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Thursday, May 30, 2013


all photos by tj worthington

Yesterday some horoscope analysts and a friend who is an astrologer told me that Tuesday the 28th would be a day to do something outside the box. In the evening I went to a softball game in Wilkesboro, sat and watched two games. It was already scheduled. I didn't go to the game for the specific purpose of doing something outside the box, but felt like it fit the call of the day. Two of my friends were on one of the teams. Our team lost both games. It seemed to me like our pitcher threw a lot of good hits. It looked like he was throwing the ball so the batter could hit it easily. It was like he was throwing for practice batting. The other team's pitcher was not an easy one to hit and he didn't allow a great many really good hits. Afterward, the team felt like they didn't play a good enough game. It looked to me like the teams were equals and the pitching had a great influence on the game. I don't mean to imply it was great pitching by any means. The ball arches so when it crosses home plate it is descending to hit the plate or not far behind it, close to straight down. I sat with my friend Sheena and her boy Seth on a small aluminum bleacher with a half dozen others. Driving home after midnight I saw the rising half moon in bold orange.

The influence of this planet arrangement went over into today. I got a call from Justin in the morning wanting to know if I wanted to go fishing on the Willis Lake, the next farm up the road from my house. Fishing is not something I do. I don't care to prepare them to eat and I have no interest in catching them to throw them back. I thought: outside the box.  I took my camera to get pictures from the lake. I was thinking of landscape pictures taken from the water. On the water, the landscape became boring for photographing. I spent possibly the first half hour in the boat watching Justin catch fish, impressed by how he can throw the line so it goes to the exact spot he wants it. He likes to catch and throw them back. He gets a charge from catching fish. It's the same as hunting. Hunters know the addictive thrill of hunting. I experienced the hunting thrill once, felt like I got it why so many people like to hunt. But I don't like killing. That doesn't mean I have issues with people who do kill. That's their business if they want to hunt the same as it's my business that I don't want to. That one experience gave me an understanding of the thrill. I understand my friends who are hunters, understand what they like about it, a little bit of what they like. There is much more to hunting than just squeezing a trigger or pulling back a bow string. The hunters I know keep meat in freezers to get them through the year with meat they don't have to buy, meat that doesn't have growth hormones etc in it.

The water was perfectly clear today. I surveyed the sky, the land, the water, the boat for some idea of a theme to photograph. The landscape bored me. I thought: I have landscape pictures. Everybody takes landscape pictures. It's beautiful when all the leaves are fresh in their yellow-green of early spring. Big white clouds in the flow-lines of the gaps around. I saw a row of clouds over the gap where Hwy 18 to Wilkesboro enters the mountains. Parallel to that row of clouds was another beyond it passing over Twin Oaks gap at Hwy 21. Those clouds were flowing west to east. Flowing south to north over Roaring Gap a row of clouds moved around Bullhead over Glade Valley to join the other two flows eastward toward Mt Airy. I looked at all the land I knew intimately from walking on it over a number of years. I've worked the farm in the past and know the owners and the people living there. It's "next door," about a third of a mile from my house. I felt at home. I felt my love for the mountains and Air Bellows Mountain where my love enters the mountains. The wind was blowing just enough to make active ripples on the water. The boat was in slow motion with a trolling motor and the wind. Sometimes the boat went slowly in a circle. I watched sunlight sparkle on the waves, began seeing the range of colors on the surface. I've tended to think of the lake water as brown from the mud on the bottom, though the water is clear, and blue and white surface from the reflection of sky.

I started seeing the continuously changing patterns of colors on the water's surface. Tree reflections were refracted among the images of clouds and sky, their colors making patterns in constant change, fast change, no two ever repeating all over the lake's surface. I began to look more into the patterns and found the camera makes a rectangle of abstraction in it's manner of stopping the motion. I could never get an image as I saw it when I pushed the button; by the time the camera clicked, a split-second later, the patterns in the water were changed altogether. The slow turning of the boat showed me the colors in the reflections were different all the way around according the angle the sunlight struck the water in relation to my location. I pointed the camera to the water maybe three to four feet from the boat. The image in the rectangle of the camera's monitor was extraordinary every moment. I clicked over a hundred pictures, fascination increasing as I found in our movements around on the lake that light was different and reflections different all over the lake. Finally a short video of five minutes or less came to mind. I held the camera still looking at the water just a few feet from the boat and let the motion of the boat be a part of it. I felt like the sequence of photographs are among my very finest photographs. I don't mean I'm something special with a camera, but I get a picture the best I can, learning by experience.

The video holds my visual attention almost dramatically. Sometimes it goes slow, sometimes fast when the boat is turned by the wind. Colors changed, patterns changed; the patterns changed extremely fast. On the laptop monitor the colors and shapes are flying. It's a constantly changing abstraction, like something Clifford Still might paint that never stops changing and never does the same thing twice. Every pattern I caught is unique in the life of the lake. It never happened before and will never happen again. Something like an action painting by the abstract expressionists of the 1940s and 1950s. None of the pictures was composed. I just pointed the camera where the visual activity was at the place between looks like water, and at the same time does not look like water. I was getting my kicks walking that edge. It was simply a point and shoot experience, composition merely that zone between is and is not water. It was the flow I was attempting to photograph in a still image, and then a moving rectangle of constant change. I fell into a zone where the surface of the lake became for me a sparkling wonder of moving colors and shapes flowing in and out of each other. I spent a few hours in silence lost in awe by the changes of colors in a spontaneous dance of speed. I like to make photographs of nascar races from the flat-screen tv, looking for a still image that catches a sensation of speed. The images on the water moved and changed so fast, they became another challenge to fix speed in a still image. Outside the box I found what I can't help but think is the first art moment of my life.


Tuesday, May 28, 2013



June bugs are bashing themselves against the window panes. They fall to the ground and eventually upright themselves, then fly into the air again. They don't seem to have any directional intuition. They just fly. They hit whatever they hit. It flies into the lamp when one gets in the house and falls to the floor under the lamp. Fly into the air again and hit the wall, drop to the floor, fly again, hit the wall again, drop to the floor. When I get tired of it, I'll pick one up and put it outside so it can bash its face into the glass some more. Very primitive mind. They're like turtles when they land on their backs. They're pitiful, those skinny insect legs grasping at air, but they do what they're designed to do, whatever that is. They're thick and I suspect one would make a good snack for a possum. This afternoon I heard tap-tap-tap on the glass. Turned and looked to the window the sound was coming from. A big yellow and black swallowtail butterfly. I captured it in cupped hands giving it room to flop and flutter without hurting its wings. I don't like to take hold of their wings, because little feather-like fuzz rubs off onto my fingers. I figure they need it like birds need feathers. It flew straight up when I let it go outside the door.

tufted titmouse, photo by tony northrop

Earlier, I'd opened a window about half way to let air flow through the house. I know better than that. It wasn't long I heard a titmouse fluttering in the kitchen window, on the inside. Usually, I open the door and walk the bird toward the door and use a broom handle with the broom at the far end, encouraging the bird away from the window it's going nuts in, toward the door, the way one guides cows with a long pole. The broom works well. With myself, the length of the stick and the broom head, I close off conceptually for the bird anyplace to go but out the door. Sometimes, when one is especially difficult to encourage out the door, I'll stop trying, sit down for awhile or go to another room, let the bird settle down, get its heart rate down. When the bird is calm I clap my hands once and it flies out the door. In that time, I suppose the bird has time to figure out the situation. This titmouse today would not leave the window. Up and down, up and down. I'd corner it and catch it in both hands, gently not to hurt the wings, and it would slip out of my hands like a fish. The fourth time I caught it I put a hand over its head so it couldn't see, or escape. Birds calm down when they can't see. I carried her to the door with a hand over her head, and feeling her heart thumping in the hand that held her. Out the door she flew up to a branch above the birdfeeder. She was at home. She looked back at me recognizing the giant that feeds them every day.

possum dinner

Three possums live under the house, Posie, Rosie and Nosey. Almost every evening I put out a bowl of dry catfood for whichever one finds it first. It's my way of welcoming them. They eat mice. I have no mice in the house. I despise putting out decon for a host of reasons, the worst being the smell when the mice crawl inside the wall and die. In those times all I know to do is get used to it. The scent will eventually fade away like the scent of skunk roadkill after you've passed over it. I am grateful to the possums. I like to give them some food. I'll put out a bowl of dry catfood just before dark and it's soon gone. Caterpillar quit capturing mice years ago. She's an old cat now. She lies outside in the sun, lies still like a gray rock and watches the birds. Before the possums, when a mouse crossed the floor, Caterpillar watched. I can't have more cats because Caterpillar would hate them, and I don't want to do that to her. Now that I'm cultivating birds, it's not a good time to have young cats. Something I have never understood is somebody with outdoor cats who feeds birds. "I like to see the birds." So does the cat. There are a lot of cats that kill several birds a day. More and more, people are keeping cats indoors, a relief for the bird populations. Caterpillar has known the possums the whole time they've lived here. She has no issues with them, nor do they with her. We all live in peace here. Possums keep the snakes away from the house too. I really like that. Keeping snakes away is what dogs and cats are good for in the country. Caterpillar has retired from the killer side of her catness.

lurking cement cat

If any of the possums is outside snacking around in the birdfeeding area when I go out the door, they'll take a slow walk to the cathole where they come and go under the house. I'm glad they don't panic when they see me. They know I'm friendly. They know I feed them and the birds and squirrels. I don't want to tame the possums so they'll not run when they see me. I don't imagine it would be good for a possum to be unafraid of humans. The world of the four-leggeds know humans kill them. I know the word goes from doe to fawn, if one of the humans sees you, you're dead--they can kill you just by seeing you. They hide in trees so you can't see them. When you smell one, run. In my little spot in the hollow of Air Bellows Mountain, I've let the ground around the house grow up in rhododendron and trees, ferns, rocks; let it go back to forest. The ground here around the house had the topsoil scraped off by a bulldozer. It was clay when I came here. I set out to build up topsoil. With all the trees now, year after year of leaves, I have a good layer of topsoil. Wild violets cover the ground in spring, then the jewel weed that brings hummingbirds. Millions of bird droppings are adding nutrition to the soil. I'm satisfied that this wounded earth around the house is healed by now. A lot of people think nobody lives here because it's so grown up. I keep it looking bad from the road. When I park the car, I step under the canopy when I walk toward the house. It is immediately refreshing, relaxing like walking in the woods. Hearing the chickadees, the titmice, the towhees, the doves in the distance, it feels just right to call this home.

squirrel in the birdfeeder

Monday, May 27, 2013


I'm getting my humor these days from the internet, spots of comedians David Pakman, Stephen Colbert, Bill Maher, Jon Stewart, Young Turks and the great Rachel Maddow, the ones who find their humor in the evening news, sitting at a desk-like surface with colorful backdrop, laughing at the ridiculous nature of our times. What else can we do, but, like Jon Stewart, wad up a sheet of paper and toss it backwards over the shoulder? The first few times I heard Colbert I found him severely objectionable. First shows I saw he had somebody on who had written a book on a given matter (I only see 5 to 10 minute clips on utube), Colbert talked the whole time tossing funny quips to the audience, all but ignored the guest, then dismissed him. I'd looked him up because of a speech he made at a presidential (or something) dinner where Bush and all the top dogs of that time would be. Evidently he roasted Bush with facts and made headlines. I was with him on that and went to see something about him. I found him somebody I took no interest in and didn't see anything of him for a few years. One day I looked at something and started getting what he was doing. Watched another and another and it wasn't long I was with him. A South Carolina Catholic. That's quite a lot different from a South Carolina Baptist. No Baptist would be as irreverent as he delights in toward dogma and hypocrisy.

David Pakman I call comedy, not because he tells jokes and makes an audience laugh, but he looks into goof-ball news moments and dwells on the comedy of the unpredictable, the excess, the self-interest, the insane, plenty of which is making the headlines. Packman doesn't make a joke for a laugh, but will say, rather, "Can you believe that?" He has two sidekicks with headphones he consults with such questions, Louis and Rakkan? Rock-on? I can never remember his name.  Pakman tells the story like the big explosion in Texas, the comedy of the governor and congressmen from Texas asking for Federal aid after voting and making speeches against NY and NJ getting aid for the hurricane. Like the republican treatment of New Orleans. Like the official Reagan position on AIDS: let em die. Turns out that is the attitude of our corporate government of, for and by the rich, and they have been shutting us down, creating a peasant class and a ruling class society. It just tells me what I already know, the ruling class is totally out of touch with the working class, the middle class and the poor. They don't get it that we are people with lives, many of us recognize importance in something besides money. But they don't figure. They're not players. Go live under a bridge if you can find a space under one that won't fall on you. And Pakman isn't afraid to let his own feelings show. On his show about the judge selling kids to the Pennsylvania prisons-for-profit system, Pakman's emotional  response was expressive of the satisfaction we feel when civil justice works.

Bill Maher I also did not like the first few times I heard him. I saw him something of a faux intellectual on the order of Dick Cavett and Bob Newhart. By now, that's in the history of television, no longer relevant. I don't know what has happened on television since that time, so I don't know who the faux intellectuals of now would be. The feeling I have is that the word intellectual in this time is irrelevance its very self. That's ok. It's a time of pop culture well advanced in the opposite direction of intellect, off into culturally abandoning intelligence to the point of abandoning paying attention. By now I have dropped the faux in reference to Maher. He has a brilliant mind. He has a brilliant staff. They work together very well. His comedy is people like the Fox network talking heads, unable to overlook their straight-out obvious lies about Obama or the democrat party. The republicans have become so ridiculous collectively that whenever one makes a public statement it immediately is right for comedy. So many of the red state politicians make outrageous claims that everyone who pays attention sees for a lie, like Rand Paul, Ted Cruz (a Canadian with a Latin name who looks like Joe McCarthy and hates immigrants?), Boner ("agent orange") and a laughable number of others, laughable any way you look at them, especially across the table at the Club, so easy to manipulate. Maher makes his funny so brilliantly that sometimes it is subtle, so subtle there won't be any audience response, then a laugh and more laughs and he'll say, I wondered if you'd get that one.

Rachel Maddow is another one who makes her comedy routine the evening news. We see all the nuts things happening every day and laugh at the absurd and ridiculous in it. The West, Texas, explosion, again, no inspection, Federal or state, in two different accountings of years, but a long time either way. They kept about a million times the Federal limit in pounds of something they make fertilizer with that people like Tim McVeigh use to blow the front off of buildings. Rachel, like the other news comedians, allows the ridiculous to be its own humor. It seems kind of significant that in this time the winning format for the news is comedy. Maddow's comedy is very much, Can you believe what you just saw? The guy on The Young Turks, who talks with a Newark accent, showed video of a young woman at a Rand Paul rally. She had a sign that said something having to do with reason. A crowd of potential rapists shoving her, pulling her hair---but it was a wig---shoved her to the pavement and one guy put his foot on the side of her head and let her feel his weight. Bad press. The guy who did it explained he didn't "stomp" her, he put his foot firmly on her face (a work boot with cleats). The guy talking on Young Turks works the can-you-believe-this humor. The humor is that it is so ridiculous it shouldn't be happening. The comedy is also the horror these days of the ridiculous running free in our land. It cracks me up that republicans inspire liberals to defend the government.


Sunday, May 26, 2013


jean michel basquiat

                    CREW CUTS

Men with crew-
cuts are impossible, like
ice-shows. In airport bars, all
winter, holding stand-by tickets,
they wait for a plane into
the next territory, and confess
to puzzlement
over the Oriental mind.

Later, they want to drop eggs on the Russians.
Later, they want to keep
violence out of the streets by installing
a machine gun nest on every corner.
When they discuss women, they are discussing
a subjugated race rumored
to have cached away huge
quantities of ammunition.
They lounge on the porch of the Club, in darkest Africa,
pith-helmets over their crew-cuts, drinking
pink gins, laughing at the natives,

while the tom-toms start
to beat in a million kitchens, and the sky lightens
with a storm of Russians with hair
down to their shoulders,
as inscrutable
as the Chinese, and as merciless as women.

                               --- Donald Hall

jean michel basquiat

Saturday, May 25, 2013


thomas hart benton

Been thinking today of how much I love the South. Remembering my trip to Kansas about 10 years ago, a Yankee state, what a slap-down I got every time I mentioned the South, especially mentioning loving the South. Nobody ever let that pass. They, who had never been in the South, knew more about it than I did after living in the South my entire adult life. Almost every time I talk with somebody from outside the South about the South, they know everything about it and I know nothing. This is part of what makes Yankees who come to the South objectionable. They know all there is to know about the South. The Civil War is over, when you Southerners gonna get it? First time somebody said that to me, I explained that the Civil War is not over. Didn't bother any more after that. It's like telling Baptists that Catholics have a home in heaven too. Telling is not what I'm about. I don't believe in telling other people what's the right way to think or believe. I'm recalling a good friend of many years, a Southerner living in Brooklyn, who told me it is my responsibility to convert a friend of mine here in the mountains away from racism. I said it is not my responsibility. I was reminded it is my responsibility. I didn't take it beyond that. It would devolve into is-isn't-is-isn't very shortly. I've thought about it many times since then. It is not my responsibility to tell a Southern boy it is necessary for him to think like he's a Yankee. You want to see a back go up like a Halloween cat in somebody's eyes, tell a Southern boy he needs to think and talk more like a Yankee.

thomas hart benton

What I have learned in my few forays beyond the Mason Dixon Line is Yankees dislike Southerners a whole lot more than Southerners dislike Yankees. The only problem a Southerner has with a Yankee is a Yankee can't stop telling Southern people what to do. They feel so superior it comes across in tone of voice, attitude, everything. That's experiential learning. I've come to where I shy away from Yankees because they can't get enough of telling us ignernt Southerners what to do, how to think and talk. Us ignernt Southerners hear it and laugh inside. In the South, we're polite when we want to be, so we don't laugh in their faces. Many a Yankee has heard (in a Southern accent), "If you don't like it here, the road that brought you will take you right back to where it's better. Nobody asked you to come here and nobody is going to miss you when you're gone." Many a Yankee has returned up North after retiring to the South. It's them Suthun ways that don't pay no attention when a Yankee tells them how to do it better. We just leave them alone. After awhile of telling everybody that lives around them what they're doing wrong, the people around them stop noticing them. Everybody leaves them to their superior selves. And many a Yankee has been warmly embraced by Southerners, the ones without a superior attitude. Egoism does not appeal to Southerners, esp in other Southerners. It's expected from Yankees.

thomas hart benton

I confess to not understanding a lot of Southern ways, like racism, which is not as pervasive as the television and Hollywood make it. They just point the finger at the worst of it. It's here. So what is how I feel about it. There is slave trade going on in NYC and LA today. It's underground and largely Asian, so who cares? I'm not here to change anything but myself. I'm not here to teach. I'm here to learn. Most of my closer friends are "liberals." The South is loaded with liberals. We just don't make a lot of noise about it, because, for one thing, we're outnumbered by people driving pickups with guns under the seats. We're diplomatic in the mountains. I've had good friends to the point of bonding with very different political beliefs from mine. For one thing, I'm really not dedicated to my own points of view, because I can't take politics that seriously. I have a point of view, but that's all it is. When I start feeling agitated I pull back. In the old way, among the mountain people that are gone into the past, people accepted that every individual had his own views and beliefs about things. They didn't step on each other's toes or provoke each other. Mountain people are very diplomatic. In the culture, all men carried guns for a couple centuries--a gun is either with them or they can get their hands on one in a hurry. One man did not provoke another man unless he wanted a fight. By fists or guns, a mountain boy can put you on your ass and make you think twice about going back for more. A mountain man that fights has powerful arms. It's that way with mountain people all over the world.

thomas hart benton

Democrats and republicans could sit around the wood stove in the country store and talk freely. They just didn't talk about politics. They didn't talk about religion either. Each man and woman has their own. That was respected. It's not respected anymore. Now is about conforming to a checklist, guidelines, no expressions of individualism allowed. It's another social change. I understand that in a lot of ways the South undermines itself by being dead set against unions. Ever thought about it? The Union is what the Confederacy went down fighting. Union means Yankee rule in the South. Unacceptable as saying fuck in Sunday school class. We'd rather be poor than Union-ized. I'm not in the South to make the South what it is not. I came to the South because I loved the South from afar and needed to be connected with it. I was born to Southern people living in a Yankee state. I had to get to the South as fast as I could get after high school. I had the draft to deal with, so I let the Navy take me to the South, Charleston. Two years on a destroyer (that was sold to the Brazilian navy soon after I left it) with a crew of Southerners was educational. I learned the best and the worst in my crash-course introduction to the South.

thomas hart benton

Next stop, the College of Charleston, where everybody was Southern. And I loved it. It was another country. I was able to see the last years of the Old South, the decayed old city that had been in Depression since the Civil War. In my last year at the College the New South came to Charleston. There was an interesting book in that time about the Los Angeles-ization of the South. It seemed far fetched then. By now, it is long established. I see I have spent my adult life running back in time to the time before the post-Fifties social changes. I don't mean civil rights. I mean rat race. When the changes brought by the New South came in, I went to the mountains to recede from the advancing social changes. By now, they have caught up with me. I have one foot in the old world and one foot in the modern world. That's how it is in my mind, in my heart, and in the people I know. About half the people I'm close to are hillbillies and about half are from Away, even a few Yankees, ones who did not come to the South with an attitude. People who are here because they love it. In my life in the South I have come to love it like it's my mother. I feel embraced in love by the South. It's the return of my love for the South, the South loving me for loving the Southern people and the Southern ways. About twenty years ago I was standing in a line in the Boston airport between planes. Talking with a man in front of me in the line I said, This is the farthest north I've ever been. He said, I know.

thomas hart benton

Friday, May 24, 2013


This silly cartoon struck me funny. At the same time I laugh, sorrow is mixed in with the mirth. First thing I thought was my weariness of cartoon references to Jesus healing the sick for free, as if a medical profession is measured by religion. I'm tired of political chicanery making comparisons to Jesus, like what-would-Jesus-do? How can I guess what Jesus would do? He wasn't always sweet and politically correct. There is the ancient saying that God works in strange ways. Like I wouldn't presume what God might "do," I wouldn't presume what Jesus might do. Jesus was simply open to the flow of the Spirit, and I would never presume to guess what "the Spirit" might do in any circumstance. My most recent obvious answer to a prayer came the next day and in a very surprise form that reminded me, God works in strange (unpredictable) ways. This is why I would rather pray for help on a difficult decision where I cannot see what is the best way to go for all concerned. I may not pray as much as I'm "supposed to," though I prefer to take responsibility for my own decisions and learn how to make better decisions for myself as I go along. It's when I'm stumped that I go to prayer. And when I see things unfold, I think: I would never have seen that solution.
Maybe if I prayed more the Spirit would flow through me too. Then I'd get crucified. I don't want that, so I don't push it. Like I was thinking of my friend Jr Maxwell I took for a man of wisdom, a wise man. He saw himself a fool and laughed off any suggestion of wisdom. But the way I saw it, a wise man in this world could only be a fool. Living in this world goes so counter to wisdom that someone with wisdom could only be dismissed a fool. I see babies come into this world straight from the spirit world where love IS. I see their eyes wide open loving everything they see, the spirit of love beaming in their eyes. Then I see, a step at a time, the light in the eyes shaded over a little bit at a time as the child is taught how we live in this world, until by the time a kid is ready for school, the light in the eyes is long gone, further in some than in others, and I watch that process all through life until we get to men in their 70s and 80s locked down in mental compartments, a lifetime of conclusions hardened into cement in the man's head until the thinking process has hardened unto reaction. When a man gets there, he shuts out understanding as pussy (feminine--weak) and can't take anything seriously spoken by a feminine voice, even on evening news.
Having lunch today with a woman friend I would freely call intellectual, a brilliant woman, a brilliant human being, and, in my way of seeing, very much a true human being, I told her that in this phase of my life I have seen men really deficient in their own humanity. I know very few who are what I would call a true human being. That doesn't mean there are none. I'm wondering if it has to do with several thousand years in our evolution of consciousness, boys growing up to be warriors, obedience the rule among warriors. It's the rank that matters, not the man. Do as you're told, not what you think is right. I see the men of the right wing in America today, about half the male population, the cement-heads who believe killing solves problems. Short of killing, hitting solves problems. Isn't that the great American truth. At the rate of 30,000 a year we Americans kill one another with guns. How many by other means? We're the killingest people on earth. All my life I have seen the passion for killing in especially working class men, the warrior class. Pop entertainment knows that killing is guaranteed box-office, so we grow up watching movies and tv where killing is hip, no consequences, no funerals, no life, faceless, a mushroom. 
robert longo, bodyhammers
A man I have known for a lot of years has wanted to kill somebody all the time I've known him. The passion must have its beginning in his childhood. My guess is he'd discover on the psychiatric couch after about five years that it was his daddy he wanted to kill. He likes to threaten that he will kill somebody, from time to time, but he'll never get it done. He's a bully and bullies are chicken. Bullies only pick on smaller, weaker, dependent. They never do anything that requires courage. Having no courage makes them bullies. I don't know any women with this kind of affliction. Surely there are some, maybe several. They might be playing roller derby. The movie BONNIE AND CLYDE comes to mind, Clyde showing Bonnie his gun and Bonnie running her fingers along the barrel made me think of two young people I knew who were once lovers not long out of high school. Seeing them as Bonnie and Clyde gave me a better understanding than I had before of what Bonnie and Clyde were like as people. Kids not long out of high school, or that age anyway, "look at my gun, baby," and she's so impressed. I have an underlying feeling that the rate of murder in America may be the karmic return on how the early white people on this continent took it. They killed an entire continent of people with guns, killed in the wild wastefully, unto extinctions that are ongoing, wiping out the natural world that sustains us. It seems a karmic debt that is being paid by people killing people in the world of the conqueror at such an alarming rate, and nobody is alarmed. It's no more than an eye-popping statistic the first time you see it. The second and third time it's familiar, no longer interesting.  
robert longo, legacy

Thursday, May 23, 2013


a r penck

Every day I see some in-yer-face current event that's heinous with text calling for change. Some want more police state, some want less. I laugh when it says to "tell" Boner, Cheney, other republicans, something or other that makes sense, something that reason applies to. Somebody like me doesn't tell a republican what to do. It's like speaking to a parrot, telling it what to do. The parrot bobs its head up and down. Get too close, it will bite. I remember what a gift it is when somebody who despises me stays away, won't go where I go, leaves when I turn up. I think, thank you, and smile big. I find it a truth that somebody I don't like for whatever is behind it, that person doesn't like me either. I've got to where I can just about tell what somebody is thinking about me by what I'm thinking about them. Dislike tends to be mutual, same as like. We're taught all through school it is necessary to be liked by everybody. No reason why, just necessary to be popular. I fell for that until it just fell away from me for being assessed not worthy of attention. Recently a friend was moaning because she'd found out someone we both knew did not like her. I said, Do you like him? Answer: no. There it is, I said, what does it matter if he likes you or not? Better that he doesn't like you so he'll stay away and you won't have to bother to stay away from him. I just heard myself say that, said it without forethought. It spoke itself. I heard it and made a mental notation for myself to pay attention. I added, you don't want everybody liking you.

a r penck

I found some good spiritual counsel about hating and being hated. That's some powerful energy to have coursing through your blood. Hate is close to love when it comes to power of the energy.  Somewhere, and I don't remember where, in reading Meher Baba's discourses and sayings, he said that the karmic danger in hating someone is that I pull to myself whatever it is I hate in the other. Hate is a bar of soap. When somebody hates me for something about my character that he or she doesn't like, the hate pulls the reprehensible characteristic that I may not like having myself, pulls it to the individual doing the hating, taking it off of me onto themselves. It taught me to keep an eye on my own active hating. As far as I know I have no hates. I know of some who hate me, and I'm ok with that. I think of them as my friends scrubbing me good with soap, taking my trash to themselves. I say thank you. This one character I cannot name, though the name is so common there must be multiple hundreds of thousands of them, hates me so bad that when I come into view he starts shaking and finds a way to exit himself immediately. It cracks me up. I always speak to him, Hey, how you doin? And I'm laughing inside. I don't even care why he hates me. I just thank him for taking whatever it is from me to himself. It makes me laugh. I'm grateful in a big way that he avoids me first. It's just easier that way.

a r penck

Since learning about hate as a bar of soap, I welcome it anymore, almost flippantly. I tell myself to watch that part. It's like curiosity about the other side, over yonder, glory land, makes me almost flippant with danger. Sometimes I have to keep myself reminded. Not that I have a suicide problem. It's more a relaxed attitude about dying that makes it something I'm not afraid of, but look forward to. It's relaxing into accidents that concerns me. Like letting something happen because I'm not afraid. I have to remind self that I'm in the body because I'm meant to be in the body, so don't be frivolous with it. Don't take it too seriously, but don't take it too lightly either. I think of it as a form of being responsible. An awful lot of hate is in the air in this time, but there has always been hate in the air. Hate in the air is where wars come form. I've seen in people new to the county, mostly republicans who moved to the mountains to get away from the N word in the cities, intolerant toward any political opinion other than their own. I can't say how pervasive this is. Going only by my limited experience. One old boy quit going to the coffee shop because not enough cement-heads went there. One day talking with a woman who was retired Army, brilliant woman I enjoyed talking with, there came a time I realized she would be intolerant of me if she knew she was not talking to another teabagger. So I dropped the bomb that I'm a liberal. She turned her back to me and had no more to do with me. I thought: thanks, and had to contain my inner laughter so it wouldn't show.

a r penck

I see in a lot of younger people (to me, everybody is younger) an intolerance unspoken, unacknowledged. It is a common belief that if you don't agree with somebody on whatever level, you can't know each other. I find it not all the time, but frequently among people under my age. It's a shock for me, because I've known so many mountain people older than me for so many years and adopted their culture as my own. It was never a consideration among mountain people to dislike somebody because he has a differing opinion. The mountain way is the same as the old American way, that a man's politics is his own and a man's religion is his own. Democrats and republicans could sit around a wood stove in a country store spitting "backer" into tin cans, somebody telling about finding a bee hive in a white pine, "aint never seen narry bee hive in no white pine." The old people knew who was a democrat and who was a republican, same as they knew what church everybody went to. It was ok for a Regular Baptist to know a Primitive Baptist or even a Methodist. In the present day, I don't mean the attitude is unanimous to stay away from people with a different checklist of likes and preferences. However, I see enough of it to catch my attention after years and years of living among people who accepted others for who they were, not according to a checklist of tastes.

a r penck
I'm in no place to make any assessments of generations younger than mine. Up front, I confess I do not understand younger generations. American pop culture changes so fast, there is indeed a culture gap between generations, has been since ww2. The general culture that is American culture has been very much the same since ww2. It's time for another big change, a change like from before ww1 to after ww1. The before and after of both great wars was drastic. Another big war is brooding in the air. By the time it is over, the world as we know it will be a very different place. Twitter will be so far in the past it will be ancient, like books now. USA will continue to decline under systematic republican treason and the 21st Century will belong to Asia. America had its moment of greatness at the end of ww2, then squandered it right away. 9/11 had the whole world sympathetic with the Paper Tiger, the Great Satan, and that was squandered immediately. Racism holds American social progress back like the dumbest kids in class hold the class back. Racism is tattooed onto the American consciousness. It will change. The racists are mostly above a certain age. Whey they are all dead in a few generations, racism will have died with them. Maybe. That's kind of simplistic for such a complex matter, to think an end of racism is in sight. A surprising number of adults in USA believe the earth is flat. Let's just learn to live with racism and keep it under control. There are so many other human impulses we control to live peaceably in a world of others, racism can be controlled too. Many control it in themselves. It's possible.

a r penck

Wednesday, May 22, 2013


larry rivers

A little bit of thunder in the night, a little breeze to make the wind chime ting one note and another lightly, followed by silence interrupted by a surprise dong-ling-da-ping. Big crack of lightning rent the dark night, rumbled across the sky and fell into the distance. Light rain falling through the leaves of the trees outside the open door, the sound of pure softness, raindrops on leaves. Close my eyes and I see a Japanese paper sliding door from inside, half open, rain dripping off the edge of the roof, banana leaves glossy wet bouncing slightly in the flowing rhythm of the rain. It must be a southern island of Japan. I often think of these Appalachian mountains and the Rocky mountains in the future something like the Japanese islands, which evidently are the upper reaches of an underwater mountain range. Sometimes I think of these mountains a long time in the past, the centuries of people living in tribes all over the continent, hunting by skill instead of power, They didn't fish out the rivers and creeks. They didn't cause massive extinctions. They didn't kill for the thrill except killing white soldiers who had killed their women and kids, mothers and fathers, cousins, aunts and uncles.

larry rivers

I feel a longing to pull in, agitate less mentally over what our stupid republican non-representatives have done and go on doing to us, denying us our rightful status as We the People. Our government has been usurped by corporate money. We the American people have no status, no voice, no influence. Our representatives operate against our interest. They make their decisions according to the will of the highest bidding lobbyists (get the nigger). We the people have no lobbyists, no lobby firm with millions to dine the dumb shits at the top clubs, get them tipsy on Chivas regal, introduce them to important people and flatter them with Nordic babes versed in what a man likes. I'm growing weary of paying attention to such people, having their images in my head, like the crying "agent orange" Boner and McConnell who really does look like a turtle. I will read more and pay less attention to the news and pop culture. We Americans were raised by school in the illusion that we, the American people, are our government, that we matter. Like Yoda says, You must unlearn everything you have learned.

larry rivers

I've actually never known circumstances much different from how they are now. All my life the republican politicians have been the enemies of We the People. I've seen a systematic dismantling of everything in our government that might benefit a nigger. They hate the white poor almost as much as they hate the black poor. Guess what. Racism is unabashedly out in the open in the ruling class. They don't say "the N word" for the real thing. It's only the middle class that says "the N word." When the rich took power by way of the corporations, their intent was to shut down every civil rights "entitlement"(what Scalia calls rights for blacks). Our government, the ruling class, never wanted civil rights for the coloreds, ever. Since Reagan it has been a systematic, step by step, shredding the constitution, taking everything from the "people" and giving to the rich for "off shore" bank accounts where they pay no taxes. It is corporate consensus that the network news not cover the Occupy demonstrations, which are so massive the corporate Darth Vaders don't want them seen. The democrats don't resist. They don't change the laws made to defeat the people when they have the chance, while the republicans systematically shut down the American people by stopping the life blood of the economy. That's called a heart attack when the blood stops flowing. Right now it is severely clogged arteries slowing the blood.

larry rivers

I've never been able to get it out of my head that individual human beings are important in America. We're taught by school that we the American people are individually important in a democracy. LOL. The lol was over using the word democracy like it meant something besides a philosophical ideal of the distant past, a fail. One thing I'm really tired of I've seen all my life is "we the people" blaming ourselves for the major pollution of the earth, stripping the earth of its resources, "fracking," fracturing the Appalachians from one end to the other, fishing the seas empty, increasing extinctions. It is the unstoppable international corporate powers that "we" can't do anything about. I am with the committed people of Greenpeace and the other "radical" groups that are confrontational and hit them back for hitting us without recourse, over and over.

larry rivers

Capitalism has come to its corrupt end, and it's taking the people of the earth with it. Like White Man in America, if he can't have all power to himself then he'll just do like a school shooting, take as many with him as he can, then kill himself. In school, I believed our politicians were competent individuals. In my adult life, I doubt it. Exceptions come to mind, Fulbright of Arkansas, Moynihan of Massachusetts, Clinton of Arkansas, Douglas of the Supreme Court. The Supremes are politicians too. Though the republicans do not represent us politically, they unfortunately are representatives of the American belief systems, racism one of the major ones, all-for-self at the expense of whomever, another major one. The republicans represent the dark side of the American mind, the unselfconsciously self-centered, necessary for balance in duality.

larry rivers

Tuesday, May 21, 2013


max Ernst

My sister Nancy and I were talking on the phone earlier. One of the subjects in our extended conversation of several chapters was the rarity of a sequel to be a really good movie. We explored and found The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo series of 3 Swedish films equally excellent from start to finish. I like all of the films in the Fast and Furious series, hoping to see 5 later this week. They are not great films by any means, but for an action tough guy movie they have a lot of flash. Brings Road Warrior to mind, a film that kept its momentum going fast by having scenes only a few seconds apiece. Plus, in the Fast and Furious series, they're about driving cars the way young guys dream of wishing they could, and some do it. For me, it's subliminal. I'll watch somebody else get T-boned at 100mph racing in Tokyo traffic. I know it's all actors and fake cars and a great big crew behind the camera working by a script, just a made up story, but I like the characters. Vin Diesel became a star in the first Fast and Furious and a legend in the rest of them. He carries it well. He's a good guy, gets along good with others, but don't kill his woman. Then he's the badest of the bad. Like Steven Seagal; don't hurt his woman or little girl. That's when the killing spirit breaks loose and takes over. A friend recently said of a man who had hurt his little girl, When I'm done with him, his head's gonna look like a watermelon dropped off a fifty foot building. He meant what he said.

Tom Berringer's Sniper came to mind, another one with a sequel almost its equal, Sniper2. Sniper 3, son of Sniper, was another good one. It caught my attention to see an action movie series of three that were nearly equally good films. Hangovers one and two were both pretty funny. Three promises to be another funny one, too. Those Hangover movies tell me Surrealism has come to Hollywood pop comedy. The Marx Brothers were doing European Surrealism in film. The Hangover movies are homegrown American pop Surrealism. And there are plenty of series films lousy from the start, like the Wrong Turn West Virginia series. The Romans did some sick shit where decadence is concerned. We got-em beat. The Wrong Turn movies were super-sick creepy Fifties drive-in scare your date and get a wet finger kind of movies. The old white men killing teenage hotties theme tells me of a truly sick society. Obviously, they have a market. I saw one. That was enough. There have been countless sequel movies and I've only seen a few in relation to all of them. I have serious impatience with pop movies, best-seller fiction, and tv cop shows about older men kidnapping, torturing and killing pretty young girls. There is so much of it and it has been going on so long it's like an archetypal theme in American life. That's the part that concerns me.

Last night visiting friends I saw three Law&Order tv shows in a row. Every one of them was an older man kidnapping, raping and killing young women. Then I was told the stories were made from true crime stories. I don't like having shit like that in my head. It tears up my compassion center. Duck Dynasty on tv, completely different, looked at it once to see what it was. That was plenty. It's not that I don't like those kinds of people, because I do like them. The show itself is a silly spoof. These are middle class suburbanites doing very well. The bayou garb is all for the show, like the Village People, country style. Look at their wives. It's like seeing a picture of Keith Richards in his stage garb standing next to his trophy wife. I see them mocking bayou people more than being bayou people. They may have been that way earlier in their lives, but after work, they have their social life in suits and tuxes. You can be sure their wives won't let them go places looking like they walked up out of the swamp. My attitude toward them is like my attitude toward fake preachers. This is going by seeing only one show. I don't care to go there again. They might be good duck call makers, hot dang. I can fill an ash tray with cigarette butts; does that mean I could have a time lapse tv show watching me fill up ash trays?

The Star Wars series was awfully good, the first three. From there on, it was like the producers were carried away with cutting-edge computer movie-making and let content go, like a video game. So few series films start with a popular one that did good at box office, then the sequel that does well, but not as well, then the third one that hardly figures. This pattern seems so consistent that when three in a row good films like Kieslowski's Blue, White and Red, my pick of the series of three movies I've seen, makes Star Wars look like action movies. Come to think of it, that's what they are anyway. In a film Harold Pinter wrote, Turtle Diary, Pinter, himself, stepped into a scene at the bookstore where Ben Kingsley, the story's character was working. Pinter asked, "Do you have the sequel to the sequel?" That was all he said. A moment, like Alfred Hitchcock appearing in his films in a passing glance. The Fast and Furious series impresses me most in keeping a series of good action, fast car driving movies with characters we like. I'm a little hesitant about Five from the previews I've seen. It looks like an explosion a minute, big tanks blowing things up, outrageous computerized stunt tricks. From what I've seen it promises to be over the edge for me. But it may not be. It will probably be well done, so I feel like I'll enjoy it, at least enough to sit through it.


Sunday, May 19, 2013


chickadee pecking a sunflower seed

It's a cool, damp day, raindrops dripping from leaves, fog whiting out the distance, nice white backdrop to foreground. A chickadee standing on a rhododendron branch pecking open a sunflower seed, eating the treat inside. I think of unwrapping a Hershey's "Kisses" with the dexterity of a critter with hands. The chickadee uses what we call feet for hands. A chipmunk has walked out to the limp extremity of the branch looking for a place to get a foothold to leap from. Couldn't find a firm part of the branch close enough to jump to the birdfeeder from. Brings to mind an old-timey word that has left the vocabulary, scutter. It was something of a generic term like critter. A dog could be called an old scutter, or somebody could be called a scutter. It's one of the words with its meaning in the sound. I doubt the word had a concrete definition. Looked it up just now in an online dictionary. It's the noun form of the verb to scurry. I think of a chipmunk scurrying over the ground foraging for leftover sunflower seeds. It's then natural to think of a chipmunk as a scutter. Even this definition leaves the meaning indefinite, something like a slang word, particular to context.

out front door looking left
The two windows with a birdfeeder in each one make better viewing than tv or movies. I sit here writing, looking out one of the windows for the next sentence, snowbirds and towhees hopping on the bare ground beneath the rhododendron. I also throw a big cup of sunflower seeds up high to rain down through the leaves to the shaded ground below. It sprinkles them fairly evenly in the shade where the birds and scutters feel safe. A gray squirrel is nibbling in one of the feeders. I don't mind. It's for them too. They don't take everything, though I do have eight squirrels now and at least that many chipmunks. I throw a fair amount over the ground too. It's for anybody that finds it. Possums come out after sunset and scrounge for leftovers with their noses that look like trunks snorting the seeds. Possum goes all the way back to dinosaur times. I theorize that possum has continued by not being very particular about what it eats, and by not being a fighter. A possum passes out from fright when attacked, farts a scent of death, pursuer backs away freaked out. Possum comes to, pursuer is long gone, possum goes about its way.

out front door looking right

Last night late driving on Glade Valley Road in rain and intermittent fog I came upon a possum in the middle of the road eating something that had died on the centerline. I slowed when I saw possum's eyes look up. I slowed further ready to stop, because possums are bad to get run over. My feeling is what's fatal for them is that it takes a moment for their pea brain to figure out that those two lights are a car going fast--lookout-lookout-lookout---so I like to give them time needed to figure it out, a second chance so when a pickup comes along driven by a consciousness that will turn the steering wheel to hit a possum, the possum might think a little faster about getting off the road. I can't save all the possums. The one last night turned and ran to the other side of the road instead of running across in front of my lights. I don't like it when one runs under a tire out of nowhere. Those get written off as consequences of the modern world. It's not my fault we need cars to get around in and roads to go fast on. We're victims together of the harsh edges of the modern world indifferent to consciousness.

happy gray squirrel

I believe what it is that makes the scene in the window more interesting than movies or tv is the feeling in myself. I feel love in my heart for the birds and the scutters. I'm happy hawks can't get them here. I'm happy to buy bags of sunflower seeds for them. The seeds are good nutrition, the oil good for their joints, their feathers, fur and much else, about like olive oil for us. They live in a world of humanity hostile to wildness while loving the idea of it. When a hawk catches one of my babies out in the open, the hawk gets a good meal. The hawks are part of my feeding stations too, part of the cycle. Maybe cardinal will come back a bluejay for a new color experience. Maybe chipmunk will return squirrel for the arboreal experience. I think it's their hands that make squirrels pesky. They use their hands the same as a raccoon. I like that my neighbors come to my house for dinner. I feel like everything that lives around me in the woods, in the meadows, in the ground, are my neighbors, same as human neighbors. This is a way of loving my neighbors, a seed kitchen for the feral. Caterpillar sits in the open doorway and watches. A bird, chipmunk or squirrel approaches her strike zone, she squeaks and her whiskers twitch. She doesn't eat them anymore. She knows them well like hunters know their prey, though in this time of her life she's an observer.  

caterpillar bird watcher