Archive for July, 2006

Rainville for Congress?

I might vote for a Republican this fall.

This is not an endorsement. But Martha Rainville, Adjunct General of the Vermont National Guard & Republican contender for Bernie’s vacated US House seat, has caught my interest since the campaign began. Since I live in an alleged democracy, I figure it’s my job to explore the reasons Why.

To begin with, her opponent — VT state Senate President Pro Tem Peter Welch — is, by my good estimate, a hosehead & a Wanker.

Welch is a Democrat in a powerful spot here in Vermont. As Senate President, he is in a position to drive policy creation to benefit such causes as his party supposedly champions.

Welch bills himself, in his own words, as an ‘advocate of the underrepresented.’ A champion of the Underdog, as it were, always pulling for the Little Guy.

Well.

I’ve lived in Vermont for the duration of Welch’s Senate tenure. During that time, I have been variously working-class, homeless, mentally ill, food-insecure and badly in need of dental care. I also have a keen predilection for Vermont Politics — I like to stay abreast of What Goes On in Montpelier, well as I’m able.

This all begs a question: What has Peter Welch done For Me Lately?

Zilch.

So I’m prejudiced against the candidate I am ‘supposed’ to support. And a bit resentful for feeling obliged to support a candidate, like him or not.

There are 3 ‘major’ political parities in Vermont; Republicans, Democrats & Progressives. When Jim Jeffords announced his intention to quit the US Senate, last year, Bernie stepped in as the heir apparent to his seat. Democrats chose to not run a Senate candidate, in part out of a genuine respect for Bernie. But there was also a healthy dose of Fear — nobody beats Bernie Sanders in a Vermont election.

Shit, the RNC couldn’t even persuade Lieutenant Governor Brian Dubie to run against him. Too bad — I had a great bumper sticker idea:

VOTE BERNIE — SMOKE DUBIE!!

Early on, as the various parties jockeyed for position in a political landscape revamped by Jefford’s retirement, Bernie — the only Independent in the US House — pressed strenuously for a two-way, Republican vs. Democrat, race to fill his seat. With a Progressive added to the mix, he argued, we’d risk electing the Republican by default.

What troubles me is that Vermont has 3 Major Parties because we want 3 Major Parties. That is how we wish to be represented. It is not for Bernie Sanders or anyone else to decide, for our own good, that it should be otherwise.

This is not mere ideologue ranting. The exclusion of a Progressive from the House race has a real & unjust consequence.

Vermont has voted resoundingly, via Town Meeting, Selectboard & State Legislature resolutions, to instruct Bernie Sanders to advocate for invocation of the Impeachment Articles. We want to see George W. Bush given the Fair Trial he is so richly due. And Bernie — I say unforgivably — has spurned the will of the People who’ve long considered him our Hero.

The Democrat Party line, regarding impeachment, is that — while it may be the Right Thing To Do — it makes a lousy campaign strategy. They want very much to win the House & Senate in November, so they’ve rejected the issue.

That is their perogative. I believe it will cost Democrats the mid-term elections. Time will tell.

We know for certain that Vermonters favor Impeachment — or, at very least, we want the issue debated on the National Stage. A Progressive running for VT’s lone US House seat would force that issue. That is why we want to be represented by 3 parties. We want candidates who force mainstream politicians to answer questions they Fear.

What can I say? We’re daredevils here…

And that, in a nutshell, is why I’ll seriously consider voting for Martha Rainville. Not because I’m particularly crazy about her — but because I particularly do not like what her opponent doesn’t stand for. Weak argument? Maybe. Like I said, this is not an endorsement. Just an exploration of possibilities.

I’m being a Good American by doing my Civic Duty.

One thing I know: If we elect Peter Welch, he will keep Vermont’s lone US House seat until he retires or dies. The cold fact is he ain’t that good. By contrast, Rainville’s performance — as a Republican — will be eyed with greater scrutiny. She will be Suspect. If she fails to perform adequately she’ll be more easily ousted, in 2 years…

…and hopefully by then Vermont’s 3 party system will produce a candidate we genuinely want to help Win.

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What the fuck is a Spun Cookie??

SPUN COOKIE: Noun. Origin: Spun: v. Very high on drugs, often LSD or amphetamines. In such a state, one may exclaim: ‘Holy SHIT – I’m spun out of my fucking brains!’ Cookie; n. A confectioners treat, often made from sugar, flour, butter & milk, then mixed with chocolate chips, candies, raisins and/or other adornments, and baked until crisp on the outside, moist, gooey & yummy on the in.

From the word’s origin one may suppose a ‘spun cookie’ is an actual cookie spiked with drugs. One encounters such cookies, usually prepared with marijuana butter. But these, counter-intuitively, are not Spun Cookies.

Spun Cookie is a term spoke endearingly (well…I always take it is a compliment) of one who has ingested enough mind-bending substances, of the mainly psychedelic variety, to render a sense of permanence to their condition of ‘Spun.’

For example, if someone matter-of-factly explained to a group of friends – say, an hour or so after a Grateful Dead concert – that they’re not from Earth at all, but in fact hail from the Planet Tralfamadore, they would inevitably be greeted with such a response as:

‘Boy you are One Spun Cookie!!’

In case you were wondering…though I doubt any of my regular readers were. Why?

They’re all a bunch of Spun Cookies around here!

Dead Zone on The Rock

I looked at the rock I’d just fallen off. It was a rose quartz stone the size of a giant disco ball. Absynth Eve was still standing on it. Her car was parked alongside, tunes cranked top-volume and all 4 doors flung wide. We were in a strange place, twilight was shining & something about it was Right.

‘You’re listening to the Dead Zone,’ a voice boomed through the speakers, ‘On The Rock!!’

I stared at the sky astonished, laughed away some tears. Absynth Eve fell off the quartz stone in amazement. We looked at each other like, ‘Is this really happening?’ It felt like an Omen from a synchronistic ally. A song played on the radio, a few minutes before, that hurled me on my ass literally – but that was only the Warm Up Act.

Then the clock struck Grateful Dead Hour on the local Classic Hits station & the evening turned out like a song.

‘I think,’ I recollected faintly, ‘They do the Dead Zone every Sunday.’

‘Huh.’ Absynth Eve wondered. ‘Is today Sunday?’

‘Got me.’

And the strange music began.

YOU TOLD ME GOODBYE
HOW WAS I TO KNOW
YOU DIDN’T MEAN GOODBYE
YOU MEANT PLEASE DON’T LET ME GO!

I WAS HAVING A
HARD TIME
LIVING THE GOOD LIFE…

Strange, beautiful & powerfully sad… I stared at a cloud through kaleidoscoping streams of tears. Curled my arms around my knees and rocked back and forth; somehow this sated my anguish. Then rolled on my side to face the rose quartz stone. Realized the rock, like everyone, has a Dream.

Someday it hopes to be a Dance Floor.

Meanwhile, the rose quartz swings a Day Job. It is our friend’s gravestone. My friend has by far the dopest gravestone around.

I took a long look at that rock and asked a thousand times why.

The next song was good for dancing. Not the greatest song ever, by far, but it’s got a beat that shakes. Do with it what you want to. At that peculiar moment I swore it was the greatest song ever played on FM radio. We had minds to dance on a friend’s grave, and Hell In A Bucket has the one line that goes:

THERE MAY COME A DAY
I WILL DANCE
ON YOUR GRAVE!!

And we danced to it.

Imagine that.

Like Pirate Treasure. Only better.

It was better than Booty.

My jaw dropped. Eyes widened with raw delight. I thumped, pummeled & ground my bare feet into the sun-drenched earth; ecstatic in a way I hadn’t felt since I plumb don’t know when.

I haven’t had so much fun with my dead friend since my dead friend died. I get the feeling my dead friend hadn’t had that much fun since the last time he was alive.

There were minutes in that hour which were less ecstatic and not precisely fun. They played Brokedown Palace, the one that sings ‘Fare You Well, Fare You Well – I love you more than words can tell!’ I didn’t dance on my friend’s grave, then. I crawled across it and cried

Things live in this world. Things die. So it is.

Welcome to Planet Earth. Please enjoy your Doom.

Oh, one more thing: Jump the turnstiles – never pay for the Ride!

I spoke with Absynth Eve on the telephone yesterday. She told me about how she’d just read Worthy Challenge at the library. Said she clicked for musical accompaniment, as suggested, and cranked the song out at top volume from her tinny laptop speakers.

‘Yeah, then a Sober Person accosted me,’ She griped, ‘He looks at me all in this whiney voice and goes MISS!! You Are In A Library! I was like, You Miss Being In A Library? What’re you talking about – We ARE In A Library!!’

‘That’s the problem.’ He fretfully stammered, ‘I know we’re in a library!’

‘Lemme get this straight.’ She eyed him warily, ‘You miss being in a Library, but your Problem is you know we’re in a Library. Um, yeah. Dude…are you OK?’

‘NO!!’ The Sober Person shot back a little too loudly, ‘I mean the problem is you’re in a library! But you don’t seem to REALIZE it!’

‘Excuse me,’ Absynth Eve replied, ‘Mike E wants me to play this song but I can’t hear with you yelling. Do you mind keeping it down? Or should I send you to find someone who works here, so they can ask you to leave?’

‘I work here!!’

‘No shit?’ Absynth Eve shook her head, ‘So that’s what your problem is!’

The Sober Person could contain himself no longer. He laughed. And regained his composure. ‘Look,’ the guy said polite-but-firmly, ‘I need to ask you to turn off the music.’

‘Why?’

‘Because we’re quiet in the libraries. Don’t give me a Hard Time, please? I’m just doing my Job.’

‘Ah.’ Absynth Eve said, ‘I get it. You’re taking your problem Out On Me!’

‘Well,’ the librarian fumbled words, ‘Not precisely as such, but…will you turn it down at least?’

My friend started the song over, stood up and gazed at him with curious eyes.

‘Hey, are you a Writer?’ She asked.

‘Why, yes! Well. Not a quite published writer specifically. But I hope one day…’

‘Make you a Deal, pal – keep your trap shut long enough so I can play one song…and by the time the song is over you’ll have a story to sell.’

The Sober Person said nothing, just stared. He didn’t know the game but felt certain he’d been Beat.

Absynth Eve laughed, swayed to the music & winked. Then she bounced nimbly onto the table, feeling positively jazzed, reached her hand out to the stunned librarian, flashed her gold tooth and – in her surly yet child-like british accent – asked:

‘Care for a little Dance, shall we?’

a Worthy Challenge

Click for Musical Accompaniment

On second thought, my plan for Middle East peace may not work out so hot; if Hamas threw a kegger, in a cemetery filled with people they killed, it’d rightly be seen as insult added to injury.

Silly me.

See, now that’s why you hadn’t ought to blow people up. Ruins a perfectly good dance party!

There’s a lesson in that, for us here at Home. We can easily look to those we deem the perpetrators of Planet Earth’s calamity, and say ‘I wish those douche eaters would cut it the fuck out! And let the rest of us get on with our lives in Peace.’

We may be right to say that – I say it all the time. But…suppose they did cut it out. Say all war ceased to rage this instant. Will there be Peace in our own communities?

I wonder.

I’ve come to stubbornly reject the notion that someone I’ve genuinely cared for may still walk this Earth – maybe right past me on the street – but, because they Said this Took that Broke something or Slept where-the-fuck ever, they are now Dead To Me.

Fuck That.

I got dead friends already.

Could be I’m naïve. Or just a fantastically wishful thinker. But I figure a community of kindred spirits can get on, at very least, respectfully.

So why is it that wherever I turn I see good people, well…kind of acting mean? Too many fights between folks who love one another. Lots of nasty loose ends left to snap malignantly. If we’re not careful, I feel, our community may be reduced to warring factions of one. Does anyone else see this? Or is it just me?

Guess it’s a real stressful time to try to get by, here on Planet Earth.

Jerry Garcia was once asked for his thoughts on saving the world. ‘Somebody has to do it,’ he said, ‘It’s just incredibly pathetic that it has to be us.’ I’ll take that a step further, and call it grievously poor planning on someone’s part. Like YEAH – let’s leave it to the Drug Heads & Wastoids!!

Personally I would not entrust the fate of all life on Earth with the likes of me. I for one am astonishingly irresponsible with these things. Kinda proud of that, actually.

But the thing about my kind of people, my friends, is we really do give a damn. We’re smart enough to see that, as is, our world is about to blow. Soon the Big Shit Puddle will drop & go splat & everything will stink.

We know this. We grew up with it. As a kid, when Reagan was president, I used to lay awake at night both astounded and filled with dread that the whole game could be over at the push of a button; easy as getting munched by a ghost in Pac-Man.

The natural reaction to this awareness is a want to do something about it.

What I do, usually, is blame it – along with all my other problems, just for kicks – on the Government.

I’ve been doing that — and doing it well — for years. But shit just keeps getting more fucked up and really, really sad.

If your in the mood for a little more bad news from Planet Earth check out my friend Galloway’s most recent dispatch from Cyprus. Even if you’re not in the mood for bad news — who is? — this is a must read.

Having read that, I ask: What can we Do about it?

Somebody has to Save The World. And even if it doesn’t need to be Us, whoever else is working on it damn well needs our Help.

We’re in Trouble.

So. What can we do? I wonder: is it reasonable for us to expect warring factions the world over to cease hostilities while we, friends who love one another, fight amongst ourselves?

I propose a simple — if at times astronomically difficult — strategy.

Make Peace with each other.

the Warm Up Act

‘Goodbye Poppa,’ reads the message inscribed on the grave’s footstone, ‘I love you!’

I knelt down, traced my fingers over the words, then swooshed my hands, a bit angrily, over the whole damn thing – as though I were some kind of wizard who, by mere gesture, could make the gravestone and all it stands for go poof & disappear.

I opened my eyes. The grave was still there. I cried.

My friend Absynth Eve touched my shoulder. I looked up and saw that she was crying, too.

The grave belongs to an old friend. He died 10 years ago in October. The inscribed message is from his son, who was 4 when his Poppa died. The boy, Kaya, he’s 13 now. I haven’t seen him in years, but hope I’ll get a chance – it happens that I’m friends with his classmate, Althea.

They (YIKES!!) dated for awhile recently. Anyway, Althea told me they’re real close friends, still, but it didn’t work out with them dating because Kaya is a ‘Player.’

The headstone is a giant rose quartz, the size of my old friend’s heart. A mighty big rock. Big enough to sit on. Or stand on. Turns out it is (just barely) big enough for two people to dance on.

Absynth Eve is the kind of friend who helps you figure out about how someone’s gravestone is just big enough for his two skinniest friends to dance on. I was still weeping in the grass, when she left suddenly, jumped in her car, and drove it right alongside the quartz rock. Tuned the FM radio in on the local Classic Shits station, turned up the volume to eleven & flung the car-doors wide.

The last notes of a song faded. Absynth Eve hopped on the rock, held her hand out toward me.

‘Would you like to dance?’ she asked in her surly yet child-like British accent, ‘Our friend is about to play us a song.’

Now, what Absynth proposed was a big No-No. We were in a Jewish cemetery. And the Jews strictly forbid song & dance at their dearly departed’s graves. As a side note, I propose a tactical shift to Hamas & Hezbollah. If they really wanna get to the Israeli’s, why not storm their graveyards with hookahs, boom-boxes & chicks – and have themselves a party?

That’d freak ’em right out.

Maybe it was the geopolitical overtones that got me on my feet. After all it’s not every day you get to break a major law of an Ancient Religion – that is, one I’ve never broken before.

Really, though, it was simply Absynth Eve, holding her hand empathically out to me, which made me dry my eyes & climb with her on the rock. She got that skill. To tempt a weeping friend to dance is Absynth Eve’s predilection.

I think she does it for Art.

It was little awkward with us both on board. We kind of held each other up, and I kicked off my shoes to gain a better toe-grip. Still, there seemed to be just room enough for three of our feet, atop the rock, which meant one foot, of the four between us, needed to be in mid-air at all times. It was kind of silly & fun.

Perfect for 2 people Dancing.

It didn’t occur to me, right then, that Sting played warm-up at my allegedly dead friend’s first Grateful Dead show. That’s not why I fell off the rock when the next song came on. The song itself hurled me on my ass.

I hope that someone gets
my Message in a Bottle…

a Long Time Ago in a Galaxy Far Away

I used to sell drugs.

Ashamed? Fuck No — matter of fact I’m proud of it.

I’m not scared to say so, either. Beause, though I swing down to Earth pretty regularly — a bunch of my best Freaking Mindblower friends live there — I myself hail from the planet Tralfamadore.

And drugs are Legal here.

the Chair before the Drunk Tank

The chair I was handcuffed to was one of those straight-backed deals one encounters most frequently in elementary schools & AA meetings. The Irony struck me, since I’d been assured — in both elementary school and at AA meetings – that unless I cleaned up my act, some Ugly Fate like this awaited me.

Fuck Them. I thought to myself, and looked for a way out.

I’d already tried to run from the store security guard; an instinctively sound reaction to his charging at me, which seemed less smart, a few drunken steps later, when he tackled and held me in a choke-hold until I literally begged him not to kill me. This, within view of the two cops who happened to roll by at that inconveniently particular moment.

‘Now I got to tell ‘em what you done!’ The security guard barked resentfully, ‘Or else get an assault charge pinned on me!’

He grabbed me by the arm and hauled me out back. I got a good look at the guy; black, older – late 50’s or so, I’d guess – and gentlemanly, in his own way. He wasn’t handling me rough, but would if I gave him another reason.

Mostly I was struck by his seeming empathy. Like he’d been Fucked Around more than once, by police, and was genuinely sorry for having to help them haul off with me.

Sorry, yeah – but it pissed him off. He shook his head, while he handcuffed me to the chair, and explained that he’d never have called the cops on me if I hadn’t tried to run.

‘That’s the problem with the Youth these days,’ was the last thing he said, ‘Is you don’t know the Value of cooperation.’

Ok. I figured I’d have plenty of time to let that Lesson sink in…later. Maybe I’d discuss it with my Youthful coconspirators, in their apartment across the street, over the rest of that half-gallon of Jim Beam – if I could get back before they finished it off.

I could almost hear them, they were so close. Passing the bottle around, giving me Cheers and – I hoped – putting together some kind of cash collection, on my behalf, to bail me out in the morning.

Not that bail would be necessary, if I had my way. The chair wasn’t attached to the floor, but I was stubbornly attached to the chair. So I kind of half-hopped my way to the door. Then realized, with the door directly in front of me, and my hands cuffed securely behind, I’d need to swing the chair round 180 degrees to gain a clear reach on the knob. For the sake of expediency, I tried to pivot the chair on one leg, kicked too hard, and hung perilously for a moment, until the chair righted itself and landed, still facing the wrong way, but otherwise properly.

I hung my head in despair. Languished, for a moment, until I remembered: I am a Free-lance Jedi, who extricates myself from jams like this Professionally. I drew a deep breath, prepared to use the Force on the doorknob, when I was distracted by mean-looking black things on the floor. Boots. Black leather boots – most likely attached to cop’s feet.

Damn it. Foiled again. Oh well, maybe I can win the cops over with my Charm.

I fumbled for the right words to greet them, but they beat me to it.

‘Where are those friends of yours?’

I thought on it for a second, but plumb didn’t Get the question.

‘What friends?’ I asked, genuinely baffled.

I reached back with my brain, trying to make sense of all that transpired over the last, tumultuous half-hour. There had been friends. In an apartment across the street. There was a grocery store involved. And dog food, which didn’t explain anything. I was about to give up, plead innocent by reason of simple stupidity, and throw myself at their mercy.

It was one of the cops who finally shed light on my quandary. She crinkled her nose and turned away with revulsion, then said:

‘White Boy reeks like whiskey!’

‘That’s it!!’ I exclaimed, ‘My friend’s name is James Beam. Go find him – he’s guilty!’

I leaned back in my elementary-school chair, satisfied that I’d settled the matter. But the cops seemed un-amused.

‘We got your friends on store-video stealing beer!’ one shouted, ‘Now do yourself a favor and tell us where they are at!’

Now, I wondered to myself, Why would they do that? We were all broke – maybe that was partly why. But we had a Handle of Jim Beam with plenty left, I recall. Well, maybe not plenty, per se, but it was barely half gone.

So. We were broke, but we had booze – probably Enough, if not outright Plenty. Enough, at very least, to justify not stealing beer late at night from a near-empty grocery store.

Somebody could get In Trouble that way.

So why did my friends do that – and what did it have to do with me? I grappled mentally, but it didn’t add up – though something about the dog food was bugging me. Then I remembered:

The whole doomed escapade was my stinking idea!

It started a couple hours earlier, when my dog needed food. I had a few bucks, but I needed whiskey. Since there was no way I could justify spending my last money on liquor, with a hungry dog, I did the sensible thing: walked to the nearby store, slung 2 twenty-pound bags of Kibbles & Bits over my shoulders, and walked out.

Just like I happened to know precisely what the fuck I was doing.

Which I did, until the Jim Beam was about half gone. Then I had one if those two-thirds dunk but only half-bright Ideas that tend to get you handcuffed to chairs in nearby grocery stores.

‘You guys know what,’ I fatefully asked, ‘If I walked right out of there with 2 twenty-pound bags of dog food – well I sure don’t see why we can’t do that with a case of cold brews!!’

‘I ask you one more time,’ the cop screamed and – I thought a little rudely – held a can of Mace a few inches from my eyeballs.

‘Where are your FRIENDS AT?’

Now I don’t know how they do things in Memphis, Tennessee – but I guessed it’s a lot like back home, when a cop asks dumb questions about your friends who Got Away.

‘Yo I ain’t got no friends!!’

They say the worst thing to do is rub your eyes, when you’re maced. It just grinds the chemicals in excruciatingly deeper…so maybe I was lucky to be handcuffed to that chair. I couldn’t even reach my eyes with my shoulders, though I desperately tried.

The cops had to leave for a good ten minutes, until the heinous, burning stench dissipated from the tiny room’s limited supply of air.

There is no Moral to this story – but it’s got a bit of a Kicker.

There’s a special window, in the Processing Line of the jail at 901 Poplar in Memphis. Kinda like the complaint department; it’s where they send people who say they’ve been a victim of Police Brutality.

‘Were you a victim of Police Brutality?’ the woman behind the window asked.

‘Yep.’

‘Can you be more specific?’ She asked.

‘They maced me while I was handcuffed to a chair.’

‘Were you offered appropriate medical treatment?’

‘No.’

‘Ok. Handcuffed to a chair and maced,’ she repeated, ‘That right?’

‘Yes.’

She checked a box.

‘Denied medical treatment,’ she said, with an air of finality, then checked another box on her form and waved me along.

‘Thank you for your patronage,’ she said, ‘Next!’