Keith Richards—72—Dec 18, 1943

keefThe USA as a nation has been obsessed with war as we know it, and the last we supposedly “won” was World War II. We sure didn’t win much (if anything) in the Korean conflict, and damn well didn’t emerge victorious from Vietnam, nor did any of the Middle East struggles go the way our warhawk politicians would have liked (with the possible exception of Desert Storm). But, no, these defeats did not bespeak failure. They demonstrated stunning examples of America’s resolve! Our willingness to fight the good fight! Make the world safe for our shining way of life! Our goodness! Our paper and tin TV shows and movies depicting our history the way it really was! Cowboys and tough-sneering heros with Bibles and guns and don’t you dare disbelieve! Hallelujah! Right? Right?

Well, I don’t mean to burst anyone’s patriotic bubble machines but when it comes to good ol’ WWII, it was actually Russia who won the European conflict. We were just there to help. Of course, we did make big bangs with the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki—there is that—so, Americans should never forget that we started the weapons-of-mass-destruction trend.

Given this proclivity to martial tendencies, it shouldn’t have been a surprise when the US Gov waged its “War on Drugs,” which also failed and left taxpayers shelling out for prisons and systems to deal with poor saps bent on destroying the moral fiber of our great union with marijuana cigarettes. Oh, the depraved, working-class, substance madness. And as more and more states legalize the demon weed, we might also recognize the great success that Prohibition… wasn’t. History, folks. Not a movie.

A wise man (or maybe it was a woman) once speculated that “Louie Louie” would be the song most capable of surviving a nuclear holocaust. Being the melodic basis of 99% of Western music, I can’t think of a better historical metaphor. Parents, politicians and churches once waged war on it and rock & roll. And once again, defeat.

Meanwhile, Keith Richard’s bar chords chunk onward. As do those of Chuck Berry, Neil Young, Buddy Guy and nearly 100 years of music that created and sustain that thing called rock & roll, whatever it may continue to be. If US lawmakers and clergy had simply targeted ol’ Keef during their “Just Say No” rampage of morality, they could have lost the WOD a lot sooner, and saved the country a ton of money and humiliation.

To this, I say Yes.
Happy belated birthday, Mr. Richards!
Shall you remain the symbol of everlasting life.

My Own Personal (unseen) Jihad

ass rideThis is in no way an endorsement of radical Islam or jihadists. Nor am I endorsing any radical fundamentalism, religious or political. For that matter, I suppose I can trace a line backwards from Richard Dawkins to any number of Hitlerian nabobs, pedantic teachers, overbearing parents, know-it-all neighbors and, especially, that cigar-smoker at the bar who won’t keep his trap shut for anything he disagrees with. Yeah, you know the guy. But…

…for once I see some wisdom in the Islamic resistance to depict their deity, Allah, as a drawing, painting or cartoon. It saves them the embarrassment of being wrong. Of course, they think they’re right. Allah is the kingpin, the don of those multitudinous virgins that are promised to mere mortals. He must know something us living, stupid infidels don’t. Which brings up the possibility that maybe he doesn’t want us to know, or see, thereby saving us the abject disappointment of eternal life.

To quote from a song of occidental legend: “It ain’t necessarily so.”

Western traditions are just as flawed as anything Eastern philosophies have ever dreamed up. Christianity encourages the depiction of their deity, Jesus, in all visual art—paintings, cartoons, Hallmark cards, plastic statues, Hollywood blockbusters with endless synchronization rights. And if you don’t see their god—either the father, the son, the holy whatever or all-of-the-above—in the prescribed way, well, you must be a blasphemer. The difference is: while Islam saves us the disappointment of being wrong about concepts of monotheistic mascots, Christianity aggressively forces that deception upon us with the classic image of a Jesus that likely bore no resemblance to what he actually looked like. If he existed at all. Historically, it’s the finest example of Photoshop abstractionism and, again, it ain’t necessarily so.

I grew up in an era when saddle oxfords and fancy salt & pepper sets were popular. Two-tone paint jobs were common on automobiles and no one was afraid to chop em and channel em and drop em and spray em any and all colors of the metallic, kandy apple rainbow. They was what they was and if they wasn’t, the Rat Fink gods of customization didn’t care who was looking at what they did, nor did they care what the holy and the heinous thought about it. It was done, and it was good.

Duke Ellington summed it up by saying: “No boxes.”

…we have Islam insisting that no one, neither believer or non-, create any graven images of a deity that likely doesn’t exist—at least not the way they say he doesn’t exist, or the way he doesn’t want anyone to know he doesn’t exist. I imagine this denial acquits us all of artistically conjecturing how he doesn’t appear to anyone or no one. Yes, saved from being wrong whether we want to be or not.

…we have Christianity decking all halls with Jesus and expecting all knees to bend in the symbolic presence of a trinity that’s likely just as fanciful a manifestation of a thing called faith. And just as doubtful as Wall Street investment profiles. It’s an insistence on belief in a deity that has the same likelihood of existence, but to whom our bowels must quake in reverence when the image is forced upon us—like the Edsel. It was supposed to be a Ford, or a Mercury, but no one bought it. At least the Edsel didn’t damn anyone to eternal ownership or payment plans.

The conclusion? There is none, and I won’t comment on any other religions during this hallowed “holiday season” because I’m tired of the whole furshluggin’ thing and I wanna get some sleep. God, Allah, Elvis… they’re all the monsters over our beds* vying for attention and ready to kill you if you do, deliver you to everlasting death if you don’t, or play forever in a digital lock-groove of drive-time rotation.

But to be fair, please, oh please, don’t get me weighing in on Atheism.
I’ll get mad.
Because they’re mad.
About nothing.
Or not.

*see Nein. A Manifesto by Eric Jarosinski

Abrasion in the Sun? (what fun!)

I know I must not think bad thoughts but, a coupla years back a certain (unnamed) literary journal offered “instant submission feedback” for a $5.00 fee. They were trying to pump up their finances to stay afloat. I hadn’t been getting ANY feedback from ANY submissions from ANYONE so I figured what the hell? It’s only 5 bucks. So…fly

…I submitted a story.
I sent em the $.
I got feedback within 48 hours—smug, self-important, dismissive, and reeking of symptoms that the editor had mostly skimmed it rather than read it. Sure. Why not? It was his game.

Well, either my submission broke them or they were gonna go under anyway. Today I got an unexpected email that confirmed their “fundraising” didn’t do them any good. I suppose my $5 bought someone a fancy beer, so here’s to independent publishing! And beware of journals offering *instant* anything. It’s much nicer to wait and wait and wait just to receive no word, no feedback at all. And not be woken by dreams or nightmares deferred. <hitting snooze alarm and smiling back to sleep>

A Coloured Purple Favor

There is guilt, there is pleasure. I fear neither. If forced to choose between them, I prefer pleasure as it is much more versatile in today’s world, and I imagine the same held true in the classical world of English literature. The only difference historically is that the traditionalists were quick to dismiss any and all references to adult carnal enjoyment as merely “base” or, in the vernacular of Monty Python, “tinny, woody sausage.” The classicists knew which side of the plate their crumpets were buttered on, and in which unlocked bedrooms their favorite loyal servants slept. And, failure to rise to the occasion or not, there was always the penny dreadful guilt of it all.

moz02But none of this was meant to keep anyone from living life to the fullest. In the time-honored tradition of merry olde Manchester, our boy Morrissey (yes, THAT Morrissey) is an author neither afraid of guilt nor lack of editing, nor of typing away whilst under the influence of a six-pack of Smith-Corona Light. Pleasure? Why not? Purple prose doesn’t get much purpler than this!

“At this, Eliza and Ezra rolled together into the one giggling snowball of full-figured copulation, screaming and shouting as they playfully bit and pulled at each other in a dangerous and clamorous rollercoaster coil of sexually violent rotation with Eliza’s breasts barrel-rolled across Ezra’s howling mouth and the pained frenzy of his bulbous salutation extenuating his excitement as it whacked and smacked its way into every muscle of Eliza’s body except for the otherwise central zone.”

Whacked and smacked. Yes. Words to tickle Tesco Vee’s testicles with the black feather of the bird that almost crowed “No, Nay, Nevermore…” I’m sure young Moz’s mum adverbially washed his mouth with soap one day and, no doubt, he liked the taste. But there’s so much and so many more as the 2015 Literary Review Bad Sex in Fiction Awards will attest. Enjoy.moz03

The Second Coming of Chuck Taylor

It was 20 years ago when Chuck Taylors were last comfortable on my feet. About six months ago I was lamenting this and wishing Converse would consider how many old soles with spirited souls would love to sink back into esos zapatos maravillosos because, really, they were the coolest modern footwear ever. They offered no real support but our feet were young, they were strong,chuckt01 and it was the shoe that proved the wearer cared enough to not care about what was supposed to be cared about. For the most part, Chucks were cheap and, despite their fashionably chic aura, they were the epitome of utilitarian fashion itself. Far more so than anything the Birkenstock Nation ever came up with. No better time to lace them up than at that point in life when adulthood has lost its power to sway sanity, and left mature toes wanting to sweat and stink in a “fuck this high-priced spread and all its debts!” canvas-rubber rebellion.


Lo and behold, this past July gave us the Chuck Taylor II, an updated version of the once “official shoe of the NBA” complete with modern cushioning and support. Whether or not the company had gleaned my thoughts out of the ether, it’s only a matter of days or weeks until I try out a pair, hope for the best and pray they’ll feel good enough to keep me up all night playing hours and hours of Ramones and air-Johnny Thunders. Fingers and toes crossed.

Shoes are the foundation under society, its industrial hardening of commerce, expectations, and systems of mobility. No matter how much emphasis is placed on style, couture, flash or sensibility, they are as fundamental as it gets for determining how culture, both politically and philosophically, is arrayed. At one time, all roads of consequence may have led to Rome; at a much later time, they mostly led to Sears. Nowadays, probably to Walmart or American Apparel. In either case, the concept of freedom of choice—the cornerstone of capitalism—has been grossly undervalued or suspiciously overpriced. Converse (now owned by Nike) may no longer be made in the USA but this is just another inconvenient truth that we, the people, have to live with. Because… as fall golden arches, so fall golden arches that fall.

No shoes, no shirt? You gotta have them if you want service or industry. As politicians in expensive designer suits piss and moan about “making America great again,” you have to wonder about their vision. Ronald Reagan, whose father was a shoe salesman, enabled US corporations to cut costs by outsourcing, which allowed a fine morning of supply-side hope to become a contentious evening of retail-side angst. However America’s re-greatness is sought, its people can rest assured it’ll be cheaper to buy it from China. We owe them money anyway. Debt? Presidential nabobs don’t care how many shoes their ex-wives owned. Why should we? Pre-nuptial contracts are bliss. Once upon a time I wanted my MTV. Today I want my Chuck Taylor IIs. It’s not ignorance, it’s necessity sans the mother or invention. How do I reconcile such choices? Simple. I just do it. Celebrities don’t apologize about wearing Armani. Devils wear Prada. Angels wear Weitzman. Me? Sneakers and work boots.

About a year ago I had a heated conversation with a friend on the merits of modern footwear, especially women’s shoe design and the political/social ramifications of same. She’s never been a person to mask her feelings. About anything. She’s a dedicated, barefoot Southern California surfer living in a hell of hipster-infused economic oppression. “Any shoe with a heel taller than half an inch is totally, utterly, unequivocally evil!” she screamed. A gun owner, she can’t afford bullets. There are times when I want to marry her, if only for the sheer mouse-that-roared aspect of it. She was born to rant and I’m sure that love has been based on much shakier grounds than that. In the interests of love, I’ve never had the heart to throw this video (please pardon the ads) at her. I’m sure she’s already seen it and flamed out over it. Nike was the Greek goddess of victory, and I don’t think I could bear having a shortboard hurled at me. It hurts.

The fact is:
High-heeled shoes had their origin amongst upper crust Europeans back in the days when there were no sewer systems and streets were full of garbage and shit. In an effort to rise above it all, they attached blocks to the soles of their feet. Admittedly, that may have been one of the more sensible ideas those pompous high-nosers had, til you factor that they wanted the lower classes to live in filth—why support municipal efforts to clean up “their” pitiful environment? Of course, when conditions did improve, the men of the courts and all their landed gentry buddies decided, “Hey, dude, that was cool when we wore those shoes that let us look down on everyone. Let’s do that again! Louie said he’d buy the beer; we’ll take my coach!”

The style caught on. You weren’t a man of the world unless you had sculptured, elevated heels on your fancy court shoes. It was kinda punk rock at that point (takes a prince to be a Prince), then the local cobblers got into the act and next thing ya know… Nike comes out with the Air Louies (which the king loved). There were so many different models too: Louie IIIs (the first successfully marketed Louie after the ill-fated Louie Is & IIs), the deluxe Louie IVs, the redesigned Louie Vs all the way up to the wildly popular Louie XIVs and beyond. Reebok and Adidas managed to crack the market too but nothing could touch the Air Louies.

Then the feminists of the day ruined everything.

Da women of da court got tired of da men having all da fun and getting all the attention with their “Let’s see who can wear the highest heels, get all drunk and gaga and stand up the longest before we get hungry!” games. So, one of the gals (think her name was Marie? Or Antonia?) talked a poor cobbler (think his name too was Lou?) into an idea. At the next big ball—whilst all da guys was struttin’ aroun’ wid their ales and 5th symphonies and showin’ off their latest “most excellent” air-Mozart moves—a pack of powdered princesses popped into the middle of the prancin’ pit and lifted their big ol’ skirts and showed off their new high heels. The music stopped. There weren’t no sound. An ale mug hit the floor breaking the silence and one of the guys said, “oh.” Then Marie or Antonia giggled, “Anything you can do we can do better?” The men screamed, “Girls! Run away!” and immediately fell on their faces, pulled off their shoes in panic, and scrambled. Again, “Run away!” This time they got outta there. The music resumed and the girls took over the prancin’ pit, a’toe tappin’ and a’heel hunkin’ and a’gigglin’ away knowing they had struck a blow for the Sister’s Satin & Silk Struggle and the Anti-Defamation Damsels. EQUALITY! The men never wore their Air Louies again and everyone (except for Joan d’Arc’s sister Jeanette) lived happily ever after.

The end? Never. Mr. Peabody (and his boy Sherman) and his Way-Back Machine may prove me right or wrong but, when considering the image of the shoe as a symbol of power, it’s good to remember the Stonewall Riots of 1969. It was there that the Gay Liberation movement established itself with the most effective blow yet against THE MAN. In full view, drag queens chasing policemen “running away!” down the streets of NYC—stilettos raised and crashing down as weapons. They were mad as hell and they weren’t gonna take that shit anymore. And today, once again the ubiquitous high-heeled pump may be toppling society’s male hegemony. Take note, O, Great Fundamentalist, Anti-Feminist Doctrines, it’s the shoe to reckon with. The unseen 9/11 built from the ground up, not from the top down. It’s quite a platform and absolutely no one in the free world knows how much money is invested in that industry, or to what extent our overall economy is standing on that beautifully pained foot.

I’ll let everyone know how the Chuck Taylor IIs work out.chuckt02

Quotation Thief Revealed…

As reported back in July, someone had quoted me in Pitchfork Magazine and I didn’t know who’d dunnit. Well, now I can report to the world that SPOT did it. The nervy knave! But I should have figured since he’s one of my beta readers. PM had done a cover feature on his photography book “Sounds of Two Eyes Opening” in Pitchfork Review #6. According to him, the (unnamed) writer of the article lost the original interview the day before deadline and sent him a quick list of questions which he quickly answered and inserted a bit of an unpublished WIP and “forgot” to tell me. Uh huh. But it’s OK since the quote credited me and there was no misrepresentation. Uh huh. Thanks. I think.

“Dreams are free, motherfucker!”

watt02So says Mike Watt. It’s only easy for me to say when no one is throwing things at me or biting me in the leg or asking me to leave. I’m just trying not to make litty critty cranky neiny eeny meeny miney academi-meme-y types roll their eyes and laugh at me. I’m not on this planet to withstand such derision. I prefer my derision with nuts and raisins. No cream.

Figuring out this websitey, bloggy thing is daunting (I’m an old-schooler, OK?). Today was a crappy day for it but, damn, so far I think I did something right.