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I’ve noticed a growing, particular, subset of city dwellers lately.

I say city dwellers but it’s more likely they dwell everywhere but that I so rarely wander these days.

The most recent sighting was at a local pub where three of them had sat at an outside table and jointly began puffing on what looked like an elongated fuel filter from an old motorcycle. Within minutes I almost couldn’t see them anymore for the huge, dense, but “innocuous” fog engulfing them.
Vapors.

Often, when I see them, I can’t help but be reminded of Goths in the 90’s and how the harder they tried to be noticed, the more outraged they claimed to have been, when people did.
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Obviously, these folks, this trio, were much more mainstream, looking much like everyday pub attendees on a Friday afternoon. 

Yet, I couldn’t help thinking that they were purposefully trying to collectively draw attention to themselves with the sheer volume of vapor they were producing, that seemed to increase until heads began to turn.

If I were to generalise, and God knows I love to, I’d probably guess they were, as a group, rabid gamers, work in tech, and live in their Mom’s garages and basements.
I would further guess that, for entertainment, they LARP on weekends and attend RenFaires as vacationers. 

Historically, I’d venture that they are direct decedents of D&D dorks. Without exception.

The very worst offenders, having leapt from the edge and lost to us forever, are likely civil war battle reenactors, spending their huge tech salaries on uniform and armament minutiae.
I guarantee-damn-tee they are hitting that douche flute habitually.

Of course, that is all total horseshit.
I am not direct decedents of anyone that’s even heard of D&D, I don’t LARP or live with my Mom and I most certainly do not battle reenact (though do own and look for occasions to rock my kilt).
And recently started vaping.

Please don’t misunderstand, I would never consider doing it outside the confines and privacy of my home. 

No, it’s a simple, traditional looking pipe.
Not any steampunk contraption I saw hanging from the walls and in the display cases I saw at the shop where I had to, horrifyingly, patronise in order to get the juice for it.

I got it as a curiosity, really.
My Friend Jim smokes a pipe and having fond memories of my Fathers habit, I thought I’d try this variation and, honestly, there is something to it.
Though I couldn’t say what exactly.acolorstory

I already smoke and have no interest in stopping so it’s not in hopes of a substitute.
I don’t inhale the vapor and, even if I did, I opted for the nicotine-free juice anyway. So there’s no connection there in my nicotine addiction.

I think I just like sitting in my corner chair, reading, drinking coffee and puffing away on this device that has immediate and dramatic results.
Say nothing of the little light the glows where there would be tobacco embers.
Right!?!

If I worry at all that it’s part of some metamorphic altering in my persona, that I work in tech, live in the Bay Area and call a host of avowed communists Friends…it’s that I have also adopted a bi-weeky endeavour with my Boy, Jack Lloyd Clark III (Trey for short, the Third, get it?) and others to play The Game of Thrones board game, the D&D version of Risk.

Need I worry?
Looking for a Friend.
.

of Starts

March 26, 2016

I/365

I am here against my will.

Consider me a hostile witness for the defense.

My good Friend, Chad, whose own inability to see things through is legendary, has recently launched a campaign to have the rest of us join in a challenge that will purportedly inspire us to write more, solve world hunger, stop global warming, and increase testosterone.

All for the low price of just three sentences a day

Every day, for a year,

Admittedly, I am as gullible as Bloom County’s Opus when it comes to carpet bomb marketing but I’m not that  stupid.

Opus

“One day at a time!”, “Rent to own!!”, “Just the tip, I promise”.

For fucks sake.

“Just three sentences and a job? You could drive off the lot in this new, shiny 2016 Self Esteem!!”

Yeah, because somehow, sitting down everyday, turning off my many devices, in the serene quiet of the morning, drinking coffee with Handel and banging out three sentences, will invariably lead to realizing much more. Somehow the three sentences will magically transform into paragraphs, chapters, essays.

Somehow, doing this will erase my inability to spell. Somehow, by the third sentence, I will suddenly be able to look up from the keyboard as I hunt and peck out my consistent thirty words an hour.

Chaaadd, probably types as fast as a court reporter. Chad probably doesn’t harbor an innate neurosis that stops him from just writing whatever he’s thinking, for fear of grammatical errors, returning again and again to edit.

Chaaaddd, went to Berkeley. Chaaaddd, has a degree in rhetoric.

Ponce.

Whatever, dude.

I see right through your thinly veiled attempt to enrich my life by challenging me to take back up a passion that has laid dormant too long.

Sell that shit to someone else, shyster, I ain’t buying.

Finish your Harvard Classics challenge, then we’ll talk.

I showed him, huh?

of Kings

November 23, 2013

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So,
On this day fifty years ago, C.S.Lewis died.
Today, An old Friend of mine, lost his Father.

I’ve not seen Peter in many years but have reconnected through social media.
I’ve enjoyed watching his successes professionally and with his family, if distantly.
In many ways, I think I know him better today than I did those many years ago when we worked together in a San Francisco club.
Today, we usually disagree on just about everything when we engage but, at the very least, Peter is always very engaging, responding with timely wit and erudition. If not surprised, at least now I’ve some understanding as to how or why.
When Peter disclosed last year that his Father was ill, I recall both feeling anxiety for him and, naturally, thoughts of my own Father and his similar ordeal.
Of our Fathers, that is where any similarity ended.

As it turns out, Peter’s Father had written a book of memoirs and in Peter’s mentioning them, I was astounded to learn that his Father had been a Monk and his Mother, a Nun.
Immediately I was fascinated and just a little envious. Not that my own Father was without a pedigree of a kind but Peter’s revelation instantly made clear how Peter was Peter.

Beyond those very unique beginnings, his Father went on to become very active politically and, from what little I know, seemed have led a very rich life.
Even that simple understanding or wonder at another’s life and origins has had much more of an impact on me, personally, than John Fitzgerald Kennedy ever did.

I was well on my way when JFK was assassinated. I would make my triumphant debut three weeks later at a hospital in California and if at the onset, my disposition true, it would have been loud and fussy.
I don’t recall having thought of JFK, one way or another, as a child but I would have been reading C.S Lewis not long into it. Doing so would also have had a more significant impact on me than JFK.

One could argue, clearly, that I was certainly, personally effected by JFK, if only by his Presidency and enduring policies.
Fair enough.
Yet, I can’t say that I’ve ever been influenced in any life’s course by invoking the memory of JFK.
The same cannot be said of any author I’ve read or the simple wonder of the uniqueness of the life of a Friend, if hoping to make an impact myself and looking to others for direction and influence.

I understand why JFK’s assassination was monumental. I’m not simple.
I get that, in many ways, it was to portend the end of innocence, at least in the view of ourselves, for America.
I comprehend that JFK and his Family were emerging in a time of great accomplishment and growth, that for many, he was everything they could ever want to be. That he was somehow a representation closer to themselves, Irish, Catholic, plain spoken.
I’m not convinced that many of those thinking so had ever visited Cape Cod, Hyannis Port or Martha’s Vineyard.

Like my Friend Peter, I think JFK could be determined by his upbringing, surroundings and Family.
But with JFK, unlike my Friend Peter, there was Joseph Kennedy and Camelot.

Perhaps as they were simpler times, the undeniable facts surrounding The Kennedy’s much troubled history was not as touted. Perhaps the Country was captivated by some inherent longing for a monarchy. Jackie was elegant and graceful, their Children seemed to belong to the Nation and JFK himself was dashing and sophisticated, wealthy and accomplished.

What he was also was a notorious womanizer, deceitful both in public and private and nepotistic on a Napoleonic scale.

It’s not my intent to disparage him on this fifty year anniversary of his tragic death.
I’ve no doubt that, as a leader, he has had some lasting effects on me personally and in some way, made us a better Nation.
There was the moon, after all.
Wasn’t there?

I suppose when I am unavoidably confronted with this reminder of his death, I usually stop there…at his death.
I’d rather think, when having to recall someone for the passing of a particular day on a calendar, on their life, as I do with C.S Lewis or the rich and extraordinary life of Peter’s Father.
On this day, the twenty second of November.
Godspeed Fr. Paul, we’ll visit again next year.

of Scores

November 19, 2013

https://ofreh.files.wordpress.com/2013/11/04-battle-cry-of-freedom.mp3

IMG_6241So, I’d be remiss, having wrote so frequently of my affection for words, were I not to, on this day, pay at least some manner of home to these two hundred and seventy.
Or, if you prefer, these thirteen score and ten.
Used to great effect and prosperity, one hundred and fifty years ago today.
Beyond it’s lyrical content, the stunning ebb and flow of emotional rigging, what has always insisted to me was it’s greatest testament, was it’s economy. It’s economy in word.

Two hundred and seventy words that said more in it’s authors laconic delivery, than the two hours given on that shared stage, on that day, to his preceding confederate.

It’s author has been lauded so often and by so many, for so much. Yet, for me, in this instance, it will be for so little.
Beyond the enduring consequence of his Presidency, the author moves me afield of deeds seen to adhere or divide a Union. His words inspire me to make more and, in contrast…fewer.

On this particular day, it was this address that so captivated a Nation and bound them in a dedication. One that would address such a monumental endeavor as a war, it’s casualties, and purpose.
In three paragraphs, mind you.

There is so much in those two minutes that provoke. I can’t hope to add to the multitudes that have been touched by it’s grace and poise but I can at least mention how grateful I am to it’s author for at long last relieving me of anxiety when accosted with needing to use “that that” in a sentence of my own.image

If good enough for Abraham Lincoln…by God, it’s good enough for me!

of Regard

November 15, 2013

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So,
deliberately and ever so slowly, Ms. Chevron placed the hard bound book onto her knees.
We, her class, were completely silent, rapt. Understanding somehow the event to follow, sacred.

Looking intently, resting her gaze momentarily on one student to another, she aptly conveyed this ritual was not to be trifled with but to be given the full weight of our attention, lest even a single spoken word lost.

With the flat of her hand, she fixed to the cover and slowly, with great purpose, turned to the title page.

Hesitantly and again looking to us, as if gauging our worth and returning skeptical, she decidedly raised the book and turned it towards us. Pivoting in her chair at the front of the room as she held the book at attention, it’s illustration on display in Lazy Susan manner, so that we might all have a glimpse.

Her pinched index and thumb, obviously veterans to their work, delicately took the corner and folded it over, revealing it’s great, inestimable harvest.
Holding our collective breath and leaning forward by degrees, we were to hear her recite…
“Good Heavens” he said. “I know what this is! I’ve come to the stone at the middle of the peach!”

My life would somehow never be the same.

Love or hate the story, the gift Ms. Chevron passed to me that year, my 4th year of primary school, was not simply a fantastical tale by Roald Dahl, but in her telling, her manner and regard, she helped me give the undertaking it’s due. She instilled in me a life long reverence for the written word and the incredible companion a book would serve, beyond any other, for the duration.

In contrast, I recall very little more of that school year, save that I was to repeat it at my Fathers insistence.
It was to be the love of reading that would see me through incredibly lonely times as a child. It would fill the void left a young, troubled boy, by an equally troubled and young Mother. It would provide much needed respite from inadequacy in the hands of adults, failing the task of adulthood.
It would open doors otherwise shut to a fertile mind, begging for the nutrient in light.
In bare, institutional corners, it was to give passage on ships and planes. On caravans with nomadic tribes, wrought with danger and intrigue. From corners of retreat, I visited every other corner of the world. And was delighted.

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Ms. Chevron, by her seeming niggardly ruse, had more of an impression on me than those that would hope to impress on me equally with the tattoo of a strap.
It was her and the knowing of the immense sway she could wield, in simply impressing upon us our fortune at being able and allowed to read.

Not a administrator, nor bureaucrat. Not a politician or preacher…but a Teacher.
For whom I am forever grateful.

A Teacher done that.

of Mail

May 19, 2013

Lunch box/music maker

Lunch box/music maker

So,

The boy I sat next to on the school bus was Shane.
He lived just down the road from me in Lucrino, Italy and because Arturo the bus driver picked us up in front of our house, Shane would often make his way up the hill and wait with me at my stop.

The bus stop

The bus stop

The bus ride to school, up the newly built super highway, “The Tang”, to the brand new Allied Forces School, was often the best part of my day and given it’s destination, obviously the most memorable.
Having driven that same road many times since, I’m struck by how short the distance is, when as a small boy every mornings pilgrimage on Arturo’s bus seemed a major undertaking. In breadth but, looking back now, in scale.
Arturo the bus driver was a small man with an ever ready smile whom we adored. Even my intractable Father, who gave him a bottle of some nice American whisky in a fancy box every year, having the unenviable task of being a parent monitor on the bus. My Father and Arturo would spend the time chatting up front, with my Father only having to turn his withering glare on some poor child that had the temerity to raise their voice above a whisper, to restore good and proper order.
Arturo’s ready smile may be attributed to his never having to interact with little boys with metal lunch-boxes in their laps that became impromptu drum kits once seated.
Shane and I had identical lunch boxes. They led to our being Friends and, in my imaginings, was responsible for Shane’s huge success as drummer for some major rock band. I’ve no idea what became of him but I’d like to think it was that. I do know I was very jealous when his own Father bought him a full drum kit for a birthday and perhaps then a star was born.
I’m always amazed at what takes hold in the memories of our childhoods and a small piece of mine came in the mail today.
Of course not the actual pail but the same model and after taking it from the bubble wrapping and putting it my lap, the very same feeling.
I’m struck with how small it is. I distinctly recall it taking up so much of my lap as Shane and I beat on ours, in time, on the way to school.
Music and smell can often have that effect on me, transporting me back to a specific time, freezing it just for a moment.
So, it seems, can eBay.

of Hate

August 22, 2012

So,
You hate me.
Because I’m a Woman, a Nigger or Jew? A Spick or Cracker.
Simply the colour of my eyes, or conveniently, the colour of my skin?
Do you hate me for an affiliation or position not your own.
You could hate me because I’m simple, pedestrian. Because I’m poor and you, wealthy. It could be the reverse.
Whatever the reason, however it’s borne…please say as much.
I beg you.
Assert that right.
Don’t be niggardly, share. Unburden yourself.
It’s allowed. I insist.

How else can I fight you.
You are more a threat if I’m caught unawares.
If you would keep your hate, your bigotry, to yourself, you keep me at a disadvantage.
How else can I know not to buy your goods, use your services.
If unwilling or unable, how will I know to remove myself…or you, for that matter.
If silent, I might misjudge you. You might well get my vote.
I would hate that.

No, I need you to say as much. From the top of your lungs, mountaintops and billboards. From radio and Television. In person.
I want you to make your ignorance plain.
I defend your right.

Do not be cowed. Do not let those that would stifle your acrimony for fear of having others distress.
My, your or their feelings are a paltry price for such advantage.
Speak your mind, bare your limitations.
So that we might be warned and be guarded.
Because we know, don’t we, that merely inhibited speech or expression, does nothing to alter your course, stay your hand.Your subdued malice will fester and even grow.
And in truth, once aware, your hate is disarmed, neutralised. Once I know and consider the source, your hate has no bearing, no effect.

Do for me and, in turn, you will have no doubt where I stand.

 

So,
Meet “B”.
He’s a forty-three year old Man that stills lives with his Mother, under the auspices that SHE needs him, he can’t or won’t find work because he’s emotionally, physically disabled. He’s been to a number of rehabs and attributes those experieces to his current state.
He is a loser.
That alone, is not remarkable. We all know him in some form. Perhaps as someone we ran with in our careless days of abandon, and now serves to remind us that “there but for the Grace of God…”, or he’s a member of our own Family, a Sister or Brother and serves to test the bonds of Blood and welcome. He may simply be a poster child for a broken and careless system, the discharge, flotsam jetsam that is the inevitable, sad collateral of great societies.
It could be…but it ain’t.
“B” is a new breed of loser. A mutation of the disenfranchised, the working poor, the hobo or outstreched Skid Row hand.
“B” is driven, motivated.
He is a designer, engineer and marketeer in the field of “get”
“B” will expend as much, if not more, energy. in the pursuit of doing nothing, than it would take to actually produce or contribute.
“B” does not offer any services or manufacture any product. He does not pay any taxes but still somehow get’s a “refund”.
“B” is in the business of taking and that buisness is now under siege, threatened.
“B” is outraged. He is taking to the streets (or internet, as it were) and rallying his forces. The 1 in 3 now on some form of Government assistance, the 1 in 19 that claim some form of disability. Those afflicted with “thyroid” problems camped out on body haulers. The anxiety ridden, emotionally distraught, ADHD, excuse du jour bearing “blue plate” specials…a call to arms!!
“B” will leave his house today, not to look for work, oh no, but to rally against the evil corprate power brokers that threaten his way of life, that mean to dissasemble the fortified nest of entitlements he has worked SO hard to accumulate.
He will pull from his depleted reserves and overcome his crippling hay fever allergies to help mount a defense against this inhumane assault on his livelihood.
He will see the walls manned and in his arsenal will be the ever ready, if somewhat diluted from age and use, weapons of accusation and guilt mongering. He will lob the once affective “racist!!” and the versitile “hater!!” at the enemy but to little effect.

There is a fundamental, scientific truth about parasites that “B” has dismissed, to his peril and ultimate demise…parasites will always exhaust their host.

…and “B”… this host is wore the fuck out.

I don’t want to send you rehab again. I don’t wanna pay for you to sit in your Mommas basement, still in your boxers, playing your $400 PS3, only pausing for Meals on Wheels delivery.
I am sick of your abuse of the Handicapped placard as a means of getting a parking spot at the medical marijuana clinic and thinking that double amputee with “Army Strong” on her wheelchair was just showing off when she went and parked in the regular spaces and wheeling faster than you can run, to the other side of the lot where the GNC store was.

I’m sick of you “B”.
But…though your numbers grew alarmingly over the past four years, there is a reckoning on it’s way and you will either need to put all your resourcefulness into contributing, or revert to putting your hand back out on Skid Row.

You should already be wondering how much you’ll get for a used PS3.

of Toys

August 11, 2012

So,
like many of my male peers I am often struck by how freaking lucky kids are today by way of the toys they get to play with. Perhaps not as often as my counterparts that actually have kids and get to buy, assemble and then play with them but I still, on occasion, wander through a toy aisle to see what new and badass innovations there are.
Nerf® has has prolly gone the farthest to make me pine for my old Ked sneakers, skuffed knees and a fort in the woods.
I have to say though, as bitchin as these toys are, the bright, unrealistic clown colours kinda bum me out.
Granted, they actually shoot things whereas the best I could hope for as a boy was a gun that made a simulated firing sound when I pulled the trigger.
Even so, I think I would have balked at having a semi-automatic, dart shooting, realistic designed but iridescent, traffic cone looking, fluorescent, reflectorised, -don’t shoot me officer, I’m just playing war- machine gun….but then I wouldn’t have worn a crash helmet on a tri-cycle either.
Yet, when I ran across this toy of my generation, for me, it made all the Nerf guns, playstations and X-boxs pale by comparison.
The Remco Cavella toy radio transmitter/reciever.
How did I not have this!?! Mom? Dad?
Forget that I got almost everything I ever asked for under the tree..bikes, guns, GI Joes, models, chemistry sets, and even an real Samsonite brief case that I would fill with stacks of play money and pretend I was a drug lord or international spy…but oh no, not the toy conservative talk show host radio transmitter that could have set me on the same course as Rush Limbaugh ( he had one!) and saw me pursuing a worthy career as a broadcast journalist, instead of baking in some God forsaken shithole and smelling like diesel and JP-8.
Thanks alot!
It’s not too late though. I still believe in Santa and this toy happens to be exactly what I’ve been considering lately.
The recent changes in FCC regulations allows for neighborhood broadcasting under a certain wattage without need of a license. It’s a very short leap from there to syndication, right?
As I expect to have an abundance of freetime on my hands in the near future, I think I may be shopping for the adult version of this lost opportunity and putting my parents short sightedness to rights.
Imagine it…me, broadcasting in your neighborhood, infecting the minds of your crash helmeted Children! No commercials or need for sponsorship, I can loop my awesome playlists when I’m off-air and then, with easy international access, invite my Liberal Friends in the States and abroad to co-host.
Fair and balanced, that’s me.
“Hello and welcome to Radio Free Frisco”
I just need to find the right neighborhood.
The Mission, Marin County?
Can you hear me yet, Robyn, Jen?
Are you game, Patrick, Petey, Benet?
Fourty-eight and I may have just now discovered my true calling and I think my Uncles would agree that I have the perfect face for radio.
Stay tuned.

of Voices

July 6, 2012

So, When I was seventeen, I joined the Army. While basic training wasn’t especially difficult, it was extremely tedious. It was routine and regiment, day in and day out. So you can imagine how excited my Platoon was when our drill instructor told us we’d be having a guest speaker after chow. A respite from the grind of evenings preparing for the next days grind. When we filed into our old wood barracks that evening, we entered haltingly as we tried to understand the what we were looking at. In the middle, between our racks, on the highly polished floor sat a lone school house record player. Our guest speaker.

Not disappointed in the least, it afforded us the same break, as had it been an actual person. It might have been a parrot, for all we cared, but it was no parrot. It was John Wayne.

Directed to sit on the floor, as close as possible, we settled into an hour or so of ease. I recall thinking, as did most the platoon, that we were in for some entertainment, a ruse or joke of some kind. It was neither. It was an hour of eerie, slack jawed silence as we listened to the rich, languid voice of John Wayne tell us about America.

You see, I’m not cool. I know this, because hearing John Wayne talk about America today, has the same effect it had on me then. It swells my heart with pride for having the great fortune of living in and being a service to, such a great Nation. I’m not cool, because I don’t think that America, it’s history and it’s ideals, are funny. I don’t laugh at the notion that we were once singular and exeptional. Nor am I amused as I wonder at our having overcome such adversity and improbability, to become a destination so envied by the rest of the World, as to invoke a certain ire amongst them.

My evident lameness is even more apparent as I refuse to apologise for Her. For our having brought drive and industry, technology and ingenuity to the rest of the World. For having fed whole nations and helping teach them to do for themselves. For Her many misteps that have taught us to be as diverse and varied, committed to learning from those very mistakes, as any other, anywhere.

I’m no more a patriot than you, to the contrary. It is the very notion of protest and unrest, of us, at our liberty to right a wrong or find a balance, that remains the core of who we are and how we got here. Only, I’m not not sorry for it.

John Wayne may be out of favour. He may seem campy or rehearsed but I wonder, were you to take him for a spin, if you would feel that same little lump in your throat, as I did so many years ago, and still do.

Happy Birthday America.

E pluribus unum.

John Wayne-People. The audio