Thursday, December 20, 2012

Christmas in Oakland

Twas the night before christmas and in front of our house
a crackhead did scurry like a gaunt frantic mouse.

cameras were hung above the windows with care, 
to catch the intruder who soon would be there.

The children had hidden under their beds
fearfully covering their traumatized heads,
and ma in her kevlar and I with my knife
had padlocked the doors and prayed for our life.

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter
a spraying of bullets a ratta-tat-tata.

Away from the windows I flew like a flash
tore open my mattress and hid all my cash.

The blood on the breast of a now fallen foe
was the streets way of handling a tricky ass ho.

When what to my wondering eyes should appear
but a gold donk on dubs rolling up in low gear. 

With a little mean driver, so lively and quick
I knew in a moment it must be Ol' Rick.
More rapid than eagles his posse they came
and he whistled and shouted and called
them by name:

Now Marcus, Now Tyrone
D'Brickashaw and Warren,
On Kobe, On Calbert,
On Deewayne and Clifton.
Take the shit off the porch
take the shit on the walls
then dash away, dash away
dash away all.

They then smoked some leaves and got terribly high
one gangster started dancing, one thought he could fly.
so up to the housetop the gangster he flew,
with bags to steal toys, Ol' rick he came too.

And then in a twinkling I heard on the roof,
they passed round a bottle of Jack 90 proof.

As I drew in my head and was turning around,
down the chimney Ol' ricky came with a bound.

He was dressed all in platinum, from his head to his foot,
and his clothes were all covered in bloodstains and soot.
a bundle of guns he had flung on his back
and he looked like a dealer tweaking on crack.

His eyes were like pinpoints, souless and scary
his cheeks were all scabby, his nose like a cherry,
his dry little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
and the beard on his chin was covered in "snow".

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his face,
And he puffed on it lightly as I sprayed him with mace.

He punched me twice in the neck and then in the belly,
which shook as he beat me like a bowl full of jelly.

With tears in my eyes I begged him to stop,
but he silenced my pleas with a swift judo chop.

a wink of his eye and twist of head
let me know as I feared that I soon would be dead.

He spoke not a word but went straight to his work,
and filled all his bags up then turned with a jerk,
and laying his finger aside of his nose,
he shot a snot rocket down on my toes,

Then he jumped in his car, to his team gave a call,
and swiftly they left towing their haul.
But I heard him exclaim as he swerved out of sight
"You're damn lucky I didn't kill your whole family tonight."

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Canis Not So Familiaris

I'm about to take a controversial stand...Humans are more important than animals. "BUT, BUT innocent animal abuse!" "BUT, BUT, rescue dogs and fur is murder and poor living conditions and loss of habitat and..........Okay, shut it. No sane person in the history of the world is going to argue that the way we treat animals is either fair or just.  The problem is that at some point the world made it a sin to choose species first.  The present delusion is that if you care about yourself and like beings who are composed of similar DNA then you don't care about animals. This perception is simply untrue. In fact, a human activist loves one more species of animal than all other animal lovers, they love humans.

Here's an unsubstantiated statistic: A lot percent of animal activists hate humans. It seems that in order to be an open minded individual who believes in a cause you need to be able to target a group of people and judge them for their misdeeds. Without judgement there is no heft to an argument and thus you will only be left with the quiet works you accomplish in your life, without profit or recognition.  With judgement however you can create a multitude of scenarios to feed your narcissism by publicly lambasting anyone who transgresses upon your "superior moral code."

Frankly, I am disgusted that a seemingly growing number of slack jawed yokels can sit and watch the morning news spouting tales of human disease, maiming, rape and murder while continuously cramming spoonfuls of cheerios into their mouths. Yet, if the news anchor happens to show a scene from a movie where a horse gets shot their eyes begin to well up with tears and their body swells with a sense of righteous indignation. "That poor innocent animal." they'll say "How could anyone be so cruel." they'll say.

The prevailing thought from an animal lover is that animals are at once completely innocent AND have no survival skills. Because of this, these humans have decided that animals will forever be babies and must be treated like them at all times. Yet dogs for example are scavengers who were able to thrive in the wild for thousands of years without human intervention or even a puppy snuggie.  Secondly, animals for the most part are assholes. Countless animals on countless occasions have injured or killed other living creatures and people simply for sport.  Further, how many days do you think that Fido would wait to feast on your bloated carcass if you stroked out on the kitchen floor and couldn't open his can of Alpo?  

 Any virtues or extreme intelligence that one could project onto an animal are merely extensions of narcissism. How much "universal understanding" can you really credit to an animal who only gets crapping outside correct 6 out of every 10 times? NEWSFLASH! we are on a dying planet circling a dying star with the certainty of annihilation looming over our heads. The only way to escape our fate is to draw up the plans for a spaceship to blast our collective asses into a new and thriving corner of the universe. Excuse me for not having faith in Fido to make the intellectual leap from Bark Bark! to super genius in time to save our souls.

While we can't know how much animals truly think or feel what we do know is that humans are undeniably the most advanced creatures on this planet. What we also know is that the majority of people who commit heinous deeds do so because of of a history of abuse or trauma. These traumatic events tend to largely occur when people are young, innocent, defenseless children. Early life experiences tend to shape the way a human develops mentally and are a good predictor of how they will act as an adult.  Abused children grow up into abusive adults because without rehabilitation childhood trauma manifests itself in ugly ways when sick kids become sick adults.

Anedotally my dog doesn't know whether I have left the house for 5 minutes of 5 days she still greets me with the same excited look that says "WHERE THE HELL HAVE YOU BEEN FOOD ROBOT? I'M STARVING!" Anecdotally my neighbors dog lost an eye and she spent a total of zero hours and zero minutes lamenting it. In fact, it is almost as if the dog has no idea that it's gone. She probably thinks "Boy it's a little dark on my left side...all of the time" but that's about it. We can theorize all day long about the emotional capacity of animals but we know for certain that humans young or old, small or tall are composed of delicate feelings that once violated can ruin their lives absolutely. 

Would it not behoove us a species then to pay a little more concentrated effort on developing our own team?  Every half wit who raises a pitbull for dog fights probably has an absent mother or an abusive father. People are rarely jerks for no reason. Certainly it may seem like a good idea to be an advocate for animals but it is only treating a symptom of a larger problem AND it is at the expense of human life. If you give a homeless man a dollar you might feel good about yourself because you "paid if forward" but you did nothing to change the infrastructure to support or change his life.  You have satisfied an emotional need, an extension of your own narcissism so that you feel like you did something to better the world, but you didn't really.  Remember, the people who are mistreating animals are most likely products of being mistreated themselves, a cycle that can only be stopped if we as a species stop abusing each other AND start taking care of each other first.

Monday, November 12, 2012


Over the span of my life I have lost my desire to be famous. Candidly I will admit that as a child being a celebrity was a huge driving force. I didn't want to be admired for my beauty and have people fawn over me.  In my heart I had a deep seated desire to entertain and  be well liked by everyone. Perhaps this desire arose from low self esteem or a lack of confidence. Perhaps I feared rejection so fiercely that I wanted to know that anyone I encountered had no choice but to revere me. To that end the desire to be a celebrity was a weakness masking itself as strength that would help me feel comfortable in a room full of people.

Thankfully due to some childhood trauma followed by years of extensive teasing and ridicule from my peers I lost all hope in the overt kindness of the human race.  What followed was a short (5 year) reclusive stint of developing and exacerbating a messianic complex.  I eventually flew too high into the narcissistic sky and melted my Icarusian wings. What this experience lead me to realize was that even the truest form of celebrity would only ever be a lie. There is a never a time when a mass of people will legitimately adore you for the virtues that you possess as an individual. Vanity, jealousy, ego and envy are the only words found at the noblest roots of celebrity. Because of this, short of earning money, fame is an empty pursuit.

Andy Warhol famously imagined that in the future everyone would get their 15 minutes of fame. The statement assumed that the hierarchy of what we deem fame worthy would diminish to the point where it was possible for anyone to become famous for anything. He of course was correct in this assumption but he failed to predict a couple hidden effects.

As the divide between commoner and celebrity began to erode so too did the pedestal that we put celebrities on. In recent years we have encountered an increase in flash in the pan reality TV stars and Youtube one hit wonders. However, we have also experienced a strange phenomenon whereby a growing number of people have cultivated what should be 15 minutes into a mini series or movie of the week. I'm not even talking about anomalies like the Kardashians rather I am referring to those that make consecutive appearances as cast members on different reality shows over a period of years. (Addiction show > rehab show > sober living show > rebuilding career show > hedonistic party show to celebrate modest success > addiction show.)

The reason they can do this is because the spotlight had been dimmed and diffused over a larger area of people. Instead of personalities rolling in like huge waves, cresting and crashing on the shore modern day celebrities are scarcely more than a pool of stagnant water. There is no crash and burn or exit strategy because they leave no impression either way.  Like a well placed fart in a poorly ventilated room they simply hover in place and refuse to dissipate. Anyone who encounters a nouveau celebrity is more inclined to turn away in is disgust than to ask for an autograph and a photo.

Low level celebrity is much like the drug game portrayed in rap videos. Neither of these lifestyles actually provide a level of respect/recognition or even a steady income above minimum wage.  The perpetual delusion is that merely being watched doing anything grants you a level of merit above the rest of humanity. Now the world is filled with people who are trying to be seen by other people who are only trying to be seen themselves. The modern pursuit of "fame" is really just an act of fitting in and fitting in is the antithesis of what being famous is.

The Celebracy movement then in its least potent form serves as the promise ring of celebrity. It is an affirmation of integrity and vow not to engage in pre marital fame whoring before you have a real talent to advertise. To this end, the act of withholding  your desire to grab onto any available audience might help restore celebrity to the empty soulless pursuit that it once was. Celebracy in its most potent form is to completely abstain from anything that might make you famous and to view anything you do that is fame worthy as a source of shame. 

Modesty, subtlety, patience and quality these are some of the words found at the root of Celebracy. Any recognition you get should only come from a family member, a close friend or someone's life whom you have touched  personally and profoundly. The intent of the Celebrat (we'll have to work on the title) is to celebrate real people and the effect that they have had on your real life.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Creativity: A Metaphor For A Missing Moment

According to over 7 billion people we (humans) are alive. We're not quite sure exactly how long we have been doing this thing called life nor how long we have been conscious that it has been happening. However, the great majority of us believe that something different from absolutely nothing has been occurring in the universe for quite some time now. One day a shift occurred in the dark abyss and whether it was God or a God particle we have been detecting life ever since.

I liken the entirety of our lives to a blip on a CD. Wait, I suppose that reference is a little antiquated....allow me to try again. I liken the entirety of our lives to a blip on a poorly copied Ipod file. Imagine that the Ipod track is called "Complete Silence" and the track is put on repeat. There would be no way to determine when the track begins or ends because the silence would have no ending. However, if there was the tiniest imperfection in the track then you would hear a tiny audible distortion once every time that the track is played. This original Ipod flaw is representative of human creativity. Our mere existence implies a lack of perfection We are that little break in the silence. No matter how well we compensate we will always register as something different from the norm.

How is this relevant you ask? I think that individual human creativity is based around this same concept. While I do believe that we have original impulses the majority of our creativity is in fact based in error. Most of the great inventions that exist today are variations or extensions of a preexisting theme. Many of the great original ideas have been by accident or through observing a naturally occurring act and mimicking it.

When I speak of creativity though I am doing so with an emphasis toward artistic creativity. I think that technology is the natural enemy of true creativity because of its ability to produce predictable results. There is no better example than the internet era to articulate this argument.

Long before a million monkeys were typing on a million typewriters information traveled very slowly. Like the game of telephone that we all played as kids ideas took a long time to get from one side of the country to the other and when it did it was usually vastly different from what it began as. Someone may have been hard of hearing, someone else might have had a speech impediment while another person might have just been an asshole who wanted to watch the world burn. Whatever the reason, it was rare for a string of 8 to 10 words to be able to survive a trek of a million minds without being messed with.

The invention of the record player allowed us the unique experience of being able to hear a song at our leisure over and over again. This afforded any child who fancied themselves a musician the a chance to annoy their parents by loudly singing along with their favorite songs for hours. Some other kids might have got stung by the six string bug and bought themselves a guitar in order to duplicate some of their favorite riffs. Invariably while trying to decipher lyrics or the solo from Comfortably Numb a few errors occurred. Sometimes those misheard lyrics were better than the original and sometimes those discovered guitar notes were more interesting than mere duplication. The next thing you know those same kids who were listening to lyrics were now writing their own and those kids playing covers poorly were writing their own music. In essence their inability to seamlessly duplicate gave them the means to create.

Certainly Hollywood with its penchant for solely releasing reboots, remakes and sequels has a little to do with  influencing the world's lack of creativity. Certainly Hollywood with its penchant for releasing copycat reality shows and singing competitions that encourage kids to sing karaoke has a little something to do with it as well  but, a void in creativity has often in the past been the impetus for creation. So what then is the greatest reason for the slowing down of all creation? The Internet.

It is true that the internet has been instrumental in changing the pace at which we live our lives and that it has greatly reduced the time it takes to find an answer due to millions of minds working on a common problem.  However, in terms of originality the internet has stifled us in many ways. 

In order to create there needs to be that gap in time when we reflect on what we have learned and add our own little bit or variation. Sites like Youtube have given us access to all the information that we need whenever we need it. This means that any song you want to learn has been tabbed out and videotaped so that you can watch it on an endless loop until you get it right. You no longer have to wait for your favorite song to come on the radio and imagine what your favorite singer is saying. Anticipation is all but dead and has instead been replaced by an endless supply of white noise. Generally speaking what is funny or interesting is instantly reposted and immediately becomes a dominant thread of conversation. No details are lost in translation, everyone ends up getting their news from the same pool of information. As a result everyone makes the same observations about the same things and are only look as deeply as the most recent update on their Tumblr account into any issue/topic. Whatever buzz words you feel like you have discovered will be used by all of your peers within minutes. If someone should take the time to develop a well articulated thought by the time it comes out of the oven it is passe. Plugging in keeps us in tune with society but the song we're singing is Friday by Rebecca Black and we aren't singing it ironically.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Walmart Sightings: A Tale Of Obsession And Madness

For all of those who were drawn in by the title prepare to underwhelmed. The following is a true story based on real events that actually occurred. Only the names have been changed to condemn the innocent.

It was about 7:30 on a warm summers eve. I had just escaped from the oppressive walls of a local Walmart that was crawling with people the same way that a dumpster might be filled with maggots. True to form I had started a useless argument with my wife that had no foreseeable end beyond me choosing to stop flapping my gums....which I rarely do. The argument continued as we got into our car and we both sat looking forward through the window exchanging heated pleasantries. At some point in my carrying on I stopped mid sentence and shouted "What the hell is THAT GUY doing?" to which my wife replied: "I was just thinking the same thing."

Across the parking lot a few rows over there was a potbellied middle aged Asian man. He wore a blue and white horizontally striped shirt, tan khakis and sandals that were crafted circa 1970. He was balding  at the back of his head and walked with a slight limp that favored his left leg. He held a shabby, dirty rag in his hand and he was feverishly buffing the front end of his car. His car was a silver 2003ish Honda Civic 4 door. I said to my wife as I watched him "I bet he's selling it." To which she said "Yeah probably." Then I said "I bet the person who buys it is going to arrive in an 82' Corolla." To which my wife said "Yeah or some college kid." My interest was piqued so I said to my wife "Do you mind if we hang out for a few minutes to find out who shows up?" "Sure" my wife said. For the next five minutes I watched the guy buff his headlights. He then went on to shine up his windows with the same rag only taking a moments rest to wring out the cloth. older green Honda Civic pulled up and parked beside him. This was the moment I was waiting for the big reveal of who had arrived to buy the car. It was a woman she was vertically challenged and wore Capris that fit her legs like someone who was wearing pants that had been hemmed too high. She was otherwise frumpy in appearance with big framed glasses, poofy, frizzy untamed black hair and white tube socks stuck inside white running shoes. By the look of her she didn't  meet my test driver profile yet she walked right over to the Asian dude and started talking to him. After a while it became apparent that the woman was either the guy's wife.sister, relative or friend. The carried on talking for a bit before the woman walked over to the back of her car and popped the trunk.

FROM THE BACK OF THE TRUNK she pulled out a bottle of Windex and handed it to the dude. The Asian guy immediately sprayed the hood of the Honda with the cleaner and began buffing it AGAIN.   Amazed I announced "The car for sale theory is back on the table." The guy then handed the woman his rag and walked off into the distance. presumably to a Taco Bell which was at the other end of the parking lot. While he was gone the lady opened the passenger side door of the car and got in. From our vantage point we deduced that she was hurriedly cleaning the interior.

It was now 8:00 p.m. and several minutes had passed since we last saw the potbellied Asian dude. I was starting to lose hope that the person who was buying the car was never going to show up and my wife was starting to lose interest with my mounting obsession.  JUST THEN...we spotted the Asian guy sauntering back from the Taco Bell area carrying a Jug filled with water. He reached into the backseat of his car and produced another towel and began wiping his windows AGAIN! first outside and then inside.

INTERMISSION: As all of this was happening a random very thin Indian dude who  was almost completely bald except for a wisp of hair came into focus. He was notable because he was wearing a zipped up jacket on a very warm summer evening. He had an extreme limp like one leg was 10 inches shorter than the other. He was also wearing sandals which also appeared to have been constructed circa 1970. Strangest of all though he was pushing a like-new red and black baby stroller with nothing in it as he walked into Walmart by himself.


It was evident that these two were in on the car sale together and both were diligently scrubbing. My wife then threw out a wild idea "What if they just bought the car for their son/daughter who is going back to school?" We deduced that the probability of that was low because who gifts their son/daughter with a surprise car in the middle of a Walmart parking lot? This lead us to begin developing more theories. The most likely one was that the couple arranged to meet in the parking lot where they would take one car (the clean Honda) to their destination. BUT! the woman's shabby appearance and busted running shoes did not denote any sort of celebration where a spontaneous clean car was necessary.

About 8:15 a newish Nissan Maxima pulled up and parked in front of the Honda. The people who exited the car met our profile, a mother and a daughter of college age. They briefly looked over at the guy working on his car before quickly turning left and walking directly into the store. It was then that my wife chimed in "This probably isn't going to happen tonight." To which I replied "I know but I need some closure." We both looked to the sky and the sun had all but faded prompting us to say in unison "No one buys a car at night, right?" So if they WEREN'T selling their car, just WHAT THE HELL were they doing?

Taking a break from cleaning the Asian dude walked toward us and stood atop one of those concrete medians between parking spaces with a tree planted in it. He leaned forward and vomited a sizable quantity of liquid on the bark mulch below. Wiping his lips off he returned to his car where he began fogging up his windows with his own breath. He went around his car from window to window making a loud "Ha!" sound as he exhaled hot air. 

THEN...his lady friend opened up the trunk and produced two pillows and a sleeping bag. She opened the sleeping bag and laid it down in the back seat. She then put the two pillows on the passenger seat. I said to my wife "Are they going to sleep in the car?" "I don't think so she said."  It was then that the lady got into the drivers side and turned it on. The Asian dude stood about 10 feet in front of her motioning her to drive forward. A few minutes of stereotypical driving and directions took place of which I might seem sexist and racist if I described them in detail. By the end of their interaction the woman had moved the car a total of 4 feet and it now rested in two parking spots underneath the shade of  the aforementioned tree. "I think that they are going to sleep in the car!" I said excitedly. We looked on as the husband and wife produced several opaque light deflecting circles. They went about putting one on every window until it was impossible to see inside the car.  Eventually they both emerged from the vehicle and they closed all the doors.

IT WAS AT THIS TIME that the guy hit the little clicker and made the Honda go "Beep Beep!" "Aha!" I said. "So they are going to leave the silver Honda here and take the green Honda to wherever they are going!" The couple hovered around both cars but they never got inside either of them. Every minute or two the guy would re-hit the clicker and reset the car alarm. 

JUST THEN the lady quickly got into the green Honda and turned it on. "It's happening!" I squealed. At this same time the Asian dude starting walking off in another direction. "What should I do?" I yelped. My wife  said "Follow the guy, the lady is a red herring!" As she drove away I put the car in reverse and peeled out. At a 3 way intersection in the Walmart parking lot I encountered a driver who arrived well before me but decided to wave me on INSTEAD OF JUST FOLLOWING THE RULES OF THE ROAD. Of course he had no way of knowing that I was slowing stalking a middle aged Asian man on foot. However, I waved at him to go instead and gave him the YOU GO NOW EYES. To which he gave me the I'M BEING GENEROUS AND LETTING YOU GO EYES. To which I responded by repeatedly flashing my headlights signifying that I was rejecting his generosity and  unless he wanted to have an epileptic seizure that he better MOVE IT!. Finally the dude obliged and the world's slowest chase scene was back on.

I put on my hazard signals and followed the Asian guy as he slinked along the outside of the Walmart. He stopped briefly at a soda machine mulling over the pros and cons of purchasing a carbonated beverage. He continued on along the sidewalk until he eventually slipped into the front door of the store...never to be seen again.

Epilogue: From the evidence produced we were left to deduce that the lady in the green car was most likely the Asian guy's wife. She had arrived in her car to drop something off to her husband before he went to work. When she arrived on the scene she noticed that he was cleaning his car to fill time before his shift. She decided to join in on the fun and get the car nice and shiny so that it would be gleaming after the guy got back from an evening of stocking shelves. Just a regular, useless, average, pedestrian,  life experience.