Category Archives: personal

I want to join the (dark and twisted) circus

But doesn’t everyone after going to see one? Especially Cirque Berzerk, it is dark, twisted, extraordinary. It turns you on like a flame. You are in hell, amongst the dead, and as I have often imagined, the dead are fascinating and deeply sexy. They rebel against the world as it is, they embrace difference, and they wear great clothes.

And I have so many ideas. And an even greater appreciation for the benefits of flexibility, so I have taken up the quest to achieve a back walk-over once more. Especially now my arm has alllmost completely healed from the bike accident.

But I know I will never approach the effortless mastery and beauty of what I saw tonight. I loved most the two men, the courtship, the push and pull, the yes I want you no I don’t as they danced and then flew…impossible grace and power evenly matched, and long aching lines of desire spun out in geometric shapes of pure muscled strength and the sensuous curves of yielding. Limbs twining together high in the air, breaking free, and the empty space between them as beautiful as their bodies linked together in defiance of gravity.

And trampolines! They had trampolines! Two of them with a large wall in between, and four brothers flipping, falling, somersaulting in bewildering and marvelously choreographed fashion from trampoline to wall to trampoline to right over the wall to trampoline. I hardly knew which to watch and my stomach clenched in the spectacular confusion of it all, sure that such glorious madness could not continue indefinitely…

And then the skeletons, in goth dress, white porcelain masks like dolls. Their bodies moved with the jerking movements of marionettes, bones animated and dancing, skulls bobbing with their steps, moving from graceful skill to skillful awkwardness, all of it requiring an incredible control over every part of the body that was breathtaking.

There were cross-dressing caberet dancers who put on a hell of a show, and all of the dancers were phenomenal. Normally I hate clowns, but the fire breathing drunk in the dirty suit and cross face and conical hat, I loved him. He went from iconic figure of shabby Victorian fantasy on stilts, to clunky shoes and an intoxicated stumble, and pulled a hat out of a rabbit. There was a woman who did the most extraordinary things while in handstand position on…stilts as well I suppose, I have no idea what to call them! The trapeze artist was gorgeous, and the woman who wrapped and unwrapped herself in two pieces of red silk  high above the ground, also gorgeous. A man who balanced on barrels and boards and towers of multiple moving parts…a couple who went through the kama sutra in ways only impossibly gifted gymnasts can, and the three in hoops high in the air at the very end when the woman in red comes into her own. And there was a midget in drag with an unforgettable face and a bad temper, and whoever put the music together for this approaches genius. And those playing the music as well. And if I am forgetting anything it is only because it is late. But my eyes were wide, my lips parted, and my breath caught for the duration, there was nothing that wasn’t spectacular and I haven’t enjoyed a performance so much in ages.

So go.

A glorious week in and around LA

There are two parties on the block tonight, so I’m hunkering down with some wine and my headphones…it’s been an amazing week really, I should blog more maybe…

Tuesday I went down to San Diego, and headed over to Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore with China Mieville. I hadn’t seen him do a book reading…I think I’ve said everyone should read The City and The City before, it is spectacular. He was funny and humble, incredibly intelligent and articulate and everyone there loved him. And you could see how much he respected and liked them right back (that’s character for you) and everyone lined up so he could sign the 3 or more books they were buying and I was amazed (that doesn’t happen at our book signings I’m afraid…), and he chatted with all of them and enjoyed it and they left beaming. And I loved him for that. I have been to many book readings in my time, and this was among the best. But who else can combine my love of monsters and politics and sense of fun? Not many.

I also learned something that has been puzzling me for some time, and that is that while I have incredibly geeky tendencies, I am not in fact a geek. Though I sometimes aspire. And I realized that is because I am not OCD, and therefore not worthy. Or perhaps I’m just geeky in an extraordinarily broad sort of way that would elevate me to a true geek after about 200 years (If I planned to be cryogenically frozen, would that qualify me? But then I couldn’t keep reading). Because I am fascinated by everything, and therefore cannot concentrate or be overly obsessive about any one thing. I almost never read anything twice for example, from my Tuesday conversations it appears that this does not at all conform to the sense of what is normal. Of course, I have been keeping a list of books I want to read since I was 20. It has now reached epic proportions, and I never delete anything off this list but steadily mark things off as I read them. How on earth could I find time to read anything twice? Nor does the fact that I like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle mean that I have read everything the man has ever written…and so, I feel I must bow from my pretensions and remain unaffiliated to any tribe. Except in solidarity.

Anyway, that was a night of pure unadulterated magic, and I shall never more be tempted to say it doesn’t exist.

Wednesday, my friend woke me up from my nap and I headed out for drinks and dinner with three of my favourite girls in the world. We’re all ex-organizers, and life is so good when ex-warriors get together. Not that we talk about the glory days, what a waste of time that would be. Instead I got all of the juiciest gossip on the latest union drama, HERE and SEIU and UNITE and it was actually incredibly horrible and infuriating and I would like to give Andy Stern a bloody nose. At the least. It’s too juicy to repeat in a blog for damn sure, but apalling. Still, I feel I’ve been through worse and what can you do? And the drinks were good and strong. And then we talked about life and love and laughed and laughed some more and I went to bed happy to have such friends.

Thursday now…went to the Getty to see Alain de Botton talk about his new book. And I felt bad for both Alain and Beverley. It was a place and a crowd expressly designed to bring out the hater in me, and oh, but it did. To be in a place like that where everyone is white and wealthy in this city makes my skin crawl. I always wonder where that immense reservoir of rage comes from…I am not as a rule an angry person, being too caught up in enjoying the world. But it makes me physically uncomfortable, and it is only slightly better for me than others of my friends, if only because I look like I might belong there. And the talk was on the joys and sorrows of work, and I did appreciate the intellectual curiosity and questions. But I must confess that given I believe labour is the crux of the world’s problems, to talk about the curious aspects of how people end up being accountants is vaguely interesting. Yet infuriating if it does not do so within a context of structural inequality. Or mention the fact that only a tiny percentage of the world’s population has the luxury of choosing their occupation…or worrying about that choice and thinking about what they’d rather do instead. So I was steaming at the end.

And tonight? Bev and I went to see Food, Inc. And I cannot recommend it highly enough, it was fantastic. And I’m winding down…but it looks at how food is produced and how it comes to us. And it has the shots of cows with holes in their sides from eating only corn, the chickens who can’t walk, the screaming pigs headed to slaughter. And I am a vegetarian because of those things…and the hormones, the antibiotics, the disease (e-coli will break your heart in this movie). Not because I think killing animals is intrinsically wrong, but because how we do it is so unutterably horrible. And there are so few alternative sources of meat, and at a cost most of the population cannot afford. And, well, I do like animals. Let those who want to eat meat eat meat, but I don’t want to anymore. Though bacon remains a severe temptation.

Of course it also looks at corn. And a little at soy. Given corporate practice and cash crops and the evils of monoculture, being a vegetarian really isn’t that much better for the planet of course, I wish most vegetarians would click on that. But what I LOVED about this movie was that it actually looked at structure, corporate power and government, and labor…it actually talked about the exploitation of the workers, and how companies work hand in hand with ICE. It talked about how many of the immigrants working in meat packing plants were actually displaced corn farmers from mexico, put out of business by NAFTA.

And the farmers who spoke were incredibly courageous and smart. And they had all been sued and been forced to settle and that hit me hardest of all, next to the workers being chained up by Ice. It’s how my family lost our home after all, and I cried. I don’t know how this illusion that courts disperse anything resembling justice can hold up. Courts are about protecting private property of course, and whoever has the most money and can afford the experts, the lawyers, the interminable process before a case even gets to court…well, they always win. Oprah made a comment about how she’d never eat another hamburger after mad cow, and spent 6 years and $1 million in litigation, it took that much to defend herself. Regular folks can’t do that. Mo settled with Monsanto and lost his business, just getting sued lost him that, and the tears were pouring down my cheeks. They are winning and I am so angry and I feel like breaking things again. I guess I know where the rage comes from.

But it was brilliant, go see it…

And maybe in your movie theatre, if you’re lucky enough to live in a big city where it is playing, you’ll also be lucky enough to have a woman wearing a purple turban…

Carrizo Plain

I woke up Sunday morning, fell back asleep, had a brilliant dream, woke up again, made coffee. It was a bit of a late night at Allegra’s house party the night before, reggaeton and some dancing, beer and a contact high. So I treated myself, and lay in bed reading The Urban Question by Manuel Castells and maybe dozed a bit more through that, it’s heavy going. Though good for a chuckle when he starts to rumble with Lefebvre if you’re an urban planning nerd like me…

And then Bev called to say they were heading north after all, so I threw on some clothes. Jeans and a T-shirt here in the LA sunshine, but by the time we arrived in Gorman on the I-5 it was snowing.

Snowing! I love the inconsistencies of snow in Southern California a short drive from home, and the brightly capped peaks that lie to the left of the 5.

I have no proof, I took shots of the wet flakes in vain, and nothing was sticking. But Gorman is coloured beautiful with flowers,

even though the poppies and trumpet flowers were closed up tight against the weather. Wish I had that ability as well, I took this shot through my tears, they were rolling down my cheeks from the cold of the wind. Needless to say I was not prepared for snow, though I did have a sweater. We drove the 5 and then down along the 166, past row upon row of grapes, peaches, citrus trees. Past oil derricks and the weathered wood of abandoned buildings and bridges with their twisted rusted metal. And up into the hills and down again onto Carrizo Plain.

It was a day of wide expanses, a world of sun and shadow. And salt flats. And flowers.

The great San Andrea’s fault runs down through the basin, plain to the view, and if California ever cleaves in two with half of it falling into the ocean? It will crack along this line, this understated source of seismic unrest and quaking earth. It’s quite extraordinary to think you could walk along this slight cleft in the ground and never know the power that lies beneath you.

The flowers, our reason for driving, were incredible carpets of yellow. Poppies were all hiding their heads and we only saw a few clumps of lupins, but the various sunflowers?

Dancing in the wind…exuberant, short lived, glorious. As we walked up this mountainside, crickets sprang from underfoot, hundreds of them, and they sang low and sweet and from all directions. And all of this is almost side by side with Soda lake. It is filled entirely by run off from its large basin, and sometimes dries almost completely. The water leaves an eerie beauty in its wake, mud encrusted with brilliantly white alkaline salts.

Death and life once again, I find them everywhere!

The drive back homeward was full of afternoon light and storm clouds, and great expanses of rolling hills that are one of the landscapes I love best.

And one of the best shots of the year below. The Pogues were playing, “Life’s a bitch, and then you die, black hell! Hell’s ditch.” And I don’t know I disagree, which gives an enormous sense of pleasure and transgression to be out in this beautiful world and joyful, a day stolen from the world’s ravages

The sun was setting as we drove through McKittrick, and then Buttonwillow, and I caught this shot of grower owner an operated gin, cotton gin I imagine! I remember reading about them in school though I’ve really no idea what a cotton gin does…still, cooperatives make me happy, especially when the sky is rosy and their surroundings beautiful.

We stopped to eat, and then drove back down over the grapevine, the dark sky carpeted with millions of stars the way it should be. And so while I could possibly name a couple of things that could make me happier with their presence, being happy is quite enough.

Save

Interlude

Every time I get on a plane I think how amazing it is that we can fly through the air. And I think about life, and that I am happy to have lived so well. And that I really want to live a bit longer, because there is still so much I want to do.

Today coming back into LA, the hills were an emerald green, greener than I have ever seen them. And I was able to imagine for a second that I was coming home to somewhere else, where the hills are always this green, and happiness fluttered in my stomach. For a second.

But the hills gave way to uniform lines of tracted, gridded, swimming-pooled housing, spreading for LA’s unfathomable miles, and then the suburbs melted into the ghettoes. And the man sitting next to me continued to adjust … let’s just say to adjust himself. He had been doing so since he first sat down an hour and a half before. And I realized that I am good at unseeing things but not that good, so I curled up into myself, and into the window. And it upset me, as did the hour wait for the flyaway, and somehow I lost my ‘stay away’ face, that comes and goes since I left South C for Scotland, and got seriously hit on and I just wasn’t in the mood.

Hopefully soon the hills beneath the plane will be the ones I want. Right now I just want to run away, but it would be nice instead to be running to. Or with. Or something like that. And I dream of the LSE decision, but sadly, and on all fronts I care about, this is the time of no reply. And I have no wine.

The gaps

I discovered a small truth today. Or a big Truth. You could write reams about the meaning of truth and that’s not at all what I want to do. To me, there are simply those moments when you realize something and it’s like a glorious golden tone, a sense of rightness where everything moves slightly, settles into comfortable place.

It has been inspired vaguely by the last two books I’ve read. China Mieville’s The City & The City…soon available to those less lucky than I, this is a book I truly love. And Michael Chabon’s Maps and Legends, which I really liked, and is a good read. The City is all about interstices, visibility and invisibility, cities lying both beside and inside of each other. And it gave me chills because these are things I mull over all the time in many different ways. And yet this book created a world that I have never yet come even close to imagining and that is an incredible gift. This is my first reading of course, it is the kind of book that will yield up additional meanings as I reread it I know. It inspired a sideline of my own thought, and Chabon cemented it though the cementing was a tiny sideline of his work as well.

There are no margins. When I get these golden moments and write them down, they always appear absurdly simple, hardly worthy of mention. And they are so often things I have been thinking for a long time, and never found words for, so they remained fuzzy and ill-defined. Margins, the marginalized … these are words used all the time, especially in social theory, the world of urban planning. I have used them myself. And I am sure my little truth is not new, so I apologize to others ignored in the flush of my discovery… a discovery for myself, not for the world. And I’m still exploring it, savouring it like a bar of dark chocolate, so forgive that to.

Margins only exist from the perspective of one seated firmly and comfortably in the center of their own world. These people look out and see from great distance others behaving in ways they don’t understand, and usually do not condone. In the worst case scenario they see their margins as something to be fixed or eradicated. And they always look at it with varying shades of wonder, jealousy, disdain, voyeuristic interest, judgment. And the rest of us buy into it almost without thinking. I’ve been imagining that instead of a dominant world, the earth is peopled with many such worlds, like spheres, they pile up and jostle one another, their thin membranes can overlap others sometimes, they exist in permutations of inside and outside and crosshatched shades (crosshatch comes from China, it has made me extraordinarily happy).

Some people, many people, are lucky enough to navigate worlds from early ages, but these worlds are afforded different values. Marginalization is entirely in the mind, and entirely political. For most the margins mean the underworld, the underbelly, the world of the poor, the criminal. In the States it is the spaces inhabited by people of color, the poor, immigrants, strange languages, smells, foods. The reality is that these are their own worlds of equal value if not economic or political strength. The reality I think, is that to those inside of them, their codes and beliefs and comfort levels are just as much defined for them by their surroundings as for anyone else, and their own margins just as real within them. South Central, like South Tucson, is actually a vibrant and beautiful place of incredible culture and history, though with codes and violence shaped by years of poverty, racism and eploitation. The worlds of my UCLA professors who theorized on improving the inner city, and the women I worked with who spent hours on a bus to go and clean their houses…to move back and forth between them was like a jolt, an existential disconnection. Neither understood the other, both saw completely different sides. To stand outside both but with a foot in each yielded entirely new facets again.

There are even worlds that people choose to belong to, that become as bounded as anything else. To me much of the Bay Area, for example, has always been too uniform for comfort in its own comfortable counterculture-ness, and unspoken standards of politics, behaviour, shopping, and intellectualized relationships. They seem as much wrapped inside their own place as the girls I used to know who would never have dreamed of moving more than a few miles from their mothers, being unmarried beyond 25, living a life untethered to church, hometown, family.

None of this thinking about margins is new really, the whole point of nationalistic and identity movements, the best of postmodernism, have all had the aim of rejecting the term marginal, establishing an identity and a value that is separate and different from that which dominates, yet equal to it. Ha! Never thought I’d ever use separate but equal in a positive light. In a sense it is, but in many ways it is not. The feeling of belonging, however much I long for an idealized version of it on days when I am lonely and sad, always implies the existence of those who do not belong. At its best it coexists happily and does not judge, but even then it seems to carry within it the seeds of judgment, of believing everyone else incapable of knowing, understanding, partaking. And intellectuals always seem to push it, hone it, create walls that cannot be bridged. Regular folks I know who never stay up nights thinking about these things seem much more able to cross boundaries, build friendships, find humor in misunderstandings and cultural miscommunication. It’s what I loved most about Tucson’s southwest side, and gives me faith.

There are no margins, but there are people between worlds. One of my favourite books is called La Maravilla by Alfredo Vea Jr., I read it many years ago and have reread it many times. It is what first started me thinking about these things. It is the story of a boy living in Buckeye, a tiny world of squatters and outcasts outside of Phoenix. He is being raised by his Grandparents, an old Yaqui indian and a curandera from Spain, in uneasy and strained relationship with her Catholic beliefs. The grandfather takes his grandson into the mountains with some of his friends for a peyote ceremony, and he explains to him that all of the best people, the ones most worth knowing, are found within the gaps. They belong nowhere and that gives them immense freedom to create, to love, to understand, to be. And they are of every race, nation, culture, belief … anyone is capable of stepping into the gaps.

And I have always found it to be true, much as I love so many I know who are comfortable within the confines of their own worlds. It is a lonely place many times, true. But I think it allows the space to grow into the full measure of your own humanity, to explore worlds on their own terms, to dream of a world that doesn’t yet exist. Many are born into it, but spend their lives trying to belong to one place or another, to define themselves by geography or race or class or sexuality or intellect. And that is complicated by the fact that the dominant culture has for centuries defined people as it wishes, and used that as a whip to tear down, enslave, destroy. The dominant world in this country of a white middle America is very much a myth I think, but I don’t forget for an instant that the power of media, government and corporations are propping it up with brutal force and great power.

But there is such strength in stepping into the gap, embracing it, exploring it as something not simply thrust upon you. So I reject margins and believe in these gaps, crosshatchings, borderlands, wild spaces. And exult in them.

Sonoran Desert in the Springtime

This year there are no carpets of golden poppies or sunflowers, there are no giant swaths of color splashed across the Tucson desert, and part of me is disappointed of course. I love glorious abandon.

This is one of the years that requires a closer eye, a delight in the subtle, the ground-hugging, the tiny. I love that too. The desert is still full of flowers, they riot across the stones in perfect blooms the size of a fingernail.

Eriastrim Diffusum or Miniature Woolystar

Monoptilon bellioides, also known as Mojave Desert Star. I think. There’s something about seeing what is usually unseen. there were a couple of phacelias, though I remember years when they have filled the grasses alongside the washes in deep gorgeous blues unfurling.

The flowers have definitely seen better years, and the same goes for the prickly pear. While you’re looking for what is always missed, seeking out the small beauties and the things that are hidden, you also find these guys

The only thing that seemed to be blooming as normal were the mallows.

And when you look up the desert is still wide open, beautiful

You can’t even tell that tiny flowers blanket the hills, and that lizards crouch frozen in the mottled shade of bushes.

Dad and I found this off the beaten trail, beneath a mesquite tree where a small arroyo split into two

It could be a shrine, a joke, a memory. Plastic flowers in the desert almost always commemorate death, marking graves or the sites of accidents where flesh failed and souls left bodies. In the desert death is as present as life, they twine around each other, you see it and traces of it everywhere. Scattered bones, skin, remnants of bodies.

I love life even more beside death. Beauty hidden in an arid landscape and draped around cacti skeletons, or exploding after a good winter of rain in a riotous celebration of color. High arching skies and heat. The smell of creosote and dust. This I understand. I love. I leave it for the world of people and there is so much I don’t understand, though I love there too. I walk through the desert in sandals fearlessly, it is my place. It is a beautiful dangerous place, but I know where the danger lies. The human world? I walk through that in sandals too, but never fearlessly. It hurts much more.

Save

PM, the Tucson Book Festival, & conspiracy theories

It makes me so happy that my hometown had its first annual book festival this weekend, hurrah for the Tucson Book Festival. And to be there with a table full of books and cds and dvds I can be proud of? Even better.

The PM table was busy, very busy, and I am thoroughly exhausted, but in that satisfied job well done sort of way. Yesterday was much busier. The highlights were the elder from the Sioux Nation who broke down for my dad the racism of the courts and the struggle to reclaim their original treaty lands from the US government, stolen after gold was discovered in the Black Hills. She was awesome. There was an older guy with polished and coiffed white hair, khakis, smart blazer. Mirrorish sunglasses. He looked at the Angola 3 video, and told me he had been imprisoned in Angola (the country), by the Cubans (who ran the country at the time). I almost asked him if he had met Che then, but didn’t. I never know if those guys are being serious, I met another old guy who told me once in a bar that he had been in Laos for years, back when he worked for the government, back when he didn’t exist. Whether or not these guys were black ops, they give me the creeps. Somehow I believe them, because they could say such things to thousands of  American who would never know what they were talking about.

Dad manned the booth with me yesterday, and was incredibly helpful in many ways. He claims that his role was to distract the big talkers with big theories and allow me time to talk to other people. My feeling is that he did that to some extent, but also ensured they spent an extra 20 minutes in the booth that I could have prevented. Like today, when I learned a great deal about the connections between the Rothschilds and England’s Royal family and how they run the world. And none of the big talkers bought anything. And many of them are emailing me in the next few days.

All of the conversations were interesting though, and I did enjoy them all. Here’s an excerpt from some of the leaflets I picked up:

“I am now a FELON because I attempted to protect my mother, a victim of Alzheimer’s, from a herd of wild cattle (including bulls) on our own private FENCED property near Snowflake, AZ.

The rancher refused to remove them, so I tried to scare the 30-40 cattle back through our gate with the noise from a .22 rifle and in the process one was killed. It must have been a ricochet since I know that I did not try to hit one.

The rancher (Dee Johnson), has 60 FELONIES against him for CATTLE RUSTLING. He is a cousin to both Jake Flake and Jeff Flake, in the AZ Legislature and US Congress respectively. Is it possible that politics has something to do with this?

you can read more at www.cowcrap.org.

Cattle rustling! God Damn! Oh the good times we had I can tell you! And of course maybe they’re not from the town, but I find mention of the Flake family of Snowflake, Arizona somewhat amusing. If they weren’t connected to cattle rustlers reminiscent of Clint Eastwood films that they seem to be, they would be a Christmas special.

Today was slower, and both parents came along making it a family affair. And Gary was around, speaking on a panel on noir and politics with Kent Harrington, and that was great. He came by the booth of course, even though the printers have yet to find a paper that works for the Jook’s cover flaps so the books didn’t arrive in time, and the book signing that should have taken place didn’t. The biggest disappointment. But here we are, with new our new friend Joy from Revolutionary Grounds.


You should definitely head on down there if you’re in Tucson, and often. Not just because they are stocking many of our books, but also because they are a great space on 4th ave to hang out, talk, eat well and drink Zapatista coffe.

And amazing, I ran into three different families I haven’t seen in 10-15 years, maybe more. The Seoldos and Sharon who used to go to our old church down off of Valencia and 12th, and the Leons. Roy used to be the assistant coach for my brother Dan’s soccer team (good old Santa Cruz, ah I remember the days, I saw them every Saturday for much of my childhood)…it is lovely to run into folks from the old days.

It was a very long, but very nice weekend, full of so many great conversations that I can’t mention them all! Folks here are fantastic. Of course.

Save

Late night meanderings far too early…

I ran into someone last night I’ve known for years, since he was a kid and he’s practically family. Now, luckily, the distant kind. He’s still the same. He was drunk, and showed me how he’d just been stabbed several times, and told me three different gangs would have my back if anyone messed with me. He was still hustling and still saying he was sorry. He was sorry all the time, and I believed it for a long time until I realized it was just to ease people into doing things for him. Because he always needed something from you. That hasn’t changed seems like.

I still remember once he was really drunk and who knows what else, and crying his eyes out and confessed to doing all of these truly horrible things that had truly fucked people over. And I sat there horrified, realizing for the first time that in reality he was just sorry for himself, and for the fact that none of these people (including me) liked him anymore. The real damage and impact of his actions on others hadn’t entered his mind at all, nor any conception of making up for what he had done, or doing things differently. Such a strange mixture of utter self absorption and the need to be liked by others, while using them for all he could get. And lies, all the time. Last night he told me I used to annoy him when he was coked out and he was sorry about that too because he really did love me. Made me want to cry really.

It’s funny timing I suppose, I’ve been realizing that someone else I know is almost entirely the same. Apart from being much more clever, well educated, and able to quote feminist theorists to prove his sensitivity. And also apart from the coke and gang affiliations, though funnily enough both share similar stories about the glory days of past violence. He also says he’s sorry all the time to get you to do things, and is better at backing it up with reasoned arguments and assurances. Though not by much, being a smooth talker comes with the hustle. Both of them are generous with what they have, the problem is that they always need so much more. The second doesn’t drink so there was no chance of such brutal honesty, it’s a bit more devastating, though, to fall for it all a second time. I suppose if you come from the ghetto this hustling without conscience will generally get you killed, and if you’re from a good family it means you excel at your profession.

The thing is, you never know what the word sorry means to someone else until you actually know them well. And giving people the benefit of the doubt and believing the best of them can make you a victim. And I don’t know quite what to do with that. I don’t mind being cynical about the world and how it works, but I’ll be damned if two sociopaths can make me cynical about all the people in it. Maybe just because that would be too easy. You so often see what you want to see, good or bad. But I would like to see what is actually there. And believe in spite of everything that there is much of both.

And me? I’ve been bending my own rules to protect myself. I don’t hold with lies, but turns out not telling the whole truth is almost as bad and hurtful. In a world like this, with people like this, trust and all it is built on is so fragile. When my own trust has been betrayed it has been utterly devastating, and to be in turn someone who breaks trust is equally so. So it’s been a rough few weeks, and the past two days especially.

Ah well, I suppose this is one of the great human questions…the nature of humanity itself really. I have far too much love for people (and kittens and flowers and old buildings and wine and good writing and etc) to be properly cynical, but every day less trust than before. And I wish there were a political framework that could deal with this microlevel and give me a vision of life after capitalism I could believe in. You can see what’s so pursuasive about religion, sometimes I wish I could belive in that stuff. I read Camus instead. And try to be moral. And try again when I fail. And make fun of myself and everything else that’s fucked up while doing so, because honestly, what else can you do?

Tucson Gem & Mineral Show Day 1

The Tucson Gem and Mineral Show is one of my favourite things in the world…I have gone almost every year for…well. Since I was very small. People come from all over the world to sell unique and beautiful things, rocks and minerals and fossils that are much more impressive than those you could see in any museum. There are geodes of amatheyst twice as tall as I am, crystals that I cannot wrap my arms around they are so big, dinosaur skeletons, glimpses of the creatures that crawled the seas millions of years ago in extraordinary detail, trays of jewels and faceted gemstones ordered by size and weight and color, carvings and artwork in jewelry and gems and stone that make your eyes widen…I cannot even begin to describe it. And I took a couple of pictures to get a sense of the grandeur of it but I am highly unsatisfied with them artistically speaking. Maybe tomorrow. Still, the economy is hitting it with a sledgehammer. Usually it’s so packed you can barely move, but today was pretty empty, and the vendors said that sales were down…over 50% from last year for most. Sadness.

So I shall live for the day, and appreciate everything to the fullest. First, the opalized ammonites from Canada. If I had several thousand dollars of disposable cash, this is undoubtedly what I would buy, hands down. I love the shape of them, the color of them, the age of them, the rarity of them, the impossible beauty of them.

These are fossils, and the ammolite in the top picture is over 3 feet across. As they roamed wild in the oceans they were preyed upon by these huge dinosaurs that were truly the creatures of nightmare (among many other things, the sea is a wondrous but truly nasty place).

It’s only in death that these two could ever meet, as one ravaged the oceans and the other ravaged the land. I am quite thankful, however, to live in an era when things with teeth this size no longer exist. One of the ammolites had rows of holes in its shell almost an inch wide, it didn’t survive the attack. The reason so much of the shell survived is that these things were actually bigger than what you can see, there was a whole additional chamber that held the creature itself. And the attackers? Scientists now think they were warm blooded, which I find extraordinary. Neither reptiles nor fish, but mammals! And closest in structure to birds.

So for today, the only other good shot I took were of these rather random jellyfish…glass ones I believe. But since they’re from China, well, you never know. They were very cool.

They had laser lights however. Which made them cool but also somewhat…er…cheap? I think that might be the word. I don’t buy anything with laser lights. I do, however, have a thing for trilobites. And I bought this beauty from Morroco (Devonian period)

Gorgeous isn’t he?? And I am always torn by the fact that this show is full of incredible things I can afford (barely), though in a just world I should never be able to were anyone along the food chain getting a just wage. Like my trilobite here. But at least he shall be treasured.

So there’s a whole new age contingent present, which affords infinite…and I mean infinite amusement. So I’m going to share one ridiculous description a day I think, they come from the Metaphysical Guide to the Tucson  Jewelry, Mineral, Gem & Fossil Show. This is possibly my favourite annual publication. And actually, the descriptions below are very short versions of the catalog from the Heaven and Earth store, since I can’t be arsed to type the articles in spite of the fact that they are infinitely more amusing.

Merlinite (ahh the gullibility of the American public)

Merlinite is the name given to gemstones, which exhibit the combination of white quartz & black psilomelane. The best specimens, found in New Mexico, sometimes show druzy crystallization.

Mystic Lore: Intuitive sources say that Merlinite is a stone of magic, conjuring the memories of wizards and alchemists. It is said to blend heavenly and earthly vibrations, allowing one access to multiple realms. It can be used to access the akashic records, to draw upon the powers of the elements, to enhance shamanic practices, and to bring magic into one’s life.

Save

Clint Eastwood as a noun and a verb

I love few actors as much as I love Clint Eastwood. Sergio Leone might have had something to do with that originally, but he really is…iconic I suppose. I was going to go into why he is so great, but upon reflection realized that would probably reveal a great deal about myself and much less of Mr. Eastwood. And honestly there’s no need for that. All I’ll say is that I do sometimes have a hard time being analytical about the movies and separating actors from their parts, I admit it. So had Eastwood been consistently cast into the same roles as, say, Matthew McConaughey, would I still like him? Doubtful. Though does my mild feeling of derision for McConaughey come solely from his roles? It’s a layered question that one. But no, no, I don’t think so. After all, I like John Cusack too, though he’s been in plenty of bad romantic comedies. Eastwood just has a certain, special something.

And I’m doubtful that many could have carried off the role in Gran Torino. Eastwood is truly a brilliantly crochety and obnoxious old man…a brilliance definitely needed, as this was a movie with an enormous potential to turn into nothing beyond tired old cliches. I’m happy to say I think it escaped most of them. At least they didn’t club me over the head while I was watching it, they have a tendency to do that in many a Hollywood flic. And I am so glad, I was a bit skeptical going in since the trailers made it seem another simplistic tale of the old vigilante with the heart of gold taking on the hood. I suppose that’s how they have to sell movies in this country. But it had complexity the way all of Eastwood’s movies seem to, I think that’s why I love them so much. There is always such a distance between the mixed-up reality and the clear-cut myth. The story was compelling, all of the characters and the actors were good, I loved the old Hmong grandmother who was as crochety and nasty as Walt Kowalski! And it made me laugh in the most obscenely non-pc way. Which I enjoyed immensely. And then it made me cry. And we sat there for the credits as the tears poured down my cheeks and you know, almost everyone stayed until the very end.

I’m glad I enjoyed the movie, because the previews had me raging…I had to sit through an entire recruitment video done by Kid Rock and Dale Earnhardt Jr. for the National Guard. I couldn’t quite believe it as it went on and on, imagine a lot of flags, nascar, and soldiers doing heroic things. I respect people’s love of their country and their wish to defend it. It just makes me shake with fury to see the government using such American icons so shamelessly to propogate the lie that the wars abroad have anything to do with protecting freedom. Or that any GI in his right mind would stop his tank and rescue a kid’s soccerball anywhere in a war zone. Or that arguing about right and wrong is un-American. Or that the right thing to do isn’t bringing all of our soldiers straight home and giving them a good education and a union job. And repealing the goddamn Patriot Act. I’d like to sing this bloody song right back at the FBI.

It made me feel like going all Clint Eastwood on their ass. And then painting their headquarters red.

So don’t tell me who’s wrong and right
When liberty starts slipping away
And if you ain’t gonna fight
Get out of the way

‘Cause freedom ain’t so free
When you breathe red, white and blue
I’m giving all of myself
How ’bout you?

And they call me warrior
They call me loyalty
And they call me ready to provide relief and help, I’m
Wherever you need me to be

I’m an American warrior
Oh I’m an American warrior
Citizen Soldier

Ahhhhh Yeahhhhh!

Yeah yeah, they call me warrior too. And just for the record, these are my most star-studded blog tags EVER. Though it’s not something I’m particularly proud of.