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Hey Everybody! This blog has evolved to focus primarily on my Vancouver MPMC practice , and I usually don’t share my other work or publications here. But the recent HSBC drug laundering controversy really got to me. I know we’re beginning to get a bit desensitized to Wall Street corruption and the failure of our governments to mete out appropriate consequences, but this recent HSBC scandal is more than just your run-of-the-mill corruption. I’ve become quite disturbed by its implications, and I want to bring to light as best I can what I see as a serious and dangerous affront to our basic sense of equality under the law.
Perhaps most importantly, I feel we have at-hand appropriate remedies to the HSBC scandal that are being willfully ignored, and that a society that fails to take advantage of every opportunity to fight back against corruption is doomed to regression, injustice, and further breaches to our essential dignity as a people.
Please read and share my recent article at HailMaryJane.Com. Yes, it’s marijuana-related,entertainment website, but it’s the loudest megaphone to which I currently have access, and this is a publication run by hard-working (albeit fun-loving) individuals who are unified by their belief in a better future. .
I remember my first exposure to Christian theology. I was six, seven perhaps. I remember how difficult it was learning about death.
But afterwards, someone, I don’t remember who, possibly my mother, told me about heaven, a place where one could live forever. And while it was nice that this solved the death problem, I distinctly remember how baffled I was by the concept of “living forever.”
I remember sitting out on the front steps of our family home and contemplating what, in my mind, seemed a kind of madness, living forever. No, I didn’t want to die, and I was glad that someone had a solution, but logistically, I was dumbfounded. There on the front steps, in attempt to reconcile and understand, I’d imagine a great tunnel where the mass of the deceased followed behind God, a tall bearded man in beige robes. His beard was brown, not long, but moderately tailored, God in his prime I suppose, a child’s God. So we, the dead, followed behind him and he, God, continually slammed fist after fist against the wall of time, making more of it open up for us, through and beyond and then some against the very bedrock of eternity. And we just followed on behind, holding faith that God would continue forever to exhaust his energies on our behalf.
It troubled me, as a child, this eternity.
All is well. I’ve been busy preparing an essay for an online literary magazine called The Millions. The essay is scheduled for publication later this month. I’m quite excited and grateful for this. The Millions is a well-esteemed forum, with names like George Saunders, Rick Moody, and Jennifer Egan ranking among its guest contributors. As uber-tangential and tenuous it would be to imply such a “peer set” for myself, I’m mostly just happy to know once and for all that sending my work out– a behavior I was beginning to regard as essentially masochistic– can indeed result in something other than a mailbox full of rejection letters.
My cpu is having a hard time handling my video editing software at the moment, but, as soon as I can, I’m going to start uploading more videos from India. I’ve got hours upon hours of cool footage. Let’s just hope my cpu survives long enough for me to share. Not that I’m complaining, I’ve been dragging the poor machine all over India, and, with the exception of video editing, it’s still trooping along like a good sport.
Bangalore, India. We were running, myself, Lloyd, Aleister, and we even had a porter under our employ as well— an old straw-thin Indian man hustling the last of our luggage with us to platform three. The three of us, all but the porter, were just in time to jump on the final car of the moving train, luggage-in-hand, but our poor fourth was left bent and wheezing under what in retrospect was a disproportionate share of our total luggage weight. In the rush to catch our train, we’d loaded him up too heavy, a callousness that cost us our ride to Nepal.
An unfortunate circumstance but a telling one. Missing the train ended up feeling to me like a summoning of sorts. While Lloyd and Aleister are rerouting to Nepal— a Tuesday bus from Bangalore to Delhi and a flight to Kathmandu—I’ve decided to break away and return for a time to the solitude that marked my arrival in this country. I’ve put my own itinerary together this evening, seven amazing destinations throughout India. I’ll be heading out tomorrow, quite certain of this new path’s integrity, equally certain that I’ll be missing my friends before I even breach Bangalore city limits.
My last video demonstrated how easy it is to take a metal object through TSA nude body scanners undetected.
In this video, I interviewed an actual TSA screener to hear more about how these machines are an epic fail. "Jennifer," who asked me not to use her real name or face, has been on the front lines of the TSA's checkpoints for the last 4 years.
Not sure if this taking a break from writing is all that great of an idea. I finished a big section of my book and figured I’d wait a week or two to resume work. In the meantime I’ve been focused on improving my diet, rest, and physical activity, bought a juicer, been doing a bit of calisthenics, — amazing yogurt in India, really nice to eat on curry dishes and mixed into juice.
In addition to getting healthy physically, I’ve taken sick with some ironically positioned depression and become something of an awful person to be around, irritable, dazed, self-absorbed, inaccessible, wanting to be alone, wishing for my little, secluded garret back in Saint Louis, where I’d be writing in my journal, promising myself that what I write will be kept forever private and extolling the purity of such writing.
Back to BRAT today. Why is it so damn horrifying returning to work? The book is so big and menacing — so many words and sentences– and getting back into that world is never exactly “fun” at first. Nonetheless, this is clearly what I’m meant to be doing, and it’s the only known cure for my particular depression and social awkwardness. To borrow from Neal Stephenson- four to five hours of fiction-writing every day is what’s required in order to make me fit for most human company.
Marijuana can help too, but it’s quite temporary, and, in an effort to preserve the intensity/efficacy of the accompanying paranoia distillation and expulsion, my current herbal rX is twice weekly, Wednesdays and Saturdays, always with enough time elapsed so that my nerves remain a bit taut and anxious; I need to be a little afraid to smoke. I want to bring my fears to life and challenge them to staring contests, but I don’t want to lose my capacity to fear altogether, which, as best I can tell, would make me a burnout or an official “stoner,” and that’s fine, but it’s not what I’m after. The other night I told some stoned Indians about this paranoia-as-spice philosopy, hoping to relate. They didn’t know me, and I was high and paranoid and this made them paranoid too, but they appreciated my company all the same, even though I made them a bit uncomfortable, and we ended up relating well in the end, so much better than we would have had I been just “chill.” Fuck being chill. Yes, twice a week is cheaper, and probably better on the lungs as well.
I’ve been reading, finished two Neal Stephenson books, and just finished The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by Mark Haddon, and I read an old-timey Tin-Tin comic today called “Prisoners of the Sun.” Reading books really is one of the best fucking things about life. I don’t know why more people don’t get into it. It will change your life in ways quite similar to extended travel in developing countries, it’s cheaper too, and easier on the lungs.
Why is it that whenever I get sloppy and lazy in my life, friends and family seem to come out of the woodwork to bring me back up, as if they’re rewarding me for slacking off and being a pain in their asses. I don’t know that I deserve this but I’m grateful for it. My friends and family inspire me. They make me want to be a good person, a great person! …a better person at least.
Speaking of, I’m following my friends, Lloyd and Aleister, to Bangalore, then to Nepal for a couple weeks, where they’ve rented a booth at a body-art/modification convention. Should be an extraordinary trip! I hear internet is plentiful in Nepal, so hopefully I’ll be able to post a couple blog updates. Cheers ! =)
Goa’s “busy season” is winding down, which means that many of the friends I’ve made here have begun behaving very strangely. They’re getting on airplanes and going home, returning to this peculiar thing they call Real Life.
First to depart this week, my darling Swiss friends, Ramona and Maria. We met at Lloyd’s book-release party. The four of us soon grew to be inseparable, running around from flea market to dance party, killing off late night hours in
the distinctly Goan makeshift beach cafes, where sari-clad Indian women prepare chai and delicious omelettes, their portable griddles set up on mats over the sand and the ocean humming a few feet away. Sounds pretty, but I insist, it’s not really an easy experience to describe.
Though Ramona and Maria spoke decent English, my normal style of speaking was very difficult for them to understand. It took a few days for me to master the art of clear, slow, simple, and essential English, but my efforts paid off in spades. One evening, I was asked to explain my book, Brat. Having already settled into that nice, simple, and essential communication groove with my Swiss friends,the true elevator pitch for Brat was born. It just came out, slow and clear: “It’s about a program that trains children to become Interdimensional Ambassadors. It’s X-Men meets Blair Witch Project meets The Wonder Years.” So simple, so tactical, I don’t think I’ve ever explained the book any better. Maria left weekend before last and Ramona this past Saturday. I miss them a great deal and wish them all the best.
My British friend, Niles, was next to go. His plane took off Sunday morning. Niles is one of those internet geniuses nipping on the heels of his first million at age 29. Good with search engine optimization, not so good with cows:
When I met Niles, he was on a terrific bender, all booze-filled and obnoxious, searching for whatever it is people search for after conquering money. It was the first and last time I saw Niles drink. He had some kind of realization after that night—alcohol wasn’t doing much good in his life. Niles studied art at university. He even attempted a novel once, soon progressing (regressing?) from novelist to copy-writer, and from copy-writer to capitalist. For the next couple of weeks, Niles and I hung out regularly: motorcycling, checking out concerts and beaches, and brain storming on art and business. We even stopped in at my old guest house for a game of Carrom with Lawrence. It’s quite shocking how not drinking sort of forces you into more interesting and gratifying activities.
Also saying farewell on Saturday was Christopher, a very interesting and whip-smart British journalist, whom Niles and I met last week, shortly after the cow incident. Niles and Christopher discovered that they were booked on the same return flight, perhaps destined to remain “mates” stateside.
I’ve been doing a great deal of planning and analysis over the last few days. I’m quite pleased to report that
I’ve managed to spend very little since arriving in India and could conceivably survive for several more months. That said, I think I’m a bit tired of whittling down my bank account while lacking any real income.
Lloyd and Aliester, the two artists whom I’m residing with, continue to inspire me with their intelligence and industriousness. Like me, they’ve been pursuing professionalism in their crafts for about four years now. Though our mediums differ, our development and maturity as artists feel strangely similar. Working together, I think we may be able to sustain a practical existence for ourselves and our art here in Goa during the off season. Too early to tell for sure, but I’m optimistic and drawing plans.
I’d mentioned earlier that I’d met a poet on the outskirts of Goa . The neighborhood is called Arpora. It’s a place where you wake up, walk outside to grey monkeys playing along the treetops and pigs roaming the forest. It’s a place where flashlights are a must at night so as to avoid stepping on the occasional cobra, and where the gargling calls of the neighbor’s pet kite (a hawk-like bird of pray) shake the air.
Though his conversational English is among the best I’ve encountered in India, Lloyd says he’s not read but maybe seven or eight books in his twenty-eight years. Lloyd’s never traveled out of India. Yet, by some special recipe of the cosmos, Lloyd’s poems have a way of pointing straight at me, too directly, with an acuteness to suggest they’d been designed only for my benefit. They rough up and untangle my psyche, seeing me in ways I’m afraid to be seen.
I first met Lloyd at his book-launching party for “99,” his first published volume of poetry. I’d read a couple of the pieces he’d released online, expectations low low and low, but soon realizing that this was an artist I had to meet. I’ve obtained permission from Lloyd to share some of his work from “99″ on my blog, beginning with a piece called Orient. Enjoy.
where the sun rises.
The ancient of the herb drinks.
Big walls stand through your plains.
The simpletons and the democrats,
your hills provide solace for the arts.
We are grateful for your works.
The fortunes lie in our cookies.
Hard toil and sweat brought about change to the lands.
I could dwell in your half existent glory
for years, like a hermit.
Since I’m running behind schedule I’m going to double up and send you an email that will double as a blog post. I realize this represents some departure from our traditional privacies, and I think I might enjoy making a nice inside joke out of the whole thing. Perhaps I shall make this a very odd email, thereby giving it the impression as the norm of our correspondence. And who’s to say it’s not?
I’ve been worrying lately about the prospect of turning into a goat or some other field creature. Let me begin this story near its end. When I was running around the Goa “party” scene, doing my most solid night’s partying since parting ways with the US, I came across five or so Italian men on the roof of a beach-side dance club. 24 hours earlier, in the heat of a nightmare stoning session, I’d succumbed to vast and over-complicated fantasies of old magiks and voodoos being practiced in the wildernesses of Hindustan. Conspiracies and covens, that whole thing, evolved for the modern era, and headquartered in a place called Goa, where the unspoken T at the end, stands for Tourist, and the rituals are most gruesome.
Back to my Italian friends— five young men, lady’s men, all muscles and gonohrrea, looked and acted as if the Jersey Shore cast were their interdimensionally removed descendants. Brain still pained by the fantasies of past moon, I couldn’t help but notice that each of the five Italians had rings running through their septums. And, poor diplomat that I am, I couldn’t help but allow said septum rings to cold-launch me into a conversation about my previous night’s musings on animal transmutations, the kind I speculated was being practiced in Goa(T). And I followed it all up, wearing sudden bright-eyed alarm, by noting how peculiar it was that we were visitors in a land where the cows roam free, without the obligation of certain non-conformist fashion statements (meaning their septums were kept intact). Still not meaning to be rude, I began talking about the Italian debt crisis via free and crude associations…
It was unfortunate, and I must confess, to feeling a tad guilty for doing so, but at one point I seemed to create a five-wide ripple of fine worry through their stoned minds. Reading it on their faces, I think we’ve got a Situation here.
Here’s the beauty, I departed the Italians amidst many laughs and few judgments, on well terms and in perfect spirit. Perhaps this pleasant ending can be attributed to the outright supremacy of these most bizarre communication methods, or perhaps due to the resilience and strength of my dashing American charisma (strangeness, I must say, tends to look good on me), but most likely, I suspect, it was due to the persistent phenomenon of basic human goodness and chemical intoxication. I would see them, the Italians, later in the evening and proceed, by conscious obligation, to alight and craft with them new conversation of a kind enjoyable as the last, but driven, by careful design, through polite and normal channels of topic. I fancy this proferred recovery package to be recognized and admired, and my hope is that both the Italians and myself will depart our travels bearing better refined notions of responsibility, humility, and service, lessons we can take, not just from each other, but from the noble beasts that here roam free through field and street.
Other news, book is going well… growing in all directions, beastly and bold as an Akira-style curse.
Write back soon =-)
The café was set up and designed by a Russian expatriate, couldn’t have been much older than 30, who’d come to India with his wife and small son. The Russian, presumably inspired by his son, had built a small indoor playground in one section of the café, just a rope ladder, swing, and a high lofted platform. Kind of dangerous for kids, actually, but I could tell the Russian was keen on raising his child to be fearless.
After taking the afternoon to do some more exploring on my Honda Hero, I ended up back in Shaporra that evening planning to visit the famous Shaporra Juice Bar in the center of the commercial district. The place was swarming with hippy Euros and finding a place to sit was near impossible. I settled for a small stone ledge just outside the shop, where I was greeted by the most charming cow I’ve ever encountered. She was a favorite among the hippies and happily strutted from street-side to street-side to greet this or another human admirer. The next task was figuring out how to order juice. There was no visible cash-register or ordering area, and you couldn’t really discern staff from customer. I decided to just sit and wait for some solution to present itself. I noticed a girl, newly arrived at the juice bar and perusing, as I had—somewhat uncomfortably—through the Euros, looking equally mystified by the whole apparatus of the juice bar. Rather than wait it out like me, she proceeded across the intersection and sat down at a little Thai café.
With much patience, I managed to locate a willing—if not attentive or easily demarcated— server and to place an order for a Pomegranate juice. I returned to my ledge to wait. I waited… and waited. At about the fifteen minute mark, I noticed that the young woman who had left for the little Thai café was now sitting out street-side with a plate of pomos. Seemed she was all by herself, like me, which kind of made me feel obligated to go over and say hello to her. Not only had I expressly resolved to be social today, but I also figured the odds were in my favor that I would brighten her day some, the whole consideration of this gambit arriving upon me with some sense of semi-serious karmic obligation. So, after swallowing the fact that this cold approach would be monitored in plain site by scores of Europeans and Indians, I stood up,walked across the intersection and executed my karmic duty.
“Hello, Hey. I’m waiting on a juice,” I motion back to the chaos of the juice bar, strategically telegraphing the fact that I’ve conquered the beast, “but I thought I might join you afterwards. After I pick it up, my juice.”
Big brown eyes grow wide with alarm. “That is… I mean, if you’d like some company.”
The verdict comes out thickly accented, Easter-European, “Hasshu Vish”
I’m not understanding. “What’s that?”
“As you Vish.”
“Oh, sure. Ok, see ya.”
I get my juice a few minutes later, and I notice that the girl seems to have made an effort to pace her dinner some to permit time for our impromptu visit.
In a somewhat beleagured manner, I sit down and begin showing off. “Ok, Estonia,”
The girl smiles and shakes her head no.
And I proceed to parade my command of geography, all the way south to, “You couldn’t be from Romania?”
She’s from Russia. She tells me her name is Kate.
“Of course. Kate. Of course it is,” I say. Kate’s limited abilities with English colloquiallism prevent her from picking up on the strangeness of my response. But she favors another Kate I know in the Western Hemisphere, and this won’t be the first time I’ve entertained notions of fractal identities linked through names, likeness, and circumstance.
Long blog short. We enjoy a dinner over broken English, each of us, as I suspected, preferring the quickly evaporating discomfiture of companionship to the lag of Saturday evening loneliness. Kate leaves me with a recommendation for an amazing beach to check out, further north. A long drive up through the mountains, but worth it, she says.
I follow-up on Kate’s recommendation Sunday morning, and, true to her promise, the drive is an amazing journey and the beach proves a spectacular payoff for my two-ships-passing-through-the-night-type gesture of socio-karmic ambassadorship.
I’ve got some video of the Sunday trip that I’ll share soon.
At present—I’ve relocated to a place called Arpora in North Goa. The downside is that I’m out of network range and my connection, if it exists at all, is very slow. This is going to temporarily prevent me from uploading video content. The upside is I’m staying with really amazing people, two artists who make their living designing T-shirts and selling them at this enormous flea market every Wednesday. One of them, an Anglo-Indian from Bangalore, when evaluated under the best literary scrutiny I can muster, appears to be a uniquely gifted poet; this rendered by the judgment of one who tends to be quite cynical on the very notion of “poems.” I’m truly mystified by how this person has managed to tap not only the inner most mysteries of the soul, but also the gentlest subtleties of the English language. More on this later. Much more. I’m dead serious. This could be big.
Certain, ever-dynamic, and demanding subject matter prevented me again from wrapping up the book section I was working on last week, so I’ve still not been able to devote the time needed for some longer term business planning. Nonetheless, I’ve been privileged to enjoy some great refreshing company here on this leg of my journey, and can honestly report to feeling less stressed and more content than I’ve felt in some while. I’ve no choice but to allot due credit to the intermittent ingestion of a certain medicinal herb, crediting too the sensible, nay, enlightened tolerances of certain local, state, and federal governments. Cheers.