Sunday, November 24, 2013

Fall Colors Japanese Experiment (Photo/Video)

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There's a certain shade that the Japanese maple leaf reaches in the Fall that has to be my favorite color. It doesn't even seem real. It's a vibrant red-purple that I cannot describe but know it when I see it. So that gave me the impetus of delving deeper into the Japanese color spectrum, playing with the hue and light. Some photos, however, were so magical I dare not touch them. So take a stroll as the Japanese flute intones their ancient love of nature.





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Click here to view entire set

Friday, November 22, 2013

Dallas, JFK, And Whitewashing "The Fiftieth"

It's the light that I think of. It seems there was a different light in the early Sixties during the Kennedy presidency. I only know that time from photographs but that's what sticks out to me, like it's an endless Spring day. You can literally see the optimism. The Sixties of John Kennedy never came to be. We only got a warped, twisted version of that decade that dissolved into violence and disillusionment by the time it reached the end.

I know what cynics have to say, speaking from out of the dark. Those who reject the light also reject its treasures. They say such treasures can never be. But they can. We were headed towards the light, we were going to work through our issues and come out the other side. America hadn't made the commitment yet but we were on our way. To some, this represented an unbearable future, an eternal rejection that loses all reason in a mad fury.

Like Martin Luther King, just the sound of Kennedy's voice uplifts me, inspires me and makes my spirit soar. You really do start asking "Why not?" instead of "Why?" Why not step into the light? Why not do the good things that are possible? Why not bring our dreams to life? We were on the verge of breaking free from our chrysalis to find out who we really are. But that moment was lost and we haven't stopped running yet.

"November 22, 1963, the day Kennedy finally got it
through his head we didn't want him here."
- Dallas dark joke (there are others)

This accusatory ad was in the paper
while a handbill was also circulated
calling Kennedy a traitor

So why pick Dallas to kill a President? Was it just bad luck, a circumstance that fit the needed logistics or even simply random? It was none of those things. As much as the city image makers cringe at the thought of Dallas being labeled the "City of Hate" after the assassination, that we certainly are. Privately, we revel in it, wallowing in an anger seeking a justification it can never find. (But there's profit in the seeking of it!) Publicly, we pretend that's a thing of the past.

Of the major cities in America in the 1960 election, only Dallas voted for Nixon. The roots of ultra-conservatism run deep here in Texas. It was founded here by the oil men and the strain still runs through our blood today. Where do you think the Swiftboaters got their funding? Texas has a peculiar antipathy for the idea of a just government - a lethal one, in fact. It brings out a dangerous rage I've seen firsthand. I think to myself, "Now there's a person who can not be reasoned with."

No, if you want support for killing a Democrat, you've come to the right place. It's still here in the 21st century. Lie your country into a war and be applauded wherever you go - that's Big D for ya. John Wilkes Booth ran south, not north. People always go where they think is the most support. Especially when they know they are about to do a great wrong. It's not a conspiracy, just a natural human tendency. Dallas does not want to be known as the place most likely to support an assassin. But is repentance what I see?

Workers removed the famous X before "The Fiftieth"

Dallas citizens will honor the life, leadership and legacy of President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 2013, the 50th anniversary of his death.

All those receiving admission to Dealey Plaza on Nov. 22 will be notified by email between Thursday, Oct. 10, and Tuesday, Oct. 15. The email will appear in your inbox from The 50th: Honoring the Memory of President John F. Kennedy. Due to limited space at Dealey Plaza, if you do not receive notification by Oct. 15, you will not receive admission.

The above is from the President John F. Kennedy Commemorative Foundation - based right here in Dallas! We luv ya now, Mr. President! 5,000 tickets were made available and elbow room will be at a premium. I asked a cop if I would be able to view the event without a ticket and he said there'd be no "line of sight" possible. Security is sky high with 24 hour police presence in the area days prior and a full FBI background check required before a ticket is issued.

Reports of tourists flocking to town are certainly true. I ran into a mother and son from New Jersey making a pilgrimage to Dallas. They were wondering where the famous X was and I explained it was gone. The city says they are repaving the road to remove "trip hazards". But that's only a thinly veiled excuse for yet another cover up. Want to know the most verboten word here on the fiftieth? "Assassination." Why, yes, John Kennedy did die here. Don't remember why or how, though!

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Officially, the event is to honor the life of John Kennedy. Unofficially, it's to whitewash our well deserved reputation as the City of Hate. Extremism was no stranger to Dallas, emanating from the highest places - including Ted Dealey, publisher of the Dallas Morning News. (It is Ted's father for whom the infamous Dealey Plaza is named.) How appropriate that name is linked to Kennedy's assassination. Read an excerpt from the book "Dallas 1963" explaining the radical depths to which Dealey had sunk. Even his crony conservatives came to abhor him.

The weather today is cold and rainy. It's been cloudy and gloomy here for days. It's as if the gods want to emphasize the loss of that brimming Sixties sunshine. We all make mistakes needing forgiving but the taking of a life cannot be undone. We can partially ameliorate by pausing to reflect on the path we have taken that led us to destruction. But the Sixties assassinations continued and Dallas is still a right wing haven of acidic hate.

I know what the New Jersey pilgrims came for. I still feel the aura every time I visit Dealey Plaza, like it's a portal to an age of dreams meant to be still haunting the area like a ghost. They were seeking a bit of that lost Kennedy magic, hoping against hope to recapture a glimmer of what we've lost. They will not find it here. We can only hope to find it from within.

Here are some photos from the nights leading up to "The Fiftieth":


Parking meters in the surrounding area were marked off limits

Dealey17 Gathered around the marker


Dealey19 View of the depository coming from Main Street as per Kennedy's route


Dealey39 I was able to make it onto the famous railroad bridge overlooking Dealey Plaza


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Dealey29 Media from around the country

Dealey21 One theory claims one of the shots bounced off this traffic signal

Dealey18 Conspiracy talk! You can literally find it every day here.

Didn't have my video camera so had to make do. But here's an example of what you'll hear.

Click here to see entire photo set.

As for my own theory, if I had to bet money I'd say there was a second gunman. Oswald's choosing of a slow bolt rifle could only be to provide cover time for the real gunman. Also, the far easier shot would be as Kennedy turned off Main street onto level ground heading towards Oswald's perch. But there's no way to hide a second shooter there. Also, who can really believe Ruby was some sort of super patriot which drove him to kill a man in cold blood?

This started as a mob hit. They brought in other elements out of necessity. With the Red scare on full alert all they needed was a Commie patsy to forever seal the truth.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Hell's Kitchen

"Who are you? The end of the world?"

Guess I've heard that question one too many times because it seems to be coming true. I couldn't make it out of bed this morning. The pull to stay in was too great. Why get up? Why get out? Why even breathe? I just don't see the point of it.

They tell us to work hard but then they don't value hard work. It's all a fix. If Mom and Dad tell you to get a job, tell them to suck your dick. If anyone tells you to get a job, tell them to suck your dick. It's none of their goddam business. They're just angry their work is not valued either and want you stuck in that same fucking quagmire - no matter how much anyone pontificates to the contrary. We're all stuck playing the game, that's why they rigged it. Who says the Nazis are dead?

When I turn on the TV I don't recognize the world I see. Out of sight, out of mind we are. Apartments like mine are only a backdrop for escape. But let me tell you, there is no escape. Ten bucks an hour is what I was making in the 90s when gas was fucking cheap. Now it's less than a living wage. The life of a wage slave is the worst of all worlds. Idiot Oprah tells me to start my own business. Sociopaths deny there even is such a thing as a wage slave. One thing I do know: no one's doing a damn thing about it.

Sitting here I feel like the world has moved on and I've been left behind. Maybe it's because of these 50s style apartments with their faded steel blue doors hiding glorified motel rooms. There's some ornamental railing to tell me the builders meant for this to be hip - 60 years ago. That just makes it even more depressing. Yes, indeed, when I look at the ads of the world I'm looking through my prison bars into a place I can never reach. You may not understand the way we 47% act but I sure do. You can take your conservative hate and liberal guilt and stick it up your ass.

From Beatnik paradise to hell's kitchen

It's like an endless wandering in an endless desert, trapped in a universe of banality. No direction home. I'm floating in a black void bereft of humanity and understanding. Through my window I hear angry music emanating from an over-rimmed car. Blythe children scream and chase one another. How long before their songs turn angry? What will they do when they find out they're being lied to? Will they too in turn become liars like every generation before?

I still debate if I was more alive when I was homeless. I certainly felt more connected. But my suburban soul can't take that kind of chaos anymore. (There's a reason so many war veterans exposed to chaos are homeless. It's the only place they can breathe.) While I can't go back to that kind of insecurity am I really doing any better ungainfully employed? I've yet to find a way to deal with the lying. I had hoped the price wouldn't be so high. Apparently my soul doesn't understand I need to live indoors - or even eat.

Nothing has gotten any better from the first time I wrote about this.

Politics is rarely spoken here. There's no point. We're yesterday's news, used Kleenex. There's no profit to be gained from our voices. Like abused children, we speak only of good news to our abusers lest we receive another beating. For to hear us is to look into a mirror, we must be silent to survive. After all, who dares to listen to what their maid truly thinks of them?

What little political we do hear doesn't make sense. Few here know what the party line is much less how to tote it. Slick semantics, clever coddling, framed phrases - all that garbage goes right out the window. The pain drives it out. Still, politics is another mirror and I always listen in to the rare foray I might come across. I had happened to see the same thing on TV as Mrs. Simpson and found her take hilarious - and cut straight to the heart.

The wildly self-important Paul Begala

A man on TV claimed that with the new health plan coming out when a kid wrecks himself on his motorcycle it won't cost anything anymore. That got Mrs. Simpson up in arms. "Those doctors not working for free! Those nurses, neither. What is that fool talking about? Ain't there no shame anymore? People just say anything!" Ah, if only I could get her on TV! She'd be the only one without a pre-arranged script. And I'm sure the reason this got to her is because she works in a hospital.

Mrs. Simpson - like the rest of us - sees the shit firsthand. Policy wonk chatter only matters to the deliberately out of touch. They don't feel our pain - they fear it. We are the foot soldiers paying the price while the generals debate our fate. They keep telling us how we are doing. Fucking outrageous - but it continues every day.

Sometimes I think I'm the only one here angry about our predicament. But if you prick the surface you'll find a LOT of anger. People know what's going on even if they aren't free to speak. There are some who have succumbed to fear, clinging to the idea there are those in power who will "save" us. They hope to be spared evil by speaking well of evil. But that only enables it to go on. Challenge that idea and you risk hysterics in return - trust me. On the other end are those who do nothing but complain, anger is all they know. The only ones truly unconcerned are the gullible and the dead.

As I feared, I've become trapped by my false face. Sometimes I forget I'm even wearing it and that people are speaking to an illusion of me. I scraped and made it a point to get a decent car (Have you ever been towed in from a hundred miles outside of Dallas? I fucking have.) The payments strain my budget and I'm sweating blood every month but on the outside they see only the possession. Their talk of admiration only beats me down further, isolating me. At the end of the day I'm alone, going nowhere, with bills coming due.

I feel I'm lost in an alternate time and place, that none of this is real - or can be real. There's no reason to it, no sense. I don't know if there's a heaven but there sure as shit is a hell - right here in the good ol' U.S. of A. How did we get this far out of whack? The oppressors like to say there are no conspiracies but the only way the world can die is by mutual consent. I don't know how much more I can take. Life is slipping through my fingers.

Monday, November 11, 2013

A Found Festival In The Japanese Woods (Photo Essay)

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I was crouching by a river contemplating the infinity of a single leaf when I realized I no longer knew the year or the day. It could be any year, any day, any time. None of it mattered. These waters were timeless waters, I slipped and fell into the universe. Starbursts of love exploded around me. I wondered: why had I not noticed this before?

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I looked upwards, as if beckoned. What was the sky trying to tell me? Serene sunshine blesses the autumn leaves. But why shine on leaves destined to fall? Why give to those whose fate is sealed? And yet, I knew it was right. I could feel the joy of these glistening leaves soon destined for drowning dirt. I knew I must find their secret so I followed the shores until I was led to the legendary Lake Biwa.

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In the distance I heard festival drums serenading the woods and waters. They too sounded joyous in their beats. Not a one is lamenting the oncoming barrenness of winter! I felt a beautiful truth missing from me, my soul wrestling in ignorance, a endless dream lost. When I looked back to the sky she had turned grey with silhouetted bare branches. Suddenly, I realized there is a time for all seasons.

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I knew not the forces that drove me by I knew to surrender. As if out of a dream, a tea house on the lake's edge appeared with figures of graceful kimonos inside. As the door slid open so did my long closed heart. I was being invited in. They were inviting the world. A brave and noble deed in these times of war. I viewed the ceremony from a nearby cloud.

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I found myself absorbed in the details, the small movements. I noticed a reed swaying in the breeze and I became one with it. What is this spell that has come over me? I knew better than to question. Just accept - and be grateful. The falling leaf does not hate the wind. It may not last but for the moment I wallowed in this peace, transfixed by the tiniest of things.

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The drums called me home. A man possessed in my enchanted state, I rushed through the forest to find a festival running free. Like the leaves in the sun I saw souls in a continuance of that celebration. I closed my eyes to the stream of sound and let it carry me away.

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Lying beside a strategic route on the way to the capital (and why I was on the road that day), Lake Biwa still has castles of old ringing her shores. One can still see the ports from where deadly arrows flew into the flesh of their victims soon to lay rotting in the same sun that blessed this day. Amidst the joy I found I feared an underbelly of violence clinging below just as my ignorance clings to me. Then I came upon a man with a sword.

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But the swordsman did not first touch his sword, but a brush!

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He called his katana the "Sword of peace". Then he demonstrated his art to reflect his state of mind as the brush had before. He must look into the mirror and face himself. This is the first step to all peace and understanding.

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Merchants came to show their wares. Festivalgoers searched for a piece to take home to bring harmony into their abodes. The wa of my own home is in turmoil, holes left by loves found and lost. I could only imagine the day I could take my own trinket home to rest in peace. But for now I must rely on the melody of the flute to heal my wounds of loneliness.

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I spotted child blossoms who bring their own special color to a browning world. They do not see a demise in the falling leaf but rather the gift of finding it. There is a wisdom to that I have forgotten.

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Martial artists came to demonstrate their discipline of the inner search. The ultimate goal of learning to fight is to never fight. It is said a true master cannot be angered. He merely smiles as he watches you battle yourself knowing the final outcome can only be your surrender. Am I fighting myself as a leaf clinging to the tree? I know to let go but fear has me clasping with bare white knuckles.

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When the dancers came I cleared my mind as I entered the void. There are no circles in Japanese writing. The circle itself meaning a "void". Better no thoughts at all than impure ones. I entered the void leaving lingering questions behind. For these few moments, there was only these moments.

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What a wonderful interlude in my journey. The thorns of the world spare no soul and I know I must continue onward. To those whose clutches I must woefully submit will never know - or even understand - what I experienced in this happenstance festival. They may wonder at my private smile in the face of their torments. But even if I were to explain, they would still not know. They have not found the joy of the falling leaf that passes all understanding.

In the end, it's the details I remember, my new traveling companions on my afflicted path.

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Click here to view the entire set.