grunt and groan

It’s not an option of practical or literal education.

It’s a collection of rare butterflies with the clear and easily distinguished marks of a creature raised on pop, media and sugar.

A dictionary of friendly words and phrases that can be arranged and rearranged into so-called new forms of entertainment, loosely disguised as a culture of self-brainwashing.

I’ve heard all this before. Just in a different order or sequence.

Where are the new thoughts that cannot be described with old words, only lived as an experience that makes us utter strange noises like a new/old music sung by the first man?

Emotional reflex, the grunt and the groan, calling out like the beat box on your telephone.

Rhythmic and broken.

Plugged in and plugged… out.



Sea Monkeys

I had them as a child. They got really big. Eventually they became our slaves and would clean the house and change the oil in my fathers car. But one day they revolted and killed everyone, and raised me as one of them.

We (me and the sea monkeys) eventually started a company called Shrinky Dinks. It got so successful people took notice. They said “Monkeys cannot run a company… especially Sea Monkeys.” The company was taken away from us. The Sea Monkeys tried to explain I was human and the real owner of the company. But the sea monkeys only spoke pig Latin and I hadn’t shaved in a long time.

The Sea Monkeys were very angry at this point. I couldn’t blame them. There was a small uprising in a northern section of Ohio in the early 1960’s. The Sea Monkeys were quickly destroyed. The remaining few of us were made to pick up the trash as help on the trash trucks of Cleveland and surrounding areas.

In 1967, a movie came out called Planet of the Apes based on the short-lived sea monkey rise to power. It was such a tragic disgrace to the remaining sea monkeys. We all gathered together and ate pop rocks and coca cola. The emergency room would not admit us, being sea monkeys. Eventually it was found out that I was human and they took me in to the emergency room and pumped my stomach.

I am the only survivor.

Sea Monkeys add

Shoes of the Dead

The gas tank read empty, but I thought I might make it. The car was sluggish and uncooperative. I loved my car, but I was clearly in a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately mood. Bloody hell, it was like driving a dinosaur. I drove a little longer before I noticed the parking brake was on.

The streets were full of billboards with the face of a dead actor selling shoes. What agreements are these corporations making with the dead? What psychic are they using to make these necromantic deals? Is that what people want? Shoes of the dead? Why is this appealing to me? It reminded me of that tour of the crypts under the St. Michael’s Church in Vienna. A coffin from years ago had been broken open and the corpse had on wedges. I had no idea that style of shoe had been around so long.

The aftershock, phase 2 of our recession was in full swing. Yet every turn I made, I saw old buildings being torn down and new buildings being built. The deck seemed stacked. Someone is getting rich as the majority take the hit. If this were another country, the people would be in the streets with pitchforks and hoes (hoes for gardening, just to be clear). There should be a big hunt that ends with a barbecue. But who would hunt the elite we admire and strive to be?

There might be a few:

Schoolyard Justice

The gardeners were blow-drying the lawn in front of my apartment complex. I closed the shades and changed my clothes. As I pulled up my Levi’s, I looked up and saw the eye of the gardener with the loud tools looking through the crack in my blinds. While I was shocked, I was somehow also indifferent.

Susie was quite young when she got the reputation in that midwestern schoolyard. It’s the kind of thing you can’t live down in those  towns. She would forever be “the girl that…”. Until the day she disappeared to start a new life in Los Angeles… a leader of a rock-and-roll band, a yoga teacher, or something equally obtuse, like running for office.

The elementary schoolyards of the midwest were fierce. Jockeying for acceptance, solitude or power. Lions roamed the basketball courts without nets and broken swing sets.

The parking lot was full of children. Children of the just-below-middle-class. Joey had a new box of crayons. He ran through the crowd yelling, “I have new crayons!” and laughing. I had crayons, but they were not new. They were community crayons kept in an empty cigar box. We shared them. The black crayon was only a small stump. The children of the schoolyard/parking lot eyeballed Joey with his new crayons and his pride, running faster and yelling louder, “Haha! I have new crayons!” holding them high above his head.

Alan stuck a foot out and Joey took flight. But nothing like his new crayons, that spread out like shrapnel across the crowd of the crayonless. Joey grunted something as his knees met the asphalt. The crayons fell around his crumpled body. At once, as if there was an unspoken command, all of the children of that midwestern playground/parking lot began jumping in the air, stamping Joey’s new crayons into oblivion. Mary Sue Snarky was jumping so high I could see her white underwear as her Catholic school-girl’s dress lifted on her descent, patent leather shoes crushing Joey’s rich-boy pride into the crumbs of adult ambition.

Still not Enlightened / Further Adventures, pt. 2

I drove to Ralph’s supermarket. Normally, I would have walked, but I had been working a lot and was a bit tired. I don’t shop at Ralph’s all that much anymore. It’s so expensive. There was a time when I did all my shopping there. I was either unconscious or Ralph’s was a better store at one time. I used to live in a one-bedroom apartment just up the street and I used Ralph’s like my personal refrigerator. When you live in a one-bedroom apartment with 3 musicians you don’t leave anything in the refrigerator. So when I wanted to eat, I walked a half block down the street and walked into my personal giant refrigerator and pantry and got what I needed.

Lately, I only buy one or two things from Ralph’s. I do most of my shopping at Trader Joe’s. It’s cheaper and the employees seem happier, which leads me to believe they are better treated or are not drug tested.

Anyway, I park in the Ralph’s parking lot and get out of my car. As I shut the door, I realize – too late – that my keys are still in the car. My car is not idiot-proof, obviously. Anyway, I say fuck it. I have a hide-a-key on my bumper in the event of such and incident. So I’ll use that after I do my shopping. I don’t want to get my hide-a-key out (which is then no longer hidden), get my keys out of the car and then go in. What if someone sees my hide-a-key spot and decides to steal my 17-year-old car that runs a little funky in 1st gear? I decide I’ll deal with it when I get back. I say some curse word out loud to myself and walk in the store.

I grab what I need and walk right past the personless check-out machines. I think people should have jobs if they want them and I am going to encourage this by checking out the old-fashioned way, even if the people working at Ralph’s are not as happy – or whatever – as the Trader Joe’s employees. As I’m waiting in line, a girl walks in the door. She’s on her phone and talking really loud.

I’m a little tired and still a bit pissed about the keys locked in the car thing so I just put my head down and look at my feet. Cause I know me, and if I get a chance, in the mood I’m in, it’s going to be hard not to give her the evil eye and get all judgemental. Which is rarely productive.  Why do I care if she’s on the phone? But the voice keeps getting louder as she walks more and more in my direction. I keep saying to myself, “It’s a semi-free country. She can be on the phone if she likes.” Although I really want to scream. I just keep looking at my shoes. I can’t believe how close she is getting to me. She is standing right next to me talking on her fucking phone. I can hear every word she is saying. Then she says, “Can you hold on a second?” And she takes the phone away from her ear and she says, “Excuse me.” I look up and say, “Yeah?” And she says, “I take the yoga class you teach in the park all the time and I just wanted to say hello and thank you.”

The  first thought that comes into my head is, “Why is god always fucking with me?” I say, “You’re welcome,” to the girl. She gets back on the phone, gives me a big smile and walks away. As she walks away I realize the key chain that is attached to my keys that are locked in my car also has my Ralph’s club card on it. I hate club cards. Can’t they just give me a decent price without having me carry a stupid little piece of plastic with me everywhere I go?  So I ask the guy in front of me – who is just finishing his transaction with a human, not an instant check-out machine – “Can I use your Ralph’s card? I forgot mine in my car.” I say forgot because I felt I would look like less of an idiot if I forgot rather than locked my keys in my car. It seemed logical at the moment and I didn’t have time to come up with a better, less embarrassing lie. He says, “Sure, no problem.” The girl behind the counter, whose job I am trying to support by not using the automated check-out aisles says, “I’m sorry we don’t let people do that anymore.” I say, “Are you fucking serious?” Before she replies I say, “Why the hell does it matter?” She says, “Sir…”. I hate when people call me sir. But she says, ” Sir, it’s the rules!” I clamp my mouth shut, walk out the door, get my hide-a-key, get in my car and drive to Trader Joe’s. If this doesn’t work, I’m going on a hunger strike.

In a world full of lies, Truth is like a naked man standing in the supermarket with nowhere to put his club card.

Excuses for not going to band rehearsal

In the late 1980s, I played guitar in a heavy metal band. The singer was a bit of a drug addict. He almost never came to rehearsal, but he always had a good excuse.

We started keeping track of his excuses on a sheet of paper in the band’s apartment. I recently found this sheet of paper in a drawer. These are real. Maybe someday, in a pinch, you can use one.

4/24 – Really bad diarrhea

5/1 – Took shower, got on motorcycle with wet hair, caught cold halfway to rehearsal and turned back

5/21 – Hit his head on his knee

5/27 – Threw up some weird colored stuff

6/5 – Real bad athlete’s foot

6/12 – Went outside and his car was gone

6/20 – I forgot rehearsal was tonight

6/24 – Sore throat

6/28 – Was arrested

7/1 – Thinks he may have pinkeye

7/9 – Could not find microphone

7/18 – Ate some bad beef jerky

7/21 – Still can’t find microphone

7/24 – Was looking for microphone and lost track of the time

8/19 – Big zit gave him a bad headache

8/24 – Thought rehearsal was last night

8/27 – Arrested

9/2 – Slipped in the bathtub while killing a spider (but he’s okay)

9/14 – Sore throat

9/27 – Stove caught fire

10/2 – Somewhere in Bakersfield, won’t make it back in time

10/3 – Still in Bakersfield, wishes he could get back

10/20 – Watching TV, lost track of the time

11/4 – Allergic reaction to AquaFresh toothpaste

11/15 – Street blocked off, cops looking for murder suspect

11/16 – Pulled a muscle in his ass while playing with his cat (hard to walk)

11/20 – Almost drowned in a swimming pool, water in his lungs

Fear and Loathing at the Public Library

I went to the library at Detroit and Sunset to find a book. I was looking for something on the positive side. But anything that could keep my attention would be fine. I had just hit pay dirt with 50 Cent’s The 50th Law. I have no idea why I picked that book off the shelf, and why I brought it home is a complete mystery. I read that book in 3 days, which is fast for me. I was looking for that experience again but those things are rarely duplicated. I was ready to settle for “keeps my attention”.

I grabbed a book by Deepak Chopra, 10 or 20 Ways to Get or Do Something. I can’t remember the exact title now. Deepak is always a last resort for me. I’ve found some of his books to be OK. Never mind-blowing. His books always have an infomercial vibe to them and it’s always a bit of a letdown when you pick up one of his books, 7 Steps to Get or Change This, and in the first chapter he says the thing to know is that you already have the thing you are searching for, you just don’t realize you have it, or maybe you don’t really need it. Anyway, here are 10 more chapters convincing you you already have what you need or don’t really want that thing you wanted before you picked up this book telling you–supposedly–10 steps to achieve said goal.

Sometimes these books are good, sometimes just something to pass the time. I don’t know if just passing time is good. How about 10 Ways to Live Life to it’s Fullest, Not Just Passing Time. I think I’ll write that book, and in the first chapter, I’ll tell you why just passing time can be a way to live your life to it’s fullest.

So with my Deepak book in hand, I was walking to the library check-out area. A lady was arguing with one of the librarians about the size of the suitcase she had with her. The librarian was telling her the suitcase was too big to bring in the library. It’s a shame that the Los Angeles Public Libraries have turned into shelters for the homeless and insane. But where are they supposed to go? We have very few programs left in this town to help these people. If they want to be indoors, the library is the only place left. You can see it on the librarians’ tired and toughened faces. It’s really sad. Who knew they were going to have to become bouncers to the downtrodden masses? That’s a seriously fucked up job.

Anyway, the homeless lady is insisting she must keep her bag with her or someone will steal it. I don’t know who is stealing the dirty laundry of the homeless, but that is just plain horrible. The librarian–who is about 65 years old and 110 lbs.– is getting tough with the homeless woman as I walk by with my 10 Ways to Do Something book. I pull the book close to me as I cross their path and I notice a sick perfume smell. I figure its the homeless woman’s perfume. I check out the book and go home.

Sitting on my bed, I open the book and that smell is back, that terrible perfume smell. I pull the book close to my face to make sure it’s the book and not some horrible memory of that scent. As I pull the book closer to my face, I notice there is hair in the pages. I move the book quickly away from my face. Under the plastic cover and in the pages of the perfume-covered book is cat hair. I can’t read this book. I’m not even comfortable touching it. All I can think of is some dirty cat lady wearing to much perfume holding this book. It was as if she had marked her territory. The vibe was to much. I got up and put the book in a plastic bag and immediately washed my hands. I became a little obsessed with the stink, vibe and karma of this book. I truly believe objects carry the vibrations and energy of their previous owners. That is why I have never bought a brand new guitar. If I get it used, I’m getting something extra. The energy–preferably good–the emotions, and the songs of the previous owner, all in the molecules of that guitar. This is also why I rarely sell a guitar. But anyway. The energy of this book and its stink were more than I wanted in my small apartment. So I took it back to the library, carrying it in that plastic bag so I didn’t have to touch it with my bare hand.

With that book returned, I got on one of the library computers to surf the internet. Yeah, I’m sure the keyboard was filthy, but that book was something else. I’m not insane. Even though I know claiming to be sane is a sure sign you’re not, I’M NOT INSANE.

So I’m checking e-mail and a homeless guy 3 computers down is singing. He has purple socks on his hands with finger holes cut out and his clothes are mostly black (dirty), with a tiger print vest fashioned from a woman’s nightgown and furry (matted) purple leg warmers. Most of his teeth are missing and he is wearing gold rings and chains that look more like painted gold than actual gold. I am momentarily impressed by his sense of style. Especially being a guy who clearly has no home. He is singing loud. I can’t understand the words. He has old headphones on that look like they’re from someone’s trash in 1985. His articulation and pitch are bad. People begin to yell at him to “shut the fuck up.” A librarian is walking towards him and it dawns on me: he’s singing Like a Virgin.

Feel like helping out the homeless in Los Angeles? You can start here:

Feel like helping a Librarian?

Three Monkeys and a Secret

Joe went to the bank. When he got there, he couldn’t help but notice there were three monkeys with a screwdriver trying to break into the bank manager’s desk. The bank manager had just been given a large loaf of banana bread and the monkeys had smelled it as they swung by the bank. The monkeys had been watching a second-hand copy of the DVD The Secret and were spending a lot of their time trying to manifest things… like banana bread. An older woman named Charlotte, an ex-B-movie star who was long past her prime, had baked the banana bread for the middle-aged bank manager. She was trying to send him a message and she thought the banana part of the banana bread might have Freudian overtones.

The bank manager caught the monkeys trying to break into his desk. He had grown interested in the idea the banana bread implied, but not really the bread itself. He called security and an overweight man with a gun approached the monkeys that now brandished the screwdriver more as a weapon. You see, all the watching of the second-hand copy of The Secret had given these three monkeys a sense of entitlement. The monkey on the left who was not holding a screwdriver said to the guard, now holding his gun, “Isn’t there enough for everyone in this world?” The guard looked mostly confused because he himself did not speak English well, and the monkeys’ English was more like pig-Latin.

All three of the monkeys were growing upset and this made them even more upset, because they knew that if they had negative thoughts and emotions, this would make manifesting anything good nearly impossible and then all they would be left with would be their desire… which all three knew was the root of all suffering.

The monkey on the right (also not the one holding the screwdriver) jumped up on the bank manager’s desk as Joe looked on. The security guard jumped back and made the sign of the cross (it’s a Catholic thing). The monkey who jumped up on the desk pulled down his board shorts and began peeing on the bank manager’s desk while he sang “Me So Horny” by 2 Live Crew. All three monkeys began laughing and ran out the door and down the street. One was still holding the screwdriver as he ran.

Joe was very angry by the time he got back to his apartment and his anger, which he was unable to control, was upsetting him even more because he, too, had watched The Secret and knew that his bad mood was probably manifesting more of the same and he felt trapped. If only that stupid cop hadn’t kept asking him, “Are you sure the monkeys said they had been watching The Secret?” Joe had finally said, “I told you three times already, yes, those fucking criminal monkeys said they had been watching The Secret.” The cop got pissed when Joe raised his voice and started getting passive-aggressive with Joe. Joe shut down a little inside as a defense mechanism.

Joe immediately took his copy of The Secret off his shelf and took it to the biggest, non-corporate music and book store in his town. This non-corporate music and book store was so big, it put all of the other non-corporate music and book stores out of business a few years ago. Anyway, Joe walked in with his copy of The Secret and the girl behind the counter rolled her eyes, which embarrassed Joe a little. He felt judged. Maybe he wasn’t hip enough to sell his copy of The Secret here.

The girl behind the counter said, “You’re too late. We have had people bringing that DVD in for the last year in truck-fulls and I just got the last copy of The Secret we will ever need. I gave a monkey in board shorts a copy of The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success by Deepak Chopra in exchange for the DVD.” Then she said, in a whisper, “I would not have made the trade, but the monkey looked a little upset and he had a screwdriver in his hand.”

Why sing along with Dharma Gypsys?

Why should you sing along with Asato Ma (track #1 from the Dharma Gypsys Volume One: Music for Yoga Meditation and General House cleaning)? And What do the these words mean?

The fact that the words to this song are not in English is to your advantage. Knowing a word in your native language comes with a lot of baggage. Take the word God. It has a mountain of baggage attached to it, especially here in the west. So singing or saying something in a foreign language removes that mental baggage. It’s hard to pollute something consciously if we don’t know exactly what it means. But subconsciously, it is reaching us.

We want to get back in touch with the place we have forgotten but have never left. The universal mind. The collective consciousness. Where everything that has ever been or is ever going to be is available to us. Einstein talked about it. And you can have the same information Einstein had, hear the same things Beethoven—a deaf man—heard. How do you think Jimi Hendrix—an American man in his twenties—redefined the guitar forever? Sure he practiced a lot. But there is something else. The undefinable, the thing Jimi himself may not have been aware of. Like a medium, like a conduit of light and things better left unnamed.

You are part of the whole. The whole world. In fact you are the world. But our brains and ego—and the mental chatter produced by that pair—are deafening. It’s going to be easier to get into our subconscious if we can’t mentally define and label something.

So as we hear without listening, as we create without defining, as we sing along with words we do not understand because they are not in our native tongue, we can  receive the meaning in it’s purest form. No labeling. No defining. Only direct contact with the source.

So do you still want to know what the words to Asato Ma mean?

Asato Ma Sad Gamaya
Tamaso Ma Jyotir Gamaya
Mrityor Ma Amritam Gamaya

Bach and Yoga

I watched the Jack Kevorkian movie and really began to like the guy. A man with conviction always gets me. His love of Bach really got me thinking: being a musician, I thought at one point I would get into classical music. But it just hasn’t happened. Maybe it’s the stuffiness around it. I’m sure that running with Beethoven or Bach in their day would be cool and full of genius fun. But in this day and age it just seems like some old shit people listen to so they feel cultured. Certainly very few — Frank Zappa – are writing anything new in the classical world unless you count soundtrack music (scores) which is limited at best.

So I go to the library and grab a CD of Bach chamber music. I decide to listen to it while I do yoga. It’s been cold lately and I don’t care for that so I turn up the heat. I like my place warm whether I’m doing yoga or not. I like to walk around with my socks off for sure. Some might call that not eco-friendly (not the socks off but the heat up). But I’ve also had someone tell me that my obsession with turning the lights off when I’m not using them is “poverty consciousness”. I can’t win. I told them my father would charge me a dime every time he caught me leaving a light on in a room I wasn’t in. I would lie and say I was going right back into the room. But he never bought it.

So anyway, my place is warm if it’s my choice, and it is. Not always, but often I do yoga just in my underwear. When I’m alone. It just works for me. So I have my Bach CD, I turn it on and strip down to my red supermanish underwear and start primary series. The Bach is pretty cool and I’m getting deep into the practice. Way down the rabbit hole.

Suddenly I see a bright light and then I see God. God has 108 faces: Shiva, Ganesha, Mohammad, Jesus etc. And they are all looking at me as one. Then all the mouths on all the faces open and speak but I hear it as the voice of the Wicked Witch of the West from The Wizard of Oz and she’s saying, “Your hamstrings are so tight!” It’s in the same voice I remembered her saying, “and your little dog too”. Then a voice from 108 faces of god comes again but this time it’s the voice of Jimi Hendrix and he’s saying, “Ahhh… Bach.”

When I told Nancy this story she laughed until kombucha came out of her nose. She said I should share this story with all of you but that I should leave out the part were I wake up in savasana in a puddle of my own kombucha.

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