Wednesday, April 7, 2010

This is it!

Not quite 5 months ago I had a daunting dream of Kali and her minions taking me apart and putting me back together. I wrote about it here.

I've been living with that dream and with that image ever since... Really... I've been living with Kali since I first met her in Calcutta as she was climbing through my bedroom window on a dark night of the soul in 1985.

It all comes down to one thing... As Joseph Campbell once put it rather succinctly, "There must be Destuction before there is Creation."

I've been destroying some or all of my life for the better part of the last 20 years.

The most pressing fact for me, with regard to the economic catastrophe that we are presently living in, is an awakening to the reality that often I have been consistently engaged in activities and enterprises that I not only don't find fulfilling, they also don't support me in the way I am hoping and expecting them to. Too often they have been activities and circumstances that have stolen the joy from my life, my time with my children and family, and any sense of heart I struggle to maintain despite the ugly, sad, frustrating mess that so often passes for every day life.

What I know now is that it absolutely must stop!

I keep trying to figure out how to save my present circumstances without undergoing the destruction that is of necessity that precursor of rebuilding.

Yesterday I applied for a job here in Petaluma that could possibly be the "job I was created for." I have another job that I've been waiting to hear about, a job that harkens back to my spiritual and political roots; both are the kind of thing that I would LOVE doing, but who knows whether those who make such decisions will see things in that way.

What Kali says is that it all must go into the fire. If I've learned anything in my life as a temporal lobe epileptic religious freak with desperate entrepeneurial socialistic tendencies, it's that Easter Sunday can't come until you suffer through Good Friday.

The last five years have been a very excellent example of a LONG Good Friday; a friday that I have exposed and expressed on these posts (along with no small amount of good times as well, I really must add).

In any case... it feels like it's time to move on. Move on to what is not as clear as I would like it to be at the moment, but moving on into the dark will have to be my present mode.

So this is the last post at Quicksilver Amusements... As for what I said yesterday, I can't decide if I'll keep up on the other blogs or not. The simple fact is that what comes up on the other side of the hill is anybody's guess. All I really know is that I will never find true baptism and rebirth if I don't stop treading water.

Time to kill things off.

Nothing to see here... please move along.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Looking For The Next Best Thing

I began blogging 4 years and eight months ago on July 29, 2005 just before I made the strange and fateful decision to move to New Orleans after nearly 30 years in the Bay Area, and three weeks before Katrina.

With my engagement with Katrina (and a few other storms) that blog, which was intended as a sort of exploration of my new life, became a two year long exploration of what it was like to live in the aftermath of catastrophe (physical, emotional, and relational) in the new world order of George Dubya Bush's Amerikkka. I also stated a couple of other sort of specialty blogs for the purpose of branching out with the things I had to say: Butting Heads for long form, usually contentious, rants. George Washington's Cousin for political and religious pontification.

After two years of writing at SpeakLo I closed out that blog and began Quicksilver Amusements (by the way... some of those first pieces at QA are really good, and you should go read them, or even read them again.

It's now been two and a half years since I started this blog and lately (as most of you have noticed and noted) I seem to have lost momentum. With SpeakLo I had a drive that developed of its own accord and gave me something to relate to. In the early days of QA, I had new life and love to write about and I was experiencing things with whole new vibrant eyes; a way of seeing that I had not experienced for quite some time. Now, I simply find it difficult to grab hold of something in the general sphere of things to snag my hand on and wrestle with til dawn. It seems that when I do find those things, I have reason to put them in other places, instead of putting them here. I've even re-started SpeakLo with some pieces on sound and music that interest me and that seem to be appropriately in residence at that location instead of here.

So I've decided to start again... again.

For the next few months I'll be winding down this blog and winding up on some other formats, with the intention of making a full out relaunch in some completely new format on the fifth anniversary of my original blog. I haven't exactly figured out how I'm going to do it, or what I'm going to focus on, but I expect it to have a certain level of continuity that these other blogs have not had for quite some time.

In particular, I'm going to be writing on "spiritual matters" at the Bleeding Daylight, political thoughts and pontfications at Washington's Cousin and business, aesthetic, and practical concerns back at the renewed SpeakLo. Between now and summertime, I hope to find a voice and a process that can bring a bit more cohesion to these ramblings, but considering the fact that I have spent the better part of 55 years trying to accomplish something along those lines would indicate that I may be reaching for something that is truly beyond my grasp... We'll see.

I'll keep you posted here, on facebook and on Twitter and I hope you'll either contact me there, or leave comments here (and at the other blogs) to perhaps help guide my direction as I struggle to find the voice that speaks what I really want to communicate from my soul.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Meet Me In The Land Of Hope and Dreams

It's been almost a month since I promised to write more about my feelings regarding the Super Bowl win by the New Orleans Saints, as well as other things that might come to the forefront of my mind but for some reason this has not been a good time for me in the writing department.

That being said... Let's start with the topic du jour and go from there.

First of all... I do not consider myself a sports fan, though perhaps what I should really say is that I have never BEFORE considered myself a sports fan, or perhaps to get even more accurate, that BEFORE 2007 I never considerred myself a sports fan, but that's nopt really true either, because? I have had my moments:

1) When my daughter was playing soccer for Lincoln High School in San Francisco.

2) During the 1998 World Cup matches that I watched with my limey surfer friend at San Francisco's wonderful (and now defunct) Twenty Tank Brewpub on 11th Street South of Market.

3) One or two times during the 49ers 1980s dynasty era when it was impossible to live in San Francisco and NOT be a fan. If for no other reason than to take my daughter down to Market Street for the post-Super Bowl victory parade.

4) When I was a kid in Florida and the then Milwaukee Braves came to West Palm Beach for spring training and my Baptist church had a "father and son dinner" with the team (I even had a baseball signed by a dozen members of that team, including Hank Aaron but it has somehow vanished from my life).

5) A little over two years ago when I fell in love with a baseball fan and the baseball team she loves, in the very same amazing moment.

6) When I first moved to New Orleans before Katrina and discovered in the Saints, a different kind of team and a different kind fan; a centralized Cathedral to Sport in the Superdome where people who don't even have tickets to the game gather around on the city streets surrounding the giant flying saucer of a building and tailgate and celebrate like people only do in The Big Easy. A team that people of all social classes and undivided by race (for a change) rooted for despite a long history of failure... A history so long that there are ubiquitous jokes and legends about all the things people will do when the Saints finally win the Super Bowl (and back last month many of those legends were played out). My initial attraction to the Saints (and to american football in general ) took me by surprise as I was captured by the spirit of Da Saints the same way I was captured by the bayou air that sticks to your skin the instant you set foot in The Crescent.

What I have come to learn, through all of these experiences (though especially #5 and #6) is that sports - perhaps more than anything else (with the possible exception of music) - has an almost magical quality that can bring people together, give them a way to rise above other differences (political, cultural, racial), find a common joy and live, if only for a few moments, as if the differences that stand between them are unimportant, and even unnecessary.

This experience was reinforced AFTER The Thing (as NOLA columnist Chris Rose always refers to Katrina) when the rebirth of the football team (and their famously devastated stadium) began to come back, first in fits and starts and then roaring like The City of New Orleans itself.

New Orleans has long been known as a place (like California in the West, or even the U.S.A. - both the country and the concept - itself) where people could imagine, build, expand and create whatever their hearts and minds believed in. It's this image that captured my own imagination when I decided in 2005 to pull up nearly 30 years of stakes in California and move to The Land of Dreams. The effects of Katrina (and the abysmal federal failure, first of the infrastructure, and then of support and follow-through, both of which are better detailed elsewhere) have gone a long way to discourage that image (for myself as well as others), but there is an unrelenting comeback spirit that resides in the soul of New Orleanians; a spirit which, like the food and the music and the people in general, is magical and compelling.

It is that spirit that was so remarkably in evidence as the Saints steadily advanced their game through the season, into the playoffs, and ultimately to the Super Bowl. In the midst of it all, and even on the day of the game, there were (and are) plenty of naysayers, plenty of folks who just don't get it... Don't get any of it. People who still echo Dennis Hastert's idiotic remark about not rebuilding New Orleans. I had to listen to one of those boneheads spout off during the Super Bowl, but unlike time's past, I held myself in check. I've finally come to accept that those folks are going to be around and I will have to leave them to their benighted and unfortunate POV. Their perspective no longer matters to me, because there are a lot more people cheering for the city's comeback, just like they cheered for the Saints. There are far more people seeking ways to make that comeback happen than there are people who wander around with their heads permanently inserted into unfortunate orifices.

New Orleans has proven that it's coming back.

The Saints - with their crazy, funky game plan and unconventional style - showed how it's being done.

To top it all off, on the day before the big victory, in an unprecedented election, 66% of New Orleans voters elected Mitch Landrieu (the candidate I campaigned for in the election immediately after Katrina) mayor, ushering in a whole new era of hopeful cooperation in a post-storm era. Mitch's campaign slogan for this election was one team, one fight, one voice, one city and it is that spirit of unity and triumph that keeps me hoping and cheering for this city that I came to love as my own.

There are still HUGE problems. There is still MUCH lack. It's possible to be in New Orleans and completely miss the fact that the city was almost completely destroyed. It's also possible to be in New Orleans and have no clue that anything has come back... But it has, and it is. With the Saints pointing the way, and its musical/celebrational culture kicking out the jams, The City of New Orleans is rumbling down the track again... into a new Land of HOPE... and Dreams.

I'm going out and buying myself a ticket for the ride! Wanna come along?

Who Dat!?!?

Monday, February 8, 2010

Friday, January 29, 2010

Happy New Year!

Okay... I'm a little late with that, but it's taken me the better part of the month back to get my brain around the rest and relaxation I experienced from yet another one of KLL's suggestions that we get the hell outta Dodge for a while.

Zebras - or more specifically, a burro (or burra) made to look like a zebra - figured prominently in the first day of a trip we took to Baja as a way to put the year behind and hopefully set the year off right, by planting our feet on the beach. We stopped in Tijuana for lunch on the next to the last day of the year and felt compelled to take the obligatory Tijuana tourist shot. My favorite part of this experience occurred just after we had our picture taken and we were waiting to get the print. A guy came up to the zebra proprietor and asked "¿Burro o burra?" The proprieter snapped back instantly, "¡Zebra!" It was like one of those old sayings from my childhood... "Go away kid... ya bother me!"

I found my way... more or less... through the chaos of downtown Tijuana and out onto a beautiful beachfront highway that runs the half hour ride from Tijuana to Rosarito Beach and beyond, and our time over the last day and a half of 2009 was taken up with walks on the beach, newly discovered friendships, good beer and great tequila, the BEST fish tacos on earth and a family style New Year's celebration that was the perfect way to roll into 2010. This was followed, on the first morning of the new year, by a horseback ride on the beach. Though "riding" would be stretching the point as we had no idea what we were doing and the horses themselves were more aptly described as plodding... but it was still 20 degrees warmer than the Bay Area, the sun was shining and we were surveying the beautiful Pacific from the backs of horses. Do I really need to say more?

Saturday brought a series of great finds in the form of a road trip to Baja wine country. Tres Valles (where we met our new friends on the left) was a delightful place with rustic art fabrications of giant insects, a beautifully designed winery and tasting room, and the winemaker/owner and his son pouring some fabulous wines (Grenache, Petite Sirah, and Merlot/Cab specifically), and we almost missed it. Situated at the end of a rocky dead end that makes the roads of New Orleans and Petaluma seem positively smooth by comparison, the winery was only open for tasting beginning that very day. We spent a good hour there talking about wine making in Mexico, and wine importing to the U.S. and trading a few jokes here and there with the owner's amusing and engaging kid.

Admittedly, this is not the kind of trip to Baja most people make, but it suited us just fine. When we ended the day at the tiny Tres Mujeres winery (so named because it is owned and operated by three women winemakers... something I haven't even seen in California), tasting in a tiny little rock covered tasting room/storage area filled with ceramics and wine, it simply added to the feeling of comfort and hominess that had characterized the entire trip.

Concluding the day with venison and lobster in a cozy restaurant surrounded by cactus and mesquite and beautiful fireplaces, entertained by a roving collection of musicians and partying with some of our newfound Rosarito friends at their wine shop and art gallery afterward was the perfect ending of a perfect time. Of course, coming home was the typical day of confusion. From an abysmal attempt to locate a "fast track" across the border in Tijuana, to nearly losing half our rare and wonderful wine purchases due to our complete lack of attention to TSA regulative details (we were RELAXED... what else can I say?), Sunday was an experiment in maintaining South of the Border equilibrium upon reentry into the land of hustle and bustle. But we pulled it off with only a small stumble here and there; a tribute to how restful our year end holiday had really been.

Until we get back there, which I truly hope will be soon, I plan on exploring the possibilities that the trip opened up to me. This area of Baja is definitely a place where I want to spend more time: learning the area, meeting the people, and expanding my extremely limited ability to communicate en espanol... and next time... actually getting into the surf!

Now... it's on to finding my way through this new year, or at least the first months. I'm still not quit up to major forward planning, resolutions, goal setting, etc. but I'm workin' on it.

Thanks to everyone one who has supported, helped, chastised, and laughed with me this last year. Old friends - and no small number of new friends - are what I most appreciate about what was otherwise a rather difficult year (to say the least) in 2009. Despite all the difficulties we have all experienced, it's been a good time and I'm grateful for your presence. Here's to better days ahead.