Noise

“For the most sensitive among us, sometimes the noise can just be too much.” – Jim Carrey – upon hearing of the death of Phillip Seymour Hoffman.

The cross city bus clamors out a murderous seasick solo backed by an orchestral scrum of whizzing internal combustion engines in uproarious brawl spewing invisible air and ear pollution death while begging for second gear; both instruments of audio-olfactory destruction, an offense to the ear and nose from landlocked personal space-ships bumper to bumper on the narrow streets of San Francisco’s North Beach neighborhood; all, along with the antique streetcars sing out a cacophony of noise so disturbing I had to hold the phone, physically 1,500 miles away from the action, six inches from my ear.

Our story’s hero Jeff is laboring, careening up and down intensely inclined ski sloop streets chasing said bus while he screams into his cell phone at me “Man, the first thing you’d notice if you came back is the noise”. I tell him he’s preaching to the choir. The air in my environs of northern Wisconsin is so calm I can hear the sound of autumn leaves rustling along the well-kept lawns and iridescent blue birds singing their daily arias.

Writers flood into big cities, whether they know it or not, to be uncomfortable; since like the late, great Charles Bukowski opined “no one comfortable ever wrote anything worth a damn”. The city is life on steroids; it’s intensity keeping us all tense. The boulevard is a raging river of humanity and sometimes inhumanity. There is rarely a shortage of stimuli upon which to opine. Here the writers cup runneth over.

Our hero confides he’s been reaching back into his past to make that connection that sooner or later, sooner I think for some of us given recent societal developments, we all eventually make; that DNA linked memory to our roots. Jeff is currently covered by a warm blanket; surrounded by like-minded west coast social justice warriors – yet when looking back over his shoulder in contemplation of revisiting comrades from his mid-western past; he is floored, repulsed and catatonic over the addiction he sees in his childhood pals adherence to the new ersatz fascism; the redneck noise that is Trumpism.

In the same way it’s nearly impossible to escape the noise coming at us all like a Chinese parade, from eight different directions all at once; it’s the same for our natural inclination to decipher the content and arrange it in some assemblage of bite-size order. Is it as it seems? Is the new avalanche of information overwhelming our capacity to upload, sort-out and categorize it’s meaning and importance so we might get a handle on our collective future?

It can’t only be me and our hero who, overwhelmed by the noise, wish solace in heeding the wise voices from our past. Timothy Leary’s advise was “tune-in, turn-on and drop out.” Or the angelic voices of groovy guru of the day who suggest wandering in an open field for mindfulness training. Or the Birkenstocks environmentalist who insist we head back to nature and hug a tree; or the mental spiritualist that whisper meditation is the key. Maybe the best of them are the Tantra yogi’s who claim sexual pleasure is the way in and out; that the answer is a bit more of the old in and out. Being a hedonist myself I tend to flow in this direction.

Yet, with escape valves in place in case of overload and prayers to the universe for guidance, I can’t help myself wanting to sort through the noise and discover, like a pathfinder, which direction to point; for myself and others. The Stoics posited that the philosopher left the cave, examined the outside world and returned to tell the others of the joys and dangers outside the cave.

Now they’re be a noble and heroic cause; to be a fearless scout in the face of unknown dangers; to be a trailblazer for the greater good in a quest to report, interpret and transmit the findings. The conundrum seems to be we can’t translate through the noise to know what’s coming if we disengage from it.

In the end I’m left perplexed. Shall we try to make a path through the noise though we fear not knowing the answers and fear worse not even understanding the questions? Are we all just like our hero; wishing to be heroes; but succumbing to the dictates of surviving the day and reach for the safety and sanity of just catching that bus? #rednecknoise #Stoics #Trumpism #CharlesBukowski

Dead Air

“When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better, too. “ — Paulo Coelho, “The Alchemist”

My woman, prostrate on our bed, is crying; scared she says, that being a woman, a Mexican and disabled, three things she’s heard the president-elect sling hateful rhetoric at, she’ll be deported, or shanghaied to some internment camp to be used as forced labor to build his promised border wall. I tell her not to worry; that such notions are absurd. But since that was the same advise I’ve given her for the past six months, a mortal lock certainty America would never elect such an odious character, she’s less than sedated by my views.

I have mixed feelings. Part of me believes the genius of our three equal branches of government, despite all being controlled more or less by one Party, will restrain the worst impulses of the rabble that has seized the levers of power. Another part of me fantasizes standing on a street corner like Lenin; screaming Revolution. My overarching desire though, is that the losers, the middle-class left-behinds, with nothing but the dead and dying back in their little towns, after delivering the biggest fuck you in American political history, get what they deserve; without the need to have tanks in the streets.

I was tempted to turn on right-wing talk radio today, ubiquitous in my present environs of northwestern Wisconsin, just to see if it was all just dead air; thinking what will Rush and his ilk bloviate about now that they’ve gotten all they ever claimed to have wanted. Their time for bitching is over; time to govern now. Time to deliver.

Meanwhile a nauseous wave of revulsion washed over fifty million voters coast to coast in the past few days; leaving those who voted anti-charlatan bent over retching and bleeding from the eyes. The shock turned to shame at the reality that one so execrable was selected to lead. I suppose my most honest feeling is ashamed; ashamed my fellow citizens, so long aggrieved to be sure, still, would hand over the reins of our government to the epitome of the ugly American.

The winners have triumphed. The battle field has been cleared of the dead and the wounded have all been shot. Now, protocol and good form dictate that the new president get a one year honeymoon from criticism in the hope he’ll do good. The die-hard will oppose, professional opposition will regroup and to the victors go the spoils. Basically the winners get to write the checks.

I’m not big on hope. I believe once you’re down to hope; things are damn-near hopeless. But just maybe, perhaps, the awesome responsibility to provide for the greater good or the daily security briefings that turn every president’s hair prematurely gray or the desire for legacy every seventy year old man harbors will transform in this unlikely mortal a sense of duty and subsequently transform his greed for attention, hopefully finally satiated, into an understanding that history will record his acts and forever taint or tarnish or burnish his much personally coveted name.

Perhaps our attitude ought to be that of the patriotic symbol of the American eagle emblazoned on all our money. In one talon we/the eagle hold 13 arrows and in the other olive branches. It seems certain that the hand we use in future will depend on what actions this accidental president takes. #presidentelecttrump

Indian Summer 2016

“The Indian Summer of life should be a little sunny and a little sad, like the season; infinite in wealth and depth of tone, but never hustled”. – Henry Adams

Returning to my comfort station, reclining as calm and safe as a man watching a snow storm from his fireplace, resplendent in my throne as form-fitting as a dentist’s chair; the Technicolor movie that never ends burns outside my writers window; bringing me once again to a level of consciousness and sense of detail rarely met. The weather seer on the magic box tells me this very day brings forth the peak of Fall’s funeral colors.

Autumn leaves empty of promise as a woman past the magic of birth cascade choreographed in a wonderland as quiet as asylum walls, yet hot as the boiler room of the damned; death colored egg yolk yellow and shot through with veins as red as Gods blood rainbow arcs as colorful as a shower of dying clowns.

They flutter, cut loose and fly in somnambulist vertigo exhaustion; oscillating on the almighty hawks reaper winds; looking like pixie magic carpets; organic meteor showers in this curious early evening; creating a musical serenade of tiny organic castanets inside north-lands mystical Peter Pan Neverland forest; then land in quiet triumph. Wood smoke clings to a darkened moonless sky like a quivering mist shaking in its tilt above and across a glass smooth lake.

Another more common death notice arrived across the wire today; my Muse, most dear to me, robed in colors soft pink and regal purple, is feeling the loss of one most dear to her. Though channeling the bereavement, nonplussed, she is comforted in the knowledge that every description of the end was never other than glorious. I will save a leaf or two in memory of this years last interment procession and place in them the memory of their best days, as I hope the amulet I sent her will assuage the injury and immortalize the sad event; elevating both their status to symbolic yet sacred sarcophagus.

The moment speaks an echoing acoustic truth; as above so below. The last chapter of Fall’s story mimics our own, or so we hope; that like natures end-of-days cycle we too, in our last evolution, will rush forth most musical and magnificently colored in our ending hours. Snakes shed their skin and stay; trees release their leaves yet still breathe and we jettison our flesh and blood while our soul essence linger. This Indian summer is the perfect time for the rewards of that esoteric existential wondering.

In this cycle of life, death and rebirth the deeds we leave behind are the steps of the dance we taught our brothers and sisters; they stay as rhythms they will never lose. We celebrate souls that pass to the other side in the same way we celebrate Indian summer;  just another life form bound by the rules of nature.

Harvest Moon 2016

 “Autumn is the year’s last, loveliest smile.” ― William Cullen Bryant

Surfing ever-deepening grooves carved in this country road by repetitious smoothing from my extremely low-frequency sounding spaceship tires, I zone into my own private symphonic opera. A humongous full moon meets myhigh beams and swallows the horizon. Pitch dark street light free ribbons of black asphalt snake along narrow paths to home and back separating the wild from the man-made world. By their grace I live in this dirt and courage wilderness.

I wave, as is the custom here, to the other spacemen travelers inhabiting our lifeline corridor as we whiz past each other with that all too familiar catatonic stare that monotony turns all commuters faces into; a kind of crazy, irrational drunkard swoon that seems to us all too rational. We are compatible complaints; dutifully fulfilling our social contract and coloring safely inside the lines.

Our axis rotating planet is orderly and slowly releasing its summer soul; producing more dark each day than light. In the murmuring twilight the gloaming summer is lifting her skirt. Summers death rattle beckons the underbrush and she begins to whisper as seductive and dangerous as a woman’s breath in the throes of passion. The sun begins to fall faster and everything seems to take on the sighing autumnal ember colors of all the sadness there ever was.

The pumpkins appear overnight, lined up and stacked in pyramids of orange and white like harmless cannon shells strategically set along highway shoulders for some impending artillery battle. Battalions of corn stalks surround them and us and everything for more miles than eyes can see. They are zombies, stoically awaiting the farmer’s murderous front row cultivators, threshers that mutilate then bury the detritus that once winter ferments will resurrect. A crisp cool Canadian breeze foretells fortune tales of fall.

Flowers fade, fruits flourish and fresh vegetable Bodega glisten with a luster from the sky. You can feel the baby’s breath of winter. Harvest moon is the fullness of life. Leaves turn red on their last days full of life and color them beautiful in death as they abandon the twigs that sympathize with their decay. Albert Camus opined that autumn is a second spring. But the migrating geese and me agree; we put distance between ourselves and funerals.

It’s a Paul Bunyan land of ballgames and barbecues here; a feast of Walden Pond and Lake Woebegone. The thousand little compromises we make every day that eventually add up to the loss of ourselves, that decayed stench of hollowness, disappears. This life to death with beauty dance is the real thing. Welcome to Pleasantville, USA.

Bad Trump Good

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men should do nothing.” – Edmund Burke

Ninety seconds into his first press conference it seemed certain this guy was an empty suit; a billionaire buffoon puffed up with self. If America in her infinite wisdom does the unthinkable, again; a Nixon or a W, to satiate the dark side of her heart, the opposite of her better angels, her worst devils, we’re in for a rip-roaring revolution revisited.

I am, in fact, in complete denial this wave of nausea like heartburn from a bad hotdog is even possible; so I’m already examining the detritus left in its wake. The bad news first I suppose, the lowering of the bar for our collective public conversation I fear may have forever been tsunami swamped and we are, in this regard, on an escalator to hell. Where, pray tell, is the line of the new revulsion? What can not anymore be said in polite company? How naked have our fears and prejudices been laid?

The good news seems clear; seeing decent men like McCain and Romney and grandpa Reagan eclipsed and savaged by a real life menace has enraged the conscious and stiffened the spine of the opposing forces unlike anything we’ve seen in American politics. The unleashing of this firebomb thrower has untethered our better angels and they are about avenging. Trump and his acolytes have done more, not only to cause good men on the left to rise but also good men on the right. Trump may well have done more to bring us together than any politician in the last fifty years.

The painful, gaseous eruptions we feel in our gut and the noxious smell we leave in our wake from that bad hotdog reminds us to never again swallow a thing that hasn’t passed the smell test; no matter how much it incites our senses. Our experiences with bad decisions, like the selection of supposed strong-men like the morally scrambled Nixon and the guy-like-me intellectually challenged W, reward us with the knowledge not do that bad thing again.

The scientific axiom goes thusly; It’s all good, there is no bad; since bad is the steerage mechanism to good. The rocket fired into space rotates and revolves, bouncing off the error to drive it in a straight line. Without crime we would not know a problem existed and society would not be served by ignorance or ignoring. We must be able to identify the error in the system, the sand in the ointment, the bad man from the good; so we can steer ourselves, our best chance for civilization to evolve, America, onto the right course. Therefor, bad trump; good.

Now comes the inquisition each man and woman must endure under their own hand. It’s a game of whats-wrong-with-this-picture? Which images do not belong, which rhetoric does not fit. Which milk is sour and which one will sustain and nourish us and our children? Alexis de Tocqueville, among others, like Abraham Lincoln, opined that “In a democracy people get the leaders they deserve.” sixteen days from now; we will.