and drink the wine of my own cheery disposition. Perhaps is it deeply foolish to subject the rose colored teeth of today's winning horse to nervous forensics.

I.e. I should just lighten the hell up.

:: Monday, May 13, 2002 ::

If I speak I run the risk of being maudlin.

I've used that word before. Maudlin. No doubt applied to some other (an adversary, a wife probably) and now that I'm using it here, somewhat confessionally, I thought I'd cast the googly eye on it and double check my usage. Yes, it's what I meant. But I was not aware of this:

Etymology: alteration of Mary Magdalene; from her depiction as a weeping penitent.

Ok, weeping penitent. Except that I don't quite have the penitent part quite down. But oh I have been weepy. I've been a down right drag.

Perhaps it's a problem of scale. I feel homeless having moved out of the house a few months back. I knew it would be hard. I depended on easy and relaxed proximity to my kids. With all I try to stuff into my life it made it possible to be the reasonably-there-dad. Perhaps I'll delve into my despair over this situation at one point, but from 10 k miles up it's, well maudlin. Homeless is how I feel. But shouldn't the term be reserved for those who are actually without a home? My home has not been torched or raised by a bulldozer or blown to fragments by an angry scud. I've not even been evicted or foreclosed upon.

Most of my woes have this problem of scale. If I step back from my own little world it all seems to petty and, well, maudlin.

If I speak I run the risk of sounding confused.

Perplexed, confounded, you name it. Talk about blur. I've got an absurd collection of favorite links. My bucket for "news & politics" is huge. No wonder I'm weepy. It's all to easy to think the world is going to hell in a hand basket except it's more like to shit with something far more industrial then a hand basket. Even keeping up with Joe's references taints my bones deeply weary. But an envious weary. I still yearn and thirst.

I'm behind the eight-ball. The eight ball rolls through the world gathering moss and trees and whole settlements. And I'm lurking behind it trying to set up a hammock and a wide screen t.v. More on that later, but the thing is I've grown confused. Once my priorities seemed like a nice rack of asparagus spears (or "spear grass" as I just heard boon companion Barb refer to them) roasting in the oven. Now it's like a pile of pick up sticks, rusty barbequed skewers ... I'd say "you get the picture" at this point but how can a picture emerge when I can't stop flicking the channel. Shouldn't things coalesce at some point - shouldn't all this endless hyped up hyper linking yield some sort of essence, some state of awareness assimilated. What it feels like is a creeping miasma of misery.

So why foist this bric-a-brac into the growing monadic deadlock? Why bother with a blog. Catharsis? The urge to purge? Or was it just Joe's dare?

If I speak I run the risk of embarrassing my friends.

In the old days (and yes, it's clearly maudlin for me, at a mere 44, to prattle about "the old days", not to mention myopic, a la Joe's telescopic fallacy syndrome) ... where was I ... yes, in the old days of Chastityhat we changed the names to protect not to much the innocent or guilty, but ourselves. The question remains. If I bear my soul (if that word can be applied to my tattered essence) then what tact is called for such that I not inadvertently slip too tight or itchy a noose around the neck of the people I at least believe I care for?

Forgive my convolutions. I've always had a penchant for seeing all sides of things. This manifests itself in an endless stream of qualifiers. My speech is peppered with terms and phrases like "probably" and "it would seem" and "yet" and "however" and "regardless" (or "irregardless" when I'm feeling feisty). No if and or buts, I am the king of "but". It's embarrassing. I fancy myself a seeker of balance but come off pedantic yet mealy mouthed.

And the etymology of embarrass has nothing to do with exposed rumps. It's from the Portuguese "embaraçar" meaning noose.

I think that's enough rope for one day.

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:: Frank Drake 8:52 AM [+] ::

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