Month: November 2021

AustinTown (live, 20210128)

Austintown, OH, is the driving midpoint between New York City and Chicago. Written election season 2004 in Austintown at the Best Western off Rte 80, in view of the Quaker Steak ‘n Lube across the highway.

performance recorded Jan 2021 at the old Hood’s Sarsaparilla Soda Factory in Lowell, MA

from Hola, Sayulita (2010)

LYRICS

When they dig us up – they might never know
We dug deep – left our evidence as far down as they will go
They might even think we were older than dinosaurs

Arrogance thinks we’ll see the end of the world
That we’d be last ones – to ever see
the truth/the truth
it’s just funny how much
truth
you
find

½ way between here & there
so many secrets you can’t begin
to dare to leave
escaping only in dreams
looks like it comes down
tonight to AustinTown

They’re gonna say we went backwards – all the way back
Before we went forwards again
Here it comes around again
And there goes the

the truth
ah, the truth
it’s just funny how much
truth
you
find

½ way between here & there
so many secrets you can’t begin
to dare to leave
Escaping only in dreams
looks like it comes down
tonight to AustinTown

Brighter Than Stars

medium mirror

“I’m brighter than you stars!” New York City taunted, waving their walk signs, shaking their streetlights at Orion, the sole visible constellation that Fall night.

“Pfft,” said Rigel, Orion’s brightest star, “what are you, a hundred years old?”

“Shut up, I’m almost five!”

—-

Fwiw, Capella, Vega, Sirius, and Deneb were also visible over the City the night of the story. They’re each close enough to us to eavesdrop. And close enough to each other to gossip about us behind our backs. 

The moon, of course, has no choice but to hear our every word, always within earshot of our silliness.

Are we here, in the Milky Way, living in the suburbs? Or are we the Great Galactic City, and Capella’s our Great Neck?

On clear nights, Jupiter and Venus, and Saturn, on the darkest nights, also manage to pierce the city’s incandescent fluorescent din. 

New York City was terraformed; it’s an invention - a dream made real and gone wrong all at once. There’s no way to build it without erasing most stars. The night sky here acts as more of a ceiling. 

Here in NYC, there’s at-least cursory curiosity about the stars. There’s a real planetarium. And you just know there’s a radio telescope tucked away in some inaccessible corner of Staten Island, that some alien civilization, unable to secure a credit card, is using to steal Netflix for their planet.

Four or five years ago, my late neighbor, Ian, would take his then-middle school aged kids out on the block on clear-sky nights with a telescope, and stargaze together. The kids would call out stars, and passersby, now illuminated, would look up, strain to see, and take it on faith the telescope and the children were telling them the truth.

Most telescopes stay inside here, locked off at more horizontal angles in apartment windows, pointed (of course) at other apartments.…

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[A Few Words On] Comedy Dehumanization

The death of comedy signals an upstream, tactical conflation of embarrassment and shame.
Banning jokes is a means to censor laughter, not words, or comedians.

How do you censor a few comics?
Make one die onstage.

What is the world’s most offensive joke?
Depends who laughs.

Any word can be made dirty.
“Milk, milk, lemonade, around the corner fudge is made…”

Any words can be made hurtful.
“Shut up you unwashed leek!”

Kidding not kidding.

Coerced silence and arbitrary language fences lead only to false enlightenment.

Recognition of the absurdity in the human condition (i.e., the ability to laugh at ourselves) is the true underpinning of civilization.

Counterintuitive as it sounds, laughing with each other, while also laughing at the ways we laugh at each other, opens true pathways to peace.

A world without laughter is a world at constant war, one that rejects intimacy, and ultimately evolution.

Hmm…

The censorship of evolution.

Who profits from that?

Free Baggage



medium mirror

“Free-stuff? More like free baggage!” Luna piped up, looking at the discarded wedding memento, a painting inscribed by guests with personal wishes to the newlyweds, now left to the sidewalk free-cycle giveaway wilds (presumably by one of the ex-spouses still residing in the brownstone behind the wrought iron rail on which it leaned).

“Divorce is rough,” I posed.

“Drain the jacuzzi.”



“Jacuzzi’s long empty, Kid.”

“How so?” she asked.

“Well, divorce is different than letting go. This here’s a letting go.”



“Lol free baggage like I said.”

“This effin’ city. Let’s go.”


There are other possible scenarios. I don’t know the truth. Perhaps one spouse passed away. Perhaps they’re still together and decided, on finding a wedding memento while decluttering, that they couldn’t store it, and perhaps it would bring joy to someone else. Perhaps its latest owner wasn’t anyone involved with the wedding. Perhaps one or both of them couldn’t bring themselves to throw it out, and left it to the wind to decide.

For a wedding artifact, that’s a lot of perhapses.



“Do you take this painting to be lawful wedded artwork?”
“Perhaps.”

As I stared at it with Luna, I kept wondering why it was there, on display. To give this away to strangers just seemed wild to me. If it had been mine, and I wanted to get rid of it, I would have dismantled it as much as possible and consigned it to a bin, to then be bagged and sent to the curb, where it would be compacted into the semi-weekly NYSD pick-up destined, perhaps, for the Fresh Kills landfill, or a barge off into the Atlantic coast.

If I really really didn’t want it, maybe burning it would come into play.

The guests signed the matte, so there’s no way to roll that up if you want to store it.…

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Truth In Paradox


The paradox of truth in the context of privacy arises where lying is not always unjustified, or even unproductive.

Sometimes, lying is downright forgivable, even necessary.

Anonymity and pseudonymity, for example, are forms of lying. But in these cases, untruth protects the truth. The “lie” is IRL armor; shielding a true identity.

Everybody lies about what’s going on inside their heads.

“How are things?”
“Great!”

The initial question often feigns interest. The nicest ensuing answers can feign reality, or at least, obscure nastier truths, if needed. “I’m great” may be a lie, but it’s what the other person (hopefully) wants to believe is true. The remaining interaction’s tone is predicated by the answer.

You really only have 3 options with, “How are things?” So maybe it’s not the best example lol
“Great”
“Not so good, actually.”
“Oh, you know.”

No truth is a lie, but all lies are true, in that they are always true to themselves.
“This statement is a lie,” is not a lie.

I’ve been deceived a few times. I’ve deceived others. If I’m lucky, maybe the ratio’s 1:1. We all learn to lie. We all learn to embellish. Most of it in service of living our mythology. Who doesn’t want to live the grandest vision of themselves?

Most of my friends are eyeball-deep in politics. That’s okay – they effect a lot of good. Some of them, though, overpay – and not just in time, money, influence, or etc. Their true price is to believe 1/2 the world is a lie. Or, at least, that half the world believes all the lies.

I understand why people would walk through life that way. There’s no greater salve to everyday chaos than to create right and wrong in every decision.

“What kind of milk, Westy?! What KIND?!!! FOR THE LOVE OF GOD DECIDE NOW!!!!”…

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smile your being

There’s nothing more dehumanizing than relying on technology to get you through the day. To outsource all your gathering of knowledge and perspective, to a network that has no human sensations or emotions, is the essence of dehumanization.

Technology, however, has no monopoly on dehumanization. Not only can nature “de-human” quite easily (think tsunamis, earthquakes, asteroids, etc), it also offers up diseases such as Alzheimer’s or ALS that strip away self-consciousness and self-awareness. That which “humanizes” you, i.e. your dignity, your memories, your knowledge – all these things that make you you – are never totally yours.

The internet itself doesn’t know the joy of running its fingers through a cool flowing river on a scorching day. Compassion can’t be programmed. There’s no algorithm to give your iPhone the sense of relief from sneezing.

No network of carbon nanotubes will ever know the physical rush of love and attraction in the middle of a rave.

“Hey! I like your tube!”
“What?!”
“I said I like your tube!”
“Oh! I like this tune, too!”

When we hold our phone up, reverse the camera, and snap a self portrait, we capture ourselves (1 word), but also cede to the network a little bit more of our selves (2 words) with every shot. With every server-side token, the internet learns more about you than you ever take away from it.

There’s a meme for a few years that sees people as Non Player Characters (NPCs) in video games. The memes are dark comedy, but not because they ring true about people they are aimed at. They’re dark & funny in how they crack open a stage door into the system that sets the parameters of our choices.

So much of our system is designed to obscure how all of us are changing, losing control of our selves in order to placate ourselfs.…

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