Saturday, March 18, 2006

hotel room, ikebukuro.

hotel room, ikebukuro.

cold sake and a cigarette a delicious pair make (why travel always turns me into a smoker, I don't know, but I'm happy to embrace minor vices).

the city is all lights and rush and cool rain. our host is overly impressed with plastic food but buys us a devine dinner, fresh tofu in soy milk, soft and light and a ripple on the tongue.
A girl in the subway wants to practice English so voices a question but shies away when I respond with a few of my own. I appluad minor braveries and give my most dazzling smile.
Dylan still my soundtrack, Japanese knives still full of allure. One with a wooden handle large enough to split you stem to stern, oiled and dull in the light.

And I'm over Japanese women, like breaking an addiction, kicking a habit. Or quoting Tom, out of order and context:
"be careful of them in the dark
they're just thorns without the rose
you wave your hand and they scatter like crows"

tomorrow I hop a train to the far north, where the sprawl gives way to rice fields terraced down mountain sides and the sake suddenly acquires flecks of gold. I'll find a shot bar and chain smoke my gauloises and chat up thorns in cowboy boots still a few months behind the times. send me kisses and prayers.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Civic Duty

What follows, an account of a day inside the Machine.

7:50 am. Arrive at gates. Empty pockets into plastic tray, pass backpack through strange machine. For vague reasons, small padlock, in backpack, is confiscated.

8 am. Arrive at waiting area. Fill out demographic form. Trade form for card enscribed "Panel #12, Seat #14". Sit.

8:30am. Ushered into new waiting area, this one front-facing, suggesting a place of worship. Told if we leave without permission we will have to come back again another day. Or will have a warrant issued for our arrest. Or will have a fine of not more than $2,000 levied against us. Watch film about the honor and gravity of our legal system. Fill out new form regarding race and ethnicity, reminded again of penalties of leaving, told to take a break for not more than 20 minutes.

9:30 am. Told we will know our status by 2pm. Not told what knowing our status will entail.

10:15 am. Suspicions of being trapped in Kafka. To avoid own obsessional tendencies, search out reading material. Find fantasy novel, cast away in adjacent waiting area, purporting to be the tale of a mad necromancer who seeks to overcome death so as to restore his wife, tragically slain.

11:30am. Another break. Again instructed on potential penalties of failing to be present at 12 pm. Eat cold Poptart from vending machine. Use bathroom.

12 pm. Return to waiting area, continue on fantasy novel. Learn that desire to overcome death is inherently corrupting and will certainly lead one to undertake unholy experiments on hapless, innocent villagers. Also, introduced to ironic hero, barbarian hunter of supernatural beings, who has contracted lycanthropy, thereby becoming an example of the very thing he hunts.

1pm. Reminded about penalties of failing to be present when role is taken and then dismissed for lunch. Wander to BestBuy, play a videogame involving driving a dirtbuggy around a track. Much prodigious jumping and crashing.

1:20pm. Shooed from videogame by angry gaze of desirous preteens. Return to courthouse.

1:45pm. Return Commiserate with woman whose purchased M&Ms won’t fall from their coil in the vending machine. Discuss shaking machine, but consensus is that high local concentration of law enforcement officers makes this unwise. Select Coca-Cola from soda machine, but root beer is dispensed instead.

2pm. Return to pews. Finish novel. Necromancer’s evil schemes thwarted thanks to a gypsy curse, the heroic barbarian, and a well-meaning but naive pair of apprentice necromancers. Fate of barbarian promised to be revealed only in a future work.

3pm. Told that all cases have settled before trial, due directly to our presence. Told about a card we will receive in the mail which is our proof of our service. We will receive this form in duplicate. One form is for our employer, and entitles us to a day’s wage. One form is for our records, and will excuse us from further service for a period of 3 years. If we are summoned again and have lost this form we will have to serve again. Thanked, and told to leave.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Turnings, musings, a glimmer of a new health. Allure of drugs and drink, fading. Rustlings of courage, maybe? Scent of something new on these balmy summer days—

Well. There have been false lights. But—let’s not be fatalistic here. If I really turn towards it, it will be done. If in half steps.

Let’s speak it clear: I’m talking about being brave, about not allowing my life to become a box of the regular, the norm. Where my only flights are in my head.

Meeting women is one part of it, because so much of my courage or my failings congeal there, in women, love, sex, flirtation, my body, hers. But also just speaking with more truth and more heart to whomever is there. And moving with more purpose, and less. More fluid, more natural, more ignorant of the lines, coloring all over the page.

“It is foolish to be angry with a fact”, says Krishnamurti, simple plain funny wisdom. For me one fact is I’m not as beautiful, not as thin as I wish I was. Hairier, a bit clumsier, a bit bigger, a bit softer. Yes, well, those are facts, and like the man said, foolish to be angry about them. The truth is that at my best I’ve been radiant for long periods and all I have to do is find the brave, get used to it again. I wonder if E can be a part of it. My relationship with her is fraught with the peril of her beauty, her allure (Ah! Her stomach! When she stretches and the pants are riding low and the line of her hip, the crease above the thigh, ah! Sexier now that she’s not quite as skinny, not quite as hard bodied, more softness there to want to sink into). It is easy for me to start wanting her, usually because she will come to me with all that openness and physicality, and then when I start to want her she’ll seem to recede, this is a pattern that isn’t healthy, isn’t fair to either of us. Anyway. Beauty demands a high price, what we finally talked about, if not quite directly, lying on the blanket in the calico late afternoon light. I called it her subtle egocentrism, what I mean is that being beautiful can be, like any other power, a corrupter, it makes you crave it, consider it your due.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

The Utopia Project

Take our 100 best people, not idealized and enlightened people but me, you, our picks for the best hearts and minds we have. Now, we a’re still us, just as we are today. But everything else is gone, gone in a hypothetical flash. We a’re a mid-Western farming community. No one else, no one in the world. No threats, man-made or other, no threats on the horizon. Now. We also have 50 kids. Newborns.
So: how far could we go? Could we create the citizens of a new utopia? Or are human genetics incompatible with the utopias we can imagine? Or, do we carry too much of the system ensconced within us, such that we'd replicate much of it without trying? I tend to be on the optimistic side. But I think there are real unknowns in both those big questions, the genes and our fallen status. And even if you think we could do it, well it wouldn'’t be a simple matter. We'’d have to really decide how. There would be questions, deep and hard questions, like competition and love and property and intelligence and skill and punishment and sex and on and on.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Society's breath

Here's one part of it: We a’re so deeply ensconced in our social roles. The options we see for ourselves seem at least in large part determined by them. This is interpellation in a way, in that society breathes us, brings us into existence to occupy a niche.

But our ability to be so interpellated is the flipside of our great intelligence, sensitivity. (Or is it? Could it be rather that it is that same part we share with lower animals? I think in the end it must be our intellect'’s attempt to deal with that baser part, some interaction between them which produces these sick and twisted realities)

We're able to create our own worlds to occupy, slowly, over generations. That'’s a pretty fucking amazing thing. We can create our own psychological reality. The best the rest of the animal kingdom can do is adjust a minor wrinkle in the physical world, damn a creek or something. We can rewrite the entire thing.

This is the same circling idea, about the myth-makers. They'’re what we need. New pressures to help shape the way our psychological reality develops. Because it always is; cultural evolution is happening. And there are, I think, many possible futures. Evolution can go in lots of directions, it can go towards beautiful and elegant, or it can go towards ironshelled and mean as fuck, scared as fuck.

This is where the battle really is. Lakoff's framing, all that, well it'’s on the right track, I mean they have the scent, but they’re way fucking behind the curve. Framing issues is all well and good but we need to frame reality, need to push it towards grace in heart.

This is also, interesting to arrive through the backdoor, but it is also the same point the Everything Bad is Good for You dude, what is it, Johnson, doesn'’t get. Of course we'’re getting smarter, in some sense or another. But it'’s what smarter. Cuz when you'’re talking evolution, you don'’t have the luxury of thinking smarter means anything like more intelligent.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

down boy

forced celibacy rising up crazy and making me twist, reach for things I don't really want.

don't know why it's so hard--how fear has managed to grow comfortable in my heart, making me enact daily cowardices like a regular old human, like the ones you pass in the street, don't look twice.

just back from the 'Dam, walking the alleys and looking through glass at all that available flesh, wondering if I could even if I wanted to. sex is all up in my head, don't know quite how it got so twisted up in me, just behind my solar plexus hot like shame.

Happy Child, wonder about the things you see, down P-town way, little Tao still holding you hand as you cross the street? Did you name him for me, strangely? For the times we lay on our stomachs on my floor, half-dressed, tracing the characters with our fingers, you calling out the ones you knew--

The Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao
The name that can be named is not the eternal name

Saturday, March 19, 2005


you'd think they would spend this much energy dealing with the fact of the ghetto, the fact of the malnutrition of thousands if not millions of young dusky children. of the fact that their schools are deep disasters, cesspools, pure wreckage.
No; they have better things to deal with. So for example there is a brain dead woman who needs to be subponed. Brain dead, mind you. Not going to recover, or else everything we know about the brain is wrong.
Well, they insist, if we let this one go the liberals'll be pushing pillows into their parents faces to gather up inheritances.
Braindead, mind you. Gone as gone ever is.
The hypocrisy of it all (we can execute the mentally retarded and the young and the horrifically abused, their 'right to life' can be cast aside in the name of vengeance) is striking. The husband has heard from her lips that she doesn't want the endless technicality of machine-given life, of a pump shoving breath down into her lungs again and again and again until the power fails.
Our brave congressmen are willing to cast aside everything else to fight for this dead woman's life. While children starve and genocides continue their slow simmer and schools fail. Let us save this dead woman, whatever the cost.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

more adulation

fun to rediscover one of your own favorite artists, who'd gone stale through overuse but, after a period, when you yourself have changed just enough and forgotten just enough more that you can fall prey again.

Talkin' 'bout Tom, 'course.
Big Time blossomed into his rebirth.

Sunday, September 26, 2004

Big Time

Tom the Bomb--
to see him in live action is to have my admiration redoubled. His genius is in embodying roles no one else will touch, slices of the great big world that are normally dismissed, the unromantic loser, the drunk, the bum (the real one, stinking and crazed and drunk, no romantic hobo vision here), and embodying them so fully, so passionately, that they become tragic (at least tragi-comic) and beautiful at once--
to watch him singing, doing dark violence to his vocal chords, lost in character, it is to realize what an artist he is, Artist in the big grand sense of one who lives for art and is lost in it and is bigger than any single genre.
Of course, he also seems to be insane, as he put it in an interview, a rat gnawing at anything to keep his teeth worn down, to keep them from growing on up through the roof of his mouth and through his brain.

A movie that can start with "Frank's Wild Years" and get weirder and darker from there, well, that is an accomplishment!

Tuesday, June 29, 2004


Striking the proper constitutional balance here is of great importance to the nation during this period of on-going combat. But it is equally vital that our calculus not give short shrift to the values that this country holds dear or to the privilege that is American citizenship. It is during our most challenging and uncertain moments that our nation's commitment to due process is most severely tested; and it is in those times that we must preserve our commitment at home to the principles for which we fight abroad. ("The imperative necessity for safeguarding these rights to procedural due process under the gravest of emergencies has existed throughout our constitutional history, for it is then, under the pressing exigencies of crisis, that there is the greatest temptation to dispense with guarantees which, it is feared, will inhibit government action.") ("It would indeed be ironic if, in the name of national defense, we would sanction the subversion of one of those liberties . . . which makes the defense of the nation worthwhile").

-Excerpt from today's Supreme Court Decision to deny the suspension of rights to alleged enemy combatants.

A little bit of National Pride, allowed to creep in, for this succinct and eloquent statement.