Preface: see this post for an explanation
Entry date: 1/20/10
It was Monday morning and Mehann was late for work as usual. He sped down Sepulveda Boulevard in his 1987 Dodge Omni and as he neared Olympic he noticed with a touch of disgust that the light was rapidly switching modes, from green, to yellow…he floored it, but too late, for the light had turned angry red before he had even cleared the intersection.
Entry date: 1/23/10
And in the instant between when the light turned red and his car crossed the pedestrian lane, Mehann saw it. “Fuck” he thought, but before even that word could be complete, he struck it: an adult, white Russian Wolfhound which had escaped its owner’s hands and fled into the middle of the busy street. Goddamned dog was humongous. It was the size of a horse, Meehan thought just before his small car’s grill indented itself in the dog’s large flanks.
Entry date: 1/31/10
Shocked and disconnected from reality, he steered the car abruptly into the curb lining the center median. He heard a muted pop and attempted to regain his senses as his car rested in the road. Cars honked as they swerved to avoid him and the prone dog which struggled to stay alive in the next lane where it had landed. He slowly looked over and saw the large white dog raise its head repeatedly and drop it back down to the ground as the effort became increasingly difficult for the injured animal. It’s hand legs pointed upwards and flailed unnaturally. For a moment, Mehann wished he had a pistol so he could put the animal out of its misery.
And in the large, grass-covered center median, stood a shrieking woman, a brunette with long tanned legs.
Sheesh. If there is anyone who comes to common realizations later than most, it is I.
A lot of times I just don’t think shit through.
The most obvious fact can parade itself back and forth in front of my eyes a hundred times before I notice it. I get so wrapped up in stuff…
It wasn’t until earlier today that I thought of a blog as a personal belonging. When you talk to a blogger, you refer to their blog as “your blog.”
Your blog is your heart, worn on a sleeve. It is your creation. You made it from the raw tools of your creativity and imagination. And vision.
Hence, an art. Blogging. An art form.
Even though blogs generally adhere to several common formats and programs, there is an infinite amount of personalization and creative turbocharging available which we can use to decorate our blogs.
You can choose the color, the graphics, the fonts, the layout…ie, the palette, the easel, the brushes, the paints…the tools of the artist. Once you have created the visual presentation, you must fill it in. These are your words, the “composition.” This is where “talent” comes in. Anyone can hold the tools, but not anyone can manipulate them to create a medium that captures attention or speaks to others.
Blogging as the modern day art form.
Blogs evolve. I’ve watched as several blogs I read have undergone minor and major renovations. Themes are switched out, blog programs are changed, colors altered…a vast array of changes which can leave a blog almost unrecognizable from its previous incarnation.
When I started Phoenixism, my header image was a black and white sketched tree…in fact the theme, which I nabbed from Word Press’ many choices, was called “Lonely Tree.” I liked it but I didn’t feel it jived well with the theme of the blog. I don’t remember exactly what I replaced the tree with for it only lasted for a day or 2.
Still not satisfied, I began clicking through my many saved images for something, anything, that might capture Phoenixism’s spirit. That is when I found it.
It was an image that begged to be used. And coincidentally, it was a photograph I took myself just after I started this blog in late August, 2009. L.A. was hot and smoky at the time because of fires which were raging throughout Southern California. This made for a dramatic and spectacular orange sky, the perfect conditions for a blog photograph. I took a few shots early one morning from my balcony and chose one to accompany my post, Burnt L.A. offerings
The photograph was perfect for if your enlarge the area where the sun shimmered behind layers of atmospheric sooty smoke, you could actually imagine that its fiery and solar shape resembles a bird. The Phoenix.
That photo worked out so well…synchronicity again.
This is officially my first “post within a post.”
Fascinating concept, isn’t it?
OK, maybe a little. I understand the concept has probably been beaten to death but that is no reason for me not to give it a shot.
How does a post within a post come to be?
Well see, my original goal was to write a post which would allow me to pipe in with my thoughts on the great “alpha debate” I’ve witnessed raging across the internet.
What is alpha and how can a man be alpha and will being alpha get him laid. On and on goes the great alpha debate. My understanding has always been that the “alpha” figure of any pack is just that…a figure. Singular. Little wolf pups don’t order online books or tapes in the hopes they can all be alpha. Wolf pups follow nature and the concept of denoting and mimicking the leader of the pack for any reason other than survival would surely leave the pups aghast, if in fact wolves had the mental and emotional faculties to experience ironic humor.
I can’t take it seriously when every Tom, Dick and Harry in cyberspace self-professes alpha or alpha striving.
If there was a grand shift in the social mechanics of the world (perhaps by a strange Twilight Zonian meteor shower) and all men woke up “alphas” tomorrow, I guarantee you that over time a new subdivision of alpha would evolve, a “super-alpha” of sorts who would reign supreme over all the existing alphas.
Primitive and evolutionary nature is not egalitarian.
Mother Nature doesn’t dole out equal slices of pie.
You are not alpha, I am not alpha, hardly anyone is alpha.
Anyways, the point of my post was going to be how I think all this adulation of alphaness misses the point. Actually, no, the problem is, there is no point. If the goal is to pick up chicks, you’ve instantly disqualified yourself from alpha running right off the bat. To structure your life around the immense procurement of pussy is an incredibly weak and helpless way to live your life.
My alpha post is almost complete, but it’s very, very long. It’s exhausting. I need to excise a lot of B.S. from the main body. I need to trim it down, put it on a diet. The first step is taking out the beginning portion and let it be a post in itself. The opening paragraph of that post will now be this post. It shall stand alone.
Back in the early 90s when I was on an art-house/foreign movie kick, I saw a great French Canadian movie called Leolo.
It was one of those great movies that no one saw. It followed the young life of Leolo, a boy growing up in a dysfunctional and poverty-stricken Quebec ghetto. A slightly twisted coming of age story. Well, the first pre-pubescent glimmers of coming of age anyways.
Leolo has an older brother, Fernand. Fernand is about 16 or 17 and as the movie begins, he is easy fodder for a neighborhood bully. The bully is ruthless and it’s painful to watch Fernand mocked and slapped in front of his younger brother. Fernand finally can’t tolerate it anymore. I had visions of those comic books ads from days of yore in which the 90-pound weakling finally decides to take matters into his own hands after he gets sand kicked in his face once too often.
Fernand begins to lift weights and snort protein shakes. As the scenes slowly move forward in time, his rapidly expanding musculature is amazing and obvious. The 90-pound weakling is no more. At home and around Leolo, his confidence is unmistakable. This is not the same Fernand.
One day he lumbers along the street with Leolo by his side when they encounter the bully standing in a door sill. Now it should be noted the bully looks like a twerp. He is skinny and mousy, but he’s got balls of stone. He makes light of Fernand’s fresh muscles and one thing leads to another and Fernand pushes the bully who falls helplessly to the ground. Fernand appears ready to launch into spinach-powered fury.
Suddenly, the bully jumps back to feet and sizes Fernand up fearlessly, and throws a quick punch which catches Fernand squarely in the nose, drawing blood. Fernand is shocked and when he sees his own blood smeared on his hand, he collapses to the ground in a heap of sobbing muscles. The bully laughs and runs off. Leolo watches helplessly as his brother, an enormous mass of ridiculed muscle, succcumbs to his weak heart.
Great scene. And a great lesson for aspiring alphas. “Aspiring alphas.” How can that be so. Does one aspire to such evolutionary status? No, I don’t believe that is possible. Alphas are born, they are not created. Alphas can be mimicked and they can be re-enacted. But alphas cannot be made and shaped from scratch.
That was the beginning of my alpha post.
And my point being that this whole alpha thing is such a slippery concept; it is one of those traits that I feel must be allowed to happen. Hands off. Don’t think about it, don’t force it. Common perceptions of alpha lead us to make many mistaken presumptions. I thought of this while I read this post over on Gucci Little Piggy. Is alpha solely the provenance of the strong and athletic and wealthy and powerful? Hell no. I’ve seen way too many instances where the ostensible superficial qualifiers of alphaness failed to create the Frankensteinian alpha who lived on paper, who possessed all the alpha traits. And this was a lesson poor Fernand learned the hard way, for he allowed his concept of alpha to take the reigns of his good sense. And he ended up with a bloody nose.
Many times all that separates my most profoundly unprofound thoughts and their shameless appearance on this blog is a mere breakdown in the technological infrastructure, ie sometimes shit really happens.
My mentally effusive goodness is only as good as the integrity of the technological highway which it requires to reach you.
Back in the beginning of September, right after I kicked off Phoenixism, a fire broke out at a local SoCal Edison power station. I had no power for almost 3 days. That was a serious breakdown in the technological highway. It was a serious breakdown on many levels.
I had nowhere to turn. I wanted to write, publish, share my witticisms and other amusements. But I had no access. The world was beyond my electricity-deprived keyboard tapping fingertips. My laptop worked off battery power, but the internet was dead. Disconnected from the cyber world and unable to share, I wallowed here in the candlelight.
During the second night of darkness, I typed out a small symbolic blog in Word and saved it to the hard drive where it could live until I retrieved it again after my power returned. Agony man.
Now this morning I crawled out of bed, started the coffee pot and routinely flicked on the modem and powered on the computer. Lo and behold, I couldn’t raise any websites. My Chrome browser flashed the same little message each time I tried to open a URL…resolving host. That message usually blinks by almost invisibly, but if it sticks around long enough for you to read, it means the internet is not in the cards right this minute. As soon as I see those two words refuse to vanish, I feel my little nerdy, asocial heart break. It means that for a minute, or a few hours, I will be thrown into a strange solitary confinement of sorts. Isolated from the world.
Sadly, I’ve now experienced these sporadic bouts of non-connectedness about 3 or 4 times in the past month. I’ve even programmed Time Warner’s customer service number into my phone. When I learned Time Warner was assuming control of my previous Adelphia neighborhood, I was thrilled. Time Warner, at the time, had a great brand and they represented the finest a popular cable provider had to offer. Lately, their internet backbone has been on crack.
You call Time Warner’s helpline and more often than not, you need to cycle through the menus before you reach a point where you’re talking to some customer service agent located hundreds or thousands of miles away while they weakly guide you through a series of steps which concludes with the same result every time…something is broken. And there are times the problem is so dire and widespread that you get the immediate “your cable connection is fucked up, we’re sorry, keep trying” message before you even have the opportunity to descend into the realm of Time Warner customer serviceland.
This was one such morning. After I punched in the number “1” for English, I was immediately treated to this message:
Great. I didn’t plan on posting anything, but I thought I would take a quick morning-after postmortem survey of the disaster I left behind in the wake of last night’s comment blitz.
It’s rather amusing that I take such great pains to maintain a somewhat dignified and intelligent vibe around these parts yet I have no such standards when I whore it up on other blogs where I find myself stringing together globs of comment vomit, some of which I’m really embarrassed about the next day. Your public comments are a reflection of you and your blog, but this little piece of logic goes right over my head, every time.
So that was my goal this morning. Survey the damage.
But Time Warner shut me down man. No surveying for me. I would just have to trust in the fact that my comments would typically prove rather benign and harmless (and slightly trite) when exposed by the morning sun.
The morning sun was shining but it was rather chilly out, and in spite of my strangely boastful post Cold Showers… the other day, I wore a jacket. Yesterday I decided to forgo the jacket but it wasn’t nearly as cold as today.
Yesterday was one of those days that proved quite amusing on the public transportation front. The Red Line, specifically.
When I entered the train I noticed right away that 2 sheriff deputies were sitting at the opposite end of the car.
Sitting, as passengers. They didn’t seem to be patrolling the train as you sometimes see. Nope, these 2 guys were just sitting there, riding along on the northbound train, looking every bit as routine and normal and bored a pair of riders as you and me. Still they were cops. Buff mothers. I don’t know what L.A. County gives those dudes, but they are always bursting out of their olive green shirts. It’s a police force manned by Incredible Fucking Hulks, every one of them.
They scared off one person, that’s for sure. There is a woman who takes the train almost every morning. I’m guessing she’s in her mid 40’s, but man, she looks like she’s been around the block a million and one times. Her face is thrashed. The hard life; she looks oh so hard. She has a nice body, one of those instances where the body catches your eye quickly and fills you with a short-lived excitement before your hopes are dashed in a ball of fire once you see the face. She is a paper bagger, simple as that. Anyways, when the train stopped, she was standing right outside the window where the cops were sitting. Skillfully and streetwise, she saw them and nonchalantly acted as if she was waiting for the next train, maybe the next week. Evidently she didn’t mind her schedule being pushed back 10 minutes (the next train), not when having to share a car with some of LASD’s finest and scariest waited for her. The train took off and left her little rap-sheeted, coke-snorting ass behind.
Eventually the sheriffs exited at Wilshire/Western, and I think this is where the older Filipino gentleman boarded and sat next to me.
Dressed neatly and primly, I barely took notice of him. I was too busy zoning, listening to my music, disconnected as you gotta be when you’re stuck in a tin can underground with a bunch of scary and smelly strangers. Disconnected and oblivious. We drove on for a while. At Sunset/Vermont, I began to get ready since I would be exiting in two stops and there is nothing I hate more than rushing to run out the doors before they close. That kind of thing can set you back a 1/2 hour…I know, it’s happened to me before.
So suddenly Filipino man pulls out a Watchtower from a bag and attempts to hand it to me. Now I’m an atheist but I still treat those who attempt to pawn their religion off on me with respect. Polite smiles, “no thank you’s,” I have it down now. I’ve learned to escape their pitch quickly and efficiently without being too offensive.
Not so with the Jehovah’s Witnesses.
I save all my anti-religious rancor in a special place where it waits to burst with each painful JW encounter. Maybe it’s because they’ve found a way to enter my apartment building or that they come knocking at the most inopportune times with their damn Sunday suits and Laura Ingalls frumpiness. Damn it they bother me!
So I was taken aback when Filipino man suddenly decided to proselytize here on the train! Watchtower my arse. I never accept the Watchtower. I see a lot of JW’s handing that shit out at bus stops or on trains or buses…I guess their breed of religionism flourishes when they have captive audiences. Although dealing with a pushy Jehovah’s Witness can make anyone want to walk off a moving bus…
The Watchtower invariably becomes trash. I think most people take it simply because they are bored and have nothing else to do while they are on the bus, not because they seek God or whatever lunatic sense of worship these trespassers have.
Oh, and I also noticed as he attempted to hand me the propaganda that the dude was gay as a pack of a wild Chihuahua’s. You could just tell. He had that curly smile and sweet expression, and the slightly limp wrist as he put the Watchtower away after I rebuffed him. Eeks! That changed the whole dynamic. I never knew the JW’s were so…open.
Hey that means I can title this post “Invasion of the gay Filipino Witness.” How does that grab ya?
One lesson that has stuck with me from Journalism school is that your story’s opening paragraph and headline need a “hook” to draw the reader in. A boring headline will easily deter or lose the casual blogreader who is pressed for time.
Blog posts follow many of the same guidelines that newspaper stories follow.
Succinct. My high school journalism teacher, Ms. Wang, was big on that quality. You must be succinct!
I’d estimate that in the past 10 years, my dreams have lost a sense of familiarity and vividness. Most of my dreams now are left behind in the fog of sleep. Very few accompany me out to daytime lucidness any longer. Because of this, those rare dreams which I do remember upon waking are memorable and I don’t forget them for a long time.
In this case, 9 years.
I must have had it in the early morning hours just before I woke up, because the dream segued into bright sunlight as my eyes flew open in the wake of the drowning pigs.
The drowning pigs.
I think an enticing preface would be to throw out this small anecdote about what I witnessed my father do when I was a young child.
Our house had been plagued by mice. Mice running and darting around through cracks and doorways. Some weren’t wise enough to escape the jaws of the mousetraps, but many were. One wily mouse even left his paw behind. For the longest time I wondered if he chewed his paw off or if it simply fell off in his struggle to be free.
Anyways, my dad found a whole nest of little baby mice once. I watched as he pulled them out, the whole mass of them, and flopped them into a tall pail which he proceeded to fill with water. I watched sadly as they tried to swim to safety but the rims of the pail were too high and their battle consisted of which one could tread the surface longest amount of time before succumbing to gravity and certain death. It was pretty awful and I was affected.
Nine years ago.
Dreams are slippery. To describe them is like trying to describe the oceanic depths to someone who has been blind for life. They are elusive and the task of relaying them accurately is further hindered by the fact that even you, the dream owner, can’t really make sense of them.
My dream took place in an old church.
Old meaning there was wood, old faded wood, old motifs, the wood was not polished or glossy like in most newer churches. The church was crowded. A hoard of devoted worshippers huddled, dressed bleakly and heavily, like some biblical Nathaniel Hawthorne novel.
Here to witness a strange event. Taking place up front, for all to see, at the altar.
A malignant sort of ceremony.
A ceremony which all were here to witness. Certain to bring them an ecstatic sense of Godly oneness.
On the altar there was a large bath. Constructed of old rickety wood, just like the rest of the church.
Where was I?
Who knows. I was there. I was a witness, not part, but not apart.
And I watched as all the churchgoers, this gathered mass, bowed in respect for what was about to commence in the bath.
It was filled with water.
And this is the specific part I forget.
Little piglets materialized out of nowhere.
Suddenly the church was filled with little pink piglets, cute curly piglets.
And the ceremony was begun when the first piglet was thrown in the water.
By who, I don’t know or remember.
The piglet was tossed in the water and I remember watching as it swam futilely for it could not escape or surmount the tall bath walls.
Then another piglet was tossed in.
Soon the bath was filled with tiny piglets, struggling to stay afloat.
But they were doomed.
For the walls of the bath were too high and as the piglets tired, each fat little pink one gave in and sank heavily into the water.
And the crowd prayed.
When I woke up, I was not frightened, but I was very disconcerted.
Such a strange dream.
I climbed out of bed and performed my usual morning ritual at the time. I put on some shorts and a t-shirt (it was a warm time of year. September 11, to be exact).
I stuck headphones in my ears and began my 2-mile walk. It led me through the golf course where the radio talk show announcers were not rattling on with their usual nonsense. No nonsense today. They were serious. Somber even.
As I walked, chills ran down my spine as I listened to their descriptions of airplanes flying into the World Trade Center.