Monday, May 31, 2004

The Shazi Nazeem story, in which I “glass bead game” my previous blog and its’ current commenters (3): (sounding generally like some asshole composition instructor)

In my Judaism class at North East Missouri State, an elective in my philosophy and religion undergraduate degree, I had a fellow student named Shazi Nazeem. Shazi is a great guy and was, I think, in Jason’s fraternity. (You may still see him in KC J as I think I heard he had gotten married through you). I had lots of classes with him and we were casual friends. Shazi’s name and family heritage is Persian in origin & he will be quite happy to tell you about the Hamurabic code and the origins of chess as part of the construction of his family’s past and his current identity. I think he went into law.

Anyway, one day before the instructor, Mark Appold, arrived I was telling some story to another student about some mutual friend’s diatribe and Shazi asked me what a diatribe was. I said, “It’s sort of like when someone gets up on their soapbox and rants for a bit about something.” Shazi said, “Well why didn’t you just say that?” and I responded, “For the same reason that when I am going to take a shower, I say “I am going to take a shower,” rather than, “I am going to go and immerse myself in water for the purpose of cleanliness. Vocabulary is a tool to get you where you are going faster.”

I used to tell my composition students this story & would suggest that our individual vocabularies were like a pond of water and our consciousness was like a fish swimming in that water. More words & ideas not only mean you get a bigger pond to think and swim in, certain words or metaphors help you cross that larger pond in a flash. So when you drop a name it is not done specifically with the intent of impressing anyone, you are simply encapsulating that individual’s impact on history and culture to save time – we say, “that was a Freudian slip” rather than, “that thing you just mistakenly said that may have reflected your actual, but suppressed feelings, reminded me of the German theorist and progenitor of the discipline psychology who felt that occasional conversational gaffs reflected a layered consciousness with feelings that are not always self apparent to the feeler.” If the person you are speaking to doesn’t catch the reference then they simply ask – simple.

This is an open-ended game because of course the more you know, the more you realize how much there is to know and suddenly your little pond is confronted with the ocean of history, language, and culture that deafens and dwarfs you with its vastness. For myself I’ve discovered that the best I can do for my own erudition is read people who are erudite, and thus like a lamprey hanging off an intellectual shark, catch the tasty bits that I can track. Burroughs is a shark, Borges is a shark, Umberto Ecco is a shark. Read whatever you read with a pen and a dictionary, read voracious readers and become one yourself. Why should I Karl? Because it’s fun, or for more serious reasons:

The decline of a shared English vocabulary means a very real decline in our national capacity to think – this is of course worrisome especially when our inarticulate leader clearly suffers from this impediment to reason. The lowest common denominator vocabulary is probably the result of the need for journalists to sell a lot of papers, magazines, and the evening news. If you pitch too high, people don’t buy. I’m not saying that this is the result of a deliberate conspiracy, but it is a situation that is clearly useful to an elite that is effective in the use of emotionally potent oversimplification – they are bad we are good & good guys need oil – pay no attention to the man behind the green curtain etc. They killed 3,000 in the world trade center, with their CIA training so that justifies killing several hundred thousand of the people in Afghanistan who gave aid, dialysis and comfort to Osama etc. and a few hundred more thousand in Iraq because they… invaded the country where most of the terrorists actually came from (Saudi Arabia)? If you’re going to start reading sharks, start with Noam Chomsky.


Saturday, May 29, 2004

Illumination through alliteration:
Subtitle: The Garden
Alternate titles: A letter from the grasshopper to the ant or heavy-handed diatribe concluding with platitudes (in which I address, several years after the fact, Shaylin’s caustic critique)

In this house there is always a fine line between waking up and coming to. I am moving slow this morning. My joints are creaking from the inevitable dehydration brought on by margaritas, gin & juice. I sing a song of synovial sadness, stiff and sedentary I segway into solipsism. I could write about how I got this way, I could blog about work. It’s been an odd week with all the storms that have barreled through our fair city, turning me into administrative building manager in charge of leaks. Steve, who is a great new character in my life, suctioned fifteen gallons of water out of the student clinic carpet yesterday. He’s a flood damage specialist who tells speed freak style stories of Hazmat horrors, chain sawing the couches of corpses. He reminds me of a young archetypal Burroughs hunting centipedes while on Benzedrine.

I can give you my new favorite phrase; which encapsulates how I feel about the current tides in my life:

The universe is popping out luck like seventeen-year cicadas.

Sometimes life moves faster than I have time to capture it, like riding the inflowing wave and twisting in the fun of the lift and roll. I spent last Sunday, my actual birthday, at the Missouri Botanical Gardens with Mary, who hadn’t been before. If you haven’t been it’s really a must see facility. I tend to go frequently in the summer and they have a free music series on Wednesday nights, which starts this week. The music series is very civilized – got your baby, got your blanket, got your bucket of beer – it’s the kind of thing where they encourage you to bring your wine and cheese to hear Jazz, folk, whatever – amid the garden’s beauty (& it’s free). There’s another free music series over at the history museum, which I think has started already. St. Louis really is a fine place to live, if you are interested in living. People out in the donut bemoan the sameness of the city, but in just three licks they could be in the chewy center of this tootsie roll tootsie pop (just ask the wise old owl).

The colors we saw at the garden, from the Betty Boop roses to the porcelain inspiring coy, were an ocular feast (I love the pop culture names for the newer hybrid roses). As always Mary’s encyclopedic mind heightened the pleasure of the visit. Mary used to work grounds at the L.A. Zoo. When the feds would snag incoming illegal plant species that did not need to be destroyed, they would often gift the Zoo with them, so Mary was filled with Orchid Thief like tales of planters intrigue as she rattled through the Latinate lingo of the haut horticulturalist (sorry for the heightened rhetoric, I’m feeling verbose today – on a bit of a linguistic tear).

We were feeding the fish from one of the side docks in the Japanese garden and were treated to an impromptu history lesson on the Persian origins of coy breeding from a passing lecturer. Chess, coy, flush toilets and justice; those wacky Persians had their shit together. That must be why we’re bombing the crap out of them now, to pretend we’re the cradle of civilization rather than, as Oppenheimer observed, Shiva to the globe. Hanging Gardens has a different meaning when you change the pause & the emphasis.

I dreamt last night that I was smashing black scorpions with a plate, chopping them in half and putting them in a huge wriggling pile. They were emerging from a fountain. I felt it was a war dream, but I’m not sure how. That’s my second scorpion dream; I wonder what that’s about. Blah - They asked a soldier on NPR the other day if he thought the pictures he’d taken of a corpse in Iraq, which he and the men in his unit had named Mr. Crispy because of his charred torso, were obscene. His response was succinct, “What in war isn’t obscene?”

Diane was at the Garden earlier this week when one of the big storms hit. Everyone was enjoying the excitement and energy of the torrent, huddled together under the awning of the main entrance building. The wind was blowing the water in the fountain into chaotic patterns and the mist was still reaching them despite the large overhang. It had been a special event to view the blooming roses and people were laughing & drinking bottles of wine, immersed in the pleasure of the evening.

When the tornado sirens first sounded people weren’t sure what to do, even in the midst of a storm you have to wonder if they are just testing the equipment or sounding the hour. We haven’t been conditioned to react quickly to these warning systems, we’re always wondering if this is a drill. People were gradually ushered into the basement, where a small band began to play and bottles of wine were passed around. As Diane told the story you could tell that the unexpected civility of the rose show turned tornado drill had given her great pleasure.

This is strong metaphor for a very real problem, as the mist from our wars reaches us under the awning of America in the form of body counts and gas prices, and we head to the basements of our Memorial Day weekends, we need to consider how we should feel about the band & the bottles of wine. Do we drinkers and thinkers, the grasshoppers and pleasure takers of the world, lack, as bright Shaylin (who wept from the challenge to her faith when she first stood before the skeleton of a dinosaur) once observed of me, the courage of our convictions?

“And the band played on,” is the title of the HBO film about the willful ignorance of the medical establishment during the early days of HIV Aids, referencing the band on the titanic. Is it foolish, courageous, or obscene for the band to play while the storm rages outside and the ship is sinking? It depends. It’s only obscene if the band pretends it doesn’t know that there’s a storm.

When the worst of it is over, good people will go and clean up the messes wrought by the pride, greed and arrogance of fools. St. Louis accepted 14,000 plus refugees after the last storm. I saw a Bosnian couple with their daughter at the gardens on Sunday, walking among the orderly rows of plants, and I wondered what all the order, color, and beauty looked like against the background of what they must have seen to get there.

It’s important for the band to play, and for us to enjoy them as we may, because there’s always a storm and when it briefly abates, there will always be work to do.


Friday, May 28, 2004

Karl overstates his erudition while flushing out Achilles’ anatomy:

“The sure conviction that we could if we wanted to is the reason so many good minds are idle."

G.C. Lichtenberg (1742-1799)
German physicist & philosopher

Mississippium accendere nequaquam potest (or maybe I will after all, with all the petrochemicals it wouldn't take much).


Wednesday, May 26, 2004

I'm curious about those of you who read this - the people I don't know very well - is there anything you would like to know about, that you would like me to write about - just curious - excuse me, pandora is at the door.


Feeling kind of wound up, it’s 12:30 and that’s pretty late for me on a school night. I just got back from Kill Bill Vol II and I am feeling all “martial” and “artsy”. For pure kicking power the first episode has greater chops, but through the cunning use of Aristotelian poetics, Volume II’s slow build gives you further to fall. There is no miss-en-scene in II like the winter garden fight in one, nothing so visually brilliant. The emergence from the dunes seemed rushed. The Carrie moment was ok, fast pans to the ancient master were good, emergency 911 had been done, the trailer trash eye bash was off the chart, and pink or blue – you kill me I kill you – was quite good. See, we can talk about it and not ruin it for anyone.

Glen, Angela, Cheri & I went to I love Mr. Sushi for dinner and pigged out on huge portions of Nigiri, Caterpillar & Spider roll. We went for cheesecake afterwards at The Cheesecake Factory. Our theme for the evening was to eat at very literal establishments (I do love Mr. Sushi & they did make the cheesecakes where we bought them under assembly line like circumstances). The girls then abdicated video violence, leaving Glen and I to wrap up another lovely evening on this green earth in the cinema paradiso, mulling inter-text with our youth. My rhetoric has once again gotten away from me so I’m off to bed – night world.


It’s always good to tell a fish story. I am a fool. As I was watching my Cichlid tank last week I noticed that the eggs my mama cichlid was guarding – let’s call her Mama Cass – were gradually disappearing. I checked my fishy websites and pondered the possibility that she was a mouth breeder – a fish who carries her young in her own mouth for protection – but ultimately I decided that she was pulling a mama hamster and engaging in a little infanticide. So, when all the eggs were gone on Friday I decided then that the tank was large enough for another Cichlid. Again with my web tutor, and the advice of the eighteen year old at the fish place, I selected a fire mouth as tank compatible with convicts.

They got along ok over the weekend – little nips – some small territory disputes – but nothing major until Sunday. The fire mouth, who I had named Ted for no real reason, got jacked. Mama Cass bloodied his lower lip and the little male Cichlid – who shall remain nameless at this time – kept attacking his underbelly. I rescued Ted and put him in the hospital tank – he was clearly stunned and listless and by Monday’s lunch break he was dead as a doornail wedged under the heater in the ten gallon. He got flushed, and I sympathize here with Andrew, flushing a fish feels defeatist, you have a sense that you could have saved them if only you were a better observer or a more artful chemist. I only lost one small Cherry Barb in the major tank switch over, so my lucks been pretty good.

Monday night at bowling, Eric informed me that Convicts like to hide their eggs and that in a few weeks I should have abundant fry emerging from all corners of the tank. I put poor Ted in with a breeding pair in hyper defense mode, even though he was bigger than Mama Cass, he didn’t stand a chance. The team murder seems to have brought the cichlids closer together, the teamwork has produced a new level of trust and I think their relationship is really blossoming, which is a good thing, considering the added responsibility of being new parents. I’ll have to think for a bit about gangland killings and pick a good name for our littler killer, one that suits his devious ways. What about Lead Belly to stick with the musical theme? I like it.


Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Dark Clouds Seek Silver Lining:

What does morning bring? It brings a deposit check from Mary Beth, who has reappeared after a week’s radio silence. I need to make a list of things to clean and fix before Saturday. I tend to tolerate idiosyncratic fixtures, and jerry rigged appliances, but I shouldn’t expect others to. Is “jerry rigged” a racist reference to on-the-fly German engineering? As in “This duct tape fix it job looks like it was rigged by one of those damn jerry’s”. We dehumanize and objectify those we have chosen to hate/kill by infantalizing them. Why is infanticide more tolerable? The adult has the “right” to discipline and punish in the master slave dialectic, but if you kill the slave you get no benefit. If you kill the slave you harm yourself, but if you kill an infant, who has no labor value, you do yourself no/less harm; and the infant is simply less person as identity and experience are intrinsically linked, many tribal cultures don’t name children until their first birthdays because infant mortality is so high. So apparently the morning brings Marx and Foucault into the wanderings of my mind.

Morning brings a run with the dog in a light rain. We ran down to the Delmar Loop, to the courthouse and the Masonic temple turned Scientology stronghold. I was thinking about Clinton giving speeches from those steps during each of his campaigns. I saw a bumper sticker yesterday that said, “Not all conservatives are war mongers!” Perhaps the tide will turn. If the republicans want to get a post election bump in the house and senate,
a democratic victory in the presidential election would probably help them maintain the gains they’ve made (more so than all this redistricting crap). A loss of the white house could be a long-term advantage for their party. I’m sure the more libertarian among them are thinking along those lines, there does seem to be a great deal of infighting over the worst deficit in US history. I can’t wait to see Fahrenheit 9/11.

Several weeks ago I was on a morning run and saw a “Reelect Bush” bumper sticker on a jeep, the jeep was parked in front of a mansion and it was blocking the driveway, I remember thinking, “This idiot is blocking his own driveway, blocking access for everyone including himself.” Nice image. On a macro level we could also say, “the car is in the way.” I love my car, I love to drive, but our dependence on oil as a society is crippling us, and the actual human body count from oil dependence has to be in the millions. This has been the bloodiest century in the history of the planet and most Americans are watching American Idol in total oblivious servile willful/conditioned ignorance. “Same as it ever was,” says Plato, and as Chris Knight observed in the film Real Genius, the final words of Socrates were, “I drank what?”


Monday, May 24, 2004

Posted on Fri, May. 07, 2004
Excerpted from
"It's time to clone yourself"


The Kansas City Star

A jam to remember

Add one to the list of fabled Kansas City jam sessions. At the Blue Room last Monday, for the session led by drummer Arny Young, in walked Prince and his entourage.

He was carrying a single red rose, says pianist Wayne Hawkins.

Several members of his band sat in, including sax funk giant Maceo Parker, drummer John Blackwell, saxists Mike Phillips and Candy Dulfer and trombonist Greg Boyer.

Prince didn't take the stage — but he dug the proceedings from the club's upper level.

“I just got the vibe that he wanted not to be the celebrity for a night,” Young says.

The musicians from Prince's entourage displayed impressive jazz chops.

“They played for real” on standard tunes, Young reports. “They were not holding back.”

They grooved with Bill McKemy on bass and traded fours with Young. The music reportedly continued well after closing time. It stopped only when McKemy's bass amplifier gave out, Young says.

Darn it, I wasn't there. But people will be lying about this one, saying they were there when they weren't, for years to come.


Beth got some great pictures on Saturday.


Sunday, May 23, 2004

The morning after or the morning of:

At my brother Andy’s wedding his two best men put on something of a roast of his quirks, many of which I share. Shawn said, “If you ask Andy what time it is, he’ll tell you how to build a clock.” When I write these “here’s what we did” blurbs I feel kind of like that. But if you’re interested read on, maybe I’ll digress in interesting ways.

My birthday is actually on the 23rd, but we all of course need today to recover from last night. As parties go there was minimal drama & maximal fun. Mary thought we all pulled off quite possibly a perfect party – with everyone chipping in to help get the food out etc. We had Beth’s crackers, meat and cheese, and Christie’s Chips & Guacamole as appetizers, grilled chicken fajitas and teriyaki salmon steaks with grilled asparagus as the main course, & strawberries and lemon cake for desert. With the new table the ambiance was just like being at a bistro. I had already had possibly a perfect day before the party even started. It had nearly everything I love in it.

I got up early to a few hours of coffee & NPR, roused Beth & Brad around eight and went for more coffee in the loop. On the way down we stopped off at a garage sale and I bought a wooden lazy-Susan for a dollar and a really nice blue ceramic dipping set – for olive oil and bread – two dollars. We went down to Soulard Farmers Market for the veggies, I still can’t bring myself to buy meat down there, but as per the pictures I am fascinated by what’s available.

Unavoidable Intellectual Digression -

Slovan Zizeck (sp?) makes the point that the fear of the other generally happens around the locus of enjoyment – xenophobia or racism begins with the concern/fear that this unknown other is going to steal my job, my food, my sexual partner – in short my enjoyment. Watch yourself when you’re around the food of the “the other” to check out what race/class boundaries you’ve been conditioned to have. “What kind of food is that?” “Why it’s Chinese, Lebanese, Vietnamese, etc.” The type is inexorably linked to race & the judgment reflects relative degrees of assimilation into “America”– as in that fact that we don’t generally call pizza Italian food or hamburgers German. (I put America in quotes to point out that in South America when someone asks you where you’re from and you say “America” it reflects a certain ignorance, in that they are also from America, you imperialist pig, just South America)

I’m personally afraid that meat sold under these market conditions is unsanitary & yet this is how most of the meat on the planet is sold & has been sold. This meat is probably less likely to give me mad cow disease than standard Wal-Mart fare as most small farmers don’t encourage cannibalism in their livestock. Probably a lot of it was produced under free range conditions on Missouri farms, though I’m sure a significant portion was just rerouted here from the usual grocery supply lines & is cheaper due to almost nonexistent overhead.

Close Digression -

Total cost for tons of vegetables, fruit, fresh roasted peanuts, a basil plant etc. was 13 dollars. I got a crown and coke & a brat for $2.50 each. I love the market & should go every Saturday.

After we dropped Beth off and got the groceries under control, Brad & I went shopping for golf stuff at tar-gay and then hit the driving range. I should have taken the camera out there, as the course is just beautiful. It’s up against Creve Cour Lake, which apparently you can windsurf on. I wasn’t doing so well with my drivers, an ugly slice, but I was consistently hitting the drivers straight and I was knocking balls 150 yards with my seven iron. That’s actually the first time I’ve ever been to a driving range, it’s a great workout and may be my new Saturday thing – when not actually golfing.

On the way back in from the county Angela called to mislead me into thinking that she was still at Noah’s bar mitzvah. I made a few Noah jokes about leaving his boat parked on mount Ararat and was generally snowed into believing that she was still there instead of already being at my house setting up the birthday surprise. I really had no idea, and given the number of people who were in on it they did an impressive job of subterfuge. We broke the table in with a round of drinks and Bob called to wish me a happy birthday and tell me the amazing story of our friend Bill getting to jam with Prince and entourage. I’ll link to Bill’s page and let him tell you that one.

Angela has just informed me that my writing time is up as we are off to Mary’s for brunch & to enjoy her new plantings, the ones that haven’t been decimated by the south city joeys (referencing the infestation of rabbits in Australia).


Saturday, May 22, 2004

Nothing really beats a suprise from the people you love. Thank you all so much for this perfect gift. More later, have to get chopping for tonights feast!


Friday, May 21, 2004

Nested parentheticals are so annoying. They are thoughts within thoughts, like dreams within dreams, intrinsically hard to follow (does form follow function or is it the other way round?).

Sometimes the subconscious is not so subtle. The last thing I did before I went to bed last night was to do a ten percent water exchange in my larger fish tank. I am currently doing those daily. When you’re setting up a new tank it’s easy to overload it with fish (the easiest way to do this is to add too many fish) before the healthy waste-eating bacteria have a chance to build up in the system (in the carbon filter, or the sponge (that is, if you’re using a sponge (is your fish tank sponge worthy?)). If your water starts to cloud, doing a small water change everyday helps the system to find it’s own balance (avoid all chemical fixes as they can fuck your tank for six months or more – the exception to that rule is rid ick (if your fish catch the ick – which looks like they have little air bubbles stuck to them, but is really a common tank infection) and the essential aloe based de-chlorinator). To change out the water I have a five-gallon pasta pot that I use in combination with a siphon.

In my dream last night I was in the pot with cichlids & plecostomus swimming all around me (Yes Beth B, “Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink.” Where is the albatross of my addiction? – Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner (lots of lit crit people think the albatross is a stand in for Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s opiate addiction), (Beth J. is in Nebraska at the wedding of her brother-in-law, Hi Beth J)), the water had been filled with a salt solution that was intended to clean my aura (If you want to clean your aura, take a salt bath by filling your tub with water and adding 1-2 full containers of ordinary table salt, or go jump in the ocean if you have one handy). I was in the pot, the pot was on a bar stool, and I was balancing it by holding onto the back of the stool. Lucinda, who teaches where I work and also keeps fish, was there overseeing my cleanse.

Later in the dream I attended a wedding, it was not the wedding of my ex Angela, which is next weekend in K.C., but I can only assume that’s part of what my brain was processing. An old friend of mine was there, she was drunk, and I had to take her keys away so she wouldn’t drive. Now that I think about it, this wedding dream might have been triggered by Beth J’s phone conversation (from a rehearsal dinner) with me last night, it then contained elements of Paul’s, my sister Sandy’s, and Angela’s coming wedding. Angela was my date to Sandy’s wedding, so that figures. The “give me your key’s scene” was from Rebecca & John’s country club reception. So my chemical computer pulled up all things wedding and smashed them together with each other and with a “go take a psychic bath” metaphor.

Perhaps that’s what dreams are: a ten percent psyche change every night, to keep the water in balance and the mind clean (or a chance to interact with the astral projections of your favorite celebrities).


Thursday, May 20, 2004

The celebrity dream saga continues,
in which I reveal a numerical code of fine dining:

Deby has this friend who is a good cook so we decide to convert The Healing Arts Center into a restaurant. I’m upstairs in our large bodywork classroom and it has been set with tables. I’m sitting at one of the tables and I make a mental seating chart of the room so that the cook will be able to tell by the numbers, what table and what person each order is for. This is a semi-arbitrary code essential for all fine dining, the number of the tables is generally logical to whoever set them up initially, but then those numbers become fixed to a particular table and over the years, as the tables move around the restaurant in different configurations, the original logic is lost to seemingly illogical & arbitrary habit.

The order of the patrons at the table is generally numbered from one up, starting at the person closest to the door (the primary entrance) and then moving clockwise around the table. I randomly choose the table I am at as table one and move outward in a circle from there. All the tables are circular. People begin to arrive, at first in couples and then in foursomes. I decide that as I once was a fabulous waiter, ten years in food service from dishwasher to headwaiter/host, I will be a waiter. I have no order book so I take my first order for a couple on the back of a receipt that I pull from my pocket & then I go to the clinic for the receipt books that we keep there.

There is a young Russian man helping me. I took German with him in college. We worked together as we were the only students in the class over twenty-one years of age. I remember him telling me one day when we were studying, “You Americans with your diets. It’s all a scam. Russian doctors have known forever that all you need to do is drink a lot of water and walk a lot, there’s no great secret way to circumvent this simple process.” The Russian “common sense” diet, I think he wanted to be a doctor.

People were then arriving and getting seated, with Deby as the hostess, slightly faster then I can keep up with. A ten top, a group of ten people, arrives and I am going to take the table when we hear them begin to talk in Russian. They discover my cohort is Russian and we toast them, “Stra-vey!” I decide to take a break. I am clearly being outworked effortlessly by this younger man (ah birthday dreams). I head down to the kitchen and discover that the head chef is Mikhail Baryshnikov. The kitchen itself is gorgeous with a vast array of gas burners and overhead hooks for cookware. Mikhail’s hair is messed up and he looks exhausted. I tell him that he’ll get a warm reception from the Russian ten top and he asks me to take a hamburger plate to the dishwasher’s daughter in the next room. I am making a mental note of our policies, “Free meal with every shift, to be eaten after the rush.”

The dishwasher is a medieval surf sitting in what looks like a blacksmith’s shop. His young daughter has a German peasant girl outfit on, including a cloth hat that covers her ears “Thank you sir, very much,” she says while backing timidly away and bowing. I decide to take water upstairs. Mikhail comes out of the kitchen with a pitcher of water. I sit down on the stairs and he sits on the floor. We are sitting in front of a sliding patio door, the kind with the track that many people put wood doweling in to prevent people from breaking in. It’s winter outside. He pours the water into to the track and we’re both watching the ice cubes floating, we’re wondering if the water in the track will get cold enough to freeze. We communicate this through facial expressions. Another young woman comes up to the patio door from the outside. She reminds me of the girl from the black and white version of miracle on 34th street. She knocks on the glass and asks how we’ve gotten our sunflowers to bloom in the middle of winter. I look to my left and see large sunflowers in a display. Mikhail says, “They’re ceramic.” I wake up.

This is clearly a dream about the passage of time. Flowering in winter is artifice.


Wednesday, May 19, 2004

My Cichlids are having babies. I didn’t even know I had a matched set and now the larger one is in full guard and protect mode hovering over a piece of petrified wood, which (after years as an interesting object in a junk drawer) has gone from being pleasant tank décor, to nest central for a few hundred eggs. The caveat that these are the easiest fish to breed is apparently true as I was not even trying – one tries by putting nest like things in the tank and turning the heat up. Sultry fish tanks apparently get Cichlids in the mood. It must remind them, genetically of course, of their South American riverbeds on a hot spring day. I’m not sure of the lifecycle, but if they are born on Sunday then my fry and I will all be the same kind of Gemini (minus the hemisphere flip and species diversion).


Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Thirty one years ago this weekend my mother spent several hours in a hallway in a small hospital in Garoka New Guinea bringing me into the world. I wasn’t expected to arrive until a few days later, but the rough trip into Garoka from the station must have convinced us both to get on with things as she’d only been in town a few hours when her water broke. My father, planning to arrive around the expected date, was actually golfing on a makeshift dirt airstrip when I was born.

So, soon to be thirty one years old and on a weekend no less, to celebrate this anniversary, with gratitude to my parents for bringing me up and about, and to thank all my friends for their continued love and support, or at least tolerance, I am inviting all the usual suspects to a Saturday evening BBQ on May the 22nd beginning around six I guess and lasting until whenever everyone leaves (usually three am or so) with plenty of couches etc. should you have been asked to surrender your keys.

Through the cunning use of last minute planning I’m allowing you to wish me well from afar because you have other plans already. Just simply respond to this email with appropriate Hallmark sentiment if you would like to, but if you’d like to drop by I’d love to see you and maybe even feed you. I’ll be making chicken fajitas on the grill for one and all, but any contributions of related food or funds will be welcome (Sandy’s got the potato salad covered). The grill will be hot for quite some time, so if fajitas aren’t your bag then bring what you like and we’ll cook it.

Far from the mountains of the highlands of Papua New Guinea, with not an airstrip in sight, my golf score from the front nine at the Sycamore course in the Ozarks last weekend was a 61 – some twenty odd strokes over par at least, but I’m working on it dad, I’m working on it all.


More Bunnies!!!!!!!



Comments were down yesterday - I'll post this on yours when they go back up. The ref is to Be Here Now by Baba Ram Das (Richard Alpert). He began his new age journey at Harvard dropping LSD with Leary. The book is still available where most new age books are sold. He's actually more interesting now that he's had a stroke - check out the documentary Ram Das Fierce Grace – it traces both his spiritual evolution and his stroke recovery. I’ll de-link you for privacy protection. –k-


Making public my nocturnal, heavily plot driven, insanity.
I have to live in this head:

In last night’s dream I have to get to the south side of St. Louis to help my friends Tom Selleck and Elliot Gould. I am Elliot’s agent (they are playing themselves). Elliot wants to purchase a bar there, and it is literally falling apart. The bar itself was built in Detroit by the early automotive industry as a moveable building, with all the plumbing etc in the same space as the bar. Nearly half of the floor space is covered by antiquated pipes, which make it look like an ancient laundry mat. If you jump at one end of the building the other end moves, shaking all the pipes and sending a ripple through the splintering floor (which reminds me of the basketball court flooring of a long condemned school). There is an uncapped toilet (just the post, no stool) that we would need to build an actual bathroom around. This building is prime lemon in a nowhere neighborhood (location, location, location).

In order to get to the bar fast, before they close the deal, there is a bit of an adventure. I end up stealing a car that Harvey Keitel has just stolen himself, it’s a small brown Dodge Omni. We run several errands on our way to the south side bar and in each episode he is trying to get the key back and I am promising that when we get to where we’re going he can take the key, but there is always one more stop – and when we finally first get to the bar no one is there, so more craziness ensues.

Tom Selleck’s agent finally shows up, as the enemy trying to buy the bar out from under Elliot, but I outtalk him with the owners. Once it’s clear that Elliot really wants the place, and there is this underlying competition with Tom’s agent, I do everything to get the bar for him. We end up striking a deal that involves concessions on jukebox choices and radio feed. Tom’s agent had some radio connection to influence the deal, which I was trying to undermine (the radio rep, a very cute blond woman, was actually there pushing her influence). At one point in negotiation, which is happening next to the industrial dumpster for a construction site, I make the point that no one listens to sporting events on the radio in bars anymore, they might have it on TV, but they are listening to the jukebox (I was bowling last night and was struck by the multitasking of the patrons who were involved in both their games and the ones on TV, while listening to music and carrying on unrelated conversations).

Elliot apparently grew up in this south side neighborhood and there is a touching twist scene where Tom Selleck says something like, “The bar will succeed, these are your people, you grew up here. They’ll support you and so will I.” revealing at this point that they are lovers and this is a couple’s venture.

The dream closes with black and white images of young Chinese fighting several stegosauruses. The stegosauruses are up on their hind legs, using their front legs as arms. The combat takes place in a riverbed just like the one in that classically faked picture of bigfoot. The voice over to this presumed documentary says, “Early Chinese developed Wushu (kung fu) by fighting the last of the dinosaurs. It is only with the recent spread of Wushu in the West that Chinese have begun to treat Westerners with respect.”

This may have been the start of the next dream, but the alarm went off.

Last night’s dream starred William Hurt and involved a large Earthquake hitting St. Louis. In a post apocalyptic city I end up befriending and raising a small deer (one of my totem animals by the by) to adulthood. William Hurt’s character attempts to counter the guilt of the survivors by starting a circus in what’s left of the Central West End. The main attraction at the circus is a group of very tall people (eight feet or taller) reminiscent of the Amazon’s from a dream I posted on here weeks ago. That dream closes with the image of the full grown stag, which I have raised, somehow in my fish tank sparring with my red tailed shark by crashing into him with his antlers, like you always see in nature documentaries on the rutting deer. I wake up thinking that there is some competition for influence in my astrology between the fish & the deer, between the water and the woods.

Apparently there is no shortage of imagination here. Sometimes my dreams have a great deal of personal significance, but mostly they are just funky.


Monday, May 17, 2004


After a vacation one often feels the need for a vacation to recover from one’s vacation. I suspect not much blogging will occur until I have resumed my life proper. Not sure what details will emerge from the weekend of debauch, all mild by the standards of my youth, but I might work up a tale or two. So far I am a tease on promised tales. I am past deadline on Seder, Ann’s Rug, the racetrack, and what else? I posted a few more photos so you might check the link in the previous blog, you’ll get the bonus of boating Bert’s baldhead (of Bert and Ernie a.k.a. the Junior Varsity team – we were duty bound to drink and think them under the proverbial table – and they in turn golfed circles around us). If any tales of boys weekend seem sophomoric, it’s because they are, these things usually are and that’s kind of the point. Ah well, I must bowl. It seems that Mary Beth will be the new roommate, more on that as it develops.


Saturday, May 15, 2004

Not the best resolution, but here are some pics.


Friday, May 14, 2004

Here at the lake and yet not over the line of the digital divide, I could give details of our arrival etc. but no, there is a roaring fire, I grilled us steaks, we're waiting for Jason who just called from Camdenton (Dan's home town, Hi Dan) actually he's here - just called - so all is well - more on the morrow -k- (just read the opeing line of a Hunter S. Thompson potical rant, "When the going gets tough the wierd turn pro." I am turning pro).


You just can’t make this shit up. Here are two gems from the week:

"The key to success is for you to make a habit throughout your life of doing the things you fear."
Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890)
Dutch painter
first career: art salesman
sales quiz:
what is the most expensive painting sold at auction?

"Service is what life is all about."
Marian Wright Edelman (1939 - )
founder and president of the Children's
Defense Fund, first African American woman
admitted to the Mississippi Bar

sales check:
do your customers know you know
that service is king?

They've managed to equate Mother Teresa with the clerk at McDonalds, where service is king.


Thursday, May 13, 2004

So, some of the readership, several of the readership (so you don’t feel alone), have weighed in on the new template. Most say no and seek a reversion (generally for reasons of visual clarity). I must contemplate this, as I do like my sleek and dotted world. Options: I saved the old template, so I could do a full reversion. I could run two blogs with the same posts and aesthetic appeal could govern your viewing habits. I could try a Hegelian synthesis and find some third prototype with shared benefit and no woe – that seems the easiest prospect-but you will have to wait for that until after my mini-break. I am off to the Ozarks for the weekend for my pre party. Soon I will be thirty-one.

You might feel condescending about my age, but you’re in the minority, 80% of the world’s current population is under twenty-one. Do you want another demographic mind expander? Given exponential population growth, there are more people alive now than have lived. “What do you mean?” If you take recorded civilization to be about seven thousand years old, and you add up everyone who lived and died over the past seven thousand years in every civilization on the planet, there are more people sucking air now than have sucked air & died all added together. There’s a mind expander for you. Also, given dispersion rates of oxygen you can pick your favorite person (a historical Christ, one of the Kahn boys, Katherine The Great or any one of her horses) and you can figure in every breath you suck some of the air they sucked. It’s like an oxygen gangbang with all the figures of global history present at every inhalation. If statistics isn’t going to help me win the lottery I’ll be damned if I can’t have some fun with it.

Deby thinks there is something very wrong with me, thoughts?


The latest in the ongoing fish dream saga:

My boss recently bought a new house and moved. In my dream last night I was helping to move my employee Diane into his old house. He had left several fish tanks behind. My coworker Debbie arrived with a white and orange splotched fish that could swim through the air and didn’t need water. In order to get it to stay in a tank we had to add water.

Seems like a “live outside the paradigm” metaphor – a fish that doesn’t need water. Hmm Fish out of water and managing fine, people from work, we just need to add water to keep him in place and keep him happy. Water in my tank…

Thoughts: Setting up and decorating fish tanks over the past few months has had a large impact on my personal mythology. A probable structuring device for a proto novella, should I ever try my hand at that. When I walk the dog in the am through my neighborhood I contemplate the houses I pass, and the people within them, in the context of fish tanks. I live in an area where thankfully every house is unique. Most of the home owners do interesting things with the front yards, which evoke the plant placements of a well-planned tank. We move through these spaces in our lives much as fish move in their tanks. My life here in St. Louis plays out mostly in recurring locations and I think to myself, “Here I am again in this part of the tank.”


I just had a talk with my powerball ticket, he matched two of the five numbers (42 & 45). I said, “What were you thinking? Just two more numbers and you would have been worth five grand. Don’t you want to be worth money?” Now my powerball ticket is sad and I have a contrite heart. “I am sorry powerball, I know you tried your best. It’s hard to keep up your brave little pink face with the weight of all statistics against you.” The powerball ticket responded surprisingly, “Karl, I hope you win someday, but remember that this lottery thing is a double tax on stupidity and desperation, so don’t hold your breath.” Hehe


Wednesday, May 12, 2004

In case you hadn’t noticed the new blogger isn’t working very well. It’s doing multiple posts and generally being a pain in the ass. So it is with system upgrades. It is however allowing me this new sleek version of my blog, which I do like. Sorry not to post more today, my home machine crashed hardcore this am and it took multiple system restores and a trip to the Microsoft homepage to resurrect my connection. My links will be back up tomorrow. On a positive note, my new potential roommate Mary Beth (I lived with Mary and I lived with Beth, but here are two great tastes that go great together) is coming over tomorrow night; forty something pop culture grad student who used to manage Blueberry Hill. She seems like Cool & the Gang and after tonight’s phone call(s), we could have a victory over entropy there. For those of you waiting on the Brad directions, they will be forth coming on the morrow I am told, so keep your fingers crossed – we have a ten thirty tee time Sunday at 27 a person for nine holes walking, objections? I’m bringing poker chips etc. so bring cash so that my golf will be free!


Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Somewhere in this country a desperate liberal arts major is held prisoner. Daily a gun is put to their head and they are asked to produce a quote from some venerable sage of the arts. The quote stands like the message in a fortune cookie, inscrutable, ripped from its original context and wrapped in a cookie, but a cookie of a different kind, the kind of cookie that my web browser asks me if I want to save and accept.

A little more than a year ago we hired a sales consultant named Jack. We have “Jack” meetings via speakerphone every other Friday where we are coached on our ability to help prospective students “get clear” on whether or not they should be here. New ages sales is all about clarity. Ann thinks of him as a “Charlie” character as we’ve never met him or even seen a picture. In this analogy we are the sales angels. We work on phone skills and basic sales and marketing. We’ve gotten clearer on our admissions process. Everything is clearer. The end results of all these meetings have been good, very real skills have been enhanced and the school improved. However, the subtext is of course the sales paradigm, which takes things that you care about and co modifies them. It takes intangibles and reshapes them into features and benefits. It puts people in boxes, puts nice bows on the boxes, and puts them out on the shelf for sale.

So, as part of this process I have been signed up for emails that come to me daily with a sales quote. I imagine the poor liberal arts major tortured into re-contextualizing all the great works of literature into sales speak. Those of you in the ivory tower, do not take this meme lightly, it has transformed your charges from students into clients. It has shifted the roll of educator to entertainer and turned knowledge into product. Let as not forget dear Marxists that capitalism functions according to the engine of lack, you have to buy low and sell high to move forward. There are empty seats in your classroom for a reason. For the degree to mean something, lots of people have to lack it. You have to have extreme poverty to produce great wealth, that’s just how it works. So with your power, as part of this system, you must acknowledge and act on your responsibilities.

Today’s example and the inspiration for this blog:

"It is not only for what we do that we are held responsible, but also for what we do no do. "
John Baptiste Moliére (1622-1673)
French playwright
sales check:
it took a lot to bring in your customers...
how's your internal sales culture?
sales check:
Everyone in your organization can (and often does) have a direct impact on the sales process and your customers. Be sure that everyone is on board, sending the right messages (directly and indirectly) to your customers.
Through your daily interactions with those in other departments, help people understand that the customer is paying the bills and everyone within the organization serves the customer first. Don’t encourage, condone or contribute to negative discussions about the customer or prospect. Focus instead on how your organization helps customers solve their challenges and improve their business or personal lives.
Be responsible and just sell...


Monday, May 10, 2004

My blogger account has turned into hotmail - eek - and now we have "dashboards." What's that all about? How is blogging automotive in nature? (for those of you on the other side of the glass, blogger has had a facelift of sorts and everything is in a new place with a new look.


Sunday, May 09, 2004

The current state of my meat puppet:

(I am beginning to sense the emergence of a voice – we may get a middle class novella out of this wanker yet)

I am sunburned (it’s a mild one) from nine holes of golf this am. But even mild sunburn makes a red head look like a lobster. I am at work now and people keep commenting, “looks like you got some sun” and other variations on that theme, this only strikes me as odd because I shaved my beard off yesterday and no one seems to be noticing that major change (until I tell them-perhaps they are being polite as they are not sure what to make of my face). Beards and shaving are an interesting thing when it comes to identity. To some degree I actually forget what I look like without the beard. If you keep your beard for a significant amount of time you age in this beneath the surface kind of way and then the shave off is this “reveal” (to use the home improvement show/queer eye lingo). Your friends then weigh in on whether they like you better with or without the beard, and that feels like a debate about the merits and shortcomings of your face in general.

I went rummage sale hoping yesterday, after I watched the end of Adaptation, and it was so hot I came home and shaved. I took a pass on a large black ceramic Buddha – heavily Greek influenced in that Northern India kind of way, but with several chips out of the plaster. I also did not buy some lovely ceramic dishes from the fifties and a large aquarium outfitted for reptile raising (junk shop materialist pursued by other people’s possessions). I did buy a rug for 1$ to replace the Ann rug (that’s a story I am waiting to tell), but when I tried it in the living room it just didn’t work, so it is now the laundry room rug. I’m working my way out of a weight thing that is commonly referred to as a beer gut, but also manifests in a swelling of the face and fingers (and if allowed to persist will surely bring about man boobs). I used to have a square jaw, but booze, food and a sedentary lifestyle had swelled me to a thirty something baby face. When I started at the HAC I was up to 210 pounds. I am now a mere 175. This reveal has gifted me with my old chin, a sure sign that I am on my way to face reclamation. Ah vanity, such a singular profanity.

I actually watched extreme makeover the other day, ever since I read the Rhinoplasty scene in Thomas Pynchon’s novel V I have been fascinated by this bizarre cultural wrinkle (talking monkeys get themselves up to the craziest shit). In the same way that one might try to recognize celebrity voiceovers in commercials, I look for the small parts in obscure films where you get the visage of the now famous pre work. Jennifer Aniston in her staring roll in Leprechaun can be seen sporting quite the large nose. Ashley Judd as the drugged out daughter in Smoke also seems to be wearing different nasal flesh. Julia Roberts’ character in Noting Hill bemoans the surgery burden of the high priced female lead in an odd shattering of the fourth wall (Is that what they call it in the theater? Christ, I need an editor to deal with my manifold malapropisms and misspellings – be kind and chalk it up the haste of the blog, the false deadline that undermines preventive perfectionism).

At what point did the razor that sculpts our hair get the hubris to break the surface with intention? Where is Foucault when I need him? It’s a consistent theme in Pynchon isn’t it, and the films of David Cronenberg. Who is doing the work on this now? Who should I read? If I were doing the work what would I say, at least about the cultural representation? Karl’s first awareness of plastic surgery as a possibility: James Bond villains emerging from the mud like Judaic golems to serve as hydra heads for the sinister organization Specter.

If I imagine myself back into the fictional worlds of Humphrey Bogart film noir I see a science that began in the reconstruction of soldiers and accident victims subsumed by those who needed to hide, who needed new identities that were obfuscations of the past. Now we have the same skills going to higher bidders for obfuscations of the future in search of platonic ideals of symmetry and slope. We insert and delete from our malleable bodies in the same way that I am able to manipulate this text. If I had three thousand five hundred dollars to burn, a sanitized suction man could whisk away my weight without the wait of more healthful transitions.

Overly aggressive editing of our bodies must have far reaching consequences and what if they fuck up? You end up on Sixty Minutes Two cautionary segment, trotted out on slow news nights as regularly as unsanitary chicken farms. “The high cost of looking good,” or, “the hidden social costs of today’s cosmetic surgeons,” or simply, “good looks gone wrong” and other Ohio River Basin insipid-isms that we now call journalism (the nighttime newscaster voice is based on an Ohio River Basin accent thought to exemplify North American neutral).

Blah – sometimes blogging is like whittling a stick, you start with the shavings of a topic and you end up with a pointed rant that you prick you finger on when you ask yourself if you have a point. I am out of time at this desk, and must go pick up Angela, so take my metaphorical rant on rhinoplasty, stick a hot dog on it and stick it in the fire.




I was reading in the collected Borges non-fiction the other day. He was writing about Dante and felt it important to note that everything Dante wrote was not so much the product of Dante, as it was the product of all the people who built up to Dante, to make it possible for him to write as he did. So we infer that Borges was also writing about himself and situating himself within a tradition to say with both pride and humility that he was standing on the shoulders of many and a conduit for their voices into that moment in time (I should note that he goes on to argue against the very notion of time, how do we know that the world wasn’t created a second ago with our memories of the past as a key feature of that instantaneous creation – all time is now). Ah Borges, he always returns to the eternal return.

I like the idea that the writer is an expression of this seeming contradiction, both the solitary scribe alone in the struggle for inspiration and at the same time, “themselves” a product written by the language – both via the way language structures consciousness and the way various consciousnesses have used language in the past. I watched Adaptation slowly this week. I watched it in three installments and finished it early Saturday morning. Kauffman has written himself into his screenplay, he is the snake swallowing his own tail. I must begin at the beginning of time – Finnegan begin again - I must say the last quarter of the film didn’t sell me. The chase, the drugs, the alligator attack all undermined the beauty of the first three quarters of the film. I think I need to watch it again a few times before I say anything else. It’s nice to find a film that will repay multiple viewings.

Karl briefly tries his hand at dialogue.

While trained as an academician some of the skills must translate mustn’t they?

While walking to the Loop last night along Delmar Blvd:

Paul, “Look at how many of these places are for sale.”

Karl, “Angela and I looked at that one the other day when they had an open house, they want 500,000.”

Paul pulls a photocopied fact sheet from the plastic box on the front lawn, “$450,000.”

Karl “I guess they dropped the price, it’s been on the market for awhile

Paul looks at the mansions across the street, “If these place are 500,000, what do you think those are going for?”

Beth, “That one? One million two at least.”

Paul, “Here I am with my professional degree and I can barley afford my life. Sure I’ll be making more as time goes on, but what will that mean with inflation? What will these houses cost then? What do these people do to afford them?”

Angela, “Most of them were born with it. St. Louis has a lot of old money.”

Karl, “The rape of third world countries is popular.”

A cop car from St. John’s glides past this conversation with a middle aged white cop in the drivers seat and a young black man clearly still in handcuffs sitting uncomfortably in the back seat.

Paul, “Where is St. John’s? Is that a municipality?”

Angela, “I would imagine it’s up by Bonnita Park, in that area, but I am really not sure.”

We went down to Blueberry Hill last night for beer and burgers. Paul is in town to celebrate Mother’s Day with his wife’s family, but he got a pass for the evening. He decimated me at Gallaga, but I held my own on The Shadow pinball game. I saw my old Zorro lunch box in the case of many wonders. Blueberry Hill is filled with case upon case of lunchbox and happy meal style memorabilia.

Paul’s quote of the evening while discussing autopsy work, “You know, the one’s that smell so bad that you have to put Vick’s Vapor Rub under your nose before you even walk in the room, just to get in the door. The one’s that they fished out of a lake after four months. On a day like today – in the eighties - it’s amazing how fast you begin to decompose. They’d literally have to scrape you up after just twenty-four hours.”

Karl, “We’re just a bunch of meat puppets.”

Angela, “Wasn’t that a band? The Meat Puppets?”

Beth, "You know that's going on the blog."

Karl, "yup."


Friday, May 07, 2004

Moment of Zen


I just posted the following ad in an online roommate search program:

It’s a large place. Hardwood floors downstairs and carpeting upstairs, with a basement for laundry and storage. I don’t smoke, but I have allowed my friends to, though that is negotiable. I’m located close to Wash U & the Delmar Loop so the location is great. I have a medium sized dog, lots of fish, and large bar. Lifestyle would be hipster professional liberal intellectual, most of my friends are either in law or education & we have semi frequent BBQs so the ideal roommate would be social. Central air is great, but pricy, figure 425 rent plus 150 as one half of the utilities for your budget.



The saccharine nothings of nighttime television, like cavemen around a flickering fire we’re exploited via hardwire:

I made the pilgrimage last night over to Brad and Beth’s to watch the final episode of friends. When R and I first moved to St. Louis we were exhausted by the pace of life, I was spending several hours a day in my car moving from campus to campus on the adjunct tilt-a-whirl and we had one car between us, so I was chauffeur as well. We would come home from our workdays and collapse in front of back-to-back episodes of friends. We had few actual friends, and little energy and cash to do much anyway, so we acquiesced to this surrogate life. We both began to dream about the characters and took our unhealthy relationship dynamic one step further through our involvement with this fictional world. I haven’t watched a new episode of Friends in some time. I sort of broke up with the show when we broke up, so I had to get the plot fill in from Beth. I must say, after not having TV for six months, this episode did not give me the sense that I am missing anything. “They spent ten million plus on this? They certainly made that back through the endless commercial breaks.”

I read the Slate article that admits Friends is a popular show, but also notes that it’s best ratings wouldn’t have cracked the top twenty in 1995. Npr this morning compared the end of Friends to that of Frazier, which is a much better (i.e. more substantive) show, and posed questions about Mash and Cosby. It’s hard to find that mix of substance and humor. I’m not sure Friends ever had it, but I did enjoy it for a time, Chandler had great timing. I guess the characters were always materialistic, but that seemed to increase as the show wore on. The narrative engine seemed to shift from the struggle to find one’s self to the struggle with the selfishness that denies the cost of privilege – an ironic observation as I sit on this side of the digital divide and drink my morning coffee. The episode where Phoebe takes back her charitable donation so she can fund a huge wedding was my last straw. Beth tells me she gave it back and got married on the street in the snow, so perhaps other viewers had my reaction. Blah, shouldn’t our guilty pleasures give us more pleasure? Perhaps I need to start watching Alias, Jennifer Garner is certainly a cutie.

Insipid rhyming is a sign of mental collapse:

Ah Friday, bringer of the weekend. May your accomplishments be many and your obstacles few, if it can’t wait till Monday then push it quickly through. On Sunday you’ll be golfing, in Forest Park, that’s true. This evening you’ll be drinking; nothing new, nothing new. So say hi to friend Jen, she wants to be a Jew, and say hi to the others here (perhaps in “comments” they’ll say hi to you). This weekend still I’m working, my Mother’s far away, so Sunday in the afternoon the store is where I’ll stay. Next weekend it’s the Ozarks, so very far away, vacations sure are needed to escape the workday fray. Next Friday is the goal now and it’s just half a day. In a speedboat I’ll be bobbing, next Friday night for sure, and all my workday trials this happenstance obscures. So toast me now for drifting, in life and in that boat, for like the witch in Holy Grail if I’m a duck I’ll float.


Thursday, May 06, 2004

If I were to blog….

I don’t really have a story in mind today. Things in general just seem to be humming along. We had a party yesterday for Cinco de Mayo. I grilled chicken, corn on the cob in the husk, and other veggies for fajitas. Seven people waded through two bottles of tequila and the better part of a case of Corona. Vanessa brought new boy – Chris - who has graduated to having a name (formerly he was known by his internet handle “rock climber boy”). He seemed fine and wore a sombrero, so he’s game for the festive life. I really love having people over, the orchestration of entertainment and the meal, the certainty of what come nect

The mighty French, attempting to install their Emperor puppet, Archduke Maximilian of Austria, have misjudge the strength of the smaller Mexican army and will pay with their pride and their lives in this the year of our Lord 1862! And then they will come back in 1864 and kick our asses in return and we will say fuck it and drink! In 1867, with the civil war now behind them, the people to the north we lend us military aid and poor Maximilian will get his head chopped off, which is one of the most effective means of relieving a puppet of his strings.


Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Post-it notes from the land of the new age in which I will speak like you know what the hell I am talking about in order to initiate you into a specific discourse community, albeit in the digressive style of the relatively new and evolving literary form “the blog”.

As I mentioned yesterday was Wesak, the festival commemorating the enlightenment of the Buddha under the bohdi tree & named for the Wesak valley in Tibet. It’s a good day to get enlightened as the spiritual masters are thought to visit the earth and give a gift of what is needed - yesterday the light of wisdom was the gift; at least according to the interpreters of the event that I was (what was I) technical advisor for. We hosted a St. Louis based loosely Buddhist group (loosely as the syncretism with Christianity, Judaism, & Hinduism are profligate) for a live web broadcast from *Germany (as many scholars have noted, participation and initiation are key to understanding and interpretation). I had some nervous moments as I kept rechecking the configuration at our end to confirm that we had the link, there was just nothing coming across it. Ten to fifteen minutes after the event was supposed to start, our end came alive and the meditation went off without a hitch, the powers that be were very pleased. I was anointed
with sacred oil, offered sacred water to drink, but I am a meat/pork eater who should tithe more so I had to sit in the back for my own protection. Too much shakti can kick your karmic release into overdrive and make your life nearly unlivable – the much dreaded kundalini syndrome is also possible as the mercurial force of sexual/creative energy, which sleeps in most people like a serpent coiled around the base of the spine, burns its way up your spinal column, popping charkas on its assent like carnival balloons - all hell can break loose– in the words of George Feurstein and others, spiritual technology is nothing to mess around with, you need to be in good shape physically and mentally to handle the influx of grace.
After the meditation I was feeling like a battery left too long in the charger, post clean up of the room I went and ran a mile around the high school track in order to ground (a mile is three laps around a standard track right?). I am not to eat meat or drink alcohol for at least 24 hours post ritual or, “we cannot be held responsible for the consequences” so Angela and I went to Mai Lee for vegetarian fare. My golden tofu curry was quite edible. Light bulbs in my apartment kept blowing all night – so if I am carrying a charge, it’s no good for the electronics. I of course had strange and involving dreams – too strange to post really – and even if what we have is a placebo effect I do feel, how should I put it, like my personality has had a bath.

*1. What is it about Germany that draws mystics? It’s certainly a good language for philosophy and has a strong mystical tradition. The university of Vienna could be thought of as the birthplace of the new age movement – Martin Buber translating the Chaung Tzu and The Secret of the Golden Flower – Jung inspired by these translations to form his theories of synchronicity & the unconscious. German romanticism’s fascination with the orient leading to ideological transformations involving the rediscovery of the
pre-socratics, the Gnostics, the pagan traditions and ultimately leading to Karl running the St. Louis end of a web broadcast from Germany.


Tuesday, May 04, 2004

It’s New Years in the land of the new age otherwise known as the Wesak festival. In many traditions the first full moon in Taurus is the most auspicious time of year for setting your intentions for the coming year, theoretically the energy for the coming year comes down at this time and if you can catch the tail of the comet you’re intentions become an expression of the universal law. If you have a wish for the coming year, today around 3pm is the time to wish it, that is when the moon crests. As always, dear friends, careful what you wish for, and how you wish for it, for you shall surely have it. Choose your language carefully in the spirit of the phrases, “do no harm” & “in the best of all possible ways.” How it comes to you is just as important as what is coming.

Well, it’s early Tuesday am and I have to get ready for work. Last night was awards night at bowling, which I did not expect. There was a huge spread of roast beef, chicken wings, and other tasty treats. As we came in fourth we got to split the fourth place pot, my share of which was seventy dollars. That’s major manna from heaven this month. Then with special individual prizes for various things, my cash take swelled to eighty-one. Vanessa was informed that our team was disliked for some reason, ah high school thy social conditioning is pandemic. She thought it was because she is a slow bowler. Maybe she’s just too pretty and too much fun. The owner of the bar did gift her her bowling ball, so the green-eyed monster could be balking at that factoid.

Maybe I am the black sheep with my perceived aloofness, which slides slowly towards raucous Scotsmen as the evening progresses. Maybe it’s Hannah with her voluminous profanity and in your face grandstanding, a bleach-haired Madonna loving crazy. Eric hasn’t been bowling with us long enough to register, but he could be hated as the ringer I suppose. Maybe it’s the fact that we are not the best bowlers, but consistently all show up and beat our averages, a fact which allows mediocre bowlers to hold the number one spot in the league for weeks. As Jo said, “hate is a strong word.” Eric opined, “Awe fuck um, I didn’t come here to make friends, I came here to bowl.” Competition you do draw forth the best in human nature.

In the late forties and early fifties my mother was a regular bowler. I have a newspaper clipping of her high score for the week. My father made extra money as a pinsetter. He would hop between lanes and manually set the pins for a few dollars per lane per night. As their lives progressed my dad went into the Marine Core and left, my mother went to beauty school and opened a salon with some friends, she was part owner of a successful business and did well for herself. She continued to bowl. When she married my father, after the Korean War, she sold her stake in the business & bought a brand new black VW bug. They moved from Wisconsin and began their lives as world travelers, those are stories for another day (but to give you a taste I was born in Garoka New Guinea); today we tell the tale of return.

In their early sixties my parents retired to our family farm, moving back to Wisconsin from St. Louis. They began to reconnect with their past and my mother discovered to her professed horror, that those same women she had bowled with in her youth were still bowling in the same bowling alley, smoking the same cigarettes, telling the same stories. My mother had had a life, which at times was filled with adventure, and these women had managed to project their past into their future along the rut that forms in between the polished wood, with its painted on diamonds, and the magical ball return.

Vanessa too is a world traveler, who lived in China for a time teaching English there. She’s a practicing architect who just returned from a march on Washington – the result of her awakening political consciousness. Vanessa is many things, but slow is not one of them.


Sunday, May 02, 2004

My favorite bar

We came in fourth, tomorrow we party.


Personal narrative at its most insipid, jazzed up by profligate inter-text:

Whew, it’s Sunday night and I have been lax in my blogging efforts. There are several narratives running through my head right now. The question is which thread to pull on. I am in the phase of my life where I am very into fish. This began some years ago when I won a twenty-five gallon tank with a black cast iron stand in a poker game. Jonathon and Anna were moving to Florida and they had taken down the tank in order to give it to a coworker, they had two small sharks (which died when the coworker changed her mind about the tank, she pretended not to be home when they showed up with it at the prearranged time – they heard her say, “tell them I’m not here”- very odd). Anyway the tank and equipment was thrown into the pool for our regular game and I came out with the pot - so from soon thereafter I began learning the ins and outs of freshwater fish.

When I only had a few fish I listed the contents of my tank on a website, which still comes up when I google myself – I have many, many more fish than that now. Fish dork walking – we prefer the term aquarists. I will graduate to saltwater tanks someday, but it’s about three to four times as expensive to run salt tanks, and we’re not at that financial stage of life. When I first got my ten gallon going the fish guy offered me a salt start up for $110 – that was just for the chemicals and special high wattage lights that corrals need – when you do salt the whole tank is alive.

There are two new things on the fish front. One is that I have been playing with a ten-gallon tank that I have two South American Convict Cichlids in. The more dramatic new thing was the arrival Thursday of a new thirty-five gallon tank, with all equipment and a wooden stand. A friend of Angela’s overheard her talking about my fish obsession at work and he offered me the tank for the low, low price of nothing. He was just happy it was going to someone who would enjoy it. I got the tank Thursday on my lunch hour and rearranged the living room to accommodate it early on Friday night, before we went out to Tangerine for Beth’s birthday.

I was partially motivated to rearrange the living room as I came home Friday night to a power outage from the large thunderstorms that came through earlier that day. When nothing works, move objects for fun (Beth and Brad had had a three pm tee time, which was tanked by the arrival of said storms). Even though I rationally knew the power was out, every time I walked into a different room my hand went reflexively for the light switch, interesting the way some behaviors become unconscious as we integrate with technology. Walter Ong’s thesis about language as a technology is quite interesting, the way writing changes the nature of consciousness, if you ever have the time to read The Technologizing of The Word you should check it out.

So by seven it was still light out, I went and got Angela and we came back to meet Brad and Beth here at my place. The power was still out at seven thirty so I called Union Electric, “There are 200 homes in your area without power. We anticipate that your power will be restored by 1:30 a.m. If you have any knowledge about the reason for the power outage please press four,” not very comforting or promising given that Beth’s party was to commence here after diner. We made our eight p.m. reservations at Tangerine, which I had never been to in its current incarnation. I had been there last when I was in high school. My friend Nathan was a DJ there, only he had to bring all his own equipment. I think it was called The Galaxy Club, but I could be wrong, the memory has faded a bit on those years.

Tangerine was a good time, they have a great selection of Martinis, Vanessa met us there so we increased our number by one and proceeded to get silly. The drink menu is broken down into categories, beginning with the Rat Pack drinks, followed by the Beat writer drinks, margaritas, the astronaut drinks, the tiki drinks, and a few other sundries. Drink # 1 – the Sinatra – was a Bombay sapphire Gibson, a gin martini with pearl onions, in all circumstances my Martini of choice – easy. Brad, Angela, and Vanessa were on dirty martinis – heavy on the olive juice, though Brad’s was gin and the girls prefer vodka. Beth had a Sammy Davis – chocolate flavored vodka – far from pc, but very tasty. They bring you your martini and a shaker with the makings of another two – very civilized. We opted to share their tapas menu rather than have entrées, we ordered every appetizer sans ravioli and feasted well.

After diner and drinks we were back to mine for a fight the darkness party. I lit some cans of Sterno on the front porch to let the stragglers know we were in and Angela and Vanessa picked up tea lights. Hannah brought tapered candles and I produced a candelabra and a battery-powered radio for the local jazz station. Mary arrived with more gin and the usual smoke and story fest devolved into inevitable slumber around two am. It was a memorable night for a power outage thirtieth birthday. Beth wore black all day and made mention of it in her work day story of paper streamered office levity - which surprised me in that I was relieved to leave my twenties behind me, not that these ages matter, but I’ll never wear black to a birthday, each one is a victory of sorts, is it not? We accomplish the continuance of breath when so many do not.

On the morrow it was early to work, I had to work all weekend for complicated reasons relating to staff conflicts – it doesn’t happen often but it happens. I opened the center Saturday and worked all Sunday afternoon. After I worked on Saturday I went with Mary to Fairmont Park for my first exposure to horse racing and the 130th running of the Kentucky derby, but that’s another story, which I’ll get to later this week. I also got the new tank up and running Saturday morning with a water transfer from my twenty-five gallon (this helps speed the development of waste eating critters). The twenty-five gallon tank, which always looked big, now looks ridiculously small. My plan is to transfer all the fish in that tank to the larger one and move my Cichlids into the twenty-five gallon post snail-ectomy. We will then put the ten-gallon in the basement and raise fish food for the predators. Sea monkeys (brine shrimp) make for healthy freshwater carnivores.