baby picture

baby picture
the birth of superdummy

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.

Friday, February 15, 2008


(“…to jump in the river and drown.” “Goodnight Irene” by Huddie Ledbetter)

"The opinion that art should have nothing to do with politics is itself a political attitude."

-George Orwell, Why I Write, 1946 essay.

"We were so easy to deceive /

We were so easy to control /

We didn't even know there is

a war."

-Leonard Cohen, There Is A War.

It had been a day full of disappointment and fear. It was hot, even for Tucson in February. The woman at the home for homeless vets at Davis Monthan Air Force Base called and said they couldn’t help me with my idea to use the equipment one of their clients had left in the garage I managed for the family trust, (that takes care of my sister who has schizophrenia) to start a woodshop.

So those guys could do something besides sit around, tell war stories and make each other even more depressed.

I thought, but no, not even that, not even close.

Made too much sense. I said, as I pulled into the parking lot of Casa De Los Ninos thrift store. As I walked in, I called Obama Headquarters to tell anybody I could get hold of that I felt betrayed by and disappointed in him. I was upset about statements I read in a thread on about his ties to Exelon, nuclear power, liquid coal, crop based (instead of smokestack algae based) biofuels, pharmaceuticals, and the pro Israel lobby/pac, AIPAC and a vote against credit card interest caps. Turns out that was information planted by the Clinton machine. The woman who answered said they were prohibited by law from taking donations over $2000. The staff there couldn’t even take donations of coffee from Starbucks for fear that would be used against them. Exelon did hammer him enough on his bill to require full disclosure for any nuclear accident of any size, that the final bill ended up as a suggestion rather than a requirement but the clincher was Hillary voted FOR that bill. He had made statements that Israel’s right to exist should be recognized but it was more complicated than that. She asked me to read Michael Lerner’s essay: “Obama’s Jewish Problem” at

and Robert Cohen’s, No Manchurian Candidate at:

She was obviously just a volunteer, just out of college, pleasant, personable with a husky lilt and laugh in her voice that promised more than I’d ever known or for shit sure would ever see delivered. But the falseness in THAT hope was my own damn dumb fault. I said I was also disappointed in his apparent lack of understanding about the nature of global warming feedback loops, that according to the testimony of scientist after scientist on the McCain Committee, could aggressively continue expanding themselves and each other like compound interest on existing CO2 while he talked the usual bureaucratic blather about decreasing an increase in emissions by 80% by 2050 and wasn’t even factoring in population growth. Then she really blew me away. She said she’d taken climatology and ecology in college and she agreed with me. I said,

You’re the first person I’ve talked to who’s said that. But…knowing we may not even see 2020 much less 2050, how do you handle it?

I don’t mean this maliciously but if we do go under that way, maybe we deserve it. Just in the sense that we weren’t intelligent enough to survive.

But just thinking that all of human history and art and culture could disappear?

Some new form of consciousness will arise.

Holy shit. I thought, as if to prove her point, that was exactly what I’d been thinking the past twenty years, that nature had already demonstrated a capability of creating innumerable intelligences, equal to or greater than our own….which, as in the present instance, wasn’t a hard bar to get over. Like the law of conservation of energy, nothing really lost. “Nothing,” as Allen Ginsberg said to Bob McNamara, “that would change anybody’s ultimate form of being.” But there wasn’t time to go into that. I should have just told her how beautiful I found her, but I said,

No, I mean, how do you handle it personally?

And she just laughed. And we talked a little longer about possibilities I’d thought of: we could restore the lost reflectance of melting ice with photovoltaic panels, could dig a canal from the Bay of Mexico to the Salton Sea and the Baja and use the rising ocean waters for shrimp farms full of oil rich grass, could make green buildings here and abroad, with good loans to the third world that would replace the CIA’s cor-pork-racy and “Economic Hit Men” with affordable loans for sustainable agriculture and infrastructure. We could invest in Mexico’s and Palestine’s farming communities instead of fences. Yeah we could do wonders and eat rotten cucumbers as we used to say in high school. And then she said,

The incoming calls are piling up. I’m going to have to let you go.

I tried to tell her what a pleasure it had been talking to her, but it came out as just another pleasantry. I felt that old big time ache inside that told me I was going to have to let HER go.

Ah god, I said to the cold, lonely darkness gathering inside me, haven’t I seen her hundreds of times before? WHY does she always come along at the wrong place and the wrong time?

And her voice echoed,


I finished buying the backpacks I was going to use to carry tools and supplies up onto the roofs in the coming dog days. At last I’d gotten an opportunity, proven myself enough to one restaurant owner, that he was allowing me to install heat reclaim from his ice machine to his water heater. At last I had hope of doing something meaningful for the environment in this filthy business I’d been trapped in most of my adult life. But hope was hurting and scaring me, so I was taking a break that afternoon. I walked out, past the boom trucks in the parking lot loaded with salvage A/C units, into the junkyard in back of the thrift store, where the rejects sat waiting for a slow death in the merciless Arizona sun. I looked up at the cloud spotted peaks of the Catalinas and said to myself,

Yeah. I have no voice, no hands to touch, no feet to walk anywhere with, there’s not even a “me” worth talking about. Nothing here but the mountains. I’m almost glad I know that.

There was a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue on some shelves. I picked it up and sat down on the top shelf, which broke and sent me sprawling like a clown.

Pressed wood. Formaldehyde based crap.

I said as I sat on a table and opened the magazine again, just to see what else I’d been missing for so long it seemed normal.

Inside there were touched up and pimped out babes with grains of sand clinging to their photoshopped skin, posed, self consciously, stupidly, in front of everything we were destroying with every abstract and concrete lust we could muster: a twilight desert, snow capped mountains, the ocean, baby seals, walruses, glaciers, everything, even this ultimate obscenity: the Masai.

Jesus fucking Christ.

I said,

You just can’t let ANYTHING alone can you? Everything, especially every proud and noble native culture, MUST be defiled and broken.

And I heard her voice echoing,


Before which I was nothing but a game.

Monday, February 11, 2008


I finished the installation of the tankless water heater for Sushi Garden. It was intimidating but it wasn’t hard.

Who’s that?

I asked the old man in the mirror door, who just said,

Who’s that?

Right back at me, the pitiful sap, all his years, commandeered to the service of a group ego with a mobster’s sense of honor. As the typical woman led her typical boyfriend in to the secret door & he followed not for anything inside the restaurant but in not so secret hopes of getting to the promised land later on that night in bed.

Plumbing’s not my favorite game, so I did have to call Gene a few times to ask questions about code. He just laughed, nothing to worry about.

You and me, Gene.

I said, we won’t ever get the girl, not in this stupid movie. Not for all your nights crawling through attics and below floors, a light on your forehead, like a misshapen, ungainly, toothless angel, or your rainy days jackhammering through asphalt and concrete to run a water line for a poor ol widder woman. The most beauty we’ll ever hold in our hands is the mechanical excellence of the Cummins diesel in your big dually bread truck with parts and supplies neatly stocked like military secrets on walk-in racks and in filing cabinets.

So that’s done. I said to myself. Now don’t you dare tell me it was nothing, after all the complaining and whining you did, o I can’t do it, I just can’t do this... don’t say shit

and myself said, just shut the F up,

To the sinking, queasy sensation in my gut as I called Rick at the homeless vets’ center.

I can’t talk to him, I’m not a shrink, I don’t know what to say to a clinically depressed man.

It wasn’t Rick, it was someone sounding even more depressed.

What the hell kind of sense does that make?

I wondered,

To let these guys associate with each other? Drag each other down?

Is Rick there?

Yeah, just a minute.

The voice dragged the words out forever.

Can I pick you up so we can go take a look at the stuff in the garage?

Well if you’re sure you want to.

My thing is take a look at the situation and then decide what the options are.

Well OK.

He sounded really bad off. This wasn’t going to be a good trip, I thought.

How far behind in rent are we?

6 months. That’s 900 dollars.

Have you broached the idea to the center that they could use the equipment to start a woodworking shop there?

No. It’s Saturday, there’s no staff here.

Well I’m just concerned about how I can reimburse the family trust.

Yes I understand.

Well can we just go take a look at what’s there and then decide what to do?

Yeah, I guess.

He said the equipment wasn’t in good shape and needed assembly. I wondered how much his depression was clouding his judgment.

He’d disappeared many times before and always came back and paid up. But this time he said he left town “intending to end it all” but “couldn’t go through with it”. It is a hard thing, those times in your life when you realize how alone we all are. The good news and the bad news is it’s nothing personal, even when both parties think it is. I was thinking about times in my life when it would have been so easy to fall into that hole he was in, and wondering if I would get dragged down THIS TIME into his hole…and you fall and fall thinking any minute you’re going to find the bottom, the answer. O yeah, haven’t we all been there on that bipolar roller coaster ride to nowhere? I asked myself as I drove down that long twilight line of red taillights strung out to the airplane boneyard at Davis Monthan Air Force Base. Is this where we’re all going?

He came walking up out of the darkness, a figure in tan clothes with white hair, his face had gotten fatter from the drugs, stood staring at the truck, slowly reached up to the door handle, and got in and stared at the dashboard awhile.

Kind of hypnotizing, these LEDs

They’re not. Just kids’ sneakers I cut the tops off of. They have those stars in them that flash whenever you take another step. Just stuff to keep me awake driving from job to job late at night. I tried to get all bobble head toys but only ended up with three.

Where’d you get them?

Charley, the crackhead, left them in the storage shed & finally said just take everything out for the rent owed the trust and send him a few things he really needed. He had enough toys in there a hundred kids couldn’t have played with them all. It’s funny.

He didn’t think anything was funny.

I said, When were you in the Service?

In the 80s, when it wasn’t very popular.

Did you see any action?

No, just once we found a boat with 80 Vietnamese refugees trying to get to America in a boat built for 20. We left them off at the next port. I’m sure they just found another boat. Then near the Panama Canal we heard about an uprising in Guatemala…

Oh the arms for hostages thing…

No before that. Just the beginning. Our sister ship got an emergency call and peeled off to go back to Vietnam. That’s all the action I ever saw.

You get a pension?

No, just the care at the home.

What about the Harley?

I’m behind on payments on that too. I need to call the bank and tell them to just go pick it up.

Lotta people in that same boat. The house next door to me was built by two partners and got taken over by the bank. Guess they couldn’t pay the loan. It hasn’t rented and hasn’t sold in over a year. There’s some bad times ahead.


When we got there he walked in real slow like someone wading through floodwaters. He’d built a loft in the back. A 2 X 8 had cracked in the middle on a knot and all fifteen feet of it was sagging under the weight of years of storage. I grabbed a piece of angle iron from a bed frame and asked him to hold it on the beam while I hammered the bottom until it was plumb. The equipment was all heavy duty Delco, a band saw, contractor’s table saw, bench saw, drill press, joiner….the bed on this was rusty but the blades felt sharp.

I don’t think it will run.

Why not?

Been sitting too long.

Don’t see why that should matter. Why don’t we try it?

No outlets.

There’s one.

They’re not hooked up.

Just a few wires. Here let me get my tools.
Yeah we got power. Try it.

I’d like to have an electrician to check out the continuity on the motor.

You got one. Try it.

I saw a flash.

We still have power. Probably just a tiny wire touching another one. It’s gone now.

Stand back. OK I’m satisfied it runs…

Don’t you want to try it with a board?

No I don’t need to lose any fingers tonight. O alright.

He held the piece of dark maple in his hands and sighted down it, and then slowly adjusted the bed on the jointer.

God, I thought, he’s like me when I have those feelings that I can’t do anything, and just have to fight my way to competence one tiny battle at a time. What a crying shame to lose all that expertise and experience to a tiny imbalance in a few neurotransmitters.

It’s more than that you idiot and even you know better. There’s something going on here.

But I’m not a shrink.

Yeah you said that, so….?

He ran the board through and then said the tiny variations on the cut meant the blades had to be sharpened.

Not necessarily. What about the rust on the bed? As you dragged the board across it, I saw it jerking a little.

Yeah, guess you’re right.

Looks pretty good to me.

I shoulda had you here before.

There was a yearbook like a high school yearbook from his ship, The Roanoak. He thumbed listlessly through the water stained and wrinkled pages.


I said seeing the pictures of women in bathing suits in the South Pacific. Oh they were FAR AWAY alright.

He put the book down abruptly, like he was discarding it. I watched as he looked at the new computer and then started putting clothes on it, sticking a shirt on it, then a pair of pants, like he was dressing it for bed, and then did the same with the flat screen monitor. I knew he was thinking about taking it. I let him choose whether he would or would leave it to be part of the sale.

I saw a little bronze sculpture next to a Japanese sword. It looked like one man carrying another on his back, but looking closer it was a statue of the many armed and legged Hindu dancing goddess.

Did you learn to use that sword?

Yeah. In Kung Fu.

Did you study Buddhism?

A little. In martial arts. It makes sense to me.

Yeah. Me too.

On the way back I talked about my sister’s history starting from age 11 when she was taken to El Paso and got electro shock. It wasn’t as bad as in One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest I said. They knew they were exaggerating in that movie but it wouldn’t have been much of a show if they didn’t ham it up a little. Sometimes I almost like Jack Nicholson when he’s playing somebody besides himself. It’s like Mark Twain said, “Be yourself is the worst advice you can give some people.”

He laughed, a little.

I actually liked him once, in “The Missouri Breaks”.

It’s been a long time since I saw that. What was it about?

It was about insanity. And Marlon Brando was really insane in it. It was a surreal Western. I liked it because there were no good guys, kind of like life, without the boredom.

You been following the election?

Riveted to it.


It’s high drama. Edwards withholding his delegates out of pride like Achilles, like: "Only I can speak for the working man." What did Hillary offer him in that secret meeting? Something to help him swallow his pride? Is Obama just another pretty face and a bunch of slogans? Is Hillary all corruption? Does the machine win, or the populist? What will the insurance companies do to our health care? I don’t like her waffling. I don’t like Obama’s lack of specifics but nobody owns him yet. But whatever you think there hasn’t been a time in history when people were this excited about an election. It’s good that we’re having a real debate.

At least it’s not as divisive as last time.

The conflict last time was between red and blue states. And between Diebold and Democracy. This time it’s war inside the parties. People are going to find it hard to close ranks after all this bitter squabbling. Every week there’s a new upset, a new block of voters saying, “Not so fast! It’s still a real contest.”

They say Obama isn’t really saying anything, but he’s saying end tax breaks for corporations, the health insurance companies get a seat at the table but they don’t get to buy the whole table, free this nation from the tyranny of oil, bring the planet back from the point of no return. Robert DeNiro says “he doesn’t have enough experience” to let corporate lobbyists run Washington. That’s general, and maybe it’s nothing, but he’s getting the young involved. And I think they’ll keep on inspiring him, like the innocence of children, to do more and do better.

Yeah. He said.

I take it personally, I said, because there was a time in my life when I wasn’t clinically depressed but I was pretty much a sad sack. Sometimes in those times it seemed like the mass media spoke to me like it was the I Ching. I was standing in the checkout line at the grocery store and a voice in my head said why not check out the Cosmopolitan? Naah, there’s never anything in there, just a buncha twits looking at their new clothes. Try it. No. TRY IT! So I looked inside and there was an article by a psychiatrist about the healing power of memory. And I’d just seen a movie on that same theme: “Return To Paradise”. And later that night there was a book about wilderness survival in the book rack. I opened it up and there was a story about a man who was lost in the woods and died, not for lack of food, water or fuel, but because he ran out of hope. I went across the street and ate at this Chinese Restaurant and my fortune cookie that night said, “He who has hope has everything”. Quite a string of coincidences. But I just took whatever felt true and used it. But this video that’s going around, “Yes We Can”. They can say it’s shallow, because anybody can say anything, but

But that’s cynical.

Yeah, but like Obama said, “In the unlikely story that is Ameriica, there has never been anything false about hope.” And that’s a true thing. What else did we ever have except hope and dumb luck to get us through? In the Black Plague, the Dust Bowl….there was a time in WW II when we hadn’t won one naval battle because Yashimoto was a really good admiral, and a squadron of our fighter planes got lost in the clouds and got to the target ship an hour late. But that coincided with the men having put the guns under wraps and gone below to eat and sleep. The planes demolished the ship, and that one accident changed the whole course of the war. Before that it looked like we’d lose. Our marines were hemmed in and just being slaughtered from machine gun fire from the hills overlooking the volcanic ash of Iwo Jima and other islands in the South Pacific. And now according to all logic, the human race stands the chance of a snowball in hell of stopping climate change.

I was talking too much. He was looking at me strangely. I gotta stop preaching…

We shook hands, and he took the personal records and pillows he’d salvaged from storage into the dark house.

What can a person do? I wondered. I went home and tried to listen to the “Yes We Can” video with hate in my heart for big words and pretty people, because they had no place for uglies like me and Rick and Gene in that paradigm. I’m sick of beautiful people with nothing to say I said. Sick of them, y’hear?

But I had the same old flashbacks to the sixties when people put their lives on the line for principle. Will he lose? Will there be millions of embittered, disillusioned people who will never rise to believe again? Will we ever look OUTWARD again, or are we just gonna sink into our health care and social security and our worries about the economy for all the world like a nation of cockroaches with TV sets? Why is there so much injustice? Why can’t I touch that sad man? Who would make the decisions that would give his life meaning? Why can’t I find any clarity? The tears came anyway. Hope, Yes We Can….what else was it that got me through each day’s mundane and impossible battles? It wasn’t shallow. I said. No fool like an old fool I said, and turned on the computer. There were lines from the voting booths in Maine 3 and four blocks long in the snow, people all bundled up looking like wrecked overstuffed chairs, with faces like my face and Gene’s face and Rick’s face, worn down with trials and trying, old and mottled like so many muppets stretched out into the gathering darkness on one long thin thread, the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

It was a human thing.

Sunday, February 3, 2008



Night after night kneeling before mechanical altars
Down on my knees before the gears in all my
years turned
to minutes all my moments
Flown, my face grown
old ground
to nothing in the interface
Between technology & nature. Every day I go
do or die for Miss America’s right to go
out to eat
And parade her lover, and her meat,
ain’t life sweet
as a mafia soldier, honor bound to negativity
Where you can’t hear nobody pray
Because we’ve always done it this way
And our intentional stupidity has always gotten its payoffs
And defied the laws of gravitas & gravity

God of Grease and Gears in all my years
In whose presence it is sacrilege to speak
Especially of love, millions of official murders prove
life is cheap but no easier to let go of.
I’ve been your soldier, in the dance
of insignificance have made my bones
on the air, the trees and the sky for you
you know I love you like a brother
Why do you have to hurt me? Now
The whole world is broken
Automan has spoken.
People tell me they can’t afford to save any more money
This year, can’t stop chopping wood long enough
To build a better stove, recoup or reprise
The miles they drove, can’t afford solar, wind
Or geothermal, the pundits don’t have time
For smokestack algae biodiesel

Cold rain falling on the roof of the Sushi Garden
Where I kneel down NOT
to pray
But to put in a relay, at the end of the day
I got nothin to say, I'm in over my head,
just take off my tights
and cape and crawl into bed pull the covers up
above my dread.
I give it my all and the faces of want want more
Cold rain falling as I drive down the string of city lights
I once walked in a personal ritual
I hear the roar of a distant ocean in the traffic
Pull in the vacant road by Old Times Café
A flash of antique farm equipment
Glows enshrined
And warm with rust in the headlights
Grim reminder of endless progress
And things somehow staying the same
And no one but ourselves to blame
Feel the comforting tractor throb of the diesel engine
Its lights turned on the burned mess
Of a condensing unit that had an electrical fire
If we’re all in this together, why am I somehow
Still always all alone?
I throw up my hands and go home

Kneeling before mechanical altars
The voice of reason falters,
A tale at once too horrific and banal
For Barbara Walters. Nobody asked me,
Nobody begs the question, why do I still have to ask it?
Why are we doing this, where are we going
And why am I in this handbasket?
For love or for bagels and lox
Why am I in this Skinner Box?
Ships dragging the oceans for heavy metal contaminated fish
Engines gobbling fuel thousands of miles to put them on a plane
And fly them packed in dry ice more thousands of miles
To be refrigerated so people can drive to sit in air conditioned
Over lit spaces and feel like they’re eating natural and organic
While down below or up above the mechanic
Kneels, weeps and curses
Whatever gods may be that chose to put him on the Titanic
He once had dreams of being an artist, a gardener,
A craftsman, didn’t we all
Before the throw of the dice
Before the fall?

Kneeling before mechanical altars
A good soldier in a bad war

The fools know the more of them
And the more they play he game the less
Of us there are?”

While he works
for people he loves
While he knows
they’re jerks, o brave new world
& such beautiful technology
transcendant independent of biology an embarrassment
of riches, he says,

the sonsabitches
ever think this time the ship may sink BECAUSE
the ice is melting?”

And then he tells himself:

“It’s not as bad as you think it is
It’s not as good as you think it is.
The whole shit’n deal
Has nothin to do with what you feel
My country tiz of show biz it
just is maybe
dumb luck will get us thru
Say it often enough maybe that’ll
Make it true

Silence is golden logic is not, life is hell
We tell
The truth the way the words lie
Votes are being stolen big wheels are rollin
Over nature’s largess you can kiss your ass
and all the space there is
in our time goodbye
we’re doing the denial dance
spending our children’s inheritance
I must be dreaming
while I work I hear people screaming
in secret prisons I want
to help them but I can’t seem to get out of mine
The government says it’s all for good reasons
Give us your rights and just go shopping
Now & then or else
The terrorists win the machinery of our love
is loud by day, by nite
fall my ears are ringing now is the
hour the lust for
Is just a silly song we can’t stop singing