Monday, January 31, 2011

sincerity may be the biggest sin

or, as someone said, "if you can fake it, you've got it made." moliere's tartuffe a case in point.

aren't we always playing a role, and isn't naturalness just another one? here's an aphorism from la rochefoucauld: "Most young people think they are being natural when really they are really just ill-mannered and crude." of course, i've never been guilty of this. well, maybe never.

i do rather regret not having an established role in life. i've never been a father (as far as i know), never a breadwinner, always the best man and never the groom. and career! that's a joke. nobody ever became famous for looking out the window. or even well-paid. life's flown by on a butterfly's wings. and the grasshopper will never be ready for winter. said some anonymous elder, "You'll understand later that one keeps on forgetting old age up to the very brink of the grave." i can vouch for that.

actually, i think of myself as an entertainer. true, my performances have been haphazard and fitful. once i gave the closing prayer at my father's church. i hadn't practiced and mumbled something, terribly embarrassed. and best man at a friend's wedding, i didn't realize i'd have to give a speech. what a godawful moment. it pays to practice.

and that's what i'm saying, we can't get by in life by always telling the truth. yes, at the wedding i could have said, 'this is doomed' which is was, but i couldn't bear to rain on someone else's parade. a role played artfully well can be a delight. check out stand-up comedy by judy carter. one could do worse than get thru this existence as a comic.

one last quote from teacher/playwright/director luis valdez: "play any role you want, only don't identify with it. pick it up and drop it as needed."

just created a disguising website. i invite you to check it out:

Saturday, January 29, 2011

the principles of chemical determinism

"or things even shakespeare didn't know."

at 18 i maintained to a friend our loves and hates, desires and disappointments, all due to the substances running around in our bodies. little did i know, this a major intuitive insight. had i followed up i might be shaking the hand of the king of sweden and accepting the nobel prize.

for better or worse, it has worked out otherwise and i've had more fun. yet research these days keeps re-confirming what i sensed way back then. of course, this shouldn't seem like much of a mystery. i know alcohol can turn me into a schmo, satisfied with his life. caffeine winds me up, then wears me down. all of of us know these experiences inside out.

and much is the talk about endorphins induced by ridiculously high rates of exercise. and as scrouge said, 'our bad dreams come from an undigested bit of potato.' still, i don't think the truth of all this has sunk in. we attribute passion to anything but testosterone and estrogen cause they go by the innocent-sounding name of hormones. this keep us from realizing hormones on the level with heroine and lsd, and much longer lasting.

i've begun reading the female brain by louanne brizendine. where was this book when i needed it at 18? not that i would have read or understood it, but somewhere along the way it would have crossed my path. in a family psychology class i wrote a paper maintaining men and women fundamentally the same, fool that i was. what i meant was both could do anything in the field of life. however, as for the physical insides, i didn't perceive the incredible differences in development, reactions to emotion, and so on, caused by differing hormonal injections.

louanne's just come out with the male brain, and i have it on order. we're much more at the mercy of chemicals than we ever knew. no wonder stress changes the composition of our chemistry for the worse, and meditation reverses the effects for the better. no, i don't expect teenagers to run out and buy these tomes. but at one point or other, they contain things all of us need to know.

new pics: and

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

so wired even my dreams wouldn't go to sleep

this is something i'd totally forgotten. whenever i dream of playing music i get incredibly energized. damn, doesn't every guy want to be a rock star? and for one reason: the adulation, the screams, and sighs of women.

when i lived on a greek island in the 60's a friend david helton wrote a novel called king jude. the hero had six fingers on one hand and could play a helluva guitar. and the favors he gained from the fair sex, they made the hair (among other things) of any real man stand on end .

in the early seventies all the young lookouts on my forest gathered once a week to roast corn and play music. i wrote songs. even took a few singing lessons. we drove two or three hours each way for this. one evening i ate some innocent looking cookies. on the way home the road began to wobble. i pulled up by a stream and slept it off.

alas, those convivial days ended. those twenty-something folks grew up, got married, had children, abandoned the hours alone on a mountain. with the ice-cream socials gone (we made our own) i lost my enthusiasm for music. and anytime i've come close to it since, it's presence has created such a fever in me i've had to back off.

okay, cutting to the chase, last nite my body felt full of electric wires. and all this cause i've gotten bored with photographing. what could i do? on an early morning walk through downtown i realized the one art i'd never fully followed up was music. why not give it another try? i couldn't wait for the local music store to open.

i wandered through this strange, long abandoned country populated by guitars and ukuleles. one electric-guitar caught my eye. damned heavy, but cut-away it rested easy on my lap. i felt like bob dylan thumbing his nose at the acoustic crowd. i drifted to a blue luna dolphin ukulele (i gotta tell you, all these instruments made in china like everything else we buy) beautiful to the touch, the sound could be amplified. i thought about it. sailed back to the les paul knock-off.

home, i thought what the hell, i'll look on ebay. before i knew it i'd bought the paul machine for less than half what they asked at the store. then i purchased a roland micro amplifier. by the time i retired i'd included the magix music maker 16 premium software to the musical hoard. boy, i thought, i do like to spend money.

the upshot, i couldn't sleep. and all day today i kinda swaggered, like i'd already topped bruce springsteen. the wonders consumer therapy will do. youtube here i come.

all that said, i have posted more pictures based on our construction site:

and time in the prison library:

Friday, January 21, 2011

"Women are the reason men do everything."

i never quite thought of it that way. alan s. miller and satoshi kanazawa, evolutionary psychologists, assert this bold statement as the basis for why beautiful people have more daughters. men in all societies compete vigorously for access to sex.

wow, older men more likely to murder young wives. guess i could see that one coming. pretty hard to keep them away from the young bucks (or at least the jealously makes total sense). i've learned my lesson. no more cute young things.

now, that's partly a lie. i love to look. that's how i've gotten to survive as a bachelor all these years. my present hero the czech photographer miroslav tichy. this guy snapped the women of his town in celebration of them, though he then stamped all over the printed photographs. google his images. quick glances make every woman beautiful.

of course, though my mother long dead, i'm still trying to impress her. she maintained i was born to do great things. i mean, she actually said it. unfortunately, she despaired at my choice of girl friends and the desire to hang out it strange wildernesses far from the deeds of real men. see the photos i've just posted and you'll see what i mean. a walk in the woods:

yes, damn it, my whole life dedicated to impressing the female of the species. i can't deny it, looking at all the poems beginning they danced all night on the m.s. dixie and i want to worship you, but i'm having a tough time. these odes to romance rolled along for forty years!

alan and satoshi make remarkable strides with their mantra. for example, what makes bill gates and steve jobs like the usual suspects (criminals)? they use their genius when young to get into either a pair of panties or a bank safe. growing older and less interested in hot wires and flashy nightclubs, both members of the piratical class taper off, committing less larceny and changing their grand children's diapers more.

and if this statement true, it certainly explains why women ultimately rule the roost. and here's more examples of our roost being renovated:

Friday, January 14, 2011

an attack of enlightenment

or, "my new mantra."

yes, it was a dark and stormy morning as i browsed the zen section at the bookstore, a sure sign of depression. whenever i look for answers i know i'm not asking the right questions.

i drifted here and there on the sea of cliches and triteness, most of it like the stuff you find attached to those terrible yogi teabags: love, others, love yourself, love the plants. despair has a way of multiplying itself. the sages of the ages seem to feel you have to be bored to death until you come alive.

ah, let me look at this: NINETY-NINE MILLION WAS TO BE HAPPY. why not? aren't we all pursuing happiness, like rabbits running through the sagebrush? oh, god, the corn again. all the pablum you've had off cereal boxes for ninety-nine years. be good to others and they'll be good to you. why has that never worked? some live to give, some live to take, and the rest merely make it out of bed.

okay, i can see i'm getting nowhere. about to abandon truth for humor, drifting away from the profound needs of my soul into a parody of it, i strike pay-dirt. something i'd never thought about jumps at me from the pallid page. you do not need a reason to be happy. what, you mean i don't need another trip to greece, my youth back, a new computer? how can that be? mustn't we have reasons for everything?

stunned, i felt very strange. a feeling i'd long forgotten and seldom experienced came over me. am i having a stroke? is my left brain fading so i can experience bliss? then, it hit me. happiness, my devil in heaven, that bizarre and unexpected state came over me. and for a moment i couldn't condemn all the decayed readers around me. they looked so beautiful!

nonsense, nonsense! it can't be that easy. returning to my double-espresso, the true entry into nirvana, i sat down and couldn't touch the cup. i didn't want to lose my delusion. and for the rest of the day, picking up mail, going to the bank, i kept telling myself whenever dark thoughts descended: you don't need a reason to be happy. this might not work for everyone, but even as i rolled out of bed feeling awful from too much boozing and browsing last night, i revived my spirits, whispering, you don't need a reason to be happy.

new construction pics: and

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

reducing life to manageable bites

this sounds terrible, i know, as if we had to be fed like babies. ah, but that's the point. like most adults, i suspect we feel responsible for the state of the world. we're constantly making decisions about afghanistan, the economy, who's the guilty party for yesterday's shootings. (and there are always shots being fired and people crumpling.)

in the old days, i'm assuming without newspapers, radio, tv, people lived much quieter lives. true, the barbarians might come over the hills. those in the next village could be scandalous, dangerous, even unpredictable. and peace a temporary truce between invasions. still, it's not like worrying about so many things we can't do damn thing about.

today, the governor declared a war on education and social programs. alas, i've always benefited from the first, and at an increasingly doddering age i am in need of the second. so, reading the headlines - the only news i allow myself - i became terrified for my survival. foolish? yes, it's foolish. unfortunately, i know i'm not alone.

living on the big stage, we're subject to stage-fright, especially when we decide what's the ideal world and can do nothing to create it. to have answers when nobody asked us, what could be more debilitating? what do i do in these situations? i turn to haiku. and why, cause every little poem chops up existence into just what i can handle.

the pot of beans

stinking up the house -

turn off the stove

there's a fine example of my own composing. since it's not from the japanese, i know it's inferior. i turn to my betters.

"it's much too long a day"

opening it's mouth

a crow

says issa, echoing my thoughts! and i like these free-form translations by stephen berg of ikkyu:

raging for the now hungry for it

crows rattle the air no dust

the crow's caw was ok but one night with a lovely whore

opened a wisdom deeper than what that crow said

alas, ikkyu not politically correct. too bad he didn't live in our enlightened age! he paid for it, certainly:

if i'm a demon here on earth

there's no need

to fear the hereafter

when you feel yourself getting overwhelmed solving the problems of life and death, turn to these tiny fragments of reality. like cockroaches they'll be the last species alive:

Friday, January 7, 2011

good gravy, i really am a white people

imagine my dismay when i picked up a book called "what white people like" and found it nailed me 80%. what happened to my individuality? how did other people come to brag about their trips to japan? or photography, the fact we'll keep clicking pictures til we die, a little blur making it 'art'?

of course, it's like my college teacher friends. the students insist they're each unique. the professor looks up and sees everyone dressed the same way. as my friend dennis palumbo said, 'americans torn cause they're in a double-bind. the culture says, "go your own way. make your mark" while raising all kinds of obstacles like 'be a good boy. the perfect girls does...' '

yes, looking out on the street from starbucks in san francisco, i see hunched people pass, all ages, ethnic backgrounds, the obviously well-heeled and those picking up cigarette butts, and i wonder 'how the hell do they cope?' and along with this i'm amazed the u.s. works at all. what a grumble, a mix-up. while we pursue a war, we cut the budget. to keep up with china we close schools, all the while knowing the best-educated populace will win.

yes, we like sushi, microbrews (our town has one of the most famous: sierra nevada), and foreign films. as for the last i'm in seventh-heaven, having just signed up for netflix. last nite i watched 'andalusian dog' and 'paris', salivating all the way. boy, did i go to bed happy. yes, i always shop at the co-op and eat organic foods. YOU SHOULD SEE MY SUPPLEMENTS. i pull down a whole shelf-full every morning, rattling the house as i open the bottles with caplets and pills.

and to top it all off, i brag about it. alas, as my friend marilyn said yesterday, 'we always brag about ourselves, our taste, or something, in every conversation. i keep catching myself at it.' ah, what is a blog but a boast-fest. we definitely follow the ancient celts and brits who beat their chests before and after battle (if they survived).

now, i must make a caveat. i strongly suspect these american traits, ethnic identity having nothing to do with it. you'll have to tell me whether i'm right or wrong.

on that note, our co-housing settlement getting a facelift. see the pictures here: