You might not have noticed consciously, but it already happened; and even though you might not be cosciously aware of it, you know it on a different level. Do you want proof? consider this:
Remember $4/gallon gas? of course you do. It was the kind of horror that makes red-blooded Americans (As the inhabitants of the United States of America like to call themselves) question the meaning of life. It meant that we couldn't joy-ride any more. It took all the flavor out of parking and necking (or petting, if you were that advanced) even though those pursuits went out the window with the advent of bucket seats anyway.
It spelled the death of the Hummer. Suddenly, vehicles designed for the battlefield weren't so fashionable any more, except for certain people in Montecito; but we all know that Montecito is the graveyard of the elephants anyway. What recession? In Montecito, it doesn't exist out on the road. Of course, who knows what happens behind the electric gates and impenetrable hedges? And I have to say that one does see quite a few Priuses in Montecito, so it's not ENTIRELY devoid of consciousness.
Basically, the jump in gasoline prices sent shockwaves through the USA that affected everybody. No matter that the price of gas descended again; everybody knows that it could jump up anytime, ruled by the fickle winds of 'market forces'. The knowledge that events and people beyond our control could raise the prices to four, or even more, dollars per gallon has affected our whole way of life. We (Or some of us, anyway) actually THINK before we jump into the car; we wonder whether we really NEED to make a special trip to town for a hot pretzel; should we consolidate errands? does anybody else in the family need something that we can get while we're out?
I think that it's an excellent omen for Earth day. And besides, rest assured that as soon as the oil barons feel that they can raise prices, they will. Right now, certain people are saying something to the effect that "We can't raise them too fast, we've got to wait until this 'recession' is on the way to recovery, and then we'll raise them again!"
I hate to tell them, but the damage has been done. The Hummer factory is closed, which is the actual proof that the revolution happened; the Hummer was a stupid car for deluded people who bought the illusion that they needed a Hummer to A- Keep them safe in a crash B- make them feel like G.I. Joe C- some other 'statement' that the car manufacturers and oil sellers persuaded people to make.
So.... what makes you think that I hated Hummers from the beginning? and that I'm persuaded that the people who can't get rid of them will eventually just walk away from them the same way that some people are walking away from their mortgages on houses that are now worth less than the payments? And that four-wheel-drive cars are great... on a ranch in Wyoming, but not really necessary for a trip to Von's?
The funny thing is that all the stuff is still there. Houses, trees, food, things, they're still there. The only thing that changed is some abstract thing called "Value" that somebody decided things were worth.
And something very important really has changed; more people are planting gardens, more people are recycling, more people are car-pooling. There's signs of hope, of an emerging consciousness, of a real revolution. People are starting to realize that the things that they took for granted are actually gifts from the Creator that can disappear the next day, and that cheap consumer goods are not as much fun as getting together with one's family, friends, and society and doing things that don't necessarily require the burning of gasoline.
This weekend I went to a place where EVERYONE was armed. Not just armed; although everyone was carrying deadly weapons, some people were literally festooned with them. And we’re talking DEADLY weapons; not meant for hunting, but meant for KILLING. Killing people.
I myself was armed, of course; although I didn’t go there for the weapon side of it, I wouldn’t dream of showing up at this event unarmed. I wouldn’t feel completely dressed, you know?
Strangely enough, not a single person was hurt by these deadly weapons. Not a scratch. And I doubt that anyone was hurt going to or coming from this event. Nor do I believe that many people will be hurt by these deadly weapons.
And besides, I LIKE weapons. There, I’ve said it. You ain’t going to get my fifteenth-century Muramasa longsword without a stiff argument.
Follow me after the fold, as I attempt to explain why I felt safe in the middle of an armed society.
I went to a renaissance fair. If you haven’t been to one, you have missed a chance to see a lot of people re-enacting life a few centuries ago. Ancient styles of clothing, food, entertainment, in a modern setting. It’s a lot of fun. I go to hang out with a bunch of friends who play music, mostly Middle-Eastern and Indian, and dance what we in the USA call ‘belly dance’’.
Naturally I wore a dagger; This is an antique Keris from Java that I found ‘sleeping’ in a pawn shop, and I carry it because it’s associated with performing arts, being that it bears decoration that relates to the wayang, the puppet theatre of Java. Not that it’s exclusively decorative; the fourteen-inch blade, though not in the same league as an armor-piercing Afghani pesh-kabz, will ‘do the trick’ just fine. A Pesh-kabz, by the way, is one of the reasons that you don’t go to war in Afghanistan, since many Afghanis carry this dagger, that unlike the keris of Java is meant for one purpose only; to stab a person as deeply as possible, and kill them efficiently.
Yes, I like weapons, and I felt perfectly safe in the middle of a gang of freaks carrying not only swords, but firearms as well. There were plenty of flintlock pistols, and the report of the pirate’s cannon at odd times during the day reminded us that gunpowder also existed during Elizabethan times.
Now you must know that during Elizabethan times in England the level of violence made our modern society look tame. The amount of murder was incredible, basically like a modern war zone. People were killed for the most petty reassons, and the weapon of choice? Wait for it... the cudgel.
Sometimes known as “The Piece Of Wood”, the cudgel was the deadliest weapon in those times, and still very effective. A lot of the deaths during the recent massacre in Rwanda were from cudgels. The cudgel is a good weapon because it never mis-fires, it’s cheap, and easily available. as for the directions for use, they’re simplicity incarnate; take the cudgel, hit the enemy on the head hard, repeat as needed.
So why did I feel safe; the reason is simple; the people that I was hanging out with were CONSCIOUS.
See, it’s CONSCIOUSNESS that is lacking in the people who kill other people with guns. And it’s CONSCIOUSNESS that keeps responsible gun owners from killing other people. Not that that always helps; thousands of people die each year from gun accidents, or from a person shooting another person in their family BY MISTAKE!
So taking guns away isn’t going to do a lot of good, although it might lower the severity of some of these ridiculous attacks, like the one recently in Binghamton NY where the gunman killed over ten people in about as many seconds.
Some gun owners repeat the illusion that they have guns to protect them from the government; for these people I only have one word; Waco. There, the Koreshians were very well armed, and they even had machine guns. Little good it did them; the government just brought in tanks. Oh, yeah, you’re going to resist people who can bring an F-22 fighter to the party with your collection of assault weapons? are you totally insane? the most lightly armed humvee, equipped with the smallest light machine gun and the smallest grenade launcher will level your house. Forget about even a light tank, much less a monstrous M-1 Abrams, which will level your pathetic redoubt without firing a shot, just by rolling over it.
So I stick to my dagger, which by the way I DON’T carry in daily life, and of course I associate with people who are at least slightly conscious, so that even in an armed society I am safe. Hopefully. Unless I happen to go to MacDonalds at the wrong time. And I pray for, and work for, and hope for, a more conscious society, one that can be as peaceful as the Renaissance Fair, where everybody is armed and nobody gets hurt, unless of course I trip and fall on my musical instrument and hurt myself.
CONSCIOUSNESS! that’s the key to living with weapons and lowering the chances you’ll get shot. And it makes for a better society.
Practiced in the chapel this aft, and the sound in there is great. The chapel is the only thing on level 15, and it’s too bad that it doesn’t have a view. It is even higher than the O & T. Later saw a show called “In the air”, excellent show. I was chosen to save seats for 6 people, and that’s a guaranteed way to make enemies. Amazing show, dancing, singing, but mainly aerial stuff of various sorts, really buff performers! Extremely imaginative, great music, very enjoyable. Later saw the same comedian of the other nite, I have to find out his name, one of the best I have ever had the pleasure to witness. If any art can be called ‘healing’ and ‘sacred’ that was it.
Last nite I woke up an 3 AM and after a while knowing that I would not sleep again I got up to wander the boat. Went to the ‘Living Room’ to check email, nothing new. Then I wandered around and noticed that there was almost no place that did not have muzak. Up at the O&T it’s the coolest, most generic kind of jazz; music without any emotion except boredom, and unfortunately some officious soul had locked down the control console, which the previous evening had been open, enabling me to shut down the incessant bebop, or whatever it’s called. It’s the kind of crap where a sax or trumpet blows endless meaningless runs that have no mood, no emotion, and could fit into any meaningless tune of that type. Really REPULSIVE shit that has as its purpose to be backround music for drunks and smack freaks. Down by the outdoor pool it’s chunkin’ rap ‘n roll, songs on the order of “It’s hard to be a pimp (but harder to be a dick (cheney)” or the prepubescent girl voice singing something on the order of “C’mon Barbie let’s go party”; everywhere else seems to have its own version of incessant muzak plague, the sound pursuing one no matter where you go. I really wanted to find the nerve center of it all and hack it. And what’s wrong with a little Debussy at three in the morning? Goes a lot better with the ocean than insipid generic muzak. Finally, at 3:45, after sitting in the O&T looking down at the kiddie pool area with amazing ripples flowing back and forth and interacting in the purple light, a truly amazing and psychedelic sight, I wandered down to the ‘Royal Promenade’, where I discovered some people sitting and having a meeting. Turns out that they were DJ’s, and I talked with them about it all. I promised them some CD’s and went to have my second installment of sleep.
Woke up much too early, and got some bkfst, then meeting with everybody to go ashore in Georgetown, which is in the Cayman Islands, a little totally flat place without the smallest hill where rich peoplle like Cheney hide their money. We get on a bus, get on a small boat and go out to the ‘sand bar’ which is where about a thousand people get in three feet of water and meet stingrays. The water clear and pleasant, the stingrays swimming around trying to eat the squid that the boat people had thoughtfully provided. Nicole said that they felt like giant swimming mushrooms. The sea felt wonderful. One lady that did the trip with us had three kids, one of which, the youngest, is a one and a half year old girl who was really funny, all the stereotypes of little sister. Soooo cute! Came back with Steve and Geno, a strange feeling to be talking only to men, none of the women around. Got back to the ship and had a shower, washed the salt off, then went and had lunch. Most of the food O.K., but an outstanding chocolate layer cake.
I’m amazed at how people that let their anger out freely can intimidate others and shut them down; it’s just how comfortable one can get with escalating the level of anger. There’s a level that I don’t like to go to, or maybe I don’t have the balls to go there, and the stupid part is that it’s more illusion! And I don’t know if it’s fear, childhood conditioning, or what. I suspect that having siblings to fight with when you are growing up enables you to do it more freely. There’s a level of inhibition that makes me fold at a certain point, or maybe it’s just a reluctance to escalate. Whatever it is, I’m clearly at a disadvantage when it comes to escalating to a screaming match. It would be an interesting as an experiment to see how far I could go; I wonder if I would automatically stop at a certain point, and I wonder if some people get their way because their ‘escalation level’ or ‘Anger inhibition quotient’ or whatever you want to call it is just set higher. I wonder what that is; I’m going to have to find out about it, because I just realized that it’s an arbitrary thing, another game that organisms play, the “False Front” that we generate. There’s surely a PHD thesis there, or probably it’s already been written, “Ability of certain personality types to put up a better false front of Intimidation” or something along those lines.
I MISSED BURNING MAN FOR THIS?
So last nite I blew 100$ gambling. I sat at a table and watched One Hundred Bucks disappear down the idiot hole. I had forgotten that gambling is like politics; nobody wins except the house. The odds are against you, and there you are, Feeding a hundred and ten dollars into a machine, the lights blink, the bells ring, and you get back a nice new hundred dollar bill! what a deal! of course last night I watched 100$ disappear; better to buy a keris. better to play the most idiotic music in the world, better to sing one round of pimp rap than to gamble. Yes, even listening to barbie rock is better than gambling. Just like going along in a car is only the illusion of driving, cruises offer the illusion of having fun. That’s why the automobile business is such a racket; since all the sheep are going in the same direction; the hummer and the volkswagen are, in essence, exactly the same. No wonder that casinos have all those fun noises and blinking lights! losing money in some dark room wouldn’t give the illusion of fun!!!!! Funn!!!!!!! FUN!!!!!!! that must accompany the experience of gambling to make it palatable.
It’s not easy to be an artist; you know deep in your heart that you could be doing something that is really fun, and spiritually, mentally, and physically enlightening and challenging, so when you go on a cruise it’s thrown in your face again; The fact that you can have more fun playing music than listening to canned tunes in an air-conditioned box traveling from one country to another having the most superficial experience possible. You land at a port and there’s the sanctioned performers, and I can’t help but see into their souls and see how they look at me; they think of me as the gringo with more money than they’ll ever have, and they’re wondering how they can ever access the incredibly empty experience of spending a lot of money on this incredibly superficial experience. Will it make them happy? will this artificial village that is a cruise make them happier than their village, fly-infested though it may be? will they be happier blowing a hundred dollars at a blackjack table? It doesn’t make me happier. I really wonder what the f*** I’m doing here. This morning I went to the gym and did an aerobic workout foillowed by a short yoga routine. I had forgotten how good it feels to make your heart beat hard for 20 minutes; I don’t intend to forget again. And above all, I don’t want to forget ever again the fact that I can have more fun entertaining people than being entertained in this totallty artificial way, which is really made for poor people, the poorest in the world, who don’t even have something that makes them have fun without spending money. My heartfelt prayer today is that I NEVER waste another week like this. Although ...
I have to admit that I love the people I’m with, Geno, Robyn, Rita, Fred, Steve, Pam, Camilla, and of course Isa, you are the reason that this experience has any fun in it. I could be IN JAIL with you guys and it would be fun. Not to mention the other people that are here, every one. You are all precious to me, and I thank the Creator for the fact that the human experience includes all of you, especially the kids. and I want to repeat the above paragraph at the beginning, middle, and end of this essay, and will.
Last nite went to Pam’s cabin and played for her, a fabulous experience. I am reminded again of the fact that art is at best a shared experience, with the Creator or whomever. And found out that I have to work on my blood pressure.
Some people are just grumpy, and I feel (Aren’t we so new age) that a few good slaps across the face will help more than a thousand anti-depressants. The fact is that these people have been indulged so much that they have gotten used to being a bitch (Robyn’s words... and she’s right!!!) and a good sound beating with a well-chilled rat-tail would do wonders; but there’s ... lost train of thought. And it’s not up to me. NWYGA! (Nobody Wants Your Good Advice!)
Snorkeling in Cozumel... not necessarily where I would spend a vacation, but the water is fine, the fish are friendly, (If you have tortillas) and the sea water tastes... like sea water. Both Rita and I swallowed a good healthy gulp apiece! Well, that should clean us out!
Concert tonite, went to see the last living ‘Platter’ with his new group; the music was great, but he would do better to retire ‘in bellezza’, that is to say while he still has a voice, which was... a while ago. He does have a great band, great singers, they sound just like "The Platters" did back in... Uh Oh... am I dating myself? I remember seeing the oliginal Platters in Rome a few (Like fifty) years ago. And of course you ain't heard their songs until you've heard an Italian sing them totally phonetically, making the sounds without any connection to the meaning of the song (It's in English, remember?) I have to say that the sophistication of the songs is amazing, and they are so sentimental... Gangsta rap wouldn’t wipe the ass of the platters; 50 years later, those songs are as good as ever; “Smoke gets in your eyes” is immortal, whereas “It’s hard to be a pimp” will hopefully be consigned to the dust heap of musical history, sort of like pre-post-obsolescence. Oh, you say you LIKE gangsta rap? Wait, I'll get you some nice twinkies to go with your doof. And if you don't know what doof is, I'll tell you... another time.
Got up this morn and went to the gym. 20Min on the e-trainer, advanced salutation 10 min, t’ai chi 10 min, then back down and some little sleep again. Thank The Creator that my wife loves me again this morning, she didn’t last nite, Ah well, that’s marriage! Of course I DID lie in bed and thank the Creator for her love for me, so realizing that the prayer to thank for what already is because it’s already been granted obviously works. M’om hassam, m’om bassam, as they say in Egypt. Woke up again, got dressed, went to bkfst w/ Rita and Camilla, am I getting enough protein? Lox, eggs, corned beef hash, prunes, and a croissant, washed down with plenty of coffee... what a life! After, we went to Camilla and Isa’s cabin and had a long wonderful talk. It’s fun to sit and talk with them, they are so wonderful!
Here ends the third part of the liberty ship diaries. We got off the ship. You do, eventually, you know. Maybe if you make me REALLY popular on this blog I'll tell you of my insane adventure during the same cruise, when I left my fam and friends behind to search for mysterious things in Kingstown, Jamaica, (NO, not what you're thinking, you sex-crazed narcotics addict!) and didn't, yes, DIDN'T get into trouble going where tourists get into trouble.