My swirling fascination

A few years ago I bought a CD called “Trance.” The cover had minimal artwork. There was some vague, mystical wording which I have completely forgotten. I still have the CD but the case and the album sleeve are long lost. The CD contained 3 tracks, each quite long and made up of different examples of music as an extension of and guiding path to religious “ecstasy” and inner expression.

The third track captured my imagination. It was of Turkish origin, a slow, gentle flute-based meditative piece which builds gradually in tempo and is said to accompany practicing Sufi whirling Dervish dancers. The little booklet explained briefly the practice of Dervish swirling and included a photo, similar to this:

The album description explained swirling as a religious physical meditation structured around the rhythmic spinning in accordance with the rotational nature of the universe. The physical meditation brings the practitioners to the precipice of perfection as part of a Muslim religious ceremony called “Sema.” Through the music, speaking with God, and whirling, one can work to shed the ego and become the “unmoving” center of the universe.

According to a Sufi description of the dance I found at Wikipedia:

In the symbolism of the Sema ritual, the semazen’s camel’s hair hat (sikke) represents the tombstone of the ego; his wide, white skirt represents the ego’s shroud. By removing his black cloak, he is spiritually reborn to the truth. At the beginning of the Sema, by holding his arms crosswise, the semazen appears to represent the number one, thus testifying to God’s unity. While whirling, his arms are open: his right arm is directed to the sky, ready to receive God’s beneficence; his left hand, upon which his eyes are fastened, is turned toward the earth. The semazen conveys God’s spiritual gift to those who are witnessing the Sema. Revolving from right to left around the heart, the semazen embraces all humanity with love. The human being has been created with love in order to love.

video courtesy of

On the surface, the focus of Dervish whirling appears to be movement (which obviously it is) but as I heard explained by a Dervish dancer, the “essence of whirling is non movement.” The locus of the universe as one spins and revolves in sync with Solar System is the very center of the whirler, this unmoving center. And here is where one can discover absolute “equilibrium” (my term).

For absolute equilibrium is the godlike state religions aspire to. Ego is purged; one hand calling to the heavens, the other to earth. As you spin and the flute’s sounds swirl gently but persistently through your soul, the world spins faster and faster…then, in a moment of perfection and ecstasy, you are still. Your inner self. Serenity falls and blankets your still being as the world spins by; you are the unmoving center.

A Post-Apocalyptic Moment in Time

January 2, 2010
Pasadena @ the Renaissance Academy Theater on Colorado

Driving through warm South Pasadena and San Marino
the hillsides of Pasadena

gardeners blowing, residual grand-sized Christmas decorations still lingering and floating in the gentle enclave wind

San Marino the Beverly Hills of the other side of LA…rushing you know
you rush to a place you don’t know because you don’t know where to park where to pay where to do anything
rushing through San Marino

his earphones
gradually tuning the world out
gradually teenage-izing the world out

driving reach
pull in
with 10 minutes to spare never been here the theater looks discount as I drive by
his earplugs out
we walk to the theater
with 10 minutes to spare

as yes
i can
take my sweet time now walk smooth like a calm operator
I hate to rush
it breaks my FLOW

and my flow is casual I don’t rush I don’t look flustered man
but when you are rushing to catch a flick you just gotta look like a mess


we walk past a doorstep with a major dose of vomit


people drink and they walk and they puke
hold my breath
we reach the

dig it
my kinda place
reclusive cheap
$2 per
to get into the goddamn Matineed
place before 6
so we get in

and i discover during the payment process
that i left my 25 bucks at home

i brought 7 ones hahahaa
just covered

but i couldn’t buy a snack
i was at a theater that charges $2.00 for entrance and couldn’t buy a snack but —- said he was full from eating too much great i win that battle

pay at a curved booth window easily circa

no one here
wears uniforms

dude is wearing a button up student looking kinda casual shirt and a beard looks like he might be the owner’s son really friendly
and hands us our raffle tickets (that is how they look)
and tells us where to go
with a sincere smile

none of that surly ghettotude you
get at all the mammoth chain theater complexes
with their big seats and big popcorn and big seats and big sounds

nuh uh

nothing is big here
everything retires
there is nothing magnificent

you pay and you watch, the crowd is not small

it is large
lots of people
looking for that two dollar cinematic fix
and the fix

the movie
came out on my birthday
november 25
a month and a half

it is showing
here at the academy where junior is working the booth

and hot dogs are only a dollar
or two
the clock is ticking
and we can’t miss a seat!!
we rush in

and find a row
i like

we pull in
toward the middle
it’s dark
i’m blind

i scoot along to the center
my foot
fucking kicks like a soccer player
kicks a full-sized drink and popcorn which some previous moviegoers left
kick the fucking trash and it goes flying
toward an old lady sitting alone
at the end
of the row
and she looks and expressionless cotinues to munch on her food
not even a smile or a “that’s ok”
fuck you bitch funny just moments later the slide tells us to turn off our cellphones and throw away our trash
fuckers they didn’t

it’s not like i sat there and aimed
to kick that mess at her

we sit
the slides are going
the ads
and right away
you can tell this is a discount theater because
the slides
only fill the left
2/3 of the screen lol

I feel like I’m watching a slide show in my science class at my underfunded high school class with mr shaw shitty slides shitty focusing shitty sound

ah yeah
just like high school

but not
cause i’m here at the pasadena academy

the road
with my son
the ultimate father

and book

i read the book
and i really read it before the movie ever was announced

i’m not a read the book 1 day before the movie kinda guy
not my style
i read the book
earlier this year
end of 2008
loved the book mostly

the end
so lame
so deux ex machina
too much so
for my tragic tastes
the book did not end

as it was intending
and it sounded so
and contrived

not expecting much but i didn’t plan on watching the movie until
my son’
read the book
for english class winter assignment

and he
loved it so much that he asked me if the movie was out yet
on thursday

uh yeah i told him
it’s been out for a month

last minute plans hatched
here we are the academyin pasadena
watching the ultimate
father son movie

i was going to make this
a rampage
and gut hollywood for its modern inability to do BLEAK
then i thought
hollywood has never done bleak
hollywood is about big stars and big smiles and big heroes
it’s not about
and darkness
hollywood does not do
the road
is bleak.

very bleak
didn’t detract from the book
at all.
impressive and sad and tragic
and symbolic
and very very introspective
for those
who care to

not only a tale of father son
a tale of life
one generation
to the next
microcondensed into one gray wicked fucking apocalyptic scene from the
apocalpytic world
a man
a father
living out the cycle of life the cycle of weakening and demureness in the face

meets his

to his son entrusts and relinquishes
amidst tears and sadness

heart wrenching movie

Interview with a loner


Like a baby, stillborn,
Like a beast with his horn
I have torn everyone who reached out for me.

-“Bird On A Wire”, Leonard Cohen


Of all human traits, one of the most bothersome is the inability by many people to step outside their own personal perspective and to appraise the world in coldly impersonal, non-judgmental terms. Most people bring residual experiences, fears, and hopes with them into all situations and proceed to reflexively label everything they see and hear with value definitions they themselves possess. An act which climaxes with the normal human tendency to assume all other people share the same wants and needs and aversions.


This is most striking when you belong to a group that shares a characteristic that is deemed unpopular or undesirable by mainstream culture. Even if you are content belonging to and identifying with this marginal group, your mere membership will elicit concern and sympathy and even intervention from others who don’t belong to your group and are intent on fulfilling the natural human urge to bring others into the fold.


My guess is that we all belong to such a group or groups due to a personal proclivity which separates us from the dome part of the bell curve.


I am also guessing that the alienating characteristic is often so trivial and minor so as to not arouse the slightest attention.


Maybe you have a thing for girls with big feet or your favorite color is peach or you prefer cold weather. Meaningless individualisms that don’t affect the world around you in the least (other than women with small feet).


I belong to a group which receives too much attention, and amusingly, a group which probably as a whole despises it the most.


I am a loner.


Who are these loners?
What are loners?


No one can argue that most people need that special “alone” time and most will readily admit to it. Conversely, most people view such “alone” time as a relatively rare and intermittent period in which batteries need to be “recharged” and perhaps the mind silenced through self-reflection and the “mute” button pressed to drown out environmental overstimulation. Once this “lonesome urge” has been sated, however, most people are quite happy to rejoin the ranks of companied society.


What’s it like being a loner?




“Lonely” as a description can only exist in a pejorative sense as it relates to the common instinct people have to be surrounded by…people, both physically and within one’s life. Lonely describes an emotion and a longing and as I stated previously, in popular thought, it is a given that humans reflexively flee this dreaded state since it’s widely assumed that all are affected detrimentally by it. And there lies the roots of the resulting chaos…lonely is an adjective without any foundation upon which we can judge the measure of its severity.


There is a class of people who are lonely, but not loners. Due to an assortment of emotional dysfunctions, they lack the ability to form meaningful human relationships and it bothers them. The loner is not this. His only hangup is that he enjoys the state of being “lonely” too much.


I read an article about people who are missing a common physiological tool which signals the brain when one is cold. They can literally freeze to death before they feel any discomfort.


And I believe some people are missing a cognitive ingredient which triggers loneliness.


A loner will never freeze to death in spite of the dark, arctic solitude where he seeks to live.


The loner is not lonely.


The loner who is honest and mature will soon realize that being alone is a curse. That his craving for solitude will one day, if lived out, will only cause pain and torment. Pain and torment…they patiently stand in line to greet the loner with open arms. Sometimes sooner, sometimes later. But they wait surely.


The loner can choose to defy himself and his nature and attempt a life of normalcy amidst the crowded mass of society; happiness and succor is not to be found here for the loner, but at least he can find solace in the fact he has chosen his own route to dissatisfaction and misery. For the option of living out the journey of solitude, which promises satisfaction today, also promises pain and misery on its own terms. The loner will have no say in the misery deferred.


For the loner only has 2 choices:
To live in unhappiness surrounded by people for the rest of his life; or to spend the last portion of his life in dire anticipation of death in a cloud of unforgiving solitude.


Solitude, made bearable by youthful vigor and independence. But in old age, rendered villainous as physical robustness gives way to encroaching helplessness.


A loner for you.


A bridge to 2010

Out with the old, in with the new.
New year, new decade, new unwatchable Rose Parade.

New Year’s Eve. It’s always been such a maudlin time. In spite of the random and capricious nature of our wild souls, we still abide by the rigid and orderly guidelines of time. The structure that the calendar demands of us. The structure we crave.

The calendar, time’s labels, like religion, providing us a playing field with rules and referees which prevent us from taking the game to inhuman and uncontrolled depths.

So, despite the fact that tonight, December 31, is no different than any other night of the year, we nevertheless paint it with our happy magic paint brush and gush (in unison) with corny sentimentality about all we have been through this year.

I do it too. I’ve always done it. It feels good to speak in grand sweeping notions about the impersonal trajectory of time’s arrow. It feels good, like a drug, to mark that moment, the very second when one year, a series of digits, finishes up and a new begins. And we mark it with fireworks and song and gunshots here in beautiful East L.A.

Digits. Numbers.
2009 becomes 2010.
Tomorrow we are one day older. That’s it.

Why not celebrate, let’s say, May 13, for the fact that we are one day older than we were on May 12.

Did anything substantive change between May 12 and May 13?
Does anything substantive change between December 31 and January 1? Other than the fact we need to begin dating everything differently now and force of habit says that we will forget about half the time for the first few weeks of the new year, necessitating destruction of valuable checks or a fair amount of reprints.

Well it’s time for bed.
I’m too sleepy to struggle to stay awake another hour.
Cost/benefit analysis tells me that watching a ball of lightbulbs sink 3 hours later than it actually did (the curse of the West Coast) just ain’t worth it.

Good night and happy new year.

Ramblings of a fat capitalist pig

I can’t resist, I must announce my New Year’s resolution here and now.
Sincerely do. I will devote every bit of energy towards making this resolution reach fruition.

I will take money more seriously.

I will begin to follow in the footsteps of modern man and commit my life to the blind and obsessive quest of the mighty dollar at the utter and shameless expense of my soul.

Beginning January 1, 2010.

Simple as that.

I realize I have not taken money seriously enough.

This has led me to make some questionable decisions:

-The purchase of non-designer clothing from general purpose stores that sell everything you could want in addition to clothes.
-Packing my lunch daily and foregoing the pleasure of greasy, salty fast food dining, or in other cases, the pricey displeasure of a bowl overflowing with lettuce and dotted with smelly cheese.
-Eating leftovers on a daily basis, some of which have been cultivating quietly in the back of my fridge. Out of sight, out of mind.
-Choosing to drive an 11-year-old car with floor carpeting that has slowly been stripped bare, revealing the metallic innards of the car frame.
-The gutting of my cable TV package leaving me with the bare minimum free channel package that is piped in by a cable directly to my television. A cable that is nothing but a highfalutin antenna, because once again, I refuse to spend money on a digital converter because I’ve resisted the urge to spend money on a hi-def TV which I consider an absolute waste since I don’t watch TV.

These fishy quirks of mine will slowly begin to vanish this weekend.

Money will commence to rule my life. I will seek it lustfully just like you, and him, and her, and all’s of you; all you money-crazed consumerist nuts who would gladly cough up a valuable organ (the kind that come in pairs) if it meant you could earn a few million bucks doing it.

Money will once again rule my life.
That is my New Year’s resolution.

First step in this direction: you may begin seeing (gulp) ads on this blog. Yep. Advertisements.

I didn’t start this blog with the intention of making money. Not in the least. And don’t be fooled. I still have no intention of making money. Ads! Whatever. Hey, it’s not like I’m going to rename this “Phoenixi$m” and start coordinating some big ad campaign. Ha!

Who am I fooling.

I’ll be happy to make enough every couple of months to buy a pack of gum, or if things really begin to look up, maybe a (small) cup of black coffee from Starbucks.

I do this for the pure pleasure, baby. Writing and exposing my inner life and its assorted demons to a multitude of distracted blog readers. It doesn’t get any better than that.

The simple act of clicking on that “publish” button is reward in itself.


If I can make a few cents for really doing nothing other than decorating my blog with small and tasteful (please let it be) banners, why not? I never claimed to be an anti-capitalist, did I?

I’ll be honest…I think there could be nothing more incredibly satisfying than earning a living solely off a blog. But barring that little pipe dream, I’m just happy to have access to this medium that allows me to express each thought in my own occasionally erratic and hyperactive manner.

So really, I’m taking this moment to announce that I am slightly selling out for the sake of a bi-monthly pack of Big Red, and that money as a reward is the furthest thing on my mind when it comes to this little blog project of mine.

My New Year’s resolution…not happening. Never intended it. That was an early April Fool’s joke.

But the ads…no joke.