Penelope and Hood Ghosts

Today you’ll hear the first proper recording using Penelope.

The facilities, as I’ve said in the past, have been updated.

The introduction was recorded with Penelope and her stereo microphone.

The first half of the podcast-proper, titled, “Penelope,” was recorded using a vocal microphone plugged into Penelope.  A bit of popping with the /p/ sounds, and unintended hand-to-mic noises, which means I’ll need to get pop filters and stands.

Otherwise, it all sounds wonderful, I think.

A run through audacity, some compression, equalization, noise reduction, chopping and polishing.

Who said you couldn’t polish a turd?

For music, we’re going new-school to old-school soul.  First, Khalid with “Location.”  Last, Stevie Wonder with “As.”  In the middle, RJ’s instrumental jam, “I Can Read Your Mind,” which I haven’t used in a year or so.

We present to you, “Penelope and Hood Ghosts.”

Oh, Ghosts in the Hood.  On WeTV.  If it seems at all intriguing, watch it.  I promise.

There Is Beauty In This World

There is beauty in this world.

Specific, contextual, anecdotal beauty.

I’m not talking about literary beauty…the hue of a late Summer sunset, the scent of cut jasmine; or beauty for the masses…Niagara Falls, aurora borealis.

I’m talking about the young person with Autism, and a significant speech disorder, and massive often incapacitating anxiety, who trusted me, who opened up to me, who did things he’s never done before today…all on the heels of a car ride to CVS to get pop and chips, listening to our song, “24K Magic,” at ear-splitting volume.  We’ve got a routine for that song, and one for “Perm,” the third track on the album.  Car dancing with a clumsy, unintelligible, time-obsessed teenager like we’re both the kings of the goddam world.  Kings, I tell you.

I’m talking about the way I misinterpret song lyrics and then amuse myself for minutes.  How I can’t sing “Chunky,” the second track from 24K Magic (…I really didn’t intend to have so much Bruno Mars occupying such little narrative square footage, but…) without singing the Chorus as, “Ohh Chunky.  Lookin’ for them girls with the big ol’ boobs.”  It’s “hoops.”  But in my teenage Beavis and Butthead brain, as I make my way through the morning routine of feeding the pets, making green drink, preparing coffee, and concocting the morning smoothie, I’m rolling around, like Trump ain’t president, dancing unabashedly with a shit eating grin on my unshaved grill, singing that line.

This cat, often impossible, wedged between my lower back and the seat back, purring contentedly as I hack away at whatever thoughts I can manage.  Knowing (…me, not the cat […but maybe the cat…]…) I’d been travelling the world with mild, albeit still life-impacting, PTSD around any animal with the ability to move and attack me…for approximately 25 years of my life.  Knowing further (…both of us, I think…) this particular cat was STILL challenging to me, and I assuredly to her, in my early years with her and her beautiful owner (…my wife…), and that we seriously considered euthanization after she attacked a neighbor.  (The cat, not my wife.)  And yet here she is now.  And me.  And us.  When she’s calm and happy and not in pain and when I’m calm and happy and not in anxiety…it’s like were soulmates of a sort.

There is beauty in this world.

And it will maintain me.

And I it.

 

-G

 

Gordie

Prepare yourselves.

What you’re about to hear is an actual Craigslist posting from Thursday, January 5th.

Coachella announced its 2017 schedule and lineup on Tuesday, January 3rd.

Gordon got 2 VIP passes for Weekend 2.

Then he dropped this: (archived link).

Yikes.

American Horror Story: Gordie.

Have a listen.  It’s good clean fun.

(Actually, you might feel a bit dirty…but rest assured, nobody responded to Gordon’s enticing offer.  I think.  Actually, I have no idea.  There might be some twenty-something tied up on a used mattress in the back of Gordo’s camper with Tom Petty’s “American Girl” blasting,  several gallons of Palmer’s lotion in the passenger seat, and a high pressure hose nozzle just in case.)

We present to you, “Gordie.”

The music?  Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, “American Girl,” (duh) and Johnny Cash’s cover of, “If You Could Read My Mind.”

-G

Gordie’s Sweet Camper

President

The universe has apparently conspired to knock me down and steal all of my energy today, which is probably for the better.  Perpetual anxiety will negatively impact one’s immune, and other systems.  Aberrant sleep patterns, increases in caffeine and alcohol consumption with commensurate decreases in water intake.  All bad.

Last night I experienced a body-wrecking fever.  I went to bed shivering with a t-shirt, two hoodies, both hoods on, sweatpants, and socks, under two blankets.  At some point, likely when the medicine kicked in, I awoke a damp, clammy, somewhat confused mess.

Today, I just can’t do much.  I left the television off.  Slept mostly.  Eventually sat down here.

I went back and read my post from November 9th.  I don’t feel that way anymore, but I certainly remember how rough that first day was.

Here’s what I had to say then:

==========

I awoke at 3:30, used the restroom, checked the computer, heard the news (…today, oh boy…), and laid awake, mind churning in silent desperation, until the alarm dared me to get out of bed.

In the kitchen, staring at the coffee bar, staring at the blender and smoothie ingredients, staring at the dog and cats who wanted nothing more than to eat, I…continued to fucking stand there, incapable of repeating the same series of events I’ve been doing in the precisely the same way, like a man with Autism, for over 3 years.

Eventually, slowly, unenthusiastically, I moved.  And I opened the notepad app on my phone.  As thoughts emerged, any one that seemed poignant or insightful or important or helpful, I recorded it.  Here, in very specific order, are my thoughts as spilled out of my head beginning at 6 a.m.

  1. I’m feeling much worse than I thought I would.
  2. I’m so sad and I don’t want to cry in front of people who will psychically harm me.  I live in Trump country.  (I know, we all do now.  But my community largely Trumpeted for months.)
  3. I’ve not felt this sad, anxious, and emotionally fragile since I got the call from the dentist that my wife had a several minute grand mal seizure in the chair, and the ambulance was taking her to the emergency room.
  4. As a straight, white, baptized-Christian, cisgenendered, U.S. born male, I totally get the safe space thing now.
  5. What do I do as a man who could easily skate through the next four years, given my on-paper demographics, but feels so unsafe, so fundamentally sad, so morally and ethically challenged for simply what I am…given what I believe, feel and think? How do I go to the gym, the coffee shop, chat with a cop, smile at a Black person, hug a child with a disability…knowing that I’m a representation of the very people who oppress and then blame and punish the oppressed for the fall out of said oppression?!  Tell me, how the fuck?!
  6. I don’t want to eat breakfast. Have no interest in food.  I think this is just the third time I’ve been completely healthy and utterly disinterested in eating.  The first two times were the roughest patches of my life and ushered in panic attacks and depression.  I don’t want another panic attack.
  7. I’m rehearsing what to say to people so that I don’t cry…or fight.
  8. Today I am Muslim. Today I am a woman.  I am transgendered.  I am Black.  I am disabled.  Spanish is my first language.  Today I am all of those things.  But tomorrow…I’ll still be a white man and the world will still be my oyster.
  9. Fuck every privileged syllable of “this is a devastating blow for Democrats.” This is a devastating blow for the entire country, and perhaps planet.
  10. I’ve run through the Kubler Ross stages of grief three times already. In my head.  Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.  I want to land on acceptance, but not a defeatist acceptance.  Rather, I want to accept what has happened, where I am, how we all got here, and then continue to stride forward with radical, organized, non-violent love.
  11. Why the fuck should I continue to watch American Horror Story when I’m living in it?
  12. It’s so hard to cultivate love in my heart right now.
  13. Here’s what I’ll do…go love and build-up anyone in front of me. It’s all I can manage.
  14. Here’s what else I’ll do…I’ll let go of anger, of doubt, of jealousy, of snap judgments, of everything that keeps me, that keeps you, that keeps all of us, from the oneness of God. Define “God” how you will, but we are all one.  One soul.  One reality.  One planet.  One cosmos.    Separateness is an illusion.
  15. Here’s the final thing I’ll do…open myself to anyone who wants to join me.

And here, after 15, is where I sit now. 11/9/16.  2:44 p.m.  I love you.  I really do.  My chest has been tight, as if my sternum is desperately trying to escape through my spine, for hours.  My head hurts.  My heart is utterly broken.  I’m stunned.  I spent time with my wife.  Processing.  I met with two lovely men, Mike and Tom.  They are friends and they are beacons of love and progress.

Grieve.   Cry.  Rage.  Fucking break every goddam thing in your immediate vicinity.  Hide under the covers for the rest of the week.  Drink yourself into a stupor this weekend.  Smoke all of the weed.  Cry again.

Then…stand up, straighten up a bit (…nobody wants to see you with THAT hair…), throw on some deoderant, and go out there and love radically.  Make art.  Do your thing like you’ve never fucking done it before.

Christ, why does it feel like my Mother died?

(I know. She did.)

But…

It will get better, and we will make it so.

==========

I honestly don’t know, and this definitely isn’t the day for me to go making decisions, predictions, or ultimatums.

Just take care of yourself.  And each other.

-G

My

Johnny Gill once sang, “My, my, my (my-my-my-my).”

I saw him live on tour with Bell Biv Devoe.

(By the way, I generally trust a big butt and a smile.  My preference.)

He handed out single roses to women as he sang, over-using that gravelly vocal style then running it up to an unnecessary falsetto, and more than a handful returned the favor by festooning the stage with panties.

As a teenager I became obsessed with the musical, “Jesus Christ, Superstar.”  Other than the scene in the garden of Gethsemane, my absolutely favorite line Jesus spits, with vitriol and rage, is, “My temple should be a house of prayer.  But you have made it a den of thieves.  Get out!  Get out.”

My.

It is, most commonly, a first person possessive pronoun.  “My health has not been so wonderful over the past several months.”  But, as described in the first paragraph, above, is also often used as an interjection.  “My, oh my!”  There is judgment in that, “my.”  Surprise and dismay.

Similar to, “Not,” which we explored yesterday, “My” can be traced back to Middle and Old English.  Namely, the archaic, “Mine,” which comes before a word beginning with a vowel or after a noun (“Twas the pussy mine, grabbed with my tiny liver-spotted hands and seen with mine eyes, which hath wilted in the cold, inaugural wind.”)

OMG.

A very common abbreviated interjection. “Oh…My…God!”  (Or “goodness,” or “gosh,” depending on your definition of decorum.)

OMFG.

A very common abbreviated interjection made more poignant with a lovely little addition.  “Oh my fucking God!”  (Or “god” if you’re a pantheist.  I don’t imagine you’d be adding “fuck” if you weren’t willing to invoke the name of your alleged maker.    But hey, who am I to judge or dictate how you interject?!)

My.

Coming right on the heels of: Not.

Tomorrow?

President.

(Stay tuned.)

-G

 

Not

In this first of a three part post, we breifly explore the word: NOT.

Should you be interested to know my source, I’m borrowing the nuts and bolts of what follows from the quite accessible dictionary.com. I’ve also cross-referenced with Webster’s and Wikipedia. So, if you desire you can check this all out yourself.  Also, as per usual, Urban Dictionary users have put their spin on the word, and, if I may go all double-negative on you, it’s not unfunny.

Anyway…

Our present-day, “not,” which we use as an adverb nearly always, is a contraction of the middle English, “nought,” or “naught.”

If we travel back further, “nought” or “naught” is derived from the old English, “nauht” or “nawiht” or “nowiht.”

As a noun, the meaning is fairly simple and consistent across the ages:

“Na” meaning: no.  “Wiht” meaning: thing.

Nothing. (“Wait, so I waiting in line so long for naught?!”)

Straightforward, yes?

(Not!)

Just kidding.

As an adjective, however, the word travels a more interesting path.  We don’t actually use NOT as an adjective anymore, but after having learned about the it’s history and while thinking about this series of three consecutive posts, I’m considering pushing for a comeback.

First, there is the following definition of “naught”: lost, or ruined.

(“Raiders of the naught ark.”)

In the middle English, now considered archaic, the word meant: worthless or useless.

(“As a world leader, the man is naught.”)

And if we look further back to the old English, the now obsolete meaning of the word was: morally bad or wicked.

(“As a man, the world leader is naught.”)

Not.

Stay tuned tomorrow for an exploration of the word: MY.

-G

Where Were You December 31st, 2016?

I was right here, with my wife.

And the dog.

Who’d just expelled her anal glands on Jen’s lap.

After several days of having no access to our toilets/sinks/showers due to a soft plug that the plumber couldn’t get on the 29th and wouldn’t be getting back to until January 2nd, causing us to find alternate showers (…Planet Fitness…) and poopers (…McDonalds…) and also relearn how to clean dishes like the pioneers did.

So…yeah, fuck all that.

It was, literally and figuratively, a shitty, shitty week.

The Christian holiday taint.

You know, the week between Christmas and January 1st?

Right. Ours kind of sucked, but we found ways toward joy, peace, love, and sanity.

I share some of that with you here, “Where Were You December 31st, 2016?”

And also, “Bizarre Love Triangle” by New order, as well as, “Strange Love” by Depeche Mode.

Emo ’til I die.

-G

Public Outrage Fatigue Cannot Be a Thing

I am not a proponent of assimilation-driven demands of majority cultures.

An assimilationist tweet might look something like this:

Diversity in all forms is good.  I’m all for it…as long as they act like us. Or…at least act how we tell them to act.

Assimilationist liberals worry about “public outrage fatigue.” Really, I’ve read, heard, and engaged with this argument more times than I care to. One time is too many, as far as I’m concerned…particularly given where we are and what we know about the various histories of marginalized, disenfranchised, and oppressed populations.

Let me be clear. I’m an anti-racist.  A humanist and vocal egalitarian.

I’m neither a segregationist (i.e. cultural groups within the human race should remain separate)  nor a supremacist (i.e. certain cultural groups within the human race are hierarchically superior and others inferior), and as I mentioned above, I’m not an assimilationist.

I’m cool with folks being folks, with culture being culture, with fam being fam, and history being history. I’m an inclusionist. A realist. A pragmatist. Liberal in many aspects and conservative in others.

But deep, deep down…

I’m a social justice warrior. And proud of it.

I’m an anti-racist. And damn proud of it.

And I’m fairly outraged.  I don’t see that changing significantly any time soon, nor do I feel compelled to tamp.

The argument regarding public outrage fatigue, from what I’ve gathered, goes something like this:  “I worry that if people are constantly outraged about Trump and white nationalists and the Trump Klan and Trumpeters and Trump appointees and Trump foreign business partners to whom he’s in debt and Russia and Wikileaks and Trump Trolls and David Duke and Richard Spencer and the nuclear codes and conflicts of interest and nepotism and the fact that Trump’s agrammatical circumlocutions point firmly in the direction of dementia (Alzheimer’s?) and perhaps drug combining, not to mention the mental health contributions (Narcissism?)…then we’ll just sort of acclimate to the outrage and miss a real problem.”

A real problem.

You realize that this is white, predominantly male and straight privilege at it’s pinnacle.

Because we don’t need to worry about shit.  (In case you didn’t know/realize, I’m a straight white guy.) I can blend in anywhere. My unique demographic intersectionality places me at the center of western civilization, western enslavement, western colonialism, western interment, western war, and western power.

You think Black, Native, non-Christian, non-cisgendered & heterosexual, and most women are worried about public outrage fatigue?

(That’s rhetorical…)

(…and they’re not.)

Shit, we’re just now catching up.  Catching on.

I thought I was woke, but it turns out I’m just now stretching out my arms, reaching for the tremendous and bigly blaring alarm, groggy before my morning coffee.  I *just* opened my eyes for the first time, and I’ve yet to figure out what to do with my worrisome, anxious, righteous, cycling mind in a world that requires I balance vigilance, action, relationships, professionalism, day-to-day interactions, and my well-being.

I’m finding ways to remain healthy, but rest assured…I will be outraged, publicly, until further notice.

-G

Penny’s Podcast

Aunt Penny had a super power.

She honed in on the best of a person, and then she pulled it out, cultivated and resonated it. She made me a better person not because of anything she created, not because of ulterior motives or selfish agendas, but because she placed a mirror in front of my face. She read everything I wrote, listened to every minute I recorded, recognized so many beautiful and unique things underneath all of the anxiety, worry, and anger…and simply allowed me to see what she saw. And what she always saw was hopeful, beautiful, and uplifting.

That was her super power.

I love her. And I love me more today because she loved me, and I her.

Powerful.

The world is missing a significant piece of it’s soul today, or perhaps it isn’t…because so many people now walk the earth with clearer vision, with deeper self-knowledge, and with a more confident ability to resonate love.

I chose two songs that communicate such depth of soul, such love, such peace. “In the Lord’s Arms,” by Ben Harper and “I Shall Be Released,” by The Band.

I proudly present to you, “Penny’s Podcast.”

Aunt Penny teaching Jen how to make Berryoskas

A Representation of a Thing is Not the Thing.

A representation of a thing is not the thing.

This concept is so important that every religion, philosophical endeavor, value system, and government communicates it early and often.

A crucifix.

A flag.

A golden statue.

A portrait.

A book.

A word.

Even a piece of non-replicated and historically significant audio-visual footage.

All represent a thing, and are not the thing.

But…there is value in a representation, and that value depends upon people.

That’s you.  And me.  Us.

The human brain, and in particular a brain or group of interconnected brains that ascribe immense value to a thing, will quickly equate the representation with the thing.

A crucifix…becomes Christ.

A flag…becomes country.

A golden statue…becomes God.

A portrait…becomes the Godhead.

A book…becomes the literal words God.

And words…transform reality.

Reality…which is the objective universe on which we each project our brain’s experiences and representations.

Or perhaps…is the subjective representation with which we project the universe.

Regardless, we, as a species, have little control and are destined to confuse representations with things.

I have nothing but this nervous system, these muscles and appendages.

And even the word “thing” is a representation of…

…I don’t know.

Now, let’s bring this all back to here and now.

When the representation of a thing becomes the thing among a large enough group of humans, that’s when shit gets super squirrely.  That’s when we argue, fight, oppress, incarcerate, troll, demean, dehumanize, war, and murder.  And we justify it all…because of a representation of a thing.

A tiny, insignificant, universally negligible thing.

The most emotionally impacting piece of art or relationship you’ve ever experienced?

Is like that old childhood folk song.

It’s a fleck on the speck on the tail on the frog on the bump on the branch on the log in the hole in the bottom of the sea.

And the bottom of the sea?  Is a puddle on the surface of the grain of sand orbiting the match-tip swirling around the spinning top hurtling through the infinite expanse of a universe among multiverses.

Fucking nothing.

And although I don’t know the purpose, if any, of any of this, I’m certain our goal should not be mutually assured destruction.

There’s a hole.  There’s a hole.

There’s a hole in the bottom of the sea.

-G