Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Beer versus Computer

It wasn't much of a fight. I killed the keyboard but the computer is still running so I'll use the external keyboard. If anyone wants to donate to get me a new keyboard it's the sony vaio PCG FRV26 keyboard. But then again, I would only pour more beer on it to get the writing demons drunk so they would stop yelling at me and let me write. On second thought, forget the keyboard and buy me a '69 Triumph Twin so I can get the fuck out of here.

Where's the orchestra?

Chuck Klosterman (hipster author) raves about this song so here it is. I can't say I'm familiar with it and I want to introduce it but have no anecdote related to it. This is unusual because it will mean your listening to it, if you've never heard it, will become part of the life history of this song, like hearing Let it Be for the first time.

Where's the orchestra?
Wasn't this supposed to be a musical?
Here I am in the balcony
How the hell could I have missed the overture?
I like the scenery
Even though I have absolutely no
Idea at all
What is being said
Despite the dialogue
There's the leading man
The movie star who never faced an audience

Where's the orchestra?
After all
This is my big night on the town
My introduction to the theater crowd
I assumed that the show would have a song
So I was wrong
At least I understand
All the innuendo and the irony
And I appreciate
The roles the actors played
The point the author made
And after the closing lines
And after the curtain calls
The curtain falls
On empty chairs
Where's the orchestra?

Here's another tune Klosterman raves about, the Beatles influenced "Laura". It's hard to be a solo artist and channel a four man band but Billy Joel and Brian Wilson easily are the closest who ever tried.

Calls me
In the middle of the night

Passes on her
Painful information
Then these careless fingers
They get caught in her vice

Til they're bleeding
On my coffee table
Living alone isn't all that
It's cracked up to be

I'm on her side
Why does she push the poison on me?

Has a very hard time
All her life has
Been one long disaster
Then she tells me
She suddenly believes she's seen
A very good sign
She'll be taking
Some aggressive action
I fight her wars
While she's slamming her doors
In my face

Failure to break
Was the only mistake
That she made

Here I am
Feeling like a fucking fool
Do I react the way exactly
She intends me to?

Everytime I think I'm off the hook
She makes me lose my cool
I'm her machine
And she can punch all the keys
And she can push any button I was programmed through

Calls me
When she needs a good fix
All her questions
Will get sympathetic answers
I should
Be so
To all of her tricks

She's surviving
On her second chances
Sometimes I feel like this
Godfather deal is all wrong

How can she hold an umbilical chord
For so long?

I've done everything I can
What else am I supposed to do
I'm her machine
And she can punch all the keys
And she can push any button
I was programmed through

Loves me
Even if I don't care

That's my problem
That's her sacred absolution
If she had to
She would put herself in my chair
Even though I
Faced electrocution
She always says
I'm the best friend that
She's ever had

How do you
Hang up on someone
Who needs you that bad?

I'm indifferent to these songs after listening to and playing Fountain of Sorrow continuously for a week. Jackson makes Billy Joel tunes sound like jello jingles.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Crime and Punishment

This novel by F. Dostoevsky is remarkable because it's philosophical, investigating the psychology behind life and the observations of a man. Chris McCandless carried this book to his death and he asked his friends to read it probably because it best represented his observations. Not that he was a murderer but that he was deconstructing the natural barriers we put up between one another and it became overwhelming. He probably thought that if someone could read it then they could get an idea of how he was thinking. It doesn't capture a "character" like Confederacy of Dunces does and so it's not as enjoyable a reading experience, but I did find myself laughing out loud as things go from bad to worse for Raskolnikov. There's one funny passage, "So we have this creature, a horrid, singularly awful monster, despicable, detestable. One should kill her and use her wealth for good. Is it not justified? Is it not better?"

Actual text: “Listen, I want to ask you a serious question,” the student said hotly. “I was joking of course, but look here; on one side we have a stupid, senseless, worthless, spiteful, ailing, horrid old woman, not simply useless but doing actual mischief, who has not an idea what she is living for herself, and who will die in a day or two in any case. You understand? You understand?”

Am I the only one who thinks that is funny?

And what I love is that he captures the desperation of all involved. The painters in the room and the horses dying in the mud and the slack mouthed sister who is beaten and the rags, everyone is dressed in rags, drinking, cheating, waking up covered in sweat, sick, disgusted. It's amusing because the writing is so casual. There isn't a heroic figure in the thing. It's an existential novel written from the pits of despair.

"It was clear that he must not now suffer passively, worrying himself over unsolved questions, but that he must do something, do it at once, and do it quickly. Anyway he must decide on something, or else…

“Or throw up life altogether!” he cried suddenly, in a frenzy—“accept one's lot humbly as it is, once for all and stifle everything in oneself, giving up all claim to activity, life and love!”

You see the black and white debate raging inside this man's head? This is a tortured person as the author himself was tortured. I know that being tortured myself is not enough to give me the ability to write a tortured novel, but it's as important as reading about solar power if you want to write about solar power. I don't think I'm tortured because I want to write about tortured people. I do suspect there is an element of torture to living and if one invites that element into his life, even under the auspices of study and edification, then it will grow nevertheless like cancer until it consumes him such as Raskolnikov is consumed by his own pondering. Now then, is this a human characteristic? Is this something worth investigating? I think it is if you can approach it differently than a master. If you can add something to it. If it helps you find peace.

The problem, something Fyodor would've been nice to mention, is this: by the time you have reached a total comprehension of philosophical self-torture then you will be so far out of touch with the practical world that writing a novel is exactly the kind of impossibly practical thing you can't do. Why write? Fuck the world. Fuck the ignorant horse beating mob with the crack whores and shuffling hobos and CEOs with their granite countertops all cleaned and polished by pregnant Mexican maids. FUCK ALL YE! They don't deserve this work of genius that I'll never finish. And so, the madness is replicated inside the writer's mind until he is, to himself, a knight of honor, stripped naked in his sweltering apartment (or abandoned bus), drinking vodka and beating off to cobwebbed memories, raging against the injustice of this squirrel being killed or that turtle being crushed or that mountain that can never be climbed or that mine that leaches acid or that oil well that pollutes the world! Fuck it all. This torture is mine! You can't have it! The wisdom I learned in the fire of philosophy is for me alone and I'll not draw a map or a fancy picture for you cheap, light beer philistines to enjoy or benefit from.


And this is what separates Fyodor from the rest of us. He definitely plunged into the madness of the world, embraced it and examined it from the pinhole of his rheumy eyes and STILL refused to submit to his demons. He fought them, for what? He had good reason to withhold his writings from the world but he still wrote. Why? He found a reason. He had to write. That must be it. He had no choice. The little resistor in his microchip brain chemically impelled him to write instead of wallowing in his own torture or protecting his bounty like a greedy pirate. But this is where those writing magazines do not help a man alone on his rooftop. You can't talk down a jumper from the faux-philosophical confines of an academy. You think Dostoevsky enjoyed writing? You think he was like John Updike and pranced around in white tennis sweaters to Harvard and Yale giving guest lectures on the writer's craft? I love Updike but Fyodor is unparalleled in his craft. Why? Because his torture went to a place people do not return from. But still he sent back postcards, stamped in Hell.

I think it all goes back to the classic mountaineering adage, "Reaching the top is only half the climb."

It's strange, I thought it had been weeks since my last rant and it's only been two days. I mistakenly read several dozen random blogs (there are 118 million blogs now) and the snapshot of the lives and thoughts of others who have never heard of the Man in the Van made me see the futility of everything. I was repulsed by the keyboard and only with the help of a fictional murderer and a tortured author have I found my muse again. What does that tell you?

The two homeless heroes jump out of the VW van and divide Oggy and Isabelle.

“Stop it! Both of you!” Yells Kim in her most assertive, take-no-shit tone. She is practical when it comes to physical attacks and has learned to channel the dominant parent to get adult children to respond. In this case, Isabelle’s will to inflict as much injury on those around her enables her to ignore Kim’s command. Isabelle kicks Oggy with the might of a place kicker in the NFL.

“I will not fight back!” Yells Oggy. “You are only hurting yourself.”

“Am I? Does this hurt me?” she stomps on Oggy’s bad foot, the one that is deformed and crippled. Oggy yelps in pain as Isabelle nods triumphantly.

Kim times her attack to a moment when Isabelle is distracted by Oggy’s howls. Kim knows that Isabelle is beyond diplomacy. Only physical means will resolve the battle. She takes one slow step toward Isabelle to make sure she has a clear route of attack and then she moves cat-like and low, taking Isabelle out at the knees with a shoulder tackle. Robert determines that Oggy is not the provocateur of the conflict so he assists Kim in subduing Isabelle. This takes both of their full efforts as Isabelle swings wildly and Mary suddenly awakes from her daydream and notices two people are wrestling her daughter.

“Get off my baby!” she screams and douses Robert’s face with the remaining pepper spray in a can she carries for encounters with unpredictable limp dick speed hustlers under the railroad trestle. Lefty quietly takes this opportunity to slip away into the bushes and vanishes from the scene, grumbling and discontent with his lot in life. He plunges into the bushes, twisting his ankle on discarded aluminum cans, and staggers in the direction of the social services office.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Overheard Quotes

"I have one position that is twelve hours of moving boxes of frozen fish sticks." heard at temp agency shortly before I walked out.

"I'll send you the financials tonight..." heard at my internship

"I hit a miracle throw and then you follow it up with two. That's what hurts." Spoken during a game of cornhole.

"I haven't seen you in 20 years." said repeatedly over games of cornhole.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Unverified Number Trivia

$600: Cost of a gallon of gas in Afghanistan.

4: The MPG of a Humvee.

1500: Number of miles the average forkful of food in the U.S. traveled.

6: Percentage of the food demands of New Hampshire that can be produced by New Hampshire agriculture. Six fucking percent? Are we trying to get to zero? Was there some resolution I missed that made it a goal to become completely reliant on microwavable dinners packaged in Indiana and milk trucked from California? Can't we pretend we reached it and start trying to learn to survive again?

0: My level of desire to write.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Nuclear Matters

If you have a few years to spare I recommend reading about nuclear weapons.
I'm amused that this information is available to anyone with access to the Internet. Just reading it makes me think not only should man never have meddled in this power, but you certainly can't post it on websites. I mean, you have to attest to being over 18 to view blow job pictures but the general facts of nuclear physics as it pertains to weapons is as common and accessible as a recipe for pasta salad!

Nuclear weapons depend upon the potential energy that can be released from the nuclei of atoms. In the atoms of the very heavy elements that serve as fissile material in nuclear weapons, the positively-charged protons and electrically-neutral neutrons (collectively known as nucleons) together form the enormously dense nucleus of the atom that is located at the center of a group of shells of orbiting, negatively-charged electrons.

...residual nuclear radiation will be emitted over an extended period of time, which may be harmful to humans if the detonation is close to the ground, or may damage electronic components in satellites if the detonation is exo-atmospheric...

I just did a tour of a diverse group of blogs that left me agitated and overwhelmed. Even if the present forces lead us to disaster the survivors will soon forget and forge ahead into their own story of joy and grief. Dostoevsky was arrested and tortured and almost executed and came back depressed and gambled and drank. Then he wrote like a madman and his books, which are his life and soul, are looked at like paintings, admired and then we readers go the the track for a whiskey sour.

Our turn on the merry go round is short and bizarre with violent monkeys hanging from the metal bars and whores and drunks falling or jumping to their deaths in moments of depression or clarity. Our money falls from our pockets to children and scavengers below and the cotton candy baked onto the paper cone wafts in pink plumes and fantasy to our noses, which are filled with cocaine. And to what end is the carnival ride? We can climb around and avoid the carnie's greasy hands but we'll fall off eventually and the ride moves on...or implodes upon itself and coats the world with the ash of the dead.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

America: A Short History*

234 years isn't a long time but America is still standing at least in name. We started out as a few pilgrims who were tired of being told by the Church of England how to molest children. Puritans/separatists who moved from England to Holland where the drugs are better and then got on a ship for the Canary Islands and the captain got drunk and we ended up in the middle of the ocean. Jamestown was only 13 years old and the reports from there were mostly of famine and Indian attacks and crummy weather. Why the hell did these pilgrims leave Europe? I've heard Holland is a nice place to live. So, 102 bible thumpers sailed over and landed on Plymouth rock in 1620 just in time for the first Rolling Stones concert. They probably had to pay a hefty toll but I can't confirm that. Before you complain about the winters let me remind you that 30 of these original 102 died in the first winter. 10 more died from smoking moldy tobacco. 10 more died when they tried to go home upon learning there was no running water. So, half ended up in shallow graves.

These folks must've forgotten to bring birth control pills because in 390 years the population of 54 has grown to 300 million. They were puritans but sex within marriage was perfectly fine. I'm sure none of them broke that commandment although Wilt Chamberlain reportedly fathered 600,000 children. Child mortality was probably 75% so they had to be fucking every chance they got. Their life span was probably 40 years, ten of which was spent in agonizing pain.

A few other things happened in 390 years such as the English and Dutch catching wind of the limitless forests in North America and sending over dozens of ships filled with these dark skinned bipedal animals who would work for next to nothing and not complain at all. If you kept them fed for a few years there was no end to what they could accomplish. They even learned to sing and dance to amuse themselves. And when they died you just bought a new one!

Sometime around 1770 the man on the ground got tired of doing all the work and still not having access to The Spice Channel so he said "No more taxes." The Brits laughed this off and taxed the hell out of everything. So in 1776, 156 years after the first colony started, it was time for another split and the British peacefully left with the promise that America might have won this round but it would never ever produce a better prime time sitcom than England. Alas, that vow has never been contradicted.

Everything was fine for about 50 years until a guy named John Wilkes Booth started a riot at a Metallica concert that was forever known as the "Freedom To Get Fucked Up Massacre"

Northern states fought Southern states over who would get publishing rights to the Beatles record collection and fortunately the North won after a decisive Nascar race in Indianapolis. Little did they know that a clause in the Beatles contract declared that their music could not be played in lands where slavery was limited only to black people. So, George Washington and Albert Einstein brainstormed this problem and decided to enslave everyone under what is known as the "Minimum Wage Act"

Woodstock was an event organized to protest the widespread influence of a blood borne pathogen known as Bob Dylan.

There were several world wars fought over American's right to shop at Walmart and engage in Interracial Granny Gang Bangs and thank God the good side won! The picture below comes from an educational series called "Payback is a Bitch"**

So, we've come a long way, America, and I figure we've got at least two more variations of Coca Cola in us before we call it quits. The key is to not be stupid like Russia. They went from being called the U.S.S.R to the Soviet Union to whatever they're called now. The Russian Federation? Let's just keep the name The United States even if it is a complete lie. It's a better name than "The Land of the Blue and Red People"
The Red of our flag stands for Republican. The Blue stands for Democrat. The white stands for everyone who votes for Ralph Nader. The stars were just an accident when Betsy Ross's cookie cutter fell on the flag fabric.

* This history is not 100% accurate. **Picture was a granny gangbang and got censored

Saturday, June 19, 2010


No, I do not always sit at home hatching plans to invert the environmental paradigm of America. Sometimes I go out and drink and laugh about the old times.
Actual dialogue:

"You couldn't run and you lay down a bunt?
"Bowden, that was 21 years ago!"
"Two outs and two strikes?"
"I saw the third baseman playing back."
"I don't care. I almost tackled you at first base when he threw you out."
"He got me by half an inch."
"You were flat on your face."
"I dove head first!"
"You tripped over your gimpy leg."
"Oh, what the fuck! Forgive me."
"I was in that car crash with that drunk on the way to school."
"I don't care."
"I thought I could beat it out."

And we played cornhole, a game where you throw a beanbag onto a platform until 3 am.
That's JJ and Bowden in the back. Bowden said I look like Nakoma from the Grizzly Adams tv series. You can judge for yourself.

Maybe when I was 23 years old I sort of looked like this. I haven't had a chin that smooth since 1982. I am 1/32 Native American on my mother's side so...I'm going to get one of those necklaces one of these days to hide my bulging Adam's apple.

Here's Nakoma on his horse...

Speaking of Grizzly Adams, it was one of those tv shows I loves to watch in 1978. I loved it. I identified with it. Was it propaganda for the environment? I don't think so and the creator would agree...

"The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams was mostly the result of market testing and computer modeling, a research process Sunn Classic Pictures founder Charles E. Sellier Jr. was quite proud of. Grizzly wore no animal skins and ate no meat because the audience displayed heavy PETA-type leanings. The audience, he went on to say, likes "eternal summer in the primeval, womanless wilderness."

This explains quite a bit about my life...Little did I know it was all mapped out by tv executives.

The story was based off a real person and was cheap to produce so NBC went with it. But it made sense to me. I understood the simplicity of the woods and Indian blood brothers and bears and log cabins.

"I want to live like that," I'd say to my father.
"Ok. Whatever," was his response.

Well, I was determined and a careful study of movies like Jeremiah Johnson and Grizzly Adams and reading Call of the Wild at least twice I landed in a forest in Alaska where I chopped down trees to make a log cabin and snared rabbits for food. Thank you NBC and Nakoma!

Lyrics to theme song..

Deep inside the forest there's a door into another land.
Here is our life and home.
We are staying here forever in the beauty of this place all alone.
We keep on hoping.
Maybe there's a world where we don't have to run.
Maybe there's a time we'll call our own, living free in harmony and majesty.
Take me home. Take me home.

I took these lyrics as gospel even though they are obviously conflicted. Are you home in the forest or trying to get home through the forest? You need to go to the forest to find a door? Why? Why do you have to be all alone? And if you are all alone then why hope there's a world where you don't have to run? What are you running from? Who is following you to the forest? It makes no sense. If you've gone to the middle of the uninhabited forest that is beautiful but you are still hoping there's a time you'll call your own and be able to live free in harmony and majesty then maybe you are fucked in the head because you've done all you can do. What's next? climbing in a volcano? Are you whining because you have a bear as a friend and an Indian as a blood brother and a crazy gold miner as a buddy? Two human contacts and a bear? IS that too much to handle? You want sympathy?

PS: In other news I have ended my assignment at the hockey warehouse and am getting my hack's license.

Are You a Friend of the People?

Recent discussions in the comment section have led me to this image. It's more proof that people want to be part of something noble, something that transcends business. Business makes things last, but ethics are what many people can respond to. We're not all businessmen so images like this are how many people account for their energy. It's like a dollar symbol to many of us.

I'm looking for images that will tug at the heart of the inner environmentalist in us all. Let the businessmen worry about the numbers. If the demand is there then it will pay for itself. But the demand can be manipulated and mostly it has been manipulated by Sams Club and Shell Oil. That doesn't mean those business models work, but it means they have the best marketing strategy. Whole grain bread, marijuana, goat farms and radish juice are absolutely no different fundamentally than Doritos, root beer, cigarettes and industrial slaughterhouses, but the difference is in the marketing, the propaganda. They each can be equally economical if businessmen break it down. But the demand comes first. And demand is controlled by marketing. So, we need to manufacture a demand for alternative energy.

Films like Inconvenient Truth, March Of the Penguin, Crude, Arctic Tale, WALL-E, even Avatar are propaganda for alternative energy but the mainstream media is controlled by so few people who are owned by business entities and except for PBS it's all ad sponsored or influenced by the chamber of commerce so it takes media like Al Gore's Current TV to try to start over with a different paradigm. There's a bloody war of words taking place right now and I want volunteers for the front lines.
Beat your swords into plowshares and your iPhones into flower pots!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Op Ed

I just read an op ed piece that really slammed Obama for linking the oil spill to our dependence on oil.
It seems that people are taking offense to being told to change our energy habits. But the strategy is interesting because it is so childish. They contend that talking about the future when oil is still spilling is ignoring the present crisis. And also to "exploit the crisis" to address energy habits is bad. This is an impregnable defense mechanism and proof that oil propaganda has been doing their job. D.C. think tanks funded by Shell and Exxon pay smart people to create these arguments and they earned their money. Propaganda is the strongest force in America right now. I'll bet a think tank kid wrote that original op ed piece. It reads like a speechwriter's hand is behind it.

Anyway, it's an impossible task to change the mind of someone with cyclical thinking (I should know) but I'm never one to back down from a challenge. I doubt the blogger will post my comment so here it is. What do you think? I didn't see Obama's speech or read the whole op ed piece but did I really need to?

"300 million people can't all plug the hole in the well so I think it's a fair answer to the question of "What can we do?"

We can't afford not to have renewable energy. Coal and nuclear and oil only make economic sense when environmental costs are kept off the books. Anyone who tells you different probably worked for Enron.

The strategy of expecting 300 million people to all concentrate on plugging a hole in a broken oil well is not valid but it's a very good smoke screen. Like someone living in Kansas should just sit in their house and worry about the marsh of Louisiana?? Or Obama is living in denial by looking to the future when the oil well is capped and everyone goes back to driving 40 miles to save $10 on their grocery bill? Please think about the big picture.

The shock doctrine works both ways: when people are most disoriented and fearful is when propaganda has an opportunity to be assimilated. In this case, instead of linking Iraq to terrorism, the oil well is being linked to our oil addiction. Is that such a stretch?

There's been a 100 year long energy propaganda war in America and maybe the tide is turning. Don't believe me or Obama but do some independent research and do it fast."

Another Wise Quote to Ignore...

"Those who crusade, not for God in themselves, but against the devil in others, never succeed in making the world better, but leave it either as it was, or sometimes perceptibly worse than what it was, before the crusade began. By thinking primarily of evil we tend, however excellent our intentions, to create occasions for evil to manifest itself."

-- Aldous Huxley

What does he know? Arrogant cocksucker.

Solar Poster Contest

I want to get some submissions for a propaganda contest on Solar. Getting third graders to make posters is a good idea because it normalizes behavior. Like ,the way to prevent Graffiti is to get third graders to paint murals all over the city and when they get tagged the kids will feel violated. So, in addition to solar related projects in schools we're going to need some propaganda that targets adults. This one is excellent.

So, something like kids in Texas turning on a spigot and no water is coming out. A look of fear and disappointment in the kid's eyes. A coal burning power plant in the backgroung.
Buy Solar!

The implication being if we rely on fossil fuels then the power plants must be cooled or use steam turbines and that is depleting the water tables. But the public can find that out later. For now, they need to equate the lack of solar with the lack of water. I feel that's what gets a response. It is a war against carbon. this is not a lifestyle choice that's simply "ethical". Fossil fuels have gotten us where we are but it's time to kick the addiction. How about that? "Kick the addiction." With a giant smokestack instead of a cigarette. Work on it. I want results by next week.

Here's a Soviet one that I love. It's about nuclear power but use it as a model for solar.

I think there are two things to include:

1. The Sun
2. A Poster Child

The propagandists at Ford and Shell have been working hard for 100 years to spread their misinformation so we've got to move fast on this.
Winner will be judged by the public.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Motorcycle Madness

I've made enough money to justify a real motorcycle. It's summertime and the weather is fine. I can reach right up and touch the sky. The two bikes that call out to me are a 1976 Suzuki 750 with a full touring package to allow me to make the trip to Labrador.
The other bike is a 1981 Honda CB750 with a luggage rack that is begging for a tent.
They are both listed for $800 which is reasonable since they are in good condition. I've offered them $600 for the bikes. Maybe I'll get both of them but neither will fit in El Conquistador. Driving around in a box is exhausting. Portsmouth is becoming like Los Angeles with traffic lights every fifty feet and Walmarts and Targets and planes flying around. It used to be a nice town.

In other news I'm taking design submissions for a new bridge downtown that would avoid Market street. I want to close down Market Square to car traffic so the route 1 bridge has to connect to Bow street or to Prescott park. No cars downtown. That's it! Let's pretend we give a shit.

The Van is Back on the Road

After 6 months of stagnancy in a field in Stratham I have The Van back on the road. You are all warned.

Of course, it took two days of labor to get the thing to start but I got well acquainted with the points, the vacuum advance mech., the condenser and the distributor cap and rotor. It needs new oil filter and oil and some better tires and an alignment to be drivable. I feel this is a mode of transportation that is coming to an end. As long as it is running right I can maintain it but the endless labor to keep it working does not correspond to a diverse lifestyle. Only by living in the van was I able to have the time to keep the van running. Now it's like a bitchy mistress who demands more time than I want to give her. For instance, the points were not opening anymore. They had burned a hole in the contacts. And the gap was supposed to be .17 inches. Well, it didn't open at all so the gap was 0. Now, I only have feeler gauges in millimeter. So you multiply .17 times something like .2453 and I got .04mm, which sounded about right. Anyone have an opinion about this? So I gaped the points and put an old rotor and dist. cap on (since the old one suffered damage when the points stopped opening) and it fired up. Good old girl. I need to borrow an oil bucket to change the oil. Anyone have one?

But it did feel good riding in a legend. Maybe I should sell tours of the van. "Ride the Legend!" I can tell stories of the van's adventures in Mexico.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Solar Farms

I was raised by a barking dog. I learned how to bark but not how to bite. That's a tough fact of life. Sometimes you don't learn the important stuff. There was a lot of bitching about the world at my 1982 dinner table. At the end of the dinner I would play video games or sort baseball cards. Then the cycle would start the next day. As early as 9 years old I was trained to thoroughly examine a politician's administration and judge it from top to bottom and then do absolutely nothing to change it. Bitching was sufficient. In fact, I came to see humanity as nothing more than a giant troupe of actors to be judged and critiqued from afar. The favorite activity was to see a problem developing and then wait for the axe to fall and say, "I saw that coming."

Oh, what fun that was!

This went on for easily 15 years and still goes on today in a lesser amount thus completely skewing my outlook on and place in the world. You would think I could move on from this but it's only recently that I isolated the problem and I see I've got my work cut out for me.

Proactive or preventative measures were not something I knew existed until 1999 when I took a class called "Prosocial Behavior" at my hippie college Humboldt State University. The class basically tried to reverse 30 years of brainwashing that I am not to meddle in any realm of the world except by bitching about it all as much as possible. Steve Stamnes taught the class is probably the best method I've ever seen, which is guest speakers like Julia Butterfly Hill from her tree sit, and a jigsaw method which required groups exchange ideas. I did not do well in the class mainly because the street activism I did in Santa Cruz was such a monumental disaster in every way that to have ignorant 19 year old kids tell me feeding the homeless was "good" made me sick. I fed the homeless for 2 years and wasn't sure if it was good or not. Parts of it were completely wrong. This conflict is one of the themes I'm trying to capture in the book I'm writing. If I can't do any good in the world at least I can write about how I fucked it all up. That should be good for a laugh.

I recognize my limitations but want to change and am paralyzed by what must be done. Lately, I've been reading Plan B by Lester Brown of Earth Policy Institute. There's a link to it on the left there that's growing cobwebs since no one is using it. It's a lot of information and as one person it's easy to get overwhelmed by the scope of the problem. Along with trying to stay sober and get a girlfriend saving civilization is a lot to ask. 600 million cars set to double by 2020. Even if 1 billion hybrid or electric cars were running I would say that's not going to work. Maybe the future will turn out like The Jetsons and maybe it will turn out like The Minority Report. Or maybe like WALL-E. But 1.2 billion cars? Come on!
Right now mankind uses 8,500 megawatts of solar energy or 8.5 gigawatts for you Back to The Future fans. That's PV solar, not thermal gathering solar.
That 8.5 GW has to increase to 200 GW by 2020 in order to close the coal power plants that are going to melt Greenland and the North Pole if they keep operating.

When I was in Todos Santos the demand for solar energy was universal. The sun was there and the electric grid was not. So everyone had to fight to get the grid extended but the electricity is expensive as it comes from La Paz where I think a natural gas or oil plant provided energy. It was right outside the city and I don't remember any nasty ash or pollution. Maybe natural gas. I don't know. La Paz really is a gorgeous city of 180,000 people. It's like a paradise during the winter. Go there and get your heart broken. It's fun!

My point is that solar and wind power is already past the experimental stages. What it needs now are contractors and skilled installers. I'd like to return to Todos Santos and build a solar farm. The town is still wild with only about 4,000 population a mango farmer who sees expensive equipment on a hill thinks nothing of taking it and selling it. It's not even considered theft, especially if the victim is a gringo. But the demand is there and they are already paying for electricity so the goal is to learn enough about 1+ Megawatt solar farms to build one in La Paz. A mere mile out of town is vast empty shrubland perfect for solar farms. It would only need maybe half a megawatt to take care of Todos Santos and Pescadero.

I'll start my new prosocial activism by pointing out that BP has a gigantic solar division BP Solar
so while boycotting BP oil is understandable, the oil money finances the solar research. It's kind of senseless crying over spilled milk like BP loves losing money. It'll be the most expensive clean up in history and I'm considering getting a Hazwopper certification and going to Louisiana to work scrubbing marshland. They give you a room and board so the money is all banked. If you want to boycott something you should boycott your government, which has failed to tell the environmental truth about our resources for over 100 years. Or Shell oil which is intentionally attacking indigenous Ecuadorians and destroying their jungles in a mad genocidal dash for oil.

Let me put it this way. The total cost of a pack of cigarettes if you include health care costs and days lost at work is over $10. That information was used to put taxes on cigarettes (fought by the tobacco companies) to even out the cost to the idiots who are smoking. Cigarettes would still be a dollar a pack if the companies had their way and everyone would be paying the additional costs for someone to get lung cancer. $5 isn't even half of what they really cost us all. In fact, if you buy a pack for $5 you are basically stealing $5 to make up the difference.

Here's what Lester has to say about Nuclear Power:
"Nuclear energy is expensive to maintain and poses a serious threat to security. If we use full-cost pricing—requiring utilities to absorb the costs of disposing of nuclear waste, of decommissioning the plant when it is worn out, and of insuring the reactors against possible accidents and terrorist attacks—building nuclear plants in a competitive electricity market is clearly not economical."

See? Nuclear power is only cheap if you toss the wastewater in your backyard. If you pretend that the earth is not a toilet's expensive!

Now, the same math can be applied to gasoline: if you include the costs of pollution a gallon of oil costs $15. Right now we're getting taxed like $1 and that's probably squandered on useless anti-pollution stickers. Gasoline is the same price in France, except they add $12 in taxes. If you want to drive in Europe then you carry the full cost of driving. America has intentionally let drivers get away with murder because we're about "freedom". But like Lester Brown says, "The cost still exists. Someone has to pay that $15 a gallon." Someone makes up the difference either today or tomorrow. That's the problem. We're generating this debt that is getting nearly impossible to pay off. We will have a vast interstate highway and advanced infrastructure but it's balanced on the thinnest foundation of debt and false economy. Never mind that it's irresponsible, it's the same kind of creative accounting that led to Enron's collapse. We're kind of in the stage when Enron was selling $200 shares and lighting cigars with $100 bills. With some trickery they bought themselves some time, but eventually it all collapsed. I hate using the sky is falling cliche because it's all speculation and is like falling back on my useless bitching strategy. Old habits die hard.

Oggy Drinks Vodka and Burns Bridges

Oggy descends from the top of the bus lockers, straightening his wool poncho around his waist and scratching his curly beard, picking crust from his eyes and he rubs his back. He pats his pants pockets for the left over tofu crumbs from last night. He saved them from the night’s dinner, feeling that if he ate an entire tofu cake it would be gluttonous. What kind of a person eats that much food? What kind of a monster would devour the planet and leave only piles of pollution for the next generation? Not Oggy. Oggy lifts his head to the low clouds. Rain falls into his mouth and he thinks that rain is the purest form of water, even if it is filtered through a cloud of poison. The important thing to remember is that the water is not processed.

A man limps past Oggy with a bag of used clothes. That’s the future, thinks Oggy. Using clothes until they turn to dust. We’re procreating for no reason, complicating our lives and taxing resources with no objective. Literally manufacturing pets to drain our bank accounts. Why? Oggy looks around for someone to ask this question and sees a woman leaning against the lockers. Her eyes are half closed but she is standing and awake so Oggy says, “My name is Oggy.”

“Who the fuck cares?”

Oggy presses on.

“We’re pioneers. This is a land of unspoken reality.”


“The most important thing are natural resources. We’re nearing 7 billion humans and the planet can only sustain 2.5 billion so I think it’s time we concentrate on minimizing our impact.”


“Our goals should be to manage our appetites.”


“I had a whole plan to save civilization but it was stolen when I lived in the forest.”


“The main point was the banishment of western consumer lifestyle and replacement with an agrarian-based culture.”

“You got any weed?”

“What that means is an intentional community. Nothing is manufactured that can be eliminated. No more waste!”


“And no more waste means we’ll begin healing the earth instead of destroying it.”

“Got a cigarette?”

“We’re toying with disaster. Our approach to resources is like there is no long term consequences and we live forever. The planet can not sustain 7 billion Americans.”

“I hope they got the apple cinnamon oatmeal for breakfast.”

Oggy begins to do deep knee bends as part of his morning preparation that Abe taught him in the woods.

“My teacher told me that if I believe in it then my mind can heal the world.”

The woman scratches under her breasts and nods off. She hasn’t slept in 40 hours.

During one of Oggy’s bends his right knee gives out and Oggy falls backwards onto the wet pavement. The woman coughs. Oggy rolls around on the pavement until he finds the strength to stand up.

“What happened?” he asks.

“Ya fell on your ass.”

Oggy sees a crow gliding over the shelter with black wings extended into the breeze.

“In the woods you can see the crows gather in the evening. They call each other home to the redwood trees.”

“Could I borrow a dollar,” says the woman.

“I renounced paper money. You know it’s not based on anything. It’s a false currency.”


“False. It’s false. It represents nothing.”


“If we respect a false currency then it only gives the government more encouragement to continue to print it. But it doesn’t represent anything.”

“I want coffee.”

“So this way, we’ll defeat the government. We’ll win.”


“We’ll fly like the crow and gather in the trees like one big family.”

Oggy tries to stretch his legs out to touch his toes but can hardly touch his knees. He reaches high above his head.

“Not long ago I couldn’t do this. My arms were completely broken. I couldn’t lift my hands higher than my shoulders. Now look.”


“That’s what my teacher showed me how to do. He’s so smart. I’ll see him in a few days. I’ll see him and tell him what’s going on down here. He knows how to win. His name is Abe.”

Monday, June 14, 2010

Independent and Unscientific Oil Spill Analysis

According to one EPA source, 16 million gallons of oil leaks into the ocean from car crashes and leaking oil pans or guys just dumping waste oil in the bushes.

Several estimates exist for what the Deepwater Horizon spill is putting into the ocean. BP seems to think around 5 gallons a day are leaking while some scientists are thinking around 2 million gallons a day.

So, let's try to put this in perspective. There are around 260 million cars in the US. That's pretty sad since there are only 300 million people here. L.A. carries a lot of the burden with 3+ cars per person. Places like Portsmouth probably have a mere 2 cars per person and in Montana I'll bet it's only one car per person. They must like to suffer in Montana. I own a van and I also drive a car and I own a moped so I'm no saint.

So, these 260 million cars are producing 16 million gallons of oil that is lost to the rivers each year. Now, that's spread out over two oceans and the gulf of Mexico, otherwise known as the oil fondue pot. So, it takes 8 days at the Deepwater site to generate the oil normally lost in one year. And over 56 days that's basically 7 years of normal pollution. See? BP execs don't want to point these figures out because it makes them look like assholes, but that's what they're thinking.

"Americans are freaking out about spilling oil when they each own an average of three cars and drive more than anyone on the planet? Are they kidding?"

This is like the fat guy at the buffet demanding the fried chicken tray get replenished even as liquid shit pours from his ass and out his pant leg.

"Hey, Oggy, do you have to be so offensive and miserable all the time?"
"Yes, I do. And fuck you too."

The three other oil spills that are larger than the Deepwater spill are,

#1, a land based one in California that caused an inland lake of oil in 1910. In fact, this is the 100th anniversary of that spill. Happy Anniversary!
#2, Good ol Saddam Hussein (The Headless Wonder) who dumped oil reserves into the Persian Gulf as he retreated from Kuwait. That was 20 years ago and the dolphins still have not forgiven him.
#3 Ixtoc oil spill in 1979/1980 in a similar underwater leak in the Gulf of Mexico. 30 years later it looks to be eclipsed by Deepwater Horizon.

But what isn't listed is American drivers, who produce 16 million gallons of polluting oil every year. And with 600 million cars in the world we're talking about 30 million gallons of pollution every year. So, in every 4 years cars naturally produce the pollution of the Deepwater Horizon spill. In every 15 years cars become the leading cause of oil pollution to the ocean. And since the popular use of cars in the '30s cars have dwarfed all oil spills as a source of pollution.

This is the definition of irresponsible. You know, people existed before cars? I swear it is true. Look it up if you don't believe me. I've met happy people in Ecuador who never drove a car and saw no benefit to them because the cost just meant more manual labor to maintain a car they didn't need. I guess if you are a useless pencil pusher then you are thankful for your car since you would die without it. But your car is killing those folks in Ecuador so check your conscience; it's a quart low.

Anyway, one gallon of oil pollutes 1,000,000 gallons of water based on 1 quart polluting 250,000 gallons of water. So, I'm no accountant, but we've got 16 million gallons of oil (amount spilled over 8 days) multiplied by seven (or 2 times 56) multiplied by one million. Help me out, you math majors.

16,000,000(7) x 1,000,000
Man, I can tell that's going to be a ton of polluted water.

Let's see, you multiply 16 times 7 which is 112. Add the six zeros...112,000,000. That's the number of gallons of oil spilled. (This could be 250,000,000 but only God knows the real number)
Then add another six zeros to find the gallons of polluted water.

So, it's looking like the national debt*. 112 trillion gallons of polluted water.

Now, the oceans combine for 326 million trillion gallons
326,000,000,000,000,000,000 gallons of water including the moat in that sand castle I built near Cabo San Lucas last winter.

Here's where my math skills have reached their limit. 112 trillion is not even one percent of 326 million trillion. It's .0000001%. Like spitting in the Pierce Island swimming pool.

I don't want to downplay what's happening in the Gulf. It's bad. But it was bad in 2003 when there were no leaks except for 260 million cars driving back and forth to Starbucks Coffee for their morning frappuccino.

It takes visible catastrophes like this to get people to wake up. If it wasn't for 9/11 we might think the whole world loves Britney Spears as much as we do. And our wars in the Muslim holy land could've stayed covert like they should be instead of being miserably public. My living in a van and preaching resource conservation was obviously not working. My 2009 Arctic Wolf Campaign generated exactly zero support. Did I fuck it up by attacking Hannah Montana?

Anyway, I was reading Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein and I think it's time to apply that same strategy to our relationship with cars. If Bush can mount a private war against a nation like Iraq that was widely opposed and fraudulently justified (They caused 9/11?) then why can't Obama declare a car moratorium and food rationing? Would it be unpopular? Yeah. So what? What are you going to do about it? The gas station is closed by government order. You going to drill for oil in your back yard? Buy oil on the black market? How about for every pelican that is found dead a baby human must be burned alive so I can play Street Rampage on my Xbox 360? Or someone over 70 years old is cremated to generate light for a Little League game. Yeah! Would that get Obama reelected in 2012? Someone run it by his press secretary.

It's going to take a war time consciousness to avoid a Mad Max world and that includes ration cards and mandatory car pools and victory vegetable gardens. The golden years of waste ended with cadmium laced Hannah Montana jewelry.

*National Debt is 13 trillion and climbing.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Thinking as Clear as the Gulf of Mexico

There must be a disorder to describe how I've been thinking lately.
They asked me if I wanted to work the 8am-5pm shift in July or the 7pm-3am shift. I said,
"I don't think either one of those is going to work for me, Steve."
"Well, Oggy, what do you mean?"
"You see, there's an animal called the Arctic Wolf. And I'm going to find that animal."
"Because what I see in the world is manufactured bullshit. I want to see one thing that is outside the realm of celebrity cellulite stories. I believe the Arctic Wolf is the last thing remaining that fits that description."
"So, I'll be taking my leave of this place soon."
"Made enough money to travel?"
"No, Steve, I didn't save more than what I've got in my pocket, but I can't let that stop me. I'll find a way if I have to walk there."
"I envy you."
"Who wouldn't?"

It's lunacy. But I was treated to twenty minutes of apocalyptic news this morning and if that's what sanity brings then I'll stick with lunacy. At least it is my lunacy.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Not as bad as the Gulf, but...

The apartment is starting to look like my old house in Venice, complete with greasy pans, ants, soupy bananas, dirty clothes, and broken dreams.


I'm going to put on my marketing hat on now and bombard you with opportunities to buy things. Is there some irony in riding a 1974 Vespa Ciao moped and writing ads for 2002 Mercedes-Benz convertibles? I'm saving up to buy a 1975 moped. Each ad earns me $1 and moves me one seat further away from Thoreau at the great vegetarian buffet table in the sky.

SMART CAR FOR A SMART DRIVER. Push button customized settings put you in control of this Certified Pre-Owned Mercedes-Benz SL 500. The retractable hard top converts this classy black/gray sedan into a sporty ride. Navigation system guarantees you arrive on time and the luxurious black leather interior puts you in the seat of style. Musically equipped with 8 speakers, a remote 6 cd changer and an in-dash single cd player. Contact XYZ Used Cars today!

COWBOY UP! Stand out in a crowd with this brilliant blue and tan BMW 325Ci convertible. Memorized seat and mirror settings for 3 drivers plus a navigation system. Rich with features such as rearview camera and privacy glass. Contrasting beige interior puts you in the lap of luxury. Advanced stability control and driveline traction control make this a classy car from top to bottom. Call or email Dallas Used Cars for a test drive.

SUNSHINE ON WHEELS. This sleek whistler silver metallic Mercedes-Benz C320 sedan will never leave you out in the heat. Safety and comfort come first with air conditioning to keep you cool on those humid summer afternoons and safety air bags all around the peaceful gray interior. Navigation system, moon roof, cruise control and other features make this a practical and dynamic choice. Contact Florida Used Cars for a test drive.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Confederacy of Dunces Screenplay

The following is an excerpt of a screenplay based on John Kennedy Toole's book. Contact Oggy Bleacher for option terms on the entire screenplay.

Fade in

We travel through the cramped and bloated intestinal tract of Ignatius J. Reilly, passing a half digested cream puff, a lump of chewing gum, a scrap of paper that says, “Jonathan Swift”, a puddle of syrupy fluid and some chunks of hot dog until we freeze at a complicated system of flaps labeled “Pyloric Valve”. The flaps trembles violently like a lid on a pot of boiling water before it slams closed with a bang. Gas and substance begin to back up behind the closed valve and we quickly rise through Ignatius’s intestines and esophagus and exit his cavity ravaged mouth as a monstrous belch.
Ignatius is a 30 year old rolling bundle of fat, dressed head to toe in a fantastic array of functional but unfashionable clothes. He has a broad hunting cap with the ear flaps splayed out in either direction. His neck is wrapped in a long tweed scarf. His billowing corduroy pants are patched at the knees with curtain fabric. He wipes his mustache with a filthy handkerchief.

Mother, if you mention perogies once more, I shall faint.
Aw, babe.
They are an abomination.
Go on, Ignatius. How ‘bout one o’ them fine po’ boy sandies?
Oh, my God! Did I just hear you say Po Boy? Have we been transported to the story line of an insipid Mark Twain novella?
Naw, baby, we still in N’awlins.
The mere fetid stench rising from the gutter would have reminded me of our regrettable location.
That’s shrimp, ‘Natius. How ‘bout a mess of shrimp for lunch? I can fix it up boiled or however you like.
Mother, do I look like I’m in a condition to eat? My innards are in violent revolt as we speak. Those cream puffs were past their prime. You should demand an immediate refund.
Boy, you done ate the whole box. I gonna return an empty box?
A minor detail in a legal case. That bakery should be sued for misrepresentation. The pastry was overcooked and there was a mere hint of cream filling. I demand justice!
How ‘bout some Jambalaya?
My saliva glands are preparing my mouth for an onslaught of projectile vomit.
What’s that, baby? That a yes or no?
A definitive no.

Mrs. Reilly examines Ignatius’s hat. She reaches out to take it and he bats her hand away.

Why you gotta wear that hat? Ain’t you hot?
If you wish to discuss something as culturally decadent as fashion I suggest you visit the local hair salon or seamstress. Tasteless chatter is their native tongue.
And that scarf!
Would you prefer I die of exposure?
Exposure to what? The sun?
The scarf would be unnecessary if a scoundrel had not stolen my lumberjack coat. Its high collar was more than enough to protect me from disease and premature death.
It’s a shame ‘bout that coat.
A thorough investigation by the authorities would bring my coat back to me but it’s disappearance is apparently not worthy of their time.
I know it.
It just goes to show you that when one leaves the safety of one’s comfort zone he will be attacked on all sides by vipers and wastrels. I must devote some time to an essay on this subject.
That’s a nice, smart boy. You would’a made your poppa proud.

The pair amble down the sidewalk.

Starting From Scratch

Does anyone else stop to consider that the majority of our beliefs are derived from a culture of idiots? Like, The Nat King Cole television show had to compete with Hee Haw...and Hee Haw what we call culture is Hee Haw. Our cultural perception is based on what a hungover writer scribbled out so Sally Fields and Tim Conway could say it through a hole in a barn. Is that ok with you? I'm not comfortable with that. I would like to clean the slate but I'm having a hard time doing it. Things like beauty and what is environmentally acceptable have no basis in science, but are more likely to be based on something I saw in a McDonalds ad or when I was reading a Batman comic. You could say our parents pass on many of our beliefs which means I'm relying on the incredibly manipulative '50s media with bomb fallout shelters or "I'm a doctor and I smoke Pall Mall."
See, above all, I think this is behind my desire to drop out completely. I am very uncomfortable with values that were designed with the benefit of oil stock holders in mind. I can recognize them but it turns out that to resist them only causes giant problems. So, I don't belong. I resist and am considered undesirable. Fine. But the real problem is actually succeeding in flushing out these poisonous values. It's damn near impossible. IMPOSSIBLE.
People like to say that we don't use most of our brain's potential. My answer to this is to try to reverse your political opinions. Just try to do that. Switch sides from liberal to conservative or conservative to liberal. That should be easy. Right? It's hardly any brain power at all. You saw Bambi as a kid and like animals. Your dad was a hunter so you like to kill animals. So, just switch. Well, if we can't do that then maybe we've got a high opinion of our brain power. Maybe we are pathetically slow and to even manage to grasp a single political opinion is about as good as it gets. To switch sides is hopelessly hopeless. We aren't capable of reinventing ourselves.
I've tried for twenty years to stop watching boston sports but I still care when the celtics suck and miss easy layups or blow their defense. You would think that after 20 years I would not care about these things. But it's almost biological. I don't care about the Celtics. In fact, their fate is only a distraction to me, like the rain outside. So why do I still care? Other people don't care. I want to be like them.
Is there electro shock therapy for this? I want answers!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Good Song, Bad Ear

I can't post any more bedroom performances until I rectify this flat vocal problem I have. I can picture Randy Jackson shaking his head and saying, "You're flat, dog. Real flat."
And I am. Let no one say I've got a good ear because people with good ears for music do not sing flat. This was a problem with the violin which once you've got tuned you still have to hit the exact spot on the neck to get the right note. And the note has to match the piano. So you adjust. Well, I never adjusted. I always played in the same spot and some days it was in tune and some days it wasn't.
"No, Oggy, the violin isn't the problem," said my teacher.
"Can't you tune it again?"
"It's in tune."
"Then what's going wrong."
"You aren't listening to the note you are playing."

So, when I sing I usually hear myself as sort of in tune. Like, it doesn't sound terrible, but listening to these videos I have to conclude that I'm not in tune. I'm flat. And the problem is breath control.
Let me introduce you to a guy who has no problem with breath control. Leonard Cohen. This song, I believe, is an attack on Bob Dylan, "The man in white". It would've been directed at his Nashville Skyline album and Self Portrait since Cohen's album arrived in March '71. This is what people go to grad school to research but can we just pretend I already did that? What do you think?

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

JJ Newberry

Here's a tune that deserves a better debut than an OJ and Absolute Tuesday night. But the world ain't perfect and with the acid rain winter on the march I think we'd all better smoke them if'n we got them. The chords are C, F, G, with a strategic A minor and E minor thrown in for that melancholy sound.
My buddy bought a dog there
but it died of Guinea Worm
you could order a grilled cheese sandwich
chicken soup to keep you warm
we used to play Nurf football
in the dinnerware aisle
Bradley threw a pass to me
but I missed it by a mile
JJ Newberry
where have you gone
there's a tear in my eye
Peddlers and Dollofs, Sessions and Gallagers
where do little stores go to die?

We got caught shoplifting
at the drug store
Laverdiers I think it was called
it ain't there anymore
Pic N Pay sponsored a baseball team
gave us a chance to play
they used to pass out those bright red uniforms
every May

Twinkies cost a quarter
at the corner store
they had an arcade game called Venture
I played 'til my fingers were sore
I saw Star Wars at a theater
that got tore down the other day
I was only gone a year
now it's all gone away


Portsmouth is full of history
Penny Candy and Hot Dogs
We've got graveyards old as time
and houses made of logs
Don't ever watch the news
to find out who is right and who is wrong

One Day it's there
The next day it's gone.
nothing stays the same
that's why we write love songs.

Repeat first lyric with...
I missed it by a mile
I missed it by a mile
I miss you by a mile

Handbags and Gladrags

This is a tune I picked up in Mexico. I heard it once or twice in the one room apartment, writing odes to Kerouac and drinking beer with a hooker chaser and I thought, "I can sing that tune." But it took a year to get a damn piano to do it properly. I haven't figured out the exact piano lick but it's just a variation on a D major chord into a C major chord. Then G Major. Then A major. the chorus is b minor, A major, then D major then E major. Then G major and A major back to the lick.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Never Surrender...the video

Common Sense Part 4 of 4: Oggy Draws The Line

All Merchant Vessels have a bilge reservoir where leaking engine oil and fuel collect in the engine compartment. The bilge is periodically pumped to waste disposal tanks on shore. I saw the bilge during my six nightly inspections of the engine room. Because the engine is always idling a fire could conceivably start and be undetected unless a deckhand ventures into the bowels of the boat to look for flames and alert the rest of the crew. Anyway, it was a way to break up a monotonous 6 hours of star gazing. I wore ear protection against the throbbing engine in a confined room as I checked the oil pressure gauges, but still suffered permanent hearing damage. The bilge, washing below the steel grate floor, was a foul cocktail of oil, diesel fuel, seawater and coolant. I did not see the bilge in the perspective of a potentially tiny drop of pollution in a giant ocean. I saw the bilge in the perspective of a gigantic aquarium full of dead fish, all of my childhood pets awash in tar, meowing for relief only death can bring. Furthermore, all around the boat were red signs promising jail time and a huge fine for dumping anything but water and useless Yankee deckhands overboard. The coast guard took pollution seriously and, as a lover of wildlife, I did too. That set the stage for a confrontation that would seal my fate forever.
I forget exactly what engine maintenance produced two five gallon buckets full of oil and gasoline. Was it an auxiliary generator that needed service or a piece of machinery on deck? I can’t remember, but it was definitely essential to the dispatch of our duties because no one did casual machine maintenance in ten-foot waves. And so, there were ten gallons that needed to be disposed of.
“Dump it overboard,” said the Engineer.
“Overboard? But…”
“I stutter?”
“What about…”
“Either you dump it overboard or you’re going overboard.”
“Alright. Jesus Christ.”
So, the Engineer vanished and I grabbed the two buckets of oil. At the door to the deck I paused. Though we would never get caught, I knew it was prohibited. And I knew why it was prohibited. I saw myself as personally executing the wildlife of the Gulf. I couldn’t do it. But what was I going to do with the buckets? The First Mate ambled in to refill his coffee cup.
“Hey, the Engineer just said…”
“Wait! When I have an empty coffee mug I want to punch someone in the face.”
I waited silently while the Engineer filled his cup. After he added a tablespoon of sugar he turned to me. He sighed with pleasure.
“What is it?”
“The Engineer told me to…”
“Do as the Engineer orders.”
The Mate walked away and repeated, “Do as the Engineer says.” And he was gone.
The Able Seaman exited the head, scratching his ass through his boxer shorts and yawning.
“Could I asked you a question?”
The Able Seaman squinted at me down the corridor.
“Do I look like I’m on duty?”
“I know, but, the Engineer asked me…”
“I don’t get paid enough to think,” he said and shuffled to his cabin.
That left the Captain, who I dreaded talking to. This was a different captain from the racist machete wielding monster of my first assignment, but he was a captain nonetheless and loved pulling practical jokes on me like sounding the fire alarm an hour after my shift ended or making me hunt for my tofu burgers on the radio tower.
I quickly sprinted up the stairs to the wheelhouse and found the Captain leaned back in his chair steering the boat with his feet as he eyed a radar console. A cigarette dangled from his lips.
“Captain, I got a quick question,” I muttered.
“Have you cleaned out the walk-in refrigerator?” He asked.
“I’m just starting,” I lied.
“You better be. Next time I see you I want it to be done. Now get out of my sight.”
“Ok. Listen, the Engineer told me to…”
“Then do what you're told.”
“I know, but I asked the Mate and he…”
“Oggy, I don’t want to hear it.”
“But, listen, they want me to dump…”
“No! You listen. You were given an order. I don’t care what the order was. I DON’T CARE! You don’t ask questions, Oggy, you do as your told. So whatever the Engineer told you to do is what you should be doing right now. You’re dismissed.”
I walked back down the stairs thinking I had learned a valuable lesson in the chain of command. Then I heard the Captain’s voice from above.
I sprinted back up. Maybe he had come to his senses. Maybe I wouldn’t have to commit a terrible crime against the environment.
“Where do you think you would be if I hadn’t called you back here?”
This was one of his practical jokes.
“Near the galley.”
“And what would you be doing if you were there?”
“Cleaning the walk-in refrigerator.”
“That’s all. And bring me some coffee next time you’re headed in this direction. Fresh coffee.”
“Aye aye, captain.”
I left again, dreading my destiny with the buckets of oil and gas. I’d debated this problem with the Engineer on my first boat. Oil spills were atrocious, was my contention, no matter what the size. He had looked at it more broadly.
“Sun’ll burn it off it an hour. Boats sink out here every week and spill shit.”
“But what about acid rain. It evaporates and then ends up in the clouds and then you’re on the beach in Florida and the rain burns through your umbrella because it’s caustic.”
“That’s complete bullshit. It would take one or two hundred thousand gallons of oil leaking every day for an effect like that.” He looked over the Gulf and added, “and if you’ve got one or two hundred thousand gallons of oil leaking then acid rain is going to be the least of your worries.”
But in principle, what I was being asked to do was contributing to the destruction of the water. In practice, it was a crime and in theory it was a death sentence for every living thing in the Gulf of Mexico including the dolphins and the hammerhead sharks and the Marlins and shrimp and crab and pelicans. They live in the water and can not escape what I dump there. What authority do I have to destroy that if I can help it?
At that point in the debate I had exited the Common Sense arena and entered Immanuel Kant’s Categorical Imperative, which states that one should, "Act only according to that maxim whereby you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law." I had read Kant’s work Metaphysics of Morals back when I was an aspiring philosopher and pretended I understood terms like “analytic-synthetic distinction” and words like “noumenon”. Kant’s scientific investigation into the moral jungle was as confounding as his vocabulary. Still, the categorical imperative stood out as a guiding light of moral justification. The term Common Sense never appears in Kant’s work mainly because in the course of modern human action nothing is common. Kant proved the theory that you can over-think anything. Furthermore, deontological philosophers like Kant believed Sense is the slow second cousin of Reason. The Categorical Imperative is a fancy variation of the Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” But it is more applicable to all realms of life and less tied to the unpromising fate of a doomed messiah.
As I reconvened with my buckets of oil and gas I tried to apply Kant’s Imperative to my conundrum and arrived at the following syllogism: If a universal law deemed it acceptable to dump buckets of oil into the ocean then everyone would do it. If everyone did it then the ocean would be hopelessly polluted. The Maxim “Act with only short term goals in mind and ignore long term consequences,” could not become a universal law so I was not morally justified to dump the oil in the ocean.
But what about disobeying an order? If the universal law allowed for everyone to disobey orders, including ignorant deckhands, then the universe would be ruled by chaos. Hadn’t I admitted that I was merely trying to get a free ride to China and found myself in the offshore oil industry? What responsibility did I have to my own misguided judgment?
I decided that I might lack common sense but something uncommon was required to make the right decision. I could not obey the order I was given and even though it would risk my job and maybe my safety I decided to dispose of the oil in the bilge, reasoning that more oil in the bilge wouldn’t hurt anything and there was a chance it would get pumped into a container on shore.
Acting quickly, I grabbed the buckets and made my way into the tight corridor leading to the engineer. There was no way to explain my insubordination, the crew had already violently dismissed my pleas for a vegetarian entrĂ©e at every meal, so getting caught was not an option. I tip-toed past the Able Seaman’s cabin and around the corner to the Engine Room door. I listened for any advancing foot steps, trying to calm my heart rate. I knew I would be fired if anyone caught me with the buckets of oil in the middle of the living quarters. Hearing nothing, I quickly unlocked the door to the engine room and opened it. I had forgotten how deafening the roar of the engine was. It was like breaking glass in a church service. But there was no turning back. I had to get that oil to the bilge. So I placed the buckets inside the door, taking care not to spill any on the steps, and closed the door after me. I was so wracked with anxiety that I forgot to put any ear protection on and picked up both buckets and proceeded to walk down the steep, nearly vertical, metal stairs. The boat lurched and rocked and since both hands were full I had to lean against the hot metal walls to steady myself; a fall from this height with the buckets would be certain death. Step by step I descended into the roaring heat until finally I reached the floor and stared at the engine. It was so loud that if you screamed at the top of your lungs you could not hear yourself. You could feel your vocal chords vibrating and the air leaving your mouth but the sound would never reach your ears. I knew my brain would ring for days after this operation but I didn’t suspect it would never stop ringing.
Remembering the time I helped the Engineer change the oil in the giant motor, I lifted a loose steel plate. It was heavy but adrenalin helped me until the oily slick metal slipped from my fingers and the plate fell soundlessly down, nearly chopping off the fingers of my left hand that were centimeters from the edge. I knew the crash must’ve been tremendous but the engine was so loud I could not hear it. My heart was pounding in my chest. Again, I lifted the grate and steadied the grate with my left hand while I dragged one bucket over to the lip and tipped it over, watching the black syrup pour into the toxic soup below. One more bucket to go. I reached for the bucket that was just out of reach. If I adjusted my body I could probe with my hand while I made sure the plate was secure. Then I felt something that felt like rubber touch my fingers. Was it the bucket? I turned around and saw I was touching a rubber boot. Inside that rubber boot was a foot that was not my own. With my eyes I scanned the boot and then up the leg and the body until my eyes were locked with the homicidal black irises of the Chief Engineer. He had been in the bow thruster compartment and upon his return to top side had decided to check on the main engine water temperature. We stared at each other as the engine throbbed with the indifference of Kant’s categorical imperative.
At least I prevented that oil from getting dumped in the Gulf of Mexico. Har har har!

I never sailed to Hong Kong and I made just enough money to pay off my debt to the employment agency and drive to Kentucky for a job planting trees in coal country. I started all over again, reforesting the stripped hillsides of Floyd County, home of the coal miner’s daughter, Loretta Lynn. Like cash-strapped shrimp fishermen in the Gulf, growing up poor in Floyd County might make you immune to the industrial wasteland. You might even grow to love it for the promise of a better life for someone somewhere. While planting white pine saplings and bird attracting black locust trees, I pondered my short career as an offshore Merchant Marine. As I moved from furthering the gains and losses of one major energy industry to healing the consequences of a more dated one, I decided we can’t have it all. That’s why I recommend being slow to judge British Petroleum for the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. Offshore drilling has the defacto approval of every car driving American just like the flattening of hills in Floyd County has your vote every time you turn on a light. Along with these energy sources come dangers both immediate and long term. Common Sense will tell you that no complicated system is fool proof. You can die during a routine tooth extraction. And yes, a pipeline can burst in such a way that we can’t plug it. Universal Laws have taken a backseat to instant downloads and streaming morality. We are flying faster than our angels and that’s a wonderful thing for everyone who needs an emergency heart bypass surgery, but it has ominous consequences for the future. Mankind isn’t especially adept at acting with the good of another generation in mind. We are donating amazing inventions to the future and they will need all of them to repair the damage caused by our amazing carelessness.
Before the oil spill I lived in Los Angeles, the most car dependent city in the United States and probably the world. It is not only immediately dangerous and frustrating to travel in Los Angeles, but only a population of celebrity obsessed fashion whores would be blind to the obvious destructive nature of that lifestyle. The car has completely run amok in Los Angeles. Common Sense would tell you that if you lived there. The city has 30 million cars driven by 10 million residents and not one person has enough common sense to realize that’s unacceptable. If they do realize it then they soon see the alternatives are also impractical. Demand for oil like that translates into an oil industry that has cost analysis breakdowns to the level of the minute but that ignores the twenty year impact of their work on the environment. Where is the common sense?
That’s it. That’s all I ask of anyone: Have some common sense. Have the common sense of the $2/hour deckhand whose actions imperil the entire southern coastline. Our lifestyle will change one way or another so we can either act on our own behalf or react to the backlash of the environment. It won’t be easy but it’s not easy scooping oil off the beach either. You don’t have to study Kant’s treatise on morality to know not to shit where you sleep.

Common Sense: Part 1 of 4
Common Sense: Part 2 of 4
Common Sense: Part 3 of 4
Common Sense: Part 4 of 4

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Generic Blog Post

It's your turn to write my blog post today. I'm a broken record...

Today was...: fucked

Today was...: awful

Today was...: not bad

Today was...: forgettable

Today was...:

The World is...: fucked up

The World is...: falling apart

The World is...: doing fine

The World is...: in need of my help

The World is...:

I wish I were as good a musician as...: Nat King Cole

I wish I were as good a musician as...: Tom Waits

I wish I were as good a musician as...: Burt Bacharach

I wish I were as good a musician as...:

Fuck it, I'm going to...: Labrador

Fuck it, I'm going to...: Guatemala

Fuck it, I'm going to...: Tibet

Fuck it, I'm going to...:

All my problems can be blamed on...: Hannah Montana

All my problems can be blamed on...: My Goddamn Father

All my problems can be blamed on...: Steve Jobs

All my problems can be blamed on...: Western Culture

All my problems can be blamed on...:

This opens up microsoft outlook. I don't know how else to get it to email me.

Creative Commons License
Man in the Van by Oggy Bleacher is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.