Eatin' all that scrapple's gonna
On the Titanic a fat man on
Friday, May 31, 2013
Wednesday, May 29, 2013
|Th stunning silence of early morning|
offers no clue to the noisy mayhem
that follows through the hours.
Reality will drive you crazy today.
This is what happens in a dying empire
that is taking the planet with it.
Unless you are waiting for the Rapture
you might want to look at your options.
You can't stop this decline.
You can obsess about it.
You can rage against the injustice
of it all, get drunk, raise hell.
You can kill powerful folks,
mistaking this for revenge.
Or you can blow bubbles in the park
or read a good book
or buy a painting
or cook a great meal
or go out dancing
or give things away
just for the hell of it.
It's up to you.
Nature doesn't care.
You make good fertilizer
as well as the next guy.
The great Lee Hays of The Weavers
had his ashes scattered in his
A man ahead of his time.
Monday, May 27, 2013
Sunday, May 26, 2013
Saturday, May 25, 2013
With the planet in clear decline
Friday, May 24, 2013
Look, there's already enough negativity
Spare me your
Find something you like to do,
|After three hours of sound sleep|
I toss and turn and finally get up
into a room as silent as it gets here
in this house, in this neighborhood
in this city.
Elsewhere on the planet
bombs are dropping
children are raped
prisoners are screaming.
With luck, someone, somewhere,
cries out in sexual ecstasy.
It's a big world with big sounds
but silent here at this hour
in this house, in this neighborhood,
in this city. In this mind.
I have things to do to pass the time
but later, tired again, I'll return to bed
and stretch out, knowing that the best
part of the day has passed;
after more sleep, if I am lucky,
it will be downhill from here.
This is the magic hour.
Thursday, May 23, 2013
Wednesday, May 22, 2013
|Candide and Pollyanna on a date|
paying no mind to news of late;
suicide bombers and massive storms
too far away to do them harm.
They walked in the park, went out to dine
and ate fine food and drank fine wine.
In Oklahoma on this day
entire towns were blown away.
Starving children dropped like flies;
Pollyanna made goo-goo eyes.
Candide got brave and stole a kiss.
Political prisoners are never missed.
He asked if he might feel a breast;
her mother taught her No! is best.
She said no and he heard yes.
The Middle East is such a mess.
He felt her breast, he ripped her clothes;
but was it rape? Well, no one knows.
Candide said, What's done is done
but Pollyanna bought a gun.
She told the police that Candide lied.
Torture, war and genocide.
She sued him for her self-respect;
date rape made her such a wreck.
The jury heard the case for days;
the crowds were split a dozen ways.
The warming sands, the rising seas
were causing widespread misery.
This is where the moral comes
but overhead the sound of drones
the sky electric with such threat
humanity has never met
and this means simple tales must end
never to return again.
But was it rape or was it not?
A dead planet is all we've got.
Tuesday, May 21, 2013
The last story that really blew me away. It's an amazing narrative feat.
Monday, May 20, 2013
Even Jonathan Swift might do
Has ever a people denied science
Has ever a people welcomed disaster
But who will do anything about it?
Has ever a government been
Has ever the media given so much
What kind of a God would want
And the thing is, When they leave
|Surely a strong argument against|
the existence of God is
the human species. What deity
worth its worshippers would create
such a self-defeating, contradictory
creature as the mess of us?
No, we suggest the very embodiment
of chaos theory. Or perhaps,
just as an elephant is a horse
made by committee, we are
an attempt at a civilized biped
made by gods in constant conflict.
What is clear is that those who believe
in Intelligent Design have never
looked in the mirror.
Sunday, May 19, 2013
This summer I'll convert one of my splays in just this way. If it works out I have a couple dozen stories I can convert. The possibilities are a little mind boggling.
A repackaging of an old book just published. More soon. Let's call it a new release.
Saturday, May 18, 2013
In the dark still morning
I realize the hours go downhill
Socrates said the unexamined life
Friday, May 17, 2013
How I love days with nothing to do
How I love days when time is my own
And this is not the impossible dream
And we make the same mistakes in the Middle East now.
In one, Wakeful, a man walks out on his wife and disappears - but is living only blocks away. Early in my career I wrote "The Other Wakefield," from the wife's point of view, who knows he's there all along.
Hawthorne loved moral dilemmas, which is why he's still interesting today.
Thursday, May 16, 2013
If I stop, we'll miss the extra income and will have to adjust accordingly. This also is a nudge to keep going. H would have a bigger adjustment because she does so much traveling.
Well, what happens, happens. I take it one class at a time. I still enjoy it, in fact I enjoy it more than ever, but I am physically and mentally exhausted after two hours in the classroom these days. And the prep work takes longer than it used to. Very much so. And the responsibility is more stressful than ever, considering how much an education costs kids these days. It's outrageous.
Also, it would be very nice to experience something like retirement. I would like to know how that feels.
I do sense some changes in rhythm ahead. That, or I collapse from exhaustion.
I heard an amazing speech
And it worked! Suddenly everyone
Climate change is our new moon
And the roar of approval from the audience
But then I remembered how different
No, you can't fix anything in a
What is it these warriors plan to do?
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
|A couple from Planet rE32x,|
wanting an exotic vacation,
decided to visit the primitive
life forms on the planet Earth.
"It was fascinating," they reported,
"to witness such strange behavior.
"The entire Earthling culture is
a contest for power and control.
This is so important that actual
adult careers, professional careers,
are based on playing juvenile games.
Participants in these contests are
routinely paid much more than
they pay their children's teachers!
No wonder Earthlings remained
"Even the pleasure of sex has been
turned into a struggle for power
"Sex is not considered natural.
They have a concept called
'sin,' which is difficult to understand.
It's different from Evil. It seems
to have to do with inappropriate
sexual pleasure. We found it all
very confusing at the Museum of Sin.
What we did get is that sex and violence
happen together often, another feature
of primitive behavior.
"Earth is not a pretty planet but
apparently was before it became
a desert. The primitive life forms
that remain are protected but can be
observed in their natural desert
"Our vacation package was for
a week but this is too long.
It only takes a few days to see
how irrational behavior was
before evolutionary progress reached
civilization. And after a few days
the pervasive color of brown gets
boring and a little depressing."
Tossing and turning in the gray morning,
I get up without argument,
Sketch jumps up on the other end
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
If only there had been Kickstarter years ago, I would have tried to fund this. I swear, if somebody does it, with good content hyperdrama to perform, this will be so hip and so cool and so unusual, it would be a smash hit. I think the tech savvy audience of today would respond to it.
More about this design near the end of the video, Nuts and Bolts, part of the Changing Key project.
|Einstein was always making thought experiments|
so I decided to try one myself.
Imagine a grass roots protest
of three million people
on the Capitol mall.
Thumbs down to this government!
is the theme, and to dramatize
the point, one guy brings a chain saw
and cuts off his thumb and
tosses it in the pool.
Then somebody else wants
his thumb cut off and then another,
a rush of energy,
and eventually there are so many
severed thumbs in the pool
that it spills over.
What a protest! What a story!
What video! What sound bites!
What an avalanche of tweets!
But nothing changes.
Oh, there are expressions of concern
and sympathy, committee meetings
and proposed legislation,
but nothing changes.
No power shift. No income shift.
No war stopped. No greed stymied.
So it occurred to me after this
thought experiment, the Mother of All
Grass Root Protests, that if this
doesn't change things, nothing will.
"You can't fix it. You can't make it go away."
Forget the world and fix yourself.
Monday, May 13, 2013
|Take a considerable number of angry citizens|
almost all of them white
almost all of them with guns;
give them a coloring book education
emphasizing mythology over history
simplicity over complexity
with the Bible as Final Word;
add so much paranoid anticipation
of government aggression that they buy
military assault weapons for defense;
add a profound ignorance of
and resulting distrust of science;
add corporate sponsors who understand
that funding ignorance can help
their bottom lines;
add a yellow-bellied university system
that lets moronic discourse continue unchallenged;
add well meaning, reasonably smart
citizens who take none of this seriously
and therefore see no threat;
wait for the inciting incident
the match put to all this gasoline
and then run like hell
|It's a beautiful day when you can|
listen to Brahms, Bach, Mozart or
Mulligan, Miles, Kenton or
read prose written by
Connell, Fawkes, O'Hara or
listen to lyrics written by
Porter, Dylan, Brecht or
read poetry written by
Welch, Cummings, Whitman or
listen to the voice of
Sinatra, Connor, Caruso;
it's a beautiful day when you can
wake up, stand up and walk into
hours shaped by your choices.
(Scene: Two old men at a table on the patio.)
Baker: Be nice.
Sunday, May 12, 2013
|It must be nice not to give a shit:|
that your government was overthrown
by a series of political assassinations;
that fat cats on Wall Street and in banks
make millions from fraudulent schemes
and avoid jail even when caught
while some poor addict with no money
for a lawyer gets a maximum sentence;
that CE0s who screw up big time
get lucrative severance packages
while some worker with 19 years on
the job gets the ax called downsizing;
that some unlucky dude spends
15 years in prison before DNA proves
him innocent, which is not your problem;
that you've become a modern Candide
and don't even give a fuck you have
no idea who this is.
It must be so nice not to give a shit
that sometimes I almost wish
I was you - before I come to my senses.
The human experiment failed.
But the species may survive.
In the meantime, we failures left
Of course, most will carry on
I'll keep out of your way,
Saturday, May 11, 2013
|I try to imagine how this mess|
we've created - climate change,
plutocracy- is going to end
and it's not a pretty picture.
It's already started far enough
from us to ignore: drought,
food shortages, disease, riots,
genocide as the usual final
solution. We repeat endlessly
that we'll be spared all this,
being so civilized and all, but
look more closely and you'll see
the sides being chosen for class
warfare - and water shortages
and the rest aren't even in
the mix yet. We're riding a
runaway train out of control.
I'm lucky. I should be dead from
natural causes before the worst
happens but, man, I feel for you,
faced with such a future. I ask myself,
What would I do if I were
in your shoes?
I think I know.
I'd revive my show "Ramblin'",
an appreciation of the songs
and stories of Woody Guthrie.
And I'd sing at the top of my lungs
That ol' dust storm
blew my house down
but it can't blow me down
and it can't blow me down
That ol' dust storm
killed my babies
but it can't kill me, Lord
and it can't kill me
and I'd sing this as long as
I had breath because in times
of crisis a man has to live
his own epitaph.
By and large we're a good group
but we dislike algebra and geometry
We're a good lot and all this
We're Americans, don't blame us.
We started out as God's chosen people
Friday, May 10, 2013
So we've done it,
Are you responsible for this?
No? Then what the hell
Christ, did you do anything?
Are you telling me the health
Well, whose fault is it, then? Who
If you ever find out, let me know.
For my first ten or twelve years at PSU, I took pride in collecting script work on Tues. and returning in on Thurs., a two day turn-around. I worked my ass off on Wed. But this gave me a four-day weekend for my own work.
As I got older, and my own work less pressing, I changed the rhythm to collect on Thurs. and return. on Tues. I now have four days to read student work - and usually need every one of them!
Ah, the perils of aging ...
The gods can be kind.
They do what they do
Prayer is masturbation
Thursday, May 9, 2013
|(Two old men on the patio at Starbucks.)|
Baker: Did you hear what happened to Eddie?
Curt: Another heart attack?
B. He got shot.
B. I got the whole story from his sister. She got it from a witness. It's unbelievable.
C. What happened?
B. He was walking away from an ATM yesterday, broad daylight, when two teenagers come up and point a gun at him.
C. Jesus. And he didn't just hand over the money?
B. Worse. He starts singing at them, at the top of his lungs.
C. He gets more senile every day.
B. No, there was a method to his madness. You know how much he loves opera. Especially that one he dragged us to that time. Remember how he'd keep singing the ending for weeks afterwards?
C. You had to remind me.
B. So that's what he does. He belts out, You can dig a hole for him, you can put him in it, you can cover him with dirt ... Nothing you can do can help a dead man.
B. The chorus over and over, Nothing you can do can help a dead man! And the kids are freaking out, yelling at him to stop, but Eddie just sings louder, Nothing you can do can help a dead man! Eddie looked wild and crazy, waving his arms, the witness said. Finally the kid with the gun freaks out so much he fires, Eddie falls to the ground, the kids panic and run with Eddie yelling after them, You forgot your money, asshole! Meanwhile the witness calls 911 and cops and an ambulance are there in no time.
C. Was he hit bad?
B. Just a leg wound.
C. He could be dead.
B. That's what his sister told him. Eddie tells her, And bid farewell to this cesspool of a planet we've created? I should be so lucky.
C. Sounds like him.
B. Nothing you can do can help a dead man. Can't you just hear him?
I didn't realize Genesis Angels was trashed by some "heavyweight" reviewers (idiots!). But there is much more to relish, especially his reflections on well known writers and artists he's known over the years. It's a versatile collection well worth your time.
Wednesday, May 8, 2013
|He's a good guy|
said the neighbor of the man
who for ten years kept
three young women captive
he comes over for a beer
and plays with the kids
and cracks jokes
just a real good guy
so imagine my shock!
to learn the truth
the good guy was a monster
who wore a mask
but I wasn't shocked
having been through this
doubting my own perceptions
about my own wife
it only takes one intense moment
to bring perception into doubt
after which nothing, nothing at all
is secure in its meaning
Dos Passos, O'Hara, nice to see these forgotten literary giants being remembered.
Appointment In Samarra! Incredible book.
Now let's add James Agee to the revival list.
Listen up, artists!
these are grave times
which is your challenge
against rape, your poems
this is no time to rest
Listen up, artists!
I look at the world in wonder
no wonder my dear sweet mother
Tuesday, May 7, 2013
Well, my petition is up! One signature! Me!
I cannot in my wildest dreams imagine 100,000 in 30 days, the requirement to get "an official response." However, the We the People site seems filled with libertarian paranoid nuts, maybe this would appeal to them ha ha. Personally, if I break 100, I will be almost ecstatic! This is an experiment.
But I let the Death Cafe folks know about this. Who knows? It's kind of fun to join the paranoid nuts online ha ha.
Monday, May 6, 2013
Genius at work. It's exhilarating!
|At age 75 any American citizen is eligible to receive a medical prescription for a "peaceful pill" with which to terminate life. No questions asked, age being the only requirement.|
This is my petition to the White House. The site is down at the moment. Hmm. I'll keep trying.
Sunday, May 5, 2013
Learned a few of these at the language school, later covered a number of songs on Bikel's brilliant album of the music. Man, tonight - in these times - the music sounds like the voice of the gods. As deep as Caruso.
Saturday, May 4, 2013
"The global response to the film has been amazing with over 200 grassroots screenings being self-organized by individuals and organizations in over 25 countries, and more being added every day. The largest community screening so far took place in Porto Allegre, Brazil on April 11th attracting a whopping 1,500 attendees!"
my thoughts rule the mindscape
and I realize how effortlessly
I could slip into oblivion.
In Lord Byron's dramatic poem
Manfred, the hero on his death bed
tells a priest, It is not difficult
Manfred never lived in America
where much money is made
keeping old folks alive long after
their quality of life is gone.
America runs on numbers and
a 90 year old human vegetable
is more impressive than an
80 year old human vegetable
and modern medicine can keep
anyone alive for a price.
If you've had enough, good luck,
you have to become an outlaw
to decide to die in America
and nothing is made easy
for you. No understanding,
no help, no admiration. Anything
you do to end your life will
put you in jail. America doesn't
understand the absurdity here.
Manfred, an existential hero,
can face death with honor but
America has no room for heroes
like this. We alienate them and
turn them into criminals and
question their sanity.
There are no Manfreds in America.
Friday, May 3, 2013
"I became a teenager in the right place at the right
time. Although you could count on one hand the number
of blacks enrolled at Woodrow Wilson Jr. High or
Pasadena High School, Los Angeles County had large
enough a black population to justify the existence of
radio shows that played "the very best in Negro
entertainment" around the clock. One such show was
Hunter Hancock's afternoon "Harlematinee" on KFVD."
Click title above to read more.
The Man Who Shot Elvis and other stories.
let it be
on a clear hot day
so I feel good
Since I must die
let it be
during the summer
when I'm not teaching
Since I must die
let it be
during the day
when not in bed
Since I must die
let it be
when I'm alone
making no disruption
except for Sketch
who would understand
more than others
and lick my face
Since I must die
let it be
on some other day
surely not today
when it is hot
here on the deck
and I'm alone
except for Sketch
so not today
surely not today
Thursday, May 2, 2013
" If I were a menial clerk, to whose gloom a Dostoevski or a Melville could give cosmic importance, then readily would I win your understanding. We are in an age the sensibilities of which are riveted to the absurd and what, after all, is more absurd than filling a ledger book with numerals, sorting out dead letters, filing away last year's purchase orders or pulling a lever in a factory? If I made my livelihood in so dreary a fashion, you would accept my gloom as being inevitable, deem it significant, and find in it an occasional metaphor for your own misgivings, whatever your employment; you would offer me understanding, empathy, sympathy, at least something more meaningful than what you now offer me, which is flattering but undue praise, or what usually is called "a good press." "