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

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.

Indian Summer

“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.

UNION

“We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, clothed in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be, and you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality”.—Martin Luther King, Jr.

Theodore Roosevelt said “This country will not be a good place for any of us to live unless we make it a good place for all of us to live in”. History shows us that without Unions and their right to collectively bargain for the betterment of workers the suits would have us working for the same subsistence wages peasants in China and Viet Nam toil under; without health care or safety codes or environmental standards.

The greed motivated neglect visited on workers without a voice and without the power to band together as one will lead us back to the days of Norma Ray Textile Mill sweatshops and the current state of coal miners in Appalachia. Today’s short-sighted profit motivated Republican coup in Michigan, home of the Teamsters that gave America a middle-class, to eviscerate Unions with the Orwellian language of Right to Work is just what Barack Obama said it was; the right to work for less. #The “Economic Bill of Rights”  – Franklin D. Roosevelt #Unions # Justice #China and Viet Nam #American standard of living -1944 State of the Union # Economic Bill of Rights

The “Economic Bill of Rights”  – Franklin D. Roosevelt

Excerpt from 11 January 1944 message to Congress on the State of the Union

It is our duty now to begin to lay the plans and determine the strategy for the winning of a lasting peace and the establishment of an American standard of living higher than ever before known. We cannot be content, no matter how high that general standard of living may be, if some fraction of our people—whether it be one-third or one-fifth or one-tenth—is ill-fed, ill-clothed, ill-housed, and insecure.

This Republic had its beginning, and grew to its present strength, under the protection of certain inalienable political rights—among them the right of free speech, free press, free worship, trial by jury, freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures. They were our rights to life and liberty.

As our nation has grown in size and stature, however—as our industrial economy expanded—these political rights proved inadequate to assure us equality in the pursuit of happiness.

We have come to a clear realization of the fact that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. “Necessitous men are not free men.” People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made.

In our day these economic truths have become accepted as self-evident. We have accepted, so to speak, a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all—regardless of station, race, or creed.

Among these are:

The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the nation;

The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;

The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living;

The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad;

The right of every family to a decent home;

The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health;

The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment;

The right to a good education.

All of these rights spell security. And after this war is won we must be prepared to move forward, in the implementation of these rights, to new goals of human happiness and well-being.

America’s own rightful place in the world depends in large part upon how fully these and similar rights have been carried into practice for our citizens.

Here and There

“It’s a squirrel sanctuary; they think this woods is their home; and as long as I’m here; I’ll make sure people leave us all alone” – Ridgetop – Jesse Colin Young

In Oakland drinking water came from a pipe laid under the streets that snaked its way to my glass from miles away after being treated with fluoride and god knows what else so bottled water that cost more than milk or gasoline was considered wise. Here the water I drink comes from a groundwater aquifer in a well dug ages ago not 25-0 from my sink; it is naturally nourishing, pure and immaculate life enhancing soul food.

Oakland’s air is poisoned with pollution from oil refineries, buses, heavy industry and exhaust from about a million cars and airplanes. This toxic mixture of cancer precursor carcinogens fell in micro-sized particles of dust and clung to my clothes and shoes and lungs and traveled with me like an unwanted guest, going everywhere I went. Here a million air cleansing trees, few cars, no buses and no industry make the air I breath a meditation. The clean land, air and water mix with the wholesome sweetness of Midwestern people fueling an ambiance so gooey that if I didn’t already have diabetes this place would give it to me.

In Oakland the poor wretches with shadows on their faces, packed in like sardines in a can, who, especially during the holidays, thinking as everything they see tells them, that they should be happier, are shooting each other down by the bushel baskets. Here the only murder victims are Bambi the Walleye and the Musky.

In Oakland I couldn’t move 10-0 feet without encountering a gaggle of other folk that caused my every minute to be either filled with accounting for them or the action of ignoring them and both threw off my natural rhythms. They were, to make matter worse, if not a part of my personal tribe, as distant and armored as adversaries; creating a state of psychic awareness of my surroundings I prefer to ignore. Here it’s considered the normal thing to wave at most everyone or greet them cordially but etiquette demands no one’s space be unduly invaded.

In Oakland I grew used to the din of constant noise from the space age subway and the cars and the sirens and the masses of humanity that characterize high density residential living, especially making allowances for those who lived above and below me while everything and everyone is going at 2001 a Space Odyssey warp speed; so interaction, though compulsory, often felt empty and meaningless. There I was going slower than the ambient movements of most which is my wont; but here I still haven’t gotten out of reverse and I don’t meet a soul who doesn’t know instinctually that I’m not far removed from the city.

There I left my new 40 dollar NIKE swimming trunks on the bench in front of my locker at U.C.Berkeley gym for 10 minutes to take a shower and when I returned they were gone. Here I left my 80 dollar Under Armor work-out clothes in the shower at the gym and when I returned days later, not only where they waiting for me; they had been washed and folded. In Oakland I wouldn’t dream of not locking my car; here not only don’t I have to lock it; I can leave the keys in it. At Berkeley campus it was necessary to lock my valuables and protect the thousand bucks I enjoy carrying around. Here; no locker, no lock, yet I trust it’s as safe as the gold bullion at Fort Knox.

Just now snow begins to cling heavy to Evergreen trees that stand straight as armies and stretch to infinity between the single lane asphalt roads that cut between them. Take a drive here and you see more stunningly elaborate Christmas light decorations than people and the sheer beauty of the place, augmented by the open spaces, gives a man the sense that he can breathe and commune with his thoughts.

The city spawns a culture of tolerance, diversity and acceptance that always captivates, inspires and fascinated me. But an imperceptible blanket of angst and sadness, which visits everyone’s life to some degree, coupled with the loose attachment to ones feelings in the land of “listen to the magic misery that is me” reaching out for solace, also reigns with most everyone met. Here a genuine inbred stoicism handed down from pioneers still exists and perhaps no one let’s on if they are gloomy. That said; I’ve yet to meet one person so far who doesn’t seem genuinely happy.

I subscribe to the notion that environment is everything so I ascribe this joyous phenomenon to the environs. When you venture out each day on god’s own green, white and blue paradise it’s just damn difficult to feel misery for very long no matter how bad your life may seem. Maybe that’s why I haven’t been able to write anything new since I’ve been here. As Charles Bukowski said “no one comfortable ever wrote anything worth a damn” and I am nothing now in this temple if not comfortable. The magical mystical fairy-tale movie screen scenery fosters a perfect symmetry in my cadence; an ideal 60 beats of the heart per minute peace that 80% nature and 20% people fosters.

In the city there are plenty of people who know the words but few that know the music; here no one seems conflicted in trying to solve the ancient puzzle that is life. It’s a silent orchestral symphony of tranquility, serenity and brotherhood that speaks: “we are here to help each other thorough this thing; whatever it is”.