Tuesday, August 26, 2014

"Sukhavati" Excerpt

"Have you ever read Sylvia Plath's 'The Bell Jar'?" Edgeley asked.

"No.  I've always been more of a Hemingway girl."  O'Reilly as far as he knew had never delivered a baby.  She certainly wasn't the type to make any.

"She described a practice wherein mothers were given drugs that made them forget the pain of giving birth, rather than anesthetic during the birth."

"How much do you know about the darker side of the medical community?"

Edgeley's face darkened with disgusted indignation.  "Some women when they go into labor attract some pretty fucked up company.  The kind of people who fill scrubs because they want a taste of...you probably know."

"Jesus, you sure as fuck know some twisted shit."

"I'm very proud of my mother.  She wouldn't take shit from anyone.  Cursed like a sailor the whole time.  My dad was too scared to leave the delivery room."

"I need you to summon some of your mother's strength now.  This Aven program could endanger a lot of lives."

"I hope my little fevered brain can snap as effectively and frighteningly as hers did..."

Monday, August 18, 2014


Ferguson, Rick Perry, the Iraq crisis -- there's so much to continue bashing the other America about.  But it's been a long time since I published Freedom Camp, when the right wing was ascendant, and the Bush Administration was so scary people like me wrote online under pseudonyms (not that it mattered much.)  I'm not interested in being another Roy Edroso or Glenn Greenwald.  My grandmother's COINTELPRO-worthy history and my own Bush-era activism have gotten me in enough trouble.  I still never know when I'll be George Winston-ed out of the blue, or when I'll be able to finally put to rest Orwell references (I find them so tired these days.)  I do know I'm sick to death of thrashing right-wingers, most of whom I don't think of as hateful (as my friend Ruth said of her Arkansas kin -- they're not bad or malicious, they just know what they know, and no matter what they say, they, like the rest of us, take people case-by-case as they come.  They're not cretins, but rather often just fine people who are products of their time and place, and who don't know any better.  Certainly, they mean well.  I believe this.)  In fact, I never want to get in a flame war with DailyKos or About.com trolls again.  I'd even go so far as to say I somewhat regret how sharp-tongued I was with many Bush supporters during those years; too bad I can't take back some of the x-acto-fine lashings I doled out back then.  These days I am a devout Shin Buddhist, and will do my damnedest to say and think only beautiful things.  I'd even go so far as to say I'd love to meet former President Bush; he seems like a very personable guy with lots of good in him.

I guess you could say I "cowarded" out of the partisan war that the left and center-left seem to be winning these days.  I'd much rather outlive my mother after she passes on of old age and natural causes, than be felled by a letter bomb or a Red State dead-ender's made-good-on death threats.

Hence "The Hollow Man."  Occasionally harrowing, and every once in a while too close to the bone -- it is nevertheless an expression of the best of my writing abilities.  I've noticed it speaks to many more thousands of people than Freedom Camp ever did, it exceeds the previous blog in maturity and entertainment value, and it seems to be far more effective a bully pulpit for forwarding my agenda than some snarky, me-too post on a political message board.

(P.S.  Isn't it awkward noticing the CIA when they operate domestically?)

(P.P.S.  Tangential to the previous post-script, a big thumbs up to San Francisco Police Department's handling of a found bomb a couple of months ago.  Completely the opposite of what we'd expect from many East Coast authorities (see the Boston Marathon Bombing -- granted, that one went off, but still...))

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Shoe Shine

Getting your shoes shined by an older gentleman with a stand and a chair on the street is one of the best things you can do for yourself.  (Sorry, ladies, but it remains something of a bastion of chauvinism.)  It is a ritual, an indulgence, and a spot of cosmetic maintenance as old as modern America.  Men these days might opt for the same euphoria but from a facial, a manicure, or a hot stone massage.  Give me a shoe shine over those.

It might also be the only in-person conversation you have all day -- not texting, not e-mail.  If you're not a barfly or a flibbertigibbet, you could use the information exchange and soul connection talking with the shoe shine man brings.  You can talk about the weather, the changes the city has gone through over the years, the latest celebrity death -- whatever.  My conversation today was mostly about fishing:  Berryessa, San Pablo, Clearlake, East Park; rainbow trout, catfish, bluegill.  I had no idea I could get a license at Big 5 off of Sloat and during the daytime catch bass out of Lake Merced.  Good to know.

$7 is all you need down at Market and Montgomery to experience a storied and resonant tradition in American manhood.  Well, I paid $10 -- after all, I feel a tip is obligatory, and besides, the gentleman does have a grandchild on the way...