Sunday, April 15, 2018

The Prince and the Apsaris

We've been gone a whole year! Well, we're back. I've spent the year transcribing a number of musical scores into some new software and completed a project that was on the shelf for twenty years, s well as made a few new tacks of even earlier material, to compile in CD frmat sometime later in the year I have begun composing a new work which will take most of spring and summer and will begin transcribing two other pieces to go on the cd - but for the time being this is a sample from a fiction work in progress titled "By the Waters of Oblivion"...

CHAPTER 3.

Prince Padmarana was riding his horse along the river trail about ten miles south of the castle. It was spring morning, the drongo birds were chattering, and there was a slight mist rising from the river which hid the prince from the view of the small group of musicians playing under a grove of jacaranda trees.
They were a group of young women, five in number, two of whom played small drums (tablas and pakavaj), while the other three played flute, sarod, and vina. Padmarana stopped his horse and hid behind a mulberry bush, set back a ways from the jacaranda grove. The mist came and went, and he would get glimpses of the girls as they played, the music cutting through the fog with clear precision.

The two that played the drums lid out a hypnotic and repetitive rythmn, as the flute and sarod played a melodic counterpoint to the beat. Once in a while, one of the drummers would lead with a vocalised “takka ta diga takata ta ta” and the flute and sarod would follow, the girl with the vina seemed to float serenely above the rest, glissandos of fluid grace finding their way between all the others.

Padmarana had stumbled upon a group of apsarasi—divinely inspired and magically endowed musicians capable of enchanting the ears of a royal prince. They all came from a village just a bowshot away to the east of the river, not so far from where the young women had now gathered.
They were dressed in the local traditional tribal costume—cotton saris worn with bangles on their wrists and delicate chains of bells about their ankles. At various intervals, one or another would shake out her foot, and the bells would add an accent to the rythmn which insistently never wavered.  Their hair was plaited braided into long braids they wore in loops from the back of their head back up tucked under and into the hair at the base of their necks just above the shoulder.
Padmarana found his thoughts wandering. The music entrained with his breath and pulse and somehow he could not move but only stare, transfixed. Padmarana’s trance lasted as long as the apsarasis kept playing. His horse whinnied, and rather than possibly give away his position and startling the girls, he reluctantly mounted, and rode his horse away.
But all that day and night the strange experience stayed with him. He made his way back, a little earlier in the morning of the next day, and found the same group of girls playing at the same spot.
Once again, the music drew him in.He felt like he was in a meditative state, but he couldn’t say whether or not it was or wasn’t actually a daydream. But this time, when his horse became impatient, it couldn’t be hidden from the girls.
They stopped, and the girl with the vina set down her slide and laughed, approaching him.
Her eyes danced, just as her fingers had across the vina. Prince Padmarana drew back, embarrassed to have been found out.
“Oh, don’t be shy, friend! Come and join us!:
Padmarana slowly and shyly led his horse closer, and tied it to one of the trees.
“Now that we see you like to listen, join us and give us the pleasure of playing to you more directly!:
Padmarana worried that perhaps they might guess his nobility, from his finely cut and elegant clothing and the signet ring on his left hand. But if so the girls made no mention as they took up their instruments again and played, this time a new tala.
“trikata ta ta trika TA trika TA” the new beat laid down ad set out a new raga into motion. The flute and sarod this time doubling around each other, repetitively chasing each other through an eight minute forest of garlanded srutis......)

The girl with the vina would now and then cast her eye his way and beyond the enchantment her music cast, Padmarana found himself returning her smile, and by the end of their new raga, he felt a new emotion rising from his feet to his head—a new feeling not unlike being thrown into a whirlpool of passion. (Jadugar-the wizard no doubt would chide him for such an emotion, such a thought!)
But he could not deny it. When the players stopped, this time, the girl set down her vina and walked up to him, taking his hand.
“Come, my friend! I am sure there are many other things I could teach you than to just sit her and listen to our silly games!”
The other young women took up their instruments just then and all ran off, giggling an laughing, in the direction of the village.
Padmarana remained with the girl.
“My name is Aruna. And you are—?”
Padmarana stumbled over the word.
“P—P—P—Padma—Padmarana!”
“Oh! I hear there is a Padmarana who is the prince of King Mohan who lives in the castle of Jadusagar Gadh! Can you be he?”
Now his cover completely blown, Padmarana could only hang his head abashedly and nod.
“Well then, I am blessed twice today!” She clapped her hands in glee.
“Let me show you how I caress the prince of this land! His grace is manifest, his young heart is perhaps new to the game of love...”
Love! So that was what he had been feeling? Yes! Love! He loved this strange girl and her laughing eyes and her enchanting, magical music, and the strange forward manner, so unlike how the Brahmins and courtesans of the castle treated him.
“Let me bestow a blessing upon you, my prince!”
And she leaned over into him and kissed him, first tentatively, then with more self assurance, he returned it. They fell into each other’s arms, and he tasted, tested her, brought the entire experience into his full attention, in the sweet fresh spring cress, until the dew dampened their clothing and until clothing could no longer barricade their virtue.

While Padmarana had ridden back to the castle, and threw himself into writing an amateurish and impassioned love letter to Aruna, Aruna herself had spent her afternoon in her parent’s humble cottage, cooking the meal that would be their night-time dinner, and then had been buttonholed by her three friends as she walked from the cottage to gather mangoes.
“Aruna! Is it true, he is the prince?”
“Aruna, did he make love to you at the music grove?”
Aruna, did he tell you you will be his princess?”
“Aruna, did you let him....”
“Aruna, are his kisses like the honey dew and the fresh wine?”
“Enough!” shouted Aruna. “I will answer for myself, not for him. No he did not make love to me. No his kisses are not like melons and wine! No! He is not experienced. This I can tell. As for making me his princess—I should think things have much much farther to go than to be even thinking such things, Sunila!”
“But he came back to listen...”
“And be sure, he will again! When he comes tomorrow, I want none of you to badger him or even let on what he has told me, that he is the prince of the castle! He will be our special audience. This should have been clear to you from the start, as it is, Sunila! And play well! When we see him, his thoughts should be wrapped up in the music, not on having his way with me!”
“But was he gentle...?”
“Of course! He was gentle! A man who barely knows what he is doing, he was cautious like a mongoose! Sunila you silly goose! I have much to think about. And now, I have to go and get milk for my bapu.”

Padmarana, home in his study, sheltered from the heat of the day by billowing curtains, the cool breeze calming his perspiring brow, had sat down with his pen and tried to write what he was feeling. This was a new feeling, unlike anything he could really compare, actually! Love? or was it... lust? Was the stirring of his loins something he should be ashamed or afraid of? What if she had some other lover, who would need to be his rival? Should he be like his father, and make a mess out of rivalry, plot to have his rival purged, what then?
The words did not come easy to him but at the end, he had written on two sides of a banana leaf in his most elegant script all that he knew- that he had met someone special, that her kisses inspired him “to do great things, and soar to the clouds,” and that in all the world perhaps there might be nobody else like Aruna, he would ever hope to find, and when he went to bed that night and looked up toward the stars and the galaxies, he swore upon the Mahabarhata that he would never feel just this way, for anyone else in the world, and dreams of Aruna fed his subconscious as he slumbered.

In the morning, rising earlier than was his custom, then, before the sun, actually, had blazed its way up above the line of the mountains to the East, he saddled his horse, clad this time in the simple garb of a commoner. White salwar kameez, no turban, no jewelry. He did not wish to make himself especially known to those of Aruna’s village, for he knew, somehow, that there would be more than just Aruna and her friends to listen to their morning puja-concert.

At the riverbank grove, Sunila, Eesha, Mahika, Kiya, and Aruna gathered as they customarily did. However, the four other girls were dressed in much finer materials than usual. There was no difference, however in Aruna’s. She wore just what she had the day before, and the day before that. Eesha, the tabla player, sat with a frog’s smile on her face, and Mahika, her partner, the pakavaji, loosened and tightened the straps along the drum head somewhat nervously, tapping it at intervals, testing it with short taps to the smaller tabla to tune it. Kiya, who played the flute, wove a garland from flowers growing on the riverbank her flute now ignored. And the sarod player, Sunila, and Aruna, tuned their strings and agreed on what their rasas this morning would be saying.
“Today, our music will speak of nothing impure, but only noble thought and action. We will build our alap with teental  and trikita-ta, and at the jor, we will not become abandoned. At the moment of approximation, there we will break off. We will leave the prince wanting more. Do you agree?”
The other girls nodded, and they sat in the misty morning light, waiting for the sound of Padmarana’s horse, and they were not long in waiting.
Again, he tied the horse on one of the trees, and left it room to drink from the river as well as graze on the sweet grass.
“I came early— I did not wish to miss any of your performance!” he blushed.
“And I wish now to introduce you to my friends! This is Eesha, and Mahika. The two drummers pranamed a namaste gesture, and Aruna moved on. Indicating Kiya- this is Kiya, my oldest friend, who plays the flute.”
“You sound almost as good as Lord Krishna!” Padmarana blurted.
“Oh, I am not so perfect as the Lord, good sir.” Now it was Kiya who was blushing.
“And here, this is Sunila, my next oldest friend, who plays the sarod...”
“Your playing is like... Well, I can only say, the sound of all of you together had me... in raptures the last few days!”
Such a thing would not have been impossible, since not only were these “common girls” experienced music players, but they were, indeed, apsarasis, and as such, their music channeled divine energy, effortlessly, expressing the ten thousand things as all, separately and together.
And as apsarasis, they were, indeed, appreciated by others in the community. It would not be a lie to say that, because the word gets around in a small town, that the girls and Padmarana were the only eyes and ears present. For all around the edges of the grove, silently, noiselessly, a number of villagers held back from the circle, keeping their distance, but all eagerly anxious to get a glimpse of the great prince who lived in the great castle of the great king, Mohan!
Eesha lit a stick of incense and set it by her drums. Aruna looked to the drummers and together, they started the tala that would drive their morning raga, Bhairavi. Then the drummers began laying down the tala that would be the basis and frame of the raga. After a brief pause, the others started in, with Kiya and Aruna lading the way, Sunila adding drone as well as some basic large patterns beneath them.
Where Padmarana sat, the villagers who had come more to see him than listen to the music had begun to edge from their safe distance to a point much closer. Still withdrawn, however, they had begun to argue amongst themselves.
“Hush, Giddhi! We want to hear the music too!”
“Kaua, the music is not so important. These girls do this every day. How often to we get to see our prince?”
“Stupid Gaanji! If we were meant to see our prince then he would have come to the village! Keep back! Let him enjoy his music too!”
“You are impossible, Bodhiman-Ghadda! I would give the prince the carpet off my own floor if he would but honor me with a visit!”
“Shutup, Ghodesachaara! The prince would never stand such a thing. What would (the wife) feed him, if not just chapatis ghee and sweat curry?”
The group laughed together at the thought, but none of them edged back any further. They were just beyond Padmarana’s earshot, but he did notice that the crowd had edged on in closer, and so, he drew his blanket-cloak closer around him, and leaned in to hear the music better.
Kiya and Sunila were now engaged in a back-and-forth, and the drummers began playing with that, as well. Back and forth, back and forth, one would set a pattern, the next would answer, and the flute and vine each took turns answering. it was getting more involved by the second, and at this point, Padmarana closed his eyes and allowed the apsarais to weave an internal vision for him. He felt... suspended above the river, borne by the flute and the rippling slide-sounds of the vina, and the drum patterns became rock and boulders beneath his floating consciousness. It was as if he were floating on a mattress made of sound...
The villagers, however, got ever more edgy. The more Padmarana closed his eyes and edged himself into the music, the more the crowd inched closer, tugging, nudging, bumping one another, until now, they were but five feet from Padmarana’s back. Suddenly, the most irritated of the mass, the one called Ghiddi, an older man with few teeth but a wicked stick he used as a staff, began to pound it along to the rhythm.
“Aya, aya, Ghiddi! Let the enchanters be!”
There were sounds of clicking as some snapped their fingers and began in time to clap their hands along with the drums. Some of them began to make a mocking dance. But none of this was noticed by the girls who played on, drawn ever more intricately into the web they were spinning themselves. Then they picked up the tempo, twice now three times as fast. The wave broke over the crowd, and then all was still, and the slow part of the raga began again, with some variation from how it had sounded at the start, but still, recognizable in melody.
The drummers now sat tapping the drums in a much quieter mode, and the flute and vina were left to weave another sinuous line. Padmarana’s eyes were still closed. Only now, he imagined Aruna as his consort, and again, imagined her kisses, her body beside him, her mind flashing brightly along with his own. As the music picked up in tempo again for a final recapitulation and climax, the one in the crowd called Kaua stumbled, and fell forward, bumping his elbows against Padmarana.
“Travesty!” cried Bodhiman-Ghadda. “Sudras must never touch the Prince! He has been defiled!” The villagers now drew back as though, this gross breach of social distance had been, as it might have indeed been had it occurred in Mohan’s court, some error near to fatal on Kaua’s part. Bodhiman-Ghadda shoved Kaua, shoved him to the back of the little crowd, pushed him away, shooed him with a motion of his arm that was immediately understandable as “begone!”
Padmarana, though, had barely noticed the occurrence. The musicians built up their jor to conclusion, and ended. When they had, they rested, their eyes on Padmarana. had the prince been pleased, they beseeched him with only their eyes.
Padmarana stood up. Behind him, the various villagers now drew back, as if he were a rampant cobra, and hustled themselves to what was once more a safe distance.
“Thank you, my friends. That was a marvelous piece! I thank you for your skill and your inventiveness! Well, now I suppose I must be on...”
Aruna interrupted him. “No, Prince, stay! Stay here with me today. Come and see where we live, our humble village! We have never had anyone from the castle visit us like this. We would be happy to show you our wealth, our fields, our animals!”
Muttering among themselves the villagers looked askance to each other.
“What is she proposing? That the prince will come to our village! Quick, we must go and prepare!”
They broke off running, for each of them knew just the state of their humble hut, and what the prince was likely to find there. If they could but have a half hour’s time they could make arrangements so he saw them at their best...
Padmarana nodded to Aruna, and drew close to her. he took a flower from the jacaranda tree nearest him, and set it in her ear. Behind her, her friends gasped- what a royal favor! Aruna was not blind to the meaning of this gesture, and blushing, she smiled to him.
“Come to my home, prince! I will give you the best I can of a royal meal! And you may meet my poor parents...”
The other girls took their instruments and hurriedly ran off in the direction of the village as well, in the dust of the villagers who had gone before them. Laughing and giggling and talking and gossiping amongst themselves, again, they were sure to do more of it when they got Aruna to themselves again, much later in the day...


Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Neocon Zeppelin Crashes & Burns

The election of Donald Trump as President of the United States of America has sent shock waves through America’s political elites and Establishment. They were all so sure they had it in the bag- Indeed- this election was always Hillary Clinton’s to lose, and so, she has.

There are a good many reasons I’m not completely displeased by these results, personally. I found Ms. Clinton’s delusional ranting about “the Russians” to be hyper-bloviating nonsense, and I’m certainly breathing easier knowing that finally we will have a president that’s deciding that the US and Russia ought to get along. The idea of my friends in Siberia vanishing in a cloud of plutonium-impacted fallout will be just that- an idea, something from a bad dream.

Of course, that’s not to say Hillary and her crowd of now discredited warhawk “experts” won’t keep rattling their wheelbarrows about the asylum screaming yet, “The Russians did it! The Russians rigged Our Election!” and waving their limp dicks at Julian Assange and Wikileaks for their uncovering the vast and dirty secrets that lie beneath the mud in the Democratic Party, the nerve of them, informing the American People as to how politics is actually conducted in the USA.

And the Republican Establishment is no doubt sucking their thumbs in wonder as well, most of them having defected to Hillary’s camp, most notably, both Bush presidents, Henry Kissinger, and the Wolfowitz-inspired war criminals at the New American Century. Weren’t they all hoping for more of the same “humanitarian” interventions and regime change, more international entanglements, and wars where they could get ‘em. No, the election of a populist Trump has set them in a tizzy, and expect them to be out and about raising as much dust as they might continue to, in the hopes that Trump will be every inch as interventionist as Ms. Clinton. Except that, he won’t.

Trump stated in the second debate he would NOT resort to first use of nuclear weapons, but most of that seemed to have gone right over the Democrats' heads as they continued their rants about how Trump “can’t be trusted” with The Button. If anyone could not be trusted with The Button it was Hillary Clinton, who has shown the American public, and the world, what her type of diplomacy actually means- drones, falling bombs, endless wars, and millions more refuges on the unarmed roads of flight across the Middle East. There won’t be any more speculation as to “Russian aggression” since what amounts to :Russian aggression” was is and will always be the Russians taking care of their own sphere of influence as it is, reacting to US and NATO pressures on their borders.

Hillary’s fanatical hatred of Putin won’t get any play, either. Wouldn't sensible people rather get along with a large country like Russia, especially since they’ve also got The Bomb, and they’re actually doing more at the moment to contain and defeat ISIS? Haven’t the US done enough by arms sales to Israel and Saudi Arabia to inflame the conflicts of the ME into further unsolvable conundrums than they already were?

All these worries will vanish like a bad headache now. Ms. Clinton can go back to New York, or Arkansas, or Illinois, or wherever it is she is actually from, shake her doddering head, and remove herself from the political arena like a good Grandma. For after all, Americans apparently still prefer assholes to bitches when it comes to Presidents.


Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Bicycling

 Recently I ran across a book titled “Cycling” (subtitle:  “Philosophy for Everyone.”)  And it’s full of a good number of essays, memoirs, and such, expounding on the various authors’ views about bicycling, what turns them on about it. Halfway through the book though I was a little bit more than turned off by the tone taken by a good many of the writers, who seem to be into bicycling as “racers.”  I think you know the sorts of bicyclist I mean. you often see them every morning on their daily commutes, dressed in their flash Spandex with the various company-whore logos splashed across the ass and the chest, their heads down as they force themselves forward as though the ride to work were another Tour de France, or something.
Nearly all of those people also drive cars, which is something they’re not ashamed of, but somehow cycling to work looking “like a pro bicyclist” helps them assuage the guilt that might come from their not using a bike to get around, everywhere, which , thankfully, there are a few essayists in the book who take the time to defend. I mean you could say that about most bicyclists on America’s roads- that they also own a car, and they will use it “when necessary.”
Unlike those types, though, I am not that sort of bicyclist. I do not rely on the proposition that “new endeavors need new clothes” and I am not into the idea of making a commute to my job (as a school crossing guard, defending the children of ultra-rich Los Altos, California, from the even more maniacal and demonic drivers who take up the other two lanes of traffic on the Foothill Expressway) another race for the finish. I wear what it is, whatever, I choose for my daily wear, since there’s no need to shower and change into “real world clothes” when I am in the “real world” enough as it is already.
I am also not so infected with the need for “speed” as are three fifths of other Americans, which also includes a high percentage of the drivers, almost uniformly. When I go someplace n a bike, I take the time to take my time. If I need to be somewhere on time, I take the time to be sure I’ll get there on schedule, but being on my bike, I really don’t care to ever be in a rush about things.
There are qualities of bicycling that are transformational, and one of these is the ability to look at the world going past your wheels, being in the world as you travel in it, un-insulated from it by tons of steel and glass. As a person on a bike, I like  the fact I am going slower than all the cars. I like the human pace of being on a bike, of not being part of the rat race, of being closer and more in tune with my surroundings, less caught up in the bullshit of the “human game.” I will get there when I get there, and not before. So why not smell the roses? Why not take the time to look at the houses, the gardens, the trees, the various things which are nature  despite man’s desperate rush to reinvent his environment in his own image?
In the old days, Indians would travel the length and breadth of their lands seeing, noticing, taking into account all the various differences in their trails. By the time they had walked ten miles, they knew every rock and tree on their way. This is one of the things bicyclists have over cars. When we are up and riding we are much more influenced by the different textures of the roadway, to a degree travelers in autos are not. A three inch rock or a  seven inch broken tree branch in our path  may present no problem to a car, but for us could mean a spinout or even a flip. So we have to notice these things. We notice the dead squirrels, the skunks, the possums, raccoons, birds, and pets and other fellow Earthlings the cars left as road kill in their wake. Maybe we reflect on them, maybe we don’t. But we are much more aware of them than were the drivers who sent them to eternity.
Riding a bicycle is one way to help defeat the awful guilt of having a “carbon footprint” which is in any case inevitable for any people who live in our society. Yet a bicyclist’s is just that much less. Regardless, like I say, two thirds of the other “bikers” on the road have their own automobiles, which they will revert to in times of inclement weather. Unfortunately I have no such luxury. The job I hold as a crossing guard demands me to be there, rain or shine, and this of necessity demands I ride in whatever weather is out there. I have rain gear, which has vastly improved my morale over the years I rode without so much (rain pants having been the best and biggest agent of change.)  And yet there are times when riding in the rain, itself, can be a “pleasant experience”. After all, one can only get “so” wet. At such times the best thing to do is surrender to the idea of being wet, and act accordingly. Splash that puddle! Excelsior! But it’s also few people who would face the weather in such fashion. Even the kids going to school who on sunny days ride their bikes are riding past me in their parents’ cars when it rains. There are a hardcore few who continue on whether it’s rain or not, but for the most part, the number of kids I need to cross diminishes by a factor of five on a rainy day.
My trip up to the job involves four miles of steady, uphill grind climbing. Twice a day. Of course, that eight miles up means a fast cool eight miles back down. But my aging knees have begun to protest. The current bike I‘ve ridden for the past seven years hereabouts is a rather heavy British-made Raleigh mountain bike- the Mojave 2.0. It qualifies as both mountain and road bike, but I have adapted it or commuter use, since mountain biking, like racing, is a bit too outrĂ© for my personal tastes or style in riding. I am going to be retiring good old “Pony Boy” real soon, however, in favor of an electric bike. Which will make a difference, one would hope, in the manner in which I am able to endure those eight miles up everyday, and hang onto this crossing guard job, which despite its close proximity to the “cars vs. peds” and “cars vs. bikes” wars, is nonetheless a stable income, even if it isn’t quite the hours I’d prefer (I have a night job, so all the bases do get covered.)
As for the cars vs. bikes wars- I have found that, despite the advice from many bike authors, it’s best not to maintain much eye contact with the “road cagers” and “oil serfs” except when absolutely necessary. When they  are pulling out, of course, I want them to see me, so I always ding my little bell just so I know that they saw me. And at times when making headway against left turners. But for the most part, eye contact seems only to increase the road rage on both sides of the game. They probably don’t even think people on bikes are “real people”- at least, that is a sentiment I have seen expressed in more than one anti-bike newspaper opinion letter- but for the most art, it’s been working out OK. The only accidents I have been involved in were both the fault of the driver- one ran a red light, the other "didn't see me” as I started to cross a junction near some train tracks- but for the most part, it's true, nobody wants to collide with anyone else on purpose, and I am always super-cautious as can be in so far as :riding defensively: is concerned. I never make aggressive moves, nor do I tend to test yellow lights or roll on stop signs. After all, I need to be consistent, don’t I? I couldn’t work in traffic safety and fail to attempt to set a good example for others.
There are a few pet peeves I have with both drivers and other bikers. One of them is the "hot dog” syndrome. This usually involves a “racer consciousness” bike coming up on my left to pass me, but making no noise about it. Whoom, they are just there, and they gave no warning! And they just have to get somewhere faster, no doubt. Although these types are just as hung up with speed as the drivers are. There’s assholes in cars and as many on bikes, apparently the spread is even throughout the road populations. And just like the status players with fast foreign sport cars, there’s the status players on bicycles. You can spot them a mile away because they are the ones who needed new clothes before they got on their bikes. But their bikes are always racer drop-bars, titanium wheels, ultra-lite carbon fiber frames, and usually cost them somewhere in the neighborhood of five grand. Back when Facebook went public and gave their employees giganto dividend bonuses you saw a lot of brand new bikes showing up on the street. Around here, workers in the high tech industry have their own interior office cults devoted to road racing, and form little cliques and clubs to indulge it (we call this type “Google ponies,” around here.)  And usually they all also own cars. SO they can’t be accused of pro-bicycle lifestyle activism with any degree of sincerity, for the most part. Nope, it’s all on a par with “keeping ahead of the Joneses” so to speak.
And we have the “new clothes” issue. God help me if I eve get into a suit of spandex with a heap of bike shop logos plastered all over it! Nothing in the world looks worse than an over fifty, overweight  male with a muffin top crammed into a pair of lycra bike shorts. These were obviously contrived for bicyclists in their twenties and thirties, and even then thirty or forty is usually pushing it. There’s no way to hide the flab the wrinkles or the obvious fact you were out of shape when you started and you’re going to still be pushed out of shape once you squeeze into those ridiculous things. I could never take that route. I wear what I am wearing and the hell with it! No pretending to be Lance Armstrong, or part of the weekend warrior club. The bike is my everyday transportation, no more or less, and I am going to keep it that way.
All things considered I am glad to ride my bike and not spend a penny on auto maintenance or insurance. my failure to do so, of course, sets me apart from the “real” people, but, that’s a distinction I don’t mind so much as yet. Yes, being a performing musician has suffered since I left the city for the country-suburbs, without a car, there’s not the same ease of toting an amp to gigs as there was when I had a cab or a bus to hail and that was that. But my conscience is still clean and that means a lot. I won’t be the one you can pin the ass-tail on for being hypocritical about my carbon footprint, not  just yet, anyway. Even if I were to one day surrender to the oil-serf lifestyle, even then I would only use a car to get to a gig, or to visit friends a long way off (and so doing, save myself a plane ride.) Bikes are great. You are closer to the real world you live in, you are in some ways, closer to danger, you are doing something about, rather than acceding to, those problems human society digs itself into. And for the time being, that’s the gist of my thoughts on Biking.









Thursday, July 28, 2016

A Parable

The following is dedicated to any who believe that the previous blogpost is somehow evidence of "inaction", "copping out" or somehow "not meaning to live responsibly in the face of evidence. (What evidence? Show me.)

Lemming Leap
You are at the edge of a serious pair of precipices.
Whichever lemming leader amasses the tallest pile of dead lemmings at the bottom of the cliff will be judged “the winner.” It has also been said among lemmings that to take part in this “great sacrifice” is one’s “highest civic duty.” “If you don’t jump, don’t complain about who wins!”
It’s not your fault - all the other lemmings have driven you there,  but,  now  they have split in two directions. One set of lemmings is headed one way- toward a 100 foot cliff. The other is headed to a 200 foot drop.
At the bottom of each is a massive pile of the skeletons of other lemmings, from previous jumps. 
No matter how many lemmings die, the ritual is to be re-enacted, every four years.

The thought occurs: “Either way I go if I fall (or I am pushed) I’m gonna die!”

“Choose the lesser of two evils! Minimize the damage!” yells a voice behind you.

You take the 100 foot fall.
At the bottom, you are still dead, just as dead as the lemmings on the 200 foot fall (only that they had twice as long to think about where they were headed, while falling, theoretically.)
You’re dead! So then you see the ghost (or the actual body of) your leader! 

“Congratulations. You jumped with us, but thank god, you are so lucky, you will sit tonight with God and the angels because you chose the lesser of the two evils, you didn’t let THEM win!”

My my, you think, My jump meant as much -or more!-  as that of all the others!

OR:
Your other choice would have been- step back from the precipices, let all your fellow lemmings choose whichever hell-death- they chose for themselves, turn to the leaders and say “Aw,fuck you, I’ll be just as dead as the rest of you, I want none of this!”

Looking down at the two piles of your dead lemming brothers and sisters, all you can say is
“What a bunch of dumbshits!”

Value added question:
Which lemming exercised critical thinking best?


The Most Insulting Election In History

The Most Insulting Election in History
It’s that season again, folks. Everywhere across the land, neighbors are oiling their automatics and sharpening their pitchforks. Yes, it’s another Presidential Election, and it looks as though this one is bound to be a doozy. In fact, it could be said, we have never had an election like this in our lifetimes. Just look- One candidate has been under scrutiny by the FBI for improper use of governmental communications (and just happened to squeak past judgment, on the recommendation of a coy FBI Director, who did all but say, the lady is just stupid, folks) and a real estate con artist up for a civil lawsuit regarding some shady practices enticing his “students” into tutelage at his “university”- on charges of fraud. Well. since when have politicians ever been innocent of stupidity and fraud?
Let us look at the two candidates which the major political parties have chosen to foist upon us, as this year’s “choice.” Let’s go with the one who looks like she leads the pack, because her polls show 75% likelihood of winning this highly corrupted and incurably evil office, the Democrat, Mrs. Clinton. You know, I don’t call her the “Teflon Goddess” for nothing. Mrs. Clinton has been the source of a good number of scandals and political imbroglios over the years, and yet, somehow, has managed to eke her way past each and every rapid without nary a scratch. Some would lay claim that this is somehow “proof” of her incipient innocence of all allegations. Others, like myself, just call it “1%er privilege”.
It is no secret she has taken great sums of money from the same big Wall Street donors that gave huge sums to the election of the current president, who also contributed to the meltdown of 2008, and like the Teflon Goddess, suffered no recriminations from the justice system for their machinations. Mrs. Clinton’s refusal to release transcription of the speeches she gave for six figure pocketbook change equals the refusal of her adversary to release  his recent tax returns. But we’re not at him just yet. She managed, during her term as secretary of state, to destroy the regimes in at least two nations, engineer chaos in a third, and create for the US two new bellicosities (Libya and Syria)  and is now setting us up for a shooting match with another nation with whom we have no actual beef- Russia.
Killgrrl’s recent embrace of a draft for women assures us that yes, not only will our sons continue to be brutalized into PTSD situations, but, our daughters too. And what better reason to start up the roll for the slaughterhouse than another unpopular, undeclared, presidential fiat war? Of course, operatives of the Democratic National Committee are already ginning it up, with their so far unproven allegations that “the Russians” leaked the Committee’s emails to that treasonous Julian Assange’s Wikileaks. No matter that the emails themselves reveal even more of the sort of Dirty Tricks Killgirrls’ first Washington job (on the Watergate Committee) was graciously uncovering on behalf of the American public during the Nixon years. Oh and did  mention she was actually fired by the head of the committee, Samuel Dash, for being (in his words) “a liar?” But again, we don’t call her the Teflon Goddess for nothing.
Killgrrl makes a big to do about how her use of a private email server to conduct official US Government business as head of the State Department exposes her inherent stupidity as well. What would get her fired from her local construction company gets her walking papers from the FBI, and from her erstwhile, belittled, and cheated Democratic  opponent. Is it any wonder folks feel they can’t trust her? Apparently, the scepter of a “two-family presidency” just hasn’t struck a shadow of fear enough into a vast majority of Democrats, as if, the Bush family wasn’t enough in the first place.
And then there is her opponent on the Elephant party side, in the corner, Mr. Orange Julius himself, Donald Drumpf (as John Oliver would have us remember, is his natural original pre-immigration family name). There aren’t enough words, perhaps to describe him, he must be seen to be believed, but believe me, he is now giving the Teflon Goddess a run for her money. A conniver, a reality TV star, a Real Estate mogul (perhaps the second most odious occupation in America today besides that of politician) whose business practices are under scrutiny in a court of civil law. Dare we trust another used car salesman at the head of our nation? At least Mr. Drumpf is making sense on the issue of a “WWIII” with Russia. he would rather have us gain the support of Russia’ president in fighting the international threat of ISIS than pick a fight with him. This may be the only part of his platform that makes sense to me, but indeed it does. The rest of his program seems to be an inflation of Barry Spybot’s mass surveillance cyberstate, directed against those of Mexican or Muslim persuasion, and promising a new Great Wall. Like most operations of Drumpf, it will have to have his name spelled out in big lights, it will offer 24/7 casinos, and “Princess Towers” every ten miles so you  can drive your family there for a great vacation overlooking the wild and wooly Rio Grande. Of course, he promises that Mexico is going to pay for it, and not only that, more than likely the labor involved will be those poor deportees awaiting the next lane back across the border.
It’s pretty obvious to me that nobody ever seeks the office of President of the United States without a long consideration beforehand of the powers attendant to it. Thanks to Barry Spybot, these powers now include the ability to assassinate anybody anywhere on the planet, with drones, if necessary, to hold in detention for indefinite periods anyone consider suspect of “terrorism” (however some future president chooses to define it) and the ability for the US Army to act in civilian operations, as they did in Boston, committing house to house searches while residents “sheltered in place.” These powers ought to be particularly attractive to a narcissistic egoist like Drumpf, but, having tasted her share already of some of the benefits of the office (being First Lady just wasn’t good enough) they are damned attractive to the Teflon Goddess, herself.
Let us look though a little closer. Nobody honest, and certainly that goes for Mr. Sanders, who ran an admirable campaign against the Goddess only to sell out when the chips were down, will ever hold the office of Killer-In-Chief. The office itself is incurably corrupted and corruptible. Whoever wins it must sell their soul to the devil- figuratively, or perhaps, even literally- to hold the title of “most powerful person in the world.” Wasn’t that the very same temptation offered to Jesus in the desert by Beelzebub? “Dominion over all the nations and peoples of the earth?” How could you refuse!!! Because the office now wields these (“awesome”-G. W. Bush- powers) and therefore is no longer a presidency, but a kingship- I feel as though I cannot “consent to be governed” any longer by any man, or woman, who is elected to it.
Nay, I do not feel, as a well informed, educated American voter, that I can offer any consent at all to any future holder of the office, nor even grant the consent implied by vote, for the foreseeable future of my lifetime, unless, and until, these powers are repealed. And who gave Barry these “awesome” powers? Why, a shitting-their-pants Congress, of both Republicans AND Democrats, afraid of the terrorist under the bed, drunk on the possibilities that somewhere, somehow, the US will have to come to grips with some of those very forces they themselves unleashed on the world- like the Afghan Mujahedin that became Al Qaeda, the “Syrian Rebels” who became ISIS, or any number of homegrown whackjobs intoxicated with maladjusted interpretations of the Koran.  I cannot, by casting my vote in any direction, give my consent for these ideas, that the President is a King and not subordinate to the Congress any longer, nor to accountability under national and international law. People say it is our civic “duty” to vote. No, it is not a “duty.”

     Voting is a right and a privilege, and it is our right to exercise it where, and when we choose, in secret, and nobody has the right to tell us how or even when we must, if we choose to use it, or not. “Duty “ is something that matters only when you are helping the neighbors take out the invading North Korean Army barricaded down at the end of the block, or getting a jury summons, or filling out an IRS 1040 return. Don’t give me that bullshit about voting being a “duty.” I will vote as, if, and when I choose. And that’s why I come to, in conclusion, saying that, this is the most insulting election in US history. Two very questionable and obnoxious characters are competing for the role of “King and Queen” of the world. And I just don’t buy it. 

Saturday, February 20, 2016

HELL IS FOR HIPPIES - AVAILABLE NOW




San Francisco has long been considered a haven for Utopian idealism and free-thinking individualism. Muggles Amphora, street busker and coffeehouse poet, returns to his native city to find more challenges living ‘the high life” than he may have bargained for. The Haight has changed, thanks to an influx of ‘Goddesses in jackboots’ and ‘gay clones’, and the City itself is changing.  From  promiscuity within a communal household to a stable one-woman relationship, he goes from one extreme to another, meanwhile, commiserating with his friends in the differences between the City as considered by “the media” and the gritty realities of its urbane existence.

EXCLUSIVELY @ SMASHWORDS.COM

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Absent with Leave

My apologies to any readers who have come to expect something “regular” out of this blog. I try to post when I either have something I think is important to say, or make an observation which I think may be meaningful (such as the cartoon in the post below this one). I made the decision to speak as little about politics as possible with this blog, which I broke, and re-promised it again, so, no real polemics will take place here. Neither do I like using it as any means of whining about the economy or my place in it, or health issues, all of which might have played some part in the absence of the past four months or so.
So be it. I don’t live on an island, so the internet reaches out across the seas and the miles and brings me terrible news, news I was otherwise avoiding. Terrorist attacks in Paris. Did you ever see a stupider way to fight a war than these fellows, who conveniently remove themselves from the battlefield as soon as they fight their greatest battle? (And are ultimately, so happy to lose it?) Wars are usually fought with combatants that strategize a means of leaving the field with their forces more (or less) intact and able to strike somewhere again. These folks are, as we once used to say in a less linguistically challenged way, “retarded” in the way they go about things. All they do is pit more and more people up against their “cause” by wreaking terror and not having the balls to up and answer for it. An army that fights this type of battle might strike fear, but it only lasts for a little whiles, and certainly, won’t convert anyone to submission to Allah any day soon, I’m afraid.
I am currently working on a new novel/ebook and see it coming to fruition in the next three or four months, if not sooner. And this is taking my time, as it were, since there’s always the business of surviving and making a living in Obama’s America which might not need to depend on his Big Brother state to do so. Even if it involves three different part time jobs  (a total of 43 hours a week) because employers have shied away from providing FULL TIME work for new employees in order to avoid copping to the Obamacare health care provisions (for full-timers). And so while I work full time hours in total, I can’t call my self “employed full time,” even if I should wish, and probably deserve, to do so. All creative work must therefore sideline itself to the available free time, which generally comes out to a few hours on a couple of mid-days in the week, and the god-blessed weekend, the haven of all goodhearted American workers, where no employer can touch you and you’re left with your sizzling steak, your TV, a six-pack, and whatever ball game that floats your boat.
So there, I struck a blow for worker liberty as well as got my political chop in too and that didn’t hurt, did it? I promise more chapters of the upcoming work as well as maybe more frequent commentary, but, I sort of like how this hiding out has helped my poor head recover from the health threats I was facing. Like I said, no whining, that’s between more intimate friends. Be well wherever you are, stay safe, and don’t let the monkeys in Washington run your Life.