Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Uber Scheisse

I feel like I drifted into the 21st century. I don’t really belong here. I took form in the 20th century. I’m accustomed to electricity and running water, watching movies and shopping for groceries. I would find life without these things very hard. That makes me very twentieth century. Where I go wrong and begin to feel queasy and alien is in the twenty-first century. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not a total outcast. I’ve adapted well to some things. I love my new tablet computer. I love Pandora. What I don’t get is the complete and utter shift in values. Or the loss thereof: the erosion of civil liberties, the normalization of drones and surveillance and endless war, the transformation of universities into corporate industries for vocational training, or the zombification of an entire population of people walking trance-like down sidewalks fixated on mobile phones. These are the things that make me dizzy. These are the things that make me feel anxious and ill at ease. And now I can add one more to the list: Uber. Uber is the popular ride company that allows people with smartphones to submit a trip request, which is then routed to Uber drivers who use their own cars.
Uber, unlike taxi companies and mass transit, doesn’t have to answer to a higher authority. Uber doesn’t have to abide by the rules and regulations that protect consumers and workers from criminality. Uber operators don’t have to file for licenses, adhere to fixed rate standards, or comply with other county and state regulations that determine when and how a for-hire car can be booked. This seems anarchical to me in a way that erodes values of fair play and respect for people in general. Uber defaults on any responsibility for the way their drivers (and there really is no “their” in this scenario since drivers act as their own agents with no oversight) abuse passengers, female passengers especially, groping, bullying, or raping them. All Uber does is “deactivate” any driver accused of criminal activity. This behavior seems uniquely fitted to the new millennium in which everything is for profit and nothing is valued.
Value is vague, I know, a vague word, a value can be a goody buy at Goodwill but it also means honoring honesty, compassion, courtesy, or at least pretending to honor these things. Whether values are subjective psychological states or objective states of the world I will leave to the axiologists. My own feeling is that value is intrinsic and exists within the mind, that value is a matter of perception, a quality of attention. Money is good not because it is intrinsically good but because it leads to other things which are intrinsically good. But isn’t it possible to bypass money and discover the value of things without money? Doesn’t money enslave as much as it endows?
The taxi drivers are protesting Uber in France. Vigorously. For the last few years, almost since Uber got off the ground, they have blocked roads, burned tires, and attacked drivers who they thought were working for Uber. The French high court, the “Cour de cassation,” created the Loi  Thévenoud (Thévenoud Law) which prohibits chauffeured vehicles other than taxis to charge a per-kilometer fee, to practice “electronic roaming” (the use of a smarphone app that shows the location of nearby available vehicles to potential customers in real-time) and making it a requirement that, when a ride is over, the chauffeured vehicle returns to its home base or a place where they’re authorized to park. This concession to the taxi drivers so pissed off the Uber drivers that today (February 8, 2016) the Uber drivers protested by blocking access to Roissy Charles de Gaule airport. France has a very high unemployment rate. For a lot of people, turning oneself into a taxi service is the only means to making a livable wage. The overall conflict seems uniquely fitted to the neo-liberal forces of the millennium. It’s dog against dog, the vulgarization of the commons into a theatre for gladiatorial conflict. Human interaction has been degraded into cheating, self-aggrandizement, and nail salons.
Here in Seattle, little has been heard from the taxi drivers, although city councilwoman Kshama Sawant has been a very vocal supporter of both taxi and Uber drivers to the have right to unionize, and it is thanks largely to her efforts that Seattle has become the first city to grant for-hire drivers the right to form collective bargaining units, including employees of Uber. “The so-called sharing economy is nothing new,” Sawant said. “It is not innovative. Ever since sharecropping, the sharing economy has meant sharing in one direction; that is workers have the privilege of sharing what they produce with their bosses. And just like in the past, these workers have to take out loans to buy a car to use for work and then they are trapped by debt into the sharing economy.”
1980, the year John Lennon was murdered by gunshot in the lobby of the Dakota hotel in Manhattan, and Reagan was elected president, was the year I saw everything change for the worse. It’s when I began seeing a spike in the homeless population. Consumerism, which was considered toxic in the late 60s, became a national obsession. Wealth was openly flaunted. Things became very Roman. Jimmy Carter’s “malaise speech” of 1979 was mocked and vilified. Reagan’s “Good Morning America,” which could be translated as “Greed is Good,” became the true national anthem.
In the next twenty years technocracy exploded and became the empire it is today, beginning in Silicon Valley (which was still perfumed with orchards and canneries when I lived there in the late 60s) and now here in Seattle. Seattle is now such a different city than the one I moved to in 1975 I feel like I moved to an entirely different geographical location, a city so removed from Seattle’s former unassuming architecture and humble eccentricities it more resembles Santa Barbara or San Diego with its glitzy skyscrapers, sky-rocketing real estate and burgeoning homeless population. The general consensus of neo-liberalism and technocracy are so alien to me that I feel like I’m the occupant of a dystopic city invented by a demented science-fiction writer. But it’s not fiction. Not fiction at all.
I’ll say it again: I’m not against technology. Cutting and pasting on a computer is a lot easier than retyping entire pages. I enjoy the convenience of Google and Wikipedia. I used to think that technology was chiefly responsible for the intellectual laziness of my fellow citizens and their obsession with material goods. But after a trip to France in 2013 I realized that this is not the case. Not at all. The French have the same technology. They just choose to use it with far greater discretion. The French still value books and art and conversation. Of all the hundreds of bistros and restaurants I passed, each with a large outdoor patio, I didn’t see one person alone with a laptop. Everyone was enjoying a conversation or reading a book or magazine.
The United States has a had a long history of anti-intellectualism and hostility toward abstract thought as opposed to hard pragmatic git-er-done solutions. Americans are hardwired to be hardwired. Some of us, however, opted out at an early age. I was fifteen when I very consciously decided to dedicate myself to art and thought and altered states of consciousness. Aldous Huxley’s The Doors of Perception was a seminal influence.
Over the years I’ve met a few other people extraordinary for their devotion to non-material values. Poetry in particular. The fact that there still exist people who can get excited about making something that lacks even the materiality of a painting or the immediate sensuality of dance and music, that someone can work privately, work earnestly with combinations of joy and frustration to make a poem, a thing without thingness, a thing in celebration of thingness, things of the intellect, dreamed things, invented things, is amazing. Some of these people have jobs and may not be desperate for money, but some of these people have made a conscious decision to devote themselves to this baffling and demanding art, this magnificently mutinous revelry of words. Is that not strange?


Sunday, February 7, 2016


My charge is being a horse. My hunger is nucleation. My drapery is a simple shout toward punctuation. My providence is a photogenic king deepened in ecstasy aboard a Greyhound destined for Tuscaloosa. I am the rascal that stipples in raw peppered light while falling forward toward a haunted thud of grammatical flies. I am a hill in a calendar for the year 1852.
Buffalo Bill discusses his comb with a mons pubis. The landscape is infinite in a flower. I fasten a pumpernickel across a flap of swollen scenery. Max Jacob manipulates clay around the cook. A book is born from his puffs of steam.
I am a monster so riotous in nouns that a blister haunts a delay in glass. I garden a Möbius star beside a surgical color and produce a whisper of sails by strumming a gas station flint.
I am a dimension tied together with string floating a lovely propane in a pool of musical wax.
I’m a phonograph playing a 45 so fractious that it seeps a glaze of rock mountain jelly. We watch the drums. My yearning pins a blaze to the wilderness. We lift endeavor along the middle groove and lean into barcaroles.
Riddles happen when glue happens. We scratch the skin to mark our talk.
Incense is what so gleefully incentivizes a hit song during dispatch that it crumples the fire in a grandfather clock. Sirens stretch exhibiting suction and ooze.
There is a pressure that grows around gravity and is called a vortex.
The concept of brightness eludes itself. My arm occurs and obscures a lobster I hold in orchidaceous emotion. There is a greenhouse where my rock emerges and pushes an array of potatoes up through the dirt of a thousand intentions and cuts the sky into pieces of time. I agree to the use of turpentine but pound the milk for a better performance. I don’t like to navigate unless I have wings, or at least a bone I can pull into music and sigh.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

The Occurrence of Sadness and Glass

Whatever phantom slides through you pay it no mind. The dead are everywhere. It takes effort to fully occupy a living body. Each experience is an egg to break, the glop of its yolk spilling out as one glistening nucleus. It’s finding that nucleus that’s difficult.
Age is a thorny plant. Look for a hiatus, a rupture in the fabric of time, and occupy that. It’s easiest to find those places in art. Places which are non-places because they don’t exist in linear time or three-dimensional space.
If you fold a piece of tin into a placenta you will acquire a Technicolor hammer. It won’t be a real hammer, a hammer that you can use to pound nails. It will be a metaphorical hammer, a hammer that you can use to build similes. A house like a grape. A hat like an artichoke.
I see two eyes in the rain. Later, I see the sky lying on the ground. I pick it up. I tie it into three hundred knots and exchange it for a pair of boots and a birch canoe. This is the sort of thing you can do in language that you cannot do in normal life.
Falling down is a maniacally brilliant sensation if it’s done correctly. Of course, it has to be a complete accident. How do you plan an accident? You don’t. Accidents plan you.
If writing happens by accident the words will overflow their margins and tumble over the rocks of an imagined envy. For example, how old is Robert Redford? Sip the elegance of cider from a crystal glass and answer quickly. The answer is a red dream with a savory tang crawling across a piece of paper weeping tears of iron. This has nothing whatever to do with Robert Redford and so it is correct.
If I’m being excessively resplendent it’s because life is full of headlights and syllables. Life cries effervescence at the disciplinarians. We bring our more serene behavior to the bank and feed it money. The walls echo with my criticism. Money is too complex, too sentimental. Money should be serious, like dereliction.
Cézanne stirs a lot of emotion. I throb like a monster to see such color, such shape. I dream of a museum full of steam and sorcery. I see a Blob with a voice and meanings which froth into Kuiper belts of astronomical vertebrae. I have a neck full of light and an arm full of circulation. Each time something sublime happens I glitter like an area code.
Large ambiguities rescue us from idealism. It feels pervasive, like a pumpkin. I walk down the road looking for a job. I specialize in irritation. I wear gloves of oak and an alternating current. I get a job folding napkins into whispers. I stumble over a sentence teeming with words and fold it into a beautiful collision. This involves tuna, honeysuckle, and a tiny fork. My lobster eyes pull a world of color out of a solitary potato. This is how things are done around here. Circularly. There are things that cry for diameter and circumference and a little cherry pi.  
Emotion is a cherry whose charm murmurs sociability. That’s what emotion is for, largely. The sky hammers the ground with rain and thunder. And at the end of the day, the sky drags the night over the mountains, the train starts to roll, and social instincts awaken the occurrence of sadness and glass.



Monday, February 1, 2016

Life on other Planets

People frequently ask me what life is like on other planets. I answer that it depends on the individual planet. And, to be honest, I’ve never been to another planet. I don’t know why people make that assumption about me. Maybe it’s the trinkets on my sleeve, or the monkey that follows me everywhere. His name is Lorenzo and he once played Calpurnia in a production of Julius Caesar. As for the box under my arm, it contains a pound of legal documents. People are so sensitive these days. You never know when you’re going to offend someone.
I don’t know what to say about gravity. It’s a grave situation. It keeps me in place. Things like that. If you get engaged to a staircase it’s best to take it step by step. My intentions are solid maple. Fireworks need no introduction but the asphalt is always a little demure and as soon as the stars appear one can begin to annotate one’s personal injuries. This is why so many painters love to travel and create new relationships with color. There is nothing so inexplicable as a personal injury or soybean. There’s a moment during the day when a door opens in the tide-pool and the stadiums recede into the distance. It’s at times like that that the refrigerator makes total sense.
But what about Cincinnati you ask. I don’t know. I’ve never been there either. But of course I can always imagine a Cincinnati. I see a place full of wheelchairs and whistles, beaks and bones, crowbars and puddles. Throw in a few pugilists and sideboards and you’ve got Cincinnati. If you turn around and look at it from a side angle you can see that it’s longer than your average belt and behaves like a boat when it’s put in water. Which is to say it lingers. And although that proves nothing, I hold in my arms a basket of intriguing laundry. Can you guess whose it is? I can’t either. Life is full of surprises. Sometimes it’s not what you know but what you don’t know that gives life its charm and meaning.
A few see the world as an impressive array of decorations, while others see it as a dimple in time. One does not necessarily rule out the other. As for me, I like to come at things slowly, gracefully, tossing aside crusade after crusade as I go. Sooner or later, you’re going to have to sit down and listen to Bach. It’s like holding the stars in your hand and smelling Pangaea. I like to feel the sky rub against my wings. If the images associated with the personality of aluminum fall into a bowl of pronouns the result can be totally anonymous unless it’s protected by a house. The jungle does somersaults not because any flowers are implicated but because the rhythm requires a pomegranate. The symposium aside, we had more fun in the lobby when waffles were served the following morning. Do you see what I’m getting at? That’s right: France uses a different asphalt than the United States. It’s more like trigonometry than fiction.
And yes, life truly is different on other planets.  

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Accessorize Your Eyes

If there is an emphasis on the particular tethered to the whole idea of fish, faith becomes a radar with a blip of radiant spit. Salt is a monster of endurance. Sewing favors concentration, and permits the apparition of form and stupefaction. The immediacy of salt and thread and needle and crack awakens the topography of cement in a sidewalk. At least, that’s the rumor. The great philosophers tell us that there are versions of cement that are more romantic. Honor has little to do with it. To swallow life is also to occasionally gargle. This is what the gargoyles tell us: gargle. The comprehension of space, on the other hand, only requires a sense of space and an amphibious sensuality.
I say these things not because I’m hungry but because the use of eye shadow is intergenerational. The arrival of dust in an igloo is another indication that the color beige is equally herbivorous. I saw it swallow an entire suitcase once and spin like a dress in the rain. We can begin the hymn when the enamel dries. Meanwhile just let the colors burn in a puddle of modest astronomy. I have often wept to see anything as wild and cotton as a bank account. The flesh grumbles to the bones yet approves of the squeeze of transport. There are days that the bus is crowded. That’s just the way it is. The only reason I’ve embarked on this journey at all is to escape the sediment of familiarity.
Cement is respectable, but the metamorphosis of bicycles must not be held for ransom. Conception begins with a ship and ends with a bottle. The sonar is full of life. The tide-pool does a handstand. The mosaic is freely understood to be a parable of pliers. And why not? Even the deodorant has something to say about warts. Why warts exist. Why warts never seem brand new, but ancient and small. It’s a very hard thing to crackle like a cherry at the power of grease. Language is its own rock and roll, gallant as an intestine yet intuitive as asphalt.
I’m in no hurry, obviously. I have a mouth. I can sprinkle the air with names. I can groan. I can prod the word ‘ocher’ until it moves, shows some sign of life, and quivers with comprehension, a deepened understanding of seals. Who hasn’t enjoyed floating in someone’s living room absorbing the details of a kilowatt? Opium engenders cherubs of seminal validation. I think I’m in love with a predicate. There’s a mushroom in the forest drooling money on an illusion of masculinity. I’ll tell you what masculinity is: it’s a reaction to flutes. The world is a calligraphy of cuticles and contacts. It’s touching. It’s fathomless and hazy, and yet I hold a dream in my hand and feel it squiggle, squirm into something legible, like garlic, or stone. 

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Scrambled Tin

Power is only a heat. My imbued opinion is feathers. Scent. We forged the delectation. Simmering happens when the oscillation is suede. What thinks our orchard? Alarm the athletic violin. There is a wedge in the myth where it can be horizontal. I play the harmonica since it draws skin. The eyeball accommodates cod in action. The drawing of snake feathers claws fulfillment in the coil of fractions. I extrude parliamentary unction. Impairments make me demanding and pale. I feel a blue seclusion, darkness and sympathy as the details flap in narration. Winter, processions, apes, engagements, all pump dyes to the vat of weeping that attract snow. The wheels are splashy but somehow we will gulp the day as much as paradise, or an eyeball. Quarks in a yardstick ravenous in play. I is willow. The failure is going alright. There is a revelatory mockingbird that slices the air with songs. Weddings occur, then representation, which houses invisibility. It is congenial to experiment with wood. I use a thumb that I coordinate by empire. The blaze left a bungalow in ruin. Be hectic. An exhibition convinces us that drawing a duvetyne is a caboose disparaged by water flowing over it until it becomes a postmark. The hose is an exotic biology. Don’t punish resilience. Parse like algebra among the morals with a little show of paper, or at least a grocery slip. The moon is gelatinous. Except that we go there expecting commerce and the lobster is too warped to gnaw. I stirs paint. I lean into letters amid the sawdust as I dig for more dreams. What is principle? A cause, an age, a symptom, an emergence. Personality sparkles like wool. I have eyed life in all its various forms and discovered nothing that balloons like a pickup. There is a knob that howls and a knob that keens. Syllables blister. Opium exudes the clarity of solace. By that I mean navigation. My wool is caused by syntax. I pummel the air with a coffee in the morning on the coast of the oboe sugar. Hammer initiates the cloth of Einstein’s accordion. The increase of the sterling morning is quicker if I hide my fictions in spectacle. Dictionaries hammer their way into plywood. My fingers fuss with a collar stud. I don’t like broccoli. The difference is sparrows. There is a biology with a paradise in it that crackles and thinks about glue. We call this hawthorn. When the mink weaves through it it amplifies mulling. The delta is indispensable. A light translates the moon. Our refraction of light was thirsty, which produced an opinion and played an accordion. The tie is bald that coaxes a trumpet to spring. There is a mouth extruding from the pool. I exult in bingo. Diving is effacement. The ghost of a song jingles up and down the circumlocution coiling and uncoiling. I belong to a rivet. The planets gathered into a tube and we cried. My wandering jumps across the furrow of adhesion and makes it to the shore of a simulacrum that only exists in stupefaction. This spills into occupancy and soothes the elbows. This amid bees. This among fish. Clang clang clang. The mind is soothed by philosophy. We sip and sew a tropics of configurational pain with which to embroider the horizon. The wanderer furnished Apollinaire a meridional comb beneath a which a cavern represents the mouth. We withdrew by acting experienced. Scrambled tin is what a personality does to extrude its pathos. The truth of understanding juts from a prospect of universal reflection. The rockets flare. The voyage begins.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Let the Accordian Squeeze Itself

Let the accordion squeeze itself. There is magic in it, and exemption and stools. An emotion wobbles on its stem redeeming the mint with a monumental proximity. And because the tranquility we find in boiserie is sometimes freighted with mythology, there are luxuries fulfilled in the application of hand lotion. The intentions of the chisel are apparent in the sharpness of its edge. Fingers are more intriguing. I think the Fauve dots of a plausible insecurity may be entered into the lists of an insatiable crusade for conversation. That’s when I realized I was writing something.
My intent here is neither to attack or disturb but mount a Technicolor duck and ride it across the Martian plains in quest of an aroma I can fondle and explore. The duck would have to be large, mechanical, and stocked with groceries. It would have the look of authority and its eyes would be the color of nutmeg, its feet palmate and fluorescent. Flirtation is only part of the story. The other half is a museum in the sky containing statuary and gloves. It’s why these words are engorged with corridors. As soon as anything else gets written, it anticipates the pleasures of elevation, babbling brooks and quiet haunts. Romanticism, pretty much, with a helping of alabaster.
It’s only natural to want to crush a fork into one’s mashed potatoes and to create illusions of power at the dinner table. Invention wasn’t invented in a day. Meanwhile, the milk is boiling and the train is running late. If I were you, I would take a long hot shower and forget the true meaning of the word ‘property.’ There’s no such thing as property. What we think of as property is, at best, water and mineral rights. But these are abstractions, the stuff of law books and courtrooms. The reality of water is something else. Water is busy being water. Or mud.
Or at least a farm. It gets soft in the evenings and even the earth urges conference. They say that sorcery can be an asset but funambulism is a skill. An asset comes by bareback, a skill comes by crawling under barbed wire while being fired upon by Prussian mercenaries. Don’t worry, the bullets may not seem real, but they are. You may consider the experience to be genuine. Just don’t stand up suddenly to talk to anyone. In fact, if I were you, I would exit this paragraph altogether and go on to the next.
I once saw a smear of paint tremble like an equation and add something to an artist’s rendition of Dutch linen. This helped me understand the beauty of anonymity. The quiet dignity in the fold of anything. Even a chin. Especially a chin.
The folds of the accordion are a special case. No accordion is going to squeeze itself. That isn’t going to happen. Not unless you let it happen. Afterward, when we get out of the simulator, we may feel differently about the actuality of life, its kinesthetic pulse and general orientation. When the air leaves the accordion, it elopes directly with a miscalculation, and so becomes music. Manipulation has its place, but contemplation is the domain of the vertical, the beanstalk and the giant, the feeling of silk and the majesty of process.