Monday, November 29, 2004

Am I Still Here?

Something about catching a vague virus when the first crushing wave of cold weather arrives seems to separate me from myself.

First, Daring Dayton caught it two Friday's ago. The poor little mite! One minute he was wolfing down his macaroni and cheese, and warm wheat tortilla, with a happy grin on his face, and not a few pieces of each flung across the dining room. The next minute, it explosively reappeared all over his booster chair tray table, his fuzzy blue jacket, and his mother, who was sadly not out of range. Tears coursed down his cheeks and his lower lip curled down in a way that has to be seen to be believed. And the volume! The amount that comes back out of a little baby is shocking.

Within minutes, Daring Dayton was happily thumping around the living room/dining room/kitchen as though nothing had happened. Nothing did for a couple hours, until we tried to give him a bottle. That came back out all over his mother again. This time, it finally got a grip on him, and he was only able to stare listessly at the Lidless Eye for the rest of the evening. Even mother's milk would not stay down his gizzard. The tired little buccaneer finally crapped out around 10, but not before vomiting in our bed. Wow. A fragrant night was had by all.

He was over it by late the next day. Having sung the O'Roark Chorus a couple of more times Saturday morning. The household was calm and happy all the rest of that Saturday. Cal beat Stanford, and peace reigned on the ranchos and haciendas all across The Land.

The next day, just about dinner time, my wife came over queasy and within half an hour, lunch was bouncing off the roof of her mouth on its way out the front door. Not long after, some other clever microbes beat it our the back door. The poor woman was incapacitated in nothing flat. My evening was spent trying to get Daring Dayton to go back to sleep, and watching waves of nausea wash over my wife, for whom I could do not one damn thing.

The following day, Monday, I stayed home from work to help out at home. It was mercifully calm,with just a couple of brief, brutal episodes for my wife. All was then well through Wednesday at Noon.

I went to the gym feeling fine, but a bit foul from what I thought was a couple of rich pastires consumed during a morning staff meeting. They didn't seem to have been digested. I just thought I'd eaten too fast and hadn't had enough water to wash them down. No problem, I thought. A good workout will see it all through. I planned to work out extra hard with the four day Thanksgiving weekend providing plenty of time for recovery.

Silly me. Everything was harder than it should've been. The pastries repeated on me throughout the session. Lunch held no pleasure, and repeated on me all afternoon. I felt as though everything I'd eaten that day was still sitting packed against my pyloric valve. By the time I walked back to me car, everything hurt.

Oh joy. It was coming to get me. I haven't vomited in almost 40 years, and I didn't want to break the string.

Just that day, the first brutal cold wave hit. Though we spent Thanksgiving at home, with a small dinner, I felt oddly separated from everything. My mind was being carried around the house in a vessel of some kind, control of which was being effected elsewhere. I was just along for the ride. This feeling was never more profound than the following Monday when I walked to work. The cold was absolutely painful...not for anyone from anywheree north and east of here. However, I am a mediterranean climate guy through and through. Temperatures in the high 30s put me in a frozen semi-crouch as I shamble along the sidewalks.

I recall coming downhill through a particularly beautiful part of the lower Berkeley Hills. My face hurt with the cold, and I cursed myself roundly for not wearing a hat. Someone steered me into Peet's coffee, where I normally would never go, because even Peet's coffee is hot and they have these fruit and oatmeal breakfast bars.... Some moments later I was disgorged from Peet's, happily leaving behind a mob of chattering Berkeleyites. I was directed on toward my office on campus. I am normally very aware of my body and how it's reacting to the moment. I have excellent recall of how particular actions felt, but I don't recall having any impression of any of it on this walk. I was running on impulse power...George was flying the plane...I was directed by the Larger Mind...I was without sensation. I was watching the day unfold through the lens of some camera that was projecting onto my mind's eye.

The cold remains. Do I?

Thursday, November 18, 2004

...and another thing!

The press has given up, I think. I have given up on the press. They seem completely unwilling to hold the adminstration's feet to the fire on accountability. They don't seem to want to nail them, in the style of Woodward and Bernstein. I think the administration needs its nuts crushed by a few hard charging investigative types from major media outlets. The pressure needs to come on and stay on. There's no oversight from congress, so the press should provide it.

But Nooooooooooo.... They don't want to lay into the Monkey Man and his gang of upwardly mobile twits. Are they worried they won't get access? Maybe. Do they care about the fate of the nation? Possibly not, as long as that fate holds the promise of selling a few more papers. What's clear is that the oversight and the investigations by fringe media, like this one, don't get enough attention paid to them. Some of their stories are a bit over the top, but some betray hints of "Oh my God. We have to pay attention to this."

I can't go on. I'm still quite wrung out politically. We haven't heard the last of this late lamented election as lawsuits in Ohio get deliberated. Why don't I have any faith at all that any important questions will be asked and investigated by major media outlets?

Whatever happened with the Valerie Plame case? Hmmmm....

Wednesday, November 17, 2004


Hip Liz longs deep down for the empty places of the earth. He's more English than he thinks, maybe. I read somehwere that Englishmen (and women, though they didn't write it that way) were continually seeking the empty lands. Or maybe that was Alec Guinness' Faisal talking to Peter O'Toole's Lawrence in the famous movie "Lawrence of Arabia," gear fab.

What a life it would be to travel all over hell's half acre, and become great in the living and describing of it. Here's someone who really made it work. He had that natural curiosity which seems to escape my tired mind. At the very short moments when my time might be my own, my brain seems to crafe the slow waves emanting from the Lidless Eye. I am sucked in like an unfortunate spider in the swirl of the drain. What I should be doing is reading "1001 Nights" or even Churchill's history of WW2. Or I should even be baking something...ANYTHING to get me away from mindless removal. By then its too late to blow the pipes, which would be the best. Daring Dayton of the Spanish Main is sawing teeny pieces of wood at that point and mustn't be awakened.

Just make an effort, I hear you cry. You bet, that's all it takes. Just go to the bookshelf and open something...anything. Stay away from the remote control at all costs. The remote control hovers at my shoulder like a demonic sprite, sibilantly whispering in my ear about how nice it would be to just let the Lidless Eye do all. Yes, my sweet, just sit there and more effort to it than what it takes to keep the eyes peeled. The Conglomerate will do the rest. Shhhhhh.... There there. Mmmmmhhhhmmmm....

Monday, November 08, 2004


When driving to Los Angeles you run east on I-580 over the Altamont Pass and veer south onto I-5. If you're up and out early, it can actually be exhilarating. To top the Altamont Pass when the sun breaks over the eastern horizon lends a bit of hopeful drama to a scene that's otherwise plain. You're driving through fields of enormous windmills, probably dodging aggressively driven SUVs, and maybe even still trying to wake up. Because of the rapid growth of towns like Modesto and Tracy, you catch glimpses of suburbs (Or do they now call them exurbs?) where there were recently fields and orchards. You'll pass the exit for the infamous speedway, where the happy hippies grooved and the Hell's Angels stomped and shivved.

So far, it's all damp yellow grass and morning mist, roadside detritus of shredded truck tires, and occasional ponds of auto glass. Not very inspiring, but I tell you, to break over the pass with the sun coming up in purple shitmist over the over-developed Central Valley is weirdly uplifting.

The open road is big in America, and maybe that's all there is too it. Maybe its escaping the Bay Area that has me running my mouth about nearly anything that catches my eye. At such times, my wife lifts one sleepy eyelid, snorts, and falls back asleep. My son says, "Yeagghhhatt!" It doesn't matter. I dig it. Even though driving south on I-5. I dig it.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

On the Way up the Creek

How could I miss this? I think Blumenthal says it rather well (you'll ahve to wade through the free day pass thing). Fear is a powerful motivating force, especially in a culture that pretty much ingores the rest of the world.
Another complaint I have is that for the next four years, transparency in national government will be unknown. The President will not have to be accountable because no one will know precisely what he's up to until the next horrible scheme is hatched on the American People.

Why do I find myself asking, "What would Nixon do?" and wishing we could find out?

Up the Creek, But Will Anyone Care?

"Democracy is the theory that holds that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard."

- H. L.Mencken -

Indeed. I've always known full well that much of the rest of the country doesn't view the world the same way the urban pacific coast does. I've had my doubts about Kerry from the beginning, and often found myself shaking my head when I've listened to him speechify. Still, he's a thinker on a level George Bush can't concieve. He sees a wide world, not a tableau for the execution of the Monroe Doctrine worldwide. Indeed, we should be so lucky that a large version of the Monroe Doctrine would be all we see.

Given all that, I still don't understand how Bush managed it. In spite of getting us involved in a war that we have no clear way out of, he was elected. In spite of atrocious leadership involving refusing to admit mistakes and dodging responsibility whenever possible, blaming anyone else available (a habit which is found throughout his administration), and treating the world with an overarching arrogance, this amoral, ethically bereft worm got himself back into office. They said he did it on moral issues and the war on terror. Moral issues? Where is the American electorate coming from here? I can't figure it out. I wonder what it will take for people to elect at least a moderate republican to the White House. Will it be Iraq turning into an abattoir of nightmare proportions, the like of which we haven't even approached? Will it take a nucular exchange with North Korea? Will it take a $7 Trillion deficit? Will it take Appalachia turning to a chemical cesspool, acid rain falling in profusion, Wyoming disappearing for the sake of a couple of years worth of natural gas, and the view from Highway 1 being that of oil derricks as far as the eye can see? Will it take American POWs being routinely tortured with no hope of the protection of the Geneva Conevntion? Will it take America as a powerful force for good in the world gone south because of its own imperial hubris?

I am told that this is alarmist thinking, that its only four more years, and George will have to deal with his mess after all. Well, in the last four years his administration has succeeded in reversing much of the last thirty years of progress in environmental protection. He has squandered our money and turned much of the world against us, or at least pushed them away. Congress will be no help to anyone because moderation has disappeared there among the leadership of the majority party. We will have at least two more years, if not four, of democrats being locked out of committee meetings, then being handed bills with almost no time to digest them before the vote. We will have a Supreme Court that will simply do the bidding of the President. None of these people need to worry now. It's Four More Years and if you ain't with us, you're against us! Cultural divisions be damned, that kind of narrow thinking never did anyone any good beyond the next five minutes.

I'd like to be more diplomatic about this and be encouraged by the turnout and all that other crap, but I can't. I am deeply discouraged. We are in big fucking trouble now. We're gonna get it good and hard, right where it hurts in the solar plexus of our civil liberties, our finances, our environment, and our standing around the world. I hope there's something left four years from now that will be worth repairing. I hope my son has something worth growing up in.

My esteemed pal Hip Liz said it best when he wrote in reference to the republican ticket:

"...because they are all scum-sucking putrid bastards that should be boiled in oil."