Friday, July 29, 2011

The Coach's Argument

"Congratulations, coach!"

Coach Stevens couldn't go anywhere without hearing that same refrain. That's what happens when you've made an epic run to become world champion. But while the rest of the staff and players celebrated with abandon dancing on cloud nine, Coach Stevens remained in purgatory's prison. He was still reliving The Argument.

Halfway through the playoff run the team was faltering, down 2-1 in a five game series with the outlook dark and grim. Something had to change or they'd be watching the rest of the playoffs from home. In the coaching room, tempers flared between the staff members, each arguing his own solution that "has to be!" Stevens had been the most adamant of all. He'd been right before and he was right again and the doom he predicted if his strategy was not embraced would be fatal and complete.

"You better goddam listen to me! This thing's not going to work any other way!"

But he was wrong, wrong as could be. In fact, hearing him speak only crystallized the correct decision for the head coach after hearing how wrong the alternative sounded. The next game proved the decision correct, Coach Stevens wrong and as the team soared ever higher Stevens sunk ever lower, never making it passed the night of The Argument. True, part of him still enjoyed the success but his heart was not in it. They had won, he had lost.

With a manicured, detailed lawn and a house stocked with every amenity a man making $400,000 a year should have, the coach's home was his glorified tomb. The muted big screen on which he'd studied so many game films that enabled him to present his own little piece of truth to contribute to the greater good now spewed images of players celebrating with the heart and guts champions require – but a championship stillborn had the coach had his way with his erroneous advice.

The glass tumbler engraved with the team's logo brimmed to the edge with medicine from Dr. Jack Daniels. With nothing to offer where was his future? Was he just going to keep making bad argument after bad argument for the rest of his career? Negative, faithless, stubborn - a dead rock around the neck of the franchise. It had to be coming, the dreaded off-season phone call. How many times had he helped decide a player's fate, speaking of the necessity to cut ties once and for all?

The clarity of the cure had always been his ally. Now he was the disease. Where would he go? Go back to coaching college or even high school? What if the freefall continued unabated? What if he couldn't teach at any level without offering the wrong decision? Not for a second had the coach ever doubted his career, the one thing in life he could count on. “Coach Stevens always brings something valuable to the table.” How did he end up this has-been, his winning vision lost?

As the square glass bottle emptied itself into the coach's mournful soul no answers came. What could he do? Ask his successful neighbors for help, to see life for him? It was as if the clock struck midnight and he was a coach no more. For the rest of his days he'd have to explain his fall from grace, working as a clerk in a back room listening to endless whispers of "he was somebody once". Better he'd never been a coach at all than live with this public shame the rest of his life.

Once again he heard the angry, adamant tenor of his voice: "You better goddam listen to me! This thing's not going to work any other way! I can't make this house what it should be, it's stuck the way it is!"

Only this time the angry face raged from almost a year ago, right there in his living room to a wife he'd been pushing away for years. Like a sink hole, his inadequacies pulled him further and further away from her but never did he say a word. Their life melted into a lie, a house of cards that could no longer stand. He couldn't tell her his truth: he wasn't good enough for her anymore. She'd been the light of his life, they marrying on a prayer. But the final leap of faith the coach never made, instead slipping back into the darkness, blinding him from the reality of their love.

Divorce was supposed to solve all his problems - but it only cemented them.

This dream season - the one that should have been the happiest of his life - saw a coach increasingly agitated, easily frustrated when a solution did not present itself right away. Sometimes he argued for argument's sake, not even agreeing with his own staked position. Of decisions he was hyper-critical, of remarks hyper-judgemental. The coach fell to be possessed by a curious drive to find a fact about which he and he alone was correct and the rest of the world wholly in the wrong. The more he chased this rainbow's end the more enthralled his desire to be The Only Right Man, his definition of winning redefined.

Just as in his marriage, the coach's spirit slowly split apart from the team. Hands were extended in friendship but his hard heart refused. They just couldn't understand what he was going through. As a man, he was finished without his wife. As a coach, he was finished without being a man. How could he believe he cared about the good of the team anymore? His vendetta on life all that mattered in his stubborn refusal to come clean.

"Damn, the bottle's empty."


News reports the following day showed genuine shock and grief with the apparent suicide of Coach Randall Stevens. To have the team's dream season marred by his loss saddened them to think he could not share in the celebration. Some privately wondered about the effects of the divorce but he'd been one who'd offered often brilliant advice and only that aspect they chose to share on camera. As the dirt piled on his grave, many wondered who was this man they’d worked with for so many close years.

How fleeting success when living on the run from love.

The meaning of success

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Top 10 Questions For George W Bush At A Rangers Game

Fric and Frac

I'll get my baseball bias out of the way right off and tell you I despise the Texas Rangers (except Michael Young, darn it). They have a mascot for a manager, Nolan Ryan has got a conservative streak a mile wide and worst of all they all suck up to GWB, the anti-Christ 43rd President of the United States.

In the 90's, having failed at previous attempts as a figurehead businessman, GWB was given a sweetheart deal by his cronies as general partner in the Texas Rangers where his only job was to show up at baseball games. Finally, something even Darwin's missing link can't screw up! He continues this habit to this day where the (ignorant, self-loathing) crowd often gives him a resounding welcome.

I understand, the respect is more for the office than the man. It has to be. But I started wondering what it must be like to sit next to the first great anti-Christ of the 21st century. How does one make small talk with a Hitler or a Genghis Khan or any other terrorist? Don't know about you but for me it would be awful damn awkward. "Pass the peanuts" just seems so inadequate.

"Pass the peanuts, jackass," might work though.

Uh, keep the peanuts on second thought

Now I know one should hate the sin and love the sinner and let the Lord take vengeance and all that so I hope I would let my inner Gandhi take over and see if I actually could be polite to the world's greatest living criminal. One should let one's natural curiosity flow through with honest questions without malice aforethought. And with that in mind, I came up with these few conversation starters were I ever to find myself in the proverbial hotseat:

1. So, start any wars lately?

2. Do you really believe everyone here loves you or is it that you all share in a common delusional thinking. You know, like a Nazi war rally.

3. Is shopping truly the answer to everything?

4. When you invaded Iraq was that because God wanted you to - or ExxonMobil?

5. Have you ever role-played with Laura where you're a pussy Democrat? (Wink! Wink!)

6. What's your definition of a war criminal?

7. If Republicans could think would you have ever won an election?

8. Did you use Procaine or speed to cut your coke? I bet you got some high quality blow back in the day, eh!

9. Did you ever try to run off when jogging with the war wounded?

10. Does being saved mean never having to say you're sorry?

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
George W. Bush Helps Break a World Record
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogVideo Archive

Blunt Force Trauma

17 is a good age to die. Hunter-killers tell you you got your whole life ahead of you and that's why you should live. But having my whole life ahead of me is why I want to die! I need to die. I keep finding out more and more stuff about me and it's never any good. When I leave, the world will be a better place.

I read about space satellites in science class and how if like a space rock or something hits them it makes their path go all haywire even if it's just a little bit at first. But each time it goes around the earth again it gets more and more out of line until finally it hits the earth's air and burns up - all from just that one tiny hit!

Maybe there are no tiny hits.

It wasn't no tiny hit when I got into a wreck in the mall parking lot last weekend. I was backing out and I didn't see the other car and the corner of my car hit the corner of senior Laura Johnson's car and her and her mom were standing over at a friend's car and they starting yelling and screaming at me like crazy.

"Oh, my God! I can't believe you did that you fucking piece of shit! How could you hit my car you goddam bastard twerp!"

"I just didn't see it."

"Didn't see it? How could you fucking miss it, you blind loser bitch boy who should die alone in a back alley!"

People been yelling at me for a long, long time. I used to try to think how maybe I might be OK anyway, maybe somehow in a way I didn't know. But now I knew for sure I was a bad guy. I couldn't say nothin' to Laura and her mom. I couldn't stop them from hanging me. Her mom comes over and gets right in my face wanting to know what I'm even doing there at a mall for cool people only. I couldn't answer that either.

Makes people glad when you die

You see, I'm a desperate leper outcast with no friends and no girls and no fun and no fucking. So what I do is hide in this secret spot in the mall behind where the girls sit with their low cut jeans and look down their pants. Later, I get home and think about it but of course I can't tell anyone about that or I'll get a whipping bad. I know already only certain boys can look at the girls' butts and I'm not one of them. They say the reason I do it is because I'm a sick pervert who should wander into the desert and die.

So I couldn't even look at Laura's mom, my whole insides was shaking and if they found out about me looking at the girls from my secret spot I'd get thrown in jail big time plus Laura's mom would really yell at me and maybe even knife me. I couldn't blame her. I told Laura's mom I went to the mall to buy stuff and she wants to know why I don't have any shopping bags on me. I just wanted to cry but had to hold it all in.

She's telling Laura the whole time to keep back and stay away from me before I do something to hurt her again. I'm a wild mad dog, she says, and you can't be too careful. She wants to see my wallet so she can sue me and take all my busboy money for the next two years and teach me a lesson on why I need to leave their school and city and state.

Only certain people are allowed to look

But I didn't have my wallet cause I just came to peek at the forbidden girls and here I already told her I was there for shopping! So she like totally explodes and says that's 'driving without a license' and she calls the cops so everyone can come and see what a criminal I am. When all the flashing lights show up some of Laura's friends come over and she tells them what a sorry creep bastard I am.

"I saw him!" says Laura's mom to the cops. "He was trying to run away after hitting my precious daughter's car. Put that little prick bastard in jail! I want him dead! I want him in prison for twenty fucking years. He doesn't belong in decent, civilized society. Nobody can live with him. I just pray to God the boys at school beat the holy shit out of him and he dies of a brain hemmorage."

Since I was the one that screwed up I couldn't say anything. One cop comes over and asks me if I been drinking or anything and why was I running away from the scene of a crime and why I don't have a license or nothin'. I just started telling him anything because Laura's mom is an adult so everyone's gonna believe her over me anyway but turns out the cops couldn't arrest me after all.

You can be arrested for not having a life

They told Laura's mom that 'driving without a license' means driving with no license issued, not just not having it with you. She got really pissed and kept pointing at me and I kept imagining all the people standing around watching me was wanting to burn me like a witch because why was I alive anyway and Laura and all her friends were flipping me off and calling me names I couldn't hear but their faces was all mad.

When I got home that night I found out the cops had already called and my parents were steaming mad, calling me crazy lunatic bastard shit making them look bad and their hair was all frizzed out from running their fingers through it while talking about how much they hate me and took a belt on me yelling, "die you shit, die!" I felt guilty when I was still alive the next morning.

That whole weekend I was scared. I couldn't go back to the mall ever again, if someone saw me they'd kill me for sure. I even drove by and cop cars were there patrolling and I know it was me they was looking for, protecting the girls inside from me and the cars outside from me. Laura's mom told them I was a lying prick and it was true. My whole world just kept getting more and more out of orbit.

What made it really bad is what happened last year with Jenny Anderson, the coolest girl in class, when I tricked her bad. I emailed her like I was someone else and we started talking and she liked it and we became email friends. But the guilt was killing me cause I knew if she ever found out it was me the desperate leper creep she would have me assassinated and there'd be nothin' I could do about it. So I started calling her mean names in the emails and hurt her real bad before she could find out.

I cried for six months after that. I was lucky I didn't have anyone who would talk to me because I couldn't talk anyway. Everything that was anything was gone out of my life. Now I knew everything they been saying about me was true. I made sure I hit me every night before I go to bed and I started drinking poison until they had to put me in the crazy hospital and people started talking to me but only cause they was paid. They said I don't ever communicate is what they said. Well, of course not! Not supposed to! Don't want to die!

So I was thinking about all that this weekend and was scared shitless what Laura and her friends was going to do to me at school on Monday but I had to do the right thing for once and communicate like them people said I should. I had to make up for the terrible things I do to people. So I went into the Principal's office and handed them my driver license with my personal info so Laura and them won't have any trouble suing me.

When they call Laura in she gets real mad all over again, confusing me cause I didn't even want to go in there and tell her about me anyway but she says I'm just doing it so I can be close to her and that I'm a total fucking creep who's better off dead. She gets her mom on her fancy I-Phone I can't afford and I hear her mom saying they need to call the cops and finally arrest me for all my creepy behavior. So I sit down waitin' for the cops to come all over again, wondering if I'm going to jail. I guess maybe I should be in prison after all, people want me there so bad.

I start getting really scared of making anybody else mad so I took off my shirt before the cops get there since everyone is saying I'm a loser creep jerk so I better look like one or they'll get even madder. But then this super sexist feminist comes in with this tight blue dress on and it's her job to deal with psycho people like me. She lays into me big time.

She says the only reason I ran into Laura's car was because Laura was a girl and if it had been a boy's car I would NEVER have done it and that I was nothing but a horny little bastard who wants to have sex with hot teenage girls and she bet I was traumatizing and victimizing them by looking down their shirts and pants as they showed their innocent bodies to my rapist eyes. And when she sees me with my shirt off she says that proves what I molester I am and she can't wait to have the cops show up and arrest me as a sex offender for life.

But the cops show up and say they can't arrest me for having my shirt off because then they'd have to arrest every boy in gym class. Super sexist feminist gets real mad at them saying they were giving me special treatment because I was a guy and they were guys and if I was a girl they'd drag me off for sure and traumatize and victimize her in court where she has to face creeps like me. All I knew was I was glad someone finally got yelled at that wasn't me.

I didn't try to do no more to help even though that made me feel real guilty. My parents had shaved off all their hair and started wearing nothing but sack cloths because they couldn't stand the shame of my existence and they asked God why they had been cursed and what had they done to piss Him off so bad to stick them with useless shit crap like me. If I had an answer I would have told them.

Those paid people was right. I do got my whole life in front of me. I really should kill myself. I see now that's why they kept telling me that! No way I can be right about anything when everyone else says something else. They got all the friends and family and fucking and money so they must know everything. I got nothing so I must know nothing. God never stuck up for me neither that I can ever tell.

So I will make everyone happy, I promise. I promise to leave and burn up in the atmosphere soon as I can, I can't take no more, not a whole life for sure! Just ain't no way out for bad people exceptin' to die.

When Katy Perry heard I used this song she got real pissed and said it applies to "NORMAL people ONLY! Not you, shit face!"

Saturday, July 23, 2011

God's Suicide Note

it make god happy when you die. god want all people dead. god has special knife for people that want to live, hates them most of all. at least if you want to die god not so mad. people want to live make god very angry. god always win, you never ever can no matter what. just die. you can ask god all you want but god got no ears to hear, no eyes to see, no mouth to speak. you can't trick god with lies or even truth. just die is all god want, nothing else, just die.

longer you stay madder god gets. god don't want no survivors, not a one anywhere anyhow anytime. just die. even when you think you got good reason you don't. don't need you for nothing no matter what you do, you don't count never, rich man poor man begger man thief. you can look for light but there only dark. try, don't try, cry, don't cry, fry, don't fry is all the same. is time to die, god put knife in belly till your guts spill out and inside boil. it's ok, god like dead bodies.

i wish god to die and leave us alone. i wish god mind own business. god is lunatic, out of mind, don't even know it. kill, kill, kill. god don't know other word. god don't even know why, just know you gotta die. you keep breathing you suffer more and more. you hope you a dope, make god giggle. god gonna gut you like pig. god got no feelings. god always right. god don't ask no questions. god get to live anyways. god get you, no guilt. don't see nothing proving no different.

Charlie X: The Unreported Story

"Fifi! What about Fifi? Fifiiiii! Noooo, pleeeeeeease!"

They'd come to drag Charlie away the shelter compound. Two stone faced, blue uniformed officers arrived like unwilling delivery men come to pick up a noxious package. The sour pair just wanted to get it over with. Like anyone else who was there, I was watching in fear and horror. It's one thing to read about "disturbed 31 year old man picked up by police", it's quite another to witness the casualty first hand. Those who had a heart felt a crack in it.

Then came our worst nightmare: Charlie turned to us, recognizing our presence, bringing us into his dire straights. Some quickly turned their heads to avoid the spotlight of his gaze. I too wished to turn away but could not, too gripped not to know. How can I describe to you the terror in his voice? How can I describe to you the feeling of someone who's calling up from the bottom of a lost well? Charlie was in that secret childhood black space where the child is left to die and nobody knows.

"Please! I don't want to go! Don't make me go back to the cold people!"

And then he was gone.


So many inconvenient souls. Just as everyone has different physical levels, so does everyone have different spiritual levels. In the homeless hell-world, there's a chasm between life and death and it's no small leap. Not everyone can run a four minute mile. Those who cannot make the leap fall into the chasm just like Charlie did. I only wish everyone were forced to see this scene and realize what's at stake. But then, we're a dying planet for a reason.

As the police cruiser drove off in the early morning sun, the shock waves dissipated through the crowd as we dispersed in a huddled quiet. What does one say after watching a fellow soldier taken off the battlefield with a serious head wound? Yes, we were all thankful it was not us. And yes, we all knew next time it might be. Most of all, at that very moment, one wants a home, a safe place to rest and be born anew clean and refreshed. But that's just a lost dream crushed by man's ugly will.

"Don't make me go back to the cold people!" I wondered if anyone else was as marked by those words as I was. Some people had to process right away what had just happened, talking about Charlie and his horrendous pain. He was disturbing everyone, talking about an unknown anti-Christ come to destroy us and "Beware the men in suits! Wolves in sheep's clothing!" Unfortunately for Charlie his remarks were far, far too accurate for the suit men to bear. He must be disposed of for the common good of the lie we live.

I call Charlie's phenomenon "Truth Possession". We all have it to one degree to another. Each of us has a personal insight into life and if we were working in tandem living as one, putting all the individual pieces together, a more perfect picture would form of life and its meaning. Instead, we choose willful ignorance even as the impossibility of that grows clearer every day, turning us into an absurd and silly people, damned in the eyes of the Lord.

In the Truth Possession phenomena, a spiral effect can happen like a whirlpool, sucking you in and drowning you. The frustration of no one listening to your vital news engulfs you as you take on the fate of your own truth afire. We all understand the emergency of even one house on fire and yet fewer and fewer alarms are answered. The spiritual has now even become the physical: so many people-less houses as we careen into self-mandated chaos.

In other words, yes, Governor Perry is irreparably wrecking this state but no, that does not give you the right to kill him. (He'll do that to himself given time.)

In the surrounding blocks around the shelter are known gathering spots. Some, like me, like the feeling of being outside the shelter's grasp but yet be close enough to easily return to the nest. I feel freer to speak my feelings when I'm across the street. I wanted to talk about Charlie, allay my fears and scares even if with only a false reassurance as I replayed the scene over and over again my mind. It was the optomistic sun I kept remembering: how could this happen with the promise of the coming beautiful day?

But I couldn't go to the usual gathering spots. Too many new faces, too many chances for unthoughtful words and closed hearts. No, I needed my own space to process this and gather my soul. Sometimes I think that's what it truly means to be homeless: no one to turn to. I wandered away from the shelter's safety net that sometimes binds to a lonely spot I'd used before. Luckily - as if on cue - healing birds arrived to merrily chirp in my ears. I was grateful for their well-being.

Forcing down the emotional vomit, I wondered what it would be like if we reported the truth instead of facts. What if a reporter showed up and headlined, "Dog-eat-dog world unmercifully stresses souls then turns its back on mentally ill"? There's a real fucking fact for you assholes. Who's going to tell of Fifi, the stray cat Charlie loved with all his heart, sharing his hard earned food with? I know the thought of her hurting without his care will unbearably torture him in the night at the pavilion.

Then I just had to let the tears go.


Sometimes I make it as far as Victory Plaza, the cold concrete monument to money built by Ross Perot Jr. Video monitors from all sides flash ads of the good life to this virtual ghost town doomed by the 2008 financial collapse. Even in the face of doom and despair we cling to our delusions of grandeur. Greed can go on forever, our spirits can be cured by pills, no time to be human - it's just not practical.

From what are we running? This much I can tell you: keep running long enough and you'll end up just like Charlie X. He's just a little farther down the path than most, forced to face the true face of man before his time. Go ahead, turn your back on Charlie, silence his agonizing words, lobotomize his life - do all these things in the name of preserving life. But know this too: Charlie is you.


Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Fly Who Loved Me

It's hard to believe God loves you when you're a fly. I mean, what is my purpose on this planet anyway? My job - literally - is shit. Not exactly something you want to brag about to the cool fireflies and lovable ladybugs of the world. I'm just not exactly sure what valuable service it is I'm rendering here. Yeah, I know we're good food for frogs and spiders and such, but isn't there a way I can be useful and stay alive?

Worst of all, knowing my own ugliness drives me to seek out beauty like water in a desert. That's a tough thing when one is relegated to garbage bins, road kill and all the other places the fine humans avoid. It's a helluva trap: the only way to please the humans is by staying away. And yet, I'm drawn to them as much as seeking air when under water. Like I said, with a fate like this, so very, very hard to believe one is one of God's favored creatures.

Knowing this, I hope you will understand my weakness in my infamous Mashed Potatoes Moment. Trust me, I understand your possible condemnation of me. I understand what I did was deplorable, inexcusable and indefensible. I grant you all these things. It's not hard to realize how a species feels about you when they name a device just for your killing. But I hope you can understand that even if it's only for a few seconds, one hopes and prays and needs to avoid the plight of a pest.

Ever hear of a lady bug swatter??

I know you hate us, dear humans, so know that it takes a lot of gall to be the fly that visits your outdoor picnics. I myself have yelled at my fellow flies, chastising them for antagonizing the beautiful humans, ruining our reputation are these rascals who incite holy human wrath. I wanted to believe I was above such behavior, that I was one of the good flies, hopefully making amends for my unwanted presence on this globe. But alas, I too could not resist the picnic's siren call.

Please note I held out resisting my feelings for as long as I could. But it feels so good to do wrong and so empty to do right! Maybe I could have died a good fly had I not seen the Special One. She was part of a massive picnic, eating her chicken and corn in a fancy backyard soiree warmed by a gentle afternoon sun. She was all dreams and flowers and incense and peppermints. Everything a fly is not. No longer could I spend another day with the rotting fruit on the loading docks after spying this vision!

Madness seized my mind, possessing me and caressing me, putting me on clouds where I did not belong. Zipping through the air, the wind rushing past my ears drowned out the voices of reason, that neither a bird nor a bee I be. All I saw was the Special One - someone to wait a lifetime for - and a chance to savor the good life under the sweet suburban sky. And that's exactly how I of all flies ended up landing squarely on top of the Special One's mashed potatoes.

I expected shrieks of horror and dismay, a swatting or a killing, death by infamy's disdain. But none of that happened! To high heaven I beamed, a favored creature of God after all! Take that, insect kingdom! Even the loveliest of butterflies would envy me now! Who is it that may cross to the other side of Eden, tasting paradise lost? How to explain when myth is reality and one sees beyond the end of time? In my tiny insect legs I held the Dream of eternal life. So this is how the beautiful bugs live.

But as is so often the case even in a world full of flyswatters and bug zappers and insect repellant, it is not the hammer that brings doom but rather love. Her failure to curse me, to loathe me as the fly who loved her forced me to face my dirty life such as it was: I was spreading germs on her food and thus into her being. This is how I repay her love? Do not dream to be what you are not, foolish fly! Ask not what you can get but rather what you can give! Never had such thoughts entered my tiny mind before.

And then, reality.

It was not love, it was never love, it was a time mistaken. She simply had not noticed me in her food. Instantly I saw the dark shadow of the hand coming for me, the one I've spent a lifetime avoiding. Oh why oh why did I not leave sooner before I drew her ire? I could have carried that memory to the end of my life had I the integrity of a rebirthed chrysalis. I knew it was wrong to spread my disease but I just couldn't pull away from my moment in the sun. Her cry of "Goddam fly!" still rings in my ears.

I flew with the fear of a thousand angry flyswatters chasing me. Why is it only when it's too late do we understand? Now I must spend the rest of my days with heavy guilt upon my wings, barely able even to fly. I even envy the other flies now who buzz so freely. Now it is they who will curse me for bringing hatred to our species. Had I not betrayed the Special One I could have at least kept the dignity of the dung heap, such as it was. But as it is, my hearts seeks only the lost fate of a spider's meal and for my life to become useful after all.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

God, Guns, And Formula 1

Track Signs
Formula 1 track under construction

I'm still rather giddy with the prospect of Formula 1 returning to America, much less here in my own backyard. A tentative date has been set of June 17, 2012 for the inaugural race at the Circuit Of Americas just east of Austin. But if there's one fatal flaw almost all new tracks have it's traffic flow. Or rather, the lack of it.

At the inaugural race last week for NASCAR at the Kentucky track, horror stories were told of some stuck 8 hours in a traffic jam and completely missing the race. Takes a lot infrastructure to handle 120,000 people - and that's the exact same number expected for the United States Grand Prix. So I decided to kill two birds with one stone.

It's at least a three hour drive to Austin so by the time I'd usually get there the heat would be so oppressive I'd be roasted alive. But last weekend I couldn't sleep, woke up around 4 AM and figured out I could get down to Austin around 8-9 before the heat got to be too scorching. But I also wanted to find a back way in so I could avoid all the masses in my cheap sunglasses.

I took the interstate about 2/3rds of the way down but then I veered off into rural Texas - always an adventure! But if you're expecting some sort of stereotype of god, guns and flags, you'd be right on the money! Driving off the interstate is like going over the rainbow into another land, another mindset where fantasy and reality mix into one. However, I don't consider that to be all bad.

St John front
St. John Lutheran Church

This magnificent structure surrounded by swaying fields and gentle breezes is an absolute temple of nature. Put aside your feelings about religion one way or the other and just enjoy the peace and harmony. This was one of the first places saw on my backway down. I could have stayed there all day. Built in the early 30's it stands testament to beauty for beauty's sake.

St John tower
Just because there's no God in religion
doesn't mean there's no God

St John windows2
Stained glass reflections

St John playground
Playground on the edge of infinity's dream

What a fine start that was! I was feeling like Lynyrd Skynyrd: "Turn it up!" Rural folk like to kick up their heels just like anyone else and there was more than one bar I passed along the way, places that make you wonder what sort of stories could be told of alcohol and bullets. "Give me three steps, mister!" indeed. Wonder how they'd react to my BeeGees CD?

jerrys chain road
Can't tell from here but they had a flag stuffed in one window

jerrys chain dish
High tech hicks! Gotta get that NASCAR feed in there!

I passed through quite a few dying small towns stuck in a pre-WWII time warp of architecture and brick roads. Had I more time I could have made a study of all the historical buildings in all their glorious states of both use and decay. To me, with their attention to detail, built with a flair you never see now, they speak of high hopes and a grand optimism for the future. But like a high school hero, they peaked in their youth and we're all left wondering what could have been.

Granger Bank
I immediately thought of Bonnie and Clyde here

Granger City Hall Full2
City Hall/steak house. Gotta love it!

Granger Retail4
Still in use! Sort of

Empty Building
Who would build anything so regal nowadays?

In between the towns was field after field, mostly of dead looking golden stalks of which I could not discern. I did find a couple of fields where the plants had been rolled up and baled but I never came across anyone to identify them. But anytime I see a planted field I just want to go running through it touching each leaf, there's something timeless about it.

Field after field of this all the way down

Farm Drought
Welcome to the Texas drought

Bale Close
What poor animal will be fed this?

Of course, we loves us some guns here in Tejas. And though I can't say the days of a gun strapped to your leg won't return here we do allow concealed weapons as a compromise. One has to be certified first, of course. I doubt an IQ test is involved. Luckily, you won't have to drive to the big city to get your license, we got ya covered no matter where you go in Texas. As you'll see capitalism is alive and well!

No one was amused when I asked if I could get my water gun certified

Ferrari Crop
Getting ahead of the curve for the Formula 1 track!

jerrys sign
What? Another Jerry's bar? The guy's got a chain going!

Finally I made it down to the track. As I feared, it was difficult to get any good vantage points. Also, the area immediately around the track is very rustic - in a Deliverance sort of way. I'm not out there two minutes before some hick steps out on his porch giving me the evil eye. I dunno, maybe he's never seen a camera before. Maybe he thought I was a revenuer come to take his truck! All I knew was I wanted out of there.

Track 1
Not much you can really see yet.

Hick house
I snuck back to take a picture of his castle
and thus steal his toothless soul

Headed back on the interstate I breathed a sigh of relief to be back among the living. I reflected on the wild and wooly wonderland through which I had just passed. Part of me wanted to explore it further, to peer in every crack and crevice. Part of me thanked God Almighty my car did not break down. But what it really was was a pleasant reminder that even in what seems to be vast swaths of emptiness, there are stories hidden away, speaking of lives that make up part of the global song we all sing.

But of course, even on the interstate one is not too far from our rural roots:

obama close
A few miles south of Waco on I-35


My video came out pretty crappy so here's a time lapse video from the Circuit Of Americas website.

Click here to see all the pictures

Don't Call Them "Heroes", You Heartless Bastards!

Are you a manipulator too?

It's a slick trick, one used throughout the ages by the Machiavelli's of the world. It's a way of making your life comfortable at the expense of another's. It's a way of making yourself look good while sticking a knife in someone else. At its best it's predatory, binding the weak in servitude, at its worst it's a fatal torture. Whatever you do, don't call the men and women in our military "heroes".

I know, I know - all the excuses of plausible deniability are still out there (for now). Why, you're just a raging patriot is all! You're bursting with pride at your child! Hooray for all things military! Thanks for keeping us safe! I support the troops because I say only good things! Either you're blind or a traitor!

On Christmas Eve of 2003, Kevin Lucey noticed the first sign of the "hidden wounds" ravaging his grown son, Jeff.

Jeff Lucey, a 23-year-old Marine lance corporal had been back from Iraq just a few months and was living quietly with his parents in Belchertown, Mass.

That night, Kevin suddenly "took off his dog tags and tossed them at his younger sister, crying," and began "saying he was nothing more than a murderer," the father recalled Thursday.

Who gets to decide which feelings count?

No, what you really are is a fool, hiding behind society's hypocrisy. Let's look at what you're really saying, you clever dawg you! What you're really saying is your feelings count more than those of the soldiers'. Rare is the parent who says to their child, "Tell me your honest feelings." Nah, it's much easier to decide their feelings for them. If the kid doesn't agree, fuck 'em, don't want to hear it. This is especially true when you've mistreated them.

It's a natural human inclination to want to hear good things said about yourself. And human weakness being what it is we tend to treat one another as suckers whenever we get the chance. "Hey, clean my toilet for me and I'll say you're a great person!" Which then expands to: "Hey, go fight a war for me and I'll say you're a hero!" The trick, of course, is to leave off the word "sucker" at the end.

But having applied for a state police job, Kevin was afraid that the "stigma" of having "possible issues" would ruin his job prospects, the father said.

Over the next few months, the young man's symptoms kept getting worse. His bouts of rage at the government and at the war grew more frequent.

He drank heavily, once even totaling the family car in an accident. He told his parents chilling stories of Iraqi prisoners he had killed - stories the military has since claimed are not substantiated.

If we're so proud why don't we see this on the front page?

People like to claim human nature is evil so they can give up on a whole host of responsibilities they'd otherwise be obliged to do. But everyone has a need to serve and feel useful. But that does not mean we've reached the point where we fully recognize that. Instead, we use people. We all know there's guaranteed public kudos for serving in the military and a stigma on anyone who disagrees.

"My child gave his life for this country so I'm damn proud of our wars!" I once read where a mother said she had no choice but to believe that.

How selfish is selfish? We are wasting lives in our wars. Admitting that is the beginning of the end of the insanity. Being selfish - wanting to keep the killing going rather than admitting our mistakes - only perpetuates the insanity. Millions upon countless millions of lives have been lost in war. You really want to contend every one of those deaths served a good purpose? Weren't parents of the SS troops just as proud?

His parents finally convinced him that May to get treatment from the Department of Veterans Affairs, but they were shocked by the agency's slow response, the bureaucracy they encountered, and by the tendency of VA docs to release his son after a few days.

"Here you have a [Marine] struggling to try to take his next breath, and they were demanding the [discharge papers] and they were demanding he travel approximately 30 to 40 miles away from our home [for treatment]," Kevin Lucey said.

And waving our red weapons o'er our heads
Let's all cry 'Peace, Freedom, Liberty!'

Shakespeare - Julius Caesar

It's an easy seduction to claim we're always the good guys doing the right thing. But what if those doing the killing don't agree? What if they have to live with the reality of the situation as opposed to some self-serving fantasy? Are you a good parent who wants to hear the truth? Do we want to face the fact we're killing and being killed to obtain natural resources from abroad, just like Germany and Japan did in WWII?

No, we don't have to face it (not yet, anyway) but our soldiers do. They don't have the luxury of lying to themselves. We see no use for the souls, only their bodies. Men whose lives have been wrecked by evil helplessly send others to the same fate. That's why we don't listen to our troops. That's why we cage them with words like "hero" and "savior". That's why we doom them into silence before they can speak.

Don't call them "heroes", you heartless bastards. Let them tell us what they think are - and then accept them regardless.

The next day, Kevin Lucey found the body of his son in the basement of the house, his neck bound with a garden hose, dangling from the beams in the ceiling.

Next to the body was a shrine with Jeff's dog tags, two dogs tags of Iraqi soldiers his son claimed to have killed, several family photos arranged in a semicircle, a photo of his platoon in the middle and three notes.

"He once again was in my lap as I was cutting him down from the beams," the dad said.


Where's the soldiers' wall for victims of suicide?

Suicidal soldiers are humiliated by superiors with fatal results, military medical experts say

["Shut up, kid! Don't want to hear it!"]

Depressed soldiers who seek help for suicidal thoughts have been publicly mocked by higherups, military medical experts told the Daily News.

The bullying involves "humiliating-type behavior in ranks, formations, where soldiers were singled out and identified as someone who is suicidal, publicly ridiculed, and things along that nature," said Army Maj. Gen. Philip Volpe.

"They call a person out in front of a formation and chew 'em out" in a misguided effort at "tough love," said Bonnie Carroll, a retired Air Force major and head of the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors. "They tell them, 'You dishonored your unit. You're worthless.'"

["If you're not a hero then there must be something wrong with you! Doing God's work here!"]

Volpe, who with Carroll led the Pentagon's suicide-prevention task force, said he has witnessed bullying - and in one case relieved a lieutenant colonel who was verbally abusing a distraught soldier.

As military suicide rates continue to rise as a result of multiple deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq, the Army and the other services have struggled to erase the longstanding stigma of seeking professional help.

"Does the issue of stigma and soldiers being stigmatized exist? Yes. Have soldiers been demeaned, belittled, ostracized? The answer is yes," said Col. Chris Philbrick of the Army's Health Promotion, Risk Reduction Council.

For Marine Gunnery Sgt. Jim Gallagher, 40, of Brooklyn, that stigma - the fear of being seen as weak and how that might affect his career - was too much for him to ask for help.

After a tour in Iraq, Gallagher hanged himself at Camp Pendleton, Calif., in 2006.

"For him, it was an insult to be that vulnerable," said his widow, Mary Gallagher. "He knew it would be the termination of his position" if he sought counseling.

"Jim didn't know how to do that. He didn't know where to go," Mary Gallagher told The News. "I was so blindsided. I had no idea he was in such pain."

["Keep you pain to yourself like a real man! No one will want you if you don't!"]

Last year, a record 245 Army troops killed themselves, with an additional 166 suicides through August of this year [2010].

"There's still a mind-set out there in our culture that says asking for help is a sign of weakness," Philbrick said. "We're trying to get to a place where we see it as a sign of strength."

After four recent suicides in a single weekend at Fort Hood, Tex., Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, warned of a possible spike in troops taking their own lives.

"The emergency right now is suicide," Mullen grimly noted.