baby picture

baby picture
the birth of superdummy

Friday, February 11, 2011


in preparation for the graying and gradual or catastrophic incapacitation of its star quality cast of superheroes:
SUPERDUMMY (Tries to save people from themselves)
GENERAL LIES (The philosopher who is always bumping into things while he’s thinking about them.)
CAPTAIN NOBODY (the Zen rescuer…afterwards he always says, “O it was nothing, I mean, really…”
MAUVE JALLIBEAN (World’s Greatest Interior Decorator)
JOE POTATOES PAULSON (Has lots of private eyes)
JAZZY CORLEONE (the mafia soldier who doesn’t wanna be a big shot)
“OFFTHAFOGOTTALOTTAWOTTAME” (English translation: “Walks In Circles” the native America PR guy.
(The Few The Not Too Proud)
Maybe YOU Can Be One Of US!!!
If you at times see us slowing down traffic, please cut us a little slack. (Try to remember, we’re approaching the speed of light.)
Please contact us if you can provide donations of electric or manual wheelchairs, and/or walkers, crutches, and various splints and casts.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


A psychiatrist and friend advised me, recently, that when I’m choosing tenants for Casa Goofy International, if I wanted to get good, quiet, people who could reliably pay rent and get along with other tenants, I might have to compromise my artistic values. I said I can’t do that, and then our conversation shifted to how to deal with assholes.

The list of artists & writers, leaders, scientists, scholars etc. who were druggies, adulterers and/or just miserable excuses for human beings gets longer every day and sometimes knowing their flaws & failings helps us understand their work, at other times it’s irrelevant. Some of the good exists independently of the bad, some of it is inextricably mixed in, maybe even inherent. It’s important for us to note the bad things they did, and read the inflation quotient of their egos like we do our tire pressure, otherwise we can’t understand the all-too-human character of our own lives. But any analysis unwilling to embrace absurdity is going to fail to be coherent. And I say that recognizing that statement itself sounds contradictory, or I could be more pompous and call it a koan, I don’t really care. The point is, as Wittgenstein, Korzybski, Kant, et al have already pointed out, language & human knowledge are blunt instruments, i.e. just don’t cut it, or maybe the problem is they do cut reality into parts and then we don’t know how to put them back into the whole and/or process. And even if words didn’t fail us daily, we see (as drugs & scientific instruments have shown) a very narrow spectrum of vibration & radiation and we can’t see very far or very small. Our memory and analysis are addled by drugs we take or are produced by our own constantly changing and failing glands. Our physiology & metabolism IS our brains and if other animals with different physiologies could talk we probably could understand them even less than we understand each other.

And it gets worse: the less we know the more we seem to think we know. For instance, evolution and global warming and holocaust deniers. For instance scientific underestimates (by over 100% /year) of global warming factors, for another instance, the recent execution of Troy Davis, and generally the exposure by DNA & other evidence, of the failure of the justice system, in thousands of death row and other cases to find the guilty and let the innocent go free. Circumstantial evidence, eye witness accounts, witness and alleged perpetrator confessions, turn out to be crap, the same crap, although apparently better organized and methodical, that we use daily to make our own judgments about other people. Who do we think we are? And what do we think we know? And what have we done to put ourselves in such high places? I’m not presenting these as rhetorical questions, but more like the beginnings of a form we should have to fill out before we start making judgments, not for the sake of a search for truth and justice or anything that noble, but because it’s so hard on our egos when find out we’re wrong and because the wrong-ger we are the more energy we have to spend denying it, energy, that otherwise could be spent having whatever we happen to think is a good time---at the time.

And here, relevant or not, your honor, I’d like to submit, just for the record, a pome (poems are major works, pomes are what you write when it’s too early in the morning or late at night to write anything major):

To A Furniture Maker

I try to talk

and ashes come out

nothing I can say because

I am messy so any kind of conversation with me

might involve two points of view, and be twice as messy,

so I couldn’t say

how hard I tried that morning

or how crappy it felt to have these two photo shop owners

stomping around me in their high heels

and tight jeans saying my work truck was in

their way,

what could I say, it was too late to leave and

damned if I got the cars out from under the coolers to keep shit

from raining down on them and damned if I didn’t

damned if I repaired the circuit their electrician or somebody altered

and cut off the power to the cooler pump

and damned if I messed with another man’s work

but we can’t talk so you’ll never know

how hard I tried to get their bride/ fairy princess’ BMW into a parking spot

but she’d have none of it

and would rather park in the alley than have to look at me

old Quasimodo the swamp cooler guy the alien

from the world of monsters where ideals

have to make compromises but

the deepest hurt had no words, just an image

one of their wedding photographs that kept staring at me

while I was fighting their perfumed curtains while trying

to work, an overweight woman walking

across the desert in the evening pulling

a translucent scarf behind her behind

which stood stark over exposed

mountains, the monstrous combination of our bodies

and our dreams, the whole pretty things up proposition

the knick knack stores and perfect furniture for which

you gave up an art gallery and art school

to bring up the neighborhood values

but that’s just business and business says

they have the right of way to blame me

not because of what I did but because

of what I was because I saw

the cracks in their facade

I can’t say that

but I should have known it would never be

what I did but who I was

thirty years ago when my helper brushed against

the cheapest board in the world

leaning against a truss in the attic and it fell

on the most expensive table in the world how

could it not how could we not meet how

could it not be

my fault though any court would have found

against the landlord, doesn’t matter, I can’t talk, the bartender next door says

“Some people should never meet.” But there’s another law

that says

they have to (and have to destroy each other

to prove the ultimate absurdity

of all ego) for instance why did I have to work for you

all that time

to prove what I somehow

must have already known?

that it was anger all along not because of what I did

but because I was the wrong person

to appreciate your perfectionism

so how could you just let it go

and let me go, you had to make a speech

“They lost a client.” you said over and over,

as the proof it was my fault

and as if to prove what I always thought

that there was an anger

in your esthetic, in the end you had to hurt me,

with a generality, “a professionalism that just isn’t there” and

the final irrefutable argument,

“so many things”. each of which you had plenty of opportunity

to complain about as they happened…so? why was I surprised?

I was born messy and you were born to be a grumpy old king

and your word law long ago

when you wrote to the editor describing

The different conditions of the homeless

and ended with,

“I am appalled.”

I said to myself, (because even if I could

say anything, there’s been nobody else

to talk to all these years)

“And that’s IT? That’s all there IS?”

(then, like the song says, “Let’s just keep

dancing.”) I’m sorry things (including me) aren’t good enough

but plants and animals and people leave a crooked trail

a ragged symmetry in all their journeyings to God

but you always needed

to straighten everything. Even

the irregular curves in the bodies

of dead trees

offend you.











Dad used to say


(because all the rest is just bull shit)

(don't argue with don't even think about legalized drug pusher infants in adult drag lest you be mistaken for one of them, lest your entire life disappear into a giant flat screen video game called THE SOCIETY OF THE SPECTACLE.) but if, as conservative talk radio keeps saying, nothing is connected to anything, why am I sitting here watching it? Kick boxers permanently damaging each other and howling with animal rage and satisfaction about it, people running back and forth across a football field with no ball, a ping pong table with a huge black hole in the middle of it, people dancing on the head of a pin, and nothing, nothing, nothing real?

Then a tenant called to say she’d left her keys in Casa Grande and did I have a spare for her apartment, and I said yes I’d bring one over, partly because I wanted to check up on some poor people who were stiffing me.

---they weren’t stiffing you they were just out of work and out of money and avoiding the issue….they were just poor…---

---and what’m I supposed to be, RICH!?? Broke as I am? Why can’t they pick somebody else to SCREW!---

---CUZ they LUV you!---

---well maybe I could use a little less affection, huh?---

---yeah, it’s a killer alright---

And as I was driving that long dark winding mountain road and the engine and transmission weren’t giving me any trouble at all the way they used to, I wondered if I could call that progress, and I wondered why it always seemed to fall to my lot to forgive everybody but nobody ever forgave me?

----O isn’t that cute? He’s THINKING he can figure the program. ---

---Is it ALL a program? DOES the program---

---DOES the tarot---

---know everything---

---can it tell you how to sing?---

---What’re you WORRIED ABOUT?---


---Nothing in that for anybody.---

---How about conversation?---

---That will never be delivered.---


---Will always be with us more solid than we can ever be---

The deadbeats had reparked their car in a really tight spot, probably to keep the repo man from getting it, the lights were now out, and they’d taken my note from the door but didn’t answer the door. The tenant with the lost keys thanked me and I said,

Maybe next time you see me you could give me twenty bucks for fuel?

And her boyfriend laughed.

There was this new DJ on NPR playing jazz that he really knew inside and out because he had been a member of jazz bands of that same era, and he touched me when he said he knew this guy who “did some things, then dropped out of sight and I haven’t heard from him since.”

---O man…happens to so many of us…I haven’t heard from myself in a long time either---

and the DJ said, "...if you can hang...." and I'm still hanging. You live on false hope long enough, it keeps you alive, so it's real. You just keep working long enough, and work becomes hope.

And later that night I sat in the van eating sushi, feeling like everybody and fate itself was down on me, pecking at my food like mom used to do when dad was mad at her for something she didn’t know because he never seemed to know those kinds of things weren’t exactly her fault or anything she did on purpose. And I was listening to Thom Hartman interpret Obama’s speech to the U.S. Chamber Of Commerce, an organization stacked with representatives of foreign corporations who could, because of the recent Citizens United Supreme Court decision, kill his chances of being reelected. Not that it mattered all that much, since he already owed his ass to those guys and even assuming he HAD any principles outside of just playing a good game, there wasn’t that much he could do anyhow. The system wins, the house wins, and nobody leaves without paying.

Once long ago in the 21st. century (but it all seems so unreal now) I had this non profit called Casa Goofy International. It coulda done a lotta good for a lotta people, it coulda helped the world get over a big heat wave, but before this thing could happen another thing had to happen and if it didn't all happen at once it wasn't gonna happen. And I was just a serviceman watching my hands get gnarled and grey and splotchy in the service of THE SOCIETY OF THE SPECTACLE and I lost my memories working, as if work was hope, for your stupid beauty. And I sat with all the rest of them at the stoplight seeing the red tail lights strung out to nowhere and waiting. Waiting, as if waiting would make it be somewhere.

Thursday, February 3, 2011


("I don't know who called this meeting but now that we're all here...")

Casa Goofy International is a non profit group, modeled after Student Exchange, whose mission is to provide an international exchange for artwork and artists.. Casa Goofy International is developing local hosting facilities and looking for individuals and groups in the greater Tucson area who would also be interested in hosting artists or their artwork and performances. We have internet tools such as whiteboard and webcam, and have joined like minded internet groups such as “” to make it easier for hosts and guests to get to know each other, create an informal contract with a “Plan B” and have an enriching artistic cross cultural experience. To check us out, type in Casa Goofy International on Facebook and follow the links to our member blogs. Depending on your personal circumstances your donated space and time and materials could be tax deductible.


Casa Goofy International
c/o Dennis Williams
1323 W. Hualpai Rd.
Tucson, AZ 85745-2051

Saturday, November 13, 2010


I got the worst post election blues I had since Reagan beat Jimmy Carter by secretly holding up the release of hostages. It got so bad and I was so conflicted it turned physical. It got so bad because I voted Democratic ONLY because I didn't want to throw my vote to a far right conservative. I voted for a local Green, Kent Solberg, because he had a strong stance, intelligent planning, name recognition and popularity going for him in a local race, but he only got 8% of the vote. It's kind of sad when we have to vote against our principles to try to hang on to the little bit of better, the nano-bit of less-bought -and-sold, the Democrats have over the Republicans. But then listening to Thom Hartman and Bernie Sanders discuss post election strategies, I was almost persuaded, AND THEN… I asked myself,

Assume everything they say is not only predictive but prescient, assume even that the Democrats get everything they want in the house and Senate, could they EVER effectively address global warming? (Seems to me the most they've ever done is suggest a politically calculated static decrease in a non linear increase, seems to me the most scientists have ever done is feed the mainframe data and tell it to add with grade school math while the feedback loops, according to all the stats I’ve read, are multiplying each other by exponents IF we don’t need some new form of calculus to figure their natural curves.) And is there a more important issue on the table, IF it's even ON the table? For one instance, what good is the best healthcare system on a sick planet? That's like these 1950s government fantasies that you could build a bomb shelter and store food and water so you could survive a nuclear winter after a nuclear war. For another instance how do we pull the plug on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and the hunger of the Military Industrial Complex for war without getting off oil? And in the financial realm, so many of the big corporations have so much oil stock all they lack for being oil companies is a few drilling rigs and pump jacks (and don’t tell me they don’t have the money to buy them).

Or let me ask all these questions a different way, how do you stop a feedback loop? Say Harry Potter waved his wand and suddenly we're back to pre industrial 350 PPM or even lower carbon dioxide levels. The tundra and permafrost are still melted, the arctic ice is gone and the Albedo effect (reflectance) is gone and the open water is absorbing heat like it hadn’t heard one calculated concession the scientists and politicians were offering it, billions and billions of tiny organisms in the exposed biomass are still farting out methane and carbon dioxide, the oceans have absorbed so much CO they're acidic and the coral is still dying and all that absorption potential is gone, not to mention the rainforests not sucking up CO2 and pumping out…HOW do you refreeze the arctic and start over? That's just one out of hundreds of feedback loops, but all I'm asking right now, is how on EARTH (we can’t live on Mars if we can’t survive in The Biosphere on Earth while cheating) do you unlock, much less reverse just that one knot of inertia? I've read about solutions and I have some ideas of my own, but none of these are feasible given the mass and inertia of demographic and POLITICAL feedback loops as we now know them.
So should we, and why not, address the Citizens United decision the way good martial artists would, by using the antagonist's energy against him---but how?

By recognizing that all borders change with the advent of new forms of communication and transportation, because we live in more and more times and places at once, because pollution and global warming recognize no borders, no property or even personal lines drawn in the sands of time, and so we only have to open our minds to the fact that we have common cause with Green parties in other countries. So if, in recognition of these truths which I hold to be self evident, we form a Green Party International, then according to Citizens United it would, just like Big Oil, Big Pharma, and Big Money in general, have the right to buy a piece of the American pie, warp our elections at warp speed, offer Democrats, Republicans, libertarians et al carrots and sticks of global opinion and money, assume its part and parcel of the myth of mass, so the political chess players could suddenly see their way to turning all righteous and principled.

One way we could obtain that outreach is, odd as it might seem, by going intensely local. That gets us to global because it's the same earth that we all grow food in, the same air and water we're all trying to save for the sake of our children...if we've given up on our own lives. And then use another martial arts principle and stay grounded and focused on how well (or not) we’re doing our art form, never lose our ROOT. And so in the course of inhuman events, connect to others in other countries on THAT common ground, speak truth to power on THOSE commons. Is it too much to ask? Too large a proposition to contemplate? An equation with too many variables? Maybe so, but one last question,

What's our other option?

Monday, November 30, 2009



Armageddon On $5/day continued: first let's just pause to just recognize a few beautiful things. How about:

Armageddon on $5/Day. Start here:

Bobby Mcferrin sampler:

End Of The World movies may be truer than truth as it was presented in the tub analogy in



This tub analogy won't hold water. It's too static to account for the accelleration the forces of climate change snergistically exert on each other: loss of Albedo contributes to tundra melt produces methane which produces more carbon and acid, reducing plankton and killing coral, reducing the oceans' & forests' abilty to absorb carbon, changing ocean currents to produce droughts, resulting forest fires pumping more carbon into the atmosphere, and these and more combined effects accellerating the rise in global temperature and accellerating WITH each rise in global temperature. In other words the hotter it gets the faster it can get hotter.

You can figure the tub, as presented, with grade school math but you can't figure climate change feedback loops separately or simply because they multiply by exponents. To make the tub as dynamic as an ecosystem you have to calculate the rate by which sludge builds up in the drain for every extra gallon of carbon and greenhouse gasses dumped in at the tap. Then you have to calculate the rate at which sludge tends to trap more sludge, narrow the drain and produce more greenhouse material at AND, simultaneously, enlarge the tap. I can't do the math on that & I doubt that even internet mainframes could, but that would be the closest approach to the actual situation I can think of.

The proposed political token remedy: reducing our INCREASE in emissions, even with controlling for the effect of population growth, still leaves us with a growing INCREASE in existing greenhouse gasses and carbon and a greater and greater accelleration in, and multiplication of, feedback loops. Also left out of the equation: social feedback loops, how small a disaster it takes to damage a social network to the point of anomie. Chernobyl exhausted the entire world's supply of bone marrow, one Katrina exhausted the EPA's mental and material resources. How could we afford all our far flung wars if we had several Katrinas, Tsunamis and Chernobyls at once?

Even if we somehow reduced existing greenhouse gasses and carbon to pre industrial revolution levels, where is the science and math to figure how low the earth's temperature has to go to stop one, much less thousands of feedback loops? The only possibly effective remedy is to start negative feedback loops, for instance: pv panels on dirigibles in the upper atmosphere or outer space placed and moved around to replace Albedo, i.e. produce shade where needed while simultaneously beaming usable microwave energy back to earth where it's needed, biochar, artificial reefs, and solar pumps filling the Salton Sea for the production of halophytes for biofuel and shrimp farming, smokestack algae biofuels

would help. But we have to remember that energy, once used, is also heat. So conservation and population control and use of every form of renewable energy possible have to be part of our system of negative loops.

Some argue that such draconian measures would be dangerous meddling with an already fragile ecosystem, but we have to remember we've been doing that kind of meddling for thousands of years already in the same sense that we've been changing the chemistry of the earth and genetically modifying crops and playing god with our own genetic code and the code of plants and animals. We're just coming to the point where we have to do the same modifications consciously or opt out of and lose out on the life of the mind and the adventure of consciousness entirely. It reminds me of an old fable about someone who eats of the fruit of knowledge and has to leave a beautiful garden. Once having done that, we can't stop eating that fruit. We need to learn how to turn fruit (and water) into wine.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

(And How Could We Tell If It Did?)


From the roof of the Arizona Hotel the market forces


On every horizon sheer cliffs of glass unscalable

by any lone messenger

Crowd in

around the abandoned meter base, the aliens

have landed, they walk among us in business

suits, we should just leave, but we’re invested

and have to rebuild another wrecked air conditioning system,

Something is wrong but nobody will listen to me

a lonely truth

is an unforgiven thing

people who need people

trust the judgment of crowds and the values

of business

and so we are all gathered together again in beautiful downtown Tucson

to once again trust that a coalition of art and business

will not result in self conscious touristy art

that pop culture will not become the society of the spectacle

that it won’t be déjà vu all over again

and nobody will come here because it’s too crowded

because we believe

that consciousness is inherent in numbers,

and only occurs in certain

locations, locations, locations, but what if your sculpture

is only a foot across the line does it lose

gravitas all at once or gradually?

People who need people

Say money talks but like talk

Radio does it ever

Say anything?

Money just does what it wants

Money has value

but does it have any values

beyond growth for growth’s sake?

The Martin Luther King apartments

that loom over me coming home

from late night service calls at restaurants

miles east of here block

the Catalinas, microwave, radio, and television

towers mock

the need to reach out and touch

someone this is

dense shit we’re in, my friend, this thick

sick slick sad gross


of an impossible exchange all men being

created unequal, there being

a hell in any truth held to

be self

evident any thing held to too

long, nothing stays without becoming

staid but

every atom and molecule in our bodies came from the stars

and they all formed as if an intelligence inhered in their

organization so I believe in community and so

like an ant or bee or cog in a clockwork

orange or blue or green I have to serve but why

does the course of human evens have to be so unbearably

and self destructively stupid over and

over fixing up a place to leave

for moneybags to sit on. Why?

do we do this shit? Because people who need people

can’t think about it, because disturbed people disturb

the natural balance until the air we breathe

the water we drink, the food

we eat, set us on a track to addiction and

mental illness, abandoned children making more

abandoned children, where is the love?

where only the grossest of truths can be

communicated across chasms between sheer cliffs

of mis under

standings, chasms we think we cross and

fall into and still no

supremely wise counselor, mediator, or friend

to reconcile all these years of struggle we

ARE the aliens we worshipped and feared we bring ourselves

the injustice

of money because we are

the injustice of money

we are the aliens

and we come

from the stars


As a child grows its knowledge of the world outside expands and its awareness of other people and their concerns deepens. It learns boundaries, rules, social norms, egos and how to manipulate them, laws and how to break them, lies and how to tell them and within the limits set by love and money, how to sort out truth from fiction. Beyond this hard journey outward another dimension of growth obtains which could be summed up by one word, service. As an individual, a couple or a community grows it recognizes that, at some point beyond our understanding, self service is ultimately self defeating, that its health is tied to service to and the health of the greater community.

If this service is done blindly, the way love is blind, the way good soldiers serve in bad wars, as busy work like driving nails to prove you’re a carpenter, then we’re no better and probably a lot worse for the disservice to our so called brains, than ants or bees or lemmings. So part of growth is learning to dedicate time and energy to goals that reach out beyond unenlightened self interest and finally beyond human concerns to the natural community. And we get payback for that. Big time. We get our health, a connection to our real roots, something to give ourselves to that will outlast our bodies, and an understanding that life is more than bread and the body is more than meat and the life of the mind and the adventure of consciousness don’t have to be measured by money.

O no doubt we gotta have money, but if it’s the end all and be all we’re stuck in a perpetual adolescence, kind of like the local talk show, “The Business of Business” whose thesis seems to be: the business of business is business and doesn’t have to be concerned about service. If you just wouldn’t tax us, and let us locate where we want, and get rid of all these narrow minded environmental protection laws, why then everybody would make money and everything would be fine. If we poison the inner city and build out beyond the infrastructure we’ll make water out of money and air out of cement dust and we’ll grow food in nice, fresh asphalt. Give us a cross town highway, make all city planning, planning for a city of cars, tear down the old buildings, give us a tunnel and we’ll give you a vision.

But does urban growth necessarily mean growing up? “Does your job depend on growth?” The sly Socratic announcer asks, AH HA! GOTCHA! well then you have to vote for these aimless subdivisions with architecture from here & there & everywhere wandering the desert between here and Phoenix looking for an identity. It’s either that or starve……o alright then, you seem to have me over a barrel but, as Jack Benny used to say to “Your money or your life!”

“I’m thinking! I’m thinking!”

I’m thinking there’s a couple other seemingly contradictory things we usually get as we grow up, an awareness that we don’t have to be the center of attention, and a self image, a (mostly vague) idea of who we are and what we’re about. Unless, of course, you’re like me, a jack of all trades so you screw everything up. SOOO? What does Tucson DO? An air force base, missile technology, a university, open pit mining, a rock show, look at its navel and study its past, build houses for people who come here to get away from winter, bring all their pollen and live in upscale little barrios and rabbit warrens? Those are noble enough goals for any toddling town to hang its hat on, but I think we can do better.

We could exploit our most plentiful and underutilized resource: what one Spanish visitor in the seventeenth century called in his journal, "the most merciless of suns".

Concentrating (pun intended) on the sun would just enhance the crowd draw we now have. Who are Tucson? Tucson are a city who give good roof gardens, gardened walls for growing plants, PVs, water heating, hydrogen production, smokestack/algae biofuel production ( You come here to get away from winter, we also sell you solar heat, solar air conditioning, solar electricity and fuel for your vehicle. AND in the process, we MAKE

(our most valuable anti-resource) SHADE! Have you noticed how plants here love it? Shade our gardens so they’ll grow mo better. Shade our streets to counteract the heat island effect, make more cooling towers such as those at The Ronstadt Bus Depot. Plant more trees. A French Johnny Appleseed planted so many trees it increased the local rainfall. Install inflatable rubber dams and shade the Santa Cruz to make a river walk like they have in San Antonio (and at least one rose I'm told)

Maybe we could have our own private photo voltaic dirigible(s) which could be moved around to make SHADE where and when it was needed….what an example to the arctic about how to fight the loss of albedo, and to Montana and Colorado about about how not to lose their Aspens, and how to go from local to global in the fight against other climate change feedback loops.

And if we’re about hosting a university and utilizing the sun we should revisit the U of A's Rainbow Bridge Science Center. It wasn't a bridge to nowhere, it went OUTWARD (like people do when they grow up) to the rest of the known world where there may be monsters and MONEY. It would have built on and expanded the
Biosphere and The Environmental Research Lab at the airport. The Rainbow Bridge had IMAGE and as even the stupidest advertising people (including Dr. Bong in Howard The Duck) can tell you, "IMAGE IS EVERYTHING!" Build a Rainbow Bridge, and they will come. We might even get a little rain. A little rain would be nice.

It might even enhance our self image. And how, the nagging question repeats and repeats in this A.M. Radio the CIA implanted in my brain, would that make more money and be good for business? Well we HAD an International Arts Center and it DIED for lack of image. People came in there and asked,

“What IS this place? You got kick boxing and fencing….OK those are martial arts…and you got jewelry making and pottery, those are artsy craftsy…and you got gay dancing….that’s the art of dance….and you got a church…..I’m still confused.” The mission statement said it was to be a center for the exchange of international art and artists. And nobody on the city council could see that as being a crowd draw. A little town like Bisbee could host an international poetry festival, a little city like Cleveland, the butt of stand-up jokes with a river so polluted it burned one night, could become the host of the biggest performance art festival in the world, but Tucson? Tucson don’t know who it are yet, so it cain’t do nothin, much less take advantage of the 10x multiplier effect of art events on business. Awww poor baby! So through a series of crooked deals the historic old Y got torn down to make way for condos whose owner said he’d “GIVE” us a sculpture garden. Once demolition was finished he decided the market for condos wasn’t there and the International Arts Center became a hole in the ground for five years with an empty sign towering over it seeming to say everything

and nothing. And then? And then? Along came the university to make it into underground parking and student housing. So THAT’S the kind of city Tucson are? OK by me, let’s go with the flow and make mo dough. If we’re a university town let’s learn our children something. I think the rock show, Rio Nuevo and the wandering developments and even businesses that are all about business and nothing else could fit right in to an image of Tucson as a city of the sun whose university makes missiles and space exploration projects and solar technology.

On the other hand we do have local businesses that understand the principle that they’re not just producing or selling a product. These businesses say they’re about (and some actually are about) being a hub for community interaction from local to global: Whole Foods, Bookman’s, The Book Stop, The Food Conspiracy, Rillito Mortgage, and you can probably think of many others. They GET one of the primary principles of good salesmanship: that it’s not about them, it’s not about the medium of exchange, and it’s not about the product, it’s about the short and long term relationships and ultimately the sense of community that you form in the process of moving goods and money from one place and one person to another. And on the OTHER other hand, how many examples do you need that when the business of business is business it goes down in flames? G.M., The Keating Five, A.I.G., the crash of ’29 and the slippery slide and Not So Great Depression of ’09, and speaking of speculation, how about the real estate market….oh OK I give up, just keep on doing what you’re doing….listening to Rush Limbaugh and all those other champions of laissez faire capitalism as long as it makes them the center of attention. The reason they call them talk shows is the hosts have mouths that completely cover their ears. And there’s a reason, as Lincoln Steffens said, they go hand in glove with people who just wanna make money. And we gotta love ‘em: John Dillinger, Al Capone, Don Corleone, Joe and Bill Bonano, Willie Sutton, Bugsy Siegel. Love to play them on TV, love to have them as neighbors, city council members, family members….uh….wait a minute…..

Meanwhile back at the ranch the blood feud between the bitter conservative gasbags (“We’re totally self made people and we’re not giving you any of our hard earned money.”) and the whitebread liberals (“OK then we’ll just spend the pennies we have on feel good environmental projects and public art that nobody is really very passionate about”) goes on. (And on.)

All of which reminds me of one of the few things on which I agree with Henry Kissinger:

"The infighting is so bitter because the stakes are so small." (out of the mouths of Machiavellians)

but you know, speaking of people who don’t know how to listen, I haven't been asked to consult with the mayor and council in at least a month and it's been the longest since I was invited up to the White House to give Obama some advice on global warming & Afghanistan....

They’re probably just worried I'm not as big a fan as I used to be.

Monday, February 18, 2008


It didn’t snow that night and it didn’t get as cold as they said it would, but it was cold and wet enough. There was a raw wind gusting from the South where the Alaskan low pressure system had swirled up from the Bay Of Mexico and the Baja. I could hear the rain on the camper roof all night. While it drove me crazy I thought about the two snails Roy, the juice bar baristo had saved for me in a paper cup. They were probably dying in the truck cab, because I forgot to put them in the pond when I got home. He had that sensitive, irritable, adolescent attitude a lot of ex junkies have, that everything is about them and everybody is a piece of shit. Women loved him for that. More! More punishment! More disrespect! they cried. He’d probably be real disappointed if I told him the snails died of my neglect after he saved them from the celery he was washing. And I’d have to tell him if he asked because I don’t lie worth a shit.

I also thought about having to tell Rick the Home staff refused my offer of his woodworking tools, and I was going to have to sell them to pay his back rent on the garage. How could I take the last thing this clinically depressed homeless man had to believe in away from him, so my sister could sit and babble her life away in a nursing home? Just one of many human miseries I have to exacerbate in my job as trustee and guardian of my inheritance of the darkness of a little corner of the earth called Texas. It is, after all, #1 in the death penalty, & gave us three presidents who gave us three big stupid wars.
It wasn’t a hard rain but it was relentless. I couldn’t obliterate it with the white noise hiss of escaping greenhouse gasses in the tiny butane tent heater with the controls I had to smash and jury rig and the whoosh of the tiny fan sitting on top of it. Roy loved the rain. I hated it. Because it reminded me of all the times things I was responsible for got ruined in it. Finally I put on clothes and walked out into the dark and wet, bitching and moaning, trying to find what scattered toys and mementos I wanted to save.
The wreckage of my art and writing. All the things it’s impossible to talk about. Write a letter to the editor, try calling NPR, or any other talk show.. ..they call them talk shows because they can’t listen…and if you do get through, Big Money and Big Oil can always talk louder than the voice of reason. Try getting a story in to a national magazine. It was refreshing feeling the cold rain, but nobody was there.
Give me a kiss, I said to the woman in my dreams.
It’s nothing personal, I said, I’m just freezing.
Nothing ever is. She said.
In the morning the barrio was very quiet, as if all its human misery, sirens, screams and violent actors had been frozen in place. I woke up sick, remembering what it was like just getting here, as a child, unable to move anything, not even intention. And now we can do things, talk to people, move things around, make changes. Can’t we? I made a special trip down to the Gem show to talk to Kent and get his estimate of what Rick’s tools were worth. I was in a pissy mood, and determined to take it just as far as I could.
Death is just around the corner. Nothing matters anymore. Don’t you understand that?
I said to nobody as I stood in the cold all day, sorting wrenches on the tailgate, watching the storm clouds roll out of the valley, and thinking about the back of JFK’s head getting blown off, the first time we knew nothing good can happen in this world without something dark and broken inside all of us also getting its due.
Party bigwig Chuck Schumer was on TV the other night saying for the sake of party unity we “might” have to ignore the popular vote. Now the radio was saying it looked like Obama would lose Texas big time.
If only he could sweep Texas.
You can’t sweep Texas, "It’s too sorry!" my sister used to say, when she had the brains left to say anything. Or more simply, it’s too full of bullshit, or I’M sorry, the DISTANCES of “the unlikely story that is America”, the vast spaces that seemed to grant people like Bush their half vast sense of entitlement. There is no form of human thought so far that can penetrate much less inform THAT emptiness.
I stared at the grease inside the sockets I was putting on metal stringers like it was a personal archeological find, as I thought about the bitter battles I’d had with them, against the junky vehicles I’d used them on. If I could just get everything arranged just right, I wouldn’t mind going back to work….ha ha.
And if he does sweep Texas, it will be because once again the age will be handed the kind of shit that it demanded. There’s nothing of substance in Obama, just slogans.
Yeah…if you could like anybody who could command that big a demographic, it would mean you’re stupid wouldn’t it?
It means women will bare their breasts and everything else for power. You could see it at Zaire when Muhammed Ali fought George Foreman there. You could see it in Mbutu, exactly the kind of dictator the spirit of that people demanded, like the excesses of the Russian Revolution demanded Stalin…
The way post WW II U.S. housing and baby booms demanded Bay of Pigs, demanded the mob hit of 63, and Fear Of Communism, the fear that some other crook might take our ill gotten gains, demanded we shore up Pinochet in Argentina, and Posada in almost every counter revolution in Latin America, Reagan and the Contras and Granada, JHW Bush in Panama, and Iraq #1, the CIA and its “economic hit men”, Kissinger’s “economic imperative” , Nicaraugua, Guatemala, School Of The Americas, and Big Oil, and Vietnam and Iraq 2 and millions of vets coming home, the backs of their skulls blown off by absurdity
Obama’s speech to AIPAC and the speech about global warming…a betrayal…
Yeah…yeah… he shoulda told them what a buncha whiney chauvinist, professional victims they were, that woulda REALLY helped him get past the prejudice that he's a Muslim wouldn’t it? And he shoulda told us all we were already past the tipping point, and there was no hope. That woulda been real uplifting and unifying wouldn’t it?
And his bill to put private contractors under U.S. law, he just let that languish and said he couldn’t rule out the use of Blackwater, Triple Canopy, KBR/Halliburton, DynCorp, Erinys …to guard our embassy….for the foreseeable future…so where’s the hope in that?
On the other hand, Hillary hasn’t even STARTED to deal with it. And on the other hand I got a Robo call the night before from Clinton headquarters saying I’d lose my social security if I voted for Barack. I guess I must have suddenly landed in “the old and scared” demographic. And I get letter after letter from feminists asking,

"How did a historic breakthrough moment become marred by having to choose between 'race cards' and 'gender cards?'"
Sorry, sometimes I forget nothing else matters besides your issues, your childhood hurts. Maybe sometimes you forget words are birds without wings or feathers. They spend their entire lives in the chasms between us. Sometimes on a dark night with no moon you can hear their faint cries….
And they say we need a woman president, because she’ll think different.
But she DOESN’T think different. She thinks like a man. She says no dialogue with Cuba or Akmadinijad, or Kim Il Jung, no consensus building so the U.N. can have half a chance of doing its part. All her experience goes to listening to Big Money and Big Oil talk to her like she was a man so this insane war can go on killing women and children in another country. She earned a million for sitting on the board of Walmart. She says she’ll keep her relationship with J. Mack of Morgan Stanley, and keep on taking money from lobbyists because “they represent real Americans”. And Bill’s got his pals, like fugitive billionaire Marc Rich, for whose sake AIM activist Leonard Peltier will rot in prison the rest of his life. It’s Obama who’s makin like a woman.

And they say if I don’t want to vote for Hillary it’s because I’m scared to have a woman president. Scared I might feel castrated. Thanks ladies, nice to have your help, so I don’t have to think too much. Or feel castrated.

But tell you what, let’s give Barack a sex change operation….

DING! DING! DING! TRIPLE VICTIMHOOD! BONUS POINTS! EVERYBODY WINS! A black, gay, bi, transgender, woman president! Satisfied, Gloria Steinem? Or jealous? And Hillary can get a tattoo all over her face and work with Aunt Jemima by her side. FULL HOUSE! ALL THE CARDS ON THE TABLE! TEXAS FOLD ‘EM! RAISE YOUR HANDS AND STEP AWAY FROM THE TABLE PLEASE!

Why’re you so bitter?

Just my personal problem. Far as I’m concerned for all the reasons Ruth Bader Ginsberg will always be one of my heroes, Billary to me, like a lot of political marriages, is just another two headed scumbucket. But that’s probably because I’m just so stupid and wrapped up in myself I can’t hear you. I wouldn’t give it a moment’s thought. I can’t even tell you, the thing you might be missing in all this is words don’t mean shit. Follow the money, and as Lincoln Steffens proved in city after city in the thirties and forties, you’ll find big business connected to organized crime, connected to government, like the leg bone necktid to the thigh bone…and a sex change doesn’t change that.
Meanwhile WE live our lives and work ourselves to early graves like ants and bees and ciphers, while patriotic idiots scream at us on the radio. And torture and assassinations and death squad raids are carried out in our name in the third world mostly for the sake of oil. Oil in our shoes, oil in our wedding cakes, oil in our mouths, masked with tons of sugar and chocolate.
Does that oil taste good? And tell me, que es mas macho? Oil or Blood?
Who’s gonna fix it? Obama? He’s just a preacher.
NOW who’s being general? But he’s got over a million private donors. Maybe when the big boys come to him for payback he can tell them,
“Sorry, I don’t need you anymore. I have over a million small donations from people who DON’T represent real Americans. They happen to BE real Americans.”
And they’d just say,
“We wish you luck. We hope nothing happens to you, but we’re worried about your health.”
Just like they said it to every democratically elected president of every third world country that wouldn’t go along with United Fruit, Exxon, private contracting companies ruling whole small countries in Latin America, usurious CIA sponsored infrastructure loans, and all the rest of Kissinger’s “Economic Imperative” and the globalized armies of thugs it hired. And an aide gets handed “a tape recorder” as the new president gets on the plane, and there’s another unverifiable rumor of an explosion, another “mysterious” crash, and an investigation that turns up nothing.
But I need to believe in something. I can’t work without hope. Hope for the unlikely story and the lost cause that America has always been.
What’s happened to you? You always used to say,
Hope springs infernal.
Well, I changed my mind. I’m feeling weak and helpless. So sue me.
Yeah, I get it, do you?
When it got dark, I just needed someplace to go, but not far, so I drove to Albertson’s just for the feeling of getting somewhere. I noticed the guy in the white van all loaded with crap WASN'T there that night. WASN’T sitting in HIS SPACE on the bench, reading magazines, his big trembling, weathered hands pawing through the babes in the fashion section of the INSANE story that is America which, we have to keep reminding ourselves, ALL springs from the same soil, which comes from someplace beyond the stars.
The universe is at least 98% nothing. And we come from that nothing. So what is there to say?
I said.
As I carried my veggies out to the truck and drove away listening to some pretty inventive blues with those same old unutterably stupid sexual lyrics attached. But they got me on the road.
I passed the cliff where, that afternoon, coming back from a seven mile construction detour on I-10, I saw this big, tall, half naked, crazy man, pushing his shopping cart in the wind. That night his absence really spoke to me. For years I'd seen him coming down from the hills now and then where he had a cave or some kind of shelter, long suntanned arms flailing in the sun, as he talked to the traffic and his demons, going over and over the same ruts, year after year, in his damaged brain. Flailing and flailing like the ripped ribbons of his shirt in the wind. As if to say,
Don't you understand? DON'T YOU UNDERSTAND?
Yes. Yes I do. I said.