Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Time For A Spot of Common Sense.

I know, you thought I was going to say "a spot of tea."

The unmasking and revealing go on by the hour. Somewhere, somehow, someone has had enough. We are here at the summing up of the age. Let your response be your destiny, just as your character is your fate.

For the complete post see: Les Visible.

How about a picture? Let's see -- I like this one. I don't know about you but I couldn't hold a cherry tomato between my lips and not bite into it. Don't you just wonder what this guy's thinking? Look at those eyes. It's as if he's been reading bumper stickers for a couple of decades and finally realized that whatever they say from one to the other all bumper stickers mean the same thing: I'm better than you. If you ask me, this orango-tango is going to run up to the next car with a bumper sticker on the back bumper, pull the driver out from behind the wheel, and flatten his nose so that it will look just like his. What do you think?

Monday, June 1, 2009

It's The Little Things That Start Wars....

....because it's the little things that reveal all those terrible things that the big events are designed to hide.

Take Larry, for example. He thought nothing of it. Walking down the hallway, he had torn the three copies from the spine that held them together, and distributed the three copies to the three people for whom they were destined. This left him with the three-part spine in his hands, wondering how to dispose of it.

Well, folks, Larry came up with a great idea: throw it out. Still walking down the hallway he passed a doorway that opened into an office, where a waste paper basket sat not two feet from the open door. So he rolled up the spine, a small strip of paper in triplicate, and tossed it into the waste basket.

The occupant of the office, DeMille, was seated not two feet beyond the waste basket and had witnessed the whole thing -- the contempt, the disrespect, the personal nastiness. His outrage was immediate. He even raised his voice.

"Excuse me, sir, I am not here to receive your waste products nor to put up with this unmitigated show of disrespect for another human being and that human being's space."

"Aw, come on, guy -- a waste basket, man. You want me to..."

"I want an apolog..."

"Oh, man, come on, an apology. How about a shoe shine?"

Their voices lowered somewhat.

"You owe me an apology. You invaded my space without my permission."

"Awright, I'm sorry, but I think you're kinda touchy."

"I'm also kinda feely, mister," he said, making a fist with a smile.

Neither wanted this little spat to come to the attention of a supervisor. That would have meant a Grievance Meeting and a report to HR that would go on both their records.

Instead they tried to answer the question as to whose space it really was, DeMille's or the company's. They also discussed what an acceptable apology would be in the circumstances. And then something happened that I'm sure will someday start a real war. The "feeling" of hatred, baseless, personal, casual, deep, evanescent, eternal. The "feeling" arose between them. One day it will erupt into a real battle, sometime when the issue will not be abstract and/or psychological, but be directly related to the next raise.

But I don't have the stomach to go into this any deeper just now. Later, when they tangle over the real issue there will be something to talk about. Do you have the patience to wait? I do.

I mean, look, if DeMille had jumped up and pushed Larry, or, better, had reached down into the waste basket real quick, picked up the little wad of paper, and thrown it BACK at Larry -- well, just imagine!

See, I've only heard about these two guys, I've never met them, never heard them speak, never even seen them. I mean, maybe Larry is a big fat white guy, too big by far to get and keep one of those slim, sexy women he always flirts with, and DeMille is a witty, bisexual, just-out-of-reach black guy who's been waiting a couple of months for just this sort of disrespect from one his new associate colleagues at this new company he fought hard to land this new job at -- maybe not exactly big, maybe not exactly bi. Maybe Larry is the witty one, maybe DeMille is the slob. Maybe both are black or white. Or maybe they're two bulls who have finally spotted one another across the fence, which either of them could take down with a breath. Who knows? So I can't tell the story because -- and I'm real sorry about this -- it hasn't happened yet.

See, I can only begin with "what if" or "maybe." And that's not enough to make a story. To make a story you have to have real people doing real things, right? Wrong, all you need is a couple of characters and an idea, or a plot, or a result, or a first step (which is what we have here). Because we're not actually dealing with real people, just a couple of made-up guys in a made-up situation that has happened a million times.

As a matter of fact I remember overhearing just such an event, occurrence , scene -- whatever you want to call it. I wish I could remember where it was. Wait -- it was in an office, I remember that, and I remember the guy in the office saying something in remonstrance to the offending party, the wise guy passing by in the hallway or corridor or aisle -- it was an open aisle in a large room with a high ceiling where lots of people were, in cubicles, though not the kind you're probably thinking about now, the kind you see these days in the early years of the twenty-first century. No, this big room was a part of a factory that had been redesigned on the fly to hold office workers and machines and computer cables. This was the very early 1980s. It was a factory that had poured out tanks for the army during the war years -- no, idiot, not Vietnam, not Korea, but the real war, World War II. The factory, at the time of this story, was making fire extinguishers of world renown. You got that? The beginning of the last hurrah.

It all went off very genteely (I don't know how to spell that and I'm not looking it up). The person passing in the aisle crumpled up a piece of paper and, just as he passed by the open door, spotted a waste basket, stopped quickly, and tossed his crummy wad of crumpled up paper into the waste basket, just like you do a long shot from mid-court. The reaction was quick and fierce. The conversation between the two was heated and unusually loud for those men, and then it subsided with no apparent "residue." The fellow in the office could not imagine anyone doing what the other had done. The fellow passing by in the aisle had a hard time seeing the insult, but he apologized loudly, and joviality reigned. I think they all went out to lunch together -- had planned to from before the incident.

Okay? Get the point?

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Do You Slow Down To 55 As You Approach The Gantry?

Bob. He's a really nice guy. He can program a computer, but he finally moved up into management as a "business analyst." He now has lunch with Bill, who controls everything the company purchases. Bill don't like it, you don't get it, it don't get bought, the company don't know nothing about it. I'm fudging Bill's real lingo because it is not very communicative. Bill is not happy with meaning, content, knowledge, clarity, data, consequences, deductions, nasty vile innuendo, foresight, resolve, conviction, slang, perspicacity, focus, low class slime, awareness, and point. He's a fart.

But Bob. Bob is a nice guy. Bob has values. Bob wears a faded blue shirt with printed palm trees on it. Bob thinks about things. His wife has nothing to say beyond, "Hey, asshole, how's it going?" Bob was made to do business analysis. Please note that I do not put quotes around business analysis. Business analysis is the art of looking at the relationship that arises between a company and its clients. You want them to buy things that you make a good profit on. You want to supply them with what they want, with what they really need to reach their potential.

Therefore, Bob slows down to about 55 mph as he approaches the gantry. What? -- you don't know what a gantry is? A gantry is a thing that stretches over the toll road you are driving on. From the gantry hangs a scanner. The scanner is always scanning, so that when you pass beneath it the scanner swipes its ray across your toll tag, grabs your info and returns it to the scanner on the returning ray, whereupon a signal goes downtown to the computer and the toll is deducted from your balance. When your balance falls below a predetermined and agreed upon amount, a draft is initiated against your credit card.

Guess what, folks? Bob likes to slow down to about 55 mph as he passes under the gantry because he doesn't want the scan to fail because he was moving too fast. And he almost causes an accident every time he does this because the drivers in the other lanes, the drivers ahead of him and the drivers behind him, are ALL DOING NINETY, because they are real human beings who are PLAYING with the established order. They know they can't beat it and are trying to get it up to a hundred and ten just for the fun of it. But Bob is a serious man, a good citizen, a solid family man -- let's just sum it up and call him A BANKER. So the guy he has lunch with, Bill, is a fart; and Bob, the guy who has lunch with Bill, is a banker.

Bob ought to be declared a national treasure -- just as Martha Graham was.

Martha Graham. They don't like her. "They." She never allowed herself to be used for any political purpose whatsoever; over her seventy year career; so they don't like her. They hate her. They teach their students that she was just one more dancer, just like all the others. Nobody special, just one more worker in the vineyard, overly intoxicated by the fume of her own vintage.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Your Cat And Your Dog.

"No house is complete without a dog. No room is complete without a cat."

There you have it, another opening paragraph that sounds just great until you actually think about it. And when we do actually think about it what do we find? We find that just a little something more is needed to make a coherent statement about even a small corner of civilization.

No house is complete without a dog? Excuse me, but I could count on the fingers of one hand the many, many houses that do not have dogs, yet wherein the occupants are doing just fine, thank you. No room is complete without a cat? Very well, but what about all those rooms that do not have a cat and yet are clearly lacking in nothing.

Perhaps our opening paragraph ought to read: "A dog marks a person with its personality. A cat imposes its personality upon the whole house, and not just upon one or more members of the household."

Folks, this is leading up to something, so please pay attention.

When you observe a human being in his or her daily doings what do you find? You find a lot of waiting, a lot of confusion, a lot of boredom, a lot of fits and starts, a lot of sitting and looking at something while "thinking," and a lot of activity, which, while not necessarily useless in its particulars, is nevertheless, as a whole, open to being seen as having little, or no, purpose.

But when you observe your cat or your dog what do you find? You find a creature who is always busy. You find a little friend in focus, a little amigo full of poise and purpose. Maybe he or she is sniffing something new, or walking about the environs clearly looking for something, or stopping at a place to eat something, or any of a number of other acts that add up together to one very big important thing: your cat or your dog -- this is profound -- always knows what to do next. About what other resident of our cosmos can any such thing be said?

Folks, I gotta say it one more time: Your cat and your dog always know exactly what to do next.

Friday, April 10, 2009

And You Thought We Were Out Of The Woods.

There is a cancer out there in the world, in the whole globe, but we don't know what it is or where it sleeps or where it washes up or where it eats, so the best we can do is have a little fun with it. It won't go away, but maybe we will, in the sense that we will no longer have to submit to it.

The cancer is a world-wide will. I know, there's no such thing, but the illusion is there, and therefore the power -- the power of that will. What if nobody obeyed? It would lose its power.

The trouble is, if nobody obeyed, this world-wide will would get angry and kill lots of people. But the survivors would say, "See, it has no power. All it can do is kill. It can't make us do what it wants." True, but what about those dead people? You could have been one of them. And what about you, who are still alive? Had you been called to die, would you have gone? Would you have stepped up to the maw and said, "Drop dead"?

So, now -- how do you like your life, knowing that an unspecified number of people have died because they said No? While you stood by the side and said nothing? Myself, I'd feel great. The dirty little secret is: they said No because, secretly, they thought that God (the God of the Judaites) would come at the last moment and save them from death? Why did they think that? Because the truth is you really don't have to die. There is just no good reason to "lose" like that.

So, since you don't really have to die, why try to avoid it? I mean, just because someone wants to kill you? What would be wrong with popping up to the Fifth Density to find a new body? The Fifth Density is where you go after shedding the body you've got to get the body you really wanted all along. And, of course, what you really wanted will surprise you.

I'm sorry, I meant to tell some simple little stupid story, and here I am talking about the Densities. How can I tell you what a Density is? It's all a matter of perception. And, on top of everything, as you know, you're saved!!

Once upon a time, a guy named Jim picked up his keys, got in his car, and drove several hundred miles to visit Mary. After he arrived at Mary's house, Mary began telling the neighbors that Her Brother had come for a visit, and, while he was there, he was going to fix some things around the house. Since nobody had asked her who he was, everybody began to wonder not only who he was but what his business here could possibly be. I don't have to tell you what they concluded. Was he staying in a nearby motel? No. Was his car parked right next to hers every night? Yes. What are the odds that "that guy" is actually her brother?

Make sense? See, it's the same old thing with a touch of sin about it, a touch of shame. To dot the i and cross the t, had she said simply he's here to fuck me and fix the roof no one would have bothered with "her brother" at all. But instead, she had something to hide. So in spite of all these new liberated ways it's still the same: a woman more or less always looks like a chippie, and a man more or less always looks like a wolf.

But never mind. For a few years more -- still -- you will not have to be a hypocrite, unless you want to be. Just watch out, it won't last forever. You'll see, hypocrisy will make a comeback, big time, even though at the moment -- and only for the moment -- it is mainly to be found in those other places where they gather. "They" being the high poloi.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

The Dead Don't Talk, And The Living Are Not yet Dead.

The living are not yet dead -- that's what it says. But if you're anything like me you know that "not yet dead" can mean "not wholly here."

Consider the case of Moe. Late one afternoon, just before dark, he went out to his car and put the key in the ignition. As he started to roll backward he noticed something was not quite right. He pulled the car back up toward the garage and got out. Sure enough, a flat tire.

Moe went back inside and knocked on the door to the upstairs apartment. Stevie, the renter, came downstairs and opened the door. They looked at one another. Moe finally spoke. He asked Stevie to take the money he was holding and go to the drugstore for him, pick up some cough medicine, and "get this prescription filled." He said he wasn't feeling too good. He said he didn't want to drive the car feeling the way he did.

So Stevie took the money and went out to the car. He got in, put the key in the ignition, and started it up. He began to back the car out, but right away he felt something funny. So he pulled back up to the garage and got out. He walked around the car, looking carefully at everything, and then at the tires. Wouldn't you know it? One of them was flat.

Stevie, none the dumber than you or me, got the picture right away. Moe had started to go to the drugstore, discovered the flat tire, and wasn't strong enough to change the tire. He was pushing eighty. That's eighty years of age. So Stevie opened the trunk, took out the spare tire, the tools, and the jack. He changed the tire and said nothing about it. He drove off, got the prescription filled, and came home. He gave the prescription to Moe, along with the change.

Moe asked how the car drove. Stevie wanted to know what he meant. Moe said he was speaking English and speaking clearly and wanted to know how the car drove. Stevie said the car drove like a car: roll roll, brake brake, stop stop: the car was fine Stevie said.

Moe looked at him. His eyes showed that he had expected a tirade, a major venting, a loud remonstrance. His eyes showed that he had known the tire was flat, that he knew that Stevie would be what is known as an "asshole" and change the tire. But he did not expect Stevie to make like nothing had happened. So Moe's eyes showed his "guilt." Moe's eyes showed that he was good at this little game -- the I'm an old man game -- that he had done this many times before. But it was no big deal. Would you have expected Moe to change a tire? Too heavy.

The guy, Stevie, Mr. Helpful, who ought to have gone inside and tossed the keys to Moe and said, "You got a flat," and gone back upstairs to his apartment, instead went right to work changing the tire. Imagine Moe, looking out the window. Could he believe his eyes? Stevie is out there changing the tire! What a great country, huh? Just when you need a jerk, there he is, with the tire iron, looking like George Washington!

Okay, so that's the guy upstairs. He left, he went to the drugstore. You thought it's over, right? . Just then, just when you think it's over, the guy's wife comes downstairs. "Where's Stevie? What did you want with him?"

Moe hates to talk to wives. "Hi, sweetheart -- listen. Stevie's a great guy. He went to the drugstore for me. I can't drive. You know that."

"You should be in a home."

"Get outta here, I'm not going into a home." Moe has a way of screwing up his face as if he's in great pain or trouble.

"Stevie belongs upstairs with me and the children."

"I'm sorry." He learned somewhere that, once you say you're sorry to the wife, you can sit back and watch it all turn sweet. "Stevie's a great guy, he went to get my prescription for me. What would we do without him?"


"You know what I mean. I'm not such a bad guy myself."

"Do your daughters know you belong in a home?"

"I'll shoot anyone who tries to put me in a home."

"No you won't."

"Yes I will."

"What will you really do?"

"Grab their necks and pull taffy."

"What's pulling taffy?"

"You kids don't know nothing. You grab their necks and pull them like taffy, you gotta pull taffy to make it. I don't know. Get outta here."

Saturday, March 28, 2009

What does lighthearted mean?

Just think of the last time everything you thought you knew about something got turned on its head. A lighthearted moment because it lightened your heart.

Like the day you discovered who your father was, and you began to wonder who that guy in bed with mom might be. I'll bet you went right in and asked.

As they came up out of sleep and asked you to repeat the question you hesitated, then repeated it in a slightly edgy if friendly tone of voice. Do you remember their reaction?

"Dad" got out of bed first and threw on his robe. He was smiling. Actually, he was glad to be unmasked finally -- no more having to fake it, no more having to "smile" all the time, no more having to remember "the story." What took you by surprise was that "dad" already knew. You thought he thought, like you, that he was your real dad. Mom knew also. Actually, she looked not really angry, just ready to get angry if you started saying things that you had no right to say. You, and you alone, were the one who had been duped.

First off, you change. You like the guy in the bathrobe. Two minutes ago you did not. And just look at "dad's" face -- he likes you, too. Two minutes ago he did not. You were a job, part of the stuff that came with his new wife. You sat in the Radio Flyer, pulled along now by one, now by the other.

To celebrate, "dad" took everybody out for breakfast. Mom and "dad" took off from work, you took off from school. He thought it would be a great idea if you all had breakfast at your favorite Chinese restaurant. So the three of you headed off down 19th Street toward Kings Highway.

When you were seated in the restaurant and looked at the time, 9:30 a.m., you looked at the menu. Where were the breakfast items? The waiter didn't know what you were talking about. What is a breakfast item? They have food, and they can cook it for you. "Dad" got the idea, on no evidence at all, that it was against their religion to cook eggs that way. The wind shifted. The waiter started to try to tell the three of you (by not saying it) that to have barbarian practices imputed to them in their restaurant was a rude and aggressive thing to do. "Many dead body China." He bowed fiercely and shot away. When he returned he was walking briskly, looking at the three of you to see if you had reconsidered everything and had come to correct conclusions. So you pretended it was 9:30 p.m. and ordered dinner. And -- remember?? -- it was one of the best breakfasts you have ever had. Lobster Cantonese. Moo Goo Gai Pan. Ginger Prawns. Lemon water. Tsing Tao beer. Fresh, plentiful tea. Cigars.

While you were smoking your cigars you remembered that time when you were a kid -- like, speaking of "Chinese." You and a couple of kids you hung around with went into the Chinese laundry on Avenue M and tried to buy firecrackers. The Fourth of July. You wouldn't take no for an answer. The angry owners started to chase the bunch of you off. They were angry. They came around the counter threatening to call the police. Why didn't they have firecrackers? I don't know either, but why didn't you just get "dad" to drive everybody out to one of those places (Pennsylvania??) where you could have bought all the firecrackers you wanted right there at the side of the road? Maryland?

By the way, firecrackers are still illegal in the five boroughs.