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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.

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