Monday, June 30, 2008

TLOs in colorado

This is just too insanely outrageous to let slide by without comment. As reported in Sunday’s Denver Post, the Department of Homeland Security has recently trained and released upon our beautiful, freedom-loving state 181 new ‘terrorism liaison officers’ to keep a watchful eye out for any Coloradoans engaging in 'suspicious activity.'

These TLOs could be anyone from firefighters, to police officers to cable installers to Xcel energy employees.

Brace yourself: suspicious activity includes taking pictures or videos that appear to have no ‘aesthetic value,’ taking notes, and appearing to engage in counter-surveillance activities (doubling back, changing one’s appearance). Oh, and overheard threats.

So apparently, some people should still be careful about what they say, as Ari Fleischer once opined.

And, what, if the cable guy overhears me talking on the phone with a friend saying ‘Oh I’m gonna kill him,’ or sees me writing in my notebook outside I’m going to find my phone tapped and strange black cars following me? And the cable installer is going to decide what photograph subjects have aesthetic value? Nothing against cable installers. I'm sure most of them are lovely people. I'm just thinking there might be people more qualified to make that call. Or maybe, just maybe, frickin' beauty is the eye of the frickin' beholder, fer Chrissakes.

I’m sure these guys with their rigorous three-day training schedule won't make any mistakes like that, right? Right?


My money says the Bushies find/create a pretext to declare martial law before November. After all, as soon as they leave office they will be vulnerable to a plethora of criminal charges, including war crimes.

If you never leave power, you can continually make up rules that retroactively legalize whatever nefarious shit you might have done, after all.

Meanwhile, here's some Monty Python goodness pertinent to the subject at hand.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

false heart 9 (disappointment 2)

Why can we never be satisfied?

Is anything ever really what it’s cracked up to be? Doesn’t everything -- and everyone -- lose its luster in a very short, predictable amount of time? More and more it seems like adult Americans are resembling our childhood selves not on Christmas morning, but on Christmas afternoon. We continually live out that un-magical moment when the toys were all suddenly not so great anymore: the broken thread between anticipation and reality.

We live in an age of perpetual disappointment. And it makes sense: so much has been, well, disappointing lately. This is a time when all the old institutions of yore, all the rocks upon which our parents and grandparents built everything in which they believed are crumbling:

• Marriage has become a temporary hiatus from being alone, which ends up lonelier than being single for many people.

• The notion of the church offering a window into the divine is a cruel joke.

• Democratic government has been hollowed out and co-opted in the most blatant terms for the men and corporations for whom it has always worked, just never this unashamedly.

But one has to wonder, has life perhaps always been this disappointing? What might have changed over the past hundred years that has made it more so? Isn’t it more likely that, in looking back through the especially rosy-colored glasses that we like to employ to peer into our perfect American past, we are missing out on signs that satisfaction was not once as universal as we would like to believe?

There have always been loveless marriages. The history of the church could in a sense be viewed as one long history of corruption and self-serving violence. There have always been corrupt governments. Hell, the argument can be made that America was formed in order to protect the corrupt interests of rich men. Why should it be so surprising that it continues to do so?

I think there are two major differences today, though. One is that, as the strength of these aforementioned institutions wanes, people have become bolder in the face of their personal dilemmas. For instance, the power of the church to condemn someone for getting divorced, and the subsequent censure that would be imposed upon anyone who was dissatisfied enough to do so has waned a great deal, except perhaps in pockets around the country where Catholicism still rules. In general, people are less likely to put up with a shitty situation, and more likely to do something about it.

Another major difference between now and the ‘perfect’ past is that we talk about things more, so much more. Whereas once when a wife was unhappy with the fading affections of her husband, her only recourse was to grin and bear it, not wanting the shame of her own perceived disloyalty or ingratitude to come out. People of my parents and grandparents generation perhaps were thus more likely to stay in relationships long past their expiration date simply out of fear of the shame it would bring upon them if they were to say, ‘Enough. I’m out.’

So, isn’t it more likely that human nature hasn’t changed all the dramatically in the past century, but rather that our capacity for dealing with the near-universal disappointment these institutions bring to bear has grown? That our choices are immensely greater?

There are a couple of ways of looking at this that are immediately apparent. One is that we are simply so much more spoiled today than we ever have been--or for that matter, more than any society ever has been throughout history. It is no doubt true that we have more than ever in terms of material wants, choices in marriage, and freedom from church interference in our lives, and ability to choose our own paths free of government interference.

And with the vast bounty of material wealth out there -- which we are at least able to glimpse on tv and in the pages of glamour magazines -- perhaps it is not surprising that there might be an underlying sense of unfulfilled entitlement among the populace. We are constantly assailed with images of beautiful, shapely people doing glamorous things with beautiful accessories and in perfect clothing -- it’s no wonder half the country is insane with acquiring useless material goods that they can’t afford.

Also, the notion that everyone should be happy all the time is a cottage industry in this over-analyzed, over-therapized, over-medicated country. Between the drugs available ready to relieve you of feeling any lows – and for that matter, any real highs – along with the mainstreaming of talk therapy in the form of chat shows as well as the encouragement of one’s peers and co-workers to vomit out any and all bad feelings all the time, and row upon row of self-help books purporting to offer secrets to eternal, perpetual happiness, who can blame people for wondering why they’re not happy?

If you aren’t happy, it seems like you must not be trying hard enough.

But another way of approaching perpetual disappointment is to think about the supposedly endless upward track on which America has always been purported to travel. We are the ‘exceptional’ country, the one that would always hold a promise that each succeeding generation would outlive, out-earn and prosper more than the last. This is the rose-colored glasses view of disappointment, that itchy, pervading sense in the back of your skull that things could be so much better. That they WERE so much better before, or they could be better in the future, if only...It’s the curse of ‘the grass is always greener,’ only this grass existed in an imagined past or exists in an imagined future. We're standing on a patch of scrub desert, a barren vacant lot of our own perception, gazing at lush, green mirages on either side of our imagination.

This is a disappointment that stems from our sense that there actually can be a perfection that can be achieved, that there was a perfection once, and that we haven’t matched it. It is a delusional state in which we think on some level, perhaps deep in our subconscious that, if we aren’t perfectly content, we have somehow failed.

Why can we never be satisfied?

Of course, it’s also true that without human striving, without our ever-upward push toward Something Better, the hard-wired compulsion we have to expand and improve upon our lot, we’d still be living in the trees.

On the other hand, what’s so bad about trees?

Monday, June 23, 2008

false heart 8

What is it about us ever-so complicated and self-contradictory humans that makes us almost instantly desire that which we can’t have? And conversely, often at least, we suddenly, mysteriously find that we no longer want what we wanted the second we actually get it?

Like dogs stealing each others’ toys, we envy the things that others have, and we become disinterested in the things we have.

Welcome to affluenza. Welcome to cheating spouses.

Welcome to boredom and ennui and the grass perpetually having a suspiciously verdant hue just the other side of the railing.

The forbidden and the unknown hold a certain allure, of course, simply because they are that. But I think it may have more to do with our rich fantasy lives. We think this one thing or person will be the key to make us happy forever and ever. We imagine in our verdant, fertile, loamy minds that there HAS to something out there that will take away all of our angst and unhappiness forever and ever. That’s why we invented god, that’s why we invented marriage. We like to believe that there can be one simple solution to the complicated mess that makes us humans.

So we place a ridiculous amount of importance on something that can obviously not deliver on such a promise. Of course we are going to end up being disappointed. In fact, I would go so far as to say that life itself, at least our weird-ass human lives--as opposed to that of animals, who seem, from the outside at least, to have a great deal more contentment than we do, or at least a longer-lasting version of it--can be defined as disappointment. Nothing ever delivers on its promise because in our imaginations we place each new thing or person on such a pedestal that they are bound to topple once we grasp the reality of them.

It’s built into what we are: dissatisfaction. I guess there are good things that come of this drive: art, music, literature, love, however temporary.

On the other hand, what a retarded and useless life, should we become enraptured with shallow grasping for that next thing without ever realizing that there is nothing, not a single goddamn thing or person in this world will ever fully satisfy.

Not for long anyway.

This is saudade: “an inexplicable longing of the soul,” as defined by Nick Cave, who knows a thing or two about longing. If you can find "The Secret Life of the Love Song," a combination of music and spoken word performances by Cave, buy it, download it, steal it if you have to. Brilliant stuff.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


i've looked around and found this story on several websites, but as of now it hasn't been broken by a reliable MSM publication. for what that's worth. but everything i've read says that this pin was offered for sale by a vendor at the GOP state convention in texas.
what? racism among republicans? no way. there must be some mistake.
in a way, it's almost better when they just come right out with it, rather than their usual tricksiness of dropping not-so-veiled hints.
this is going to be a fun election season, i can already tell.

false heart 7

The idea of how much of our so-called “free will” is actually programming is one we don’t think about enough. I mean, who wants to acknowledge the possibility that the things we do, the ‘choices’ we make are in fact remnants from earlier actions and thoughts and beliefs that were passed down to us?

Of course, it’s silly and weak to blame every single thing we do in our adult lives on our parents or our upbringing. On the other hand, our choices – not only those that have been made for us by parents, school, church, etc. – but even the ones we made ourselves in how we dealt with the very natural pain and struggle of this world have by necessity written a number of programming shortcuts into the matrix of our behaviors and thoughts. By necessity, we can’t work through our entire process for, say, dealing with the boss, or a rude person on the sidewalk, or a friendly bank teller every time we encounter such a person. We have shortcuts, we have mental hotkeys that allow us to deal with these types of situations with a minimum of fuss and awkwardness.

Our emotional lives are perhaps laden with these scripts as well, these shortcuts to previous ways of understanding previous relationships. This is especially dangerous and pernicious, as we’ve discussed, because it can define new people and situations by old rules that no longer apply. It’s a way of treating every human being one encounters as a sort of extra in one’s life, as an automaton subject to the same rules and biases and personality flaws as every other person we’ve ever met who happens to resemble them.

So my question for today then, is if it’s possible to acknowledge that, for instance, ‘this girl isn’t that girl,’ and that in the past I have had a tendency to judge the entire female species by the actions of a very few very fucked up ladies I met early on in my life, and that I have lived a great deal of my life on autopilot as it were, then isn’t it also possible to conjecture that there are other areas of my life where I do the same? Isn’t it possible to imagine that we spend a great deal of time — a great deal more time than we would like to think — on autopilot, going through motions that seem to fit the stimulus of today, but which in actuality are merely knee-jerk reactions to past encounters?

Of course we never think about this possibility. It is mind-numbing and terrifying to think that we ourselves may have short-circuited our own brains in the name of convenience. That in order to make it easier on ourselves, to require less thoughtfulness and care in how we deal with the world, that we might deliberately have snapped off certain connectors in our own minds.

That we have self-lobotomized.

Our fiction throughout history contains all manner of automata – zombies, vampires, werewolves, golem, robots – man-machines that lack free will. And we are rightly terrified at the thought of becoming one of them.

But what if we already are? How would we know if our free will was actually someone else’s? Or at least not that of our current selves, but rather scripts passed down to us from the people we used to be and the people we encountered years ago?

Monday, June 16, 2008


here's a t-shirt for juice and all the other men and women serving overseas and at home.
hang in there.
from t-shirthell. they rock.

hey baby

can i give you a ride?

false heart 6

one of my favorite artists ever is cat power, aka chan marshall. this is undoubtedly one of her best songs ever, metal heart. she absolutely slays me with this version of the song, which appears on her recent release Jukebox.

Losing the star without a sky
Losing the reasons why
You're losing the calling that you've been faking
And i'm not kidding

It's damned if you don't and it's damned if you do
Be true 'cause they'll lock you up in a sad sad zoo
Oh hidy hidy hidy what cha tryin to prove
By hidy hidy hiding you're not worth a thing

Sew your fortunes on a string
And hold them up to light
Blue smoke will take
A very violent flight
And you will be changed
And everything
And you will be in a very sad sad zoo.

I once was lost but now i'm found was blind
But now I see you
How selfish of you to believe in the meaning of all the bad dreaming

Metal heart you're not hiding
Metal heart you're not worth a thing

Metal heart you're not hiding
Metal heart you're not worth a thing

Sunday, June 15, 2008

false heart 5

I hitchhiked around the country on and off over several years after I left Atlanta. I sometimes mention it in passing to the right person, but mostly over the years I have kept that part of my past rather hidden because there is something slightly skeevy and dirty about hitchhiking. It conjures visions of escaped convicts and lowlifes of all sorts, and truth be told I was something of a lowlife when I was doing that. There is a certain forced simplicity placed upon you if you choose to live out of a duffel bag and rely on the kindness of strangers.

Strangers aren’t always all that kind. And neither is the road. You get hungry and cold and it isn’t very fucking romantic at all, truth be told. Fucking Jack Kerouac. He lied his ass off.

One fun story to give you an idea of how weird it gets out there between exit ramps is the Tale of the Panty Guy.

I was in California, somewhere in grove country, off of I-5. Fresno? North of there? In the great vast nowhereland between LA and SF. I don’t quite remember how I got there, but I was at a truck stop surrounded by nothing but fields on the side of the highway. The preferred method of the hitchhiker is to chat up potential rides by seeking out truck drivers when they are about to leave such a place, and find out where they are headed, and if they’ll be willing to let you tag along.

Believe me, the rejection rate among conversations like these rates right up there with auditions, car sales, and asking every woman you meet to sleep with you. One out of a hundred is pretty good, especially in this day and age of psycho killers on the road, drug mules, illegal immigrants and tight-assed trucking company lawyers in mortal fear of lawsuits.

So I had been there most of the day, getting refill after refill of bad coffee, my stomach all acid and bile, my tension as palpable as the hunger which gripped me like a starving pit bull gnawing on your calf. I go up to this lone trucker--the guys who traveled by themselves were usually more forthcoming, as they a) had an open seat up front combined with b) terminal loneliness and silence, and c) usually owned their own rigs and so could let any damn body they pleased ride along.

The guy seemed pretty average, a middle-aged, slightly scruffy, sort of wiry guy--typical trucker stock. They seem to have their own lineage, straight out of the Joad family, perpetually one step behind whatever elusive dream lay over the horizon. Forever catching up, but never catching up to that vague something or someone or somewhere that would take care of all their problems.

The guy said I could ride, said he was hauling a load of cars up north a little ways, but then would be returning to LA, my ultimate goal, so I was welcome to tag along. Having wasted so much time in that coffee shop I was fine with that arrangement.

We chatted for a couple of hours as he drove, normal bullshitting that goes along with the job of being a hitchhiker, before he brought out the big guns. He told me this:

“You know, it’s the damnedest thing. When I get ready to make a run, my wife packs all my clothes for me, you know, just because she’s like that, and I got other stuff I have to do to get ready. So last night when I get to my first stop, I go to unpack my suitcase, and would you believe it? That crazy woman packed all of HER underwear in my suitcase instead of my own! Isn’t that nuts?’

Yikes. So, although I can see where this is heading, I’ve got a ride all the way to LA, if I can just stick it out. Besides, we’re now even more in the middle of nowhere, and I’m trapped in his cab doing 65. Where am I gonna go? So I play it off as best I can, deflecting his obvious, clumsy inroads towards a sexual conversation. And we finally pull into whatever town we’re heading to with his load of cars, and I kill some time while they are unloaded. Once we get back in the truck and we’re rolling, I ask the guy how long till we get to LA.

And his answer is, ‘Oh, I have to go pick up another load up north of here, and take them to Bakersfield. Then I’m heading to LA in a couple of days. I figured you could stay in the hotel with me…’

No thank you. I managed to get him to stop at yet another truck stop along I-5.

With my boy virginity intact.

I didn’t even get a chance to see him in his wife’s underwear.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

false heart 4

We are all motherless children. The sooner we realize it, the better off, the happier we can be. There are no consequences, there is no before, there is no after. There is only now, and what I choose to do with now.

I spent--wasted--years and years of my life moping on what I perceived had been done to me when I was a kid. It HAD been done to me, in some sense, in the sense that I only got sent off to that place because of the fucked-up shit the people who sent me there were carrying with them. I was their creation, the product of their mistakes and their pasts and their damage, and as a result the way I turned out was due to them. so whatever I was, for them to send me away as if I were a broken thing was an indictment of them, not me.

But that blame and that regret and that shame drove me into a place where I just wanted to hide inside myself, and forget everything. I remembered the pain, and the lost opportunities but I wanted to forget everything else. And in my self-pitying place of blame and hopelessness I created a perfect world where none of that had ever happened.

Oh, if only this, if only that. How different it all would have been. But it wasn’t. It was done It was over, and in a way I moved on, by forgetting, but in another way, I relived it over and over again in lieu of living the life I was currently occupying. I was dead.

No longer. I have no one to be ashamed to. I have nothing to be ashamed of. I want to remember everything, every detail, every step and misstep, and bury nothing. Because all of that is the sum of who I am. All of that is the resulting mess that is walking around now, feeling utterly confident and sure of myself, because, well, there is nothing else. There can be nothing else for me. There is no future, there is no past, because I will never occupy any other moment than the present.

We are all motherless children. We have no one to answer to, we have no reason to be miserable. Because we can choose to do whatever we want, whatever makes us happy. If another person isn’t doing what they could be doing to make us happy, we can choose to hang out with a different person. We can relocate ourselves and our energies to someplace that does make us happy rather than pining for that which isn’t happening.

There is no past. There is no future. There is only now. And what I fucking well choose to do with the now.

Friday, June 13, 2008

hope for the future

don't worry. i'm sure everything's going to be just fine. we can't possibly be as dumb as we seem, can we?

false heart 3

Hello fellow pretenders.

Here in the sickly arc-lamp glow of the death throes of western civilization, lit up in pale green like the aisles of a Wal-Mart at 1:00 a.m., illuminating all our sad, inevitable flaws, it’s easy to be fooled by visions that entered our heads in childhood and after. Our imaginations are clouded by pretty pictures from an imagined past and from a future that now will never exist, visions that trick us into behaving as if the world is a different place. It tells us that we come from a cleaner place, a purer place, and that while we now live in a dirtier world, it still can be a hopeful one. These visions tell us love exists and that humanity will progress towards an inevitable utopia. We either pine for a perfect past that never existed, or we pray for a future that will never come.

It won’t. We’re done. We traded our souls long ago, perhaps without even knowing it. Mankind bargained away its lease on truth and beauty and love--if indeed it ever even held such a lease--for comfort and power and luxury at the expense of others. It could even be argued that these concepts never existed except in our ever-so fertile imaginations. We are short-sighted, selfish monkeys with much, much more power than any sane god would ever bestow upon such brutish, nasty creatures.

Who hasn’t betrayed someone? Who hasn’t been betrayed? Who hasn’t justified it and rationalized away his reprehensible behavior and gone on with life pretending that he’s not a horrible fucking person who destroyed someone else’s hopes and dreams for no good reason?

Love can’t exist because we are ignorant, blinkered apes who want what we want when we want it, and nothing else will do. We will justify anything, as long as our needs are taken care of. And we will live on, blissfully unaware of our own slime, our shittiness, because if you were to wear your inherent shittiness in the forefront of your mind, you wouldn’t be able to face life for single second more.

So you pretend.

We are all liars and cheats and thieves. There is no purity. There is no love except the love of oneself. Why pretend otherwise? Why not revel in it, why not dance on the grave of these dying notions and hold a wake, the biggest drunken orgy in history, as our false, imaginary world goes up in flames and reveals us for what we truly are?

The light of the fires will illuminate our true selves, eclipsing the false cleanness of that Wal-Mart light, and we can finally be free.

No more pretending.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

false heart 2

I went back and fucked her again, the girl who got left behind, my teenage love who broke me. I tried to reconnect with that feeling we had once, that we were forever, that it was a perfect union of us against the world.

I went back years later, when I was 17 or so, and hung out with her and my old friends. It wasn’t the blind fumbling from before, that of a 13 and 14 year old, drunk on Southern Comfort and entangled in the dirt and grass behind the middle school on a Michigan summer night. She was always the perfect woman to me, probably because the relationship--such as it was, or ever could be at that age--ended before it was given a chance to go sour, because I moved away. I have to say it seems silly to use that portentous, pretentious word--relationship--in connection with people so young, but of course it meant everything then, and in a way still does in terms of the way my heart turned out.

And of course it’s silly to blame a case of what some would term puppy love that was rent asunder for a lifetime of shallow prongings punctuated with the occasional deeper feelings (and subsequent betrayal) that I describe. Of course my entire sexual/romantic life didn’t begin and end with this one girl. On the other hand, it hardened me. It made me seek out satisfaction in easy ways, in shallow ways, and when it came to deeper ways, it made me search for and falsely discover feelings that weren’t really there for girls that were not worthy of the pedestals on which I placed them.

It was on a couch in my friend’s basement, that encounter years later, that attempt to recapture lost magic. Drunk again, yes, with Zeppelin playing in the background and a bunch of drunk kids upstairs. It was sex and that was great, but it was mostly pretty sad. We didn’t have much to say; it was almost like a duty. Either I gave her gonorrhea or she gave it to me. I think it was the former.

We never really talked again after that I don’t think.

So much for love.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

false heart

thus begins a new series of dark mutterings i'm going to call false heart. enjoy.

She’s five blocks and a couple of decades away, the girl of my dreams.

Only she’s not the girl of my dreams, is she? She never is. The girl of my dreams doesn’t exist because she can’t. Because long ago when I was way too young and I fucked the girl who soon got left behind, and I pledged my love for her and it broke me in two, I never got sewed back up right. The broken part of me grew calloused and shallow. And I fucked the next girl, and the next girl, and the next one, and, grinning a false grin of trivial conquest, and I planted the flag of my supposed manhood in the pools of semen I left in their teenage sheets in the hot southern sunlight. In their still-little girl afternoon beds, all frills and innocence, a delusion of childhood lost that probably didn’t even fool daddy anymore, in some mad hallucination of suburbia, I left behind the reality of my heart and created in its place a carved-out facsimile. Atop the flagpole of my cock I precariously balanced a false heart, a stage prop that could stand in for the real thing, but only from a distance and only for a short period of time. Up close it wasn’t fooling anyone anymore than those pink and white sheets and stuffed animals were fooling the girl’s parents into thinking she wasn’t just another horny fuck machine like they were, just like we all are.

It was just my cock. It was just my cum.

It wasn’t a heart.

It wasn’t love.

And so I have fucked my way blindly through my sad, false life pretending all along that I was indeed a human, in possession of a soul, and that I had a heart, a real one, and that it was just in need of a counterpart, a perfect specimen that would take care of it and watch out for it.

But mostly all I encountered were girls and women equally as bereft as I. We all knew each other instantly, from a long distance away. We recognized in each other the self-same delusion, the longing for unreality, the hope that this was it, that this orgasm could lead us to a place where we could feel love again. A place where we could feel anything again. We were willing to lie to each other and we were willing to lie to ourselves for a time and pretend we were human, and that each other was human. Because it’s easier to fuck, to pretend, than to stop, even for a second. Because in that dreary little death that is our vacant existence between orgasms, we’re forced to face the looming evidence of our colossal, overwhelming emptiness.

She’s five blocks and a phone call away, the girl of my dreams. But she’s long gone. She might as well be living on Mars. She might as well be living in 1847. She died long before I met her, long before she was even born, really. She died in my chest one afternoon long ago, in the pain and depression of a colorless teenage hangover, in a car that plowed southward in the filthy, ugly Midwest rain, taking me further and further away from love. She died before she lived. Before I could encounter her actuality she faded into a sad, delusional dream.

But even in the cynicism and ever-more ambiguous morals of impending middle age--now suddenly finding oneself on the downhill side of the cloud-bound peak of a sad and pointless life, now rushing futilely toward gravity’s inevitable cold embrace, now closer to the meaningless end than the unsolicited beginning--even in fading, childish dreams of success and a life that might once have had meaning, in the realization that ‘potential’ is something that never comes--even then, it is possible to be taken in by that dream: that perfect love. That perfect understanding. That there is one person out there who has everything you could ever want.

Of course she doesn’t have all of that. No one ever does. I killed her decades ago, before she was even born. I killed her possibility long before I met her.

I killed my own heart.

How foolish of me to have forgotten that.

She’s five blocks and a couple of decades away, the girl of my dreams.

And I’ll never see her again. Only when I close my eyes.