Monday, April 13, 2009

Something IS Happening - Easter Notes...

What an absolutely perfect and glorious Easter day it was today, no? [Warning: we’re gonna free-flow here. Tonight. (or whatever time it is wherever you are NOW) Stream of frontal-lobe consciousness. Blog style. In other words, our objective here is to data-dump as much as possible before I become bored with the task -- NOT to “write in the artistic sense of the word.” (Yes we will use plenty of parentheses, and dashes, and a few semi-colons (which for the life of me I still just cannot get over my uneasy bias against for some reason) as always in order to attempt to maintain some semblance of order and readability. (which reminds me: a quest I have been on for years, perhaps decades... this fascination with WHICH – if one had to choose - is the best for of punctuation to use when attempting to free-style in no particular order. I mean, we do speak like this. some of us at least. And therefore this isn't exactly note-worthily innovative, new, or unique; at least not from a speaking voice sense. And yet when we sit down to write, even if we are attempting to quote one or another or an entire conversation, we do tend to dress it all up a bit and put it in a certain order... I mean, look at the way dialogue in films are... always one person speaking at a time, and always in full sentences... utter rubbish in the realism department. So no, this is not new, this style of writing. It’s just taking down as quickly as you can whatever happens to be on your mind either now, or a few minutes ago, or a few minutes from now, in order to get it all out – without worrying about how it will read as “writing.” The idea is simply BLOG. Don’t WRITE. Get the ideas out to the readers. Save writing for writing and some times, just let blogging be what it was originally intended to be: free-flowing thoughts, remnants of the day. At least until we are able to read each others’ minds, which I believe will be sooner than later, this will have to do.)

Doesn’t it strike you as interesting how there are so many FORMS of writing? All based on what their particular objective is one supposes... perhaps not something to get into now since it is already well past midnight, (and I with this new “new year’s resolution” to finally grow up and start paying attention to the things that “grown up people do” such as “getting to sleep at a decent hour” and “waking up at a decent hour” (I slept until 2:51 in the afternoon yesterday. I was quite proud of that one. Does that count?) So I will need to cut this is as short as possible. Hence my forewarning that it might be a bumpy road ahead, (but many of you are already used to the bumps and curves and back alleys aren't you? They’re not really as bad as some make them out to be, are they. Certain friends absolutely loathe them. You should read their comments and emails... accusing me of being far too divergent and tangential – to the point of implying that I am selfish for being so tangential in my writing... and yet it’s my writing... (figure that one out). Catherine is occasionally impressed but constantly yells at me “Can’t you just get to the point?!” And of course the point is that this is ALL the point. It’s like life in that sense. I mean, where exactly ARE you running off to? To death. Right? Ultimately? So why live your life “on point?” It’s a perceived point at best. A non-existent and ultimately meaningless point at worst. So why not just let it rip? Let it all hang out? And see what comes of it? (By this point, trust me, we’ve lost her. Three or four paragraphs up she was outta here. I'm sure of it. Her brain just can’t take it... it’s like some people really need “point” delivered like punchlines in jokes... like BAM! Other people prefer the whole joke to be one giant punchline. Life is more like that. So for me, that’s how I fly. Half naked, off the wing, stewardess in one hand and a bloody Mary in the other. Wind blowing through my hair, and if we crash, my God was that one hell of a fucking ride or what? Jokes with punchlines are a little passé’ Truth is, I bet that very few of the 15,000 subscribers to this blog actually go for it all the way to the finish line with me when I go off like this, in this manner. Personally I'd be one of those very few. But that's just me. Think Eddie Izzard. Half the time you have to ask yourself “where the fuck IS he right now? And HOW did he get there? (I bet he’s asking himself that question half that time as well. But people dig it. So it’s cool. What I don't like is comics who seem like they say down and “wrote” out their routine. I just absolutely loathe that shit. This is something I don't do when I blog. Shit I don't do it when I write anything. I just sit down to blog/write/dump. Whether it’s a song, or a blog, or a book, or a screenplay. I just sit down let it all pour out. Charlie Kaufman. What a fucking genius. Right? I wonder how much he writes versus how much he just “dumps...” Good question... )

So where we’re we? Yes. Due to my earnest desire to communicate and express as much as I possibly can – as much as there is to – nothing more nothing less – and yet not let it take me five hours – which is how long it usually takes me to write an average blog post in the Transcendence Diaries – when I really sit down to “write” and make it make sense – as opposed to what I'm doing now – which is just dump data out of my insanely warp-speeded carnival-like mind. Wild huh? Hard to believe. Hard to imagine that any person in their right mind, or at least pretending to be ( which at this point I would say I'm not even sure I'm doing too good a job at that one ) would dedicate three to five hours a day to writing ONE blog a day for seven straight years; let alone admit it publicly. From an economical point of view, it is an entirely worthless endeavor, (at least now – let us not fool ourselves for a moment that we are attempting to fool anyone else that we feel that this will not NOT pay off at some point in the future... for that would be dishonest, and transparently so. (Nothing wrong with dishonesty if you can get away with it... but don't make it totally honest...) (And yet, I am somehow reminded of US politics and US presidents... and from that perspective one doesn’t really even need to be concerned with our lies being transparent anymore, do we?. I mean, at this point, it’s more like latter day Rome. If you want the throne you just kill your mom, your dad, your brother, your wife, and pretty much do whatever the hell you want to and tell the rest of the world to shut the fuck up and go to hell. We’ve been living like that in the United States now for over fifty years... ever since Eisenhower warned us we were headed down that path. Oh well. Not the subject of tonight’s post. But still, something to remember. Note to self: don't worry about being honest. It’s totally not in anymore.)

I would never say it is a thankless task or one without merit or benefit though, blogging, writing. The truth of the matter is that I enjoy it immensely. It helps me relax. It feels like weight-lifting or cardio for my brain and emotional well-being. Both relaxing and energizing at the same time. Keeps me sane. And I also enjoy the occasional comments and notes from readers. Just to see – from a sociological standpoint – what stirs things up and what doesn’t.... Add to the Transcendence Diaries the six other blogs that I maintain and post to regularly, and well, one gets the picture. A life completely dedicated to work and not much of anything else...and yet my work is my play. So I am a very very lucky manchild.) Being one mother hell of a prolific writer (I have easily written tens of thousands of pages of printed material. At the very least. shit. just in the last ten years... Its unfathomable how much of my time I spend writing and how quickly I can do it... but at the same time knowing full well that I am not a writer, meaning that I didn't earn a degree in writing, (though I did major in it for a brief spell in college – along with just about everything else one could “major in” before I finally succumbed to that constant nagging whisper of a realization that I was one of those “major in life” types and the sooner I faced it and acknowledged it the sooner I would become successful at it – which happened remarkably soon after I am still surprised to reflect back on), and I also have never really had anything published – well that's not true actually, in fact there have been plenty of things, but nothing MAJOR, so I'm not in that place yet where I would ever call myself a “writer” but have absolutely no qualms about calling myself “a genuinely near-supernatural prolific writer (figure that one out) – so I bet, I just bet, that yes, there probably IS a table of sorts that lists what the best forms of punctuation are for this kind of mind-babble... call them inner-dialogues... Voltaire-like or Shakespearean soliloquies in the mind of a mad gone half mad during the third act. But alas, as a non-writer, I simply don't know what those “best forms of punctuation” are yet. So forgive the tug of war between them all as I struggle to make sense of what is shooting out of my head faster than I can get my fingers to follow. And this is after decades of training these damn fingers... but still... this mind always manages to pitch faster than these fingers can catch. Oh well. We’ll deal as best we can. Don't say I didn't warn you. END OF WARNING]

An absolutely glorious Easter day. Weather in New York was perfect for it. A cool brisk 41 degrees. Bright blue sky. Sunny. A calm over the entire city. Couldn’t sleep all night due to anticipation for this morning. Just couldn’t really fall asleep deeply. Felt like when we are little kids and we know that we are going to Disney world the next day. That’s what Easter Sunday always feels like for me... Kept waking up the whole time, which is fine because we are turning in the new solo album to the manufacturer tomorrow and I needed to approve the art director’s entire CD project, so the waking up helped. I'd fall asleep for an hour, not really asleep, rather lucid and vividly aware that I was “attempting to fall asleep,” (which has been going on for about five years now. Can’t say I really like this.... on the one hand I find it cool in the ‘super-natural” sense that I have this new unique ability to be both awake and asleep and dreaming at the same time; and on the other hand I don't ever feel as though I rested thoroughly enough. It’s during the day when I take a thirty minute nap or two that I really knock out and get “rest.)

Easter itself is very special if you are a practicing Christian or a well-studied and historically aware Jew. (no offense meant, just read your history.) But Easter is a day that follows 40 days of intense self examination and repentance if done properly with a sincere desire to improve oneself and make the most of it all. Easter is that giant exhale that you wait for after forty days of constant prayer and self examination and repentance and “I'm sorrys” and towards the end of this particular season I even found myself on my hands and knees praying... just begging, pleading... for forgiveness, for new life, for more self awareness, for more closeness to the Divine, for more understanding of Jesus and what he meant in the bigger picture, what he means now, and what he may mean in our future, and just a lot of “trying go deep.” Deep-deep. Not superficial deep. Like some people giving up chocolate or something, but DEEP. Like “I know who I am, but I want to know more. I know I want to help, but I want to help more. AND I want to help in the way that YOU want me to help AND in the way that I can help the most. AND God am I fucking sorry for what a fuck up I've been all year. Please forgive me and if you have to just smack me down lord because I long to be as good a person as I can be and for the life of me I still fuck up too much for my own good. But thank you for listening and thank you for understanding. And thank you for continuing to listen and seeming to understand and forgive and help when help is needed. So yes, Easter brings with it that trumpet call that echoes “Alright little buddy you can go a bit easier on yourself now... You did a damn good job of it. Let’s see if you can walk your talk for the rest of the year. Easter, to me, in that respect, is a sort of New Years really. more so than New Years is actually.

And besides all that, the personal aspect of Easter, Easter services at this particular church are very very special. Not a particularly old church by earthly standards. Rather new actually. Built in 1928. That would be considered a “new home” in England wouldn’t it? Well in any case, the sanctuary is breath-taking. Something like thirty-eight million tile mosaics were shipped over from Italy during the 20s and 30s to make the church. All marble and tile... giant ceilings. On top of it, Easter service there is well known world-wide for many reasons not the least of which is its prime real estate being smack dab in the middle of Manhattan on park Avenue in the most expensive zip code on planet earth. So what you end up with is several things there when one breaks it down. (if one feels so inclined to do.) For starters the church is in the heart of the tourist area of Manhattan and therefore draws all these non-regular-church-goers that just come out of fucking nowhere and all of a sudden seemed to have discovered their religion on that very day. So the place fills up like nobody’s business. One has to get their an hour early to even get a seat. And that's in your own fucking church. It’s a little on the “iffy” side in that manner. And the other thing is that the neighborhood itself forces this particular church to bring out the best of the best in everything that it does. The music director is a Dr. All the Pastors are Doctors. There are flowers galore, and the best musicians money can buy and the choir – half of which are paid (which still strikes me in a not-exactly-positive way to this day and I've been a member there for five years now) is the best damn “white choir” that you'd ever want to hear. (White choir so as to differentiate it from the “black choir” up at Abyssinian Baptist church in Harlem – the oldest and FIRST African American church in the United States. You just can’t compare the two. Its like VW to BMW. There is NOTHING in this world like the choir at Abyssinian. This is MUST SEE/HEAR for your bucket list) But still, the choir at our church is really quite something. Especially if you dig music from the “classic” period, Bach and Handel et al. horns, strings, woodwinds, brass, tympony... it is quite something.

And then of course there is the head pastor, Stephen Bauman. And his sermons from hell as I like to call them, pardon the sick irony in that. But they are just so over the top intelligent AND insightful AND futuristically enlightened that you’d swear that you stepped into Christianity as it might be practiced in forty to fifty years now once the majority of the so-called Christians out there grow the fuck up, stop taking bible literally, and realize the true nature of what this man Jesus was trying to get across. In a nutshell, Bauman preaches in a way that even an atheist would walk away inspired and thought-provoked. And one suspects that on Easter Sunday – knowing full well that that sanctuary is going to be filled to the brim with more people crammed into that space than at any other day of the year – that he is going to pull out all the stops.

So no, of course I couldn’t sleep. A brilliant Easter Service awaits in the morning, followed by a magnificent feast with hundreds of your closest friends... all in great spirits by hearing the good news... (whether or not that good news is true or not half of us smart and honest enough to admit that we still aren't quite sold on one way or the other – but still, the good news sounds and feels good and it promises many things that nothing else being offered on the fruit cart of modern earth offers at this time, so it just feels really really good.) New life. New beginnings. Love one another. Resurrection. Whether real or metaphorical. After all these years, does it even matter anymore? Now that might seem like blasphemy to a catholic or a born again Christian in middle America... but Stephen Bauman is a man on a mission that is so far ahead of the rest of the pack... so in tune with the Divine NOW. The Divine as it is NOW, as one can FEEL it is NOW (if one actually opens one heart up and STOPS just READING for knowledge and instead starts asking and feeling and praying for knowledge -- as opposed to what some book written six to two thousand years ago says about this ‘God character’ ... the man is on fire.

One gets the feeling every single freaking Sunday that he is the closest thing to a modern day Jesus or Gandhi or MLK that one can find these days on planet earth. And trust me, as most know, I've searched high and low for them. On Wednesday we’ll be meeting with Dr Cornell West himself... I've read or studied them all in this mad quest of mine to see what's out there... And I will admit that Ram Dass and Harry Palmer certainly tie for first place in the “knowledge plus enlightenment plus new information plus passion plus purity of heart ala Kierkegaard plus sincerity plus commitment and dedication equals a man who can easily be called the most inspirational and important man on earth in terms of what he has to offer in the way of spiritual enlightenment goes. Stephen Bauman - though he would humbly disagree and laugh his butt off if he heard me say it or heard that I wrote it - fits the bill to a tee. Or trust me, I wouldn’t be a member of a church. And there are tens of thousands of them out there. All doing the same thing. All beautiful people. Both religious and non-religious. From Bill Maher to Wayne Dyer to Marianne Williamson to John Shelby Spong to Deepak Chopra. But these are all second placers. What they offer is not new... it may seem new to mainstreamers. But it is old-hat to long-time seekers. Bauman is in the top tier. Consider him John Lennon if Ram Dass is Jimi Hendrix and Harry Palmer – being the most advanced thinker of the bunch -- is the Bob Dylan of the “new knowledge” bearers. [NOTE: You can listen to his sermons online at iTunes. Just search for Stephen Bauman at Christ church New York city. Listen to any of his sermons from 2009. You’ll see what I mean.]

Long story short? A gorgeous day. After service and feast I went home and just laid down in silence.... doing my best to connect and commune with the Divine one more time... till I drifted off to a short nap. Something is happening? Yes indeed. Something IS happening. Don't let anyone tell you any different. We all have plenty of friends who don't yet recognize it. They're more than willing to play the fool, or the cynic, or the wise-ass, or the logician, or the pragmatist. Just as we once did, or might do in the future... But this does not mean that they are still not our friends. And no this doesn’t mean that we need to preach to them nor convert them or any of that nonsense... because as I've said so many times before. It has nothing to do with religion. What is happening is NOT about religion. It just is an ISNESS that is happening. And it’s all about LOVE. Underneath that, a very rock solid foundation of honesty, sincerity, and a strong desire to HELP. But it IS happening. And it’s happening NOW. And goddamn if it’s not a beautiful thing to behold, let alone take part in. God bless us all as we journey forward.

PROLOGUE: Mom sent us all Easter baskets this year, as always. I sometimes wonder if we are the only grown men alive who still receive Easter baskets from our mother via express mail every year... either way, it is a very good feeling. Heart-warming and homey. Just makes one feel good all over. Hope she never stops. And then when she gets too old to send us Easter baskets we will send them to her. Pay it forward. I love that woman.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Fight Which the Good Fight?

Had this dream that I was helping an underground movement working for African American rights. Actually not sure if I was in the States or in another country. a lot of covert crawling through tunnels and jumping over barbwire fences to get to secret meetings... I was like “the white connection to the outside world” so to speak it seemed to be. All very hush hush and dangerous. The people in charge were all black from what i can remember and we were in a very impoverished environment. I was constantly sleeping amongst or jumping over homeless type people in rags or box-homes.

At a time when I am rethinking where to fuel my activist energies right now, a lot of prayer and meditation and observation about it... feeling the peace/anti-war movement is always going to be there but as a species we are essentially fucked in the face of these giant corporate-controlled entities that pose as governments on planet earth right now. ten million people marched to protest the United States' invasion of the country of Iraq and it did absolutely nothing. It had no effect. There are still over one million Iraqi civilians dead at the hands of the so called “coalition forces.” Meaning what? corporate controlled/Matrix Styled robot-soldiers who do whatever “force” tells them to do. And we the people of the planet truly just have no say in it.

Inspiring that that many people came out on one single day to protest all over the planet? sure. but is it going to stop newly elected US president Obama from attempting to occupy Afghanistan? No. Won't even be an issue. I don't think anything is going to wake Americans up to the horrors of war and what it actually means for foreign insurgents to enter your country, boss you around, put up blockades, kill innocent people, and arrest thousands of your neighbors until it actually happens in their own country. Then we may be able to muster enough understanding to build a real coalition of a large enough group of people to actually have an effect on these “selected officials” and their war-mongering ways. Until then, anyone anywhere in the world is a target for arrest, occupation, imprisonment, or death at the drop of a hat if the United States and other large nations decides that's what they want to do.

We not yet be living breathing batteries as suggested in the symbolic Matrix film series, but the people of earth for better or worse are clearly prisoners of powers much stronger than they are able to overcome. Only they're not machines. (perhaps they are?) But by all accounts they appear to be living breathing human beings no different than ourselves. We live in a comfortable prison for some to be sure. Say if one lives in Kansas or New York. Not so comfortable for many others... Zimbabwe, Liberia, Sudan, Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan, China, on and on the list grows.... or shrinks, depending on how one views it.

So the last few months I have really begun praying and meditating frequently and intensely on “what next?” in terms of where I might be able to better serve more people in real tangible ways. After Vietnam and Laos and Cambodia and Grenada and Panama and Nicaragua and Iraq (and so many more I simply fail to mention out of being too lazy to want to look up right now) it is clear that any efforts put forth by “the people” of earth to stop war-mongers is moot and in essence a waste of valuable time effort and energy.

It does though explain two things: why people as powerful and influential as Bono and Al Gore and Bill and Melinda Gates take on other causes, rather than what one suspects they believe in their hearts to also be a worthy cause – peace on earth. AND it also helps explain the motives and actions of people such as the Weather Underground, Che Guevara, Osama Bin Laden, the IRA, or the leaders of the Iranian Revolution. Crazy? Sure. But what they were/are fighting against was/is equally crazy.

So like the Buddha i sit quietly and meditatively torn between two worlds: out and out underground revolutionary to the death, even if it means three weeks or months from today i breathe my last breath in this current form. Or a more elegant peaceful and orderly style of helping... albeit one that requires more patience and a more mature ability to endure the ludicrous and unnecessary atrocities and lies, death and destruction that surround us at every corner of the globe at the hands of people who live in our own backyards and neighborhoods. Decision not made yet. So I sit.

Worthy causes: poverty, AIDS in Africa, women’s rights around the world, human trafficking and slavery, every 3.9 seconds someone dies of hunger or thirst somewhere in the world. If we wanted to we could end it in a year or two. But again, if WE WANTED to. Equal education. Gay rights. Fair trade. Blacks and Latinos still have it pretty tough. And no one even bothers to dare broach the stomach churning plight of the Native Americans and the other indigenous peoples of the planet. But that is one I would love to see brought up and finally faced and reconciled in our lifetimes...

We ask and it shall be given... so every night I am thrown into these random dreams/nightmares involving some sort of revolutionary events I have found myself entangled in. Some more terrifying than others. Some tame and reasonable and more “court and circus oriented.” Some downright “action adventure movie” style craziness. Each morning I wake up and scribble down as much as i can remember of what I was doing, how I felt, if the goal seemed a noble one... how I truly feel about it... if I believe that it is my calling to take it on and try to help.... a transition phase to be sure. But one that I will soon have an answer for I am sure.

Still one-hundred and ten percent behind helping bridge peace with the country of Iran, bring Tibet back to the Tibetan peoples, freedom of the Chechens, feeding the hungry, housing the poor, fighting poverty, and general do-gooding. But there is plenty more we can do... that's for sure. In time we will know....

"We must be aware of the real problems of the world. Then, with mindfulness, we will know what to do and what not to do to be of help." - Thich Nhat Hanh