Internet Wasteland Redux (For Zeke)

Carpenters, on the other hand, have been absolutely thriving since the explosion of the internet, which is demonstrated easily by observing our peer group; take our friend Michael “Yeats” Yates for instance. The only thing he made out of wood pre-Internet was a signal of desire and now he’s a prolific and widely celebrated practitioner of the Ligneum Arte.

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Pass the Flashlight

We’re all just monkeys, given a flashlight for the first time and what do we do? We ram it in our ass just to see if it’ll fit, and the people who made that flashlight are aghast, and they think, “that’s not what we had in mind. No, not at all.” And they would take that flashlight away and figure out a way to teach these monkey what it’s really for.

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Violence.

I think it’s time we embraced ourselves as one of the nuttiest and most violent countries on earth.  I’m not lambasting America. I love this country, its people, its natural wonders, its diversity. But we are one of the most peculiarly violent countries in the world.

Whenever some crazy, power-drunk human being takes the life of another, the act occupies the darkest region on the spectrum of human behavior. So whether it’s Southeast Asian genocide, Sub-Saharan African tribal strife, Balkan neighbor-on-neighbor warfare, or a slow, persistent dirge of public shootings, each of these violent characteristic belong in that same dark region.

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More Thoughts re: The FB

It's fashionable to blast Facebook, and it's also fashionable to love it without admitting you love it. We all love the unique aspects of connectedness that The FB affords us, those of us who have experienced it, anyway.  How could you not? I love being connected in an offhand way with all of my high school brothers and sisters, even if we don't keep in touch any more closely than we did before we were Facebooked. It's nice to know you're there, John Twisselman, Chris Dini, Mark Strunk, Adam and Shelley and Sheri B and Loris (prev) Anderson and Bartlow, Jon Scholl and my man Dan E, Erik Stenberg, Todd Sears, Steele Bennett, and you, Andy Tichenor, and Lon Breitenbach, and Fred Khalaf... Christ, I could go on and on. You know who you are, the lot of you. I love Facebook for being a digital tether with my outer circle of friends and I will never abandon it until a better alternative avails and you all adopt it. Until then, I'll still love Facebook. Just from a mildly greater distance. And you'll find more of me here. Whoever you are, who might be reading this. 

Malibu Seafood

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This seaside spot is a vacation spot, a getaway spot, a show-me spot. I came down the 1,000 feet that separates us from sea level to get away from the cloud of heat pushing over from the valley.

A few good swells thump the beach, the traffic on PCH hushes past…  

...husshhh.... russhhh.... thump, ra-thump, thump....

This is damn near paradise, because paradise is never perfect. That's its great secret... it's the secret that paradise desperately wants to whisper in your ear…

...sshhhh... thump, ra-thump...

...but let's face it, we're far too drunk to hear it.

Salted Mexican beer, the good stuff, not that clear bottle garbage. Ahi seared rare and a trollop in a denim suggestion, bare legs and cowboy boots, ambles across the tarmac to the picnic tables. She moves like a baby giraffe. Another couple, stylish and stupid... 97° today and he's wearing a knit cap... she, a trucker's hat.

The Christians compare their satisfaction and the drunk girl teeters by, steadies herself on the guy she met last night. Men hold the babies like commodities, women clutch them like riches. A Shih Tzu sleeps on the back dash of a Chevy and a fat guy walks by ogling his tray mounded with deep-fried seafood like it was a pile of sex.

It's getting too dark to write. Some brave climber wound string lights up the 40 foot palms, but it's not enough, and Dad walks by with extra tartar.  I'll have another beer on the way up the hill. Enough paradise for one day…

 

World Changing

In the years that I've been working with kids who are a part of the juvenile crime epidemic in this country I've had the the conversation many times that centers on the big question: What do we do about it?  

And the subtext in every one of those conversations, at least at the beginning, is this: how can we possibly solve a problem as deep and complicated as this one?

I was reading something about the Buddhist idea of the illusion of separateness. Father Gregory Boyle was referencing it in his book as the way that many people cope with the enormity of problems like this: by believing that there is a separateness between us and the constituents of urban gangs.  

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Yucaipa, CA

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On the fringe of the San Bernadino forest, a stunning view of the duodenum of the LA basin. 120 miles from the end of a three-month, 6600 mile jaunt. I feel like a seamen coming into port, so many long missed comforts await, but they come with the toll of saying goodbye to the sea and of the end of a chapter. I had the same feeling chugging into the Nak Nek river after three dreadful weeks fishing for herring on Bristol Bay and the Bering Sea. Three weeks without a shower and I was so eager to shave that I spent 45 minutes that night with a safety razor—just the razor, I'd lost the handle—regaining my jawline. Somehow the struggle of that shave in the bathroom of a deserted cannery, the interplay of eagerness and melancholy, yielded the same imprint that I'm trying now to record. But to what end? So these experiences become postcards left to fade in the scrapbook of a feeble mind? Yes, I think that may be the source of this feeling: given the fragility of our recollection, it takes a monumental effort to not let all that we experience just diminish like an expanding ripple on a pond that one day we won't even remember visiting. The plague of routine life is that extraordinary moments seem so rare and fleeting—What! Must I travel to the edge of a continent and throw myself at the mercy of a maniacal boat captain, or circle the country chasing a cure, just to feel that life is extraordinary?—Certainly not. I'm blessed with a life of extraordinary moments and my routines are defined by interactions with amazing, beautiful people. But the fringe experiences do help hone the perspective that these moments, defined as much by joy as they are by sadness, are for taking stock... they are the milestones, the roadside monuments, that remind us we're on our way, ever moving, from here to somewhere…

 

Canutillo, TX

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Everything is better once the expanse of Texas is behind you. It's not a bad expense, but 800 miles of mile markers kill the pace of progress, no matter your rate of travel. 6 miles from New Mexico, and I feel carefree, momentarily aimless and that's only possible when you feel that doom and grief are neither close behind nor near ahead. In that fleeting state my mind is displaceable. I become an existential chameleon and I slip into the lives of others. As I walked to the dumpster in the RV park I wondered how many people call these parks home, casualties of the real estate fiasco and ensuing depression.  I watched a man leave the park in a large pick up truck, I imagined to work. I imagined that truck and his gooseneck trailer were all that remained of his attempt at an American dream. I imagined the relative freedom of having so little, of being rootless... I've been there and it can be wonderful… Literally, full of wonder... I imagined the limited space and limited capacity to carry meaningless things, purposeless things and I recall the freedom downsizing. The last time I traveled this stretch of highway all of my belongings fit into a 1973 VW Thing. And I imagined the man's expression, veiled behind the windshield glare, and the thoughts that informed it, and there the hue of my scales became his. How must he feel with only a failed attempt at an American dream behind him and an ever narrowing field of choices ahead. Nothing could more strongly underscore the smallness of everything: his trailer, the RV park, and the chances that these next few years would be the best ever.

We shared a wave and he drove away and I ambled off into the rest of my day.