escape goat artist

Let me ask you a question. You don’t have to answer.

If the knotted rope of family ties becomes unraveled by a person, religion or philosophy, were the knots all that tight to begin with?

I’ve been thinking a lot about a statement a friend said once when I got angry after some political discussion. His complaint was that I was making an attack on his politics. But my complaint was about the behavior of a president as being immoral.

This guy’s allegiance to the previous president was stupefying to me. And any criticism of him was as if I were attacking my dad personally. As if his politics were on the table and not a fair shake at shitty behavior.

Joe Biden doesn’t define me. You could criticize him all day. He’s an old politician who falls up stairs and stutters. What do I care about him.

For the most part, my politics don’t interfere in the books I read or the company I keep. The faithful aren’t standing in the way of my happiness. If anything, I want to encourage people of faith to keep that faith. It’s just not for me. I hope to receive the same respect. Telling me I’m wrong basically gives me the green light to laundry list why faith isn’t right for me. If your feelings get hurt because I don’t care for Jesus, go fly a kite. He’s not for me.

If the stranger sitting at a desk in a white house gets more attention than the face at which a person is looking into, there’s clearly a mismanagement of allocated resources.

Or if the stranger sitting at a desk in a white house is the object of one’s investment of time and adoration over the people that surround him, where then should we place our affections?

I think a lot about how I’m not tied to religion, science, a philosophy or politics as definitions of myself. If the vacuum of a black hole sucked up every last crump of those things, I would remain me. I do not require them as topics in conversation. I do not require them of my friends or family.

But for some people, their dictionary definition of self requires those attachments or their identity is lost to a black hole.

In the middle of one night this week, I reached for my phone, opened it, typed “notes” and wrote in a new page: “Escape Goat Artist.”

I’m starting to believe that a culture that is steeped in scapegoats, like Judaism and Christianity, begets a driving force in the mind to search out those goats everywhere. Weather ruined my parade, Satan did it. Hackers ransomed a pipeline, the president’s fault. I found my car keys, thank you Jesus. The sun set was beautiful, Allah Akbar.

It’s not a new thought. It’s just one I chimed into and it occupied some brain real estate.

Have a lovely Saturday and thanks for being you.

“Running Orders” by Lena Khalaf Tuffaha

Running Orders
—Lena Khalaf Tuffaha

They call us now,
before they drop the bombs.
The phone rings
and someone who knows my first name
calls and says in perfect Arabic
“This is David.”
And in my stupor of sonic booms and glass-shattering symphonies
still smashing around in my head
I think, Do I know any Davids in Gaza?
They call us now to say
Run.
You have 58 seconds from the end of this message.
Your house is next.
They think of it as some kind of
war-time courtesy.
It doesn’t matter that
there is nowhere to run to.
It means nothing that the borders are closed
and your papers are worthless
and mark you only for a life sentence
in this prison by the sea
and the alleyways are narrow
and there are more human lives
packed one against the other
more than any other place on earth
Just run.
We aren’t trying to kill you.
It doesn’t matter that
you can’t call us back to tell us
the people we claim to want aren’t in your house
that there’s no one here
except you and your children
who were cheering for Argentina
sharing the last loaf of bread for this week
counting candles left in case the power goes out.
It doesn’t matter that you have children.
You live in the wrong place
and now is your chance to run
to nowhere.
It doesn’t matter
that 58 seconds isn’t long enough
to find your wedding album
or your son’s favorite blanket
or your daughter’s almost completed college application
or your shoes
or to gather everyone in the house.
It doesn’t matter what you had planned.
It doesn’t matter who you are.
Prove you’re human.
Prove you stand on two legs.
Run.
 

What closed the pipeline?

Scapegoat culture begets scapegoat blame.

Here’s an interesting article on what the hackers actually shut down.

The cyber attack that shutdown the Colonial pipeline causing a gas panic and stoking fears of gasoline shortages, didn’t actually shut down the pipeline. It impacted the billing system at the Colonial Pipeline Co., which shut it down because they were worried about how they’d collect payments. 

Yes, the fuel-carrying pipeline was shut down last week in order to prevent a company that is entrusted with what should be a public utility from enduring an accounting headache. 

Thanks, Stan.

“Do you miss me yet?”

“Do you miss me yet.”
a bit of prose-y poetry by yours truly.

After the pipeline hack, I called a friend.
“What is going on?” I asked.

First response: “Biden’s destroying America.”
“He is?”
Second: “Trump’s wondering, ‘do you miss me yet?’”

I furrowed my brow and whispered, “No,” under my breath.

I listened while he painted a picture of destruction and chaos.

Later, I hung up the phone.

Do you know what’s destroying America, I thought?
Erosion is. Termites are. Cancer is. Heart disease is playing a role. Obesity. Smoking. Sugar. Not one, but two diabetes. Addictions. Suicide. Homicide.

Death is destroying America.

Do you know what I miss? Long walks in the forest, on a path, in the snow, on a beach, in the gardenwith you.

I miss lunches, dinners, and desserts, with you.

I miss traveling great distance,
to spend time
with you.

Hey, do you know what’s destroying America?

Abortions might be. But opinions on abortion definitely are. Not presidents, but opinions about presidents. Not religion but opinions about religions. Not science, but opinions about science. Opinions about vaccines. About politicians and politics. Saying, “I’m right, and you’re wrong” is destroying America.

Saying, “My opinion is more important than yours” is, too.

Wishing to others, “Validate me! My news told me to tell you that you’re destroying America
…and I am not.”

It’s not just opinions but opinions about opinions that are destroying America.

Since the so-called discovery of America, her people discovered how to destroy America.

Do you know who I miss? I miss my childhood friends. I miss my adult friends. I sometimes miss old girlfriends. I miss long talks on corded telephones.

I miss long, hand-written letters and goofy cards. I miss weddings and parties. I miss Ansel Adams and Vivian Maier. I miss Cary Grant, Jimmy Stewart, Katherine and Audrey Hepburn. I miss Christa McAuliffe, Susan B Anthony, Martin Luther King, Jr., Orville and Wilbur Wright. I miss dead artists. I miss a few musicians.

I miss all the people that made art, not war, not division, not chaos and destruction.

Most of all,
I miss you.

Do you know what’s literally destroying America?
Fires. Earthquakes. Droughts. Floods. Tornadoes. Hurricanes. Violent people with guns. Settlers. Cities. Strip malls. Urban sprawl. Houses. Neighborhoods. Plastic bags. Trash heaps. Homelessness. Wealth. Poverty. Middle classes. Money. Greed. Gambling.

Do you know what I miss?
Civility. Compliments. Kindness. Accolades. Hugs. Kisses. Photos and videos of cute cats. A good prank. A loud laugh. A dog barking.

I miss your hand in mine during a sunset.
During a movie in a dark theater. When times are tough. When the news sucked. When we watched the world go by.

Do you know what’s destroying America? TV. Reality shows. Morning shows. Afternoon shows. Game shows. News shows. Opinion shows. Comedy shows. Social medias. Facebook. Instagram. Twitter. Parler. Tiktok. Google. Yahoo. Email. URLs.

Do you know who I miss?
No, not one president. Not Reagan. Not Carter. Not Obama. Not Washington, Adams or Roosevelt. Not Trump. Not Kennedy.

Do you know who I miss?
I
Miss
You

the good life vs content consumption bulimia nervosa

Tina and I spent the past weekend in Hayward, Wisconsin photographing a cabin for an interior designer who so happens to be a great friend. The home is owned by the family of another good friend, a jazz singer, and we all had a lovely extra couple days of R&R mixed with intermittent photography sessions.

There’s a main house associated with this cabin and several small garage buildings. It sits on Lac Courtes Oreilles with two boats docked, canoes and other various things to do in the yard. It’s also on a Native American Reservation, which, if I were superstitious, amounted to some really intense dreams and nightmares.

I still can’t pronounce Lac Courtes Oreilles the way the locals do. It’s like La-Court-Oh-rails or la court-oh-rays. The words are French, but they are turned around a bit. But as soon as I saw it written and not spoken, I said: “Oh, it means lake short ears.” I’m pretty sure that technically it would be Lac Oreilles Courtes to be grammatically correct, but it’s French. “Oreilles” is ears in plural. “Courtes” is the word for short. Lac = lake. Aerially, the lake looks kinda like ears, I guess.

The area is quaint and the people are typical midwestern with that thick Fargo-style dialect. The town of Hayward looks like an old Western town, only cars are parked where the horses should be.

Continue reading “the good life vs content consumption bulimia nervosa”

I wish my memories dead

by yours truly

Memories are escape artists. They run free. 

They are rampant until you look for one. 

They play hide and seek. They are there until you walk through the door. 

Then they vanish until you go back to where you started. 

Hunting them is near impossible. 

They get too far before we can form a search party. 

You can wait in a tree all day, but you’ll rarely spot one. 

You can train your rifle at one, take aim, fire, 

And the bullet zings by hitting nothing. 

You catch one and stuff it. Hire a taxadermist. 

Hang it on the wall. 

Friends come. You tell them about your prize shot. 

The one that 

didn’t get away. 

“That’s a great catch,” they’ll say. 

“Thanks for sharing,” they’ll whisper. 

“I’m jealous,” they’ll think. 

“Let me show you mine,” they’ll say. 

And out from their pocket comes their memory machine.  

With the ones they’ve shot and killed. 

I wish, I wish, I wish, I would have stuffed more memories and built a mansion to house them. But then you would think me a murderer, or a hoarder or a selfish maniac. 

Memories aren’t as bloody on the wall. The screams and the writhing pain aren’t as jostling in the frame or in the display case. 

Memories are con artists. 

They make you wish  outcomes different. 

Memories want to convince you that 

… you should’ve married earlier, adopted dogs sooner, learned that art, that instrument, that habit without complaint or distraction. 

You wish you would have picked your ass off the pew pain free, Scott free. 

Olly olly oxen free. 

You wish you would have read more books and poetry. 

You wish you would have shot, killed and displayed more memories. 

So many gone, buried, forgotten, lost. 

“You better do a better job,” your mind whispers in your ear.

The air rushing past your ear, it tickles. It hurts a little. 

You cry laugh. You pull you shoulder to your ear with your eyes shut. 

“You should get a more powerful rifle to kill more memories. Carry it with you everywhere.” 

It’s your right. 

No, it’s your duty. 

No, it’s your obligation. 

Kill them dead and show off the bodies. 

Friends are desperately want to see the carcasses. 

Strangers are fascinated with blood, and how the living stopped breathing, and how powerful your rifle must be. 

(reminder: poetry is meant to read aloud).

Randy Rainbow hits another way out of the park

I see these videos from Randy Rainbow, and tend to watch enough of them to get a gist of his message and then I move on. But it wasn’t until I saw this CNN interview (below) that I developed a real appreciation for his work.

To see him in his element and how barebones his efforts are, how personal and how it would appear he’s doing all the work himself. That’s fucking impressive. It’s motivating me to get my head out of my ass.

The second Pfizer jab grabbed me by the business, violently shook me like a rabid dog killing a rabbit, and left me on the floor in a sweaty mess

Thursday I got my second Pfizer jab. I felt fine after. Barely felt the needle go in.

Thursday evening, we had two friends over who are in our bubble for dinner. They are both vaxxed. The next morning, I felt fine. My left arm was sore again, like the first jab, but nothing crazy.

Then as the day wore on, I turned into a mess. I developed a fever, my body ached, I had shortness of breath and I wanted to vomit.

I anticipated a little something, so I tried to take it easy. I took a bath, which might not have been a good idea. My resting heart rate was hovering around 100.

Around 4:00, I finally started feeling okay again. By 5, I was probably 90%.

Continue reading “The second Pfizer jab grabbed me by the business, violently shook me like a rabid dog killing a rabbit, and left me on the floor in a sweaty mess”