Thursday, September 29, 2016

my day

Dear max,
Don't think i've forgotten your request to write more "day in the life"pieces. I'm touched that you asked. It's taken me a few years to respond, as i can be pretty relaxed about most things. Also, at the time you made the request, my writing was drifting away from navel-gazing pieces (if you'll pardon the pejorative), into more universal fare.
Which is not to say that an occasional dose of heavy navel-gazing doesn't have merit. Especially now, when you've questioned why i would possibly live on this little island as long as i have, in the southern bible belt far from the cultural opportunities of some metropolitan hotbed. I know, you asked that a year i said, things can move slowly here.
So here's a typical day in my life, which at its best (minus one gaping hole, a lack of human touch or love), is probably as close to a "state of grace" as any human on this barbaric rock finds. So here's an average day. By average, i mean that which happens when absolutely nothing happens to disrupt my routine - no company, no calls, no appointments or events, no nothing. As i've carefully cultivated non-material simplicity and have drifted into the life of a semi-hermit writer, this happens more often for me than most. Far more, no doubt.
After seven or so hours of sleep, i wake up whenever my eyes happen to open. Even on days i have work, there's almost never an alarm clock involved. I awaken gradually, taking as many as thirty minutes from my first flicker of consciousness. The first thing i do upon waking is have breakfast. Almond milk and Kellogg's Red Berries, or some such. I watch a sitcom on dvd as i eat (currently SOAP - top five funniest shows ever). After i eat, i do some sweeping and put out food for our stray cat, and take fifteen minutes or so to manicure the bushes i've carefully cultivated in our yard. I do my dental regimen, and i'm off on my bike to work. I generally spend three or four hours doing freelance tree trimming, Monday through Friday. I'm available Sunday if a client prefers (Saturday is always garage saleing), but the standard M-F schedule seems to work for most clients. I arrive home, and have lunch (garlic tomato bread, a carrot with peanut butter, juice, chips) while watching some hour-long show on dvd (currently ROYAL PAINS - barely tolerable and sinking). I sometimes run out of show before i run out of food, and pop in a music dvd for a song or two. I take a quick nap, then while away the rest of the day. In no particular order, i write for 1-4 hours, and read for 1-2 hours (usually something science-related plus a memoir - currently "The New Primal Scream" and "Scandalous Women"). I listen to eight songs i've never heard, plus maybe a few i have. I masturbate 1-2 times, an hour or so each time. Around sundown, i have a meal (potatoes and onions with broccoli and black olives, banana, juice, coconut, honey and cinnamon) while watching a movie or two episodes of some show (currently BATTLESTAR GALACTICA - brilliant until it wasn't). Do i work every weekday? Heck no! Sometimes it rains, sometimes i have no job scheduled. I love those days - more writing and masturbation. Sometimes i work twenty days in a row, plus Sundays. Sometimes i work only one day a week...and know how the idle rich feel.
I'm surrounded by warmth and beauty. Often i watch the sunset on the beach, and take a swim. The plants i cultivate (frangipani, candlestick, night-blooming cereus, mango, leechee, devil's trumpet and many others) look and smell beautiful. Coconuts fall, and i have food.
I don't have much outdoor naked time here, sadly. After dark a bit, is all. I can save money here like few places else, though. I pay only $200 or so in monthly rent. It's a bit broken-down, i have to fight mosquitoes more than i would in some more airtight structure (i light incense and spend fifteen minutes hunting at bedtime, and even then find sleep sometimes interrupted), and it leaks a bit in heavy storms...but it suits my personality beautifully. I know i shall soon live in some metropolitan hotbed again, the better to foster what i have to offer the world as a writer and speaker. Even though it will probably be harder to save money, in a big city, i know i'll have a much better chance of meeting intelligent, progressive women, and trying to fill the gaping intimacy hole i now suffer.
But even so, a part of me shall be sad to leave my little slice of paradise.
I've got an extra chair, if you happen by.
I love you, brother.

Monday, September 19, 2016

wild lights

A strangely synchronous occurrence the other night afforded me that rarest of realities - a moment that felt unlike anything i'd ever experienced before.
A startling moment, akin to one's first fireworks display, or the aurora borealis, or a psychedelic drug trip for the first time...
While the events i'll describe will seem so much more mundane than those, please believe they were not. I almost want to say it was more intense, not less.
ELEMENT 1: i had just gotten onto my bicycle, for a nighttime ride. It was the first time i'd ever used one of those honkingly bright, newfangled (to me) bike that was actually attached to my head, too. All the bike lights i'd ever used before were like candles compared to this one.
ELEMENT 2: i immediately pedaled through an area of street construction. There were pylons and barrels everywhere, covered with the reflective paint contained now in traffic signs, street signs, and those little plastic reflectors glued to the roads.
ELEMENT 3: there were no street lights within sight.
If any of those elements had been omitted or lessened, this experience would have been perhaps still impressive...but the simultaneity of the three made my brain pop.
It's safe to surmise that reflective coating technology has made exponential strides in the past decade or two. The brightness of the reflective surfaces was so profound that it seemed inconceivable that each one didn't have its own power source. I was still hypnotized by the beauty ten minutes later, when i entered an area lit by streetlights and cars.
I suppose many bikers have had super-powered lights for years, and to them this is old hat. But for anyone else out there who is similarly inexperienced as i, a dose of delight and amazement awaits...

Friday, September 16, 2016

"A People's History of the United States"

-by howard zinn
1980 (updated 2003)

The history of the U.S.A, told not as a sanitized litany of the doings of rich white men, but from the perspective of the people (native indians, women, poor white men, blacks, chicanos) who did all the heavy lifting and had none of the say. He deconstructs the methods used by capitalism to divert people's attention away from poverty and racism (nationalistic wars, plus a two-party system that gives the illusion of occasional social progress while hiding the fact that democrats and republicans are both intractably protective of the big business/militaristic status quo). Could zinn's prose be more colorful? Perhaps...which is the worst thing i can say about this book (and it's a minor quibble, he's a wonderful writer). APHOTUS a towering achievement, one that belongs in any discussion of the most important books ever written (see Critics slam zinn for having a point of view (socialist/progressive), but that strikes me as specious, defensive posturing. Zinn spends little time telling you how he feels, and much time documenting his points. He shows restraint time and again, in refusing to indulge in unsubstantiated theories (like Pearl Harbor or 9/11 as inside jobs). Does he ever do a disservice to history's complexity? It's virtually impossible not to, in a book of this scope. The question is, how valid is his perspective? There is simply none more vital if this country (and humanity itself) are to finally live up to the proposition that all people have an equal right to life, liberty, and happiness. Zinn leaves you to ponder the thought of what might happen if the U.S.A. shifted from being the world's premier military superpower, to humanity's first humanitarian superpower.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016


Freddie mercury was right.
And it only took me forty years to realize.
I remember exactly where i was when it was announced that george lucas had sold the Star Wars franchise to Disney, and that a new trilogy starring the original cast would be created, wrapping up the nine films envisioned by george back in the 70s.
Hardcore fans, whatever the devotion, remember moments like that. For a boy who was nine years old when STAR WARS first came out, such moments, even thirty-five years later, can be seismic.
Not that i didn't greet the announcement with a certain amount of suspicion. I mean...Disney? Really, george? Your original trilogy was about taking down an evil empire. You detect no irony in selling the franchise to...Disney? And then came the subsequent announcement that the first film would be directed by j.j. abrams...who had already befouled one legendary sci fi franchise. It would be easy and convenient to call that the straw which broke this camel's back...but the camel was already lame, it just took a long time to embrace the truth.
I haven't seen the new film, which came out over a year ago. I don't expect i ever will. The enormity of that may be hard for anyone who wasn't a nine year-old boy in 1977 to understand. Were there any young fans more taken than myself? I suppose. I never went to any conventions, and i've seen plenty of footage of folk who display much more outward Star Wars love than myself. But in my understated way, i would have stacked my devotion against anyone's. Even at the age of forty, if i were told i could keep only one earthly possession, it would have been my Star Wars figure collection. And as i write this, the years-old passcode for my phone remains a Star Wars relic.
Seeing STAR WARS as a boy was transformative. Why? Was i already that much in need of escapism, in ways i couldn't have possibly understood? Probably. Add to that what was likely an abnormally high capacity for devotion, and you'll begin to understand how a childhood passion could last for decades.
But the end of my fandom has been on the wall for years. Disney and abrams forced the issue, but only made easy what had to happen. For any who are confused by my jumping ship, i'll assume you can either understand (or just take for granted) the foundations of my fandom...with EMPIRE adding frank oz's muppet magic to the mix, the franchise achieved such unassailable credit that even the flawed JEDI could be embraced (yoda alone probably added a decade to my devotion). I was thirty-three when PHANTOM MENACE came out, and i was all in, even defending it from nay-sayers in the fanbase. But y'know...that virgin birth was probably the beginning of the end. It made all too undeniable the religious parallels that had always been mildly troubling. To take the most childish notion of christianity, and weave it into SW mythology? It was annoying, but i endured. Yes, "the force" was godlike, but faintly scientific. I truly believed (and still do) in the possibility of unseen connections. Then, after the dust had settled from the second trilogy, i began to examine why i loved SW...and compare it to my devotion to Star Trek ( I realized that even if there were some unseen force in the universe, it has nothing to do with any kind of battle between "good and evil", like the kind forced down our throats in SW...and it's thinking like that which keeps humanity at war with itself, both in terms of holy wars and original-sin style self-loathing.
And the violence.
Oh, the violence.
I'm not much for regret. I rarely live there. But i wince to think that i contributed to my nephews' embrace of the Star Wars universe. Glamorous murder and brutality pervades SW, from both the "bad" and "good" folk.
Humanity needs to do better.
You may have noticed that sometime in the last year, the SW tab disappeared from this website, along with most of those articles. We evolve. I've even pondered (gulp) getting rid of my SW figures. Notwithstanding the fact that i actually took them out of the package and played with them, it's hard to imagine a more impressive collection. No, i don't have the boba fett with missile-ejecting pack...but i do have the blue snaggletooth.
Three hundred figures.
Okay, make an offer.
I love you all.