Jesus with a cowboy mouth

There’s something gratifying about roaming an art show and farting.  It balances out the experience.

It might have been the seaweed salad.  Does sea weed do that?

The artist looked tired.  The Suit shouting a whisper in his ear did not.  The moment one arrives can feel that way – muted and loud.

He’s a friend of mine. Not a good friend.  Cause I only have a few of those since childhood and have little time for more.  He’s the kind of friend I’d love to spend more time with if I had it.  But I never seem to have it.    And so I make excuses and hope to find it- time.

He has it.  Not time.  But that thing.  The touch.  And like the mavericks before him – the Vincents and The Basquiats- he found painting late.  But unlike those guys, he broke nearly every bone in his body racing BMX and skateboarding before he ever tore up the floor of his studio to paint on.

It’s not enough to have the eye and the hand.  But, you have to have this other thing to stand out.

The street cred.  We have to know you’ve been there and back.  You can’t just splash it on your work boots.  Sam Shepard called it Jesus with a cowboy mouth in his play “Cowboy Mouth”.

It’s true from the hip hop world to the rails of Alt-Country (if it hasn’t been priced out of Austin) and it is most certainly true in modern art.

I heard Franz List was quite the Ziggy Stardust in his day even…  we kind of want to get the feel from our artists that they made a deal with the devil, got out of it, and found time to try on a silver winged pair of boots.

We like our truth paroled.

The first thing that disappears on opening night is the reason for it.  We all know that.  The art on the wall, and the opera, and even Helen of Troy is soon lost in the scourge of champagne and pearls.  Most people aren’t there for the art anyway.  Maybe the wine.  The privacy of the dialogue between painting and viewer cannot hold up amid a sea of people; The better the art, the more it demands us in our most vulnerable and open state.

Museums are meant to be nearly empty.  Otherwise, things get drowned out in the barnacle of everything else.

Cutting through the din of a gala to find the work takes some navigating.  I’m not an expert but my friend’s work grabs you and demands your attention.  It barks from the wall with a playfulness and fury.   But even its outrage gets lost in its own cause for celebration.  Maybe that’s why we look for the artist at these things and not the work.

So is it important to paint well, or look the part then?

Who’s to say.

You get old staring down the abyss, trying to be original.  Maybe that was the thing I saw in my friend’s face.

The work it takes.  To get to the starting block.

In poker terms, they call it getting staked.  Yeah, you can spend your whole life trying to get staked to sit at that table.  But, lo, to find yourself at the table after a lifetime of hardknock scramble to rise up there and find you don’t like it.   Isn’t that what we all fear when we come to the quick of it?

That it’s not quite what you thought it would be.  That’s a thing to behold.  Cause it never is what you thought it would be.

Whatever it is for you.

I was happy for my friend.  I know the leap of faith and the notches in his belt he has bet on.  I know the holes in his shoes and catapult coast walk he has repeated – But I couldn’t help but feel something else.

Maybe it was the target on his back.  The concessions.  The celebrity stink.  The vulturing.  The purity of his naive genius.  I had the desire to wrap him in Kevlar.  Cause all of that loves to rub out the real thing – and my friend is the real thing.

Go see Danny Minnick’s work.  Or find him on the street.  You’ll find the two very congruous.

the sign in the window

Woody Guthrie was a sign painter.  And Phil Ochs proclaimed “war is over” long before John and Yoko ever did.  So, the above photo calls out to the spirit of these warriors to lend a word or two about poverty.

Specifically, the kind of poverty where you’re hovering around that invisible line and weighing out if it is better to get that third job  – and risk becoming not quite poor enough to be poor enough and qualify for assistance at being poor – or find a way to cash out under the table and keep qualified.

Qualified… For things like EBT and EDD.  Two sets of three letters that bring shame to some and outrage to others.

Two sets of three letters that mean life or death to many.

My EDD card had a Sierra vista pictured on it.  There wasn’t a name or even a number.  It was a way to mask the mark.  Food assistance vouchers have come a long way from the colored postage stamp things that called out in neon pink and orange from the check out stand.    But, what hasn’t changed is that they are never enough to meet the cost of living.  They are just enough not to be enough. These plastic incantations of lack.  And like the petroleum byproduct they are printed on – they are unsustainable. But don’t worry, turn from the abyss, EBT is accepted here. Carl’s Jr still welcomes the huddled masses…

Have you ever noticed how many places advertize they accept EBT who shouldn’t?

Legitimate grocery stores don’t advertize they accept EBT, but they do.  So do Farmers’ Markets.  They give you little wooden chips.  It makes you feel like you are at the casino when you buy farm fresh eggs.

Gratefully, my financial situation has changed for the better these past few years, but the memory of being poor lingers.  Anyone who says it doesn’t, hasn’t been poor.

Think of the children of the Depression, the money sewn into pillows and behind walls.  A perspective of lack can be passed on just like  predisposition for heart disease.  The Curse of the Starving Class Sam Shepard called it.

Yeah, it lingers .  Poverty.  And I am reminded of it when I see EBT accepted here in the window of a Jack-in-the-Box or Circus Liquor …

Malnourishment is what it is.  Cultural malnourishment.  In every sense of the word.  That is what really  turns the gear of poverty.  It drives the divide.  Inside our stomachs.

And up above,  greenhouse gas rises and bounces off the balding ozone and the temperatures rise, causing the oceans to rise,  which increases the melt which increases the gas, which increases the … the feedback loop of it all.  Back and forth.  Back and forth.

Down on the street, things reflect the same wicked carousel.

Yeah, they may have bulldozed the projects, but have done nothing but transfer the problem.

Poverty is like that.  Hunger is like that.  It feeds on itself.

Without time to properly cook, to even be exposed to healthy options, the poor are kept poor. That’s what that Burger King Commercial is really selling;  methadone to dull the symptom, not treat the cause.

And I will admit my own hypocrisy in this scheme, as I have been employed to advertize the Whopper and fish sticks, and cheese bread, and .99 cent breakfast menu.

Have I profited from this… descendent of slavery?  Certainly.  But, I’ve also pawned things and dumped coins in a Coinstar, so, will continue, with your pardon.

The myth that there is no choice becomes real  and is reinforced, every day, and people do not see it.   It is an invisible type of slavery.  The chains are transparent .

But don’t worry, EBT is accepted here.

Five dollars a day. That’s what some governmental-think-tank-thing set up as the demarcation  of what it costs to survive.  Not roof or utilities, just food.

Five dollars a day.

A few years back, there was a movement, sponsored by Mario Batali and other celebrity chefs, to feed your family on five dollars a day for a week.  Its intent was to bring awareness to the cause of hunger.  You might have seen Ben Afleck and Jennifer Gardner go on Oprah about it.   It’s quite a thing to do; to live on five bucks for a single person.  But it is an acrobatic feat of dare-devilry  to provide for an entire family on such a Dickensian sum.  I mean, shit, you couldn’t even sell out Jesus for that.  But, beyond just qualifying for this five dollars, or earning it – where do you buy the food to survive on, even if you have the money to by it?

Which brings us to the field of battle in this war.

Food deserts.  Those vast swaths of urban wasteland gutted of autonomy and infrastructure where food distributors find it too cost-inhibitive to enter.    There are entire areas of Chicago’s south and west sides, and within the southland of Los Angeles, for example, where there isn’t a single store within miles to purchase fresh produce or anything besides what you find in the shelves of a convenience store.  Think about that – if you even have the luxury to have the time to think about it –What does that do to a person, day in day out,  who must choose food shelved at a liquor store?

And have you looked at the food shelves of your 7-11 lately?  Take a look.  There is a mark up on microwaveable Chef Boyardee engineered pasta like sludge.  Everything is single serve – throw away.

A throw away cuisine for a throw away class.

The starving class.  Who are sold two choices – always. BK or McDonald’s, Del Taco or Taco Bell, etc … Wonder or .. Chips Ahoy or Oreo’s … the illusion of options…

Makes that taco stand on the corner appear more like what it is, right? Or the fried chicken spot.  The place for jumbo shrimp or the hot dog cart… An oasis of community to root … like wild dandelion reaching up through cracks in the pavement.  Nettles along the fence, and mushrooms in the dump.

But the truth is, there are no affordable and healthy options for tens of millions, and ever if there were, most of the people stuck inside the vice have two to three jobs and don’t have the time to prepare anything, so they … head where it is convenient.

And then we have the obvious toxic dividends of this epidemic; obesity, heart disease, diabetes…

Unless — unless – there is a Grandmother to stand up to the Matrix.  Hail that Grandmother who does so much with so little.  She’s the real Iron Chef – she’s the one immortalized in Gertrude Stein’s “Paris, France.”  Who splits five dollars into three squares for four mouths seven times a week…

Yeah, so even if this starving class could afford something other than a porridge of ladled shit, they don’t have access to it, and I don’t believe Uber Eats or GRUB HUB  fills that particular gap either.

Aye, there’s the rub.

That phrase “access to”  Access to is very different from being provided.  Or guaranteed.

There is quite a gap between reality and a linguistic loophole designed to exploit the virtue of hope that dwells in the spirit of even the poorest woman or man.

To have “access to” is political code for “we don’t really want you to have it, we want to say we want you to have it, don’t worry, we’ll give it to you soon, just be patient, and for now, believe and  continue to …

  1. vote our way
  2. go along as it is
  3. stay behind the eight ball…
  4. low on Maslow’s heirarchy of needs…
  5. deprived of agency…
  6. unable to rise…
  7. and go sing in the church choir to salve the cancer of it all.

Anyone who can recall the continued request for patience from well- intended white liberals to African-Americans during the long drawn out years of the civil rights movement can place the indiginty of a phrase like “access to” in its true perspective.

Maybe poverty and health and the promise of our nation, as a supposed meritocracy, are interwoven.  Knotted-up, more like it.  A good meal goes a long way toward freedom.  Economic freedom.  The way out is through the stomach.

We still are what we eat, I guess.

Therefore, having access to your mouth is different from having something nourishing to put in it.  Right?    So what is this feignt?

It is a  tactic of war.  To starve  a people out.  In our cities, and in the dying towns, that’s what this is, a starving out.

But that’s not new either.

In the feudal days, pagan festivals (the antecedents of county fairs) were just  events to fatten people up with hope ,with coins tossed on the road, and extra cuts of meat, and contests and merriment– where the landed would come down from the mountain to tame the fire and grapes of wrath with ox tails and baby pigs.

While everyone sang around the May Pole, counting stars in country dress.

Yeah, I know it sounds a little pinko commy- but it isn’t.  It is sublimation.  Interrupted by a holiday or two of false hope.

And today, we have introductory offers, O%  transfer rates, and no fees cancellation charges for the first year promotions to hide something very sinister going on, but don’t worry, look across the street at the sign in the window of Carl’s Jr–

EBT is accepted there.

 

 

 

 

That friend of ours…

That friend of ours, who isn’t,  posts a comment to a share on our stream and  immediately makes the abstract personal.

Hmmm.  A “share on our stream…?”  Now, that’s a phrase that makes sense but shouldn’t.  A few years ago, suggesting you could share on a stream would feel incomplete or just fucking weird.  But, now it doesn’t.  Besides allowing us to involuntarily dispatch dogwalkers from our smart phones , technology also endows verbs with super power characteristics.  My oh my, a lot has changed, even down to the way we describe that change….

But, back to that friend.

You know the one I’m talking about.  He’s always on the edge of being culled from your friend profile – another linguistic construct that baffles me…”friend profile.”  Maybe you “friended” him a while back before everything started dividing and breaking down into us and them – and now it’s costing you.  Costing all of us…

Or is it?  What stays our hand from pressing the defriend button?

Defriend button – another strange pairing of words…  I’m sensing  a trend here.  A subjectifying of language – a dissolution of something… that makes all of this polarization more possible.  Like dry rot and water damage before termites….  These are the things that draw my attention, not “bubbles.”

Maybe it is language itself that fails us in this brave new world – like that rainbow dial on a web browser when our internet speed can’t keep up…

Can’t keep up, hmmm….

However we define it, something is lost as the world splits into dueling pairs of opposites along party lines- and we cue up for Noah’s Arc in reverse.

Something is being lost.  In the friction.  But what?

Beyond truth…

Whatever it is, it is more than decency and decorum and shock from reading  knee jerk insult-tweets  reposted on “feeds,”  or to “fan responses” on Dexter Fowler’s Facebook Page (of the St Louis Cardinals) or from total strangers to  a buddy from college named Danny G. who had the same name as another Danny G. who went viral for insulting Ivanka Trump on an airplane…

Went viral – another weird one…  Danny “went viral.”

Yeah, Danny was not the Danny that many people believed Danny to be.  Or as he put it, “you got the wrong Jew.” But, everyday he swats away insults from total strangers… and the world spins and the sun sets…

I’ve been mulling over this a lot lately – the idea of cyber shaming and bullying etc – and can’t help but feel the real provocateur is not that asshole Milos or whomever is en vogue, but something else…. Some sense of kindness that vanishes when we troll strangers to project hate and fear upon.

But whatever that is, it is also not new.  And it is aided greatly in its endeavor to divide by the breakdown of language.  Language is a fantastic thing.  It can illuminate and obscure.  It can also be, in effect, a hunter blind for this something that lurks under the shares in our stream, hidden in between the zeroes and ones…

Maybe these chains of blurts on yahoo pages that pollute our  “streams” tell us more than we think about the harsh truth of what is.

Of course we know these posts are none too different then the dehumanizing conceit that is a perquisite for any and all  propaganda.  And it is something the relative anonymity of a web-based world not only allows, but even encourages–

–To speak without recourse or consequence …that inalienable right has been disavowed, sublimated, and it is human nature to want to be seen and heard.  To feel like one matters.

I don’t know, and it may be obvious to you, but I believe these blurts herald something greater breaking down.

Strangers say and do online what they can’t say or do in their own lives – because they feel …what?  Powerless.  They need an avatar?

Well,  don’t we all.   Somewhere we can be everything we wish we could be…  Like the big shot at a bar …  I mean even me, I blog here because, well…  Rolling Stone hasn’t called, yes, but also to practice, to I hope, try and understand and interpret what I see happening, what I see degrading before my very eyes.

To me, nothing else points toward the spiritual crisis  at the core of this epidemic  than our lack of decorum.  We are a young country in the midst of an identity crisis.

And we are acting out– in these seemingly benign ways that are becoming increasingly more real– the id in our collective unconscious, that is…

So let’s look at one person.  Let’s pull back the veil and humanize this divide amongst us for one moment .  Lets try to understand that “friend” whose comments continually make us want to drop the defriend button.  I don’t have the answer but I will share with you why I don’t.

For I believe abstract things remain that way till we get the whole story – till we see the word in flesh…   I don’t defriend this person who unnerves me because I know this man’s personal life – the trauma and pain he has endured.  The obstacles he daily has to overcome.   I feel his victim blaming and I know the awul cause.  His sense of panic fits right into the greater picture of the world view he seeks evidence for.  And that is something we all do and have to work hard not to reinforce.

It takes a concerted effort to see, to really see things for what they are- not how we would like them to be.   And it is so easy not to…

There was this needle point banner mom had hung above the downstairs toilet in our house when I was young.   I would tilt my head at it every time I urinated.  It read “don’t judge a man till you’ve walked ten moon in his moccasins.”  The lessons stitched into that  embroidery  sunk in every time I jiggled the toilet knob.

So, yeah, for these reasons and many more, I tolerate this man’s poor behavior, and bullying, his offensive comments toward people society designates as “others”, migrants, or vulnerable peoples, and to me directly.

Because I’ve heard his pain.   I’ve stood and looked him in the eye and heard what is under all of this.

And I pity him.  I pity him because he hasn’t stuck stickers on a film he was in – in another country for factory wages  – (yes I did that – I packed boxes of DVDS- I WAS IN to be shipped) working alongside immigrants from Afghanistan, Kurds, Chileans, and Guatemalans… he didn’t lunch with these friends who were all refugees.  He didn’t laugh along with the rest of us as the young Kurd explained to me how much he identified with Gansta Rap and The African-American experience when he found out I lived in LA.

He said it like he was in Los Angeles longer than me.  With all the right inflection and slang.  I looked at him in his low riders and the bling and the half cocked baseball hat … This young kid from Kurdistan (he said proudly.)

“See, bro, we the n++gers of Europe, man.”

No, I pity my friend because he hasn’t watched 90 pound concrete hotties push wheelbarrows full of bricks up a muddy incline to a 10 million dollar house than ate lunch with him under the shade of a eucalyptus tree hearing his story of how he had to remove the money his mom packed for him in a Tijuana hotel.

I did.  Even with my degree from Northwestern.  I was there.  I saw.  I listened.

And I don’t think my friend had to teach a room full of kids , many of whom identify as transgender or “being fluid” and had to face their own cultural bias every time they want to find the right pronoun.

I have.

I like the view from the trenches of reality where the flesh and blood of people put it all into true perspective.  These experiences shape my beliefs in things fundamental – principles we hold to be self-evident that we readily and easily dismiss as “American.”

If I defriend this guy, then I might as well defriend the union itself and I’m not quite ready for that yet.

Those pesky black hoods and masks

Anarchy isn’t new.  In case you’re keeping track of these things.  So if you’re wondering who the youths in black hoods and masks were that broke glass and threw stone at Cal-Berkley last night, prompting another Doom-retaliatory-Tweet from The Drump– they were Anarchists.

I’m sure they have a fancier name for themselves.  Probably with a lot of initials.  But if they were true Anarchists they would laugh at the prospect of having a name at all.

Or being recognized as wanting a name that might mistakenly suggest a common interest or shared identity.

–That would be the anarchistic-al equivalent of turning Judas or Denying Christ by the crow call.  A name might promote authority and any authority, or allusion to authority is a strict no-no.

Anarchists are not new.  They always crash rallies and splinter off from marches to pick a fight and generally hog the press by throwing a stone or two.

You know. The one or two people you read about in the paper when an entire peaceful protest turns violent.  The people Breitbart advertizes as the Monsters on the Left.

Sometimes they are accused of being FBI plants – no matter.  FBI Plants and Anarchists are one in the same.    They show up and steal the show.  Like an Unwanted Dinner Guest.

Everything has a right left and center.  Even your local P.T.A. group.  I’m sure there are the Progressives at bake sales  who push for muffin reform and staunch traditionalists who stick to the values based agendas and go-to sales items like sliced pound cake.  And on that spectrum that exists wherever people gather, not just on Capital Hill, there is the extreme-extreme – way out – left of left where the anarchists make their home.

Well, it’s not really a home.  Because to have a home would mean to identify with the need for a home and anarchists, pure anarchists, don’t identify with anything, least of all need.

That is their belief.  Or would be if they had a belief.  But they can’t have a belief.  You could say they would believe they don’t believe in belief, any belief, if they could believe in anything…  but they don’t believe in that either.  Because any organization at all based on any shared – anything – goes against the fundamental principle of anarchy.

Well, if there were priciples…

Maybe they just turned their amps up too loud and fried that part of the brain that governs – oops, I used the word govern.  Bad form.

To simplify it all, anarchists often trip on their own feet.   Even more than Philosophers.  Theirs is a peculiar form of self-induced inertia.  Maybe that’s why they like throwing things through glass, out of frustration for their complete inability to understand themselves.

They must always be in a state of identity crisis.

For these reasons and many more, they make me laugh. And not the Anarchy light youth who become anarchists for a short while on their way to political liberation and awakening.  They’re just young, angry, rightfully so, and looking for targets.

Anarchist-lights subscribe to anarchy cause it’s in punk songs and looks good safety pinned to their cut off denim jacket.  The Anarchists I’m talking about are organized  in their disorganization.

They have a similar agenda as The Dark Lord Steve Bannon. To tear it all down.  Or let it crumble and are emboldened by the current state of unrest because it fuels their world view and cure-all remedy.

This is their time.  If they had a time, because to believe in time would mean to believe time could be measured, and everyone knows time….

 

it said it on the water tower

“The Kingdom of heaven spreads upon the earth and man does not see it.”

-Gospel according to Thomas

I grew up in a community of churches.  It said so on the water tower.  It took me longer  to find out there wasn’t water in the tower then it did for me to realize… well, before I slip into some kind of Thomas Wolfesque expose of my hometown– I’ll offer this as an invocation to the alter of truth.  The following is just my experience, or, more truthfully, the memory of my experience which can lend itself to certain inaccuracies based on changing belief, but I’ll try to shake off my own natural prejudices and stick to the facts, or the facts as I remember them…

There was this Reformed Church.  Let’s say it was the first to get a neon sign.  Let’s also hypothetically say it was  where the good-looking girls belonged.  Needless to say, that was all the motivation I needed to be a convert and join their weeknight youth group.

I was fifteen and my spiritual motives were outgunned by other desires.

It started out fun.  Sugar drinks, you know the kind in gallon milk jugs, styrofoam cups and Dodge Ball.   The D*****son Twins were merciless and it wasn’t really fair since there were two of them.  We’d get worked up– the guys all jockeying for alpha status, pelting each other in escalating cycles of retaliation for an audience of girls — then we’d slam processed sugar-water and eat cookies.   And that’s when it happened.   That’s when the Pastor would lead us into a dark room, lit only by candles, and tell us the truth about Jesus.

Or his truth.

Which involved accepting our Lord and Savior into our hearts or face eternal damnation in hell.  Talk about a rude awakening from the Bacchanalia of everyone – for – themselves Dodgeball, beautiful blonde Dutch girls, and sugar-water to contemplate the harsh reality of our souls in the hereafter.

Hell.  Bummer.

But if there’s anything I’ve learned from life is that hell does exist.  Right here on earth.  And no one can save anyone from it. But that wasn’t the kind of hell the Pastor was telling us about.

When it was done, I was lost.  Which I don’t believe was his intention.  He wasn’t a bad man.  Nor poor intended.  He meant well and believed he was doing God’s work.

Much of the damage in our world is written off as God’s work.

After the sermon was over, and the sugar crash took effect ,and the flourescent lights went back on, and the candles were collected by the Minister’s Daughter, I went up to the Youth Pastor.

With all my confusion, sprinkled by acne, and dandruff, covered in insecurity – as I was a late bloomer to adolescence –  my shirt stuck to my under arms where shame mingled with sweat  and stained every shirt I owned so I wore layers to cover it – I submitted.  And asked.  Asked if my brother’s good friend who just passed away in a house fire was truly in hell.

See, he was Jewish and I was fairly certain hadn’t accepted Jesus in his heart.

The man put his hand on my shoulder, looked me square in the eye, and said, “Yes.”

Yes.

“Unless he accepted Jesus in his heart. He is.”

My brother’s friend  was … nineteen I think.  They found him in the bathroom.   I’m sure whatever he had to endure there, on the floor, before he died, was suffering enough for many lifetimes.

It was a long time till anything returned to normal.

I couldn’t imagine my brother’s friend in hell.  Anyone who knew him would agree that hell was not really his style.  And he would most certainly laugh out loud at the thought that was where he would be sent.

I can hear the laugh – twenty plus years later…

Not long after that, I drifted from all religion.  And like most of us who lose faith – I turned to drugs.  Copious amounts of drugs.  You could say I loved drugs as much as that Pastor probably loved Jesus.  I became a good pastor myself of the drug culture.  Till, one by one, the drugs stopped working and I returned to some kind of faith.

A faith that is now all my own.  That I don’t need to explain to anyone. I’m not against drugs today.  I just don’t do them cause I end up crazy and looking for white vans across the street.  I’m not even against Jesus.  I love Jesus.  He was quite a master.  Nor am I against the Church.    Any church.  I recall a monk telling me years back that “the church was just a building.”  I’m not even against that Pastor.  If I saw him again I’d probably thank him because he sent me on a quest.  A quest for a true personal faith that I could accept.

I’ve been reflecting upon that story and the water tower a lot lately as I hear this push to categorize Islam as a violent religion.  It is not.  All the practicing Muslims I am fortunate to call my friends are the most peaceful men and women I know.  Even Bush Jr. said Islam was peace. In the days after 9/11.  He had his shoes off and was standing in front of a mosque flanked by clerics. It can be violent. So can a hammer or a kitchen knife.  But saying Islam is violence is  like saying all Christians are crazy pro-life gun nuts.  And it is blanket statements like that which display nothing other than our own ignorance, our own lack of understanding.  I’ve been seeking to understand lately.

Truly understand.

Embarking on such a quest,  it didn’t take long for me to understand that, like most institutions or even principles, the shortcomings we hang on “systems of belief” are products of human failings rather than expressions of God’s love, which in infinite.  Things like  greed, thirst for power and control have nothing to do with whatever we identify as God.

What happens when political ideology co-mingles with religious fanaticism?

Well, that varies, but it tends to be… violent.

But these things have human origins , not divine.   It is in the corruption of human fingerprint that we begin to be deluded… and divided….

For example, the prayer, the daily prayer, common in most forms of Islam is simply meant to be a practical daily reminder  of our connection to each other, the earth, and a divine source – beyond names and forms….

I do that.  Does that make me a Muslim?  Does that make you?  Does that mean we are all “going to hell?”

Maybe it’s that fear that poisons us….

When people throw stones or engage in honor killing and use any “divine law” to justify some injustice in the form of the Taliban or any other fanatic faction – does that give me permission to condemn?  Of course not.  But still I can’t help but think of Christian fanaticism… Fire bombs at Planned Parenthood buildings et al…

Maybe we are all destined to be hypocrites.  Maybe that’s what makes us all human.  In that case, I vow to celebrate my own hypocrisy this year…my own humanity…

And do nothing in the name of God.  Cause….

Many thing that are not… have been done… in the name of God.

In the name of country…

In the name of…

I know less and less these days.  But I do know it is easier to demonize the other and judge what we do not understand then it is to take a look at what’s happening on our own block, in our own heads, and what is written on our own water towers.

There is a prayer in Arabic that reads “inshallah”

Which means ‘if Allah wills it.’

So, inshallah. Hallelujah  , Hari Krishna, yeah yeah yeah.

Hold the line

Let’s all slow down.  Catch a breath.  Do our laundry.  We’re getting sloppy.  And reactionary.  We can’t afford any miscues–  Because not only are we under great scrutiny by the opposition, but because that’s the intent behind this artillery barrage of policy.

The point of artillery is to stun and dishearten, shake and rattle, and ultimately break the will to resist.

Classic Von Clausewitz.  Classic Steve Bannon.

But something U.S. Grant and R. E. Lee can both agree upon is that a cannonade loses its effectiveness after prolonged exposure.  Once the besieged realize they can survive the pounding, they adapt.   And the pounding doesn’t feel the same.

And it has been a pounding. 11 executive orders, etc.   Things we hold dear have gone up in flame,  chaos and confusion, disorientation… sound familiar?

So, let’s hunker down and build a model airplane or cook a risotto (see previous blog).

Every time the bust of Churchill moves or M.L.K. goes AWOL or we get it wrong that Paul Ryan did not in fact drop an F bomb on a live mic – we play right into the evil overlord’s plans for world domination.

Watch the reposts of these flaunted mistakes flash for hours on an endless news loop and see for yourself.   I know it’s not fair that one slight mistake amid an onslaught of doublespeak and insanity – but war isn’t fair.  And this is a war.  A war of ideas.

I saw it at the airport on Sunday – later in the day after the well-organized events ended . Somebody would get on a bullhorn and say “this way,” and we would follow for a time.  It was based on who spoke the loudest.  Things are like that in the beginning.  Especially movements.  But to endure the next trials – we need to, as they say – get organized.

The reason the Civil Rights Movement was so effective, I believe, is that people had to meet, and staple signs together, print things, etc.  And to do that- they had to – wait for it — meet in person.  And from that, got to work things out together.   Privately.  To then present a unified front.

In our world, someone goes live on FACEBOOK LIVE and says show up and we show up.

Something is lost.  And that something is time.  Time to organize.  And find common ground. Strategize.

We need to slow down.  And think.  Not Boycott UBER just to find out that we shouldn’t have boycotted Uber.  A petition addressed to the Supreme Court with thousands of signatures is great, but poorly thought out because the Supreme Court doesn’t make decisions on new cases (outside of Original Edicts and cases involving disputes between State and Federal Courts – and even then- very vey rarely) it only decides on cases sent to it from lower courts through the appeal system.

Still, they get petition upon petition.

It is a waste of energy and resource.

These skills of jurisprudence and calculated detachment are traits we usually subscribe to conservatism.  Traditional conservatism I mean – not this rabid and bloated mutation that has evolved and thrust itself forward to dominate the political landscape of late.

In short, we need to be more like them. As Bill Maher’s recent rant suggested.

We need to think.  And think hard.  Then think some more.  Till one move – one single move – can be agreed upon and converted into direct action with the full force of all  of the three to five million marchers – the ten times that who watched and supported from home – on January 21st toward one single goal…

One single concentrated action.

It is classic generalship.  Strike where your enemy is weakest, where they least expect with the fullest force at your disposal.

So, maybe the idea of a day of protest where no one shows up on Feb 17th is the right kind of thing.  Let’s see.  Let’s see what shakes out.  These little groups with lists of actions to take – calling representatives, etc – are concentrated and unified.  Let’s see how this unites and grows.  Let’s find our common ground, then act.

As long as we think on it and muster enough support for it to be effective.

And remember to “pursue one great decisive aim with force and determination.” (Von Clausewitz)

Yes.  Things can be peaceful and still have force.  Which is nothing more than the measure of energy in motion.  So let’s think on it.  Hold counsel.  And plan.