Scenes from STORMY-The Movie

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(Pan Camera- interior, luxury suite-soft focus slowly sharpens.)

“Where are your tax returns, honey?” she whispered in his ear, slowly, suggestively, while spanking him with a Forbes magazine. He tittered like a little boy, wiggling his bum in pleasure. In the background-We Are Family played on the cassette player, smothered with chicken grease. Outside, a crow romps with a tattered golf ball in its beak, mocking a fat beached dispirited gator, prostrate on the green lawn, belly full of discarded prophylactic wrappers, moaning reflexively like a beached Republican at sunset. A swarthy Mexican waiter hides beside a dumpster, smoking a cigarette, humming a snippet of the ‘Battle Hymn Of The Republic’, scratching his nuts. The Florida sky above, straight across to the horizon, looks like a melted box of crayons. A tree full of exhausted Mockingbirds, fighting sleep, observe the dying gator on the chemical lawn, weighing the benefits of flesh—eating, warbling the words Mar-A-Lago, Mar-A-Lago. The waiter flicks his cigarette onto the parking lot, the sparks explode into a blue-collar fireworks display. 10 miles distant, The Everglades are still in flames. The waiter pushes an audible poot, smiles with sullen pleasure, and returns to the hot, steaming sink full of political germs, and diplomatic bacteria.

No one has signed the paychecks. The spoons remain unwashed.

Stormy-The Movie) End Credits-voice over.

Another Dreamer hoping for a spare piece of chocolate cake in the land of the Free, Home of the Brave.

Walk-Out Music- The Doobies- Jesus Is Just Alright With Me.

The Taphophile Chronicles # 4 Vinnie Ream- Lincoln’s Sculptor

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Lavinia Ellen Ream (Vinnie Ream) (1847–1914), whose work in Rock Creek cemetery is represented by her Edwin B. Hay Monument, (completed in 1906), was a sculptor of rare distinction in the history of Washington,D.C.

She was the first (and youngest) female sculptor to be awarded a $10,000.00 commission by an act of congress—chosen at the age of 18 to complete a full size marble statue of President Abraham Lincoln. There was a good deal of grumbling by many in power that such a young inexperienced girl did not deserve such a prestigious commission. It was rumored that the president’s wife, Mary Todd Lincoln, strongly disapproved of Vinnie Ream— one look at Vinnie’s photograph may give a clue as to the true reason for Mrs. Lincoln’s motives in criticizing the young and beautiful artist. It was said that Lincoln was not enthusiastic about sitting for Vinnie, or any other artist, until he heard of her humble beginnings in a frontier cabin in Wisconsin. Lincoln decided, based on their shared origins in poverty, to give the young artist a chance. Lincoln sat for Vinnie for several months in 1864 for a half hour daily as she worked on the clay bust of the great man. She mentioned to her friends that being in such close proximity to Lincoln for all those hours helped her capture the emotion in his face and the weight of his duties in his posture. Her bust would become a life-sized statue after Lincoln’s assassination. In 1865 Vinnie was given the clothing that Lincoln wore the night of his assassination so that her likeness of the martyred president could be portrayed as accurately as possible.

Vinnie Ream’s story is an inspiration to women, past and present. Born in a tiny cabin near the frontier town of Madison Wisconsin, her parents ran a stagecoach stop, and later one of the first hotels in town. Her father was a surveyor and civil servant. In 1861 the Ream family moved to Washington to take advantage of the many positions available at the start of the Civil War. Vinnie was only a teenager when she became the first woman to be hired by the Federal Government, as a clerk in the Dead Letter Office, in the main post office in Washington, D.C. She held that position from 1861 until 1866. She met several congressmen and civil servants while employed there, and by happenstance, met a sculptor named Clark Mills as she accompanied Missouri Congressman James Rollins on a tour of sculptor’s studios in the city. She showed such promise as an artist and sculptor that Mills agreed to take her on as an apprentice. Her energy, talent, and coquettish demeanor won her support of the many political figures and congressman. She created medallions and statues of many important people and it was this support and acclaim that gained her access to the White House.

Vinnie Ream became one of the most famous women in America in January 1871, when her life-sized statue of Lincoln was unveiled in United States Capitol. She was only 23 years old. She had spent two years in Rome turning her plaster model of Abraham Lincoln into an exquisite work of pure Cararra marble. While in Rome, she also completed a bust of the composer Franz Liszt. Her career as a sculptor and demand for her work caused her to quit her job in the Dead Letter Office to work as an artist full time. She received a commission for $20,000.00 to create a bronze statue for Admiral David Farragut— the first U.S. Naval Officer monument—which is now in Farragut Square in the District of Columbia. She used bronze from the propeller of Farragut’s ship for his statue.

Other famous persons who had medallions and busts made by Vinnie Reams were General Ulysses Grant, General Custer, General George McClellan, Fredrick Douglas, General Frémont; Senator Sherman, Peter Cooper, Ezra Cornell, and Horace Greeley.

She continued to work until her marriage to Lieutenant Richard Leveridge Hoxie who was stationed in the capitol in the United States army. He was an officer in the Engineer corps, and later became a Brigadier General and an expert in constructing military fortifications. She stopped work as an artist after marrying Hoxie, had a son and lived as a popular Washington hostess for many years. Eventually, she came out of retirement and resumed her work as an artist— Her last work was designing a full-size statue of the Cherokee chief Sequoyah, the first statue of a Native American to be placed in the Statuary Hall at the Capitol Building. Ream died in 1914 and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery at Section South, site Lot 1876, with her husband and his second wife.

A list of the work of this prolific, beautiful and gifted sculptor can be viewed here:

http://vinnieream.com/referenc.htm

http://vinnieream.com/index.htm

 

The Taphophile Chronicles #3 -GUTZON BORGLUM

Gutzon Borglum- Enigmatic Sculptor of Mountains

How could an artist responsible for two of the most iconic and massive works of art also be a member of the K.K.K.? His mountain sculptures at Stone Mountain and Mt. Rushmore are achievements worthy of the same timelessness as the pyramids or Stonehenge when considering the possibility that once our civilization has been all but forgotten- these images will be forever carved into the mountain in the Black Hills of South Dakota and the granite of Stone Mountain, Georgia. Gutzon Borglum is a study in the dichotomy of human contradiction and understanding; as in all things human, there is more to the story of this irrascable genius who pioneered the procedures and concepts of engineering necessary to accomplish such an amazing work of art and the mastering of  two mountains that will ultimately trancend time.

Gutzon Borglum (March 25, 1867 – March 6, 1941) and his younger brother, Solon, also a sculptor of renown, were born to Danish immigrants in Idaho Territory. Gutzon’s early experiences with horses made him a master of equine sculpture. He is represented in Washington, D.C. by a magnificent sculpture of General Phillip Sheridan placed in Sheridan Circle (Mass. Ave and 23rd St N.W. W.D.C.). Borglum was understandably quite proud of the statue— he had beaten a score of better known sculptors and won the commission. Teddy Roosevelt declared it a masterpiece; but it was his giant sculpture of Lincoln’s head—now in the Capitol Rotunda, that led him –ironically- to his first mountain. The Atlanta Chapter of the Daughters Of The Confederacy contacted Borglum and offered him a challenge never before attempted in the United States or Europe. The proposition was this: come to Georgia to the Stone Mountain and figure out how to carve a sheer granite cliff and adorn it with the portraits of Gereral Robert E. Lee, General “Stonewall” Jackson, and President of the Confederacy, Jefferson Davis. The Daughters Of The Confederacy had less than two thousand dollars to offer, (minus Borglum’s travel expenses to Atlanta from his home in Stamford Connecticut.) The first meeting did not go well.

Borglum summarily dashed the hopes of the DOC by declaring that a 20 ft. head of Gen. Robert E. Lee would look like “a postage stamp on a barn door.” Seeing that he had deeply disappointed the committee he relented and asked for 3 more days to reconsider the mountain before giving his final answer.

A quote by Borglum, upon his first trip to Stone Mountain to consider the project of The Confederate Memorial.:

‘The thought of drawing upon its face was linked with a terror I think all men must feel who are about to do something which probably will destroy them.’

With the invaluable assistance of J.G. Tucker, his fearless assistant, his crew of brave African-American workers— and the equally fearless Cliff Davis, his explosives expert— Gutzon Borglum began an engineering marvel that had never been attempted in North America. (It must be noted that not one life was lost in this endeavor.) Borglum, Tucker and Cliff laid out and completed the head of Robert E. Lee and much of T.J.“Stonewall” Jackson’s head until a 4 -foot fissure in the otherwise perfect granite face was discovered precisely where Thomas J. Jackson’s nose would be carved. Borglum hastily reworked the granite face and began the needed revision.

The monument was not to be completed, reportedly due to a mounting corruption within the DOC committee; accusations of pilfering from the massive influx of funds  raised by the sale of a commemorative coin minted halted the project — it got ugly-before taking flight with his assistant, J.G. Tucker to avoid being jailed for a trumped up charge of felony- Borglum smashed his model—not out of spite, but because he knew any sculptor who replaced him would refer to the model and carve Stonewall Jackson’s nose over the fissure and ultimately destroy either the granite face or his sculpture.

The entire debacle is chronicled by author Gerald W. Johnson in his book about The Stone Mountain Confederate Memorial – The Undefeated published in 1927—

‘WHETHER or not Borglum could ever have interpreted this dream in stone, can only be conjectured. It is to be assumed that he would have failed in part, for the artist never lived who made his work as great as his dream. As long as the spirit is greater than the flesh, every masterpiece must be a partial failure in that it does not, and can not, express all that the artist felt. But when an artist goes further toward expressing his dream than others have succeeded in going, that artist becomes from our point of view a master, although he may be far indeed from mastering his ideal.’

~ Gerald W. Johnson

As to the undeniable fact that Borglum was an avowed white supremacist and member of The Ku Klux Klan: his business connections and the funds raised within such an organization at this time in American history seemed entirely justified in his world view. The K.K.K. was becoming increasingly powerful in American politics, reaching an apex with the shameful display of August 9, 1925 when 30,000 members marched down Pennsylvania Ave. in the nation’s capital. This is particularly shameful and ironic considering most of the brave men who labored faithfully and courageously to sculpt this granite mountain were African American.

It must be assumed, therefore, that genius- no matter how audacious and formidable- is by no means synonymous with perfection, or morality.

Borglum and his son, Lincoln, began work on Mt. Rushmore in 1927. It was completed by Lincoln Borglum after his father’s death in 1941. One of the most comprehensive books on the man and his projects is: Great White Fathers: The True Story of Gutzon Borglum and His Obsessive Quest to Create the Mt. Rushmore National Monument-by John Taliaferro.

Borglum has several sculptures on display in Washington, D.C.- his sculpture- Rabboni was created as a grave site for the Ffoulke family at Rock Creek Cemetery.

Rock Creek RABBONI G BORGLUM1

 

The Taphophile Chronicles #2: Rock Creek Cemetery

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Rock Creek Cemetery

On September 18, 1719, Colonel John Bradford, a Maryland planter donated a glebe-or approximately 100 acres- to the St. Paul’s Church vestry.  The chapel and surrounding land became the Rock Creek Cemetery. This is probably one the most beautiful and compelling cemeteries in what would soon become the District of Columbia. An Act of Congress in 1840 established the cemetery as a public burial place, and since that time The Rock Creek Cemetery has become the final resting place for many of the famous people who shaped the political, social and business history of the United States.

Situated at Rock Creek Church Rd and Webster St. NW and bordered by New Hampshire Avenue to the East; The Rock Creek Cemetery is also not far from President Abraham Lincoln’s retreat home located on the grounds of the Soldier’s Home just south down North Capitol Street, NW.

Such luminaries as Abraham Baldwin (Signer of the U.S. Constitution), Montgomery Blair (Postmaster General in Lincoln’s Cabinet), Charles Corby (Baking Innovator “Wonderbread”), Julius Garfinckel (Founder, Garfinckel’s Department Store), Gilbert H. Grosvenor (Chairman, National Geographic Society), Patricia Roberts Harris (Secretary Health/Human Services in Carter’s Cabinet) Alice Roosevelt Longworth (President’s Daughter), George Washington Riggs (Founder of Riggs Bank), Harlon Fiske Stone (Chief Justice of the U.S.), and Sumner Welles (Under Secretary of State for FDR). 

The writer Gore Vidal, a long- time resident of Washington, DC, has had a plot purchased and monument placed for him by his long—time companion Howard Austen. Austen died in November 2003 and, in February 2005, was buried in Rock Creek cemetery. When the author Gore Vidal died on July 31st, 2012, his resting place was assured.  

Visitors frequent sculptures, such as the Adams Memorial by Augustus St. Gaudens, for it’s expressive and somber countenance. The sad story of Adam’s wife, Marian “Clover” Adams and her suicide are a part of Washington society lore. Henry Adams, the grandson of President John Quincy Adams, commissioned the bronze statue and had it placed on his beloved wife’s grave. Over the years the statue by Saint-Gaudens has incorrectly been referred to as  “Grief” by visitors and the press . Saint-Gaudens called it The Mystery of the Hereafter and The Peace of God that Passeth Understanding.

It is interesting to note that a famous statue that once was placed in Pikesville’s Druid Ridge Cemetery –also named Grief- was almost an exact copy of Saint-Gaudens statue by a sculpter named Eduard Pausch. Lawsuits and countersuits of the widow of Saint-Gaudens (who denounced at as a barbaric forgery) ensued and though the purchaser of the counterfeit bronze casting, Union General Felix Angus, won the lawsuit against Pausch the sculptor, he kept the statue in place. This counterfeit casting was named “Black Aggie” in popular Baltimore lore for it’s dark powers and tarnish by thrill seekers and frat boys who used the statue as a hazing rite. Over the years “Black Aggie” was imbued with mystical powers by the highly imaginative residents of Baltimore.  In 1967, after vandals had constantly defaced the statue, Black Aggie was moved to the courtyard of the Dolly Madison house at Madison and H st NW. (This story will be covered in a future column.)

Other incredible sites, such as the Kauffman Monument, known as The Seven Ages of Memory, the Sherwood Mausoleum Door, and the Thompson-Harding Monument are just a few of the examples of great and influential art that grace the gently rolling hills of this breath-taking landscape. A visit in Spring when all the trees and plants are flowering will be a memorable experience.

On August 12, 1977, Rock Creek Cemetery and the adjacent church grounds were placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

  The Rock Creek Cemetery grounds are open to visitors daily. For more information please call:

(202) 829-0585.

The Taphophile Chronicles- 1. Places Of Repose

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Places Of Repose

First a short explanation of the authors’ predilection for loitering in places that few visit voluntarily:

   Cemeteries have always had a strange sort of allure in human imagination. There is the schlock Hollywood version of cemeteries, the version that heightens our fears and exploits our confusion about the nature of death. There are the deeply personal places of eternal rest that have a better basis in reality, both inferred and emotional, to those of us who still exist.

   These places stand as a tangible testament of love, of remembrance and longing for those known lost and gone from us. Here also is a place to honor our ancestors and the great and small who made differences in our lives – even if indirectly. These graves and gravestones, by and through which we make our love and respect known, have marked the spots on earth we view as sacred by construct-  tangible monuments seem to express our collective helplessness in the face of the inevitable- and, strangely, the hope of avoiding of the condition of non-existence altogether.

   Oddly cemeteries are the only place where Cemetery Humor is considered to be of questionable taste. The deceased father of one of my best friends had a marker placed that reads:

“ THIS IS BORING”

He wasn’t the brooding type of Hibernian.

   Cemeteries are a place of contemplation, reflection and peace. They are a physical reminder of those who came before us, and a reminder of that which inevitably awaits us all regardless of fame, creed, deed and self-image. Cemeteries are the physical affirmation of the great Mystery.

   Upside: cemeteries are one of the only places where one might openly have extended conversations with the dearly Departed. Even Psychiatrists approve of this activity…but only on a limited time basis.

   Cemeteries, and the monuments erected to the dearest departed, are a primal affirmation of the final equality of all human beings. In life it is important to affirm the things that set us apart as individuals- but Death is a sort of biological democracy, where-upon, after a lifetime of conjecture, debate, opinions and votes, none of your bargaining will matter. King, Queen, Hilton or Crack addict- your inevitable end will come. Corruptible flesh to dust shall return.

(Amen, baby.)

   After all: Death is nature’s way of ‘REPURPOSING’ humanity. (Purpose– now there’s a philosophical conundrum to consider standing in the shadow of a bier.)

   Cemeteries define the primal need to mark the spot of love, grief, deep loss, and in the context of erected monuments of marble and polished stone, our  last token of respect for a life lost, and a focus for the contemplation of a silence that somehow takes us all by surprise, no matter how forewarned we may be.

   These gardens of stone are, to the historian, to the bereaved, the philosopher and the poet- quite indispensable. They are also a nice quiet place to eat lunch, sit under a blooming magnolia tree, hide from the dispatcher and sketch in pencil. This is how I came to love cemeteries as a young man and hooky playing taxi driver- first in Miami, Florida- and later in Washington, DC.

   There is logic in this. Few taxi drivers are robbed in cemeteries. Few taxi drivers get walk-up fares in cemeteries. Few annoying dispatchers, road raging maniacs, or repressed skin-flint non-tipping passengers will follow you into a cemetery to harass you. Other than the whirring of a weed-whacker, or the steady drone of a lawnmower- there is silence. There is little to interrupt a train of thought. No one taps you on the shoulder to ask you for directions or spare change.

   I may be considered a bit eccentric by some, but rest assured, my dear reader- I am not a ghoul, a professional or obsessive mourner, clinically depressed(usually), in a Goth band or writing a spin -off of an Anne Rice novel. Lets be clear on one point- just because I love cemeteries doesn’t mean I’m in a hurry to take up permanent residence in one. And while we’re clarifying points let me add that I dislike the modern mall mentality of the “Memorial Garden” in which the slightly sunken bronze plaques facilitate the efficient mowing of the grass in what might be just as well a football field or Frisbee preserve. There is little drama in such places.  If this is the definition of Perpetual Care I prefer tall grass.

   ( BTW: It takes REAL skill to play Frisbee in a Victorian Cemetery. I speak from experience.)

   I will openly admit a fascination for cemetery and funerary rites and rituals. I am mesmerized by the architecture, and horticulture employed in cemeteries. I am fascinated by the individual stories of those buried and gone, who no longer have the ability to tell their own tales, but who leave clues in a few simple sentences chipped in stone or carved into elaborate mausoleums in the old-style graveyards. I am amazed at how one’s imagination can bestow attributes and empathy on a stone marker of a deceased person, unknown and unseen, and wonder at the characters who once walked, laughed, cursed, cried, spit, shat, prayed, sung, swum, procreated, sacrificed, begged, lied and cooked breakfast among us. Now they are merely names and dates chipped in granite for our assumed sense of security and universal order. Markers, some plain and forthright- others beautiful and sublime works of art stand only to be visited in cycles of longing by survivors, until they too become dates chipped in stone.

   These are places of faded glory. Simple lives. Great achievements. Broken hearts. Lives of duty and humility. Unfinished business. Raw ambition interrupted. Lives lost too soon. Those now perished who lived lives of grace, or lives of brutality, or in supreme sacrifice to mankind. Sometimes the aforementioned, having achieved all of these things and more in just a few years, will perish and by some strange twist of fate, having made massive changes to humanity, become re-known after death. Some markers are just too plaintively heartbreaking to recount- the stillborn, or infants lost- some with only a few days on Earth.

   For these reasons, by virtue of the persons of power and motivation who have lived and died here, Washington D.C.’s cemeteries are a subject of great immersion, study, and spiritual rubber-necking.

   Cemeteries are less about death than the way to live life. Cemeteries show how surely Spring will come and flowers can bloom, wrap around and crack cold granite, and tarnish polished bronze. Cemeteries teach you how not to waste time. Cemeteries are wisdom in stone.

There are stories here.

 

 

 

The Taphophile Chronicles

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In the coming weeks I’ll be posting many of the articles I wrote as the (drumroll) D.C. Cemetery Examiner for the  Examiner on-line news/blog.

I have always been fascinated by cemeteries and old New England burying grounds. I love the sculpture and the architecture of the traditional cemetery, and spent many a day wandering about, or simply sitting in the quiet elegance of these places of repose.

No- I don’t find this fascination weird, morose or ghoulish. What nonsense. I consider myself an amateur, albeit dedicated historian. I will posit the opinion that the bland concept of the modern ‘Memorial Park’ -with flat markers and no character whatsoever- a travesty. With all due respect to lawn keepers, I’m not willing to sacrifice the beauty of funerary sculpture for ease of mowing- that’s what weed whackers are for. (Although I might go on record as expressing my dismay and resistance to noisy yard machines shattering the sublime silence.) Someone’s got to keep the grounds trim. The residents are otherwise ‘occupied’ in the afterlife.

I also took photos-I will post them along with the articles.

 

OOPS-Never Mind.

Okay; somebody pushed the wrong button. THIS IS NOT A TEST! SEEK SHELTER IMMEDIATELY! NUCLEAR ATTACK IMMINENT! (oops-never mind.)
Is it just me, or does it seem like there is a general incompetence in America?- a shrug that creeps across every little thing? Half-done repairs, half-hearted guarantees, bent spoons pretending to be magic, information confused as knowledge, other people’s pain not being our problem anymore, a general belligerence, cynicism to the point of dysfunction. This is how it starts -low morale, a shrug of entitlement,; over-fed, uninvolved neo-patriots’ dreaming of neutral interiors and big-screen T.V.- Let somebody else clear the carcass off the street, go out to vote in the rain , or care if poor kids sit freezing in a classroom. People from ‘shithole’ countries doing your lawn, or caring for your kids, fixing your streets, painting your McMansion until this maniac demonizes them all, puts them in camps and builds a WALL with our tax money- GET IT TOGETHER, AMERICA. If you think we can’t be replaced, you’re WRONG- there are plenty of dictators surrounding us, or rotting us from within, licking their chops- waiting, and yes— SUCCEEDING.
 
CLICHE’ -There are those who know the price of everything but the cost of nothing.
 
If you voted for this charlatan, you are part of the problem. If you voted for him and realize you made a disastrous mistake—>welcome<—, we need you to admit it, and help us stop this disaster right now. Conversely, if you are satisfied with a convenient latte, boutique health food and digital reality, you are no better than the ‘basket of deplorables’ you look down upon.
I think we are living the result of fake elitist bullshit. Ignore the so—called ‘common people’ at your own peril.
 
Rome fell because of ignoring the little ‘details’, trivialities such as, integrity, pride, vitality, become unimportant in the face of ‘comfort’ and fake patriotism. My God is bigger than yours.(Is that a nuke in your pants, or are you happy to see me?) Truth rationalized away- demoted and over-looked until the fucking bridge collapses on an under maintained bus full of kids on the way to a sub-standard school where the N.R.A. has decided that their young lives are little better than collateral damage when preserving an antiquated 2nd Amendment. WE ARE ALLOWING THIS TO HAPPEN- especially if we start to believe our little lives don’t matter in the grand scheme of things. Just do nothing. Everything will be alright. We are great. We are strong. We are immune.
The sex on T.V. is really kinky.
 
It’s just one stupid bolt left off the driveshaft.
Fuck it. Not my job. Not my pay-grade. Not my problem.
Google ‘competence’- read the fine print.
Democracy is a VERY young, and VERY fragile experiment; and it is being dismantled before our very eyes.
It starts with the little things.
 Chickenhead w phones

Application To Draw Heat

I’ve always said— In our animal form —the single most important biological prerogative in Males (besides basic survival) is to spread seed.

Take away morality, empathy, civilized norms, evolution, education, and common decency and “ME TOO” is what happens. Is it an outrage? Yes. Is it unconscionable to abuse power? HELL, yes. Should it come as any surprise? NO. Human Beings abuse one another regularly and with a mortifying stochasticity that defies anything approaching logic. The fact that men (or women) in positions of power have the potential to use their clout to subjugate the weaker subordinate is as old as humanity itself. It’s primal, tribal, and indicative of the pack mentality from which we ALL come. The Stone Age did not end for lack of Stones. To my fellow males I say: Check yourself—get real. It’s normal to feel attraction, it’s fuct up to harass or intimidate. To women I say: Don’t confuse clumsiness and inability to articulate with outright sexual harassment (Most women I know understand the difference.) Pain or abuse is subjective. It exists in degrees. Allowing pain to become a magnet for every outrage committed by every other human being only weakens the ability to help others identify true danger. By making YOUR pain THE ONLY pain you can no longer be objective or entirely rational. Kind of like that instructional video on an airplane. Before trying to save another—take the oxygen mask down and put it over your own face first—otherwise EVERONE loses consciousness. The Human Race could use a lot more EMPATHY. The decision to embrace this attribute is and very personal one. Everyone has inflicted needless pain on another. Either we learn, or we don’t. Those who serially abuse women need to be exposed, rejected and—(if at all possible)— re-educated.

 Evolution, my dears, is not painless. It never has been.

To All The Adults-Empathy Is The Meditation

Tuesday Missive.

By J.D. Brayton

EMPATHY IS THE MEDITATION.

To all the adults, teachers, bullies and rednecks who beat on me— thanks, I’m no longer afraid. I can look you in the eyes without blinking.

To all the people who insulted or abused me because of what they thought of my appearance—thanks, you taught me just what an unsolicited opinion is worth.

To all the unnamed who tried to destroy me by sexual abuse when I was a child— thanks, I know a predator when I see one. You are walking targets.

To all the fake friends who took what they needed and abandoned my loyalty—Thanks, I am quite content to be alone to commune with vegetables, guitars, typewriters, and seascapes; I’m better off.

To all the critics who snarked at my creative efforts, thanks—I’m only getting better while you accomplish very little of worth and find another heart to bruise.

To all the lovers who couldn’t deal with my shortcomings, thanks—I’ve learned to forgive, but I still am working on being able to forget. We all have our faults. Mine is learning to survive transitory passion and letting my fragile ego drive the train.

To anyone I might have hurt, I’m sorry. I’m a work in progress just like you. I promise to try and not repeat my mistakes.

To everyone who thinks they are the only victim— learn to take solace from pain. Life is supposed to be hard and full of uncertainty. NO ONE IS IMMUNE. Evolution is NOT pain-free.

Say your piece, try to shield others from unnecessary abuse, do unto others, and then Shut The Fuck Up and keep from becoming your fears and blaming your pain. Others need your help in overcoming mental and physical catastrophe far worse than your own.

BE STRONG. SHARE LOVE. HAVE SOUL. SHINE ON.

Excerpt from EYE SKIN- out in late Sepember

Theeyestheeyestheeyes.
They had to catch the light. Even when there was little light to trust. No sun to rely on. No time for true reflection of deed. The eyes had to speak without the possibility of human language, words, shrieks, barks, grunts, snarls or whimper. The moon had to bark and ricochet off the beads and fill in the memory of a power over death no man could claim in his own brief dream of existence. Hunters feed over warm fires their naked antecedents were given to pray over until the next hunt began. The tribe of Ananias. That infinity moment when dirt shitting discalced pagan double thumbed plumped monkeys can become the God of Death—when man gets only half of existence perfectly succinct by ending it for another feeder, breather, drinker and weeper. A hot bullet, a snare, a club, a car, a disease. All our pets. All our chattel. All our vizards lived in dancing fire-light gamed of recusant foppery preserved in frozen deed. Snakeskin boots. Fur coat. Leather quirt. A soft farting chair. A former mother’s dried tanned breast for holding sour tobacco. The monkey’s paw holds a brace of gold chains in the boudoir of an imperious whore. Victory over the beasts of the field and wild night howlers is a birthright; so it has been written in forged spiritual tome. Cunctators with rusty antiquated quills and poison arrows explaining the meaning of life.