Category Archives: Philosophy

Age and the Mobius Band

A quick observation on age and the Mobius band.

When we (you ‘n me, if you’re old ‘n withered like me) were thirteen–yes, beginning that endless journey known as the teenage years–no one, abso-fucking-lutely no one, not even our clueless parents, would have referred to an eighteen year old as about the same age as a thirteen year old or vice-versa. Then, magically, by the time we were forty years old or there abouts, a person of forty-five was in the same age group as we were.

Remember? “How old is that chick I saw you dry humping on the dance floor?” could be accurately answered by saying about the same age as I am when in precise terms she might have logged thirty-five years here on the planet or she could just as easily be a hoary old bint of fifty.

Hang onto your Depends, bro. By the time you’ve passed ripe and entered the stage of life known as rotten–as in old age is rotten–we’re back to teen brackets, travelling on that wizard’s Mobius band of life.

“How old is your friend Dave,” the brunette with glossy black mane (ah, the miracles of modern hair coloring) and almost wrinkle-less facial skin (plastic surgery or Botox, maybe both) asked me.

“Quite a bit older than me,” I answered.

Dave is seventy-five. I’m seventy. Fuck him.

 

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New US $10 Bill

The New US $10 Bill is on it’s way: a woman will grace the currency and the choice of who we’ll see on the paper is up to us! Treasurer of the Untied States–no, that isn’t a typo–says we–the US bill payer, not $10 Bill, the former President–will get to choose our new $10 woman. Jesus, I haven’t had a $10 woman since I went through jump school at Fort Benning, Georgia, back in the ’60s. Anyway, here we go, unveiling choice number two:

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Do you recognize her? A woman who typifies the best in American womanhood, a woman who overcame immense obstacles to become the woman she is today. Yes, Caitlin Jenner is choice number two to grace (no offense intended, Grace…) the new $10 bill.

Choice number three: a young woman who climbed over the still breathing corpses of her parents, a humble couple who labored away in the vineyard of American politics proving that honesty isn’t the best policy, not when you want a whole fucking lot of $10 bills in yer pocket, is Chelsea Clinton. Does Chelsea have a chance against the woman above, a personage who made the cover of magazines from coast to coast. YES! At least in her own mind, because Chelsea believes in the importance of being important and the only important person Chelsea recognizes is the one whose image is on the $10 bill below.

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So there’s choice number two and three for the new, feminized, United States $10 bill. What about choice number one? In a contest like this one, there is not fucking first choice and we’re all losers. Note: we didn’t include Michelle Obama in the contest because she’s married to someone working in the US government and she doesn’t look good in black and white. We also left Kim Kartrashian off the list because, well, she’s not interested in small denominations and she’s related to choice number two.

UPDATE*****AH, FANGOOL****UPDATE$$$$AH, FANGOOL$$$$****UPDATE*****AH, FANGOOL****UPDATE$$$$AH, FANGOOL$$$$****UPDATE*****AH, FANGOOL$$$$****UPDATE

I was just informed that any candidate for adorning the new US $10 Bill must, by law, be deceased. Ded. Expired. No longer among the living. Though I reasoned that both of my candidates might fit this category mentally, I must return to my starting point and choose someone whose heart doesn’t pump out rich, red (or in the Clinton’s case, blue and green) blood. Maybe…Hillary. She’d be hillaryous. Nah, I disqualified her above. Lemme think. Stay tuned.

UPDATE*****AH, FANGOOL****UPDATE$$$$AH, FANGOOL$$$$****UPDATE*****AH, FANGOOL****UPDATE$$$$AH, FANGOOL$$$$****UPDATE*****AH, FANGOOL$$$$****UPDATE

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Curmudgeonly and Confused About Alcohol and Sexual Assault

I have no question that I’m curmudgeonly and confused about alcohol and sexual assault. That belief was underlined as I recently read a New York Times article dealing with sexual assault on college campuses. According to the story, one in five college women are sexually assaulted during their years on campus and one out of twenty men suffer the same fate. Then, just today (14 June 2015) the Washington Post ran a similar story. OK…my confusion began to increase exponentially as I discovered that at least one young woman believes she was assaulted–raped, to use the more common term that we curmudgeonly folks understand–when she awakened in bed with a classmate and realized the two, she and her bedmate, had engaged in sexual intercourse whilst she was too inebriated to properly give her consent. She then goes on to admit that her partner was also wickedly drunk, thus both parties were guilty of assault because neither was capable of making a reasoned judgment and provide consent to whether or not they wished to fuck.

Hmmmm, I said to myself. I don’t drink, haven’t taken any alcohol in my system since 1984, but before I stopped drinking alcohol, undoubtedly I had sexual relations with several women when I was incapable of providing my reasoned consent to the act. They RAPED me! Facetious remarks aside, no question that I engaged in sex when I shouldn’t have with women I wouldn’t have held hands with, let alone done the things I shamefacedly recall, had I not been drinking alcohol at time.

Where I differ with the people in the two articles referenced above is simple: I was responsible for drinking to the point alcohol was affecting my judgment. Me, not the women. Me. I am powerless over alcohol and my life is unmanageable. Step One, Alcoholics Anonymous. I don’t remember reading or hearing Step One expressed as I am powerless over alcohol and you are responsible for not allowing me to do things I wouldn’t do when I was sober.

Let’s take this a bit further. I admit that I drove vehicles after (and while) I was drinking alcohol. I never was arrested, probably due to my drinking days ending more than thirty years ago, before there was quite as much effort expended by law enforcement to get impaired drivers off the road. When I staggered out of a bar in West Denver (the Lemon Tree, famed for its appearance briefly in the cult film Vanishing Point) and pointed my E-Type Jaguar toward my Central Denver home, I had to quint in order to narrow the lanes down to a reasonable number. Had I been involved in an accident, what were the chances the investigating cop would have told the driver of the car I hit that they were being charged with an offense? You saw the guy weaving all over the road. It’s your responsibility to avoid him. After all, you’re the sober driver, not him. Well, having served as a deputy sheriff myself, I don’t remember enforcing DUI laws in that manner.

So, back to the boys and girls who think they’ve been wronged. It can happen. Sober people take advantage of drunk people. Sober people sometimes maim, rob, kill and rape drunk people. Drunk people maim, rob, kill and rape drunk people. It’s somewhat more difficult for drunk people to maim or kill sober people (unless said drunk is driving a vehicle) because most sober folks don’t hang out with drunks.

Some advice from an old drunk: if you don’t drink alcohol, you won’t get drunk. If you don’t get drunk, many, many bad things are much less likely to happen to you than if you do get drunk. If you can’t drink responsibly, don’t drink. If you don’t drink, don’t hang out with people who do. Back to rule one: IF YOU DON’T DRINK ALCOHOL, YOU WON’T GET DRUNK. Believe me, if there were one thing I could go back and change in my life, I would never have taken the first drink of alcohol.

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Fuck (fill in the blank): In Fine Anni Pt II

Fuck. A fine word, equally at home as a verb (transitive or intransitive), noun, adverb, adjective…you get the idea. Highly suggestive, disdainful, disgusting and able to invoke colorful mental images, fuck is a wonderful term to employ when dealing with life’s conundrums. In Part II of In Fine Anni Observations, you may apply the term in any manner you wish. I certainly do. Shall we begin? Yes, let’s.

Fuck the electorate from our recently completed elections. That’s certainly what the incoming legislators will do.

Fuck the Kardashian family (including their associated spouses, ex-spouses, random paramours and anyone else who hangs out with them) for their unparalleled bad taste and disgusting money grubbing. Otherwise, fuck the Kartrashians on general principles.

Fuck Senator Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma. See line two above: he’s about to fuck all the rest of us with his fundamentalist beliefs and his denial of any form of mankind induced climate change.

Fuck Governor Douchey of Arizona. We thought Jan Brewer, former Arizona governor, she with the crocodile skin, was bad. Seeing who is in office now, we’ll miss our crazy former chief of state. Hell, I miss Ev Mecham and Fife Slymington.

Fuck extremists, certainly to include the Islamic nuts killing people for dissing the prophet. Je Suis Charlie, whether we want to be or not.

While we’re at it, fuck Mohammed. He probably needs it.

Fuck college coaches who are being paid millions of dollars each year. Need I explain? What about professors getting paid? Or teachers, for that matter?

Fuck vehicle drivers who control their deadly weapons as if regulatory signs (such as stop and speed limit 35 mph, etc.) were merely suggestions to be considered as discretionary choices.

Fuck keepers of web logs who are vapid, sophomoric and vulgar. Yes, I know I’m included in this group. Je Suis Charlie.

Fuck Mitt Romney, especially if he really does run for the presidency again (with or without his dog on the roof of the family vehicle).

Fuck Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, and all the other right wing bigots.

Fuck Hillary, her husband Billery, and all the other left wing assholes.

Fuck Obama. He’s been in office long enough: this is his goddamn mess. His hands stink of the shit he denies having touched.

Fuck Ron Barber for being such a wimpy butthole that he was sure to lose the CD2 Arizona Congressional race (which he did).

Fuck Martha McSally, winner of the CD2 Arizona race. Without any doubt the little colonel will fuck all of us, her poor, deluded constituents.

Fuck people who live with a cellular phone attached to their ear.

Fuck people who stand checkout lines screaming into the cellular phone attached to their ear.

Fuck companies that send advertisements designed to look like checks or invoices.

Fuck the Omaha Insurance Company that continues to send ads marked “this is your last opportunity” when the ads continue to arrive month after month, year after year.

Fuck the USPS, the postal service (service is merely part of the name, not a description of what they do), which now consumes 2 business days to get a letter from one small town in southeast Arizona to another town some 25 miles away. How? By closing a sorting facility in Tucson and sending the mail to Phoenix for sorting. (Sordid, isn’t it?) Mail must be at the local post office by 2:00 PM in order to make the transfer. No more having the local carrier pick up an outgoing letter in the streetside box, not without adding at least one business day to time enroute. So…add the cost of fuel consumed driving to the main post office to the cost of the stamp.

Fuck young people for flaunting their youth while being so oblivious to the future.

Fuck old people for having pissed on the future by destroying past opportunities then being angry that their youth has disappeared and old age is miserable. (Ever notice how many members of Congress are old, white, male and disgusting? Are you listening, Nasty Pelosi and John Boner?)

 

 

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In Fine Anni Observations Part I

In Fine Anni: end of the year, twelve months have limped, wobbled and slithered by since 1 January 2014. On a personal level, 2014 has been a significant improvement compared to 2013. Outside my skin, here in southeast Arizona, then statewide and certainly at the national level, 2014 has been another few steps along the down staircase with the descent appearing as if it might become a bit more rapid.

Let’s wander outside my house and take a look around. I will first offer a caveat. I’m a spectator. I don’t want to be a participant in much of what I observe around me and go to some lengths to avoid too much contact with outside affairs. This explains why I’ve lived in a mountain community of about 5,000 lost souls for more than thirty years. I don’t have to participate if I don’t want to and, for the most part, I don’t. This trait probably had its inception when I first worked as a reporter in the early 1960’s. Observe, report, exit the room without leaving footprints in the dust.

OK, now we’re outside the house. Our little town elected new council members this year. On the + side, the former mayor will return to her fantasy-laiden reality without asking the denizens of Bisbee to join her. The putative heir to her domain lost his bid for election. He, too, shall hopefully fade away. Can the new council and retread mayor (who held the office several years ago) repair our ills?

Can my cat fly a 747? Sure…and so much for that.

The street outside my house was torn to the ground and a layer of chip-seal applied two years ago. Road engineers–the very ones who were supervising the project–told me a new layer of chip-seal should be applied every two years. When, oh Lord, will the tar and rock machines return? Probably when the ruts and potholes in the new street are deep enough to conceal the trucks that pound up and down our street periodically. Ah, well. We, myself and my neightbors expected no less.

Where is the city going to cover its denizens with monetary largesse? Probably outside the city at the local airport which services…US Air?…United?,…no, it services maybe 14 single-engined aircraft that fly upon occasion. Some of them are even owned by local residents. A few are, anyway. Two members of the airport commission have private homes beside the runway. THEY will benefit.

I wonder why the city can’t buy a shop for me to work on my motorcycles? There are far more people who own motorcycles in our little town than there are aircraft owners. Why the disparity?

What walks and what talks?

We shall look farther down the potholed road of local economics in In Fini Anni Observations Pt II (to be posted soon).

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Filed under Heart and Other Vital Body Parts, Odd, Odder and Oddest, Philosophy, Politics

El Milagro del Scottsdale: Heroes, Tents and Piles of Shit

23 November 2014

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Yes, people, beginning in mid-December, you, me (and anyone else with money to burn and no brains) can wade through merde at El Milagro del Scottsdale.

What?

We, the brainless moneyburners, can interact with fictional (the best and bravest kind) heroes while wading through piles of shit, courtesy of Marvel Comix and our tendered cash, all in lovely North Scottsdale. It’s not real shit, no, sir…it’s virtual shit, but the smell is there, the taste, the texture, all of the reality of shit without having to scrape the stuff off after you leave the reality tents. (Image above was borrowed by quickmeme.com, it was just too appropriate to pass up.)

Where did this nonsense come from? Well, my significant other’s brother is working on the setup of the Marvel Experience show in Scottsdale and she (significant other, not her brother) showed me the website. For $27.50 I could get in the gate and for another few bucks, no, that’s dollars (bucks is an insensitive term that offends native Americans and various antlered animals), I could visit various tents that would allow me to interact with comic book heros in a form of virtual reality. The site promises that I can choose to be any hero I want…

So, I made my choice!

To hell with SpiderMan, CockroachMan, or CrabMan (the scourge of the sexually active everywhere…)

I want to be: Young Man. I want to hook up with gorgeous young women on the spur of the moment anywhere. Gone are the 1/4″ thick rubber girdles of my youth, the ones that adhered to skin the moment a woman began to perspire then couldn’t be removed even with the complicity of both consenting parties and the likelihood of the woman consenting was rare enough as it was, even without the chastity device her parents had forced her to wear. Modern times are here. Vanished like zits under a coating of Clearasil are the woman’s fears that a French kiss will lead to pregnancy or that a brush of a hand against her breast might cause a bright, red A to be burned into the skin of her forehead.

Yes. That’s who I want to be: Young Man. The very words resonate through the interstices of my mind. YOUNG MAN. Gone is my gray hair, gone are the whiskers that grow from my ears and nose, gone are the wrinkles everywhere, gone is the need to begin my day with Lisinopril, Carvedilol and a baby aspirin. No more visits to the cardiologist every few months. No more wondering where went the memories of what happened when I keeled over at my desk eleven months ago today…to awaken in a hospital room in Tucson days later, hooked up like one of the comic book heros at the Marvel Experience Tour.

Sheeit. Maybe I am living (or at least existing) in a form of virtual reality. Young Man? Not likely. At least I’m still living.

All the rest is just piles of shit in North Scottsdale.

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Commands, Orders and Force Continuum…a Fire Burning Ever Closer

I began working on this post at the beginning of August, before the events that recently unfurled in Ferguson, Missouri. (You know the story: Cop shoots, kills, unarmed young black man following a brief confrontation. Community is outraged. Riots follow, local police see force continuum as the answer to the uppity people who demand change in procedures that all too often result in needless violence.) Yes, that’s a fire burning toward town in the image below. It’s not just Missouri or New York City or Los Angeles or Alabama or a tiny town in Arizona that’s in danger. The flames are licking up around the nation (and, for that matter, much of the rest of the world, too). Media images of lines of Missouri police who are uniformed (and armed) just like the soldiers in Iraq, Afghanistan, Ukraine and Gaza kept focusing my thoughts on commands, orders and force continuum during the past couple weeks.

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Following is what I’d assembled prior to the killing in Ferguson:

A use of force continuum is a standard that provides law enforcement officials & security officers (such as police officers, probation officers, or corrections officers) with guidelines as to how much force may be used against a resisting subject in a given situation. In many ways it is similar to the military rules of engagement. The purpose of these models is to clarify, both for officers and citizens, the complex subject of use of force by law officers. They are often central parts of law enforcement agencies’ use of force policies.

Although various law enforcement and criminal justice agencies have developed models of the continuum, there is no universal standard model.[

The next time you’re reading a media release involving the police, note how frequently the phrase “issued a command” is invoked. “Officer Dimwitty did encounter a suspicious individual and did issue a command. The individual failed to obey Officer Dimwitty’s command and the officer, in fear of his life, did take action by shooting the individual fifteen times.” The suspicious individual, later identified as 78 year old Deloris Geezer of Anytown, was unarmed and investigators determined she was almost entirely deaf and suffered from bouts of confusion (as do most of us old people). Officer Dimwitty, a six-month veteran of the Anytown Police, was determined by Anytown police investigators to have acted appropriately under the circumstances.

This not-so-far-fetched story is a paradigm of Use of Force Continuum, a set of standards that the vast multitude of individuals acting under the umbrella of public security study to determine how much force may be used against a resisting subject in a given situation. Hypothetically these models clarify for both cops and citizens the subject of use of force by law officers. Unfortunately, the citizen (such as poor, dead Ms. Geezer) aren’t invited to the discussions of how these rules are applied and only infrequently do citizens help determine whether law enforcement officers (yes, Officer Dimwitty is a example) acted reasonably.

So, instead of Ms. Geezer, it’s a black kid who didn’t understand the rules of engagement and likely didn’t comprehend how quickly force continuum could result in a cop using deadly force because…of course…the policeman feared for his life. Sure, there are exculpatory details dripping out around the edges of this story. Ferguson police say that the kid who was killed–a young man who was both black and big, thus making him a double threat–stole cigars from a convenience store. OK, death is always an appropriate way of dealing with a criminal. Dead people don’t steal again…nor do they sell loose cigarettes on the streets of New York City…nor do they do any of so many of the minor activities that have resulted in death at the hands of the authorities.

Force continuum.

This concept is similar to an accident chain. Remove one link, change an aspect of the situation particularly during the early stages; there may be no catastrophic ending to the story. The accident may not happen. Unfortunately, the very individuals trained in the concept of force continuum, the people who make the rules, are the ones least likely to change their methodology. Why should they? Force is power. Increasing the amount of force increases the amount of power the interpreter of the situation can exercise. Rather than being trained to use each escalation of force only as a last option, authorities escalate immediately. Combined with other societal changes in law enforcement methodology and technology, the problems with force continuum as currently practiced are just beginning.

Changes? Making this concept even more deadly and more likely to result in more communities burning with rage answered by force is the US government “1033” program that involves turning over surplus military equipment to local police agencies. Yes, the cops in Missouri–at least many of them involved in the aftermath of the Ferguson killing–are wearing military gear, waving battlefield weapons at the local residents and driving along in armored vehicles provided free of charge through the largesse of the feds.

One of the requirements for keeping some of this gear is truly frightening. The equipment must be used at least once within the first year after the police take possession of it. Ah, so we make sure there’s a fuse sticking in the barrel of gunpowder. All we need now is a flame then, wherever we live, the wall of flames is ready to spring to life.

 

 

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Another Wedding on the Way

Signed the contract yesterday to photograph a wedding next month. Oh, Lord, (if you’re there…) don’t let my client read this drivel. To be truthful, I don’t spend my nights fantasizing about wedding photography. No, I don’t. Suckers are hard work though the money comes in handy to support my lens/camera/software/lights and so on addiction.

I try, I really do, to see every person at the wedding as attractive in some manner. Surely they are. Still…

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Some people are less attractive than others in a…physical sense. These folks (not just the ones above but all of them. of us. of you.) have positive attributes. They (us, me, you) may be smart, wise, incisive, kind and sweet. Unfortunately, they (us, me, you) sometimes ended up holding the shit end of the stick when it comes to traditional standards of beauty. Add in the stress that bride and groom encounter, the boiling, roiling emotions just under the surface of soon-to-be in-laws and parents about to have a new member of the clan: it all adds up to the occasional problem.

I photographed a society wedding in Palm Beach, Florida, in 1977. I was hired by a prime photographer, a contractor, the guy who assigned specific duties for the rest of us and ensured that critical moments were on celluloid before the day was over. Since these big jobs involved an entire crew, important shots were often assigned to two and sometimes three camera men. I was given the role of roaming around the lush lawns of a country club residence where the happy couple and their friends were pleading their troth. I was catching those glimpses in time that would hopefully bring a smile to a few faces. Much as I didn’t particularly care for wedding photography, my “day job” back in ’77 was radio news. I carried a camera when I was out gathering stories so I could grab the occasional image that was salable to other media, thus implementing my meager income at WMCF-FM in Stuart. Candid photography is really what news photographers do, so this was a natural for me.

Following the wedding we were going over the contact sheets as the head honcho would be meeting with the client the next day to pick the money shots. I pointed at a series of frames I caught with my Nikon F2 Photomic using a 500mm catadioptric lens. The sweet bride had been captured standing with the groom in the shade of a lush tree, sharing a simple kiss before the ceremony.

“Oh, Christ,” my employer said, “that isn’t the fucking groom.”

“What?”

The concept that the bride might be swapping spit with one of the guests had never crossed my mind. Neither had I remembered that the groom traditionally doesn’t hang around with the bride on the wedding day until after the ceremony, a fiction that persists even though the loving couple may have been living together for a year or two.

“The groom wasn’t much taller than the bride,” one of the other photogs observed.

The male kisser was leaning down to touch lips. He towered over the bride.

“Ah…” I sighed. “I suppose I can’t offer these pix to the bride, say privately. I could make her a great offer.”

Likely my next wedding shoot will be much more simple.

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EOTWAWKI (End of the World as We Know It…)

July 13, 2014

EOTWAWKI is an acronym popular in prepper circles. The term signifies End of the World as We Know It, referring to a dystopian future that some people believe is inevitable. What’s different about this alternative universe of the preppers is they believe EOTWAWKI will occur sooner rather than later, such as in any day now the shit will hit the fan and he or she who isn’t prepared will face a tenuous future. I don’t know that I entirely disagree but now I shall digress. Many summers ago–the warm season of 1964 just to narrow the time frame–I was employed as a rewrite editor for an agricultural newspaper in Dodge City, Kansas. The Arkansas River (in Kansas, that’s pronounced Ark-Kansas) flooded, destroying the physical plant where we busy little beavers produced the paper. I received a generous severance check from my publisher and had ten weeks of doing whatever I wanted before returning to college.

The flood and my subsequent time off was…EOTWAWKI…at least for the young me of 1964. With no job to force my nose to the grindstone, I was FREE! I had folding money, a 12-string guitar with a hard shell case, a Ford pickup that I used to haul my Triumph scrambler about the area…and I wasn’t going to return to my parent’s house in Montana, that was for damned certain. I sold the Ford to a farmer in Garden City, offed the scrambler to a guy in Kansas City and used the funds to pay for a 1959 (or ’60…it was a long time ago, folks…) Harley-Davidson FLH bagger in tolerable condition, a sleeping bag and a pup tent.

 bughdoil

This is not a picture of the bike, the guitar case or the sleeping bag…nor is the shop above one that I visited. But it all could have been. My FLH was blue and white with the big, white DuoGlide bags made of some odd, synthetic material. My bike had the cushy tractor seat, too. And the windscreen. And the puddle of oil where the beast marked its spot, just like all Harleys are wont to do.

Embarking on a journey to I had no idea where, I had no idea what I would do whilst on my way there other than go with the flow. My travels initially took me from Kansas through Missouri and north to Minnesota. After a few days visiting friends in the twin cities, I rode west through North Dakota and into Montana where I spent a night in Miles City, another in Red Lodge then a few nights in Watuck City, just outside Yellowstone Park, where I played guitar at the Watuck Lodge. Never had I imagined that my life could even remotely resemble what it was like during this amazing hegira. And, for those who are familiar with Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, I was not following author Robert Persig’s route. His book wasn’t published until 1974, ten years after my summer venture.

Along the way I began to develop an entertainment repertoire, some of it folk music I picked up during my stay in Dinkytown (outside the University of Minnesota) and other coffee houses that were part of the inchoate folk venue…the rest of the material I created as it happened. Most of the poems put to music that magically flowed from brain to fingers and tongue are long gone, faded from memory, erased during the destruction of a multitude of brain cells during the succeeding decades. Still, there’s one lyric that returns to mind during periods of sleeplessness, a EOTWAWKI theme that I played in raunchy bars across the US.

The lyrics were set to a guitar background but the material was spoken rather than sung. If you heard my voice, you’d know why I preferred speaking rather than singing. I must provide a caveat: the tale about my journey from Kansas on the Harley is true. The End of the World as We Know It didn’t really take place but often I was it had.

One gray morning when I was on my way to work I boarded the city bus at the normal time and stumbled down the aisle between the seats until I found a place to sit. An attractive young woman already occupied one part of the bench. She looked away as I took my place beside her.

“Good morning,” I said, rather cheerfully. “Would you like to make love with me?”

She blanched then answered me, “Well, I’m on my way to work and I have on a new dress and I just showered and, anyway, I find you physically repulsive. No.”

I paused for a moment. Should I accept the rejection? No, I had to make one more try.

“Did you know that the world is going to end at noon today?” I asked.

The woman slowly turned toward me, considering what I had told her. “Is it really?” she asked.

“Yes, it is.”

With that, she put her arms around me then we kissed. She unbuttoned her blouse, pulled her skirt up and was fumbling with my trousers. As we made love, other people on the bus began murmuring what I’d told my companion. The world is going to end at noon today. Couple after couple began coupling. The bus driver guided his vehicle to the side of the street, stripped off his grey togs and got something going with the elderly woman who always took the seat behind him but had never spoken to him in the past.

Then, when we were all finished, the driver pulled his uniform back on, the rest of us rearranged our garb and before long, we were getting off at our respective stops so we could go to work and await impending doom.

That night, on the way home, we were all very quiet, rather embarrassed by our performances of the morning. None of the passengers looked about for fear that they might meet the questioning gaze of their erstwhile partner and be expected to explain what had occurred.

“What if the world had ended at noon?” I asked, my voice rather soft. “What if the world were going to end at noon tomorrow?”

Soon my question was whispered from person to person throughout the bus. The driver, when he heard the new hypothesis, geared the vehicle down and once again pulled to the side of the street. As he began pulling off his uniform the elderly lady sitting behind him was unfastening her blouse with one hand and lifting her dark skirt with the other in preparation for another adventure.

When we finished, the driver returned to his position of authority and delivered us to our stops. Our previous discomfort had melted like flakes of snow coming to rest on a warm tin roof. See you tomorrow, said my companion as I left the bus.

Before long, word of what we were doing reached the ears of other passengers on other busses throughout the city. Slowly, the concept spread across the state then across the nation, growing ever larger, leaping rivers and lakes and vast deserts, bringing people together everywhere. Borders meant nothing, even oceans did nothing to deter the words The World Is Going to End at Noon…

Streets were almost void of traffic, only busses occupied the concrete thoroughfares. People sold their cars and bought bus passes. Only the rich drove to work because only the rich preferred the solitude of their leather-covered upholstery to the companionship of other humans. Eventually, people everywhere were taking the bus to work then home again, even people without jobs. There was no more crime because no one wanted to be a criminal when the world was going to end at noon and judgment would soon follow in whatever form it might take. There were no more wars as borders and nationalism were meaningless when the end of the world was at hand.

The world had truly changed.

Strange as it seems, the world never came to an end.

Or did it?

Did the world come to an end? Could it? Wouldn’t we prefer this future to the one many of us are creating?

 

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Filed under Odder and Oddest, Philosophy, Uncategorized

Einstein and the Indian Girl

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The grinning gentleman garbed in a suit, holding a peace pipe and wearing a chief’s headdress in the Life Magazine image above is none other than Albert Einstein. The lady to Einstein’s left is his wife. Einstein’s enjoyment in meeting a group of Hopi native seems rather obvious. I’ve seen reprints of the photo many times over the years but don’t recall ever knowing the background of how and specifically when the image was taken.

Appetite for America: Fred Harvey and the Business of Civilizing the Wild West–One Meal at a Time by Stephen Fried, has been on my nighttime reading agenda recently. Among the many delightful bits of information about Fred Harvey, his family and the restaurant business he established, I found the details behind the Einstein encounter with a group of Fred Harvey .

The year was 1930 during the already famous scientist’s second visit to the US. This was Einstein’s first opportunity to visit Arizona and the Grand Canyon. Doubtful that Einstein realized the Hopis who presented him with the headdress were merely props for a Harvey diorama but his interest in the people was an outward manifestation of a speech he’d presented at Caltech which included the following words:

Why does this magnificent applied science, which saves work and makes life easier, bring us so little happiness? Because we have not yet learned to make sensible use of it… Instead of freeing us in great measure from labor that exhausts spirituality, it has made men into slaves of machinery…

Just consider a quite uncivilized Indian, whether his experience is less rich and happy than that of the average civilized man–I hardly think so. There lies deep meaning in the fact that children of all civilized countries are so fond of playing Indians.

A couple of years later, during Einstein’s third visit to the US, Adolph Hitler finally took possession of the levers of power in Germany. Einstein returned to Belgium (he did not want to enter German for fear of arrest) where he visited the German counsel to formally renounce his German citizenship. In 1940 he became a US citizen. I wonder if he ever returned to Arizona (or if he ever ate at a Fred Harvey restaurant during the years he spent in this country).

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Filed under History, Philosophy