Monday, November 29, 2010

For Chad

As I have been a bit serious in my posts of late, I thought I might add a bit of levity. I found the following words scrawled on a post-it note tacked to a telephone pole, as I was riding my bike through the plainest of Minneapolis neighborhoods. The handwriting was so curious very few could ever hope to read it without regular exposure. I think the guy must be lonely, and maybe downright nuts. Eccentric, for sure. Anyway, here it is, verbatim.

Exceptionally intelligent, talented, gifted, attractive, sexy, skilled, impecunious, perpetually under-employed, ever-effacing, athletic, nearsighted, bald but hairy SWM, seeking F, of similar qualities except the baldness and impecuniousness (then again, who am I to judge), near or farsightedness not being a problem, nor hairiness, necessarily. Must like dirt. Or, at least, be tolerant of. Accepting of odd and far-fetched perspectives hardly anyone has ever thought to entertain, or would, or will, or could. Must be open to big dreams with lots of do, even if some of those dreams are so big all the do there is won't make them happen. An automobile is acceptable, as is a functioning shower. Better yet, a claw foot tub. Because if we hook up I'll be bathing mostly at your house. You can borrow my garden tools if you share your vegetables. I'll show you my root cellar if you show me yours. A preference for dark beer over light is requisite, though not really if it comes down to that. I'll buy you either if I think I'm going to score. Though don't worry; any women who scores with me, I'm holding on to (unless of course she wants me to let go.) If interested, write your number on this post-it. I keep a constant eye on it with my binoculars, and as soon as you are out of sight I'm going to take it down and call. That is, if you are pretty, to me. If I don't think you are pretty, I might not call, but that doesn't mean I don't think you are beautiful.

I wrote the contents down in my notebook and left my telephone number. He called before I'd gone two blocks. He was disappointed to learn I was a guy, so clearly he doesn't have very high expectations. Anyway, ladies, I'd tell you which telephone pole he tacks the note to, but I don't think his neighbors would be open to a stampede, and I worry he might run out of post-its. I can only tell you I found the note not far from Lake Nokomis. Best of luck. He sounded nice, but I can't vouch for his hygiene, or his appearance.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Where are the Men?

This weekend, four young men between the age of 13-16 were found after sexually assaulting several women in south Minneapolis. I will spare the details. Our impulse is to blame the parents. They share some of the blame. But I believe the fault reverberates throughout the culture of America. Where were the men in that park, in that alley, at any point in the life of these young men? It will be said these young men fell through the cracks. What good is that to the women who were raped? Clearly these young men had little if any interaction with men able to model the Sacred Masculine.

Why do I call them young men? Because a boy at thirteen goes through the physical transformation by which he becomes a man. But our culture does not recognise adulthood until one reaches the age of 18, and even then there are rights not extended to us. Historically, the men of the culture would take the boy going through that transformation and put him through a set of trials, after which he would be recognised by the whole community as a man among men. The older, wiser men would be there to guide the young man throughout his life. He would be encouraged to model Sacred Masculine.

In our culture, young men are left to figure it out for themselves. Most of us get lost, whether we know we are lost of not. If we are taught anything at all, it's mostly about how to get in line, how to bow down, how to rule. Manhood in America is most often associated with violence and ownership. The individualist creed so prominent in our culture says, "Every Man for Himself." It is the fundamental basis of modern economics, and there is nothing more sacred in this culture than the Market. Women are thought to be less than. Community is virtually dead, and so the presence of the watchful, protective eyes of strong, grounded adults is not a reality in most neighborhoods.

That thirteen year old got his initiation, from older men in his community. And for it several women and the children of one of those women will be haunted much of their lives. And we can all go back to our televisions and our jobs and forget, though in each of us is a vaguely unsettled feeling that something is not right with the world. How helpless we feel.

Cheers to the officers who are said to have interrupted the young men as their went about their awful work. Thank you. As for what to do about these young men, I admit I have had visions of killing them. I would be content to be allowed into a dim room, all four boys tied and bound. I will paint myself green, attach horns to my head, carry my deer horns and dance and roar. I promise I won't kill them. At most, I would demand from each how they hope to redeem themselves, and maybe puncture a thigh of each with a horn.

What? Do you suppose the "Justice" system can do better? Regardless, they will be treated as adults now. By the courts. Thrown in with the rest of the rapists and murderers. While the culture, which is us, goes about creating more and more young men without the ability to feel. More young men who laugh at the pain of others.

So, men, what are you doing to restore the sense of Sacred Masculine in yourselves? How are you modeling that for the boys and young men in your life? Good men, rise up. You are models, whatever you do. It can't be helped. Look deep inside and find healing. The world is in desperate need of good men, protectors. It can't be left to the police alone.

Friday, November 26, 2010

A Turkey: Senate Bill s510

This Thanksgiving holiday, which is more than any other American holiday, about food, consider briefly the s510 Food Safety Modernization Act. Sponsored by Senator Durbin of Illinois, it is ostensibly an attempt by Congress to prevent food-borne illnesses, which, due to the industrialization of the food supply, have become a nationwide problem. It has become increasingly common, the recall of greens or meat contaminated with e-coli, salmonella, etc, recalls more often than not encompassing ten or twenty or thirty states.

The bill would empower the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) with far greater oversight of food production. This, if passed and funded, would result in the hiring of hundreds of thousands, to fill new FDA positions. In a time of 17-18 percent unemployment, that would seem like a win-win situation. Better oversight of food production, more jobs.

Of course, you can bet, the bulk of that oversight will be felt by small producers providing to a local community. Invasive and unnecessary inspections of smaller farms and distributors, and not of the massive facilities controlled by and affiliated with the likes of Cargill, Archers-Daniels-Midland and General Mills. These companies and others like them, which also happen to be the greatest beneficiaries of farm-bill subsidies, will get a free pass, by virtue of well placed political contributions.

This is the kind of well meaning obtuseness offered by the Democratic party these days. "The business sector is not creating jobs. Here, let us do it." A whole new cadre of government bureaucrats enforcing rules, regulations and code, blind to the health of the economy, the Earth or people. Oh, the joy.

Here's an idea. As there is no money to create these Government jobs anyway, and we have a trillion dollar deficit and a 15 trillion dollar debt, end all farm subsidies. It is a curious and unfortunate reality that Government policy and the industrialization of the food supply has made the least healthy food-product the cheapest and most readily available. For those of us who would like to be honest about it, this contributes to the ill-health of the populace, which is very, very lucrative for the Health Care Industry, which is 20% of the overall economy.

End all subsidies for the industrial production of Corn, Soybeans, Wheat, Pork, Beef and Poultry. This will immediately result in farm foreclosures everywhere. Which is fine, frankly, because these will be the farms and farmers most beholden to the industrial way of things, which is unhealthy for the land and people. The land will return to the banks. Here is the tricky part. Banks have ceased to have any concern for the state of the Union, except insofar as things remain stable enough for banks and bankers to continue the process of controlling a greater and greater percentage of the economy - a change from about 10-15% to 30-35% in the last three decades - out of pure self-aggrandizement.

Americans, take the land from the banks. Use a portion of the subsidies we once paid to Industrial producers, and find young families who will grow food, in a healthy way, for X number of people. Use a portion of the fossil fuels we would otherwise burn producing industrial product, to deliver the healthy product provided by these rural families to the city.

Plant the city with gardens and fruit and nut trees, everywhere possible. Let everyone know where their food comes from, so there is a relationship between the grower and the consumer. This will lessen the likelihood of food-borne illnesses considerably. People eating healthier food will be healthier. Health Care costs will go down radically, which will make basic health care more available for more people.

Now, sky gods and the defenders of ill-health will say such a project will result in food shortages. It might, particularly if we rush into it. We are not likely to rush into it. More likely, if we consider it at all, we will deliberate indefinitely, and nothing will happen except the maintaining of the status quo.

We forget, I think, that we are Americans. A nation by, for, and of the people. We have been abdicating our responsibility a long time, handing our power to the sky gods of Institutions, saying, here, take this responsibility, we don't want it. Well, at some point, we take back that responsibility, or we cease to be a Republic and the dream that was America is dead.

Of course, the greatest barrier to our taking responsibility for our food supply and making people and the land and the Union healthier than it is, is not sky gods, or institutions, it's our addiction to High Fructose Corn Syrup and the like. It's the unhealthy way in which we eat, the unhealthy way in which we live, and our demand that we should have whatever Health Care we need whenever we need it. There it is. All change begins with oneself.

Whatever happens, Senate Bill s510 is everything that is wrong with Government. Spending money we don't have to complicate peoples lives while trying to attack a symptom and failing, when saving money with a different approach would eliminate the fundamental problem.

I had Thanksgiving with my sister and her family. We had fun. After dinner my niece pulled out all her scarves and a technicolor wig, and made me look like a glam Jimi Hendrix, (who, by the way, was more a patriot than most sky gods.) I had offered to buy the turkey, but my sister went ahead and bought one anyway. One of those industrial birds that never once in his life saw natural light, a bird bred for bulk and abject stupidity, fed a mixture of processed corn, chemicals, and probably, animal by-product, and copious amounts of antibiotics to keep him from keeling over dead, which he no doubt would have otherwise, before he reached a girth necessary to meet Wall Street expectations. Which bird, due to Federal subsidies, was $0.48/lb, as opposed to the bird I would have purchased, at $2.39 - $7.99 a pound, a locally raised bird that had something resembling a bird's life, provided by a local family I could go and visit, if I were so inclined. Would I be allowed to visit a Jennie-O or Tyson facility?

My sister cooked the bird until it collapsed. She didn't over-cook it, it simply collapsed, at about the same time it was ready to eat. Which may be why the production company didn't bother to include one of those cheap pop-up thermometers; it maybe wasn't just a cost-cutting means to maintain investor confidence. She asked me why I thought it collapsed and I started to talk about the life of the bird but she cut me off. She's got a baby on the way and a seven year old and there isn't much money coming in. She didn't want to hear about the miserable life of the bird she was about to eat. I'm not insensitive; all I was going to say was, the bird had a weak bone structure, for obvious reasons.

I didn't much like the idea of making my flesh of the flesh of a bird whose bone structure was so categorically weak, but I gorged. I think I ate about 3 or 4 lbs. Because it was there, it was offered to me by my sister, and I abhor self-righteousness. If I wanted a better bird I could have ridden my bike the ten miles to the Seward Co-op and back, like I told myself I would. But it has been eff-in cold this week and I've been content to ride my bike no further than the closest coffee shop, to write vehement exhortations on the state of our food supply and the ill-health of this blessed, over-indulgent America.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving - Good Men

Recently, I posted a "jobs" add on Craigslist titled Good Men. I encouraged men with children to apply, though the only true requisites were a good attitude, a solid work ethic and an ability to lift a heavy load. I was looking for one man to help me transfer the contents of Monster Halloween to the rented storage facility. A one day job, $10/hr, a meal and maybe beer afterwards. Not much, but something.

Fifty-seven good men applied, in the four hours the add was open. Many of them with children, almost all out of work, many from the trades, many out of work for a long time. Had I had the work I would have hired most of them. I didn't have much time to consider. It came down to two men, Mark R who is out of work and has a wife and three girls, and Kenny T, a new father. I chose Kenny, because he was reasonably articulate in his reply, because another man I had already hired is about to be a new father, and - this was the clincher - his son shares my birthday, the 4th of July.

Kenny did great. He's Texan, here because his father is. He doesn't much like the winter, though I wouldn't expect him to. I gave him $100 though he didn't work a full ten hours. But then, he worked more than ten, if you consider the bus ride and the waiting, between Uptown Minneapolis and Columbia Heights.

The Government says about 9% unemployment, but that's bullshit. It's more like 17-18%, and more than that if you consider the under-employed. The nation's economy grew about 2.5% last quarter, GDP has recovered to pre-2008 recession levels, but where are the jobs? I was under the impression that the Market is infallible. So we have been told, repeatedly.

Do we have any kind of plan for these good men, or are we simply going to leave it up to sky gods to figure it out? They are howling for tax cuts, you know, those sky gods. But eliminate sky god taxes entirely and it won't mean jack if they have no sense of civic, social responsibility. This is a Republic, yes? Or have we become a Plutocracy, in which case, the only real concern is the maintaining of order, that sky gods may become more powerful, more rich?

The trades aren't likely to improve, anytime soon. So what is going to happen to these men? the re-training argument is mostly pandering to the Higher-Education Industry, putting off the problem, a high-cost we can't afford. And what exactly are we going to retrain them to do?

I can think of a few things, like getting a handle on invasive species like Buckthorn, planting native habitats and growing healthy food. How about sustainable, passive-solar design? Problem is, if we rely on Government to set this up, are we going to get healthier landscapes and healthier food, more energy efficient homes, or just a big fat bureaucracy reinforcing itself, feeding on the populace, accomplishing little?

Blessings to all good men and their families, this Thanksgiving, this Holiday season. Rejoice in your family, friends and community. Rejoice in the Earth. Remember to smile. Play, especially if you have children. And to those who applied to my add, I'm sorry I couldn't hire you. Best of luck. And like you, I am now unemployed. One of those our Government does not count, because, as a contractor, I can't apply for unemployment benefits. Don't really want such benefits anyway. I don't have a family of my own to provide for. And as far as our Government is concerned, I don't believe it has any sense of what is best for the nation. In fact, I believe it is reinforcing both the ill-health of the Earth and people. Because we, as Americans, don't really know what we want. And if we think we do, we don't really know what it will cost. We have lost our way, and so, our Government has gone wayward, and we are all on a path that can not be sustained.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Economic Systems and my Anger

A dear friend of mine, Mark Helpsmeet, just returned from Cuba. He is a Quaker, and an enthusiastic folk dancer. A good man, too, on a mission of peace. I asked him how it went. "We were treated like rock stars. Imagine that!" he said, as he laughed heartily. He and his companions were, at some performances, mobbed. This is not a behavior they are accustomed to, as a response to the presentation of their traditional dances, in America. As fun and joyous as those presentations may be.

On one such occasion, in Cuba, a government official gave an address, as is evidently a common occurrence, there being so many government officials. At the end of this, the party official, after a long denotation of the evil Empire America, acknowledging the peaceful mission of Mark and his acquaintances, shouted, "Viva los estados unidos." Long live the United States. Which no one had ever heard from any party official anywhere in Cuba, in fifty years. But then, the Embargo is the only thing keeping that party in power.

I asked how the food was. I imagine Hispaniola to be a potential Eden, where just about anything might grow. Mark repiled that he had enough to eat. It may be a potential Eden, but the Cuban people have ration cards, which entitles them to less than a person needs to survive - at the time, 3lbs of rice, 1lb of beans and 5 eggs, per person, per month. Whatever more they need, they grow themselves, or buy on the black market. Which, evidently, doesn't amount to much more than just about enough.

I told Mark the rock star treatment probably means he's on an FBI watch list, that our phone conversation was probably being recorded. After agreeing that the US trade embargo is nothing more than the maintaining of a boogey man, we were sure to remind those government officials listening in, of the complete inviability of the Communist system. As for the making of boogey men, aren't Mexican drug cartels, militant homicidal Islamic Jihadists, bottle-eyed North Korean nuclear ambitionists, and Chinese Communist/Capitalist/Imperialists enough? I was under the impression we are supposed to be a beacon of light for the world? Would anyone like to explain why we are not shining that light on Cuba, without offering some tired nonsense about preventing the spread of Communism?

The Transportation Safety Administration officials who met Mark on his return acted as if he had visited the jungles of Congo or Colombia: "You are lucky to be alive, it's so dangerous there." It's not, but somehow our Government thinks it important that we think Cuba is violent, a threat to the United States. If we ended the embargo the Communist government would collapse with the first real wiff of Consumerism the Cuban people got. But then our Government would have one less boogey man to make us afraid with.

The Communist system is without any doubt inviable. It is even more destructive than Capitalism, the inviability of which hasn't quite played out yet.

Leaving for this trip to Cuba, Mark and his wife Sandra arrived at the Eau Claire airport about 25 minutes before the flight. This is a small airport, more like a small office on the tarmac. They were not allowed to board. There was a later flight, but the United Airlines tickets went from $800 to $2800. Then, on their return, United Airlines had no ticket for them, from Toronto to Minneapolis, unless they wanted to buy a new ticket. They drove instead.

Mark is, like me, after balance, wholeness and healing. Earlier this year, Mark had to pay $2500 for the right to build a garage, in Eau Claire County Wisconsin, USA. The county said the lot line ran through his bedroom. That, and a variance might be required to build a new garage on the site of the old garage, because it was about fifty feet from the road and not the required 60ft. The lot line did not run through his bedroom, and the garage wasn't a threat to the road or the drivers on it, but it cost he and his wife Sandra $2500 to get the county to acknowledge it.

This week I received my latest property tax statement from Hennepin County. Taxes increased 16.2%, about $400. That's not as bad as previous years, one year at 19%, another at 23%, if I recall correctly. In addition, my father recently noticed the county has the house listed under a non-homestead status. As I recall, both my father and I were adamant about homestead status, when we purchased the house. I looked at the mortgage. Sure enough, section 24, "buyer waves all right of homestead exemption in the property," our initials an inch and a half away at the bottom of the page.

A non-homestead status means we can be taxed at a higher rate, liens can be placed against the property, and it's easier for the bank to foreclose. In other words, that is motive for malfeasance, for banks, the financial industry and Government. An opportunity for predation. An invitation to rapaciousness.

I can't recall if I agreed to this or not. If I did, I certainly didn't understand the ramifications of it, and the banker wasn't educating me. It would not have been difficult for this to be manipulated in the Bank's favor. That would be Wells Fargo, by the way, the bank that holds my mortgage. I have friends who work for Wells Fargo. Dear friends. Good people. I want not to have to accuse the bank they work for of malfeasance and rapaciousness.

But then, I hear the banks are cutting small business credit lines in half. Two years after Banks were handing out credit as if it were high fructose corn syrup, you can't get credit unless you've got the assets to back the loan in full. Clearly, the sky gods who control these banks are idiots, that they should set the means for the implosion of the economy, and then tighten up like assholes in a blizzard when it's really spring and time for growth.

There was a time when credit was extended in part according to the character of the man asking for it. But it takes character to be a judge of it, and even if you have character and you can recognize it in others, in this age of International Lending Institutions, a branch banker isn't empowered to loan money based on character. The branch banker is empowered to loan money to any man without character, even if that man is a monster, if that monster happens also to be exceptional at making money.

I've been very angry, the past few days. The other day, as I was attending to the most unpleasant task of unclogging my sewer drain, I shouted twice, "Fuck you, God." Where did that come from? It's not God who rules this world, but men who pursue wealth and power at the expense of everything but themselves. Though God provides a great excuse.

I picked up the Koran last night. I almost put it down after the first page. I would expect the Word of God to start with something about joy, beauty and wonder, not a speech about the terrible chastisements awaiting unbelievers. Such a tone as this could only be set by a man in pursuit of control and domination, which may be expected in a world where murder, rape and plunder are a constant threat. Having grown up in a culture where these are not an immediate threat, I don't want to hear about control and domination and the awful Other. I want to hear about Joy, Beauty, Wonder, Balance, Wholeness, Healing. I want that message to be open to and embracing of the great multiplicity that is the Homo sapien sapien experience.

Here in America, we've tried a balance between Business and Government. We have emphasized both without emphasizing character. Consequently, we've got a Government and and Economic elite almost wholly unaccountable, unresponsive and elevated to an untouchable state. But we the citizenry have more power than we think. Democracy is dependent on a populace with character. It will be dependant upon the character of Americans whether or not we have a system that is accountable, responsive and within reach.

What is my recommendation? I recommend a year long holiday. Not from work, but from taxes and credit. That would assuredly implode both America's and the World's economy. It would take a vibrant and healthy local economy to ride out that storm. At the end of which, I would hope, sky gods would be considerably humbled, and existential threats will have diminished considerably.

Meanwhile, I'm paying my dues to banks, corporations and Government. I will continue, even as I use what they provide less and less. And I will cease to pay when my fellow Americans are fed up with this rapacious, predatory, and disempowering system that is leading us toward a terrible crash and burn, and willing to do something meaningful about it.

Thursday, November 18, 2010


I rode Fudo Myo (my bike) down to the Fine Line Music Cafe this evening, on invitation from Brant Kingman, the sculptor who loaned us his statue of Nike the goddess for our Ladies Boodoir. The occasion was the first I AM MPLS celebration, a toast to local cultural stars, of fashion, music, retail, etc. Brant was performing with his lady friend, Sylvia.

When I got there, there was a line, and the people in it were local hipsters who were exceptionally rude. I was bumped from the line about three times before I decided I was next. I didn't hold it against them as many were dressed as if it were June - until the blond in the red coat, standing upwind puffing on her cigarette tried to push me aside as she exhaled two lungs of smoke directly into my face. I stopped talking to security and looked at her. She backed off.

I had forgotten my ID at my house. To enter I had to agree to be marked: a black permanent marker X on the back of each hand. Don't serve that man. I didn't really need to be reminded I do not belong. Very few people in MPLS know who I am.

First introductions, then a very fun comic, Amber Preston (that's Aamber Preston, if you have her number in your contacts and are prone to drunk dialing.) Then came a parade of all those cultural folks featured, all but one Gen Xers. Ms Angie Arner and Ms Liz Nelson of CounterCouture were modeling clothes designed by a member of my staff, Katrina Elliot. Brant closed it out with a curious dance and light show. It was a kind of barbarian warrior, priestess show down, with a full battery of lasers and flashing LED's. A man of many talents, Brant. And Sylvia. Well, she is simply gorgeous. Very beautiful people, all.

A band called Estate followed the ceremony. I liked them very much. They called for dancers on the runway three times before I decided to accept the challenge. I danced for a full song, stalking that runway with as much joy as I could muster. It seemed to go over well. A lady a generation older told me I dance very well. Two beautiful black women gave me their raffle tickets before leaving. Two more ladies approached me, one asking if she could take her picture with me. She didn't realize I wasn't a scheduled part of the show. They wanted me to dance more, but I wasn't really dressed for it (three layers; though they suggested I remove most of them) and by that time there was a new band, the Red Pens, local faves with a very strong sound, but not really a beat I can dance to.

I could have followed Brant and Estate over to the Varsity Theater, but they didn't ask and I wasn't biking there. Really, I only wanted to go home (to the remains of Monster Halloween) and have a scotch. Just one, before bed. Maybe two.

Brant took away his sculpture this morning. There is no more shrine to the Goddess, here. Another two days and that will be the end of Monster Halloween, 2010. Then I retire to my house for the winter.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Bills and Bicycles

As I have no credit card to pay my bills with, I hopped on my bike and headed down Franklin Ave, to The Money Exchange, one of those tiny bomb-shelter, bullet-proof glass boxes. My sister called while I was inside paying Xcel Energy $350 to keep my electricity on; all I could hear was my words repeated back to me. I teased the ladies behind the glass because they work in a cash box but they needed a calculator to make change, $47.75 ($2.25 electronic exchange fee), for the four Franklin's I gave them.

I biked ten more blocks east on Franklin, to the Unbank, another bomb shelter but with only one lady (with a great voice) working in it, to pay $300 to CenterPoint Energy to have my gas turned back on. From there I traveled north, downtown, to the Hennepin County Government Center, to renew my drivers license (I didn't plan well. I look like a total dork in the picture.) I had lunch in the basement cafeteria with about 200 bureaucrats, which, both cafeterias and bureaucracism, I am fond of critiquing. These bureaucrats were, of course, regular people, like most others: eating, talking business and gossiping.

Judging by the size of the building, much of Hennepin County works for Hennepin County.

Then I was off to the Minneapolis Utility Billing office, where I made my first $350 payment for the right to use municipal water in 2010-11. I inquired with the staff about whether or not I was being charged twice, whether or not I had been reimbursed for the "Estimated Use" charges which were proven false by the frozen water meter. The staff consulted the "Adjuster", who denied my claim to have these charges refunded, on the grounds that, because the water meter was frozen she can't be sure whether I was using that water or not. The "Estimated Use" charges started in late May 2010.

As the Adjuster would not speak with me, I inquired as to whether or not the Adjuster actually lives in Minnesota. I wondered, without saying, if perhaps this Adjuster lives all day, every day, in a windowless, climate controlled office, for at least as long as it has taken her to forget that water meters do not freeze and explode in late spring/early summer, at this latitude. At least not this past May.

I told the staff that the water department should reconsider its policy, as it doesn't make any sense. I considered telling them that this sort of obtuse, insensibility is the exact sort of thing that makes citizens despise Government; but I didn't. Each of the staff members encouraged me to write a complaint about all my grievances. They seemed to find some joy in the idea of me, explaining my situation before a magistrate. As do I, the more I think about it.

I rode my bike back to Monster Halloween, picked up my computer, and started in the direction of my house. I had arranged for an appointment to have my gas turned back on. CenterPoint Energy would give me no time frame other than, "between now and 8pm." Sure enough, the guy called: he was ten minutes out, I was at least 30 minutes out. I tried to get him to wait but it took me 34 minutes to get there, there being snow on the path and an abundance of traffic. He's got a schedule to keep, and he doesn't get paid more for waiting. I would have dropped a twenty-spot, but I didn't mention it when he called and he didn't call before he left my house.

A neighbor I haven't talked to in many months was scraping ice on his sidewalk. He seemed a bit unhinged. A drywall specialist, he hasn't worked much the past three years. He's paying the bills with his retirement money. He borrowed $4600 to one of his six brothers, eighteen months ago, so that brother wouldn't lose the house on Lake Waconia. The brother hasn't payed a dollar back, but regularly loads pictures on Facebook of times with the family at the cabin up north. I suggested people will do just about anything to maintain whatever standard of living they have grown accustomed to, and offered that he should engage his other four brothers, gang tackle the guy and pull his underwear out of his pants. I don't expect he will, but I did get him to smile.

Dug my carrots. An heirloom, St Valery, a fat stumpy carrot not much good for chewing on raw but good for cooking, as in soup. The ground wasn't frozen yet, in part because the snow acted as an insulator. I was reminded what good soil I have, not having any difficulty pulling them out. Gathered the last of the kohl rabi and cabbage, a few fat storage beans that might not keep for getting damp.

I expect to eat a lot of soup this winter. Hole up in my house with my soup, bread from the church down the street, my books, notebooks and pens, tools and music. I'm anxious to get started. The heat's back on. After waiting at the coffee shop awhile, I got a cal from another CenterPoint Energy tech. After opening the lines and clearing out the air the furnace started and the hot water heater too. Hot water? The house is coming alive; it's time I start healing it.

The drain is plugged, someplace beyond the foundation. Which means I can't put anything down any drain, least of all the water I'm paying $350 a month for. Not looking joyward to that project. But there's no avoiding it, or putting it off.

Monday, November 15, 2010


Thinking about the immaturity of America, I consider the confrontation the West is going to have shortly with China, over the world's remaining oil supply. China has been asserting itself of late, positioning itself geo-politically far longer than that. The West has the superior fire power, but if it comes down pure numbers it's a push. The Chinese have Confucianism, however, and an Imperial past many Chinese would like to resurrect. Add the two together and you have a selfless willingness to die the West has rejected in favor of individual self interest. It is likely to be a bloody affair, probably the end of the Empirical aspirations of America and China.

When the battle is done there will be little oil left, and the world will be very different from anything we know. Hopefully, that won't mean a few decades of nuclear fallout, but that is a distinct possibility.

Such were my thoughts going into a late night viewing of the documentary Cool It, based on a book of the same name, by Bjorn Lomborg. Lomborg argues that the current debate over global climate change is deeply flawed, ruled either by alarmists on the one hand, or self-serving marketeers on the other. Basically, he says the sky is not falling, or at least not as quickly as alarmists would have us believe, and the most talked about solutions for global warming, cap and trade and CO2 emission reduction schemes, are equally ineffective, even counter effective.

What does this have to do with our looming confrontation with China? Well, put simply, the only thing that is going to prevent a confrontation with China, over oil, is a new energy infrastructure. Unless we come up with a new energy source that can replace oil while maintaining something close to the standard of living the West has grown accustomed to, confrontation is inevitable.

So, you might think we are spending billions of dollars to figure out what that new energy source will be. We are not. Not even close. Why? Because of our blind and frankly stupid faith in the Market. The Market is only as good as the people who control it, and the Market is controlled by sky gods who have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo, which is the oil/gas/coal infrastructure, which they are likely to reinforce until we commence WWIII. Such a war will consume most of the remaining oil, which we need to help us build a new energy infrastructure.

Energy is everything, literally. Global climate change is a fact, but a global war over oil is likely to dampen humanity's prospects before the warming Earth does. Yet we are doing next to nothing about it. There is no national movement toward a sustainable energy future. We are spending almost no money on research and development. Instead, we give immense tax breaks to oil/gas/coal companies, who are invested in oil/gas/coal exploitation and not new technologies and new energy sources, regardless what their PR departments would have you believe. While Market fundamentalists obfuscate the issue with talk of cap and trade, which is nothing more than a perpetuation of the fossil fuel infrastructure, which is very lucrative for sky gods; and global climate change alarmists call for reductions in CO2 emissions, which very few of the nations of the world are ever going to agree to, or follow through with if they do.

President Obama might take note, considering Democratic Party losses in the most recent election. He might tell America the truth about it's energy prospects, and ignite a flurry of scientific development akin to that initiated by President Kennedy with the space program. If he has the character. More likely, I expect political stagnation, with Republican demands for sky god giveaways stymied by veto, as if simply preventing Republicans from acting will inspire Americans to give him a second term. Two years of status quo, another 60 billion barrels of oil burned up world wide, two years closer to a global confrontation over oil.

As Government isn't likely to do anything about energy, there are sky gods. There has been much talk among sky gods recently, about philanthropy. A few hundred sky gods have pledged to give away much if not most of their wealth. I recommend they devote a significant portion of that to the development of a more sustainable, more Earth and people friendly energy source. There is little that would be more healing for the world.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Bad Debt

Looking into the "special assessments" on my property taxes, which I mentioned in the last post, I have discovered they are for "tree removal, scrap removal, and delinquent water charges." When I moved into the house in 2006, I cut down three scraggly black spruce, planted post-WWII, in a line like soldiers. I stacked the wood, returning to my house sometime later to find the city had come into my yard and took the wood, charging me $350. There is of course no record of what "scrap" was removed. The water charges total $677, or just about the same amount the city said I owed most recently, when they threatened to condemn my house.

Apparently, I owed that $677 as of 2009, and the city applied the charges to the property taxes in 2010. They opened up a "new account," though no one was living in the house and no water was being used, charging me $800, most of which I paid in the form of $1 bills, to prevent the condemnation order.

Basically, I turned my back on the house and the city, and the city took the opportunity to generate funding for itself. The bureaucracy kicked into action according to municipal code, and now I am extorted to the tune of $5000.

On a separate note, the partners and I have had a conversation about purchasing a property nearby, to open a permanent retail store. It's an older building, having had only one tenant, the inside full of ornate woodwork, mirrors and glass. A very unique property, ideally suited to what we have in mind. The owners of the building have signed a tentative purchase agreement with US Bank, somewhat contingent on US Bank receiving a favorable rezoning decision from the city. US Bank says they have no intention of razing the building, but you can bet money, should US Bank take possession of it, US Bank will destroy it. Minneapolis has a reputation for allowing the destruction of old, unique architecture of interest, to make way for four-square, mundane monstrosities. The more efficient design can be taxed at a higher rate.

US Bank, my readers might remember, charged me $800 in fees on $80 of overdrafts, sold the debt to a collection agency, and now I cannot open a checking account anywhere, or possess any bank card with a Visa symbol on it, which complicates a great many things for me in this credit oriented, automated culture in which we live. How does one pay ones bills these days without a credit card or checking account? This will be my fate for the next six years, even if I pay the debt. In fact, I have been told, should I pay the bill five years from now, my blacklisting will be extended seven years beyond that point.

If there is anything I can do to complicate the sale of the property in question to US Bank, I will do it. Historic preservation, anyone? What can a little guy like me do to embroil US Bank in the great gears of Bureaucracy? Of course, that will mostly create problems for the family that owns the building. US Bank would simply walk away from the sale. The family would lose the sale, and be stuck with a building saddled with an historic designation, forced to accept less, likely, than US Bank would have paid them. Are they willing to accept less, if it means saving the building that meant so much to their family? Once owned by US Bank, Government isn't likely to stand in the way of letting US Bank do what US Bank wants to do, especially if that means more money in Government's pocket.
Banks and the sky gods who control them constitute an untouchable class, free to purchase and destroy a beautiful building or landscape, free even to plunge the world's economy into a tailspin, at essentially no loss to themselves. All the assistance claimed by so-called "welfare moms" doesn't come close to matching the fiscal safety net constructed to keep sky gods from falling. The Fed didn't hand out the trillions of dollars it has conjured since 2008 to all of us, but to corporate entities controlled by sky gods. Trickle down? What, exactly, is trickling down? Condescension, which is hubris, which is deadly.

The Federal Reserve, Government at all levels and sky god financiers have built this Empire on credit. And now they are saying to the Middle Class, you will have to bear the bulk of the pain, if we are to get a handle on the nation's spiraling debt. Excuse me? Meanwhile, sky gods climb ever higher, evermore righteous in the belief that they are saviors, evermore certain they cannot fall.

I will not be there to catch them when they do. I'll be happy to teach them, when they are back on the ground, how to grow their own food. I will not grow it for them.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Govt/sky gods

I've written before about the $3300 the city of Minneapolis is charging me this year, for the use of municipal water, above and beyond the monthly water bill. I've now learned Hennepin County is charging me $1126.xx for a "special assessment," of which there has been no explanation. That, and their patently absurd inflation of the overall house value, by about $40,000 - $50,000. Which means, for the privilege of owning and living in my house in Minneapolis, Hennepin County, Minnesota, USA, in 2010-2011, I am expected to pay approximately $5,000 above and beyond the general cost of living: mortgage, utilities, food etc.

Not an easy thing for an avowed anarchist to swallow. If I were from the old-school, I would consider blowing up the water department, the Hennepin County tax office. Which would be pointless, counter-effective. Thankfully, I am not of the old-school, I do not accept or sanction the use of explosive material in any circumstance. (No one uses explosive material as often or as readily as Government, by the way.) Not willing or able to use explosive material, I'm not sure what alternative I have. I could refuse to pay, which will result in that $5,000 bill becoming $15,000 right quickly. Oh, the helplessness. The frustration/rage inducing, dis-empowering, bureaucratically numbing effect of Government.

At least I can write about my troubles, without having to worry (much) about a violent return. In many nations in the world right now, you can be beaten-raped-killed for telling the truth. I've a good deal more truth to tell, about Government and sky gods. I probably don't have much to worry about, in respect to a violent return, unless a large number of people start listening. That's not an issue now.

Question is, which is more the succubus, Government or sky gods and their Financial/Industrial/Corporate Empire? Who feeds more, at greater detriment, from people and the Earth? A toss-up, really. And our reliance upon them, our subservience to them, will be our undoing. It is exactly as inevitable as we believe Government and sky gods to be. Of course, nothing need be inevitable, least of all Government or sky gods. They exist because we support them. And how powerful and untouchable they have become, for that support.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


Thinking about Avatar the film, the Navi, Homo sapien sapien and wondering why so many of my people have forgotten their tails, wagging mine as I rode my bike down my street this morning, a man in an Inferno Red Crystal Pearl Coat, Jeep Liberty, pulled out of the alley to my right, without looking, forcing me into the other lane. Had I tried to stop he would have knocked me over.

Thankfully, there was no vehicle in the other lane, or I would have been forced onto the hood. The guy in the Jeep finally saw me. He looked at me through the driver's window and his sunglasses, in the sunlight, expressionless, in that way that reveals little. It was certainly not a look of, "Oh shit, sorry dude." Something more like, "What?" He stared at me, I at him from the oncoming lane, bike and Jeep traveling the same speed, and I'm thinking, "Alright, fucker. Get out of the truck and from behind those sunglasses and look at me the way you are looking at me now. I can about guarantee, you won't."

Gaelic Football Club? Yeah? What you got?

On such a beautiful day. Sixty degrees in November, it felt like spring this morning. I finished filling the attic with leaf bags, about 125 bags. Now I have to cover the stairwell with something. It will probably be cool in the stairwell, enough that I might be able to make it the root cellar. There is much left to do to ready the house for winter. I still have no heat. When I do, there is the matter of 28 single pane windows, in this 700 sq ft house. If they were all on the south side I wouldn't mind so much. The temperature is likely to drop all week. It's going to feel like winter next weekend.

I'm sitting now in Jack's on 46th, an excellent example of passive solar design, south facing windows with a masonry floor. Three of the front windows are glass garage doors, two of which are open now. Not exactly what I want to do with my house, but similar.

One of the partners is talking about keeping Monster Halloween open, transitioning part of the store with Christmas paraphernalia. I'm feeling the itch to write. I'm sure I can't do both, but then, Christmas is only two months away. In which case I wouldn't really be living in my house, with my potatoes, but in Uptown, in a commercial building. I don't see how that makes much sense for me or the partners, but we'll talk it out tonight. The other reality is, as Manager of an Uptown costume shop, I would meet just about every oddball in the city before long. That would be worthwhile.

As for writing today, I'm going to start reading my book again. My unpublished book. I haven't looked at it once since this Halloween experience began. I'm not sure what I'll think. Of the 20 people who have read it, about half aren't talking to me, never acknowledging reading it. Part of me wants to take the only existing copy and this computer and throw them over the 46th st/35w bridge. More likely, I will publish it sometime later this month as a free download, donation only.

And what a breathtaking sight this new 35w is, from a bicycle, from any of the bridges above the new construction, in south Minneapolis. Astounding, what we are capable of. The rule a decade ago was, this new freeway would be obsolete by the time construction ended, with all the commercial/residential development anticipating it. Now, there's not much new construction and not likely to be for the next decade. I suspect this highway will become obsolete, but not in the way we are accustomed to. Without cheap and abundant oil this construction will look like a colossal mis-allocation of resources. But there is oil left, the supply is as yet uninterrupted, keeping the cost of a gallon around $3, and this vast shining 14-lane artery is flowing smoothly, with an abundance of automobiles firing at 3000 +/- revolutions per minute. Impressive. Intimidating.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Friday Night Lights

Friday night, sitting alone in the Boodoir, sipping a 17-year Glengoyne, after the oh-so-sexy activity, laundering my clothes down the street on Hennepin Avenue. It has been exceptionally slow here at Monster Halloween the last two days, even more so than I expected of the week post-Halloween. Americans so love to shop/and a deal? All the Better! Yet a greater percentage of people have complained about the 50%-off prices than people did about the full price. I negotiate on a person by person basis. Those with a friendly, gentle but fierce spirit might get a better deal. Those who think 50%-off is a rip-off, won't.

Why did I do laundry, on a Friday night, in a city so full of life? Because the wind will stop blowing from the North tomorrow, the sky will be clear and the air will be warm. Because the laundry needed to be done, and after dancing in the street for two hours this evening, all I wanted to do was sit in a warm laundry and read about all the artistic activity in the city in which I live.

It's only nine o'clock now. There are options abundant: music, dance, theater, cabaret. It's also cold, and I get around by bike. Not that the weather would stop me if I really wanted to be somewhere.

The truth is, I can feel myself pulling inward. I am fond of company. I am fond of spirits, and all manner of joyous celebration of life. Yet winter approaches and, after the intensity of this Halloween experience, I'm ready for some quiet time alone. I am fond of solitude. Books are calling. A book is calling to be written. I'm eager to slip into a winter routine: writing in the morning, working on my house in the afternoon, dancing in the evening. I have about a four month window; me and my root cellar - I might not leave my house much, late November, December, January and February. I'm sure I'll have a first draft by then.

With the Fairy's lack of interest, I have begun to question my need for female companionship. Like most people, I'm fond of the idea of a partner. I am also quite happy alone. My days and nights are full, whatever I do. Anyway, more than one friend has commented on my eccentricity. Another has commented on how well I blend in. My father said to me the other day, "You sure have a great work ethic. I don't know why no one seems to notice." Most of the time, I feel invisible. Or at least, unseen. Even when I dance in the street as Wacky Jacket Jenkins, I'm surprised by how many people fail to see me, how many people endeavor not to see me.

I'd be happy to have a partner. Alas, I sit alone, sipping scotch, in the ladies Boodoir of Monster Halloween. Which will no longer exist after a week's time, nor the shrine to the Goddess contained therein. The shrine that few of the thousands of woman in costume in this Boodoir noticed. The shrine that really only was one because I treated it as so.

So I write this now by the light of an electrified plastic heart and a computer monitor. The monitor might be for sale. The plastic heart is not available at any price.


Just looked into my property taxes on the house. In Spring of 2006, my father and I purchased the house for $154,900 - about 12 minutes before the market began to collapse, I like to joke. It was one of the lowest prices in the neighborhood, and of course, as high a price as this house has ever been valued at, according to the market.

After eight years with a conservative governor tainted by the will to power, "holding the line on taxes," while cutting Local Government Aid and thereby shifting the tax burden to the counties; a vast Hennepin County infrastructure slowly degrading; a vast county payroll and extensive pension liabilities; and one recession and housing market collapse later - the county has my house valued at $163,000, though I would likely get $110,000-120,000 on the open market. That amounts to $3,500 in property taxes.

Here we are, after an election that was a referendum on the economy, tilting in favor of Conservatives whose only real message was the promise to cut spending and taxes. The fact is, after several years of economic stagnation, there isn't as much money around - even though, taxes, mortgage payments, utility bills, material costs, etc, remain more or less as they would be, had there been no recession, had the economy grown several percentage points a year.

Both political parties have made a great many promises. The fact is, there are forces pressing upon us as a nation that no amount of tax cutting, entrepreneurship or government spending will alleviate. Namely, resource depletion, a debt burden that we only seem to increase at a greater rate when times are good, the confusion between the Market and Democracy and the "every man for himself" mentality encouraged by the former at the expense of the latter, the sense of entitlement affluence brings, and our near-absolute inability and unwillingness to imagine a life less affluent, top to bottom, for every citizen.

The American Dream isn't dead. It is dying. Such is the nature of life, such is the nature of Empire. We can't prevent it from dying. We can only redefine it, facing death honestly. Because the American Dream as it has stood since the end of WWII - the education, the house, the job, the car, the toys - is not Democracy per se. There are many things important to democracy, namely, access to free and diverse information, but most of what we take as the benefits of democracy, the fancy houses, the fancy cars, the high technology, we could do without and still have democracy.

What you can be sure of is, catering to the exceptionally wealthy, as if the exceptionally wealthy are the only reason we have Democracy, is inherently anti-democratic. This myth perpetuated by the Right of late leads away from Democracy and towards tyranny. Be careful, Americans. My advice to you: quit looking to politicians and sky gods to sustain America, start asking yourself what you can do to make your community stronger. The best thing you can do is make yourself stronger, which is to say, physically, mentally and spiritually attuned to the rhythms of the Earth.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

My House

Digging potatoes the other morning in my front yard, a man walked up to me from the street. His vehicle was not marked. After my recent experience with the city, I thought, "Great. What next?" (My yard is looking a bit shabby, the myriad plants dying off after the frost.) Turns out, it was a dude from the electrical company, at my house to turn the electrical on, though I had done nothing to initiate it. It took him a few minutes; he didn't even have to get into the house. Such a simple thing, after so long without electricity. That night, I stepped into a room in the dark and tried to find my way around, before remembering, "hey, I have lights." Several times. By the end of the night, I'd left two lights on that didn't need to be on, for at least an hour.

Turned the water on, too. The tub spout works. The bath, kitchen and utility spouts do not. The toilet tank fills, but doesn't stay filled, running continuously. I was happy to find, no pipes were busted. The water heater stopped working long before the water was shut off. Not that there is any gas coming into the house, yet. I have no problem going without hot water for awhile, but the heat has to be turned on soon or the pipes will burst.

I'm not sure what I'll do should the furnace prove to be dead. I would prefer a wood heater I can connect water lines to, to heat a suspended water tank, with radiant lines throughout the house. There's no money for that now.

Started filling the attic with leaf bags. Rented a friend and his van yesterday. We scoured the neighborhood. I opened the bags in the garden, the bags that had wet leaves or greens inside, to let them dry out. Can't have the leaves composting in the house. I filled 55 gallon bags and hauled them in the house and up the stairs. I'll need twice the leaves I gathered. Not all the leaves have fallen. In the spring I'll pull them out of the attic, grind them up and use them as mulch.

I'm contemplating how to use the sun to heat my house to my best advantage. The porch gets plenty of sun, if only I had the masonry floor and walls to contain the heat. Water jugs work too, but they're a bit unsightly, more for a green house than a house. There's plenty of unsightlyness going on in my house right now. Don't have the water jugs anyway.

I think I'll stack coffee bags full of leaves around the kitchen. The kitchen has no heat but what the sun provides, and no foundation to keep the frost out. If the temp didn't fluctuate so much I'd make it the root cellar.

A lot to do. But, having been unoccupied for two years, the house is in a respectable state. I'm happy to have it. Just not sure where I'm going to find the resources to build it up again.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Fairy

It seems the Fairy is not interested in me. I just got out of a relationship with a woman who was not particularly interested in me. I've no interest in pursuing such a woman again, remarkable as she may be. I had hoped she might want to play a role in the rejuvenation of my house, that she might find me remarkable. I detect indifference. Sadly.


We've opened the doors at Monster Halloween, Tuesday following Halloween. Election day. An hour and a half after opening, we have had exactly $19.38 in sales: a butterfly costume with wings, and a small butterfly-like mask. Almost everything is 50% off, but there has not been a rush of Halloween fanatics clamoring for deals, like I thought there might be. About three people have passed through the doors. There is about to be one more sale. $33.12. Chuck, a vendor at Star Trek conventions, purchasing three Spock ears, an Arwen necklace from Lord of the Rings, and a ceramic dragon. There is another woman now, looking at a ceramic carousel.

What a relief, not having to be constantly gearing up for ever and ever increasing craziness. To sit and not feel rushed. Though it is past Halloween, I have dressed up. I'm wearing a frilly shirt, a tan bandanna, with a colorful sash holding my pine swords; the pirate Sir Vis. I have not dressed like this before. I'm hoping to dance later today, with the swords, in the street. In honor of the election, the choice between one unpalatable party or another, a choice I will not bother to make. I vote every day, with every dollar. Just as everyone else does, consciously or not.

We are probably looking at two years of legislative gridlock, a Senate and House of Representatives at odds and viciously so, even as the country sinks deeper into debt, and energy resources become increasingly expensive. The election after this one, two years from now, a full presidential election, will come in the midst of apocalyptic hysteria, with the sun eclipsing the center of the galaxy on its 26,000 year cycle. I expect the shift from party to party to be as frenetic as the weather, and increasingly unpredictable. We are in the twilight of American Hegemony, the twilight of global trade. What a brief and glorious period it has been. I saw pomagranite seeds for sale at the market this morning. Buy them while you can.

The challenge now will be to keep the doors open without bleeding money, while giving the staff a short opportunity to make a little more money, before there is no more work here and they are left to find other work in an increasingly unforgiving economy. I expect to take two months off while I figure out how to heat my house, how to manufacture goods in China without getting taken, how to convince an international food product manufacturer to sponsor someone I care about, and to write a sequel to my first book, the latter which I hope to make available as a free download soon. That, and how to make money teaching others how to tend one's dragon.

A couple of more sales, for a total of approximately $300. A man with an "I voted" sticker just came in asking for fake boobs. We didn't have what he was looking for.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Death and Rebirth

There were times Thursday, Friday and Saturday this past week when Monster Halloween was so full it was hard to navigate through the building without running into people. Both Friday and Saturday evening, I felt as if I were on the verge of collapse, or hallucination, though somehow I found the energy to continue. We are a resilient creature, Homo sapien sapien, capable of extraordinary feats, in extraordinary circumstances.

Sunday was slow but we were all sleep deprived, the partners and I, feeling a foggy high and deep relief. After closing we went across the street to Liquor Lyles, and I ended up later on the roof of Monster Halloween with two random guys I wouldn't recognize if they walked into the coffee shop I'm sitting in now, all of us shouting our names. I slept until 1 PM in the ladies boodoir. We were closed today.

The Fairy walked out of the building at the peak of traffic, Saturday. She acted exactly as I expect a true Fairy would, to this week's display of American grotesquere'. Tink would ne'r approve of American consumer spending habits. Theft was a significant problem. That, and many people are simply disrespectful and messy. Almost no one walks into someone else's house, picks up something and throws it on the floor, or shoves it in a random box. Who throws a sucker stick on the carpet? Lots of people, it turns out. Women were the worst culprits, among the thieves. We lost a great many accoutrement's from the ladies costume bags. We can't sell a costume for much, if it's missing pieces. Someone ripped a plastic gun from a rigid-plastic package. There must have been three hundred people in the store at the time. No one said anything.

In direct contrast, I loaned my white wig to a young man named David, Saturday night. He wanted it for a friend. David brought us beer in exchange, agreeing to return the wig Sunday. I wasn't sure he would. He did, thereby restoring my wig and my faith in Humanity.

I'm not being paid much, as an hourly wage, though I've worked hours in two and a half months equivalent to six months of standard 40hr work weeks. I'm likely to make as much or more than either partner will, unless we can sell most of the remaining merchandise in the next week. If they have to carry it into 2011, the tax is likely to eat up what money they do make. Last year, their tax on remaining merchandise was higher than their profits. Meanwhile, the income tax on sky gods is lower than it is for the middle class, and the American middle class is about to return a party to power in the House of Representatives, whose primary goal is to reduce the tax on sky gods. Not that there is any substantive political alternative that involves Congress, as both parties are profligate spenders, both leading America on the path of Empire, and epic collapse.

I returned to my house today after a long absence, and harvested potatoes. I am in love with the potato, of which I have planted six different varieties. I've been telling people I'd have 500 pounds of potatoes. It will be more like 350. My neighbor didn't have a great potato year either. Most of the energy went into the greens, it seemed. Some plants had long vines but only a few potatoes. Who can say why? There was plenty of rain. plenty of sun. Maybe the planets weren't aligned right for normal or exceptional tuber growth. Still, three hundred and fifty pounds of potatoes is a lot of potatoes. I'm going to eat most of them. I'll give away some. Save the rest for seed. I think I'll find a farmers market this week and buy a bulk of onions, carrots, parsnip, beans and garlic. Stock the root cellar I'll build.

Digging potatoes was cathartic, and healing. gathering from the soil I exposed, tearing out the sod, last spring. Planting those potatoes seems like a lifetime ago. I was still hurting from the break up of my relationship with Val Kyrie. A woman last night came in asking if we had small skulls or bones she could use to fashion a necklace. She was putting together a costume replica of the Goddess Kali. I told her I often compared Val Kyrie to Kali the Destroyer. The woman reminded me that with every death there is rebirth.

A beautiful day to harvest potatoes. The sun was strong though low in the sky, the air comfortably cool. Many leaves have fallen. My canoe is full of water, the wood and cane seat submerged, rotting. I won't be floating down the Mississippi this year; but maybe next. Because, though there is only another month of work at Monster Halloween, anything is possible, I know, and I am coming into myself in a way that feels open, honest and pure. I think I'll write another book. And hire the Fairy to dig the rest of my potatoes, the carrots, and spread the compost. She's a tough one. And beautiful. Hopefully it will be healing and cathartic for her too.

Another week of retail sales at clearance prices, and then a week or two of tearing down what we have built. A curious business this, and probably not the end of my relationship to it, though this store, in this incarnation, will close. It will die, and it will be reborn, probably stronger than it was. Unless America and the Global Market is, as I suspect it is, in precipitous and unstoppable decline. Which is one reason why I am in love with the humble potato, the planting and harvesting of which is a kind of insurance against epic Empirical collapse I trust - as well as being healing and cathartic. Simple knowledge, worth having. Though not more than a small percentage of three hundred million Americans possess it.