Monday, February 28, 2005

The house that is "I"

One of the most disturbing recurring Jungian dream scenarios that bothered me for years turned out not to have overly complex psychological meaning after all but was directly related to a decades long adult fear of becoming homeless - a particular fear I never felt as a child. For a long time I believed it was crucially about the people in the dreams, few of whom I was able to identify. But the meaning was mostly in the configuration of the large yet weirdly familiar house in which I found myself wandering, located in a gray, depressing neighborhood, with basement apartments, beds in the attic, & a maze of stairways & halls. The house was a composite constructof all the places I had resided, fourteen in all, during an unsettled period between 1968 & 1977, plus a few I'd stayed at briefly. Which is why I always knew where the stairways led & was never surprised to find people & belongings everywhere.

To simplify Jung, the construct of the house itself is the dreamer, a "physical" representation of the unconscious in which the dreamer - depending on the level of lucidity - is free to roam around. I'm inclined to agree. However, my most symbolically significant dreams almost always occur in much simpler landscapes, such as the house where I grew from infancy to age 19, a flat Jersey beach, or a place in which the surroundings are subordinate to the characters; a basic stage set.

In the early Seventies in New Brunswick (& probably now), a dozen Rutgers students & "townies" would take over a seedy house, cramming themselves into any available bit of space that would fit a small mattress. Although it was a chaotic situation with almost no privacy, a nasty-looking kitchen, worn out old furniture, a scummy bathtub on claw feet, frequent turnover of occupants, constant music playing in one part of the house & someone typing in another, & always the mixed odor of pot & cheap beer, the shared rents were very low. I never lived in one of these crowded hovels, but I visited (& got high in) many. I was mugged at gunpoint twice while I resided in New Brunswick, & nearly asphyxiated by a faulty furnace. It was a terrible two years of passage out of adolescence. No wonder it formed the foundation of a repeating nightmare.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Not watching the Academy Awatds. Forecast for tomorrow gets worse & worse & I believe it. Nobody's saying "blizzard" but this is the kind of storm that can surprise. Housing inspection in the morning, I still have to get rid of a few extension cords, push some boxes around & unblock the electrical outlets. The bathroom is clean. Clothes piled on chairs aren't dangerous.

"I do not like to be accused of oozing. I do not ooze." Former New Jersey Governor Thomas Kean

Friday, February 25, 2005

Losing my therapist: first thoughts

Losing this therapist now is probably a good thing for several reasons. First, my feelings for her are too personal & rather than feeling safety in the relationship I've felt constrained by it. Because of this constraint, there were many details about my life I never told my therapist & had no intention of telling her. I almost completely stopped talking about my relationships with women & my hopes & desires for having love again. So, I had deliberately shut E.K. out of a large part of my inner life rather than sound like a lonely middle-aged guy singing the blues every other week.

She knew that I wrote down as prose or poetry what I could remember of significant dreams - these occur every few months - & would send them to someone else but not recount them to her. In fact, I wasn't seeking psychological insight but rather was soliciting advice on lucid dreaming & on how to deal with the demonic characters & absurd situations, which I considered a spiritual matter.

" The president loves democracy - as long as democracy means he's always right." Maureen Dowd

Thursday, February 24, 2005

My therapist for the past five years unexpectedly announced today that she is leaving her practice at the clinic. She told me this with her usual gentleness & sensitivity. Still, I was stunned. She had started a private practice & cut back her clinic hours to two long days, but I don't believe she was eager to leave altogether; she just doesn't have the time. We've been through much together. Right now, I cannot follow her out as a private client, her central Jersey office is not accessible.

My relationship with E.K. is one of the three most important I've had with women outside of family, those other two preceded her, & in all three it was the woman who ended it. But this is different, although I don't know if this ending includes loss & liberation, or only loss. I have to think about it.

(In fact, I've never liked doing therapy through the clinic; it's an uncomfortable place & not conducive to the kind of deep, relaxed free associating both she & I would have preferred as the staple of our sessions together.)

John Paul's Bullhorn

Pope John Paul II does not further the progress of human rights by writing that homosexual marriages are part of "a new ideology of evil" that is "insidiously threatening society." Does he think gay Christians are Nazis? Stalinists? By engaging in such hyperbole, John Paul invites intolerance & even vigilantism by those who consider it their personal mission to stamp out evil ideologies (see your local right wing mullah or pastor). I've been blessed to have gay & lesbian friends & through them overcome my own early irrational views. Then, learning about the various gay Christian organizations & discovering that most of these kind people are actually traditionalists who recite the Apostles Creed & desire the prerogatives & comfort of traditional church participation; choirs, Sunday schools, Bible study, pot luck suppers, the opportunity for Christian charity & outreach. They want to be married because they are for committed relationships & for the stability & safety of Christian families. But I'm not a Catholic, I don't believe in the need for a special class of priests possessed of magic powers, & I do believe the Pope on his throne is a CEO at the top of institutional pyramid for organizing patriarchal power. What the Pope says matters to me only because he's so wrong-headed so often & his bullhorn is heard around the world.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

If convicted, hang 'em high.

For a long time I've been tempted to make one exception to my opposition to the death penalty, & that is for elected public officials who betray the public trust through bribery & theft. The hangman would have a lot of work if these New Jersey mayors & councilmen are found guilty of their alleged dirty deeds. At least we can appreciate that small-minded criminality in local politics is a bipartisan thing.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

The insanity never ends.

Here's the outrageous Karl Rove attack ad on AARP, I'm very pleased with it. As the Bush junta begins its second term the mis-steps pile up & the payback is on the way. This ad manages to be homophobic AND insult patriotic seniors, & no doubt scares the bejezuz out of dozens of Republican congressmen from "graying" districts who solicit the AARP vote every two years. Certainly, one can find fault with AARP positions on a number of issues, but committing treason & supporting gay marriage are not part of its agenda. The ad has been withdrawn but the damage, like they say, is done. The sponsors of the ad said they were only trying to "provoke liberal bloggers," & that they did. What's pathetic is that so few conservatives are also provoked. It's the rare conservative writer, like Paul Mulshine of Jersey's Star-Ledger, who concludes that Bush & the neocoms make no more sense than the liberals.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Hunter S. Thompson, July 18, 1937 - February 20, 2005

Malcolm X was murdered 40 years ago today.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Compliments pass where quality meet: A shill at the White House

I've known a number of young reporters with liberal personal beliefs who reported fairly & honestly, taking great pride in their journalistic ability to wade through bullshit no matter where they detected it. When a couple of them decided to take sides in politics, they stopped working as reporters. They didn't try to b.s. anyone. That's why the Jim Guckert a.k.a. Jeff Gannon story is so troubling & scandalous; it's real news about how the White House contrived fake news, & the story ought to be getting a lot more attention.

To sum up briefly, a man who was not a legitimate journalist, representing a "news service" that was a front for the Republican Party, received credentials as a White House correspondent, which is the top of the heap for a reporter. Like everyone in the White House press corps he was "vetted" by the F.B.I. for security clearance, approved by the White House press office, & yet for two years worked under a pseudonym, "Jeff Gannon." White House press secretary Scott McClellan claimed not to be aware of this. Gannon/Guckert's "assignment" was to lob softball questions in press conferences that supported Bush adminstration views while smearing opponents. A montage of these questions from the past year is like a comedy routine. This alone is a big story. But the man also owned gay-oriented web domain names ( That just adds to the hypocrisy.

The important story is how this guy got into the White House press corps, an indictment not only of the Bush administration's deviousness at controlling "news," but also of the submissive major news organizations that didn't investigate & expose the bullshit a long time ago. Once again, the bloggers had to do the job. Some marquee columnists have now written on the Gannon/Guckert scandal. But it's still not on the front pages.

Friday, February 18, 2005

What is the sound of one hand stuffing an envelope?

WFMU DJ Charlie usually asks me to do his 9 a.m. Monday program when he takes off a week. I always turn it down, even though Charlie is a great guy who does the kind of wide-ranging free form show I enjoy "filling-in." The last time I did a weekly show at that hour was in 1996 at the old East Orange NJ studio when I was desperate to get back on the schedule & I had a reliable car & prepared most of the program a week in advance, but it was still nerve-wracking worrying I'd oversleep or the car wouldn't start or I'd get stuck in a traffic jam on the Garden State Parkway. Now I'd have to get up at 6:30 a.m. latest, catch the 7:26 train to Newark, change to the Jersey City Exchange Place PATH train (all crowded rush hour hauling an extra amount of recordings), maybe get coffee & a banana walnut muffin at the Au Bon Pain, arrive at the studio with luck about 8:20 & have a half hour to pull the rest of the music & no time to audition new stuff, all for a one-show gig. I may be a masochist, but neither my ego nor my sense of reponsibility toward WFMU demand that sort of sacrificial suffering anymore. Instead, I put in five hours at the station on Wednesday stuffing envelopes for a pre-Marathon mailing, which is less creative but just as important & certainly more zen. & I didn't have to arrive until after noon. I will be filling in for Bethany on Sunday 2/20 from 9 p.m. to midnight.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Luc Sante's fine review of Bob Dylan's Chronicles.

Parse Dubya's State of da Onion speeches.

President Bill Clinton won his second Grammy this year, in the spoken word category for his book, "My Life" (not to be confused with the Billy Joel song). He won last year for his recitation on a recording of "Wolf Tracks,." a musical sequel to Prokofiev's "Peter & the Wolf." It was the third Grammy for the Clintons; Hillary copped one in 1997 for "It Takes a Village." "Come Poop With Me" by Triumph the Insult Dog lost in the Comedy category.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Maya Marcel-Keyes' Miracle Moment

Included as a "Miracle Moment of the Week" in the Reconciling Ministries Network e letter: Maya Marcel-Keyes, 19, daughter of Black conservative Republican Alan Keyes addressed a rally on Monday saying she came out as a “liberal queer." Alan Keyes is, of course, the cold-hearted anti-Christian radical mullah who leans neo-fascist & labeled Dick Cheney's lesbian daughter a sinner and called homosexuality "selfish hedonism*." Cheney's daughter did indeed sin - by supporting her father's re-election bid.
*If the general population were polled for "Selfish Hedonists," the percentage would probably be about the same for straight, gay & no preference.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Saint Valentine's Day

Poets don't know more about love than other people, & of course they aren't any better at it. They just have their own peculiar mix of talent & conceit, plus the ego to advertise a point-of-view. Dr. Phil on TV is less likely to help us understand intimacy than the insights of the better poets. If few poets are known by successes in love relationships, at least they sing honestly about their entrances & exits.

Three of the most enduring marriages (with children) I know have a poet in them. Two of those poets met their spouses in late adolescence & are among the few I'd say found a "soulmate," which I do not believe is common or even necessary in love. Two of the most short-lived marriages (which produced a child) among friends also included poets. All lovers are soulmates during the thirty day trial period deal, after which one may return them paying only a small shipping & handling fee.

On Valentine's Day my thoughts turn to two of the loneliest American poets; Emily Dickinson & Walt Whitman. Walt is unmistakably gay in his poems & the objects of his effusive affections; he denied it to himself & others because he had to. His tried channeling his feelings into pansexuality. Of Emily, I've never read a convincing case for her being a lesbian. Perhaps she was, but I wonder if the thought even occurred to her; something else in her personality drove her to become a recluse. Wouldn't help if they had been introduced to each other; each would've been frightened & repelled by the intensity of the other's emotions & the very different forms & paths these emotions sought out. Whitman was operatic, a drama queen. Dickinson wrote in & around the cadences of Congregational hymns. In the privacy of their own thoughts, I doubt if any human behavior was truly alien to them.

The pagan holiday Saint Valentine's Day unsuccessfully attempted to replace is Lupercalia: Young men, naked except for the skins of goats that had been sacrificed, ran around the bounds of the Palatine Hill, both to purify the ancient site where Romulus & Remus had been suckled by wolves and, striking the women they met with strips of goat skin, to promote fertility. "Neither potent herbs, nor prayers, nor magic spells shall make of thee a mother," writes Ovid, "submit with patience to the blows dealt by a fruitful hand." There were also lotteries to choose lovers for the duration of the festival.

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Saturday, February 12, 2005

The Incredible Jimmy Smith

"The Incredible" Jimmy Smith, the incomparable jazz organist, died last week at age 76. Jimmy wasn't the first to play jazz on an organ, but in the 1950's he popularized a boppish style of playing that took advantage of the Hammond B3, a model that is still manufactured. Jimmy's organ registration - his particular setting of the instrument's stops & drawbars - was an integral part of his sound, with subsequent artists trying either to imitate it or find a sound of their own. Even though I was a rock organist, my choice of the Vox Continental had something to do with Jimmy's wide influence.

In the wake of Jimmy Smith's early LPs for Blue Note, bars & lounges began featuring organ trios; drums, a guitar or sax, & the organist playing the bass patterns on the Hammond's 25 foot pedals - a difficult art to master - some prominent jazz organists never did. Newark had an especially lively jazz organ scene; in the summer funky organ trios played Jersey shore clubs from Asbury Park to Wildwood, especially those off-the-boardwalk places catering to a predominantly black clientele. Philadelphia, where Jimmy started his career, was also a hot spot for the music. Jimmy Smith played many of these venues. Unfortunately, I was too young to get inside for this kind of music in its prime, although I did catch a little of it from the outside, in Atlantic City early Sixties.

Jimmy Smith's origina Blue Note albums are uniformly very good to great. In the Sixties he switched to Verve & made records that were more "pop" by the standards of that era, many with big bands & top arrangers like Lalo Schifrin & Oliver Nelson that sound cool today, & a couple of memorable collaborations with Wes Montgomery & a young George Benson. It was those Verve LPs that I most often went to in my WFMU programs. Maybe Jimmy's music wasn't best served when I programmed "The Theme from The Munsters," "Jingle Bells," or his hit record "Walk On the Wild Side," but they were enjoyable, surprisingly well-made novelties in the free form context, & of course I also aired his Blue Note classics. Jimmy made one awful vocal album with a hilarious song-recitative titled "Astrology," in which he runs through the sexy & dangerous attributes of the 12 zodiac signs. So bya Jimmy, you're incredible, a musician of talent, class & good humor.

Check out these classic Jimmy Smith album covers: Chicken Shack, Movin' On, The Cat, Crazy Baby! (a fav, includes Mack the Knife & A Night in Tunisia), Bashin', Home Cookin'. The apostrophe of course signifies soul.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Gizoogled Therapy

Me: So jus' chill: I had two drinks at a party & it made me feel that everyone there liked me . Holla!. But I'm not will'n ta driznink ta feel that way . Slap your mutha fockin self.

Dr. E.K.: I like you.
Me: Keep the party crackin while I'm steady rappin': I eitha fizzy I dizzay deserve sum'm sum'm or that I might deserve it but haven't earned it fo shizzle.

Dr. E.K.: That's always been yo biggest problem. &. you don't like ask'n fo' hiznelp, brotha fo' sheezy.
Me: I am vizzle difficult ta git ta kizzle well; I hold bizzle a lot, even frizzom you.

Dr. E.K.: I knizzay.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Condoleeza as The Queen of Heaven?

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

An Imposition of Ashes

I was rather surprised when a quick Google search turned up a number of United Methodist churches holding "Ash Wednesday" services, including one featuring an "Imposition of Ashes," whatever that means - it has a negative tone to it, as if ashes were being flung at congregants against their will. Growing up as a Methodist, I considered Ash Wednesday very much a Roman Catholic thing, for only Catholics, including my grandmother, went out & about with a cross smudged in ash on their foreheads. If my Methodist Church had a special service for the day after Fat Tuesday, I don't recall it. I wouldn't have gone anyway. Lent wasn't a big deal. The forty days leading to Easter determined a series of Biblical passages & lessons for the Sunday services & school, but that was about it. My future-minister brother may have given up something for Lent, perhaps peanut butter or hot cherry peppers, but it was neither a Methodist tradition nor an effort one was expected to make in my family. Lenten " sacrifice" for most Methodists still means volunteering for something or writing a check for a Christian social service "campaign' - this year I'm sure tsunami relief is getting the big push for an extra collection.

I never liked when Methodism steered too closely to its Anglican origins - there were "high" & "low" liturgical varieties, with affluent churches more likely to embrace the former. I've always preferred an uncomplicated service, with familiar forms & hymns & an intelligent sermon with some modest originality (a rare thing) lasting no more than 20 minutes. For fancier theater, I'd go to church on occasion with one of the Catholic girls I always seemed to be dating. I even licked the ashes off Karen.

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Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Night Song

Most of the sounds
are made by the traveling
we do in darkness
awake, while others
walk about in their sleep.

In this night are only
the radio stations of choice,
the fixed destination of dawn,
& a sense that by then
we may be arriving somewhere.


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Monday, February 07, 2005

Tired of being a loser?
Become a Republican

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Sunday, February 06, 2005

survival poem

Glossy with rounded lobes,
usually with broader end
Russet-colored in the Fall,
   hang on
most of the Winter.

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Saturday, February 05, 2005

Trying out a slightly different blog design which may be easier to customize. We shall see.
I'm not happy with it. It isn't easier to customize, it's not much of a visual improvement & worse, the page doesn't load correctly in IE, which I don't use but most people do. I recommend Mozilla Firefox.
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Wednesday, February 02, 2005

a poem for joel oppenheimer

The many, mostly disorganized folders & large manila envelopes containing my writings are scattered throughout a number of unmarked boxes practically untouched since I moved last April. I was unable to locate a newspaper piece from about ten years ago celebrating poet joel oppenheimer & Groundhog Day, which was his favorite holiday. I wrote about one-hundred newspaper columns & that seemed to be the only one missing. There are also hundreds of unpublished &/or unfinished &/or forgotten poems in those boxes; many put aside only because they weren't what I was trying to do - or trying to be - at the time I made them. Here's one joel would've liked:


the nose
catches snow,
for something better.

great blizzards won't
deny me
this perfect satisfaction.


"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be." Thomas Jefferson

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