30.11.09

Cheating Time and Space


I got little in the way of sleep last night. Cleaning up a mess until close to midnight and then trying to lay down with a headache that threatened to turn my brain into a thick soup at the slightest movement did not make for a restful eight hours. Instead, I got around four and a half. That is, unfortunately, nothing new.

I used to not care about sleep. Thought it was for lightweights and the weak. I still feel that way in many respects. Now that I don't get much of it, however, I find myself needing it more and more. I am getting sicker because of it and stress (can't prove it, but I'm sure), and I wonder how long until I have some sort of total body breakdown that results in an inability to do anything. It can't be long. I can feel that. So I can either drive myself to that point and get it over with, or try to fix it, which I have but it hasn't been working.

I see my little girl today, so that will be good. I go to work today, so that will be bad. Cyber Monday (porn for shut-in shopoholics) will provide great amusement to me in one form or another because I love when people stick to their prescribed roles and the news reports it as if it were news. So, yes Virgina, there are good things in this world. It's all in where you look for them. Free shipping and %75 off Tiger Woods gear can only bring smiles to the faces of the masses.

Oh, and the conservatives should be thanking Rumsfeld for letting Osama bin Laden go free so that he can be a thorn in the side of ... well, everyone. Way to go, Sport-O! The Fox "news" morons will have their own spin on this like they do everything else, but you really got to hand it to the Bush administration. If history doesn't put it down as the most corrupt, inept administration of this era, then we'll know Fox won.

Come to think of it, doesn't Cyber Monday really sound like a porn thing? I don't think I can tell the difference anymore.

28.11.09

Food Stamp Misery (AKA -- It's Too Damn Hard)

I was alerted to the piece via e-mail by Celebrity Watchdog George Anthony Watson. He informed me that the North Coast Journal (a publication I have written for before) had a piece on food stamps that was sure to piss me off. It had pissed off others, including Watson, and he hasn't worked there in years.

I won't reprint the piece here out of copyright considerations. But you can read it here.

I was going to write a huge piece on this (and actually did before I deleted it). I figured I had a huge conflict of interest, and may be stepping on toes, since I didn't want to come off as a representative for food stamps. But what can I say? Hyperbole and laziness goes a long way. That's it. I have sympathy for neither. (Soul-crushing should be reserved for things like answering questions on your child's sex life for an assault case, not being at the welfare office. Idiot.)

On a totally unrelated note, I had a wonderful birthday. Saw a movie with my five-year-old and then went to dinner at Liu's. My daughter ordered for me ("he wants the beef extra spicy"), served me my food, and even asked for the check. When I asked if she was going to pay, she seemed shocked. "I have no money!" It was nice. Parts of the day were depressing (didn't hear from my grandmother or sister). But overall, being with my girl was the best way to spend the day. She gave me lots of hugs, kisses and plans for the next birthday. And then she asked if she would get her Christmas presents tomorrow. Gift overload, I guess.

I've got a ton of things to do tomorrow. Too much, actually. Don't really want to go to work Monday (too soul crushing). Back to the grind. And what a grind it is ...

27.11.09

A Clear, Expansive Sky


Black Friday. Woke up knowing the day would be a turning point of one sort or another. The question was asked of me last night. How long can I separate things in my mind before it becomes a problem. I said forever. For a guy who no longer makes decisions based on emotion, this seems like a plausible answer.

I put up my Christmas tree today. I only did it for my daughter because that's the only reason for me to celebrate the holiday. I sat on the floor surrounded by memories of the past. Plenty of ornaments marking her first, second and third year. Plenty of ornaments marking different times in my life. Times I'll never get back. Times I'm not sure I ever really knew what they meant.

My daughter, the one thing I do get emotional about because that is my job as a parent, was having a ball decorating the tree. Eventually I stopped doing it and sat back and watched her. She put ornaments together to make a scene. That made me smile because I do the same thing. She is my child. It's all right there. The hair, the mannerisms, the sense of humor.

And all those pieces of memories disappeared, and I now had a bunch of new ones. Good ones. Ones that wouldn't be yanked away like a dog running to the end of its chain. I took pictures of her in front of the tree. She posed in various ways, always the ham. She told me it was the most beautiful tree she had ever seen, and I told her it was because she decorated it.

Tomorrow is my birthday. My daughter will be with me, so that will be good. My friends and family care more about it than I do. Like I said at work the other day. Yeah, it's great. Let's all celebrate that my parents fucked. That's what it boils down to. I didn't ask to be born. I didn't ask to be put upon this Earth and be a hard companion of misery. These things were thrust upon me, and I don't claim them as my own.

My daughter is excited about it, though. She loves the idea of my birthday. That makes that okay. That makes me feel more human. It makes me think that if I bring her that much joy, I can't be all that bad. The mirror must be a bit of a liar. But just a bit.

The apparent female version of me (or, in order to be fair, I'm the male version of her), is off dealing with family over this vacation stretch. Dealing with family is like robbing graves. You dig into the mold and dirt, unearth treasures both forgotten and previously unknown, but when it comes down to it, you are desecrating the dead. You are delving into things not meant to be explored. You are in uncomfortable surroundings and you have to be on high alert lest you be caught. She deserves to be away from here, but she shouldn't be forced to rob graves.

Her sense of betrayal over what happened at work is like mine. Maybe not the same, but close enough. When I explained to a dear friend why I felt the way I did, she said, "Things happen for a reason." They do, and what happened wasn't my fault, but I knew when it happened that my co-worker's life was about to become very screwed up. It wasn't a pleasant thing to feel or live with. Still isn't, but I've distanced myself. The betrayal remains. The feelings are slowly fading.

My discussions with my friends (one in particular) as of late have been eye opening, to say the last. For once I'm pretty sure the observations made aren't way off base, and I wonder what that says about me. I tell my friends not to worry, but I know they do. I tell my friends I'll be fine, and I will be. The unspoken question remains, however: You'll be fine, but at what price?

There's more I want to say. Plenty, actually. But, as long time readers know, this blog ain't the venue for it. I've already gotten personal enough on here today. People either love the personal or hate it. Me? I feel like I'm poking a corpse, and I'm tired of it for the obvious reasons.

This is also the month my father died.

Talked about GG Allin last night. He's dead, too.

In about eighteen minutes I'll be another year older. One step closer to death. Maybe next year I'll have all this figured out.

But I doubt it.

25.11.09

Humboldt Retailers Brace for a Black Friday Storm


KIEM, our local NBC affiliate, has the only local news broadcast. Humboldt County has a large number of people actually concerned about their worlds, so they try to watch the news. Hence, they gotta watch KIEM.

Tonight's broadcast opened with a shoot, went to H1N1 and then hit Black Friday. It was reported this Black Friday will be better than last year's. The Kohls manager and the newscaster stressed how important it is to arrive early unless you want to risk failure.

You heard it shoppers. Come early. Get your goodies!

I gotta stop watching the news.
Ate a very hot pepper today. Brutal. Delicious. Proper.
Waiting for the police to figure out who sent the fake feds their way. Will keep you posted.
Just got asked for a cigarette. Would gladly help get the guy off the planet sooner but I am no smoker.
I would like it to rain and wash this filth out to sea.

Black Friday Secret Savings Deals and Other Pacts With the Devil


Door busters start tomorrow, but I've got my own sales strategy I'd like to share with like-minded souls.

If you're like me, you're sick of Black Friday and the herds that come with it. That doesn't mean you can't have fun with it, though. You, too, can show up at the mall early Friday morning. Not to shop (unless that's what you want to do), but to act your role and inspire others to do the same. You see, while some people will find that Doorbusters are sales, you can take it more literally.

Mobs tend to spring up and act based off the actions of just a few individuals. Now, imagine that you and a few friends took the sales frenzy to a fevered pitch -- breaking down doors (don't trample anyone), trashing displays in order to get sales items (that you soon drop when you see something else), pushing over racks, tearing down cash registers (and causing more frenzy for loose money), getting into shoving matches over any little thing ... the list goes on and on.

Make Black Friday your own Utter Chaos Friday. Tweet about it. Spread it over your blog. Your actions will inspire others. If you are truly into smashing capitalism, this will make but a small dent (those doors are expensive, though), but every little dent counts, plus you can sleep easier. Just make it look like you are a frenzied shopper and all will be forgiven because you are only acting out your role of a mindless consumer.

Now, obviously I don't really recommend this. I would laugh my ass off if it happened. I find these things humorous and inspiring. If the stores take large damages, maybe they'll rethink calling these sales "door busters." (Hey, why not Trample Your Fellow Human Sale?)

It's a day away. Get your sleep. Don your gloves. Get ready to rumble! How's that saying go? You can't complain if you don't riot?

24.11.09

Having a Ball With the Nigerian FBI



The following is an e-mail I received from the FBI! Seriously. It cut and paste it, but the official seal and photo of Robert Mueller did not come through (but I ran his picture from the e-mail at the top here). I've started and ended it with ** so you know where to begin and end. What follows is my e-mail response and my commentary. Enjoy the show. (In my e-mail response I have to explain a few things, and this will be done in [brackets]. Those bracketed notes do not appear in the original e-mail back to the FBI.


**FBI Seal Federal Bureau of Investigation FBI Washington Field Office (WFO)
Washington Field Office (WFO) Washington Field Office (WFO)



Anti-Terrorist and Monitory Crimes Division.
Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Federal Bureau Of Investigation.
Seattle, Washington.

ATTN: BENEFICIARY

This is to officially inform you that it has come to our notice and we have thoroughly completed an Investigation with the help of our Intelligence Monitoring Network System that you legally won the sum of $800,000.00 USD from a Lottery Company outside the United States of America. During our investigation we discovered that your e-mail won the money from an Online Balloting System and we have authorized this winning to be paid to you via a Certified Cashier's Check.


Normally, it will take up to 10 business days for an International Check to be cashed by your local bank. We have successfully notified this company on your behalf that funds are to be drawn from a registered bank within the United States of America so as to enable you cash the check instantly without any delay, henceforth the stated amount of $800,000.00 USD has been deposited with Bank of America.

We have completed this investigation and you are hereby approved to receive the winning prize as we have verified the entire transaction to be Safe and 100% risk free, due to the fact that the funds have been deposited at Bank Of America you will be required to settle the following bills directly to the Lottery Agent in-charge of this transaction whom is
located in Lagos, Nigeria. According to our discoveries, you were required to pay for the following -


(1) Deposit Fee's (Fee▓s paid by the company for the deposit into an American Bank which is - Bank of America)
(2) Cashier's Check Conversion Fee (Fee for converting the Wire Transfer payment into a Certified Cashier's Check)
(3) Shipping Fee's (This is the charge for shipping the Cashier's Check to your home address and this fee includes Insurance)

The total amount for everything is $440.00 USD (four hundred and forty dollars only). We have tried our possible best to indicate that this $440.00 USD should be deducted from your winning prize but we found out that the funds have already been deposited at Bank Of America and cannot be accessed by anyone apart from you the winner, therefore you will be required to pay the required fee's to the Agent in-charge of this transaction via Western Union Money Transfer Or Money Gram.


In order to proceed with this transaction, you will be required to contact the Special Agent In Charge: (SCOTT ADAMS) via e-mail. Kindly look below to find appropriate contact information:


Special Agent In Charge: MR. SCOTT ADAMS
E-MAIL ADDRESS: sctadams.fbi@gmail.com

Assistant Special Agent In Charge: Samuel J. Macaluso
Assistant Special Agent In Charge: Gregory R. Melzer

You will be required to e-mail him with the following information to sctadams.fbi@gmail.com

FULL NAME:
ADDRESS:
CITY:
STATE:
ZIP CODE:
COUNTRY:
DIRECT CONTACT NUMBER:


NOTE : Do not click reply as replies sent to will not be delivered.
Credentials should be sent to the email of the contact person above

You will also be required to request Western Union details on how to send the
required $440.00 USD in order to immediately ship your prize of $800,000.00 USD via Certified Cashier's Check drawn from Bank Of America, also include the following transaction code in order for him to immediately identify this transaction : EA2948-910.

This letter will serve as proof that the Federal Bureau Of Investigation is authorizing you to pay the required $440.00 USD ONLY to Mr. Scott Gilbert via information in which he shall send to you, if you do not receive your winning prize of $800,000.00 we the FBI shall be held responsible for the loss and this shall invite a penalty of $3,000 which will be made PAYABLE ONLY to you (The Winner).

FBI Director
Robert Mueller.

We will anticipate the requested info for 7 working business days, and if we do not
hear from you throughout 7 working business days, we may choose to visit you.


Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Washington D.C.




FBI Director.
Robert Mueller
**

So this is what I wrote back:

Mr. Adams:

Thank you for contacting me! At first I could not remember entering any kind of lottery outside of the USA, but then I remembered that almost a year ago exactly I had answered a survey on men's swimwear for a British site, and that must be it.

The money could not come at a better time.

I have to admit that in my job I have to watch for scams, but if the money is to be sent by a Certified Cashier's check I know that can't be faked, and the fact that you and Director Mueller are verifying this is good enough for me. I just need to know how to send you the fees. (I also bank at Bank of America, so this is convenient.)

Also, is there an extra fee for express transactions? I'm willing to pay a bit more to have it quickly (no more than $200). Knowing what I know about taxes and whatnot, I find the $440 to be reasonable, and I can understand why nobody else can access the money now that it is safely in the bank. Frankly, I think that's a good thing, though I do understand that it makes your job harder.

It's also nice to read that if something goes wrong that the FBI is responsible for my winnings and penalty. I'm sure it will be fine, but the backing of the Feds makes it all the more stronger in my eyes.

I am giving you my work contact number. I will explain things in moment. My number is 707-441-4044. [Editor's note: This is not my home phone number, but it is the phone number of the Eureka Police Department.] You are going to ask for Mr. Wayne Adam Ford. [Editor's note: Wayne Adam Ford is a local serial killer who turned himself into the Humboldt County Sheriff's Department by pulling a female breast out of his pocket as way of proof he was up to no good.] This is not my direct number. I work in the field and can only communicate via radio, however, reception will be able to put you through to me. However, you need to know a thing or two.

First, only call between 8 am and 5 pm PST Mon-Fri. That's the only time I will be there. I am not telling co-workers about my winnings, but I will tell front reception. Front reception is trained to say I am either not there, not working that day or am otherwise unavailable (depending on who answers the call). There are only three different ladies who handle front reception. I am letting each of them know that I am getting a call from Special Agent Scott Adams of the FBI about money that most be wired to Nigeria in regards to my overseas lottery winnings. I will also tell them the call could come from Mr. Scott Gilbert if that is who is calling. Please make sure that he also gives reception that information so they know to get ahold of me immediately.

Thank you for taking the time to contact me. I rarely check my e-mail and I no longer have a land line. I appreciate it this, and I thank you for taking the time to protect our country. We are in this together. -Mr. Wayne Adam Ford.

Now, I never believed this was a real letter from the FBI. The fact that it even mentions Nigeria is a dead giveaway. Here are some fun things I found in it, though.

"During our investigation we discovered that your e-mail won the money from an Online Balloting System and we have authorized this winning to be paid to you via a Certified Cashier's Check." -- I was not aware the FBI got to authorize any "winning." Seems odd, but hey, I'm greedy. Let's go with it.

"E-MAIL ADDRESS: sctadams.fbi@gmail.com" -- Maybe I'm crazy, but I don't think the FBI has gmail addresses. Could just be me.

"This letter will serve as proof that the Federal Bureau Of Investigation is authorizing you to pay the required $440.00 USD ONLY to Mr. Scott Gilbert via information in which he shall send to you, if you do not receive your winning prize of $800,000.00 we the FBI shall be held responsible for the loss and this shall invite a penalty of $3,000 which will be made PAYABLE ONLY to you (The Winner)." -- Sweet! This random e-mail serves as "proof" that I should only pay $440 in fake fees to Mr. Scoot Gilbert. Also, double sweet that the FBI shall be held responsible and pay me a penalty. When I'm dumb and pay this money to these crazy-ass Nigerians, I'll get ripped off, of course. But then I'll go to the FBI and show them that they are responsible for this and they owe me a penalty. Damn, I almost hope I get ripped off! The FBI will most likely shoot me in the head, and I'll deserve it for being so damn stupid.

"We will anticipate the requested info for 7 working business days, and if we do not
hear from you throughout 7 working business days, we may choose to visit you." -- Only Nigerian FBI agents can make $800,000 in prize money sound ominous. I guess I'm suppose to say, "Boy, the FBI is really concerned that I get this money." Not, "Boy, why the fuck would the FBI care whether or not I claim this money?" I love that they may "choose" to visit me. Can't the FBI always "choose" to visit someone? I can choose to visit the FBI. Why do they have to get all noir on me? I'm just a humble overseas lottery winner.

But can you picture anything more insane than Nigerians in secondhand business suits showing up at your house pretending to be FBI agents? Thick accents. Nervous glances. Trying to maintain their cool as they realize that, shit, I'm not some podunk motherfucker with a computer. I've got a library full of books on improvised weaponry and instructions on how to shrink human heads. I've got tattoos, a shaved head and a septum ring. Halloween shit is left up year round. And I seem kind of into the idea that they may want to fuck with me because I may want to fuck right back, and I'm always willing to take things just a tad bit too far. You boys want a drink? What's the Ffff Beeee Eyeeee drink these days? A wink. A sly smile. I bet you boys are thirsty. You sure are sweating. Why's that you think? Threat level at red or some such nonsense? You know, I always thought the scariest terrorists weren't Al Qaeda or even our homegrown boys like McVeigh. Nah. It's those Nigerians. The ones who try to scam old folks out of their hard-earned money with e-mail scams. Is it getting hotter in here? Shit. I'll make you something to drink. No? Suit yourselves. You're the Feds. So, back to those Nigerian terrorists. My guess? If a bunch of them disappeared the investigation would be about this long: 'You see some Nigerians? No, Sir.' End of investigation. Hee haw. Shit, you boys know it, too. How long you been with the FBI? Three years? No shit. Babies. Where'd you train? Train? You know -- go to school, do your testing? I know there's a few schools around the country, but you all end up the same place, right? Now where is that? Funny, that don't sound right, but no matter. That may have changed since I last heard. You boys sure I can't get you a drink? Even the Federal government's finest men gotta drink every once in a while. And look at me. Here I am calling you boys, when you're full-fledge FBI men. You all look so young to me, though. Twenties and I'm in ... well, I'm not. Everyone looks younger than me. Hard to call kids men, you know. What else is weird is I don't see a bulge. You know, from your weapons. Now why would that be? Why would you not be carrying your issued service weapons? I know it's just a simple lottery check, but you are on duty. I could see not wanting to carry them if you were pulled over and not licensed to carry them. But being FBI you are definitely licensed. What's that? Oh, you want me to feel at ease. Well, I do appreciate that boys -- men -- there I go again -- but I'm totally at ease. You three, on the other hand, seem edgy. Like you may have gotten in bit over your heads. How's about that? In over your heads. I'm gonna give you say ten seconds to get your asses out of here or I start eating you. And if you think I'm fucking joking, you look in my eyes. I will disable you, and I will eat you. Alive or dead, I don't give a flying fat fuck. You will be eaten, and I may be shitting out pieces of you when you're still calling for your mother. Now quit fucking wasting my time and get the fuck out of here. One, two ...

I'd never get to three.

My only concern now is that the police don't call me on this one.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Shoot First


I apologize for any emotion that drifted into this blog again. There are other venues for that, and I've been good about that up until now. So, my appy-polly-loggies, to quote my dear droog.

I started reading some Rollins last night. Trying to get myself centered, and it may or may not work. I have become convinced, however, that I have to wipe out some stress. I don't know what that will mean, however, but like pornography, I'll know when I see it.

We are just days away from Black Friday. The business news coverage on it is shaky at best. Nobody wants to commit to an answer on consumer spending because they are getting mixed signals (that's how it should be). I did see some stats saying less people say they are going to spend less than they did last year. Of course, last year a lot of people spent rock bottom so there really is no way to spend less, meaning those stats could be off quite a bit.

One friend of mine remarked that she was surprised not to hear anything about terrorism with Black Friday. I reminded her that they don't want to scare the mindless consumers when they are supposed to have only one thing on their minds (spend). So retailers have their fingers crossed that Al Qaeda and Mother Nature co-operate. Good luck. I hope all works out well for everyone and everyone sticks to their prescribed roles so that the system continues to operate smoothly and everyone gets stinkin' rich.

Some have said I'm obsessed with Black Friday. Not true. I am, however, interested in consumerism, especially of the blind quality. It is something I think is worth studying. I don't care that people show up at the door at 2 a.m. (I think it's dumb but it has no bearing on my life). I don't care if they are getting cheap televisions to fill some void in their lives. I care about the mindset. I want to know what drives them. I want to know how that is used to herd them, to control them. That stuff is worthy of examination.

I'm also interested in what it does to our economy. (On a related note, CA now has to borrow money from the Feds in order to keep UIB going. It needs something like $7.4 billion just to keep it running through December. All of you CA unemployed people who are still lucky enough to be collecting a check should be keeping an eye on this. And as for the rest of the country ... coming soon to an unemployment office near you!) I am interested in what it does to "consumer confidence," which, if you look at how that is generated, is far from an accurate count of anything but is given so much power.

Some people care about the latest Nic Cage movie. Some people care about the massacre in the Philippines. One of the things I care about is this. At least I care about something, right?

Obama is set to make an announcement about troop additions in Afghanistan. This announcement could come next Tuesday (timed as to not disrupt the shopping patterns over Black Friday, I'm sure). The Nobel Peace Prize recipient is in a bit of an ironic pickle, especially since that award was given with a look to the future. What, oh what, is a president to do? Increase the troops? Pull out? Keep things status quo? My guess is that he'll increase the troops, but not as many as is recommended. He is, after all, a man who excels at the compromise. Pleasing everyone and no one at all ...

I've finished the formatting on the manuscript, isolating the problem. If I can get this published, get a movie deal (not necessary, as Hollywood would only fuck it up), make enough to quit my job and continue my goals, I'll be happy. Being the realist for now, however, I realize this is going to be a tough sell because "depressing" doesn't sell. Since most of the country is weepy, they want uplifting. They want Hugh Grant and John Cusack stories. They don't want Sid Haig wearing some girl's tits. (You can kind of get an idea of what kind of manuscript it is from that line.)

I'm watching a commercial for I Got Clocked. If you haven't seen this, the company puts a picture of you or a loved one (even pets!) on a clock and your arms indicate the time. $50 for such shit. Anyway, the commercial tries to be "racy." "We got clocked on our wedding night!" "I clocked my dog!" (She must be from Humboldt.) It turns out being cheesy instead. This is the kind of thing that interests me. This would actually not be all that hard to make on your own, and you could give it a better name. Instead, a crappy ass commercial makes a product I'm sure some people would want seem cheap. ("I got clocked up the ass in prison!" Okay, they don't actually use that one, but I was hoping.)

More writing tonight if I'm up to it. Having not really written for a few days, I feel a need to get a few posts done. Get your sleep. In days we shop ... but tonight we murder

23.11.09

Ruminations of a Sick Mind


I've spent the last couple days battling sickness. Stayed home today, too. Spent most of the day stretched out on the couch under a blanket and swearing that I was skirting fever. Television was on, surfing between small-claims court shows like Judge Judy and news. Sorting through text messages from concerned well-wishers. Sleeping. I did nothing much of anything much and that bugged me because I already don't have the time to get done the stuff I need to get done, though if the economy dives anymore and a layoff becomes the standard MO, I could have a lot of time to do just that.

Zoning out gave me a lot of time to think. Christmas is around the corner, and I have relatives coming to visit soon after. Other things are causing me stress, and as a friend recently said, "If you don't knock the stress out of your life, it will knock the life out of you."

Lack of sleep. Not-so-great diet. Stress. It's a recipe for disaster, and I think this cold knocking me out so easily is a sure sign that a knock out is coming.

I do need more sleep. Obvious. Necessary. Late nights and bad dreams do their best to ensure that more sleep is not coming any time soon.

Not-so-great diet? That I can easily change, and am starting to. More fresh foods. More organic. More variety. It feels good to eat real food again. I wonder if there was something to that woman on the bus telling me that the food we eat leads to mental illness?

Stress. Now there is the biggie, and I believe it also affects my sleep. Stress. I've been told I stress about things I can't control, though I believe that is only partially true. I don't stress about asteroids, but I do worry about the budget. One I can plan around and seems more likely to affect me, while the other is just a random act that I really can't do anything about and it seems ridiculous to plan around.

But this is going in circles. I've written about all this before. I briefly entertained the idea of throwing up my hands and using one of those great platitudes you see on the bumpers of rusted out stations wagons. "One day at a time." "Pobody's Nerfect." "Follow Your Bliss." "Let Go and Let God."

Yeah. I missed my lobotomy appointment.

So what did I learn in this fever-lite state? Not much. I opened my mouth for the Knowledge Communion and all I got was slapped in the face. The enlightenment I was looking for turned out to be nothing more than what I already knew.

So be it. At least I'm working on my self-imposed isolation stuff more. I'm being more social, which leads to me hearing some wonderful theories on my psyche and what I should be doing with my life.

Follow your bliss, indeed.

21.11.09

Answers to the Black Friday Question


The question has been posted here and at work: Why am I so enthralled by Black Friday? What do I have against it? I think I've been fairly vocal about all that, but maybe people have missed it. Here it is, laid out, as simply as my sick mind (bordering on fever, y'all) can do it.

People who live for Black Friday are absolutely apeshit insane.

2008. New York. Wal-Mart. The hot item? A 50" plasma HDTV. The morning found 2,000 shoppers outside the store. They were chanting, "Push the doors in." Thirty-four-year-old Jdiniytai Damour, who was a temp maintenance worker, was stampeded by the herd of shoppers (knowing America and its collective weight problem, one can only imagine how painful this was) as they took the door off its hinges, according to co-worker Jimmy Overby. Shoppers ignored the man's gasps for air in a mad rush to get their sausage fingers on that television. (I picture thick ropes of drool dangling from perpetually open mouths.) After the police arrived, they instructed shoppers to leave the store. A good number refused, some giving the reasoning as "I've been in line since yesterday morning." (Are these the same people who yell at loiterers to "get a job"?)

2004. Saudi Arabia. Ikea. The hot item? A $150 credit voucher, limited in number, of course. Three people trampled to death this time.

Granted, not all shoppers who like Black Friday are murderous maladroits intent in stuffing their stockings on the blood of others. But an interesting article I accidentally stumbled across while eating lunch (and where I got those two examples from) makes the assertion that they may be mentally ill.

In the 2/09 issue of Z, Bruce E. Levine wrote a piece called "Fundamentalist Consumerism and an Insane Society." I know there are a few of you readers who read Z. For those who don't, let me put it in (again) easy to understand terms so that my stuffed head doesn't have to work too hard. Z is the opposite of People. It's not flashy fluff pieces designed to amuse you while you wait for your hair to get done. It is full of serious, heady political pieces (left in nature) that not only look at the problems the world faces, but also offers solutions. You won't find articles on celebrities and their pets, but you will find pieces on worker's revolts in South American countries and security measures in the Middle East. It is fascinating stuff if your main desire in life is a better world and not a credit voucher.

Levine writes about how the mainstream media's focus on Damour's death said zero about "a consumer culture and an insane society in which marketers, advertisers, and media promote the worship of cheap stuff." He points out it focused primarily on "the mob of crazed shoppers" and parrtially on Wal-Mart's blame in the incident. He asserts that the corporate media and his "fellow mental health professionals" have also covered up "societal insanity." He does find one exception ... way back in 1955 in the form of Erich Fromm. "Yet many psychiatrists and psychologist refuse to entertain the idea that society as a whole may be lacking in sanity," Fromm writes. "They hold that the problem of mental health in a society is only that of the number of 'unadjusted' individuals, and not of a possible unadjustment of the culture itself."

Again, that is from 1955. Things have not gotten better.

Levine then presents six things that he states are being used by consumer culture to "psychologically, socially and spiritually" assault individuals. The consumer culture "creates increasing material expectations," "devalues human connectedness," "socializes people to be self-absored" (that's a huge pet peeve of mine), "obliterates self-reliance," "alienates people from normal human emotional reactions" and "sells false hope that creates more pain." You might find it to be bullshit, but he cites studies to back up this thesis, including ones from the American Sociological Review, William Vega (a well-known public policy researcher). It is a fascinating piece regardless of what you believe.

Levine, a clinical psychologist and author, states, "Fundamentalists reject both reason and experience." I believe that is something that is even beyond the scope of debate. And when you look at a term like "fundamentalist consumerism," Black Friday starts to make a lot more sense.

Damour died so people who didn't have enough money for a regularly priced plasma television could get one anyway in order to watch what is most likely utter garbage in high definition. He wasn't killed with a bullet, but under the dirty shoes of people who had nothing more meaningful to do with their lives but stand in line outside a big box discount store for hours at a time. When ordered to leave the store so police could conduct an investigation, they refused, afraid of losing out on precious deals and justifying it with the fact that they did nothing but stand in line the past twenty-four hours (failing, most likely, to note the ironic fact that long periods of inactivity are rewarded with a television of all things). For Damour, crass "fundamentalist consumerism" was not only the reason he was up so early, it was the reason he would never be getting up again.

And no, I'm not done yet. If you are reading this far, you have some sort of interest in this insanity, whether you agree or not, so let's continue with Damour.

Early reports suggested, much to his family's anger, that Damour died of a heart attack. The autopsy shows that he actually died of asphyxiation. To get an idea of how bad that had to be, you have to look at what kind of man Damour was before he became "aisle kill."

Damour was not your average guy. He was 6'5" and weighed 270 pounds. Not a single one of those stampeding pigs thought they were accidentally running over a handbag or even a backpack. They could not help but feel this man's girth ... at least the first wave of people had to. It has been surmised that the man was even sent to the door because he was so big, which would indicate someone had an idea of what could happen. A New York Daily News piece indicates that it was unlikely any of the stampeding pigs would be charged in his death. I imagine there would be too many cheap shoe prints to collect and how would you ever determine which one gave the fatal blow to the man described as a "giant."

On May 27, 2009 it was reported that Wal-Mart got slapped with the heaviest fine allowed under law for this sort of incident. It was not reported whether or not Wal-Mar would survive as a corporation if it were made to actually pay, especially when one considers the downturn in the economy. Luckily, Wal-Mart is one of the few places doing well while everything crashes and burns thanks to people like the stampeding shoppers, and the corporation should be able to bounce back after paying the $7,000 (that's seven thousand dollars) fine.

Other shoppers did try to help Damour, and some were injured in the stampede, so let's not think all of humanity has gone cuckoo for rollback. The fact that it happened at all, and that this isn't the first time and nor the last. (Fifteen miles away that same day another shopper was trampled at another Wal-Mart. She waited until she was done shopping, however, to file a police report. What a trooper. Don't let those "minor injuries" stop you from getting that cheap-ass microwave you've always wanted in your life.)

So, while I thought my disdain was pretty self-explanatory, I figured it wouldn't hurt to spell it out. After all, the fateful day is less than a week away now, and shoppers are already gearing up to trample someone else to death. Hey, maybe this year it will be an old woman or a newborn. The gods of consumerism have tasted blood, and now they will demand a sacrifice every year. If you can find parking without getting shot, be sure to appease your deity. If you don't, you may not get that $10 MP3 player you just got to have.

20.11.09

By and bye


Melancholy anarchist music plays on the stereo much too loudly. The words from earlier are stuck in my head like a bad pop song that threatens brain cancer every time you hear the chorus.

"It seems like under all your rage, there's a lot of sadness."

Maybe that's true. Maybe there is. I don't know if I've ever really dealt with the death of my father. I know I don't forgive him for never meeting his granddaughter, who is the best child on Earth.

I miss my daughter like mad when she isn't here.

I don't live up to my expectations at work.

I stress about everything.

I'm acting in ways I don't always like.

I dealt with a betrayal at work that angered me perhaps more than it should have. Sure, as it was pointed out, it was bound to happen. Doesn't negate the fact that I don't like it.

I'm sick.

I'm tired.

I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired.

The only writing I do these days is here.

So, the black dog runs at night, and I've got no recourse but to possibly agree that yes, underneath this rage there is probably a lot of sadness. (And this music ain't helping one stinkin' bit.)

I don't really drink. I don't do drugs (unless you count the super rare pain killer which takes an act of God to get me to take). My vices are well-known and not at all constructive. I write to get the misery out.

I have a lot to be thankful and happy about, and I am. I've got a fantastic life despite the bitterness. When my daughter kisses me, every bad thing fades away. But I'm realistic, too. But I've always been better at anger than sadness, and anger is more fun to read and write about. I don't by into the whole depression scene.

Happy Friday, all. A lot of my friends are taking off for the holidays. I've done the isolation bit for so long I don't know much else. This Thanksgiving ain't gonna be different. Never liked the holiday much anyway. I give my thanks for the things I'm truly thankful for every day. I don't need a dead dumb bird to bring out feelings of gratitude. I'll see my daughter for part of the day. For the rest, I'll say a silent apology to the Native Americans who have suffered at the imposed "generosity" of the white man and do my best to stay away from the fucking television.

The Storm Arrives


Humboldt County, like much of the Pacific Northwest, is in the grips of the first "real" winter storm of the season. High winds, cold temperatures and tons of rain (again with keeping the hot stain status at bay). It's a comforting thing. I live for these winter rains. I know some people get depressed by too much rain, but me? I could have rain every day and be happy.

I've been up since 3:32. Before that I was sleeping soundly. I've come to peace with some decisions, and though I'm stressed about the budget and my car, I'm just going to do what I have to. When I wake up that early, however, I can't help but thinking about what is going on.

Students are protesting at schools throughout California due to tuition hikes. They are dumping garbage, marching and so on. I enjoy watching that sort of thing. I wish more people did that. Imagine hundreds of Sacramento residents dumping their garbage on Arnold's doorstep. What a happy photo op moment. Made even better by the fact that he won't be running for governor again. He states he's not a politician. No argument there.

Haven't decided about going to work yet. I'll probably go, though I feel even worse than I did when I was running a fever (which I may be running now -- just don't have the energy to check).

One week until the people impregnate the malls. Will consumers defy expectations? Will they spend less than last year? How will customer service be with businesses not hiring extra help? Who will get trampled in a rush for some China-produced toy? Target opens at five a.m. that day (a move I'm sure the employees are happy about).

La, la, la. Tis the season to consume.

19.11.09

Tired. Sick. Throat killing me. Coughing up alien things.
Air is colder. Wind picking up. No hot stain status. No dust bowl.
Love watching clouds boil in over the ocean. The sense of dread is comforting.
Twilight is taking over. Go team whatever! I vote for the serial killer.
Storm on its way to beautiful Eureka . Looking forward to rain.

Happy Hellidays


It's a little over a week away now. Black Friday, which sounds kind of like a horror film. No doubt it kind of is. Lots of women (and more than a handful of men) pushing and shoving, clamoring for deals so that they don't disappoint loved ones next month. They can disappoint them every other day of the year, but that holiest of holy days better be the day they finally pull the fuck through and bring smiles to everybody's faces for at least a half hour or so.

Steven Stahler, of The Stahler Group, is not one of the cheerleaders for the stock market. He thinks it the recent rises are nothing more than mere speculation again. He also notes the discrepancies between Wall Street and consumers, and admits that the consumers who may get their jobs back (something he finds "unlikely") won't be spending big anyway. Ta-da. The way to fix the bind we are in, he states, is not Xmess shopping. It's jobs. The jobs need to come back. However, there is a problem: 12/31/09.

That's the day he thinks the honeymoon is over. The real numbers (which don't include Cash for Clunkers subsidy program and speculation) come out. The discussions about Social Security begin. The rally we've been seeing (which only exists on Wall Street) will be revealed for what it is, and things won't be roses and wine.

Should this affect your spending over the hellidays? Only if you are spending what you can't afford (which is far too many people). At my job I get to see the outcome of doing things like that and not planning ahead. Hell, I get to see people who do everything right but are still sucker punched by reality. It's not a place most people want to be. Most people don't want to ask for government assistance for matters of pride, hassle and general paranoia (not a valid reason, but if you suffer from this you may want to go for disability).

If you got the money and want to spend it, go for it. AK Press has some great political books you may want to check out (the link is on the right hand side of this blog). There are plenty of other deserving merchants, too. They'll thank you, your family may thank you, the economy will thank you. People like shopping. It gives them a sense of satisfaction, freedom and self-worth. Since we aren't exactly a society of hunters and gatherers anymore, this takes its place. The problems arise when it is taken too far.

Black Friday. 8 days away. Once the real numbers are out, I think the U.S. consumer will be in for quite a shock. This year's hot toy? The box the big toy came in. It doubles as a home.

18.11.09

Good Morning, Heartache


I just peeked in on my daughter. If any of you have kids, you know the routine. You just want to make sure they are breathing. You get stunned by how peaceful they look when they're sleeping. You see those little fists and hear the soft breaths, and every bad thing they may have done that day just disappears. They sleep deeply. They sleep free of the fear of what the next day brings. They sleep the kind of sleep you wish you could experience if only for one day. But you will never get that again because you know too much about life. The innocence was beat out of you long ago.

I never pictured myself as a father, but it's a role I cherish. Not to sound like every other jackass, but a parent is the most important job in the world, and it is the one where failure is unacceptable. At least that's how I approach it.

I have 50% custody of my daughter. It's not something I'm happy with, as I would have her full-time if I could, and actually stated that was what I wanted at one time. But thinking of it, I know my baby mama (God, I hate that term) would be torn up over that, and my daughter loves her mom. That would serve no purpose. So we have this mutually agreed upon system in place that is far from ideal, but it works for my daughter, and that's what's most important.

My friend (and co-worker, you jerko) and I were talking about nighttime rituals with our children. She reads her girl books every night, something her child will remember and do with her kids. I tell mine a story. I then explained to my friend exactly what I do.

I have this universe in my head where my daughter is the princess of the Candy Kingdom. We know the topography, what candies the various landscapes are made of, the layout of the castle, the people who live in the kingdom (including her best friends), how she became the princess and so on. These stories have been going on for a long time, and every night there is a new one. Some are funny. Some are action-packed. Some are touching. With some I incorporate any issues she's had during the day in order to help her put things in perspective, but first and foremost I make them so she'll enjoy them. I make them up on the spot, and they are done when they are done.

She loves them. Every night she wants one, and will get upset if I take my time getting to it.

My friend seemed stunned.

She told me that what I did was "special," that I was a "special" kind of dad because that went above and beyond the call of duty. I don't know about that. All I know is that this universe I've created for nighttime stories is a place my daughter likes visiting, and therefore I can't ever forget it. Does that make me special? Does that make me a good dad? I'll leave that for my daughter to decide. All I know that if that does make me "special," it's because she's brought it out in me.

When my daughter snuggles up next to me when I'm reading her a book or we are watching a movie, the troubles of my day fade into nothingness. At that point the only thing that matters is right next to me, thumb in mouth, hand wrapped in her doll's hair. Every parent has those moments with their kids. Every one.

I had a co-worker from a while ago when I worked in an elastic factory. His son had gone to the first Gulf War. He was proud of that kid. What he described as a "one-time fuck up" got his act together and joined the military. It wasn't out of a sense of pride for his country or to have school paid for. It was to find structure in his life. He wasn't the happiest about the decision because he admitted that he thought his kid wouldn't be able to do it, and he didn't know what would happen if his kid got discharged. That didn't happen, though, and his son found himself in a country he probably couldn't find on a map.

I didn't have a kid at the time, so the meaning of what he told me next didn't have the effect it should have. I mean I could sympathize and empathize, but I couldn't really comprehend it.

He told me of how as a parent, you just want your kids to do good, to succeed, to be happy. You hope you raised them well enough so that they could make good, educated decisions about the many problems life would throw in their direction. But, he said, you also have a lingering fear. You fear things won't turn out right. You fear all the things life can do. He was waking up every night with images of military men coming to his door to tell him his son had been killed in the line of duty. He would dream of his son dying in the desert and not being there to help him. He said that until I was a parent I would not be able to really appreciate the good moments in life because they were the only ones that got you through the dark ones, the crazy feelings you get because you're a parent and your worst fear is always the fear of losing your child.

I didn't know it then. I know it now. I'm intimately familiar with those feelings. The good moments get you through them, so I try to make many, many good moments.

The same co-worker, the one who said I was "special" (baby, so special), asked me a question today. She asked if there was anything I really feared. I don't know where the question came from, but my co-worker and I are in the same unit. We've all been under a lot of stress. Shit has gone absolutely topsy-turvy there and it all feels off kilter, and nobody likes it. I don't know if that caused the question, but it was a good one.

My fear, I told her, was losing my daughter. It would be the one thing I could not recover from. "I could lose a quart of blood in the toilet," I said. "I'll make more. Get that checked out. Losing my girl would not be recoverable. Things would get bad. They would not be pretty." It would be the one time the emotions would run over.

It's an irrational fear, but as a parent you get it. Whether it's bleeding out in the desert or a hundred other scenarios. You can't help it, but you remember the good times and they get you through the bad.

She's sleeping. I just heard her sigh. She does that sometimes. It's a happy sound. (She also sometimes laughs in her sleep. Any parent who has a little kid who does that will tell you that it is the creepiest thing to hear at three in morning. A child's laughter is great. A child's giggle at three a.m. in a dark house is kind of bone chilling.) It's the sound of everything being all right in the universe.

My co-worker's kid came back from the Gulf War. Not a scratch on him. All his limbs were in place, and by all accounts he had none of the usual PTSD or odd side effects when peeing thanks to God-knows-what chemicals. I don't know if the dreams stopped, but I could guess that they just kind of changed. That comes with the territory, too.

My life is better because of my child. That's all there is to it. I get angry when I hear of other parents doing wrong by their children. I get bitter when I hear parents say how much they "hate" their kids. I don't get it. I don't like it. I want to go into a rage when I hear about a parent who puts their child in harm's way. The people who are supposed to protect and nourish then become the biggest threat in the child's life. It sickens me. Like there aren't enough things out there that will ruin your child's life if given half the chance.

The good times take care of the bad. You keep telling yourself that because it's true and keeps you on an even keel. And luckily, when it comes to my child there's nothing but good times.
Changes in the wind. Which way she going to blow?

All Work and No Play ...


Years ago Adbusters, that great magazine dedicated to consumer culture, was doing articles about how the current mental state of people (anxiety disorders and so on) were directly linked to capitalism. The writers presented some compelling ideas and science, but since capitalism is linked to everything it's hard to say that it has a large role in the rise of Paxil prescriptions.

I do believe our culture plays a large role in the amount of mental illness in our society. Some of the science backs this up. Not all of it, but enough that it is a cause of concern.

Black Friday.

Yeah.

Hello, Sunshine


Woke up from a fitful night of "sleep" to some good business news. Investors are worried that consumers are still a little too "skittish" to do any real holiday spending. "Skittish" apparently means "aren't over spending because they have been keeping an eye on the economy." Back when the World Trade Towers took a dive thanks to a small handful of men on a mission, Baby Bush made sure we knew the country would be okay if we only continued shopping. After this latest economic gangbang you would think investors would be more concerned about bigger picture type things and long term thinking. Nope.

Long term thinking. Far reaching goals. The big picture. Elements sorely lacking from American society where ADD seems to be the rule rather than the exception. Pathological preoccupation with the here and now at the expense of the future. But what do I know? I'm just a guy who writes stuff down and occasionally gets to say, "I told you so."

I've ranted and raved about consumerism and shortsighted behavior for decades now. I don't expect everyone to agree or listen. I don't honestly care except for the fact that this kind of thinking puts policies in place and causes meltdowns that affect my life and that I have to listen to people complain about things without ever admitting to or even admitting their own role in the problem. So be it, though.

Bill Hicks, the late great social critic (I refuse to say he was only a comedian, though he did that quite well, too), had a lot to say on the same things. He had his following while he was alive, but like Jesus, got a bit bigger in death. Some of you may have never heard of him, which is fine, too. Some people know everything about Nic Cage. Others veer off the trodden path. The fact that Cage is a household name and Hicks isn't says just about everything. It's all about content. Glenn Beck versus Noam Chomsky. Fox versus CSPAN. On and on.

During my lunch budget talk where I asked my wonderful co-worker if I was flat out wrong about what I felt on the economy and my future actions, I was informed that there was wisdom in what I was doing. I was also given another side of the entire budget issue when it came to county layoffs that I had only thought about in passing. It's been on my mind because what happens on the county level is indicative of a bigger problem, and our state politicians are a group of short-term thinkers. We both expressed our ideas and thoughts, and it was a nice conversation that bordered on a debate. It was nice to actually discuss something that wasn't related to teen vampire movies (which comes up at work a lot) and didn't involve someone sticking their head in the sand to the problems at hand.

Black Friday. It's coming soon. How skittish are you?

17.11.09

Graveyards and Cocktails


I was getting ready to hit the bed and read until the sweet embrace of sleep would call for me when the phone rang. I had just gotten off the phone, and here it was again, begging for an answer. I just wanted to relax. Sleep is an elusive pursuit these days. Rain woke me up this morning, which angered me. When I don't get enough sleep, anything that wakes me early faces the possibility of my rage.

So do phone calls from out of the blue.

This person, whom I shall call X because X's identity would be known by many who read this, was having "issues." X thought I could help with these. I could ... if I wanted to. I really didn't. I have enough stress of my own with budget thoughts (great talk with a co-worker at lunch about this today), Xmess, and life in general. X wanted to bend my ear a bit. Bounce ideas. I was to be a solution to a problem I did not create.

Yawn.

Relationship problems. The worst kind to have, I suppose. I told X I tend not to make decisions based on emotions because that usually causes problems. I said this may or may not work for them, but that's how I did things.

My eyes kept darting to the clock. Dear God, I'm pretty sure I've had this conversation before. I'm pretty sure I've given the same answer. I'm pretty sure it was as well-received then as it was now, which is to say not at all.

"I'm flattered you are asking my advice," I said, "but I think I'm the wrong one to ask about this. Like I said, cold and calculating. I appreciate it, but really, I'm not the one that needs to answer this. I think you know the answer, and I think it affects you more than it does me, so you better listen to yourself."

It seemed to be a safe answer. I said it nicely. I was tired. It did not look like I would be reading. Instead, I saw this conversation dragging on into the wee hours of morning. I got to work. I already don't get enough sleep. I sure as hell don't want to be kept up.

I kept thinking that X wanted me to say to stay in the relationship. Problem was, these problems were not new and they weren't changing. They were the same ones I had been hearing for months.

"If you don't want me to think rationally," I offered, "why don't you tell me how going with your emotions has helped you? Have the emotional decisions you've made been good ones?" I wasn't sure what X would say. I knew my answer, but my values and feelings on the matter are my own and they don't necessarily apply to anyone else.

The answer didn't surprise me, though. "No." No. X admitted the decisions made based on emotion weren't working, but said that they can sometimes work. Agreed. Emotions can be viable things to base decisions on. As can rationality. Or insanity. Whatever. I just wanted to hang up.

"What should I do?"

There were things I wanted to say that I knew would lead to more conversation. I remember once saying I didn't really care what X did because it didn't affect me. That was, by all accounts, a Huge Fucking Mistake. So, instead ...

"Sleep on it." That's what I said. Sleep on it. Problems seem different in the morning. You gain new perspectives.

"I wanna know now. I don't wanna sleep on it."

So, instead ...

"Then fucking leave. Get out of your situation. Honestly, if you think that your emotional decisions haven't worked for you, why not go with logic? You are treated bad? End it. Lied to? End it. Cheated on you? End it."

"Yeah, maybe I will."

So now it is 11:10, I can't see straight, I'm having a problem with an interview I can't do now (I did not realize the deadline was so close), I'm looking at job changes, and yet more budget info came out. It would be really easy to be emotional about any one of these things, but emotion doesn't work well for. As the Dead Kennedys said, "Your emotions/Make you a monster."

God, I need sleep. That conversation wiped me.

A Cry for Help in a World Gone Mad

Hey, simple reminder, plea, warning -- whatever. AK Press is always looking to add more Friends to its roster. Being a friend (for a very reasonable monthly fee) gets you one of every book, DVD and CD that AK Press publishes and gets you 20% everything in the catalog. You can't find a better deal. If you think you are politically minded (left bent), and you aren't a Friend, then you aren't politically minded. Period.

The publisher is doing a friend drive. If you sign up and say I, Doug Brunell, sent you, we both get tote bags featuring the new AK Press logo thingy. It's $25 a month, and the amount you get in books along makes up for it. A lot of it is anarchist in nature, but there are also books on race, religion, the environment, school, social issues and so on. Plenty of Chomsky and Churchill, too.

Great ideas for the gift giving/extortion season, too.

The Blackest of Fridays


In just over a week, shoppers, like lemmings, will line up outside stores waiting for the doors to open. They clutch lists and cell phones, their breath forming clouds in air before their faces. They will push their way in to get $25 DVD players and the latest, greatest toy that will be forgotten about ten minutes after it is taken out of the box.

It's telling that Black Friday comes the day after we collectively spend the day stuffing ourselves sick and then watching endless football or holiday specials. One gorging for another. Consumerism of both styles on parade. It's enough to make you sick if you really start to think about it.

This year's Black Friday is going to be key. After a few months of people like Obama telling us the economy is getting better, this will show how much confidence consumers have in those statements. Words are cheap, though, and people have a good idea of what is happening out there. People know the jobs aren't there. Nobody is hiring. Wages are frozen. Layoffs are looming.

Spending on a new pair of shoes seems downright indulgent when a record number of people are now in need of food assistance. Yet I can imagine those self-same hungry souls lining up, lists in hand, eyes darting. So hungry ... for food and consumer goods.

MDC, a great punk band, once said the capitalism is cannibalism. It's a true statement because capitalism unchecked devours itself. The bubble that burst recently is not the first of its sort, and nor will it be the last ... unless we change how we do things. That seems unlikely, though. Especially when you look at those lines outside those stores.

Violence. Aggression. Crime. All for cheap electronics and China-produced toys.

Enjoy your turkey, shoppers. Come Saturday your buyer's remorse may just set in. Don't whine about it, though. You caused your misery. Now enjoy your $3 MP3 player.

16.11.09

Immolation State Style


I follow business news. I'm interested in the budget because my job depends on California pulling itself together and figure out how to keep the ship sailing. As the saying goes, when California sneezes, the rest of the country catches a cold. California's current budget was never a cure. It wasn't even a fix. It was a layaway plan, and the bill for that is due next year.

By conservative measures, California is looking at a $22 billion deficit. Part of this is left over from the past budget. Part of it is all new misery. All of it points to a potential disaster that will have a huge ripple effect on the rest of the country.

There are some obvious, though ugly solutions to the problem. One of those is, of course, the decriminalization and taxation of pot. One of the less ugly ones, and one that will be fun, is getting rid of our governor. His thick-headed way of dealing with California's financial woes (which ultimately come down to putting the burden on the poor as it usually does) has taken a once thriving contributor to the nation's financial well being and has turned it into a joke.

In interest of full disclosure, my job depends upon the California budget. I want to see it fixed not only for my own job safety (layoffs and privatization are just two of the solutions I am looking at), but for the good of the country. This isn't Rhode Island going bankrupt. It's California. If memory serves right, we used to be the fifth largest economy in the world. Now? We don't even rate.

2009 was stressful. 2010 is looking to in full panic attack mode. The politicians, at least some of the ones I've seen interviewed, acknowledge this. They are scared because elections are times where their inaction comes out. They also realize that acting sooner rather than later is prudent. Most likely, though, they won't act until it is far too late. Problem is, it already is too late.

Black Friday is approaching. The talking heads on the business news networks are saying they are optimistic about consumer spending. They say this in order to keep consumer confidence from tanking. California, like every other state, stands to benefit in tax dollars if Black Friday is a "success." That optimism is unwarranted, though, as there is nothing in the numbers that says this will a busy shopping season. With unemployment rising, nobody wants to spend money ... and who can blame them?

California's not sneezing. It's got the full-on flu, and if you think your state is safe, you haven't been paying attention.
Humboldt is oddly warm today. At least it is not one of the listed "hot stain" spots.
AK Press used a quote from me for its new campaign. Sweet.
Today things fell apart. I only sit back and nod. Fate is unkind to some.

15.11.09

Thank God for Sarah Palin


Sarah Palin, that rogue agent of change for the Republican party, has been back in the media eye as of late. Honestly, it's as if she had never left. Best known for running for Vice President, this maverick has a book out, served as the governor of Alaska, and has an award-winning smile that melts the hearts of even the most liberal of the bleeding hearts.

The only problem is that she's as dumb as a fucking goat corpse and if this is the new face of the GOP ... well, not even that drug addict Rush Limbaugh can help it.

Palin was never a maverick or rogue. What she was was typical. Red-blooded, backwoods, conservative because she can be -- there was nothing new or special about her. She came out of nowhere and should have faded there just as fast, but something about her caught the attention of the media (it just can't be her stupidity) and the Republican Party (though I can't help but think the more intellectual of them most clench their teeth every time her name pops up). To call her a maverick or rogue is like calling the pop group Hanson "cutting edge" and "artistic." It may look good on paper, and Palin may actually believe it, but the sad fact is that she is so typical that if she were a tad bit uglier none of this would be happening.

The Golden Dawn is arguably one of the biggest influences on modern occultism. Bram Stoker was one of its many member, and though the temples associated with the original order faded thirtysome years ago, it lives on and by some standards has even undergone a bit of a revival. The order was started in 1888 and its influences, while readily apparent to those into the occult, mysticism, and forbidden and hidden knowledge, are with us to this day. To those who don't dabble in such things, the influences on the modern world are not readily felt, though that does not mean they are not there. Poetry, the Western fascination with Buddhism and even medicine owe a debt to the Golden Dawn as members of it have been directly involved in these activities and one cannot help but wonder how those members' pursuit of knowledge bled over into their other activities because the Golden Dawn was, if anything, thorough in its pursuits.

The Golden Dawn has staying power. It has influence. It remains largely unknown by the population at large. Comparing the Golden Dawn to Palin seems unfair at first, but it serves as a wonderful contrast.

Palin has been presented as someone with influence, someone with staying power, and as someone who will potentially lead another group known as the Republican Party. Palin, of course, is none of these things. She is a, however, a scapegoat, a sacrifice, a pawn and a cruel joke. She engaged in nepotism, and seems almost proud of her ignorance. It is easy to imagine Golden Dawn members looking at the rise of Palin with something akin to admiration as it has served as a distraction as to what is really going on behind closed doors.

The Golden Dawn has had splits within its ranks, much like the Republican Party seems split on Palin. There are those who embrace her as the party's saving grace and who feel that she is the face they want seen. Others look at her as the dismissive hoax of a politician she is to everyone else. Republicans, who have never been known to be kind to women or their issues, have slowly changed its stance on such things, and Palin is substandard proof of that. A pregnant teenage daughter, a working mom -- what's not to love? The Golden Dawn has seemingly always let women into its fold, making it a far more progressive organization. It is also unlikely that the order would have let one of its female followers be offered up to be the sacrifice Palin is bound to become, but any group that allows Aleister Crowley to be a member (and that's not to say he didn't come without controversy) should always be viewed with some suspicion. In that respect, Palin and the Republicans share quite a bit with Golden Dawn.

Palin and the Republican Party have no tangible or meaningful ties with Golden Dawn, however. At least none I can find. I just find it interesting to see a large organization with influence in all our daily lives get zero media attention (think of the last time you heard it mentioned) while a person destined to be a footnote merits the media spotlight every time she menstruates. It's a strange world, one that doesn't always make sense. The weak and the lackluster are painted as saviors and gods while the learned and influential are relegated to the memory hole.

Then again, if you want to find the ties to the occult, they are there in the actions of the Republican Party toward Palin. It is an elaborate ruse meant to distract and misguide in what one expects to be a grand master plan that involves courting new voters, keeping old ones and perhaps presenting a candidate in opposition to her that would ensure not only a worthwhile shot at the White House but, more importantly, a media debate centering not on Democrat versus Republican but Republican versus Republican. What an excellent way to dominate the gatekeepers.

Perhaps the Golden Dawn isn't the only group pursuing the unification with the divine now is it?
I miss actual discourse. Honest debate.
I agree with Ward Churchill on 9/11. Pathology of pacifism, too.
A reverse of outsourcing country wide seems concomitant at this point, doesn't it?
I have a healthy appreciation for science. Listening to nonsense at mall makes me chuckle.

Wolves at the Door


I sense a change in the air. It's not the onset of winter, which feels like it came to Humboldt last night bearing an axe and the still-dripping head of Autumn (eyes rolled back and mouth gaping open in part shock and part relief to be pushed from this mortal coil so suddenly). It's not that it's getting darker earlier, which I love. It's not the rain that falls not frequently enough, which I also love. It's something else. A breaking point. It's the wolves at the door, sniffing. I want to let them in.

I think I'm a nice guy most of the time. I don't call a lot of people on their stupidity or selfishness unless they really start to bug me with it. I realized long ago that it was pointless endeavor that only succeeds in creating confusion and animosity that is misdirected at the very least. I hold my tongue because I live in a society. It's a sick society, one based in greed and run by self-centered adult children who make your business their business (and they can't even tie their own fucking shoes without making it a drama).

For people like me, every day is an exercise in not throwing hot coffee in someone's face.

I don't think that makes me unbalanced or "insane," as one fool put it. Admitting to it and holding people up to certain standards I think makes me honest and stable. It's bad enough I repress a lot of my feelings in order to get through the day. If I didn't admit to the most base parts of my emotions I'd probably end up, well, like them.

I don't understand the people whose palms sweat with glee when they think of Black Friday (imagine if they treated politics the same way as they do getting deals on pajamas). I don't understand the mindset of people who watch the Super Bowl in order to see the new commercials (their justifications always fall so flat when held up to scrutiny). I don't understand those folks who spout their ideas of how society should be run, but don't ever include themselves in that equation (because if it's good enough for others it's not good enough for them). I don't understand the people who are happy to shrug off their responsibilities on others (they are the biggest complainers when it happens to them). I don't understand them, and I only care about them in the respect that I sometimes have to deal with them and hear their nonsense.

I used to use this blog as a therapeutic outlet. Because I took so much flack from so many people who "knew" how I should handle things, I turned to a different outlet. This posting is not therapeutic. This posting is more of a fact finding mission, an examination of the causes of my recent fear that what waits at the door isn't waiting for me, but I am waiting for it.

I have been accused of many things. Some true. Some not. Accusations mean nothing to me, though. Something a friend said to me the other day, which was not an accusation as much as it was an observation, came back to me last night in a fever dream. "You seem like you're all out of justifications on why you still deal with people."

I do believe, kind sirs, the lady is right.

Sniffing at my door, the wolves scratch at the wood. They want in. I want to let them in. I believe a man should only go up against things bigger than he. I don't believe in picking on the "little guy." Those wolves, they don't want to eat me. They want to join me. They want to enter the fold.

I once explained my theories on violence to my friend and supervisor. I believe we were talking about threats and how effective they are. I argued that pulling a knife and threatening to kill someone doesn't work well. People use that threat all the time. To pull the knife and say, "I will cut you"? That works wonders. That scares people. That sounds like it will happen. That is more plausible than the threat of death. People don't fear death. If they did they wouldn't smoke. They wouldn't drink and drive. They wouldn't take speed. But to threaten to cut someone, that sends images into their head, images they can't easily shake because they can easily imagine them. Perhaps they see the blade sliding diagonally across their face, going deeper the further it gets, ending once the eyeball is cleaved open. Perhaps they imagine you cutting a two-inch long, inch deep gash in their thigh, one where they can see the muscle beneath.

It was a good talk. Yes, it was a little twisted, a bit dark, but also very therapeutic. I don't think of those things because I want to do them. I think of them because I want to be able to use something like that to get someone to stop bothering me without having to resort to the actual action. I'm a writer. I realize the power of words. I prefer them over physical violence if only because there is less police interaction, less blood, and it lets the person go home thinking about what they've done instead of wondering how they will exact revenge if they are ever able to walk again.

People feel strongly about violence. On one hand, it's bad for people to talk about it on a meaningful level because violence, like cannibalism or Satanic sex rituals, is just one of those things that's assumed to be bad. Get them talking about some war, however, and the idea of it being violent goes right out the window. Violence on that level is so incomprehensible that it doesn't even become a theory anymore. It just is. That, to me, is dangerous thinking. If you can't discuss violence on a personal level, you have no place in talking about war.

We are animals. Animals are violent. They protect their turf. They kill to eat. We tend to think we are better because we can make coffee and drive. The problem is we are still animals and while we can do things like justify our actions through rational thinking, we rarely do it. Therefore we use violence in one of two ways: without thought or without meaning. There is where we differ from the animals. We think we are better, but we haven't applied it, and therefore we are more like a virus.

Mankind is, at its heart, a disease upon the planet. If there was a god, he would see us as a cancer, a cancer that seems to take glee in its ignorant rampage. The wolves at the door understand that. They want no part of it. They'd rather be a solution. That's why they are here. They don't knock, though. They wait to be invited in. They are happy to scratch and sniff, salivate and curl against each other for warmth in cold of the early Humboldt winter. They have protected the door unseen from the bushes for quite some time now, but they are ready to be admitted. They feel like they deserve some warmth.

Last night, in my feverish dreams, I dreamed of a world where people thought before they began to announce their stupidity. I saw a place where the sun shone through the rain and where people finally "got" it. I saw a new day. The people didn't disappear (they have to be kept if only for amusement value), but they understood the new direction. They understood that some people just don't want to deal with them not because they are above them, but because they are tired of them. I saw a world where I could walk amongst them and still be isolated, only engaging in discourse with those of my choosing at a time of my choosing. In my dream, I smiled. It felt foreign. I saw myself as a foreigner. You know what I mean. You know that when you see pictures of people from other countries that they look somewhat different, even if they share your skin color. There's something about them. It may be their hair, their clothes, but mostly it's the smile. They smile differently. That was how I felt. I was a stranger to this land, and I liked it.

I am careful of who I let into my world. I need to be more careful. I need to be choosier. GG Allin, a man whom I admire if only because he lived life as he saw fit (and I don't agree with everything he did, but in spirit I liked the "truth in advertising" approach he used) once said in so many words that if you couldn't take what he was you needed to stay away. This, if I recall correctly, was after he got in trouble for setting a woman on fire. She was, as he put it, burned on the GG altar. She wanted to hang with him, an unstable man who did unstable things, and she seemed shock when that unstability was turned toward her. I don't agree with him doing that. In fact, I think it was horrible. But I also think, and this is where I differ with most of society, that she had it coming. She knew what he was going into it (and this was proven afterward when she still tried to be with him, if memory serves correctly), and she still decided to be one of his "followers," for lack of a better word. She thought the rules didn't apply to her, even though GG made it perfectly clear that the rules even applied to him first and foremost. She ignored the signs. She thought she was different. She saw what he was and still decided to operate in his world.

Yeah, setting her on fire was wrong. Brutal. Uncalled for. But you can't blame him for hating the weakness and stupidity of what was put before him. The man wanted to destroy himself. What made her think he wouldn't want to eventually destroy her?

But I digress. I'm careful of who I let into my world. I'm private. I don't like a lot of interaction with people. I only tend to open up to people I think can handle what I have to say ... and understand it. They don't have to agree with it. I'd prefer if they didn't, because I like debate (and if you are reading this, yes, I'll say it here, gymnastics is a sport -- happy?). I think, however, those who do let me open up to them for whatever reason (mutual masturbation, perhaps) need to ask themselves if they can continue to do so if I finally decide to take all the filters off. I'm not saying I'm resorting to violence or anything like that. Those who know me well know how I am, and they are the same ones who understand the filters. My guess is that those who understand that and are still reading have kind of shuddered at the idea. They think those filters are almost non-existent to begin with. They think I already let the idiots who surround me everytime I step outside my door know exactly what I feel. They also know I hold back a bit.

Accountability. Truth in advertising. Responsibility. Rationality. Morality. Honesty. These are all good things. I try to hold myself up to a certain set of standards. I don't always succeed, but I always try. I think I deserve the company of these wolves. I've earned it. And to be honest, knowing I've earned it and accepting it -- letting the wolves in -- makes me feel like I can operate within this world with a smile on my face. I can be honest and I don't have to worry about hurt feelings (and all the stupid tears that come with it) or lost friendships or even hatred. I don't care about those things. My friend who thought I carried the weight of the world on my shoulders can be relieved. I've lifted it. It feels good.

Come on in, my friends. Curl up before the fire. The sun is out. It's still cold, but this black sun can still warm the heart. Let me feed you. Let me protect you from the outside world. Let's engage in a dialogue that leads to our mutual survival in this barren landscape of fractured morality and starry-eyed dreams. Let's let our existence be an example to others. Let's let the fact that we breathe be our threat. Let's pull away from the people we do not want to deal with, and when they invade our space we will greet them with open arms, bared teeth and a growl at the back of our throats. They shall know that their stupidity and ill-thought emotions are not welcome here. When they decide to encroach, they shall be operating under our rules and the rules that bind this society. We shall be civil, but honest. We will meet ignorance with intelligence. We shall meet emotion with rationality. We shall meet violence with like. We, too, will operate under the rules set forth by our society, but we shall not hold them to a different standard just because we think they don't get it. We shall hold them to our standard, a standard born not of fear but of understanding, instinct and the knowledge that we are but animals with the capacity of acting beyond our means. We shall offer our ear to their words, but let them know that they should not waste our time. We shall embrace freedom and responsiblity with the same hope and glee people use when they think of things like shopping and their Friday night bar hopping plans. In the end, we will feast knowing that those who have stayed around are operating under the same principals, but not necessarily the same values. We can dine with our enemies even, if they all agree on the rules of civility.

Welcome, wolves. This smile no longer has to be a mask.

Wow, this was more therapeutic then I thought. Perhaps it should be consigned to that other space. Or ... perhaps it's more like a No Trespassing sign.

I think the more astute already know.

The less astute soon will.

Happy Sunday, all. Enjoy football, the race, or whatever you like doing on this day of rest. Read a book. Plant a tree. Take a walk in the woods. Do some Christmas shopping for a loved one. Just chill out with a glass of wine and some world music if the mood fits. I've got my daughter, and that means I'm the luckiest man in the world. Find what makes you the luckiest and do it like there is no tomorrow. Indulge. Redefine excess. For the sake of your soul, live without the barriers. Let the wolves in.

You'll all be happier.

Enjoy.

14.11.09

This Party's Over


Some mistakes you can't undo. No amount of bullshit or avoidance can get you through it. You fuck up and you pay the price.

People make mistakes. Our society is set up in a way that gives folks a lot of leeway ... for better or for worse. Humboldt County, one of the most liberal places I've ever lived (more artists per capita than anywhere in the US!) is a perfect example of what happens, however, when far too many mistakes are forgiven. It's a depressed area both economically and socially. Yeah, we may have many progressive, caring people, but if you look deep enough you see that all they care about is their little universe.

Boyd Rice, a man many find despicable for a host of reasons, once said that justice is when people are held accountable for their actions (to paraphrase) and made to be responsible for them. Stupid people pay the price for being stupid and smart people are not punished for their intelligence. It's a great philosophy, but the exact opposite happens in this world, and far too many people get away with it.

There is one person reading this who knows exactly what I am talking about. There are others reading it who, through people speaking about what they think they know, may think they know what is going on. They don't. And there are going to be people, when this transgression against the group comes out, who may not understand why it is a big deal. I will say it then, but I need to say it now, too.

In times of stress, in times of war, you start to develop close bonds to the people with whom you are serving. You are in the trenches together all trying to accomplish the same goals. If you don't have the same goal in mind, things start to fall apart. Morale gets corrupted, the goal no longer becomes the goal. The goal changes to keeping the group together. In an ideal system, the group will help the weaker members and will play to each other's strengths. They may not get along outside the situation even, but during the operation they work like a well-oiled machine.

At least that's how it's supposed to go.

Betray the group and things turn ugly. It's already starting to happen, and I don't even think everyone knows the extent of it all. A group gets very good at figuring out when things are going South even if they don't know why. The dynamic gets fucked up and people react.

I've been struggling with my role in the group because I am the one who set this in motion. I discovered a betrayal. I did the right thing, and now those in the group who are doing the right thing are struggling with their roles within the group.

It shouldn't have, but it is tearing me up.

Soon, very soon I believe, this group dynamic will change. The group will absorb it, though, and will go on stronger than it was before. As for the member who transgressed ... well, I don't expect it will go well. In fact, if pressed, I'd say it may actually destroy the person (another reason I'm struggling with my role in this).

Friends and family are strange machines. They can be the most comforting thing imaginable or a monster that eats your soul while smiling. They don't make you pay for your mistakes. They are your mistakes personified. One group is what you pick and thus are responsible for. The other is one you stay out of blood obligation, and are therefore responsible for, too. They are your retribution in the flesh.

In the society I dream of when I dream of such things, people would have all the freedom in the world, including the freedom to fuck up their own lives. There would be no laws in place to protect them from themselves. With that freedom, however, would come a very heavy sense of personal responsibility and the knowledge that transgressions against the rest of society would be handled swiftly and justly. The police would have a different role (if they even existed), and people would have to be responsible for keeping their own morals in check. That's the world I dream of, so I try to live my life that way. I try to be responsible for my actions, and I try to do the right thing (according to my morals) when I can ... even when it is ugly.

I know I did the right thing here, and I wouldn't do it over again even if I could. But those decisions, even when they are the right ones, are not made without an emotional conflict and eventual burden. A dear friend told me she thinks I wear the "weight of the world" on my shoulders and it worries her to see that.

Everyone should wear the weight of the world on their shoulders. You don't have to own the problems, but the only way to fix them is to acknowledge them. If you don't, you can't expect others to. If you don't try to fix them, you can't rely on others to. If you don't act upon what you see, if you don't try to see what is around you -- well, you aren't really wearing the weight, you've become the weight. Far too many people are fine with that. I'm not.

I want to get rid of the dead weight.