Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Sweet Dreams

The other day I had a dream that I was in a car with my mom driving us on a highway (how we came to be there, I don't know, the dream world just put us there).  She sped through traffic, zipping toward the off ramp.

I said, “Slow down.”

She pressed the gas faster, and said, “I have to get my donuts!”  She swerved in and out of traffic, and then made a sharp turn into a parking lot.

I said, “Slow down.”  She pressed on the gas faster, and we speeded through the parking lot.

She said, “I HAVE TO GET MY DONUTS!”  We hit a parking curb, and then flew through the air, everything was in slow motion, and we crashed into the donut shop.

And then I woke up… I guess that’s one way to get donuts.  

Friday, December 16, 2011

A Kittian expedition

Exactly a year ago today, I turned twenty seven.  At that time, I was in St. Kitts, a small, little island country in the Caribbean.  I traveled there with my friends Erwin and David (known them since kindergarten) to visit one of our other friends, Asad, from our school days. 

On that day, a year ago, we decided it would be cool to go hiking up a mountain.  So we four along with one of Asad’s friends took a taxi to the base of the mountain.  As the cabby drove us there, he warned us that it was going to rain, that it would be muddy and slippery, but for me that wasn’t a warning, that just made it all the more enticing and exciting.  And then he asked us if we were taking a guide, to which we said no.  And he gave us that you-guys-are-crazy-but-suit-yourself look.  He dropped us off around 11am in a pseudo parking lot, i.e. a field of dirt, and said he’d be back to pick us up at 6:00pm.    

Asad talking to the old withered man.
We started off our journey by passing the entrance of the trail, and going in the wrong direction.  We kind of just circled around a mound of grass and dirt until we came across an old withered man speaking broken English, wearing a yellow raincoat, rain boots, and carrying a stick, a bag and machete.  Asad asked him if he knew where the trail was and he pointed with his stick to where we should go.  That of course was the point at which, if there had been an audience watching our actions on screen, they would probably be screaming at us to go no further.  But alas, we were the fools that continued. 

Minutes later we got onto the trail, and started our hike.  It was nice, a lot of greenery, but slippery at points because it had started to drizzle, and there weren’t really any railings so we had to be careful about balancing ourselves.  We walked along a beaten path, following directional signs as we went.  It started to rain harder and harder the further we traveled.  And then at some point, after about two hours of hiking, there weren’t any signs, and there wasn’t really a path anymore, just an alleyway of rising boulders.  It somehow transitioned from a hiking journey to a rock climbing adventure.  We forged ahead anyway climbing over boulders and ascending up the mountain until we reached a dead end, a flat 100 foot wall with no way of climbing it. 

We figured we must have taken a wrong turn somewhere, so we thought we just needed to backtrack to the trail, and we’d be there in no time.  We descended over the boulders.  At certain points, we had to go down 6 foot, 8 foot, 10 foot drops, and that’s when it started to get somewhat dangerous.  We talked among ourselves saying, “Wait it minute, it wasn’t this hard to get up here.  This can’t be the way we came.”  It was then that we realized we were officially lost in a Kittian jungle. 

None of us were quite sure what to do.  And the sunlight was beginning to wane.

Asad was the only one with a cell phone, but the reception wasn’t really working (of course!!!), so we debated how to approach the problem.  I thought we should just keep going down because we’d eventually reach the bottom, but the descent was getting more difficult and more arduous the more we descended, and that uncertainty wasn’t something the rest of the group wanted to risk.  Asad and his friend thought they should climb back up, hoping to find the path we had lost, and maybe find cell phone reception somewhere.  Dave, Erwin, and I just stayed where we were.

After about forty five minutes Asad and his friend came back, saying they couldn’t find any sign of a path, but that the cell phone reception was better the higher they went.  So then we climbed back up the mountain together.  Finally, at around 4:00 pm, Asad was able to get a hold of our taxi driver, and he in turn got a hold of a guide.  Asad tried to describe where we were, but there wasn’t much he could say, everything looked the same, we were surrounded by trees, dirt, grass, rocks, and streams of water.  The guide told us to stay where we were, to start yelling his name in an hour, and he’d find us.  We looked at each other with a bit of skepticism, thinking who was he, the terminator?

The hour passed, and in synchrony, we yelled “One, Two, Three, Chuck!!!”  “One, Two, Three, Chuck!!!”  “One, Two, Three, Chuck!!!”  After about 45 minutes of that, and with the light growing dimmer and dimmer, we heard a response.  And then like an angel with a machete, Chuck appeared, chopping his way through the wilderness.  And with absolute kindness he guided us back to the bottom of the mountain. 

from left to right: Dave, Chuck aka Guide aka Angel, Asad, me, Asad's friend - Shak 
He didn’t demand any money for helping us, but out of gratitude, we paid him the cost of what we would have paid for a guide.

And then we celebrated our return from the wilderness, the only way we city boys knew how, by eating pizza, and watching a kung fu flick - Five Deadly Venoms.  

Thursday, December 8, 2011

From the Journals of Nathaniel Hawthorne

May 8, 1858

…Nature has made it very difficult for us to do anything pleasant with a dead body.  God knows best; but I wish he had so ordered it that our mortal bodies, when we have done with them, might vanish out of sight and sense, like bubbles.  A person of delicacy hates to think of leaving such a burthen as his decaying mortality, to be disposed of by his friends; but, I say again, how delightful it would be, and how helpful toward our faith in a blessed futurity, if the dying could disappear like vanishing bubbles, leaving perhaps a sweet fragrance, diffused for a minute or two throughout the death chamber.  This would be the odor of sanctity!  And if sometimes the evaporation of a sinful soul should leave a smell not so delightful, a breeze through the open windows would soon waft it quite away.

Thursday, December 1, 2011


Oh Lord, what a film.  I can’t quite figure out if the filmmakers seriously made an awful movie, or if they intentionally made a ridiculous movie.  Whichever the case, I suspect that doing drugs would substantially enhance the experience of watching it.  The plot explanations throughout the story are outrageously convoluted.  Like this exchange between Barbarella and the evil mad scientist, Durand-Durand, explaining some kind of powerful, evil force beneath them...

Barbarella: Tell me what is that horrible thing under the floor?
Durand-Durand: That is the mathmos, my child…  Well see the whole city is built over a lake, a very curious lake composed like you and I of living energy but energy in liquid form and it watches us.  It is magnetic and being positively charged it feeds on negative psychic vibrations what you would call evil, yes it thrives on evil thoughts, deeds, and flesh.  And in return it gives us warmth, light, and life itself, but it has a terrible appetite.  Perhaps you’ll see some other time.

Say what?

I tend to enjoy absurd, ridiculously bad, unintentionally funny movies like Troll (1986), the Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975), kung fu flicks of the 70s, etc. but I don’t like this one as much.  The main character, Barbarella, bothers me.  She’s not much of a hero.  She kind of just goes around getting beat up, trapped, imprisoned.  The whole time she’s more or less pathetic and helpless.  All she can seem to do is wait for some random guy to come save her, and then repay him with sex.  I don’t know I just don’t like seeing women being reduced to weak creatures that have nothing to offer but physical pleasure.  They’re so much more than that!  The movie would have been better for me if they had made her a badass like a futuristic Red Sonja or an Ellen Ripley type.   

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Words from Ila Abernathy of the Akwesasne tribe

I am grass growing and the shearer of grass, I am the willow and the splitter of laths, weaver and the thing woven, marriage of willow and grass.  I am frost on the land and the land’s life, breath and beast and the sharp rock underfoot; in me the mountain lives, and the owl strikes, and I in them; I am the sun’s twin, mover of blood and the blood lost, I am the deer and the deer’s death; I am the burr in your conscience: acknowledge me.

(found this in Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The John Carlos Story

from left to right: Peter Norman, Tommie Smith, and John Carlos

Last week I had the opportunity to experience the presence of John Carlos, the Olympian sprinter renowned for his Black Power Salute during the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City.  He gave a talk at a local center in my hometown Houston, TX.  He shared with us his life, and as he spoke I could sense a sort of invisible power emanating from him, strength and courage just oozed off the man.  You could tell he was a passionate, genuine dude.  He told us about when he was planning the protest for the Olympic Games, he met with Martin Luther King Jr. to discuss things.  He explained that when he looked into King’s eyes, he didn’t see fear, he only saw love.  And Carlos asked King straight up, why he wanted to support an Olympic protest.  King answered that if you drop a rock in a lake, it rings out vibrations to everyone else in the lake.  Carlos understood that he had to do something powerful but nonviolent, that he had to do something to create conversation surrounding the unjust situation of Blacks in America.  He seemed to have a sense of deep commitment for Human Rights – “It wasn’t about me, my wife, or my kids, it was about humanity.”  He described how his family was persecuted for his actions, persecuted so much that his wife eventually committed suicide.  And of that he said, “If my wife had to die a thousand more deaths, I wouldn’t change what I did.”  Those words struck me deep down to the core of my spirit, and it made me admire his total commitment to the crusade against injustice and inequality.  One of the last things he said before finishing was, “Everybody is gonna go down, but the question is what did you do while you were standing?”

the man (John Carlos) and me

Friday, November 11, 2011


Acrylic blocks filled with oil
I recently attended an art exhibition critiquing the conflicts created by oil-politics called CRUDE by Andrei Molodkin – “an internationally recognized contemporary Russian artist engaged in deconstructing the economic realities of geopolitical praxis.” (quite a mouthful from the museum guide handout.)

Bush drawn with ballpoint pen
The highlight of the evening came when an elderly couple (a black man and a white woman) held up their middle fingers in front of the Bush picture.  After doing that, the black man said loud and clear, “It’s not about the color of your skin, it’s about the mindset.”  (emphasis on mind.)  Then he said to his wife, “C’mon let’s go get Obama.”
Obama drawn with ballpoint pen next to acrylic blocks
Overall, simple yet striking exhibit.  I appreciate how the artist condemns policies of both republican and democratic agendas.

Saturday, October 29, 2011


During the 1950s and 60s, there was a wave of epic Biblical movies (The Ten Commandments, Ben-Hur, the Robe, etc.), and in 1961, Richard Fleisher turned the story of Barabbas (the man who was freed from execution instead of Jesus) into a film, a film that has long appealed to my raw instinctual nature, and philosophical curiosities, in other words I love it!

The movie begins with a shot of Barabbas (played by Anthony Quinn) inside a dark prison complaining about his eyes – throughout the story he’s put in places where it’s hard for him to see, serving as a kind of symbolism for his struggle to see both physical and spiritual light. 

Later on, filled with doubt and questions pertaining to the whole Jesus issue Barabbas drowns his sorrows with wine.  (Was he really the messiah?  Why was I released instead of him?)  He drinks himself into a drunken rage, yelling for people to look at him.  He grabs an old withered man, and says, “Look at me!”  That man turns out to be blind.  Again with the sight thing.

Barabbas eventually returns to his old gang of bandits, the gang that originally got him in trouble.  They decide to rob a caravan that just had to be led by Roman soldiers, and of course they get caught.  Barabbas is brought before the authorities…

Roman General: The shock and fear of an unreasoning fanaticism will pass, but the appetite to destroy, which alas the human being shares with the wild beast is always with us, and it has rigorously to be disciplined in the name of civilization and according to the law.
Barabbas: That’s what you say, but I tell you whichever side of the law we’re on, we’re the same man.  You and your kind and me and my kind.

You tell him Barabbas!  Stick it to the man!

The authorities sentence Barabbas to the sulfur mines on the island of Sicily.  Once again Barabbas finds himself in a dark place.  He spends twenty years in the mines, outliving everyone else imprisoned there.  And then a major earthquake destroys the mine, and only Barabbas and the man chained to him survive.  He comes out of the mine with a rag over his eyes, because they’re sensitive to the light. 

His friend, a devout Christian, badgers him about believing in Christ to which he replies, “Why can’t God make himself plain?”  That very question has bothered me for quite some time.  I mean, if God is real, then why be so cryptic and mysterious all the time?  I don’t know, I don’t think I ever will.

The warden’s superstitious wife considers Barabbas and the other guy to be lucky charms, and insists that she and her husband take them to Rome.  And here the movie shifts gears.  They arrive in Rome, and the warden gives Barabbas and the other guy over to be gladiators, he kind of just does that because it’s expected of him, they don’t really explain why.  Barabbas enters into gladiator training and those sequences remind me a lot of the training sequences in Shaolin Master Killer (1978) or any Rocky movie.
Anthony Quinn as Barabbas
And of course the strongest of the gladiators – Torvald, played by Jack Palance, picks on old man Barabbas, and of course they’re destined for a showdown in the Coliseum.  But before that can happen, Barabbas’s friend gets in trouble for preaching Jesus, and Torvald puts him to death.  So Barabbas has to face off against this mighty gladiator who picked on him, who killed his friend, and is virtually unbeatable on a chariot.  Oh the drama!  When they finally meet in battle, Barabbas uses his old man wits to outsmart Torvald, and ultimately kills him. 

The Emperor grants him freedom, but Barabbas can’t help being himself and when radicals start setting fire to Rome in the name of God, Barabbas joins the pyromaniacs thinking that the kingdom of God is really coming.  He participates in an effort to atone for his past denials of Christ.  The Romans catch him, and this time he claims to be a Christian, and he’s thrown in jail, in a dark place once more.  Peter the apostle is there and chastises him.

Peter: This isn’t how the new kingdom will be made.
Barabbas: Why can’t God make himself plain?  What’s become of all the fine hopes, the trumpets, the angels, all the promises?  Every time I’ve seen it, I end up in the same way with torments, and dead bodies, with no good come of it… All for nothing.
Peter: Do you think they persecute us to destroy nothing?  Or for that matter do you think what has battered on your soul for twenty years has been nothing?  It wasn’t for nothing that Christ died, mankind isn’t nothing.  In his eyes each individual man is the whole world.
Barabbas: I was the opposite of everything he taught, wasn’t I?  Why’d he let himself be   killed instead of me?
Peter: Because being farthest from him, you were nearest.
Barabbas: I’m no nearer than I was before.
Peter: Nor any farther away… I can tell you this, there has been a wrestling in your spirit back and forth in your life, which in itself is knowledge of God, by the conflict you have known him.  I can tell you as well that so it will be with the coming of the kingdom, a wrestling back and forth a belaboring of the world’s spirit like a woman in child birth.

Afterward, the Romans crucify Barabbas, thus linking the end with the beginning…  This movie has it all for me – philosophical struggle, gladiator training sequences, intriguing dialogue, and one hell of a performance by Anthony Quinn.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Californian Excursion

I recently journeyed by car with my sister from Houston, Texas to San Clemente, California so that I could help her move.  After lugging around her furniture to and fro, I happened upon a hiking trail near her place.  I'm not much a camera guy, but I thought it would be fun to take some pictures, so I borrowed my sister's camera, and this is what happened…

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Paiute Poet

This is no Movie of Noble Savages
Adrian C. Louis

Born of trees
whose timeless atoms
carried on their savage
act of indolence
in annual assault of leaves
upon the earth
while their branches
felt up the sky
where the white man’s God lives,
this paper
holding these petroglyphs
is neither apology nor legacy
but a wanted poster.

Now, dauntless before Dante’s
nocturnal emissions
of visions of Hell
I curse God and weep
because some creeps crept
through the back window and carried
away my typewriter
while we were at the wake.
When I find them,
they will bleed broken English
from shattered mouths
and my fists
will sing songs of forgiveness,
unless of course
they’re my in-laws.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


Anyone who has met me for more than seven minutes will usually hear some kind of reference to Native Americans (because I’m so intrigued by their tribal history, culture and lifestyle).  Well, a few years ago I was at church (one of the only times I’ve been to church in the last few years) joking around after the service saying that all politicians should smoke from the peace pipe during their political conventions, and then we wouldn’t have as much war.  Well, one of the church goers who was listening to me really liked what I was saying, and must have thought I was a hip groovy dude.  He asked me to hang out at his place some time.  And so a few weeks later, I agreed to come.  When we talked a few hours before the hang out, he asked, “Would it be cool if another one of my friends comes?  He’s got mushrooms.  Do you like mushrooms?”  I thought that was a weird side dish to ask about, but I just took it that the guy really liked mushrooms, so I said, “Okay, sure.  That sounds good.”  I got to his place.  He and his friend were there.  Right away his friend pulled out a bag of mushrooms and threw them on the table, and said, “Let’s do this.”  Immediately, I was thinking, “Oh crap, oh crap, oh crap…”  I don’t condemn or look down upon people for using drugs, but that’s just not my thing.  I don’t use socially acceptable recreational drugs like alcohol either.

After not saying anything for like a minute, I said, “Uhh…uhh… I’m sorry, I must have misunderstood you man.  I don’t mess around with this stuff.”  My church going pal was like, “But you said, you’d be down with mushrooms.”  I replied, “I didn’t realize you meant those kind of mushrooms.  I thought we were talking about mushrooms on a pizza.”  His friend said, “Well, fuck I can’t get high now.  [points to me] This guy doesn’t want to get high.”  I said, “I’m sorry man, I don’t know what to tell you.”  Eventually they conversed among one another and decided to eat their shrooms anyway.  I don’t know why I didn’t leave at that point, but I continued to stay and we watched a movie together.  Thankfully, nothing else crazy happened, and after the movie I left, and that was that.
I'm guessing I would have been seeing stuff like the above picture had I participated in the shroom eating.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Some Words from Madeleine L'Engle

[An excerpt from her Newbery Medal Acceptance Speech, August 1963]

Because of the very nature of the world as it is today, our children receive in school a heavy load of scientific and analytic subjects, so it is in their reading for fun, for pleasure, that they must be guided into creativity.  These are forces working in the world as never before in the history of mankind for standardization, for the regimentation of us all, or what I like to call making muffins of us, muffins all like every other muffin in the muffin tin.  This is the limited universe, the drying, dissipating universe that we can help our children avoid by providing them with “explosive material capable of stirring up fresh life endlessly.”

So how do we do it?  We can’t just sit down at our typewriters and turn out explosive material.  I took a course in college on Chaucer, one of the most explosive, imaginative, and far-reaching in influence of all writers.  And I’ll never forget going to the final exam and being asked why Chaucer used certain verbal devices, certain adjectives, why he had certain characters behave in certain ways.  And I wrote in a white heat of fury, “I don’t think Chaucer had any idea why he did any of these things.  That isn’t the way people write.”

Most of what is best in writing isn’t done deliberately.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

my mom and her bike

The year was 1972.  The place was Clear Lake City, TX.  A little thirteen year old white girl who would go onto become my mom accepted a summer job babysitting three rambunctious girls (ages 4,7, and 9) Monday thru Friday from 8 to 5.  She took the job with the goal of saving up money for a ten speed bike, whilst the rest her friends (all of whom already owned bikes that their parents bought for them) spent most of the summer lounging at the community pool. Two weeks before school was set to start, she finally had enough money for the bike.  Her mom (my grandma) took her to buy the bike, a bright shiny white one.  It was her first major purchase with her own hard earned dollars, a proud achievement in the life of a thirteen year old kid.  She was so excited to share her bike with the world; little did she realize to what extent she would be sharing that bike with the world.  Her mom said, “Okay you can show your friends, but don’t leave it alone until you get a lock.”  [She should have bought me a damn lock, my mom grumbles as she recounts this story.]  Filled with excitement and happiness, she rode the bike, her glorious new treasure to the community pool where her friends were.  She hurried into the pool area, rounded up her friends, “Hey guys, come look at what I got!”  When she returned, the bike was gone.  Gone in 60 seconds, literally.  Her mom drove her all over town looking for it, to no avail.  She had nothing to show for all her hard work but tears.  And she never saw the bike again.

Sadly, this all too true story serves as somewhat of a metaphor for those working class people who work hard, and yet do not get to reap the fruits of their labors, but instead of bikes being stolen the years, hours, and minutes of their lives are stolen.

Story by my mom
Written by her son Aguilar Elliot

Monday, September 12, 2011

the Samurai and the Astrologer

On the eve of a great battle, Miyamoto Musashi (a samurai who lived from 1584-1645) noticed that the daimyo (samurai lord) with whom he had taken service seemed unable to focus on the impeding battle.  Asked what was the matter, the daimyo told Musashi that an astrologer had predicted that he, the daimyo, would soon die.  Shocked by this, Musashi called for the astrologer in the daimyo’s presence.  When the astrologer presented himself, Musashi questioned the wizard:

“Where do you get information that our lord will soon die?” Musashi asked.
“All is written in the stars,” the astrologer answered cryptically.
“And when do the stars say you will die?” Musashi asked.
“The stars predict that I will live a long life, find fame, and fortune, and have many offspring!”  the wizard proclaimed confidently.

At this point, Musashi’s sword separated the wizard’s head from his shoulders.  Placing the head of the astrologer at the feet of the shocked daimyo, Musashi explained to the samurai lord: “If a man is unable to predict his own fate, what hope has he of predicting the fate of others?”

(found this in the book Mind Manipulation: Ancient and Modern Ninja Techniques by Dr. Haha Lung and Christopher Prowant)

Friday, September 2, 2011

Why I have never owned a Cell Phone

I am 27 years old.  I live in the modern world.  I am of sound mind (I think).  And I have never owned a cell phone.  I have never texted anyone.  Please don’t throw me to the wolves.

I would not classify myself as a technology hating Luddite.  I understand that without technology, I would not have a great many things that I enjoy.  I would be nearly blind, because my crappy vision requires me to wear contacts.  I would be melting in this scorching Houston heat without air conditioning.  And I would not be typing up this blog, if it were not for technological innovations.  So it would be hypocritical of me to make a blanket statement vilifying technology.  I don’t think material objects are inherently good or evil.  Things are just things with no moral sensibilities, although it might be interesting if objects like say toasters could make right and wrong choices.

I think with me, it’s just that I possess a simple nature.  I don’t have a great desire to accumulate a treasure trove of technological treats.  I don’t care to keep up with the latest gadgets and gizmos; it’s just not my style.  I’m very much a person content with the interior life.  I don’t have to always be looking outwards for satisfaction.  I don’t need crazy amounts of extravagant external stimuli to keep me occupied and happy.

Some of my friends have told me that cell phones would make my life simpler, thus giving me what I want, but I draw a distinction between simplicity and convenience.  Cell phones would certainly make my life more convenient.  I could much better coordinate activities with friends.  I could get directions when I’m lost in a forest.  I could call for help when my car breaks down.  But a cell phone would not automatically make my life simple.  A cell phone would be another thing, another material possession that I would have to worry myself about maintaining and safeguarding.  It would be something else that I would have to spend money to acquire and upkeep.   And in general, I just have a value for limiting the amount of possessions I own. 

That said I’m not discounting the possibility of ever owning a cell phone.  But as of right now it’s not something I feel like I just have to have in order to derive meaning and contentment from this world.  

Friday, August 26, 2011

a Dream

Last night I dreamt that a group of politicians were in a dark board room with a long rectangular table that seemed to go on forever, well at least I couldn’t see the end of it.  They debated what they considered to be a very “serious” issue – Traffic Control.  Everyone kept shouting about how dangerously congested the traffic was becoming, and that something needed to be done or else people might have to wait for days in traffic.  It was like the ridiculous war room scene in the film Dr. Strangelove (“There’s no fighting in the war room!”).  People yelled out all these different plans of which I had a hard time understanding because so many people were screaming at the same time.  After bickering for what I guessed to be several minutes, they finally exclaimed together, “We have a solution!”  How they got a solution in all that madness is beyond me.  Well, they agreed to rig all the major highways and bridges with nuclear bombs and detonate them during peak traffic hours.  After that, I was somehow transported near a large bridge filled with cars, and in a matter of moments it was blown to smithereens…  I suppose that’s one way to decrease traffic, albeit an absurd way.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Money, money, money, money, money

I’m a simple man without a great amount of money, nor a great desire for money, but even a cursed fool such as myself recognizes the far reaching power of money into every part of society…  And so here are some thoughts on this whole money matter from other more notable minds than myself.

“If a man runs after money, he’s money mad; if he keeps it, he’s a capitalist; if he spends it, he’s a playboy; if he doesn’t get it, he’s a never-do-well; if he doesn’t try to get it he lacks ambition.  If he gets it without working for it, he’s a parasite; and if he accumulates it after a lifetime of hard work, people call him a fool who never got anything out of life.”
            -Vic Oliver

“Money is coined liberty, and so it is ten times dearer to a man who is deprived of freedom.  If money is jingling in his pocket, he is half consoled, even though he cannot spend it.”
            -Fyodor Dostoyevsky

“The lack of money is the root of all evil.”
            -Mark Twain

“There is only one class in the community that thinks more about money than the rich, and that is the poor.  The poor can think of nothing else.”
            -Oscar Wilde

Monday, August 15, 2011

Unconditional LOVE

Oh this word LOVE, this word which has been uttered a zillion times in a zillions ways throughout the course of human history.  And now here I am uttering it a few more times.

LOVE is commonly associated with emotional, erotic elements (and rightly so), but I want to focus on the unselfish facets of LOVE, on the disinterested concepts of LOVE, on the unconditional aspects of LOVE.  This kind of LOVE is not centered on feeling good.  This kind of LOVE transcends feelings.  It goes beyond the internal fluctuations of emotion and mood…  Think of the parents of a newborn child.  I would imagine that it’s not always enjoyable to listen to the incessant cries of an infant, and it’s probably not always enjoyable to be responding to their needs at all hours of the night, but that is LOVE.

Danish philosopher, Soren Kierkegaard (1813-1855) once wrote, “If we wish to assure ourselves that LOVE is entirely disinterested, we must remove every possibility of requital, but this is exactly what happens with respect to the dead, if LOVE perished persists not withstanding this then it is in truth disinterested.  If you therefore wish to prove that you LOVE disinterestedly then sometimes pay attention to how you behave towards the dead.  Much LOVE unquestionably, the most if subjective to a sharper testing would appear to be a selfishness, but the fact of the matter is that in a LOVE relationship between the living there is always a hope of requital, at least of a reciprocated LOVE and this is generally what happens, but this hope together with the requital produces such an effect that one can’t definitely see what is LOVE and what is selfishness.”

The Golden Rule says to treat others how you would like to be treated, but that rule kind of bothers me because I’m not so sure I would want others to treat me as they would like to be treated.  I wouldn’t want a Viking to treat me like a Viking or a mobster to treat me like a mobster and so on and so on.  The extreme ethic of unconditional LOVE goes beyond the golden rule.  Unconditional LOVE says to me that we should treat others better than we would like to be treated, that we should love without terms, without reciprocity, without compromise, that we should LOVE others more than we LOVE ourselves.  Unconditional LOVE urges us to break free from the singular concept of “me” and embrace the plural concept of “we.”


And on a different note, I would like to thank Mr. David Powers King for bestowing upon me the "Blog on Fire award."  Much LOVE, chief.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Emma Goldman

What is patriotism? Is it love of one's birthplace, the place of childhood's recollections and hopes, dreams and aspirations? Is it the place where, in childlike naivete, we would watch the passing clouds, and wonder why we, too, could not float so swiftly? The place where we would count the milliard glittering stars, terror-stricken lest each one "an eye should be," piercing the very depths of our little souls? Is it the place where we would listen to the music of the birds and long to have wings to fly, even as they, to distant lands? Or is it the place where we would sit on Mother's knee, enraptured by tales of great deeds and conquests? In short, is it love for the spot, every inch representing dear and precious recollections of a happy, joyous and playful childhood?
If that were patriotism, few American men of today would be called upon to be patriotic, since the place of play has been turned into factory, mill, and mine, while deepening sounds of machinery have replaced the music of the birds. No longer can we hear the tales of great deeds, for the stories our mothers tell today are but those of sorrow, tears and grief.
What, then, is patriotism? "Patriotism, sir, is the last resort of scoundrels," said Dr. [Samuel] Johnson. Leo Tolstoy, the greatest anti-patriot of our time, defines patriotism as the principle that will justify the training of wholesale murderers; a trade that requires better equipment in the exercise of man-killing than the making of such necessities as shoes, clothing, and houses; a trade that guarantees better returns and greater glory than that of the honest workingman...

Indeed, conceit, arrogance and egotism are the essentials of patriotism. Let me illustrate. Patriotism assumes that our globe is divided into little spots, each one surrounded by an iron gate. Those who have had the fortune of being born on some particular spot consider themselves nobler, better, grander, more intelligent than those living beings inhabiting any other spot. It is, therefore, the duty of everyone living on that chosen spot to fight, kill and die in the attempt to impose his superiority upon all the others. The inhabitants of the other spots reason in like manner, of course, with the result that from early infancy the mind of the child is provided with blood-curdling stories about the Germans, the French, the Italians, Russians, etc. When the child has reached manhood he is thoroughly saturated with the belief that he is chosen by the Lord himself to defend his country against the attack or invasion of any foreigner. It is for that purpose that we are clamoring for a greater army and navy, more battleships and ammunition...

-by Emma Goldman in the year 1908 San Francisco, California

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Dave, the prostitute, and I

One day a few years ago, my friend Dave and I were driving home from the north side of Houston, TX, near Bush Intercontinental Airport.  My car was low on gas, so we stopped at a Chevron, and as soon I walked out of my car, a rather large scantily clad black woman made eye contact with me.  Immediately, she asked me if I had 8 cents (and mind you this isn’t the 1920s when 8 cents had much more buying power).  Before I could even reply she said, “I’ll give you head for it.”  I said, “No thank you mam, but you can ask my friend.”  I pointed to the passenger seat.  The prostitute walked over to his side, knocked on the door, Dave opened it, and they began to converse.  I couldn’t hear what they were saying, but after a minute or so, she left us and walked into the gas station.  As I paid for the gas with my debit card, she came out, and approached me again saying, “You know you want some of this,” as she held her breasts.  I said, “I don’t believe in subjugating women, using them like material objects - that’s not my mentality.” (Yes I really said that!)  The prostitute then replied, “If you won’t fuck me then feed me.”  I thought about that for a minute.  I thought about caring for others and what that really meant to me.  So I said, “Okay… there’s a Burger King across the street, you wanna go there?”  She said, “Yeah, yeah...”  She hopped in the backseat of my car, and I drove her to the Burger King. 

(In retrospect, this might not have been the wisest decision, considering that any number of things could have gone wrong – she could have had drugs on her, the police could have suspected me of trying to use a prostitute, she could have went nuts, who knows…  The radical side of me wanted to forget all those things and just embrace loving others at any cost regardless of the consequences.  I suppose living up to ideals can be somewhat risky in a less than ideal world.) 

Well, we arrived at the Burger King.  And walking into it was such a…umm…awkward experience.  There we were, my friend and I with a woman dressed in hooker garb, and then I pulled out some cash money and paid for her meal.  I’m pretty sure I was misconstrued as her pimp to the people there.  I bought her a burger, and then I told her it was splitting time.  She thanked me for the food, and that was the end of that.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Ridiculous Movie Posters

I've seen this flick, and the only thing I really remember is that at the beginning a lightning bolt strikes Bruce Lee's grave, and some fake Bruce Lee looking dude pops out of it, and starts beating people up.  I think I purposely blocked the rest of the story out of my mind.

Oh the trials and tribulations of being a two headed giant - having to choose between loving and killing.  Alas, tough decisions have to be made, such is life.

We all knew it was just a matter of time before dolphins started assassinating our world leaders.

Uhh... what is that baby monster in the middle smoking?

Lord have mercy.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Nootka Tribal Song

You only achieve this with old age:
                        I look like a sea-parrot
                        with white patches
                        on each side of my head.

Try to become old as fast as you can.
                        I look so handsome.

-Author Unknown

Friday, July 8, 2011

Enter the Whoop Ass

Hello, my name is Mr. Whoop Ass.  There’s only one thing about me you need to know – If you piss me off, be expecting an ass whooping…

One day I was on my laptop clunking my way through cyberspace when I received a message: “Alert your computer has been hijacked.  All of your files are compromised.”  My computer went into lockdown mode, and I could not use it anymore.  I proceeded to punch a hole in the wall.  Afterwards, I took my laptop to a computer savvy friend.  This friend told me that someone named Blake Todd from 312 Zap Lane, Olympia, Washington, Apartment #848 put the virus on my computer. 

The next day, I hopped on a train and took a few buses to Olympia.  I found the apartment complex rather easily.  I jumped the fence and walked straight to apartment #848.  I busted through the door.  Nothing was in the main room except a few empty pizza boxes.  There were two signs on the bedroom door – “Viruses Rule” and “I hate human beings.”  I kicked the door down.  There sat a pudgy, curly haired middle aged man wearing nothing but underwear furiously typing into a keyboard, playing a game with ghouls and goblins.  I tapped him on the shoulder, and he swiftly turned around, snarled and then said, “Who the hell are you?!  What are you doing here?!”

I replied, “Hello, my name is Mr. Whoop Ass.  I heard you like to create computer viruses.  I think you can guess what happens next.”

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Prison Conversations

[The following words are excerpts from back and forth letters between myself and my imprisoned homie – Prince]

Me: Yo Prince, this is Elliot...  Man, this life can be such a cruel bastard.  I feel for you.  I don’t know what it’s like to be in your shoes, but I feel for you.  I just wanted to let you know I haven’t forgotten you and I never will.  No matter what the world says about you, no matter what labels they put on you, I’ll always hold you in high regard.  Ever since we’ve been friends, you’ve been an extremely loyal person, and I always respected you for that… Please let me know how you’re doing in there.   Do they let you hoop?  Your mom told me you just got into a fight with some dude.  It seems as though the gladiator spirit is still in you. 

Prince: Dear E-man, What’s good bro, how you doing?  I hope and pray that you’re fairing well…  To be brutally honest and real, (don’t take this the wrong way), but I didn’t really expect to hear from or communicate with any of you guys until I made it home.  So I was kind of surprised when the guard dropped off the letter and it had your name on it, but still it was like a breath of fresh air to hear from you and I appreciate it man, because it really gave me a good feeling, and more than that it was a reminder to me that I will be coming home soon and that there are folks outside of my daughter, mom and immediate family that actually do care about me and keep me in their thoughts. (Thanks.)… Yea I’m fine man, thanks for asking.  I did get into a lil’ bullshit squabble not too long ago though, nothing major, I just had to touch this guy up a lil’ bit.  I broke his jaw, but inadvertently broke my fuckin’ hand, but I think it’s pretty much healed up now…  This shit bothers me more mentally than anything, knowing that I’m missing valuable years from my own life that I can’t get back; Man I just turned 25 this July on the 23rd, and since I was 15 or 16, I been in and out of fuckin’ jail, that’s 10 yrs Elliot dog 10 yr!!!  And I’m tired of this shit man, and I’m getting old, well not getting old, but Time ain’t slowing down or making no exemptions or exceptions for no one.  That’s what bothers me dog, but I’ll never let it break me ya dig.  I just use this whole experience as an opportunity to better and build myself physically, and enlighten myself intellectually and spiritually... Yea they do let us hoop, we go to rec for 2 hours everyday, but I don’t play ball as much as I used to because these niggas cry too fuckin much, and if you hoop you gotta expect some kind of whiny bullshit drama to come with it, and you know sometimes I snap kind of quick, and here it’s all about respect, and if someone disrespects you, you have to handle it accordingly on the spot… I really appreciate you taking the time out of your day to write me to make sure I’m still breathing.  I always knew you were one of my true comrades and I thank you for recognizing and returning the loyalty that I’ve displayed over the years… It’s extremely hard to find loyalty, honor and integrity amongst your friends, peers, and mankind period as a whole.  Man it’s motherfuckas that I put my life on the line for, gave my last dollar to, and put their well-being before my own, time and time again, and I ain’t heard shit from them.  Not that I expect them to or hold it against them in anyway, because one thing I’ve learned about people, is not to get your hopes high and put all of your repose into a person, because that person can only be his or herself, and you can’t expect anything more or less from them, and you have to learn to accept that person for whoever he or she is flaws, faults and all, but the catch to me is doing that while maintaining your righteousness and not subjugating to the immoral and subpar standards and dogmas that overshadow their life in negative unproductive ways.

Me: I should have known you’d be holding it down wherever you find yourself, but I just had to check up on your well being anyway.  I didn’t want to have to embark upon a ruthless RAMPAGE!  Man, I’m glad you haven’t lost hope, and that your heart is still crazy strong despite everything.  There’s no sense in giving up until you breathe your last dying breath.

As for me, I’ve just been trying to find my way… I don’t know, truthfully in my heart of hearts, I’d really like to just wander the earth and write stories.  My thoughts always get caught up in the eternal perspective, and how I view my position within the grand scheme of things.  I mean you only got 75 years to do what you gotta do, and then this earthly existence is finished.  I just want to be a simple man that tried his best to live out his heart.

Prince: You know I’m still holdin’ it down, tryin’ to turn a negative into a positive, and make the best of my situation (HOPE IS STILL ALIVE!!!)…  You can never let go of your dream, not sayin’ that you have, but you have to actively grind, go after and stay in constant pursuit of the goals in your heart.

Me: You’re right about pursuing your dreams, about it being a total effort, something that consumes you daily.  It seems that most people have to pay a steep price in order to follow their heart… In the end, I feel as though when I’m writing stories I’m doing what I need to be doing, fulfilling my purpose, embracing my essence, at least that’s how it feels, I could just be a loon.

Prince: I have a lot of lucrative ideas, (legal) ideas that I could use some help with.  I mainly want to help at risk youth, you know kids that are like how I was when I was young.  I want to start a Boy’s and Girl’s home for kids that have become wards of the state, and provide them with righteous activities, so when they get to that fork in the road, they pick the Right path and choose not to venture down the wrong one like I did.  That’s just one of my goals I plan on achieving throughout my philanthropic journey through this enigmatic life.

Me:  The Boys and Girls Club idea sounds like an idea worth trying.  It’s hard out there when you’re a young person in this world trying to figure things out, and you don’t know what the hell you really want or what you really stand for, and it’s even harder for those that don’t have many positive influences surrounding them as they grow into adults.  So any organization or institution that can help the young ones realize their inner essence, realize their meaning is something I think is worthwhile, and helpful to society at large.  Maybe you might want to try volunteering at various Boys and Girls clubs to get an idea of how they run their operation.  I definitely think you have a lot to offer to others considering your vast experiential knowledge, and your heart. 

Prince: I want to help these kids become great adults, all the while leading them down industrial work paths; politics, entertainment, military, the oil fields, education, social work, law enforcement, etc.  This is on a wider, more futuristic long term scale, but did you ever see the movie, “The Departed.”  Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting that we use our influence over anyone for ill means, but if you remember the movie, Jack Nicholson raised Matt Damon in a literal and figurative sense; pickin the certain schools he went to, the programs he partook in and the kids he hung around with, all the way up to him going through the police academy and becoming a detective.  Now remember I’m not saying that we should take advantage or use anyone for anything derogatory, but can you kind of see where I’m going with this, (The children really are truly are our future) and I say that to ask you, don’t you think We should have more authority, and influence over what goes on in our future.

Me:  The children are indeed our future, although they are a tough thing to manage, given that there are all these forces outside of our control determining how children grow up – biology, society, peers, parenting, etc.  At the societal level there is always a need for programs to specifically target the youth, particularly those of the impoverished lower class, there is always a need for people to establish those types of programs, to run those types of programs, and get funding for those types of programs.  And then at the personal level it’s obvious that children imitate what they see, they learn from us and if they see bad things there is a high probability they’ll be into bad things, so setting those positive examples of how a person should conduct themselves is a vital step in the process.  But when I think about all these matters, I know that I can sometimes get too caught up in idealism and I have to remind myself about the way this world operates, because making real changes in society is a hard and slow process - we’re up against so many established forces that are bigger than us, and it kind of makes me feel pathetic, powerless and paralyzed when I really think about it, but I try not to lose heart, even when I’m up against the goliath that is society, I always remember the story of David, and that even a goliath can be killed by the smallest of people, if god so wills it.

Prince: As far as the comments you made about us making a change, and trying not to lose heart because of the established forces that we are up against.  This is a rhetorical fact that we all know, “Nothing happens over night, and nothing worth having comes instantly.”  I say that to say that no matter what may be ahead of you, nothing is impossible, and anything can be accomplished through diligence, dedication, determination, and discipline.  The big corporate giants and established forces, didn’t become that strong and powerful within the blink of an eye, neither will they be dismantled and brought under complete subjugation with the snap of my fingers, but it can and will happen.  It has happened in the past and it will again, an example being the biggest institution that America was built upon “Slavery.”  It took years of war physical and political, but so God willed it like you said and so it was abolished.  The first step in any process is truly believing wholeheartedly and having indomitable faith in your cause, and that will ultimately manifest that idea into the inner fibers of the universe.  (Believe)

Me: I can feel the hopefulness and confidence through the strength of your words.  I know this world would have to kill you before they could crush your spirit… 

Prince:  One thing I can thank this place for is reuniting me with my thirst for wisdom, knowledge and understanding, reintroducing me with the euphoric joy and fulfillment a true pupil of life and the universe receives from learning, refamiliarizing me with the strength, power, respect, and admiration you encounter from friends, followers, and even foes when you have a highly spiritually enlightened aura and simplistically Divine way of thinking and reasoning… When I come home, I plan to work, and work my plans until they work for me.  I’m a “3 time felon,” more than that if you count my juvenile record, which these hypocritical, contradictional, porky the pig mother fuckers always do, so putting my dreams on hold isn’t an option, because I know this isn’t all I got, but I have an undying faith that this is the main reason that God put me here; and I will fulfill my prewritten destiny, with only God alone if I have to.

Me: I recently ran into a bit of misfortune.  I totaled my car, which wasn’t so bad a situation, because no one got hurt, although the lady I crashed into was rather annoying.  She kept asking me “Why did you crash into me?”  I had an urge to be cruel and say, “Well, because I love crashing into people.  It’s my thing.”  I kept my cool, and didn’t say anything mean, despite my urges to do so.  And then on that same day, my grandpa (on my dad’s side) passed away into the great beyond.  You know when your blood dies it just feels like a part of you dies.  I know his spirit and his name will live on in me, so that gives me comfort.  It just really makes you think how temporary and fleeting this life thing really is. 

I wanted to ask your permission to publish parts of the letters you have sent me on my blog.  Partly, because I think you have enlightening things to say.  And partly, because I really want to include the thoughts and ideas of those who have helped shape and mold my mindset.  If you don’t want me to, I’ll respect that, I just thought I’d run it by you.

Prince: I’m sorry to hear about your grandfather.  May he R.I.P.  Tell your pops and the rest of the fam I send my love, prayers and condolences, but I’m sure that life and age has granted you both the wisdom to realize that we all have our time here… It’s not like I’m scared of death, because me and him/her whichever form it chooses to take, have had more conversations than I’d like to recall.  But what bugs me is like what I said before about us only having a certain amount of time here.  Now, how do you tell a person that is so affectionately in love with life itself, OK it’s check out time.  But I know everything isn’t meant for us to understand because we are only half god; supreme beings rulers of the planet!  The other half human, emotional, instinctive, natural animalistic drones…  Hopefully by the time I’m 35 or 40 they’ll have created an immortality serum…  And in regard to you airing our written conversations, of course it’s cool with me.  I’m brutally honest.  I don’t have shit to hide from anyone…  Most folks that are incarcerated will tell you that time on the inside moves slow, and it may seem like that at first glance but once you get a firm grasp on your reality in here, and get a true understanding, thus receiving a moment of cosmic consummation about how time in here works, you actually find yourself at the realization of how fast time really is moving…in here, because in the world a lot of people take time for granted unbeknownst to the fact that you’re in an extremely accelerated format of time, but sometimes this is what it takes for regular people to comprehend fully the inner workings of time and what’s at stake.

Friday, June 24, 2011

If I were...

If I were a word I would be “absurd.”
If I were a book I would be written sdrawkcab.
If I were a tree I would grow twinkies.
If I were a koala bear I would wear a three piece suit.
If I were a dwarf I would carry a sixteen foot jousting lance.
If I were a ghost I would be friendly.
If I were a snowman I would be abominable.
If I were a toy I would be a puppet without strings.
If I were a gun I would shoot flowers.
If I were a game I would be a jigsaw puzzle with missing pieces.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Bonnie and Clyde

poem from the 1969 Bonnie and Clyde film…

You've heard the story of Jesse James
Of how he lived and died
If you're still in need
Of something to read
Here's the story of Bonnie and Clyde.
Now Bonnie and Clyde are the Barrow gang
I'm sure you all have read
How they rob and steal
And those who squeal
Are usually found dyin' or dead.
They call them cold-hearted killers
They say they are heartless and mean
But I say this with pride
That I once knew Clyde
When he was honest and upright and clean.
But the laws fooled around
Kept takin' him down
And lockin' him up in a cell
Till he said to me: "I'll never be free
So I'll meet a few of them in Hell."
If a policeman is killed in Dallas
And they have no clue to guide
If they can't find a fiend
They just wipe their slate clean
And hang it on Bonnie and Clyde
If they try to act like citizens
And rent them a nice little flat
About the third night
They're invited to fight
By a sub-guns' rat-a-tat-tat.
Some day, they'll go down together
They'll bury them side by side
To a few, it'll be grief
To the law, a relief
But it's death for Bonnie and Clyde.

The ending sequence where Bonnie and Clyde meet their demise is among my favorites in cinema history.  They’re riding in a car, Bonnie pulls out a pear, takes a bite, and then offers it to Clyde, and he bites from the same spot, very Adam and Eve like.  That sharing of the fruit, that symbolic sharing of fate is just such a romantic, poetic moment (given the context of what will befall them).  After the pear, they stop along the side of the road to help someone they think to be their friend, but he’s really a traitor setting them up for the cops.  As soon as Clyde gets out of the car, a flock of birds flutter away from the scene, as if they sense the imminent danger.  The cops burst out of the bushes with tommy guns and unload what seems like a million rounds in them - an ultra violent death for ultra violent people.  I’m not too violent of a man myself, and I’m not particularly looking forward to death, but if I had to pick a way to leave this world, the Bonnie and Clyde route of going down in a barrage of fire with the woman I love is probably in my top desirable deaths, right after spontaneous combustion. 

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Six Word Stories

Love Triangle - Me, Rosario, and Godzilla.

Lost and Found: futuristic ray gun

Horrible boss.  Samurai sword.  Problem solved.

Inspired by Ernest Hemmingway’s famous six word story: “For Sale: Baby Shoes, Never Worn.”

Thursday, June 2, 2011

july twenty first two thousand and six

I spell these words out for a reason
not to dramatize the meanin'
but to show you what i'm feelin'
am i dreamin'
or does my life really have me reelin'?

Is my religion such a cause for concern?
or is it my race that makes you spurn?
why do you hate me?
weren't you supposedly built on unity?

I know i'm not an aboriginal,
but does that mean you should treat me like a criminal?

They took me away as i looked in my mom's crying eyes
not giving me an opportunity to say my goodbyes
They tell me my appeal has been refused
but my ego cannot be bruised.

As they take me away to my new place,
They cuff my hands putting me through more disgrace
But remember my face
Because this smile you'll never erase.

As I arrive in my cell,
I remind myself this isn't a place for me to dwell
I don't belong in this man made hell.

I know this game is just a business
For ICE I'm just another purchase

I go to my bunk as I realize the reality
And try to sleep before I lose my sanity

As the murky shadows start to clear
I realize I have nothing to fear

Rest assured that I won't stop
This is my way out

I'm not doing this for some widespread acclaim
Because in the end we're all the same.

Written by A079 005 390...  [These letters and numbers identify someone who has been caught up and crushed in what can be the cruel and unjust machine of American legalism, and though this machine has a way of grinding people down to nothing, it did not, and will never have the power to whittle down the heart and spirit of this man (A079 005 390) - one of my closest amigos