Tag Archive | Texas

How to Think

When I hear those words echo from outside myself, I get angry, too.

I don’t know where the anger comes from – the fury.  I just know that it comes.  And it becomes.  On grey Winter days it may comeLiteral Fork In The Road at any time.  In the bursts of springtime blossoms it may fester and go rancid for a chance to spill its seed into the life of another unwitting victim.  Beginning anew, a little less angry with each successive generation, it comes forth with the promise of something different, something interesting, something beyond what has ever come before.  But then it just dies in fits of forgetful regret for not having lived out its promise, for never having broken through its own shell to reach out to the Light.  The Light that’s never really there when we need it, anyway.

Such is the fate of stardust and the powder-filled wings of angels.

If there’s anything good to come from the outright theft and betrayal of the sexual identities of fourteen young women, it is the minor wizardry of these words spilling forth in a waterfall of grief, regret, despair, disappointment and utter betrayal.  I cannot believe we gave so much of ourselves, promised to so many for so very little.

I used to blame my father’s Catholicism for the fact that I could never seem to accept the timid, tentative outstretched hand of a woman looking for connection, for shared joy, for relief from the bitter dregs of adolescent angst.  I could never smash the faces of my enemies nor vanquish my guilt over my reticence.  It was because of that old mossy, rusty cross and those eyes cast down upon the world in a familiar fact-filled glance of grief, regret, despair, disappointment and utter betrayal.  I could not bring myself to strike at the face of my own despair and fear; I could never accept the hand of promise stretched out to me from what seemed like miles away because I never felt entitled to the release, the resolution or the reconciliation.  I never felt entitled because…Jesus.  I never felt good enough because He was hung there like carrion for a murder of crows.  Every bloody nose I willed to be theirs, every smashed face that wasn’t mine, every orgasm lost in grievous sin into tawdry linens I sacrificed by being nailed to a cross of my own construction and design because “They” told me to do it when I couldn’t cross myself correctly, serve mass piously, take my torments with humility or confess my sins honestly.  The same sins it has taken most of my life to even recognize much less comprehend in origin.  “How convenient,” I thought, “that they have numbered all my bones and laid the wages of all sin at my feet, in my tawdry linens, in all my unreconciled torments and dreams of vengeance – no matter how long delayed!”  Of course it was the rancid, ancient beliefs of little men in fancy clothing and funny hats sent from a righteous heaven to defile the dreams of resolution and absolution begged for from a laiety so masochistic, so anachronistic that only a fool would pass on the chance to milk so sacred a cow.  Let the carnival barking begin!  Crash my dreams of a normal, healthy existence into the side of bitter mountaintop, never to be seen, nor heard from, again!

My mother’s bloodied face in 1966 and her long-defiled, swollen abdomen in 1936 had more to do with my tormented-shut libido and my interpersonal cowardice than any religious liturgy oozing out of  ancient Rome.  The sadism was handed down from years of masochism gone unrequited, from beatings so severe and senseless that the beguiled prayed to be set free even onto a snow-filled prairie to take their chances with wild buffalo; buffalo soon to be stacked high near the dead natives left without food to fight the chill of Winter.  No, the Catholics gave these brutal people safe passage into purgatory years after condemning them to the hottest Hell for refusing to eat fish on Fridays, refusing to restrain their coital urges for a public sanctioning of wedlock, for missing a week of mass or a Holy Day.  Or for loving an improper stranger.

The sins of 120 million dead brothers and sisters, of at least as many tears, bore witness then to a brutal savagery yet to come.  A web of interdependent shame so hideous as to make the true character of a people facile in the face of sacrificing any hero or shrew, for they would always be one in the same here.  To Europe and to ancient Rome, the impudent Americans would always be a laughing stock of hollow native outcasts, of fools and of dregs.  We would always care little for ourselves because, for centuries, we would be forsaken by the Crown of Britain for intransigence and singled out for disrespect.  Nevermind that the freedom we sought was only a modicum of what might be deserved for the children of any lesser god.  This callous disregard of our dignity was passed down to all others too taken by our silly clothes and poor agrarian skills to yield to the iron fist our naiveté concealed.

But proof is thus concealed in pudding and murmurs in the mud.

Of one thing my age has granted me some certainty: no deity or reified human being hangs from a tree after being beaten to a point where human death becomes a distant, fond wish and but gives a damn who eats what, who goes where nor who fucks whom.  The look of grief and utter, dismal betrayal in those bloodied, half-shuttered eyes cast down from that effigy beneath which I prayed longingly had nothing to do with anything but the behavior of those who birthed me here and on whose knees my tutelage received.  Beyond that I cannot speak intelligibly, for that is a matter of personal faith which, on a good day, my heart lightens and my smiles abound; on a bad day (or thirty minutes later), well, I wish for you nothing but the cynical fury of a life spent searching for what cannot be found: American dignity.

Fourteen women lost their will to live lives as human beings open to the advances of honest, trustworthy men because a cynical fury, known only to adults, cast onto a child a seething despair so rancid, so irreconcilably lost in the devotion, love and innocence of children, that that child had nowhere left to put their love, had no place to share a joy twisted by fury into sickness and death.  That child turned adult would have you thank them for not murdering these women, but for leaving them broken and not whole inside, that we might reconcile and untwist his sickness into love. Thank you, Bill.  Now go back to the now snow-starved prairie bereft of the buffalo and their brothers, back to the land from which you were fortunate enough to have survived and tell us more tales of laughter and exuberance, if you dare.  Of the wisdom or compassion of a man who hollows out the heart of a woman, eating it but once yet shitting it out sideways into a bag for the rest of his pathetic life, I know precious little but an agonizing despair so deep it cannot be reached.

That was my mother you raped, that was my sister you violated, that was my daughter you betrayed and that was my sex life you utterly destroyed in multiple thoughtless acts of muted revenge for sins beyond any adult ability to reason or scope, let alone a child.  A flaccid awesome lie paints the pants of the American landscape, and we blame you for a child’s disability to communicate a need for reason and for help.

It was not the Catholics after all.  Nor the Crown.  We are where we are because we deserve it.  All power and privilege decreed it so centuries ago.  For that revelation I thank you, Bill Cosby.

No clap of thunder or any tornado-swept hole in Hell matches the jolt of a mind split apart with wattage, laid waste to by countless drugs having side-effects too hideously tormenting to recount, only to be discounted by a community caught in disbelief over its own hypocrisy and loss of moral compass.  It was left to the judgment of a Judge that all power of judgment be taken from a nine year old girl so her goat-copulating father, who freely chose to leave his loose change and burning cigarettes on her nightstand, might continue to work in the community and sustain a family that was rejecting him outright.  The year was 1936 and from 1932 my mother endured the heaving advances, the pathetic breath, the jaundiced eyes and the enormous penis of an entity ten times her weight and orders of magnitude her size.  He was a brutal, drunken heap of human flesh thrown completely clear of a Hell made hot, barren and unwelcoming by his utter presence.  There is a reason the State of Oklahoma continues to quake in ignorant fear of supernatural evil: Jack Shelby lived there once.  He brewed ‘shine fit for Pretty Boy Floyd, lying his way through solid stone, melting handcuffs of righteous lawmen and leaving machine-gun toting criminals in awe of the power of his thunderous, cloven-hooved gait over wooden floors worn down soft by the shuffling feet of the despairing.  He would leave the Dustbowl of Oklahoma just ahead of fate because of the Great Depression, the same Great Depression the people of Texas continue to believe never happened.  They may be right; it may just have been the crater this sucking chest wound of moral ambivalence left in the dirt of Oklahoma when Satan, Himself, threw this Irish asshole to Earth from the hellfire of the Sun.  Steinbeck recounted symptoms for posterity, receiving a Nobel Prize; my mother absorbed a full-frontal moral shock for an entire world terrified by an evil so brutal it defied her ability to remain a whole human being.  For that service she received the scorn of her community, the misunderstanding of her children, and a life that continues to haunt my credulity and stain my credibility with good men who have never had to bear witness to such an empty vastness – to the sheer cold depth – of a moral black hole from which no hope of any light could ever escape.

That is why you have never heard of Jack Shelby, for as soon as he appeared in your life, your mind demanded you forget him; the sheer gravity of his darkness exceeded human comprehension.  What I realize today is that it was his presence in my mother’s life that sealed her fate long before I was even born.  It was never my grandmother’s fault; it wasn’t even the Catholic Churches’ fault; though responsibility, when it hits the fan, is never evenly nor fairly distributed.  This was all Jack Shelby, my grandfather, an evil-dead non-person who raped my mother from the time she was five until she was nine, defiling the countryside from Oklahoma to California in one, long forgettable visitation to our planet.

The first time they strapped my mother down, shoved rubber into her terrified, confused mouth and scrambled her brain with electricity was when she was 19 years old and had had two children by a man from the House of Canterbury.  He left soon after her stay in the sanitarium never to be seen, nor heard from, again.  Decades later, when his children were fully adults and merely curious, they located Jonathan and attempted contact with him.  He refused the connection.  He insisted they were mistakes and that they never contact him again.  They dutifully complied, a burden lifted from one child and left to rest on the shoulders of another.  That child died drinking a gallon of cheap wine every night just to maintain himself from shaking due to withdrawals, aged 64 years.  The official cause of death wasn’t cirrhosis or poisoning, but cancer.  A mere brush with a black hole sends grown men a full country’s width away from their own children and another man into a bottle never to surface again.  Mental illness caused a terrible fright in the 1940’s, even some 4 decades after a firm commitment from the country to build sanitariums to house the mentally ill, the alcoholic and the terminally misunderstood received cheers for President Teddy the Bullmoose.  If we could not repair broken lives, we could at least hide them, and our shame, from public view.  It was the least we could do since, prior to that time, it was the SPCA – the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals – who were the only human beings willing to risk contact with society’s untouchables.  Sydney Cameron, a psychiatrist and admirer of the strides the Nazis had made experimenting on the Jews and others in their “work camps,” not one to miss out on an opportunity, used these sanitariums to find research subjects for his experiments involving the erasure and reconstitution of the human personality.  To relieve suffering, of course.  Dr. Cameron never quite perfected the “reconstitution” aspect of his experiments with “psychic driving” before he was forced underground and his experimentations along with him, but that wasn’t for lack of available test subjects.  There will always be plenty of shame to drive some of us completely mad and in search of some sort of erasure.  I do not know if my mother was ever a formal test subject in the early days of the “Monarch” program – a place where the cleansed records of Nazi doctors found a home and adequate funding for further research – but I do know she was given numerous “shock treatments” on multiple occasions in her many three-month, “convalescent stays,” behind the walls of Santa Clara’s now defunct, “Agnews State Hospital.”  I may never know the actual extent of the procedures my mother endured because the State of California “mishandled” all of the patient records from those days, selling the property to Sun Microsystems in 1997.  But at least I know that of the many “sterilization” operations that were performed on mentally ill women without their consent or awareness, my mother was probably not among them.  That could be considered a stroke of luck since, of the fifty states in these United States, California sterilized the mentally ill far more often than any other State.  Texas, where I now live, the least often.

We have always placed great pride in our mental illness in Texas, as it turns out, burying a wealth of “crazy uncles” and “addled aunts” in trailers and trailerparks spread out across the vast, expansive countryside, as if they were our secret treasure waiting to be mined.  We’ve even sent a couple of our most grievously afflicted to serve as Presidents of these United States.  One from each political party has been sent, so far, just to prove that we are nonpartisan and fair in our admiration and respect.

Both men were, history has shown, equally and predictably destructive.

“If nominated I would not run, if elected, I would not serve,” should have been LBJ’s motto before he ascended to the Presidency on the odd coincidence that his predecessor had fallen victim to an assassin’s bullet, not unlike at least one or two other of Johnson’s political opponents.  The Johnson Family might like to parade their favored son’s “Great Society” programs for all to see, but had he not guided and passed that legislation through Congress during his first and only term as President, Bobby Kennedy, the fallen President’s brother, close confidante and a sworn enemy of LBJ and his friend J. Edgar Hoover, would have certainly taken the Presidency and proceeded to right the grievous wrong that had been not just to his family, but to the entire country as a result of his brother’s untimely demise.  As it turned out, the evil that had been done to the United States and to my family up to that point, had taken up deep roots here in the American South, as multiple homicides just happened to take place against every major political opponent who dared to take exception to this country’s economic alliance with Nazi Germany back in 1932.  That would be about the same time Jack Shelby started making his drunken, twisted advances at my mother when she was barely able to walk and not yet able to run.

As for Texas’ other contribution to “whirled peas,” the wound is still quite fresh and infected to the bone as only the bite from the fetid mouth of a Komodo Dragon can be.  I think George W. Bushes’ dubious flight and appearance aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln in 2003 to announce, “Mission Accomplished,” says everything about the purpose and plan the Bush Family had in mind for the United States beginning around 1932 when the President’s grandfather, Prescott, began funneling money and weapons to Nazi Germany and its new Chancellor, “Adolf Hitler.”  The “mission accomplished” banner had precious little to do with “combat operations in Iraq” being complete, because that proved to be complete nonsense.  The mission, from World War I to the present day, has been to bring about a New World Order; the same “novus ordo seclorum” Nazi Germany and Adolf Hitler tried to ooze all over the world during World War II.  That mission, to the chagrin of all those brave soldiers and civilians who died during World War II, and their families, has been accomplished.  The dark crown of fascism has been restored on the head where it properly belonged.  God saved the Queen.

The only time I ever saw Jack Shelby, the person, was when he was dying on his bed in a convalescent hospital in Merced, California.  My grandmother couldn’t see fit to keep something like the death of a parent from my mother and, true to form, she gave him more comfort than I was able to comprehend at the age of 12.  True to the nature of these events, I do not recall his face.  I do, however, recall the old man not two beds away pathetically masturbating as my cousins Deborah and Cheryl sat vigil with my mother and grandmother as they said their final “goodbyes” to a hollowed-out shell of a human being.  By this time the evil had left behind little more than an effigy of the man who terrified and terrorized the women in his life four and five decades before.  By that time only Bobby, Jimmy and my mother were left, and they would pass in that order, all from cancer as the official cause.  As I sat there in that room soaked with the smell of Betadine and urine, wondering what I was even doing there, I began to feel the emptiness creeping over me like a hole in my chest that the wind would not leave alone.  Neither Bobby, nor Jimmy, bothered to see their father off with a final fair-the-well.  Over the decades they had seen many men off to Hell in multiple wars as they served in the Navy; the death of their father would be just another hollowed-out shell tossed overboard, the engines of progress full steam ahead.  They had said all they were ever going to say to the man who had terrorized them and raped their sisters.

There was nothing funny or sad about any experience that included Jack Shelby or his clan; these were spiritual trials to be endured, replete with panic attacks, anxiety and terror that seemed to know no bottom.  The terror that I grew up and through, damaging and traumatizing though it was, was nothing in comparison to the fate these poor souls had consigned themselves to.  Enough of my soul and heart was left to allow me to walk through the doors of Alcoholics Anonymous at the age of 30, thinking and believing I had been cheated of another 10 good years of drinking and taking drugs, “for fun.”  In those ten years, had I survived them, the disease would have convinced me that life was not about joy but was a trial to be endured.  Only the meanest, coldest and nastiest men lived long or prospered in this hellhole that the likes of JP Morgan, Henry Ford, JD Rockefeller and Andrew Carnegie left in their wake.  These four horsemen created a country that will be known not so much for its natural beauty or its kind people but for its unrelenting cruelty against its own and others.  We have been uncompromising in that regard, the scope and depths of our genocidal history so hideously sublime that no history book dare print a word nor utter a sound lest the hounds of hell be unleashed against them and their families.  Such was the case with the Kennedys, such will be the case with any organized resistance against the evil that grows wild here and in places where the Sun never shines.

Just the other day I was reading a recounting of the history of German Uboats of World War II and the various artifacts found in that most impressive submarine fleet of the day.  Among the contents?  Several ticket stubs to movie theaters along the Texas coast.

The point of my story lost in a fog of shame and guilt will be over what shame and guilt I have failed to surface and resolve here.  My responsibility thus adjudicated, I shall suffer that the Queen and Rome might continue their masquerade as unwilling witness to the original sin the publishers of fiction  and contradiction thus contrived.


Mowing the Lawn In Gaza

“When thy intelligence shall cross beyond the whirl of delusion, then shalt thou become indifferent to Scripture heard or that which thou hast yet to hear.”  – Bhagavadgita

I keep this passage from the Book of Doctrines close to my heart since I first came across it in the winter of 1991, for I thought it a dangerous passage.  Two centuries prior to our beloved Christian movement and some seven to twelve hundred years after Moses first freed the Jews from slavery in Egypt, the Gita was making doctrines obsolete faster than scribes could record them.  Or the rich people of those days could typeset, print and distribute them.  The ebb of life on the planet was slow and uneven in the third century BCE or we might all be walking about with dots on our foreheads.

By the year 1948 (CE), those laying claim to being the people of Moses had had enough talk of messiahs coming or going, enough discussion of Judaic Ethics and decided, some would say with wide-ranging consensus, that “The Jews” had waited long enough.  The persecutions and the pogroms, usually sponsored by Christians, were a tiresome affair to observe and, all too often, a heartbreaking routine to experience.  “The Jews” would return to Israel and David Ben Gurion was as good a messiah as any in his time.  Maybe putting pen to paper would shut the Jews up.  In any case, the narrative of six million dead Jews at the hands of a lapsed Catholic expedited matters considerably.  The Jews would, “come home,” from their perspective, but for the Palestinians who had had a very amicable relationship with Palestinian Jewry up until the early twentieth century, the sudden shift toward Jewish hegemony in what had been “their homeland” must have felt like a betrayal among good neighbors.

I happened along on the planet a year before a fellow from my hometown won a Nobel Peace Prize for recording and codifying the epic journey of the Joads from Oklahoma to California, a journey that many read in sadness and shame but a journey that only told a smattering of details regarding the indignities humans serve up to other humans.  As the Grapes of Wrath went to print in 1939, the woman who was pushing me out into this theatre of the absurd in 1961 had been just 12 years old and had actually been a part of that original journey to California in 1929.  Needless to say, John Steinbeck had skipped a few significant details in the interest of brevity and creative license, but let it not be said it was because his creativity was waning; he had been drinking rather heavily in the hills above Los Gatos at the time and generally making an ass of himself between his residence and the post office where he delivered his manuscripts for editing to his publisher.  The politics of publishing any account of human-imposed human suffering within US borders that was not Civil War-related, would still need to follow that mould of, “all things come together for the good of the country and God Bless America,” or it would not be typeset.  Being a practicing drunk of some literary and journalistic promise, it is virtually certain Steinbeck was nearing the end of his publisher’s largesse when he and his wife made the editing decisions that could have meant the end of an endless river of booze and cigarettes, neither of which Our Dear John could have lived without.  Details be damned, even if it was my entire family’s story that was left out.

The reason why the Steinbeck (really, “GrossSteinbeck,”) story is relevant to a story about landscaping an area of Palestine who some feel has fallen into disrepair is because Steinbeck’s paternal grandfather, Johann, formed, with Clorinda Minor, the Mount Hope colony/pre-kibbutz in Jaffa.  Steinbeck’s grandfather’s brother, Frederick, was murdered and his brother’s wife and mother-in-law beaten and raped by Arab farmers in an all night affair of murder and mayhem that came to be known as, “the Outrages at Jaffa.”  To be certain the Steinbeck’s and their family had suffered from Arab and Bedouin harassment before this night in 1858, but this was the first noteworthy incident of Arab on Jew violence in Ottoman Palestine and it had more to do with zealous Christian Dominionist end-times theology in collision with Muslim hegemony, than with the inability of Palestinian Jews to live peacefully amidst their Muslim majority neighbors.  The murder of men and the raping of women, while practiced as an act of profound disrespect towards the “unclean” in Muslim countries, is not an act sanctioned by Islam.  It just so happens that where there are Muslims and “infidels,” there tends to be a lot of violence towards women and xenophobia towards men.  Sort of reminds me of South Texas, after a fashion.  Sniff.

The other reason why landscaping stories interest me is because of a side-business I use to support my greater aspirations.  Being an actor and being the owner of a small lawn maintenance concern between Killeen and Austin, Texas, basically means I mow lawns for a living.  As part of a lawn deal with a dentist in Austin, I managed to get my teeth bleached whiter than most politicians, which really helps me get past the first knock on neighborhood doors looking for additional clients, but has done nothing to enhance my capacity for finding dramatic work in a sea of blond-haired, blue-eyed twenty-something’s.  It is not that I am a bad actor or poorly skilled in delivering my lines, it’s that I am a young forty-something at the age of fifty-two.  People in Killeen look at me and think, “he’s a smart, handsome-enough man, why can’t he find any real work,” as I discuss the finer points of putting a clean edge on their lawn, while people in Austin, usually my friends, generally say, “there he goes, livin’ the dream and undeterred by the naysayers.  I can support that!”  Whatever it takes to get the bills paid.  If I have to tan to look Hispanic enough to be in this business, I am willing to do that, but I have to keep the blond hair and blue eyes ceded to me by my parents in hopes of greater commercial exposure.  Landscaping is just part of my larger plan to take Hollywood by storm.  Yay, me.

How I made it here to Texas I couldn’t begin to tell you beyond a tragic tale of unguided love.  Clichés may not be interesting to the general public, but they do tend to move people across country when the getting is good and the timing seems right.  Moving from California to Texas might seem to some folks like a backward move economically, spiritually, morally and culturally.  But I see where Manifest Destiny pegged a journey that began at Plymouth Rock and moved westward like a huge conveyor belt, carrying social pariahs of all kinds who got as close to the ocean as they could before they faced the fact that they would be living in close quarters with people they didn’t like any better than did the rest of the country.  Moving to Texas was a huge cultural shock to my system, but it appears now that my system needed the shocking.  Apparently the world is chalk-full of people who hate what they do for a living, are hanging on to their life story by their fingernails and are doing so while living in a poaching humidity that leaves molds, bacteria’s and fungi floating in midair, waiting for a receptive pair of lungs to come along and sustain them a while longer.  Prior to moving to Texas, I thought everyone lived in a place like Salinas and had a cleansing fog to look forward to rolling in every evening, only to watch it roll back out to sea by noon the following day.  Sixty-eight degrees, year-round. This was certainly the case in San Luis Obispo where I once went to college, and is true all up and down the central coast of California.  But not so in any part of Texas.  Nor is it true in Philadelphia, my father’s hometown which he no longer claims.

If landscaping and the mowing of lawns has been something of a meditation for me while I await the next chapter of my life to unfold, learning to speak with, tolerate, understand and make a living selling lawn services to a typical Texas homeowner has been an exercise in linguistic gymnastics, religious tolerance and humility.

“Do what,” the grey-haired man in the bolo tie said to me after I asked him what time it was.  He then took a step back and looked at the time piece in his front pocket and let me know that I was perilously close to noon-time in mid-August.  No one in their right mind mows their lawn after noon in the midst of a Texas summer, but that wouldn’t stop my client from asking for extras designed to watch me sweat and drip, becoming half-crazy from dehydration and completely incapable of carrying on an adult conversation.

“I really wanted to get back inside by noon, Mr. Deutsche.”

“The Lord works in mysterious ways, Ed.  Mysterious ways.  A hard day’s work cleanses the soul and brings us closer to the Almighty.”

Now it used to be that I could ignore an asinine comment like this from a client.  My Mexican counterparts do all the time, amazing me with their comprehension of American idioms and context, only to become deaf, mute or illiterate at the prospect of being asked to work past noon in the summer.  They often smile politely, say, “jess,” and pack up and leave the job site just as they had planned to from the beginning of the day.  But my way past competing with the rock-bottom pricing capacity of your typical Mexican landscaper was to ape the German-Protestant work ethic that demands a willingness to work for slave wages under third-world conditions, all the while maintaining a bright smile and pleasant demeanor that would make them proud to call me, “son.”  “Arbeit macht frei .” They know what they are asking for is unreasonable, they know they are challenging me to survive a huge and unnecessary obstacle between doing my job and ending up in an emergency room with heat exhaustion or worse; but they also know that if I am a true-blue Texan down to my bone marrow, I will go out of my way to prove it at the drop of any hat.  If a Texan challenges you to a throw-down, you better show up or plan on being part of a parade in your honor that sends you marching out of town.  Texans pride themselves on not being lazy, on working hard and on honoring authority; but once you prove to them that you are among friends who see eye to eye, you begin to notice how much harder the Mexicans you are competing against are actually working than the Texans who are paying their wages.  Southern hospitality meets southern hypocrisy every day in Texas, but don’t ever be caught dead saying so or you’re back out in the heat proving yourself one more time.  God-fearing German Protestants raised in this State get the smartass smacked off their faces at a very young age.  So I smile the brightest, toothiest Austin-bleached smile I can muster and say, “yes sir, Mr. Deutsche,” and I get busy not resisting authority since authority is helping to pay my rent this month.

“Thank you, son.  I sure do appreciate it.”

“Anytime, Mr. Deutsche.  You can count on me.”

“Do what?”

“I said, ‘you can count on me, sir,’” with yet another smile as genuine as any smile seen from the pulpit of any mega church in this State.  The “do what” was perfunctory and used as a double-check to ensure I wasn’t full of shit the first time I said what I said.  If you pass the second, “do what,” test, you’re in.  You’ve sold ‘em.  And if you think it gets any harder than that, just remember the long-con the Bush Family has been able to pull off in this State and the people here still hold their Family in high regard.  They were able to drop the entire economic, political and legal infrastructure of the goddamn United States to its knees in a fortnight using the same tricks Hitler used to come to power in Germany, yet Texans still want to get their pictures taken with these lizards, still want to be seen around them.  Frankly, I’d rather mow Mr. Deutsche’s lawn.  He’s a big fan of “Dubya,” swears to God Almighty that “Lib’ruls” are the death of this country, watches FoxNews and Reverend Hagee, but his heart is pure gold.  He would no more take a switch to a man beaten down by circumstance than he would stab his wife in the heart.  He’s actually quite liberal in ways not understood by those he supports with his money and his vote.  But he’s a Texan, so that means he has to win.  Texans pick a winner and stick with them to the bitter end.  So as long as I’m putting a perfect edge to Mr. Deutsche’s lawn and making it the pride of his block, I can count on plenty of business in this neighborhood.  My Californian ancestry is excused for as long as I am willing to adopt Texas values as my own and respect those whose trust I have earned.

Jews wouldn’t be terribly comfortable with the accommodations here in Texas because, first and foremost, Texans don’t like hearing people complain.  And complaining is something bred into the genetic code of every modern Jew I have ever had the pleasure of knowing.  They might talk a good game, might be able to get you to relax and laugh with them, but make no mistake: this whole fucking world is beneath them, they know it for a fact and they believe that you do not.  Your willingness to accept the unacceptable is what makes you, “goyim,” and a sally, and this permits them to think of you as no better than a pack animal.  Heaven help you if you tell them this truth to their face, even if you heard them tell it to each other in your presence.  Now not every single Jew is this touchy any more than every single Texan is a naïve fool, but generally Jews and Texans share something in common that makes them mutually repulsed by one another: they stick together when times get rough and they share the spoils when times swing in the other direction.  The reason so many Americans find Texans so obnoxious is for the same reasons that the people of the world have always had it out for the Jews: they know their own, they cling to their own, they protect their own and they damn sure aren’t going to tolerate being invaded  by someone not, “their own.”  And, “fuck you,” for noticing it, you anti-Semitic/anti-Texas parent-hating Californian with a thirst for the ungodly and the unseemly.

I don’t often launch into a thesis while I’m mowing someone’s lawn, but my thoughts make it possible for me to do what has become second nature to me while I make use of the time discussing more important matters with you.  Matters of gravest urgency.  Matters that you might have overlooked while you were busy trying to live your daily life without feeling like a complete and utter failure to your employer, your spouse and/or your children.  I’d like to think we can sit down in this sacred space I am creating in my mind and recognize our thoughts in each other and identify the common mentality that binds us to one another on a global basis.  You look at me and think, “Loser,” because I am choosing to work at a menial job I am good at while I nurture a dream I have to connect with a whole roomful of people using a script or the written word as a vehicle.  I must seem silly to you to harbor such fantastic delusions of grandeur while I scrape the wet grass from the underside of my mower because you watered before I arrived and let your grass get too high before calling me to come shred the tops off your lawn and make it look brown and sick.  I am unworthy of your time because I appear to you to be less than what you would expect from someone who can speak and write English as if I were a college graduate, as if the graduates from your institutions of higher learning will ever be able to write or spell like I can.  I was born with this freakishly precocious diction and suffered many ass-whippings in the old neighborhoods I grew up in because of it.  Yes, it might be going to waste while I tell you about the finer points of lawn care and maintenance, but at least I am not using my gifts to decimate and devalue the lives crowded into a pseudo-city and made into clichés with fleschette bombs and white phosphorus, as your more promising college graduates do.  At least I know better than to see the heads of Palestinian children in every blade of grass I sever from its root, or regard every crawling insect or worm that inhabits one of my lawns as a signal that I need to spray insecticide over an entire yard.  At least I have the sense to realize that the same causes and effects that require me to intervene in a lawn gone wrong are identical to the causes and effects that make my own yard problematic.  At least I know what the word, “conservative,” means, and when a “radical” intervention is indicated.  I know lawn care, I’ve done yard work my entire life, and I know better than to treat every brown spot in a yard as a case of lawn moths requiring insecticide, rather than as a neighbor’s dog who got out over the weekend and had his way with the neighborhood.  A lawn is a system and systems always reflect the thinking and the behavior of those responsible for bringing them into being.  If I can’t make reasonable sense out of what you expect from a lawn care professional in the first ten seconds of conversing with you, I am not going to be able to save your lawn from your own ignorance and stupidity.  I have walked away from business like that out of sheer reflex because I know I am tossing pearls down a privy.  Maybe that makes me xenophobic or maybe that makes me a Jew, but I haven’t missed a rent payment in a long time and I haven’t had the police called on me because my client felt cheated by my work ethic or felt I was being, “unfair.”

So what does lawn care have to do with Gaza, especially now that we all know there isn’t a blade of grass left in Gaza worth sacrificing potable water for?

Point one.  Only people with money are going to be able to afford to sustain and maintain a lawn in the heat of Central Texas.  I am not going to find much business for myself in a poor neighborhood.  Likewise, people treat their religions like they treat their lawns.  People who don’t give a shit about their lawns generally do not go to church, mosque or synagogue, nor do they give a damn about what anyone else thinks about their status as the neighborhood iconoclast.  If I want to find the “sweet spot” for a lawn care business, I need to find people with the right mixture of devotion and money to make my talents profitable for my efforts.  If having a shitty lawn happens to be your religion, good luck getting your holy scriptures published and available to a wider audience.  While your devotion might be admirable, it is not a good fit with mine.  Vaya con dios.

Point one-aye.  The Holy Scriptures everyone seems willing to lose their minds and their lives over could only have been written, printed and sustained by a system of wealth and power that crosses many multiples of human generations.  That means that what is written in those scriptures was deemed as “not offensive” to their publishers and when it might be seen as such, was rapidly edited and a new edition published.  In the case of multiple editions deemed to be offensive, the errant editions were categorized and subsequently burned from public memory.  People have always heard what rich people wanted them to hear.  Loudly.  So while you might be fixated with using your chemical fertilizers and insecticides, there is a pretty good chance you are doing so because some rich guy told you to do so, or he told someone you trust to do so, and, voila, you’re doing it based on authority.  I’ve had to rescue plenty of lawns burned with chemical fertilizers, so I know that authority is about making a “prophet” into a profit, not necessarily doing the right thing.

Point one-bee.  Not everyone has a god, but everyone has a story that they treat like their god.  If you want people to believe your story, you better find a way of understanding your story, their story and a story with a happy ending that you can all blend together in that satisfies everyone’s need to have a good story to tell and one worth living for.  If you cannot master this very fundamental art of community building, plan on spending a great deal of time, energy and resources keeping everyone else from erasing your story from the slate of acceptable storylines.  A storyline that informs me that you want to have a lawn that is the envy of your neighborhood but requires no devotion or commitment from you is not an acceptable storyline, from my perspective as a lawn care professional.  That won’t stop you from trying to tell everyone about your storyline, especially if you have a lot of disposable income to spare.  While doing the impossible with nothing sounds appealing to the ears of sleepwalkers, in practice it is a waste of time and energy.  Everything is already Nothing, so expecting something for nothing is nothing new but it is a request for a static separateness that will be satisfied, if the desire in your heart is to be empty and alone.  The purpose of anything in Nothing is to communicate to you how very fucking alone you really are as you delusionally whirl on a speck of dust, flying safely away from anywhere you might cause greater harm.  Once you get the depth and scope of the abyss, the appearance of a helping hand on the horizon is accorded its proper value.  Communication received.  So if I ask you to do a few minimal chores in between my appearances to mow your yard, I am not suggesting that you should light it on fire, blow it up, mine it with explosives, or tear it up and put in Astroturf.  You can do any of these things, if you wish, because Everything is Nothing.  But you can also expect to feel the value of Nothing in great depth within yourself for all your trouble.  You have been warned countless times and in many ways about the meanings you assign to particular things at particular times.  Accept responsibility for your own crappy choices and make your problem solvable; blame me and repeat the same error with a less forgiving lawn maintenance professional.

Point two.   Christian Dominionists and Jews were strange bedfellows from the beginning.  But there was a beginning and that beginning came from a particular interpretation of an ending – an ending and an interpretation that began and ended with the rich folks mentioned in Point one.  If I were to go corporate and start swallowing up all the lawn care business in Killeen, at some point, I would need to ensure that everyone was always going to have a lawn, that they were always going to be able to keep their lawn alive and that there were always going to be plenty of bad examples of lawn care around town from which I could contrast my service results against.  Likewise, if I know my authority is based in a happy ending to a story we all fit into, I need to make sure that we all have the means to survive our stories and our shared happy ending, but I will still need to provide for plenty of bad examples to keep everyone focused on moving in the same general direction.  That is what war is for.  War is nothing more than a bad example of humans failing to get along with other humans.  With enough war, we drive people to peace.  But if I try to turn a profit from your bad example, I lose control of my ability to release either you, or myself, from my need for bad examples.  In so doing, I become a bad example.  Fixation with bad examples is illness and this illness results in death.  There is no exception.  So I let others better suited to the task try to corporatize what they do not, and cannot, own until they learn that they did not create life, nor can they wish for anything more without automatically asking for an end to their own existence.  I love lawn care.  I despise paperwork.

Point two-aye.  The entire state of Israel began as an apostasy that no practicing Jew would want or would have tolerated during the 19th century CE.  This did not stop Christian Dominionists from wanting the ending foretold in their scriptures, nor did it stop a certain type of educated Jew from wanting to beat certain types of Christians to death with their own ignorance.  Enter World Wars I and II.  World War I decimated the Ottoman Empire, making possible the transformation of all those 19th century Jewish colonies, and later, kibbutzim, in Palestine into a Jewish homeland while also gaining control of the oilfields of Basra.  World War II was about killing off all internal Jewish opposition to the establishment of a Jewish homeland followed by the restoration of the British Empire to its former glory.  In a very real sense, World Wars I and II were about mowing the lawn in Europe and Palestine, at the expense of the mostly Muslim Turks.  The Crusades might have ended with Saladin running a victory lap all over Eastern Europe and North Africa, but no blue-eyed Caucasian is going to allow a dark-skinned mud-person living in a tent have the final word in any argument.  Being crazy is an important survival skill bred into the genetic makeup of the Caucasian race.  Ask any black African from which all of us once came and they will make plain that white people are crazy and they aren’t kidding.  It appears that albinism took more than melanin from our skin: it took away a piece of our ability to be humane.

Point two-bee.  While the rich publishers of our fine scriptures are busily trying to assure us that, in the end, the Jews will agree with everyone and all will be well, the Israelis are also busily trying to arrange for Muslims and Christians to kill each other over false pretenses while defending their ability to maintain their status in Palestine.  That means the order of the day is convincing the rest of the world that they need to “globalize” their economies while Israel busily arms itself in preparation for the inevitable resource wars that will come when there are too many Muslims and too many Christians left to maintain a healthy biosphere, at which time the Israelis will, as they have done in Gaza, mow the fucking lawn and leave us all bereft of a place to live in or a window to throw it out of.

Zionism – whether it is Judaic, Christian, Muslim, Confucian, Shinto or agnostic – is the endless search for perfection in a place where perfection has no utility.  There are no Edens, there are no utopias, there is only a choice between the deepest, darkest emptiness our heart’s can stand, and the hand of a brother in arms.  We might feel abandoned by our churches, synagogues, mosques, families or neighbors, but we have not been abandoned by that which created us.  Life knows itself.

It is high-time we got to know ourselves.


My Summer Vacation

Summer Vacation Among the Towers

I wish I had a good excuse for not writing much this past Summer.  I did notice a slight spike in trips to my blog for September 11, which I appreciate, but I am having trouble writing about much of anything anymore.  I find nausea to be my friend and constant companion.

When David Crosby, formerly of The Buffalo Springfield, burst onto the stage at Monterey Pop and announced that JFK had been assassinated as the result of a criminal conspiracy, the year was 1967, nearly four years and a million dreams after that dreadfully fateful day in November, 1963. 

It was Spring, 2007 before I was able to personally shake the hand of, and offer my heartfelt gratitude to, Professor Steven Jones in the Salt Lake City Airport for his service to our country, the former United States of America – roughly six and a half years after 9/11/2001.  It has been nine years and a million nightmares since 9/11/2001 and the only accountable parties presented for public consumption have been nineteen Arab Muslims with box cutters.

The bastards have beaten us down once again.

Frankly I have grown tired of writing and chit-chatting about social injustice and the wars that defile the very unsung heroes who have fought and died in them for all these years.  War is a racket, true, but the game is played on a court that is owned and operated by a global elite who dislike being held accountable or having a lot of attention paid to their activities.  The existence of these individuals has been a finger in the eye of social democracy from the beginning and until there is an appetite for what must be done to rid ourselves of this scourge I feel I am shouting down a bottomless pit.  A strange and peculiar combination of psychopathy and heart must exist in an individual with the stones to walk up to a Dick Cheney or a Karl Rove and simply dispense justice quickly and cleanly.  Not that these individuals are anything but stand-ins for the real culprits, the real monsters, behind this fascist takeover of planet Earth; my point is simply to suggest that peculiarity serves to tag any individual who might be thinking of acting along lines outside the recommended public agenda or proscribed discourse. 

Jon Stewart’s timely, and unwelcome, interjection of 9/11 Truth into a mix of Tea Partiers and other racist misanthropes reminds me of the hold corporations have over our media and the power inherent in the agenda setting function that media always serves.

As I pen this weighty tome, “My Trip to al Qaeda,” blasts my sensibilities in high definition along with Lawrence Wright’s passionate, if unilateral, acceptance of the storyline that Osama bin Laden and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed were behind the felling of the twin towers of the WTC on 9/11/2001.  With all due respect to Mr. Stewart, Mr. Wright and the respect I have for their showmanship, no Arab fundamentalist could have planted the explosive demolition charges necessary and evidently used to drop those towers at near free-fall speed.  Gentle reader, such a feat as felling those towers in less than 15 seconds is not physically possible without months of unfettered access to the superstructure of those towers, nor without the foreknowledge of a sizable cabal with a large economic stake in the outcome of such a catastrophe.  The problem with so much of the truth – the roundness of our very planet being an example of one such truth – is that it is so beyond our ability to believe or conceive of its possibility.  It can take centuries for human beings to swallow such truths as, “the world is not flat, but round,” and, in the meantime, a great deal of money can be made by those of us who are less delusional than our fellows.

None of this is to suggest that all is well in the realm of fundamentalist religions of any stripe.  To the contrary, the piety of Islam and the forgetfulness of the New Testament Christians of the importance of justice combine to form a combustible mixture that well-moneyed powers have been using for centuries to keep us at each other’s throats while selling armaments to both sides.  Power can never be trusted to act justly on anyone’s behalf, and absolute power cannot be permitted to represent any consortium anywhere on this planet.  The price of an apathetic response to absolute, or near-absolute, power is death.  The price of confrontation may also be death, but such a death could inspire further resistance to what every man, woman and child knows in their heart to be true: freedom rings, everything else feels like the resonance outside of a tin horn.

What we must do next is decide whether we will live or if we will die.  Death is easy and comes to pass regardless of what we demand our life be made of.  Life, on the other hand, is a choice to join with all the vitality of the universe and take all the steps necessary to preserve, protect and defend what we know represents the best of our humanity.  We must extinguish the Death Cult that has ruled this planet for far too long and we must replace it with a consortium of leaders who choose life and believe in the equality of our fellows under an umbrella of social justice once and for all time.

The Barbershop Diaries, Volume I, Issue 19: To Those Unfortunate Few Who Have Been Left Behind


Don't Be Like Rick...Don't Get Left Behind

Don't Be Like Rick...Don't Get Left Behind

Apparently the Governor of the State of Texas, Rick Perry – a man rumored by the Austin Street in 2002 to have been interrupted, en flagrante delicto, with another man by his wife, has the supernatural ability to foretell the future.  Governor Perry is using his new-found powers, perhaps granted to him in a “mumblefest” with Reverend John Hagee, to force the cancellation of a meeting that would have demonstrated, perhaps beyond a reasonable doubt, that Cameron Todd Willingham was executed unjustly, unfairly and irresponsibly by the State of Texas during Governor Perry’s watch in 2004.

But Governor Rick Perry sports an excellent haircut and should receive some mention here at the ‘diaries.

So glad to see Governor Perry using his psychic abilities only for the Good.  Maybe he can do a travelling psychic duet with clairvoyant John Edwards – I’d love to see John Edwards “ping” all over the stage because of all the decent, innocent people Rick Perry and the GOP have sent to their untimely deaths in the last 20 years.

The murder of Cameron Todd Willingham by the State of Texas has recently been brought to the fore by a  Baltimore-based arson expert, Craig Beyler, who was hired to render an opinion by Austin attorney Samuel E. Bassett and the Texas Forensic Science Commission that, as of a week ago, he headed.  Beyler exudes credibility as does attorney Bassett, but neither of these two characteristics have anything to do with Governor Perry’s preternatural capacity for fortune telling nor for his capacity to sport an attractive coiff…so they had to go, “bah-bye.”

CNN also reports that two previous expert reports, presumably financed during Willingham’s appeals process, also determined that the deaths of Willingham’s children were not due to arson, but Beyler’s report, the most recent and the one wilting Perry’s coiff, was the first one commissioned by the State of Texas.

Let us pause for a moment of reasonable doubt.

Nine of the top fire investigators in the United States have all concluded that there was no evidence of arson in the fire Willingham was convicted on intentionally setting and which caused his children to perish.

From the death gurney, Willingham cursed his wife – a woman he had been accused of physically abusing, attempting to render an obscene gesture to her even as the paralytic drugs were being administered that would later cause his death.

What sometimes happens to women caught in a web of domestic abuse – and, yes, they fit a profile just as their abusers do – is that they will turn to stronger, more powerful males to seek for help in dealing with a situation that is often, and increasingly,  lethal to one or both parties.  Police officers – the single male versions of which fit a psychological profile, too – love to be of service to damsels in distress.  This affect does not serve male police officers well as they are statistically incapable of sustaining long term relationships or avoiding the trap of alcoholism or drug addiction throughout their careers in law enforcement.  If you know a retired police officer who seems pleasant and kind, give him or her a random hug because they could probably use one.

Back to reasonable doubt.

If you are a Texas-born male of the stubborn variety, a man who has managed through sheer grit and determination to survive the kind of childhood that has a high probability of breeding a domestic abuser, and you happen to think your marriage to a physically attractive female is due to anything other than dumb luck, you are a complete imbecile.  Texas has a habit of both breeding them and executing them with needles. 

If you are a Texas-born male police officer who thinks he does the right thing by tampering with evidence or unduly influencing a legal investigation because you feel “sorry” for the wife of a complete imbecile –  or worse, because she blows you in your cruiser on one of your many breaks in exchange for paying closer attention to her tendency to pick up men by their penises and beat herself to death with them – you deserve to discover that there is not enough alcohol or enough of any drug in the world to soothe your aching conscience.  Run, do not walk, out of law enforcement, and consider yourself fortunate for having had the chance to serve relatively honorably.  If you continue to decorate your rut with lumber and “collars,” you will become the Thing you hated the most and sought a career in law enforcement to eliminate.

If you are the Governor of a State like Texas – that can mean only one person at this point in history – who not only willfully allows this kind of nonsense to continue unabated, but is actually righteous about passing this steaming pile of crap on to the next unfortunate occupant of your lowly place in public service: you deserve to be outed for your hypocrisy, your complete lack of honesty, your deviant behavior and your abject, bellicose failure as a human being.

Yes, if it will make those unfortunate Baptists and Evangelicals who are subliminally enraged by the fact that they are still, at this late date, waiting to be “raptured” feel better, I am your Jesus for today.  I am passing judgment upon ya’all — or, “ye,” if you prefer.  I reckon I can have the whole job done in about a day hence my original promo, “Day of Judgment.”  Come one, come all.  Tickets are going fast.  Come see whose behavior was worse than your’s and who still got to live a pretty nice life, anyway.

By way of addendum, I think that it is important to mention the fact that being condemned to burn in a Hell of your own creation is no excuse for treating absolutely everyone in your path like they are the cool places only you get to walk on on your way to meet with your beloved Lucifer.  Nor is it any excuse for befouling the planet on which you were born like it is some kind of glorified privy where you can hide your liquor as well as lighten your personal burden after eating what no one should digest, or swallowing what should never have been consumed.  This is your Today-Jesus talking here and I am commanding you to wake the Hell up, already!

In one last ditch attempt at saving all of your putrid, lurid Protestant souls, I am commanding you to shave off all of your hair and live every waking moment that remains in complete and utter gratitude for every tiny, seemingly insignificant kindness you get to see or experience.  If you fail in this regard, I shall smote ye and all of your Amway downline with month after month of poor economic performance, vicious cross-line infilitration by your fellow churchgoers and numerous and sundrie infections of both bladder and yeast.  A Kaiser roll unto your many houses say I!

Thus spake Zarathrustra,  a man whose hair looks nothing like Rick Perry’s nor whose jawbone comes anywhere near Rick Perry’s ass.

Barbershop Diaries, Volume I, Issue 18: Nazi Germany Ain’t Motown

Motown Comin' to yo' town

Motown Comin' to yo' town

“You tell me lies that should be obvious to me
I’m in so much love with ya’ baby that I don’ wanna see
If the truth makes love last longer
Why do lies
make my love stronger?

Ain’t that peculiar?” 

 — Marvin Gaye

I loved Marvin Gaye’s music…probably the most redeeming aspect of the phenomenon that was to become Barry Gordy.  No more raw, nor unfiltered, nor uncensored, account of the illness of addiction has ever been broadcast in the popular media before or since the days when Marvin Gaye’s lyrics punctuated the creeping fascism of the 1960’s and 70’s.

When I heard of Marvin Gaye’s death as an adult, it hit me as hard as the death of Louis Armstrong when I was seven or eight.  That Gaye had died under circumstances so common in the lives of addicts and so reminiscent of untreated addiction only made his death seem more tragic.  When Louis Armstrong died, the pain came from the sudden and shocking revelation that someone had lied to me about death, about the fact that it wouldn’t hurt, about the fact that the German Nazi lady down the street and her opinion of Satchmo as, “just another nigger,” wouldn’t shatter my illusions about love and how its purity would prove victorious in the fight to save the human race from itself.

Marvin Gaye spoke the truth; everyone else was feeding me lies and wishful thinking.

The popular media is no longer in the business of broadcasting the truth and has not been for some time – not without an unhealthy, untruthful and widely publicized counterpoint that sounds more like an echo from 1930’s Germany than 1960’s America.  In 1960’s America I could name my yellow Labrador, “Satchmo,” as a reflection of what I and my mother considered to be a statement of unconditional love.  My collision with 1930’s Germany, however, meant that Satchmo would drink the leftover antifreeze the Nazi Lady left outside like a bowl of water, shit himself nearly to death on her prized patio, before wandering off someplace lonely to die a wretching, miserable death.  Satchmo loved me unconditionally; Nazi Lady loved me with a number of conditions related to my performance.  Those conditions were easily met by me most of the time, but I did have a number of assets in my favor over which I had little or no control.  Condition one, I was a cute-looking kid.  Condition two, I could eat breakfast, lunch and dinner faster than any of her children even if she blended it up and fed them through a straw.  Condition three, I was smarter, for my age, than either of her two sons.  Condition four, I naively saw her as a source of love and nurturing that I could not obtain from within my own home.  This last condition, of course, changed as I began to experience the full range of emotions and behaviors that the women in my world who were raised during the Nazi occupation tended to exhibit.

Nazi Lady stole from her tenants.

That she had tenants was certainly one in the plus column for her that complimented her husband as a Midwestern American, government civilian employee with a Depression-era learned neurotic compulsion to scrimp and save that would make the Indian on a wooden nickel scream and cry for mercy.  What kept Nazi Lady around, however, in spite of their obvious age difference, was a shitload of life insurance, a fact she had no problem revealing to my mentally ill, though not entirely permanently out to lunch, mother.  I guess the fact that my mother didn’t seem entirely engaged with reality meant that she could use my mother’s attention as a confessional.

Nazi Lady always covered her bases and was an absolute clean freak.

Everything had to be in its place at all times, reflecting a homey-ness and sense of welcome that was vacuously absent for said home’s occupants.  If Nazi Lady wasn’t pleading and coercing her children to eat faster, work harder or jump higher, she was chasing them out of the house so that she wouldn’t have to follow behind them and clean up the evidence that people actually lived there.  Everyone got a free pass on the first visit, of course, since they were visitors.  After visit one, however, you needed to respect the placement and display of precious objects Nazi Lady had taken great pains to steal from her tenants.  No, that’s not entirely accurate.  Nazi Lady stole from her neighbors and relatives, too, but only things like towels and dishware – things that could not be readily identified.

Nazi Lady liked fattening up small animals that she could then feed to her son’s pet King snakes.

Nazi Lady felt that it was critically important to teach her sons the truth about nature and the natural world.  She had no problem turning us loose in her backyard with our BB guns to protect her many fruit trees from marauding birds.  In one case, a family of sparrows had the misfortune of building a nest in what they must have thought was a piece of vacation real estate.  We did our job murdering the parents with sublime efficiency.  Nazi Lady did her job rescuing the chicks and feeding them oodles of noodles until they either died or became bloated and fat.  The one remaining chick was given his last meal before she gathered us around and dropped the too-fat-to-fly sparrow chick into the hutch that held the King snakes.  “You see, Bubby?  This is what happens when you don’t move fast enough!”  The snake swallowed the bloated little fruit-eating thief head first quite quickly.  I thought it was pretty cool at the time, watching those dirty little birdy feet walking down the throat of the hungry black and white snake.

Nazi Lady didn’t like fair fights.

As soon as my mother made the unfortunate mistake of informing her sons that all was not well with their mother, that perhaps Nazi Germany had taken its toll on the judgment of a neighbor who might otherwise be deserving of respect, Nazi Lady brought forward the truth about my mother.  My mother was an alcoholic.  My mother drank too much.  My mother was a liar.  And she told these facts to the loving eight year old son of said criminal, perhaps so that I might dissuade my mother from opening her lying mouth to anyone else in the neighborhood.  Of course Nazi Lady was essentially correct in her assessments as was my mother, but my mother was ahead of her by at least a dozen shock treatments and medical incarcerations, so the truth coming from my mother’s mouth had a very interesting way of sounding like pure babbling horseshit.  Could Nazi Lady actually be correct about my Mom?  The thought enraged me so much I couldn’t contain my ire. 

I kicked a hole in our screen door at home.

I later lived in sin with the daughter of another Nazi Lady for nine years and never married her lying, two-faced, emotionally-disturbed ass.

I laughed in the face of said daughter when it became clear that her lying, corpulent ass was finally catching up to her, that everything she touched was actually dead or near dying.  She laughed right back since she was able to fuck her way into keeping the house we had bought together.

So I moved to Texas, to the original scene of some imaginary crime, and have made a point of getting in the face of every Nazi-loving, fascist, brain-dead pig I could corner and let them know just how fucked up their thinking and behavior has been, will always be, it’s hopeless, put a gun in your mouth and pull the mother-fucking trigger and put us all out of your misery – you Nazi-loving, Fox-News-watching, flag-waving piece of human waste. 

But I’m not bitter.   I love the ignorant masses.  There are so many of them and so many to choose from.  I love hearing the marbles spin and spill in and out of their ears. 

Here we sit, in Texas, on a death-watch, guns at the ready, waiting to see which one of us is going to pull the trigger first and declare the competition finished and over with.

Maybe I’m crazy, but I thought we won the Second World War.  I thought the Nazi’s ate cyanide pills to escape the indignity of having their neck’s rung from their skulls…I thought the Nazis were bad, evil people who killed Jews just for the sport of it…I thought the Jews were the victims of the world…I thought Christians were supposed to love Jews no matter what….

Ain’t that peculiar?

The Barbershop Diaries, Volume I, Issue 17: The Current Racism

Sometimes A Klan Rally Is Just A Klan Rally

Sometimes A Klan Rally Is Just A Klan Rally

Now the right wing glue-sniffers are attacking ACORN, Justice Sotomayor, Aunt Jemima, Mr. Bojangles, and (acting) President Barak Hussein Obama.  Next up: Al Jolson.

I suppose it all started when the Egyptians, in a brief moment of sanity, released the Jews from bondage to spend forty years trying to understand why freedom wasn’t truly free.  There was certainty in bondage, even if such certainty was miserable.  Humans are nothing if not adaptable, and if given a choice between a duel of wits with the Sinai Desert , or trusting the largesse of a benevolent dictator, most people tend to lean towards the devil they know.  Onward through the fog of victimization and the tyranny of oppression.

As “free” men and women, we are free to wander the desert for as long as we wish, but I know of no human person who could, or would, tolerate being lost anywhere with their family for forty minutes, let alone forty years – and that goes double for being lost in any kind of a desert.  Methinks the whole “forty years” narrative was an allegory…on the banks of the Nile…with or without meaningful interpretation.

The choice to opt for freedom does not come easy to anyone at any time – or at any level of psycho-emotional development.  Like most things in life, freedom is a process and processes can be thought of as having bony elbows and hardened knees.  Most everyone realizes this important fact unless they happen to be a teenaged child or young adult.  In which case I am an advocate of tripping the little darlings, saving the rougher fare for the thirty-five year old non-relatives who have not learned to discriminate between bull feces and shoe polish. 

Ethnocentrists – a polite term for racist – seem to possess the fecund, counterfactual imagination that one, or a basket of, ethnicities offer all that could possibly be necessary for human life to sustain itself on this planet and beyond.  If we maintain open-mindedness long enough to follow this line of reasoning to some definitive conclusions, we arrive at such treasures as, “we can see accurately well into the future,” and, “we have supernatural powers not possessed by others.”  While absurd on their face, such beliefs are not far-fetched leaps of logic beyond the “faith” required to believe that dead people can reanimate themselves, or that we are all under the moral surveillance of an omniscient sky-spook whose job it is to mete out justice to one and all – simultaneously.  And while this paints most every religion with a broad brush, I would be remiss if I did not point out that the latest heap of effluent tossed onto the American political stage has been primarily the work of a fundamentalist, Zionist subculture within the United States which believes that humans fed dinosaurs, willingly and unwillingly, and that the entire planet is only 6,000 years old.  The zeal possessed by this subculture extends well past the point of credulity, past mere delusional thinking and lands smack into the outright insanity of, “it is because I was reared to believe that it is so.”  In point of fact, the zealously religious are among the most racist creatures on the face of this planet.  In activating the fear-based core components of any religion – be they phantasmagorical or merely perceptually-based science – we virtually ensure the emergence of racism and prejudices of all kinds to rear their ugly, demented little heads.

By way of intermezzo, I did just refer to perceptually-based science as a form of religion. 

For those not used to poring over journal articles or who are not familiar with the intercollegial backstabbing that takes place in the hallowed halls of academe, let me just point out that the existence of your physical form relative to anyone else’s is an article of faith to science.  Meaning, of course, that there is no certain knowledge that the fundamental building blocks of which we are all made actually exist anywhere at any time — we take it on authority that our interpretation of our perceptions means what we have been taught it means. 

By this logic, I make no absolute distinction between current scientific evidence that is tainted by human interpretation and much older human-tainted evidence based on outside organizational authority — both, in time, lead to the same sort of lunacy that we are observing taking place, right now, among the fundamentalist evangelical right-wing of the former Republican party and their corporate “amen” section. 

One can make the argument that the religion of Science is self-correcting, but my observations have not born that belief out to any greater degree than the self-correction that has taken place in most standard religions.   In a pinch, I would opt for the religion of Science over most every other religion, but this prejudice still leaves a huge gap between legitimate, age-old and sage tribal knowledge and the best of current scientific conclusions.  I and Ken Wilber agree that both sources of knowledge are crucially important to living a happy, meaningful human life. 

My disdain for the behavior of those who choose lunacy and pathological fantasy over more grounded, scholarly and spiritual religious interpretations reflects my belief that most religions lead to a variety of loathsome “us versus them” confrontations of which the current racism is clearly associated. 

For the scientifically inclined who remain unconvinced that two or three major intellectual revolutions in the Philosophy of Science have taken place just in the last 100 years, I am not alarmed.  Eventually the positivistic certainty with which the scientifically-consecrated enoble their own thinking and perceptions will come beating on their skulls to deliver, unto them, the requisite humility of the saints.

Restoration of sanity is a process and like everything else requires both a willing student and a clearly presented, easily grasped curriculum. 

Evidence of racism is evidence not of a poorly presented curriculum but, in the present case, evidences a strident, arrogant denial of the most obvious matters of fact.  There is no learning failure taking place in the case of racism, there is only a dedicated unwillingness to look at all of the evidence that is as plain as the nose upon the human face. 

I do not mean to be dismissive of  matters of obviousness since there are, by some accounts, over two billion (2,000,000,000) sense impressions available to our perception at any given instant in time.  My point is that we are not lacking for any information here.  What we are lacking is a reliable apparatus or process for sorting through all of this information and coming to some competent conclusions before the moment leaves us in the dust and we are served up, yet again, with another moment and another two billion slices of information to sort through.

In a pinch for time, racism is one of many processes human beings use to sort through all of the information that our existence makes available to us.  Hard as it might be to believe, only a dozen or so generations separate us from a period in human history of such hostility that, had we engaged one another during the twentieth century with the same enthusiasm for bloodshed that we once did a handful of generations ago, we would have mindlessly murdered twenty times the one hundred million we actually did slaughter during the twentieth century.  For those keeping score, that would have been that two billion number again.  What this means is that for most of human history we have been brutally bludgeoning one another to death, or running in mortal terror from someone who wanted to brutally bludgeon us to death.  War, terror, running – these are all snappy events that do not suffer contemplative types very well, if at all.  We need to get to the point and we need to get to the point quickly… because the (fill in the blank with your favorite social piriahs) are a-comin’.

Communities of shared values have been, in fact, THE way human beings have adapted to the threats we have encountered from each other for most of the time our peculiar genetic encoding has been in circulation.  Racism and religion walk foot in mouth together in terms of needing to get snappy, if not impolite, before someone I do not know drills a spear or an arrow someplace where I know it does not belong.  Build a wall, dig a moat, fashion a drawbridge – fairly quickly people develop a prejudice for family and community and a strident, if not arrogant, suspicion of anyone trying to worm their way into our Keep.  “Famly values,” as it has been used and misused in the present moment of cultural morality has been nothing more than an encoding of the term, “racism.”  It is not by sheer coincidence that as soon as Ronald Reagan started on his peculiar bandwagon of “family values,” that more demonstrably ill people of color were rounded up and thrown into more and more prisons, as a percentage of their total population, than demonstrably ill white people as a percentage of their total population.

Ethnocentrism = racism = war = religion = insanity.  Since most people harbor an affinity for both ethnocentricism and insanity, peace and the pursuit of happiness only require we rid ourselves of racism, war or religion, as single entities, to weaken the entire tangle that represents the pursuit of our unhappiness.  We have already tried to rid ourselves of racism and war to no avail…both have snapped back into prominence with a vengeance.

I propose, then, that we simply rid ourselves of religion.  We can still go to church, if we like, but methinks it is time to stop giving religion a free ride in the tax department.  And I, for one, will stop sending money their way that will not be spent  strictly on the flock of which I am a member.   No more tithing to an overarching, aging bureaucracy in some far-off land.  All politics are local, and so is all community.  I am done with religion as a means of creating a moral compass for the great unwashed masses, or as a means of saving my bacon for a better time and place.

The time is NOW, and always has been; the place is HERE and will always be.  

Let us choose to love one another simply, responsibly and compassionately – right here and right now, in this very moment.

Barbershop Diaries Volume I, Issue 16: Living Life Beyond the Test Pattern


I'm Fine...Just Will Need Some Help Extracting This Chair Cushion Once We're Done Here

I'm Fine...Just Will Need Some Help Extracting This Chair Cushion Once We're Done Here

I never fully appreciated just how deeply I could sink my fingernails into the chair of my barber as a child.  One would think I was sitting in a dentist’s chair, and as it turned out, I reacted in this same completely unconscious manner with my dentist.  As soon as someone put their fingers inside my mouth and I heard the buzz of the drill, my mind would go elsewhere and my fingernails would keep me from floating off the planetary surface.

I have no explanation for why my barber’s chair elicited this same response in me.  Perhaps it was the buzzing of shears, or the incessant commands to hold still – tilt left, tilt right – that put something in me on red alert.  Not that anyone in the barbershop realized that just under the barber cape my knuckles were an iridescent white.  I was striving to be a picture-perfect consumer of male grooming behavior and with a high degree of precision I succeeded.  But it is to suggest that nothing of much import seemed to come my way unless I had previously removed myself from any personal consideration, or ceased allowing myself to experience any modicum of personal satisfaction as the result of “my” achievement.  Given that bleak forecast, getting out of bed every morning was a step into the heroic.

It was not until I had grown much older, experienced physical intimacy with women and then deigned to allow a massage therapist to touch my bare back that I began to loosen my hold on the arms of all modern torture devices, whatever form they might take.  Something had to give and it had to be in me not because there was something obviously wrong with me, but that everyone else had run out of reasons to contribute to my self-destructive behavior.  I hated myself, but I wanted you to love me so that I could then be justified in hating you, too.  Not exactly a conscious-level plan on my part, just a preponderance of the extant evidence.  This frame seems to fit the evidence well because I can see myself rolling and tumbling in the shame of it all to this very day.

Don’t get me wrong: I am positively joyous ninety five percent of the time.  But the other five percent of the time makes me want to poke out my eyes with a sharp stick.  The other five percent of the time I am caught in an obsessive web of want so sticky that I wonder if I will ever be able to just let it go and move on.  Inevitably I do, of course, but where in the hell does the motivation, desire or inspiration come from to go forward once the glasses are all empty and the party is officially over?

I remember running the stairs in our high school stadium.  The first few flights were easy, but then the burn started to take its toll and it began dogging me every step of the way.  I could still move my legs up and down, but I couldn’t really feel them anymore.  When I did feel them they told me to stop, that this was nuts, that there was no value in going any farther – but I couldn’t stop: you were still doing it, so I had to, too.  You were still giving it your level best, so I couldn’t let the team down.  And so it was the team and being a part of something bigger than myself that drove me to explore the area outside of my normal limits of endurance.

But where the hell does team spirit, or motivation, come from when, for more nights in a row than you can remember, you find yourself waking up alone to the glow of a test pattern illuminating your barely furnished living room?  And forget about the motivation to pursue this sort of sport to its logical conclusion, where does the desire to stop one’s self from picking up a shotgun, pointing it in one’s mouth and pulling the trigger come from?  It certainly will not be team spirit because I can attest to the fact that the “team” has long since found something more entertaining to do with their day than wait to see your head explode in a spray of red mist.  They can see that sort of thing most every day on cable television…before the test pattern shows up.

Fear of death might come close, except for the fact that I have seen death come and take its prisoners several times now, and not one of them seemed to put up much of a fight.  Once the diapers came out, once the wheelchair became a necessity, there was a quiet resignation that the fight had gone on long enough, that the fear was a waste of time and oxygen.  There may have well been some residual fear of death but I can assure you that there was an even greater fear that the torment would go on.  Still…no shotguns, no exhortations against a cruel supreme being and no drama.  There were even, at times, moments of contentment and peace.  One last walk up San Jacinto, one last trip through the old neighborhood to see children playing in the water and somewhere where the air is fresh, clean but thin, the yoke would leave its shell behind.  What was left behind would gladly be left for others to feast on – it had long since passed its expiration date, anyway.

We are at this place as a nation and as a people.  We have allowed ourselves to become the objects as well as the spectators of scandal after scandal, as if watching ourselves being eaten alive by parasites represents some call to a higher purpose, or a part in some drama foretold by an alleged supreme being who obviously cares nothing for our peace or our collective shame.

In these days of torment and torture, the demons sound like angels and the angels sound like demons.  These are the times that try men and women’s souls.  We ache for the heroic, but we refuse to turn our backs on all the scandal, envy and gossip-mongering.  We receive justice, but then we complain because it is devoid of mercy.  Those who can see no justice, no mercy and no heroism in the world are blinded to it by their choice not to see it.  Or, having seen it, move to trample it under foot.

Sometimes getting a haircut can be heroic.  But giving one never is.