R.I.P. Ray Manzarek. Told me crazy weird stories when I was in high school about a guy named Jim. I was way into it. Still love The Doors.
Originally written 03.19.13
I arrived in Denver haunted by a tragedy. The death and its sad fallout were indirect to me personally but still close enough to leave a mark. I didn’t know him very well—but I knew him, and that was enough. There was more than that, though; there was the wife and two kids that he left behind and all of that incomprehensible sorrow. His death was tragic in many ways: He was young—or young like me—and he had been involved in an accident which carried some mystery about it. He had either fallen or jumped from a moving taxi cab, and even then he had survived the initial injuries; the bigger tragedy being that he was alive and assumed to be recovering when he suffered a brain hemorrhage and died a week after the accident.
The images that surfaced in the days after were heartbreaking, photos of him in the hospital bed hugging his children, alive. These were taken just hours before he unexpectedly took a turn for the worse. It was crushing. I had seen too much. I had too much knowledge. Oh, those children—I could hardly bear the grief that had befallen them. And me, detached as I was, still moved to tears. I had to look away.
On the airplane out I was faced with nothing but quiet contemplation, alone in my thoughts and immersed in fear and death. I was flying out to Denver for purely frivolous reasons, leaving my wife and two kids at home for a quick vacation; I felt undeserving and guilty. But beautiful Colorado … I landed smoothly in high winds and was magically transported from air to car and then a soft seat on a bicycle riding through the streets of downtown Denver. The bike-sharing program in the city was starting up again after winter and they had rounded up volunteers to deliver the bikes to the various ports around the city. So there I was, quickly fitted with a t-shirt and given a bike, riding along with a block-long crowd of folks and ringing our bells.
The weather was perfect. I had left cold and dreary Chicago in all of its relentless gloom for St. Patrick’s Day in fresh mountain air under the sharpest of blue skies. The sun gave off a warmth like spring and there I was in my new red shirt completely unburdened, with nothing but time and freedom. Later, after we parked the bikes, there were drinks in the camper van—a classic VW equipped with kitchen and sleeping quarters—and I wished we were taking off somewhere in it instead of sitting in the alley behind the garage. We ended up biking and bar-hopping that night—St. Patrick’s Day—and racing down the trail that lines the river (South Platte) through the city.
I was only in town for two nights and there were thoughts of going skiing before the hockey game Monday night but we decided against it and golfed instead. It was Bloody Marys and Old Styles as we carted around the mostly empty course hacking away. Later, we biked out to the arena for the Blackhawks-Avalanche game and had a hilarious time in the 4th row; I wore Jim’s feather knit hat and our phones lit up with the news that our mugs were all over the TV broadcast. The hat was a star in itself.
After the game (Hawks won 5-2) we sat at the jazz bar near the baseball stadium and listened to the band play bluesy jams. I was longing for some real jazz and so we eventually biked over to this place closer to home, where you walk down steps to an underground bar. As we sat down there was a break in the music but we could see the various musicians milling about; they looked like kids, not the grizzled old jazzheads I pictured. I was still wearing the hat and so people were quick to chat with me, especially the pretty, wild-haired dark-skinned girl sitting next to me. And then the music kicked in.
At first there was a singer, a drummer and a keyboard player but then as they went on there were various other players that stepped in and out, rotating and moving. A saxophone from the shadows blurting out, or a trumpet blasting; and then gone. The musicians themselves changed as they wound through the set, like a game of tag. A drummer would get up and another would sit down; a keyboard player relieved by another. And these horns would explode from out of nowhere, unassuming on the sidelines and waiting to burst. It was amazing, fantastic, moving. It mattered not at all their age or appearance; the sounds they made were like 60s poetry or 50s Beat jams or who knows where or when, but they were awesome. This was it. This was the beautiful, true jazz, Kerouac-ian moment I had always been looking for, Holy Denver in all its glory.
There’s been so much death lately. Almost all of it famous and detached, but still…a lot of death. Ebert and Thatcher and whomever else. But the one close to home continues to haunt. There’s a page for him on Facebook and it updates daily, regularly, with notes, thoughts, pictures and all kinds of sadness. I don’t believe I’ve gone to sleep without thinking of it, or him, once since it happened. And again, I barely knew him. It’s just so terribly tragic but it’s more than that; it’s the hole left in its wake. The kids, his wife…I went through the Easter rituals—baskets of candy and all of that—and in the back of it all was the Easter they weren’t having in his house. The emptiness. The grief. The sorrow.
I really wish I could stop thinking about it.
I can’t get enough of this album.
“There was no way anyone could properly fill up a life. There would always be something left, always somewhere else to go, and in the end we would all have to accept that the world held places we would never see: Pyramids, jungles, exotic locales; mountains, skyscrapers or a burning hole in the ground where a satellite fell. Somewhere was a girl I would never meet, standing at the foot of the Great Wall or walking the beach on a remote island in the Pacific, or maybe just around the corner on a street I sometimes walked. She would close her door just as I went past and go inside to an empty house and I would see a shadow behind a curtain and then a light switch off. It was a world too big, a life too small, and I could hardly move, paralyzed with despair.”
I’m not sure if I’m back here again or if this is just a momentary space where I decide to write something and then drop off again. This doesn’t mean what it used to. I am focused on internal worlds that I made, both finished and outlined. I wrote a book and I am trying to get it published. I have no idea the proper way to go about that but I’ve been working on it. It is fiction and more specifically it is literary fiction and even more specifically it is laced with some science fiction. I have no idea who my audience is, but I would imagine that it is someone like me. Except that age and philosophical leanings are hardly bound by any borders or definitions and I don’t know where I fit into all of that anyway (mental age is diminished and philosophy confused).
The story takes place in no specific time, except that it is probably the 90s or early 00s. I semi-consciously left out any cultural references and consciously avoided any signs of technological progress, i.e., computers, cell phones or the Internet. I was hesitant to even include specific geographical locations but that became impossible as the story unfolded. Still, I have issues with using actual existing places, such as cafes, bars or restaurants, or whatever. They are temporary, ultimately, and I wanted this story to exist in a non-specific, enduring time frame. This is easy and very difficult to do at the same time.
The characters are in their mid-30s, which is around the time I conceived the idea in my head, almost ten years ago. Actually, the idea that was conceived became two ideas and then split out into a few more; now, part of the original idea is my new outline for a second book. It had no place in this story.
The characters are fictional but there is one, and only one, that is based quite loosely on a real person. I am concerned that should this person ever read the book they might be…pissed? I don’t think that the portrayal is negative or even all that accurate, but it is probably a fair representation of my own lack of understanding of their evolution, as it were. My contact with this person is virtually dead, even in this world of unlimited communications, and this leads me to believe that there is little chance we will ever speak again. But we aren’t angry with each other, as far as I know. And the last interaction we had was nothing like the one that takes place in the story. But ultimately I fear its repercussions should he read the book.
The book is in first-person, narrated by a deeply flawed and hopelessly romantic fool named Samuel. He has a girlfriend named Sandy and their relationship is failing. He has a friend named Benedict who left town for grad school but is flunking out. He has a girl named Lora that he sleeps with from time to time, and he’s not sure what to do about that. He has lost touch with the rest of the “gang,” namely Georgie, who has moved to New Orleans, and Kenneth, who has moved to Arizona. Walter is the friend that Sam has just returned from visiting, in Australia. Walter has undergone a religious conversion of some kind and as a result their visit was strained.
Sam returns to Chicago in autumn, where he soon discovers the news concerning a broken satellite that is falling to earth. Much like Skylab in the 70s or any various space events that have happened over the years (most recently the UARS satellite) there is considerable media attention given to the falling satellite, despite its probable break-up and incident-free re-entry. The distinction that gives this satellite (named HERO-76 in the book) heft is the uncertain claim over its purpose and contents: It is rumored to be more than a your typical space vehicle, but instead a military weapon containing nuclear elements. No one knows for sure but, as happens when details are scarce, the fear is amped up to hysterical levels.
Sam greets the news with considerable disdain but Sandy is affected deeply. Their relationship already teetering, Sandy begins to seek solace in prayer while Sam, in turn, seeks solace in Lora’s bed. Meanwhile, Ben returns to town as a failed student and finds his mother ailing. She dies only days after his return and now, with both parents dead, Ben arrives at Sam’s place in grief. The two friends regroup and reacquaint while the panic over the satellite news grows. On the night of the re-entry Sam and Sandy disintegrate, their considerable differences finally coming to a head and blowing up. The satellite falls and, much to Sam’s surprise, it does not land in the ocean but instead somewhere in the American West, near the Grand Canyon.
The news becomes scarce after the crash as signals become crossed and transmissions interfered with. No one seems to know for sure whether the fallout is toxic but the official word is that all is well. Ben gathers up Sam and explains his plan: His mother’s ashes need to be spread according to her wishes, and he has drawn up a map detailing a journey that includes visits to old friends Georgie and Kenneth. The trip will taken them to New Orleans and then Flagstaff and finally to the desert landscape where his mother requested she be set free.
The second half of the book is a travelogue shrouded under gray skies and uncertainty. Sam and Ben encounter strange scenes and odd folks. Refugees from tent cities line the road and local weirdos recite wild theories. A girl named Angela seems to follow Sam everywhere. Reconciliations are painful and sometimes surprising. The radio never works. Sam and Ben hash it out and Walter’s presence remains, despite his absence.
That’s about all I can say. There are conversations and there are arguments. The search for answers is one that depends on your ability to believe. The acquisition of comfort is obtained in different ways, or not at all, as the case may be.
I’m not sure who should read this. There is sex and there are drugs and there is blasphemy. There are no politics, nor is there rock and roll. This is not a message and it’s not an opinion disguised as prose. No one “wins.” I think this may have been written in a pretty dark place:
I could hear Ben hollering in the distance again like a wolf. I touched the urn. Cold. I pulled away from it and my heart sank.
“Ashes. Dust,” I mused sadly, looking back up at Angela.
“Feel doomed much?” she said.
“You should. You’re not special. You’re as fucked as anyone.”
Haven’t been here in a while. Not much to say, except this:
At some point you have to realize that this is delusional behavior. These guys have been out there so long, repeating the same tired lines over and over again, shaking hands and kissing babies. They don’t know what state they’re in until someone tells them, just before they walk up on a stage, or into a diner, or whatever propped-up common-man setting that the campaign operatives have staked out. Sleep is a memory. None of this is real.
You know that Rick Santorum convinced himself he could win—they all have at some point—but once you get a real taste of it, well, it has to be hard to let it go. Denial is everything. Head down, move forward, next state, next primary. Santorum, much like Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul, cannot win the Republican nomination, at least not mathematically. They have to know this. So why do they plow on?
Ron Paul has his reasons. He’s building something. It’s a years-long project, and one that may never be fulfilled, if not by his son, Rand. But he’s working on it.
Newt Gingrich, on the other hand, is without reason. That is to say, he is unreasonable; also, unelectable and unlikable, but everyone already knows that. Profoundly. Fundamentally.
Rick Santorum, though, is somewhere else. He has a blinkered vision that allows him to only see what is necessary and what is moral and what is right. It is not uncommon in those possessed by great religiosity to be consumed to the point of delusion. It is not a prerequisite, nor is it rampant, but let’s be honest: America has its fair share of true believers. Just not enough to win a nomination.
Santorum calls himself a Catholic but he is built, as a candidate, more like an evangelical. He has a fever, and the only cure is more sermonizing. He knows what America needs. He wants to help. He thinks he can save us.
This is delusional behavior. Rick Santorum can no more save this country than he can win a general election, much less the Republican nomination. And even if he pads his totals over the next few weeks (he is currently at 278 delegates) they will not magically balloon into anywhere near what he needs them to be. It’s over. The social issues candidate has run out of time. His luck has soured. Only faith can carry him now. He is “irrelevant,” as 2008’s nominee John McCain said today; he would know.
The fact that he made it this far goes beyond any rational explanation—oh, right: Mitt Romney.
What Santorum surely does not recognize, but should, is that he was a placeholder. He was a warm body—a warm, conservative body—and he filled the role that Herman Cain and Michelle Bachmann and, for a brief time, Newt Gingrich did: the anti-Mitt. The non-Romney. Other. Anyone But.
Santorum’s social conservatism carried him much further than anyone could have imagined, but it was bound to fail and it could never last: women, after all, still have the right to vote.
In a primary known for its bizarre and deranged savagery, it is now a preordained race to the very bitter end. You want to write, with pun intended, that Santorum is determined to be the last to pull out, but with the cartoonish Gingrich and batty Paul still in, the joke remains holstered. Everyone has lost their mind.
What happens next is sad. We’ll watch the slow recede and see the media turn away, as the rest of the country begins to focus on the general election. Eyes will glaze over at the sight and sound of one Willard “Mitt” Romney, fabricating profusely. And we’ll long for the reality show atmosphere that prevailed for so long, vile and entertaining as it was.
Santorum won’t know it for sure, but he’ll feel something shift underneath him, eventually. Losing in his home state of Pennsylvania, that might ring a bell.
“I’m sorry but I find the protectors of child rapists preaching to women about contraception to be a moral obscenity. When all the implicated bishops and the Pope resign, ther replacements will have standing to preach.”
I’ve been interviewed before, as an indie rock guy or whatever, but never have I been the interviewer. Until now. Check out my interview of Mr. Grassroots, John Presta, he’s the real deal. Obama, Alinsky, and the Chicago Way, all wrapped up in one package. Kinda long, but suck it up.
The latest on the bizarro world of GOP politics:
It was just a week ago that the reality television star and fake presidential candidate was giving a visibly uncomfortable Romney the Las Vegas treatment. One can only imagine the fancy hotel room Trump set him up in, a few chips, the room service—comp’d.
How surprised was Romney when he woke up the next day and found a tiger in the bathroom?
Missing tooth or not, Mitt definitely lost something after the Trump endorsement. His dignity for sure, but also, perhaps, his standing as the frontrunner in the GOP race. Rick Santorum is the latest contestant to rise to the top of the heap after a three-state sweep last night in Missouri, Minnesota and Colorado. Whatever happened in Vegas, rolled up and died there.
Not much activity here but you can still find my continuing coverage of the election season over at the Examiner. Today’s article concerned The Donald’s momentous endorsement of Mitt Romney and more:
Romney is not the glib talker that Bill Clinton was or the inspired orator that Obama is; instead there is something…odd, unnatural, disturbing…about the way he speaks. He is not the word-mangler that George W. Bush was—an unreachable bar, most likely—but Romney has a way with not having a way with words.
The ad against him will be one long string: Mitt Romney will bet you ten thousand bucks that corporations are people too and he’s not concerned about poor people but by gosh he likes to fire people, all while singing “America, the Beautiful” out of tune.
The permanent link to my articles at the Examiner can be found here.
I’ll be contributing some 2012 campaign analysis over at the Examiner, starting with this one on the debate last night:
The latest twist came in the form of a Gingrich ex-wife (no. 2) spilling the beans on Newt’s desire for an open marriage back in the late 90′s. For the record, Newt denied the story and made sure to zing the messenger, CNN’s John King, for having the gall to ask him about the day’s biggest story. The reprimand was a rare complaint by Gingrich toward the media elite—his geniality and likability are growing with each new day on the campaign trail—and King chose not to ask him whether his lofty condemnation of Bill Clinton during the impeachment trials could be considered hypocritical.
I don’t know if any more people read that site than do this one but what the hell.
INTERNETS, 18th of January 2012.
PRESS RELEASE, FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE.
Over a century ago Thomas Edison got the patent for a device which would “do for the eye what the phonograph does for the ear”. He called it the Kinetoscope. He was not only amongst the first to record video, he was also the first person to own the copyright to a motion picture.
Because of Edisons patents for the motion pictures it was close to financially impossible to create motion pictures in the North american east coast. The movie studios therefor relocated to California, and founded what we today call Hollywood. The reason was mostly because there was no patent. There was also no copyright to speak of, so the studios could copy old stories and make movies out of them – like Fantasia, one of Disneys biggest hits ever.
So, the whole basis of this industry, that today is screaming about losing control over immaterial rights, is that they circumvented immaterial rights. They copied (or put in their terminology: “stole”) other peoples creative works, without paying for it. They did it in order to make a huge profit. Today, they’re all successful and most of the studios are on the Fortune 500 list of the richest companies in the world. Congratulations – it’s all based on being able to re-use other peoples creative works. And today they hold the rights to what other people create. If you want to get something released, you have to abide to their rules. The ones they created after circumventing other peoples rules.
The reason they are always complainting about “pirates” today is simple. We’ve done what they did. We circumvented the rules they created and created our own. We crushed their monopoly by giving people something more efficient. We allow people to have direct communication between eachother, circumventing the profitable middle man, that in some cases take over 107% of the profits (yes, you pay to work for them). It’s all based on the fact that we’re competition. We’ve proven that their existance in their current form is no longer needed. We’re just better than they are.
And the funny part is that our rules are very similar to the founding ideas of the USA. We fight for freedom of speech. We see all people as equal. We believe that the public, not the elite, should rule the nation. We believe that laws should be created to serve the public, not the rich corporations.
The Pirate Bay is truly an international community. The team is spread all over the globe – but we’ve stayed out of the USA. We have Swedish roots and a swedish friend said this: The word SOPA means “trash” in Swedish. The word PIPA means “a pipe” in Swedish. This is of course not a coincidence. They want to make the internet inte a one way pipe, with them at the top, shoving trash through the pipe down to the rest of us obedient consumers. The public opinion on this matter is clear. Ask anyone on the street and you’ll learn that noone wants to be fed with trash. Why the US government want the american people to be fed with trash is beyond our imagination but we hope that you will stop them, before we all drown.
SOPA can’t do anything to stop TPB. Worst case we’ll change top level domain from our current .org to one of the hundreds of other names that we already also use. In countries where TPB is blocked, China and Saudi Arabia springs to mind, they block hundreds of our domain names. And did it work? Not really. To fix the “problem of piracy” one should go to the source of the problem. The entertainment industry say they’re creating “culture” but what they really do is stuff like selling overpriced plushy dolls and making 11 year old girls become anorexic. Either from working in the factories that creates the dolls for basically no salary or by watching movies and tv shows that make them think that they’re fat.
In the great Sid Meiers computer game Civilization you can build Wonders of the world. One of the most powerful ones is Hollywood. With that you control all culture and media in the world. Rupert Murdoch was happy with MySpace and had no problems with their own piracy until it failed. Now he’s complainting that Google is the biggest source of piracy in the world – because he’s jealous. He wants to retain his mind control over people and clearly you’d get a more honest view of things on Wikipedia and Google than on Fox News.
Some facts (years, dates) are probably wrong in this press release. The reason is that we can’t access this information when Wikipedia is blacked out. Because of pressure from our failing competitors. We’re sorry for that.
- THE PIRATE BAY, (K)2012
A quick thought about Barney Frank retiring: the descriptions of him all seem to settle on the idea that he was a bully of some sort, a gruff, brow-beating jerk who frightened everyone around him. I don’t doubt it. I certainly wouldn’t argue against it. It’s probably what made him so effective in his job. But, as much as I enjoyed his public displays of sarcastic disdain toward right-wingers and fools in general, if you asked me whether he would make for a good president my answer would be absolutely not. Furthermore, would he be remotely electable, even by half the country?
No way. Not a chance. His is not the temperament that achieves the office of the presidency. Forget that he’s gay, or Jewish, or whatever. That personality alone disqualifies him. You know it and I know it, we’re not blinded by ideological hopes and dreams. Come on!
So. It’s quite obvious, isn’t it? He is the Newt Gingrich of the left.