Questions From an Unquiet Universe
What do you think about at 2am?
PHILOSOPHY. I want to be a philosopher. I don’t understand how to get started; keep tripping on the words. As an example, in my efforts to become a deep thinker, should I talk to myself out loud? I get stuck. Should I say“as an example,” or be more economical with language; say, “for example” and do I “talk” to myself or “speak” to myself? More problematic. When I speak to myself, I sound like Lenny Bruce and Lenny wouldn’t “speak, “ he would “talk” and while that would really upset Mrs. Rosman, my high school English teacher, Lenny wouldn’t care and then I begin to wonder if anyone really cares and it turns out to be the longest fucking run-on sentence imaginable. Were Joyce’s stream of consciousness prose brilliant, a clever manipulation of language or just well edited, run-on sentences? Do I use “was” or “were.” Mixing plurality and tenses; stuck on pedestrian linguistics? Trying to be a deep thinker but thoughts are flying through the air like staccato, atonal Jazz notes. Simultaneously grounded and inconsistent. Question, if I’m speaking to myself, who’s speaking to the voices in my head? Answers, no answers. Philosophizing. Success.
MILES DAVIS. For those of you who already think I’m an obnoxious and erudite, the following will not change your mind.
Did creator create the created or did the created create the creator? When Miles Davis hits and sustains that perfect note, I see my creator. Did creator creathe Miles or did Miles create the createor! Can the created also be the creator? Although presumably omnipotent, not even He could pull that one off. Ancient man would, at times, create a creator. Easier to explain lighting as anger than to spew meteorology to a pre-science world. The birth of metaphor was lack of knowledge. Darkness without knowledge. Knowledge without light. Some claim that the opposite of knowledge is faith. Ignorance is the opposite of knowledge. Basic geometrical equation; faith equals ignorance. Hypothesis proven. Kind of Blue.
TEACHING MORALITY; BASIC LESSONS TO EXPLAIN A PROBLEMATIC WORLD. We teach our children right from wrong and good from bad. All subjective. Should teach truth. Truth versus untruth. Objective reality.
FIFTY YEARS AGO TODAY. I was eleven years old. Eugene McCarthy was the Peace Candidate and first inspired my political awareness. John Lennon and Yoko Ono began their “War is Over” campaign, strategically posting billboards worldwide. Having come across this old photo taken in Times Square, NY, it occurs to me that the true power of the statement resides in it’s tag line . . . “If you want it.” I believe that it is incumbent upon all of us to demand an end to the current abuse of our democracy. BE LOUD!!!
TRISTIAN SMITH. It has been several very difficult months. Frustrating. I’m working hard on good projects, but no cash flow. I spent most of my nights sleeping in my car, realizing, that I was lucky. Others were sleeping in the street. Food pantries. Pretending to be interested in joining gyms just to get free passes and have a place to shower.
I’m starting to come out of it due to a paying project with my old friend, Steven in Malta. Completely broke and needing my asthma medication, my very dear friend, John, lends me $200 just to get by until Steven’s wire comes through.
I gave Kathy $100, picked up my meds, put gas in my car and had about $35 left. I was feeling very comfortable knowing my wire would hit in a few days, I treated myself to a Peach, Green Tea Lemonade at Starbucks. I stayed for awhile, taking advantage of free WiFi and very inexpensive refills. I’m feeling on track again and looking for an AirBnB’s to move into for at least a few weeks as I continue to get closer to settling.
A woman walked in. Carrying multiple paper and cloth bags, along with a toiletry kit bag. I was sitting in a nice leather chair with one opposite me. She politely asked if she could sit across from me. Of course. Then she gave a sigh of satisfaction when she sat down. She was probably much younger, but she appeared much older than me. Street life!
Tristan Smith smiled as if it was Christmas morning. She looked at me, still smiling, proclaiming that she just had a hot shower and how good it felt, even though she stayed in it too long and it tickled her nose. She was very incongruous looking, a small, almost child like face with a very large, bloated body. I knew from my own experience, that the food pantries primarily offer very starchy foods. No Atkins diet going on here. No gluten free nonsense. Lots of macaroni and cheese, rice, beans, sugary breakfast cereal and canned, sweetened vegetables.
I understood how that shower felt. It was number 2 on my list of things never to take for granted again. Number 1 is breathing.
MY BOY KIM. I really wanted to praise Trump for his meeting with Kim, but it occurred to me. that nothing was actually accomplished other than further legitimizing the atrocities committed by a madman for a photo op. Further, the bar was once again lowered from nuclear disarmament to stopping nuclear testing. This appeasement of Kim, to presumably prevent further irrational behavior, is again Trump stupidity that could have been avoided had he read even a single history book.
In 1938, Neville Chamberlain and Adolf Hitler signed the Munich Pact to keep Nazi Germany in check. We all know how that turned out. Donald, you are proving the proverbial “history repeats itself” by propping up a madman to the detriment of the world.
Make your reservations for rooms at Trump Tower North Korea by 2020 and receive an autographed photo!
TRISTAN SMITH, PT. TWO. So I sat quietly and listened to her ramble on about how her mother was kidnapped by the DMV and not really dead. Also, people kidnap 77 year old women and turned them into prostitutes at the border. Since I couldn’t help with either, I asked if she would be embarrassed if I bought her something to eat. She was modest in what she asked for at the counter. I asked her if she needed anything else for tomorrow and she said it was difficult to carry things around. She asked for a $5 gift card. I bought her one for $10.
Tristian hugged and kissed me while reminding me that she had showered, within the context of I should not worry. I never gave that a second thought.
Leaving, I asked if there was anything else she needed. She asked if I had a warm blanket. I did. Ironically, it was one that was given to me at a food pantry. My remaining $35 was damaged, but the circle was completed, at least for one evening.
EPILOGUE. I had been ill without my medication, so Kathy let me sleep on her couch for a few days. I started to tell her about Tristian Smith and she immediately dismissed her as probably being on meth.
I then noticed, that she and Dylan brought home take-out from a Greek restaurant. They even bought an extra chicken kabob just for the dogs. I’m thinking that isn’t exactly what I had in mind when I gave her half the money that I borrowed from John.
BOOK ENDS. In 1968, I was 10 years old and bought my first record album; ”Bookends” by Simon and Garfunkel. Now, over 51 years later, Paul Simon’s lyrics are once again resonating. “They’ve all come to look for America.” Reflection compels the question; where is America? More precisely; where is the soul of America? Let the Orange Megalomaniac tweet himself into extinction. WE THE PEOPLE must help our nation regain its humanity.
INTIMACY. Webster defines as noun, close familiarity or friendship. Closeness. Now that’s cold. New definition: when two people can express themselves to each other without any semblance of ego.
1984 Redux. This new, Trumpian language transcends Orwell’s Newspeak to yet another linguistic universe of hatred and hypocrisy. When a Muslim commits an act of atrocity, it is Radical Islamic Terrorism (a phase Trump kept lambasting Obama for not using). When a white man commits an act of atrocity, he is mentally challenged. Mr. Trump used every phrase that he could muster so as to NOT say the WS words, White Supremacist. We all know why and it’s too heartbreakingly redundant to discuss further. What must be discussed, however, is that Trump not only refused to denounce white supremacy, but he chose to attack a new adversary, the mentally ill . . . yet another “them” to use as a distraction. And so, Mr Trump, I’m simply asking for greater definition. The mentally ill are not a monolithic class that is suddenly motivated to purchase, without background checks, massive amounts of firearms and attempt to bring on the apocalypse. These attacks are primarily triggered by well organized racists that find solace in your manure spouting fertilization of hatred. There is no need to create yet another societal stigma that will prevent people from getting much needed treatment.
BREATHLESS. Odd news from the doctor today. I’m suffering from significant lung disease. Apparently, I have allergens, we all do, that hang out with our white blood cells and leave after awhile. Hence, the coming and going of allergies. My allergens however, are having an inordinate, perhaps unholy, relationship with my white blood cells and choose not to leave. Their clogging up my lungs so I can’t breath. “ I have papers. More tests, more visits, more medication, more money that I don’t have. I should be truly freaked out but I’m not. Another day in Paradise. Let’s see what tomorrow brings. Right now, I’m sitting in my car home, reading a book about Allen Ginsberg and Timothy Leary, literally by the moon light. Am I somehow magically transformed, shedding my ego and aspirations, or just deeply disturbed? Does it matter?
ABE (redux). Quoting Abraham Lincoln (again), “Any man can face adversity, but giving him power is the true test of character.” Sadly, this Administration has failed the test, miserably.
I wanted to offer a clever quip, but I’m stuck. Ukraine, Syria, Putin, Erdogan, Sharpies, tariffs, walls, al-Assad, Salman, vapes and what ever happened to Kim? Are they no longer in love? It never seems to end. Trump has worn me out.
But perhaps, that’s his strategy. It fits well within the three word vocabulary of much of his base. “Build the Wall.” “Lock Her Up.” “Wear Them Out.” We cannot allow ourselves to be stymied by the rhetoric, irrespective of our weariness. It will again lead to complacency and complacency is the Sirens’ Song that gave us Trump.
After Richard Nixon and a smattering of Gerald Ford, we were tired. We wanted to rest so we elected Jimmy Carter, a lovely, righteous man with a totally benign presidency. Let’s not do that again. Joe Biden is probably (who knows now) a lovely, righteous man who will likely also give us a mostly, if not entirely, benign presidency. We need inspiration, not comfort food. BE BOLD!
AGE. It occurred to me that there is a good side to getting old . . . people let you ramble. They assume that I’m rambling because I’m old, not because I’m odd. I finally fit on somebody’s shelf!
WISDOM: I got nothin’
BASQUIAT: I just finished watching the biography of Jean Michele Basquiat. I first saw the film 23 years ago with Dylan. I watched it in bed on my iPad. I cried the entire time, having nothing to do with the movie.
“Freedom is never delivered by the opposer. It must be demanded by the oppressed. “
BIGOTRY. How much more bigoted and horrific violence must our nation endure before it is fully recognized that this administration has emboldened the worst elements of society? This is not a partisan issue. The last three Republican Presidents on bigotry . . . “A few isolated groups in the backwater of American life, still hold perverted notions of what America is all about.” Reagan. “America must always reject racial bigotry, anti-Semitic and hatred in all forms.” HW Bush. “Bigotry in any form is blasphemy against the American creed.” W Bush.
And then there’s Trump; post the infamous Charlottesville, Neo-Nazi rally, “There are very fine people on both sides.” And still Trump, after this weekend’s violence against worshipers . . . a tweet and back to golf at Mara Lago.
This impeachment is NOT about politics. It is about reclaiming the morality of America and everything “for which it stands.” BE LOUD!!!
YESTERDAY. I have been criticized as a “crazy, angry rant.” May I suggest that my critics review the data provided by the FBI. Hate crimes have “soared” the last three years, with this year alone increasing by 17% and as high as 26% in major cities. In Texas, a traditionally Red State, counties where there were Trump campaign rallies, the increased by over 220% versus the counties where there were no rallies. The groups most targeted are Jews and gay men. Historically, these are the same groups targeted in the 1930’s (read Mein Kempf by Adolph Hitler). If you choose however, like this administration, to condemn the FBI as “deep state” and facts as “fake news,” it is your right. As a Jewish (admittedly non-practicing) father of a gay son, you’re damn right that I am loud and perhaps crazy with my anger. The bigger question is why aren’t you? BE LOUD!
ALL THAT DRAG. had an amazing time with Shane at Clutch the Pearls drag show in San Francisco on Sunday. It was an extraordinary show to a packed house. I looked around at the crowd and realized that I was likely the only one there over 40, let alone 62. As usual, my mind wandered a little. I was wondering where all the other parents who were omnipresent at their children’s (and mine) basketball games, sporting events and shall we say, more conventional activities throughout the years. Do they only show up if their kids make it to the NBA? PROUD!!!
THE CONSTITUTION. Abraham Lincoln once said that “Actions which otherwise would be unconstitutional, could be lawful if undertaken for the purpose of preserving the constitution and the nation.”
About 250 years later, an exasperated Richard Nixon perverted the quote and finally offered, “Well, when the president does it, that means it is not illegal.”
I may be obsessed by both history and linguistics, but I’m presuming that Trump will very soon be bastardizing the perverted.
MARTIN LUTHER KING DAY. Do we really need to celebrate MLK’s birthday on January 20.2020 to be reminded how far we have strayed from Dr. King’s vision?
Although I saw a reflection of promise, we are far from fulling his dream. I saw three strong beautiful black men, commentating together on CNN. It would be a proud moment for Dr. King.
I also saw racially mixed Brothers and Sisters, marching hand in hand in South Carolina. Proud!
But I also watched Gun Rights Advocates March in Virginia, protesting new, reasonable State gun control measures. Egged on by the President (“They’re taking away your guns”), reasonable looking people, not the anticipated Not-Neo, skin heads, marched against laws that would limit gun purchases to a mere no more than one per month. Pitiful. We have allowed hate and violence to hide behind the Second Amendment in the guise of liberty. Shameful.
Today marks the 75th Anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. Before the jack boots and armbands, real, not Not-Nazis, also appeared reasonable.
“Freedom is never delivered by the opposer. It must be demanded by the oppressed.”