In The Now

In a voice reminiscent of Raymond Carver‘s minimalist realism, Charles Bukowski‘s raw journals of life’s underbelly and Alan Ginsberg‘s poet-political essays, Nick Masesso Jr’s fictionalized, short stories, philosophical essays, poetry and prose are funny, insightful and heartrending, describing often in non-linear dreamscape narrative with the liquid lyricism of a poet; the love, loss, joy and angst of the fascinating and often mystifying connections of men and women in the intimacy of their daily lives. His writing style is both Anti-Novel and Imagist; fragmenting and distorting the experiences of characters, forcing the reader to build a reality to the story from a disordered narrative, stressing economy of language; writing free; with precise imagery, clear, sharp language, clarity of expression and meticulous visual images in musical phrase. – Gino Rossi

 

Tipping Point

circusinpurgatory:

Reblogged in memory of Freddie Gray

Originally posted on Nick Masesso, Jr.:

“There’s a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can’t take part. You can’t even passively take part. And you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, on the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you’ve got to make it stop! And you’ve got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you’re free, the machine will be prevented from working at all”! – Mario Savio – Sproul Hall, U.C. Berkeley: December 2, 1964.

Announcing the birth of Rap music in 1970, Gil Scott-Heron spit “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised; The Revolution Will Be Live.” Witnessing the radical experiment in empathy on our streets these days is what he meant; proof of the theory that when something becomes true for enough of us, a tipping…

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Noblesse Oblige

Phone calls long distance to tell how you’ve been; you forget about the losses, you exaggerate the wins. And when you stop to let ’em know, you’ve got it down; it’s just another town along the road.” – The Road – Jackson Browne 

Mt. Kilimanjaro is a snow-covered mountain 19,710 feet high; said to be the highest mountain in Africa. Its western summit is called by the Masai “Ngaje Ngai,” the House of God.” Close to the western summit there is the dried and frozen carcass of a leopard. No one has explained what the leopard was seeking at that altitude.

When Ernest Hemingway wrote his short story The Snows of Kilimanjaro in 1938 he imagined the leopards quest for solitude to be like that of the writer or the boxer who goes off alone to commune with his demons and his final redemption. Rejecting the church that backed Franco in Spain, Hemingway came up with his own code of human conduct; a mixture of hedonism and sentimental humanism; likening solitude to “The way we burn the fat off our souls”.

I thought about this as, days earlier, I’d stepped across the threshold of the funeral home for the dead and dying, a holocaust memorial where I’d spent the last three years; extracting myself from a great familial civil war, one from which no man could long endure; and executing the greatest coup de’ gras; disengaged, declared victory and departed the field; surviving my own personal Ides of March betrayal. Lacking any symbiotic mutuality, I left with an ET tu Brute and a Sic semper tyrannis for good measure.

Seeking to make sense of the aborted episode, struck dumb, I recalled Bruce Lee’s quote “only to the extent that we expose ourselves over and over to annihilation can that which is indestructible be found in us.” Well, maybe so. Sometimes the only way to be heard is to stop talking. As I made for the exit the sun burst through a sky of watered milk like just maybe somebody up there liked me.

Now collapsing on my recliner, the forced relocation finally over, my pictures up on the walls, drifting satisfied I breath deeply, surround myself with white light, empty my mind – a commando trick – and penetrating the surface tension; sink into REM. I am home; ensconced in solitude, established, settled in a comfortable, safe, secret place with no more visceral tsunami of feelings running over me like dogs chasing pigeons in the park; only the sweet knowledge that postcard pictures of Malcolm, Martin, Mandela, Marley, Obama and Gandhi, back-lit by an inspirational scroll quoting the 14th Dalai Lama, a gift from my Muse, and surrounded by every word the great Bukowski ever wrote, enfold me in a warm, loving embrace.

My new digs cater to the aged and in-firmed, where old men shuffle ahead in six-inch increments, somnambulist-like, looking like slow motion Japanese geisha. This must be the safest place I’ve ever been; feeling akin to what a soldier fresh from the battlefield must feel like sleeping in a middle-American suburban bedroom alongside an infant. The old women carouse in various stages of decline twinkle-eyed; like a room full of speed freaks hanging Christmas tinsel. They seek to make this forty-unit community something of a community. They sponsor pot luck get together; laying out elaborate spreads of food that look exactly like what a white bread Midwestern grandmother would concoct; lots of peasant bread made in old soup cans and a pastiche of yellow, green and purple jello molds. The rules as I’m told by what must have been a former chief of police, now relegated to maintenance man, is a three dollar donation exempts those who fail to bring an offering.

Both sexes are eager to off-load the narrative of their entire lives, with emphasis, and the logic of this escapes me, their myriad ailments; delivered in riveting detail, and the plethora of potions meant to ameliorate them. The wounded elephant in the room that sits groaning between us knows the real score. As my new friend, the empathetic and benevolent Pisces monarch Double G, the Mother Teresa of our happy enclave, a man throwing kindness around like confetti tells me; a local priest admitted to presiding over sixty funerals a month in this tiny burg; and that’s only one priest from one church. The real booming industry here is death and the dying are dying to get into this oasis of push button doors I have lucked into. There is though, a gloom hanging over the lot of my commune mates; the kind of shroud funk that comes from the resignation one experiences when standing at the precipice with only the leap left to maneuver.

Never more than a few city blocks from anything that sustains life; food, medicine, friends and the like I walk two blocks to enter the local diner to find the real northern Wisconsin archetypes. They wear planet-size belly bulging workman’s coveralls stretched tight over prodigious beer bellies; mud-people in camouflage print making all look much the same. They are urban mountain men looking more like drifters that rob gas stations in their off time from their full-time day jobs operating the tilt-a-whirl at the traveling carnival.

The cigarette smoke, years embedded in their mock-military styled nylon covered outer-wear, wafts off them like they haven’t been cleaned since the blizzard of 1973. The toxic mix of body funk and nicotine makes my eyes water and my skin burn. Theses are the three feet-ers; the distance that must be maintained if one is to survive the funk’s potent aroma; as repellent as the odor that floats off a tribal African living in the bush who has never seen a bar of soap. I muse what finance could be generated here via sale of nose and ear hair trimmers and mirrors. That’s not to say this click represents most here; most are the “cleanliness is next to godliness crowd” and are as clean and shiny as a new penny. I imagine the moldy set must have had their sense of smell obliterated in Viet Nam by exposure to Agent Orange.

Big H, my only neighbor, with whom I share an exterior wall in our two-unit townhouse, looks in his forties and as my guide Double G tells me; the only way you get in here not being of retirement age is to be handicapped. Harold is surely that; as roly-poly as a beach ball, Orca fat; even his head seems swelled up. If he ever tripped and started rolling downhill with enough steam, only the bravest Seal Team Six members would manage to muster the courage to stop him. The pale glow of his skin is the color of an uncooked turkey.

It hadn’t been over a minute from introducing myself that he tells me he cannot read. Since he just pulled up in his car (which is by the way parked like mine and every other car here not more than fifty feet from ones front door and on level ground. There are no stairs here in “if I fall I’ll never get up” land.) His admission makes me wonder how he got a driver’s license; especially when he tells me he’s “just figuring out the signs” which I take to mean STOP signs. But moreover I felt like Stallone had just clocked me across the bridge of the nose with a two by four. I quickly reexamine my life and how good I have it. A tsunami of compassion like that first snort of methamphetamine washes over me. I am swallowed by the empathy of the French phrase conferring an obligation on nobility, Noblesse Oblige, nobility obliges; that inferred responsibility of privileged people to act with generosity and nobility toward those less privileged. Anyway we chat. He tells me in halting monosyllables that I always look good; three times. He also likes my car.

A smiling woman knocked on my door last night; real friendly. I quickly calculate whether she’s worthy of the supreme sacrifice and since she wore enough Marilyn Manson style eye makeup, good for a few nights of bad dreams, I’m not sure, which I suppose is a good sign. Turns out until recently her mom, right up until her demise, lived in my apartment and she was rhapsodizing sentimental. I invite her in since its one degree outdoors and colder than a nipple on a witches tit, colder than a bucket of penguin shit, colder than the hairs on a polar bears ass, colder than the frost on my champagne glass. She grills me for info of my background. I divulge Oakland was my recent spot and she has what appears a small orgasm. If I’d have had more than one chair I’d have asked her to sit. Suppose I’ll have to buy one.

It’s twenty-eight below zero in the wind the bored high-gloss weather gal informs me; warning exposed skin is, at this temperature, frostbitten in under ten minutes; I check my zipper. Stepping out the front door, armed with the knowledge uploaded from the Sunday morning talking heads on my TV, the petty, needy, jealous and greedy still inhabit the idiot-sphere; sounding like initiates suffering comically bad ayahuasca experiences. It makes the world outside seem a sort of sanatorium; a low-rent laughing academy, a nut plantation. Excusing myself the harsh narrative with the knowledge that irony needn’t be mutually exclusive with candor I check list my emotional hygiene, being sure to take care of my emotions, my mind, with the same diligence I take care of my body; blocking the neurotic wish to quickly run every emotion through an elaborate machinery of self-conscious self-reflection with the speed of a turbo-charged abacus running ancient Chinese calculations using the same black and white beads since before Confucius arrived. You can have true affection for only a few things in life, and by getting rid of material things, I make sure I won’t waste mine on something that can’t feel my affection.

My newly energized compassion has found a target rich environment. The loneliness here is palpable; it has a pulse; the emotionally lonely and the existential lonely, like all of us cradle to grave, reminds me of walking into a bar where patrons make love to their shots and beers and the desperation is as thick as the fog on San Francisco Bay. For me this self-imposed monastic period, ensconced in my solitude, is a dharma with which I am all too familiar. Again, Hemingway said it best “ When I’m not going good, I go off where I can be alone and work the fat off my soul the way a fighter goes up into the mountains to work and train and burn the fat out of his body. Being alone and loneliness are two different things. I’ll be alone but I won’t be lonely.”

It’s a tiny town; so small even the bakery closes on Sunday. Whether this is an idiosyncratic notion specific to the owner or due to the hyper-religiosity of this place I do not know but I suspect the latter. The social fabric here is woven for service to the likes of those who surround me now; those as broke as teenagers. So, like in my early pious vagabond-glory days in the Haight Ashbury, when my pockets never jingled, I begin, with the prodding of my chaperon Double G, to clock every free meal within a dollars worth of gas driving distance. Though I haven’t reached that place of poverty just yet, my forced move, the second one in three years, came with a major financial set-back. The free meal practice also brings me back to my youth; when traveling America jungle-style like depression era Woody Guthrie hobos; the mantra “never pass up a free meal” memory echos.

So, last light after a mean workout and a five dollar open swim and hot tub at the local motel, we hit the bingo basement of one of the many churches sponsoring “community supper” once a week; which is to say; a free meal. The food is as good as any mid-priced restaurant in San Francisco and the camaraderie far exceeds any found in such establishments. My two table mates launch into a lengthy mumble-fest of thanks to their personal supreme being. It elevates and mixes with the other five billion cooperating mass hysterics who practice this form of suspension of disbelief. How god, the deity most responsible for the worst ungodly atrocities of man, can catalog these myriad Santa Clause style requests for his attention for beneficence without a staff of millions escapes me and I suppose them as well. I wonder; is heaven just one big sweatshop?

My Thursday grub and tub buddy’s Masters Degree and managerial experience in the nurturing of the unfortunate has hustled up a job prospect for him in the Virgin Islands and he tells me of a spot that might be available for me there as well. Should that magic moment erupt you can, much as I kinda like it here, humped-back and crooked as it is, a low-rent laughing academy populated by retired aluminum-siding and screen door salesmen; where my love life circles the drain and it takes a half-hour just to don my long underwear and sub-zero snow boots; you can color me gone. The memory of James Michener’s novels and the thought of a new life in another sub-tropical environment, with a paying gig no less, defines paradise for me.

Enough said: Time to exit stage left and mate again with the stair-climber at the gym while my Oi-gong master blaster buddy – ever the peripatetic – soliloquies his learned speech on anger; all for my personal delectation.

Seeds of the Sixties

The following transcript is taken from the 1974 documentary of Timothy Leary’s appeal letter from Folsom Prison and submitted to the Center for Contemporary History.

Seeds of the Sixties

“These days each decade is a statement in the age-long global human conversation.

In the cultural message of the 1960’s every American was, actively or passively, engaged. It so happened that I was most centrally involved in these social changes as member of, and shamanic spokesman for, a small group of innovative intellectuals who sought to receive, integrate and transmit emerging cultural signals. The meaning of this explosive decade will be evaluated by history in the light of subsequent developments. It is natural that those who were engaged in the transaction present their versions of what happened and their predictions of the events to come.

In January 1960 I accepted an invitation to come to Harvard University to initiate new programs in what was then called Behavior Change. I was convinced that mental illness could be cured; that drastic limitations on human intellectual and emotional function were caused by inflexible states of mind, static imprinted and conditioned neural circuits which created and preserved artificial and malfunctional states of perceived reality.

I believed the nervous system to be a bio-chemical-electrical network capable of receiving and creating a changing series of adaptive realities if and when the chemical key for altering consciousness was found and employed in the context of an adequate theory. In the then-zeitgeist of Salk, Fleming, Pauling, I believed that the right chemical used correctly was the cure. The “career ailment” I had selected as curable was human nature.

A new science is defined. I have suggested the term neurologic: the understanding and control of one’s own nervous system. To oversimply, I believed that man did not know how to use his head, that the static, repetitive conditioned circuit known as the normal mind was itself the source of “dis-ease” and that the task of the psychologist-neurologist was to discover the neurochemicals for changing mind, i.e., to allow for new imprints of new realities and new conditioned sequences. Our initial experiments at Harvard suggested that L.S.D. might be such a drug.

In the early sixties we tested these hypotheses in a series of controlled experiments sharing LSD with several hundred persons under the following conditions: the expectation was for philosophic exploration and self-discovery; the setting was supportive, secure, and respectable. There was not one casualty or “bad trip.” Our subjects would routinely experience meta-mind intensities and were encouraged to contemplate the personal and social implications of these new signals.

The results of these and other psychedelic drug experiences led us to conclude that organic neurochemicals could be used as instruments for studying the nervous system, for freeing brain from the limits of mind, for training human beings to develop new neural circuits (new minds) for reception, integration and transmission. The implications of these conclusions for human freedom were far-reaching. More important, a new mythic conception of human nature emerges. The human being is seen as having several “minds” (defined as neural circuits) which evolve during the course of individual development and which can be turned on and off selectively and adaptably as one “turns on and tunes” the many external electrical circuits surrounding the modern human.

In 1960-63 we tested these theories in a series of objective studies of prison rehabilitation, psychedelic psychotherapy, and personality change. The hypotheses were confirmed. We cut the prison-return rate by 90%. We demonstrated quantitative psychometric improvement in personality. It was prize-winning elegant research. Our subjects shared our enthusiasm but the medical directors didn’t. We were naïve enough to be surprised that many administrators didn’t really want to eliminate the pathologies they administer.

God knows they liked me personally, respected our results and in their secret hearts hoped that we were right. But there is this larval inertial fear of change. Three times I was offered tenure at Harvard (and the post of chief psychologist at Massachusetts General Hospital) if I would just play down the drug research. But by then more than careers were at stake. We had entered the dialogue of myth, tapped into that ancient current of passionate hope and risky belief that humanity can evolve into a higher consciousness.

We were thinking far-out history thoughts at Harvard, some thirty graduate students, young professors and theologians believing that it was a time, (after the shallow, nostalgic fifties) for far-out visions, knowing that America had run out of philosophy, that a new empirical, tangible meta-physics was desperately needed, knowing in our hearts that the old mechanical myths had died at Hiroshima, that the past was over, and that politics could not fill the spiritual vacuüm

It was the familiar Gnostic, hermetic, Neo-Platonic, alchemical, Faustian, Jeffersonian belief in the individual as microcosm, the all-out vision of multi-centered universe that gives life to individual existence, perennially recurring, always opposed by the Inquisition, always mocked by the current version of cynical cool-out stoicism.

The vision we offered was the “head-trip” a scientific, experimental neurologic. Whereas the pre-scientific oriental philosophies and the western mystical off-shoots speak vaguely of the divinity within each person, we tried to operationally redefine the old teachings and to offer an experimental Neo-Platonism. Your brain is the center of your universe. Read any basic text on the nervous system. Learn which of the seven types of drug-yoga turns on which circuits of your nervous system; learn to dial, tune and focus your time ship. Then you learn to accept total responsibility for the realities you intercept.

The basis for this new meta-physics was the belief that advances in modern science now makes it possible to develop an understanding of the nervous system, its evolution in the individual and the species, and the effects of chemical and electronic adjuvant on its expanding function. This new understanding of the source and instrument of consciousness is leading us to a truly scientific philosophy of a self-responsible human nature.

The alert and reasonably educated person in 1960 was familiar with the following scientific concepts which, if known by the philosophers of antiquity, would certainly have influenced their theories: (1) The Einsteinian equations concerning relativity and the co-variance of time space. (2) The nervous system as bio-computer organized in hierarchical centers selectively mediating the reception, storage, analysis and transmission of messages. (3) Elementary computer theory. (4) Electrical and electronic technology providing for selectivity of frequency, intensity and clarity of signal. (5) The D.N.A. code as source of instructions for constructing, maintaining and evolving both body and nervous system.

With these scientific concepts as suggestive text, L.S.D. as instrumental sacrament and prayers for grace, we began to write and to talk publicly about the possibilities of a new philosophy, a new individual scientific theology. All of this educational work was enormously successful. Millions of Americans accepted the “head philosophy”, the belief that Ego and “Social Reality” are neural fictions.

At this point (1963) I left Harvard, abandoned the role of conventional, academic scientist and became, without knowing it, a shaman. This shift in occupational role was accomplished slowly, hesitantly, exploring and not without self-conscious humor. First, a diligent study of religious history revealed that psychedelic plants had been used in the great philosophy-generating cultures of the past; Egypt, Persia, India, China and Greece, always for initiation into adulthood, entrance into the spiritual life and for the training of shamans, prophets, and special priests who played colorful and apparently necessary public ceremonial roles. At the same time I began personal training in Hindu Vedanta, Buddhist Tantra, and Taoist techniques for understanding the flow of various energies. The “obligatory pilgrimage” to India occurred.

In 1963 we started centers for training in consciousness expansion, a scientific journal and lecture tours for communicating the results of our research. We were particularly concerned with the development of neurological language of both verbal and, more important, electrical and electronic patterns to communicate the broadened range of consciousness. Our Castalia Foundation in Millbrook, New York was visited by musicians, electronic sound technicians, painters and light technicians. The new modes of art we developed (based on the capacity of the nervous system to receive, synthesize and transmit accelerated, compressed and multi-media presentations) have since been taken over by commercial film and television people.

All of this educational work was enormously successful. Millions of Americans more or less accepted the “head philosophy,” the belief that Ego and “Social Reality” are neural fictions, clusters of synaptic connections; consensual paranoia’s. What might be called a neo-radical-nominalism characterized this philosophic revolution, an invisible, implicit, amused, sometimes pious, detachment from reflex social conventions and the fears which they are designed to induce. A general “hip” rejection of partisan politics, war, violence, military service, racism (white and black), enslaved careerism, erotic hypocrisy, sexism, establishment religion, local orthodoxies of dress, grooming, posture, art. A rejection too of pomposity of mind, including one’s own, and the platitudinous hippie philosophy itself. This signal of hope and freedom was sent throughout the world. Poets in Soviet prisons heard it. And young people everywhere.

The inevitable backlash from this new message of individual power began in 1966 when various legislatures and Congress began considering bills to criminalize LS.D. and similar drugs. In this year I testified before two Senate committees urging that control of all mind-changing drugs be assigned to the medical profession supervised by Federal and State health agencies. I predicted that if control of drugs were administered by law enforcement agencies, the result would be a black market more irrational and widespread than that of alcohol prohibition and the growth of enormous police-state repressive bureaucracy. And who, indeed, wanted that? History may well decide that the second great belligerent disaster of the Johnson administration was the decision to turn Drug control over to the police.

My political position then was by no means radical or solitary. Indeed, during the Johnson administration, a bitter battle was fought on this issue. Medical and scientific people (backed by the Kennedy’s) urged that drugs be administered by the Department of Health, Education and Welfare, while law-and-order people politicked for the Department of Justice. L.S.D. was made illegal and most of the top drug scientists began their steady exit from government responsibility. Another war on heresy had been declared.

At this time the “new consciousness” became a political issue indissolubly intertwined with peace, sexual liberation, reform of education, racial equilibrium, ecology, and “end the draft.” I suppose the political manifestation was inevitable. So I joined the circuit. Peace, love, and free your head, we said. Well, if they can make laws we can repeal them. With the other dissenting spokesmen I opposed the war and defended marijuana and L.S.D. against unscientific slanders. We warned of the heroin peril and unlicensed, ill-informed drug abuse. I advocated, not drugs (no one had to do that), but a rational, philosophic, scientific understanding of drugs. It was the time (can we remember?) of civil rights, nonviolent dissent debated openly, registered in the polls and litigated in the courts.

I was followed, set-up and busted like everyone else, fought test cases, got the Federal marijuana law declared unconstitutional. It was in the American tradition to defend what you believed. Every court decision and every poll showed that the “new consciousness” was growing. The love-ins, hippie beads, the Beatles and the demonstrations were the silly froth. The real thing had to do with the way people looked each other in the eye and smiled knowing that something new and self-responsible was happening in their heads. The world listened. Messages came to us from the dissenting underground in Russia and Brazil. The real revolution of the sixties was neurological.

The emergence of a new philosophy occurs at rare, crossroad points in history. Political, social and economic changes follow changes in the conceptions of human nature. The consciousness revolution of the sixties challenged every one of the institutions and moral principles upon which our society was based. This systematic questioning of the orthodoxies led inevitably to the Nixon counter-reformation, the attempt to re-impose the old authority by means of police power. But the history of Inquisitions teaches that cultural-philosophic matters cannot successfully be legislated despite heresy trials, sumptuary laws, informer-provocateur espionage tactics, and secret police.

A second classic reaction to the collapse of authority is existential loneliness. Once you have accepted that your nervous system creates from the Heraclitan flow your own reality, what guideposts, what compass readings, what new goals? The divergence, individualism, and Utopian optimism of the sixties were crushed by violent reaction. This philosophic vacuüm was temporarily filled by a renaissance of old dogmas which latched on to the new energies; experiential Christianity homogenized Buddhism, TV Hinduism. These pessimistic, nostalgic creeds served to turn-off, shallow-out, and calm-down the explosive expansions of the last decade.

I believe that a new philosophy will be created by those who were born after Hiroshima which will dramatically change the human condition. It will have the following characteristics: (1) it will be scientific in essence and science-fiction in style. (2) It will be based on the expansion of consciousness, understanding and control of the nervous system, and will produce a quantum leap in intellectual efficiency and emotional equilibrium. (3) Politically it will stress individualism, decentralization of authority, a live-and-let-live tolerance of difference, local option and a mind-your-own-business libertarianism. (4) It will continue the trend towards open sexual expression and a more honest, realistic acceptance of both the equality of and the magnetic difference between the sexes. The mythic religious symbol will not be a man on a cross but a man-woman pair united in higher love communion. (5) It will seek revelation and Higher Intelligence not in formal rituals addressed to an anthropomorphic deity, but within natural processes, the nervous system, the genetic code, and, without, in attempts to effect extra-planetary communication. (6) It will include practical, technical neurological-psychological procedures for understanding and managing the intimations of union-immortality implicit in the dying process. (7) The emotional tone of the new philosophy will be hedonic, aesthetic, fearless, optimistic, loving.

It is my folly to believe deeply in the Jeffersonian vision and the First Amendment. I accept this Merlin heritage, this national trust. Could this first America be saved? Everyone knows that something is going to happen. We are now experiencing a quiescent preparatory waiting period. The seeds of the Sixties have taken root underground. The blossoming is to come. “

Best Wishes,

Timothy Leary

Happy Birthday Martin

“Gravity – stay the hell away from me. Gravity – has taken better men than me; how can that be? Just keep me where the light is; keep yourselves where the light is.”  – Gravity – John Mayer

The Jewish folk call it “tikkum alom” meaning to heal the world. And as we know from the wisdom of Biggie Smalls, as posited to Tupac Shakur; “we can’t change the world till we change ourselves.”

Alan Watts said a false belief in permanence, say trying to be the same person you were the day before; causes pain. Lonely to think we don’t even have yesterdays self to relate to and this may cause life to seem an empty dystopian and existential dilemma if digested by the uninitiated all at once. So although I recommend proceeding with caution; Biggie’s advice and meaning are well received.

Gaggles of groovy guru essentially say the same thing in different ways and if you want the word from them you’ll probably pay handsomely for it in cash or calls for adoration. My beloved Muse Lisa gives it to me free; simply counseling me to “Be Love.”  Personally; I have reasons of self-interest to heed her advice; knowing that carrying anger just might cause cancer.

So every year on my birthday I avail myself to a tradition I invented wherein I delete all unnecessary files and wipe clean the hard disc in my memory of all the injuries caused by every bite, break, stab, scrape, cut, contusion and carbuncle inflicted by slights delivered, often unwittingly au pasaunt, by my friends. More times than not my idealized version of them interferes with reality and I come away disappointed, so it’s probably, usually, my fault anyway. Looking at it from that vantage point; I’m forgiving myself.

This year in a new tradition I also have just invented; since it’s Martins, America’s Nelson Mandela, eighty-sixth birthday today; I will dedicate this gesture unto, as the Irish say, himself. It’s not that I’m not still filled with psychotic Sicilian style rage for revenge, knowing that had that fey, cross-dressing J.Edgar Hoover protected him we wouldn’t have just a thirty-foot marble statue on the Mall, a Noble Peace Prize and a national holiday to remember him by, I am and we probably would; but since I’m no MLK; that I do not forgive. Yet I think about this and know he’d want me to just let it go; forgive, wipe the disc; so this birthday present Martin, is for you.

I’ll add some humanistic though Machiavellian logic to the mix to appease my wish for symmetry. I recently stopped quoting Frederick Nietzsche, history’s angsty teenage boy, when I discovered he ended up talking to his horse; but in the most famous quote from his 1888 book Twilight of the Idols he opined “that which does not kill us makes us stronger”. Here he was prescient. Scientists have found that small amounts of trauma can make us more resilient and I think most people take this axiom subjectively, when in the context of this tome poem, its meaning is best contemplated objectively.

If I don’t kill anger it will only get stronger and heavier and more cumbersome; a weight to carry on my shoulders and forever justify; getting exponentially heavier as the years accumulate. Mostly I’m just too into the “I don’t give a shit” mode of caring about some things and the “this too will pass” school of not caring about most things; to hump that jaundiced gear around like a disease. So my decision is motivated more by selfishness than spiritually.

I’ve said all that to say this. Martin would have accepted the prize, the statue, the stamp and the hundreds of millions of grateful folk whose minds he freed with a graceful appreciation. But I’ll bet he’d infinitely rather we made a list of the slights and miseries we feel others have annoyed us with and forgive; let it go; wipe the hard disc of our memories clean. In the end this is how we’ll get what we want most anyway. The more we practice “tikkum alom”, the more we will repair ourselves and in the process; heal the world.

Tipping Point

“There’s a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can’t take part. You can’t even passively take part. And you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, on the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you’ve got to make it stop! And you’ve got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you’re free, the machine will be prevented from working at all”! – Mario Savio – Sproul Hall, U.C. Berkeley: December 2, 1964.

Announcing the birth of Rap music in 1970, Gil Scott-Heron spit “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised; The Revolution Will Be Live.” Witnessing the radical experiment in empathy on our streets these days is what he meant; proof of the theory that when something becomes true for enough of us, a tipping point, it becomes true for all of us. In Timothy Leary’s equivalent of Martin Luther King’s Letter from a Birmingham Prison” he predicted the new revolution would be neurologic; “the familiar gnostic, hermetic, neo-platonic, alchemical, Faustian, Jeffersonian belief in the individual as microcosm, the all-out vision of multi-centered universe that gives life to individual existence, perennially recurring, always opposed by the Inquisition, always mocked by the current version of cynical cool-out stoicism.”

Watching the demonstration In NYC yesterday; a spontaneous gathering of folks who didn’t know each other the day before; I was struck to see everyone zoned in on the speakers at the daïs, the mothers of Eric Garner, Micheal Brown and Tamir Rice; the twelve-year-old boy who, playing with a toy gun, was shot dead two seconds after police arrived. Not one person in the crowd was looking down at their cell phone. The revolution will not be televised; the revolution will be live.

When Jesse Jackson watched Barack Obama inaugurated he wept. Allen Ginsberg, on first hearing Dylan’s music, wrote, “I heard ‘Hard Rain’—and wept. Because it seemed that the torch had been passed to another generation, from earlier bohemian and Beat illumination.” Watching CNN last night I know how they both felt. This revolution of compassion will change us. To paraphrase Gandhi; “no power can resist the aroused consciousness of the masses once they are dedicated and take to the streets.”

We will win this war for equality. It was won the day the first Air Jordan’s hit the pavement to protest in what Dale Carnegie defined as success; “the progressive realization of a worthy ideal.” History teaches us that those who want power through force fail; those who quest for freedom, equality and justice by non-violent means; win. I join my brethren today in misty eyed reverence, knowing the seeds of the sixties, lost underground for two generations to greed and hubris, have blossomed in a velvety green soul-power revolution.

The extinguishing of young lives in Vietnam fueled the gust of anger that ignited the fire at home; spreading from the end-the-war marches in our cities to college campuses everywhere. That same anger, being expressed likewise, from coast to coast, involving every ethnic and age group, a movement as diverse as the anti-war and civil rights demonstrations of the 1960’s; led by the millennial generation; stems from the same concern, there are lives in the balance. A new generation of Americas youth, being made complicit in thousands of extra-judicial killings and being vilified world-wide for it are enraged and engaged; they will triumph.

This new awareness is the Millennial generations civil rights struggle; its Vietnam; a cause more worthy than the vagaries of the OCCUPY moment; not a condemnation of the cops anymore than the war in Vietnam was a repudiation of the troops; nor is it a demonization of the CIA worker bees that tortured Arabs in the name of our safety and in the process caused us to lose our collective soul. To target police as villain, tasked to enter communities that have systematically been deprived of education, opportunity and income equality, creating the modern American ghetto, expected to be garbage men to clean up the mess caused by politicians and racist attitudes; makes them as much victims as those they slaughter. To blame the cops is to miss the larger villain; they are only the instrument. If my brain tells my arm to strike, and later I find this unjust; I do not cut off my arm. The cops and the troops and the CIA operatives followed flawed leadership. It’s the bosses now running for cover who deserve our wrath. It’s Cheney belongs in chains.

The millennial generation leading this revolution were taught not to keep score at their soccer games because they didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings; and everyone went home with a trophy; the same trophy. When they acted out their parents didn’t hit them; they were given a time out. They attended schools on the same buses that carried their rainbow nation classmates; gay, black, brown and yellow. They are egalitarian moralists to the core and believe in equality just like the constitution says and simply put they are not having it. The images witnessed of black children being shot for waving toy guns and black men being choked out, played in heavy rotation like some monstrous MTV video snuff film, for the most minor of infractions of the law, have shaken their tender sensibilities of what America stands for. The good news in this grotesque comedy of obscene errors is the fact that their aroused citizenship and sense of right will save us. They will insist, by force of numbers; that we re-discover our moral soul-center.

Searching for the villains to execute and banish diverts us and perpetuates the circle game we are caught up in. Conditioned to respond to language we have allowed to creep in to our lexicon keeps the whirligig spinning. We no longer speak about crime to fight; but criminals to capture. It’s no longer terror we wage war on; its terrorists. Thus, in this process, making some people evil and some good. If we continue down that road; surely we are lost.

We’ve seen this movie before. It was made all the easier to first demonize and them dehumanize the Vietcong by calling him Charlie; by labeling him a Gook. Today insurgents, a strange name for indigenous folks, are Hadjis, (actually a term of respect for Muslims who have made the pilgrimage to Mecca), all the easier to see them as sub-human; and thus easier to kill them without remorse.

Once conditioned to respond to these dog whistle phrases; dividing lines are drawn, separating us from them; sides are chosen. It’s no longer We; its Them vs Us. Once drawn the lines barricade behind their fears and see the “other” as enemy. The results of this vicious circle is what we are reaping today. So the arm that chokes the life from Eric Garner is as motivated and justified to act as the hand that violates the detainee and the finger that pulls the trigger that send the bullets that executed Mike Brown, Tamir Rice and untold multitudes of others.

It’s not the cop or the CIA agent who should bear the burden; it’s the top cops that send the orders down the line who are tasked with oversight of their troops. It’s the bosses to blame. But like Jabba the Hutt Cheney says, when asked about rectal feeding, a Orwellian anachronism for sexual humiliation, “ I don’t know anything about that” even while taking credit for instructing the troops to brutalize the enemy; even while crowing; “I’d do it again”. The only way not to know is to not want to know. But ignorance as a defense is no defense. It’s your job to know. It is the ancient Chinese proverb that applies here “a fish rots from the head down.”

“We got useful intelligence from detainees we used enhanced interrogation techniques on”, (a euphemism for torture) is the canard being issued by the CIA bosses and the apologists for the knuckle-draggers of the hard Right. Well, say the new vanguard of our cherished American liberties; “we just don’t care. If you have to torture to get information; if that’s all you’ve got; then find something else. We vanquished Hitler’s jaundiced National Socialist ethos without torturing anyone; the same can be done with the ugly ideology of Islams-fascist wing.”

Do your job in a way we don’t have to look over our shoulders and hang our heads in shame every time we leave the USA. Never torture again; period. We don’t care if the info you got while rectally feeding a prisoner was useful. The only honorable authority we have in this conflict is we are morally superior to ISIS in our tactics. Don’t make us the same as them.”

The public relations apparatus for the cops also uses a well-worn standard list of favorite hits. “He put his hand in his waist-band”; meant to suggest the person had a gun; even when the concern is, as was the case with Mike Brown and a long list of others, the summary execution of unarmed men. Cops also insist, even after pumping twelve shots into Mike Brown; “I feared for my life.” It’s time to ask at what point did you stop fearing for your life? Was it after the third shot, the sixth, the ninth?

Real power, one that kings have had the sole authority to exercise since time immemorial, is the power to pardon. We have extended that power down to those in uniform who we have also given the awesome power of deadly force. In the oft referred to “new training regime’ that is supposedly coming; someone please remind the cops, the troops and the CIA henchmen that real power is the power to pardon.

We will never purge bias from the hearts of men no matter how many racists we out; the struggle for civil rights has taught us that. What we can do is issue new demands for a change in tactics. Whether a man is equal in the authority figures eyes (cops, troops, CIA) or not matters not; all men are to be treated equally; thus are our values enshrined in law. The world, including our enemies, admire us for that, love us for that. They do not hate us for our freedoms; they hate us for our hypocrisy.

A few demands would offer easily rendered solutions; body cameras have proven to dramatically lessen citizen complaints of cops misuse of power. In Rialto, Calif., where an entire police force is wearing body-mounted cameras, the use of force by officers declined 60%, and citizen complaints against police fell 88%. Special prosecutors who are not in forced incestuous relationships with cops, must be tasked with prosecution when the unarmed are killed by cops. Police protocols must stress the legal and moral necessity to use the least amount of force possible, de-escalating confrontations, using, when an arrest is the only option left, the most non-violent means to arrest.

The streets in our communities are not a TV episode of COPS. Everyone does not need to be shouted down with vulgarities and vicious threats with loaded guns pointed at them; not everyone needs to be taken down like Pablo Escobar; we are not in Fallujah. In Ferguson a tendency towards confrontation and an over-armed police force did not bring order, but instead created the conditions under which the town descended into chaos. And one last thing fellas; let’s make it a rule that cops must stay off a person’s neck.

This recent rare occurrence of being ashamed and proud of the same thing; ashamed we allowed police powers and torture to run rapid and proud we owned up to them is eclipsed only by the pride felt witnessing a new generation of American youth leading an honest to god throwback style non-violent democracy revolution. The proper functioning of a democratic republic does not exclusively rely upon having a moral leadership. It also requires having a moral citizenry that regularly scrutinize the things done in its name.

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