Tag Archive | torture

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.



Jew or Genital?

A Story in Three Pieces

I should have suspected that the future would not be anything like it had been promised to us in 1977.  During a compulsory sex education course one of our football coaches had the indubitable privilege of referring to our nether regions as, “gentiles.” 

No one dared question our coaches’ pronunciation, or comprehension, of the subject matter displayed on the slide projector, lest the whole nescient affair be prolonged, the self-identified sexual scholars forced to ride the pine on the following Friday, and all hopes of victory, dashed. The promise of celebratory coitus, however imaginary, would surely follow.

I had no idea what it meant to be a Jew in 1977.  I still do not.  Of genitals I knew as much as any teenaged machine-gun whose prowess was directly proportional to his belief in the well-intentioned exaggerations of his equally anxious co-conspirators.  Of gentility, I have had my fill to the present day, four decades later.

Gentrification, a sport practiced on either side of the Judeo-Christian divide against those of lower socioeconomic status, works in both directions – those crapping and those crapped upon. The longer one side takes to leave its imprint on the sidewalks and alleyways of their new homeland, the longer the other side feels obligated to take to both erase the imprint of the former and install the imprint of the latter.  The quality of the feculence matters little because eventually the competitors will bury each other in it while astonished onlookers, and finally the critics, will move on to greener pastures.  Usually atop one of these layered sandwiches of feculence.

Normally one does not mention sex, religion and economics in the same thought-space, unless they are a former practicing Catholic with a habit of buying lunch for struggling seminary students, nee priests, and accepting their promises of salvation in a life beyond a certain, and certainly overpriced, grave.  Of salvation I have no interest.  Of lunch I am often in need of company.  We amuse each other, the sanctimonious and the delusionally divine, and we surprise each other with our scholarship just short of citable reference.

“Dogmatic, my friend, are the properties of automata applied to dogs.”

“Will I hear your confession once I am ordained?”

“Why?  I’ve already heard your sordid tales of intrigue.  Countless times.  You’ve heard me go on and on and then stop.  I feel absolved.  We’re good.”

“You would be surprised, my brother.”

“I doubt it.  My salvation is as certain as the fact that I will be buying you lunch, once again.”

“You make me smile, my friend.”

“And you give my wallet wings.”

And so it is.  Sex, religion and economics inextricably joined at the hip over something as mundane as  lunch, yet the triplets still refuse to mention their condition in polite company.

The occasional scholar, fresh out of seminary, may express to his surprised, but often unimpressed laiety, that the Crucifixion was about the economics of the Sanhedrin and those of the poorer countryside, in this particular case, Nazareth.  But such revelations come on the heels of over a dozen centuries of holding Jewry accountable for the behavior of its own against one of its own, of blaming a single religion for the misdeeds that happen in every religious dogma, every human organization and even in our own families of origin.  Those who have want more; those who have less do not see where those who have more merit the largesse.  This has been particularly true when those who have less were simply working for the right to eat and have comfortable shelter.  Nothing so prepares an individual for the battles of management like working under the whimsical tyranny of a poor manager – for things like food, water and a clean, dry place to sleep at night.  And sex.  The bell shaped curve being what is, we can comfortably proclaim that most managers are complete morons.  But, then again and by the same rationale, so are most workers.

To really appreciate the stupidity of most sexually-charged religio-economic debates, I had to imagine what life might have been like before religion, when all we had were clans fighting for, with and against each other in bloody battles to the death for the right to survive and procreate.  Or just screw the daylights out of each other.

In such an ancient time, the need for disparate groups to unify under a shared set of beliefs that linguistically codified both the need and the rationale for coming together could be both chronic and acute. War and defeat, like life and death, could be both swift and final.  Without the guarantee of a shared set of beliefs and the linguistic shorthand that can come only from living one’s life under the auspices of an easily identifiable shared set of beliefs, communication becomes mottled; defeat, more likely a result of in-fighting, misunderstandings and internal struggles for power, than any weapon used by an enemy.   Superior fire-power never lost a war; inability to recognize the limitations of superior firepower on either side could turn victory into defeat, and defeat into victory.  Effective communication is crucial in a snappy event like open warfare.

Then there was who was screwing your mate and mother of your children.  If it was you, linguistic shorthand was not only possible, it was preferred.  If it wasn’t you, again, there needed to be some linguistic cover provided to both sides of the issue.  It took some time, but eventually Mommy’s interlocutors were called, “doctors” and Daddy’s flirtations were labeled, “secretaries.”

Religion evolved naturally from a need for a larger community from which to draw strength and the human need to communicate and connect according to a shared set of beliefs.  To the extent that religion became a defense against assault from some external “evil,” to that same extent we can identify any particular religious ethos with the propagation and perpetuation of war, even to the present day.  As we proclaimed the existence of evil where it did not live, the belief in the reality of evil strengthened the evil within us; we desperately tried to cast that evil out of ourselves and onto the world of our senses, of our imaginations, to no avail.  It turns out that you cannot fix the shit in your head with the shit in your head.

And then we raped their women, which may or may not have been the ultimate objective of the warfare to begin with.  We raped those who sewed, in other words, and became that which we proclaimed loudly to despise.

Some would like to lay all war and barbarism at the feet of the Jews and their genitals, especially the ones who look like they never get laid in anything like a normal, missionary fashion.  Being the first documented slave class to break with one’s masters came with the added bonus of a master who wanted their victorious documentalists desperately back underfoot — we were so good together and did so well for one another.  Raping their women was pretty nice, too. Eventually the former slave had to, and has to, commit to a life where only they can rape their own women and that cannot happen from a foundation based on worldly ignorance.  Children have to be raised to pursue knowledge of the world around them, the better to rape their own women and stave off any further attempts by the former master to overtake the former slave and begin the process of raping one another all over again.

Some would like to believe that there is a vast difference between rape and making love, but not in these United States of America, 2012.  Judging from contemporary divorce statistics, the thesis that making love is just slow-motion rape is difficult to argue against.  What appears to be a case of mutual caring and respect leading to coitus can be repackaged as just a more sophisticated form of rape.  Rape first perfected by the female of the species perhaps not long after she was dethroned from her matriarchal power.  While men continue to practice the cruder, more animalistic form of domination and control, women tend to prefer the delusion that waiting until human beings forget what happened and what was said accomplishes a “miraculous” transformation.  The difference between the two – mindless acts of domination and control to achieve a pathetic physical release versus a mindful act of premeditated abandonment and emotional evisceration – is one based in time.  Once I introduce Einstein into this equation, and pull in Quantum Mechanics, time and its alleged reality completely disappear.  The time it was when I thought I fell deeply in love is the same time it is when the children are waving, “bah-bye,” from the rear window of the station wagon that I bought for the wife, now the driver, who used to shower with me on the weekends.

So if I may be so bold, this picking of nits that would conflate sex with something higher or more profound than simple rape needs to be set aside for a time.  The same time that might be wasted playing with the feelings that don’t really change the facts of the matter or the principles involved.  Or the lack of them.

While we are in this, “time-out,” of suspended disbelief, a couple of facts can be seen to noticeably shift and it is to the point where other observations we might have made outside of this bubble of timelessness can begin to make more sense.  Since I am proposing that sex and rape are the same, the triplets become rape, economics and religion.  Who can help but agree, in this day and age, with any thesis that would place rape and economics on the same basic plane of human experience?

Not all economists are rapists, but it doesn’t strain credulity to suggest that all rapists are, after a fashion, economists.  Have you seen the formulae they use to determine (read: justify) a simple cost of living adjustment to be applied to the retirement distributions of elderly and infirmed pensioners?  How about simply adding back the inflationary degradation subtracted from the wages these people earned while they were working?  That’s a simple percentage either added to or multiplied by whatever the hell it is you would like to pay the people you no longer give a shit about.  But not to a fancy-pants rapist who has learned the alchemy of economics.  He can integrate, derive and perform internal rate of return calculations across multiple chalkboards so as to make it appear that the pencils you are shoving into your eye sockets are what is causing you to lose the buying power of the money his or her fancy formulae have determined, in ochre and calcite, that his clients should be paying you every month for the rest of your life.  A life shortened now by blindness and fits of as yet inexplicable rage.

We rape those who sew.   We humans always seem to pick on the weak or disadvantaged as a means of obtaining personal power and economic advantage.  Seamstresses in Taiwan may be making 30 dollars a month sewing together our clothing to the 30 dollars an hour we (who still have jobs) might make who buy these clothes to wear.  But it is a cinch that the monstrous assholes who moved the jobs from the mills at 30 dollars an hour to Taiwan are making upwards of 30 dollars every second they are on the corporate payroll whether or not they are sitting at their desks or golfing with their neighbors.  The poor Taiwanese get to experience a salary increase vastly better than the ones they were experiencing before the clothing mills showed up onshore.  The only losers, at first, are the poor schmucks who made all of the automated productivity possible in the first place – the middle classes of the Americas and Europe.  But soon the “Fotomat burns down, no film at eleven” nature of capitalism (read: fascism) will drive the entire world to realize that what they aren’t getting paid in wages they are giving to a group of shysters who have disrupted their living environment and have hollowed-out their ability to govern themselves by a reasonable consensus of opinion.  Sometimes these capitalist bastards succeed in making whole countries uninhabitable as the Japanese people will soon discover to their chagrin.

“So why do you avoid talking to me about what’s going on here,” she said, the week before she left.

“It’s complicated,” I responded, not wanting to end up talking endlessly into the wee hours about things that can’t be fixed in the middle of a tired, achy night.

“It’s been weeks since you’ve even touched me, Stephen.  I feel so alone.”

“I’ve gone years.  I don’t want to, but I’ve tried forcing myself too many times.  That’s how I ended up just pulling everything into myself and numbing out in the first place.”

“Godammit!  You have to talk to someone – anyone – about this!  This is not normal!”

I dislike interrogations with an inexplicable passion I can’t always control.  They remind me of experiences I’d rather go out of my way not to recall.  It’s in the past.  It’s done.  I’m tired of hearing myself whine about it.  It just pisses me off, I end up screaming at the top of my lungs, and then the nightmares and the terrors come back for days afterward.

“Don’t you care about how I feel?  Don’t you love your children anymore?  Anyone?!”

I remember thinking that this was not going to end well for anyone.  I remember feeling that pressure in my gut and in my neck. At the bottoms of my aching feet. I remember needing to get away – to get out – of that bedroom.  But she kept blocking me, kept insisting I meet her demands to pass her latest test of my solemn appreciation of every sentiment that dripped out of her mouth like a thick, sticky cough syrup.  I was getting angry and very soon I was not going to give a shit one way or the other.

“Please.  Let.  Me.  Go.  Now!”

“Fine, asshole!  I’ll let you go!”  And she pivoted on her right heel like a door swinging open and I walked as fast as I could to get to the street, to get to fresh air, to head for cover.  As long as I was inside the wire, I could walk anywhere and think about anything, which usually revolved around Pirsig’s musings on motorcycle maintenance, or the death of his son on a San Francisco street corner.  No matter how grand the expression of fatherly love, there is never any guarantee that it will have the transformative power intended.

So let’s step back into the world where raping and making love are considered completely different activities coming from completely different psychological states, one sick and one decidedly healthy.  The worldly place where time is real and who really knows what the hell Einstein really meant, anyway.  Energy equals mass times the speed of light squared and so two major metropolitan cities in Japan should be turned into ashen ruins.  A perfectly understandable place to find the human identity we left behind when we started suspending time and blending causes into effects.

But we can keep the thesis that rapists are economists and thereby keep the insight that our triplets are sex, religion and rape.  If you don’t mind indulging my post-relationship cynicism, I see a duality of religion and rape in a thought-space threatening to collapse into the Unity we were taught in catechism classes to believe was real even while they divided religious education into a course for boys and a course for girls.  Maybe I’ll feel better about all of this in the morning, but I doubt it.

Fast, Furious and Outrageous

Wayne Madsen has learned from his contacts within the Beltway intelligence community that Jared Lee Loughner is an “MK-ULTRA” programmed assassin and that US District Judge John Roll and Congresswoman Gabriel Giffords were targetted for assassination.  The reason for the decision to target Judge Roll and Congresswoman Giffords has to do with their knowledge

of the malicious and purposeful arming of Mexican drug gangs along the US-Mexico border by US intelligence agency assets in an effort designed to destablize the Mexican government.  This towards the end of making Mexico more dependent on US military aid and protection from its private security contractors.

A key quote from Wayne Madsen’s report follows.

“WMR has been told that in 2009, information about the CIA/Homeland Security/Napolitano smuggling operation came to the attention of three individuals, two members of Congress and a federal judge. The three were Arizona Democratic Representatives Giffords, Republican Representative Mike Conaway from west Texas, and Judge Roll. Giffords and Roll were working together on investigating the extent of the clandestine weapons and druigs smuggling operation and held some joint meetings with informants, one in north Phoenix, in 2009. Information on the investigation and informants was strictly limited to only a few trusted staffers and clerks for Giffords and Roll. In addition, Conaway was also being briefed by informants on the smuggling operation but since the death of Roll and the severe mental and physical incapacitation of Giffords from the shooting carried out by Jared Lee Loughner, said to be an MK-ULTRA-like trained assassin, he has gone silent in fear for his own safety. Loughner’s was declared mentally incompetent and there are reports, including one in Slate Magazine, that the U.S. Medical Center for Federal Prisoners in Springfield, Missouri, where Loughner is being held, pending a determination of his mental fitness to stand trial, is being administered psychotropic drugs in his Kool Aid.

In addition to receiving drugs to fund its off-the-books operations, the CIA weapons smuggling program is designed to arm the two main Mexican cartels — Sinaloa and Los Zetas — in order to destabilize Mexico. A violence-ridden Mexico makes it more dependent on U.S. military aid and, eventually, the country is seen by Washington as a future virtual U.S. protectorate, whose state PEMEX-controlled oil reserves will be available to U.S. oil companies.”

The Obama-nation

The “Honorable Michael B. Mukasey?”  At this juncture I could express shock, disbelief and horror at such a thought after reading former FBI Special Agent Colleen Rowley’s article available via Information Clearinghouse and also at the Huffington Post.  But I won’t.

Rowley takes exception that such a relic from the Bush Administration could be called upon by any academic institution, let alone one involved in the training of professional attorneys, to speak on the subject of ethics and the implementation of unethical, often illegal, policies.

Sadly, I am not surprised by any of this.  While it is nauseating, I cannot devote a scintilla of surprise at the depths to which professional psychopaths and their willing stooges will sink to defend what in the past lead to Nazi corpses swinging at the end of ropes, post World War II.

I could offer up a, “well played, sir,” to those fascist lackeys in the United States through which the entire Nazi Holocaust was both inspired and launched.  Those well-moneyed individuals not only executed an intelligent multi-generational conspiracy to propel wealth and power to its economic zenith in the late twentieth century, but, perhaps to their chagrin, they are singularly responsible for sending humanity to its ethical and moral nadir in the early twenty-first.

Well-played, indeed, as evidenced in today’s headlines that highlight the deprivation of children in Uganda suffering from “Zombie” disease; that highlight the widespread sexual abuse of children at the hands of the hierarchy of our most-respected churches; that lay bare a culture where honesty and forthrightness are punished while convicted felons anchor television programs that reach millions; that blast and stun human brains with irrelevant trivia, allowing these sophisticated players to prosecute their resource wars under cover of “diplomatic” darkness.

Meanwhile, Wall Street has never been wealthier, nor more profitable; the wealthiest among us have never been wealthier, nor more powerful; governments have never yielded so completely to the desires of the wealthy and powerful.  In fact, syndicated radio host Thom Hartmann declared today (March 21, 2012) that the suburbs surrounding the US capitol – Washington, DC – are now among the wealthiest in the United States, including Beverly Hills, California.  Entertainment, fantasy and those who cater to it, will soon take a back seat to those whose business is the mass-exploitation of human labor and the mass-extinction of every living species that stands between them and future potential profits.

Such is the oppression of efficiency, of fascism.

In the world I grew up through, such paucities of spirit were considered ethical and moral poverty.  Dwight D. Eisenhower would certainly not recognize the landscape that he left behind as he yielded power to a President who would die attempting to realize Ike’s vision for an America that would always hold fast its moral compass.  Such a vast problem of morality and ethical conduct has not been visited on humanity since the depths of the Middle Ages before the advent of the Magna Carta.

But before we attempt a resolution to our problems, we should first have a clearer understanding of the relevant history surrounding our present state of affairs – the contextual background in which our present moment in history is unfolding.

First and foremost, every human nervous system has limitations and tolerances related to cognitive dissonance – a term used to describe a collision between observation and belief.  It was because these limitations and tolerances, en masse, were exceeded that many hundreds of years passed before humanity accepted the reality that the Earth was not the center of the known universe, or even that the world was not flat, but a sphere.  Therefore, if I am unwilling and/or unable to believe, “my lying eyes,” my nervous system will not permit me to change my beliefs about the world in which I appear to live.  Historians who chronicled the rise of the Third Reich and Adolf Hitler in Nazi Germany referred to this phenomenon as, “the Big Lie,” but the truth is that human beings can be stunned into believing excessive dishonesty.  In software development terms, it is possible to “overflow the buffer” of large numbers of human beings and drive them to cling desperately to beliefs that no longer match with the reality of even a casual outside observer.  This is the reason why no one in America understood how the German people could tolerate the atrocities committed by the Nazi war machine on their, “behalf.”  General Eisenhower made certain, though, that all of those atrocities were painstakingly recorded, photographed and cataloged because he knew the instigators of that nightmare, of this nightmare, would go to absurd lengths to deny that those events ever took place.  He likely also knew that the revelations of Marine General Smedley Butler were true and that it was America, not just Germany, who had been responsible for building the nightmare of Nazi Germany.

Secondly, no organization, family, church or trust whose wealth and power was established prior to the French Enlightenment ever believed in the tenets of democracy, or in the rule of society of the people, by the people and for the people.  A great deal of time, energy and effort has been placed since the establishment of the United States of America in its ultimate perversion and destruction.  One can only assume that those with the most to gain from the destruction of the American experiment would be those organizations, families, churches and trusts whose wealth and power originated in Europe and Asia during the Middle Ages.  These same institutions and organizations may choose to package their indiscretions as part of some larger philosophical context (e.g., the Hegelian dialectic), but the truth of the matter is that those who achieve power through conflict and ruthlessness have no intention of ever relinquishing their hold on power, or allowing the “rules of the game” that they have mastered to be changed by any circumstance or happenstance of evolution or revolution.  They see only the ruin they have visited upon others to be their fate should they lose their grip on power or control.

Finally, the destruction of democracy, of even a shred of what was left of the Magna Carta, has been vaporized not by some lackey of the Bush Administration – Michael Mukasey – but by the crowned prince of American “Just-Us,” Attorney General Eric Holder.  In a speech given to Northwestern University Law students on March 5, 2012,  Eric Holder preceded Michael Mukasey’s attempt at gagging Colleen Rowley with liquid sleaze of Orwellian Doublespeak by some two weeks.  Had Ms. Rowley finally had enough, or must we always yield to the fascist wearing a smiley-face button?

Legal analyst and scholar Jonathan Turley attacked Holder’s disingenuousness in this blog entry, and many others have done so as well, to no avail.

Americans appear to be satisfied that if they are to be killed by secret fiat that they can rest assured that they deserved to be, that the high and mighty government of these United States of America, LLC, took no pleasure in finally dropping the hammer on their mediocre existence.

…and ladies and gentlemen, we have long since passed the bar from “concerned citizens” to expressions of ultimate mediocrity beginning at about 1pm on November 22, 1963.

What Bertrand Russell May Have Missed

A thought occurred to me yesterday just as Father Richard Rohr was reformulating truth in terms of Hellenistic (Greek) Thought versus the kind of thoughts that Jesus of Nazareth was allegedly spinning out of whole cloth with regards to the “holy trinity.”

Here are the three principles of Greek Thought that underpin all of western “civilization”:

1)      A = A (principle of identity)

2)      A != !A (principle of noncontradiction)

3)      A or !A = unary truth (principle of the excluded third)

Russell goes on to suggest that, “nothing can both be and not be,” and “everything must either be or not be.”

Interesting choice of words, “everything,” and “nothing.”

What if “nothing” has some existence, however temporary?  What if “nothing” can both be and not be?   That is, after all, what Russell said, did he not?  And what happens to the unfortunate soul who confuses “nothing” with “everything?”

Welcome to humanity.  In this mindscape, we both confuse everything with nothing and then go on to build gigantic infrastructures designed to sustain our commitment to nothing as being everything anyone could possibly find valuable.  The Greeks might, “want no freaks,” but even their superior cultural will was incapable of sustaining a bivalent, binary, black or white universe of which humans could be a part.  It seems the very act of excluding the possibility of tripartite reality made the Greeks into the freaks they wished to have removed from relevant consideration.

As modern phenomenologists like Edmund Husserl might assert, observation is composed of the observer, the observed and the process of observation.  Or, if one prefers, the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.  All three can be considered inexhaustibly separate, and yet it is only when our understanding of each has been brought together that any human person begins to make meaning out of their human experience.

More plainly, those who would choose to focus on only the godhead, or only on the Creation or only the processes relating godhead to Creation can only manifest their own apriori “arrangement” of tripartite reality.   So if we believe the godhead, Father or the Observer is what manifests reality, we see a reality where a First Cause by some process manifested a universe.  Completely irrelevant to these folks, then, is the possibility that there is no First Cause, there has only been an eternal process grinding out causes and effects.  Even more unlikely, the godists could spare no time for the serious consideration of a universe that has been forever and eternally engaged only in observing itself with no particular guidance or rules of process to obey or hold in abeyance.  And yet, when we say that nothing can both be and not be, the possibilities for arranging a tripartite ontology number at least eight.  And this is because, as human beings, our lack of an eternal pedigree, or stake in the same, renders us homeless and truly free to decide how we might wish to construct our reality for ourselves.

Left unsocialized or divided against one another, these eight possibilities all form closed systems of sanity that could well exclude the remaining seven possibilities from ever being seriously considered for any merits they might offer our buggered little minds.  Our Greek-infiltrated cerebellums might see choice six of eight as the only possible rational arrangement of tripartite reality, which polarizes the other seven worldviews as decidedly, “insane.”

I mention all of this confusing ontological and epistemological chatter because it forms the basis from which human thought arose in response to a decidedly confusing, decidedly chaotic lived experience, many eons ago.  People killed one another with little provocation save the need to preserve a certain amount of foodstuff for personal survival.  People murdered their fellows because they wanted their mates or any of their other resources.

Into this bubbling cauldron of anxious uncertainty came the precepts of religion and the beginnings of a universal moral code of human behavior.  The hope in this case would be that human beings would no longer have to walk about with one eye over their shoulder peeled on their neighbor’s curiosity or envy.  We would all come to value peace and harmony as principles for good orderly living.

As always happens when geography and human limitations manifest themselves, those who huddled together to form klans or villages became isolated from the rest of their fellows.  And so the defense we erected against our own avaricious natures manifested itself in the distrust and disdain we held for those outside of our klan or our village.  It simply did not matter if we all subscribed to the same texts of moral behavior; the proof could only be found in the putting of observable behavior.

Once the desire to impose volition upon communal hope manifested itself in the form of large concentrations of churchly wealth, institutions of moral authority began serving only themselves and not the greater good of human beings.  Tortured logic and the logic of torture began to remanifest itself in human beings representing institutions whose initial purpose was nothing akin to contemporary behavior.  When nothing can be confused with everything, imaginary crimes can be punished by death and threat of death, all with impunity.

Out of the bubbling cacophony of churches and nonsensical assertions of power and control came the voices for reason, voices who held the contradiction between goal and present behavior up for all to see, offered up a third way to manifest both morality and civilized progress: the scientific method.  Science could somehow superimpose itself atop all of the noise and chaos of civilizations learning to become more civil and humans learning to become more humane.

But old institutions do not die until long after they are buried, and old ways of thinking outlive even the institutions responsible for bringing them to the fore.  So science became as perverse and dogmatic as those religions it claimed to be defending humanity against.   Absent has been the ability of human beings to regard religion and science as tools for social progress; instead, each must be held to the heart of conviction as one holds both sword and shield in an imaginary battle of all or nothing.  Except human beings have long since forgotten their confusion of everything with nothing, nor do they recall their realization that nothing is the ONLY thing that can both be and not be at the same moment of eternity.

You, me and the motility provided by our physical bodies – these things come and go, rise and fall, come to be and just as quickly pass away because no thing cannot last for anything like an eternity.  That which is perfect outlasts all things and there is no thing in this universe of ours that has ever been known to have always been and observed to always be true.

The hope lies with our thoughts on all of these matters both now and into the future.  Our thoughts and ideals transcend the bounds of time and space, defy the laws of conservation of energy, and grow more and more abundant as they are shared one to another over time.  It is in our thoughts that our imaginations are fired and our relevant truths highlighted so as to ensure our future survival.  We may pass away as a species, but the ideas we share with whatever Life turns out to be should preserve what we have learned about what it means to pass this way, to feel as we feel and to do as we must do.

No thing can both be and not be, but nothing can do both.   Even Bertrand Russell said so, without actually realizing it.


I am responsible for my own behavior.

I am accountable to my closest associates and the state for the consequences of my own behavior.

Thus the basis for the formation of any and all social contracts begins.  Systems of morality and ethics derive their moment from “responsibility for” and “accountability to.”

As Soren Kierkigaard famously noted, “life must be understood backwards; but…it must be lived forward.”  Meaning, of course, that we cannot always know if our choice-making will be faulty or if it will be at least reliably benign; we must, therefore, endeavor to execute choices with reliable consequences if we wish to live in a world that has any sensible meaning to all parties involved.  From the consequences of reliable choices, then, we can more quickly discover those choices that aid us in our quest for species survival and, further, aid us in our fruitful evolution.

These are the propositions of a responsible society lead or mislead by responsible men and women.

One can suggest, or maintain, that our society is a responsible one; however such a proposition forces any sane person to conclude that we have been, at least, mislead.  A stronger argument could certainly be made in favor of an irresponsible society, perhaps one that has been systematically mislead for the purpose of keeping us all in an unstable condition of trust between each other and our designated leaders.  One could posit a variety of reasons for our present state of affairs, but one could never label the society in which we presently live a “responsible” society.  And this means that no one in this society can be reliably considered a responsible actor, and, further, no one can be considered reliably accountable to anyone else for any behavior whatsoever.

In short, there is no social contract in an irresponsible society.  How a society becomes irresponsible, whether through well-intentioned misleading or outright fraud, matters not a whit.

The road to complete breakdown in the social compact began with the rejection by the global banking establishment of the government of the United States of America, circa 1800, plus or minus twenty years.  Dictators, no matter how benevolent, are incompatible with governance of the People, by the People and for the People, so the collision between collective government and feudal dictatorship was inevitable and its consequences substantial to the present day.

Feudal dictatorships did not always result in irresponsible societies, nor was the advent of social democracy in the United States the precipitating event that has lead to our present irresponsible condition.  It was, however, the undeclared war between these two systems of governance that has been both cause and effect of irresponsible leadership and our present state of affairs.  War of any kind cannot help but produce irresponsible behavior and consequences for which no accounting is possible or desired.

So why do we have war in the first place?

We have war because its systematic and controlled presence benefits the global banking establishment.  Chaotic, unpredictable war benefits no one, and yet the global banking establishment continues to insist that its systematic and relentless fight against democratic forms of governance will not one day produce a leviathan of chaotic war that must destroy it and, perhaps, every one of us.  However well-intentioned the global banking establishment was or is towards the human species, the line of reasoning that suborns or selects war as a means of eliminating competitive ideologies is counter to natural law and empirical observations in nature.  Pesticides make for stronger, more resilient pests; antibiotics make for stronger, more resistant diseases; as above, so below; hoodwinking a general population into accepting a false system of valuation (e.g., a fiat currency of any kind) does not guarantee that the truth won’t one day reassert itself, one way or another.  Holding a gun to one’s own head and threatening the truth with self destruction has never stopped the truth from allowing either suicide or redemption.  Threatening one’s fellows with homicide or suffering works for a time, but, eventually, meaningful existence will demand the advent of war.  War can be forged to look like many things, but its internecine nature cannot be refined out regardless of the temperature of the fire.  We are either forced by arguments of location and scale to accept our united fate, or we will share the fate of every species whose perceptions do not match the features of their environment.

War either threatened or suborned by a leadership class or conspiracy makes that class or conspiracy responsible for irresponsible outcomes.  De facto, then, our leadership class or conspiracy has yet to be held to account for their irresponsible behavior.  If accountability is not restored in balance with responsibility, no amount of state-sponsored oppression will restore the social contract.  Civilization will become impossible to sustain.

Allow me to be more clear: the current civilization will be thrown into the 13th century virtually overnight.  The results will make us all scream for the more civilized days of “The Terror” during the French Revolution.

We have no choice.  Either we restore accountability to our civilization or we will become the slaves of an increasingly hostile, cruel and despotic leadership class.

Or conspiracy.

We can circle the town seven times in seven days and then seven times in one day before we proceed to raze the city.  But I believe Joshua would have considered what has happened in the world since the felling of the Twin Towers more than a subtle toot on a ram’s horn.

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.