Only be

I strive to master neutrality. Like a finely balanced acrobat on a razor wire, I walk this path I call life and seek perfect equilibrium

I haven’t always lived as such, but now I do. The ups and downs of life are harmful, wasteful and trivializing. Let other people roar in laughter or sob in despair. I want none of it. Joy is destructive and sadness is consuming. I walk this tightrope and do my best to weather the winds of my natural human inclination to sway in either direction until I topple into an uncontrolled descent.

I have no need in my life for the roller coaster dynamic of an erratic journey. An absolute level life course is indicative of a serenity that coats your existence every minute of the day. Conversely, an erratic life course writes its havoc on our daily misadventures. I’d rather stare at a wall blankly than laugh at it. It’s difficult living such a life for you must weather the fluctuating moods of others. But it can be done! One must derive strength to defy the contagious, addictive drama that plagues humankind. That plagues our nature. Drama is very natural but disruptive. It is one of our most destructive habits and inclinations. The drive to climb the elevations of mood and sink into the catacombs of misery. Yes, good, bad, we desire it all. I don’t believe those who say they don’t want drama. Bull. Everyone wants drama in its own way. Drama is the heroin of our soul. We want more of it, more to ravish our static existence. Drama is a sensual weakness that afflicts us. We are gluttons of mood. We want the pinnacle of joy but we dread the pinnacle of fear, yet we know that with joy comes dreads.

I want none of it. Let me float peacefully upon my life’s surface, never causing ripples nor disturbing the fluidity of the pond.

Many may call it boring, but it is fine. It is normal and wholesome and exquisitely sustainable. Don’t ask for so much or settle for so little.

Only be.

Memory of death

This rather (actually, very) disturbing video of a deadly traffic accident in Russia has been making the cyber-rounds lately.

If you’re sensitive or prone to bad dreams or impressionable, be warned, this video is subtly intense. It portrays a death situation which is made more eerie and horrible by virtue of the fact that we never see the person being killed though we know he is. Word is that the man was a father and a husband, but that is internet hearsay; who knows. One thing that indisputable; whoever was in that SUV died, I can’t believe otherwise.

A truly hideous sight, if you braved it.

It’s not exactly consolation for me to realize I could very well have met a similar fate about 30 years ago. Seems my life has been one relentless parade of near-death car accidents. You might think I should have enough sense to stay away from the 4-wheeled coffins by now, but it’s impossible to do so in Los Angeles. You need your car in this town, even if it kills you, just as it has almost killed me once for sure, and after I saw this video, a reminder that there was a second time in my illustrious driving career where I almost checked out. It happened at the end of 1982 or begining of 1983. I don’t remember precisely. It happened during my freshman year at Cal Poly, Pomona. I used to drive about 20 miles east from my parent’s home, taking the Pomona and Orange Freeways. Being that I always traveled against the current of rush hour traffic, I never encountered that stop and go rush agony, and my commute to school was usually free-flowing and high speed. Many times I carried only one class for the day and I was careful to schedule it early as possible so as to have most of the day free. When I got in this accident, I had a morning class that finished sometime in the mid-morning allowing me to dash home by 11.

At the time I drove a 1974 Ford Maverick, an unsteady old boat of a car with squeaky springs and vestigial brakes. Powered by a sputtering V6, the car was heavy and underpowered, just as most American cars from the early 1970’s were. Once it got moving, it could pick up decent speed, but it wasn’t wise to take it high. This was hardly a Formula One demon.

One morning after my early class, I characteristically sped home on the Pomona Freeway, a large, level highway which in 1982 was slightly less congested than now, but still traffic was heavy and being that it was a parallel artery to the San Bernardino Freeway, which also traveled into Los Angeles from all interstate points east, it was also used by swarms of big rigs going to industrial spots in L.A. county or the Port Harbor. Not as many people lived in the boonies and commuted into L.A. but there were plenty of people who did. I don’t recall specifically where the incident occurred, but it was after I’d merged onto the 60 freeway from the 57 (Orange Freeway), a wide, fast freeway that ran north-south, from the Foothill Freeway into Orange County.

I’d had enough time to merge fully to the left into the fast lane which was my normal routine, being that I had a long drive ahead of me. I remember the car…is was a navy blue Toyota Cressida that wanted to merge into the fast lane as well. The man simply did not see me and he cut me off. I braked and swerved and the old Maverick had outlived all its tricky maneuvering days and reacted to my sudden emergency movements by fishtailing and swerving in contrast to my inexperienced input. I began to spin out, a circular odyssey which would twirl me across the length of the freeway. Rush hour was over but there was still a high volume of traffic. I cannot begin to explain what raced through my mind as I felt myself hopelessly turn like a flushing toilet across 5 lanes of the large freeway. My mind went blank actually. This is was what happened. I thought of nothing. I thought of absolutely nothing at that moment. I saw cars fly at me on both sides, I saw cars swerve avoid me. I saw a big rig, the size of the one in the video above, heading toward me but luckily my spinning momentum cleared me from its path, because I was surely in its path, make no mistake about it. I miraculously avoided clipping a single car in my free-fall journey that thrust me the full length of the freeway and landed me on a large grass clearing and which didn’t end until I anticlimactically came to rest against a sagging chain link fence, far from the traffic. The Cressida driver actually stopped to see how I was doing. I think he apologized, saw I was alive, and continued. Asshole.

The spin killed my engine but after a few moments, I was able to start the car and with the help of a responding CHP unit, resume my trip home, rattled for life.

The image of that big rig barreling toward me is forever ingrained in my memory. I lived to remember it but I wonder if this guy’s mind went blank like mine did. But he never had a remembrance. Sad.

Invasion of the Game Stop PUA

I know most guys despise the patented female ewwww reaction. We aren’t generally very welcoming of the reactive tone women assume when they paint every guy who bothers them with the “creep” denotation. But sometimes…it is warranted.

It’s blasphemous to even mildly justify a woman’s hysterical behavior, but there are occasions.

Like today, I was hanging out in a local Game Stop. This is what happening guys like me do. We hang out in Game Stop. Actually, I was there so my son could sell back a game he bought recently and discovered, after it was too late, that he didn’t enjoy nearly as much as he thought he would. So Sunday afternoon, we headed off to the Game Stop. The cashiers were two 20-ish girls, one with terrible acne that seemed to coat her face, but very friendly, and the other wore glasses and was plain-faced. They were not the hottest girls. OK? Let’s establish this for the tale I am about to attempt to weave. The girls worked in Game Stop, which has its fair share of retiring social miscreants shuffle through daily.

When our turn was next, my son handed the game to the cashier and I needed to furnish my identification and sign the return slip since I was the “adult.”

About this time, out of the corner of my eye, I spotted two guys saunter importantly into the store and start barking out the names of the two cashiers. I tried not to look at the guys because first of all, you don’t walk into a Game Stop on a Sunday afternoon and act like a pimp because you now the names of the 2 cashiers on duty and who are, incidentally, on the downhill side of homely. I was slightly embarrassed for the guys, but I ignored them because I had business to transact. We needed some cash back, which in this case, turned out to be a fraction of what we paid for the game. Whatever. I wanted to get the hell outta there.

Still, the two playahs kept insisting on taking the Sunday afternoon Game Stop by storm. Bad boys. They kept repeating the names of the ugly cashiers loudly and boastfully. No one in the store gave a crap, but they persisted. Slowly they made their way deeper into the store. The girls were trying their hardest to work but the guys kept trying to rob their attention. One of them stopped and began talking to the other cashier or cheking out a game. The other guy continued all the way to our portion of the counter and basically just leaned over the counter while spouting his idiocy at our cashier as she was taking my son’s phone number. Now I was getting irritated. Distracted, she needed to ask my son for his number again.

The guy continued to stand there obtrusively, oblivious to social cues, leaning over the counter while still talking loudly with the girl. His pose screamed wannabe Alpha and he seemed to reckon himself a player. He was nothing but an aggressive dork, I saw. The more he opened his mouth, the more he betrayed his lack of PUA seasoning. It became glaringly obvious…he was socially inept. His diarrhea of the mouth was unrestrained. “Did you miss me, XXXX?” he asked our cashier and she grunted a faint acknowledgement. I wouldn’t even call it agreement. “My tummy hurts,” he complained ruefully in a tone that was neither authoritative or adept. For a moment I thought he sounded like a bored little boy looking to kill time. Oh my God. These guys…

Look, if you’re going to storm a place with your cocky bravado and inappropriate Alpha demeanor, 1) you better make sure that you do it somewhere a little more hip than a Game Stop, and 2) that the chicks in your cross-hairs are hot matches to your inanities. In other words, your actions and words must prove gutsy and shameless, not self-conscious and compensating. Calling out a couple of Plain Janes at Game Stop will only serve to expose your ludicrous frame. I was rather impressed with our cashier because after a minute of unrelenting pick up artistry from hovering Game Stop PUA, she finally told him, very sternly, that she could not talk with him because she needed to concentrate on helping the customers. You go girl! I wanted to high five her. That shut him up and we completed our transaction and left.

In retrospect, what struck me about the Game Stop PUA was the degree to which social ineptitude is present in both the cosmetic dysfunction of the professional player and the real social dysfunction present in the bona fide socially inept person. All that separates both is the environmental context, but it’s the same crap. If I was being serviced by a very hot cashier at a hip clothing store and the PUA intruder was a persistent and cunning player who truly captured the girl’s attention while managing to avoid drawing her public castigation, the effect would have been different, but the dynamic, the same.

The Nike hordes

Yet some more Nike madness, in Orlando, this time around. The hoopla now concerns a seriously overpriced, ugly piece of footwear that glows in the dark and is part of a lame Nike marketing “all-star” blitz that showcases themes inspired by space exploration. $220 will buy you this monstrosity, and due to their limited release, if you’re lucky enough to get your paws on a pair, you can probably sell them on E-bay for over a couple thousand dollars.

They are butt-ugly. Nike’s typical jargon-laced advertising hypnosis describes the shoes in a hyperactive description that appeals to the shoes-as-high-tech athletic ability-enabling demographic.

The demographic.

Orlando police, clad in riot gear, crashed the crowd which had gathered outside a Foot Locker at Florida Mall about 9pm to wait for what they believed would be the midnight release of the atrocious “Foamposite One” Nike shoe. Other Nike-driven consumer frenzies have exploded around the country in the last several months. People not only seem wlling to battle like Vikings to get their hands on the precious footwear, they also don’t appear to mind spending hundreds of dollars for shoes only a ghetto mother can love.

I’ve never understood the visceral attraction of these horrid shoes. But it’s simple. They are gaudy bling. This is why they are so popular among certain “types.”

I find the Nike hordes disgusting and embarrassing. They embody the lowest revolting depths of blind, lemming behavior. The Nike riots are a distasteful comment on our blindly consumerist commercialized society. Nike is at the forefront, but surely not alone. They have the whole “farm your manufacturing out to some poor shit country where they can build your crap product cheaply and sell it to the delusional saps back home who have no common sense” thing down pat.

Nikes are bling. They are gold-plated [FILL IN THE BLANK].

The fervor these shoes evoke says something about a little of all of us. I don’t know what they say about all of us.

They say something about Black and Hispanics. The swarm of Nike soldiers on display in the video attached to the Sentinel article are largely Black, and I wonder how many of the “whites” are just Hispanic. In fact, 2 of the participants quoted in the article have Spanish surnames.

They say something about the hypnotic blind consumerist rage that compels people to coalesce into large, barbaric mobs, be it Black Friday or the grand release of Nike’s newest class robbery. A reversal of the Robin Hood dynamic.

What they say about our youth. This is self-apparent. The shoe is a youth brand. You don’t hear about crowds of teenagers breaking down the doors to get into the New Balance store upon the release of a new shoe model. Who cares how expensive or tacky the shoe looks to the uninitiated outsider. It is a powerful signalling device for youth, and Nike leeches off this herd mentality to fulfill its capitalistic havoc.

The Nike destruction then blossoms at the intersection of these three population inroads. Young minorities eager to don expensive bling in order to signal a committment to the ghetto way of life. This is the Nike target audience. We are witnessing as an elitist organization of bloodthirsty sharks who benefit by the propagation of economic misery in a diseased underclass that lives from one ostentatious display of falsity to the next, all behind the cloud of “possessions as identity.”

The strategy, unwritten, perhaps unspoken, is to group such bands of hoodlums together with the common purpose of procuring overpriced shoes, and their reckless marauding is inevitable if the product is kept tantalizingly scarce. Police storm in, maybe one or two of the hoodlums is killed or hurt. No big loss. Chalk it up to free advertisement and it is coming soon to your town! Irresponsibility and avarice at the top foster the same at the bottom, but the complexion is much different, isn’t it?

The alley, my home

I am an alley guy. I like alleys. I love them.

I prefer to reach point B from point A through an alley than any way else.

For every dark alley, there is a parallel dimension, a dimension of sidewalk, a dimension of street, a dimension of civility.
Each normal byway is accompanied by a sinister route that extends similarly but which houses the filthy alternative.

People are happy to take the street. They want to take the cleanest route. They wish to avoid the clutter, the rats, the vermin, the scum. They just want to get to point B without experiencing. The sidewalk of the main street is not living. It is sanitary and unreal.

I’ve always hated the sanitary and the immaculate.

It feels phony.

Ever since I was young, I loved the alley. Back in 1973 or thereabouts, parents sent us on our way to school without a worry in the world. I would take the sidewalk when there was no option. Once I began running concurrently with an alley, all bets were off! I gravitated to alleys. Alleys were soiled and intolerant of the mass appeal of main streets and crowded sidewalks and most of all, asocial. I loved the alleys as a child and they were my moment to be apart and snub convention. I’ve been in all kinds of alleys. Not all alleys are created equally. Some alleys are as clean as streets. This is especially true in middle to upper class areas populated by Whites and Asians. Alleys here are so nice that even your typical downtown homeless scoundrel would consider it a step up.

Some alleys are downright unearthly. Some alleys are strewn with every manner of garbage imaginable. Some alleys have vomit, shit, piss, trash, yellow mattresses, dead bodies (yes, I would venture to guess that more unidentified dead bodies are found in alleys than anywhere else), dead cats, dead birds, engine oil, discarded bottles of consumed liquor, tires, cabinets, unpaired shoes…it goes on.

This is life to me.

This is what I wallow in. the filth. the unlife.

I took alleys as a child. I got in fights in alleys. I picked stones up and threw them at other kids, and they did likewise. Alleys are the gutters of our soul. Alleys are the counterexistence to this magnificent civiliation we call our own. Alleys are where I live.

You can have your manicured sidewalks with lawns and happy homemakers watering the grass. Respectable people. That is the land of the living.

The alley…ah. The dregs live here!
The alley is my home and succor.
The alley is my solace. It is where I escape to forget your goddamned plastic lives.

I still take the alley.

My favorite drunken story of the last 5 years took place in an alley.
It was late and I was on my way home from a bar. I picked up a burrito and began walking home…through an alley, of course. At night.

Alleys at night are especially whorish. Inviting.

As I walked with my freshly made burrito, I dropped it, right in the middle of the alley. In the middle.
I was not to be deterred.

I was ravenously hungry, drunk, and determined. And cheap. I was not about to waste 7 dollars on a good burrito I lusted after at this moment.

Men risk their reputations for pussy.
I risked my health for food.

I ate that burrito, bastard!

It was full of grit. I remember spitting earth out as I ate it.

The next morning, I was still spitting grit out.

When I dropped the burrito, it unearthed layers of molten alley earth, the land I walk and live; I ate it all, I ate my existence. I consumed this fissure in civilization, this alley way that we avoid for our mental health.

I consumed filth and went to sleep and awoke the next morning with its sandy texture fresh on my tongue.

I lived the alley dream.

Because I am a man of the alley.

It is my home. And my nourishment.