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Wiil It Go ‘Round In Circles . . . Uh-huh! Ha-ha . . .

As the Moody Blues once put to music, “Isn’t Life Strange?” We grovel. We smile. We fear. We step forward. We cry. We find answers in the oblique angles of incongruity and disorder in the “proven” models of tradition. We look for answers and only find solutions we didn’t expect (and sometimes don’t want to accept) while we give advice and never really know if we’re listened to. So at the next request we warily remain silent lest we recite blank words with intense meanings that drip to the ground and splash unheeded into a dry earth only to be absorbed and recycled into something useful without our knowledge, a cup running over in essence not intended to do so. But that tiny drop of sustenance hopelessly “lost” in obscurity may one day prove to be the primal impetus for a seed to grow even though we may be long absent. Still our influence may have meaning in a dimension we are no long part of. That dimension could be someone else’s life, a thought, a dream, an inspiration, that blossoms into a reality never thought possible at an idea’s conception. And much like much like the analogy I use often (no doubt created previously by someone more thoughtful than I. I don’t wish to plagiarize), a brilliant photographer doesn’t create a masterpiece from one lone snap but culls his masterpiece(s) from thousands of lesser attempts not quite “on the mark.” So by trial and error many times over memorable art emerges from a sea of mistakes–as it should–since learning occurs primarily from doing and not just by thinking about it.

And, oh, those silly little sources that can inspire, just as the mustard seed in the Biblical parable, a seed of non-proportionate size to the 9 foot tall plant it produces, may inspire the minute thought or fleeting glimpse–if we are waiting for its arrival–ever searching for an appearance and always ready to recognize it as such. Unfortunately, “obvious” rarely describes a mustard seed’s arrival and most often it is easily missed. But at some later time, a little shoot might appear and it’s up to you to nurture the plant into something useful and beneficial to someone–yourself or another.

Today, I refer to a modern phenomenon in this digital age, a burgeoning mustard seed now some 6′ tall (at least) with its branches askew, some leaves wilting to the ground while others flap in the wind precariously, even fewer producing edible fruit or tasty seasoning for the proverbial hot dog with relish (I couldn’t help but throw in a little Freudian homage to tweak the imagination of at least one since the source of my immediate inspiration emanates from one studying the discipline of misshapen minds in order to correct them) with a tongue-in-cheek effort at recompense for suggesting Office Depot as a solution. To those of you not in-the-know, that will remain my little mystery, nevertheless a tribute to an effort to help I found amusing. The more I think about it, should forward this to the author of “How To Pick Up Women” for his addendum:

“Hi. Can I help you carry that 30 lb. box of Hammermill 99.9% “jam-free” 8-1/2×11″ ream of bright white paper to your car for you and will you marry me? Or is “jam-free” a subtle message I should be picking up on?”

Ha-ha, I should add to that Freudian image. If not to amuse others, at least myself ;-) . . . ah, the freedom of social network communication, a two-dimensional throwback to when language was a series of grunts and emotions more instinctual than expressive of complex thought. Yes, I tend to over-exaggerate–hyperbole, a useful tool in my arsenal–but I have come to terms with what I sometimes do best (contrary opinions notwithstanding) by that same inspirational source which counts office supplies as a viable solution to my personal mania. In concert with my sister who asks if “I’m going crazy” to which I replied “Why do you all of a sudden assume it’s a future event and not a past tense condition?” In jest, please, as I’ve mentioned before to some (to others an unknown reference with an air of “Oh-oh. Something’s wrong here.”) “Insanity” was just a song I collaborated on a while ago but that’s a story for another time. Another creative moment in my life long passed but fondly remembered.

Oh, before we go much further, “rambling” or “ranting” may just be a part of my “snapping” thousands of mental photos–commonly known as “ideas”–trying to form disparate ideas into something useful to myself or others. And reflecting back on that comment I HAD to insert the parentheses on snapping just to keep my edge on the suspense of 2D language limitations since a writer wishes to incite sometimes rather than inform. But take it as you like it . . . I didn’t choose the pseudonym “Tobrnotob” because it didn’t mean a thing to me but because I appreciate the elegance of his thought process–not that I could ever match it–but it’s fun crafting words and ideas into puzzles for others to reinterpret; I’m entertained when the puzzle is reassembled into a form I didn’t expect but more appreciative if my intended meaning is discovered. That’s communication–good, bad, indifferent. (Note: “tobrnotob” is my original internet handle translated 2-B-R-not-2-B referencing Shakespeare. I was asked what I studied in school by a friend when I was struggling to come up with an email address.)

Back to the thesis.

My “Muse”–possibly an unwitting princess without so much as a clue as to who, what, why a fateful “friending” would produce a burgeoning inspiration back into a long forgotten and neglected talent (opinion dependent)– perhaps a stumble into a dangerous place or, more properly, a trip into a dimension not suspected but purely benign in my intentions–may have re-released inspiration for my long forgotten lyrics with a simple suggestion of offering them to the world and, as strangely as it appears, almost exactly coinciding with my own thoughts’ preconceived in timings only attributable to Fate instead of circumstance, all happenstance, as it were, or by some unseen design. You be the judge of that. I would be afraid to ask, as a matter of course, and discover that there is Truth to our God putting angels where they are needed most.

How “odd” that word above: “friending!” A new word entering our language as if we don’t have trouble understanding the thousands we already have with their confusing connotations and denotations. And how silly it would be to credit a college student for creating a system to communicate with others as if the spoken word were not adequate enough. But he did. And now it has expanded to millions worldwide, a modem to connect to those we choose and neglect those we don’t want. A whiteboard to post innermost thoughts, connect in absentia, proclaim ourselves in megaphone obnoxiousness, play a useless game without a partner (or invite one to share), discover past lives and people, whittle away the hours uselessly until inspiration suddenly sparks resurgence unscheduled . . .

Yes, I speak of the “inspirational” bane of some lives or existences, a modern phenomenon called Facebook, sure to deter the logical, pragmatic traditionalists but also countable as a simple way to interact without the boundaries of geography, a free-for-all of ideas both good, bad and indifferent accessible to all by choice or not, a way to be pestered with the trivial and the one-in-a-million chance that someone, somewhere, sometime, somehow may say a word or phrase that opens up a door for some illusive salvation you’ve been searching for while at the same time, never really knowing, understanding or accepting that inspiration can come from the damnedest simple things–like the proverbial tree falling with no one around. But you may eventually hear its echo reverberating from the distance like music in the ears of some forsaken bard wishing to create a melody that all might hear, or lyrics to soothe some soul–somewhere–even if it only happens to be your own today.

A simple click to befriend . . . could be the blessing or the curse depending on how you choose to look at it. I prefer looking at a glass half full, a vessel with hope and inspiration. Facebook may be a sinful waste of time, but without it my words may forever be cloistered where they do the least good for anyone. If for any ever. That’s not my choice. It’s time to release a thousand mental photos and let the critics hack away hoping against all hope a shard or two may touch another soul . . . if I only knew . . . if I only could . . .

 
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Posted by on August 28, 2010 in Random Thoughts

 

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Hug a Tree and Kiss Your A– Goodbye

Sometimes you just reach a point when you need to respond to something although you full well know that whatever you say won’t adequately make the point. But that’s never stopped me from opening my big mouth or, in this case, my keyboard. I’ve had so many people suggest to me that I “get a life” instead of spending my time thinking up these lame responses to minutia and other meaningless things. But if I were to get that said “life” I would then have to continue to absorb the “logic” spouted self-absorbed activists trying to make themselves feel better about themselves and then try to secure their 15 minutes of fame on NPR, CNN, MSNBC, Oprah or the View, not to mention the multitudinous Blog sites of other people’s opinions. And I’d like to thank our magnanimous former Vice President, Al Gore, first for inventing this internet thing which we all so pleasantly communicate with in vitriolic anonymity (and being of the Conservative bent, I fully accept my essence as “vitriolic” while acquiescing the “rational,” “tempered” and “meaningful” terms to the posters at “Daily KOS,” “Huffington Post,” et. al., who have many more clues than those who are unlucky enough to have the surnames of Bush, Cheney and/or Rove. Oh, and Mr. Gore, about that SPAM thing you inadvertently created many years ago when you were assembling your ones and zeroes to connect the world . . . putz!

Of course, that wasn’t his fault because those on the other side of the aisle–the side which owns panacea, utopia and the Land of Oz–only create Munchkins and Straw Men (with all due apologies former Secretary of Commerce, Robert Reich. There was no pun intended) while this side is solely responsible for the Wicked President of the West and his band of evil flying monkeys led by King Kong himself, Karl Rove. (By the way, Leftists, is Dubya really stupid since Karl supposedly has his hand up Dubya’s back pulling the mouth tab and spinning George’s head around like Linda Blair searching for the next word to say, or is Karl just a really poor ventriloquist? You gotta choose; you can’t have it both ways!)

Back to our former V.P., the brilliant IP God of this world. Gates did really well inventing one thing and running with it. He didn’t try to be everything to everybody (except for his operating system trying to be everything to everybody and bogging itself down mercilessly) but you, Al, can’t take your success with the most revolutionary communication concept since the Geico caveman spoke his first word on national TV last year and leave well enough alone for just a few years. A wise man once said “When you chose to ride two horses at the same time and they decide to go different ways, you quit making sense.” Alright, I made that up but it does beg the point I’m getting to.

Global warming. Since you really had little to nothing to do with the internet, why should we follow you down the myopic, slippery slope of things we could never hope to control? I beg your pardon, sir, but a different Messiah was promised a few millenniums ago. You are too late. And your influence in this matter cannot seek and can never hope to adequately influence the outcome you strive for. I shouldn’t be so sure, though. I concede it is possible Dan Brown’s research may trace your bloodline back to a great-great-great-great . . . (you get the point!) grandmother from Magdala and, by the way, that gal at the final dinner table does have that Gore-y aura to her but so does Mona in the Louvre. But we can’t worship you, and the hotter it gets the less I’ll feel like it just the same. If things made good sense, it might be different. But when logic gives way to lunacy, something’s got to go. And if you couldn’t muster up enough charisma to defeat a bumbling, word assassin that allegedly can’t walk and find Bin Laden at the same time except to recount little itty-bitty pieces of paper that your constituents couldn’t even skewer effectively in their patriotic effort to anoint their God-given prince the title of king, then why should we put a whole lot of stock into what you say now?

Just one good reason that has nothing to do with blind faith and I’m yours. Instead I am barraged day after day with a chads worth of evidence to build a consensus of science. Remember, your “people” couldn’t punch holes in paper, Al, so what should make me think your educated “people” can predict climate change to a reliability greater than TWC who can only give me a percentage chance of rain tomorrow yet promise me ten years from now I will be toast in my SUV? I’m looking for evidence not consensus. I get consensus from the Weather Channel. But the evidence overrides consensus when I’m ringing out my socks because Weather jocks guessed wrongly. Those with myopia typically can see nearby objects clearly but distant objects appear blurred.

That’s the official definition from Wikipedia dealing with eyesight but it is directly relevant to the myopic vision of ideologues also. Remember the adage “Can’t see the forest for the trees?” If Gorean philosophy requires logic just like other systems require, let’s extend the analogy to a logical end encompassing all factors to their “natural” extensions instead of focusing on just a portion of a scenario to proselytize the brainless. Following is a response to someone who stated something on the order of “well, both sides have a point, but the evidence warrants playing it safe on the global warming side and what would that hurt?

Oh, maybe hugging a tree could cause you to follow-up with kissing your ass goodbye . . . maybe? If you deal with all the ramifications of your actions, that is. Kind of like admiring those trees and forgetting that a forest can only exist and thrive when some of the trees are eventually taken out. You can either cut them down to thin the forest and keep it healthy or Mother Nature will do it in her own way just as she has done it for millenniums . . . without our help.

[Don't mean to butt in the conversation, but I'd like to add a little information along with logic. It's just an idea and I don't want to poo-poo the theory of Mankind adding carbon dioxide and other pollutants to the atmosphere because that's a given: we did and we do. It's only logical it will have some kind of effect however little.]

The theory just a few short years ago was that this additional carbon dioxide was breaking open the Ozone layer and allowing in more ultraviolet rays. So is CO2 the culprit? Mechanization and fossil fuels are likely contributors as well as the Sun itself which can never be regulated.

In 1970, the Earth population was just below 4 billion persons. In 2007, it’s rapidly approaching 7 billion and surely will double the 1970 mark sometime in the next few years. And since we human beings breathe in oxygen and then expire CO2 into the atmosphere ourselves–now at a rate almost twice the amount of 40 years ago–how much of a contribution do we as living organisms contribute to the degeneration of our own planet? If we eliminate all of the fossil fuel contributors to global warming, how long will it be–since the resulting Utopia will surely make life “heaven on earth” by the standards of Green thinkers–our own population will strangle this planet with own emissions naturally occurring, and not even considering spatial, nourishment and natural resource consumption?

Nature has its own way of adjusting itself no matter what our contribution and wanting to conserve energy, find better ways to fuel our endeavors and having a desire to be relevant to the planet we live on is a noble idea by any measure. But the same people who strive to control our lives today with the assumption that the answer lies in controlling nature will also be the ones once our population reaches the breaking point that will want to decide which segment of the billions must be disposable to relieve this earth of its natural population. The fear of global warming today will soon give way to the terror of over population in the coming centuries because we as a world society continually strive to override Nature with our narcissistic belief that we are the masters of our own Fate when all we are momentary little pissants who think we know better.

What happens when the herd gets too big on the Savannah? Lack of food and resources starve the weakest and Nature makes her adjustment. It’s not a rule I concocted. It’s the way Nature rules. But now our advances in technology, medicine, food production, energy, et al., have disturbed the natural balance of nature by allowing us to live longer, more comfortably, etc. At a population of 1 billion, not a big deal. But now since we’re having a problem taking care of our own in Darfur, the call to quell the Earth’s heat with a mythical devotion to conservation for the planet is logically a non-sequitur if one considers that such an action will only propel this planet toward another horrible catastrophe since with such improved conditions, population would continue or accelerate to a different but nonetheless merciless end.

Solution? Do we exterminate people now or later? Better yet, let’s just get on the Global Warming Bus and wave exuberantly as we pass by Mother Nature on our way to self-aggrandizement. Of course, She has that wry smile on her face full well knowing that once we reach our final destination, it will be us searching our souls for another different solution when She’s had the answer all along: the natural way of survival of the fittest. Self-regulating and unforgiving.

“Real evidence on both sides.” The only thing “real” is like statistics interpretation; it depends entirely on how a question is asked and then interpreted. And if you don’t take into account all the ramifications of your conclusion, you might as well hug a tree. At least the tree might get something out of it because the other few billions (and multiplying exponentially) of people won’t be giving a damn because you feel good.

It’s really not necessary in the grander scheme of things to hug a tree and cut down those who disagree with you. The tree is more likely to give you a splinter, but your opponent is more likely to give you a hug.

 
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Posted by on May 14, 2007 in Politics

 

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Alive And Almost Well in the Big Easy

Here it is the day we’ve all been waiting or dreading depending on your beliefs. It’s the day called Fat Tuesday (the literal translation of the phrase) a.k.a. known in French as Mardi Gras. Kind of ironic in more ways than one, too. Ain’t too many fat people around here, not to imply “fat” is a crime; I’ve never been. And although most people who have returned have finally exhausted their supplies of M.R.E.’s (Meals-Ready-To-Eat) that doesn’t necessarily mean we charge headlong into the massive Po’Boys and highly saturated fried seafood of the P.K. days (pre-Katrina, kind of like B.C. & Anno Domini by Gregorian standards). As of today there are few if any neighborhood restaurants operating as were P.K. unless you live in the Quarter. So if you have gained weight recently, it’s nobody’s fault but your own that you drove the four or five miles for each meal instead of jogging.

Apart from the culinary devastation my hometown has suffered recently, something must be said in favor of the spirit of returned New Orleanians. The Mardi Gras you all know is quite rightly defined as the “party of the parades.” It used to be the city tripled it size in the days surrounding the event with about a million people showing up for the biggest party on earth. I don’t have an official count as yet since I write this on Mardi Gras Day, but we’ve got a few people in the streets taking their mind off neighborhoods which lay dormant for miles around the parade routes. That, in and of itself, is not a bad thing. The natives who couldn’t be here might be a little disappointed, but those who really wanted to be, of their own accord, found the way. If FEMA would have offered free money for the trip, many more would have been present. So, suffice it to say, those that did make it here earned the right to party. And you get what you pay for, don’t you?

Now don’t get all huffy! Generalizations aren’t intended to be blanket condemnations in my comments. They’re meant for those people who don’t fit in those shoes. If you’re not here, you’re not necessarily the target. Funnel your frustrations at the goal of being worthy of returning. You have the right of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness at your own expense because most of the returnees here right now are working for those same guarantees with sweat and toil. Wow, kind of like pioneers who used to make this country work in its early days . . . before political correctness hijacked “right” and transformed it into “entitlement.” Fits? Wear it.

Okay, back to the philosophy of Fat Tuesday.

In addition to being a French phrase, Mardi Gras is also a melding of dissimilar traditions. New Orleans being a Roman Catholic province, the holiday is the final fling before the 40 days of penance begun the day after Mardi Gras, Ash Wednesday. You know, the old “sack cloth and ashes” thing where you self-flagellate for your sins? Depending on your belief system, secular or religious, this is another one of those generalizations not intended to spear Roman Catholics, per se, but the truth must be told for proper perspective. And it kind of falls into the same category as Christmas trees, Easter bunnies and Halloween costumes. If you believe the Judeo-Christian deity is it, consider this idea a toss-up for meaningful discussion without stoking up the Salem barbecue pit.

Does it make really good sense to consciously violate every moral concept by getting plastered, exposing yourself (genitally speaking; unfortunately I have seen this happen), wrestling old ladies for a pair of beads, spending inordinate amounts of money to buy those “throws,” and then the next day think your saying your sorry for forty days beyond is the correct thing to do? Granted, I think the majority of people who take the kids to a parade are not violating any moral principles in doing so. Just like the Old Testament people were forbidden to eat food offered to idols and the New Testament people were told food is food. So I guess the operative principle here is where do you stand in your belief and understanding of your role in any participatory event. And if a tree was a pagan symbol for some tribe in the past, does the use of one at Christmas constitute its degradation as a symbol? Remember the Old Testament Golden Calf? Ate at Micky D’s lately? You know, GOLDEN arches, COW patty (not field patty! Get a grip and follow my reasoning!). The dust of the broken tablets is on your conscience, huh? A pebble in your shoe?

I haven’t been a participant in parade revelry for years now. I don’t see the point, but that’s just me. Fundamentalists have their own Scriptural fence posts to skewer people with. I prefer to ride the fence so I can keep a good look at both sides equally and if I ever do “fall off” it most surely will be the Fundamentalist side sans a “judgmental” triple flip as I fall to the ground. I observe and I write my thoughts down then share them via blog. (Oh my! “Gog” & “Magog”! I wonder if there is something relative to alphabetical codes in words ala DaVinci!)

I took a ride around the neighborhood this afternoon. It’s hard to separate the concepts of judgment and circumstance when you tour the neighborhoods around here. Once again, your belief system tempers those glasses you see it through. Now about 6 months removed from the storm, it’s really hard to know what really happened to this city in minutes or years depending on your political belief system. Whichever political system you choose, it has failed miserably over the years to create the panacea that was promised. I don’t care what side you are on! And just like this party-like atmosphere this city is experiencing as I write, from the decadent, narcissistic body exposers to the ultra-Conservative Inquisition “damned to hell”-ers, most of us are caught in this vise in between. We are squeezed. Kind of like being a foot in the wrong size shoe. Between spirituality and politics. So I guess it’s one I will just have to wear for a while. Praise be to God . . . and Dr. Scholl . . .

 
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Posted by on February 28, 2006 in Katrina

 

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Apocraphylips Now

Before I begin, I would like to stress the fact that this is not a scholarly work as were my previous posts (guffaw). But certain circumstances in world politics sometimes inspire me before I fully research a topic. It’s the need for an immediate cathartic experience sans the necessity for ultimate accuracy. After all, this is just an online diary, of sorts, a kind of rambling of the mind on things that have made impressions on me in the present. Two days from now I probably won’t even care I thought these thoughts and at the risk of being visited by Al Qaeda in the dark of the night (after all, they are not the bravest people in the world when the prey on non-militants because to confront a fully armed Marine in Fallujah somewhat lessens their ultimate need for one virgin no less 72 of them), I can’t prevent but having all the facets of my life flash before my eyes at the thought of some of the things I’ve once seen or heard in past studies many years ago.

Way back when–during the time when eyeglasses were for “old” people unlike myself then–authors dealing with Apocalyptic literature such as Hal Lindsey were a favorite read for me, not so much emanating from a desire to see the “end” in my life but more like a literary jigsaw puzzle putting pieces of prophecy together into a coherent model. The ambiguous quatrains of Nostradamus were interesting but most I could apply to any Super Bowl game especially when the Stones might perform “Sympathy For The Devil” which they wisely bypassed prophetically because I’m sure they were told in advance I might use that for a blog post. That would have been too easy. I needed more of a challenge. But I didn’t expect the Moslem world to provide me with much-needed answers indirectly after so many years of this dormant topic in my life.

Let me reiterate. I am not making a “prophetic” attempt here. I don’t want to waste precious time forming some all-encompassing theory with millions of religious references and such. I’d much rather go only as far as throwing all the pieces of a 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzle up in the air and have them all fall to the floor in the correct places with very little effort of my part. And there are some “obvious” elements of this theory that will no doubt amuse–and at the same time enrage–at least one other person who might happen upon this pointless rambling we call a blog. For me it’s nothing more than an exercise in brainstorming with the umbrella of this electronic medium so I can maintain a relative anonymity from 1.6 billion Muslims who may be lurking outside my door. I’ve already lost one car this year to Katrina and I don’t want them burning my sister’s who was kind enough to loan me hers until she returns from her evacuation. And you’re quite welcomed to blame all of this on the ill effects of the lingering Katrina mold ever-present in our air currently. I, myself, hope this is the case because if I’ve stumbled on “right” it’ll even scare me. Book 67, The Book of Lenny, cannot be added because the Canon has been closed . . . right?

Okay, enough of the disclaimer. This is what I have found on a simple precursory trek into research spurred by the silly little cartoon by a Dane which has driven some in Islam to the brink of idiocy. Well, further past that brink because the militants of Mohammed have already sullied the mass of the 1.6 billion with their own selfish quest for multiple virgin flesh. Whatever happened to the time-honored practice of celibacy in religious circles?

Unless you’ve been in a cave (I’m not trying to goad you at all by reference, Osama!), a little cartoon showing the image of the Prophet with his turban resembling one of those caricatured round black bombs with a lit fuse has driven the masses wild. It’s a matter of blasphemy to show an image of the Prophet. And as so many others have said on-line in recent days “If it’s prohibited to make or have an image of him, then how in hell (or the Muslim equivalent) can anyone tell it’s him really.” After all, it could be Ahmed, the used camel salesman in Cairo for all anyone knows. (Just for the record, in this case we will discount beheadings, murder of children, suicide bombings of school buses, subjugation of the female, slavery, and the need to eradicate anyone that is not Muslim as not germane to the righteous rage against blasphemy in a cartoon. We’ll compare apples to apples for the benefit of this argument.). And as a citizen of the country who has the “Great Satan” as my leader (Source: Various imams and Ayatollahs, some heads of Islamic states around the world–those closest to Israel, for sure, leaders of all Al-Qaeda cells around the world and in the United States, and finally the Democratic National Committee’s Book of Talking Points), I don’t want to taint my discussion with any automaton-like rhetoric because I voted for him. I’ll be as objective as I can.

So . . . I tooled around for more information on who exactly this Prophet was, the leader of the peaceful and tolerant religion which is almost one-third of the world strong. He seemed like a nice guy by the literature I did read on the surface. I wouldn’t recognize him if I met him on the street . . . because I’ve never seen a picture of him!!! . . . but I’m sure I could enjoy a conversation with him just as I have had with other followers of his over the years without losing my head over the experience of meeting a luminary of his stature. But the more I dug, the more the Lindsey-like my reading would become. The Late, Great Planet Earth and Satan Is Alive And Well And Living On Planet Earth were interesting reading but may have missed the mark, at least the way I understood it. But that’s not discounting the revelatory events as Mr. Lindsey proposed them to be. He was quite careful to not fall into the trap of “prophesying” a specific time of travail but more focused on what signs to look for should one (or billions) be present at the time foretold. However, I thought the world was going to end a few years ago. But maybe the Lord is honoring my one request that I last as long as it takes the Saints to get to the Super Bowl (Update: 2010. They made it. Time is shorter!) so that should give us all quite enough time to catch up on the prophecy if He does, in fact, grant that prayer. And then I stumbled on some passages from a site which delineates some of the relevant Islamic prophecies about the Apocalyptic times and I almost felt like Smokey Robinson when all of a sudden we “could see clearly now.”

(Remember, I’m not being scholarly here. Remember the tossed puzzle method. Eventually it will work. And a monkey at a typewriter could eventually compose a prize-winning novel given enough time and bananas. That’s a statistical possibility. Probably.)

Our Mahdi will have a broad forehead and a pointed (prominent) nose. He will fill the earth with justice as it is filled with injustice and tyranny. He will rule for seven years. –Abu Dawud, Sahih, Vol. 2, p. 208; Fusul al-muhimma, p. 275

After the death of a Ruler there will be some dispute between the people. At that time a citizen of Madina will flee (from Madina) and go to Makkah. While in Makkah, certain people will approach him between Hajrul Aswad and Maqaame Ibraheem, and forcefully pledge their allegiance to him.

Thereafter a huge army will proceed from Syria to attack him but when they will be at Baida, which is between Makkah and Madina, they will be swallowed into the ground.

On seeing this, the Abdaals of Shaam as well as large numbers of people from Iraq will come to him and pledge their allegiance to him. Then a person from the Quraish, whose uncle will be from the Bani Kalb tribe will send an army to attack him, only to be overpowered, by the will of Allah. This (defeated) army will be that of the Bani Kalb. Unfortunate indeed is he who does not receive a share from the booty of the Kalb. This person (Imam Mahdi) will distribute the spoils of war after the battle. He will lead the people according to the Sunnat and during his reign Islam will spread throughout the world. He will remain till seven years (since his emergence). He will pass away and the Muslims will perform his Janazah salaat. –Abu Dawud

Severe calamity from the direction of their ruler will befall my people during the Last Days. It will be a calamity which, in severity, shall be unprecedented. It will be so violent that the earth with injustice and corruption will shrivel for its inhabitants. The believers will not find refuge from oppression. At that time God will send a man from my family to fill the earth with justice and equity just as it is filled with injustice and tyranny. The dwellers of the heavens and the earth will be pleased with him. The earth will bring forth all that grows for him, and the heavens will pour down rains in abundance. He will live among the people for seven or nine years. From all the good that God will bestow on the inhabitants of the earth, the dead will wish to come to life again.Ibn Hajar, al-Sawa’iq al-muharriqa, P. 161; Yanabi’ al-mawadda, Vol. 2, P. 177)

People, no prophet or apostle will come after me and no new faith will be born. Reason well, therefore, O People, and understand words which I convey to you. I leave behind me two things, the Quran and my example, the Sunnah (Hadith), and if you follow these you will never go astray.

All those who listen to me shall pass on my words to others and those to others again; and may the last ones understand my words better than those who listen to me directly. Be my witness, O Allah, that I have conveyed your message to your people. A group of my Ummah will fight for the truth until near the day of judgment when Jesus, the son of Mary, will descend, and the leader of them will ask him to lead the prayer, but Jesus declines, saying: “No, Verily, among you Allah has made leaders for others and He has bestowed his bounty upon them. –Sahih Muslim

It is not as you say. Mahdi is a person behind whom Jesus will offer his prayers.Ibn Tawus, Kitab al-malahim wa al-fitan, P. 179

Okay, I didn’t say it; they did. There are obviously conflicts with Judeo-Christian literature and Islamic Literature. If you read the Islamic quotes above (and I have not verified these passages. They could well be the Islamic David Koresh or Guyana parallels in their religion). But the stark differences do highlight some obvious distinctions which could never be amicably resolved. What’s specifically troublesome to me is the starkly obvious reference to the 7 year reign of this “Mahdi” which is practically the effectual opposite of Christian eschatological prophecy. Both say the same with quite different outcomes depending on which side you think is correct. In every biblical Christian theology I can think of, this seven-year reign is attributed to the anti-Christ which precedes the return of the Savior of Christianity (and the World, to be fair). All of this is conjecture in a secular sense? It means nothing to the unbeliever and can only serve to really tick off either side of the Christian/Muslim side depending on the way one interprets the dichotomies.

If I may make a spurious prophetic judgment (non-binding) here, it doesn’t look good for Christians if Mohammed is the Prophet he claims to be. But as it is written in Christ’s on words “many will come after me saying ‘I am the Christ'” and the many warnings of false prophets to come, the seemingly purposeful subjugation of Christ-like phrasing with subtle twists in Mohammed’s pronouncements, isn’t it very curious that all though revered by Islam as a forerunning prophet himself is Jesus, even Islam does not assign Jesus to a seven-year reign as was attributed to the Muslim Messiah? One of them can’t be right. It’s a simple matter of logic that makes this judgment and I am not one to brand either side the victor or apostate just yet. That’s not my job. I just ramble. Let Lindsey write another book and make millions.

So, in conclusion, one mere cartoon may have just begun the Final Countdown. The bomb on the Prophet’s head was probably nothing more than an offhand reference to the tendency for Islam to produce mindless robots willing to do the bidding of spineless clerics in the name of the all merciful Allah. But as I looked at the picture (Google-“Mohammed Cartoon” if you want to see it for yourself), I couldn’t help but get the weak feeling in my stomach that somehow the silly little cartoon has hit on something very prophetic, not on purpose, though. As was stated in Revelation (to paraphrase) the revived rises from the head wound (by the sword) in the final epoch which may or may not lend credence to the Islamic passages above only inversely by effect. Bomb on the head of the cartoon character? That’s what militant Islam has in their heads currently. And in my judgment, it’s turning on them in some circles such as Europe and definitely right thinking Americans who don’t vote Democrat. (Political jab!) And which third of the prophesied population of the earth will reap the most damage thus fulfilling the Bible and Quranic prophesies? Perhaps an even number of both. Or not.

Is either side of this worldwide conflict in the making pristinely pure and angelic in their intent and devotion to their deity? Of course not. We both have our own Crusades and Inquisitions to answer to in the name of religion. So which is the most noble? Who knows, but 72 virgins seems the less virtuous route by most accepted religious standards that are a little less misogynous by nature. But that’s just me. And I’m more appreciative of experience over freshness. Again just me ruminating. And, by the way, Rashid, how many virgins have you seen walking around the streets these days anyway? I think I have a much better chance although it hasn’t been that apparent as of late. Celibacy, as I said before, may be the thing to strive for ultimate survival. Again, just me. Just a little friendly advice for my Muslim brothers.

Oh, my! There’s a book with a banana on top of that stupid puzzle I tossed up in the air a little while ago. I guess it’s about time I wander outside into the wilderness we call “Chocolate City” now, fast for a little while . . . ooo, and here’s some sack cloth and ashes . . . damn, I hate when I’m right!

 
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Posted by on February 7, 2006 in Politics

 

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Sometimes Things Just Never Change

It’s not enough that a killer hurricane wipes out an entire community or that a small percentage of the remaining few find it necessary for survival to loot and pillage the little value this city has left, things like TV’s, electronics, designer clothes and one bottle of baby formula. And now today as this city recovers from the devastation, someone feels the justifiable necessity to shoot three people after a Second Line parade in Treme, probably the same cretin who thought his new big screen TV would benefit him during the resulting Katrina blackout.

It’s been peaceful here in the Big Easy for the past few months. I’ve weathered even a small personal storm playing off the phrase “of biblical proportions” with the word “purge” referring to the evacuation of almost all people from this city. Someone mistook me for justifying the characterization as a “divine judgment” deserved of a certain persuasion of persons when all I meant was if it were a purge then why was the Decadence Festival picture the first shot from New Orleans in one national newspaper? Sure, white/black, rich/poor neighborhoods were all destroyed with the same affirmative action. I’m not sure, though, if more women were denied their rights due to the storm, or if the Supreme Court was involved in the dismal abortion drop-off in the past few months but I’m sure Air America will be on the case soon. And while you’re at it, Franken, there weren’t any weapons of mass destruction discovered either. That is, unless a hurricane constitutes a “weapon” because I’m sure the Bush NWS had something to do with that. But I am rather certain that if I’d have seen a Halliburton truck around here instead of FEMA things would be much further along than they are.

Frankly, except for people who shoot other people, the city is moving along somewhat. Ok, we have had one person say he hated another gentleman in a public forum when the gentleman was proposing a legitimate way to rebuild New Orleans. It wasn’t a racist comment because the hater was of African decent while the “vile” developer wasn’t, but let’s not put the devil in the details please. That’s a politically correct impossibility. PC only works one way. And never mind that the duly elected mayor of our fine city, himself, is of African descent along with numerous council members. Can’t we just all get along? If I’m Caucasian and you aren’t and I have never discriminated against you, why do you slap anyone in the face because you think “we all” are out to get you? Could it be . . . racist? In isolated cases, I’m sure you could claim righteousness. But in the larger scope of things, in this city where every one of any color is just struggling to get their little piece of life back into order, racism of any sort is nothing more than an irrational paranoia on the whole—unless, of course your career is dependent on the persuasion—right, Jesse and Louis? I could be wrong, though. At least, I admit it.

Mayor Nagin is proud that this is now one of the safest cities in the U.S. Wasn’t so on August 28, 2005 but it sure has been. So he’s right . . . in essence. (For the record, I think he’s done his best given the situation) We also have the lowest per capita incidence of cancer now also. White collar crime has dwindled drastically. Traffic accidents . . . lowest they’ve been in years. DUI’s almost unheard of. Geez, even our jails have “greenspace” between cells. It’s mold but it’s green! And why? Because they ain’t nobody here! All that’s here now are hard-working people who are rebuilding their lives and a couple who are trying to take lives away. Anybody have any idea which ones we should “purge” now? As long as their civil rights haven’t been violated in the process, that is. We wouldn’t want to screw with the lives and liberties of well-meaning criminals trying to do what they do best. It was a black on black crime, I’m told. I’m not black and I care. So I guess it doesn’t really count then . . .sorry to be so racist about it.

Addendum 1/17/06: Somethings Do Change Or Were They Always Lingering In The Background?

Unity . . . One Voice . . . talking with Dr. King . . . and God’s judgments . . . on the return of a “Chocolate City” . . . somethings are better left unsaid, Mr. Mayor. You’ve pretty much just dashed any progress you’ve made in unifying anything but a racist agenda. But, I guess, since President Bush did not invade sovereign state territory with federal troops a few months ago, his “racism” is much more evident, huh? Oh and you forgot to throw in the part about the demolition of the levees by federal troops to whip up your base, Mr. Farri . . . Nagin. Sorry I got confused for a moment. Isn’t Ex-Lax made with chocolate, too?

 
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Posted by on January 15, 2006 in Politics

 

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. . . If A Picture Paints A Thousand Words . . .

That’s from the Bread song “If” and it speaks to a girl and how words could never do her justice in describing her with mere words. It’s a romantic little song and unfortunately what brought it to mind today was anything but beautiful. Nevertheless, the words and their soulful lyricism of the song ring true but in a different way.

If I were to “paint” one picture today, it would have to be inspired by Poe or King and their dark vision of what evil things they would have us to believe lurk around us. And the only things I have circulating through my mind this night are memories of the 1970’s TV show “Night Gallery”, a “Twilight Zone”-like series which focused on the horror genre with weekly episodes to make the hair stand up on the back of your neck. Before each show, the host droned his brief intro and to close, the camera focused on a painting representing the name of that week’s scary show. They were always dark and gruesome images inspired to make you look behind you because you “heard” a door opening (only one didn’t) or it might cause you to hear a loathsome whisper from the next room (although no one was home but you). They set the mood for the story you were about to hear.

In my case, the picture before each story I would tell would be the same in most respects and the phrase “the words would never show the you I’ve come to know” eerily wafts in the background without a beautiful woman in sight. Moment by moment and step by step my eyes have only seen the same story over and over on this day. Some of you older ones will remember the nagging phonograph anomaly of a skipping record, hearing the same few seconds of a passage over and over until you bumped the record. You younger ones will just have to ask one of us elders to explain it. But no matter what I did today, the passage repeated itself over and over, not necessarily the same words but not very different at the same time. And a million words couldn’t do justice. You just had to be there because this attempt will fall far short of perceivable reality.

Words, like photographs, can only convey a momentary representation of visualized horror. In this limited two-dimensional communication between the eyes and the brain, we often forget that we must willingly force ourselves to add the “Z” plane to “X-Y” axis to form a realistic image closer to the truth. It’s a two-dimensional limitation of communication we must overcome. However, due to the safeguards of our grand design, the “Z” plane is either willingly or logically “padded” by our subconscious to ease the blow to our senses. So, by design, I believe our perceptions of what we see or experience is not always the complete truth in all of its depth or contour. We are so used to watching TV or a movie and allowing ourselves to fill in the missing “Z” plane with our own estimation of its depth or proximity, a level we know inwardly we can tolerate when we see horrifying things because we inwardly temper the intensity of our reactions to our ability to cope with that fear. And some people do it better than others. But what I have seen over and over today has been seen by millions and my purpose here is to amplify that what you saw is not what you saw. It is much more.

I had the distinct displeasure of touring St. Bernard Parish today—November 5, 2005—while journeying to my sister’s former home in hopes of recovering what little property she had left from Hurricane Katrina. For a frame of reference, Orleans (New Orleans) Parish is sandwiched between Jefferson (West) and St. Bernard (East), both Parishes being less than half the area of the Big Easy. St. Bernard was closer to the hurricane epicenter which made landfall in Mississippi about 60 miles away to the east. And St. Bernard is primarily flat marshland and extends southeast to the Gulf of Mexico on the east side of the Mississippi River. And for discussion purposes, St. Bernard bore the biggest brunt of damage for the Tri-Parish area of eastern Louisiana. And what I saw today cannot be captured in words or film.

It was like . . . like . . . a “Night Gallery” painting only the horror could never be put on canvas or this page. Since St. Bernard is nothing more than a narrow strip only a couple of miles wide (for the most part), I managed to tour a greater part of the upper parish going as far as Paris Road. I did not see one building, home or business that was not damaged in a major sense of the word. Buildings with no roof, strip centers with all windows blown out and contents strewn across the parking lot (or piled out front after cleanup), homes lifted from their foundations, water lines extending 6-7 feet on each building, vehicles stained with a white funk from top to bottom, shopping mall parking lots jammed with trailers of every shape and size and the occasional person carrying arms full of sheet rock or lattice to the six-foot by thirty foot pile of refuse in front of the shell of their home.

Chalmette/Arabi area

It was no better at my sister’s “home.” She lived in a double owned by my aunt near the Arabi Café right at the bend in the road. I used to love to the Cafe go there because they served breakfast 24 hours a day and my favorite was the pork chop and eggs plate with hash browns and grits. It was the best. But not now. Just across the highway is my sister’s street. Turning the corner I could see the three blocks of houses before hers each with its own distinct pile in front mostly consisting of a refrigerator, a washer, a dryer, a sofa, a bed, a pile of crumbled sheet rock and miscellaneous former belongings of anyone who lived in the respective home.

Community St. in Arabi.

Let’s do the math. Let’s say 10 homes on one side of the block times 2 for the other side of the street is 20. Take that times the three blocks to my sister’s house is 60. She lives mid block so that’s another 10 bringing us to 70 and another two blocks to the end of the street gives us about 120 homes. And everyone with the same problem, identical. None were spared in the least. Now I don’t know exactly how many streets there are in St. Bernard and exactly how many homes are on each block or street, but my sister is about two miles into St. Bernard and it extends another sixty miles down river. It does thin out in homes and population as you go further down but the fact is almost 60,000 peoples’ homes have been taken in one 24 hour period. And every home and business is its own “Night Gallery” painting in St. Bernard: one painting for a mass of lives.

My sister’s moldy living room water-damaged in Arabi

I entered my sister’s home which is raised about four feet off the ground. Furniture and shelving had crumbled and mold had been festering on the walls since August 30th or so. She had asked me to retrieve our mother’s rosary from the hope chest which lay in one corner of the room delaminated from the weeks of moisture. I had to pry it open with a crowbar because the wood had swollen as did all the drawers of any furniture throughout the house. The contents were soaked in aged moisture which had permeated from any crack or cells of the wood. The rosary was tarnished and the rest of the contents—pictures, mementos, trinkets, clothing and other things were hopelessly deteriorated, stained or now irreconcilable. I dared not open the refrigerator which fell backside down because no one in this region after two months of absence should really think it’s worth the effort. In the bedrooms, clothes hanging in the closets were putrid with mold from the water which had wicked up the three feet of internal water into the uppermost parts of the garments. Dressers and nightstands had both crumbled and swollen so drawers had to be busted out to examine the contents. The mattresses had also wicked the floodwaters and I’m sure the box springs were deteriorating from the infiltration also. The tongue-in-groove flooring had also buckled in many places making it hard and dangerous to navigate. Whatever was not on the top shelf of a closet or dresser was a lost cause.

That was just the one house that was closest to my life on this day. And if you’ve completed the math from earlier on you may be able to “touch” the scope and the magnitude of the words I have just described. That’s if you allow yourself the full effect of that “Z” factor I described earlier. But the “damper” effect may not let you.

Formerly Plantation Coffee House, Canal Blvd (previously Liberty Star Grocery)

Later, on the way home I decided to pass through my old neighborhood to assess the damage. For reference, I grew up in New Orleans in the Lakeview section of town which begins about midtown at the end of Canal Street which turns into Canal Blvd. at the Cemeteries. The Boulevard then continues north ending at Lake Pontchartrain. About a mile down Canal Blvd. just at the railroad underpass is the neighborhood I grew up in on the river side by Plantation Coffee House–formerly Liberty Star Grocery in my younger years–and crossing the railroad tracks to the Lake side, I spent my teen years and later my “father-care” years during his prolonged illness. So basically I lived my earlier life within three blocks of the two houses. And today no one lives in either neighborhood or for miles around, for that matter.

Ada Place, one block off Canal Blvd.

Lakeview is bounded by the Lake some 2-3 miles north, by the Marconi Canal to the east and by the 17th Street Canal to the west. And on the early morning hours of August 30, 2005, the levee wall breached forcing the waters of Lake Pontchartrain to equalize its own level in the homes and business of Lakeview and Lake Vista (redundant but actual) across to the Marconi Canal. The other “channel” directed the torrents down the Expressway lanes and sub terrain to Canal Street and into downtown New Orleans. It is also common knowledge that Lakeview is the tax base for the city of New Orleans accounting for about 65% income producing individuals’ homes. That’s not to be discriminatory, but it’s a fact.

I saw very little different in Lakeview than I did in St. Bernard earlier this day with the exception that many more of the structures along Canal Blvd. were standing but the guts were strewn about nonetheless. And oh so very few people could be seen working this day, some two months after the deluge. I would describe the scene but I’ve already done it once for you. And you already know how to do the math. Maybe I’m a little prejudiced since this area has been a part of my intimate life, but my eyes do not deceive me because my “Z” plane couldn’t be damped. I was there, formerly and presently. I was scared. Even worse than staring intently at a “Night Gallery” painting or reading through a Poe short story. And now it’s almost as if I wish that “Z” plane which makes the depth and coherence of reality so pleasurable when we allow ourselves to be entertained by the fear of the movie or the imagination of the written word, was just a theory. Only this time I didn’t look for entertainment–just information–on what happened just a few short weeks ago to the place of my birth and the realm of youth.

My “teen” home–waterline just below windows

I remember reading Edgar Allen Poe’s short story “The Sphinx” in my younger years. It’s an excellent study on the relativity of perception and how it affects our emotions and decisions. You really should read it.

DURING the dread reign of the Cholera in New York, I had accepted the invitation of a relative to spend a fortnight with him in the retirement of his cottage one on the banks of the Hudson. We had here around us all the ordinary means of summer amusement; and what with rambling in the woods, sketching, boating, fishing, bathing, music, and books, we should have passed the time pleasantly enough, but for the fearful intelligence which reached us every morning from the populous city. Not a day elapsed which did not bring us news of the decease of some acquaintance. Then as the fatality increased, we learned to expect daily the loss of some friend. At length we trembled at the approach of every messenger. The very air from the South seemed to us redolent with death. That palsying thought, indeed, took entire possession of my soul. I could neither speak, think, nor dream of any thing else. My host was of a less excitable temperament, and, although greatly depressed in spirits, exerted himself to sustain my own. His richly philosophical intellect was not at any time affected by unrealities. To the substances of terror he was sufficiently alive, but of its shadows he had no apprehension.

His endeavors to arouse me from the condition of abnormal gloom into which I had fallen, were frustrated, in great measure, by certain volumes which I had found in his library. These were of a character to force into germination whatever seeds of hereditary superstition lay latent in my bosom. I had been reading these books without his knowledge, and thus he was often at a loss to account for the forcible impressions which had been made upon my fancy.


A favorite topic with me was the popular belief in omens- a belief which, at this one epoch of my life, I was almost seriously disposed to defend. On this subject we had long and animated discussions- he maintaining the utter groundlessness of faith in such matters,- I contending that a popular sentiment arising with absolute spontaneity- that is to say, without apparent traces of suggestion- had in itself the unmistakable elements of truth, and was entitled to as much respect as that intuition which is the idiosyncrasy of the individual man of genius.


The fact is, that soon after my arrival at the cottage there had occurred to myself an incident so entirely inexplicable, and which had in it so much of the portentous character, that I might well have been excused for regarding it as an omen. It appalled, and at the same time so confounded and bewildered me, that many days elapsed before I could make up my mind to communicate the circumstances to my friend.


Near the close of exceedingly warm day, I was sitting, book in hand, at an open window, commanding, through a long vista of the river banks, a view of a distant hill, the face of which nearest my position had been denuded by what is termed a land-slide, of the principal portion of its trees. My thoughts had been long wandering from the volume before me to the gloom and desolation of the neighboring city. Uplifting my eyes from the page, they fell upon the naked face of the bill, and upon an object- upon some living monster of hideous conformation, which very rapidly made its way from the summit to the bottom, disappearing finally in the dense forest below. As this creature first came in sight, I doubted my own sanity- or at least the evidence of my own eyes; and many minutes passed before I succeeded in convincing myself that I was neither mad nor in a dream. Yet when I described the monster (which I distinctly saw, and calmly surveyed through the whole period of its progress), my readers, I fear, will feel more difficulty in being convinced of these points than even I did myself.


Estimating the size of the creature by comparison with the diameter of the large trees near which it passed- the few giants of the forest which had escaped the fury of the land-slide- I concluded it to be far larger than any ship of the line in existence. I say ship of the line, because the shape of the monster suggested the idea- the hull of one of our seventy-four might convey a very tolerable conception of the general outline. The mouth of the animal was situated at the extremity of a proboscis some sixty or seventy feet in length, and about as thick as the body of an ordinary elephant. Near the root of this trunk was an immense quantity of black shaggy hair- more than could have been supplied by the coats of a score of buffaloes; and projecting from this hair downwardly and laterally, sprang two gleaming tusks not unlike those of the wild boar, but of infinitely greater dimensions. Extending forward, parallel with the proboscis, and on each side of it, was a gigantic staff, thirty or forty feet in length, formed seemingly of pure crystal and in shape a perfect prism,- it reflected in the most gorgeous manner the rays of the declining sun. The trunk was fashioned like a wedge with the apex to the earth. From it there were outspread two pairs of wings- each wing nearly one hundred yards in length- one pair being placed above the other, and all thickly covered with metal scales; each scale apparently some ten or twelve feet in diameter. I observed that the upper and lower tiers of wings were connected by a strong chain. But the chief peculiarity of this horrible thing was the representation of a Death’s Head, which covered nearly the whole surface of its breast, and which was as accurately traced in glaring white, upon the dark ground of the body, as if it had been there carefully designed by an artist. While I regarded the terrific animal, and more especially the appearance on its breast, with a feeling or horror and awe- with a sentiment of forthcoming evil, which I found it impossible to quell by any effort of the reason, I perceived the huge jaws at the extremity of the proboscis suddenly expand themselves, and from them there proceeded a sound so loud and so expressive of wo, that it struck upon my nerves like a knell and as the monster disappeared at the foot of the hill, I fell at once, fainting, to the floor.


Upon recovering, my first impulse, of course, was to inform my friend of what I had seen and heard- and I can scarcely explain what feeling of repugnance it was which, in the end, operated to prevent me.


At length, one evening, some three or four days after the occurrence, we were sitting together in the room in which I had seen the apparition- I occupying the same seat at the same window, and he lounging on a sofa near at hand. The association of the place and time impelled me to give him an account of the phenomenon. He heard me to the end- at first laughed heartily- and then lapsed into an excessively grave demeanor, as if my insanity was a thing beyond suspicion. At this instant I again had a distinct view of the monster- to which, with a shout of absolute terror, I now directed his attention. He looked eagerly- but maintained that he saw nothing- although I designated minutely the course of the creature, as it made its way down the naked face of the hill.

I was now immeasurably alarmed, for I considered the vision either as an omen of my death, or, worse, as the fore-runner of an attack of mania. I threw myself passionately back in my chair, and for some moments buried my face in my hands. When I uncovered my eyes, the apparition was no longer apparent.

My host, however, had in some degree resumed the calmness of his demeanor, and questioned me very rigorously in respect to the conformation of the visionary creature. When I had fully satisfied him on this head, he sighed deeply, as if relieved of some intolerable burden, and went on to talk, with what I thought a cruel calmness, of various points of speculative philosophy, which had heretofore formed subject of discussion between us. I remember his insisting very especially (among other things) upon the idea that the principle source of error in all human investigations lay in the liability of the understanding to under-rate or to over-value the importance of an object, through mere mis-admeasurement of its propinquity. “To estimate properly, for example,” he said, “the influence to be exercised on mankind at large by the thorough diffusion of Democracy, the distance of the epoch at which such diffusion may possibly be accomplished should not fail to form an item in the estimate. Yet can you tell me one writer on the subject of government who has ever thought this particular branch of the subject worthy of discussion at all?”


He here paused for a moment, stepped to a book-case, and brought forth one of the ordinary synopses of Natural History. Requesting me then to exchange seats with him, that he might the better distinguish the fine print of the volume, he took my armchair at the window, and, opening the book, resumed his discourse very much in the same tone as before.


“But for your exceeding minuteness,” he said, “in describing the monster, I might never have had it in my power to demonstrate to you what it was. In the first place, let me read to you a schoolboy account of the genus Sphinx, of the family Crepuscularia of the order Lepidoptera, of the class of Insecta- or insects. The account runs thus: “‘Four membranous wings covered with little colored scales of metallic appearance; mouth forming a rolled proboscis, produced by an elongation of the jaws, upon the sides of which are found the rudiments of mandibles and downy palpi; the inferior wings retained to the superior by a stiff hair; antennae in the form of an elongated club, prismatic; abdomen pointed, The Death’s- headed Sphinx has occasioned much terror among the vulgar, at times, by the melancholy kind of cry which it utters, and the insignia of death which it wears upon its corslet.'”

He here closed the book and leaned forward in the chair, placing himself accurately in the position which I had occupied at the moment of beholding “the monster.”

“Ah, here it is,” he presently exclaimed- “it is reascending the face of the hill, and a very remarkable looking creature I admit it to be. Still, it is by no means so large or so distant as you imagined it,- for the fact is that, as it wriggles its way up this thread, which some spider has wrought along the window-sash, I find it to be about the sixteenth of an inch in its extreme length, and also about the sixteenth of an inch distant from the pupil of my eye.”
  – – THE END

It depends on your “focus” as to what you perceive.

Canal Blvd. Note water-line one-third up windows

I know what I saw today and it wasn’t a moth. It was closer to representing the dashed lives of hundreds of thousands of people in this region. You—on the outside with the benefit of objectivity—may only see the moth. But that may only be because your “Z” plane perception is protecting you from the depth of despair because the “moth” is not on your window pane. And talk about faulty logic! That same beast is currently walking across window panes that seldom exist anymore in the houses I speak about today. I guess . . . you just had to be there.

“. . . then you and I could simply fly way . . .”

But fantasy and romanticism are only fabrications in the “Z” plane . . .

 
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Posted by on November 6, 2005 in Katrina

 

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Putting It Into Perspective

Here are some relative thoughts about the condition of New Orleans and how it got there. Previously, I worked in the retail/wholesale marine industry for about twenty years and the brackish saltwater environment of the Gulf South added an adequate amount of job security to those years. I sold millions of dollars of material over the years relating to the preservation and restoration of metallic objects from the tiniest electronic component to massive paint systems designed to ward off the inevitable destruction of entire hulls of ships. Saltwater does not need gaping holes to destroy. Just the hint of it in the air can infiltrate the most secure environments: electrical switches, electronics, etc. In fact, millions are spent each year on anodes that is, less noble metals such as magnesium for aluminum and zinc for steel of the sacrificial nature which are attached to the hulls and engines and are designed to sacrifice themselves instead eating away at the more expensive aluminum or steel hull structure themselves. You see, electricity always attacks the path of the least resistance, thus the anodes go first and if you don’t replace them before the hull starts to go, the ship literally sinks. On a more insidious level, just the smallest particle of salt/water molecules in the form of humidity will find its way into any small pathway aboard any boat or structure any where near the water in Gulf Coast regions. About 80% of the replacement steering cables, for instance, are sold once every two to three years to the Southern region; if you live in Wisconsin, your steering cable typically lasts 10-15 years. Saltwater is corrosive and I thank it for my former career’s sake.

It’s bad enough that New Orleans’ surrounding environment consists on almost all sides of this corrosive material. But when that environment leaks into the homes and businesses of the region and stays resident for just about a month, things cannot be good in its aftermath. Add to that millions of gallons of additional chemicals like battery acid, gasoline, cleaning solvents, toxic chemicals, bacterial agents, etc., and you have a very unattractive soup to soak in for a month. The green foliage that contacted this soup is predominantly brown currently. Vehicles submerged partially or in total are now locked into place by brake, transmission and engine components, welded together by iron or aluminum oxides which interacted with sodium chloride or worse during this period. Internal contents of vehicles or homes consisting of more fibrous-like natures are now infested by molds or mildews which have permeated the most inner cores of the material even at the molecular levels.

It has often been said that a picture is worth a thousand words. But the molecular degeneration of homes and contents from this alien intrusion cannot be captured by a mere lens. The more recent returnees of this region are likewise–plus more–in awe of the resulting damage viewed on the networks for so long. It’s like a bad joke when you have to say “Well, you had to be there to appreciate it because no one feels like laughing these days. It’s almost as if this minor passage of time would magically transform what once was into what it will be in just a few long years from this present day. Those of us who have been back now for a time have absorbed this initial shock and have moved on with our pessimistic/optimistic perceptions while anxiously reabsorbing our more recent returnees emotions as if their dismay were something new and unique. To tell them to get over it–like we are in the advanced process of doing–serves little purpose but to ignite already fragile emotions. We are all walking a precarious FEMA tightrope which redirects our anger from the ravages of Mother Nature toward an agency too overburdened to please almost anyone.


The violent counter clockwise twist of hurricane winds almost pales in comparison to the inefficacy of any government agency struggling to formulate a policy to get things right for the affected million or so. The difference between today’s FEMA policy and 100’s of other gossip-like reports of what is actually occurring (or not!) is almost as damaging as the demonic cocktail of late August. An official report I heard about SBA loan applications makes one wonder if anything substantive will ever occur. I don’t remember the actual numbers, but out of thousands of applications for loans, not grants, only 86 have been granted! And these were the first ones filed in early September immediately after the storm!

Let me put the scenario in perspective for you lest you forget the depth of this disaster and falsely perceive this to be a minor inconvenience in the scope of things. An entire city was vacated, drenched in water for almost a month, with roof and buildings en masse destroyed by wind and/or tiny tornadoes. Regular tornadoes generate 200+ mile an hour winds for a relatively brief but destructive amount of time. Katrina battered the Mississippi Gulf Coast the worst and New Orleans a little bit less with approximately 150 mph winds (N.O. may have been under 100) for a minimum of 8 hours. Add to that the weakening of structures from water erosion, the breakage of windows in major buildings from flying debris and the induction of that rain water into middle floor rooms and the final blow in N.O. of a deluge that poured from three or more breeched levees which left the city inundated for about a month and you have the formula for one unbelievable, over exaggerated Hollywood blockbuster. The only difference is, it wasn’t a movie. Geraldo got close with his emotional appeals but could only scratch the human surface of the few that remained with no way to address the million that were able to leave. Yes, the rescue effort was a travesty with lackluster governmental parcipitation, but the resulting loss of a normal life for a million people is just now rearing an ugly head which cannot be adequately dealt with.

Presently, New Orleans needs to return to normal with business. About 70% is considered small business which accounts for a majority of jobs in the metropolitan area. But small businesses are being denied or delayed the rescuing capital it will take to keep even a modicum of existence in place. There are very few dwellings intact in the entire city and the hotels in the CBD are currently inhabited by outsiders contracted to clean and rebuild during the initial stages of recovery.

So here’s the dilemma. Business owners need employees. Employees need a place to stay. There are none. If business cannot return because it has no available employees and employees cannot return because they have no job, where does this cycle end? And if you don’t sell stuff to the guy across the street because he has no money because he has no employees then the guy right next door to him can’t either.

If you look at a mythical economic map of current populated areas, commerce and occupied buildings representing the functioning part of New Orleans as it exists today, you would swear you were looking at a map of the city created by Jean Baptiste La Moyne, Sieur de Bienville, in 1718. That’s pretty much what’s left intact and functional except for a few isolated pockets throughout the city. And those pockets are about as plentiful as unretrieved doubloons on Bourbon Street late on Mardi Gras night. They may be there but you really have to look for them hard. And I guarantee everyone who has returned to this city has met the same fate of searching through the Mardi Gras debris for just one glimmering eyeful of a shiny anodized treasure buried beneath a carpet of sludge and debris. But that could be considered as the half empty glass of the popular saying.

There is also something going on beneath the surface you do not see on national TV. You see, the waters of Katrina indiscriminately washed away this entire city along with most of her problems, infested plagues which always yearned for absolution but never afforded the cure for one reason or another. And however you deem to classify this scourge, it is an unmistakable fact that in the darkest moments of this city’s history many were taken away and now few return. That’s not my judgment but it is a fact. And I have no idea who in those darkest moments of this city’s history chose to willfully destroy what little remained viable in this town. I don’t want to know who did it; I just want them to stay wherever they are now as long as it’s not in this city.

There is a specific reason I say this. The reason is because I now see a present population focused on one task, a rebuilding of what was taken either by nature or by willful degenerates. I can’t point my finger at anyone because I was not here as thousands of others were not here. But those of us who have returned did not do so out of obligation, reward or force but because what we are returning to is the home we have appreciated and loved whatever the foibles for years. Our choice was not to abandon the city but our plans were to return to it in some semblance of appreciation of our heritage and specific charm. And now what we have returned to has been damaged by Mother Nature. And that we must live with. She is uncontrollable. Water scum can be cleaned away but destructive vermin who remained behind to purposely ravage the lives of evacuated people of this city should be forced to drink the cleansing solutions and odor treatments we returnees have had to be breath and ingest on our own return as we attempt to put civilization back into the morass of human degradation which ruled the city for a few days in early September. And if this offends you, either you don’t live here or you were in places you were not welcomed while others were away.


I have seen the results of looting first hand. Stores were stripped of all valuables in attempts to increase one’s personal fortune, not for survival but for greed. That’s almost acceptable when one considers the evidence that most looted establishments suffered more loss from the utter destruction of the non-valuable components like showcases, lighting fixtures, office records, and such. In one store I witnessed the utter destruction of the infrastructure of an entire business with obvious attacks on the elements which had no value to anyone except the satiation of some macabre primeval force to destroy property because it was there. Useless paperwork strewn from one end of the building to the other with glass cabinets smashed and valuable crystal contents left in place but utterly demolished out of spite for some imagined injustice. Lighting fixtures yanked from the ceiling and crushed on the floor without conscience, not a hapless disengagement due to elemental forces but a hate-filled disregard for sovereignty when the dignity of the perpetrator is forever absent from their own psyche.

It wasn’t a temporary craze but a lustful rape of a city, somewhat like the distasteful accosting of an elderly lady once her family has left the city. And if this rape were isolated, it would be more palatable. But point in any direction and your finger will be indicating the proximity of bile-like bitterness upon innocent property. It was rampant in those early days of the desertion and it’s not any less at this present time. Subtract the life-dependent urges amidst a chaotic storm environ and you are left with predatory animals who have no desire to invest in anything other than personal glory and property acquisition, not that they have worked long and hard hours to earn the distinction but more or less a conceit that what is left is abandoned and therefore free to have with a little lock shimmy or window bash. And what they don’t take or want, they destroy. At least vermin may selfishly destroy walls, doors and minor obstructions to gain their prize which mainly consists of food and such, but I hereby offer my apologies to the actual rodents for using their description in the same paragraph as this human sludge I speak about.

In a previous conversation with others, I used the term “purge” to describe the dispersal of all strata of this community we once shared in New Orleans and quickly brought grief upon myself when following up with a comment addition I made later in reference to the much heralded Decadence Festival, one of the first “normal” articles written about in our local newspaper. I explained I may had been premature in using the term “purge” only to highlight how even with such massive destruction, our city desk chose to highlight the extreme rather than focus on the rebuilding and repopulation efforts which would benefit our city most. Both homophobic (the pictured individual in the article was a well-known transvestite) and racist accusations (the city is predominantly Black) were thrown in my direction because the individual jumped to the conclusion that my meaning was that the “purge” had been incomplete by some Theistic judgment meted out by the Almighty and more of the job needed to be done. That is not what I meant.

What we currently have here in New Orleans is empty space. It was not a voluntary vacation of the premises. It was forced by nature and what ever force you chose to believe is responsible. And with the proliferation of terminology like “biblical in proportion” bandied about by many people and officials who were interviewed, I felt it only appropriate to borrow the implications and segue into that spirit because New Orleans was purged by any definition or source. It was purged of rich and poor alike, white and black and any other color and subsequently left with a beige pallor to a normally year-round green city. Sure, many that were left were either poor or employed in the search and rescue operations. And many of the poor were upstanding, decent people while some of the authority figures who stayed behind were poor in character. One police officer I met weeks earlier in my refuge city and who had been dispatched for a week to help with the rescue effort in New Orleans confided in me that the first five New Orleans Police officers he saw in the field were engaged in the looting themselves! As of this week some fifty plus N.O.P.D. officers–including the Chief–himself have resigned, have been fired or have been arrested and more investigations into misconduct continue. In one major incident, numerous officers were tracked down in far reaching cities as far away as the Carolinas with commandeered vehicles belonging to one local dealership who reportedly had over 50 vehicles absconded during the ordeal. Preliminary reports from police spokesmen described the actions as using the vehicles for patrols but in South Carolina, Baton Rouge, Houston and Dallas?

Houston and some other gracious cities in the region who were kind enough to house and feed thousands of fleeing New Orleanians have now begun to release statistics showing rising crime rates. There have been no murders reported since late August in the city of New Orleans. Drug running activities have ceased to exist. With all due respect to the kind cities so selflessly involved in our citizens’ comfort in the past few months, you may keep these purgees because we sure don’t need that kind of person back. And if that offends anyone, send me your home address and I will gladly list your residence as a shelter for these criminals. New Orleans will welcome back well-meaning individuals of any income level or color who wish to rebuild her. But if you mean to destroy, no amount of whining or shouts of inequality will change this city’s resolve. Things have changed.  I hope . . . I pray . . .

 
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Posted by on November 2, 2005 in Random Thoughts

 

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