Friday, April 18, 2008

spring morning

spring morning
delivering a more compelling entrance
warming the back of my neck nape
sunscreen will be in order soon
protection for this winter-withered mass
the wan pall of non-dairy creamer
getting around to making a point
but not quite—still
i am loved by the sun

aroma of spring’s first hard thaw
120-plus nights of defrosting dog shit
temporarily holding hostage promises interred
within soft, damp front/back yards and gardens
remembered
but not quite—still
i am loved by the sun

broad magenta-edged luminous green superheros
groan forth from their villainous graves
lazy autumn thoughts about last rites
about futility
tease a humile smile onto my pasty countenance
all have survived
but not quite—still
i am loved by the sun

Thursday, April 10, 2008

thursday 10 apr (bethanie's birthday)

younger sister’s birthday
the one i fought with
tormented
cried with
fomented rebellion with (failed)
always fomenting

like good cheese, improving with the passing of time
in dark places

melancholy is a term useful for the description of poetry
too shopworn for the construction of poetry
a critics’ word
prepackaged in its own gestalt
a can of linguistic Spam

yet i am enjoying it fried (with eggs) this morning
almost 42 sitting miles apart from 39
contemplating the uncataloged natural forces
pushing us apart, physical distance once again providing
a frictionless vacuum
child’s experiments
with emotional fields of common polarity
pushing us apart

i miss you
i miss the relationship i imagined for us
the straight line i drew from our common
childhood to what should be ours
(not the un/shared present)

today,
i wish for you all the non-dairy cheese (fomented soy)
and joy that you can consume

some day,
our glorious rebellion will succeed
che and cheese will be made proud

happy birthday.

Friday, April 04, 2008

two trains

south:

red line
longitudinally bisecting
bisecting the city
until you leave the city

south into the urbanity

where it forks in two
like a fork in the road
requiring a road map to confirm
reconfirm: to validate bearings

like the road map itself
bright red line indicative of
representative of an important
roadway intersecting with

intersecting with

the perpendicular red and blue solid
and black crosshatched lines
symbolic of this red line
left to points east: right towards the american archetype

or maybe a snake’s tongue

too much vanity and fear in the young man
(old boy really)
no questions asked continuing his ride south
to where he thought he was going

the train emerges from the bowels
of a successful 20th century capitalist society
into the harsh daylight
of a successful 20th century capitalist society

he’s lost, he knows it
he thinks he’s the only representative of
ambassador of brave new world ancestral migration
remaining on the train

they’re staring at him
boring holes in him
mocking him
them with their dark eyes

anger, amusement, resentment, curiosity:
who can say what the non-
anglo saxon mind
might be thinking

certainly not this old boy

outside, ruins of a society that used to be
desolation remaining
resulting from an unwillingness
to share

rejection of empathy

it wasn’t meant to end this way
his trip to the end of the line
was supposed to be
through better neighborhoods


north:

halfway across the human accumulation
of worry and regret
riding the evening commuter

it’s a quiet journey
punctuated by the rustle and snap of
journals, tribunes, times

serving crisp counterpoint to the
basso thrum of steel wheels
rolling on steel rails

no-one staring
they know he belongs here (or think they know)
understand their common objective

home without incident

nearing his locality of
shrubbery and unlocked doors
(not everyone of course: you can’t be too careful)

he feels the anxiety creeping
creeping (again) up the back of his throat
on its way to overwhelm his mind

same fear as before (as always)
but older, more worldly, fat
on a lifetime of unfulfillment

having to turn sideways to pass through doors

your safety is our highest priority
together we can make us all more secure
the recorded father figure smoothly entones

the statements a nightly mantra
an unachievable ohm
never within reach

not for him
nor for his fellow fortunate
on this ride home

safe. he’s back home safe

Friday, March 21, 2008

on remembering the mobile homes in my life

(1)
there was a moment (late 60s, early 70s)
when the mobile home seemed destined for glory

armies of shining American families
roaming from mountains majesty to fruited plain

their homes (lives, loves, fears, memories, dreams) in tow
like artillery pieces in our American war on permanence

it didn’t last long—mobile home stripped of wanderlust
is just a trailer

no amount of rebranding could cleave our humanity
entirely from its sense of place

conceptual shift: weapon to meat wagon
dragging the underclass American wounded and their baggage

from cradle to grave, multipurpose to the end
functioning neatly as a Super-Sized rolling metal casket

(2)
mother’s story, not mine
legend of my young childhood still destined for greatness
protagonist laureled home from swedish-american hospital
to the mobile home park that would be the launching point for my exploits

i imagine the horns wailing sometimes
mom whirling in panic on the concrete patio
her turn (as dreamed) much more grahamesque than warranted
eyes skitting round the kiddie pools, pink flamingoes, white and seafoam aluminum

seeking out some sign of her only born son
horns still blaring, she sprints toward the sound
(as effectively as the word “sprint” can be applied
to a young married woman on gravel in slippers, housecoat and curlers)

towards the main road, the highway
she stops short at the culvert, pebbles trickling onto the asphalt
source of the commotion: happy motoring brought to a standstill
source of the standstill: her son on a bright red tricycle, pedaling merrily down

the center stripe

(3)
as rivers go, the Fox is an amiable sociopath

sepia toned memories of father-son fishing its forested, mosquito-owned banks
dull sheen of angst drifting through flashbacks of baptisms held in its muddy currents
like a chemical spill still expanding, diluting, floating downstream

dad had sold the trailer in all its
embossed aluminum and knotty pine glory
to a friend who co-owned this piece of river’s edge

taken off its too small wheels and hastily installed on a cinder-block foundation
it shared an uncomfortable stasis with humanity:
not capable of fully inhabiting one’s place in the world

not able to move on gracefully. temporarily

the no-longer mobile home
(intended for the soon-to-be happily married) breaks free
regains the independence taken away

spring rains being particularly biblical that year
the trailer was found 400 yards downstream
broken against an iron bridgepost, wrecked striving for the road

another common trait

(4)
no tornadoes yet

(5)
grandmother’s farm
rolling over 20 acres of hay, ramshackle barns
and exhausted machinery
held tightly to its two abandoned trailers
working tirelessly to absorb them into the scragged landscape

joined together to form a stubby “L”, henceforth immobile
left behind by the good for nothing son
drunkenshiftelesswifebeating son
(according to the clan’s conservative party)
the scene of the not technically a crime

his children (my cousins)
would sometimes share summer exile (exhilation?) on the farm
my sister and i playing house among the chickens
who had come home to roost
trying to decode the liturgy of a happy family life

cousins afraid to set foot inside
immobile at the door
afraid of ghosts
of memories
of memories of ghosts

they burned sometime later
gutted with fire
taking several of grandma’s prize hens with them
no-one bothered to call the vfd
by the time they would have arrived

there was nothing left to save

(6)
post-retirement lifetime of office and factory work
(interspersed with God’s Work)
relocation traditional in location
(south of the brilliant chromaticity of fall)
traditionally non-traditional in approach

5 acres of dirt at the end of a dirt road
soft pine growing like weeds
larger trees recently cut and chain-dragged
for the purpose of split-levels
and books by wm. shakespeare and a. coulter

they arrived with their trailer in tow
an 18-foot recreational jobee that had seen sea to shining sea
a Wanderer in brand name and seasonal practice
now anchored to red red claydirt
itinerant no more

it’s remarkable how long two people can live together
in 150 square feet
artifacts of the last great depression, they scavenged
the broken, the unnecessary, the irrelevant (so dad said)
because it might come in handy later

two years they managed in that rectangular prism
until their hoard of uselessness overwhelmed them
they bought a larger trailer (beige with chestnut trim)
and recommenced their retirement responsibilities
related to the accumulation of stuff

sometime later, they would both leave the trailer to die
banished from their compulsion for their final days
what else is left to say
it took three months to dispose of their lives

(7)
viscous silence filled the trailer to the ceiling
although passers by would be none the wiser
no leakage from the prefab structure to reveal internal goings on
a schrödinger’s box in the offing

we only made these visits so often when father worked
away from home for weeks, months on end
finding the cheapest rental available
sometimes with other construction men, this time alone

we sat around the formica tabletop
in chairs struggling to maintain their original form and function
chipped and missing laminate creating the map of
a mottled orange nebula in a dark sky

mother busying herself in the background
warming pie in the toaster oven and brewing weak coffee
struggling to make a clean spot
trailer shrugging off her manic intent

our stay would end after an hour or two
sufficient time being necessary to make the long
journey back to our house without father
and for him to be

he never had much to say
during these irregular interruptions to his ramshackle monastery
intensity of family dysfunction compressed by
gravity of the passing moment in spacetime

singularity conjured forth
from which heat and light and life cannot escape
passers by surely curious about the outcome
but afraid to disrupt the superposition

(8)
no tornadoes

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

ur

(1)
you know, there isn’t really a “p” sound involved at all
their mouths (lips actually) aren’t designed to produce plosives

– what are you doing?

it’s more of a dipthong, but not quite true
academic arbiters of pronunciation would affix the label “complex segment”
which is remarkably less fun to say

– are you there?

dipthong


– what?
– what are you doing?

ziggurat is a fantastic word
need to work it into my writing somehow
hammurabi ate an umlaut in his ziggurat
babylonians were big cat lovers like the egyptians
big modifying lovers, not cat

– were you listening? what did i just say?

perhaps there’s a shared ur-religion
or other socio-evolutionary nexus between the two societies
that developed in parallel along the banks of the
euphrates and nile rivers
which would intersect somewhere in europe if they were extended
along their directional axes

– i’m just stroking spook

– and enjoying our time together
– you’re a million miles from here


– i love you honey

(2)
the cat purrs on his chest as he sleeps peacefully.
bastard.

Friday, February 29, 2008

born again

a hot june night
windows wrenched open,
box fans thrumming from opposite ends of our duplex side
forming a sticky wind tunnel
lights out except for the dim glow of streetlamp and oven bulb
not sleeping

i did not want to spend eternity in hell

kneeling in front of the stereophonic, late of:
      ellington
      parker
      dejohnette
      coltrane
      miles (father: "before the sellout")
ready to be saved

revival had closed that late spring saturday
three hours in a giant (to eight-year old eyes) round tent
white as Christ’s raiment
a glowing canvas citadel on a loaned hayfield

i had not heeded the altar call
a half-hour of fire and brimstone poured out of God’s messenger
in sweat and tears
yet i had not heeded the call
fellow congregants making their way towards God’s forgiveness
kneeling in supplication
embraced in fellowship by Christian brethren
but i had not heeded the call

i did not want to spend eternity in hell

preacher had gotten to me
had seduced my fears out of the
places fears hide
“all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God”
but my legs would not move my soul full of transgressions
towards the altar
towards blessed eternal life
fear of exposure momentarily overriding
my chance at redemption

i did not want to spend eternity in hell

i had awakened my parents
standing behind me while i knelt in front of the stereophonic console-altar
“to god be the glory” spinning on the turntable softly
so as not to wake my sisters
the air full of midwestern mysticism

i did not want to spend eternity in hell

i prayed
i recognized Christ as my lord and savior
i confessed my sins to God and pleaded forgiveness
i begged to be saved from fiery damnation
i was born again

parents clutching me in an embrace made damp
by june and mother’s tears
      we’ll talk more in the morning
      we love you
      we’re so proud of you
      jesus loves you
      go to sleep
whispered as we wandered back to bed

still not sleeping

i do not want to spend eternity in hell

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

monday 25 feb (morning)

second compartment
upper deck, towards the back
overhead fluorescent burned out

light from a sun still enjoying too much its winter vacation
struggling to push through the green-tinted windows
washing my corner with a glow akin to
acts of god or industrial negligence

higher brain functions still scattered
skittering around like a child’s bag of marbles
shaken onto the floor of the second compartment

i stretch to flip the switch on the (remarkably) functional
reading light, bringing focus to today’s leftovers
sports, business, weather go quickly in the second compartment,
leaving only the news

Iraqi suicide bomber kills 40 on religious pilgrimage
Meatpacker in cow-abuse scandal may shut down
Young Serb killed in embassy riot shared his nation’s rage of U.S.

nausea rolls in, marbles coalescing in a back corner of the second compartment
lost in the shadow of a passenger bench
as i struggle to absorb, to comprehend, to forge meaning
out of the random non-randomness

i catch myself tracking the green snow-encrusted forest
silently whooshing by
outside the second compartment

look into the distance
mom used to say
for heaven’s sake, if you’re feeling motion sick
look into the distance

i wish i could
believe me, i've tried
it doesn’t help the nausea

right now, what i really need
is for the Ritalin to kick in
and put my mind back
into the second compartment

Friday, February 22, 2008

iteration 4

we’ve been thru this
three times already
looping
scripting
gating
compiling
pushing unwilling bits and bytes
onto intransigent silicon
collective hope for the best
collective angst when hopes are dashed
error traces cryptically mocking our digital gallantry

we seem stuck in an infinite loop
which is doubleplusbad whether referencing
self-destructive behavior OR
application servers
the cycle is repeated until one of the wares
(soft or hard)
raises the flag of surrender
and a tenuous peace is arranged

we straggle on
half asleep/awake
somnambulant in the soft grey glow
of the code editor
finesse a distant
ritalin-hazed memory

there are deadlines to be met
amorphous users clamoring for the latest fix
additional delays unacceptable
reduction in scope impossible
saintworthy miracles improbable

of course we’ll meet the dates

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

red truck

my dad didn’t own a red truck
until we moved to Mississippi
(the ranchero not qualifying on account of being too sissy)
after the exodus, they came and went
like the latest trends in women’s lipstick shades

we were riding in the latest incarnation
a toasted scarlet super cab
built for hauling men and their gear
from construction site to
wilderness
and back

dad driving of course
me riding shotgun

some rather ill-humored brain function
churning up memories of
prior rides
tossing them into my consciousness
like chunks of raw meat to a pack of
hunting dogs

a voice (gnarled by age, still imposing)
breaks the drone of wheels on pavement
Dad speaking

you know, your mom and i
talked
and while we know that
we may not have been the best parents
you kids turned out allright

the road hums on
physical distance from here to there
knowable, measurable
emotional distance confined within the super cab
more adequately described in terms
of the calculus

i should have a response
twenty-plus years of nomading myself
journeying far and wide
seeking what hadn’t been given
had been taken
i should have a response

the road hums on
me and my dad
riding in the red truck
again

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

tired

let me just say upfront

that i GET capitalism
i have a robust appreciation for the
power and economic efficiency of
free markets of
the invisible hand

but something happened on the way to
my four bedroom marble tiled weekly cleaning service suburban
utopia
not that i’ve gone Marxist or anything
(Dad himself would drive a sharpened American flagpole
straight thru my heart)
i have to ask
why am i so tired

i mean i can’t even complain about
working with my hands
shagging bags of
rice
cement
shit

no
i'm in the advance force
the leading echelons
the post boom computer friendly out of the box thinking
knowledge workers
(cringing at the use of such a
shopworn oxymoron)

let me say something else

i'm not feeling the knowledge
i don’t know
what to do
where to go
how to go
who to do

and i really don’t understand why
it’s come to this
i used to have ideas
spewing out of me like
halon gas from a fire extinguisher
now the only idea (more of a compulsion really)
is survival
getting back to the bunker
with my job
my dignity
my mind
intact

that’s all i have to say really

i know
i understand
i'm just
tired

Thursday, February 07, 2008

wednesday 06 feb (morning)

the station disgorges its huddled masses
into the predawn unpleasantness
of course it's frigid
(i wonder whether eskimos have
23 different words for cold)

these strivers are strangers to me
my usual chugging by
at a much more humane time
weary, still undercaffienated
they trudge toward the approaching light
our early morning foreshadowing
the end of days

“they’re calling for eight to twelve inches today”
rumbles the baritone, a man
genetically and jovially predisposed
to latitudes much further north

the announcement shakes
my new associates and i
from our lumbering slumber
a groan of discomfort mutually expected
emanating from our midst
all for one
and one for all

we’re awake now (or less asleep)
as the screeching smell of asbestos
escalates sensory input
beyond the background noise of a tired mind
and we realize
the train is here

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

tuesday 05 feb (morning)

sidewalks as fjords
sheer cliffs of snow that has known better days
grey-brown bergs shearing from the face
into the dreary muck of concrete and ice soup
as i place each footstep
gingerly
into the slushy depths of this transient watershed
i offer prayers to the patron saint of
vulcanized rubber
that my faithful galoshes
remain so

Monday, February 04, 2008

Go Sled

towering monster
is not an apt description
for our officially sanctioned sled hill
city fathers merely quivering
in the risk and liability nightmares
of making a mountain out of a molehill

and yet
21st century young Kenevils
on mass-produced polyurethane/polypropylene disposasleds
(waxed steel and wood rails apparently class actioned out of existence)
find new/old ways to feel newly alive
improvising danger like Snowpants Miles Davis

“let’s play cards going down”
says my son
wielding his imagination like an emergent superpower
but we don’t have a deck
says his father
suffering the long term effects of kryptonite exposure

the looks he gets from his mother do
occasionally
have their desired effect
cutting through the haze, igniting comprehension
oooohhhhh… … …
right, let’s play cards

“you sit on front facing back and
i'll sit on back facing you”
you’re sure about this
“dad”
mmmmk, here’s seven cards for you and 7 for me
“great, lets go!”

wait! how do i hold my cards and the sled at the same time
“dad (three letters transfigured into 2 syllables), gravity is our friend”
strains of some long-forgotten truth echo within
so i shrug my shoulders
ok, let’s go

i contemplate the fickle nature of gravity’s acquaintance
as i tumble
head over heels
the world a cacophony of dead grass and live snow
as i lie
in my final resting place
pondering the infinite grey above
my son
simply vibrating with laughter
tackles me shouting
“i won! i won!”

which, i guess, is true
he’d laid down aces
and i hadn’t even had time to play
before my cards and i went flying

as we grin together
the playing cards softly fluttering to the ground around us
i think to myself
this time, i’m asking for nines

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Science is Hard, or Joe vs. the Cosmoquantumdestructocollider

There’s been this idea churning in the back of my head for the last week or so. It got going reading this post at the (aptly named) Science Blog. In it, Jonah Lehrer bemoans an issue he has perceived: that advanced scientific research is generally headed into areas that have little relevance to the public at large. My initial reaction was a snarky “I bet Einstein would have annoyed the bloggeristas as well.”

Then I picked up the Chicago Tribune Sunday Magazine last weekend (yes, we all know it pales in comparison to NYT Sunday Mag), the focus of which was dynamics in the ongoing soap opera that is creationism vs. evolution. While the primary article was a decent primer in current trends towards reconciling a deity-driven model of the universe with the scientific approach, it didn’t cover any new ground. The more interesting piece was this backgrounder on the Creation Museum that’s recently opened in Louisville, Kentucky. The museum developers have spared no expense in creating a pseudo-science museum experience, right down to animatronics of homo sapiens sapiens hanging out with various grass-eating dinos (of course, they wouldn’t be hanging out with T. Rex, would they?).

At first glance, the two items seem completely unrelated. Either author is likely to be offended to be mentioned in the context of the other. Yet try as I might, the themes embedded within each kept swirling around the other like a pair of stars trapped in a complex gravity dance. Somehow, there was an intrinsic relation between the two articles.

As I’ve had time to mull on it, I think I’ve come to comprehend the underlying issue: we, as a society, do a dismal job engaging people in understanding the “what” and “why” of science (ok, so I’m sure it feels like a bit of a “duh” moment, but stick with me). We do a better job at the “how”, inasmuch as scientists like to show off their shiny cosmoquantumdestructocollider beams to the world. Humans can intuit hardware—they have a harder time with software. What we don’t do, what we’ve never done, is to foster human intuition where it comes to scientific principle, and both these articles are perfect examples.

Consider Lehrer with his “science is hard” complaint. If you look at the significant strides that have been made, especially in the field of physics (where the bulk of his ire is focused), they have all occurred in the shadow of an uncomprehending public. I joked about Einstein, but your Joe Bagadoughnuts still doesn’t intuit relativity. Try explaining to him that relativistic effects could cause different observers to experience a time series of non-casually related events in different orders, and see what kind of look you get. You might as well fuggetabut da math.

The Creation Museum represents the idea taken to its illogical extreme. Faced with an environment lacking a clear framework upon which to develop intuition, humans revert to the known. Consider: Galileo wasn’t a heretic because he was right. He was a heretic because he challenged the preexisting intuition. Evolution challenges our current environment in much the same way. Yes, there are some in the scientific community who relish in rear guard attacks on evolution’s principles. But the real problem is our inability to integrate evolution within our human intuitive framework in the same way that, say, Euclidian geometry is part of the things we "don't know we know". I may not be able to write a proof that two parallel lines in two-dimensional space never intersect, but I "know" it to be the case.

Ultimately, I think this challenge results from deficiencies in three areas, which I will discuss in future posts (this one is already too long):

(1) Lack of effective explanatory models;
(2) Failure to maintain integration between the fields of philosophy and science;
(3) Culture.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Cold like...

Cold, like…

a Joe Lewis right hook
pre-GE Jack Welch
the stare of Parisian waiter serving Iowans
a hospital gown
an end-of-shift gate agent
the Saks 5th fragrance counter attendant when asked for a low-budget Dior
a Liberal response to the Conservative agenda
pranks involving body parts and Super Glue
a professional sniper
humming Manilow in a roomful of Boomers
spoiling Santa Claus for a child
the scene in Goodfellas where Pesci gets “made”
stiffing the paperboy
the sensation of knowing you’ll lose your home to foreclosure
spoofing your nemesis’ IM account to cause trouble
a lopsided victory at a children’s game
an IV drip
posting YouTube of scholarGirl binge drinking
tasering your parakeet
knowingly creating false hope
a Kathryn Hepburn stare
taking center stage at your ex’s wedding
changing your blocking opening night
honking as you pass a cyclist
assigning the manual calculation of the square roots from 1-50 (to 25 decimal places) on a Friday
the best dish of revenge ever
Hillary and Bill against
the person you become when you let greed in
the relationship between an absentee dad and his adult children
the potential of an unfired revolver
Simon on Idol
an economist predicting a mild recession
a drug company with an exclusive patent
the candlelight anniversary dinner served to the late arriving, too-much-to-drink husband
the Junior League luncheon to Gloria Steinem
metaphor devoid of meaning

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Hubble Bubbles and You

I’ve been immersing myself recently in the weirdness that is Information Theory. Briefly, IT originated in the mid-20th century as part of an effort at Bell Labs to describe the rate at which information can be pushed through a given medium. Since then, it’s gotten entangled with such diverse concepts as thermodynamics, genetics and quantum mechanics. Underlying Information Theory is the concept that objects are the sum of their information—their measurable properties.

A particularly fascinating idea is the concept of Hubble Bubbles(1). Take a sphere of matter and energy—for argument’s sake, let’s say one the size of a dust mote. Based on research at the intersection of Information Theory and quantum mechanics, it’s generally accepted that the matter and energy comprising this dust mote-sized Hubble Bubble can be organized in a finite number of ways. Like the Rubik’s Cube I was never able to solve, there are lots (and I mean LOTS) of different ways things can be arranged, but there is an upper limit.

When you explain this to most people, they might scratch their heads a bit but they eventually accept this as reasonable. What gets strange is when you extend the logic. If there is a limit to the number of states (“wave functions” in technical jargon) possible for your tiny Hubble Bubble, then there is also a limit to the number of wave functions possible for a sphere of matter and energy the size of a tennis ball. Yes, the number is larger; but, it remains finite.

So, what happens when we expand our Hubble Bubble to planet size? Galaxy size? Known universe size??? If we accept that the rule holds for a dust mote, then (by extension) it must also hold for our universe. Scientists generally accept that there are a finite number of ways the matter and energy in our universe can be organized.

Mull that over. Conceptually, it may not seem like a big deal, but it leads to some really outlandish conceptual models once you take the training wheels off. I’ll come back to this in a future post.

(1) A term applied to a number of different scenarios in astrophysics. The usage described here originated with Charles Seife in his book Decoding the Universe.

The 8:35 Local

The 8:35 local is an interesting ride home. It leaves the Loop too late for all the day workers and touristas, and too early for all the party- and theatre-goers. I sit here--top deck, end twofer seat--wondering about the stories of the lives surrounding me. At the same time, the mind loves to categorize. Halfway back on my side is "middle-aged divorced woman", looking generally unhappy as she absorbs her Subway sandwich. Below me, on the opposite side (with tie loose) is "overcaffienated CBOT floor trader". He's not wearing the ID or telltale fisherman's vest: he just has that energy to him.

So, why are we here? My story: a business dinner with my "team". Average meal, inconsequential discussion, decent wine…all in all, the kind of evening that helps to inoculate me from the depths of my self-deceit. It used to be easier, convincing myself that my work was important, was meaningful. Now, it takes at least a bottle of wine--and it better have a nice nose to it.

So, why am I here? Lots of reasons, none of them very convincing as I sit, facing backwards: seeing what we've past, but not where we're going. I wonder if this is how Britany feels about now--the cover of the tabloid consuming the woman on the top deck opposite me seems to indicate that she might. I wonder if these people all have good reasons for being on the 8:35, or if they even long for a good reason.

I wonder how soon I'll be home.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Grey

You could spend a lot of time describing the quality of light on my walk to the train this morning. Someone more verbose than me at 7:00 am might employ descriptive words like: steely, sullen, ashen, bleak, etc. If you were naming a paint color (a great job if ever there was one), you might be temporarily overcome with the urge to christen it "January 15 Chicago Grey". Apropos as the moniker might be, it's certainly not all that marketable. You'd quickly realize your error, slap "Colt 45 Brushed Nickel" on the side of the can, and move on.

For those of us who have been here awhile, it's just "grey". When you use the term in midwinter Chicago, people know you're not talking about hair or cars or dishwater. It's the light. You can't even say "sky" really; it's more of a 360 degree experience. Especially now that the holiday lights have been boxed up for another year, it's grey as far as the eye can see. It's like leaving your house and walking into an episode of "Leave it to Beaver"--one that's outside, in the winter (I was going to add "...and not funny", but the show didn't make me laugh).

If you're not careful, the grey begins to seep into your brain: which, of course, is also grey. This whole "grey on grey" invasion can have a noticeable impact on your personality. If your brain is a lighter grey than the environment, then you'll find yourself turning more gloomy and depressing. On the other hand, if the outdoors is a lighter grey than your brain, then you might sense a little extra spring in your step (this is not all that common).

People not from around here think it's the cold of winter that we struggle against. In truth, it's the grey.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

More warrantless searches

NYT Article

Ok, so I'm a couple of days behind going through my news feeds, but this one really got the neurons firing at 7:00am. We, as a nation, are becoming ever more inventive at finding ways of limiting our freedom. If you don't have time to link thru to the article, it discusses pending appelate review of warrantless searches of personal computers carried into the US. The primary defendant isn't all that appealing a character, but the case should be a cause for concern for anyone looking at this post.

I've got three computers in my home, plus a work computer. What distinguishes them from a border-crossing laptop? Form factor? No, they're all laptops. Purpose? Not really...they all have some combination of business and personal information on them (note to my employers: yes, the work computer contains only limited personal info). Residence of owner? No, the owner of the computer in question is a US citizen. Location? Bingo! The defendants computer was coming into the US with him, while mine sit inside my house.

Unfortunately, the physical location of data means less and less in our current legal environment. You don't have to be a legal scholar to draw a fairly straight line from warrantless border searches of laptops to warrantless electronic intrusions into the hard drive of the computer on which you're reading this post. As the Electronic Frontier Foundation puts it in their FOTC brief, it's "...simply electronic surveillance after the fact."

Monday, January 07, 2008

New Year, New City

So, for those of you visiting for the first time, welcome. Posts prior to this one represent the history of stageNEXT, the initiative I founded and led in Charlotte, NC, with the hope of bringing regional-level theatre back to Charlotte. While there was a lot of moral support for the effort, our group was not able to turn that backing into dollars. Catch me sometime after a few drinks, and I'll fill in the blanks between the posts. It's an interesting story, and was a great learning experience (although I wish they didn't always have to be so painful!).

But that was then, this is now. It's 2008, and my family and I have relocated to Chicago. I've gotten over my savior complex, and am simply looking for opportunities to leverage my artistic abilities in support of the theatre. Henceforward (I love the word "henceforward"), this blog will serve as my journal of these collaborations as well as collecting random thoughts and life/theatre experiences that I choose to foist (another good word) upon you, my readers.

So, welcome.