Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Dear America, I Finally Figured You Out

"Truth is life."
Frank Lloyd Wright

The Wall Street Journal reported in June that more than $3 billion in cash has been openly flown out of Kabul International Airport in the past three years -- “packed into suitcases, piled onto pallets and loaded into airplanes.” Only so much of that could be drug money. The bulk, presumably, was skimmed from U.S. aid and logistics spending.

And that’s just what people are declaring. The Journal calculated the $3 billion figure based on Afghan customs records, noting: “More declared cash flies out of Kabul each year than the Afghan government collects in tax and customs revenue nationwide.”

The actual amount of money flown out of the country is, of course, higher. As the Journal noted: “One courier alone carried $2.3 billion between the second half of 2008 and the end of 2009, said a senior U.S. official, citing other documents that are in the possession of investigators.”

It took me a while, clinging naive sot that I am but suddenly it all made sense to me. I saw this headline on the billions being wasted in Afghanistan - certainly not the first nor last of such stories - and I knew it would pass by with about as much interest as yesterday's weather report. Nobody cares, we already know. Why even report it? We have our lies and we're sticking to them. Facts are for the foolish and the unwitting (say the foolish and the unwitting).

Fact is the wars we wage are unholy and impure. Fact is we are bankrupting ourselves in every sense. Fact is we are forfeiting our future to supplant our unsustainable lifestyle today. Fact is no system can compensate for greedy hearts. Fact is we're dying, putting our brothers in the streets for no reason - both here and abroad. And the fact I finally figured out today: we want to die. America has a death wish. Go ahead, report all the negative stories you want.

Arguing against responsibility is like arguing against gravity: whether you believe in it or not you are still beholden to its demands. So while I don't refute for a minute the great amusement derived from those who say gravity does not exist - that they claim they can leap off tall buildings without a scratch - it's when lives are put on the line for faith in such lunacy that the whole thing turns nightmarishly tragic. Unspeakably tragic. History will paint us as no better than the Nazis, killing millions in misplaced anger. I know we've convinced ourselves otherwise.

The lie remains the same: "Work will set you free"

Guilt is the soil and seed of any death wish. America will stoop to any low (but give up her sins) to show her ways are good and true. You must trust us! We believe in a magic god that says what we can convince others to believe is the only reality that exists. How utterly humiliating. Trace the downfall of any civilization and the story is painfully the same. How very boring. We tell ourselves we've cleverly learned to live without an open heart or an open mind. How I laugh at you!

Now I will speak the truth we all know is true. The truth we rape by calling it a lie, an impossibility. But the truth is this: things don't have to be the way they are. Nothing stops us from obeying the laws of nature. We can clean up this planet, forget the rule of fictional money, serve selflessness instead of selfishness (it's human nature to be selfless, you lying idiots) and create a future for ourselves as rock solid as the heavens above. These things sit before us and yet we reject them. Why? Because we have a death wish!

So goodbye America, you had a helluva run. I will watch you oscillate back and forth with the illusions you manage to deceive yourself with, one day claiming victory, the next day doom. Every dying addict goes through this hell as he tells himself he can live with his disease even as evidence to the contrary mounts daily. We kill for our creed, simple as that, preventing needed work from being done, emptying needed houses and blaming it all on God. It's funny in its absurdity, I'll grant you that. But try and take my life, motherfuckers, and I will burn you where you stand.

After all, I'm only giving you what you ask for - Nature always gives us what we ask in the end. (Of course, it's impossible to ask for life if you hate the way you live.)

The stone the builders reject
becomes the cornerstone;
Bet your life on it

Sunday, November 28, 2010

State Highway 273 (Detoured)

Arena Silhouette Crop

Blame it all on bbd, enlightening us to the wonders of back country roads, the amazing everyday sky above and the small eye-nuggets of treasure all around us if we just look. It sounds like a good thing, but really, it's just hell if you're driving and need to keep your eyes on the road. It's even worse if you're on a clock.

It sounds like a Dr. Seuss book: "The Things I Now See". I want to explore the stories, the anomalies, the quiet moments of the country road. To sit in a wheat field with the swaying shafts surrounding you is to know the story of mankind. No matter how fancy-shmancy we get, it all begins and ends here. We've disconnected and yet we yearn to reconnect and find the needed stillness within us.

When you get far enough off the main highway you join an exclusive club, oftentimes noted with the raising of a few fingers in passing from companion motorists/members. You know you're so far from help that it's to your benefit to realize we're all in this together. If only the greater world held such an understanding we might just could save this sinking ship.

As part of another project I was forced into taking roads I'd never seen before on my journey: State Highway 273. But even that road was closed for bridge repair and I was shuffled out into the boonies on various Farm to Market roads where I was really put out to sea. I enjoyed my voyage as a land mariner and knowing it unlikely to pass that way again I knew had to document my journey.

Conoco 1
Before I hit 273 I passed through Shamrock, Texas. They took an old Conoco station and turned it into both their Chamber of Commerce and a cafe in the back. Genius.

Conoco Pump Close

Conoco Tower 2
Like a cathedral!

Conoco Cafe
Through the cafe window.

Off to oblivion on 273!

On the horizon I see only endless land,
just as at sea there is boundless water.

273 Sideways
How high is the sky?

Rust Building
I found this rusty compound. At first I thought it was abandoned
but I noticed the recent tire marks so I knew it was at least
partially in service.

Rust Totaled
Rusted out and left to rot, no longer useful -
the American way.

Tank Working
These two were still in operation...

These, not so much

Further out I saw this "booster station" which regulates compression.
The Texas panhandle is dotted by these sort of fossil fuel outposts,
some left to rot as relics, some still maintained like this one.

Here's a video snippet of a grasshopper pump in action.

Still some ranches out here too, no matter how far out you go.

Arena Far
But when I saw this abandoned rodeo arena, I knew I had struck gold.

Arena Gate

Arena Badezimmers
First class accommodations!

Arena Pens
Long unused holding pens.

Arena Horse2
But hey, still a couple of horseys around!

Arena Chutes
Fading numbers on the chutes.

Arena Bleachers
Rusted metal bleachers speak no more.

Arena Bent
God only knows what bent that metal.

Arena Chute
The chute, once a place of anticipation, now a place for tall weeds.

Sky 2
But I cannot linger forever, even though I'm still thinking of the
shots I passed up in required haste. So it's up to you to carry on
exploring and to realize there is infinity in every leaf.

Monday, November 22, 2010

George Bush anti-Christ Needs My Help! Tell Me What I Should Do!


Don't ask how this got to me. One thing's for sure: so much for the NSA tracking me. (Or is this just a clever ploy to throw me off?? You tricky lads you!) Anywho, I have been offered the chance to become a Charter Membrane of the GWB Presidential Center and Walmart/Death Camp. The introductory letter is most flattering  - if you're soulless, psychotic and sociopathic (i.e. registered Republican):

"As we break ground deface the earth on the GWB abomination GWB anti-Christ Lie-brary and shooting range, every effort is being made arm is being twisted to ensure longtime soul-selling supporters losers are involved suckered from the outset. And today I am asking you licking your boots to consider throw sanity to the wind being one of the very first (of the ten million mailers we sent out) to accept a very special invitation humiliation.

The man is like a cockroach, isn't he? Only without the charm and more diseased. But gosh, jolly, I gots me a letter from a real live Pressy-dent! An' all I's got to do is just send him some crappy ol' cash and I get this gen-u-wine certificater paper all to my self. Wow, thanks!!! Who can resist a deal like that? I can place this authenticated paper right next to my bottle of snake oil guaranteed to ward off flies and cure horniness (it does neither).

Next comes the honey:

Mr. Homeless, you played a special role in protesting the work of the Warmonger Fascist President and Mrs. Bush his clueless wife.

Then the insults:

History will measure well decry without end the unleashing of hell the contributions forces of destruction President and Mrs. Bush made to this unholy pair inflicted on the United States and the world. The Bush policies murderous terrorizing, the insatiable lust for power, the love of lying kept America safe flushed this country down the drain after 9/11. They produced reform undermined our very foundation in taxes by oppressing the poor, trade moving our jobs overseas, and energy policy robbing resources through force, improved public schools made a joke of education because he's illiterate, and used innovative faith-based and community initiatives to meet human needs laughed at Katrina victims, mockingly declaring, "They can pray to God and let Him sort them out!"


Well hell, who can argue with a record like that! Not I! Now I do realize the man(?) causes some to vomit and heave themselves into convulsion. But around these parts he's quite the hero! So I sez to myself, "Sheeple, I looks around me and I can't tell what I should do! Whatever folks duz most I want to do too!" So I'm needing the help of the good, decent souls of the faceless internets. I need you "beside me, to guide me; to hold me, to scold me; 'cause when I'm bad I'm so, so bad."

Help me through the jive talking!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Kennedy's Last 100 Yards

Just as December 7, 1941 spelled doom for Japan, so did November 22, 1963 for America. I realize that may seem hyperbolic to some but look at the consequences we face today for having chosen the path of darkness: endless futile wars, economic devastation and rampant, unchecked corruption. There's no future in that, folks, despite all the highly produced commercials you see to the contrary.

If the 21st century has proven anything, it's the ease of holding conviction for the evil and unprincipled. How easy to make decisions and choose a direction when all one cares about is the illusion of money and power. And because these are beings of conviction, they easily separate those who are with them and those who are against them. Kennedy would have undermined and exposed the ugly underbelly of America. The sanitation of that light would have saved us. Even now we refuse to admit our predicament.

I'm not going to try and fully dissect the assassination site. You can get a fuller account of that on bbd's posting from last year. What I want to do is take you down that same road Kennedy took and try to imagine the last few minutes of America's innocence. Imagine that sunny day lasting forever. America was once the light of the world, devoted to freedom, but she's losing mightily in the fight against the tyranny of the dollar. First we shoot our greatest defenders, then we complain when the predators eat us alive.

John Kennedy cared about this country more than we did. Many will honor him with lip service but when forced to give up their greed, Americans are maniacal beyond reason and ruthless without recourse. Just ask a Pakistani family blown to bits. History has roots and things don't happen in a vacuum. The tragedy didn't end with Kennedy's passing, it was just beginning. From Gandhi to Lennon we destroyed the voices of freedom, and now there are none.

I suppose one must address the issue of the conspiracy. One thing everyone agrees on is that Ruby shot Oswald. And if you really believe that was done from the righteous zeal of a super-patriot strip club owner with mob ties, then you'll believe anything. Some people need that father figure government represents and to blindly trust whatever story it tells. Until the truth comes out we can never put this behind us.

Here's my jaunt down Kennedy's final 100 yards before the piercing bullets. I have to admit I was a bit moved tracing that path, putting myself in that smiling man's shoes. A draining experience. One viewing note: audio comes on at the 7:49 mark, which can be a tad startling.

A few quick Kennedy clips:

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Of The Brilliant Love Of Helene And Pierre

In the fancy feasting room gathered the vaunted guests come to dance in delightful deceit. By the early 19th century, the life of a Russian noble remained charmingly archaic. Serfdom was a fate yet to be questioned by the serfs and wrongheaded rule yet to be questioned by the nobles. The empire lived in a bubble of worshiped monarchy and despised freedom. What a fabulous, glorious ship they run aground!

(In little over a century hence, tens of millions die from starvation from serfdom revolts.)

But on this glorious night the karmic wheel had yet to turn and in a grand mimicry of liberated people, Russian royalty feted itself without the bother of the democracy of the West. In prideful tradition they did wallow, taking heart in its triumph before fate's revelation. Today was princess Helene's Name Day and on this historic occasion the proposal of Pierre was anticipated as a passing comet, thrilling all. And as one whose life was dominated by the expectations of others, Pierre did not deem to disappoint.

At a gathering not so long ago, Pierre was hooked at first scent of Helene. One whiff of her firm, heaving bosom nearing him in willing offering had held him captive to the wildest of his manly wants. The smell of her perfume never left his nostrils, tormenting him in the night. Having passed through Desire's door, anxious for a chance at true living, he ached with love's agony that only a woman can cure. On this airy cloud he wished to stay, never to descend back to the pain filled earth.

In the sunshine of their nights, eager hands roamed paradise found, shameless before the heavens in their joy. Every day was a good day, every stroll a smiling dance. The harmony of their surrender was a fortress no force of man could breech. Such sweet treasures of life! How many more to be found? Hand in hand, climbing the stairway to heaven in a war torn world, Pierre and Helene would be as flowers in the battlefield, standing for their love and their dreams, shining their beacon of light into the dark recesses of the hearts of men, saying, "Come! Love awaits you!"

Anointed by their love, the pair sat as king and queen at the end of the large, deep table. These two luminous beings were the focus of a macabre mob of machinations, moving about them as winds around a hurricane's eye. Untouchable and unreachable on their thrones, igniting teenage passions in the old and sparking hidden dreams in the servers, Helene and Pierre wished life and love upon their subjects who needed their rulers to live the fantasies vanished from their lives.

No matter how painful or scorching or disheartening or dreaded their presence sometimes was, the couple's pull irresistibly attracted the forlorn and bitter. Cobwebbed lives hastily dusted off before the magical ones, parodying lost hopes, uninterested in even their own words. Hearts dark and stubbornly closed emitted smoky streams of vile temper, boiling over in love's presence. Those with life's echoes still within hearing laughed and sang gaily as bon vivants of the vicarious voyeur. The charlatans knew not their dreams.

But oh, how rare the gods to look upon us!

Like a torchlight passing around the globe eternally chased by a salvation seeking populace from the darkness comes love's light. Mumble mightily did les miserables when the darkness returned and the wait began anew. Pride's prison doomed happiness in the ignorant dark, pride cried in the swallowing blackness, pride came running when the light returned. The light ruled every life, either by its absence or its presence.

So on this night, tears were put in a box so that both envious and appreciative eyes may gaze upon the shining faces of Helene and Pierre. Eyes that imagined - or remembered - the private wonderland they strolled so merrily. Ah, just one more time for that taste of life! "Look at me! I'm happy too!" claimed the pretense of the pleasers, hoping not to be found deficient in their living. What these eyes failed to see though was the wave of darkness marching on them by the million dead soldiers of hell to whom all light was anathema.

For alas, the love of Helene and Pierre was as one imagined, not lived; purchased by youth. In his mad passion Pierre would gladly march to war for one such as She, so delicate and precious to the earth. For her love he'd fabulously die with no regrets! But though he was prepared to die for her love, he was not willing to live for it. Such commitment he did not possess - and thus not its peace.


The movie scene goes like this:

In a bedroom benefitting daughters of a Russian noble, Helene sits at her dresser, queen of her world and self absorbed as she readies herself for the day. Her two sisters, clearly her subtle inferiors, are there as well. One speaks to impress Helene with her unheralded news.

SISTER 1: Did you hear the big news about Pierre? (In a tone of "I know but you do not!")

HELENE: That big oaf? Who could possibly care what happens to him? (In a tone of "Who cares what you know, twit.")

SISTER 2: He inherited the entire fortune of the dead count. Over 700 million rubles. (Teaming up with her sister against the vaunted and always confident Helene. She smiles smartly as she lays down the news even Helene must be impressed with.)

HELENE say nothing, gets up from her dresser and turns around. She pulls down her dress and up her breasts in a satisfied air. She purposely marches to exit the room but the two sisters are in the way, refusing to move. HELENE has no thought of altering her path for them.

SISTER 1: Where do you think you're going? (Livid at a lack of reaction from HELENE)

HELENE: I'm going to get me an oaf! (she flashes a VERY winning smile and her eyes positively glisten. PIERRE doesn't stand a chance!)

Then we break to the Journey song, highlighting their courtship that judging by the looks on the faces is a truly happy pairing. Pierre experiences his sexual awakening (whether he's a virgin or not, this is his true birth). Helene sees paradise in her future with unlimited freedom. But we all know the true motivations, that they mortgage their youth and that while growing on one hand they are putting one foot in the grave with the other.

But the price for that is far, far in the future and for now they are more alive than they've ever been before, co-opting the power of two and dancing the nights away. We see as well the (literally) cobwebbed lives around them, frail and decrepit, victims of poor life decisions. Will our heroes join them in the end? Will they keep the flame of youth alive? Questions for another day as they starburst into marriage.

Most of all this fits into the overall structure of the story as we piece together the picture of lives from war to peace and the interconnection between the two, that there is no parsing of one from the other; both must be faced and only one can be chosen.


Yesterday was a good day!

Monday, November 08, 2010

A Gentle Japanese Rain In Autumn (Photo Essay)

Autumn (aki) in Japanese poetry oftentimes represents death so naturally you find many references to it in Death Poems (jisei), usually written just before dying or when one expects to very possibly die (as in an upcoming battle). But death can also mean renewal and the Autumn Equinox is a national holiday in Japan. So do not see references to autumnal deaths as a finality, but rather as another door to pass through, another flavor to savor.

It has been very hot these last few weeks in Dallas and the autumn colors are late in arriving. Think of this as more of a sneak preview because I will return when the colors blaze forth in their full glory. I made a mad dash on a rainy day, for as the great bbd pointed out, you can use the clouds as a giant diffuser. That made for some interesting shots.

I have interspersed some Japanese death poems along the way, to serenade you, to grieve you, and to chuckle you even.

The great poet monk Timosan was asked which of his poems was his death poem.
"All of them!" he replied.

Red Leaf Close
I was greeted by this tiny friend

Raindrop Steps Full
Sprinkles on a path to a sheltered bench

Ripples Koi

Not knowing
that my body lies
upon Mount Kamo's rocks,
my love
awaits me.

Zen leaves
No shadows from the rocks

Moss Shingles

Pagoda Drops

This world -
to what may I liken it?
To autumn fields
lit dimly in the dusk
by lightening flashes.

I named him Tsubasa, which means "wings"


The great Gracia Hosokawa, whom I never fail to visit

Should someone ask
where Sokan went,
just say,
"He had some business
in the other world."

Bridge Crop Rain

Bridge Willow!
On a recent trip to a photo exhibit at the Amon Carter, I was reminded
that in art as well as knife fights, there are no rules.
The clearest shot is not always the best.

Rails Crop
Peeking through bridge rails

The sharp-edged sword, unsheathed,
Cuts through the void -
Within the raging fire
A cool wind blows.

Leaves On Rock

Leave Drops

Water Leaf

The man I loved
refused to hear
my pleadings -
he abandoned me and now
my life fades away.

Waterfall Close

Stream Leaves Journey

Camera water
Your photographer in reflection

Before long
I shall be a ghost
but just now
how they bite my flesh!
the winds of autumn.

Water steps

Bridge far

Water Canvass
Yes, it's sideways. Just take in the colors as if on a canvass.

If I leave
no trace behind
in this fleeting world
what then could you

Ripples Close 2

Three Koi

Ripples Bridge

Bury me when I die
beneath a wine barrel
in a tavern.
With luck
the cask will leak.

Tinged leaves
Merely tinged by autumn

Fuschia leaves

One tree is on the ball!

One day you are born
you die the next -
at twilight,
autumn breezes blow.

Gift Shop
I always ignored the gift shop before.
I decided that was a mistake.

Gift Shop Window

Tea Wisdom

Like a rotten log
half-buried in the ground -
my life, which
has not flowered, comes
to this sad end.


Click here to see the full set