A cloudy day and dreaming of summer projects that would improve the life of my over-domesticated feline companion. Took a gander at the google and found these characters. Would you believe they’re selling pets in screens on ebay? Or perhaps they just modeling a fantastic summer-friendly product that improves the lives of pet owners everywhere?

Welcome to the handsome crew

Quick Nick

Quick Nick is a motley mud flapping shoe eater


lady

Homer always knows how to make an entrance

Prudence Uneasy

Prudence was a child star as a kitten and resented taking this photo

Hairy coming thru the 5th dimension

George cautiously enters the 5th dimension after hearing the rustle of bird feathers

This is a really exciting development for my cat Leona. One door always leads to another and I know that installing a pet screen in my sliding door is really going to rock her world this summer! Updates to come.

It's spring....

And I feel like a kid again!

Have you taken a hayride or picked a pumpkin this Autumn? If not, I implore you: please do not bypass this important American Ritual this Fall.

The harvest is here, and we have work to do. There is decorative corn and lumpy gourds to arrange, while the hot whiskey cider is brewing on the stove. Forget all the Halloween stuff that comes at the end of the month – there’s plenty of advice on how to bob for apples and do your make-up like a sexy kitten. What we should really be focusing on is the soul-enriching harvest rituals of our forefathers and mothers.

Pigs also eat corn, btw.

This weekend I participated in aforementioned rituals. We drove out in bumper to bumper traffic to the nearest rural island just to participate in America’s finest rural mythology. We rode an exhaust-puffing tractor between a parking lot and corn “maize” in order to pick our pumpkins on the far lot. Side Note: Does it occur to anyone else that the REAL corn maze is America’s monolithic agribusiness policies that happen to be dominated by the production and distribution of corn, making it difficult for farmers to thrive on growing any other product? Kind of makes the corn maize feel like a cruel joke, doesn’t it?

Anyway we came back, pumpkins in lap, to sit on hay barrels while we watched the children ride sad little ponies in a circle next to the corn maize. We also spent about a half an hour in line waiting for hot cider that was probably pressed somewhere in Washington. Why was this so satisfying? For me, it undoubtedly filled a gap in my hedonistic fast-paced urban lifestyle.

The collective genius of OK Cupid suggests my pastoral pangs are not uncommon. They did a trend report on the users of their dating site and found that the vast majority of white users (particularly women) identified with the hallmarks of America’s heartland:

“[It's] amazing the extent to which their list shows a pastoral or rural self-mythology: bonfires, boating, horseback riding, thunderstorms. I remind you that OkCupid’s user base is almost all in large cities, where to one degree or another, if you find yourself doing much of any of these things, civilization has come to an end.”

200 years after settlement and white Americans are still convinced they are homesteading cowboys and country girls. We carry these identities around in our pockets while we ride the subways and sit in cubicles all day long listening to Keith Urban on the ipod. Side note: Keith Urban? Also cruel irony??

Other cultures must have their own parallel cultural mythologies, ideals about the characteristics of an upstanding countryman. American Rituals may not be as deep-rooted but they still have their charms – growing pumpkins so big they explode, for example, is one emerging harvest-time ritual that seems to embody a uniquely American philosophy. We also do this with pigs at the State Fair, which seems more untoward. I can’t explain it all, but I do hope that years from now my future ducklings will be as excited as I was as a grown adult to ride en-masse on tractors to the nearest pumpkin patch. 


When Great Trees Fall


When great trees fall,
rocks on distant hills shudder,
lions hunker down
in tall grasses,
and even elephants
lumber after safety.

When great trees fall
in forests,
small things recoil into silence,
their senses
eroded beyond fear.

When great souls die,
the air around us becomes
light, rare, sterile.
We breathe, briefly.
Our eyes, briefly,
see with
a hurtful clarity.
Our memory, suddenly sharpened,
examines,
gnaws on kind words
unsaid,
promised walks
never taken.

Great souls die and
our reality, bound to
them, takes leave of us.
Our souls,
dependent upon their
nurture,
now shrink, wizened.
Our minds, formed
and informed by their
radiance,
fall away.
We are not so much maddened
as reduced to the unutterable ignorance
of dark, cold
caves.

And when great souls die,
after a period peace blooms,
slowly and always
irregularly.  Spaces fill
with a kind of
soothing electric vibration.
Our senses, restored, never
to be the same, whisper to us.
They existed.  They existed.
We can be.  Be and be
better.  For they existed.

Frances Densmore recording Blackfoot Mountain Chief on a cylinder phonograph for the Bureau of American Ethnology (1916). Frances Densmore was a Minnesota anthropologist who specialized in Native American music and also recorded and transcribed a great deal of Native music. Her recordings now reside in the Library of Congress.

Charlatans rejoice! Your mindreading app has been delivered, compliments of Apple.

"you owe me money, pendejo!"

You can now bend spoons, put out fires and run labyrinths with your mind. Just like you always knew you could.

However, don’t mistake this app for being completely useless – you can also upload avatar versions of your arch-enemies and have them hurl insults at you. If you remain calm and cool you win the game.

Think about the implications. Soon we could be transmitting our thought patterns to robots in remote locations via headset. No more going into the office, taking out the trash and hugging your kids. You can do it all via remote control!

As usual, I’m ahead of the curve on this one – last weekend I went to Naples, Italy on Google Earth and had a cappuccino in my mind. For all you technology skeptics out there, I can attest that it was just as good as “real life”, all the way down to the caffeine buzz.

Perhaps you are a fan of mind-control but prefer doing it without a smartphone. Try Mattel’s Mindflex game, which allows users to perform obstacle courses using a brainwave headset. Consider it basic training for the upcoming battle to preserve our psychic privacy.

Telekinesis – it’s not just a fantasy anymore kids!

Special thanks to the Avalon Arcade for recently introducing me to a chivalrous young bard who honored us with a juggling demonstration and 824 free winning tickets.

1. The need for laughs: this is the root of of the bard complex and goes deep into their formative years when their talents went unrecognized as a child. Somewhere around 10 years old, they realized the best way to get attention was to perform outlandish acts of poetry, magic and cleverness. Various renaissance festivals and school plays reinforced this over the years.

2. Unnecessary Talent: Not every bard is a juggler, minstrel, stilt-walking magician or loud poet. But many of them are. Others express themselves through freestyle rap, playing obscure instruments or by performing absurd acts of physical comedy.

3. Long hair: this is a necessity for every bard. Unless the culture they live in does not permit it – every bard should have long hair. There is nothing romantic or frivolous about short hair, and those defining characteristics give the bard their charm. Long hair is also particularly good for various trans-gender character transformations.

4.  All the world is a stage: the bard is funny, endearing, often hilarious. But they don’t know when to stop. Like a train wreck of tragic comedy they will continue juggling the torches until they’ve burned the whole place down.  They don’t just want your laughter; they crave your tears.

5. They are indispensable: despite their frivolity, bards make excellent friends. They will entertain you when you are down; reading you sappy poetry and quoting the ancients. They will outwit your enemies with one cunning remark. They will charm their way into all sorts of unusual places. And at the end of your epic journey, after the last battle has been won and you are on the brink of claiming your treasure: a bard will always, always know the magic password.

Addendum: Some bards are not happy. They no longer have the will to live or perform. They live in disguise as retail specialists and hipster baristas or, god forbid, corporate artists. They see the world as a gray and cruel place. They are sad sad clowns who need nurturing from someone  like you. Just remember: bards are not usually motivated by normal things like food, booze and money. They embody the journey of The Fool and seek the realm of magic only. So brush up on your Aleister Crowley and bring it to them. Help a sad clown today.

In light of all the recent Planned Parenthood controversy, it seems fitting to highlight another top rebel bastard from the Shortwave hall of fame: Margaret Sanger. Witnessing her mother die after 18 childbirths was enough to turn young Margaret into a nurse and woman’s health advocate for the rest of her life. She had 3 children herself then began her activist work in Greenwich Village circa 1910 where she started launching pamphlets with intriguing titles such as “Family Limitation” and “What every girl should know”.

Margaret Sanger’s personal style has recently come back into fashion

After founding the flagrantly feminist paper “Woman Rebel” she subsequently went back and forth between the US and Europe dodging obscenity laws. After controversy had died down, she decided to reignite it by opening the first birth control clinic in the United States. She continued to open clinics and lecture widely for the rest of her life.

Reading her biographical information, it’s clear that Sanger’s views have been widely twisted and misconstrued in the past few decades since Roe v. Wade’s contentious aftermath.  Sanger’s core belief was that every woman regardless of race or class has the right and the responsibility of complete control over the circumstances of conception. She condemned abortion and euthanasia outright, and while she did advocate for the improvement of the human race through better breeding, she opposed the brand of eugenics that promotes ethnic cleansing. A woman’s individual choice, she believed, was the only solution.

However there are many examples of her falling short of modernity. She believed, for example, that only “[the] feeble-minded, idiots and morons” should be forcibly prevented from reproducing or immigrating to the US. This was actually not so controversial for the times. Mostly people were just concerned she was talking to women about “hoo-has and caterpillars” . Because once the word got out, thousands of women were clamoring for Sanger to provide information on how to prevent unwanted pregnancy; posing a clear threat to the male control over medical information access. We all know that women talking in secret about their hoo-has has more than once been the harbinger of a revolution. But in reality this threat was minimal. The Victorian cultural hangover didn’t stop with Margaret Sanger, she was still doing her part to keep it alive and well.

“In my experience as a trained nurse while attending persons afflicted with various and often revolting diseases, no matter what their ailments, I have never found any one so repulsive as the chronic masturbator…In the boy or girl past puberty, we find one of the most dangerous forms of masturbation, i.e., mental masturbation, which consists of forming mental pictures, or thinking obscene or voluptuous pictures.This form is considered especially harmful to the brain, for the habit becomes so fixed that it is almost impossible to free the thoughts from lustful pictures”

Pearl Jam revitalized important myths about the real causes of hairy palms and teen acne

Truly, there are few things more horrifying than the never-ending picture show of exciting lustful images that infect the brain and paralyze the nervous system. The author of this post herself had, at one time, such a terrible affliction which left her deaf and dumb after perpetually picturing people engaged in fornication. Her system was in such a state of shock she was unable to even blink or swallow her own saliva. However after a thorough exorcism by a local papal official – and being educated by Pearl Jam’s Vitalogy album -I’m proud to say I was back to normal, thinking only of ponies, rainbows, and how to make the best four-layer cake in the girlscout troop.

But while I was busy dreaming of ponies and rainbows, the boys were busy trying to impregnate me, and that’s where Sanger came in again. Planned Parenthood continues to be a source of education and medical access to  women and families all over the country from a wide variety of backgrounds. Nobody has done more than Planned Parenthood to educate and serve the public on these matters.

It was only the turn of the century when Sanger was daring to talk openly about rubbing one out, why having 10+ babies is irrational and stupid, and why the pull-out method is for suckers. That makes her unequivocally “Top Rebel Bastard of the Year”. The fact that her legacy continues to allow millions of people to take control of their reproductive future is a testament to the strength of her core message. As Planned Parenthood is currently battling access to federal funding for their services, please take the opportunity to support Planned Parenthood in any way that you can, even if it’s just giving props to Mag-Sang on your next status update.


 


LAS VEGAS, it is said, is like Hollywood except no movies get made and you end up with gambling debt and an addiction to hookers.

photo by Christopher Chan

welcome, big spender

At least that’s what I said, when I spent New Years Day on the strip during a long layover on my route back home. I had been to Las Vegas before, but not for 10+ years. It was a real treat. There’s no “shame” in Las Vegas – it’s like being Catholic never happened. The indulgence starts the minute you step off the plane, where you are greeted by slot machines and a large billboard that says “What happens here stays here (just a reminder)”. Thank you, Nevada Tourism Bureau. Let the debauchery begin.

Due to time constraints, I opted out of the wide availability of sex workers and went straight to the gambling. Drinking tequilla, eating tacos and playing slots at the Luxor, to be precise. It was the perfect way to bring in the New Year. The Luxor hotel – featuring a gigantic pyramid and sphinx – had all the glorious fake trappings of Egypt that I fondly remember it having. Plus it was a good reminder that I too am living in a dying empire of imperial wealth and opulent greed.

I didn’t do much beyond that – I wanted my wallet to remain fat with christmas cash after all. But the sights were cartoonishly stimulating, and the people watching was top-notch. Dubai – clearly the Vegas of the Middle East – may have taller buildings and more outlandish theme parks, but it still has nothing on Vegas. There’s no pretense of higher culture here, no underlying disapproval of moral permissiveness.

The broad-shouldered Italian fellow I talked to at the Info desk summed it up pretty well. When posed the question – “What’s the difference between old Vegas and new Vegas?”  He answered thoughtfully. “Well, old Vegas was run by the East Coast mob…and the new strip was built to celebrate the West Coast mob taking over”.

Vegas, where shame goes to die.

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