Friday, March 30, 2007

Different ways

One hunts for the ultimate souvenir, forgoing a cup of coffee or an ice cream (even the best in town) because it can buy another memento, discovering & partaking in the wild joys of capitalism. The other looks for what what is part of him or his country, telling and retelling the history of a recently won independence. Coffee has to be made just his way and the right coffee set is bought. Anything to reinforce the familiar. Yes the city meets with approval. Yes the culture of centuries is recognized, yet in a small bubble they move from wonderment to puzzlement. So many Muslims, such unknown history and the prices high, too high. An Eames chair - really splendid - is considered just expensive second hand stuff. The café full of saints made them smile and the red light district was loathed. Yet the piece of fish is cut differently than at home and when tasted prepared - well they just don't prepare it his way. I practice undestanding, patience and gently prepare a meal and then take my leave to write, remembering that on the menu, I'll always take what I don't know...

Thursday, March 29, 2007

New eyes

When friends from a different culture come for the first time to your place, you learn to see through their eyes. Officially I live in a problem area, yet after a late night walk with the dogs their comment was: nice area. Yes, I have always liked the multi-ethnicity of where I live: the night shop from India, the Turkish pitta place, the Belgian and Moroccan baker, the Moroccan supermarket and the Pakistanis, I forgot where the the hand car wash came from... If you don't know how to prepare a dish, there is always someone who'll explain the world of tajine or tapas or Chinese cuisine to you.

to no one’s special recipes
she became a traveler
heard the words that stirred the wind
ate the food that others made
felt the rainy greyness
of the old and hurting bones
She walked the ways of men
and rested in women’s lands
looking for a place
of self within self -

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

First love

First love seems never to be forgotten. People wonder what happened to the other whether the chemistry that was, would still be some 40 odds years later. A tenderness floats around a first love, yet it is unclear whether the warmth is towards one’s younger self, towards the young bud love resplendent with innocence, optimism and endless possibilities, or to what could have been, but was not. We are shaped by the path of our life, our circumstances, what we made of it, our choices (if we have any) and geography. Not history, since the same time segment lapsed and we have been shaped by the world’s occurrences. But remember to look at the map realizing how history leaves a different footprint in different areas. My first love and his family is from Yugoslavia, a country that is no more, that fell apart, saw cruelty and ethnic cleansing. People knew fear and hatred and are scarred like their cities, thus telling a tale. Just very few can find it in their heart about 10 years after the war to relearn trust and respect, seeing the former enemy as a human being with the same needs and fears doesn’t seem possible yet. When the bombing was going on, the massacres and the rape of thousands of women in this beautiful southern region of Europe, I wondered what the family did, whether it was divided, and according to what lines: ethnicity, religion, or to where they lived… I wondered about choices. My road has brought me to a spectrum of colors that is so different, so incomprehensible if all one wants is ‘having a normal life’. A normal life in Africa is dying before you’re 40, in northern Europe it is 82 and in southern Europe 72 for women… So to my first love I probably am as foreign as an alien from one or other distant universe… A universe that was 1000 km away from the sounds of war and the bullets flying, a universe that encompassed a desert and a low country, a life lived in two continents, a universe of ahimsa that lived on hard work, words and colors…
If you want to understand more about the war that ended Yugoslavia read: The Sound of Blue, a novel by Holly Payne. Through the fate of the characters and the magnificent old city of Dubrovnik on the Croatian coast one can begin to imagine, why beauty and grief in this region is so interwoven and why a real refuge is so hard to find…

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Freedom and after all hope

The idea of freedom has been hollowed out. It has become a metaphor for a simplistic democracy where one can vote and that’s it. If one speaks out against the state of affairs one is vilified and accused of being a traitor. Defending the ruling paradigm has always allowed manipulation and influencing of the general public by lies and misrepresentation, the lofty goals making the unseemly means ‘acceptable’ to some. Such a situation leads to corruption of power. In many western democracies it are the industry barons, oil peddlers and media moguls who in fact own the country. Their interests are taken to heart by the governments they fund, going against the needs of the general public of the dispossessed and the middle class. Our freedom has been redefined as a free market economy, and our choice reduced to red, white or blue stripes in one’s toothpaste, or so it seems. The concept of freedom seemed to imply that if liberal democracy ruled the world that we would all become rational and free-thinking individuals, mistaking economic principles of always greater gain as the basis for ethical choices by the individual. So I would redefine the western democracies as a market democracy, not behaving rationally, non-violently, nor fairly. Ask the small farmers, ask the developing countries. Freedom imposed on other countries through economic means or through force & coercion always has perverse consequences and leads to chaos, murder and mayhem. Then usually people stop caring for a deep-seated, multifaceted concept of freedom and out of fear start looking for order brought by a leader. Nationalism breaks out, security concerns overriding everything else, since for safety some people are willing to loose themselves in the state, giving up their freedom to think and speak and thus canceling our fundamental rights. Perception manipulation, exaggeration, fear mongering have been the instruments of choice by totalitarian states, and are now used by some of what used to be the greatest nations in the world. The thought that one can actually export ‘freedom’ and ‘democracy’ as defined in a narrow concept of freedom as a free market economy within a class society engenders a utopian bloodbath and not justice. Only in letting go of all this, can hope rise.
Yes I am hopeful, especially now that in Northern Ireland Gerry Adams and Ian Paisley have for the first time shaken hands and are sharing power in the Northern Irish government, working together. After centuries of bloodshed, inflated nationalism en terrorism by both sides, peace returns to the hearts and minds in Ireland as a beacon in a dark night of the soul.…

Monday, March 26, 2007

Graffiti & paintings

I think this one says: out of nowhere...

Sunday was a workday. I tried to spraypaint my garage door in a slight breeze. It didn't work well. I'll have to talk to the local graffiti people, they seem to know what they are doing.
Then I hung a few paintings by Tony Mafia. Painting windows and doors is my job, also thinking and writing.

Sunday, March 25, 2007


People can change. I have witnessed over a long period of time how gradually some one I would call a ‘flake’ became honest, started on a search and still completely himself, made himself over. Not as a charade but, sincerely, truly functioning at a different level. In the process a new partner completed the new soul of a new man. He is still funny and witty, sharp, but with a newfound deepness. 25 years ago I wouldn’t have trusted him, now I welcome him as a brother on my path.
And then there was last night’s exquisite Thai food by another buddy turned accomplished amateur cook. I saw in the people at D&J's table courage in cancer conquered, courage in speaking out, wisdom tempered by good wine, or enhanced by total openness, joy and laughter, teasing, melancholy at the inevitabilities of life and support given, and a lot of beauty. The last two days nourished body, mind and soul…

Friday, March 23, 2007


Why do I write the blogs you read? For money? For glory? Because of ego? I don’t think so. Maybe it is practice. I am not quite sure what the practice is for. Maybe it's just a practice in observing, feeling and naming without judgment. Learning to discern whether a chill in a place comes from ghost stories told, or because one is unwelcome or makes the others feel uncomfortable. To be able to tell the difference is part of the survival kit of all nomads and half breeds. So I write to register, to chronicle what others take for granted or can’t believe. I look at the changing landscape of continents and see a human hand forced upon the wilderness, which is disappearing at a fast pace. I listen to the tragedies hinted at in a friend or stranger’s life and know we are all related. Also I know that all of us in our different forms and guises deserve respect. Arrogant Bastards, drunks, the pretty, the down and out and the unfriendly waiter. In Italy some waiters have honed this skill to a point of perfect rudeness that makes me smile. It has become an institution stating that they may be serving guests but are not subservient. The trick is not to be arrogant or snobbish or become annoyed towards them. Just ask: ”What do you suggest today?” … You’ll always be perfectly served since you recognized their skill and knowledge.
So I look out, think and write, imagine the wind in the landscape seen from behind the glass of daily life. I imagine the fear, love and hope of others in the split second of eternity that is life. Already the other place is becoming an absence. The desert a thought in my mind. Traveling there seems only to be the silent reality of memory and speechless anticipation. Unless suddenly reality hits you.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Work in Progress

So is all
work in progress
the searching for the note
that touches the soul
the words that please a lover
find a friend
the playing of an eight bar blues
in 7,5
knowing there is time
and that in time every beat
will be picked up
brought to a conclusion

There is the mind work
the heart work
the digging in the dirt work
the body work
of animal and child
the wild

So are we all
work in progress

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

End all war II - Soldiers

Always question authority – that is the best defense of sanity as it wards off arrogance of power and in the end fosters justice. Soldiers fighting in illegal, unjust bloody wars have never had a say in the decisions made by kings, emperors & presidents. Yet they feel they must uphold the wrongness of the decisions leading to mayhem and murder, feeling that criticism of the commander in chief is an attack on their personal integrity. In this four year old war, waged on lies, fabricated to convince a reluctant population, money, oil and the chimera of world dominion seemed to be the driving force. The soldiers serving should question what they are doing and not expect that thinking and feeling has to stop. Small acts of resistance are a necessity for the soul. My great uncle fought in two German wars. On the wrong side, for the wrong cause, yet he was an honorable man, never sharing the dark ideology of Nazism. My grandfather was a prisoner in a concentration camp in Austria. My father was a GI. It has to stop. No more wars. Peace is hard, takes time and effort but breathes at the time of the earth and not of a government. AndrĂ© Gide wrote: It is easier to lead men to combat, stirring up their passion, than to restrain them and direct them toward the patient labors of peace.

The first song I knew was
my daddy is over the ocean
and of course
I thought that every American
was my father
I was to blame for the Vietnam war
where I didn’t belong
Now I hear your voice
You charmer sweet talker

Too much dying had gone on
to settle down
when the screams and fire
still pierced your dreams
when you freed my mother from her enemy
and waged a sweet war with her

- so much later now -
your acceptance
has liberated me
belonging where I do belong

Monday, March 19, 2007

End all war

Our country is involved in an illegal, cruel war. Stop the hatred, talk, listen, work together, laugh together, but first we must mourn together for all victims. No more violence in word or thought. Four years after the invasion of Iraq, the world in is a worse place. Fear and religion has been divisive. Justice and solidarity may yield better results., CODEPINK and Women in Black are just a few of the many who yearn for Peace. Peace. Peace. Peace. Justice. Respect. Mitakuye oyasin. We are all related.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Alan Sillitoe

During an expedition with Dr Scarpone I ended up in a closing bookshop. One of my purchases was Alan Silitoe’s Birthday. Years ago - early sixties- I read his Saturday Night, Sunday Morning, stunned by its raw vitality, the vibrant lingo, its sexuality and the values that carried the story. I didn’t realize I had just picked up its sequel. 40 years later Alan Sillitoe is still concerned with masculinity and social justice (maybe class is the better word), yet it is all about change, reflecting the changing Zeitgeist and incomprehension of the younger generations. This book is “human”, anti-authoritarian with its freethinking and non-religious brand of thoughts. He gave me with this book an acceptance of aging, death and physical decay. On this melancholy rainy grey Sunday I talked to Rockcastle about the book & ravage of time in ourselves and that the conclusion of his stoic and funny review of life was a defiant ‘Life goes on’: You live in order to create memories. By the way: the novel is situated in Nottingham, officially the drunkest city in the UK. A few quotes:
- Brian slewed much of his pint, to keep up with his brothers. He wiped his mouth, then speculated on whether the amount of spunk he had shot in his life would have been enough to drown in. Maybe the ink he had used was a safer bet for suicide. Gallons of both, but neither death was tempting. The collective of matches struck for fires and cigars could have made a tree from which to hang himself, though he’d only ever thought of such an end to scorn himself out of doing it. Every morning he mainlined ink from a fat Mont Blanc into his upper arm, one side one day and the other the next, at which notion they laughed, as did he.
- There had to be more in life than talking to someone with no common bridge.
- People preferred overwhelming noise to quiet thoughts that would drive them insane, not knowing that only silence enabled you to be yourself.
- He saw black faces here and there, ore someone wearing a Moslem pillbox hat, or turban, though he’d noticed that when such people opened their mouths the accent was often as Nottingham as the rest, language a perfect mixer.
- Not even God controlled life and death, so any support would be feeble, though better than nothing.
- … the girl he had so intimately known turned into an unfamiliar old woman.
- His passport was always up to date, though he occasionally panicked that it might not be, and pulled into the next layby or petrol station to fumble through his wallet.
- I am sure it’s this bombing of Yugoslavia. I just can’t believe it. They should have spend all the billions dropping TVs and washing machines, then the people would have stopped killing each other to get at them. Or they could drop a million mobile phones so’s people could start talking. That Blair’s a real prat. Bombing hospitals and orphanages – it’s cruel. And all they can do at home is cut benefits for the disabled.
- Hard to say whether he went to her or she to him, but they stood in the middle of the room for a kiss which had all the passion of their early meetings. The only excuse he could find for not getting her to the floor and fucking her was that the scorched infant he suddenly turned into wouldn’t allow him to get a hard on, and when one came he saw panic on her face in case he tried. It was equally hard to know who broke away first, their pressing lips no more, after all, than a sign of days long gone.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Women writers in prison

Dear Excellency, Mr. Ambassador of Iran,

No friend of President’s Bushes attitude and policy toward Iran, together with many people all over the world we are trying to avoid another disaster like the war in Iraq. Yet defending your country isn’t easy when prominent writers and journalists Shadi Sadr, Mahbubeh Abbasgholizadeh and Jila Baniyaghoub are imprisoned for having organized a peaceful demonstration. In total 33 women were arrested in Teheran March 4, 2007. As far as PEN International knows all were released, except the three above mentioned women who are still detained in Evin prison. PEN fears that these women’s right to free expression, see article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. This Covenant has been signed by Iran. These facts have cast a shadow on the International Women’s Day, March 8, 2007, a day dedicated to Women and Peace, a truly important subject for the world.

Shadi Sadr is a well-known writer, journalist and lawyer. She has written many articles and books on women rights in Iran, and created Zanan-e Iran, the first website entirely dedicated to women’s rights issues in the country.
Mahbubeh Abbasgholizadeh is the editor of the quarterly journal Zanan and has been previously imprisoned for posting articles on reformist websites.
Jila Baniyaghoub is a prominent journalist and editor of the Iranian Women’s Society website and the women’s section of the Sarmaye newspaper. She was recently acquitted of charges of ‘acting against national security’ and ‘participating in an illegal demonstration’ after she covered a demonstration attended by thousands of women on 12 June 2006 calling for legal reforms.

PEN Writers in Prison Committee is very worried about the fate of these three women and would like to know what they are charged with. Furthermore we would like to be reassured as to their wellbeing.

Dear Mr. Ambassador, I urge you to forward our appeal and concern for these women to your government.

Friday, March 16, 2007


Over the determined dictate of the clock I long for the chaos of clouds, the freedom of chance which brings shade or soothing rain. I mourn the free fall of snow on the Kilimanjaro, yesterday's snows, meltwater of spewing chimneys, producing like clockwork.

Thursday, March 15, 2007


Arizona, last winter:

"A sub, Sir, with turkey please", said the gray man at Pilot.
- "No fire arms are allowed in here, Sir." replied the young kid.

Now how to handle the shift in the eyes of the man, the need to chase evil with the gun by his side. Skinny with lightless eyes, he is as stained as was his life. Not dirty, grimy but unclear with the fog of his mind around him.

The kid does not know about the man's fearful, fiery dreams of shooting at what doesn't breathe, shooting at the stillness of the night, the noises, voices in the clouds. He doesn't even know about the war never called a war while soldiers killed and died. The war, like all others, that should not have been. The boy with confident smile knows of Mohave greens, gila monsters but nothing of the sharp sticks hidden on the jungles paths, the snares, the tunnels, the distrust of friend and foe.

The man just stands there, doesn't move nor speak. Looks at the boy's hands cutting the sandwich with the glimmering efficient knife.
- "Here you go, Sir." handing him the sub with turkey. After all his father is a hunter and does no harm killing quail and deer for fun.

The man reaches for his order, eying the now resting knife and breathes more even now. He is OK. All is well. He goes out in search of a lifeless place.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Down the drain

On the road and down the drain, burned up, maybe even burned out to the point that the blogging stopped. Not for lack of subjects to share. After all there was the surprise fiftieth birthday party for a friend, which brought mutual friends from Scarborough to my house. I have shared with them my place in the desert and my lowland place. He wrote and composed ‘Meet me at Death Valley’. It is uplifting but as he writes in on of the songs ‘living on the edge, I can’t afford to stumble…’ During my silent retreat March 8, International Women’s day was dedicated to women and peace. In ‘Pragmatics of Human Communication, Paul Watzlavitch showed us that ‘You cannot not communicate’… Leonard Peltier wrote from his prison:

Silence, they say, is the voice of complicity.
But silence is impossible.
Silence screams.
Silence is a message,
Just as doing nothing g is an act.

Let who you are ring out and resonate
in every word and every deed.
Yes, become who you are.
You are your own comeuppance.
You become your own message.

You are the message.

So, I try to find back my voice, and throw myself in the fray again. Tumbleweed is looking for a breeze to jump off the fence.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

One-eyed Ford

Actually a one-eyed Chevy, not quite the same rhythm...

I don’t care if you’re married I still love you
I don’t care if you’re married 

After the party’s over

I will take you home in my One-Eyed Ford

Way yah hi yo, Way yah hi yo!

From “Big Fun,” Riding the One-eyed Ford, 1981 
by Diane Burns - Chemehuevi father and an Anishinabe mother. In the Business of Fancydancing by Sherman Alexie (Spokane) read the Reservation Love Song. First stanza:

I can meet you
in Springdale buy you beer
& take you home
in my one-eyed Ford

How many of you have had one-eyed cars?

The Algebraist

Just some quotes from the excellent The Algebraist by Iain M. Banks:
I have a story to tell you. It has many beginnings, and perhaps one ending. Perhaps not. Beginnings and ending are contingent things anyway; inventions devices. Where does any story really begin? There is always context, always an encompassing greater epic, always something before the described events, unless we are to start every story with, ‘BANG! Expand! Sssss…’, then itemise the whole subsequent history of the universe before settling down, at last, to the particular tale in question. Similarly, no ending is final, unless it is the end of all things… ( first § )
P. 29: Nevertheless, in all that flux of chaos, propaganda, distortions, drivel and weirdness, there were nuggets of actuality, seams of facts, frozen rivers of long- forgotten history, whole volumes of exobiography and skeins and tissues of truth.
P. 54: ‘Can any of us think of a good reason why this place is prohibited, apart from standard authoritarian, bureaucratic, overreacting, territory-marking militaristic bullshit?’
P. 116: No great breakdown in society took place and there were no significant riots or rebellions, though there were protests and crack-downs, and, as the authorities admitted much later – much later- Mistakes Were Made. But the system held together rather than fell apart, and many people would look back on that strange, unsettled epoch with a sort of nostalgia. There had been something feverish but vivid about the time, a reconnection with life after the disconnection with everybody else, which led to what even looked from some angles suspiciously like a cultural renaissance for what people were now starting to call the Ulubine Disconnect.
P. 223-24: a grandiose rant against the fucking system….
P. 310: Wormhole access portals were the pinch-points of the wormhole system – the city’s underground stations – were people of various species-types were forced to meet and to some extent mingle, though given the tiny amount of time one spend near a portal or within a wormhole, even this seemingly profound tying-together made very little difference to the ultimate unconnectedness of the many different life-strands, and both before they gathered and after they dispersed, the users of the system still tended to congregate at places specific to their own comfort criteria, usually quite different from those of all the others.
P. 437: he far preferred conference calls, holo meetings. They tended to be shorter ( though not always – if you had one where everybody was somewhere they felt really comfortable, they could go on forever too) and they were easier to control – easier to dismiss, basically. But there seemed to be this distribution curve of meeting reality: people at the bottom of the organisational pile had lots of real all-sat-down-together meetings – often Saluus had long suspected, because they had nothing useful to do and so had the time to spare and the need to seem important that meeting could provide. Those in the middle and towards the top had more and more holo meetings because it was just more time-efficient and the people they needed to meet with were of similarly high stature with their own time problems and often far away. But the – this was the slightly weird bit – as you got to the very highest levels, the proportion of face-to-face meetings started to rise again.
Also the rest about vital informational and body language….