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

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Memoriam

Nick Masesso, Jr.

“There are women and women and, some hold you tight; while some keep you counting, stars in the night”  – Come Down in Time – Bernie Taupin

There’s a girl who lives in the north country of California; an eco-village of recyclers, compost turners and organic lifestylers, who united with me for a time back in the day. She was the only one of the élite women that affixed her heart to mine over this lifetime, and even though we shared the most intimate of hours, with whom I could never find purchase. Even in our most intimate hours there sat between us a kind of violence even in our ardent love-making. She remains to this day an impregnable force, like a freight train, whose gears I could not convince to yield, whose machinery chewed me up every time I tried. I was left to simply buy the…

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Friends

Nick Masesso, Jr.

“United we stand-divided we fall” — The Liberty Song, John Dickinson

The test of a true friend is their willingness, upon your request, to offer a hand to one of your friends; someone they may not even know.

As I read Michael Moore’s autobiography “Here Comes Trouble” I was stunned by the avalanche of hate that descended upon him as a result of his acceptance speech at the Oscars after he won the famed prize for his first film “Bowling for Columbine”.  While a few luminaries like Meryl Streep and Martin Scorsese clapped wildly in approval, others like Robert Duvall went on the attack. Upon returning to his hometown in Michigan he and his wife were bared from their own property by three truckloads of horse manure piled waist high in their driveway and signs reading COMMIE and TRAITOR tacked on their trees.

As threats of…

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Morphine Dreams

Nick Masesso, Jr.

I slept with that old Devil again

last night

she crept in round midnight

cuddled right up, spooning me

she’s hot on the outside

steamy

all fuzzy velvet on those sharp red horns

but her breath

dank and fowl

and smelling like sulfur

comes from her insides.

She took her best shot

She’s use to winning

and all fighters know

the hardest opponent to beat

is the one that hasn’t yet learned

how to lose.

She tagged me with her greatest hits

had me seeing stuff

hearing stuff

crazy stuff

scary stuff

and when she felt confident she had me

she stoked up one of my Camels

took a hit and passed it to me.

I had a drag

then rolled over so she could

see my smile as I

extinguished the hot tip

on my tongue

we listened to it sizzle.

What God never tells you

is he’s scared…

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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.