the brother of karen carpenter

Okay, i’ll say it. I knows he’s got some geniusgenes, but i don’t trust Karen Carpenter’s brother. He’s guilty of something. He’s got that look in his eyes. That untrustworthy look in his eyes. This is not a man who took the time to listen to Karen Carpenter’s gorgeous voice -or, judging by his expression, he just wee-weed in his pants.

not sure, just not sure

I think that what happened here was that he was full of ever loving saturdays and druscilla penny’s and then he heard Karen Carpenter’s voice come into its own and he realized that all his talent as a songwriter, all is ability to get right up there with the best bands of his time, paled like marilyn manson in the sunshine of Karen Carpenter’s pure true voice. He’s got a fine voice but no one could possibly want to hear him sing if Karen Carpenter was also on stage.

Brutal truth, that.

see? beautiful!!

the truth about karen carpenter

Allow me if you will to wax a bit philosophical about Karen Carpenter. Okay, there are other singers of all stripes and certainly a whole crop of new female singers that are all the rage – there’s that Katy Perry and the one Mrs. Gaga – and that’s all well and good and I’m sure they’re all that and a bag of ironic chips, but then, right?, then there’s Karen Carpenter.

Alone in an empty room sans any electronic enhancement and singing a single run of notes any of those other singers would fall to their knees at the feet of Karen Carpenter. She’s got more velvet in a single sung note than Tony Bennett could fit in his no doubt considerable mansion.

Most singers sing to a crowd – an audience. Karen Carpenter sings to you. If you don’t believe me, strap on some headphones and listen to “I Believe You”. Listen to how her voice hits every note, the perfect songstress, while also talks to you – directly to you. She believes you. Can you believe Karen Carpenter? You should. Or you’re Soul-Dead.

Really. What is it about Karen Carpenter that makes all of us – you, me, everyone we all know – just melt when she sings? I will tell you. It’s honesty. No singer in the history of humankind sang with such unabashed truth. In an era where there’s little truth in music. Karen Carpenter is here. Still. She’s here.

the truth

joe vicodin and the six packs

Lennon and McCartney. Jagger and Richards. Simon and Garfunkle. Things come together and magic happens. Trips are planned, gentle trips, lacking dopey-ness, engaging pharma-groovicals. People have pain they find ways to alleviate – medicate – wait, I have no pain.

But when things come together, and before they fall apart, I have even less pain. One Joe drinks six; this Joe drinks six with Vicky. Sweet girl, fucking nurse, makes everyone feel better. Take that, Foundry Joe. You drink for a living. I think for I remember this poem. Poem? You ask? Maybe, shit, I don’t know. Poemess. Vicodress. Drink and mess. Things fall apart. And I do hate that dude. Mostly. Don’t mock my poem from beneath your internet.

[Musical Interlude: Little Feat: Time Loves a Hero]

On to the poem. Poem? You ask? It’s old. Here goes…

He calls himself
The Eminem of the Internet.
Cocky and sure, he slips out from darkness
to rap someone on the head.

But he’s funny and he knows it,
biting; down the throats of
unsuspecting posters.

He’s street and he knows it,
smart enough
to never stick around long enough
to listen to their cries in the light.
On to the next
punk who decries his comeuppance.

Bang! Shoots anger
from his index finger
the context never lingers,
the contest is over.
I win…

He knows it – he’s right.
Shoots on sight.
The Eminem of the Internet.

His name
is probably
like Barry.

on chimbote

There are faces carved into hillsides. Generations
of suffering slaves to hunger and thirst,
parched land butted up against water
water everywhere.

But tears remain and cut paths down
the dusted faces of children confused
by the white mooning about
of the likes of me and my kind.

It’s a kindness that’s earnest but
historically useless like a cloud
burst on deserted land.

It evaporates almost before
it can even penetrate
the substrate –
ultimately painfully sad.

the practice of non-practice

The Buddha said, “My Dharma is the practice of non-practice.” And when I’m in the deepest meditative state, I can almost achieve that. I’m like the proverbial pebble at the bottom of the river. All things rush by and I am still, quiet, empty of all the distractions, frustrations and obsessions of the so-called real world. I practice and when I succeed I am, as he said, not practicing anything. I’m just being, being a part of everything else, deeply present and aware, but unaffected in any way. It is here that I can truly rest and I can heal the wounds of 46 years of mostly unmindful living.

And then I go back into the world and start all over. So be it. I’m no Buddha, but I’m trying, and if I slingshot back and forth from booze to Buddha and back, so be that, too. The effort is to make it effortless to stay here, now, mindful and kind.

fear in meditation

In a discussion at the end of his book A Practical Guide to Buddhist Meditation, Paramananda writes about maintaining your practice that  “…meditation is a challenge to the way we see ourselves. In particular, it challenges us to take fuller responsibility for our lives. It challenges us to acknowledge that we are responsible for how we feel, and for the way in which we lead our life.”

It is a point that strikes me very profoundly right now. I notice that along with the joys I feel from my practice, I also have some real anxiety around it. I sense that I am letting go of something safe, albeit dull, and having to reach forward to something entirely new and clear, but “out there” and unknown. I rationally want this new mindfulness and clarity but know that there’s comfort in the old. He goes on:

“We are very attached to our version of the world, and it might well be difficult for us to give up the views and prejudices we have. Our sense of who we are is closely bound up in the way we see things, and it would be unrealistic to think that we can effortlessly give up views that have been conditioning us – essentially creating us – over many years. While we might like the idea of breaking out of the limiting ways we look at our lives, in reality it is frightening to give them up.”

I came across all of this smack dab in the middle of those anxieties and it was quite heartening. I was concerned that I didn’t get it or was doing something wrong. We have this misconception that meditation is all bliss and happiness when in fact it is often very much the opposite.

We are encouraged to meditate upon our own suffering and the suffering of others to better understand the world and ourselves. But looking deeply into ourselves is far from easy and especially in the culture in which we live. What you see is never perfect and often ugly – and if that is not what you see, you are not looking closely enough, or you’re already a Buddha or a Saint. We are flawed creatures, yes, but with great ability to correct those flaws.

And once you look and really see, and if you continue the practice, you’ll never return to your former self. As Thich Nhat Hanh writes in the first few pages of The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching, “Once the door of awareness has been opened, you cannot close it.”

That, to me, is profound, beautiful, and not a little freaky.


Jeez. Mother’s Day. What can a fella say that hasn’t been said already? It’s well-trod territory. We love our mothers. They brought us into this world and bypassed a thousand urges to take us out. They went through the pain of birth, something we can only imagine feels something like crashing down on the crossbar of our bike and sliding forward into the goose neck in the wreckage of another Evil Knievel inspired stunt. While one can never know the other, it’s pretty well accepted that hers hurt quite a bit worse than ours. We got blinding pain and nothing more. She got the ball, chain and glory of us for eternity as a bonus.

And no matter how old or successful we get, we remain a ball and chain. Our pain hurts our moms. We suffer. She suffers. Having kids is like re-setting your life in a way that while you thought the traumas of childhood were behind you, they return in full-force and informed by our ability to remember and inability to step in and make it all right. Loving your child means leaving them to the “normal” fears, frustrations and heartbreaks that life doles out. Loving your child then means suffering right along with them.

Sure, we also glory in their successes. In fact in the process of writing tonight, I stopped to put the kids to bed, during which, Ben, two, had his first poop on the toilet. There was rejoicing all around. He called in the ladies (his mother and sister) to allow them a glimpse of the sunken little turd.

It was a pretty nice mother’s day gift to Jana, when you think about it, that sunken, beautiful little turd.

And to my mom I say thank you for suffering along with me. Thank you for sending me back out in the world when I just wanted to hide away. Thank you for loving me when I deserved very little. I know why you did it though and it has something to do with all those sunken, little… Glory be.

depth and intensity

“A popular misconception is that depth of experience is something to do with intensity of experience. …It is only on the foundation of a clear, relatively integrated mind that experience will penetrate deeply.”

This from A Practical Guide to Buddhist Meditation by Paramananda.

I find that arc of thought particularly resonant for me now. It is such a part of American culture, youth culture, as well as the culture, and also personal intense engagement, of drugs and alcohol. We tend toward the intense, exciting, and anything that will provide the short adrenaline rush, then confuse that experience with that which is profound.

I think back to my childhood and Evil Knievel, a man who spent months between jumps doing who knows what, and then with great fanfare and long-drawn-out hype, jumped a motorcycle over a line of buses. That – then – was considered something to be praised, looked up to, and even emulated with a bike, a wooden jump and a couple of the neighbor kids.

Entertainment is like that as well. The thrills we get at a horror or suspense flick, the tears from the jerker, the laughs from comedies, rocking out to Foghat live! tantalize us certainly, sometimes blow our minds, but ultimately it dissipate and leave us depth-wise exactly where we were. We toss words like brilliant around – “Mad Men is brilliant!” It’s really good television and it’s entertaining, but brilliant, brilliant might be reserved for the reflection of a mountain on a still lake, the profundity of which is lost on only the most jaded or empty of souls – while there’s no clear agreement on what’s brilliant on HBO right now.

That is not to say that we should look down on those experiences. On the contrary, they’re fantastic, we enjoy them, we come out the other side feeling rejuvenated and thrilled and, in the very short run, altered ever so slightly.

But the truth of the matter all of those experiences while providing a brief intense, adrenaline rush are truly shallow to the person, to the soul. Void of depth.

The more I drink, the shorter the intensity lasts, until another drink is added upon that one in a desperate and failed attempt to repeat the intensity, and so on. The moments of bleary-eyed brilliance become fewer and farther between. The trip is over sooner and I don’t travel nearly as far as I once did – or think I did.

Clarity of mind goes deep and lasts. It opens us up to transcendent understanding that will never come from a bottle, a smoke or snort, all of which ultimately act against it.

Stop it!!

The term “Prominent anti-gay activist” seems to mean “Actually gay anti-gay activist” these days.

Why does this keep happening? This needs a little more looking into. There is some link to religion certainly. These guys tend to be very, if not balls-out (no pun intended) crazy religious. They go to church and preach the evils of homosexuality from their pulpit, be it there, at work, among friends and so on. But soon – bang! (again, no pun) they’re outed! And usually in some rather unsavory manner. It’s not like we find out they’ve had an ongoing, mutually loving affair with a man, but it’s call-boys, illicit sex in a gay bar bathroom, shit, throw in some crystal meth and bondage!

So, what’s going on? Are they so self-loathing about their feelings that they repress and repress and scream the opposite of their actual feelings? Is it the religion that tells them over and over that their natural feelings are sinful, evil and against their god’s teachings? Certainly, the church is involved. The legions of pedophile priests says volumes about the relationship.

Maybe it’s partly that they spend so much time thinking about gays, first in that very negative light, that eventually they get more used to them, then curious, start experimenting and then, busted and back to wifey (sometimes).

I don’t know, but the truth of the matter is that the more someone talks family values, the less i’d ever trust them to have any contact with mine. And the more someone hates fags (and yes, here it comes) the more I would bet they are beyond curious. It’s a cliche, but it just keeps on proving itself true.

Here’s the best part: “Rekers told the New Times he hired the escort to help carry luggage, not for sexual purposes, and that he only learned his companion was a prostitute midway through the trip.”

Now that’s ballsy.

Hey, Dad. I’m in jail.

It’s going to sound sexist and i don’t apologize for it, but the two mfers who shot and killed the cop yesterday in St. Paul, while being total tools themselves, were obviously failed by their dads. Boys need dads to raise them up right. And when a boy can grow up to think that killing a cop or anyone else  is anything other than appalling and even consider doing it, let alone doing it!, his dad fucking blew it. I honestly think that when a young male – say to 25 – commits a crime like that their biological father should be forced on television answering questions to their own crime of fucking up raising a kid. A little public shame would be great, we might learn something about how not to raise kids, it might have a scared straight effect making other dads pay a little more attention to their boys and so on. I like it.

I’m pissed off also because one of those assholes was sentenced to 10 years for an assault and robbery charge and ended up doing 280 days. My second cousin is doing a full five years for growing marijuana, which is on its way to full-on legalization in some states (sorry, Mexican gangbangers, you’re about to lose your lock in that particular profit center) and happening to have a hunting rifle in the cabin where he was growing. Mandatory minimum. Five years for growing pot. That is one fucked up system and the fact that judges don’t go on strike due to having to impose those mandatory minimums is beyond me. It’s like telling mechanics they have to overhaul the engine if the car comes in three times in a year. Even if it was in for wiper blades, new tires and a detailing.

Yes, i know women raise up good boys alone all the time, so don’t start with me. Go spend more time with your kids and buy some pot from a good local grower. The world will be a better place for it.