It should be said that I am a lover not a fighter, and what I love most is beauty in any form. However, this can result in... overly high expectations. As a person who too often sits on her pedestal of self-righteous judgment, monitoring how the world is "going down the tubes" and martyring herself on the Hellfire of what she deems contemporary incompetence, the articles of this blog will offer my cynical, social, intellectual, and pop cultural observations, which will both serve to vent my frustrations and-- after some counteraction-- convince me that the human race still has a chance. Sometimes you have to remind yourself that "Life is Beautiful," always was, and always will be, even when it isn't, wasn't or won't seem to be. “I still find each day too short for all the thoughts I want to think, all the walks I want to take, all the books I want to read, and all the friends I want to see.” — John Burroughs (Photo of London Library after the Blitz of 1940).

Tuesday, July 16, 2013


"American Gothic" - Grant Wood

I am tempted to hate the world because...

We sit confused and ravenous in the middle of yet another clashing of wills, reason, and emotion. I refer, of course, to the Zimmerman trial and resulting verdict. The calm façades of our personal front porches have cracked and crumbled under the furious debate of this event, as they do with all moments of such devastation and controversy. The soundtrack of the moment is "uproar," the most disrupting of sounds, which splits the nation apart and proves that there is no "America." Over three-hundred million people live in the United States, all while living in separate countries. The human experience is different for everyone. We are all born. We will all die. We all fall down and scrape our knees. We all respond viscerally to what is around us, the sight, scent, texture, and emotional and intellectual provocations of it. We fall in and out of love. We survive past the point of surviving. We all just are. And we all fear, a fact that infiltrates and disturbs the equality of these aforementioned things, making them feel uneven. In our own private, heavily delineated domains-- our countries within a country, the spaces we share only with those who hold a common ground-- we know that we are justified. We are right in what we feel. Our opinions, our perceptions, our reactions are just, because each man's America raises him with the genuine, albeit different, lashings and scars of a righteous individual.

Because we are all right, we hold the thrones, the torches, the muskets, and the bombs in our personal countries, and we build the proper fortresses to protect us from invasion. To protect our separate spaces, our land, and calculatingly disallow entre to those who do now know what it truly is to be an American. An American of My America. This paranoic fear is not unfounded. Man has proven to be unbelievably, immeasurably imperfect. Even The Holy Bible, which one assumes is the most contested and heavily debated book in the history of the world, despite its glaring inconsistencies and errors, is not "wholly" wrong. Man was designed to destroy himself. If we were to wash ourselves clean, the damage left from the flood would be ourselves. The flickering seconds of peace would be destroyed by each nation's God complex. We want our perception of life to be as we see it, and we cannot abide seeing it any other way. There can be no total co-existence, as such terror disbands the notion of compromise. The virus within each of us that seeks for control will never totally settle on being governed, being policed, nor any form of submission. Nor should we. There is no President, there is no council, there is no counsel to be trusted, because we are all dirty, filthy, liars; we are all mutts, fighting to be the bigger or more imposing dog, so we are not the one eaten.

Woman being arrested in 1920s for wearing a bathing
suit with no leg covering.

 Now, the countries within America have divided into two separate allegiances, as we  always seem to do. The North and the South. The Democrat and the Republican. The Communist and the Loyalist. The Majority and the Minority. The Rich and the Poor. The Gay and the Straight. The Religious and the Damned. Today, we scream blood under the banner of Justice vs. Injustice. Team Trayvon vs. Team American Judiciary System. Both sides have weighed the facts in their own mind and painted the portrait they deem accurate. Existence is "This." Truth is "This." We villainize each other. We point the finger at the bad side. The misled side. The ignorant side. The other side that is inhuman. The other side that is incompatible with liberty. The other side that does not understand freedom nor the cost of it. The other side that is racist. The other side that is misled, misinformed, miserable. The other side that doesn't get it. The other side that protects their chosen martyr, alive or dead.
These two sides seem as if they will forever be apart. Separate time zones. No intranational telephone service. No intranet. No admittance. No sympathy. No understanding. No windows.

If we were to deconstruct ourselves, rise up unified, fresh as babies, with no concept of color, no concept of other, no concept of fear, how long before we handed that "Eden," "Utopia," "Peace," "Unity," over again? How long before the nature of the world affected us: the wind, the weather, the hunger? How long before the nature of man affected us: jealousy, greed, lust? How long can man blindly dance before he feels a fool? How long before he must stop and make structure? How long before a leader is chosen? How long before we split in half deciding whether said leader is one of wisdom or one of ego?

Vietnam stand-off.

If you create a law, man will break it. If you make a commune, Charles Manson will reveal himself. If you speak your mind, you will be combatted. Everyone and every one of these tiny little Americas is right. We are all right. Yet we can't stand together. United, we fall. Is there no untwisting of the bitter conundrum that is us? The U.S? And this alone, before you expand and include the outlanders-- the internationals, the foreign ones, the outlying threats.

Yes, I am tempted to hate the world...

But I don't, because...

The last men and women standing at a dance marathon in
1930s Chicago.

It is difficult to find a bright side in the shadows of our own imposing gesticulations of "I." The internal need for progress is generally met with external resistance. The internal need for security is impeded by outlying forces that are beyond control, disasters both foreign and domestic, natural and unnatural. To counterbalance life's horrors with some level of optimism for future days is a reality unabashedly evasive and out of reach. Making one's life matter, while apologizing for the way one was born, raised, taught, effected, while others are not as you are, is a painful concept many leave untraversed for fear of the rejection and spastic eruptions of hate they will receive upon confession. The young man born into wealth cannot apologize to the panhandler, who cannot apologize to the policeman, who cannot apologize to the convict, who cannot apologize to the judge. Life is one Hell of a brutal tug of war. 

One cannot live without fear. One can only try to conquer it; to win more battles than one loses in the procession of never-ending altercations. Once can only save oneself from moral extermination by love and by art-- two things that may be the same thing. These are the only modes of communication that are not national nor international, but universal. The order of the stars and the planets are a bundle of mesmerizing chaos that continue to draw our attention. The man who communicates a thought shared by another, expressing a level of understanding that was beforehand incomprehensible, gives air to grievance and lets it breathe. The woman that loves and finds herself loved in return and welcomed into an America that is justified by another's inhabitance-- and a world that did not seem to offer such solace-- inherits within her an elevated experience of life. There is comfort in the communications of thoughts, ideas, and senses of being that are not counterintuitive but collaborative, the voice that responds in kind and not with the destructive, bombastic, insecure voice of conflict that fear instigates. This is to take the misshapen pieces of different identities and ideaologies and forge them into one. Forever there will be crack, a scar, to show where the picture was not a picture but a puzzle, and one that can so fragilely be disassembled. It is the willingness to be together that holds a thing together. Even when we are apart.

The Woolworth Four of Greensboro, NC.

Clarity seems an impossible thing to achieve. So too did the New World sound like a fictional place to those who never saw it. So too was a flat earth improbably round. Somehow, we progress despite ourselves. There is a part of man that presses on, trades old mistakes for new, unlearns old prejudices and forgets them in the next generation. We are never totally good. We never solve the riddle of life. Yet in trying to answer, we somehow always improve. There is nothing to do but live, not justly as the law commands, nor humbly as "the Lord" commands, but willingly-- as our brethren secretly plead. See me. Hear me. I am not your villain. I am but trying to live as you, to provide for my family, to pass on the theory that life is worth its harsh brevity. I am another you, in another body, from another America. Do not deprive me of your recognition. Do not size me up nor attach to me a prejudice nor a stigma nor a cliché. Just let me be as you have been. This is all the knowledge of life there is.

Friday, July 5, 2013


Is it just me or do these guys look nonplussed and a little disappointed?


America is a blond bimbo. I can say this, because I actually am a blond bimbo, but I'm a least willing to face it. Now that the Fourth of July is over and we have celebrated our country, its strength, and the blind courage that willed it into existence, we need to toss out the leftover apple pie and dine on more of the humble variety. Never fear, I'm not about to defecate on the 'ol red, white, and blue nor the amber waves of grain. America is awesome (F*ck yeah!) but we too have a lot of poison in our past/present and a lot of things that could use some tweaking. While it took more than a little chutzpah for the initial explorers and settlers to make the pilgrimage from "the continent" to the great unknown, we also kicked a Hell of a lot of people off this land of plenty, because we thought we deserved it more. While the founding fathers had a great passion for independence, freedom, and equality, their government often chose, and still chooses, when to apply those principles to selective groups from time to time (women, racial minorities, homosexuals, etc). Ergo, while we are commendable for the grit, determination, and innovation that we applied to build hope's mere echo of "society" into an actual civilization of commerce and democracy, we can also be gigantic A-holes. (A for America). 

There are no words, really, to express how much I respect this country and what it represents. America was born of both great passion and unstoppable drive. It is a place established by the sweat of the worthy and balanced by the style of the educated. History's favorite forefathers could translate Latin into Greek ambidextrously in some seriously impressive penmanship. The Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the plain letters of correspondence between such intellectuals as Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Ben Franklin, and such major players, remain marvels of literature, if not grammar alone. The truth about America is that it was not "founded." It was not just "established"-- Well, here we are. The land may have been stumbled upon accidentally on purpose, but the United States as we know it was created with specific purpose. It was a predetermined oasis that people believed in before it even existed. It was to be the landing place, not necessarily of the right to live, but the right to live as one chooses-- and without tyranny.

The shackles that were escaped when those brave and lucky SOBs boarded the Mayflower were both literal and figurative. When people discuss the word "Freedom," they often ponder it on too superficial a level. Freedom is not just about a liberated existence in terms of governmental control. Freedom is the liberation of the mind, which fuels the passion of man's heart and equally unleashes his, for lack of a better word, "soul." Freedom is elevation. It is an opportunity to stretch boundaries, discover, and perhaps not so much claim your space as comprehend your place within all of space. It is an admission of humility and a respect for that which is bigger than you. America itself is an idea-- a thinking man's idea. It is an idea that there is or at least should be more to life and that we are worthy of that 'more'; that we should reach for more. The initial formation of America was, therefore, a representation of the fact that the line between intelligent beings and subjugated fools is nothing more than exposure. America was wide open and inviting, and our brazen asses were drawn to its endless possibilities. America was a door opening to an elevated 50 states of being.

Aka challenge your thought processes, because the moment you reach an
immovable conclusion, your evolution has stopped and you are
condemned to the island of perpetual dumbness, dummy.
Thoughts lie if they just lie there.

Explain to me then why we insist on dumbing ourselves down? Why has education taken a serious, serious dive? Why is teaching cursive to children even up for a debate? What the eff (F for Freedom) is going on?!?!?!

There are serious side effects to living in a society that can obtain aforementioned 'elevation' with the simple push of a button. While we have an incredible accessibility to information at our very fingertips, we also take this miracle for granted. Additionally, the superficial playing field of the modern marketplace leaves fewer options for us in terms of fiscal participation. The game has changed, not just because the modern career war is primarily waged in the final frontier of the internet-- which can be navigated by one dude on a laptop with no co-pilot, thus fewer jobs, unemployment, etc-- but then there is the economy to contend with. We need to keep the world turning at an incredibly rapid pace but we are afforded less-than-bountiful compensation. In addition, as the current generations morph into a species built on unhealthy technological co-dependence, the younger members of our clan understandably suffer from agoraphobia-- 3D life outside the box-- when they have to step outside their phones. We are, as always, ill-prepared for what is to become of us, but the present situation-- perhaps because I am being absorbed into the legion of official 30+ adulthood-- seems more profoundly terrifying than the graduation into the workplace that my parents described. 

The debate over the multiple sources of our cultural malaise could be waged all day, but the important problem now is not so much why we're here, but "How do we fix it?" And how do we get smart when the education system isn't able to give proper attention to the kids of the world nor prepare them as best as possible for the ever-in-flux nature of "real life?" (Every teacher in this world needs a gigantic, God damn hug). This above all else shouldn't be ignored. If nothing else, we should be encouraging kids to think so that their minds are as malleable as their every changing environment. I mean, what's gonna happen when they enter the big bad world and have to fend for themselves? By not properly educating our youths, we're not raising survivors nor handing down useful life lessons. We're inadvertently building subservient tools. This way, all the money can continue filtering out to the place it belongs-- loaded pockets-- instead of into things like better learning programs for kids. How are we to foster young minds into ambitious dreamers like Frederick Douglas-- who kicked his own ass so he could possess the greatest of human liberties by educating himself-- when we are reiterating the bare facts and not nurturing young minds? The brain is more than a receptacle for trivia. It is an organism that grows and shapes depending on the access it has to the prospect of "more." That exposure, that expansion: STIMULATION. So much for Galileo, Sir Isaac NewtonEinstein, and Nikola Tesla. With the help of the flaccid government, kids aren't encouraged to dig in to the hows and whys. We're encouraged to grab our diplomas, if we make it that far, and play candy crush. The national conspiracy to keep us dumb may just be the most perfect (and tragic) murder ever. 

"But, what about the children," [she said in a funny voice]. But it's not funny. Seriously. In addition to the economic implications, there's the continuing reference to the fact that the bulk of Gen-Y was raised by what is referred to as "helicopter parents." We wonder why the world is going down the tubes, why "these damn kids today" don't seem to care about anything, have no ambition, have bad attitudes, and think "everything is supposed to be handed to them." Well, it's your own damn fault, America. It's your fault, because you decided that grading is considered too harsh. Competition is deemed unfair. The difficult subjects in school are too hard. Let's rate everybody with moons, hearts, and clovers. (Pause for Arrested Development shout out: "Okay, I know you got a crocodile in spelling, but this has gone too far"). While I'm all for the notion of preaching equality and mutual respect for your peers, I feel like there too should be a bit of impetus to get good grades, and absolutely the fostering of each individual's creativite/intellectual penchants. So, maybe Joe sucks at math and he gets a little irritated when Tom gets another A+. Well, I bet Tom's jealous of Joe's mad guitar skills. No one's gonna die. You don't steal Tom's calculator and give it to Joe; you don't give Tom the guitar. You encourage both to push themselves in all directions so their supple brains are as well-rounded as possible, and you equally support them in indulging their strengths. If you don't, kids are going to stop pushing themselves, because there is no reward for excelling. (Hell, I'd be candy crushin' it too)!

I pledge allegiance to David Bowie, a'cause the man
makes you 'tink.

I have witnessed the results of this tragedy as it manifests in the modern work ethic. While trying to guide the ship of my department with too few hands on deck, I have endured the ineptitude of modern youth's initiation into adulthood close up and personal. I literally can not find anyone to fill the empty positions in my department for the simple reason that no one wants to or is willing to actually work. I've had to sit through countless interviews with dead-eyed applicants whose enthusiasm for the available jobs are non-friggin-existent. I've had to let countless "temps" go, because they are terrified of the telephone, spend their days on Facebook instead of doing work, or act like I've asked for their firstborn child when I've merely requested a photocopy. Work is no longer translated to the youths of "America the Proud" as a natural precursor to livelihood, let alone a bank account, let alone the ever dreamed of "life of plenty." The only plenty we have regards slack. And guess what: it's learned behavior-- the one thing that we've managed to pass on, due to our opinion that education (particularly early ed) is passé.

Basically, we've misconstrued the "Equality" part so prominently symbolized in our very flag. Equality, at the end of the day, is nothing but the immediate permission of exposure and opportunity to all. Unfortunately, too many misread this as, "Everyone be the same now." So, children lagging behind are encouraged to just sit there and be comfortable with their confusion and underachievement, and those who excel are either induced to slow down and give others a chance or are deprived of the proper recognition they deserve for any scholastic, athletic, or extra-curricular success-- someone's feelings could be hurt! Both the slower student and the faster student are being abysmally betrayed. The only lesson they learn is, "Why bother?" There is neither punishment nor reward. We don't push our future leaders to be leaders; we coach them to coast along, because someone else will "clean it up," and good God you don't want that to be you-- (in this economy, you won't get paid for it). Am I the only who finds this championing of ignorance utterly deplorable, not to mention unpatriotic? 

Life doesn't stop. We may be sitting pretty, but despite appearances, this country isn't done being built, and we aren't going to contribute to its continued maintenance by sitting on our hands. We aren't going to make it without people thinking outside the box, indulging in imagination and experimentation, having the intelligence and fortitude to analyze the current system and standard of living, and laying the groundwork for progress. Progress and evolution are not things we should be kicking to the curb. They should be chronic, never-ending, and eternal. These fundamental attitudes should be so well-ingrained into our natures that it isn't even a question to pass it on to those that follow. So, why are we crippling ourselves and condemning the future of what was once the greatest country in the world to the status of "Couch Potato of the Universe?" 

America, you are lame. I love you, but you are lame, because instead of putting focus into the improvement of the educational system, and lots of it, you spread the word that thinking is not only tough, unnecessary, oh, and not as important as war.

Yes, I am tempted to hate the world...


X for X-actly. Wait...

I am a patriot. I rocked the 4th of July like Arnold Schwarzenegger in Commando. And I have faith of us. While I don't believe that "putting a boot in your ass" is the America way, I think that the spirit behind that incredibly maladministered lyric (WTF?) is spot on. We should be kicking ass; we should be taking names, just in a much more civilized and structured fashion. Want to know why everything is Made in China? Want to know why Japan ranks higher than us in the Smartest Countries tally? BECAUSE THEY ARE SMARTER THAN US. They aren't doing anything we can't do nor do better. They simply educate the Hell out of their children. Their ace up the sleeve is actually their vulnerability: what they have that we don't is the impetus for improvement. We are a wealthier country than they are. They have to fight to attain what we have (and are losing). They have ambition, which is something we could easily re-attain, if only we weren't too dumb to realize it.

We're also too dumb to realize that we aren't safe. We aren't impervious, (Thank you, September 11th-- you still hurt). We can't trust our own government, because they are shady mo-fos who spy on us and aren't even slick enough to cover their tracks. Oh, and our economy is crap, but you knew that. The sources of these problems aren't going to fix themselves, and the rest of the world isn't going to slow down and wait for us to shift from Neutral back into Drive either. So what are we waiting for? Perhaps to hit bottom. Maybe that kind of hit is what we have to take to regain both perspective and initiative. 

I say this not in a competitive vein, but in a general one. We shouldn't grow to become/stay the number one powerhouse on planet Earth, but should grow for growing's sake. Whatever gene of defiance and enhanced existential desire is lying dormant within us is still there. We just need to nurture it. Some of us already are. One of my good friends is a superstar progressive who works for JumpStart, an organization that focuses on improving the system of early education. Television has proven that there are indeed some fifth graders who are much smarter than the average adult. Babies may be wearing knee pads now-- to protect their fragile knees from the rigors of crawling (Meredith's brain splatters across the back wall)-- but some of their moms are taking them to sign language classes. (What the heck? Where was that when I was 8 months old)? 

If nothing else, our curiosity is still there, and this is reflected in the way we react to art-- music, literature, film, etc. These venues, which give vent to our continuing frustrations are the sources with which we ignite our thinking. An artistic medium-- be it the intellectually questionable television or the latest lyric that makes you stop, drop, and crank your wheels and gears-- poses a question, makes us question ourselves, and instigates a discussion. We do want to know more, because we are more. We are stardust. Okay, I know that is the worst and most pretentious statement ever, but still: that fact is huge. We are the earth and the planets and the cosmos and the strange emergence of life out of that chaos. If we can not only emerge from that but thrive, we can most certainly read some god-damn books. Why deprive ourselves of what we want, which was, is, and always will be more? Why not enjoy the stimulation of learning something new, inviting a point of view that contradicts your own, if only to challenge yourself to think and reassess what your were once so certain of before? And good God, why not take an interest not only in what your kid is learning at school, but whether he is truly learning? 

This is the product of the current educational system.

When I was in preschool, grade school, high school, I hated it. I hated all of them. I'm not going to lie, I was a total window-gazer, a clock watcher. I would consistently hear Pink Floyd's "The Wall" in my head when walking into the the front doors of my seven hour, daily penitentiary. I let my parents know it too. My Dad would counteract my sorry, ungrateful ass by telling me that school, including the subjects I hated, was doing me a great service. School was "teaching [me] to think." He was right. (He always is, but then that's because he is smarter, better educated, and wiser than I. Burn). The line between "smart" and "stupid" is surprisingly thin. The difference is the push. The 'push' being one toward learning something, bettering yourself, and not basing your exploration of life on MTV's programming (M for Moratorium). This is the metaphorical road that is now less and less traveled by. Happiness never came from nothing. Get off your ass and pursue it again, 'Murica!