sleeping dogs

“What they say about dogs is that sleeping dogs dream and only sleeping dogs. They lie in their dreams. So people say let sleeping dogs lie. Waking up a dreaming dog is inadvisable. A dog suddenly awakened from dream might do anything.“ — Book of Baba, verse 58

 

Chili’s restaurants are closing all over the country. I read this today. I’ve never been to a Chili’s restaurant. It is probably not such a bad thing that they are closing. Except for the people who work in these restaurants who will be losing their jobs. It is hard for them. As hard as working at a Chili’s is the prospect of losing your job working there at a time when a lot of people are losing their jobs and you don’t really know if you will get another one any time soon. Soon enough to keep you from losing all the things you have. 

 

All the things you have. Every book, every dish, every picture, every blanket, towel, tv, cd, everything. This isn’t a fire. There is time to save everything, but nowhere to take it. No one to take it. Your things are junk on the parking strip next to the dumpster. In the dumpster. Garbage to the landlord who has to dispose of it.

 

It is no consolation at all to the waiter, the cook, the manager, that Chili’s was an expression of mediocrity supporting the conservative traditionalist point of view. Accept this crap; it is good crap. Conformista.

 

Conformista is a Spanish concept. Almost the same as conforming, but we Estados Unidas don’t like to say we conform and we have these little pretend rebellions , which usually involve buying something advertised as rebellious. And the end result is conformance to the whims and wishes of the corporate robber barons. 

 

The Mexicans, on the other hand, do not harbor such illusions, such delusions. Conformista — adapting to what is around you. Making the most of the place you are in. Not kicking against the destroyers. Maybe this is a concept the Spanish were able to sell to the indigenous people and maybe it was easy to hold up the natives to the north as an example. “See what happens when you fight back. You are destroyed. If you don’t want to be destroyed . . . conformista. Leslie Marmon Silko’s Almanac of the Dead should be translated into Spanish. 

 

Of course, not every Mexican shrugs and accepts. Not every American eats at Chili’s and believes life is good and just. It is hard to fight against the apathy here and I suspect it is just as hard to fight against it in Mexico. Every culture has its dark side, its own paralytic condition.

 

Religion is a part of that paralysis. It is the thing that is slipped between the lips — the body and the blood, communion — with this bread, with this blood is communicated all the tenets of oppression, in the guise of a savior. Each religion has its own sacraments of enslavement.

 

Religion is a closed loop always coming around to its own argument as a justification for what it says is true. ”It is true because I say it is true.“ ”This book (insert Torah, Koran, Bible, Bhagavid Gita, etc, here) is true because it says it is true.“ You cannot doubt it because it says it is the word of God, or Allah, or Yahweh, or Shiva. Every word is true.

 

No its not.

 

Each of these books have some basic truths and each of them have some hideous lies. Each destroys, each is cruel, each is oppressive. Each is a tool of the ones who intend to always be masters by the ”divine right“ of their self-anointing. The king is anointed by God.

 

No he’s not.

 

Put some holy oil on his head and call it good.

 

No its not.

 

If there be God and God is represented by any one of these ”holy“ books, then I put myself outside of the circle. For I am woman, despised of God. The words of these books make a slave of woman, of me, call me whore when men force themselves on me. Say I must not speak in public, must enshroud myself lest my form tempt a man to sin. 

 

What insane world, what mad culture makes a straight line to righteousness through the practice of such evil?

 

Evil it is. No woman should subject herself to that darkness. Every woman who does bears some responsibility for the suffering of future generations of women. Maybe that is the nature of original sin. Allow evil and you visit it upon your sisters. 

 

Oh Eve, what brutality did you fail to protest?

 

The Experiment is Over

Democracy in America is dead. It is official.

Anti-Republican activists, correction–those suspected of being anti-Republican activists, in Minneapolis this week encountered police who aimed rifles at them. This was not even a crowd of protesters. Just people in a van. On the street. In Minneapolis.

While McCain is being annointed to assume the mantle of power, all semblance of democracy has fallen away. Freedom of speech and the right to peacefully assemble no longer exist in this country.

If we are not willing to fight then we should leave. If we do not love freedom enough to fight for it, then we should leave. If we do not believe in democracy enough to defend it, then we should leave.

Love it or leave it. Peace.

Age of Delightenment

The Age of Delightenment, as it is now so named, began as the 20th century entered its mid-point. After the second of wars considered world wars in that century, there was a hunger to put aside the darkness and sadness and horror born of these wars. Most of the world, Europe, Great Britain, Northern Africa, parts of Asia, Japan and certain of the Pacific Island nations would not so easily shed the memories of war because these were living wounds in the landscape, scars too visible and too deep to turn away from. But America, that enchanted place between the Atlantic and Pacific, in that place the scars were mostly hidden in the men who returned, or visible where limbs were lost or eyes gone blind, but it was easy enough to shunt these off where they would not be troublesome reminders of unpleasantness.

The Age of Delightenment, as it is now so named, began as the 20th century entered its mid-point. After the second of wars considered world wars in that century, there was a hunger to put aside the darkness and sadness and horror born of these wars. Most of the world, Europe, Great Britain, Northern Africa, parts of Asia, Japan and certain of the Pacific Island nations would not so easily shed the memories of war because these were living wounds in the landscape, scars too visible and too deep to turn away from. But America, that enchanted place between the Atlantic and Pacific, in that place the scars were mostly hidden in the men who returned, or visible where limbs were lost or eyes gone blind, but it was easy enough to shunt these off where they would not be troublesome reminders of unpleasantness.

The main thing was that the depression was over, thank God! The men were home from the war. Things could get back to a normal that never was. A normal that was carefully constructed to assuage the hunger of the people for the fruit of the pursuit of happiness. And not so incidentally to continue to provide wealth to those hungry gods who profited so enormously from the wars.

Thus did the Age of Delightenment begin. Aided so magically by the invention of television and household machinery. Life of ease, careless. An age where science really was the religion, though the old religion stood guard over the practice of ritual so that the common thought was: Science, God willing, would cure everything. Perhaps even death could be vanquished. We are rightly stunned by such hubris from our vantage point in the future. But imagine living in that time when terrible diseases like polio, syphilis, smallpox, anthrax, tuberculosis were beaten back, beaten down, cured to such an extent that most of them existed only as specimens in rigidly guarded containment. Our scientists smugly declared these viruses to be eradicated. Though some of them still pestered what was regarded as the Third World. Anyone traveling there had to be sure to be inoculated against them, especially tuberculosis.

And such wonderful things were on the horizon. A cure for cancer could be out there, graspable. Cryogenics–all you had to have was enough money and you could be suspended in a tank waiting for the cure of whatever killed you in the first place. Revivication, frankenstein nation. You could live forever.

Medicine had advanced so much and advertised itself as having advanced so much further than it had that people were absolutely indignant, actually outraged, when their loved ones died, when a baby died, when a child died, when a man in his prime, a woman in her glory, died. Sue the doctors, the hospital, sue them, someone must pay.

We lived in a world of euphemism. People didn’t die, they passed as if they were just walking by you on the street into some other country from which they would not return. That was the juncture of the old religion and the new.

It is easy for us to look back and shake our heads in disbelief. How was it possible? How could our predecessors have been so blind, such idiots? As we pick our way through the ruins, through the thin strata of soil covering the armature of their architecture, we have the vantage point of time and knowledge. We have the history between them and us. We know what happened. Who are we to say we are any different? Would we not pick the fruits and eat them, choosing the best for ourselves because it is within reach. Delightenment. The roots of the word come from the ancient, ancient world. Delectare: to select from.

Science was ever-changing, ever evolving, reaching out to the future and back to the beginnings. Describing the origins of the universe and the end of time. Science had its own priesthood. Men and women in laboratory uniform spent their days cloistered in clean rooms protected by airlocks, speaking their incantations over strands of DNA. They constructed massive particle accelerators seeking subatomic particles to prove their theories of quantum physics.

Wasn’t it a wonderful world? I see you shaking your head, filled with sorrow and sympathetic remorse. You say if science was building with one hand, it was tearing down with the other. Science in the employ of destruction, tool of greed.

If we know anything now, I think we know that no one stands on the top of the hill forever. If nothing else, the hill itself will come down. The earth shrugged, stretched and swatted at the vermin on its skin. And science could not save them. Science could not win. And God was already dead, being just an image as frozen as the head of Rupert Murdoch.

The Age of Delightenment is remarkable for having been so short-lived among the annals of ages. However, like other paradigmatic shifts the defining characteristics, such as prodigious self-indulgence, were confined to a narrow geography. The era is regarded as important solely because the dominant culture was wallowing in it. As history is written by members of the dominant culture it follows that what is recorded is their own history. The conditions of existence, the accomplishments and disappointments, the day-to-day struggles of the rest of the world disappear into the ground, like worm-castings, underfoot. Their richness and the enigma of their existence left to be uncovered centuries later by archeologists.

(next article in series: Enlitenment)

My disturbing Friday commute on MAX

I commute from the Gresham TC in the evening. I always have a place to hang my bike when I get on because this stop is only the second stop on the westbound line. It is a different story going out to work in the mornings. I board at the Lloyd Center station and if I don’t catch the train that gets me to work about half an hour early then I often don’t have a place to hang my bike.

I don’t put my bike on the train for pleasure each morning and evening. I do it because i don’t have a car and I don’t have a car because I will not contribute to the pollution of our environment by driving a car. I need my bike because it makes it possible for me to perform my job without a car. I combine biking with the MAX for my commute because it would take too long to ride from my home to my job and I don’t want to arrive sweaty and worn-out. Using Trimet and my bike has been workable up to now. What happened on Friday on the train has me worried.

I commute from the Gresham TC in the evening. I always have a place to hang my bike when I get on because this stop is only the second stop on the westbound line. It is a different story going out to work in the mornings. I board at the Lloyd Center station and if I don’t catch the train that gets me to work about half an hour early then I often don’t have a place to hang my bike.

I don’t put my bike on the train for pleasure each morning and evening. I do it because i don’t have a car and I don’t have a car because I will not contribute to the pollution of our environment by driving a car. I need my bike because it makes it possible for me to perform my job without a car. I combine biking with the MAX for my commute because it would take too long to ride from my home to my job and I don’t want to arrive sweaty and worn-out. Using Trimet and my bike has been workable up to now. What happened on Friday on the train has me worried.

A young woman got on the train at about 172nd. She had a fixed gear bike with a tire too wide for the hook and instead of standing where the hook is, she stood on the other side of the door. The fare inspector on the train asked her for her fare, then her ID, called into find out if she was excluded or had citations, when she didn’t (to his surprise I am sure–did I forget to mention that she was dressed in black with face piercings?), he proceeded to lecture her about where she could be with her bike, and which doors she could use to enter the train when she has her bike. During the course of his lecture the train stopped at two stations and at each of these someone tried to board the train with a bike. Because both hooks were taken on that end of the train, the inspector would not let the bicyclists board. We all know that there is not enough time to run to the other end of the train and get on before the doors close. Since this was the front end of the first car, they were out of luck. They had to wait for the next train and hope that they could get on.

People ride Trimet for many reasons. Some out of concern for the environment, some because they don’t like driving in traffic, some because they can’t afford gas for their cars, some because they don’t have cars, some because they cannot drive, and there are probably other reasons. We want people to use mass transit. It makes our city a more livable place. Fewer cars, less congestion, less road rage, less stress, happier citizens. Less pollution, less illness, healthier citizens. Bicyclists contribute to this happier, healthier populace. We shouldn’t be punished for using both our bikes and mass transit to commute. Trimet should go to great lengths to accommodate bicyclists.

Not being allowed to get on the train because all the hooks are taken could mean that a bike commuter loses his or her job for being late to work. Especially if that someone is working a minimum wage job with no benefits because these are the jobs that desperate people have and there is always another desperate person to fill them. I know this because I work with those desperate people trying to help them find places to live after they have lost their jobs and their housing. Mr Inspector, you are not just denying someone with a bicycle the right to get on the train, you could be taking away the roof over their head.

There are no signs on the MAX stating that bicycles have to be hung from the hooks. There are no signs stating that people with bikes can enter only through the end doors. There is no reason for us to have to enter through those doors only. Here is something that happens frequently. I go to get on the train. a stroller is blocking the door, another stroller is under the bicycle hook. They move. It works out.

One morning last week I got on the airport train because i was going out to the Parkrose TC. As is to be expected there were people with lots of luggage. There were also lots of bikes. Myself and another cyclist were in the middle where the wheelchair access doors are located. I shifted back and forth depending on which door was going to open so that I did not get in anyone’s way. i did not impede any other passenger. It was perfectly workable and perfectly safe.

I suggest that Trimet take some of the seats out of some of the cars and install more hooks. I suggest that these cars run during rush hours from 6:30 am to 9:00 am and from 3:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m..

Barring a solution such as this, I think it is reprehensible for Trimet to get heavy-handed with bicycle commuters. The MAX is not comfortable when it is full. Whether there are bicycles, strollers, wheelchairs, or just lots of people it is noisy, smelly, disease infested, dirty, costs too much and the ticket machines often don’t work, and the ticket validators often don’t work, and the fare inspectors are rigid and menacing and could use some interpersonal relationship training, and commuters all have to manage this twice a day. Cut us some slack.

Monday morning on the MAX

CheThere is a beeping as the ramp slides out, then the doors open. He rolls himself in. His legs are covered with a blanket. His dull blondish hair is in a ponytail and he’s got layers of clothing. Behind him is a younger man, no more than five feet six, no hair visible under his billed cap, with red marks on his face shaped like tiny cigars. He’s wearing a flannel shirt and pants torn at the knee.

CheThere is a beeping as the ramp slides out, then the doors open. He rolls himself in. His legs are covered with a blanket. His dull blondish hair is in a ponytail and he’s got layers of clothing. Behind him is a younger man, no more than five feet six, no hair visible under his billed cap, with red marks on his face shaped like tiny cigars. He’s wearing a flannel shirt and pants torn at the knee.

I don’t know how to measure how old these two in the train with me are because life on the streets batters the skin. They are younger than me, I am sure of that, probably 20 years younger. Less than forty would be my guess. Somewhere between thirty and forty-five, no more. And the younger one could be in his twenties.

“It’s not working right. I can’t afford a new one. Something’s wrong with the wheel.” He’s backed himself into the wheelchair space and leans back so that the front wheels come off the floor and balances himself by holding the rail with one hand and putting one foot up on the rail in front of him. “Is it wobbling?”

His friend checks it out. “It’s just the bolt needs tightening.”

The ponytail man says, “I can take care of that. Just tighten the bolt, huh?”

“Yeah, the bolt on the top. How much does a wheelchair like that cost?”

“This chair cost $1800.” The way he says it you know that is an amount of money out of his grasp. However he came by this chair, he doesn’t think he’ll be able to get another if something goes wrong with this one. It isn’t one of those fancy motorized ones. He has to maneuver it himself. I’ve seen this man on the train before with a companion, not this young one. Someone older. Often, he is sitting on a max seat and the chair is in the space in front of him. Whatever makes it difficult for him to get around is not obvious, but something limits him, makes the chair necessary. Most likely it is diabetes.

“You live with that big guy, right? Where you live?” Younger man asks.

“At a motel out on 82nd.”

“How much does that cost?”

“We pay $400 a week.”

“$400. That’s a lot, man. You should move to my motel. It’s a lot less, man.”

“No, wait. Not a week. That’s every two weeks. Costs us about $200 a week. My friend, I live with, he gets $700 every two weeks. He was a logger and got injured. Now he gets $1400 a month. We been together for 7 years. He’s in pain all the time.” If he has any income himself, from Social Security or anything else, he doesn’t say.

I grew up in a mill town. I remember loggers with fingers and arms missing and deaf sawmill workers. I remember the fatherless children of timber fallers who were felled themselves, and never got up from the forest floor, and were laid to final rest in Juniper Cemetery, which was named after a tree no one logged.

The talk turns to heroin and methadone, to nodding off, and cruelty. “I never nodded off,” the young one claims.

The one in the chair says he sometimes still uses, but he gets the methadone. They talk about the clinic where they both get their doses. “That lady who runs the clinic. I knew her when she was using. How did she end up running a clinic?” Wheelchair man wants to know.

“She used to use? Oh, man. You know that bitch cuts people’s doses. Bitch. She’s a user. Bitch.” The younger man’s anger is strong.

I wonder if he will kill her some day. Or if someone else will.

The rain starts coming down in buckets and it’s 122nd Avenue and the man in the wheelchair gets off the train. He doesn’t have an umbrella or a raincoat, “Shit,” he says as he wheels himself away and reaches back to pull the hood of his sweatshirt up over his head.

god & me

Here is the context. It’s early in the 21st century in a slightly larger than midsized city. A pleasant city as they go in these times. We’re a middle-aged couple, low-income, low-need, intellectuals. Around us the world is changing, rapidly becoming hostile to human life, but as yet we are seeing only the merest edge of the darkness that is sliding toward us. There are movies to take our mind off of doom. We sit in the quiet gloom of theatre dark and forget for a couple of hours about hunger and sorrow. We watch the tragedy of history in order to avoid, momentarily, the cataclysm on our threshold.

And walking home afterword we pass by a church and I begin to think about God. Well, why not? The reader board on the lawn of the church invites me to worship. I think about worship and how alien that is to me. I think that God, if there is a god, doesn’t give a damn about worship. If there is a god, then I am God. If there is a god, then everything is God, and I am God. Worship is a veil between god and God.

We walk into the edge of the urban forest, past maple and cherry, into the oaks, elms, horse chestnuts, and the blooming dogwood going deeper and deeper, the trees arching higher and thicker, their trunks massive, ferns sprout out of moss inches thick. The streetlights are obscured, the sidewalk becomes treacherous terrain.

At some point in the last few years I ceased taking for granted that at Winter’s end Spring would take shape and every year I feel a reprieve has been granted. Leaves as small as my little fingernail, yellow-green, eat sunlight and air and announce the postponement of death for another season.

18 months and a leg–NOLA blogger

Website: 18 months and a leg

Some of the best writing is coming out of New Orleans. If you are bored by restaurant reviews and hipster patter, go to this blog and be shaken out of your comfort zone.

Website: 18 months and a leg

Some of the best writing is coming out of New Orleans. If you are bored by restaurant reviews and hipster patter, go to this blog and be shaken out of your comfort zone.

Botox & Bull Semen

Or should that be bull seamen? Or just bull. How rich do you have to be to have poison injected into your face and bull jizm massaged into your hair? How rich do you have to be for it not to matter? The future is full of new and exciting products. Can it be a far step from mud pie / mud mask to cow pie / cow pie mask? The bovine beauty mask–not for cows only. Because there is bullshit and there is cow shit. Or as the French might say: Bovin merde masque or the BM Masque–Masque d’Merde.

We all do this don’t we? have those moments where we wonder how people first put some tool to use like a sharp stick, or how they developed cream sauce, or how to control a horse by contolling its head. That sort of, who was the first person to do this and what were they thinking, line of musing. Cooking for instance–picking up the meat that accidentally fell in the fire and eating it.

What were the circumstances where someone got bull semen in their hair and decided it had never been so shiny? How did the bull semen get in the hair to begin with? I’m trying to imagine this. Did a semen extractor come home one day with an extra jar of semen as a gift for his wife and say “Honey, why don’t you put this on your hair?” Is there a by-product to artificial insemination? Is there a sell-by, pull date on frozen bull semen initiating a frantic search for a way to sell it? Why would you even think about it as a hair care product? I expect the answer to this is rather more mundane than I’d like to imagine.

Since dull, lackluster hair is such a global issue with far-reaching ramifications, there are no doubt minions of lab techs working on the problem. Perhaps (what do I know about it) there is an ingredient in semen that makes hair shine–possibly protein. Maybe bull semen has more of it than other sources.

In my heart of hearts I’d like to think that it is part of an elaborate satirical scheme to entertain the masses by making the rich look ridiculous. Leave me with my illusions.

sack

There is a paper sack on the bench outside of Peet’s Coffee on 15th & Broadway. Should I call the police, a fireman, someone in the store? Report packages left unattended. There are terrorists hiding underground who come to the surface just long enough to leave packages on benches and train station platforms. Should I call someone? What should I say? There is a suspicious package on the bench. I should have to describe it. Yes, officer it is a brown paper sack. It’s an in-between size brown sack and the top is rolled down. It looks like there is something soft in there, like bread rolls, or socks, or underwear, or shit. It doesn’t smell so it probably isn’t shit. It could be a bomb, but wouldn’t a bomb be hard? Is it soft just because it looks soft? There could be something hidden down in it, something hard, plastique or plastic. What is plastique, anyway? And what is the difference between plastique and plastic. Plastique blows up. But plastic can blow up, too. Isn’t a balloon made from some kind of flexible, elastic plastic? And what about those dolls you can buy in a box and take home and blow up and make love to or put in your car so you can drive in the carpool lane until you get caught. And that can blow up in your face, let me tell you. Though I’ve never done it and never will. Someone could be trying to blow us up. To blow up the people on the sidewalk, to blow up the people in the coffee shop and the restaurant across 15th and the two across Broadway and the beauty salon and the wine shop and the Starbucks over there under McMenamin’s. Someone may be trying to blow up the kind citizens of this city, the neighbors in this neighborhood, the people playing pool and smoking cigarettes in the poolroom upstairs. Someone might have forgotten their lunch, or some kid left it there on purpose, or there is a change of clothing that a lover was bringing back to the person he doesn’t want to see anymore and she didn’t ever want to touch those clothes again. Whatever it is, it is very small. But small things can be devastating. Small bombs can blow up big things and I don’t know if we should take the chance. But it is very cold out tonight and dark and it is probably just a sack with nothing in it that anyone wants that isn’t likely to hurt anyone and I am not going to call anyone’s attention to it.