Saturday, December 3, 2011

What Day it is Can Sometimes Matter...

December 3 is the International Day for People with Disabilities.  There are no people on Earth who are not aware of the importance to love and support those who depend upon the able bodied for an extraordinary spirit.  More of us then we often realize simply stand beside the people we know who cannot stand easily at all.  You might sometimes ask, "How is it going?" You might even answer their questions first.

A day for others will place you on a footpath that is unmistakably "Spiritual."  Funny how often it's breakfast, lunch or dinner as well.

Be well today... whichever you are.  The supposedly normal, or the technically disabled. All of you sit beside of beautiful light that only reaches to the recent past.  We, whole and broken, are the real world.

Be well.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Domain/ Hope/ Intention (With Ada)

The sound of the oars against the ring-bolts of the fourteen foot boat reminded Ada that she'd let go of them.  How thoroughly she'd looked anticipating a sight of this water.  How glad she'd been to see it finally.  The first two days it had blown her past clear away… but now, she could not help but admit it was more than water, the sea, but she could not see beyond that.  She wasn't even a dimple on the surface of this areola. Not a dimple.  Not an afterthought, not a consultation.  Just a wrinkled up piece of litter, perhaps.  Though, yes, she knew the whispers of its sentience.  She did not believe that it was dead.  Ada feared that she was.
Was it far to the horizon?  Ten miles? Twenty?  There was a circle that she had fantasized about.  Saraheim had said she needed to cast a circle, and Ada had little notion how to do that.  The flatlands were full of hicks who might no longer hang her from a tree, but she could not bear to bid them hello or goodbye.  "Good riddance" was her mantra to the certitude of the land.  Goodbye and good-day to the world.

And, it was gone.

Ada stuck her hand in the warm embrace of that penetrating, probative god of salt, mystery and terrifying patience.  She was reminded in the distracted manner of a school-girl by a window, of a hand she'd embraced a long time ago.  Emilio.  "Nothing to say, about him," she'd answered to Saraheim's inevitable questions.  

"Nothing?" Saraheim had answered quietly in shock as much as exasperation.  

Ada had held his hand.  As Emilio's fingers softly slid into her own she had sighed and looked at him startled by the sound she was making.  It embarrassed her and she'd laughed.  Emilio looked at her with the awkward questions of inexperience in his eyes.  She thought she'd embarrassed him.  She could not tell Saraheim, the jay-walking tantrum of appetite and satiety, this.  So, she simply waited her out.  Here, in this empty boat, in the limpest grip of this water she felt the strange perils  she'd ignored all her life, as keenly as her efforts at concealment had meant them dull.  

Ada drew her hand from the water, looked at the horizon and chuckled at her weakness and poor imitation of the willful persons she'd always envied.  

"Second fiddle to the living, Saraheim?" she asked aloud.  Looking at the water dripping down the oar she now gripped, she knew that what she did not know then-- she'd never forget.

Old women, she supposed, in any case shouldn't dally too long on the subject of little boys.  She hoped so.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Domain/ Hope/ Intention (With Arachnid)

The light of the sun runs through the sieve of the sky and slams in myriad short blasts of violence into particles of dust that are the size--- if you can believe this--- of the color blue.  The size of the color blue?  Let's just say it's true--- they are not the size of the color red.

The remainder of the sunlight continues to the terminus of its prior (or current, rather) self--- and sprouts wings as some relative of itself.  A trivial quantity heats the air itself--- especially its water vapor--- which causes the patch of air to become a balloon without its parachute--- unbounded it rises, catching a few carrion birds along the way.

As it reaches the edge of the ceiling of the troposphere it spreads, attempting to remain in its habitat of choice, but with the support of such an engine as the sun, it breaks into the rarified cold atmosphere anyhow.

Eventually the air becomes extremely cold, and water vapor forms around dust creating hail.  The hail becomes heavier than the air and begins to fall, pulling air along with it.  The cold mass of air eventually achieves an enormous velocity and hurtles toward the ground, a rather disasterous atmospheric animal.  It hits a carefully tended woods with quiet paths all around it, and snaps a hundred trees, some of them two to three feet in girth, like twigs none-the-less.  The limbs, leaves, twigs, and trunks lie in a wet ruin throughout the evening.  In the morning there is an absence of the usual chatter of songbirds and the call of a dozen or so raptors but, from the broken darkness of the many fallen trees, a spider creeps from a shadow and climbs up the skinned trunk of a tree.  The smooth dead wood runs thirty feet high and the spider climbs, pausing at intervals and where another fallen tree's dying branches touch another tree, the weaver begins her nine inch orb.  By the time the risen sun penetrates the disordered woods, the orb is completed, the weaver sentinel at it's center.  From the chaos of violent attention from the sun crawled the undistracted intention of an unintelligent spider.  Broken things darned with protein filament?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

From Poland, With Love

Sometime around the time I was in high-school I had sardines for the first time.  I'm guessing, for no particular reason, that it would have been the Aleesi brand... given the ubiquity of that Italian maker of kitchen hardware, coffee stuff, and (esp. in America) foodstuffs, popular in mid-western supermarkets.  I was a particular fan, at the time and for years, of their sesame breadsticks.  One day I bought my own sesame seeds and roasted them myself with homemade dough.  That was the end of that.

I think what inspired the sardines was a peculiar moment in For Your Eyes Only, the '80's James Bond flick.  Sean Connery was about the only thing good in the ridiculous movie.  Was Rutuer Hauer in it?  If so, he would have played some Eastern European, Iron Curtain pantiwaist (sic.).... so, who cares?  It was a bad movie, but, had a period of, to a kid, boring exposition, where James opens up a gleaming briefcase, and within it is all manner of canned delights, including caviar (Beluga, surely.)  In any case, I eventually would eat caviar now and then with my adventurous family, but not sardines.  Why?  I'm guessing that the ubiquity and frank fishiness of sardines has prejudiced us against them (in canned form) since they were first caught to become the ancestor to Ketchup and the growingly popular Asian/ Eurasian fish sauces.  I certainly don't remember being fed them even once by my Mom.  Had she fed them to me, I am certain I would have eaten them habitually while working on the farms of my young adulthood.  I never did, however, because they slowly grew on me, after, I think, remembering that Sean Connery moment... and fantisizing about having my own [brief]case of delights.  In search of delights I came across sardines.

Occasionally a girlfriend and I would share a sardine sandwich, which, indeed, is an intriguingly "whole food" looking thing, with its silver skin glinting against sprouts, tomato, horseradish and caper.  Sort of a poor mans Lox and Bagel.  And a healthy mans too.  With their high fat content (esp. when packed in Soy/ Olive oils) of the exact sort recommended to us these days, and complete protein... in a small, recyclable aseptic container, they are indeed, a hell of an alternative to a Pepsi.  And, they cost less then a Pepsi!  Go figure.

I'm waiting for the day sardines exceed their absurd envelope of awesomeness and become known by people beyond the super-foodie world, which has a long standing appreciation of such foodstuffs.  Most of the sardines I get are packed in Poland, from vessels fishing I couldn't say where; Sardinia?  I've had them packed in the Middle East, Russia, Poland, and China.  Rarely ever, if in fact even once, in the U.S.  I don't think we experience the sardine in our oceans much.  Perhaps they detest our capitalistic excesses.

I don't eat them every day, since it goes without saying that they are fish from a polluted and somewhat disgusting ocean: while their mercury level is low, it is hardly non-existent.  Also: they are a delicacy,. meant to be enjoyed, on an intriguing time frame: popped open like a convenience, but savored like a thing of beauty.

A few rules:  Don't be fooled by the snake oil salesmen who would have you believe they fish with gilded fishing nets.  The ocean is an unbounded salty body, which, while far from homogeneous, is none-the-less neither organic, nor conventional.  It's just the ocean.  Fish are fish. If you must pay three dollars for sardines, go ahead... eat one third my take.  But I'll have you know that the fanciest variety available at the specialty stores will never beat my $1 oil packed variety with hot sauce and capers.  I make fun of my housemate Richie for buying his "organic line-caught" sardines at our local fancy swag food shop... organic fish?  He agrees, but finds the lively packaging perhaps a sort of status symbol... who knows?

Lastly, today I was peeling back the pop-top of my sardines, at lunch time, in the midst of an irritatingly endless scraping session on an exterior paint job.  The house is, perhaps, 100 years old.  The paint job prior to the last was lead paint, so even now, we must take extraordinary measures against inhalation and the spread of drop paint chips.  This costs us enormously in poly-ethelene plastic and canvass drop cloths, since you can't simply re-use a drop cloth filled with lead dust.  The face masks make the mild early summer heat feel worse, and the sunshine was not much appreciated.  When I'm this grumpy, somethings wrong.  I guessed that I was hungry.  So I walked some distance to the Music Library ( the house was not open) and washed my hands and face, and walked back.  I opened up the tin of sardines with its pop-top (I don't wear flip-flops, Mr. Buffett and fans.)  Inside were only four of the fish (the fancy sardine companies make hilarious distinctions amongst their various price-point levels of sardine loveliness.  Their are "two layer" cans.  And "three layer" cans.  I don't know what else is offered since I refuse to imagine ANY sardine being "value added."  However!  Mother nature had a small gift for me. I noticed a billowing girdle of roe, within each fishes body in the can and gasped a bit.  Beach Cliff, the grocery store brand I buy, can also be found at the Dollar Central.  So I was literally eating Dollar Store smoked fish roe.  "One and One Half Layer."

It is sometimes important to note a distinction.


Saturday, June 11, 2011

An Eddy in this Sometime Crick

I've been fairly busy lately.  Despite this, my job sometimes requires me to spend an hour or two, or even a half day in a state of suspended animation.  Waiting for someone else to do what should have already been done.  I've always enjoyed this, provided I'm not starving or going completely broke or something.  There are always things to do other than work.  And to smell the daisies requires, sometimes, a bit of attention distracted from the ennobled tasks of our civilization.  Have you ever told someone, when asked what you did today, "smelled the daisies?"  If you have, A: good for you.  And B: you know it takes a bit of courage.

It isn't, however, courage in me... I more or less was born this way.  I'll never forget when I was but a child at 12 years old in summer camp, I'd steal off from structured activities, "clinics", to spend time alone, reading in the woods, or hey, sitting at a picnic bench, in the middle of an open field. The wind on my face, and the smell of clover (smells like honey on the breeze, right?  Clover Honey, at least.)  I never got caught... given the times, few adults were much worried at our YMCA camp as to a 12 year-olds safety.  I knew, as did most of society around me, that bad things could happen... but very infrequently were likely to.   That conclusion, however, was hardly an accident.  Super bad things happened to my family and myself at times throughout my childhood.  It was a discipline fostered by my parents:  to imagine the world as indifferent to my suffering, and (this is so incredibly important to my life) danger toward me as particular.  NOT in the parlance of more and more journalists recently: structural.  There was no organized effort to hurt me as a kid.  There is no such thing today.  There never has been.  There never will be. And, best of all, there virtually cannot be.  Especially if I think carefully about my actions, and alliances.

None of this is meant to be metaphorical or political whatsoever.  It just amazes me, that's all.  I am my parents age, more or less back then, now.  Many of my friends have children who are the age I was then, now.  I hear all the time about all the child molesters and thugs and rapists and boogiemen who are out to snatch their kids away from a summer camp, ect.  Don't get me wrong... I suppose I have some issues about leaving the kids with a charismatic religious figure with the presumption, "what could go wrong?"  But to see these children today, where an encounter with a random arena of their own devising being something of a tactical impossibility... it's clear as a bell to me what this is doing to the person they will become.  With plenty of exceptions, people often seem to grow into an expectation of an organized and controllable life:  where consequences are sequestered to a fairy land of exquisite presumptions.  That these same presumptions can have nothing to do with actual consequences to actual life is nobodies concern.  The one way this is comforting to me is my memory of my parents having serious trouble with almost exactly the same thing in our happy little leafy suburb while I was growing up.  Despite the ugliness of some aspects of my parents childhood, they knew that there was something honest about the odor of the real world:  and the "good cheer" of the suburbs, like a giant spritzer, casting a wide rain of Febreze all over a happy burg, seemed to them
queerly dischordant with what they simultaneously hated about their pasts, and seemed strangely attracted to.  Is that not the odd appeal of suffering?  Especially in hindsight and at some distance?

I do the same thing, more or less.  I have memories of incredible hardships I have endured (and I must say, earned, in my case) and they are oftentimes good memories.  I not only don't trust their goodness, but suspect that there is an underside to my nature that, while hardly provisioning me in the expedition of life with a fortune, none-the-less is as resilient as butyl-rubber, and therefore, simply takes the sleights of my past experience as motivating: like a cup of coffee takes its over active molecules for nothing but the sustaining heat of its cheery nature.  An odd, and overdeveloped metaphor, but there it is.  My point being, obviously, that I greatly prefer fooling myself about the specific details of my life.  The underlying machinery of the roller coaster might be nothing but rusty metal... but the ride is what this man is thrilled by.  Just listen to how manipulative that statement really is.  The ride.  Is it possible to dismiss that as haokum?  Well, of course.  It is an unsupportable bunch of mystical bull.  I'm just a wandering fool. There is no ride.  My hardships were due to poor decision making and childish risk taking.  I also preferred to not pay my elders with the helpful gift of my attentions.  Any surprise I ended up a hero of the trashbin, resplendent in rags:  friend to all who were not there?  Nabokov asks memory to speak.  I'm almost certain memory would be, should I invite her closer, a hell of a crappy choice in friends.  Perhaps I ought, in light of this, provide her a funeral service in celebration of, get this, my own life.  Such are the privileges of embodied metaphor.  I wouldn't do it to YOU, reader.  Promise.

Which, given the utterly unreliable mechanics of narrative brings me around to White Oak cemetery, at the side of which I stood, my head cocked like a silly dog, seven days ago.  It is a plot of land one block over from where I sit, on the north west end of the center of Bloomington.  This section of town was filled with workers mixed in race; predominantly trades-people and factory laborers.  Many of the houses from here and down the rail line toward Illinois (a short distance toward that state, I mean) are almost comically small.  And occupied at a rate that Atlanta and Phoenix would envy.  Gee, I wonder why.

Why it is called White Oak I couldn't say.  I suppose there are some white oaks around.  I don't really know what one looks like.  Mostly,  it seems Bloomington is filled with the red and pin oaks.  The latter, I believe, being virtually a domestic, given the vagaries of its range: hewing close to us, like rats and pigeons.  Harder to find in the dark brambly havens of deer and muskrat.  But White Oak?  It's probably heaving above my roof as I speak, weighing in on when to give it up, given last nights howling winds.  All the seven or eight hundred trees that have blown over in the last few months in Bloomington are riddled while whole and alive, on the inside with their Grim Reaper: mold.  The snap like toothpicks in shear winds, and even sometimes lesser howling.  My imaginary white oak figures when the going gets tough....  But I, typical human, am thinking hard on bigger things.

In any case, planted with small sweetgum trees near 7th, (thirsty, annoying, messy things, if you ask me) and running about the corner of that street and Adams, bounded on the North by the old Illinois line, the cemetery gets it share of traffic: cars, whizzing down eighth to avoid the dogleg that the city planners created when they divirted Kirkwood (5th street) into a boulevard that inexplicably, to the newcomer in town, becomes W. Third.

The reason for the dodge, which the newcomer is so busy driving, and probably texting, that they might not notice, is that White Oak became superseded by Rose Hill Cemetery, which sits, you guessed it, straight in the path of progress West, of Bloomington.  Rose Hill was built, in the 19th Century, when like Indiana itself, it was the West.  Now, it's an oddly quiet center to the ceaseless shuttling of the quick: whilst long lived trees fall down amongst the slow erosion of big names once of a time, but, yes, right here still.  One of the last of the large trees there has finally fallen down, my friend Shannon tells me.  In heaven, we will buy tickets to such things, but here, dear fellow mortal, we compose chainsaw elegy.  I can hear them singing, each to each.

Oddly enough, a week ago, I inspected most of the graves at White Oak. The small cemetery gets more traffic than the big one, strangely enough, because it is on the rail line, and the indigents, homeless, and time-shorn lovers of place and process (like me) find rights-of-way abutting cemeteries precisely the sort of places to make our passing. 

I wonder if little Minnie, the two year old I stared down upon, buried at the cemetery, likes the setting as much as I.  A modern adolescent would say, "there are so many things wrong with that question." A college student might say any number if things, of course, but sure to include, "her soul is not in that field."  But a certain number of us, when asked at the right moment, especially in the light of the moon would simply redden with emotion not meant for the light of day, and sink to the depths where men and women go to die with the matters that once composed the meaning of their lives: down with the ship/ off to the old folks home.  Yeah, Minnie, I DO think you are there.  I do.  And frankly, I have to laugh at the curdle of feeling that this inspires in the living, yes.... for hon, what do I know, which you have not had chance yet to even begin the telling?

We were a long time gone already when we yelped our first salute. Long, long times on either side of our life. My first  and lasts are fixed, but pardon me here for just a moment, these mundane passages for Minnie.  And she was hardly alone there.

So, in the sunlight (the perfect, yellow, warm, life giving, carcinogenic sunshine, that is) I took my hours pleasure that Saturday, a week ago in White Oak.  I had not known much in my hurried former moments near at hand.  I guess I thought I should go out and meet my neighbors, but the rest of  the quick were down at Market getting good weight and marveling at the riot this side of entropy.  Just as in Summer camp, I went to the quiet place and stood before graves marked, where the marble wasn't illegible or supine: Born 1778; Died 1804.  A body beneath my feet that old I usually imagine to be of the peoples my State was named for.  They are obviously in state everywhere.  We are baffled by the pattern of their fluid culture: unbounded by a curiosity of magnitudes: the very small thrown out, inconsequential, trending on the infinite.  They, therefore, have melded with the very stuff of our soils: but a dark stain on the red clay wall of our well.  Only slowly melding with us: unnoticed, unreal, uncatalogued, unimportant.  Even Minnie is at least a monument next to that smear of trace minerals that The Old Souls leave still with us.  But, on the bright side, their remains give off very little radioactivity these days.  So, if you made whiskey with them, by accident, the government wouldn't allow you to sell it, by regulation:  only the properly radioactive alcohol (made, in other words, of recently living stuff) can be sold.  They have a Geiger counter, and per regulation, use it, before sale.  This prevents alcohol being made for consumption, in America, with petroleum distillates, or some such thing.  And... if you have a Geiger counter, you can check the sleight remains and dark smudges that you occasionally find in our mineral Glacial/ eroded oceanic moraine, here in Indiana.  A lack of beeping and you might be communing with a stranger indeed. I'm tempted by an old Geiger counter for sale for seventy bucks down across from the Kroger on Second.  They call it, I kid you not, the Ghetto Kroger. 

My friend Brennan disappeared two weeks ago.  I took a few days for me to hear that his Mom was sick and possibly ailing.  She, in fact, did die, which saddened me considerably, given my awareness of his closeness to her (she lived here.)  Additionally, I  had only just met her, a few weeks back.  She had seemed nearly as twinkling and in humor as her son, who walks a hell of a tightrope wherever you string it.  She, apparently, was a somewhat liberated woman back in the day, and any ropes meant for her today, she had craftily braided into something decorative, oftentimes presented to the world through her children, or on the porch of her small home, which I had sat in a car outside of from time to time.  She was and remains, in short, a person who took these prosaic materials of our curious life, and made them something, which to her, surrounded and nested her within a meaning personal and otherwise.  All of that energy remains.  I was standing outside her house yesterday, having just seen Brennan for the first time in weeks (at his store.)  After work I went by to say hello, and prior to going to a meeting together, we went to water his Mom's plants/ intentions/ gifts to the world/ burdens/ celebrations.... you get the picture.  The dog also needed some attention.  My prejudice being what it is, I summarily thrust my way into the garden to attempt to find a hydrant and water the flowerpots.  In and amidst the thick probity of perennials and other signs of life, on tops of facts of life, on top of sheer dirty tricks of life, I failed to locate the, now obviously vanishingly unimportant form of even a hose.  I called out to the dog walker for help.  He told me that the hydrant was where it would normally be, which is beneath a good chunk of sequestered carbon dioxide, glowing menacing green.  I parted the vegetation, beaming a bee square in the face and gained purchase on the giver of life's elixir.  Piece of cake!

Standing beneath a behemoth fir tree, and before some Neo-Classical arborvitae, I wondered at the house and garden of Brennan's late mother while watering, looking for all the neighborhood like a bum peeing
in that saintly woman's Zinnias. Careful not to encourage the plants too much, I turned off the water, which, went about as well as turning it on, and while waiting for the dog to bring Brennan back, I snooped around the property.  His Mom was a champion finder of valuable stuff, and the yard had little grace notes of her canny capabilities all over it.  Most of the stuff was beneath the celebration of this particular season, but, some was not.  I looked at the stuff that was not.

Ducking beneath Spaceship Fir Tree, I went around the side of the house to see if the Earth really did continue back there, and sure enough, even some of the small house did as well, in the spectral light of that Gymnosperm.  Along the foundation wall (not leaking!) of the house ran a ladder, which my criminal mind noticed, to its pride, and my shame was unlocked , and I smiled at the prospect of ripping anyone like Brennan and his Mom off.  Such is the manner in which rather effective phantoms, or Banshees are born.  Then I noticed that upon the ladder was what looked like some very oddly colored squirrels.  Upon closer inspection the squirrels turned out to be small kittens, three of them, one white, the others who knows.  One of them darted into a hole exactly the size of their bodies, small but not tiny.  I walked to the front of the house and garden, and saw Brennan coming out of the front door.  "Hey," I said, "did your mom have cats?"

"Yeah," he said, "she has one in the house." At least, he said something like that.

"Well," I said, "she's got kittens living in the crawlspace.  Do you suppose she was feeding them?"

Ever the investigator of aesthetic appeal he asked me, "long or short haired?"

I gave him a look that forms one part of the basis for our friendship.  It wasn't flattering to either of us.

"Do you honestly think I know how long their hair was?  I thought they were rats for Chirstsake!" I pleasantly suggested.

His endurance of my over reaction was the sort of look he often gets while enduring noise coming from my direction.  He was, no doubt, weighing something toward a rate I can't fathom.  We both were smiling.  Kittens are after all, a smiling variety of vermin.

"I'll need to catch them somehow. Do you know how to trap them?" he said, eventually.

"You're on your own there, buddy.  By the way, who planted those arborvitae, your Mom?"

"You mean the pine tree? That was our first Christmas tree, twenty-four years ago." he said.

I didn't mean the tree.  Though, given what he'd just told me, I had trouble emoting much that was intelligent.

"I guess we should be glad you didn't plant six of them, huh?" I said, more in wonder, looking up at the thing, then anything.

He gave me the gift of his laughter.  I guess I'm partial to people who are tolerant.

While driving to a meeting, I asked Brennan a little more about the last two weeks, and with great calm and very much out of character, he slowly related some of the details of the passing of his mother.  He told me that they had wanted to bury her in Kokomo (I think) but that the expense was somewhat crushing, and given all the other things that needed doing they had settled on a place in town.

"And where is she buried?" I asked him.

"We buried her in White Oak, " he said.

I am obviously off today, given the length of this post.  When I have finished typing these words, and attended to some people who asked my attention, I am going to go where I have never been  asked for anything.  But, it will in some senses not be a return.  For the sod is turned over, and some ashes have been placed upon a deliberate spot particular to no soul who still commands the difficult carriage of our burdens, and our gratitude.  To the shade of some trees I will step... their shadows soon enough their own resting place.  And to the edge of a grave not yet marked even by a stone from her children, the vernal green that followed her will be gone: but return.  I will stand there with her, and Minnie, and with the others in White Oak.  Only paces from my home, and but a few from my habits.  I know nothing of their place and time to which I too must return.  But I will stand there none-the-less for a friend, and myself, and from those habits, apart again, as ever, in summer camp; in half of life.

(This is for Brennan, who I told, "I hadn't realized how much I care about you." when he returned.  Such cognizance need not be repeated. And also for Harlequin, who has her own realms, shorn from this half.  To return, Harlequin, as the grieving are often asked, is, I think, an unfair request, given the unity of life and of death.  We are shorn, yes, but the world is united.  I can not be human and with Minnie and all the rest.  With grief, I believe connections are none-the-less made.  We owe no-one a return, a birth, or an innocence.  Thanks for your friendship. And your honesty.  I suppose it is sad, to say nothing of dicey, to make so plain a case, as is my habit, for the beauty of pain.  But there it is.)

Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Unbearable Lightness of Ancestory

It doesn't matter to whom the viscera go, but rather whom holds that quill which might dribble the ink of record.  To the far from pacific, to say nothing of rested, in Heaven, this sad burden of History has passed to the hands of their children: us.  As with most things inherited: beauty, health, wealth, intelligence... the gifted can hold readily their privilege, but make of mockery of its use.  A rich man will spend a dollar in pleasure no more readily than he will stroke his fancy clothes, like a pet, all weekend.  He can be forgiven what he has forgotten: he lives in the base of his brain.  A thousand dollar palace of withdrawl: only to return when, Jesus willing, his thrill is gone.  How sharp the stony floor of the beach, where, the ecstatic comber plays.  How heavy the ectoplasmic hand of his ancestors: yet his excuse is at hand, for father, mother, grandmother, uncle; soon, he will be dead like you.

There the monolith of innocence.  No touch to crumble it's mortar.  No mark, even, of the craftsman, or woman.  Simply the blank cry of hunger, the curdling scream of abandonment.  How we sophists smile as we remember a time when we could look away from the edifice of our making: our grizzled sculpture scraped with  paw marks of atonement.  Do we stand, so marked, to any account?  From the eye of science we're but vessels/ from the eye of religion the serfs of both king and our nature/ from the eye of our experience we dance through the silent questions of our bodies constant song.  "How are you doing?" to another.  Awaiting an answer from the self. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

With What Will You Ice My (Piece Of) Cake

Oh, shiver me timbers and pull my leg
It wouldn't be hard, you know
I once met a woman who told me, "Hey,"
You can't have a girl for the gold.

You can make all your millions
And lay Thee down,
To a rest only innocents take
But a beau shouldn't hope for another round
For your loves just the ice on the cake!"

I could tell she meant well... after a spell
Where I heard only cruelty and shame
All the earthly pursuits ("like Hell!")
I despised,
There was something from her I might gain.
Ha! There was something from her I might gain..

I'd been living a life of Riley and Gin
Where I'd open my eye to the day...
Hell had no fancy for the bed I laid in,
But a friend in this man in its way
Yeah, a friend in this man, in its way.

Oh, I guess I'm still in, or counting out
For my plans are anything but laid
It's a bat to the face and a hand so sour
To be hoping for things from a maid
It's a piecemeal job (if you're paid!)

Now please don't be cruel, if I remember you
As the one who had these things to say
Life has it's way, from the red to the blue
From the beggar to fool, from the beggar to fool.
And Death has its way with Whom?
Amd Death its way with Whom?

There are yards filled with men,
So much better than Sin,
And the daisies and granite too
Though a whistlers haste, is a waste, just a waste

For it takes more than observing
Beneath the heavenly pages
 More than observing is due
 Lest the rock and the weeds request their wages
And shake down a widow or two
And shake down the very few;.

Lest the rock and the weeds request their wages
And shake down a widow or two
And shake down the very few.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Move Over Gentile

  (No joke, some of my best friends are gentiles....)

If bacon could straighten the wandering Jew
Whilst Euclid spins like a pig on a spit
For, I noticed the sidewalk won't give him his due
Since it curves around obstacles... trees.. to wit;

Some say that hunger brings out the tiger in you
Others give lovely and profound advice
Some only love life when they've had a few
Then measure but, once; and cut, oddly, twice.

If taken by odds that you think aren't your due
You might take to praying to God for a bit
The diaphanous hanging warmth of your blues
Blown 'bout by Grace no man can inherit

Once shaken with shame, on this path curlicued
The Classics in shambles... the libraries dump...
By the grave with a veiled but broad daylit widow
Who's head held up high, above shoulders that slump

Ask her, though veil there obscures her eyes,
"Is this a loved one, beneath the old weathered stone?
Whom do you honor with your dress and your guise?
Does the savor of life follow the host?"

Hidden beneath the black fine worked fabric
Through the trick of the light, and tradition too
The eyes of this loved one, turn to your own
And given the voice, the mouth, too, you assume.

"There were stretches, I guess, where I was sometimes unhappy,
Where I hated, at times, who he was, what he'd been...
But, there was joy, and there were moments, circumscribed by our marriage
That gave an address of the person I'd been.

His name was... it's still strange to say that,
Charles L. Cohen, when I took the name,
And it's safe to say, from this grave where I've sat,
Many times I've realized I'd do it again."

Her gloved hand rose, to the edge of her veil,
When the voice therein had finished her words
As she lifted what hid a West Russian face,
I felt my own take a slight pinkish turn.

"We wait all our lives, for things, young man.
Things of the world, recommended and forbidden.
And I wait yet again; do you understand?
But, not for the things that I've already been given."

I looked at her still, silent, form for awhile,
Somewhat speechless, ashamed? I couldn't be certain;
Perhaps, like a monkey, I gave her a smile,
Oh, she beamed back at me, of that be assured.

We turned our sweet mirth to Charles old stone,
I had no desire to ask after its years,
And I took her hand, as we stood there alone,
Some distance from shame, and let fall some tears..

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Even The Clever Ought to Do Some Things

In the course of my advice taking, especially where I am expected to share, it is frequently pointed out that I trend toward intellectualization, and, moreover, that such a trend is, fair to middling, not a great strategy in life.  Honestly, I never regarded that as very likely the truth.  And,while I'm confident that a resolution to such questions are some distance from the human collective capacity at understanding, still, there are interesting ways to consider that damage caused and, more specifically, the damage I continue to cause, by intellectualization of, what in the end, is very likely to be stuff meant for the sacred; untouched by human minds.

Who doesn't wish to touch what they are intstructed not to?  But once touched, who considers the value of the same unaltered?  We, by the very nature of our being, sully what we wish to remain pristine: and moreover, complain at the rate (slow) the debauchery takes.... given the consequent lack of benefit to our collective coffers (economy.)  This view is unlikely to be arugued against by a clearheaded observer, but remains unutterable in the company of common sense.  Sunlight must be expended in the creation of energy... no matter how much you might which to bottle it.  Even on a cloudy day.

What is less romantic than intellectualization?  Your lady calls you (these days) while you drive home.  Once you get there, from the sound of her voice you can expect certain (surprise) lovely feelings.  It can't always be this way... so, no fool, you have the rational response.  While smiling, you move toward the refrigerator... while smiling she takes you to bed.  While smiling, later, you remove your leg from her twisted limbs. While smiling she forces you to lay victim to a backrub.  While moaning at the fact that this can't be the same life you, now, distantly recall sometimes sucks, you somehow manage to fumble at some kind of reciprocation to her talented removal of all pain in your short, harsh existence.  She looks deep into your eyes, and a very slight glassiness developing, as if she's just remembered that nothing, including very much yourselves, stays the same, she says, "how bout some beer and a movie... and please, sweetheart, smoke a cigarette.  Two or three won't kill you, and its drives me wild."  You're looking at her, wondering at her.  You reply, "By all means, I'll take you up on that offer, sweetie.  You'll have to excuse me, however, for the sheer sense of astonishment that I feel, when I consider, as I have been this entire evening, that you are bound for nothing more, in the end, then heat death." 

The look, as is entirely appropriate, she gives, is probably less elegant than the Second Law of Thermodynamics, but, unquestionably promises a great deal more, in terms of human affairs and actual living, then any discourse on entropy could ever, ever, ever promise. Yet, here we are, Lord.

Electrons (basically elegantly "supposed" concepts) do a great deal of stuff, as they make their way from the chloroplasts of plants and find their way to your girlfriends face.  But that doesn't mean she is joking, when she extorts that molested sunshine to tell you, "you probably shouldn't talk when I'm enjoying myself.  There's a sort of square of the distance relationship there."  Harsh.... but hey, they say in some Arab cultures women are the repositories of shame and consequence. In my culture they are thoroughfares of electrons taking the scenic route.  And do we men know it?  Go to jail.  Hang out on a ship of (generally recognized as) fools.  The VIP electrons you encounter there will pretend they're Nutrinos.

All the same... cleverness and amusement can only distance a dyed in the wool fool for so long.  Eventually he will question the nature of coitus en flagrante.  Which is not exactly a first person sort of thing.  Though it should be?  She nods.  Then... she shakes her head so sadly.  "Your mouth is a journey some thoughts shouldn't take."

It's nothing personal, honey, my thinking.  "Oh," she replies, the word containing so very much meaning that you just forgot about the promise of robots, forever.  Ray Kurzweil appears between you and says, magic being nothing less then technology yet developed, "you know, Andy, all this relationship needs, is a dash of nano-technnology, given the trends..."  She politely, charmingly, and skillfully asks Mr. Kurzweil to leave.  Then, when you ask if you should go as well, she turns, places her oddly smooth, attractive feet on the floorboards (which, are anything, but classicaly definable as "attractive."  Only the human perceptual frame can allow the foot to be nothing less than a foot.) Her back is as you imagine.  But her back is also real.  She says, "I flipped a coin in my head." You ask, "why did you do that."  She says, "He came up first."  

On your way to your home in the car, while driving, you remember her back, and assume it hasn't changed.  But, four years later you will have trouble recalling her entire appearance.  Which, will do wonders for your hard faught attempt to never metion to your new love, that four year old day, which your new love wouldn't guess in a million years to gift you with, the requieted, back rub, film and booze and cigarettes, part.  Which is fine.  You've willed a new kind of bovine attentiveness toward women, which, outside of certain sparkling exceptions, where you both are chatting like schoolgirls, works far better than Cartesian curiosity (to say nothing of detachment.)

Of course, shockingly, none of this has a thing at all to do with girls.  They are as subject to the ravages of philosophical objectivication as men.  It's just, your friends gift you with silences... the women are body snatched.  One disturbs more than the other.  Though, it could be argued, that it's frankly disturbing for a grown woman to explain what a bore is to a bore.  It's isn't exactly ice cream beneath a high intensity discharge light.  On a hot summer night.

Beside excellent advice as to how you might make your ankles seem bulkier (with big socks) the Second Law of Thermodynamics is impractical.  My legs would pass on a woman.  And women DO pass on them.  Then, like some strange foreigner straight off the boat, a woman comes along and wants to conspire with you to confuse people as to the outside diameter of your, what, femur? Tibia?  "It matters?" she says.  Reminding you of how much you like listening to her talk to her mother.  What is that strange muscularity of the human voice, Hal?  Sing me a song Hal.  Sing it like you used to.  Very funny the robot doesn't say.  Very very funny, mean human.

She reads these very words.... this one.... and this one... and this. And despite the fact that you, meaning me, regard.... this... as somewhat amusing, she gives you an empty looks, then squares her jaw and says, "You know, Andy... not so differently than my German mother, I have an affection for the stuff that is tangible, the stuff that is real.  You might regard your bank balance as an abstraction, I regard it as the most reliable of bedrock.  It is not my intention to mine it.  I appreciate it, like Hillary might, 'because it's there.'  Or rather, as sometimes is the case, 'because it's [not].  That the balance on the screen is made of electrons, reminds me of the sound of my Daddy's heart, when my ear lies on his chest. His heart, like the electrons, is not for me.  But it's so reliable, Andy.  You know what I mean?  Only rarely does the fungus leave the lichen.  Only when it is no longer needed.  You see how much less reliable my presence in your life seems when I talk this way?"  I nod, and say, "I hear you loud and clear, but just now I need to read about lichen."  "And listen to the song "D-I-V-O-R-C-E" she implies with that bizarrely expressive fury.  And I didn't even spurn her.  Formally.

Only a fool wouldn't be frustrated.  I sent a friend of mine, a therapist in a sense, a long early draft of my still unperfected essay/ blogpost "Nightmares For Sawyers", and he never responded to it.  Most people regard lengthy expressions of contemplative minds, a sort of, unvarnished good.  Extremely experienced social workers and psycologists are far more interested in normative behavior.  "Nightmare For Sawyers" is probably going to one day be a somewhat foundational essay in a collection I'll put together from this blog, about ecology, and congnitive implications in my/our consideration of the "natural" world and the more pedestrian one (questions of artificial unity and division.)  All that my friend wanted was a garden variety letter from me, about a garden variety foundation.  Love thrives on bricks and mortar.  No sonnet could outdo news of your homefire burning.  In such a light, the poet is the tawdry guy who earned his reputation.  Luckily, History regards the dead as somewhat necessarily so.  And once in the "proper" condition, History can make space that need not include all the details of your County Courthouse Platbook.  But while your alive, that Platbook will tell a dull tale that amounts to a path more likely to include the smile of a maid.  Shakespeare be damned.

As is the case with both Hal's song (in 2001) and Bogie's song (in Casablanca) the question comes down to "fundamentals applying" and the impermenence of existence. Will it be the "bicycle" or the "carriage"?  You better be a better singer, in somewhat better condition then Hal, should you wish Daisy to mistake your bicycle chariot for a fundamental thing, upon application.  She may, and properly so if she's a smart woman, apply your query to file thirteen. 

The last thing in the world required in even this pedestrian circumstance is some kind of intellectualization.  Any fixation of circumstance to the firmament of "understanding" must include some serious practical footwork. Outside that, your dreaming. 

It's funny, but, despite my fears, at times, I'm not dreaming.  This exercise, while for any number of real and imagined women, friends, family and yes, you, dear reader, is not a dream.  It's an exploration of the insanity implied my routine cognitive iteration.  At some point you step off and say, "all right." I know certain things, and they apply to certain things.  The danger is to go for knowing when doing is much better.  I have suffered plenty of times an ignorance of that fact.  However, my humor, here, so inexpertly applied, is meant to review for myself, and hopefully, you, that yeah, I'm a work in progress, but I deserve the life which includes attention to the basics, but also the gifts of the poets embrace. 

And I promise to consider the square of the distance, dear.

"No community can be truly had, where there is not space for the intolerable to abide."  ----I forget who said this, but it's a key theme of my annoyingly thoughtful friend, Jim.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

What My People Call A Plaza

Growing up a white kid from the suburbs afforded me a lot of opportunities, and pleasures.  I ran in the woods.  I ran in my neighbors yards.  I ran on the sidewalks of my town as well.  Living in a small town, traffic wasn't too bad, and sometimes there were no sidewalks.  But that was ok, since there were very few cars, and most of the time I was in a residential neighborhood where nobody ever walked except for recreation.

After I dropped out of college and moved back to my home town, I quickly came to realize that I more or less could not afford to live there.  Rent was more expensive than I wished.  And opportunities mostly presented themselves outside of the suburbs... in town.  So eventually, for a lot of different reasons, I got a job delivering pizza and managing a pizza joint at the corner of Westlane (71st street) and Michigan Rd.  Also known as 421, Martin Luther King, and Northwestern Ave.  A historically interesting corner of Marion County, Metro Indianapolis. 

This corner was a place I had grown up driving past, and being in the near vicinity to.  There was a child care Kiddie College just a block or so away. A number of stores, and dry cleaners, some of which my family continued to use for nearly twenty years (more or less my entire childhood.) And, most of all, for this story, the grocery store, on the corner, that anchored a thirty year old shopping strip, called Westlane Shopping Center. It was a corner I was extremely familiar with... especially from running errands for my parents.  And yet, it was always a place I had visited by car.  To this day, I have never visited it in any other way.  And yet, as I came to discover, working at a pizza place on this prominent corner of my part of town.... many, many people in that neighborhood did not own a car.  They used public transport, or walked, wherever they had their business.

As I settled into my job delivering pizza to the neighborhood, I relished learning more about the geography of that part of my hometown: the Northwest corner of Indianapolis.  For one thing... for all the times I had driven my vehicle south on Michigan or Zionsville Road... once I got to 71st and Michigan, I really didn't know so well where the rest of the landmarks in town were.  It didn't really occur to me, immediately, that St. Vincent's Hospital was more or less a few city blocks away on 86 St. down Harcourt Rd.  It took me an embarrassingly long time to figure that "short cut" out.  Even though every map of the area had the same black and colored lines connecting the hospital to my new workplace.  The map in my head, as I was to learn and be somewhat philosophically curious about, did not comport with the map on paper and, perhaps most of all, the roads themselves.  As you might guess, I am naturally bad with geographical situational awareness, and this new job of knowing the best route through an area I naturally had a poor abstract concept of (on multiple levels) amounted to a very interesting puzzle for a hilariously long time for Mr. Coffey.

In a sense, I simply pretended that I belonged in a job that I was naturally bad at.  And worked in a neighborhood that was a bit rougher than any I'd ever spent more than just a few minutes in.  The combination fascinated me.

Perhaps the third day I worked at the pizza joint, a new 17 year old kid, named Scott came in the door looking for a job.  He called out the name of Jaykita, a girl who worked there making pizza's and answering the phones.  Jay exclaimed, "hey!" and ran around the counter in an obvious act of familiarity and reconnection.  Being new, and knowing neither of them, I just  kept to myself. But, as it turned out, Jay and Scott knew each other from school and Church. But, neither had seen each other recently, since Scott had been in jail.  Now that he'd been released, Scott was looking for a job.  Within a few days he began working at the pizza joint.  And a few days after that, the manager asked me if I'd give him a ride home, down 71st to a somewhat bad apartment complex called Timber Falls.  "Sure," I told my manager.  "As long as he don't mind holding the pizza's while I deliver them first." 
"No problem," said Scott generously, "no problem at all."
So, while delivering the pizza's, and with Scott in the car, I asked him if he'd mind just sitting there, while I ran in each building with the pizza, and left the car still running.  "Where else am I gonna go?" he asked. 
As if to answer the question while I drove to the next house, Scott told me, "Say, this is a nice ride.  Olds Cutlass Sierra... where'd you get this car?" 
"Well," I told him, "unfortunately my Grandma died.  I guess I was given a good deal on her car. I payed a few thousand for it... I guess it was worth about five or six at the time.  I got a really good deal from her estate." 
"Yeah, this car is beautiful," said Scott.
Not wanting to seem like a spoiled brat... I just gave him my most convincing "yeah" I could.
"In fact," said Scott, "I'd be tempted to steal this car if it wasn't yours. But, I wouldn't steal your car, man."
We both laughed... "glad to hear that Scott."
I pulled into his neighborhood, waving at the superfluous guard at the shack at it's entrance.  It was not only the one neighborhood with a guard who controlled access to the parking lot---  it was also one of the most dangerous neighborhoods and one of the more expensive section 8 neighborhoods.  The guard was a way to confuse people into spending more on a worse place to live.  You'd call this irony, if it were in any sense different than simple greed. 

All of this was between 6.6 and 7 miles from my childhood home.  A remarkable statistic, which provided no little shame to my heart and mind over the years. 
And that was how I met Scott.  It became a ritual to take him home... and it became a welcome sight to see him walk in for a pizza to take home to his Mom, or more likely... to take to a girl.  He had a fast smile, and a clever way of including everyone in his orbit.  He was tough, but easy on others... and he didn't seem to be up to anything too terrible these days... though he was always, like most people I worked around at the joint, up to something.
The years passed and I came and went from the pizza place to work on a farm and start a cleaning service.  On and off I worked for the pizza joint for two and a half years.  Finally, I found myself one November without a car, home or job.  I was twenty-three years old and had mined everyone in my life clean of ore... and I was more or less at my wits end.  My car had broken down in a more or less safe place.. so I could sleep in it until it got too cold.  But, I needed a job to make money for somewhere to live and eat.  I needed a solution to my circumstance.
One day I called the old pizza joint, thinking they probably had no jobs available, and one of the guys I used to work with there, John, was working and answered the phone.
"Hey, Andy, how are you?" he said in his utterly confident way. 
"Hey John, I'm all right.  What are you up to these days, delivering pizza?" I asked, figuring he'd make fun of me for asking such an obvious question.
"No, man, I'm the General Manager these days."
"Your kidding! What would you say if I told you I needed a job?"
"I'd say that's why your calling me," he said.
We laughed.
"Yeah, you know. It is." 

The next day I had my uniform, a place to live, and a vehicle to drive.  I would be working from 9 AM to 2:30 AM every day, with overtime.  Within a week I would make more money than I'd made in the previous month and a half.  I made nearly a thousand dollars a week.  Long hours, overtime and tips.

John was doing a fantastic job running the place.  It's numbers had grown enormously over what I had seen in previous years.  I had managed the place a little and knew enough that I could see his delivery times had been whittled down to the very edge of what physics and municipal law (and perhaps a bit of poor judgment) could allow.  In short: the times were fast.

This resulted in low return calls... happy customers... hot pizza's... and more money.  Drivers could expect on a six hour shift to make between $50-70 in tips.  Plus minimum wage.  And... I was clocking thirty plus hours in overtime per week.  My checks were grotesquely large... I had no time off, but with Christmas coming I didn't care.  My phone call to John meant I could tow my Grandma's old car to Scott's and ask how much he wanted for it.  He gave me a poker face and the car a pass.  I paid for its disposal at a metals facility.

By the following late February I had an apartment, near by, was off the streets and had been promoted to the assistant manager of the place.  More or less, I closed it down every night with shift managers.  I worked five days a week, and had two days off.  I still made great money, plus occasional extras in tips, ect.

I did notice, unfortunately, that John had a new girlfriend who was sixteen years old.  I felt like I should at least be civil, since John didn't seem to understand what I was talking about when I said the words, "statutory rape."  I am not proud that I didn't walk away at the moment I learned of the relationship.

He hired his new squeeze, of course.  And one day while we were opening the restaurant, she ran to the bathroom in a manner that gave a person the sense that she had to get sick.  I looked at John, "you simply gotta tell me, now, that she might have the flu."
John smiled broadly, perhaps with even a tinge of pink in his cheeks, "no.  I think she's pregnant."
"From one of her other boyfriends, right?" I said.
He guffawed.  "No, Andy. I think we're gonna have a kid."
"Let's not get the cart before the horse, here, old man.  She just had breakfast.  Now the breakfast is in the toilet.  Your other women had something like ten kids over the last twenty years.. and now, your picking out names?"
"I'm pretty excited," he said, as Nadia exited the bathroom. 
"You ok?" I asked her.  I knew that such a question was patently ridiculous in the neighborhood I was in, under the circumstances which she seemed to accept, and given she probably still had a bit of her breakfast to clean off her lips.
"Yeah," she said, "morning sickness sucks."
I don't know what the look on my face was exactly just then... but it was the same look that makes my friends laugh today... when all you can do, is agree exponentially.

A few days later I was exiting my car and John walked out of the pizza place toward me, with huge tears in his eyes.  "Nadia bled out today," he said, throwing his arms around me.
Feeling the shuddering and heartfelt sobs that were coming from my totally screwed up friend made me confused as hell.  But, somehow, I patted his back, and kept my sense that the world was sometimes an exceedingly balanced place to myself. 
"There, there," I remember thinking, "surely one of your other twelve known children's birthdays is coming up soon.  Look out for quality time."  He was really sobbing. 
"Your my best friend, Andy."
"Well.... thanks, John. I'm sorry about Nadia.  Mother Nature just sometimes spares one heartbreak with another. But that doesn't make it easy."
The rest of the day I felt like the biggest jerk in history, and therefore was completely unprepared or aware of what far more important things had entered my head and ears over the previous months.  I'm almost always as stupid as I need to be.

The next day was pay day, and as per usual I walked the length of the strip center to the grocery store (the pizza joint was on the far end) to use my bank, which was within it.  Depositing my check, and feeling sort of amazed for the thousandth time that I was being paid so much to do so little, I was walking back toward the store, on the sidewalk in front of a CVS, when I saw Scott walking my way.  Scott, in the intervening years had cleaned up his act.  He looked wonderful, clean and stylish... like only the gals and guys in that neighborhood could pull off.  Not in my wildest honky dreams was I ever going to walk down the street looking as good as Scott on his average day. His hair corn-rowed and his shoes a few paychecks down.  His walk, which portrayed a canny awareness mixed with a stoic toughness, either of which would have simply been lies had I the ability to transmit them in my gait (I didn't and don't.  I carried a baseball bat, when delivering in those neighborhoods.  When a nice customer would see the bat, upon which I rested their pizza, and inevitably asked, "what's that for?"  I always replied, "to beat people up with, Maam.  Perhaps you noticed the size of my wrists?"  Generally the person would either frown in disapproval, or laugh.  Both couldn't decipher my meaning.  And both were successful in creating their own.
I was mugged four times at gunpoint, and shot at once, over those two and one-half years.  Fifty or sixty times I was approached where I saw a man look at the bat in my hands (a large, expensive softball bat, and a 24" Maglight on my belt) and turn and walk away.  I usually called out, "Where I come from we always say Howdy!"  I'm ashamed to admit I fantasized about being attacked... and acted this out a few times.  Then again, sometimes before you knew what had happened, someone was flossing your teeth with a Glock.) 
Countless people I never saw none-the-less never approached because of the bat and my changed bearing as I became used to being attacked. 
There was also the unpleasant business of getting myself out of trouble at the bar with John.  The less said about that the better.  It was probably a good thing that I never saw any family or friends in those years.  Sometimes I looked pretty crazy.  I'd forget I had a busted lip or black eye, or bruises on my arms and face, and I'd go to Wal-Mart or worse, the Mall.  I'd look at some kid in the store aisle as I passed a family walking to get some motor oil or what have you.  The Mom would grab her kid away from me, as if I were a wild animal. As a confirmed member of white middle class suburban heaven... I could do nothing but laugh at such an action by a good parent.  These days it doesn't strike me as nearly so funny.

So, walking back to the store... in the somewhat safer circumstances of no longer working in the streets, I was in a great mood that day.  Money lining my pockets. My expenses low.  Hardened by my experiences, and made far more safe by my promotion.  I didn't know what I was going to do with myself eventually... but for the time being they were planning on just giving me the store, and giving John another poor performer, in an even larger market, to turn around.  We were certainly running huge numbers. Sometimes hundreds of pizza's catered before lunch even started.  When a driver couldn't make it, John and I would both pocket fifty bucks from the gratuity, before the store would even open.  We were minting money... on a Tuesday morning. 

Like I said, I looked up and there's old Sugar Man himself, Scott.  "Hey Scott. How are you on this fine, fine Friday afternoon?"
"Oh, I'm okay," said Scott, looking over my right shoulder and turning as if to check for bad business at his five o'clock. He wouldn't make my gaze.
"Great," I said, "I guess I'll see you in a bit, at the store. You work tonight?"
"Naw," he said, "I got stuff to do, and I'm not scheduled." He said most of this while walking away. Something was wrong.
Scott had been going to the most prominent local Baptist Church.  He'd given himself fully to the Church's activities, and programs. And, as should be the case, he found the values in his fellow parishoners to be worthy of emulation.  He'd been doing a great job with that, and seemed to be thriving. I stood there a little worried, from his tone, that something was throwing his game off.  I really cared about him, and wanted him to be OK.  I was rooting for this guy I'd met straight out of jail.  He had never stolen my car.  In many ways, his story had stolen my heart, however.
On his way back, Scott looked up, and his mien was not that of an old friend.  "Still here?" he said, without smiling.
"Yeah, man. You've got me worried about you," I said.
"Worried about me?" he said, somewhat accusingly.  "Andy, I'm  worried about you.  Aren't you?"
"No. I'm not. Why are you worried?" I asked.
"I'm worried that you don't seem to have a problem with John's behavior as long as he still gives you your money," said Scott.
"Do you think he's stealing, Scott?" I asked, genuinely interested.
"No, you fool," he said, disgusted. "I don't know why I'm wasting my time talking to you.  Can't you see he's screwing his help?"
"Well... sure, he shouldn't have hired Nadia. That's unethical.  I'm pretty sure the corporation is more in love with their numbers then they would be proving something in a court of law.  But that's just my sense of things."
"Naw, Andy, they're not going to need no court of law," he said, looking out over the pine trees above Westlane Laundermat.
"Well," I said, "I agree... I'm mean, Scott, look around."
"That's what you need to do," he said, looking straight in my eyes. "You know the truth, but you aren't paying any attention. I used to respect you. But you are putting your friendship ahead of the right thing here.  He's got you fooled.  And a smart guy, Andy, who acts like a fool?  What do you call that?"
"Well fine, Scott. I'm a fool then.  What else is going on? Is he stealing?"
"He might be stealing, but I'm not gonna worry about any of that.  He's screwing everyone, Andy. Everyone! Everyone under twenty-five and female.  That's how he does the schedule, man. That's how they get their hours. You didn't know this."
I was having, I admitted, a bit of trouble focusing just then.  My heart growing with gratitude toward this wonderful, tough, smart man; I felt like an idiot. And my wallet was starting to feel thinner (though truthfully, also a bit familiar).  I spoke to John about the allegations.  He agreed and he denied. But mostly he just seemed bored by the conversation.  It didn't concern him.  It was merely about him.

I called my regional and district managers.   I told them that I was aware that I had been working for a sexist and fairly conservative corporation since the beginning, but I had to ask if they were aware that their star manager in the area was having trouble keeping his ink pen in the modern style.
"What do you mean by that," said the dumber of the two.
"Well, Terry," I asked him, "when's the last time you dipped your nib?  I hope you're recording this conversation.  Your star manager, John, has been screwing his employees.  This has come to my attention, and I'm sorta figuring you already knew.  Then again, I had been sorta paying less attention then I should have.. so.  I'm going to help you transfer in a new guy, but after what these girls have been through, and given that in the society I live in today they have no other real choices... I think the ethical thing would be for me to train the new guy, and leave within the month."
And that's more or less what happened.  I went and worked for minimum wage in my home town. I had always thought it would be great to work in my home town at this job that had been so dangerous, at 71st St.  But, when I got into the actual job in my home town, across from all the old familiar buildings... I just had lost any desire to be associated with the job or company.  Within a few weeks I quit.  I had three hundred dollars in my pocket. I went to a few organic farms and tried to get a job. They laughed.  They didn't know or need me.    So, with a rental car I couldn't pay for, and enough cash to make it for less then a week, I drove to Bloomington. I told myself I'd moved.  I had visited a few weeks before on a cool May day.  Once enough rain fell over my cheeks, I felt just the slightest bit clean for the first time in a few years.  Even if I had to sleep beneath the Hostas ( which, the first day I was there, I saw pushing their leaf mould straight off the ground) I would sleep better than I had in months. 
I moved to Bloomington and slept in my car for about thirty-five days.  I met some new friends and got an apartment and a job within two months.  I'd settled in with a girl within fourteen months. I felt slightly sick of, but incapable of leaving my new home town within two years.  That's when I knew I'd found my place.  And I don't think it was raining that day.

Two years after I moved to Bloomington, I was returning to Indianapolis to visit my therapist and an old friend of mine in Broad Ripple.  My usual route to Broad Ripple was over 71st St. past Michigan Rd to Meridian. Mostly for old times sake. I still love Pike Township from New Augusta to Meridian Hills.  Memories of childhood and the playing of softball with bad guys heads in the hood, seems fresher than fresh when you've spent a few years around your average well behaved cat from Bloomington. I couldn't even fathom a black eye.  And hey, just the other day a woman saw me playing with her kid and asked me if I was married.  I didn't ask her why she didn't worry about her child's safety around me.  I was glad she noticed how much I love kids.  I was glad I noticed how much I loved kids.

Anyhow, I went to see my therapist, Jim, and then went and had dinner and spent the night on my old buddy Daniel's couch.  The next morning we went for coffee and scones at the local coffee shop, and I took off, retracing my route back toward my past... toward 71st and Michigan. Noticing that my gas was a bit low for the short trip back to Bloomington, I pulled into the Shell gas station that remains where I used to work for those years... and have driven past my whole life. 

While pumping my gas I looked around me.. like everyone pumping gas.  I looked over at the window where I once knew all the attendants names: they were thankfully on to greener pastures... I hoped.  And I looked to where the public phones were, and noticed, given that someone was on the phone, they obviously, unlike in prosperous Bloomington, got some usage.  The man on the phone hung up and turned around.  I felt a strange sensation of extreme joy, and a haunting fear.  It was Scott. My old friend who straightened me out.  Who never would have stolen my Olds.  Who looked odd.  Then again, he was squinting at me as well.
"Yeah, man.  I haven't got any hair left... it's Andy, Scott.  I'm uglier than ever."
"Andy... holy.. Andy how you doin..." he called out to me, and walking toward me, I could see he had a pronounced limp.
"I'm OK, man... not making the kind of money I used to in Nap Town. Bloomington is wage slave heaven, and I'm a baker making very little.  But I'm happy, and have a decent girl.  Things have been worse... as I'm sure you recall."
"Uh," Scott smiled, showing an extremely gapped-toothed and worn smile,"you were all right..."
"Scott," I said, "I wanted to thank you when I left.  I never had your phone number.. and when I came back they'd moved the store to Georgetown Rd.  I went there and no one had ever heard of you.  It's Scott Brinks, right?  Brinks?"
"Yeah," he said, trailing a little at the wonder of my remembering.  We were both surprised. "Brinks. Scott Brinks."
"Are you doing OK, Scott? You still with pastor Jim, and his troublemaking brothers?  It was Boys to Men back then... right?  What is it, Jars to Clay these days, coming to see your famous Church in Indy?  Trust me, they aren't going to Zionsville."
"Oh, they might be going there, Andy.  We're all Christians in the eyes of God."
"I guess I'm as arrogant as ever," I said, in remorse.
Scott laughed, "we're all of that in His eyes as well!"
I smiled, a wave of sadness rushing over me. "God, it's good to see your face."
"You too." he said.
"You know, I'm not a very busy man. Can I give you a ride... can I buy you a coffee or something."
Scott got a somewhat startled look, and gave a sidelong glance, then said, "I got somewhere to be... but I'll see you again."
As always, when it is brought to my attention that someone else isn't feeling exactly as I am, it startled me.  He had been being nice.  I had been warming up.  He'd been being polite.
"Oh, yeah," I said, "of course.  Thanks for talking to me.  You were like... I don't know, my Virgil to this place, Scott.  It would have been impossible to come here, without you. And in the end... you were the reason I left with some of myself intact. "
"You always had something nice to say," Scott smiled sadly, " that I couldn't make sense of.  You got rid of that car--- the Olds?"
"Yeah... you wouldn't buy it from me." I said.
"Yeah!" he cried, "you brought that broken down piece of junk and tried to leave it at my house."
"Well..." I said, defensively, "outside of my Uncle's best friend, you were its biggest fan. Besides, I owed you."
"For what?"
"For not stealing it sooner."
We laughed.  I did what pathetic memory of our old handshake remained in my stupid honky arm... and gripped his hand, looking into his tired smiling eyes.  "Good to see you."
"Yeah, man.  Take care."
In his face, and his limp, as he walked away I could see his exhaustion.  Only a few iterations away from what should have had happened to me.  And frankly, given my nature, he probably had made it far longer than I ever would have.  Who knew?
My heart sank, as I got in that car, and turned away from his figure, as he continued down Westlane, on the apron of the street where the pedestrians in that neighborhood walked.  There was no sidewalk. Just a flat graded gutter for errant vehicles, plowed snow, and slowly eroding men.

Six months later, another old friend, Jaykita ran into me at the grocery at Westlane Plaza.  We laughed about funny memories.. and I asked her why Scott was limping when I had seen him that Spring.  Jaykita looked at me strangely, "Scott... Andy; he's died." 

He overdosed two months prior.

Knowing that some people can construct a rationale for his demise that could none the less endure my cultures perspectives: it gives me strength to listen sometimes to this heart that he helped to better shape.  And it helps me realize that nobody is half as good as they think... nor half as deserving of any fate that is the going wage.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Splenda The Good

Check out this wicked warrior of serious weirdness: Becky Stern.  Wow!  My minds reeling.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

A Chair, A Book, His Life and Her Cover

After work today I wanted to get a cup of coffee.  So I went to the bookstore and coffee in hand looked around.  I oftentimes think to myself while doing stuff at home and around town, "why in the world did I once go to the bookstore and library so much?"  And then, like this afternoon, I'll be at the bookstore or library and my mind will be blown by a number of things, and it all comes back to me.

A few weeks ago I was at the bookstore and saw a publication by the folks who do Make magazine.  The book was more or less a Chemistry Sets for Dummies book.  I pulled it off the shelf convinced it was somehow over selling itself, since such a book, well done, is approaching a holy grail for me... and what do you know?  It's really well done.  A couple days later I was watching a lecture by a robotics engineer and he casually mentioned a mass spectrometer he built through the ministrations of Make magazine.  I'm going to have to subscribe immediately.  The Chemistry set book is so incredibly great.  It's staggering to me that kids don't receive Chemistry sets these days.  That I don't receive Chemistry sets these days.  It actually just occurred to me that I should make a few sets and try selling them through some friends.  I'll bet you could sell them pretty easily (with a robust waiver, of course.)

Today's finds at the bookstore were pretty amazing, too.  I frequently read Taunton Press magazines like all the "Fine...." franchises.  They are incredibly well written testaments of the quality not only of certain kinds of human interest, i.e. Carpentry and Crafts.  But, also of the soul undergirding many craftspersons endeavors.  Sometimes people express very complex worldviews in the simplest of explanations.  Building a table becomes a parable of a craftpersons many faceted life.  Many of Taunton's articles and the books they get turned into reflect this. 

I was looking at the quilting section... I had never really looked very hard at it before.  My mother is a wonderful quilter, and has done some stuff with fabric that staggers me.  Partially due to her, but really just the inherent beauty of the art and craft of fabric work is something I'd like to pay a great deal more attention to.  Textiles as materials rival some of the mathematical genius in nature in terms of their complexity and the ingenuity of their design and manufacture.  Without doubt the early twentieth century computers made thorough use of the elaborate encoding cards that told automated looms what to do in the printing of incredibly detailed custom weavings.  Coding for fabric threaded the needle (I can't resist) for computers.  What other paradigm could have assisted in the mechanization of patterned "loops" of instruction?  And, a surprising quantity of delicious math goes into my Moms quilts.  Though, she doesn't often put it exactly that way.  I see a lot of quilts as gorgeous meldings of soulful human sentiment into the simplified fractals that most directly provide us with pleasure in both the natural and handmade world.  Digital quilts on TV aren't so popular precisely because the symbolism  and aesthetics of quilts are less then half their soul.  They are first and foremost the masterworks of ingenious human beings... oftentimes like a skater executing a killer trick, gleeking out with incredible complexity and verve.  At least that's what my Mom does.  Quilt or die, Maam!

I noticed beside the quilting books something else. And to my shame, given what I wrote above, I temporarily forgot about quilting.  The books were all about furniture design.  I'd never seen but a few of them. The carpentry section doesn't include them.  While none of them are particularly amazing, looking through the books was pretty cool.  One of the chair builders I read had an extremely cool sense of humor.  He was also wicked honest.  He said he frequently autopsies his old chairs and looks at their joinery (cutting them in half.)  This practice had caused him to make some pretty significant changes to his practices.  He mentions, for example, not making mortise holes so snug that expansion and contraction causes a crack.  He found a number of causes of cracks in his work, and eliminated the offending practice to the best of his ability.   He also explained something I frequently wonder about when I am in my friend's antique shops.  The chairs in these shops can be well over a hundred years old, and in some cases, will obviously never have been disassembled.  With nothing but glued up joinery and nothing but abuse to look forward to, how in the world do chairs last? (how many valuable objects do we abuse more than a chair?  I was looking with admiration upon the ratty old wooden chair of the bookstore I was in.  Funny how the book was a window into what I was sitting on... making me more alive with wonder.)  Some really fascinating answers were provided by the author.  Basically, three things give chairs their strength.  The first is materials.  Chairs, real stiled, crafted chairs without fasteners, joined together.  These are made of prescribed materials, chosen by tradition for strength, in a manner that truly puts them in a category pretty far away from any carpentry I ever do.  Their woods are oftentimes from the oak family, and split along the natural lines of tension in a tree, rather than sawn.  This is believed to give the wood extra strength (I'm convinced it does not... however, like many other human convictions, the belief sustains a credo that infects the rest of the process with confidence, honesty and truth.)  The second is that chairs are fastened together, with adhesives and clever joinery.  Joinery has a surface area which, provided the adhesive is doing its job, dwarfs a fastener, in terms of it's ability to withstand abuse.  I've written elsewhere as to the astonishing lifespan of colonial homes in America that were pegged together.  Nails and screws turn to dust eventually. Joinery turns to dust on a horizon that, scaled to human lifespans, is a nearly spiritual matter.  And the last thing that makes chairs last so long is what Buckminster Fuller called "Tensegrity."  Tensegrity is the merging of the words "tension" and "integrity."  Any civil engineer will tell you that you must exert tension in order to keep a road surface above a river... or, a building above six stories.  Try spanning a great distance with an unreinforced concrete beam. Stone has compressive strength, but under tension (or hell, just through gravity alone) stone cracks and breaks.  That's why you'll find building materials of stone in bricks, slabs, and other large items of great thickness.  A beam of stone would break under tension.  Buckminster Fuller noticed that by creating skeletons of tensioned "bones" in his vehicles and architectural designs, he could span distances that freed him up for organic shapes, and more biological aesthetics that justifiably made him famous (even if round spaces are a disaster to the rather square sensibilities of human civic engagement.) It's worth pointing out that Cathedral makers approached Fullers ideas through their iterative development of spidery stonework and buttresses.   The chair-maker I read explained how he devised flaws in his designs which caused the mortises of his chairs to only grudgingly accept their mating tenons.  By forcing these unwilling joints together, his chairs become unified under stress and tension.  It is this tension in classic chair design (like many pre-industrial arts, barely articulated except through tradition) that causes the chairs to remain whole, long after their joints glue turns to dust.  Really?  Really.   The "flaw" that is often pointed out as a component of many traditional cultures folk art forms... like an ancient tapestry reveals an interrupted series with a slightly flawed instance of variation.... turns out to be a component of some of the most Cartesian seeming objects.  For all the hurtling desire of a chair maker to give his crafted object strength and perfect 4 legged poise upon the plane of the floor--- their exists in his endeavor the dope of imperfection.

I also read some of a brand new book about consciousness and how it arose from the dynamics between the brain and body, not only the brain.  It's author is a Neuro-Scientist, and some of the sentences in it cracked me up.  At one point the author was describing certain organized dances between different neurons and the body and he flatly states after a few paragraphs of fairly esoteric anatomic and pathological description, "it is thought that those phenomena may amount to  what we experience as "feelings."  I'll remember that next time I piss a woman off.  "You don't know what I feel!" she'll say.  "I have some idea..." I'll unwisely reply, taking an book off the shelf to read a bizarre passage.  Love...

It's remarkable how cognitive science and robotics have allowed us to begin to question the deity status of our human brains.  While only a fool would claim that the brain is even remotely understood (look up work that is being undertaken to map it some time.  Experts who are responsible for actually mapping neurons, like a street map, aren't too depressed.... in case you don't know this, we aren't even remotely close to doing this.  The experts say they figure one day we'll have some robots which might be able to automate the mapping to absurd scales of endeavor, which might get it done within a human lifetime.  I more or less believe that.  And yet, what it intimates is that the human brain, physiologically, is like an inward universe.  That I have one (I tap my skull) right here, right now, is funny.  My strange little priceless patch of the infinite. And can I fly across this eight pound Universe? No more, really, than I can it's somewhat heavier sibling.  The reason I mentioned questioning this remarkable organ, is that Cog Sci is really just what they used to call artificial intelligence.  It is mapping, aping, and attempting to replicate the astonishing biological emergence of cognition, that is the driver these days of the best questions about the brain.  And much of the modeling (proto- cognition) that happens in the brain turns out to be highly assisted by our bodies continual feedback.  The conversation between the body and brain turns out to be some pretty astonishing architecture.  And it just might be that all of what we colloquially call human thought, feeling and comedy happens in that space, in that conversation.  Not the product of a particular structure of the brain.  Not a function of form or intention at all.  (a wonderful lesson in any case.... sense I suppose I was something like 33 years old before I realized that evolution does not intend the improvements that are owed to it.  There isn't a hierarchy of evolutionary direction. And natural selection will just as happily deselect traits human beings regard as dear and valuable, as it surely has encouraged the same: but crucially, through no intention, or "improvement" of any kind.  Sight and flying evolved into existence and out of existence tens to hundreds of times.  Natural selection does not prefer a trait: it reflects, as a theory of ecology, that traits come and go by their impact upon the fertility and  survivability of the species.  That is why eugenics are actually not Darwinian, though they are frequently called that, and for all practical purposes you'd have to be a jerk to deny the colloquial meaning of "Darwinian." The survival of the fittest. But what is fit, to the maul of Mama Nature? Surely not the perfect fit to some Southern Hoosier's presumptions!  But, none the less, the improvement of the species by cunning genetic manipulation and breeding has nothing whatsoever to do with the underlying principles that Darwin developed his views through.) 

One of the best things about the book was a beautifully designed cover showing the title and a large letter "i."  Next to the "i" there were some variations on a filled circle that seemed merely koan like at a glance. Then your mind sort of kicks in and you realize that the "i" is obviously punning the subject of the book, which is clever enough.  And the little half and whole circles are stages of a rising sun, ending with the dot on the eye.  The number of archetypes this clean little execution touches is staggering.  And it hits you like a shot of bourbon on the tongue of a babe.  I could have bought it for the cover alone.

Monday, January 31, 2011

I Couldn't Resist

Just now, when I should be biting into a sandwich with both hands, instead of operating this silly machine... I got what was coming to me, looking for a list of pertinent info, from my laudable local Building Department.  About ready to give up, a small feeling of guilt, and moral embarrassment came over me: I hadn't looked at the Frequently Asked Questions.  Like most human beings, I'm allergic to instructions and FAQ's.  Especially when I am hungry and even more so at lunch time.  The list begins:

 You'll notice.... Taxes, Drugs, and Death play a significant role when people look to their County Gov't for help.  Perhaps my favorite question is: "Where is my loved one being taken?"  Depending on who's asking the question, and the state of mind, composure, health, ect. of the loved one... it's hard to imagine how to answer such a question.  The way the County handles the question, it becomes obvious that for Monroe County, "Loved One" is a euphemism for dead relative.  Oh well...  How do you add or remove someone from your property (Q12)?  Provided  they aren't a "loved one," that is a wonderful question.  Welcome to Southern Indiana.

Q1.When are taxes due?

Q2.What is Drug Court?

Q3.Why is the Coroner involved in the death of my loved one?

Q4.I'd like to change the mailing address for my tax bill.  Is that possible?

Q5.Where is my loved one being taken?

Q6.I re-financed my mortgage.  I was told that I had to re-file my Homestead deduction.  Is t...

Q7.I just bought a new house. What deductions can I get

Q8.Where do I file my property tax deductions?

Q9.What is the deadline for filing deductions and exemptions?

Q10.What do I need to bring to the Auditor's office with me to file deductions?

Q11.When are Monroe County property taxes due?

Q12.How do I add or remove someone from my property?

Q13.What are your transfer fees?

Q14.How do I find out who owns a specific property?

Q15.Can I pay my property tax by credit card?

Q16.If I call to request information about my property tax what information do I need to provide for you...

Q17.Can I change the name on my tax bill?

Q18.What information do I need to provide to the Treasurer’s office to obtain a mobile home title transf...

Q19.How much were my taxes in previous years?

Q20.Can I find information about taxes, such as payments received, taxes due, etc?

Q21.Who is eligible for Drug Court?

Q22.How does Drug Court work?

Q23.How do I find out more information about Drug Court?

Q24.How do I make changes to my benefits?

Q25.How do I contact PERF?

Q26.How are jurors selected?

Q27.What are the requirements to serve as a juror?

Q28.What are the different types of jury trials?

Q29.What is the difference between “eligible for duty” and serving as a juror?

Q30.If my juror number is read what does that mean?

Q31.How long does a juror have to serve?

Q32.Are there any exemptions from jury service?

Q33.Where do I park if I’m required to report for jury service?

Q34.Do I get paid as a juror?

Q35.How many jurors are required?

Q36.How many jurors must agree on a verdict?

Q37.Does the Court provide lunch for jurors?

Q38.How can my family reach me if there is an emergency at home while I'm on jury service?

Q39.I have additional questions or concerns about jury service.  Who do I ask?

Q40.How can I get a copy of the most recent food inspection report for a particular food establishment?

Q41.Where can  I obtain food manager certification training?

Q42.How do I make a complaint against a food establishment?

Q43.Can I prepare food in my home to sell in a commercial operation?

Q44.What do I need to do when I plan on opening a food establishment, either as a new owner of an existi...

Q45.What records does the Vital Statistics Department have?

Q46.How do I apply for a birth certificate?

Q47.What documentation do I need to obtain a birth or death certificate?

Q48.What documentation can I use if I lost my driver’s license due to theft or fire?

Q49.What kind of payment does the Health Department accept?

Q50.What is the Health Department’s address?

Q51.How soon can I receive the birth or death certificate?  

Q52.How do I apply for a death certificate?

Q53.How do I apply for genealogy certificates?

Q54.How do I amend a birth certificate?

Q55.Are the Public Defenders real attorneys?

Q56.What types of cases are assigned to Public Defenders?

Q57.How do I get a Public Defender to represent me?

Q58.What do I do after a Public Defender is appointed to my case?

Q59.What happens at the appointment?

Q60.Should I hire a private attorney?

Q61.Should I try to hire a private attorney because they will do a better job/the Public Defender is ove...

Q62.Who else can I talk to about my case?

Q63.I forgot the name of my Public Defender.  I forgot my court date.  How can I find out?

Q64.Will the Public Defender represent me if I am a resident of another county/state/country?

Q65.My English is limited/I am Deaf.  Can the Public Defender get an interpreter to assist me?

Q66.Do I have to pay the Public Defender?

Q67.I have limited financial resources, and my case is not criminal.  How do I get representation?

Q68.Why does the gas pump show 3 gallons of gas when my container is only 2.5 gallons?

Q69.Why does the gas pump show more gallons than my vehicle holds according to the manual?

Q70.How can I contact Weights and Measures?

Q71.How often are gas pumps checked?

Q72.Why is the scanned price on some items higher than the advertised price at stores?

Q73.What kinds of diseases can I get from swimming in a pool or spa that does not maintain water quality...

Q74.What is the difference between a Flood and Flash Flooding?

Q75.What should I do if a flood or flash flooding is likely for my area?

Q76.What should I do after the threat of a flood or flash flooding has passed?

Q77.Is there anything I can do to prior to a flood or flash flooding?

Q78.What is flood insurance?

Q79.What is the difference between a tornado watch and a tornado warning?

Q80.What should I do once a tornado warning has been issued or if a tornado is imminent?

Q81.Where do I find a list of job openings?

Q82.Where to I go to get an application for employment?

Q83.How will employees be 'billed' by the Employee Health Clinic?  Will they pay at the time of ser...

Q84.If a specialist orders blood work, and the Employee Health Clinic draws the blood and sends it out, ...

Q85.If I see someone at the Employee Heatlh Clinic and I am need of a referral to a specialist, will the...

Q86.Will Williams Brothers be able to fill non-generic  90-day prescriptions, for maintenance drugs...

Q87.When do I need a building permit?

Q88.What is my Zoning?

Q89.What can I do on my property?

Q90.How do I divide my property?

Q91.How many acres are required to create a buildable lot?

Q92.When do I need a logging permit?

Q93.When do I need a sign permit?

Q94.When do I need a grading permit?

Q95.What are my building setbacks?

Q96.What are the regulations regarding home businesses?

Q97.Can I have a second home on my property?

Q98.What are the regulations regarding outdoor trash and junk vehicles?

Q99.Where can flood plain information be obtained?

Q100.What are the regulations regarding livestock and domestic animals?

Q101.What is the Lake Monroe Watershed area?

Q102.What is the phone number for Legal Services?

Q103.Does Monroe County have a Noise Ordinance?

Q104.What restrictions do we have for open burning?

Q105.Does Monroe County have any regulations concerning fire works?

Q106.Where do I pay my Ordinance Violation?