16 April 2019

Our Lady Burns: Civilization Is Over-Rated



(But the only thing more over-rated than civilization are symbols of civilization.)

If we believe the narrative that is fed to us, this thing we call civilization is the epitome of human existence. The most logical and only desirable arrangement of the human experience, realized.

We have become civilized therefore we have, become.

But what is civilization?

Is it a socioeconomic arrangement? 
Capitalism Vs Socialism?
Is it intellectual thought?
Is it agriculture? 
Domestication?
Is it technological and scientific development?
Is it culture?
Is it religion? Language? Art? Literature? Politics? 
Is it global interconnection/ interdependence via modern forms of communication and travel?
A combination of development of all of the above?

We are told it is something to revere and without it we will surely perish. Without it we are nothing and we will return to a form of existence that was 'nasty, brutish and short.' This is a myth that has been busted many times.

Really, civilization is nothing but symbols. Abstract ideas that ultimately life does not require. It is a collection of ideas that often get in the way of the very things we are told depend on it. Harmony, quality of life, connectivity, a meaningful existence.

To blindly accept that pre-civilization, we had none of these things, is arrogant and incorrect. A number I like to quote often, is that for 99% of human existence we were not civilized. We were not domesticated, we did not farm, we did not have much of a religion (if any), our technology was very rudimentary, language was not necessary, and art was not needed or prevalent. What we did have was direct lived experience with very few symbols disconnecting us from real life. Arguably, day to day life was art, was religion, was science. We can look to the few remaining gatherer-hunter tribes for evidence of quality of life, pre-civ. 

Ultimately, untouchable abstract concepts do not substitute lived experience.

When we watch the flames of Notre Dame lick the Parisian sky, we naturally mourn the loss of a massive symbol of civilization and its achievements. Yet, we aren't mourning in quite the same way, the breaking up of the ice bergs, species extinction, young black men shot by police, Palestinian homes getting wrecked, the murder of trans-gendered person, kids dying in ICE detention and on and on. Yet, these are the natural outcomes of civilization. Religion, technology, economic disparity, politics, 'society,' are killing the planet and pitting us against each other. Now one of civilizations greatest symbols is up in flames, so perhaps it is a good time to seek some perspective and to ponder what really matters to us. Whether this thing we call 'civilization' is really all its cracked up to be... 

Nothing lasts. 

It will fall. It will crumble. It will burn. 

But everything that matters will survive.

Don't believe me? Or want to consider this more?

Start here:

-The Hazda
-Against Civilization
-The Garden of Peculiarities 
-Abundance Without Affluence
-A People's History of Civilization
-Why Hope?
-Feral





08 April 2019

06 April 2019

Tight Corners



Not sure who took the above photos but these are two of my favorites. What is it about small tight transitions? Classic Spex photo from Bedminster '80s Bristol and Andrew Allen shallow ending. 

25 March 2019

I'll Die Learning

i’ll die learning

we walked as far west as we could
found our spot
sat down 

and waited for the world to shake

symbols had chased us out here
while
clogging the reservoirs
smothering the air
littering the highways
relentlessly nipping and clawing at our heals

but the land would have the last say
we knew this
so we chose a patch of turf
that we pretended was anchored to a stable crust
  

momentarily, we watched the wild surf to the north

but
to the south
the sea was calm and glassy
we were sheltered from the icy east winds
that blew us here
we only had to descend a little way to find sanctuary

as we scrambled down the cliff
soft hands getting dirtier
i remember thinking to myself 
i’d rather starve here
incapable
of feeding myself in the wild

i’ll die learning.

21 March 2019

#modernparenting



i am a bad dad
bit of an arsehole 
really 
losing the plot
no breakfast, over-caffeinated freak-out 
on the way to her school in frustrating traffic
i hate the sound of the turn signal
her too

i confiscated her phone for a week like that will solve this issue?

yeah?

Unreasonable 

maybe mirroring my own old man 
maybe not
 maybe a tad more involved and clued in
“I am my father’s son/ his shadow weighs a tonne.”
still stubbornly convinced i know the root of this issue
some sort of expert on teenage angst, am i fuck?
there are no experts
i read guardian stories, listened to npr stories 
that back up my stupid technophobic theories on why you and i are shaking 

Uncontrollably 

a good liberal white middle class modern parent
gonna get a therapy corgi
or just give in
i want a convenient answer
hashtag 2019parenting
put it down yourself
the home button does not work anyway.

16 February 2019

RIP Bruno Ganz


I may have posted this poem by Peter Handke in the past. I'm sure I have. But it is worth re-visiting with the death of Bruno Ganz star of 'Wings of Desire.' He also played a pretty good Hitler in 'Downfall' and was in Herzog's version of 'Nosferatu.' However, we all know he was really   Damiel and he has now returned from whence he chose to fall to mortality, back in 1987. One of my favorite films on all times and I cannot over-state its impact on me.

Song of Childhood by Peter Handke


When the child was a child
It walked with its arms swinging,
wanted the brook to be a river,
the river to be a torrent,
and this puddle to be the sea.

When the child was a child,
it didn’t know that it was a child,
everything was soulful,
and all souls were one.

When the child was a child,
it had no opinion about anything,
had no habits,
it often sat cross-legged,
took off running,
had a cowlick in its hair,
and made no faces when photographed.

When the child was a child,
It was the time for these questions:
Why am I me, and why not you?
Why am I here, and why not there?
When did time begin, and where does space end?
Is life under the sun not just a dream?
Is what I see and hear and smell
not just an illusion of a world before the world?
Given the facts of evil and people.
does evil really exist?
How can it be that I, who I am,
didn’t exist before I came to be,
and that, someday, I, who I am,
will no longer be who I am?

When the child was a child,
It choked on spinach, on peas, on rice pudding,
and on steamed cauliflower,
and eats all of those now, and not just because it has to.

When the child was a child,
it awoke once in a strange bed,
and now does so again and again.
Many people, then, seemed beautiful,
and now only a few do, by sheer luck.

It had visualized a clear image of Paradise,
and now can at most guess,
could not conceive of nothingness,
and shudders today at the thought.

When the child was a child,
It played with enthusiasm,
and, now, has just as much excitement as then,
but only when it concerns its work.

When the child was a child,
It was enough for it to eat an apple, … bread,
And so it is even now.

When the child was a child,
Berries filled its hand as only berries do,
and do even now,
Fresh walnuts made its tongue raw,
and do even now,
it had, on every mountaintop,
the longing for a higher mountain yet,
and in every city,
the longing for an even greater city,
and that is still so,
It reached for cherries in topmost branches of trees
with an elation it still has today,
has a shyness in front of strangers,
and has that even now.
It awaited the first snow,
And waits that way even now.



When the child was a child,
It threw a stick like a lance against a tree,
And it quivers there still today.

12 February 2019


     I’ve just started to see a new acupuncturist after a taking a couple of years break. So I suppose it’s a good a time as any for someone to die on me. For an eighteen year old young man to die on me. For an eighteen year old young man to die of cardiac arrest on me. A good a time as any. 

D came to me from rehab. Sixteen not clumsy not shy. Exuding confidence. Cocky as they come. A tricky young dude who I knew was going to push many buttons. D was sixteen and knew who he was and what he wanted to do. No unrealistic long term plans, but some down to earth solid and realistic expectations. I could respect that. He was going to get a job, stay with us one year, save up money, get his Oregon ID gender marker changed to male, have top surgery and then move out with friends when he got closer to turning eighteen, while staying sober. Perfect. I was backing it. But I knew it would be a bit of ride. 

I don’t know his whole life story. I don’t tend to pry beyond what people are willing to volunteer. But I knew he spent a vast chunk of his mid-teens drunk and under the influence of other substances. I knew he had some significant health issues both exacerbated and caused by his significant drug and alcohol abuse. He assured me, he didn’t want to go into details but I should know he was talking to his doctors and taking care of himself. Fine by me. I had also spoke to family members who while they seemed to care about him constantly mis-gendered him. It irked me. I understood generational challenges to understanding gender dysphoria but they could at least try a little harder. 

D stood by his word and he soon got his first job working at Subway. School was another matter but he was determined to work and often took the graveyard shift at the Subway in Old Town/ China Town. I’m sure its illegal for someone under 18 to run a fast food joint by themselves overnight? But he had some entertaining stories and really seemed to grow from the experience and responsibility. He also became very educated on transgender issues and advocacy. I believe his first Pride event was 2017 and I’d never seen someone so damn proud. So proud, we had a challenging but hilarious conversation about dress code conflicting with what he was not wearing at the Pride event. It was hard not to smile in front of a young man, boobs hanging out and barely covered, arguing that this was the one day he should be able to wear what he wanted. 

D certainly had some anger that would surface from time to time to the point of scaring some of my staff. At one point we learned his health history would likely complicate his gender reassignment surgeries, as far I understood it. D wanted things to move fast like most teenagers. And when the pace was too slow, he would explode and eventually we had to ask him to leave. But we agreed he could come back as long as he attended some anger management counseling and understood we were holding him to higher behavioral standard the second time around. And it worked. He was a delight to have around. Even better, he repaired his relationship with his mother as a result. The plan was they were going to convert the garage into a living space for him. And so he moved back in with his mum. Normally, when I’m turning young people into statistics I have some stupid fucking check boxes to tick, and Family Reconciliation wasn’t traditionally seen as a “positive outcome.” Well it was to me and now it also is to the “system.” Some kids save up thousands of dollars, graduate high school, go to college, buy a car etc. D made up with his Mum, and that felt good to see. In fact, I’m confident we played a role in helping that happen. And so he left us one year ago. February 2018. 

February 2019 and D is dead. Cardiac Arrest. 18 and Dead. I don’t know the details yet. I was about to do his ’12 month follow-up’ and I do actually think there is a ‘deceased‘ option in the county database.  “17 year old transgender male, left program successfully to live with family permanently, now dead.”

The story goes when Ernest Hemingway was challenged to make a grown man cry in six words, he came up with “For sale: Baby Shoes. Never worn.” My staff person said to me in six words, “How prepared are you for news?” I said, pretty prepared as I have acupuncture in two hours. And he broke down while I fought it.

My new acupuncturist said, I had a moat protecting my heart and the water is frozen but she was to help break up the ice and help the protective waters flow again. I said sure. She put a rock on my chest. Feel the weight. She said.

I left acupuncture a bit stronger. Just a bit. And a bit more prepared at least to break the news to others. In the clinic car park, I looked up at the bare February trees and D waved. They always wave. You can’t intentionally look for the waves but you have to be open to seeing them. Every time I get waved at and it amazes me every time. 

“LGBTQ youth had over twice the rate of early death among youth experiencing homelessness.

•   LGBTQ youth are at more than double the risk of homelessness compared to non-LGBTQ peers.

•   Youth who identified as both LGBTQ and black or multiracial had some of the highest rates of homelessness.

•   Among youth experiencing homelessness, LGBTQ young people reported higher rates of trauma and adversity.

•   Transgender youth often face unique and more severe types of discrimination and trauma.”

 -voiceofyouthcount.org

“Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) teens may be two times as likely to be bullied, excluded or assaulted at school. And they're nearly 40 percent less likely to have an adult in their family to whom they can turn. So it's no surprise that they may be twice as likely to experiment with drugs and alcohol.

Families, professionals and policymakers can help prevent substance abuse by supporting all young people - and ensuring LGBTQ teens have equal access to support.1

By 12th grade, more than three-quarters of U.S. teens have tried alcohol, nearly half have used marijuana, and 21 percent have abused prescription medication.2 These figures make clear that every adult who supports a teenager should be concerned about drugs and alcohol. For young people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer (LGBTQ) and their parents or caregivers, the issue is especially pressing. As they cope with stigma, harassment and even rejection by their families, LGBTQ teens are more likely than their non-LGBTQ peers to abuse drugs and alcohol.

This issue brief reviews what we know about substance abuse among LGBTQ young people and explains why this group is at particular risk. It also shares recommendations for parents, educators, and other adults who can help LGBTQ teens avoid or limit drug and alcohol use. Finally, it outlines public policy that can reduce adolescent substance abuse and keep young LGBTQ people safe.” Human Rights Campaign

01 December 2018

Bryce Kanights: San Francisco



Growing up, I had a minor obsession with San Francisco and still do. The history the geography, the culture and counter culture, music, literature and the hills. By now you should have seen Roll Up, the GX1000 video, but these were among the original photos that fueled my obsession. Now you know what to get me for Christmas. BK makes some nice prints. 

24 November 2018

Radical Ideas Not So Radical Anymore



Here is an actual quote from today's BBC website, It is possible to live in complete equality - and it can make for a peaceful community. There's one catch: it involves becoming an anarchist. No government, no state, only the individual and their will to do as they please.

This was in response to the recent killing of an American Christian Missionary who tried to talk about Jesus to a 'uncontacted tribe.'

The ideas in this most recent article are often ridiculed or considered dangerous but in really, they are the natural way of things, human beings living in their 'intended' state, perhaps... 

We have always known what to do and I believe we still do. That is when we dare to dream beyond the Spectacle, the rigid constrains of this artificial socioeconomic arrangement, unnatural forms of domination. We know how to live and live with each other and our land base. 

Its tragic but hopeful.

20 October 2018