Monday, April 30, 2007

Live Fast, Die Young

"Live Fast, Die Young" from Bull Rider, by Johnny Cash

That looker of a wife of mine said to me, as we merged onto 24E off of 13S, "Whoa! Feels like riding in a go-kart!" A heartfelt and hearty thanks to the engineers at Ford and Volvo, as well as all the motorcycle riders I ever saw pop wheelies on the freeway. Racing along the trees at break-neck speed becomes a state of mind, alert & engaged.

Friday night: Rebecca's Soul Train "Takin' It To The Streets" themed party. Paint yourself a mental picture of at least 40 Mission hipsters dressed to the nines in bona fide disco wear, starting from 24th Street and Bartlett, shaking their asses off in the front of the library, on the BART, at Embarcadero BART station, in the middle of Market Street, turning the Historic F-line into a party extraordinaire. The F-Line operator even let us take over the PA system for Soul Train pep talks. People joined and left us all along the way. Rebecca organized us into the two Soul Train rows with that charismatic dance instructor voice, better than most could have, what with the wild whiskey pounding dancers. We hit the Castro sometime after midnight, which seemed a good time for Looker & me to hail a cab. After the cabbie heard about our evening, he turned us onto the side of himself that raps, the MC Mars side. He freestyled for 5+ minutes, rapping all about our soul training - hands down dope shit, reminded me of the teenage rappers on the J-Church that used to pound the windows for bass while tapping the grab bars with a pencil and flowing big fresh. We bought his book of short stories, Don't Take Me The Long Way . So surreal, so so so surreal, and chock full of levity.

Saturday: Went to see Bret in the UCSF chemo ward. The doctors diagnosed him with rhabdomyosarcoma (bad) a couple months ago, leading to chemo-therapy Round 2 of 4 last weekend. It felt great to be able to suit up and show up for Bret. That ward leans towards depressing the smile smack off even the most jocular human. The view from the eleventh floor went on forever and a day, striking beauty. Heavy stuff this cancer, but a profound blessing for me, a chance to feel true friendship, up along the rough wall of bonding pain & fear transcendence. Bret's boy turned four months old today, such a wise little being. Whoa Nelly that's a lot of love swarming over us. Makes me cry sometimes, but not too much. Maria told me long ago, "Crying is honest. Crying is good." Smart woman let some wisdom slip there, and mine, well, they might just flood Big River.

Drove the family up to Megan & Paul's cool 440-acre co-operative land trust community later in the afternoon. Megan & I had talked about a visit for the past ten years, so you might say we'd looked forward for a minute. The place, called Monan's Rill, rides Mount St. Helena about 1,100' up the southeast side. Exceeded expectations with a dramatic, gutteral, sub-sonic auditory hallucination. Trees, rattlesnakes in the middle of the trail, owls, flowers, flowers, flowers, flowers, flowers, flowers, and valleys, and rocks, big moss & lichen covered monoliths, the moon, the planets, the hip people, the shiznits by any other name. Gumbo played extra well, sharing all he had in a breathtaking display of emotional growth. A boy about a year his junior grabbed the hat off his head, and then demanded the tricycle on which he sat. I expected Gumbo's typical response would have consisted of throwing his new friend to the ground without hesitation, before deliverance of a well placed farewell kick prior to speeding off, but instead I overheard him cry "let's share!" Sweet, yo, very sweet.

Sunday: Rode from the San Francisco Ferry Building to the Larkspur Ferry and back. Took a detour and checked out the San Francisco National Cemetary, which I had never visited before. The oldest stones I saw marked folks' graves that died in the 1920s. No birth dates for most of those. Maybe they didn't know, didn't care. Our culture overrates quantitative analysis, tricknology promoting social inequality, trying to make a dollar out of shame. That's right, I said kill your television, a jillion pixels of high definition or not.

Watched the swimmers at Aquatic Park, promised myself once more that I'd try that sometime.

Laurent crapped out at the Larkspur Ferry, and I used the opportunity to chase that original 11-year old man coming of age ride or die quality of thought. Back then, in 1981, I just up and gave up on Saturday morning cartoons, preferring instead to start my morning by striding out into the brilliant Santa Rosa sunshine, picking up my yellow Ashtabula BMX style dual-tube framed killing machine half-way down the walk, having been left unlocked and ready for fast escape. I would ride to Kelly Beardall's house, and then we'd rip the world to bite-sized pieces in wolfish ways, travelling where our inner magnets led us, with the mandatory 7-11 pilgrimages. We sprinted when we felt like sprinting, jumped off every handicap ramp, layed down a 20' 180 degree slide at every stop, gave everyone the finger, lived on the bikes until dinner time, loved the bikes, took bruised and scraped up succor in the dried out creek bed with one vertical side. So I intentionally got lost, rode without direction, ignoring posted bike routes, choosing scary looking streets full of cars, stopping, sprinting, stopping, sprinting, observing the unfamilar, loving that pain in my legs. Got home and worked in the yard the rest of the day, then the standard Sunday night volunteer gig. The weekend still felt young and corruptible, so I did my best to lead her astray as she convulsed, and clung, to her long, last moments.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Heart of Spring

Topped 80 degrees in the wandering haze of West Oakland today. Spring has welcomed me into her heart of hearts. She dares me with fiery rays pouring out of her eyes to swim, swim, swim in the lakes and creeks. My vision goes blue, then gold, then clears to a Jackson Pollock depiction of myself walking along the rough asphalt path to the beach at Lake Temescal, the sound of ducks, people fishing on the opposite shore, gritty sand between my toes, that breeze off the bay rubbing me down, gentle now, not too cold, then plunge beneath the surface, off to swim with fishes.

This late April sunlight has me in the zone, singing to the stars, lighting candles at the feet of our wooden Buddha, ravenous for the bliss of deep meditation, whitewater roar of joy from a cave beneath a boulder right in the middle of the river, feeling love for even my enemies, don't ask me how, always hated those fuckers before.

Flower scents follow me for miles, play childhood games with me, tap me on the shoulder and then disappear, only to come back in 3 seconds to slap me with vague forgotten memories, make me want to cry and laugh and just lie there in the street like a old blind dog on a hot day, the fragrances know, have known me for years, tracked me across continents, genetic algorthyms for aromatic rings known as vernal spirits, ancestral floral allies from my grandmother's garden, microsopic fountains of youth that have come to show me the meaning of love, bless us with a hundred thousand more miracles, dole out reassurance that there're plenty more where those came from. The old story tells it that Jack from Jack and The Beanstalk had magic beans, but it turns out that that all them little seeds can wax magic if you work with them, fe fi fo fum.

This mood won't last forever, so I'm trying to make the most of it.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

An Orifice By Any Other Name

In her zeal to convince me to shave my goatee, my venerable spouse took to calling me Crotchface and asking me when I planned to shave "that pubic mass". Gave me an idea, or two. Carol and I agreed though, no matter how I puckered and twisted, my faux coochie lacks the tender mien of vagina veritas. I think you will agree that the strong point would be the clitoral hood. We are still getting laughs out of it, and broaching Berkeley-esque topics such as how it relates to Jung's Man And His Symbols, east-west politics, and gender roles at home & in the workplace, weeks later. If you're a guy not having fun experimenting with different facial hair configurations, you are missing out, big time.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Self-Portrait of a 3-Year Old Male

The boy's art never ceases to amaze me, because I'm his father for the most part, but also because it's a major trip any way you slice it. Makes me want to draw, finger paint, build a sculpture, let those moonrises shine right through me, bask in heartfelt gratitude.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Chicken Foot To You

Chicken foot to you! The boy has taken to saying this phrase that he coined, whenever life's circumstances call for that extra bit of cuteness and humor. Mamacita asked him what he wanted to write to me on my birthday card. He responded with "Chicken foot to you." Maira gave him this chicken foot when she came over for our March full moon hike. She gave it in a bag with some Latvian sea salt, although the salted chicken foot is not a Latvian tradition, yet. We've kept it in a bowl in the garden window with some salt ever since, watching it's evolution and trying to pose it every now and again. Pretty stiff of late. Sometimes Gumbo will stick one of his hands out from under a bed or from under the foam of his bath, with his fingers mimicing the pose of the chicken foot, and ask "what's this?". It is of course supposed to be a chicken foot. Much mileage out of a single chicken foot and some salt. Soon after receiving this chicken foot I was lucky enough to get to try eating one at Restaurant Peony in Oakland. Not quite delicious, but not so bad either. Yes, I know, commercial chicken farming is sad.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Remembering Present Lives

"Often people claim to remember past lives; I claim to remember a different, a very different, present life." --Philip K. Dick, September 24th, 1977

Call me schizo, but I too sense parallel lives, all around me, and like that guy in Fight Club, am quite underslept.

Mike and Ann threw a heck of a party last Saturday night. They whipped up some special fuel mixture and busted out the fire toys. I got to try the flaming bullwhip - extraordinary. Ann gave an awesome performance with the fire bolos in her special long leather fire-dancing dress, then she wowed us with the flaming finger extensions. Fuck hell I love fire.

They had a full DJ setup downstairs too. Fuck hell I love dancing.

Some friends I hadn't seen for years were in from out of town, and we carried on like reunited brothers after the war. Fuck hell I love old friends.

Put four solid hours in on the road bike before going out. Laurent and I rode from Orinda BART past San Pablo Reservoir, out through Pinole to refinery land, under the Carquinez Bridge, past Port Costa, up McKewan Road to Franklin Road to Martinez, back along Alhambra Valley Road, rode the Bears past Briones, which brought us back to Orinda. The cows and their fluffy calves were way cool, Jerseys, Herefords, Black Angus, other wild looking kinds. The goats were amazing too. Fuck hell I love biking.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Free and Pure

"Nature, once queen and goddess
ordained not misery and guilt for us
but a free and pure life
in the forest."


The now resembles magic cake one can eat and have, tasty and practical.

Trees, mostly oaks, keep talking to me, explaining details of the soil-root interface and all their tiny friends there helping the nourishment transfer, delightful and engrossing. The journey from morbid to fecund so very short.

Gumba crawled up the stairs for the first time last Monday night. She went straight from never having climbed any of the stairs to climbing them all each night since. Still hasn't attempted coming down though, her father's child for sure.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Beats, Rythms, and Staccato Noismaking

Little Gumba got these finger cymbals making music a few minutes after introduction. Someday we'll tour the galaxy together, with the pets, and a killer digital sampler, much like the Musicians of Bremen.

Had true wild time at an after-hours party called the Ultra-Video Lounge last Friday night. DJ Goldilox did her thing from 2AM-3AM, and she rocked it bigtime, blooming incredible. I'd been trying to get to one of her gigs for the past 3 years, so the night was extra special. My lovely spouse had made a special dragon frog hat with flashing red pom-poms for my birthday, which made it's debut at the party. Turned out to be quite a hit, put to fabulous use by a lively blonde dancer named Fayette, who made like she knew me well before snatching it off my head with a childish squeal. The hat came to life on her, a very animated individual, so all in good fun. Beautiful night, dark bay whirlpools murmuring conversation with the red flashing lights that top the bridge towers. Check out DJ Goldilox, as well as many other artists not available at Tower Records on Addictech

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Long Live Vonnegut

Vonnegut is dead. Long live Vonnegut!

The guy felt like a family friend, somebody that knew me too well. Concepts I read about in his books have floated to and fro in my mind's sky ever since I saw Slaughter-House Five at the ripe age of five, and then more so once Cat's Cradle tore and rip van wrinkled it's way into my brain five years later. Another five years passed before Breakfast of Champions brought me closer to Elliott's family, slapping the tar out the last of the generation gap. His step-dad Rotten Barton had read it, his brother Morgan had read it, Frances the mom too, and I got to read it too, all the same frayed copy, sitting in his living room, hung over, in a single sitting, immensely. Once that little initiation had washed us, we all shared in the jokes for years by acting out the little pictures, hilarious, asshole eyes. It also served as the off-center hub of many a drunken diatribe, providing a magic set of words, names, and quotations that became passwords to absurdity, with a touch of elitism thrown in, the type of post-modern conversation that satisfies better than cigarette butts out of the gutter when you're fucked up (good enough for Huckleberry Finn, good enough for me).

Ten years after that I ended up train commuting a bunch during graduate school, a school that happened to have a library chock full of Kurt's books, which allowed me (psychologically) to read several more. The two most noteworthy in my opinion were Slapstick and Fates Worse Than Death (non-fiction). He got deep into the phenomenon of suicidal tendencies in Fates Worse Than Death, pointing out that, during his visits with people experiencing famine and starvation in Somalia, he found no suicidal people. Back there in cozy New England or whatever idyllic American burgs however, just about all his friends and him were trying it, for some reason or another, bored with privilege perhaps, strung out on opiates & alcohol more likely. Much props for his attempt at that happy topic. Kind of a crazy asshole I guess, which makes him a special kind of loveable to me. Vivid imaginations of Slapstick's tidal gravity and thumb-sized people (well, maybe he stole that from Tom Thumb) lurk eternal in my psyche. Big inspiration. Thanks Kurt.

"Charm was a scheme for making strangers like and trust a person immediately, no matter what the charmer had in mind." from Breakfast of Champions

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Smells Like Adventure

Exciting job titles I'm actively drifting toward:

10. Adventure Capitalist
9. Socialist Adventure Network Chairperson
8. Adventure Anarchist Cook (or Kook, or Coach)
7. Adventure Procurement Specialist
6. Principal Adventure Engineer
5. Urban Adventure Team Leader
4. Adventure Coordinator on the battered but sturdy Ninth Life Gamble
3. Adventure Dance Revolutionary
2. Shaman Shape-Shifter
1. Trans-Dimensional Travel Guide

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Fly Ride

"The spell broke,
and my chains were shattered too, and fell
to the ground: and I was happy. And though
I’m filled with tedium, I’m content,
after such long slavery, such madness,
to embrace freedom and sense. And though
a life devoid of affection, and noble illusion,
is like a midwinter night empty of stars,
it’s my solace and my revenge for a fate
that’s hard enough for me, that idle
and immobile on the grass I can gaze
at sea and land and sky, and I can smile."


Got a fly ride in on my new skinny-tire 58cm artpiece. Up San Pablo Dam Road past the reservoir, out Moraga Way, right on Canyon, up Pinehurst, past the "imagine going to school there!" Canyon Middle School, taking time to appreciate the massive redwood snag bridges across the creek that follows the bottom of Pinehurst, as well as the living giants, mossy, ferny. Skyline to Grizzly Peak to Wildcat Canyon for a regular pack o' dogs run with the motorcycles, sports cars, and expansive views, just another gunner for speed and lanespace. Trusting the black and yellow demon-bike more around the corners. The leaning zim of it hums electric, eyes wide, tunnel vision of love. You will know the goddesspeed smile when the downhill ends of the sags in the road try to launch you into flashes of forgotten youth, with vigor. Those purple flowers kill me. The gold ones recorporate me. The tiny blue ones sing vital chants sung in the same deja vu rhythms locked and unlocked in all our sub-concious minds since the pre-dawn awakening of humankind. Sounded hell of good.

Saw a red-tail dive on, and fly away with, a furry brown rodent, down under the six o'clock eucalyptus tree shade, as icing on my magic "have AND eat" perpetual motion cake. Back down through the howling wind, past the reservoir and up my personal hill, zig-zagging a bit toward the top, three short hours and 15 long minutes later.

Gumba started crawling with her belly up off the floor today, and later, in a clear voice, used the all powerful "no" word on me. That's eleven months old for you. She sleeps in the crook of my right arm now, and yes, I typed all you see with my left hand.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Chocolate Dream Come True

Gumbo talked about this donut for days after eating it. You can see the tip of one of his shockingly white crowns peaking out, preparing to bite. I managed to steal a small piece, and yes, it tasted as good as it looks. The better half and I had attempted to go hot air ballooning that morning in Yountville, but after fog canned that plan we took consolation succor at Bouchon Bakery. The stuff pretty much got you high, all giddy and slapstick, dreamy-eyed and slightly flushed. We tried a chocolate caramel ganache, a passion fruit tart, a 3-nut tart, two chocolate Parisian macaroons, a caramel Parisian macaroon, and a bear claw. Woke up the next morning wanting to do it all over again, glad I don't live in Yountville.

The following Monday I introduced the boy to Slayer in the form of my vinyl copy of Show No Mercy. I dropped the needle, took a brief moment to show him the album cover with the goat-head guy brandishing two swords, with his head on fire, and before I could even tell him anything about the wonder that is Slayer he began teaching me how to listen to Slayer, from the ground up. Right away he started in to bouncin' off the furniture, spinning until he fell down, laughing, shoving, running, just like a real live Slayer show. I did it too. What a hoot.

Gumba attained the ability to pull herself to a standing position from laying on the floor for the first time today. Also, she now sports two fine young teeth, one on top and one on the bottom, sharp as puppy fangs.

Delicious Depression

Gumba gives me little pats on the back when I pick her up, to comfort me, like I do her. And if she hears the intro to a thumpin' song she'll squeeze my upper arm in time with the beat, a reminder to start dancing. Also, she has perfected "uh-oh". What a shining star, she floods my mind with light and vision.

Regardless of how pleasant the children can be, a persistent shitty mood keeps poking me in the collar bone. I must love depression, overwhelming workloads, and the constant feeling of emotionally, physically, and spiritually lagging. I believe that we choose our moods, our reactions to situations, and I find myself savoring anger, cooking with self-pity, pouting like a snotty brat; delicious, but with unpleasant side effects.

"O sweet serene moments, how you vanish!
What delights us here, except our hopes,
never lasts for us, or even lingers."

--from Leopardi's Canti