Mortaljive: The Rest is Silence

There is no still point in all the Universe, and that is the rock upon which I stand

Monday, December 28, 2009

Stumble Rider



i stumble
i fall
i race to the bottom
then you call
you call
when i have fallen

i lost the balance
i lost the core
i ran out of road
then you call
you call
and i have fallen

oh, sweet perfection
oh my god

i went riding
i rode far from here
i tried to escape
then you call
you call
and the road falls apart

i can do it, you know
i can shake free of this
i can ride into the sun
then you call
you call
and the moon comes back
and breaks my heart

oh, sweet perfection
oh my god

going riding
going riding
going riding
i can ride
i can ride

i can do it, you know
i can shake free of this
i can ride into the sun
then you call
you call
and the moon comes back
and breaks my heart

oh, sweet perfection
oh my god

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Sunday, December 27, 2009

Chicken Genesis



11 And God said, Who told you that you were uniformly cracked egg shells? Have you eaten of the chorizo that I commanded you not to eat?
12 And he said, The woman You gave to me as a mate (which was a nice gift, don't get me wrong, especially knowing that you didn't really have to get me anything) she gave chorizo to me and I ate.
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13 And God said, What have you done? And the woman said, "Sheesh, what haven't I done? Maybe the next time you get a gift for Chicken Egg Leg over there you could stay the hell out of the red light district, know what I mean? You want some submissive little virgin, get yourself a teenage Mormon still living in the compound, okay?"
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14 So the Lord said to his pet monkey, Because you have done this you will be cursed more than any creature, and you will crawl on your belly and eat dust the rest of your life. And the monkey said "I had nothing to do with any of this. There was supposed to be a talking reptile here, but he opted out of his contract and is working with a snake charmer in India. He's very happy, I am told. Thrilled, actually." And the Lord said "Why am I always the last one to know?"
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16 To the Ovum God said, Your anguish in childbirth will increase, you will bear sons in sorrow, your longing will be to your mate, and he will be your boss. To which she replied "Fuck you, you miserable excuse for a creator. You are petty and malevolent. What a big man you are--ready to mete out horrible punishment at the drop of a hat. You should be ashamed! Schmuck!"
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17 To the Egg Leg Man God said, "She's got quite a mouth somewhere on her." And the man replied "You have a gift for stating the obvious." And then God smashed them to little bits, and thus began work on His greatest Creation: The Universe.2 And lo, it looked awesome in Blu Ray!
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Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Opinuary Column



The Opinion "I have decided to no longer believe in Santa Claus" died for an entire holiday season when I was seven years old. The Opinion, having been arrived at through careful and thoughtful rumination (combined with a creeping suspicion that the entire story of Kris Kringle was a cynically orchestrated sham) lay in ruins on the morning of December 25th, 1965, due entirely to two distinct boot prints that lay in the ashes of the fireplace of my family home. The sight of those boot prints, which could only belong to St. Nick, was a visual and visceral shock to my youthful sensibilities, a stark refutation of my nascent reasoning faculties, and it both excited and deflated my delicate intellect.

On Christmas morning that year, in addition to the boot prints, a brand new banana-seated gold-flecked-faux-fiber-glass Stingray Schwinn bicycle with my name on it awaited my arrival. It stood shining like a child's supernova just off to one side of the family Xmas tree: it sealed the deal of my belief as it was irrefutable proof of the existence of a magical gift giver who flew through the night to deliver toys and wonder to children all over the world, or so I was convinced that wonderful day. With a wide, slick rear tire and handle bars that drooped down like Dumbo's ears, I had gained the next level in life, the place where freedom and and speed combined to leave skid marks all over the neighborhood sidewalks. I jumped curbs, vanished into the farmlands, defied gravity for a time before I proved that gravity was actually quite patient and could never be denied for long. Crash! I had that year the best bike that I could ever possibly have, and Santa had brought it to me, even though I had gone past doubting his existence and had planted a flag in the Land of Outright Denial. No matter: I rode off that morning like some newly born idea, ready to explode in all directions at once, newly planted flag be damned.

The Opinion came back the next year, but it was too late. I had been disabused of my reason, and punked before it was even called that. Many years later I struggled through another Xmas Eve, this time assembling a bicycle for my son. Not long after that, I went with him to the local school, and ran alongside him and steadied his ride on the black top until he sailed away on his first solo launch. I was now leaving black boot prints in the ashes of another memory. I soared, my eyes tearing, my love indescribable, my joy unbounded. I flew with him, right up to the moment he started screaming "Help! I don't know how to stop!"

Today, the Opinion is at peace in a small, unremarkable urn I keep somewhere next to the stardust that I know falls in the lands between my mind and my heart. It is from this place that I wish you all the Merriest of Yules, and fresh boot prints to guide you there, should you require proof.



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The Opinuary Column appears on Fridays at Jesus' General.

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Monday, December 21, 2009

Portland's Impression of Old Europe



First Presbyterian Church, Portland, Oregon

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Sunday, December 20, 2009

Ms. Judy Sang Her Art and Broke My Heart



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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

New Healthcare Bill Nears Historic Vote



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I Love This Dog



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3 Days Later They Were Still There



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Take Your Dirty Little Fish Somewhere Else



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Monday, December 14, 2009

The Hard Architecture of the Wooden Dance



old western crime
justice from on high
the men that had done wrong
peaked on acid
and saw the godhead:

electric articulation
organic epiphany
vascular symphony
played with bark, twigs
negative space
deep shadow wood

a child made of crags
crawls down a broken canyon

the ghosts of summer
the limbs of trees
ecstatic tantric
wrestlers, thieves
trails in heaven yet to ride

necks snapping in the wind
these drunken cowboys saunter
across the plains
the rope around their necks
whipping in the breeze
they rode the color trails
and died below the sun

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Friday, December 11, 2009

The Opinuary Column



The Opinion "To be a Christian necessarily means that the individual seeks philosophical, moral and spiritual harmony with the ineffable source of the manifested Universe" has died after a brief, two thousand year illness. The Opinion leaves behind millions of judgmental, stone-throwing, mote-in-their-enemy's-eye-seeking, homophobic, self-righteous, hypocritical, fear-based, dualistic followers without benefit of a high-horse to sit upon. Pity, that.

Born and raised in the Middle East (before taking up quarters in Rome) the Opinion eschewed formal schooling and practiced instead the art of wagging its finger, tilting back its head, furrowing its brow, arching its eyebrows and shifting its legs while telling anyone who listened that God was love and if you didn't believe it you would burn in an everlasting lake of fire. After looking down its nose at anyone who believed differently it brought its message of hope and terrifying anguish to the New World, cloaking the natives in shame and disease while spraying its urine on the local belief systems.

The Opinion eventually went on to give strength and comfort to its adherents in the New Land, people who didn't have the slightest idea why men had penises and women had Georgia O'Keefe paintings as their respective reproductive organs. An added bonus was that the contents of the Christian Bible were just contradictory enough to make the believers forget about fucking for upwards of forty-five minutes at a time, depending on the season. Another bonus to the theological fixations of New World Christians was their learning how bronze age Jews weren't nearly as funny as their descendants, but the Old Testament Yahweh wasn't exactly a shopping cart of laughs either, so there you go.

The Opinion spent its remaining years casting about for enemies in all shapes and sizes: gay marriage, women's right to sovereignty over their own bodies in a secular society, global warming, the scientific theory of evolution (as opposed to the non-scientific assertions of Genesis) to name but a few. As time passed, and as more and more self-described Christians behaved like the horny, avaricious little demons they claimed to despise, the Opinion could no longer sit in judgment on others without breaking into a deep and abiding guffaw. The Opinion passed away on December 8th of this year during a final fit of accidental self-reflection. It leaves millions of survivors in a collective state of abject reality.

In lieu of flowers the family of the Opinion ask that you judge others, cast stones, treat people poorly, do not tend to the poor or the sick, never turn your cheek, and don't treat anyone the way you would treat the titular head of your own belief system. That which you do for the least of them is your own dirty little problem.

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The Opinuary Column appears just about every gosh-darn Friday at Jesus' General.

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Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Holiday Inn Dream #4,671



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Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Act III, followed by Act IV





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Sunday, December 06, 2009

Chilly Scenes of Winter







It was cold on Friday morning...

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Chuck and Bobby's Holy Grail

who gives witness to this tale
of chuck and bobby's holy grail
of young men lost behind the veil
think of them by and by

the face that stares out from the past
is running hard and running fast
the flags we fly should fly half-mast
for so much that has died

the face that is the soul of man
a face unwanted in this land
but some were strong and took a stand
while some birds never fly

upon the field the athletes say
'all bets are off when fairly played'
and boys to men play unafraid
this cannot be denied

a deeper wound cannot be made
it cuts us far beyond the grave
the one that haunts us to this day
our nation's greatest lie

we cannot change what was before
our lives are more than just a score
but in our hearts we can do more
we can spread our wings on high

tell us the story of these men
until at last it will sink in
stand for what's right, again, again
their souls are resting by
their souls are resting by


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I read a feature in today's (December 6, 2009) Oregonian titled "Two tough Ducks in a Klan town" written by Herman L. Brame. I could not find the article in the online version of the paper. You can read a brief history about the two Oregon athletes I refer to in the words above (Robert S. Robinson and Charles A. Williams) here. I feel a heavy sorrow for how they were treated, and for them, but they were not alone--the book of our nation's racist past and present has many, many chapters.

If nothing else think for a time about the road that has brought us here, and think also of all those who have traveled its difficult route: from rich to poor, white and black and brown and yellow, men and women, young and old. On that great road of history, look up at those who walk towards you, and Seek not the mote in your enemy's eye but pluck the beam from your own.

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Saturday, December 05, 2009

Let This Be Thy Rod and Thy Staff



Yes, it is pointless to protest against state-sponsored murder, to plead for sanity and reason and compassion, to say no to the warmongers and war profiteers. Yes, it is inevitable that we will destroy each other for a few dollars more, or for an imagined god with a white beard instead of a black one. But Peace is a vibration too, and would love to have you as a friend.

Be defiant, and ask the soldier and the farmer and the baker and the mother and the office worker and the neighbor and the moon and the sun and all the stars, indeed all the universe to chant with you, to sing with you, to affirm life and to not be cowed by those in love with power and the enticements of destruction: all we are saying is give peace a chance. Funny, people still think those are subversive words!

Keep those words in your hearts and on your lips, and if you feel alone, that's okay too: just give peace a chance.

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Great Lanterns of Fire













My wife and I and our very good friends from Silverton went for a stroll after seeing The Road in SW Portland, and found ourselves looking up at red lanterns outside the Portland Art Museum. I prefer it when we decorate the world rather than blow it up or poison up. I suppose that I am naïve.

A beautiful image of the Red Lanterns can be found here. A moving image of the lanterns can be found here.

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Friday, December 04, 2009

The Opinuary Column



The Opinion "the War in Afghanistan is different from the War on Christmas" has flown into a craggy mountainside and died, the impact crushing the sleigh and scattering the contents willy-nilly, the various guns and rocket launchers broken to pieces across the barren rocks that roll down to the pock-marked valley below. Amid the cacophony of AK-47s and surface-to-air missiles, one can just make out the muffled cries for aid from the tiny Military Industrial Complex Elves as they spend the last full measure of their devotion, beyond all hope and charity, in the bitter cold of a despairing world. The Opinion was believed to be three and a half years old.

Raised among the candy cane poppy fields of North Kantstanditstan, the Opinion lived an idyllic childhood gathering tinsel and ornaments and holly and improvised explosive devices to play with, delighting in the colors and banners and deafening explosions, each in due course. Baby Jesus, acting as the One True Manager of the Opinion, was spotted as he crawled into an armored Humvee near Kabul, wherein he drove off for some unknown destination, leaving no instructions for a successor. Who will be our new Field General? Will he (or she) run a steady assault on our enemies, or just throw 30,000 additional Hail Marys until the reindeer are replaced by drones? Stay tuned!

Family of the Opinion have asked that in lieu of flowers everyone blow shit up and then drink massive amounts of alcohol to deaden what isn't already dead. The key to enlightenment is self-medication and violence, and the road to salvation is heavily guarded. After the service there will be a brief explosion, followed by eternal darkness. Happy Holidays!

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Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Rehearsal for Attack of the Living Shadow Photo Shoot



Background story: the large, bare tree is seen here discussing her shadowy talents with the building that was cast as her partner for the shoot. The sun, which provided the lighting, said nothing. The night showed up just a bit later, and that was that.

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