Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Skeptic

I pride myself in my skepticism. There is no bit of understanding I will not reconsider if evidence arises that suggests I might be wrong. What I'm trying to avoid is the calcification of my head; i.e. the setting of an idea in proverbial stone, no matter what evidence there is that would suggest there is a healthier, more flexible, more honest way of thinking. This "calcification" is what we know as orthodoxy, whether that be religious, scientific, economic, political, etc. Stagnation of the brain, which is rarely terminal, but exceptionally difficult to undo once begun, especially the longer one has held fast to an orthodox belief.

About a week ago I was reading the comments to a post by John Michael Greer ( One of his fans offered him a You Tube link, for a presentation by a man named David Wilcock. The fan was offering it out of mockery, suggesting Greer might watch the piece if he needed a laugh. I followed the link, and what I saw, and my subsequent investigation, and by extension the work of Graham Hancock, there are three new ideas I have begun to entertain, that heretofore I would have thought implausible if not utterly ridiculous:

I. That life is not the exception in the universe, but the rule, that it arises virtually everywhere there is sufficient matter and heat.

II. That DNA responds to quantum wave mechanics, such that life, including the Earth, can be radically transformed in a relatively short period of time, by an influx of energy from the center of the galaxy.

III. That there was an advanced civilization on Earth prior to the melting of the glaciers, at the end of the last ice age.

Each one of these ideas is paradigm shifting. If I accept the first idea, I have to accept the idea that intelligent life is also the rule, and that it is probable that most of these civilizations are considerably more advanced than we are. If I accept the second idea, I must also acknowledge that the orthodox model of evolution, Darwinism, is in need of an upgrade. If I accept the third, and I allow that the pyramids are likely their work, that there are ruins of a similar sort all over the world, underwater, then I must call into question every premise about our evolution as a species, and as a civilization, ask why there is not a greater investigation into this, and allow that there is hope for living on this Earth in a way that is not so brutal, destructive and exploitative.

David Wilcock is a character, to be sure. Not only does he believe himself to be the reincarnated Edgar Cayce, when he gets to riffin' on the new world order, the Rothchilds and luciferianism, he loses me. I don't let this dissuade me from all his ideas. One product of our current political system is our descent into ideology. Once beholden to ideology, which is orthodoxy, if a man offers one idea contrary to that ideology, I throw out the man rather than the idea alone. Whatever Wilcock is, he's brilliant. I know of no man so revolutionary. That said, he is also a man, and quick to point out himself, he has plenty of flaws.

Which is part of the attraction. Because what he is saying, ultimately, is that we are in a time of radical transformation beyond anything we can conceive, that energies beyond conception are available to us. While many are raising the spectre of Apocalypse, David is suggesting instead the vision of a world of harmony and peace. That the first thing to do is to forgive oneself, to allow that I am in fact a divine being, then to forgive others, and open up. That we can envision peace or we can envision apocalypse, that we call to us the energy that we cultivate. That we are like conduits of the divine, if we allow it. That each of us is powerful beyond measure.

Whether any of these ideas are true, I'm not yet certain. They feel right, however, and that is enough for me to remain open. At the very least, I consider these ideas an invigorating infusion of energy, one I desperately needed, as I had begun to descend into a vision of another thousand years of exploitation and tyranny. I am tired of the deadening effect of existential randomness. I am tired of materialism. I am tired of hierarchy and the economics of tyranny. I want to believe we are not on the verge of a Great Contraction, but a Great Awakening. I want very much to believe in a Grand Renaissance. I want to imagine the galaxy as a living, sentient being, that we are the galaxy becoming conscious of itself, that we are on the verge of a biological upgrade, divinely inspired.

Whatever happens, it surely is a great gift to be alive in this Age.

***You can investigate these ideas for yourself on You Tube, and at ***

Monday, January 24, 2011


Traveled to Houston from Minneapolis this past Thursday, for the National Halloween and Party Expo. Friday was all about the retailer; the big question, how does a small-business compete against big corporate? From 2005 to 2010, consumer spending on Halloween rose from 3.29 to 5.8 billion, a 76% growth in five years, despite a recession. That kind of growth has all the big retailers talking about entering the Halloween market at a greater scale, in the temporary pop-up form: Wal-mart, Walgreens, Target, Party City, etc, to compete with Spirit Halloween, Halloween Express, et al. The market is already saturated - can anyone say bubble? - and consumers are more savvy with their money in the "new normal", but reality isn't always a consideration when it comes to greed.

The trade show began Saturday, vendors big and small filling the massive George R. Brown Convention Center downtown. Leg Avenue, the big-dog in the sexy costume market, was giving away a mini-cooper. They had their own castle at the far East end of the building, with twice-a-day runway shows with female models the likes of which are hardly seen outside sunny So-Cal. Two could even sing. It was mostly image; cracks are starting to show in the glamorous facade. Fashion in this image-obsessed culture evolves by the season. Leg Avenue, like most vendors who make costumes, brings a few new designs to the market every year, and their costumes evolve somewhat, but year to year it all looks pretty much the same. And the dirty little secret no one really wanted to talk about is, retailers are sitting on a lot of product. Costumes didn't sell last year. How many people want to pay $100 +/- for a costume made of cheap material with weak seams and worse zippers, they're only likely to wear once or twice? Plenty of folk, as evidenced by the 5.8 billion we spent in 2010. But more and more it seems, the trend is toward accessorizing the costume a person puts together him or herself. Economizing. With creativity.

The main runway show was a fine example of an industry that doesn't define the culture as much as it mirrors it. Poorly made costumes from major vendors, clothing neither practical nor particularly creative. None of the more impresive, high-end costumes were allowed on the runway or they would have made the major-vendor product look as ridiculous as it was, and half the people walked out before the show was over. Though somehow a woman who called her DIY costume Black Valkyrie made it onto the stage, the only truly striking thing to grace it. I couldn't have been more surprised, or more impressed. There was a notable silence from the crowd: what are we supposed to do with this?

And of course, no one was talking about oil prices. I didn't ask around, but I expect there's as little awareness of fossil fuels in the Halloween Industry as there is across the culture. Should oil prices continue to climb, it will devastate the costume business. It was obvious, the difference in quality between those costumes made of natural fibers and those made of petroleum. Equally obvious was the difference in price, typically greater by 700-1000%.

Saturday afternoon I stepped outside into the park across the street from the convention center, to soak up some sun - though the same cold weather system that plunged the northern states into the sub-zero range pressed cold air well south, the temperature then at about 55 degrees. Sitting on a park bench in the chill air, I found myself part of a photo shoot for a producer from the Virgin Islands and a rapper from Trinidad. The producer, Tollo Texas, and I had a long conversation about music and beats. He's also a diesel mechanic, one of those trades with a solid future, because the diesel engine can run on vegetable oil. JJ-T, the rapper, sat down next to me, and the man directing the camera suggested we pretend to talk. I asked JJ-T a few questions and we actually talked. After two minutes he leapt up off the bench, jumping up and down, shouting and repeating, "we had an actual conversation! We had an actual conversation!" like he had never had one before.

(I forgot the name of the production company of the man directing the photo shoot. Send me a comment and I'll add it in.)

That evening we had a nice meal at Sambuca, my cohorts Keith, Mark and Sandra, and our host Kelly. Kelly is separated from his wife, and not altogether certain how to handle it. Living in Texas, coming from Missouri, he's a bit of a cad when it comes to women, but he loves his wife and his daughter very much, even if he's macho and posessive and not altogether sure how to build trust. We all danced to a tight band called Jones, and toward closing time Kelly and I hooked up with S. and J. from Kenya. From Sambuca the four of us closed out a Mexican dance club, and then travelled to Rich's, an industrial dance club.

Having not had much experience with industrial dance clubs but what I've seen on video, I was a little surprised by the relative lethargy. I forget sometimes how many people are taking pharmaceuticals, and how deeply we are affected by our sedentary lives. It was all very much a revelation. Not least that I was sober, dancing in an industrial dance club in Houston, but also that our stunning Kenyan companions did not want to dance with me as much as they wanted to dance like me, and watch me dance. That, and the lack of hostility in the club, though it was very hot, and very loud, and every race was accounted for in considerable number.

Our companions would have gladly closed out that club too, but Kelly and I, being twelve to fourteen years older, decided 4am was late enough. Kelly drove the ladies to their cars, while I sat in the back with J. and sang in Swahili, though I didn't know it was Swahili until J. told me it was. It's been a long time since a woman cuddled up to me the way she did. Blessings J. Blessings S. Thank you for a fine evening.

I flew back last evening with Keith. There are few in this world I have more fun with than that man. He seemed to be glowing somehow, and everywhere we went women were responding. I felt by comparison a dud; even the ladies I tried to flirt with seemed to look past as if I wasn't there. Perhaps it's because Keith is happily married to a beautiful woman, and is very much in love with her, and their son together. Whatever the case, I teased him that I was getting my first lesson in flirtation, at 37. Those southern ladies certainly are less reserved.

We arrived in Minneapolis at about 10:30. I wish I had a video camera, to capture the image of Keith, in shorts and a camel colored overcoat and a baseball hat, running through the 3rd floor of the airport parking ramp, for about five minutes, in the nine degree weather, looking for his car. Nor was I very surprised to discover he had previously destroyed both the driver and passenger mirrors on the Jetta, his wife's car, apparently backing out of their garage. "I was in a hurry," he giggled, when I asked.

Arriving home at eleven, to my grungy house and my quiet life, alone, I started to descend into a kind of darkness, a curious sadness that is always lingering underneath, that I indulge in occassionally. I picked up my swords instead, and danced and sang until 3am. Looking ahead, I have a performance at Patrick's Cabaret, March 18-19. It's time to get in shape. But thanks in part to Houston, I'm more confident now. I can do this.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Anarchy I

Among many things, I call myself an anarchist. Why? The social conception of anarchy is the rule of the mob, chaos, destruction, mindless violence. The reality is nothing like that. This negative conception is a defamation proffered not my anarchists, but by the Left and the Right, by liberals and conservatives. The truth is, anarchy is the center. It is the belief that the rule of humanity by men, whether they be of a business or government bent, is contrary to nature, that men take control of society at the expense of freedom for individuals, always to the benefit of some at the expense of the many. Modern liberalism is on the pole side of communism; modern conservatism is on the pole side of fascism. The Anarchist understands he has all of these tendencies inside him, and he assails all in favor of freedom.

There is hardly a more loaded word in this culture than freedom. Conservatives likes to bandy it about, as if freedom is the right of any man to take control of whatever he may, as long as he is a capitalist. Because capitalism, they like to say, is ordained by God, just like Adam Smith said, though I suspect the spirit of Adam Smith weeps every time he hears a man use his name in support of corporate tyranny. The modern capitalist does not exercise freedom as much as he limits the freedom of others, as evident in the structure of the modern corporation, which is anti-democratic tyranny, and by the behavior of corporations globally, with the use of government to assure pro-corporate, tyrannical social structures in third-world countries.

Conversely, but similarly, the modern liberal argues for freedom in the form of equality, while striving to achieve it by expanding government - which inherently assures the inequality of individuals, by giving a considerable amount of unearned power to government officials, who inevitably wield it in a way that enslaves people to the notion of government as paternal patron, through which the majority of moneys should be distributed, as these government officials deem fit. The growth of the bureaucracy is deemed a triumph of the people, when it is really only the corrupt accumulation of power by a few at the expense of the many, a weakening of character generally, and the negation of individual responsibility.

That the collapse of Soviet Communism is a triumph of Capitalism is a widely held belief. Conservatism is ascendant in America in large part because of this perception. But that both systems are contrary to nature and thus not viable, has yet to be widely recognized. Capitalism is in point-of-fact the worse of the two, as it is amoral, inherently tyrannical, fundamentally insatiable, with a far greater staying power, inevitably leading not just to the destruction of society, but perhaps of the entire Earth. That we are oblivious to this has mostly to do with our high standard of living, which has less to do with any virtue of Capitalism as it does with an historically brief glut of energy in the form of fossil fuel. With that glut coming to an end, standards of living will collapse, and America will be more easily recognized for what it truly is, which is another form of the ages-old struggle between those who would rule and those who are ruled.

To this point it is clear I have said more about what Anarchy is not, than I have about what it is. I will try to elaborate in a different post. For now, suffice to say, Anarchy as a political state is democracy in its fullest form, the understanding that the vast majority of men and women are capable of self-rule. That so many today seem incapable of self-rule is less a description of human nature as it is a condemnation of amoral, capitalist competition, and slavish attachment to government largess. The anarchist is the purple blending of conservative red and liberal blue, and his animal is not the donkey or the elephant but the dragon (and the dove). The anarchist is the one who has overcome the desire to rule, who will not be ruled. He knows that whatever this may mean for him in this life, whatever difficulties this may bring, his is the natural state of the free man, which will one day again be the state of humanity, as it has been the way of cultures of the past. It is no easy thing to come to such an understanding, or to sustain it, in the midst of a culture so attentive to political extremes, so dependent on government largess and capitalist ideology. But it is right, it is just, and it is invigorating.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

My Condition

As the title of this blog suggests I live without modern conveniences, I thought I might clarify - I am not living off the grid, technically speaking. Mostly, the title has to do with an exploration of what off-the-grid means, in a culture so dependent on the grid, i.e. fossil fuels, municipal water and waste disposal, and electricity. An exploration of what life will be like when we can no longer depend on the grid. A preparation.

This fall I filled the attic with leaf bags. This winter, I'm heating only two rooms in the house, the living room and the bedroom. The thermostat is in the living room, so most of the time I keep the living room closed, which reduces the amount of time the furnace runs, which keeps the bedroom slightly cooler; they're connected, in this small house. I keep the thermostat at 70 when I'm here during the day. At night and when I leave, I turn it down to 60.

That, and I keep the water heater on low, turning it up only an hour or so before I shower, which I'm only doing every third day. In this way, I've kept the gas bill at less than a third of what it would be if I were heating the whole house, heating water I'm not using. It also means the bathroom is chilly, as is the sun room, the dining room and especially the kitchen, the kitchen having three exterior walls. Though the kitchen and the sun room benefit from a solar affect on certain days, but only during the day, as neither is designed for efficient solar-heat collection.

It's been a ridiculously cold winter. Only two days above freezing, from Dec 01 to today. Not owning a motor vehicle, I don't get around much. I quit biking after seventeen inches of snow fell in a single storm, though I'm thinking of taking the bike out again soon. I just wish it would warm up. I'm walking where I need to, though that takes awhile and I don't go far. Luckily, I have a grocery, a video store, a bank and two liquor stores within easy walking distance. Not that I spend much money on liquor. I did recently buy a six pack, feeling down after the shooting in Tuscon, and watched the first Iron Man film and got drunk. I know I'm a little behind the curve, but that was fun.

I don't have a job, for getting around to. The one job I thought I might get I didn't get an interview for. If I don't drink too much or watch too many movies, I'll be out of money mid-April. If I don't have a job by then, I might be living off the land. I ordered seed catalogs from Seed Savers ( and Seeds of Change(, but I have no guarantee the house will be mine, the soil mine to plant and harvest. I sometimes wonder about living off the land this summer, hopping in my canoe this fall and heading south. I won't do that if I have the house and a job to pay for it, but it's hard to imagine what sort of job I should go looking for. I'm writing a book, I keep reminding myself, and every day I get up and I do.

It's hard to imagine anything else right now, though next week I'm off to Houston for the Halloween and Party Expo. The guys I worked for this past Halloween are paying for my flight and ticket. We have a host. I hear Houston has bad air. It's full of Texans. But it will be warmer than it is here, and no doubt, lots of fun. A Halloween conference? Surely something to write about.

Monday, January 10, 2011


I find it curious that Jared Loughner both worried about the over-reach of Government, which is a politically conservative concern, and that Government is controlling us with talk of God - "I will not trust in God!" he said in his "farewell" - which is tacitly a liberal concern. For Democrats to accuse Republicans of eliciting his attempted assassination is about as accurate as Rush Limbaugh saying he did it because he smoked Marijuana, or listened to Heavy Metal. As Loughner's philosophy professor said, he was a young man whose "brains were scrambled."

What do we expect, this kind of violence, in a Nation where even crazy people can buy a handgun? A Nation that wages continuous wars, against other nations, against our own people, against the Earth? A country in which violence is so ingrained we hardly know when we are being violent, against other nations, against our own people, against ourselves or against the Earth.

I don't expect this will be a time of healing for the nation. It seems to me the vitriol and recriminations are getting worse, which will undermine faith in the political process even more. The great unravelling of a great nation. A time of great sorrow.

What can I do but look at my own behavior? How am I violent? To what and to whom? Not physical violence alone, but verbal and mental violence, dreams of tearing down and destroying. And not just violence against people or myself, but against any aspect of the Earth.

We have been at war from our Nation's beginning, well before the first writing of that document Loughner so venerated without having the context or capacity to comprehend. We will continue to war as long as we hold to the illusion that we are not a violent people, that it is freedom and peace we love. I love my country, and I am afraid for it.

Blessings in these times of troubles.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

New Year

It has been a curious transformational time for me, since the last solstice and the lengthening of days. Something like a dark night of the soul, though not that dark really. A revival of the question,"what is the point?"

Since mid 2008, cultural policy has amounted to this: 'What? You enriched yourself using ethically and morally corrupt financial arrangements amounting to a 12 trillion dollar loss in household wealth? Here, have several trillion dollars in bailout money. Oh, and a tax cut. Will you save the economy now, please. And I almost forgot. What regulations would you like to eliminate?'

Meanwhile, hardly a glimmer of discussion about depleting resources, particularly oil. Put it this way; if a barrel of oil reaches 200 dollars, everything will be more expensive. Seventy percent of this economy, they say, is dependant on consumer spending. If it continues to climb, those economies most dependent on oil will begin to hemorrhage fatally. You think jobs are a problem now?

And more and more I hear about God, mostly from those who support the current financial arrangement, preaching the virtue of exploitation, the laissez-faire mythology of sky gods, the beauty of violence in all its sanctioned forms. Draping the US Constitution with righteousness, the cloak of the violent believer, for whom there is no reality superior to faith-based imagination, for whom even Jesus wields a sword.

And this relentless freezing cold. I sit in the sun in my bedroom every day there is sun, to bring some light in. My mood has not been foul but contemplative. Wondering, are we too late? Am I the only one thinking, how do I position myself in the Great Contraction? What about my young niece? What about my tiny nephew? Am I the only one who knows, the one thing more corrupt than the current financial arrangement is the dominant conception of God?

Who am I? Asking is like asking 'who is God?' The more I ask, the more mysterious it becomes. What I know myself to be is but an infinitesimal aspect of my being, a speck of a far grander universe than I can ever hope to articulate. Who am I? I could utter a sentence on that topic every day the rest of my life and not begin to offer a thumbnail of the whole. That all the universe is energy, my voice is the energy of the universe articulating itself. How clear am I being?

Precarious territory, this. Hard to sustain. Not sure where it will lead. To a second book more accessible than the first, I think. Maybe an audacious act next solstice. Maybe not. Meanwhile, I write. I sing and I dance and I eat. I sleep. Repeat.