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Articles in "Island Life "

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Some people don’t like clowns- I have a hard time with greeters. In greeting terms, I am thinking of people who stand in your way and wish you well when all that you really wanted to do was get in, do whatever it was that you came for and then get out in a way and manner that is unpestered by smiling faces and stock voicings of good wishes and glad tidings. In the worst case, I am thinking of the large, lumbering dolt in Mike Judge’s film Idiocracy, who stands at the entrance to an interminably large and futuristic version of a certain discount box store and drones on in an expressionless monotone: "Welcome to Costco- I Love You."

"…While it was unclear whether it had come from within the confines of the tumbling vehicle, a red, white and blue malted beverage container of recent vintage was spotted amongst the debris. If it had indeed come from this car, I doubt that opting for Heineken would have led to a more favorable outcome to this situation…"

Of all the iconographic television facial expressions, it is the cocked eyebrow and slightly tilted head of Leonard Nimoy’s Mr. Spock from the original Star Trek series that continues to have strong and current relevance for me. How can it not, in these times? Without saying a word, Spock could wither any wayward thought or plan or logic defying situation that arose in his proximity by simply assuming that minor facial contortion.

We recently missed the opening ceremonies for this edition of the Summer Olympic Games™. In truth, even if we hadn’t been up in the Cascade Lakes area outside of Bend, Oregon, relatively far away from a television screen, I probably would have found some other reason to miss them as well.

In a part of my own set of loosely interpreted personal guidelines, one can find a provision that grants little or no time or reasonable recognition to musicals. As a middle school kid, I remember breaking into semi-uncontrolled laughter in our living room because of the sing song aspect of an Encyclopedia Britannica salesman’s pitch to me and my parents. When asked why I was laughing, I covered by saying I had just remembered a funny joke.

I have this thing that happens on a random and semi-regular basis. When it occurs it stimulates in my brain a pause and reflect moment, or series of moments, in my general flow of things. Unlike astrology or the Tarot, which at times speak directly and a bit eerily to my personal current event notables, my occasional recognition of the coincidence of words has yet to reveal anything of significance other than the basic fact that it has happened at all.

There. I said it. I’ve been sitting and staring at the screen- getting up and walking out into the garden- coming back in and sitting and staring at the screen. The only thing that keeps returning to the forefront of my attention is a geranium. It is a word that takes me two places at once. Primarily right here it references the seedling strain that is currently dotting my border with a range of foliage color in varying shades of all green, green infused with red or edged in an accent of burgundy.

It’s funny how things, and one’s perceptions of them, can change. As it is, one can cruise through the day without worrying, for the most part, about randomly flying off the planet and into space, imploding or exploding in a random or orderly fashion, or maybe even turning into an aquatic newt or a brightly colored bag filled with doorknobs.

It was kind of like a Norman Rockwell meets Roger Tory Peterson composition for ducks in Spring. I was drawn to it at first by a slight burbling sound coming from the pond in a place where burbles are not naturally occurring through any form of gravity driven water movement. We were sitting out in the backyard for a Mother’s Day event when I looked down to the water to see a female wild mallard floating just out of reach of a mass of yellow flag iris foliage, with its bulging minarets not quite ready yet to unfurl the golden banners bundled inside. And at varying intervals, three mid-sized ducklings were testing their diving prowess and popping up in random spots around mom duck to shake the water from their duckling down and still undersized wings. Watching this scene play itself out on a warm Sunday afternoon, one could almost forgive the oval-eyed anthropomorphisms wrought upon various members of the animal kingdom by the Disney imagineers. Almost.

I am not an ambulance chaser by any stretch of the imagination, so it was a bit odd and out of character when I found myself grabbing my camera and bike helmet to pedal up to the scene of a car crash on the main highway this past Saturday morning. In doing this, I was responding to a friend who had just called to say that there was a car in the ditch, and the running-off-the-road that had landed it there had happened within the hour.

"…The noise and vibration produced by rumble strips is intended to alert inattentive drivers that they have departed from their lane, or to give advance notice of a change in the roadway ahead…." from WSDOT Rumble Strip Design Policy Pages

Unlike in the above stated intent of adding etched grooves to the sides and centers of the state’s highways to protect drivers from themselves

Certain items will assist you in making bread, though few of them are strictly necessary.
from the Utensils section of the Tassajara Bread Book- Edward Espe Brown

Recently, when I walked into Bill Freese’s backyard bakery, I was faced with a minor dilemma.

I’m not sure when the break came- when I stopped accepting the Walt Disney Wonderful World of Color for what it wasn’t and began looking for something real. I can remember the approximate timing of my disconnect from pop music- when I spun the dial on my radio and turned off WABC and the Cousin Brucie machine and tuned in to the underground sound of WNBC and Allison Steele, Roscoe and Scott Munie.

I don’t recall if I ever saw that end-of-the-world, nuclear apocalypse film, On the Beach, a second time in ensuing years after having viewed it when it first came out way back in the ancient times of my impressionable youth. What sticks with me, image wise, is the guy closing his garage doors and climbing into his racer sports car which is up on blocks, and gunning the engine in order to fill the closed space with exhaust and carbon monoxide so he can "go out" on his own terms instead of succumbing to the cloud of nuclear war produced radiation that is circling the globe and taking lives, pretty much all lives, with no remorse, as clouds of that sort are wont to do.

There is a stack of used salsa containers that continues to grow on our counter in the kitchen. As they have been thoroughly washed and air dried, they are not growing anything from any former food residue that might have been left behind after the contents were consumed. In fact, the only extra on them besides the color imprint telling of their former contents, nutritional value and place of origin, are sometimes bits of the second, redundant seal and cap that refused to let go of the rim of the vessel part of the container when it was first opened. That thin sheet of fossil fuel based plastic has long since passed into the waste chain.

There is some comfort in residing somewhere between jaded cynicism and wonderment- it allows one lots of options. Take, for example, my lack of surprise the other day when I turned to The Current Cinema pages in the New Yorker and read the line: "…all the women have the same body- tall, with small, high breasts, long waists, long legs, and full, rounded rumps." It was a description of a scene from documentary filmmaker Robert Wiseman’s latest offering, Crazy Horse, about a sixty year old strip club in Paris.

Perhaps like you, I have been having various levels of internally roiling turmoil surge through my assorted thought channels and portals as to how I might contribute to the Occupy movement, as well as personal queries as to whether such an endeavor was even a valid use of my time, even though my time these days seems to be of mostly no value to anyone but me. Having received a blanket request to participate in a street action by the folks at our Backbone Campaign, with the option of using my video skills in the process, the thought came to me almost instantaneously- "Why Not?" So, on a crisp and sunny day after Solstice I packed what I deemed to be the maximum of the minimalist essentials

Somewhere in my archives, at least mentally if it has indeed been lost to the physical world, there is an image of a baseball viewed through scrub and small trees. For as long as I have been driving I have also been stopping in odd places to record images to various media. In this case, I don’t remember whether I came to a screeching halt or looked for a convenient turnaround spot and doubled back, but I did stop and explore and commit at least one image to 35mm Tri-X Kodak safety film.

For them that must obey authority That they do not respect in any degree Who despise their jobs, their destinies Speak jealously of them that are free Do what they do just to be Nothing more than something they invest in.
Excerpt from It’s Alright, Ma- Bob Dylan

I’m not really sure why it popped into my head as I was contemplating this particular meditation, but it did. At the time of those times of Dylan the Younger, when the other major groundswelling of activism pulsed through my generation, I was living in Leave it to Beaver land, where protest consisted of refusing to eat that liver no matter how "good" it was for me, secretly not wearing my retainers for three nights in a row and faking sleep and exhaustion when the call came down for everyone to get in the station wagon to go to church.

"Unless you frame yourself, others will frame you- the media, your enemies, your competitors, your well-meaning friends…All words in all languages are defined in terms of frame circuits in the brain. But, ultimately, framing is about ideas, about how we see the world, which determines how we act…" George Lakoff

For most of my life I’ve always felt that even though I was a part of a club, I never really felt like a member. This is why I have a hard time with committees- why I recently deactivated (love that term) from the Facebook.  

The first thing I noticed was an abundance of sky where leaves and branches used to be. I knew what had been there, why it was there and where it had come from. I also knew what had been there just a year before and, like the present vanishment, had come and gone with little to no fanfare. As there was not much fanfare when we put them in, one could say that it’s easy come, easy go, although for some the going part is not so easy.

I have been thinking about history lately, which is nothing really new, on a number of levels. Along with that I have been contemplating terms that are inherent to the domain of historical record- those of permanence, impermanence, loss, gain, proliferation and extinction. There is also the whole thing of interpretation, where we find something of a curiosity from the past, and because of its oddness or state of decay we surmise and extrapolate a meaning for it that suits our need for an assigning of purpose for this thing’s coming into existence.

Well, it is that time of year, and as anyone who has been reading words from this space on a somewhat regular basis should know, we generally pen a report from the hot, dry, high desert environs of northwest Nevada about this time every year. As it so happens, this year will be no exception. What I would like to have said here was that certain aspects of our yearly trek to Burning Man had not been a part of our collective experience this time around. Unfortunately, and in spite of all our pre-burn preparation, our vehicle of transport choice chose to crap out on us once again. I had thought about titling this piece "Four for Four", for the four times in a row we have had varying degrees of vehicular indifference to anticipated travel plans.

At the Island Poetry Fest this past May, poet Larry Matsuda read from his book, A Cold Wind From Idaho. In it he wrote of his experiences growing up at Minidoka, the Idaho War Relocation Center where 120,000 Japanese Americans were interned during World War II. He prefaced one of his readings with an explanation of the term "shikata ga nai",