Wednesday, October 31, 2007
I want to wear my black hat
and pace the lines of your calendar.
I'll strum my guitar
until I find your Coney Island street map.
I'll divide your verbs
and conquer your adjectives.
I wanna be your blues.
I'll be the obscured reflection
in your poison mercury mirror.
I'll be the trade wind routes
wrapped around your vision
like DNA ladders.
I'm your stolen alphabet,
your last will and testimony.
I wanna be your blues.
I'll be the clutched heart valve.
The fallen breath.
The thorn's embrace.
I'll be the black top cataclysm
of a thousand coffee cups.
I'll sing your dark corner.
I'll trace the varicose blue highways.
I wanna be your blues.
The dissected chords
of a regretful morning.
The melting clouds
behind desert eyes.
The last broken string
of a haunted love affair.
Written in response to this.
Thursday, October 25, 2007
Edward Abbey, Desert Solitaire, "Down the River"
As I mention, I am thoroughly enjoying this book. This line leapt out at me because I have been pondering the qualities of human nature of late.
I don't suppose being true to the earth would be the same as being true to our human nature. If the 21st century version of human nature is any indication, humans are about as far from being true to the earth as possible.
Consider: changes in geologic forms take multiple human life times. Changes in atmospheric conditions, at least until the industrial revolution, were similarly slow.
Consider: human nature seems dominated by straight lines, boxes, rectangles, and grids. None of these exist in nature; all relate to a human concept of "perfection" which has held sway at least since Aristotle.
To the best of my knowledge, a "perfect circle" does not exist in nature. Neither does a right angle, or something as perfectly straight as a plumb-line or laser beam. Even the average human body, whether male or female, does not contain a truly straight line or perfectly round circle.
Humans struggle to make life easier. We may not be alone in using and constructing tools (even some bugs use sticks as tools), but we do seem the only species who improve on the tools and methods used by previous generations.
Thus, we move into desert regions, such as the better part of southern California, and we find ways to force streams into the desert, as it were. We do not consider the repurcusions; we act as if the water is an inexhaustable resource.
In our dreams of providence and manifest destiny, we suppose that humans miles away need the water more than the mountain or lake, and its environs.
Perhaps it was when we built the pipelines from lake and mountain. The years of inexhaustable water, however, seem well behind us. The demand, measured by an increasing number of thirsty humans and artificially green lawns, has outstripped the supply. And, many scientists believe, the supply has decreased as well.
I do not judge southern California's city planners, developers, or home owners. I recognize the hubris and short-sightedness because I am also culpable. I have been equally short-sighted and head strong in ways big and small.The situation in southern California is a striking example, however, of how our human ingenuity has played its part in creating this "perfect storm".
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
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Friday, October 19, 2007
Sunday, October 14, 2007
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Monday, October 08, 2007
Sunday, October 07, 2007
— Entertainment Weekly, review of Shalom Auslander's Foreskin's Lament
Saturday, October 06, 2007
Robert died last Saturday, in an automobile collision. As you see, he was very young - he just recently celebrated his 22nd birthday. His funeral was this Thursday. I attended; and served as videographer, as a favor to his family.
One of the more profound moments of the service came during the homily, when the young minister pointed to our baptismal font - a gleaming structure of white Italian marble - and said, "Robert was baptized 21 years ago today in this baptismal font. As he was united with Christ at the beginning of his life, he now joins Christ at the end of his life."
I only met Robert once. The occasion was my first time to assist at the Vacation Bible School in Watonga, four years ago. Robert needed a ride, and I volunteered. Robert had assisted at the VBS at least once before.
During our trip, Robert shared what I might expect. His favorite part was playing and interacting with the children. He also prepared me for the scheduled sweat lodge. Although he personally did not have a profound mystical experience the times he went, he knew others who had. And, even though he did not have a "mountain-top" experience, he valued the opportunity.
Robert also shared his love of multi-user on-line role-playing games (MUDs). There, he had discovered a community with whom he could easily relate. People on-line could not see how profoundly over-weight was, and thus could not judge him based on his physical appearance.
I was not so charitable. I didn't judge him because of his weight, but because his most valued community was "virtual". Later, during the VBS, I judged him because he seemed to only do the minimum required. If you asked him to perform a task, he'd do that one thing, then sit back down. I didn't even see him play with the children, compared to the other volunteers his age.
I was aware of the irony and unfairness of my judgment, even then. Most of my community was "virtual" in nature, though I could claim a valued handful of folks I could see and touch. And, in my less charitable moments, I perceive myself as one of those "only do the minimum required" types.
I suppose this is a natural response at a funeral, to repent of old opinions, or ways you may have hurt another. I trust Robert never was aware of my judgment; when I visited with him, I strove to sound interested, and he was very open and sharing.
Robert was no angel; he had his share of problems. Twenty-one and working at Braum's (where his mother also works). Still, so far as I know, profoundly overweight. He's had minor problems with the law. That trip to Watonga four years ago was primarily to fulfill a community service sentence; he never went again.
One got the impression that he had few flesh-and-blood friends. Not a negative (again, the same can be said of me), but possibly unhealthy.
The minister didn't gloss over these challenges. He mentioned how Robert appeared to be making positive strides with furthering his education and controlling his weight. He said one of the profound tragedies of Robert's death at a young age was that we would not see what sort of person he would become as he improved in these areas.
I wonder if others go to funerals and think of Tom Sawyer & Huck Finn, eaves-dropping on their own funeral? I certainly did.
I set up the video camera in the choir loft, and thus had a view of the whole church. With the exception of a open half-pew here and there, the church was full. I was later told there were 227 in attendance.
I couldn't help but wonder if an equal number of people would come to my funeral. Although many were present to show support for his parents, I imagine a fair number represented the people whose lives Robert had touched.
Can I claim to have touched so many people in a positive way? Can I claim to have served to represent the light of Christ to people all around the world, as Robert did in his MUD activity?
One more thing about that "virtual" world of friends. It represented people all over our actual globe. One of the main on-line groups Robert was involved with sent flowers to his mother. There is an on-line guest book which runs to five pages of condolences and remembrances, over half of which are from his MUD world.
May I have the grace to touch an equal number of lives.
Friday, October 05, 2007
Thursday, October 04, 2007
Saturday, Oct. 13, Heritage Hills Home Tour; I'll be playing in the Overholser Mansion (NW 15th & Hudson).
Friday, Oct. 19, Red Cup Cafe, NW 31st & Classen, beginning at 8pm. I'll be banging my Seagull (and 12-string Alvarez) while Ben pounds the keyboards.
Saturday, October 20, beginning at 2: Forest Park, exact location unknown. Ben and I will repeat our dynamic performance from Friday night.