December 2, 2015
It is a cold, rainy day, and I’m walking into the corner store to buy cigarettes; the TV inside is on. I glance at it and keep walking toward the counter, but as I’m asking for a box of Pall Malls, I turn back to the screen. I see people. I see police. I see a message scrolling underneath the moving pictures, and all it says is “San Bernardino First Responders”, or something of the like, and I know immediately what’s going on. There’s been another shooting. And as I listen in to the report, I hear that the situation is ongoing: the killers are still at large. I get my cigarettes. I exit the store and begin walking back to my apartment. I take a smoke from the pack and place it between my lips. I light it. Inhale. Exhale. Repeat. Repeat. The cheery looms at the end of three beautiful inches of paper-wrapped tobacco product and another inch or so of fiber filter.
One foot in front of the other, dear boy. Step by step. Let’s take this shit step by step.
I turn the corner and catch a glimpse of myself in the window of the bar around the corner from where I live. I’m dressed well. I’m a white man. It doesn’t matter. I’m alive. I’m not in San Bernardino. I’m in Cleveland. It doesn’t matter. People were probably shot and killed somewhere around here today as well. Probably not 20; definitely not 20 or it would have been “Cleveland” scrolling beneath moving pictures of a scene of an absurd and terrifying reality. Guns. Fuck. Fuck, fuck, fucking. Fuck, motherfucking goddamn pieces of shit. Pieces of whole, fucked up, fucking goddamn bullshit.
I turn the next corner and see my building. A self-conscious smile plays around my lips. I’m a happy man. I have a home. I’m alive. No one I know has died from gun violence today.
But fuck. Fuck, fuck, fucking fucking, fuck, fucking fuck.
There were two goddamn, fuck, fucking mass murders today in this country. Two, goddamnit. In one goddamn day. Fucking pieces of shit. Fucking fucked country. Fucking fucked world. Fuck.
There aren’t enough curse words. Fuck is the best one but it’s not enough. There isn’t enough pain to go around.
I unlock my front door and climb my stairs. I open the next door and my apartment is warm and inviting. I put my cigarettes and keys on the table. I sit down in a chair and I close my eyes. I open them again and burst into tears.
Fuck fucking fuck, bullshit, fuck fucking fuck.
What are we going to do, America? What the fuck are we going to do?
Regards, Oh Cleveland
As a player, I can’t even imagine it: Up by four; a two possession game. The championship on the line. An entire city’s hopes and aspirations riding on the back of a few men under the age of forty. A beautiful abomination of sorts; a catastrophe in the making.
As a fan; as a Clevelander; as a person, there is nothing quite like being on that edge: screaming at the screen, knowing deep down that those other humans can’t even begin to hear you, three thousand miles away. Doesn’t matter. Everything falls into place when you put your heart into something.
Now, I’m only 27 years old. As I’ve said before, I am an expert on nothing but the art and craft of writing a song. That’s it, brother. I’m the kid who got cut from his 7th grade basketball team: I could shoot, but I had no confidence; no swagger on the floor. I didn’t remember plays. And, in the end – the end of my sporting career – when I sat the bench Freshman year (and only made the team because there weren’t any cuts), openly cursing the coach for what, in my mind, were his most apparent faults, I came to a close – in my athletic career and as a young man – and whispered to the heavens: “Lord, who am I? I want to be fucking Michael Jordan. No one loves a player more than one on a basketball team. I want it all. A music snob just isn’t enough of a thing to be.”
But, I digress. Because what came to happen was that I, Michael McGuire, 27 year old nobody-yet still cries at the replay of that game the Indians played against the Mariners,
August 5, 2001, when we were losing 14-2 heading into the bottom of the 7th. And my all-time favorite Cleveland Indians Lineup, which was, as I recall:
3. R. Alomar
4. Juan Gonzalez 5. Thome
6. Ellis Burks
7. Marty Cordova 8. Will Cordero (?) 9. Einar Diaz
proceeded to not claw their way back, but sprint, curse, spit, dive, make mistakes and get past them and somehow, someway…No, you know what? Not somehow, someway. They won that game because they fucking had to. They were Cleveland. These fans…me. We do it because we aren’t supposed to.
It’s something that should, indeed, make you cry. And you know what? This one – the Cleveland Cavaliers – is both so much better, for obvious reasons, and almost bittersweet for me. Because I do wish it were the Indians. But I fear even putting that down on paper. Because, though I wasn’t at that game…in fact, I was a 12 year old, alone, listening to the radio…I remember leaving a note outside my parents’ bedroom door so my Dad would know what had happened the minute he woke up…
No, tonight was different. I was at Jukebox, and I was sitting to the side of a giant screen constructed on the best patio in Cleveland; amidst over a hundred people, cramped into the tiny bar inside as well…people ordering six drinks at once. Ridiculous. But there was a part of me – fuck, ALL of me – which loved it completely. It’s like that Hold Steady lyric: “I like the crowds at the really big shows…people touching people who they don’t even know, yo…”
It was awesome. But the game itself is what made it what it was…perhaps. I mean, christ, the only team to ever come back and win a Finals down 3-1? Please.
But, then…of course. What could be more quintessential Cleveland? We get pushed, as a city. And sometimes, we overcome all the odds…Fuck! That’s to cliché for this. For this, my friends, is unprecedented.
The energy was palpable. I was screaming at the screen, yes, knowing full well that those young men couldn’t hear me, and I was one with those hundred…200…300…who knows how many people, and we were all in it together. Us against the world. Cleveland. Down and out. A national joke in and out of the sports world. The joke people you met at college told, letting you know that they were from infinitely cooler places than Northeast Ohio.
“Cleveland??” they said, incredulously. “Yessir,” I always said. Cleveland.
Sitting there, standing there, then jumping there – and screaming there – with those people; we were one. And across the world people could’ve been from Cleveland, in that moment. Cleveland. Always the David to their Goliath.
We got to see the hometown hero; the most reviled person in Cleveland for four long years when we had to watch him win it all – twice – as he copped to the very strategy everyone from Cleveland fucking hates: Buying into a team of superstars instead of a unit. And it was “Fuck you, man. Fuck you ‘King James’. That’s not fucking Cleveland. We’re a grower, man. You flat out gave up on the very people you set out to conquer with Goodwill, and – yes – greatness. Hell, we knew you were great when you were in High School, man.”
But in true fashion of the epitome of what Cleveland has become, Mr. King James made himself a man through sheer determination; attitude. He came back – because HE CAME BACK – with the swagger of someone who had been there, done that. He had been the driving force behind a winner and in the crazy reality of a “cursed” and once forgotten, but no longer forgotten, yet, still perpetually ridiculed city, he went to work.
And I’m not gonna lie to you. I fully expected the Cavs to win 70 games either one of the last two years. And instead, the Warriors won the championship; the Warriors went about setting regular season records. And the Cavs seemed left with supposedly shivering team chemistry, and an ousted head coach, fired mid-season even though they were first in the conference.
This team IS Cleveland at its most impeccable. Down 3-1 against the best team in history. They became sprinting, spitting, fighting, trash-talking overachievers. Until with seconds left, the man – Lebron – appeared to break his wrist before proceeding to put the nail in the coffin of the Warriors, at the free throw line. Lebron, you are Cleveland. There’s a reason this all happened like this for your city.
For me, personally? I am forever left with the feeling of the evening: The color of the sky pointed out by Allie; the full moon; it being Fathers’ Day; of talking to an older gentleman – Dave – about that comeback the Indians made against their Best Team Ever. Together, we lamented that the Indians winning the World Series would be that much sweeter. But when the Cavs let the clock run out on the greatest achievement in basketball history; when Lebron James fell to the ground, weeping for what he had just led to the finish line, and, finally, holding up the only trophy his team had ever won – the first trophy for a major sports team in Cleveland since 1964 – I hugged that man; high-fived strangers; kissed the love of my life after having held her so close as a major life moment – a typical Cleveland nail-biter – collapsed into and through my heart, beating. In that moment, I was infinite. We all were. All of us at Jukebox. All of us in Cleveland. All of us who know, deep down, that we are just as good if not better than those punks in 7th grade who we knew we were just as good as, if not better than. We as a city, we made it known through a 48 minute basketball game that whenever someone tells you that you aren’t good enough; that there’s always gonna be something holding you back, even if it isn’t a dramatic gotcha moment like The Drive; The Fumble; The Shot; and, yes, folks, The Decision…our team – our hero – showed that there are no absolutes in such conditions. You can be down so far that it looks like it’s the end. And, in true, Cleveland fashion – true Human Passion – you can always decide to simply allow your swagger to evolve, becoming the person you can be. And do it with Greatness. With muscle. With flat out Determination, attitude, and presence. We can be and are Lebron James in one form or another. We are the Cavaliers. We have all spent time with crushing pressure from a nervous, and impatient judgment. We all have wanted to rip of what defines us, like He did with his own jersey after the last game he played as a Cav the first time around. And, as Clevelanders; as People, we will all return from dismissal and treat our fans to the feeling we all feel right now in the wake of such a beautifully Cleveland act of defiance.
Best team ever? Welcome to the real world. Where Cleveland and her James are King.
I just don’t know what to say anymore. To disseminate consummate language in the interim doesn’t seem to be enough. Who even knows, really? They’re saying we’re post fact but I and every other thinking person in the world call bullshit. Or at the very least, a collective mind twisted. Conspiracy is one thing, but it’s for the back room at a bar, late at night. It isn’t for our president’s Twitter feed. It isn’t for the intellectual to pursue in any way but the mental masturbation it entails. Barack Obama was always born in Hawaii. Global warming has never been a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese government. And two million illegal votes were not cast in Michigan. These are simple truths in a time of crippling reality, where somehow so many of us have succumb to caustic and dribbling madness, foaming at the mouth at the prospect of screaming Fuck You at a group of others who just happen to share our vicinity but not our vision to get to the same place we both most likely want to end up. We don’t argue. We fight. And that’s a problem.
But it’s a problem of which Donald Trump is now the face. The drunk screaming at you about immigration isn’t drunk and the bar he should be patroning at last call is our national stage. He is a buffoon. He is deranged. But he is not post fact. He’s just a liar. Plain and simple. We are not post fact. Propaganda isn’t to be believed. It is to be smashed by the forces of goodness and decency; of a return to reason and knowledge.
We need justice and mercy in an equal dose. So let’s talk.
Yet if one cannot be convinced by the language he speaks, then there’s an issue. And that issue is not a difference of opinion. It’s of raw ignorance. But when a 5 is a 2 backwards, maybe we just need to hand out more mirrors. I, at least, intend to.
On Inauguration Day, 2017
It isn’t altogether healthy to ignore history as it’s being made. But that’s exactly what I’m doing today. I stayed up late last night; slept in late today. Ate pizza for dinner. Drank Sprite. Scrolled passively through Facebook for what seemed like forever but was probably only a half hour or so. I smoked a little pot and now I’m drinking a beer and listening to records. I am lounging by the proverbial water. And that’s about it.
So what exactly am I doing differently now that Donald Trump is our President? Very little. And that’s important, I think. I mean, what else is there? I want to be marching and yelling and throwing things and breaking windows and setting fires in DC along with my anarchistic brothers and sisters, but that isn’t me. I don’t perceive life through cut glass; I mean, I see reality on this plane for what it is: a cold, bitter hell. And I feel lucky and fucked up and guilty all at once that I have the privilege to sit back on a day like today, smoke a couple cigarettes even though I’ve quit, and pretend nothing will change for me in this hell. It remains such. So what?
It is futile to state, however, because of course everything is changing. As much as people with my mind, set in the Tao for Peace and Love, can put the audacity of our situation into perspective, there is a feeling of revolution in the air. Hundreds of thousands of people this weekend will – with their physical beings collected- declare that They cannot be free with a President Trump. And they’re right. None of us can. We – all of us – are no longer free. But it is the marginalized and disenfranchised who are now in shackles.
I want to help. I want my words, moving forward, to be a hammer and a hacksaw for to cut your chains. I want to set ablaze the notion of separatism, and call the citizens of the world to warm themselves by the flames. I want to break molds set decades ago and aid in the creation of new works of Art for art’s sake. I want to yell forcefully through words on the page that the only thing worth fighting for is the fight to quit fighting. I want to sing with the choirs of all humanity and harmonize with those who speak differently. I want to create music as lovely to you as to myself and call openly for understanding through timbre and cadence. I want to bend the notion that Life’s purpose is to beat ourselves and each other through measures puritan and absurd. I want justice. I want peace. I want…
I want a different man to look to as a Leader. Because, Mr Trump, you are no leader. You are no Man. You are no President. You are no friend to the poor, nor the sick nor the marginalized. You are no hero. You are the worst form of person created in no God’s image. And so even though I took the day off from paying attention, I didn’t take the day off from living, breathing, thinking, knowing. And from this day forward, I vow to Live as well as I can; to sing as loud as I can; and to care as deeply as I can about those now, but not forever in shackles. If we join forces, we can be as mighty as an ocean. Let us mind the tide. As Trump ignores the water.
A Song or, A Confused Melody
“Nobody told me there’d be days like these. Strange days indeed. Strange days indeed.” -John Lennon
I want to make clear in pointing out that there are no sides here. There is righteous and there is corrupt, but they are mutually exclusive. We know that the only difference is inherent. It isn’t a matter of taking sides. It is complete misunderstanding and it is a sight from the Third Eye. It is knowing or not knowing the fact that what we have are a few dozen career con men pulling another over on a third of us who are either too thick or too slow to realize we’re being fucked so we go along with it because we’re Happy Consumers; you have the rest of everyone who are just powerless in changing anything. Let us not forget that this past presidential election was anything but a Trump-Russia conversation. We had our own party ripping the rug out from under the better candidate to perpetuate some linear Greatness of a family name. It was low. And ironically, it was a tactful retread of themes we fought hard against eight years ago and beat out because of the rise of a truly Great Man in Barack Obama. But neo-liberalism is dead. And by a long shot…so is conservatism (if it ever existed in the first place.) It’s the same damn trip. We need a revolution! We need anarchy! We need…
We need new buzz words.
I get ahead of myself. What I mean to say is that we need peace. We crave it. So our Fight is anything but. And that is where they’ve got us. They’re good at fighting. They’re good at fighting – and I mean with guns and bombs and chemical warfare, torture and cold-blooded injustice – and they’re good at lying and the best one can say about them is that they are steadfast in their feeling that They are the best and let’s make it better for no one else. It is a sick and evil, foul and twisted, placid view of humanity. And they define it. Let us not say that lightly. Please. Anything but.
So what, then? What do we do? Where do we go from here? I don’t know. I mean, I am disgusted. Let’s be clear. I am disgusted that these evils exist. But it is the plane on which we live. It is our reality. In the entire history of this timeline, there has been war and forced famine and disease, bloodshed and malice and violence. So often just violence for the sake of it. Maybe it really is our true nature. I mean, the universe is pretty goddamn combustible.
Perhaps merely discordant. And that’s where lies my comfort. That this all must just be one infinite song. That the notes themselves are secondary to the space between. They have to be. Because if there is no song, I am thoroughly at a loss. I just want to play.
Beside The War
Sometimes I wonder if it’s about the Battle or the War.
There is a cold summer rolling in. Cold in the fact that our leaders are frigid; ourselves shattered under the pressures of ice as we succumb to our environment’s conditions. Our pain is stupified. We are lost.
But are we losing? It’s the question I’ve had recently. For, even when the left put forth a poised, eloquent, intellectual, they still couldn’t repeat themselves. And so now we have a President Trump. And a fate so porus, the water floods.
Let me be clear: Trump is fictional. We’re living in the sort of post-apocalyptic fever dream that is so popular right now when created in novel form. Big Brother is making rich men richer and poor men think they understand why they’re not the proverbial rich men. Us folks in poverty? We’re the last of a breed undead. For we know that it is each other who keeps us broke and angry. Angry. Angry. So much anger, it’s obscene. So much. And yet, as such, so misdirected.
Not in these times. Not in these battles. Not in this war. This war is as old as time. The fact of mobilization and military mightiness is what makes it so different. The battles become miniscule; the war, global. Facts should give us pause, and yet intelligence leads to bombings; instincts to a tweet and some lies. Sometimes simple diarrhea of the soul. I mean, what the fuck? How dumb are some people? How thick are their necks? How willing are they to drop towels and fuck shit up? with their dingy mindsets; their malleable idea-stream…that which is otherwise stationary.
Christ. What a shithole we live in. We have but closet freedom. A banal hoax. A poor excuse for pleasure. Even the righteous build up walls, or worse, take them down just to spit bullets down upon you. An eagle soars. The Hawks nosedive. The owls disgust. And the dove cries. For there is but one.
So what, then? I mean, truly what the fuck? What do we do here? I cannot just take to the streets, for I do not wish to die there. I can only fight with my words, my music, my mind. But I will scream toward the heavens. And my battle will be won. Even if the war is beyond me.
When Baseball Defies Odds
I like to watch the trains as I smoke cigarettes. It’s something I’ve taken to doing sometimes, usually at night, walking the block to the bridge that overlooks the Long Island Railroad. Standing, peering down, I’ve often thought of how it all came to be. And not so long ago. Engineers bashing through plans for tracks to be laid, crisscrossing North America, by the bare hands of those with a hunger. Some of it literal; some divine. A battered innocence cut. And all but with some idea that it was indeed for something bigger. For the present and future as one. For a past wrought without civility; without mercy and without care. A train, for one thing, might take you anywhere. Anywhere at all. And so why not let it ride?
Of course, with history, we know that the rails were built by suffering. That’s all we’ve ever truly built with, this nation of ours. We are a land of the supposed will for compromise and with a certain moral superiority, yet we’ve a penchant for absurd greed and ragged muscle. For a fire ant’s mentality. For a rusty sheath of ice cold steel. With a bubble bath in the headlines and its filth disappearing down the drain.
Funny how it is that filth upon which those tracks were laid in the first place. To comb our past is to present no disparities to wonder. Blood and sweat spill. Yet whatever our motives in the treatment of each other, we should know we are one as Something, if not something else. And with a lifetime of maturity, it seems we could be able to get to that someplace better.
Of course, such fate may seem to drag it’s knuckles. Time waits for no one when they seem eclipsed by darkness. And in our world, there is much darkness. Too much, to be sure.
So within this blanket of night, where do we go for a light switch? I tend to look for pieces of art. For music, dance, pictures, and laughter. For that which is so vast in it’s scope, it is played out perpetually, with each passing moment a momentum for change; for history made. For that impossible emotion brought forth from your soul.
It seems I’ve been feeling these tides of elation more and more these past couple years. One moment aghast by our national stage: a man with a constant hardon and a history of sexual assault, serial fucking around, and a failure at common sense and decency who is leading us further into a darkness. This is no abstract notion. But it’s not his fault. He wasn’t made for this. He was made to play the game. But when it isn’t a game anymore, what is it? And what will it turn into?
I for one, prefer no game. But if I have to choose, I choose beauty over brawn. I choose finesse over annihilation. A ball over a bullet. A handshake over a clenched fist. I choose baseball: America’s pastime. It is our Mona Lisa. Along with rock and roll, the greatest thing that we’ve created as a culture. And it goes on and on, baseball. Over three quarters of the year, we watch and we listen. And sometimes, we see the impossible play out before us like theatre drawn from the mind of some idealist romantic. Our hearts soar with the crowd as a team from Cleveland plays like no team has ever played, winning more consecutive games than any of the thousands of teams that have played the hundreds of thousands of games since Major League Baseball began over a hundred years ago. A team that – over a 22 game period – won all of them, hitting more home runs as an offense than the total number of runs allowed by the pitchers. By twenty- something men gliding past expectations and holding fate and chance as no deciding factors in the purge of true soul in motion. For three weeks, Cleveland Baseball was as perfect as the world has ever seen. And it was so remarkable.
But tonight, as I stood watching for those trains rolling beneath me, on those tracks built by the past, I thought about our present and future as beings in our existence. And although I may always shudder at the world as it seems to have always been, I can’t help but have some hope. Because we as human beings continue to mine for and witness beauty. For three weeks, 25 young men participated in something no 25 young men have ever more than dreamed up. And as it has come to it’s end, I stood on that bridge and I glanced down at the tracks beneath me and smiled. Not at the railroad, its history, or its future. But at the reality of the cars’ inhabitants: a few of the millions of people who know a world where 30,000 people will all rise in ovation at the end of an inevitable defeat, as 25 men wave their hats in gratitude. None of it because of losing the game. But for a collective epiphany that Cleveland has once again made us believe in Light. Even while the world is draped in darkness.
The Age Of Enlightenment
Enlightenment is a funny thing. As with any quest in life, the path of spiritual growth is littered with inherent imperfection, decided upon, seemingly, with but the whim of its own disposition. We have little control over why, but we must, in any case, be walking. To be doing so is essential. But we must also each sometimes double back, with the sense that we may have missed something along the way. Or just to visit a particular section over again, which we remember all too well; to lay our coat down over a puddle so someone else won’t step in it, for it soaked our socks and lead to the painful blisters we’ve endured for years for fear of being barefoot. Now, more than ever, our ability to discuss our pain – those passages through time where we were bleeding – allows us to reach one another, and aid in keeping our feet dry in the first place.
Yet even as any experience should breed knowledge, we must remember that an experience alone cannot breed wisdom. The sharing of context is key. There is always the danger of stepping in a puddle. And a few blisters are of course preferable to an alternative, like having to step through broken glass without any shoes at all.
What I mean to say is that it seems an anecdote cannot fully capture its own nuance, just as a still photograph can capture but a split second of humanity. Our existence as solitary creatures is simply too vast to pretend otherwise. But as with anything, there are certainties. Like when a butterfly flutters its wings, somewhere a tree creaks with the breeze. It’s fairly easy to digest that basic cause and effect.
I’m not sure, however, if it makes a difference that there are butterflies. I really can’t decide. But if one of them should fell a tree, I feel it is important to not condemn their wings, or merely mention how strong the tree once seemed. For you know, you can build just about anything from a fallen tree. Especially a fire around which to gather and discuss how much blood we’ve lost from the cuts and blisters we’ve garnered from a path strewn with obstacles. To compare what remains of our shoes. And ask why certain people have so many pairs.
Time Is A Circle, After All
We’ve come this far. We really should try and see it through. On through to the next place we will have gone so far to get to, when we’ll be trying to see it through.
Time is a circle, after all. …
I was having a nice conversation about TV shows with a coworker today when a quote from Steven Wright came out of me, and I’m paraphrasing now, as I did then: “No one knows why we’re here, and we’re just gonna die anyway.” I should be clear in saying it did pertain to that which we were talking about, just so as not to come off as someone who drops little bits of existential dread around my workplace. But what surrounded that quote has me thinking, which has me writing, so here we are.
Now, I work retail, and I’m very good at my job. That may leave me with a slight bias this evening. But that bias is fed by a rather stark contrast between what is our national stage and what we as People seem to be doing in spite of it all.
At the most iconic bookstore in the Greatest City In The World, it is busy as Shit the week before Christmas. So today, the 17th of December, was nonstop for hours. I interacted with thousands of strangers. Would you like to know who was rude to me? Just one person. Just one person, whom I know for a fact is worth tens of millions of dollars which I see no reason for to be to her name. It is, of course, just a goddamn name. And that’s all she seems to be: a Goddamn Name.
The person to whom I quoted Steven Wright is not Just a Name. And together, that person who I know, but don’t know, though maybe don’t know I know quite well, we were in that moment deeply affected. And I think it sort of condensed of how I viewed the whole day: Maybe People are beginning to get the hang of all this insanity we’re faced with from President Donald J. Trump [sic] and Congress – every single day. Maybe we’re bringing it all back home again.
A few things have me beginning to convince myself that We have a fighting chance against this tyranny with which we’re being faced:
-The rewriting of the tax code, and its crafters’ maniacal laughs in the face of recorded history, which shows that the very plan they claim to have hatched from their learning from previous success – which never actually was success, but miserable failure and literal market collapse – will probably pass both the House and Senate and be signed into law by President Donald J. Trump [sic].
-The repeal of Net Neutrality, and the three quarters of the country who knows it’s fucked up for the government to do something three quarters of the country knows it doesn’t want to be done.
-The GOP championing of actual thieves, liars, racists, rapists and pedophiles when they claim to be the party of Christian Family Values.
Not only do I firmly believe that these things help only Goddamn Names, but I am certain that they won’t stand. The republicans are trying to put the fix on the game all at once. And I know, the Fix was built into the Game. I get it. But it seems to me that the way the rules were written, the underdog could easily be the favorite. What I mean is, if we’re playing baseball, we’ve got quite a big team, but as only one player can connect for the game-winning hit, the whole team wins the game. President Donald J. Trump [sic] is just Leslie Nielson as the umpire in Naked Gun. He really really likes saying and doing one very specific thing: Grandstanding. (Goddamn Names…grandstanding is all they can do). Grandstanding – especially in the way Trump does it – is quite obvious. Plus, like Nielson in Naked Gun, he’s fucking bad at it. And the GOP – the team on the right end of all that foolishness – is going to lose the game.
Why? Because they’re not a team, they’re a business. And Trump is no BusinessMan. He is and always was just a salesman. One that for some reason used to be pretty good at tricking ignorant people into believing that he was for real and so were his promises. Now, not only is he not a businessman, he’s no longer a salesman. He’s a card player. A bad one. Not only has he shown his hand over and over and over, he’s actively forcing the whole table – his GOP Elite – to do so along with him. Everyone can see everyone else’s cards. Bluffs and lies have become fabricated reality (“No, Senator, that is clearly a royal flush and if you can’t see it, you’re the liar). We don’t have to work to see through them anymore. They’re fucking transparent. And they know it. And they don’t care, because they’re evil. 100% not men of God, like they like to think they are. Their immorality encases them and shimmers.
They are – like I noticed today – a stark contrast in relation to Us. We might not always be as informed as we could be, but those of us who couldn’t already, are learning to sniff out bullshit. It’s easy to do when it’s being thrown about randomly through disjointed sentence fragments, and the cold, Ayn Rand philosophy of legislated selfishness. I feel like those of us who are not Goddamn Names are reaching more into Kindness.
If not You, the Reader of This, then why not?
Please understand: No one knows why we’re here, and one day we will die.
We Are All Very Stupid
I have this sense that each person, throughout all of human existence, has uttered the phrase, “What a time to be alive.” It is almost the truest facet to the human condition to feel like what you have experienced and are experiencing is the end all be all of what could ever have ever happened. It’s disconcerting, really. But with each of us being fully aware of only our own full story, I feel it is imperative to reach for each other’s contexts as much as possible.
What I mean to say is this: Context is very important. Without context there is but a sentence fragment; a partial thought; a soundbite. Whose equivalent is a song with just a hook, lasting 20 or so seconds and then stopping. Think of Sweet Child of Mine with the riff but nothing else. That song would be fine. It would still get stuck in my head. I’d still like it, maybe. But why a song is affecting, is how the song is complete. And that goes for any work of art.
As I see it, a life lived is itself a work of art. Social media does a lot of things, I suppose, but what it certainly does is to allow for a constantly crafted piece of living art; a storybook of sorts to show others (hell, anyone) that we matter to each other’s context…that we’re important to society’s function.
It’s important, that’s for sure. Because we are.
You know what I think is rampant, though? Being wrong. So many of us are so goddamn wrong. We misunderstand each other; we constantly omit both the basics of empathy, and the complexities of mercy. We think we are informed because of all the information, so our beliefs are self-validated. We are selective in our judgements. And we are lost in our own hysteria. We don’t look for context. We don’t care about motivation. And we don’t even know what subtext is. Stories are long and complicated. And we no longer give a shit what they mean. We’re addicted to the climactic scene; the show stopper; the conclusion.
The “In your face!” The “I told you so.” The mic drop.
I’m gonna try and give it a rest. Especially if all I have is information. Because information is not knowledge. And an unbending belief in what seems to be cannot be construed as enlightenment.
Especially if all we have is a highlight reel, or that hook of the song whose verses aren’t heard.
We are all very stupid.
An Idea I Had The Other Day
People have reasons for the things they do. They have neuroses; they have moods; they have rules they have to follow. They have context. But as members of society, we are often forced to play inside of situations.
If those situations are themselves unnatural (based on an institutionalized reality), or irrational (based on a rigid formula without thought to exceptions, i.e. “i before e except after c” …as in the word “science”) then there is no true principle being directly applied to a given context, and therefore the situation is inherently illogical. If that illogic is presented as static policy, then there is no Principle. And if that lack of principle is defended as an objective truth, then it is immoral – and therefore is paradoxical (as Truth cannot be immoral).
The Feeling Of When: A Personal Essay
I try to trust in the will of some god that I feel around me sometimes. It’s a funny sort of trust- that which denies itself some days, and justifies itself as well. It happens sort of randomly, I’ll say that much; the back and forth of it. And yet as I go about certain days, I shimmer with the breath of the trees- that breath which I can feel, can smell, can taste when I’m trying.
It’s often in that nature I am most comfortable, laying in the dirt or feeling the grass beneath my feet. Folding blades of green that seem to reach into and through my skin as I walk, or as my toes dig mud freshly softened. I wait in those moments, for the love of the god that seems so often breached in the world we as human beings have contrived for ourselves. I beckon the specks of light; the dust of stars which glitter before me when I least expect them. And when I know I need them. But they’re always there, I’m sure. I really am.
The past six months or so have been a wild dance amongst a city in which I’m still learning to live. Working and working so much for a while, that I sort of forgot to breathe as I once proclaimed to a woman in a hospital was so necessary to remain focused. She replied so earnestly that we are all such shallow breathers too often. And she was correct in that response. We all don’t take the air in our lungs to which we are intended. Though there are moments which take that breath away, regardless as to how we are breathing.
For me, most recently, it was just before Christmas, when this world lost a man named Paul, whose last name I’ve forgotten how to spell. He was a Grandfather to me growing up, and his love and generosity to my family will never be lost to me. We were a family of six at the time; my parents worked hard and loved deeply, and raised myself and my sisters to be as what we as humans are for: immersed in a sort of Love that so many go without in this life. Both my Mom and my Dad made whichever house in which we lived into a home with sheer determination, always. And Paul arrived – at least it seems to me now – at the door of those homes within that sort of randomness I feel god. And when he did arrive, he did with bags and bags of groceries; flats of flowers for my Mom to plant in her always beautifully conceived garden; hours long discussions with my Dad about whatever the two of their minds came across in the moment. I think back on Paul now with a tinge of regret in that, as I grew a bit older and went off to Camp and College to find my own path through our collected wilderness, I forgot those times he showed up at our front door. In looking back now, I suppose it is only that I was too young to realize what he was doing. And too sad with so many things to offer him the same as he grew older; as his face drooped with Bell’s palsy; as I left Ohio again and again, rarely looking back at much but with regret. Making people into memories before they had a chance to become them to life’s reality.
Not long after Paul passed – or maybe it was before – another Grandfather figure in my life also quietly changed address, as my Dad once put it. His name was Gene, and he was my Great Uncle on my Mom’s side. My memories of Gene are different, of course. Uncle Gene and Aunt Helen weren’t in my life all too often. But every year the week of Christmas, without fail, whomever of my family who were still in town would make the drive down to their home in Akron, and we would sit around their basement. My Mom would request almost immediately to build a fire in their fireplace, if there wasn’t one already going; Gene would shuffle gaily to the bar to make Bloody Marys. Aunt Helen would be busy building a feast for us, all the while drinking cheap beer from a can. A football game – any football game – would be on their TV. The Christmas Tree stood hung with ornaments, some gorgeous, some hilarious; children’s toys from their childhood would be seated underneath. I would go for those toys at some point. And always nearly empty their many dishes of candy by the end of the afternoon. Gene would eventually sit back with a pipe, and the smell of it would fill the room.
Aunt Helen was the life of those parties, as I recall. She and Gene would bicker, like couples will do I suppose, after so many years together…they shared 70 years of marriage. It’s almost too much to fathom to me, two people spending so much of their lives together. And wouldn’t it be, that just a few months after Gene died, Helen joined him. And wherever they are, I can’t help but believe they’re together. As I see it, they were probably the same being to begin with.
This winter of sorts, with Earthly death surrounding, brought me crashing into Spring without a helmet on, so to speak. I lost myself in grief again; tended to too much out of my hands; thought I was different than who I am, and what my disorder entails I do and do not do.
I’ve spent most of my life trudging into this moment in time, and yet have made it difficult on myself to be well, I suppose. My mind is often found to me with brilliant claps of thunder, as metaphor, but they are no more thoughts I have than thoughts that appear. I jot them down sometimes; usually give them a melody to sing along with. I’m mainly a songwriter, at any rate. I try and pull from the ether- true that the ether seems too often spent these days.
So to say, I am recovering from regret. And from the guilt my church of confirmation too often shades its members with. But I’m working forward with a sense of purpose, perhaps. And absolutely with a renewed faith in the Way.
Institutions, I remain with an immense distrust. Most are buildings locked when you need most to go inside, or with entry fees too steep for the lowly to afford; with brand names refusing to pay their workers to live well; vaults stacked with pipelines and deep ocean drills; or with guns too loaded with racism and injustice.
I am built this way: to seek life in a sky of blue. And to stand with my face up in the rain. With my head held high when I can. My soul trying to be an open door. To feel the sun and the rain. And to sing; my fingers flying across six strings I’ve spent my life conversing with.
So I sit here tonight remembering Paul and Gene and Helen: Just the three people close to me who have most recently moved on. Some may hope they rest in peace. I have this idea that their Peace is in eternal movement. And when the next time I stand amongst the trees, or with my feet in the dirt, or when sitting alone pulling songs from the unconscious, I will remember them fondly. And will seek their spirit in the eyes of my neighbors. For I know it is there and everywhere.