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Barbershop Diaries, Volume I, Issue 6: Cat Stevens, Meet the Muslim State

Two More, Please!!

Two More, Please!!

A quality of light passes through the tall eucalyptus of my childhood, a broken light made whole to my memory by a familiar aroma of camphor diffused and transformed to a spicy scent with which I could eat the morning sky.  Childhood could have been a fog of wounding sadness, but the boundless energy of youth erased misery after misery to give life a second chance each and every day.  As disappointments grew intense and sunk in ever deeper towards a singularity someone had placed near my heart, the Sun still always rose the next day with a promise of spice and light to hold a thirst for meaning in abeyance for another time, another day and another place.

As my body ceased its relentless growth and adulthood loomed, the time came to be known as now, the day of import, today, and the place of moment chosen far and away from the healing eucalyptus and camphor that once gave an overtaxed nervous system pause for reasons not held in conscious keep.

Many haircuts spread unevenly and made of varying length taught me the power of an electric buzz to deafen the ears to both silence and sound.  I would take my seat disheveled, presumed dissembling and unclean, only to arise a score of minutes later renewed to a world outside the buzz that continued its echo beneath the skin of my childhood.

I promised last week to stop looking for import where none was possible; to cease seeking for inspiration among things intentionally left common and profane.  I would, instead, seek for my oracle in the abject innocence, or goofiness, of a seven-year old grandchild named, “Caleb.”

I think I’ve again made a terrible mistake.

“K-L-E-B…wind-up radioooooooooooo….all talk, all-the-time.”  It is non-stop with this kid.  The channels in his head switch so fast he ends up, most often, stuck between channels of thought and making no sense whatsoever.  Stephanie Miller he is not.  Not yet, anyway.  But he is my chosen oracle for the week.  He will be my source for the power to see all things obvious.  My a-feared headline reads, “Captain Obvious accidentally eats kryptonite in the form of a kid with a developing mood and/or neurological disorder and is left, once again, trying to establish a meaning for it all.”

I could go to DIGG and seek for inspiration at the human gum-wall of complete nonsense.  About the only thing this week that makes any sense to me are the two submissions about the online video of the murder of Neda Agha-Soltan which has become the rallying cry for a huge number of Iranians dissatisfied with their stolen election results.  Mahmoud “Imadinnajacket,” a man who, like George W. Bush, bankrupted and destroyed his country’s infrastructure in record time, has been roundly criticized for years by the Iranian people.  Those people, particularly women, showed up in record numbers to try to throw the bum out, but he’s had other plans.  So have the theocrats who actually run the country that is Iran – those who fancy themselves philosopher-kings even while they preside over the murder of teens for the crime of being raped by a 51-year old male. 

To date no one really knows what’s actually going on inside of Iran, but the shocking and traumatic video of Neda’s shooting and subsequent death have caused a full spectrum of responses to rise up around the globe, from the utterly dysfunctional to the appropriately horrified.  Something odious is brewing within Iran’s borders, something with the face of an angel but the vacuous core of the amoral.  The obvious conclusion: we no longer trust what comes in through our eyes…the more intense or sublime the dissonance between life, death and reproduction, the more jaded we seem to be to the simple beauty of ordinary things.  The truth we all run from stares us plainly in our face and we doubt its veracity not because it isn’t true, but because our habit of denial has become so incredibly fierce it can impose itself on our conscious minds even seemingly at random.

The obvious fact of the matter is that my observation of your life makes your life a part of mine: your pain, your joy, your life, your death – become feelings that dwell within me for a time.  The more powerful those emotions and their dissonance with mine become, the faster my drawbridge between truth and my conscious acceptance of truth goes up.  I stay within my battlements and boundaries and believe that I am safe from you and the truth of our obvious unity, until something assaults from both within and without to set those battlements ablaze.  My anger rises from frustration and guilt as I must, once again, erect those walls of neurological safety between us that time and truth can only wear away.  So acute can those feelings of guilt and frustration become that I feel compelled to project them onto you so as to hold you accountable and responsible for emotions that are plainly and entirely my own.  You forced me to feel what I didn’t want to feel or was not prepared to experience and I blame you for using the shock of my own ignorance to awaken me to the simple fact of our conjoint existence.  And so the obvious becomes camouflaged and buried beneath layer after layer of self-serving conclusion, dishonest inquiry and a projection of misplaced guilt.

I run from this truth every day, as do you.  And I resent you every time you attempt to bring the obvious to my attention.  I am not at peace being a part of your experience, and yet I crave the very thing I am at war with.  When I pull the lacings of my most profound skin to give you the access you crave, you run away in shock and horrible surprise as my beauty pulls at you with the gentle force of gravity, yet the static charge of my imperfections throws you back across the room.  We want to be true to only one force in a multiverse of several; we want truth and beauty even though our individual nervous systems can tolerate but little before a heat wave of confusion makes an entire horizon profane and a void of meaning that mere words cannot describe.

And so Neda’s very public death by murder in Iran becomes a hoax for which I require no real evidence to believe simply because I so thoroughly do not want to feel the burn of a bullet to my chest that pierces my heart and shatters my spinal cord such that, even in my final moments, I cannot reach out and touch those most dear to me before I drown helplessly in my own blood.  And I resent you for making me feel this and the horror of a father whose beautiful baby girl has just evaporated into a lifeless heap before his eyes shocking him into the madness of a nervous system driven into overload. 

These are but few of the emotions I must carry in my conscious mind while my unconscious mind knows that a little girl or little boy who would be so completely incapable of processing the emotion of stepping across streams of blood in the street, must in fact do so by the dozen in the searing heat that is Iran in the Summer of 2009.  And so crippled by this experience would such children be that it will be decades of self-inflicted traumatic terror before they would even draw close to a recollection of why red blood on the ground, or the odor of rust in the air, causes them to feel nauseous or fly into a terrifying rage that they will blame on those around them as if they had just murdered someone before their eyes…because they have.  There were seemingly different individuals involved in an apparently different time and place, but the feelings are just as if their heart had never left the place of its original violation, the habit of ripping up the drawbridge from its natural place of rest becoming owned as their habit, rather than the reflected compulsion of the man whose self-righteous bullet targeted a woman unchaste enough to show her face in a public place.

So while the United States may have had no actual accountable involvement in Neda’s murder for which they could be brought to trial and jailed, it was their man in Tehran, the Shah Reza Pahlavi, who had succeeded in driving an otherwise habitual pattern of revolution into the relative safety of Islamic mosques where it became rancid and infectious.  When the cystic infection of politicized religious self-righteousness finally burst in 1979, religion powered the coup that swept the Shah from his throne and generated a tidal wave of Islamic rage throughout the Middle East.  It is from among these fundamentalist zealots that Neda’s deadly bullet apparently hailed.  So, in what some on this planet would say is an indirect sense – but everything intelligent in the cosmos looking down on us from afar would agree is anything but indirect – the US played a big role in Neda’s murder.  And we all live with this sad fact because our fierce friend – denial – helps us to forget the unforgettable even when remembering fully might serve us all best.

Before this week became too much for me, I took Caleb to the park to feed the ducks.  We got to hold a baby gosling and even managed to do so without getting pecked to death by a mother goose.  She had her job to do and we had our’s: fighting crimes against the Obvious One.  Even modern superheroes need to take time out to mingle with the reasons anyone ever does anything at all on this planet.

A familiar buzz awakens me…this time it is my alarm clock…and it reminds me that what was yesterday is forever gone, what is tomorrow does not promise my further existence and what exists right here and right now is my eternal choice between sharing heaven or competing for leadership in hell.

If you cannot imagine my choice, imagine the going rate for haircuts in hell.


The Barbershop Diaries, Volume I, Issue 5: Captain Obvious, The World’s Only Necessary Superhero


Capn Obvious nCaleb

Cap'n Obvious n'Caleb

I thought that when I started this whole, “examine Digg for subconscious insight into America’s nervous breakdown,” that there might actually be some valuable information in the weekly popular choices of web content that are made.  While I see some evidence in support of my original thesis, I want to believe that there is some “non-random” manipulation in the Digg rankings because the only “insight” that pervades these weekly coiffs has been the compulsive drive to escape from the meaning of it all.  In decades of schooling, what the “intellectuals” had always insisted on telling me, repeatedly, was something akin to Viktor Frankl’s search for meaning.  And why would they not promote this particular perspective?  It so clearly clashes with the evidence, requiring an even deeper rationalization of the facts and ever more soaring rhetoric to justify the expense of their field of study.  In short, a total scam – a confidence game.  Amway with a track team, as Richard Jeni once opined.  In five weeks of looking I have seen no evidence of a uniform thirst for meaning in the web’s popular culture.  What I have seen, and suspect will see, have been the machinations of a popular culture driven to distraction and committed to distraction’s search.  To suggest otherwise would be disingenuous on my part and yet another veiled attempt by an alleged intellectual to establish hegemony for wit — hegemony for the sheer numbers having long since been decided.

Of course I do not include us in my gross generalization, gentle reader; that you have endured these weekly trips to Life’s barbershop for a trim suggests an intelligence well above average, and a fastidious attention to detail.  And yet we must still find a way to reconcile our place in a world where we are outnumbered and overwhelmed on almost every front by the Kafkaesque, if not the moronic.

I call your kind attention to last week’s number one Digg submission, five days old, informing the world that a cartoon called, “Futurama,” is coming back to television network “Comedy Central,” per producer Twentieth Century Fox.  At some point.  We know not when.  But the question from Captain Obvious is, “who gives a shit?”

Futurama fans, of course, who represent a tiny little niche struggling for hegemony and notoriety in a rolling sea of Fox Studios’ effluent.  Fox and its “Videodrome” infected staffers produce mental junk food best complimented with purple Indica and bowl after bowl of Fruit Loops, preferably soaked in Skim Milk.  I’ve watched in horror over the years as Fox has turned our brains – individually and collectively – into a mush that would make Hannibal Lecter drool.  If it’s not the blathering bad mouth Bill O’Reilly hocking his anti-persona persona and polluting the public’s airwaves, we have the addictive and unbelievably cunning machinations of Vic Mackey on, “The Shield.”   Or, we can watch Dennis Leary as a firefighter, rather than just a comedian, traumatized by the 9/11 WTC attacks in, “Rescue Me.”  If Futurama is anywhere as well constructed and focus-group-tested as, “Rescue Me,” or, “The Shield,” viewers can just relax into the future foretold by the movie, “Wall-E.”  Your consumption is all that will be required.

Frankly, I’ve mainlined enough “Rescue Me” and “The Shield” episodes to know that I can’t afford another trip to rehab and detox.  I’ll take the word of Futurama fans from the TV Squad website, they’re hooked and it’s pretty hopeless.  Admitting you’re powerlessness, Dear John, is the essence of the first step in recovery.  That would be before, or long after, you have put away the Puerto Rican rum and all that it means to you.

“Pathetic,” were the first words out of my mouth when I clicked on this week’s number two contribution from website Flickr.com.  Apparently, Facebook user “Jared,” found out that his mother, Facebook user, “Janice,” was getting divorced from Jared’s father via said mother’s Facebook status update.  I know that people get busy – forget to write, forget to call – but the deterioration of modern relationships could never be made more clear than in this uncommented vignette between a mother and her son viz. Web 2.0’s Facebook.

“Tragic” would be another word that comes to mind. 

I could analyze this one to death – but, no.  Let this entry soak in past the profound skin that heralds the separation between each of us.  Sometimes silence does a better job of educating and informing than all the words ever written on a subject in all the libraries of the world.

Now that I have doused the buzzed heads of a few cocktail satellites in a bucketful of ice water, we can now turn our attention to this week’s third cut to the back of the nation’s lathered neck, its age of five days meaning the cold steel blade will leave the flesh raw and tender.  A good barber would never do such a thing, unless he cared more for freeing his chair of an unwelcome client than he did for protocol or duty.

Perhaps if this week’s number three had fallen elsewhere in the rankings I could see keeping it as wonderfully mundane as the commenters from Flickr wanted to see it.  But sometimes the tension in the barbershop comes not from any one patron, save the toxic chemistry of their combination.

So why Darth Vader?  Why light sabers?  What motivated an obvious wife captivated by the effect “Dad” had on her son’s birthday party to snap this picture and then seek to promote it?  Why is it that women always get a free pass on Oprah when it comes time to fix blame on one gender over another in the “who’s the most violent, disruptive gender,” sweepstakes?  It’s simply not fair – not in light of this week’s number two entry.

Scraping the skin with a not-too-sharp razor can leave a nasty wound, a wound hard to clean even after the patron’s blood clots and all those waiting in line for their turn have finished studying a barber’s every move with an anxious gravity.  Mistakes can happen even in the best of barbershops; but when it happens to a specific patron that everyone gathered knows does not belong, one has to wonder why they still sit quietly reading their portion of the daily paper as the bloodletting continues unabated.  If everyone gathered for the day continues in their stoic reticence, the patron may well be filleted alive before he has a chance to pay for the cut he had intended to receive.

And so it is with this week’s number four.

On the very day this number four submission made it to the hallowed cyber halls of Digg, Officer Stephen T. “Big John” Johns was gunned down by James von Brunn – an 88-year-old white supremacist with an appetite for child pornography – at the Washington, D.C. Holocaust Museum.  Johns was an employee of Wackenhut and a man whose union had tried to negotiate for the provision of bulletproof vests for all of its officers at the museum to no avail in the prior contract period.  Johns was hit in the upper left torso by a .22 caliber Long Rifle slug.  That slug likely went right through Johns and could have easily killed others at the museum that day.  Thanks for the clip, Wackenhut.

The part that bothers me most about this “action” shot of our President, Barak Obama, is that while millions have been laid off or otherwise unemployed during the first 100 days of this President’s tenure, he has found it necessary to bail out his Wall Street bankster friends for an amount of money so obscene that he could have just as easily given every middle-class taxpayer in the United States one million dollars in cash.  Each.  Think about what such largesse might have done for our economy versus what has transpired: it is as if we had poured tens of trillions of dollars into a very cold, very dark place never to be seen again.  And yet this sun-tanned version of “Slick Willy” finds the time to engage a group of very casually dressed staff in a very casual, almost subordinate, manner the very day an armed lunatic ran amok inside this President’s keep.

To be fair, Michael Moore’s capture and rebroadcast of our former “El Presidente” giving a disturbingly flip answer to a reporter’s sincere question right before he ended the interview with, “now, watch this drive,” was a similar affront to sensibility.  That Barbara Bushes’ beloved son swatted his golf ball down the fairway and away from all those gnat-like questioners behind the security perimeter was just a side benefit.  I suppose the key difference between these two Presidents might be that one of them is still amused by the candor of his remarks, while the other is now becoming keenly aware that he is being set-up to be taken down – politically, of course — south of the Mason-Dixon line.

Someone needs to remind our current President about the importance of being a good patron in a well-chosen barbershop.  The razors can be sharp wherever one chooses to go.  Care and prudence in choosing one’s surroundings guarantees a good cut made by a steady hand.

I’ve been thinking about this past week’s number five submission, but I can’t seem to work it into the mix.  In the first place, the submitter of the entry has submitted top 5 entries to Digg on multiple occasions.  In the second, we began our fixation with the American way of hair-care using only the top four Digg entries.  So symmetry might well demand that we end this phase of our journey using only this week’s top four.  And so it shall be.

 But where might we go from here?  What conclusions might be drawn useful to a further search? 

As Anthony Giddens might suggest, per Structuration Theory, we need to look at the creases in society, at those places where tangible structures or tried-and-true rules collide with differing beliefs and values producing contradiction, dissonance and confusion.  Once there, we might look at the forces pulling individuals in one direction versus the forces pulling individuals in a different direction.  In any case, it will be in these creases, Giddens suggests, that we will see the future of our world unfolding before our very eyes.

If these five weeks together have taught us nothing, they have taught me that overlooking the obvious results in missed opportunity and misinterpretation.  If the past few days of having a seven year-old grandchild scampering about teaches this adult anything, it teaches me the absolute authority of complete innocence in the discovery of things obvious and taken for granted.  What seems to me hackneyed and worn, jumps out as shiny and bright to the eyes of a child.  So either I am old and wise or this kid is living in a perpetual mushroom fry.  Or both.  In any event, in the next several weeks I will adopt the assistance of an oracle, a Captain Obvious, if you will, who has been speaking to me through this grandchild and directing me to rediscover and reinterpret my old beliefs and values.

The Barbershop Diaries, Volume I, Issue 4: I Touch The Future I Teach



I was riding my motorcycle this past week and encountered an elementary school’s “current events” sign on which was prominently displayed the message, “I touch the future.  I teach.”  Avoiding the heated adolescent fantasies for the moment, my mind started doing what it does when it hears or sees anything falling out of the brains or mouths of the people of Texas.  There are good reasons for engaging in these types of gymnastics and most of them have to do with the nature of the subconscious mind and its drive to communicate the true state of being of the organism through which it finds itself attached.

I touch the future I teach.

A fairly remarkable statement born of at least my personal experience and probably the experience of every human being alive on this planet: as I teach, so shall I experience.  As I believe, so shall it seem to me to be.

Applying this bit of trivia to the top five Digg encounters for the week, one can almost see the human drive for notoriety and the need, almost the obsession, to control how that notoriety is achieved and then maintained.  Completely absent from all of these displays of human image-making, however, is the subconscious truth that is so obvious we completely ignore it: we receive what is our truest desire to receive. 

This past week’s numero uno example of existential ignorance and futility featured the story of Wikipedia banning the Church of Scientology from editing articles relating to itself due to self-serving edits, read: propaganda.  The story’s popularity was meteoric, rocketing to the top spot after only two days on Digg. 

Apparently the Wikifiddlers fancy themselves a Web 2.0 utopia where the ideals of Libertarianism can be put on display for all to see and experience.  Not so much now.  It appears that the legendary, perhaps myth-making, propagandizing of the Scientology sect in the media has invaded Wikipedia like a plague, forcing the hand of all those interested in a “fair and balanced” account of the Church of Scientology’s nature, history and past behavior.  Scientology, like any religion, has no interest in truth-telling, only in image-sculpting.  That everyone can see this naked propagandizing in progress – perhaps due to the increased speed of evolution of modern culture – causes Scientology to be unfairly scandalized in the media, by the media.  But the truth of the matter is that Scientology, like all religions, is engaged in a warlike battle to control the flow of information to all its members and future members.  In the absence of truth, myths can appear and legends constructed, and thus religions made.  The problem is not Scientology, methinks, but the nature of religions of every stripe.  These are meaning-making institutions whose task it is to construct a symbolic language that excludes non-members from its ranks. 

The feeling of alienation one gets when walking into a new church for the first time, or a different culture for the first time, is not by accident.  Outsiders have historically represented a threat to insiders on any number of levels since the dawn of civilization.  In the absence of any physical differences, the use of language and meaning serves notice to insiders that they are dealing with a potential threat to the established order.  The threat can either be assimilated or it must be neutralized.  Sometimes this ability to distinguish between in or out, uchi or soto, clean or dirty, is a life or death matter.  This primal need to prejudge from a distance isn’t just a relic from a bygone era, it is a survival mechanism that we are loathe to even acknowledge exists in human relations.  Everyone wants “utopia,” but no one wants the truth to be told – making utopia impossible to achieve.  Behind that fear of truth is the fear of extinction – a truth humanity has yet to make peace with in spite of its ubiquity.  Each of us must still carry within our thoughts the psychic burden of watching plagues sweep through villages and towns, leaving corpses stacked waist high on the side of the road.

I do not know if utopia is possible for humanity, but I do know that if such a possibility exists for us, it would require a relaxed, completely welcome acceptance of the truth in any matter, including the eventual extinction of one’s most personal sacred cows.  Perhaps this is why, in spite of every religion’s goal of establishing some form of utopia on Earth, the Scientologists find themselves engaged in a fever-pitched war of information against the rest of society.  And why the rest of us can clearly see that war and utopia will be forever dissonant ideas.

A mere two weeks ago, we stared in dazed amazement as an agile young man demonstrated his aplomb at bouncing his body backward off of a moving pilates ball.  This week, the human drive for notoriety at any cost twists the time and effort of two agile young men into firing a single pilates ball back and forth at each other using the method featured two weeks ago here at the ‘diaries.  Only one cycle of back and forth is shown, perhaps because only one cycle is required to demonstrate the linear improvement necessary to captivate the attention of Digg’s founder, Kevin Rose.  That and the use of a simple “repeat” playback function creates the illusion of an endless game of human “Pong” that likewise captured the imagination of an entire nation back in the 1970’s. 

But whereas the novelty of the accomplishment of two weeks ago was reminiscent of those of Travis Pastrana, this week’s billing of “Physics Win to a Whole New Level,” is well overblown.  Not only are these two young men not as polished as the original, their achievement hardly opens the door of imagination wide at all.  But, then again, to those starving for notoriety, some attention is better than no attention whatsoever.  I’m reminded by this curious behavior of the daredevilry and charisma of Evel Knievel who would prefer to jump his motorcycles over insanely huge distances and break nearly every bone in his body – twice – before finally sitting down with a professional to discuss his childhood and turgid drive toward self-destruction.  Simple truths are about as welcome in a crowd, or in a single lifetime, as viruses or flatulence.  A busy mind requires complexity to distract itself.

And a deadly quiet descends upon the Barbershop.

Some barbers fear the quiet that sometimes rolls in amidst the snips and whirs of a man focused on his work and of other men who watch in fascination or who might utilize the collective concentration to engage in newspaper reading or other silent distractions.  Any amount of conversation or communication is better than this silence, they fear.

And so number three, this week, easily mistaken as a vacation photo shot by a family anxious to prove to their suburban neighbors that they had a good time while away, substitutes for a productive silence.  A Tonka-sized scale model of a gargantuan mining dump truck strapped – seriously – to the flatbed trailer of an eighteen wheeler slowly wound its way to mid-presentation this week at the ‘diaries after five labor-intensive days of convincing the world that this photo was not just a waste of pixels.  A little overkill, indeed.

Number four portends the aura of the Hollywood, or movie-buff, inside joke, as it depicts a screen shot of Samuel L. Jackson in character during the movie, “Pulp Fiction.”  Jackson’s character, Jules Winnfield, fond of using expletive phrases like, “do I look like a bitch,” or, “you’re from what?  Do they speak English in ‘What,’ motherfukah?” is depicted (viz. Photoshop) in front of the flip-picture board of the game, “Guess Who.” In the course of the two-player game, “Guess Who,” one side asks discriminating questions regarding the possible identity that the other player has chosen for the first player to determine.  Across the top of the image, then, are the stylized words from the Pulp Fiction movie, “Does he look like a bitch?”  Clever, in a post-modern kind of way, and certainly a mashup appreciated by movie buffs fond of Quentin Tarantino’s movies.  Judging from the comments and the three days it took for this image to reach the fourth position on Digg, a lot of extant movie buffs appreciated this particular contribution.  I like Samuel L. Jackson’s work, so it was worth my time to dig up the particulars of this artifact.  Some people like digging up the “privys” (outhouses) of the Old West, I like staring into the bowels of a culture in decline.  I think it’s important for posterity to recognize the signs of poverty just before they descend on a not-uninformed population.

Of course during the fall of Rome everyone was fond of picking on the bisexual and homosexual behavior of people, the scapegoating of minority groups being one of several ways a society in decline could distract and divide its population against itself, thus avoiding an organized rebellion against the in-group minority in power.  Of course the opposition can harness this same technique causing even greater confusion and an even more factionalized response until utter confusion reigns supreme.  A classic tactic used in counterinsurgency. 

That the Mormon Church has been behind the most recent attack on the civil rights of the Gay-Lesbian-Bisexual-and-Transgendered (GLBT) community has been a matter of public record.  That so-called “Christian” and “Muslim” churches have engaged in anti-GLBT rhetoric and invective from the pulpit for decades is also a matter of public record.  So a potentially powerful counterinsurgent tactic would be to splinter the GLBT community along religious lines.  Awakening the anti-GLBT movement to the religious sensibilities of the GLBT community while, at the same time, splintering that insurgent community into its religious and the anti-religious constituencies would be a master stroke of counterinsurgency.

Looking at the pedigree of this photo occupying number five for the week reveals that it originates with the Wall Street Journal, now a property of the unflaggingly fascist purveyor of globalization nonsense, multi-billionaire Rupert Murdoch.  That Murdoch’s media properties have been at least apologists for, if not actively conspiring with, the western intelligence communities since the Clinton Impeachment has been documented by such luminaries as Mark Crispen Miller, Charles Lewis and Robert Kane Pappas.  That one cannot determine the identity of the person holding up the poster is likewise suspicious, along with its prominent positioning in the photograph.  The text, “Jesus had two Dads, why can’t I,” could only inflame opponents of GLBT civil rights while at the same time drawing into question the religious sensibilities of the GLBT community.

Even with the question of the historical existence of Jesus of Nazareth held in abeyance, that the actual life of a child with gay parents could be used in a flimsy rhetorical argument against denying GLBT members their civil rights under the law seems excessively inflammatory to me and an awkwardly emotional appeal.  Denying a gay parent their civil rights negatively impacts the life of their children, who will most often be heterosexual in orientation, and injects sexuality, sex and sexual orientation into matters of legal and medical status.  In short, how many fathers or mothers a child has is as irrelevant as the day is long.  Religion is likewise an irrelevant issue as it relates to the legal status of any person, regardless of their sexual orientation.  In short, this poster is bullshit, its origins are suspicious and I suspect that it is an illegal use of the public media by domestic intelligence agents for counterinsurgent purposes. 

Notoriety, according to this week at the ‘diaries, is just another form of propaganda designed to cloak from the person seeking the notoriety what the real issues surrounding their life actually are.  Apparently the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) requires its candidates to be homophobic as well as politically conservative, meaning that FBI agents are most likely sexually deviant, if not simply highly sexually preoccupied.  How I get all that from a planted poster at a gay-rights march is part of what makes the privacy of my own mind an entertaining place to be. 

The Barbershop Diaries, Volume I, Issue 3: Wolf Medicine Meets The Lady In The South Tower


Somebody's Wife, South Tower

One of the first things I did when I moved to Texas in 1995, besides trying to make a one night stand turn into a full-blown marital partnership, was drive – over night – to the Gulf Coast to buy a white wolf.  They said she was a hybrid, of course, 25% Malamute.  The rest was a toss-up between Timber and Grey Wolf.  I had been obsessed with wolves for years prior to coming to Texas.  Texas was the absolute last place I ever wanted to find a place to live.  But while I was here, by God, I was going to take advantage of my stay and satisfy my need – my hunger – to be with an honest-to-god wolf.  Dog.  Wolf.

Luna’s mother weighed in at 125 pounds, and her sire slightly more.  How it ended between my obsession and me is how all these things end – a lot of tears and a lot of regrets.  I wanted, desperately, to convince the neighborhood that it was “okay” that my dog left at night to go kick the snot out of a pack of coyotes and that she was just “playing” when she came home with gifts like an intact spine and pelvis of a long-dead goat.  She hadn’t actually killed anyone or anything.  She was not the type.  She was hugely shy and avoided human contact as much as possible.  But the Game Warden who also lived on the edge of “new suburbia” with us, I was assured by his neighbor, would not be as open-minded on the matter as I.  Too many young children running free in the neighborhood – they weren’t wild, according to him.  I had fruits and veggies shoved up the tailpipe of my wife’s VW Bug that proved otherwise, but I was outgunned, from out of state and from California.  I didn’t have a chance in hell of keeping my wolf outdoors and she was beginning to remodel the interior of my house, recover my leather furniture and gnaw on tasty antique table legs.

In my time with Luna I learned a great deal about myself and about wolf dogs.  We bonded quite powerfully.  I still see the old Native American medicine man whom I finally gave her to, gratis, because he had five acres and a girlfriend who was absolutely in-love with the idea of having a wolf.  Especially a white one.  I thought Luna would be safe out in the woods of Pipe Creek and in the haven of the sweat lodge of Crow’s Nest.

Not so much, as it turned out.  Somewhere around week two she met up with a porcupine who fired quills right through her curious nose and upper jaw.  I didn’t find out for weeks afterward and by then Luna was out of surgery and well on the road to recovery.  I had to let go.  Apparently so did her intended pack leader.  Said girlfriend left my Native American friend and his abundant collection of peyote buttons for the “posh” surroundings of Medina Lake.  I thought that would be that.  Lost forever.

Several years passed and I was driving around Medina Lake, half because I craved the lower blood pressure being out of town always offers, and half because I wanted to know that Luna was out there, somewhere, and doing well.  We found one another on a lonely country road as I was driving my new truck with my new wife and living my new life.  There she was.  I called her name.  She came to the side of my truck.  There were the scars one would expect to see on the nose and face of an animal attacked by a frightened porcupine.  She was nowhere near the 125 pounds of her mother, perhaps because she was half grown when the porcupine attack had happened – I can’t imagine anything tasted good to her for a long, long time after that.  Being hungry and getting impaled at the same time at that age…eating must have become a frightening option ever after.

She gave my hand a sniff and a lick as I patted her head.  Before I could shed a tear, she trotted off down the road towards her destination.  She may have remembered the last time I cried before and that didn’t turn out so well and, after all, we all have our lives to live.  I sat watching her trot down the road, my engine running and my new wife asking me, “who was that?”

“That was Luna.  It’s her,” I said.

Neither Luna, nor I, was ever very trusting of human contact.  We tried to avoid it as best we could.  There would be our circle of friends, people we could trust, and then there would be people we would tolerate having to be around.   Whereas a good Heeler or German Shepard – hell, a frigging poodle – would go out of their way to warn of danger and to patrol the area for her “pack,” Luna was not of this world.  Not Suburbia.  She could tell me more about how she was feeling by the look in her eyes than any human female could in twenty minutes of conversation and beating around the bush.  She wanted out of this place I had brought her to and wanted desperately to be free of the lunacy the two of us were living with.  In the end, we both got our wish.  Another lesson in obsessive love and letting go learned in a long, long list of more of the same.

Books on shamanic wisdom seem to coalesce on a few themes offered by wolf medicine.  Facing the end of one’s cycle of life with dignity and courage, death and rebirth, spirit teaching and social and familial values; these are the themes that come up when one reads the spiritual teachings of the shaman.  So it is altogether appropriate that this week’s haircut and shave begin with a little introduction into what I’ve learned and experienced with wolf medicine and its impact on my life.

Number one this week was a series of often funny, certainly light-hearted, definitely dismissively satirical reviews of the “power” of a Three Wolf Moon tee shirt sold by Amazon.  Sales of this shirt jumped 2300% based solely on the hilarity of the reviews offered by Amazon’s site visitors.  Even the BBC covered the phenomenon here.

The media have been saturated with stories about wolves and the popularity of the subject has been fairly ubiquitous for at least the last twenty years in the United States.  Small wonder, given my experience and the experiences of the shaman with wolf medicine, that fixations with ending one’s life cycle would show up all over contemporary America.  A person cannot walk down a city street without being struck by some “end times” message or meta-message.  And, true to form, America’s youth have been programmed, on cue, to find anything and everything about their cultural milieu, lacking, small and “lame.”  While this is certainly possible in most cases, the fact that it has been a fairly recurrent theme in just the last 100 years in the United States catches my attention.  It is almost as if we have been programmed to divide ourselves not just into different generations, but into compartmentalized cohorts, each one with its own peculiar sociological handles, cues, symbols and product identifications.

The compartmentalization extends even into shared pools of knowledge, such as the knowledge that water boarding is a form of torture.  Number two this week featured the video of conservative radio talk show host Erich Muller being water boarded.  Apparently Sean Hannity was all bark and no bite, so MSNBC host Keith Olberman awared ten thousand dollars to a charity founded by the man who water boarded Erich “Mancow” Muller.  Atheist and journalist Christopher Hitchens lasted 17 seconds – three seconds longer than the average person.  Mancow lasted anywhere from six to eight seconds, depending on which right-wing rodeo apologist one listens to.   Mancow was well below average like a lot of right-wing nut jobs who seem to permeate the firmament in and around Texas.

In his defense, Mancow admits to having been drowned as a child, perhaps even by accident.  Arising from the water board, Mancow was clearly in shock and readily admits that the procedure he had just undergone was indeed torture.  And yet the groupthink of the present media epoch pulls credulity towards dismissing water boarding as nothing when compared to having one’s head chopped off by a Saladin wannabe.  As if every Muslim or brown skinned individual should be considered guilty until proven innocent; as if every person designated by a cabal of useful idiots in Crawford, Texas to be “enemy combatants” deserves to be water boarded or have their heads lopped off.

Water boarding did one and only one thing useful to the military junta then in charge of the United States: it extracted tailor-made confessions from the person being water boarded.  Need evidence of WMD’s in Iraq?  No problem!  Locate a designated high-value al-Qaeda target and water board him until he confesses to his intimate knowledge of the nuclear weapons program Saddam Hussein was actively pursuing!  Next, show a masterfully edited version of the torture tape to a roomful of prominent amateurs and watch the groupthink descend on the gathering like a fogbank.  Bada-bing, bada-boom, you’ve got a pretext for a long, miserable, expensive war.

Wolves have dignity, hunt in packs, communicate almost telepathically with one another, and survive on fresh kills.  Hyena’s feed opportunistically on the kills of other animals.  Many people have gotten hyenas and wolves confused, particularly in recent times, because both are mammals and both have a similar appearance in the wild.  One species, however, is demonstrably canid and inclined towards familial loyalty.  The other species is a specialized offshoot of the weasel family and, in spite of their remarkably stout physique, would prefer to scavenge like vultures.  “Yes we can,” says the hyena, “but, you, first.”

Crying wolf was the order of the day in entry number three for the week.  Badness comes in threes, usually, but because of Canada’s advanced, sophisticated social strata, badness came in the form of four drunk girlie-girls crying “rape” when a cabbie not only refused them the illegal privilege of smoking in his Edmonton cab, he had the nerve to expect them to pay their fare.  Perhaps due to the foresight of a Middle Eastern man repeatedly harassed by Mounties, perhaps due to voyeurism, the cabbie had a camera rolling and recorded the entire incident of the four drunken females on his trusty digital video recorder.  Not wanting to miss out on an opportunity to take advantage of the sympathies of at least one of four drunk females on the prowl, heroes sprouted wings and halos and cops were called on the offending cabbie.  Cops came – when they aren’t scoring donuts and drinking coffee, they’re looking for their next ex-girlfriend or ex-wife, just like the rest of us. 

Had Mr. Cabbie not been recording his fares, he would have been screwed for life.  Or, most likely, not screwed for life, as no box exists on a personals dating form for “divorced Muslim sex offender and former cab driver.”  

What is irritating about this incident is that the cops wouldn’t prosecute in the reverse direction – the movie, obviously raw and unedited, proved the cabbie’s story was true, so the forward-thinking cops were inclined to let the girls go on with their evening, behave irresponsibly, get more drunk, have wild, anonymous sex, get pregnant, have abortions and attend classes the following week. 

The cabbie is seeking a civil remedy claiming some sort of harm to his personal reputation, perhaps as a married man and a Muslim.  More narcissism in one entry on both sides of this issue than in any of our prior examined entries thus far. 

And what really annoys me is the thoughtlessness of these drunken females crying wolf.  It is hard enough for women who really have been raped to come forward about their violation and the criminal assault committed against their bodies without fearing that they will be doubly victimized as yet another case of “drunk, horny woman syndrome.” 

 (For those of you in the pharmaceutical industry with acronyminitis, that would be “DHW Syndrome.”  Now go make a pill and ruin what’s left of the sex life of the single North American adult male.)

Wolf medicine isn’t really a part of this week’s number four, but coyote medicine might well be a welcome relief as the city limits sign of Gold Hill, Colorado highlights inappropriate summary math.  Year established plus population plus elevation equals a bigger number than your town – so eat me, dude – I suppose.  No one in Gold Hill lives below the poverty line, but they do live above a line where the air is sufficient to sustain either common courtesy or a viable sense of humor.  I’ve been at Gold Hill’s elevation, and higher (try Gould, CO), and if you don’t acclimate properly (I didn’t), you can end up looking at a sign like this, walking by it and thinking it made enough sense to ignore it on a convulsive search for a place to lay down and take a nap to catch your breath.  The hicks of the foothills tried pulling the same trick here, too, but at only 2,000 feet above sea level, it’s not as witty as it is in the mountains just outside of Boulder.  Hick towns like to confuse tourists, but New Cuyama could have accomplished the same thing just by offering tourists directions through their sub-one-stoplight town.  New Cuyama, gateway to Cuyama – come enjoy a frolic at the Buckhorn Motel, or play a game of Washers with the local folks down at the C&H Market.  Due just west of Bakersfield and the final resting place of Country Music legend Buck Owens, the man even Porter Waggoner couldn’t out-twinkle. 

Rounding out this week at number five we have a work of artsy humor that was first crafted on November 16, 2007 at 10:12AM.  Art isn’t usually that punctual so it’s entirely possibly that this submission was due on November 15th at close-of-business.  But it has taken just over eighteen months for this email forwarding decision flowchart to achieve its rightful place between the barbercide-soaked combs and the industrial-strength hot shaving cream dispenser here at the ‘diaries.  There were only 8 people in the entire world that, like me, took the time to research where and when this work hit the web before it ever made Digg, and who then bothered to comment on it.  This sort of effort is what makes me one of eight special people on the planet – hell, the entire solar system – this week.  Doesn’t it just give you chills to witness history in the making?  Where else could you go, virtually for free, and experience just this sort of drama and excitement?  Never mind, I really don’t want to know…. 

None of my rattling narcissism, however, could ever come close to the creative mind and comic brilliance of “Brian” over at Shoebox Greetings – a tiny little division of Hallmark.  His portfolio of 190+ works of genius can be viewed here.  Stop by and enjoy his work and the work of his colleagues: it’s better than snickering in between aisles at the card store.

I suppose this week, like most of life, was a mixed bag of stunning narcissism and human thoughtlessness transforming itself into utter brilliance and a good natured smile of contentment.  This is the epitome of the grace inherent in wolf medicine.  It’s something we’ve needed in North America for a very long time.  For those of us who have an understanding of wolves, we comprehend why we see them depicted everywhere to a highly noticeable degree.  When the cycle says it is time, there can be no argument or further equivocation – don the cutting cape and quietly step up and take your seat.

When the shaving cream first goes on the warmth of it soothes the soul as it relaxes the skin and opens the pores.  But then the real magic of the barbershop takes over as men nominally trained to draw swords at the drop of a hat to defend honor and beauty, trust one another to utilize sharpened, cold steel to ritually whisk away body hair that probably thought it was doing a fair job for most of the preceding month.  The hair never saw it coming, but we did.  We always know when it’s time to sit still and trust another man to do the job we do not have the steadiness of hand, nor the drive of desire, to accomplish for ourselves.

Sometimes we pay a price when nicks occur and blood is drawn.  And if we find that we’ve trusted the wrong barber or barbershop, there comes a time when trust must take a back seat to setting things aright.

The Barbershop Diaries, Volume I, Issue 2: The South Will Rise Again — After This Word From Our Sponsor

No pain, no gain

No pain, no gain

This week’s narcissistic self-indulgences yielded 4 real snoozers and 1 quite interesting gander into the “mind” of a fundamentalist Christian.

Number one for five days on Digg, and in number two on Reddit for the last six days, is a short video of a young man, perhaps a gymnast, in a (yep, you guessed it) gymnasium with a large red rubber exercise ball.  Harmless and pedestrian enough.

The young man next rolls the red ball slowly out in front of himself and proceeds to follow behind the ball.  Just as two other gentlemen, perhaps coaches, leaning nonchalantly against a pommel horse in the background, come into the clip, the young man jumps, feet-first, onto the rolling red ball, allowing the ball to roll off his feet to his buttocks and up his back.  Generally, this is the end of this sort of maneuver as the average person’s agility tells them to bail off to the left or right before something severe and crippling transpires.

But not our young man.

In this all too nonchalant clip, the young man continues to allow the ball to roll to his neck and head, when he fully extends his legs backward and behind his now inverted body.  This move drives the back of the young man’s head deeply into the rolling exercise ball towards the back of the ball’s center of gravity.  Simultaneously, the ball accelerates as the young man is flung, head-and-neck-first, into the air. 

No one in the background or on camera is the least bit concerned or impressed as the young man continues to extend is body out and straight and the momentum from the accelerating exercise ball continues to gently spin the young man back onto his feet facing the direction he was headed with the ball in the first place.

Then the young man gives the ol’ index fingers from hips out to the camera, indicating that he knows he stuck this move, and so does everyone else.  No big deal.  Anyone can do this.  It’s as easy as rolling off a rolling exercise ball and not breaking your neck or fracturing your skull.

Some young people can’t help themselves — they seem to love to make older people feel, well…old.  The first time I saw Travis Pastrana stick an inverted flip on his 250cc motocross bike and land squarely on his two wheels, I was similarly stunned and envious.  Then young Travis went on to explain in a post-feat interview how many times he had fractured or separated vertebra, ruptured discs in his neck and eaten, God help us, hospital food.  I was no longer envious.  By the time these kids reach my ripe old age (upper forties), they will wish they’d just fornicated their brains out in high school and left the elaborate mating rituals to Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom.  Gaining the experience and joyous revelation that young people have no respect for the wisdom of experience appears to be a concept that only actual experience can obtain.  Words simply do no justice to this phenomenon.  Comedian Ron White states the condition quite simply as, “you can’t fix stupid.”  I’ll be more generous: words cannot mean anything between parties when the parties involved do not share a common pool of experience.  In such cases, one or all parties are just pushing out air.

This submission owes a lot to Digg’s founder, Kevin Rose, who couldn’t help but to comment on the athleticism and precision of the young man in this video.  Kevin is an avid rock climber and has yet to burst into the over 40 crowd and has a good decade or so before he gets there in all his glory.

Communication appears to be the problem that befell this week’s number two (on the list for four days), a man being videotaped from a local helicopter as he attempts to shoot a charging police dog while steadying his handgun against the roof of his white subcompact station wagon.  The charging dog then leaps over the roof of the auto and, rather than ducking, the man receives the jaws of the police dog with his free arm.  The dog then wrestles the suspect’s testicles to the ground, followed almost immediately by the rest of the suspect.  Not to miss an opportunity for a free collar and the chance to handcuff an already subdued suspect, three of four police officers rush in to the scene to salvage what is left of the suspect’s genitalia.  The fourth, sidearm drawn, examines the suspect’s vehicle for free donuts. 

Question: why are we putting down close to 5 million canines annually when many of these animals could be drafted for military service?  A pack of no more than one dozen animals of this caliber could easily subdue a squad of Taliban, in or out of a Tora-Bora cave.  And they’d do it for an entire year for less than what we are paying out for a week of armed man-to-man combat.  War is hell, but playing “fetch” isn’t.

The communication problem appears to be a failure in our educational system as the suspect makes several errors in judgment that even a typical middle-schooler would not have made.  Error one, the suspect attempted to outrun police radios using a fluorescent white subcompact station wagon.  While your late model Dodge Colt may be equipped for time travel, there’s a pretty good chance that it will take longer for your Colt to reach light speed than it will take three squad cars and a police helicopter to corner you in a rail yard cul-de-sac.  And if one of the squad cars has a canine officer – error two, you’re tragically overweight and can’t duck below the roofline of your trusty starship – error three, you’re only packing a six shooter – error four, you’re going to jail for a lifetime of no respect.  Probably without your testicles.  Word up: crime may pay, but nothing – criminal or pedestrian — pays very well if you’re an idiot.

But being stupid isn’t just a United States criminal predilection: it appears to involve all of North America’s college students as a billboard near University of Toronto has featured our number three submission for a little over four days.  The billboard, no doubt retouched by a local graffiti artiste of questionable sexual tastes was originally intended as an advertisement for a cellular phone company attempting to “reach out” to the student body with suggestions as to what to do at 2AM on a typical night.  Two checkboxes, obviously a part of the original advert, suggest either calling a cab, or text messaging party information to all of one’s friends.  A third checkbox, done in a tasteful shade of red spray paint and checked-off, suggests anal sex as the obvious choice.

Profiling this bit of vandalism, I suspect the criminal mind of an undergraduate college student, perhaps high on marijuana or cocaine.  The individual graffitist, likely overcome with a case of the giggles, risked their buzz and their academic record to climb askew this billboard near Spadina and Dupont in downtown Toronto to make this witless, omni sexual statement.  I’m sure it was funny at the time, but the next day the message probably wasn’t as funny to this section of Toronto’s homosexual community, nor the billboard advertiser who had to clean this vandalism up, post haste.  Of course, now that we know that the billboard was neither a Pattison, nor a ClearChannel, we are left to suspect not an inebriated college student, but, instead, a “hired gun” working for one of these two competitors.  I’m leaning towards a ClearChannel consultant because I’m living near San Antonio, Texas, and I’m aware of the ignorance of the May Family and the after-effects their brand of social “leadership” produce in neighborhoods and “heezies” all over town.  I put nothing past a family that “proudly” supported the presidential aspirations of George W. Bush not once, but twice.

Submission number four, five days and holding, is just a vacation photograph from Southeast Asia.  Everyone loves to ride the elephants and loves to watch the way these Thai boys command the respect and obedience of these large, but not Africanized, elephants as they cruise leisurely through the jungle.

Something went terribly wrong in this photograph because the bull elephant at the rear of the caravan decided to ride the female elephant just in front of it.  Insertion was accomplished to the smile of the female elephant and the horror of the middle aged woman riding atop this four-legged estrogen factory.

Noteworthy, other than the size of the bull elephant’s member, is the look of success and amusement on the face of the young male patron riding atop the successful bull of the caravan.  One would think that a healthy amount of fear, or at least caution, would be in order; however, the young vacationing male, perhaps an aficionado of fine “Jackass” outtakes, almost adopts the bull elephant’s mating success as his own.  Note to self: inspect the genders of the elephants in any caravan of these mammals and ensure that any females with engorged, oozing vulvae are avoided entirely.  As much fun as these elephants might be having together, they could easily ruin the fun of any mortal human that gets between them.  Permanently.

I have to stretch this week’s coiffure to five simply because it is so reminiscent of last week’s number four.  This week, the parent of a middle schooler responded to a teacher’s request for acknowledgement and waiver for a field trip to a geological museum by spewing all manner of fundamentalist Christian nonsense about the world being only 6,000 years old and the Earth having been created in a mere seven days by the Master of the Omniverse.

Some people should not be allowed to raise children.  There, I said it.

So consumed with fear and loathing that their world will soon come to a glorious and pious ending featuring the vaunted Jesus of Nazareth gliding towards them on a cloud, that these people are making their own children mentally ill.  No room for interpretation or metaphor exists for these people as they waste no time witnessing to everyone who crosses their path of their intention to leave this world in one, big, vacuous and righteous, “poof,” known as the Great Rapture.

Visit this site and prepare yourself for Rapture, Christians.  The sooner, the better.

Arrogance and waste were the backbeat this week, gentle readers, with a strong aftertaste of misunderstanding.  I recall the only time I came home with head lice as a kid, and my father hit the ceiling.  Gene the Barber was mortified.  It was my mother’s fault, my fault – everyone’s fault but my father’s.  That’s how I learned just how devastating and damaging an emotion guilt can become.  My father had taken all the shame of growing up poor and Polish and turned it into seizures of guilt that would stalk him like a hungry lion for the rest of his life.  The thought never occurred to anyone that, perhaps, head lice weren’t anyone’s fault.  That maybe, just maybe, we humans unconsciously call these little creatures from out of nowhere as a way of bringing us closer together, as a way of bringing us a different perspective on our shared responsibility for and to each other.  I know I never felt closer to my mother than when she actually reciprocated all the attention I have given her as a child when I combed her hair, as she was combing every strand of my hair with a fine toothed comb, as she was endlessly shampooing my hair, my sister’s hair and washing our bedding every day for two solid weeks.  All this just to prove that we were, “different” from all those “poor niggers” across town – like being black around a bunch of white people was something black people should be grateful for even while we were supposed to detest every waking moment of the experience of being anywhere close enough to them to contract head lice.  Lice didn’t jump from one head to another; it was a disease that we contracted because we were supposed to be allergic to being poor. 

When did being black in America equate to being a pariah?  That’s a good question captured inside a very stupid, almost rhetorical line of inquiry.

For me it happened when I was hauled out of my best friend’s house on Sunday morning just as they were making “hotcakes” – French toast at our house and at every white person’s house I ever knew growing up.  My father, a native of Philadelphia, had no problem yelling at me from their front stoop that I needed to get my ass out of there, and then yanking me up by my tiny arm and slapping my ass a nasty shade of red all the way home.  I wouldn’t be able to attend the local barbershop, and certainly I couldn’t be seen at our shared place of worship, if I spent any time at all around those black people down the street.  City of Brotherly Love, indeed.

Suppose we actually understood what everything in this life was for…. 

Oh, wait a minute — that’s been our problem all along.  So shame equals guilt and guilt equals inadequacy and no matter how large your male member becomes, an ounce of guilt buys you a ticket to an impoverished state of perpetual misery where no matter how much money you make or power you acquire, the hole in your chest only gets deeper.  Wider.  More painful.  And then, one day, it beats no more.  The hole swallows itself.

Getting a haircut, for real, is serious business; as serious as the state license my eyes would always fix on while the razor buzzed and the scissors snipped.  No amount of athletic agility, depraved indifference, mastery over one’s environment, abject goofiness or obedience to the dictates of an imaginary cloud being is going to change the truth of any matter.  Nor will my understanding of truth make the hole in my heart hurt any less.

Thank whatever God you believe in that it’s just a haircut.

The Barbershop Diaries, Volume I, Issue 1: Jesus Is A Loaded Gun On 9/12

Here, Like This

Here, Like This

I contend that America needs to know more about herself – her likes, dislikes and how she spends her time on a typical working day.  A look at the Digg website revealed a lot of interesting information about what seems to matter most of all to a culture bereft, as I contend, of self knowledge.  I, like so many on Wall Street, believe that America could use a haircut and possibly a shave.

At number one after only two days…a two part video of a time lapse series taken from an oil tanker making its way through the Houston ship channel at night.  That would be the same Houston ship channel that, along with Chicago, Illinois and Portland, Oregon remain the three most likely targets for a terrorist attack going forward – according to intelligence professionals who have become cynical as well as long in the tooth for lo’ these last twenty or so years.  A beautifully shot and well-edited short film of the night lights of Houston as seen from the perspective of an artist not yet bludgeoned to death by the “oil bidness.”

At number two after only two days…the weirdest car accident since…well, I guess, since the invention of the wheel.  A white van speeding away from police crashes into a blue pick up and rolls over on its side.  Crashes from the side are among the most dangerous kinds of collisions because of their propensity for producing sheer injuries to the internal organs.  This apparently did not happen to the driver of the pickup as he can be clearly seen limping after two or three of what turned out to be some twenty individuals, presumably illegal aliens, who disembarked from the capsized van.  I am not at all sure if there was a passenger in the pickup truck who was injured, or if anyone remained in the van because of injury.  But the poster of this fine slice of slanted Americana would like us to equate the plight of illegal aliens in the United States with so many circus clowns stuffed into a Volkswagen Beetle.  Hilarious – unless someone you have known or loved has been killed after getting T-boned by a vehicle going half as fast as this white van was when it crashed into that blue pickup truck.  The driver is clearly on the passenger side of the blue pickup doing something more important than stopping the wanton criminals engaged in bringing us a less expensive agribusiness, landscaping or construction industry.

Number three begins to take on a more self-reflective tone as an entry from stickycomics.com presented us, six days ago, with hand-drawn icons of things our grandchildren will never understand – analog clocks, cursive handwriting, VCR’s and, of course, newspapers.  These things are so last week, after all.  What is interesting to note is that this hand drawn comic does not appear to have been drawn by an adult, but rather a precocious teenager, or someone slightly younger.  Very astute and humorous.  The list stops at these four and, since the US is pretty much a left-to-right reading nation, one can only presume that the death of the newspaper was intended as the punch line.   No mention of glaciers, civil liberties or the convention against torture were included or mentioned in the comic.

I’ll stop my list at four, too, because it is arbitrary and this week’s number four just makes me want to pull out my clippers and start sheering sheeple left and right.

Number four, for the past four days, brings the quaint notion of citizenship to the fore with a request, nay a demand, that the potential juror be excused from his obligation to serve as both a citizen of the United States of America and as a resident of the great State of Montana.  I’ll include this proto-citizen’s words verbatim because they really say it all. 

Under the sworn oath portion of the hardship petition it reads: 

“Apparently you morons didn’t understand me the first time.  I CANNOT take time off from work.  I’m putting my familys well being at stake to participate in this crap.  I don’t believe in our ‘justice’ system and I don’t want to have a goddamn thing to do with it.  Jury duty is a complete waste of time.  I would rather count the wrinkles on my dogs balls than sit on a jury.  Get it through your thick skulls.  Leave me the f__k alone.”

Poetry from “der Homelund” comes in many forms, first as anarchy, then as ignorance.  This submission ranks somewhere between those two and slams into the latter “signpost” at breakneck speed before the end.

These submissions reminded me of the days when I was first ambulating from one place to another, from the barbershop to the local hardware store.  I loved the hardware store and I hated the barbershop.  The hardware store had bells on the door to alert the older gentleman in the back that someone was coming to call.  The floor was hardwood, worn down soft and pitted.  Bins of shiny metal toys were everywhere, like this was the place I’d need to come to find extra pieces for my Erector set.  The older gentleman with the receding hairline behind the counter always appreciated seeing me come in and browse his two or three aisled establishment.  Perhaps because he liked that I was curious, or perhaps he was relieved that I wasn’t one of the black kids who liked to come into places just like this and steal things because they were getting back at, “whitey,” or dicking with, “the Man.”  At least that’s what the consensus was among the white adults and the few black adults the white people would ally themselves with.  Be afraid of uppity black people.  Be very afraid.  But let them shine your shoes by all means. 

The barbershop scared the hell out of me mostly because the barber was a member of our church and I was an altar boy.  So that meant I had to sit perfectly still and grit my teeth while this professionally licensed and almost medically attired purveyor of fine Brylcreem snipped, clipped and buzzed his way into my skull.  He could have a “DA” and a flat top, but I had to have a crewcut.  Father’s orders.  It was the discipline that I was to be taught, not the notion of a budding personhood that would come to have needs and wants that I would have to be able to distinguish between and then meet through whatever means I could achieve, legally and peacefully.  It was all a blur to me and not just because that set of electric sheers was sending secret messages to the multitude of fillings in my teeth.  At least I had teeth.  At least I had a father who would pay to put fillings in the baby teeth of his son’s mouth, even though he never stopped bitching about it or yelling about it at the top of his lungs.  Nevermind that I was always running around with holes in my sneakers because tennis shoes were supposed to last longer than two months.  I guess my father grew up walking and running through dirt streets or grass and had no idea what asphalt and concrete do to the sneakers of a kid trying to outrun every black kid in the neighborhood for fear that I might catch something from them and spread it around.

No one told me I didn’t have to run, even when I was afraid, I just did.  For a long time.  I kept my opinions to myself because no one likes a smartass and a really well-spoken smartass is obviously one who incurs the wrath of everyone he comes in contact with.  Starting with my father and fanning out into the neighborhood, I had to devote the time normally spent coming up with zingers and one-line insults to scanning the territory for signs of unfriendlies.  Keeping an eye out for Arab terrorists is a considerably less paranoid way of spending my time than the way I grew up.

Now that I’ve given up living in fear and have learned to love my paranoia, I could give a rip who wants to kick my ass.  Get in line.  I care about what I care about and, apparently, that means that I am going to spend a lot of time alone.  People who care about some things and care deeply about still other things cannot hope to find a trustworthy or lasting connection with a society that finds its ignorance to be a source of strength, even a cause for good humor.

It’s supposed to be springtime in Texas.  It feels like Summer.  The only reason I know it’s Spring is the sudden increase in dead animals along the side of the highway, and grease spots in the middle of the road that used to be the family pet.  This is apparently a “southern” sort of phenomenon and something that all southern boys and girls grow up learning to ignore or deny.  So the denial of a typical southerner tends to be rather well developed by the time they achieve voting age.  I’m relieved to have learned this because I thought this was just a Texas thang.

If the South does ever rise again, bring a shovel and lots of plastic bags…and maybe a bag of ice to salvage a fresh kill.  Hell, don’t be shy: bring a bag of briquettes and a Weber.  There is no point in crying over spilt blood when there’s people who need a good feedin’.

See you next time with the latest and greatest in coiffeur as America learns to cut its own hair, again, from the South, up.