Thursday, May 31, 2007

More Extra Te Fare

The last two dances of Te Fare O Tamatoa recall precolonial dances.

More Te Fare

Three more videos of Te Fare O Tamatoa, from Seattle Folklife, Memorial Day, May 28, 2007. First is one with the ladies in patterned blue gowns. Blue is alright. I don't care for green, but I can live with blue.

Next, drums, by teachers and students.

Third, the ladies are back in red skirts. Red is my favorite. I was taught by Lani and Lono that red was the first color, all the other came from red, that red was the most sacred color, because it's the color of a human soul.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

E Hele Mai

Back to the day in mid-to-late October 1951 when I met the two dark-skinned men. The one who first spoke to me was my new best friend within minutes. He introduced me to the other as such, and the other look worried, and walked away, like he wanted nothing to do with me. The first one shrugged. Then they started off together.

I followed as they walked along the each of the field, until we reached one of the avenues I wouldn't cross. Seeing how I hung back, my friend said "E hele mai". When I didn't come to him he returned to take my hand, and walked me across the street.

For the next few hours I followed them around while they worked. They were groundskeepers. They worked at the recreational fields, and the gymnasium, and tennis courts, and took care of plantings along the avenues. They set up sprinklers, trimmed plants, picked up litter, and washed walls. They were a crew of two. No one else ever joined them.

Whenever they spoke together they spoke the musical language. Occasionally the friend would add something in English to me. I actually thought at the time that it was all one language. The musical language was just a part of English I hadn't heard before.

Periodically, as they worked, the aloof one would begin singing, or you might call it chanting. Sometimes the other one would join in, at other times it would just be the one. For a taste of it, listen to Charles Ka'upu for the first two minutes of this video. With your eyes closed, imagine a skinny 18-year old is singing, dressed in a brown uniform while another one is listening.

They took a long break at one point, and shared lunch with me. After the lunch, the aloof one sang while the other one beat two sticks together, sometimes calling out the beginning of lines. I don't remember any dancing that day, but some of the singing sounded like what you hear in the next video. There was dancing like this in days to come.

Finally late in the afternoon my friend walked me back across the avenue and said goodbye. They had to go. I was sad. I thought I would never see them again. But the next day when I did my route I made sure to look for them at the same avenue crossing, and they were there.

I abandoned my Quest for the school. Best quest I ever failed at! From then on I followed the young men around at work so much every weekday I learned their routine. I would pick up sprinklers and move them before they would get around to it. They began calling me "Alaka'i", leader, boss. I learned my friend's name was Lono, and the aloof one was Lani. I started picking up new alternative words for such things as work, water, and plants.

A Loose End in Time

I need to interrupt the flow of the memoir's narrative, to pick up a neglected thread.

During my second and early part of my third years my sense of time was rather non-linear. Every night I would go over the day's events in my head. Those would be in a neat linear order for me. But different days were disconnected. Looking back on it all I have to use incidental clues, later information, and reason to figure out times. For example, schools started after Labor Day throughout the U.S. and its more populous territories. Therefore, the start of school coincided with early September.

Another example is my Mother's second pregnancy. I remember wondering why her belly was sticking out. She regularly took me in to the bathroom to have me shower with her, so I saw her naked often and I could touch the belly. One of those intimate moments stands out in my mind because she used it as an opportunity to urinate on me.

As vivid as that memory is, it has, in itself, no place in time. It's like the snapshots of my family album that were once attached to pages but have since come loose, so I just tuck them with each other between some blank pages at the end, or keep them in an envelope, in a jumble.

Still, I'm able to pin it down a little. I know she wasn't too visibly pregnant when I was released from Tripler Medical Center, because I have pictures from that day. And I know she was pregnant a third time. I know that third pregnancy ended in miscarriage about a month before my third birthday, after time started getting linear for me. I know in fact that the third was a different pregnancy from the second one, just because the second went to term.

I know that the second pregnancy ended with a birth. I wasn't there for the birth, of course. I don't even remember anything at all said about it afterward, by either of my parents, for several years. All I knew at the time was, she went to the hospital with a big belly and came home without.

The earliest memory I have hearing the birth discussed was when my Mother was abusing me at age six or seven and taunted me by telling me that my brother Robert was better than me. When I asked about him, she told me he was the one who died because he was born without anything below the waist, so he wasn't dirty like me.

The main way I can place the time is by using the fact that my Mother wouldn't let my Father photograph her appearing pregnant. I recall a trip to the beach around the time the little girls had started taking care of me. The picture below, which shows me getting annoyed at one of my girlfriends, and about to whack her head with my shovel, may have been taken on that trip to the beach. My Mother isn't in any of the pictures accompanying this one. My memory is that my Mother was extremely pregnant on at least one trip to the beach. So I think the birth of Robert occurred in the summer, maybe July or August of 1951. Before the Quest began.

[Below: Getting tired of the goddamned papparazzi.]

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The Widening Search

When I started my Quest for the Schofield Barracks Elementary School I thought it was going to be just around the corner at the end of the block. It wasn't. I looked all around the block. There were only homes. I had heard that the school was big. I expected to find children around it.

Instead of giving up, I widened the search. One of the things my Mother had taught me was not to step off the curb of the main thoroughfare by our house. The training consisted in taking me to it, letting me wander into it and then whacking me. I got the message. So I wouldn't cross that avenue or a parallel avenue like it a long block away. But the two avenues were connected by less trafficked smaller roads, that I now know were mostly 250 feet apart. After I was sure that there was no school on my block, I made the decision to risk crossing those streets. That greatly increased my range.

I left home every weekday that my Father went to work. I left as soon as my Mother wasn't watching me. I didn't keep to the sidewalks. I walked around houses, into backyards. I poked through openings I found in hedges. I followed alleys that the dump trucks used to pick up trash. Each day I followed a path identical to the path I followed the day before, except for new loops added to cover more ground.

The reason I tried to cover the same ground every day was because I discovered a source of food. It turned out that several of the wives staying home on weekdays were glad to offer cookies and pie and fruit to the stray cutie. So I learned to maintain a route that took me by all those houses. I would go so far as to knock at the door of the softest and most generous touches.

An amazing confluence of social and personal circumstances made the Quest possible. My Mother really didn't care that she couldn't find me for hours at a time. She wondered out loud about it, but she didn't want my disappearances to stop. She was glad to be rid of me. How the rest of the Army wives let her get away with it is a little harder to understand, especially for people who have never lived on an Army base in the Fifties.

There was in fact at least one woman, the one my Mother called the Meddling Bitch, who frequently called my Mother about my wanderings and told her she should keep better watch over me. After Mother hung up on MB a bunch of times, MB must have called some higher-ups, because there was at least one visit from the MPs about it when I was home.

But all that happened was, my Mother pointed out that MB raises the issue all the time, "but my son is never in any trouble, he's well-behaved, and he always comes home in time for dinner. Look, there he is, he's fine." "Well, he's awfully young to be wandering around by himself." "You aren't his Mother. You don't know him like I do."

That was the culture of that time and place. You didn't interfere with a parent's method of raising a child without proof that the child or society was in danger. As long as I didn't break into homes or beat preschoolers with a stick or get lost and spend a night outside and fall into a stream and drown in the dark, anything I did was between me and my parents. The MPs apologized for interrupting her day, left, and as far as I know never responded to another complaint about me.

My Mother came to be aware that there were women gossiping about what a horrible Mother she was. But Schofield Barracks in 1951 was a bastion for Parental Rights. If the Promise Keepers were around then, Schofield Barracks could have been their Promised Land.

I had no sense of time on my walks. I didn't know months then. But using maps and information I picked up later when I could ask about it, I know that I was still following my Quest until about the middle of October, after six or seven weeks of it. By that time I was beginning to lose hope of ever finding it. In all directions I had encountered avenues that I thought I shouldn't cross. My range was about 50 acres. The route I followed was twisted and crossed itself several times. It was at least a mile and a half long, maybe more like two and a half miles. Being a playful toddler disposed to stop and play in every puddle and look under every rock, I probably needed two or three hours to complete the route.

That was the routine when one day in October as I was at the Western edge of my route, I encountered a dark-skinned man working in what could have been a marching field. He saw me and walked over, bent down, smiled, and said, "Na wai ke kupu 'o 'oe?" Then he translated, "Whose little sprout are you?" I didn't know what either sentence meant at the time. I didn't know the word "sprout". But I liked the man's smile, and I liked the music his first sentence made, and I followed him until he met up with another dark-skinned man and the two of them spoke the same kind of music between each other.

The Quest

[Continued from the previous post. Same warning. I'll be talking about sexual abuse I've experienced as a toddler. ]

Being home with my Mother got worse with time. The soap rapes evolved into finger rapes. She locked me in a closet periodically, sometimes for long periods. I don't know what she did that needed me out of the way like that. Maybe it was to take naps, or maybe she was going on long walks without me.

Then something good happened for a change. The little girls that lived on the block got to know me because two of them [pictured] belonged to the white family that occasionally took care of me. They started coming around every day and asking my Mother to have me to play with in our front yard. I believe this started sometime around the beginning of summer, maybe in June 1951, before my second birthday.

Basically, all the little girls took turns being my Mommy. They were all way better at it, too. It was heaven.

Some of it was a little too heavenly. I still had the increased libido symptom from the head injury. The girls wanted to change my diapers even when they didn't need changing. My Mother told them go right ahead, just keep using the same diaper if it isn't too dirty, and pretend it's clean.

I have a vivid memory of the very first time the girls changed my diapers. I had an erection, and the next thing I knew they were all gawking at it, with jaws dropped, and a couple of them were touching it. I was quite happy with that and squealed gleefully. Then the oldest girl, who may have been 7 or 8 and who'd actually been the first to feel it, said it wasn't right to touch it too much. They should just touch it to clean it (she thought she should be the one, since she was the most mature) and no more.

Not much later, maybe the same day, I remember my Mother telling them to have me go without diapers outside because she didn't want to have to wash them. I found myself standing in the middle of the front yard with an erection and four or five little girls staring. Then I looked over at the house and saw my Mother looking out from a window, with the same leer she had when she was raping me. I was frightened by it. At the time I couldn't know what the leer was really about. I now see it as the earliest indication for me that my Mother was capable of sexually abusing other children.

The girls played with me almost every sunny day, all through the summer. Then I started hearing them talk about something called "school". I had no idea what school was. I picked up the idea that it was a place they were all going to go and learn things. I imagined that they might take me with them. They talked about how soon it would be. It would be a week. Or it would be some days. Or it would be tomorrow.

Suddenly one sunny day no little girls came to play with me. I was back to having Jemmie Browning as my only Mommy.

That would not do.

I made up my mind I was going to go find this "school" where all the little girls went, and I was going to surprise them and they were going to be happy and get to play with me at the school just like they did in our front yard.

So with the start of the new school year in September, 1951, at the age of 2 years and 2 months, barefoot and still in diapers, I set out from our house in Schofield Barracks, without my Mother's knowledge, on a Quest for the Schofield Elementary School.

My First Rapes

It will probably be hours before I can get all the Tahitian dance and drum videos loaded. So meanwhile, back to the story of my horrid childhood.

Good place for a warning. I am going to try to avoid salacious language, but there is no way to talk about child sexual abuse without some sick creep thinking you're trying to turn him or her on. So if you start to think I'm trying to help you get off, stop reading here and go browse real porn. Or scroll down to things I've posted that were deliberately erotic, like Sex, Art, Sex.

It was probably November, 1950, when I was brought home from the hospital. I was 1 year and four months, or I was a week old, depending on what you or I mean by "I". At first the daily routine was alternately boring and stressful. There was almost no joy. When both my parents were home and sober, there was silence or argument. Often the argument was about me.

My Mother repeatedly called me the Freak. She said I'd never speak or understand English, even though I was already understanding it. She couldn't tell. My Father sometimes seemed to agree with her by not challenging her about it. Other times they would get into heated arguments about it, which neither one could win. Only I could ever win.

They'd usually be drunk within two hours of my Father arriving home from work. After that the arguments would be about whose fault it was that it all happened. On weekends my Father would hold off getting drunk until the evenings. Otherwise the ritual was pretty much the same.

They rarely spoke directly to me for an entire year. I just learned words by listening to them talk to each other. My Mother tried to teach me simple commands, like "come" and "go", as if I were a dog.

Maybe once a week, or every other week, my parents would put me in the care of one of usually two other families. There was a family on one side that had a couple of little girls that would take me while my parents went out together. There was another one down the street in the other direction, who happened to be black. I remember that my Mother had no problems leaving me with the black family, or even visiting with them to socialize, but she wouldn't let my Father have them to our house as guests.

When my Father was out and I was home with my Mother, I was mostly neglected. She wouldn't feed me for the entire time my Father was away at work. If the weather kept me in the house she would keep me in diapers but rarely change them.

It was when she changed my diapers that the sexual abuse started. She would set me on the changing table and remove the dirty diaper. As she did I'd invariably get an erection. She'd clean me and then start playing with it. That was fine. I had no sense that it was inappropriate. But then she would get mean. She always had a lit cigarette, she was a chain smoker. She would wait until I was giggling, then lean forward and blow smoke in my face from an inch away, and laugh at my coughing. Then she'd drop glowing ashes onto my genitals.

In the 40s and early 50s there were pediatricians writing books advising the use of soap suppositories as a way to get your baby regular and on a schedule convenient for you. The people who came up with that were flakes in the tradition of John Harvey Kellogg, who deserves a whole post of his own. He's very relevant.

It may be because my Mother had read about the soap suppositories that she started cleaning my rectum with soap and then raping me with pieces of it. The progression from cleaning and nurturing to following quack advice to rape needs to be noted. One of the reasons Mothers don't get caught often enough raping their children is because they can arrange the scene so even if you walk in and catch them in the act, they can pass it off as care-taking. At the worst they get accused of using bad judgment. Malicious intent is almost always impossible to prove.

But I remember the way my Mother leered at me when she raped me, and I remember how she laughed when I cried and screamed. The malicious intent was obvious to me.

Te Fare O Tamatoa

Several videos of Te Fare O Tamatoa performing at Folklife Festival, Seattle, 5/28/07. This first one explains what Te Fare O Tamatoa is.

The second one proves the first wasn't good by accident.

No Polynesian dance show is complete without the little ones. Here's a couple tamari'i dancing.

Two more dances by the little ones.

Monday, May 28, 2007

More Polynesian Dance

Tahitian dance by young man with group called Ke Liko A'e O Lei Lehua. This time I remembered the name of the group, with the help of Anitra. Seattle Folklife Festival, May 27, 2007. Hopefully the next day's videos won't be so washed out.

Same group. This time it's a young woman.

Hula at Folklife

Polynesian dance at the Seattle Folklife Festival, May 27, 2007. This is the first dance, a Hawaiian hula by Halau Hula Pulamahiakalikolehua. It's shaky for the first minute because people are still finding seats. Then it settles down.

Same group, if I'm remembering right. I'm getting so old I should carry a notepad with me at all times to know what I've seen.

This is a dance to a Coming of Pele drum chant.

Cute keiki (little ones) dancing.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Anitra & Raging Grannies at Folklife

First, my ducky Anitra, jumping up and down and jiggling to parody "Oh, Dear, What Can The Matter Be" as a Raging Granny, Seattle Folklife Festival, May 27, 2007.

Next, "There's No Business Like War Business", and "Wasteful Military Spending":

Cindy Holly, Muse of Other

I was infused with some Hawaiian Kahiko and Huna (traditional Hawaiian religion and mysticism) before I knew anything at all about Christianity. Then I was bombarded with Christianity, of two kinds: Episcopalianism, overtly, and Southern Baptism, covertly. The result of this input and a whole lot of agonizing is what I am. I am religious. In some way. But I have no name for my religion. And, my religion is worlds away from any of the religions I see practiced around me.

One dictionary definition of "paganism" is any religion that's not a form of Judaism, Christianity, or Islam, or a religion formed out of or in reaction to any of those religions. So, for example, a "Satanist" whose concept of Satan was based on the Biblical Satan could not be considered a pagan by that definition, because his religion would be a reaction to one of those three Abrahamic religions. But another person who called himself a Satanist, whose idea of Satan was based on a pre-Christian Celtic God, say, would be a pagan. Also, a traditional Hindu, or Buddhist, Taoist, or Confucianist, or combination thereof, would be pagan.

So in my 30s, when I finally realized that the Kahiko was more or less winning my soul, I tried calling myself pagan.

That didn't work out. Trouble was, other people who called themselves pagan read too much into it. Turns out, most self-described pagans aren't going by the above dictionary definition. They mostly have in mind European traditions, or (Continental) Native American. The dashed expectations became a big bother.

It wouldn't do to just retreat into calling myself Kahiko either. Kahiko really means Old Ways, and I was only educated in the Old Ways of Hawaii for less than a year as a two and three year old. I learned enough to keep Christianity from claiming me, but not enough for me to claim Kahiko as mine.

So the state of affairs I am reduced to is this: I have a religion that is unique in the world. It has no name. It is informed by an infusion of Kahiko, plus everything else I've absorbed since that was compatible with that infusion.

My religion isn't based on faith in any super-human person. It's based on poetry, drama, comedy, and art, respect of knowing and not knowing. I imagine a vast multitude of subjective realities, realized in human minds, many more than there are humans to house them, and by imagining them I make them as real as they need to be, for the purposes of my religion, a religion which I impose upon my reality, whether or not it likes it. My impositions are all powered by imagination, which is the real mana, the water of life. I know from personal experience that this mana can give rise to subjective realities independent of me, because I ho'omana: At first, mana goes where I dream it to go, then it goes wherever.

One of these independent impositions is very special to me. I have referred to her as Cindy Holly, not-her-real-name, Muse of Other, Muse of Few Words, Ageless, Timeless, Eternal, Beauty, currently brunette.

In fact, I say not-her-real-name, because her real name would be the name of THE Goddess, and I don't speak that.

But I can be a little more specific. She drives my feeble soul. She knows where the key to my existence is kept. I don't really mind when she visits me in my dreams and turns me into a horse. Her eyes never close. She gazes on life and death equally, and dances to the beat of both simultaneously.

Cindy Holly is her comic aspect. She is that powerful, that she has a comic aspect. Very few serious Gods or Goddesses can pull that off.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

The Tire Iron Incident

[Old poem of mine from the nineties. I'm re-dedicating it to Timothy "I'll Wail On Your Ass" Harris.]

My bell was to the Blue Moon Tavern,
but my fare wasn't Paul
- the call was usually for Paul -
Paul who once said
"All I can give you for a tip is my Sister."
Paul I could live with.

No instead it was
Mr. "Start the meter & come in & have a beer with me"
to whom I said No thanks I'm driving
to which he said You know what your problem is?

So I said I'm alive as you can see so that can't be.
He said No you're just getting by you don't know anything about living.
I said Do you want a cab or do you just want to waste my time.
He said The meter's running I'm paying for this.
I said No you're paying me to drive somewhere my job isn't to be

He said If I'm paying you to drive why aren't you driving.
I said BECAUSE, your IDIOT-SHIP, you haven't told me where you're going.

No. I'm lying. I didn't say your Idiot-Ship I didn't say fucked-up
I needed to drive cab to survive
they'd suspend me no matter how much
the jerk deserved it

To what I did say he finally gave an address & as I drove that way

My memory gets fuzzy now but I AM CERTAIN it was JUST THEN that I
FIRST recalled the TIRE IRON.

When all else fails there's that tire iron at my left hand.
It was a soothing thought, a sweet gentle reassuring thought,
a thought, which, repeated in my mind
might make my miserable
ordeal manageable.

But NO, though just the thought of the tire iron did enable me
to survive to our destination
just thinking about it
would not continue to suffice.

For he would not pay & get out.

He would instead instruct me on the FULL extant of the inadequacy
When I said yes I see it now you're right I've been wrong
He said Don't tell me that you're so stupid you don't even know
what you're agreeing to
And then he went on,
He said I'm telling you what's wrong with you
you want to learn how to live don't you?
And I hear you want to live don't you
And I think you want to live don't you
And I'm feeling the tire iron with my fingers
And I'm thinking he wants to live doesn't he -
And I'm rolling the tire iron in my fingers
And I'm thinking yesss he wants to live he does
And I'm raising the tire iron up slowly
And he says you're a fool not even worth talking to
I'm doing you a FAVOR
And his skull cracks open and there's blood everywhere on the seats on the
windows on the doors in my hair
Oh God what will I do about the blood I think
but I don't stop I keep swinging
I'm drenched in blood HE'S STILL TALKING
I break his nose I break his teeth
I break his jaw HE'S STILL TALKING
I shove it down his throat and twist he's STILL talking
I cram it in his chest I snap his rib cage

NO. I'M LYING. After he said that last thing he paid & got out.

He DID know how to live, DIDN'T he?

Friday, May 25, 2007

Technorati Sucks, Week 9

Furniture of My Life.

Anitra Freeman, my love and lovely unlawful wife, gets on jags. Once she helped found a commune, donating all the money herself -- the ultimate in jag-getting-on. Other lesser jags have been the internet (13 years jag), computers in general (since before the first Star Wars), the Society for Creative Anachronisms, where she liked to specialize as a Jewish aristocrat in 12th Century Moorish Spain, sea-chanteys (she has a website for them), song parodies à la the Raging Grannies, science fiction (she has a website for it), the fantasy classic Silverlock by John Meyers Meyers whose name is a jag (she has a website for it), mystery novels (she has a website for them), webrings for a couple of years (she was managing 18 and a member of 80 more, each membership signifying another frikkin' website). Her current website incorporates all her previous websites and is one giant fucking jag, consisting of over 2,100 webpages and growing jaggerifically.

There's the jag she calls seeking dialog with conservatives, and which I call teasing the fundamentalists. This has been done primarily over the internet and has gone on for 10 years, although it shows signs of moderating. At the exact moment now that I write she is "dialoging" moderately with a moderate creationist. They are in fact arguing online about which of them is most moderate.

A recent jag that went south was the book-trading-by-internet jag which started with the attempt to unload a bunch of books while replacing them with fewer, so creating more space in which to live. It didn't work. She has more books than ever and you can't breathe in my room without getting a book entangled in your nose-hairs.

The latest jag is the one I reported in this week's Adventures in Irony column, gardening in the Union Hotel garden plot. The Union Hotel is not really a hotel but the subsidized apartment building we live in. It's downtown, but it has a tiny yard which overlooks the southern entrance to the Seattle railroad tunnel, and they've recently created a 72 square foot garden there.

This is one of her jags that has become part of the Furniture of My Life. She not only helps tomato plants have sex with themselves, and pours stinking compost juice on everything, she gets out there and sprinkles jars and jars of my own hard-to-find and to afford cayenne pepper, to keep the outdoor rats from raiding the plants. She spent yesterday putting netting over the plant babies to keep the birds out. Her room is getting packed with garden crap, including newborn seedlings in pans of dirt that she dotes over more than you would cuddly kittens. (She'd put them in my room, too, but the books are in the way.)

[Above: What healthy people adore. Below: What Anitra adores.]

Yesterday UPS dropped off two pounds of fucking worms (literally fucking each other in peat moss) in a box the size of two bread boxes at the Union. They were addressed to Anitra. Anitra ordered them. They will be put in a special worm bin that hasn't arrived yet. In the meantime they are living in IN OUR BATHROOM in the box they came in, which has been filled out with compost (i.e. vegetable shit) plus worm food she made herself. The worm food, which I call buffalo shit, is made of old fruit, old vegetables, old bread, coffee grounds, a little old bone meal (for calcium! worms need calcium for their teeth!) and old shredded newspapers to keep their precious dirt loose and aerated.

That, that buffalo shit, as I call it, was in a large deep pan in our refrigerator this morning where it had spent the night aging un-lidded so as to best infuse the other contents of the refrigerator with the delightful aroma of buffalo shit -- an example of the Furniture of My Life.

Also, this morning, I checked my email, and found I hadn't heard from Technorati.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

The Art of Committee Guesting

Thanks to scheduling, if there's a Single Adults Committee meeting for the CEHKC some Monday, that same Wednesday there's a CAC meeting. CAC is the Consumer Advisory Council, and instead of token consumers who have no power because they are permanently a fractional minority of their committee, they are the whole committee (less the facilitation), so they have power galore, for their two hours per month that they meet, within that room.

One does wonder how that power is conveyed up the ranks to the higher committees. I keep hearing that the higher-ups are listening and responding to the CAC's suggestions. Bill Block, the big Project director of the whole shebang and who's been the facilitator of the CAC meetings, has said so many times. I wouldn't know about it much because I always fade out when the subject comes up.

Anyway, the CAC meetings are cooler than the Single Adult Committee meetings. There's pizza. There's Bill Block. There's actual passionate arguments, with raised voices, instead of mumbling deferential professional courtesies all around. After all, to the members of the CAC, it is, as I often say about my involvement at Real Change, personal. I'm not a member and only have guest status each month, so I can only speak during public commenting periods, but it's those constraints of the art form that make it both challenging and fulfilling to me, as an artiste.

This month the only comment I had at the beginning, after inhaling two slices, was to ask if anyone knew how realistic was the rumor I was hearing that those who won the new Section 8 Voucher lottery would have to endure an eight year waiting list.

Lucky me, a representative of the King County Housing Authority was right there to tell me that no, for the folks who win the lottery, it'll be only two years at the most.

Turns out there's an entirely understandable explanation for the rumor. You see if there weren't a lottery, the waiting Time would be eight years. The lottery cuts the pool of applicants by a factor of more than four, so the waiting time, for THOSE people, the winners, drops to less than two years. The waiting time for the losers is now certain to be eternity, because it's been confirmed that they really are losers. They can apply to the next lottery in two or three years, but they'll only lose that one, too, they're losers.

Well, cool. That settled, they went on and had the meeting, while I was quiet and tried very hard to listen. Fading in and out as I do.

They woke me up twice. Once, when one of the members went off on a tirade about too frequent public housing inspections. He was sitting next to Bill Block and pounded the table so violently Bill had to lunge to save his water from spilling. That was funny. The guy was particularly mad because Liberal Congressman Jim McDermott didn't answer his letter about it, and "that goes to show why I'm a conservative."

The other time they got my attention was when we were told that the Governing Board, the highest level committee, would let a new one of the members of CAC to join it's August Body. All CAC needed to do was nominate precisely three members for the position and the Governing Board would decide for them which of the three would be selected to represent them, except in the unlikely event all three nominees were unacceptable, in which case the CAC would be permitted to make additional nominations.

Let's put this in perspective. We're talking about a committee that now consists of 22 heavy hitters, including various current and former mayors, major corporate hotshots like Blake Nordstrom, a former governor, influential members of the faith community, and currently one "Consumer Advocate" (Sheila Sebron), and in contemplating allowing another "Consumer Advocate" from the ranks of CAC, the notion that CAC might choose their own representative is just too radical?

Why? Is it that one token consumer advocate on a committee of 23 occasionally speaking up is barely tolerable, and that a second one would have to be certified dead or at least comatose before being allowed to disrupt the Governing Board's very important process of deciding everything without any input from the people most affected?

I didn't have time during the final public comment period to express that thought, so instead I said, I too am angered by the outrageous too frequent inspections in public housing (my room is invaded by inspectors 13 times a year), and I'm even a liberal, and if the Governing Board is going to tell the CAC who will represent them, the CAC should insist on giving the Governing Board the information they need to make the best choice.

If I were a member of CAC I would propose that we give them three nominees and inform them which one they pick or else the CAC quits en masse and the charade is ended. No more pretending that homeless people are sharing in the process and that they support it.

Red Is Beautiful

Красный цвет красивейш

These days this sort of thing has been subsumed into camp. But red will always be my favorite color.

Sex, Art, Sex

All art is seduction. All seduction is art. If it's any good, it's good art.

Here is some awesome art. I love the way the men act scared.

Mujra Minus Desi

I found that one entirely by accident. I wasn't even looking for erotic dance. One minute I'm watching videos of cute kittens and the next minute I'm seeing proof that strippers don't really need to strip. Then I wondered, where did this come from?

I read the tags, and I found that mujra is an erotic dance form that evolved in the Mughal empire out of Kathak, a classical Hindu narrative dance form. It is now associated mainly with Pakistan and Northern India, and the dancers are often held in low esteem, even though, apparently, they keep their clothes on. So then I had to check out the Kathak and found this next video.

Dhamar Kathak

Then, I found this beautiful and sensual video.

Kathak in Varanasi

Then I had a craving for some more of that Red Hot Mujra, and I found this next one, which may be too sexy for me. I'll have to watch it repeatedly to be sure.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

I Am So Being Constructive

I sent out links to the two rants below (Our Ten Year Plan To Plan Planfulness & A Heaping Helping Of Abuse, two and three posts below) to our Real Change board members, among others, and one of them in a private email offered, in part, the response, "Suggestion: Come up with constructive criticism!"

This is just the sort of feedback I like to get. Evidently there is a perception that my criticisms have not already been constructive! How can this be? I don't know, but let me attempt to correct that perception by way of a restatement. This, then, is part of my answer to the private email in question.

In a Real Change piece last July, John Fox and Carolee Colter wrote:

"The Ten-Year Plan’s leaders recently touted the funding of 1,300 new subsidized units of housing countywide. But a handful of private developers and speculators remove two to three times that number of low-cost units each year for condominium conversion or demolition — and that doesn’t count still more lost to abandonment and plain old rent increases. The current plan to end homeless is nothing but a cruel hoax so long as it ignores housing losses due to the forces of redevelopment."

The loss of existing housing makes the Ten Year Plan's figure of the number of units needed over ten years a variable, not a constant. It already can't be pegged at 9500 anymore. The failure to adjust the figure to acknowledge net housing losses is a failure of nerve, as much as it is a failure of reason.

It isn't destructive criticism to point out that the plan contains the seeds of its own destruction, in that it doesn't take into account critical features of the problem. The planners are not watching what is being lost, whether that is existing low-income housing, or it is the social relationships that homeless people are desperately clinging to.

It is constructive criticism, in my opinion, to offer that better housing outcomes could be obtained if we put the drug war on the back-burner. Or that client-consumer relationships are an artificial culture that should not be considered healthy. Or that, fundamentally, much of the intensive support services that have been talked about in the planning amounts to deprogramming, and that even when it is welcomed by the clients it sets up lop-sided power relationships that are in the long run bad for everybody involved.

I want better outcomes.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007


Crazy Charleston. I am convinced that this has a lot to do with Mad Magazine, but I haven't found the smoking gun yet. The music is punk, but the dancing is all early fifties.

Our Ten Year Plan to Plan Planfulness

So what is King County's Ten Year Plan to End Homelessness, if it isn't a plan to end homelessness, as the name would suggest?

The best answer I have come up with so far, and the most generous, is that it is a plan to plan the ending of homelessness, for ten years.

The current state of the KC Ten Year Plan is a document available from their website, with or without pictures. The document says the plan calls for the creation or maintenance of 9,500 housing units over the next ten years specifically reserved for the homeless population. Of those, 3625 should have intensive support services on site, 3275 should have moderate support services on site, and the remaining 2600 can get by with no on site support services. The plan details the sorts of support required, who should get them, who should deliver them. It calls for client participation to the degree possible.

So how is it a plan to plan and not a plan? A plan would include a method to do all this. A plan would say, for example, take this money, give it to such and such an agent, and have them build such and such. Everything is there except the "take this money" part. In place of the "take this money" part is some language about building leadership and will that goes nowhere on the pages it takes up.

The money might come from the federal government, which claims to really love our Ten Year Plans to pieces, "but you know, there is no political will," says they, "for ending all homelessness, at the federal level." "So if you local communities have the will to do it, great, but what we're interested in is ending chronic homelessness."

This is not lost on our planning planners. So, believe it or not, even though we are planning a plan to end all homelessness (9500 units would do it at conservative projected rates, after all) the talk in subcommittees keeps turning to the chronically homeless.

Yesterday's Single Adults Committee meeting had an odd moment that showed one of the ways the federal goals are subverting our thinking locally.

I'm terrible with names, and anyway half the people at this committee mumble, so I'm not sure who was speaking, but she was from the Health Care for the Homeless Network, and she was presenting data concerning three shelter sites under their purview, namely St. Martin de Porres, for elderly men, DESC's shelter, and Angeline's YWCA shelter, which is mainly for women. The following chart was discussed.

Our speaker pointed out how striking it was that the long term clients (more than 3 years) of the shelters were almost all single adults, while single adults made up only a little more than a third of the clients who had used the same shelters less than one year.

Why does it matter? Beats the hell out of me. The best I can figure is that if we can convince ourselves that it's the single adults who end up being chronically homeless we can go to the feds and say, please help us house all our single adults, they may not be our chronically homeless now, but they will be in two or three years, give them time.

And then everything will simplify. We can fund everything, because we have the means to turn all of our homeless people into single adults. We just break up the families they come to us in, and let them age a few years if they came as youth.

Actually if the feds won't preemptively fund our single adults on the grounds that they will be our chronically homeless, no problem, because without funds they will be, so we'll get our funding eventually anyway.

I pointed out that the chart doesn't show that this process isn't already happening. There is no way to know that half or more of the 90% single adults in the long term group hadn't been in the youth or family categories two years ago.

I don't know, but I know the discussion wouldn't be so convoluted if the political will were not planned, but already in place.

A Heaping Helping of Abuse

Yesterday I attended a Single Adults Committee meeting. The Single Adults Committee, or SAC, is a population subcommittee of a subcommittee of the Committee to End Homelessness in King County, or CEHKC, which began working on King County's Ten Year Plan to End Homelessness in 2004, and therefore if that title meant what it promised, homelessness in King County will be non-existent in 2014.

In fact, there has never been any intention to end homelessness in ten years. That is not the plan. That is just the name of the plan. The plan is something else. I'll get to that later. Right now I want to bitch about something that happened yesterday.

As I say, I attended the committee. I'm an actual official member of the committee. I received an actual invitation to be an actual member of the committee. The committee has between 22 and 25 members. About 20 of them are service providers or social and health services functionaries for the city or the county, including the county hospital, Harborview. The remaining 2 to 5 members who show up each month are us Consumers.

That's what they call those of us who are or have been homeless as single adults. We are called Consumers, as in "consumer of services targeting homelessness."

Let me explain how offensive that is. The token 2 to 5 people selected to appear to represent the single adult homeless community while having their numbers deliberately kept low so they can't have any real power are DEFINED SOLELY IN TERMS OF THEIR RELATIONSHIPS TO THE REAL POWER IN THE ROOM.

Well, fuck us. Fuck us to hell.

They make nice about it, they really do. They pay a couple of us a stipend of $20 every third visit. If it's one of the meetings where only one other Consumer shows up I get the $20. If two other Consumers show up I usually get bumped because they only alloted stipends for two Consumers on the committee, which means that 2 or 3 of us are bonus tokens. I appreciate the thought behind that, seriously.

But I'm still digressing. Yesterday one of the service providers connected with DESC (the people who house me in addition to running the Downtown Emergency Service Center shelter) was talking about how hard it can be to keep chronically homeless people in transitional and permanent housing because they fail due to issues. She was mainly speaking in connection with women I think. Someone said what issues, please list some, and she listed some and one of the issues was "the boyfriend."

Now, I was already in a snippy mood, because only just minutes earlier the same woman had talked about the need for programs where women can live in group situations permanently, and I was remembering how just four years ago we had Noel House providing just that, and promising just that, and the promise was broken. Because the people in charge decided they knew better than the residents what was best for them.

So I thought I might not have heard right, because my mind had been clouded with a snippy fog. So I asked. She said that yes, she said boyfriends. She said that, you have to understand, she was using the term "boyfriends" lightly.

It's probably not a good idea to use the clause "you have to understand" when talking to a mathematician. I am trained to push back hard when I am told what I have to understand. I don't have to understand. You have to explain yourself. I'll understand when you've done your job.

But I ignored that, because I have also been trained in civility. I said that I could see an opportunity here for having more success keeping people in housing. You could arrange the living experience in a way that accommodated the boyfriends.

She said that wouldn't be a good idea. The boyfriends are often abusers and violent and often they are drug suppliers. And I started to ask what accommodations do you make when you don't know that domestic violence or drug supply is an issue, when I was told that it is always considered a bad idea to maintain a relationship when someone is trying to get off drugs.

So here's the deal. I was mistaken about the whole program. I thought the goal was to get people in housing, and that the question was, how do we do that effectively. Instead I find out that the goal is to get them off drugs at all costs, even if they don't want off them.

I find out that the goal of the Ten Year Plan has been taken over by the Missionaries, and that the homeless are the Indians. This woman and her 20 cohorts around the table are the Missionaries who decided that tribal culture was corrupting Native children, who had to be isolated and raised apart from their parents.

They're also the Missionaries who told us that Noel House had to be made temporary for the good of its Consumers. It doesn't matter that now the Missionaries are saying that group living is a good thing, the point is, they're the ones defining the good.

She's not saying that the woman who goes back to her "boyfriend" whatever he is, doesn't want to go back to him. No, she wants to but the Missionary has decided for her that she shouldn't.

Over a hundred years after Native American children were stolen from their own people Missionaries are trying to pry drugs and alcohol from them and not doing penance for being the ones that drove them to those alternatives in the first place.


You break up the only social ties that people have, call their chosen relationships sick and abusive, and you replace them with a sick, abusive, insulting, demeaning, "Consumer" relationship. Go ahead do it, that's what you've been doing. Why not? You're the vanguard, you're the elite YOU KNOW WHAT'S BEST FOR EVERYBODY.

OK, admittedly, you don't know what the new symptoms will be. The chief symptoms of meddling in the Native American's culture were widespread alcoholism and their own subsequent particularly high rate of homelessness. You don't know what the new symptoms will be of the new artificial Consumer relationships you are creating among all the current homeless people you are ripping apart to house. But you KNOW , because you are so fucking superior, that the new symptoms will be something you can cure when they materialize and you get around to them. In the meantime, you can live with yourselves, because you're so fantastic.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Awesome Music & Dance

From the description by vbfree: Traditional music & dance from Ghana, West Africa performed at the Millpond Music Festival [California, September 16, 2006.] The first video is a musical introduction. The dancing gets going on video #2.

You Call That Shocking? THIS Is Shocking

I've listed Gargantua and Pantagruel as one of my favorite books in my profile. It is. I love Rabelais. For someone who spent his childhood being told that telling the truth was lewd, it is a huge relief to see page after page of nonstop unrelenting in-your-face vulgarity, venality, and coarse depraved degradation, as well as simple crudity. Also, if I post a passage from it, maybe people will realize that what I write isn't anywhere as crude as what it could be, and I will get cut some slack. Ha. I kid.

I wish I could find a decent translation online. The one at Online Books is hopelessly arcane and confused. So I will just type out here one of my favorite passages from the J.M. Cohen Penguin Classics version. It's Chapter 13, Book 1, the final paragraph describing the end of Gargantua's search for the perfect arse-wipe:

'After that' said Gargantua, 'I wiped myself with a kerchief, with a pillow, with a slipper, with a game-bag, with a basket -- but what an unpleasant arse-wiper that was! -- then with a hat. And note that some hats are smooth, some shaggy, some velvety, some of taffeta, and some of satin. The best of all are the shaggy ones, for they make a very good abstersion of the fecal matter. Then I wiped myself with a hen, a cock, and a chicken, with a calf's skin, a hare, a pigeon, and a cormorant, with a lawyer's bag, with a penitent's hood, with a coif, with an otter. But to conclude, I say and maintain that there is no arse-wiper like a well-downed goose, if you hold her neck between your legs. You must take my word for it, you really must. You get a miraculous sensation in your arse-hole, both from the softness of the down and from the temperate heat of the goose herself; and this is easily communicated to the bum-gut and the rest of the intestines, from which it reaches the heart and the brain. Do not imagine that the felicity of the heroes and demigods in the Elysian Fields arises from their asphodel, their ambrosia, or their nectar, as those ancients say. It comes, in my opinion, from their wiping their arses with the neck of a goose, and that is the opinion of Master Duns Scotus too.'

[Above: asphodel]

[Right: "Dr. Subtilis" Scotus]

On Relaying Shock

Three posts ago, in the post I titled Rare Serious Poem, I depicted an act of child abuse, namely extended rape by enema. When the poem was printed in Real Change 12 years ago a reader wrote an angry letter that said that people like me are the reason we have child molesters. He said that I was wrong to write to shock in such a way, that in doing so I was giving the child abusers ideas.

His letter made me angry. I did not write that passage to shock. I wrote it to accuse. What I described happened to me. I wasn't making something up to shock prudes. I was telling the world what had been done to me and accusing it of doing nothing to stop it.

I am bringing this up now because we've turned a corner in my memoirs here and the accounts of abuse are going to involve sexual abuse. When I was a child and I told people about the sexual abuse that I'll be describing, in attempts to get help, I was told by many people that I WAS EVIL for accusing my parents.

No. THEY were evil. They were vicious evil immoral trash. As I was a child, they were free to threaten me then with violence, saying they'd wash my mouth out with soap, proving they were as evil as my parents. They could also turn me in to my parents, and at least two did. I hate those people for their cowardly vicious threats and betrayals, more than I hate my Mother for the original abuse. They represented the world. There were as many of them, at least a dozen, that I could bear to plea to for help, before the threats and betrayals became too much. Then I could no longer believe the risks of further betrayals were worth it, and I gave up. No one of them crushed my hope. It took all of them in succession. They were, as the Christians say, witnessing for their beliefs and values, and their witnessing showed their beliefs and values to be lacking.

The difference now is, I'm not a vulnerable child anymore, and I'm not a child you can threaten or betray anymore. This post will be a warning to anyone who doesn't like that my words shock. I'm not the one who committed the acts that words relate, which are the root and source of the shock. I was the one who endured them.

Ask yourself this. If as a child of 2 or 4 or 7 or 13 I could endure the kind of "shocking" abuse I'm going to be describing, how weak are the ones who can't even take the descriptions?

Some of the people I related these events to at the time said I was evil because I was violating a Biblical Commandment, in dishonoring my parents. I did not dishonor them. They dishonored themselves. They, in their turn, blasphemed their own God, by suggesting that He approved of silencing children pleading for relief from severe abuse. If that were true, if it were the true intent of that one of the Ten Commandments, then that would in itself be complete sufficient grounds for regarding the Christian God as unworthy of any reverence.

I would not go out of my way to make my own God look so bad.

Sunday, May 20, 2007


Ciocarlia is Romanian for "skylark." It's also the name of a wildly popular Romanian folk tune associated with gypsies. In all performances the middle features instrumental bird song imitations. That accounts for much of my love for Ciocarlia.

Classical music fans know Ciocarlia as a major portion of George Enescu's Romanian Rhapsody in A Major, Opus 11, No. 1. Here's an odd cinematic version featuring a harmonica player.

Here's a version, said to be due to Grigoras Dinicu, in which the bird song is provided by violin, which is more customary. The basic melody predates Grigoras Dinicu.

But guitarists do it, too.

Electronic guitarists do it, Turkishly.

Electronic organists in restaurants do it.

Even tourism promoters do it!

Saturday, May 19, 2007

The DSA Is Wrong Wrong Wrong

[The subsidized apartment building I live in is called The Union Hotel. It's run by DESC, Seattle's Downtown Emergency Service Center. All the residents have been homeless. I write a column for the monthly building newsletter. The column is called Out of My Mind. I'm posting them here, because I can. -- wes]

About five months ago the Downtown Seattle Association, AKA the Business Association, AKA the DSA, started a pamphlet campaign to discourage people from giving money to panhandlers downtown. The pamphlets were given out by the guys in the yellow jackets that everybody thinks work for the city but actually work for the DSA, a club by and for businesses, many of which aren't even headquartered in Seattle, and whose main interest in Seattle is profit.

Their pamphlets talked a lot about how panhandling is really bad for the panhandler, leaving out all the real reasons that the Business Association doesn't want panhandling here. They don't want it because panhandlers are visibly poor.

You may think you're cool with the DSA, but you're not. Most of us here at the Union look poor. We wear clothes we bought at thrift stores. Don't think these suits don't notice. Corporate types are TRAINED to notice things like that. You've heard the expression "charge what the market will bear." We're in the market, and the business people know we're too poor to bear much. So they want us all out of "their" city and "their" market to make room for richer customers. They're only just starting with the panhandlers. YOU'RE NEXT.

But, what do you know, the DSA is saying now, in their own uninformed opinion, that during the five months since they started passing out those pamphlets, aggressive panhandling is up 40%!

Of course, they're saying, "It's not our fault!" They're saying, it's not because of the pamphlets, it's because the Tacoma panhandlers are all moving here.

The truth is, they're wrong on every count. They're wrong about how to deal with panhandlers. They're wrong about whether to deal with panhandlers. They're wrong to try to guide public policy on panhandlers, they don't have the knowledge or the wisdom. They're wrong about the 40% increase, because they don't know how to gauge things like that. They saw an increase because since the campaign started they've been looking for panhandling more. They don't know which panhandlers are newly arrived from Tacoma because they never talk to panhandlers because they think of them as members of a mindless herd, instead of as individuals with individual problems and individual needs.

If panhandlers are more aggressive now it's because they've been attacked and they're on the ropes. If the DSA knew or cared about human beings, they could have seen that coming. They don't, so they didn't.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Rare Serious Poem

[Real Change published this poem soon after I decided I had finished it in 1995. It was illustrated on my Speakeasy website until I cleaned that up recently, along with a Part II, which I might post here later on.]

My Childhood Study of Christianity
OR Gloria in Excelsis Deo Part I:
Why I'll Be a Pagan 'Til Kingdom Come

I'll begin with a little pre-history -
My mother called me wild sometimes, sometimes a freak.
She often raped and beat and tortured me.
While my father just got drunk and shrieked.

At six I came to understand
that my parents were Christian
and that Good Christians are persecuted, not persecuting.
I further learned at seven
that Christ would bless Good Christians
and support them in their suffering,
buffering them, so to speak,
presumably from the
persecutions of the BAD Christians.

I had questions to ask of suitable authority.
Christianity itself was promising.
Somewhere in Christ and Christianity
there should be answers! (There'd better be.)

I learned to read, to speed my way to the grace
by which I would escape my tormenters,
or at least to face their torment.

Abraham, Isaac, and Joseph.
Ezekiel, Isaiah, and Josiah.
Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John,
666, Whore of Babylon
Paul aka Saul and all and all...
Shadrach Meschach Abednego
Gloria in Excelsis Deo
Plain of desolation
Mustard seed, Transfiguration
Michael, you row your boat ashore
Now Noah got no shore to row to.
Adam and Eve and Lilith makes three
days and three nights and the
burning lake was three times around
the walls of Jericho burning
incense, the Temple WAS rent
body and bread, blood and wine
Daniel in the den of lions
A generation of vipers
that gets only one sign
Captivity, Ecclesiastes
King Cyrus, Maccabes
Peter, get thee behind me
For it is right and meet
with all the angels to sing
Eli, Eli, lama Sabachtani
Melchizedek, priest-king
Kiss the ring! Kiss the ring!

Job was promising - you know the guy:

"Sorry Life! Woe and Strife! Teeth do Gnash!
Ain't got no Wife! Ain't got no Cash!
The Lord gave Ear
To Satan I Fear
So here I Stand, all covered in Rash."

But THEN God the Old-Testament-Lout steps out.
"I made Heaven and Earth," he says, "what are YOU worth?"
And Job shakes and quakes and begs for mercy, and just happens to get it.

None of which did anything for me, or managed to answer my questions -
- namely -

Then there were Psalms.
Psalms, Canaanite Songs
in the Court of King David

"O sing praise to the almighty deity
Who makes sky, pie, and hairy flies alike..."
No, they don't say He makes pie
Mother makes pie and I don't care
Mother makes me cry and I don't care
Mother wants me to die and I don't care
The Psalms say God made the sky so I should shout Hallelujah.
How about I fart at His sky and cry out what's it to ya?
He who hath created me hath in addition created TOO MUCH SHIT!

But THEN, Psalm 23 was promising.
"Verily, though I walk blah blah blah
I shall fear no evil".
How's that work?
"The Lord is my shepherd?"
Framed on my Aunt's dresser.
The Sunday School Teacher Aunt.
An operator lets me make the long distance call.
And I beg her to take me away from them all.

Four hours later I'm tortured by mother more than ever before -
raped by enema and beat an hour and a half and "Clean up the mess,
YOU made it" and HOW could I have made anything I'm not the same person I
was two hours ago. THEN there were two of me now there's one, twice.
"One against you, one against Aunt Snitch."
The Aunt who would have been a Good German in '41,
the one who verily fears no evil because
she hands over to it whatever it wants.
She DOES need a shepherd for a Lord.

So I quit Psalms until the age of ten.
Then one Sunday almost asleep in my pew,
Ready to give up entirely on Christianity,
The Psalm reader began Psalm 22:
"Lord, Lord, why hast thou forsaken me?"
Like it's a question? So I grabbed my Psalm book?
So I could look for myself and read along?
It's no question he read it wrong.
It's: LORD!
It's an accusation, backed up by the facts.
And it demands that THE Lord act NOW!

Why the reader couldn't read it right,
Why the Chaplain couldn't give it light,
No matter I knew it meant something
I'd find out for sure
I'd ask the Chaplain
on my way out the church -

Tell me what it means I said
It prefigures Christ he said
His words on the cross he said
The casting of lots he said
Tell me what it means.
It's not just about
It's about ALL people

After a wary glance at my parents
He bent down to whisper in my ear
"I believe you know too well what it means.
May God help you and forgive us all."

Yes, I did know what it meant -
I just wanted to know I wasn't alone
before my gods called me home
and stood the world upright again.

Technorati Sucks, Week 8

The blog you are looking at has been signed up on Technorati since February 22, 2007. These posts have been added since then, not counting this one:

That's 65 posts by my count. That's 65 posts that Technorati's software hasn't managed to "see", because Technorati sucks.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Electronic Bear Handler Music

Wikipedia's article on the Shukar Collective says that it's a Romanian group known for combining gypsy bear handler music with contemporary electronic sampling. Yes, that's right, we are talking about bear handlers and bear handler music.

Here is a xenomanic treat. I am embedding here the 3 videos of Tamango's Story. Tamango is one of the members of the Shukar Collective. The videos' description on YouTube by ab4rock says he is telling us about his wild life. It is in a language I don't understand. I think it's Romanian with a gypsy accent. But, why do I need to know?

Good Damn Music

If you want to learn to not like the following music, what you need to do, if you haven't done it already, is to suck eggs up your nose with straws 6 hours a day every day to build up a hatred for chicken ovulations, first, and then for everything else good, second.

Recap + Music To Be Reborn By

The parents proved themselves unworthy. So the gods stole away the original child and replaced him with the Changeling, who would deliver justice.

[Incidentally, I had a Green Singing Finch in the 90s named Zino, because he loved Zino Francesscati's version of this. If I had introduced him to this version instead, I might have called him David, or Oistrakh.]

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Dynamic Scalp

Here I am in the Real Change weekly newspaper editorial office during production crunch Tuesday to film production assistant Rosette Royale's dynamic scalp movement. True fact: His name means Little Rose Quarter Pounder in English. Behind him is red-shirted editorial manager Adam Hyla, whose name is a fabrication.

Monday, May 14, 2007

The Freak

I don't know cars. Here's a picture of the car my parents used to run me over, taken when my Father first bought it. I wish someone could tell me the make and model.

It's also visible in two of these next snapshots. All these pictures were taken in a downtown Honolulu park the day I was released from Tripler Medical Center. It's amazing what a difference a haircut and a change of clothes can make. That's me, the same kid on the same day as in the shaggy hair and hospital gown from two posts ago. My Father was NOT going to have HIS SON looking like a GIRL anymore. The haircut was the first item on the agenda.

While we were getting my haircut, my Mother pitched a fit because the shoes that I had been allowed to wear on the hospital grounds were taken back by the nurse who loaned them.

When she got tired of complaining about that, she returned to the more important subject of telling my Father what a fool he had been in not killing me when he had the chance. Now, she said, they were stuck with "the freak" forever. She started calling me the freak when she found out I couldn't speak but could whistle exactly like a bird (complete with warbling.) She also called me the basket-case a lot. My Father would occasionally try to correct her but mostly gave up. Neither of them realized that I was understanding a lot of what they were saying. I got about every other word, and I was learning more fast. Just because I couldn't speak didn't keep me from learning the meanings of words, and I was obsessed with that.

When we left the hospital I was crying. I was terrified. I thought they'd finish killing me right away. By the time we got to the park for the photos I was calmed down and I could laugh at my Father's attempts to amuse me. That's what's going on here. You can see the process in the circular-cut pictures going from top to bottom. Top: uncertainty. Next down: warming. Lower: almost comfortable. Bottom: scared again. Whenever I looked at my Mother the fear returned. You can see why in this enhanced closeup. Her eyes and that grimace show exactly what she wants. She wants me dead. She's tolerating the little freak because she expects to get her way.

She didn't know yet how much of a freak I actually was. Because my parents were told that I wouldn't suffer any speech loss, when I did they decided together that the psychologists knew nothing. So they didn't bring me back for the tests and therapy they were asked to. As a result they were never in a position to be told that I had two major symptoms of brain trauma besides the obvious ones.

One, they wouldn't ever guess on their own. I came out of the coma with an eidetic memory. Not only could I phonetically remember a great deal of my first year the coma, but now I could remember every conversation and sound I heard during every day and play it back in my head at the end of the day or weeks later. My phonographic memory was near perfect. I also had a good photographic memory. But without being able to speak, and without trained psychologists observing me, my parents wouldn't know about it. By the time I learned to speak English, I was advised not to let them find out about it. Later my Mother suspected it and she would test me to try to confirm her guess, but by that time it was mostly gone.

The other symptom was found out right away by my Mother when she changed my diapers, but I don't believe she knew it was a symptom of brain damage. I had the condition made famous by John Waters' A Dirty Shame. At 16 months of age I was over-sexed. She discovered I would get erections from the smallest of stimulations. It was enough to just unpin my diapers.

The increased sex drive condition is quite common in cases of severe head injury. The eidetic memory condition is relatively rare but happens and if it lasts it can be identified as a form of Savant Syndrome. It's sometimes associated with left brain damage (my injury was to the right, but my development was reversed also) or limbic damage or both. Limbic damage is apt to occur whenever there is any severe head trauma because the limbic system lies at a focal point of the skull. It would have been easy to miss in a case like mine. The eidetic memory is believed to result when more normal "higher" mechanisms of memory are inhibited forcing the brain to fall back on more primitive mechanisms.

The fact is that having an eidetic memory is not an efficient way to take in information of a large range. In the long run it's narrowing. I'm glad I lost it eventually, or rather, that normal memory function returned and took over. That happened after my 4th birthday. So until I was 4 I reviewed every day's experiences in detail at least once before sleeping every night. As a result I have a very detailed memory from ages most people barely remember at all.

If I don't remember anything from a day or a week back then, I can be pretty sure nothing interesting happened, from my perspective at the time.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

I Love Belly Dancing!

I love all kinds! I don't care who does it! Here's an Egyptian belly dancer, Tito, dancing with what is either a kid or a very unusually proportioned little person, Mimo, both on and to drums. It is something everyone should see.

Here's an Australian, who calls himself Jamil, doing it!

I think this instance here is called Tribal Fusion Dancing:

Whereas this one might be straight Tribal:

Then there is this fellow, who just might be in a class by himself (when he's dancing!)

I love them all!

The Omega

When I tell people I lived three memorable years in Hawaii they often ask me how I liked the beach and the palm trees and the sand. I was in Schofield Barracks most of the time, which, as I've said, looks like a low-income suburban housing project. It's situated almost at the center of O'ahu, miles from any of the beaches. There was very little that would seem exotic to a lower forty-eighter, apart from the beautiful hills in the distance.

The only thing that I remember about Schofield that really separated it from anywhere I've been on the continent is the soil. The soil was amazingly red clay. It was very soft, almost muddy, and it had a strong smell that most people didn't like.

I'll describe my first birthday in detail.

It was late in the afternoon. The sun was still out. My Mother had been drinking on the porch. I had been under the house, possibly for most of the day. For some reason I decided to come out into the sun for a bit, and coincidentally I was out crawling around on the front lawn as a staff car drove up and delivered my Father to the curb.

As soon as he stepped out of the staff car it was driven away. My Father was holding the present, a dark brown teddy bear. It had a bow around its neck.

I remember the front yard being small, with maybe no more than thirty feet from curb to porch. There was a public sidewalk that ran next to the road and a narrow private sidewalk that ran from the main sidewalk to the covered porch. Saplings had recently been planted along the public sidewalk in the adjoining yards. The porch had a big chair, with my Mother in it, and a table to hold my Mother's drinks.

Just as my Father was being delivered to the curb by staff car, I had to have a bowel movement on the grass.

When I saw my father I was thrilled. I'd thought I'd never see him again. My Mother had been awful to me. But I didn't think about that. I was just happy to see my Father after missing him for six months, which was half my life.

My Mother's first reaction to seeing that my Father had arrived and that I'd left a deposit on the yard was to start laughing loudly and say, "Look at that! He made a present for Daddy! He saw you coming and he made a present for you!" (I'm reconstructing dialog from the sense I got of my memories of it later. I don't recall the exact words of most of this.)

My Father looked confused. Then my Mother said to me, "Go on, show Daddy your present!" She was smiling. I thought she was happy for me that my Daddy was back. I didn't know what her words meant, or that she was being cruel.

Suddenly I had a realization though, that the sound "Daddy" referred to my Father.

That's one of the most painful things about this whole event. It is hard to believe the amazing convergence of circumstances that happened that day. I arrived at the idea that words have meaning just then as my Father approached.

My Father was by now right in front of me. I had understood that he was Daddy, and all of the sudden I also figured out what my Mother had meant all along by "You made a present for Daddy!" So I picked up my shit and held it out to him, to show him what I made for him.

At that point my Mother was standing right behind me and roared with laughter. My Father turned bright red. My Mother laughed all the more. She said to me, "tell Daddy who your present is for!" And I said my first word, "Daddy." My father dropped the teddy bear and started screaming at me, "What are you doing?! How dare you!" or something like that. As he reached for me she snatched me up and told him he was stupid.

He grabbed me out of her arms and slammed me head first onto the concrete walkway. The top of my head took all the impact.

For a few seconds it seemed like my eyes were spinning in my head. I would try to stand and fall and try again and fall again. There was shrieking from my Mother. Then laughter again. She said "Ha, ha, you said you wanted a genius son, now you're going to be taking care of a basket-case the rest of your life. And he just said his first word! Instead of being proud you broke his head for it!"

When my Father said I had it coming for what I had done, my Mother told him he was an idiot. "He's only one year old today, he doesn't know what it means. And anyway I taught him to do that."

She then shouted out to him a long invective about how she never wanted a kid anyway and how miserable she'd been being stuck with me those six months, and gleefully described the toilet training ritual to him. She said she was going to leave him and HE'D be stuck taking care of the basket case. IF I didn't die.

About then it started to sink in to my Father that I could have been very badly injured. But when he suggested calling an ambulance, my Mother said, "What about your career?"

That led to a heated debate about whose fault my injury was. My Mother said it was my dad's fault, obviously, he'd done the deed. But my Father said it was my Mother's cruel joke that led him to do it. My Mother said what he did still wasn't right. My father said they'd see what a judge thought about that.

At that my Mother said they had to bring me inside to talk about it in private. No neighbors had intervened, but it was always possible some were watching from cracked curtains. They took me in and laid me on the kitchen table. My Mother was by now panicking. The more they threw accusations back and forth, the more they seemed to convince each other that I would die. My Mother convinced my Father that they were both going to be charged with murder. They argued some more about whose fault it was, then my Mother said they had to finish killing me to put me out of my misery, at least, and then worry about who was to blame.

My Father actually bought the mercy killing idea. He was also losing his head by this time. My Mother brought him a pillow and he held it over my face. I started to lose consciousness. Then there was screaming, "Stop, stop, I can't stand it!" My Mother called it off because she couldn't stand seeing me turn blue. My life was saved for the first time that day by a phenomenon of blood oxygenation and light reflection.

After that they left for a while. It turns out they drove to a bar in nearby Wahiawa to discuss the situation over drinks. They came up with a plan there to finish killing me by running me over with the car. The idea was that with the drinking they could pass it off as an accident. They supposed the damage from the previous injury would be lost in all the new damage to me. No one would guess that there had been two traumas, if they got their stories straight and stuck to them. I learned all this much later from eavesdropping on my parents while they recalled the sequence of events and rehashed accusations.

By the time they got back it was getting dark outside. I had passed out. I woke up to them leaning me up against one of the saplings next to the road. Then there was a last minute argument in strained whispered voices, which I only heard, about who would drive. My Father lost the argument and got in the car. The car started up. I heard a thump, which was probably the lead right tire jumping the curb. I have no memory of my head being hit, but I remember being suddenly on the grass.

My life was saved for the second time that day by the clay soil. The lead tire rolled over my chest. There were cracking sounds. All the air was squeezed from my lungs. But I didn't die because the soil yielded to me. The car pushed me deep into it.

My Father came out of the car and squatted down in front of me. I couldn't see him very well at first because blood was pouring over my eyes. My Mother was screaming in the background. First she screamed, "Oh my God he isn't dead! It can't be!" Then she said, "Don't you know what that means? If that didn't kill him, that means the other thing wouldn't ever have killed him!" Then she said, "We've done it now, you have to finish him." She screamed at my Father to finish killing me with a punch.

I could see a little better as my father made a fist and drew his arm back. As he did, I had a vision. It was a flashback to the I'iwi, the Red Bird I had seen the day he left for Korea six months earlier. It was triggered by seeing my Father's pained expression as he looked at me. It was just like the expression he'd had that day just before I had seen the Red Bird.

As the vision proceeded, the Bird's song filled my head, then I heard the sound of my Father saying, over and over again, "Say Goodbye Daddy." I still didn't know what it meant but for some reason I mimicked the sound anyway. Maybe I guessed that the reason all this happened was I hadn't said it before. I said "Say Goodbye Daddy."

My father immediately started crying and shouted to my Mother to call for an ambulance. I was saved for the third time by a vision.

[Left: Me by a garden on Tripler's grounds. First picture after the coma.]

The ambulance arrived at 9:05 PM Hawaii time. They thought I had to be dead when they found me because a third of my skull was swinging loose on the right side. Then I opened my eyes. Saved again.

On the ride to the hospital or infirmary the oxygen revived me. I heard them talking about how my parents' account didn't add up. They called my parents noho. They were natives. Noho means crazy.

The doctors' report specifically mentioned that the ambulance attendants had said that I was found in a depression in the grass. I know that's where they found me because I can still close my eyes and smell that clay. But the doctors dismissed the ambulance attendants' account because I had two head injuries, one consistent with a blow to the side of the head by the car front bumper, and one which they said must have occurred when I was subsequently thrown to the pavement striking the top of my head.

After all, who are you going to believe, a white officer of the US Army and his wife, or two Hawaiian natives?

So my Father got a DUI. The sentence was suspended because he had suffered enough already, having run over his precious only son. Years later my Father would often brag that he had a perfect driving record all his life and my Mother would start to say, "Well, there was that one DUI... " and he'd say, "SHUT UP!"

What I got, according to the doctor's report, was cracked ribs, one punctured lung, a dislocated shoulder, tire tracks over my chest, severe damage to about half the right cerebral surface, less severe damage to the top of the cerebrum, and, just as the ambulance was dropping me off, severe shock. The doctors said I would have died if I'd got there a minute later. Saved again, by fast driving.

The sapling was destroyed. It had to be replaced.

I don't know where I was treated initially. I didn't read that part of the report. But I know I woke up with bandages over my head in a ward in Tripler Medical Center in Honolulu. I had no sense of how long I was in a coma, but heard "four months" repeatedly from my parents when I eavesdropped.

Before I woke up in the hospital my mind was increasingly active. I ran through my memories of the preceding year of my life many times. As I did I applied the idea that words meant things to all the sounds that I remembered. So by the time I was conscious I knew what "Say Goodbye, Daddy" meant, and I knew better what "You made a present for Daddy" meant.

The Doctors had assured my parents that, as my left temporal lobe had not been damaged, my speech development would be unaffected. My Father was sure they were right since I'd spoken to him after being run over.

It turns out I'd been one of the exceptional cases that was developing language on my right side. The damage hadn't stopped me from mimicking my Father, but after the shock and the coma I couldn't make the sounds I had managed to make before. I had to learn how to babble all over again.

But outside my window, which was on the second or third floor, there was a birds' nest, and as I became conscious I awoke to bird song.

My parents were called in, and they sat by me and tried to get me to speak, while a doctor and nurses watched.

I whistled the bird song of the bird that was outside my window!

My Mother almost fainted.

Here I am outside on the grounds of Tripler, the day I was released, wearing shoes on loan from one of the nurses. The bird's nest was in the tree behind me in the picture.

By the way, I hate that teddy bear forever.

When they let my parents take me I felt betrayed. I had believed that the people at the hospital had rescued me from my parents. That hurt. Not being able to make speech sounds hurt.

What hurt the most was I missed who I had been. I didn't feel like I was the same person anymore. I felt like the original Wesley was taken away and replaced with me, and I was lost, and I shouldn't be here.

That's why I call the end of that first year the Omega. It was more than the end of a year. It was the end of a person.

[Hell of a post for a Mother's Day, wasn't it?]