Peace, love, contentment, to all.
To that day. When we all go together.
Into the great wide open.
because the light is beautiful
Peace, love, contentment, to all.
To that day. When we all go together.
Into the great wide open.
It was as though they were sluggish oxen who refused to move. The world was a cart to which they were yoked; Jesus goaded them on, and they shifted under the yoke but did not budge. Looking at them, Jesus felt drained of all his strength. The road from earth to heaven was a long one, and there they were, motionless.
—The Last Temptation of Christ, Nikos Kazantzakis
Ye gods. Belatedly, I notice, wordpress, informing me, that I have inscribed 1019 posts, to this blog.
That’s since August 2008. A little over five years. Roughly, then, 200 posts a year.
Ye gods. What’s become of me? What might I otherwise have accomplished, if not pounding my pud here?
Probably, maybe, might: have built a pyramid.
Not that I didn’t: here: try.
But, no matter. What’s done/not-done is done/not-done. Blood flowed in great creeping weeping clots, under the bridge.
Probably—and particularly as humans are so enamored of round numbers—there should have been, here, here on red, a 1000th-post celebration. With party hats, and streamers, and maybe a drunk, pissing in the corner.
But it’s too late, for any of that now.
Instead, I shall inscribe, late, again, the very first post ever entered onto this blog. August 1, 2008. Standing, still, to me, as a perfect expression of the yearning futile yearning futile yearning experience of human beings, on this here planet.
When Sir Walter Raleigh was imprisoned in the Tower of London, he occupied himself with writing a history of the world. He had finished the first volume and was at work on the second when there was a scuffle between some workmen beneath the window of his cell, and one of the men was killed. In spite of diligent enquiries, and in spite of the fact that he had actually seen the thing happen, Sir Walter was never able to discover what the quarrel was about: whereupon, so it is said—and if the story is not true it certainly ought to be—he burned what he had written and abandoned his project.
And, in very belated response, to the sole comment posted, to that very first post of mine—”is the world so unrelievedly bleak from your tower?”—the answer is: no.
No. Not at all.
Because, sometimes, I am at that place. By the river. I can hear the boats go by. I can spend the night forever. And the sun pours down like honey. On our lady of the harbor. And she shows me where to look. Amid the garbage and the flowers.
And then: it matters not. That I was broken. Long before the sky would open. That I am forsaken. Almost human. That I sink beneath your wisdom. Like a stone.
For there are heroes in the seaweed. There are children in the mourning. And we’re leaning out for love. And we will lean that way. Forever.
While Suzanne: holds: the mirror.
Itzcoatl Ocampo wanted to kill. So he joined the semper fis.
That’s certainly the place for it. For according to their own death-cult chant, the Marines are serial killers “in the air, on land, and sea.” Monsters who have slaughtered “in every clime and place/where we could take a gun.” Their anthem of utter poisonous filth even ends with the anathema that those who “ever look on Heaven’s scenes/they will find the streets are guarded/by United States Marines.”
But Ocampo was bummed. Because when he got to Iraq, the semper fis made him drive a water truck. He never got an opportunity to go out and bomb and shoot and strafe and slit, like all the other good ol’ boys.
So, when he returned stateside, Ocampo decided to go freelance. As a serial killer. He determined that southern California homeless people would make good targets. For, as he would later explain, such people are a “blight.” And, in killing them, he would be performing a kind of service. Sort of like, back at the semper fi ranch, shooting to shit Iraqis who ventured out after curfew.
As a form of practice, it is said, Ocampo first took a knife to a childhood friend, and the friend’s mother, there in Yorba Linda. Birthplace of Richard Nixon. One of the premier transnational serial killers of our time. Once those two were dead, Ocampo set about stalking homeless men. Ocampo was suspected of serially killing four, before he was caught.
And, once caught, in his various happy yammerings to law-enforcement officials, it became evident that Ocampo was batshit insane. And had been for many years.
Not that the criminal-justice system, in its supreme unwisdom, would be likely to conclude that.
Ocampo’s batshit insanity was certainly stressing his attorneys. One of them, Randall Longwith, began reporting last year that Ocampo “had been behaving erratically and complained that he heard voices. He said Ocampo suffered from tics and headaches.”
“Behaving erratically” is a nice euphemism for killing people.
Then again, if Ocampo had succeeded in serially killing people for the semper fis, he would have been hailed as a hero, showered with medals, and people would have been expected to bow down, genuflect, and kiss his cock and balls, everywhere he went.
On Thanksgiving Day, Ocampo, 25, was found violently ill in his Santa Ana jail cell. He was transported to a local hospital, where he died soon after. It was determined that he had swallowed Ajax. Not a real pleasant way to go.
A spokesmouth for the district attorney’s office, Susan Schroeder, subsequently revealed her own serious mental impairment, expressing anger that Ocampo had done away with himself, as “it really deprives the victims and the people of California of the ability to put Mr. Ocampo to death on our terms and get justice for the victims of these crimes.”
Look: the guy is dead. It can’t get any worse than that, for him.
But no. This woman is pissed because the state wasn’t allowed “to put Mr. Ocampo to death on our terms.”
Lady: you are one. sick. mother. fucker.
When the state of California put to death Robert Alton Harris, I journeyed out to San Quentin, for a newspaper, to “cover” the people gathered outside the gates. One red-faced, foam-flecked gentleman kept shouting, “kiiiiiiiiill him! Then dig him up, and kiiiiiiill him again!“
Maybe Ms. Schroeder could do that. She could take Ocampo’s corpse, haul it into the death chamber, strap it to a gurney, and shoot death-drugs into its veins. Then, for old time’s sake, she could slap the corpse into an electric chair, and give it a nice fry. Next, prop it up against a wall, and let people fire bullets into it. Finally, the Ocampo corpse could be transported outside, and hung by the neck until it is even more dead. It could be left there, hanging from a tree, for people to throw stones at it, until the birds had devoured it. Then, whatever was left, could be set on fire.
Then maybe Ms. Schroeder might conclude there had occurred sufficient “justice” and “closure.”
Meanwhile, another of Ocampo’s attorneys would like to know how the hey his client was able to accumulate enough Ajax to poison himself to death.
“I’m completely baffled as to how this can happen to a guy who is, if not the most high-profile inmate in jail, one of them,” Michael Molfetta said.
“The temptation by people is to say, ‘Who cares?’” he added. “That is a slippery slope right there because he is presumed innocent.”
“There’s no excuse; this should not have happened,” Molfetta said. “How hard is it to keep poison away from him? The answer is, it isn’t at all, if you cared.”
But nobody cared. For of all the people in all the nation that nobody cares for, prisoners are cared for the least. That’s one of the reasons there are so many of them. Prisoners. Because Americans, as a whole, presume that if you disappear into a jail cell, you belong there, and whatever might happen to you there, you deserve. Doesn’t even matter whether, as with Mr. Ocampo, you had not yet been found guilty. Or, as with Mr. Ocampo, you are batshit insane. Because once you go into the cell, you’re gone. You cease to exist. Your presence is no longer discernible on this planet. And so Americans are free to turn and walk away. Because there’s a Black Friday sale. And if you get in line early enough, you can get a 50-inch flat-screen TV. For but $299.
F. Scott Fitzgerald saw it. To the bottom of every bottle. Which, early—44—killed him.
No matter. He got it right. Wrote the Great American Novel. The Great Gatsby. Which ends with this:
Most of the big shore places were closed now and there were hardly any lights except the shadowy, moving glow of a ferryboat across the Sound. And as the moon rose higher the inessential houses began to melt away. Until gradually I became aware of the old island here that flowered once for Dutch sailors’ eyes—a fresh, green breast of the new world. Its vanished trees, the trees that had made way for Gatsby’s house, had once pandered in whispers to the last and greatest of all human dreams; for a transitory enchanted moment man must have held his breath in the presence of this continent, compelled into an aesthetic contemplation he neither understood nor desired, face to face for the last time in history with something commensurate to his capacity for wonder.
And as I sat there, brooding on the old unknown world, I thought of Gatsby’s wonder when he first picked out the green light at the end of Daisy’s dock. He had come a long way to this blue lawn and his dream must have seemed so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it. He did not know that it was already behind him, somewhere back in that vast obscurity beyond the city, where the dark fields of the republic rolled on under the night.
Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgiastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter—tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther . . . . And one fine morning—
So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.
The green light, it will never be attained, as Fitzgerald knew, on this continent, by white people. Because they do not belong here. It was a mistake, for them to ever to have come. To this place. Because it is not their place.
The green light, they can bask in it—the white people—when, “boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past,” they return to from where they came. Where they should, forever, have remained.
the little bird; all that there is
The wood of the madrone burns with a flame at once
lavender and mossy green, a color you sometimes see in a sari.
Oak burns with a peppery smell.
All winter long I make wood stews:
Poem to stove to woodpile to stove to
typewriter. woodpile. stove.
and can’t stop peeking at it!
can’t stop opening up the door!
can’t stop giggling at it
crazy as Han Shan as
Wittgenstein in his German hut, as
all the others ever were and are
Ancient Order of the Fire Gigglers
who walked away from it, finally
kicked the habit, finally, of Self, of
(which is not, at last, estrangement)
—Lew Welch, “He Thanks His Woodpile”
We now know the genesis of addled actor Clint Eastwood’s ”talk to the chair” routine at the 2012 Republican National Convention.
This is the Diamond number that contains the notorious foursome:
i am, i said
to no one there
and no one heard at all
not even the chair
This last line is one of the great clunkers in all of songwriting. People active and practiced in the craft, to this day they cannot understand why persons and/or sound machines emitting such a travesty are not pelted with tomatoes, squash, eggplant, and other rotting substances.
I mean, yeah, the guy needed a rhyme for “there.” And, in this tune, Diamond is deeply afunk in Bummertude. Because he ain’t being listened to. About the crushing burden of having to live in Los Angeles, rather than New York. In order to earn eleventy-billion dollars in the music business.
So sure, okay, we get it, nobody’s listening to him bleat.
And, among the nobodies, can be counted a chair.
But, like, had the chair ever heard him? When he was moaning about having to earn more money than Midas, out in LA, rather than in New York? Was it normal for the chair to give ear, when he was on about such things? Was this like . . . a magic chair?
Or, since we are talking 1971 here, a drug chair? A chair that, when Mr. Diamond delved into the many fine psychoactive substances of the time, heard and talked and danced and sang and otherwise engaged in all manner of merry wonderful weirdness?
We receive no information about any of this. All we know is that the chair doesn’t hear him.
And this is not surprising. Because a chair—unless it is a drug chair, and/or a quantum physics chair—is not equipped with aural apparati. Hearing is not what a chair is supposed to be about. The thing is there but to plant your butt on.
No. Sorry to say, what we must here reluctantly conclude, is that Diamond was a lazy-ass mofo. Who just settled on some “chair,” not hearing him, because he was too slothful and/or thickheaded to come up with any other rhyme for “there.”
And it is said that the man spent four months writing that song.
And in all that time the best he could up with was “not even the chair”? The mind: it reels.
Today, while driving, it took me about four minutes to come up with about fourteen alternatives.
For instance, if Diamond had not been suffering from a city-disability, and were singing instead from or about some country place Normal, then various and sundry animals could have been mustered not to hear him. We could have had “not even the bear” or “not even the hare” or “not even the mare.” Who were not hearing the guy.
Or he could have complained “not even Aunt Clare,” which would also have allowed him to go wild with banjos in the break. Or “in all County Klare,” which would have permitted him to pour a thundering wall of bagpipes into the song.
Since Diamond at the time was riding a wave of songs in which he praised unrestrained bibulation—”Cracklin’ Rosie,” “Red, Red Wine,” etc.—he could have referenced his ongoing rednoseness by admitting “and no one heard at all/when I tripped on the stair.”
He could have been all stoic, and defiantly proclaimed: “and I did not care.” He could have gone dada, and pronounced: “so I ate a pear.” Or strayed into Isaac Hayes territory, with “so I porked the au pair.” He could have envisioned the onrushing cult of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and come out as a crossdresser, boasting “so I shaved with Nair.”
And so on.
Anywho. Clint—fast-forward to 2012—is there in his hotel room, when suddenly the extraterrestrials—who, as has previously been documented here on red, owned and controlled the GOoPer portion of the 2012 presidential campaign—bring to him over the radio Diamond declaiming about the obdurate chair that will not hear.
And Clint, he experiences a truly massive brainshower. He will go on stage, with a chair, and pretend it is President Obama. And, like the Diamond chair, the Obama chair, when Clint pours out upon it his complaints, it will just sit there; it will neither hear, nor respond.
This brainshower, it will be remembered, when it was spewed out across the land, was considered a laff riot by that 23% of the American population that occupies what is today the equivalent of Dogpatch.
“Way to put it to the black man, Clint!” the Dogpatchians, they squealed like a pig. “Yeehaw!”
However, those of us who have not married or otherwise had sexual congress with our sisters, and/or other blood relatives, we had quite a different reaction.
Not even the Captain Underpants people, it developed, not even they, could easily stomach the chair scene. Literally, they could not stomach it. Senior Underpants advisor Stuart Stevens, it is said, vomited. While the Neil-inspired Eastwood, he was dying there, on stage, with the chair. Stevens, he wished that, like in the Diamond song, no one would hear Clint. At all. Not even the chair.
It was the astute AvoWoman who first pointed out to me that this speech was not the first time that Eastwood had publicly addressed wood products.
Oh no. For way back in 1969, Eastwood wandered around on screen, “singing,” in the film Paint Your Wagon, “I Talk To The Trees.”
And even back then, the wood gave ol’ Clint the deaf ear.
And it was not only the trees. But every other blessed natural element, as well.
I talk to the trees
But they don’t listen to me
I talk to the stars
But they never hear me
The breeze hasn’t time
To stop and hear what I say
I talk to them all in vain
Be warned. Beyond the furthur, I shall embed Mr. Eastwood. “Singing.” Not only that, I shall also embed, from the same film, Lee Marvin, also “singing.” And this last, some say, is the aural equivalent of the Holocaust.
Sure. That might seem right.
(More Veterans Day. Because there can never be enough. Until it is over.)
Here, if, from 3:27 on, you hear, and you are all and every spirit in human: then, Veterans Day, it is over; because war, is over; because over, too, is any and all killing; because, finally, Thanatos himself, the heap-big mewling coward, is over.
But a ghost.
Long gone away.
Spring comes to Kirrie, all the world’s in bloom
Winter is forgiven now, fooled by April’s broom
Kirrie, oh Kirrie, you were aye my hame
‘Til Napoleon’s bloody cannon hit their aim
Jeanie, oh Jeanie, I am surely done
Stricken down in battle, at the mooth o’ Boney’s guns
Jeanie, oh Jeanie, aye sae dear tae me
Let me hold you in my mind, afore I dee
For the cold returns in autumn
When the wind rakes the trees
And the summer lies forgotten
In the cold bed of leaves
As winter begins, aye mind Boney
It wasn’t only you
Who was broken on the fields of Waterloo
Because, so sad, not enough, can, will, see it, yet; as, so sees it, even, so small, so slow, so a boy, from so such a nowhere; so, there, in, nowhere: nowhere, New Jersey.
But, sees it, he do. See it, too, please: you.
It may not necessarily be of his essential nature. But. As the above videos demonstrate. A man. Is fully capable. Of pumping as much. Into Eros. As Thanatos.
i am here with the range for everything
corpuscle muscle hair
hands that need the rub of metal
those senses that
that want to crash things with an axe
that listen to deep buried veins in our palms
those who move in dreams over your women night
near you, every paw, the invisible hooves
the mind’s invisible blackout the intricate never
the body’s waiting rut
—Michael Ondaatje, The Collected Works Of Billy The Kid
Because there are no coincidences, the night before Lou Reed swirled out the corporeal container, I was watching a documentary called After Porn Ends. A film that takes a Lou Reed approach. To Lou Reed people.
A film that trains its eye on transgressive people. Here, in this film, on people once and future active, in the adult-entertainment industry. Porn. A film that presents such people as they are. Without judgement.
Until we reach the coda. Wherein the filmmakers, in an extended, a long and lovely epilogue, bring us up to date, on all of the people we have just seen.
And we then understand, that they, the filmmakers, love them all.
From the people who have since gnarled into Christianity, and deny all of what they once had been. To those still proud, of all and every, of whom, they once, on camera, did join their loins.
And we understand that the filmmakers love them all, not only because of the coda’s photos and words, that are baldly spilled upon the screen. But because of the music.
Which begins as a long and lyrical instrumental piece. Until, eventually, after more than four minutes, in a really magical, yet so simple, chord change, the music reveals itself to be “Sweet Jane.”
And, like warm honey and wine, the words, they pour over, healing, all that we are:
anyone who’s ever had a heart
wouldn’t turn around and break it
and anyone who’s ever played a part
wouldn’t turn around and hate it
And, experiencing this, that night, I became higher than the world. Simultaneously spouting deep tears, and whooping in high joy. Because, I understood, completely, in this film’s concluding “Sweet Jane,” two things. That the filmmakers had opened themselves, to sanctify, heart all open, everyone in their film. And that “Sweet Jane,” the song, had entered into the immortal. Become a song that will never die.
So, when, less than 24 hours later, I heard that Lou Reed had shuffled off this mortal coil, I again spouted tears. But also gave a smiling nod to the stars; to the great wide open. Because, I know, now, that they will be playing that song, his song, “Sweet Jane,” two thousand years from now.
And so, like Jesus of Nazareth, another nice Jewish boy, also ripped all to hell and to shit, who also knew more than a little something about sin, Lou Reed will never die.
Know why? When we really get down to the all and all of it?
Because Lou Reed perceived, and presented, people as they are.
And then: he loved them all.
There is only one category/tag on this site that can be traced to a single human being. And that is “What’s Good.” Which comes from Lou Reed.
From a song he wrote. In all his anguished, tearful, loving-them-all fury. A song about death. Death bringing his lovers down. Taking them out.
There is a studio version. I eschew it every time. Because the live version, in all its many imperfections, it bleeds.
Acknowledging death. But not granting it supremacy. Because, in the final crash of Reed’s mournful, joyful, chords—death, it is over.