Archive for February, 2014

“140 Syllables” by Kenneth Rexroth

February 21, 2014

All my life I have wondered,
Why doesn’t somebody write
A terrible poem that says
In so many words, this world
Is a fraud, the people who
Run it are murderous fools,
Everything ever printed
Is a lie, all their damn art
And literature is a fake,
Behind their gods and laws, and
Pee hole bandits, their science
Is just a fancy way to kill
Us and our girls and kids.
What I want to know is why
Somebody doesn’t write it
All down in about twenty
Lines of seven syllables
Once and for all, and scare the shit
Out of all the dirty squares.

The Wild Coyote of Telegraph Hill

February 20, 2014

For several years now, Judy and I have been hearing about a coyote on the hill. There have probably been several. Coyotes are being seen in different parts of the city. We’ve been wanting to catch a glimpse of him, and Judy has spent time tracking down the neighborhood residents who know the coyote’s routine. A couple of nights ago, after receiving some tips from one of them, we found him immediately. He was hard to miss. Someone was standing on the sidewalk  shining a flashlight on him. The coyote is a bit of a celebrity among the condo dwellers at the bottom of the hill. Small groups gather to watch him and compare notes. The coyote has a special interest in small dogs. Before leaving, I was able to get one barely usable shot, which is below, first as a wide shot and then blown-up and cropped.

Telegraph HIll Coyote

The Wild Coyote of Telegraph Hill

Coyote Close-up

Coyote Close-up

It’s interesting that Coyote should show his face at this particular time when greedy developers, ambitious politicians, jaded techies, and unprincipled government agencies are all working in tandem to exploit and destroy what’s left of the beauty of San Francisco. It’s happening at a feverish pace. I can’t think of it as anything other than an attempted gang rape. I’m sure I’ll be writing about it more in the future. It often makes me want to leave the city.

Some Advice from the Land of the Free

February 7, 2014

When The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill was first published I braced myself for an onslaught of negativity. I was mostly concerned about how people would respond to the way I lived. Surprisingly, I’ve encountered very little of that. Reader reviews have been generally quite positive. So this recent Amazon review from “Durgi” under the title A disturbing read didn’t bug me all that much. I’m posting it so that people can see what you face potentially when you try to open up in public (and also because I find it vaguely humorous):

The author of this book has severe mental problems that need to be addressed. But his observations of a feral California flock are why I read thru it. I also saw the DVD, which better gives you a picture of the filth and squalor he’s accustomed to living in, and subjected birds to live in as well. He took way too many liberties with flock behavior and individuals within. Truthfully I wish he would have left his personal life completely out if it, as it was depressing and frankly, insane. I hope he gets the help he desperately needs.

Strangely, the reader posted her review on the film’s Amazon page rather than the book’s page. I considered ignoring it, but ultimately decided to post a reply:

Geez, Durgi. It’s difficult to know how to respond to such vitriol. Inaccurate vitriol at that. I’m fine. I was fine then, too. I wasn’t living in filth and squalor. I’m not insane. But I have never led a conventional life. I don’t understand why, in the “land of the free,” anybody should have a tough time with that. As far as taking liberties with the parrots goes, the only liberties I ever took were the kind that good friends take with one another.

As I say, it happens so seldom that it didn’t bother me too much. But I doubt I’ll get off so easily with Street Song. We’ll see.

Left Out of the Debate

February 5, 2014

A little over two years ago I posted a three-part series which I called The Three Views of Existence. (This is a link to the first part of the series. To read the other two parts keep advancing to the right with the links at the top of the post.) My point was that there are three views of existence, but that only two of them are ever acknowledged in modern Western-style societies. One is the “Creator God” point of view, another is the “There is Only the Material Plane” point of view, and finally  the “Everything is God” or Pantheistic, point of view. As I wrote then, the last one is never discussed and seldom acknowledged, as if it were beyond the pale or too silly to be taken seriously. In any case, just a note to point out that Pantheism was once again left out of the recent “celebrity” debate between Bill Nye “The Science Guy” and the creationist, Ken Ham. This happens all the time and in many different ways. I constantly notice it. Funny thing, too, because they’re leaving out the truth.

Giving Up the Day Gig

February 2, 2014
The Early Beatles

The Early Beatles

We’re coming up on the 50th Anniversary of the Beatles’ appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show (February 9), and there’s a fair amount of noise being made about that right now. I was one of those who was affected by that night in a major way. I was twelve then. Before the show, I was one way; after the show I was another. I loved the Beatles’ music, and it launched me on a path that I stuck with for nine years.

A couple of weeks ago, I finished a book called Tune In, a new biography of the Beatles by Mark Lewisohn. The book is more than 1500 pages long (which doesn’t include the extensive footnotes and back matter), but covers their career only up to the end of 1962! There are two more volumes in the works. Positively Churchillian. Lewisohn’s goal has been to throw out all the old ideas and myths about the Beatles and to start all over. His research is incredibly thorough and he goes into depth on the world they grew up in. He’s a decent writer, too. (There is a shorter 800 page version, which is more widely available than the 1500 page “director’s cut.”)

The thing I learned about the Beatles that struck me hardest was just how dedicated they were to playing music and not doing anything else. The most common piece of advice given to any aspiring musician, or to any artist, is “Don’t give up your day job.” What I’ve always seen though is that the great ones took the risk. They bet everything on doing their art and nothing else. Sink or swim. The Beatles did this to a degree that I hadn’t previously known. In England, as in most countries, one’s place in society is decided at a very early age. There is virtually no freedom to drop out for awhile and see what happens. (There’s less and less of that here now, too.) Each of the four Beatles rejected a trade or a safe place in society. What they wanted to be—a professional music group—didn’t even exist then. There were only solo artists. So while everybody was telling them that what they were trying to do was futile, they kept at it resolutely. I think that this ultimately was the source of their strength and magic. Hard to do.