If you are serious about working to end this abominable practice, then don’t even waste anyone’s time unless you seriously intend to replace the greater political and socio-economic system gerrymandering is embedded within.
What steps do we make to end American Gerrymandering? The solution itself is simple. Achieving positions of power to affect such revolutionary reforms will be difficult. Gerrymandering is embedded in our body politic as dense clusters of ticks with their heads pushed deep into the flesh of sick dogs. Gerrymandering is a loathsome, despicable, and corrupt practice. Anyone who supports and engages in gerrymandering should be arrested, and if convicted, sent far away to frigid prisons built on the Moon where they can draw as many lines in the lunar dust as they wish. Of course such a penal colony on Luna is a metaphor and rehabilitation is far more desirable. The point, however, is gerrymandering has to go and removing it poses challenges.
Gerrymandering itself is an expression of a sick, distressed economic and political system moving from systemic dysfunction towards paralysis and collapse. Rooting out these symptoms of a deeper, greater illness requires systemic transformation. U.S. Federal law must be changed to abolish gerrymandering. To do so, however, means we the people must find healthy ways to strip the two primary parties, the capitalist Democrats and Republicans, of their power. The rule of law must be by and for all people in reality, especially the working classes. The latter includes the professional middle class. The power to determine what the rule of law is must be established once and for all by and for all of the people and not merely for the wealthy neo-aristocrats of Capitalism, i.e. those who write the law to benefit those in power, i.e. themselves, not those they allegedly represent in this clever sham of a democratic republic.
The Duopoly of Republicans and Democrats is referred to as “The Two-Headed Snake” for a number of reasons. The majority of two-party members have far more in common than not including sharing positions thru the same so-called institutional revolving doors in industry, academia, finance, secret societies, the military, intelligence, non-profits, and nepotic pseudo-dynasties. Democrats and Republicans are anchored into systems rooted in capitalism, imperialism, racism, rigid religiosity, and ignorance. How many understand, for example, what the definition of “imperialism” is? This ignorance, including the ignorance of science, geography, and history, has gone on far too long already. This Duopoly puts party and power before people, country, and planet. We must allow independents and alternative parties to campaign and govern. The term “third party” needs to be dropped as the use of it maintains a collective mindset overdue to be purged. Americans can then begin to roll back Federal laws capping the size, shape, and architecture of the Legislative branch.
The solution to gerrymandering is simple. Abolish the existence of all legislative districts and the curse of their ever-mutating borders. We do not need separate legislative districts, and we don’t need them because we already have them. Simply declare our counties, parishes, and independent towns and cities to be legislative districts.
To whom do old bones sing? The burlap bag found half-buried in woods chock full of dog bones, cow bones, and, yes, bones from pigs and humans including several women? Do they sing to the crows and the ravens? Do they sing to seagulls and eagles? Do they sing to the whales from ghosts of long-ago canoes?
This bag is enormous! Extends deep into the earth, it does. Up come bones of fish and birds, of otter and bear, and bones of snakes. “There, there! Look!” I shouted after I spied bones of orcas and dolphins in disarray with all clatter muted by clay and charcoal within this old burlap bag matted tight with mud and ash.Continue reading “Waiting for Bags of Bones to Sing” »
Images from an evening stroll across The Quad on the University of Washington campus as cherry trees blossomed in the wake of the Spring Equinox, Wednesday 29 March 2017.
Students, staff, & numerous visitors gaze in awe at the profusion of cherry blossoms across The Quad on the UW Campus. The Sun going down with temperatures dropping didn’t stop anyone from walking amidst these giant organisms.
This magnificent burst of life so soon after the end of Winter upon the Spring Equinox heralded for many the rebirth of life and the promise of hope amidst the uncertainty & violence plaguing our planet.
She cries in the cold, cold rain hunched over two worn, tattered duffel bags and a pile of dirty blankets and clothing. Every thing she owned is soaked in pain. Her nest is chaos. I stand there, already late for work, overwhelmed, sad, angry, and ashamed. Afraid I may be fired for being late after I miss the train. Again. I feel helpless. I rage against our economic, political, and religious systems. I feel stupid. And I am late to catch the train to work. Again.
The woman camps upon concrete floors at the bottom of a partially open stairwell across from an elevator next to a bus stop across from the SeaTac Airport Link Light-Rail Train Station. One wall is solid; the other heavy, rubberized wire mesh. Water ripples across the floor. Wind blows in raindrops. Every drop explodes as flogs once lashed the backs of wayward sailors and slaves. And sometimes still do.
Record of an attempt to thruhike around a massive volcano as wildfires raged in the forests nearby. I went to grieve, to mend a broken heart, and to walk my own talk with the Divine. Hiking thru deep grief was an initiation. In doing so, however, I also made new friends, one of them a dog. I struggled with aging as I pushed thru smoke and dust, darkness and light, and came face to face with…myself.
*This is a work in progress. Feel free to enjoy in the meantime. Thank you!*
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Wayne & I gaze up into the smoke-choked Tatoosh Range from where we stood along the banks of the Nisqually River, Mount Rainier National Park. Tuesday morning the 5th of September 2017. May the fires stay far away! May the long-promised rain finally fall!
Wildfires burned along the eastern edges of the national park, spilling out from the Norse Peak Wilderness from lightning strikes during a short but severe mini-drought. Even so, aye, even so, the Trail beckons and calls my soul forth to walk these paths thru mountain forests. I felt the energy of the area shift when I walked thru this place between trees. Felt like I passed thru a portal in spacetime. This is a section of the Wonderland Trail on the western flanks of the park near Longmire, Day 1 of 4.
The Sun burns thru smoky haze in the late afternoon at Klapatche Park on the Wonderland Trail, Day 2 of 4.
Tahoma Creek thunders below the infamous swinging bridge across the gorge. In the morning of Day 2. Felt like I was walking into the apocalypse and all was beautiful anyway. Living and dying are but processes as we move thru our experiences toward wholeness. Isn’t what we do as we choose how to live, however, what really matters as we journey along the way?
I went into the wilderness to grieve. My attempt to thruhike the Wonderland Trail, one of the most celebrated of the short long-distance trails, wasn’t to conquer nature or rack up another win on a list of long-distance hiking trails. In fact I didn’t even trail for this expedition as I have rigorously done so for all previous adventures. I trusted in my extensive backcountry experience and felt confident enough to push thru any pain. My bodymind would adapt. Right? Wouldn’t my broken heart still be heart enough to carry the rest of me onwards? Even with guts? The intention was to immerse myself in solitude so as to engage the Divine one-on-one with what the hell happened and why. Especially while deep in the backcountry far away from crowds of people. Truth is I went into Nature to heal, to heal my soul, to heal my capacity to open to love no matter what. An adventure hiking the famously beautiful and difficult Wonderland Trail provided the canvas of nature to paint my sorrows and joys upon.
This solo backpacking trip would be my own Walk ‘n’ Talk with God & Goddess, so to speak. For while I didn’t always show it, I remained in deep pain from the heartbreak of being ghosted and feeling abandoned not quite two months earlier by an otherwise extraordinary woman whom I loved and adored and, it appeared at the time, she, me. At least she seemed to love and appreciate me in the beginning of what was to be a remarkable and unusual albeit short-lived relationship. The irony is she was a bit of a globetrotter herself. She sought out long-distance hiking trails to heal and in doing so strip away the faux veneer of urban civilization. Aye, in many ways we were so much alike our similarities felt uncanny. Yet it was not to be. Nor did I see the end coming.
Life goes on for the living, however, and tears heal. Grieving is healthy albeit painful for those grieving. It’s uncomfortable for those around the bereaved. So I chose to hike around the massive bulk of a giant volcano as my way of moving forward in this life. For as I took one step after another and one breath upon the next the immediacy of the Trail demanded such total focus as to push out all thoughts of anything else but the next breath and the next step and the next bite to eat and water to drink. These demands plus the threat of rapidly-spreading wildfires during a short but severe drought in the wake of record breaking snowfall and flooding all became part of my healing process.
An afternoon Autumn hike up a mountain to watch the sunset turns into one cold scramble back down towards midnight
*This is a work in progress. Feel free to enjoy in the meantime. Thank you!*
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Grunting up to the summit late in the afternoon of Monday the 9th of November 2017. All fotos by the Author.
Gazing deeper into the Alpine Lakes Wilderness from near the mountain summit.
I seem to end up hiking in the dark a lot lately. One reason I always bring a headlamp with extra batteries for me. Today was one of those gorgeous fall days of Indian Summer bright with autumn foliage amidst the evergreens. Winter awaited me at the top of the mountain, however, and accompanied me back down into darkness. There wasn’t any ambush. Instead I embraced the elements and went into it. All the way into it, too. Yes, it was a glorious day.
“Epic!” another climber declared as he hiked back down as I scrambled up. Low-angled beams of waning sunlight lit up the mountainside in shades of fiery golden reds before the encroaching shadows of sunset.
One cold, sunny day in Olympic National Park in January 2016
*This is an unfinished work in progress. In the meantime please enjoy what’s here. Thank you!*
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Gazing across mountain wilderness from Hurricane Ridge (5,242 ft / 1,598 m), Olympic National Park. Sunday 24 January 2016. All fotos by the Author.
The Mt. Olympus Massif, heart of the Olympic Mountains. This crown jewel of the maritime Pacific Northwest stands at the elevation of 7,969 feet or 2,429 meters.
After visiting a troubled and isolated friend afflicted with both a chronic autoimmune condition and agoraphobia outside of Sequim, Washington, I drove alone towards Port Angeles. In addition to catching up on life together and cheering her up, I interviewed her about what she believes to be extraterrestrial or intradimensional beings and creatures creeping around her house when she was lived with her parents and siblings many years ago. She declared those series of events felt as if they occurred just yesterday. When it came time for me to leave and return to Seattle, I invited her to join me on a Sunday drive up to Hurricane Ridge. My friend declined. She felt fragile and all those people and wide, open alpine spaces filled her with a dread she couldn’t explain other than as a highly sensitive person she felt unusually vulnerable. So I drove alone, feeling a little sad, and began to reminisce about my own trips into Olympic National Park with my ex-wives Gwen and Kristina and our children Morgan, Kate, and Talia. Oh, how I miss them! And yet I grew to appreciate my time alone with only myself and the world. Up the icy mountain road I drove deep into my own Dreamtime.
Conversations with the Invisible on a day hike to Mason Lake then climbing up Mt. Defiance in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness of Cascadia
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This is an unfinished work in progress. Feel free to explore what’s already here. Thanks!
Looking down from atop the summit of Mt. Defiance (5584 ft / 1702 m) into the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. Lake Kulla Kulla is in the lower left. Mason Lake beyond over in the right center. Bandera Mtn rises behind Mason Lake, followed by Pratt & Granite Mountains further back towards center ridge side. Foto by the author. Monday 22 June 2015.
Gazing deeper, steeper from Mt. Defiance into the belly of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness.
Bandera Mountain: 5245 ft / 1598 m False Summit (West Peak) of Bandera: 5157 ft/1572 m
This little adventure turned out to be medicine for mind, body, & soul. Record of a stiff dayhike & a madcap scramble up a modest but steep peak in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness as I nurtured my spirit and trained my bodymind for more demanding adventures.
***Unfinished work in Progress. Please enjoy what’s here to see & read, and thank you for your patience.***
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Mason Lake from the summit of Bandera Mountain. Several good campsites lay in the woods below beyond talus & scree.
Summit selfie from later in the evening. Sunday 31 May 2015.
Seattle is surrounded by exceptional outdoor adventure riches. An hour’s drive east took me to a trailhead into the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. I was off work and alone on this Sunday at the end of May 2015. I chose Bandera Mountain for a steep dayhike. Part of my training for challenging hikes and scrambles in the mountainous backcountry of Cascadia. But really I went to heal my body, mind, & soul. This short, little, madcap adventure allowed for all these things to occur.
Mt. Rainier amid turbulent late Spring skies from my grunt up Bandera Mountain.
The weather was warmer than normal as an extended drought persisted, most of the snow usually around was gone. With so much going on in my everyday life, I felt a deep-seated need to get out onto the trails into the backcountry. Even felt compelled to push off-trail thru rocks & vegetation to find sanctuary for deep inner peace amidst outer beauty & physical hardship. The woman I was dating at the time, Little Sky, had to work this Sunday. My friends were already busy, and all of my kids were away doing their own thing. My oldest daughter, Morgan, was back east thruhiking the Appalachian Trail. While I would have preferred some company on the climb, sometimes going solo is the most satisfying way to go. So solo it was!
Two Weeks in the life of one Fuligo septica in Pictures
Meet Bobby Sue, a beautiful Dog Vomit Slime Mold, who chose to visit us in Green Lake for a month. Bobby Sue appeared on the edge of the front steps around the 10th of May 2015. This foto was taken on Tuesday the 12th of May after the slime mold had already crept a short distance.
Night falls with rain Darkness and pain Heart opens into oblivion Without even one hemisphere of brain Wholeness is Whole Our planet’s heavy with Child After we buried Grandpa up in a tree For buzzards and insects to spread him Upon the wind for God to inhale Yet God dances Wild In the mists of creation Flinging limbs in our direction As every bloody stump stamps Stars and flowers across tapestries of dirt In the distance screams echo among howls Love isn’t lost Continue reading “We buried Grandpa up in a Tree” »
Great Blue Heron, Descendant of Dinosaurs, landed in the Wilds of Green Lake, a park in northern Seattle, Washington State, Cascadia, one day in May.
Ardea herodias dinosaurus avianus
The large, elegant bird stood as still as a Buddha, except this Buddha was a predator. All action froze as matter flowed thru time except for those ripples in the lake and around us in the air. In the still point left unturned, my mind awakened from the erotic distractions of being with a new lover those early months of 2015, already a bygone year bereft of present moments. This great blue heron, however, this Descendant of Dinosaurs and as regal as an Avian monarch, brought everything into a focus as sharp as the spike of its beak.
A Chronicle of a Father & Daughter’s Changing Relationship as they travel deep into Mose’s & Frenchman’s Coulees in the Channeled Scablands of Cascadia’s Washington Desert searching for connection as much as for adventure
*This is work in progress with apologies for the delay. Go ahead & enjoy anyway! The rest shall come.
See! My daughter does love me, LOL!
Moses Coulee expanse from the old, two-lane highway, Monday 9 February 2015.
Sometimes the Dragons we must eventually face hide within the wilderness of our own hearts
Often in the pursuit of adventure and facing one’s terror amidst avalanching mountains and flooded whitewater rivers, one may forget the Hardest Work and the Greatest Challenges lay not at Death’s Door in the Wilderness but in being with people including those we love and those who love us. Much of the time, however, it’s face to face with the mirrors of your own self.
This speaks especially with those we love or used to love. Our most difficult practices arise within the relationships we form among ourselves, with other people, and especially our selves.
The greatest Dragon we must someday face is not some monster in a cave abiding over those hearts we treasure the most. No, the greatest Dragon is us as we face our own shame, anger, & fear, yes, fear of turning back around to look those Others in the eye and atone for the consequences of damaging our relationships with them. Perhaps the hardest work is facing those whom we have hurt and wronged. Oh, the messes I have made! And cleaned up, too. It’s a neverending process at first, and, over time, the more one practices the easiest such practices become.
“Everyone says love hurts, but that is not true. Loneliness hurts. Rejection hurts. Losing someone hurts. Envy hurts. Everyone gets these things confused with love but in reality, love is the only thing in the world that covers up all the pain and makes someone feel wonderful again. Love is the only thing in the world that does not hurt.” – Liam Neeson
So, yeah, listen up. Love doesn’t stop. Who turned it off? Stop pretending. Do the fucking work. Stay with the pain. Transmute it with breath and blood. Face me. Let me face you. Choose to keep on loving no matter what. Awaken into the Oneness we once shared and, yes, still exists. Whether or not you believe in Twin Flames and the Twin Flame blues is up to you, and besides, doesn’t change what we had felt so true. Keep the fire burning before the last flame blazes out taking with it every precious memory of what was & what almost could have been.
William Dudley Bass Thursday 10 August 2017 SeaTac/Seattle, Washington Cascadia
I wanted to walk home from work at least once as one way to say goodbye to where I’ve lived at the time. Finally did so one sunny Saturday in late June of 2017. At the time I lived in the Tangletown-Latona neighborhoods of the Green Lake area in North Seattle. Lived there for a little over four years in an informal cooperative household.
For various reasons of timing, I didn’t make the walk to where I worked in the old Cascade neighborhood of South Lake Union. Today, however, I declined the offer of a ride home and chose to proceed on foot instead. And I did. Walked all the way home. Passed thru the long, strung-out-along-the-water neighborhoods of East Lake, skirted the edges of the U-District, and crossed under I-5 into Wallingford. Eventually passed north thru Wallingford into Tangletown-Latona.
Took me about an hour and 45 minutes. Could’ve walked it in an hour and a half or less, but I dawdled at viewpoints and took my time before spurts of speed. I felt at peace in and with nature and enjoyed my little adventures along the edges of the urban wild.Continue reading “Swarm of Ants on a Sunny Day in June” »
Foto by William Dudley Bass on Saturday morning the 24th of July 2017.
Walked down the street on the way to work recently & came upon a haunting illustration at the rear of an abandoned restaurant slated for teardown. Felt intrigued by the bittersweet mix of symbols & metaphors. What’s the story behind a mystery as old as time when the first dawning of love went awry?
“Facebutt” is deluged with videos of silly, cute videos of kitty cats & puppy dogs. So much torment to sit thru, LOL! Well, shit, then, here’s a short video I recorded of sweet little animal babies doing what cute little animal babies do:
There’s a story behind these videos. Both are personal and initially intended to be private. As I’m a beginner with handheld videos, these are, from any professional and even personal viewpoint, terrible in quality. They are shaky, unedited, and thus raw as Hell. Even so, I’m sharing them. Doing so is, for me, a breakthru in shame and embarrassment, of breaking thru mental barriers of not-looking-good, not-sounding-smooth, and worrying about what others may think. Toss all that crap. Yes! Even so, I feel shy in making these videos. My hearing impairment’s there. My speech impediment is there. The TMJ (temporomandibular joint) injuries from long ago gradually worsen over time and increasingly affects the ability to open my jaws properly to speak. Still, I go for it anyway, damn my own fears.
Besides, these videos are not for me. I wouldn’t put them up except to get those videos to someone special who lives far away more than halfway “down” the planet. She is one of the most amazing, inspiring, funny, romantic, and eccentric women I have ever met. We are so much alike with so many unexpected and startling synchronicities we wonder if those esoteric spiritual descriptions of Twin Flames are true. Seems so for us, anyway. Especially as we met by accident in such a fantastical way with mindboggling results. So of course the possibility of us being Twin Flames feels real for us. Besides, even if Twin Flames are more of a mythic fable, it doesn’t matter for we are both at choice to choose the next step together…or apart…moment to moment.
Donald Trump usurped the Presidency of the United States of America. He did so by exploiting divisions and corruption within the two dominant parties. Trump ascended to the Oval Office upon the backs of the Electoral College as the electors failed to properly vet the candidates and to vet them independent of party and state pressure. The Electoral College of the United States failed not because Trump lost the popular vote by the largest margin in history only to carry enough state delegates to win the EC vote. The EC failed America and yes, Earth, by failing to do its Constitutional duty. As such the EC failed to consider all of America’s presidential candidates, not just those from the Democrat-Republican Duopoly, i.e. the Two-Headed Snake in bed with the Giant Octopus of Big Business and Bigger Banks. Then the Electoral College failed to deliberate over the candidates’ qualifications and character. The EC electors failed to even consider any of the strengths and weaknesses of the women and men competing to become POTUS and VPOTUS to best determine who shall best execute the responsibilities and carry the burdens of such high offices. The EC was designed to prevent demagogues and their rabid mob of ignorant and dangerous goons from storming the political process to take over the country. Instead the EC allowed itself to be manipulated by the Fifty States and by two corporatocratic political parties to allow Donald Trump to usurp the Presidency. Events since January 2017, a mere four months ago, have only cemented the disastrous results of the Electoral College process as yet another example why we must abolish this institution. The country’s gone nuts in a world already on fire. It is as if the nation is seriously afflicted with the political and financial equivalent of toxoplasmosis parasites and brain tapeworms.
The Electoral College of the United States nearly fractured in early January 2017 thanks to the lack of courage and foresight among many electors. The electors allowed themselves to be intimidated by the State regimes to vote for one of the two dastardly primary party candidates. “Nearly fractured” is not the same as “fractured,” obviously, but enough EC electors threatened to vote their conscience for whom they felt would be the best for their state or threatened some kind of mutiny some were removed by their state regimes and replaced with docile go-alongers. Yes, the states suppressed elector independence as well as full vetting of the various candidates.
Imagine being told you would not be allowed to vote unless corporatocratic political party operatives in control of any one of the fifty American state regimes, a corrupt setup that would have appalled those Founding Fathers who opposed political parties in the first place, commanded you to cast your ballot for a particular candidate. And you thought you lived in a democratic republic, albeit a capitalist one.
Despite all of the obstacles placed before them, seven electors survived any attempts or threats to remove them from the EC to cast their vote for candidates other than the one from their party. Clinton received 232 Electoral College votes. Trump, however, received 306 votes. Trump carried more states and counties while Clinton carried more of the population who actually voted. None of these hundreds of electors, however, gathered as an actual college to vet all of the candidates and then deliberate amongst themselves for whom would best serve the interests of the American people and their United States. Most of them voted for the political party they represented rather than on behalf of the population of their state. They obeyed the demands and expectations projected by the political machinery and governments of the states, all controlled by the Duopoly.
Political parties were not supposed to dominate government and political systems. Yet networks of wealthy capitalist oligarchs control two of these parties. As such “their” Republicans and Democrats rule and distort the electoral process. Voting in America is a shameful and asinine mockery of democracy. Instead of voting for one despotic puppet one gets to choose between two despotic puppets cloaked with illusions of liberty, prosperity, and peace for all. The Dem-Rep Duopoly dominates all Fifty States and thus determines for whom EC electors must vote.
Enough electors cast their votes without any attempt to deliberate to thus select Donald Trump as the next President. They did so even tho Trump LOST and LOST BIG by THREE MILLION votes! In an election riddled with accusations of electoral fraud by both sides, too. Ironically much of the current evidence beginning to emerge damns the Republicans altho they’re the one crying fraud the most and the loudest as the Democrats seek to point out Russian interference in the 2016 Election. The United States Electoral College of constitutional, capitalist, quasi-democratic republic thus elected a loser as President.Continue reading “Trump Usurped the Presidency and the Electoral College Failed America” »
View of Antarctica and the Southern Ocean with tip of Africa visible. Composite NASA image from the Scientific Visualization Studio for the International Polar Year 2005.
View of Antarctica from low orbit if the ice cap was removed. Created with Bedmap2 by the British Antarctic Survey with NASA’s ICESat and Operation IceBridge, 2013.
We live in the midst of a time of transition. Now is a time of final endings and new beginnings. We live during a time of great volatility, destruction, and fear, yet also one vibrant with dynamic and revolutionary possibilities. Together we experience the ending of the Modern Age as global capitalism breaks down and global climate disruption accelerates. New energy sources and technologies begin to emerge as the old dinosaurs of coal and oil still roar. Marx, Engels, Trotsky, and others are being rediscovered upon the centenary of the Russian Revolution as more information is uncovered to discover what actually occurred and not the slander and falsehoods portrayed as “history.” Socialism, basically the expansion of democracy into all areas of life, is in a process of rebirth and renewal. At the same time our scientists discover more and more stars and planets likely to support life, humanity experiences more UFO and ET phenomena than ever before.
More and more whistleblowers dare to come forth to disclose what they know. These people include not only everyday folks, but top scientists and engineers, astronauts and pilots, military officers and intelligence agents, corporate CEOs, and high government officials. They are all credible people in their own right regardless if one agrees or disagrees with their individual politics and religions. Our fellow Humans who risk all for the truth face ridicule, harassment, loss of jobs, dismissal, threats to families, and in some cases what appears to be murder disguised as suicides or accidents.
Yet incredibly the mainstream mass media behaves as if these people are stupid and insane. Mainstream academia, beholden to corporate overlords and bureaucratic tyrants, remains too terrified and astonishingly ignorant to address these challenging subjects. Thus the people who most need to pull their heads up out of their smartfoneholes won’t even look at these life-changing issues. They will instead debunk these matters even when confronted with clear evidence governments deliberately created and engaged in debunking and smear campaigns during the height of the Cold War to distract the public from the enormity of the truth.
It is vital we human beings continue to awaken from old patterns of self-destruction to build new political and economic systems. We can do better than the horrors we visit upon each other and ourselves. We must ascend our current and prehistoric limitations.
We must support the establishment of a Constitutional, Democratic Socialist World Republic.
Creating a Democratic Socialist World Parliament with all representatives subject to recall in a participatory republic is a primary step in this direction.
(***This is a work in progress. All is Copyrighted. Enjoy!***)
William & Morgan’s Father-Daughter 50-mile, 7-day Backpacking Trip in Olympic National Park with Way Too Much Weight, Sunday 31 August – Saturday 6 September 2014, or A father & daughter rediscover each other on the Trail before tripping out on the edge of the Ocean
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White Creek Meadows along the O’Neil’s Pass Trail, Olympic National Park, 3 September 2014, Day 4.
Picture of goofy Dad by Daughter. Enchanted Valley, Day 2.
Picture of Daughter by Dad. Upper Quinault, Day 3.
Morgan was born in the bed at home of an apartment in Seattle a little over 20 years ago before our first backpacking trip together. Both experiences were initiations. I didn’t realize the latter was one, too, however, until a couple of months later. Backpacking with my oldest of three daughters changed my life. It changed hers, too.
This journey was a spiritual and deeply physical reconnection with nature and wilderness. I was also compelled to drop down into deeper levels of awareness of what and who I am as both a self-aware man and as consciousness beyond self. This was my first backpacking trip in 7 years. Suffered from my most severe blisters ever, and I’m the kinda of guy who rarely gets blisters and when I do they’re little bitty thangs.
This trip was also Morgan’s longest backpacking trip up to this point. She was concerned about old injuries flaring up. This trek was a big test for her for she planned to attempt a thruhike of the Appalachian Trial in 6 more months. Most precious, however, was a Father and his Daughter re-creating their parent-child relationship as adults. Being halfway up a steep mountainside with a river below you miles and miles from civilization does things like that to people in a hurry to do-do-do.
Afterwards we both admitted we were afraid we wouldn’t get along, would argue constantly, and wouldn’t find anything to talk about or for. We laughed as those fears didn’t even come close to materializing. Plus this proved an incredible adventure in its own right. Wild weather, bizarre people, magnificent scenery marred by global climate disruption, and unexpected surprises including stumbling into a psychedelic festival on the edge of the ocean made this end of summer backpacking trip unforgettable.
An invisible dynamic was the complex relationships we had with her mom and step-mom, both whom were also my ex-wives. Gwen Hughes, Morgan’s mother, and I thruhiked the Appalachian Trail all the way from Georgia to Maine back in 1991. Gwen and I were known as The Pregnant Rhinos back in our halcyon thruhiker days.
We did an estimated 3,500 kilometers or almost 2,200 miles plus about 150 to 200 miles of crazy ass side hikes. The length of the AT keeps changing. It’s 2,190 miles per 2016 but was 2,168.1 miles in 2001, 2,179.1 miles in 2010, and was about 2,000 miles in 1937. It was 2,184 miles when Gwen and I thruhiked the AT in 1991, and 2,189.2 miles when Morgan attempted her thruhike the following year in 2015.
The Pregnant Rhinos on the AT! aka Morgan’s parents before she was born. 🙂 Here Crazy Gweeyin buzzes off Yeldud the Mad’s hair while he pretends to be scary. This is during a crazy stop at Rusty’s Hard Time Hollow on the edge of the Shenandoahs in Virginia sometime in early Summer of 1991. At the time of this picture, William is 32 years along & Gwen is 26. Foto by Weathercarrot.
Silent are the many Class War dead buried beneath the myths of Camelot
Watching Jackie felt like eating jagged broken glass thru my eyes as if eyeballs were little, bloody mouths wired directly into my brains. The movie is intense, jarring, and rich with excellent and challenging performances. The assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Texas six days before Thanksgiving 1963 was a sucker punch to the American gut.
One could quibble about actress Natalie Portman’s attempt at Jacqueline Lee Bouvier Kennedy’s accent, but her harrowing performance rivets and horrifies. Portman becomes Jackie with such wrenching intensity it’s as if we’re invading the former First Lady’s privacy. The film portrays the Journalist, played by Billy Crudup, as an unnamed man but understood to be Theodore H. White, a historian and journalist turned propagandist and Camelot mythmaker.
The movie is in part a portrayal of a woman’s grief and shock at the public murder of her husband while at the pinnacle of their power. The film also, less convincingly but nevertheless disturbingly, illuminates the collusion between the chain-smoking former First Lady and the Journalist to control the public narrative and secure the myth of the American Camelot as “truth.” In its own unique way, Jackie reflects the legacy of Greek tragedy and Shakespearean drama enmeshed with blood and brains in the way of American movies.
What makes this collusion even more bizarre was Jackie’s sterilization of her dead husband’s true legacy. To his credit, JFK was in many ways a traitor to his class of wealthy, bourgeoisie capitalists, and this article addresses this further down. Jackie Kennedy, however, fought, plotted, connived, and strategized to elevated JFK to the lofty, neo-feudal status of Camelot. A powerful and determined person, she was also relentless and ferocious as she grabbed the helm of history.Continue reading “Jackie Screams in Silence” »
No flash in the pan protests! Sustained demonstrations are required.
Building Massive Resistance against Trump and the Alt-Right helps build a Democratic Socialist world.
Major demonstrations are being planned across the United States of America over these two days to protest the inauguration of Donald Trump as President and Mike Pence as Vice-President. Other marches and rallies in solidarity with this insurrection are planned in other cities around the world. These protests, even in the midst of winter, are expected to be huge. Already over 25,000 people took to the streets of New York City on the Thursday before Inauguration Day to demonstrate against Trump-Pence and their ugly and dangerously stupid agenda.
It would be naïve to think all these vigorous acts of defiance, resistance, unity, and courage will have much immediate effect. And with today’s technologies at our fingertips with social media, anything is possible. Even more naïve, however, is to believe we can simply pack up and go home and plop down as if OK, look how LOUD we showed Trump-Pence and the Alt-Right we roared! No. This is a long fight shaping up. We must be prepared for a long, long struggle!
Know, too, when we on the Left fight, we win in the end. To fight and win, however, we must come together to educate and organize ourselves to fight effectively.
Consider examples in American history of what efforts activists took to win. Let’s look at our own history. Struggle takes time, and the more we fight we win. Perseverance is key. The Civil Rights Movement lasted from the early 1950s all the way thru the 60s into the mid-1970s. Significant high points were the Brown v. Board of Education in 1954 followed 10 years later by the passage of the Civil Rights Act in 1964. Then the Voting Rights Act and the Immigration and National Services Act passed in 1965, and the Fair Housing Act in 1968.
The anti-Vietnam War movement began protesting in 1964 and grew so vigorous President Lyndon Johnson of the Democrats was compelled to withdraw from seeking reelection in March 1968. These anti-war demonstrations also compelled the next President, Republican Richard Nixon, to withdraw U.S. forces from the Vietnam War in March 1973. These civil rights and anti-war protests merged with other movements as resistance to Nixon exploded yet again during the Watergate crisis. Nixon resigned the American presidency in August of 1974. The labor and environmental movements are other classic examples of struggles taking years to manifest a string of powerful successes.
Six Videos, the Petition, and our Stories…and it’s not over
Note this article with its compilation of videos is not marketed or sold for profit nor is anything in this article being marketed and sold for profit. This article and the videos within may be freely shared as long as various sources and authorship are acknowledged.
“There is one word missing. One word that makes all the difference. This word is ‘organized’. That is: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, ORGANIZED citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” It speaks to the power of people mobilization; the power of true change that starts from the bottom wing…there is a growing, if naïve belief that all you need is a lot of passion, a lot of commitment, a lot of good intentions and lots of mavericks, rebels, disruptors, contrarians and challengers and, alas, change will happen. It won’t.” – Activist Leandro Herrero of Spain on the necessity for activists to organize.
A workers’ revolt brewed within REI since at least 2015. Matters came to a head in July 2016 as workers rose up openly in nonviolent direct action. Among their issues at stake were demands for a living wage, for secure scheduling, and for democratic representation via a union. These demands burst open the heart of the matter to reveal whether the REI Co-op would be a truly cooperative business. Or a lie.
This is our story as a brief summary from my perspective. This is a small part of our big story. Indeed, the record of this peaceful uprising may even be your story. Much work remains to be done by we the working people. In the beginning, actions will be led by small numbers of people determined to organize and act in such a way, as the late, great anthropologist Margaret Meade liked to point out, as to change the world. They may be resisted at first by those who insist these leaders not speak for them but say, “some few individuals.” Progress cannot be stayed. Even the most peaceful revolution has setbacks and is set upon by cynics and automatic critics as well as often ignored by the apathetic and the resigned. It is OK to feel afraid, and let us move forward anyway even if scared. Don’t let fear stop us, but do let it keep us alert and on top of our game. Our revolt had repercussions benefiting many workers, although success wasn’t as widespread as initially believed.
One can trace this revolt back to the influences of the 2011 Wisconsin Insurrection followed by the Occupy Uprisings of 2011-2012. These struggles were followed by the successful Fight for $15 an hour minimum wage struggles of 2014-2016, an uprising sparked by Alaska Airline employees in SeaTac, Washington, and which spread across the country in the form of fast food strikes and other direct actions organized with assistance from Socialist Alternative and allies in the labor union movement such as SEIU.
More directly related to REI, however, were the 2014 demonstrations against sweatshop labor in making products for The North Face and against REI’s partnership with The North Face. The anti-sweatshop protests were small but loud, nationwide, and even erupted in other countries. A nationwide student labor union known as the United Students Against Sweatshops or USAS (http://usas.org) organized these demonstrations at REI and TNF stores.
Sweatshop labor is slave labor where capitalists leveraged deeply indebted people into perpetual debt bondage and exploited children with their tiny hands and fingers. Such vulnerable people were beaten, fed little, worked with little rest or sleep, sexually violated, kept terrified, and generally traumatized. People died and were maimed in these slave factories. The problem afflicts many companies as human slavery and trafficking is a worldwide wicked problem.
Patagonia and Apple were among the few to take vigorous action to tackle this problem, but the capitalist imperative to exploit resources and cheap labor for short-term profits, socio-cultural normalization, and political power makes cleaning up this mess self-defeating. The North Face, owned by VF Corporation in Greensboro, North Carolina, was one of the worst offenders. Only in 2015 did VFC and TNF start addressing sustainability and green energy issues, but still has not addressed its use of sweatshop labor.
More workers in America and more workers in other nation-states such as Bangladesh are beginning to understand this is an international issue, indeed an international working class issue. Thus an issue that demands we workers hold the capitalist class accountable as we further organize a new mass movement of the Left across the working and middle classes to build a planetary Democratic Socialist society.
Below is the first of six videos here and is from United Students Against Sweatshops. It is a part of REI history we must remember and Corporate Headquarters wants us to forget. REI HQ preferred instead to distract people’s attention by ramping up its efforts to market the petty bourgeois abomination known as “glamping.”
Before REI workers launched their own petition for real change after so many were fired in late 2015, there was an earlier petition demanding “REI, Drop North Face Sweatshops!” I signed it on Monday 2 January 2017. I am ashamed to confess I was unaware of this petition until recently and didn’t realize the true nature of the anti-North Face protests back in 2014. In 2014 I was still emerging from almost two years of being homeless or semi-homeless and ill with severe depression and a cluster of autoimmune conditions. That’s no excuse, of course, and I share to give one a sense of what I experienced. As I alluded to earlier, these struggles of solidarity for justice, equality, and liberty for working class people are far from over.
Max Silva, an REI Member, initiated the anti-sweatshop Petition for USAS with Moveon.org back in 2014. It still continues to gather signatures. Move On is financed in large part by billionaire George Soros. While I am no fan of Soros and his capitalist manipulations of geopolitics and unaware activists to fund his faction of squabbling plutocrats, Move On still charges hard as an activist NGO.
This accelerated worker and member discontent within the Co-op. The first phase of the 2015-2016 REI workers revolt culminated on the 11th of July 2016. A small group of retail workers from across the United States, although mostly from the West Coast, showed up in Seattle to go public en masse before the media. These workers were desperate, afraid, and courageous. I know as I was one of them. My coworkers and I were scared we would lose everything, and we didn’t have much left to lose as our wages and hours were so low and random. The possibility of getting fired and losing what little we had left terrified us. We stood up anyway. We workers took a stand.
We did so with the support of Councilor Kshama Sawant of the Seattle City Council and the dynamic staff of her office. We did so with the determined support of Socialist Alternative and UFCW 21. We did so with the support of many Members of the REI Co-op, and we did so with the support of larger numbers of our co-workers from all across the company who felt they had to stay discreet or anonymous but who informed us privately they were still with us.
We REI Coworkers had many, many even conflicting demands. In just a few meetings we distilled them into three primary ones. Most of our demands were met. One primary demand was not. There remains the lack of some form of organized, internal democratic representation of the workers to management. There are several different ways towards building a workers’ democracy. One way is thru a union. Another is thru cooperative ownership of the company as a true cooperative business with democratic deliberation and planning. Or a hybrid of the two. Cooperative worker ownership and/or unionization defends hard-won gains, sustains the network, and advocates for greater democracy. Clearly this struggle isn’t new but is as old as the exploited standing up to those who exploit them. Our struggles are far from over for democratic socialist representation is THE most important battle to win.
Back in the Civil Rights struggles of the 1950s and 1960s Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., came to recognize there can’t be any political democracy without having economic democracy and one can’t have capitalism without war. He came to champion democratic socialism. King was assassinated in April 1968 while in Memphis, Tennessee. He’d traveled there to support striking sanitation workers and their new union. The next five videos, however, demonstrate what’s possible when people from across the working classes come together to move what many thought were immovable mountains, especially REI, the mythic icon of the American Pacific Northwest and the Great Outdoors. Continue reading “Videos and Stories from the Unfinished Struggle for Workers’ Rights at REI” »
A review without spoilers and names of prominence.
Saw the film, Arrival. Wow, what a movie! Opens up, takes apart, and recreates language, time, and sensations of consciousness. And without blowing shit up, either. Relationships are the pathways to connection as well as the results of connection. No, not pathways, fields, as in fields of connection. This movie is both cerebral and emotional and thus deeply engaging. At the center of it all, of everything really, is presence. Presence. Awareness and self-awareness. One becomes present to what is deeply precious.
For those who think they really know whom & what Cthulhu is, well, y’alla in for all manner of surprises. Plus Arrival‘s another in a line of fictional films rich with symbolisms of soft disclosure. If it’s not your cup of tea, well don’t drink the damn tea then & go experience the movie.
The premises of the film as serious science fiction aren’t new. Messin’ with perceptions of what is time, explorations of consciousness, and their affect on what is reality and how we humans relate to each other and everything else are staples of so-called “serious” or “literary” syfy. Wordsmiths will love the story’s inquiry into language and the relationship between language and reality. This merges into inquiries regarding such in the relationships between ourselves and especially with those we love. One may be reminded as I was of the late ethnobotanist and psychedelic pioneer Terence McKenna’s observations of language and how the mind uses language to create and define what it perceives as reality.
A close friend, a mother with kids of her own, attended the show with me here in Seattle. She was blown away and moved to tears. Later she helped me fill in what I thought were gaps in my understanding due to my profound hearing impairment. My new hearing aids helped tremendously, and yet they don’t match the capacity of healthy ears and brain. What I discovered was there wasn’t anything to hear. I was so focused on hearing I missed the body language and the temporal-visual language of pictures moving at certain key points. In addition I was confronted with my own inner contradiction: I disliked nonlinear temporal constructs and prefer neatly organized compartmentalization of flow, yet by undoing all of those allows for breakthroughs in consciousness revealing deeper understandings of truth, reality, and ultimately my self.
Yeah, take someone by the hand and dive on into the Dreamtime. Thy minds shall open time.
William Dudley Bass
United States of America
Bioregion of Cascadia
Adapted from my Facebook post of Tuesday 15 November 2016 & revised Friday 25 November 2016.
“Governments without credibility devolve into chaos. … The notion of credibility is why my political preferences don’t align with either of the candidates for president.” ~ Scott Adams
“The spread of fascism in the 1920s was significantly aided by the fact that liberals and mainstream conservatives failed to take it seriously. Instead, they accommodated and normalised it.” ~ James McDougall
Three points must be understood.
We in the United States of America are on the edge of civil war. This would be the case regardless of who “won” this election.
Few want to see or hear anything about this. Most dismiss it as alarmist rhetoric or far-right wing fantasy.
A civil war in a large, developed superpower would be catastrophic for this planet.
Let me rephrase what I just wrote, ok: A civil war in the United States of America would be a horror and incredibly stupid, so stupid I want to use the F-word.
Here’s another: People don’t want to experience extreme distress. They don’t want to see events race from unlikely possibility to likely probability. Then it’s too late. If more people saw such changes shift from bad to worse they would act to stop war by resolving conflict peacefully.
The United States is the most polarized it’s been since the American Civil War of 1861-1865. As I write these words on the 18th of November 2016, Hillary Clinton is well ahead in the popular vote, Donald Trump is well ahead in the Electoral College count, the Electoral College has not yet voted, the polls predicted Clinton to win, the media declared Trump the winner, Clinton conceded to Trump, and Trump proclaimed himself the President-elect.
Movements are underfoot to both promote and deny Clinton a victory over Trump by having the Electoral College vote align with the national popular vote. Clinton is ahead of Trump by over one million votes with about four million votes left to count. Her margin is expected to increase dramatically.
Both the Democrat and Republican parties are broken even tho their Two-Party Duopoly maintains its dominance over the elections, debates, and state electors to the national College. Independent third party candidates proved insignificant as the majority of Americans were too polarized between Lesser Evils. At the same time about half of legitimate voters even bothered to vote as the election was viewed by so many people as rigged, corrupted, and ultimately irrelevant.
Massive demonstrations were quickly organized in many cities with the majority of the demonstrators peaceful. Initially many of these marches and protests were organized by Socialist Alternative, a growing national organization of Democratic Socialists who leverage Marxist dialectical analysis, in conjunction with Socialist Youth and the Occupy Wall Street-inspired Movement for the 99%. Boston, Philadelphia, Seattle, Oakland, and New York City were the focal points for these protests. Other organizations quickly moved to organize demonstrations, too.
Ongoing protest movements such as Black Lives Matter and the Standing Rock Sioux against the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) and the banks financing the corporations behind the pipeline merged with the anti-Trump demonstrations. LGBTQI people marched with those protesting degradation and violence against women and immigrants. Students from high schools and colleges walked out of class to join and in many cases lead the demonstrations.
Allegations swirl around claiming George Soros, a multibillionaire member of the so-called globalist Cabal groups and backer of Hillary Clinton, financed and influenced demonstrations against Donald Trump. So far research demonstrates he hasn’t altho he may do so in the future. He has donated millions of dollars to a broad spectrum of Leftist groups in the past, but most of them are neoliberal groups such as the Open Society Foundations.
Socialist Alternative and its allies, however, rapidly organized most of the post-Election protests on Wednesday 9 November, in multiple cities via social media as they marshaled 40,000 or more people within hours. Socialist Alternative also scorned any help from the billionaire class and refuses to accept donations from Soros and his elitist ilk.
Scattered violence ripples across the nation and appears to be escalating rather than decreasing. The Southern Poverty Law Center recorded 437 reports of “hateful intimidation and harassment” by Trump supporters from the day after the election thru the 14th of November. This includes 20 reports of assaults upon Trump supporters. Most, however, were by White racists and fundamentalist Christians upon other ethnic and religious groups including immigrants and by heterosexuals against LGBTQIs.
Other reports demonstrate a surge in bullying in the schools, increase in police violence, interruptions of work, high volatility in the financial markets, and greater unpredictability across the planet as different nations, corporations, banks, and non-state groups review their options.
Protests in support of the Standing Rock Sioux water protectors, accelerated by Trump’s declared victory even tho he continues to lose the popular vote, have since spread around the nation to include demonstrations against the 38 banks including 17 banks directly financing the corporations supporting the Dakota Access Pipeline across the Missouri River and sacred tribal lands. Many others, however, seek to downplay the violence and bring people back to focus upon peace, compassion, positivity, and finding ways to move forward in spite of deep and ugly divides.
Meanwhile immigration hardliners among the pro-Trump Republican leadership propose the United States use World War II internment camps of Japanese-Americans and Japanese immigrants then in line to be naturalized as U.S. citizens as models to deal with Muslim-Americans today and track Muslim immigrants. Trump is viewed as unstable and continues to elevate White racist, sexist, and anti-immigrant extremists as well as vitriolic anti-environmentalists into positions of power.
The term, “locker room talk” doesn’t excuse anything. What many don’t get is locker room talk is another expression of rape culture. What many more don’t get is rape culture arises from capitalism.
Rape culture is so deeply embedded in patriarchal society many people aren’t even conscious and aware of its existence. Even some women dismiss locker room talk with shrugs as, “just what guys do, right?” Locker room talk is verbal violence, and verbal violence, for those still waking up to our cultural mess, is violence committed with spoken language. It’s often amplified with body language and facial expressions. Verbal violence spills over into written language where direct use of such insults may be criminalized as deadly threats, slander, and libel. When such violence is sexual, however, it’s often dismissed with eye rolls and shrugs or ignored. People who do use locker rooms are also fed up as what Trump calls “locker room talk” isn’t the norm in their locker rooms.
Donald Trump brushed off recently leaked recordings of his sexist, disgusting, and abusive comments towards women and girls as “just locker room talk.” He was called on it during the second presidential debate of this nightmarish campaign by debate co-moderator Anderson Cooper of CNN. Trump’s words were deeply disrespectful, so deeply disrespectful as to be unconscious of morals and ethics. His language described how he exploited his wealth and fame to force women to kiss and hug him. The billionaire in a fit of excited infantilism called for men to “grab” women by their genitals. Trump’s language was violent enough for others to characterize his speech as the verbal equivalent of “sexual assault.” His words are indeed violent. Trump’s talk is rape talk.
What was an incredible and informative article by one of the leading pioneers of Exopolitics became confused and tainted with disinformation from the US Navy. Dr. Michael Salla’s detailed descriptions as well as his recovery from the planted disinfo makes for rapt reading. Ultimately the errors were resolved and the resulting confusion clarified. His article, however, immediately raised a number of questions for those already familiar with the narratives of whistleblowers such as Corey Goode and Randy Cramer. These questions arose before we even get to the controversial foto of a flying saucer on the deck of an aircraft carrier at sea.
Were the so-called Nordic ETs a distinct species of actual Extraterrestrial origin, or were they one of the Inner Earth humanoid civilizations such as The Asgard Network with its Silver Fleet Corey Goode initially alluded to early on, or the Ansher Saturnalians that Corey Goode referred to later? Or even an interstellar descendent of breakaway human-like civilizations that left Earth long ago?
Remember Goode’s claims these Inner Earthers developed highly advanced inner-world civilizations, developed humanoid colonies elsewhere in the Milky Way beyond our Sol star system, and fought against the Draco Empire. They also were alleged to assist the early German Secret Societies such as the Vril, but less so the later Nazi ones. What do you think of these possible connections, Dr. Salla? Anyone else? Answering these question will give us a deeper understanding and greater grasp on a complex and fluid situation.
Dr. Michael Salla’s article presents a provocative and informative read. He’s been a significant contribution to the recognition and development of Exopolitics as a field. I am grateful to Dr. Salla for his diligence and thoroughness, but this time I wonder if excitement interfered with judgment. It’s easy to get so caught up in the testimonies of whistleblowers we forget to scrutinize and validate all of their claims. I’ve done so myself. If the bulk of their allegations are true, which does indeed seem to be the case here, that doesn’t mean everything they observe or each opinion advanced are equally valid. Dr. Salla’s efforts to resolve confusion around the mystery of the fotograf, assisted by others who came forward with inside knowledge of the foto in question, are indeed remarkable in an age of trolls and flame wars. Rather than being defensive and armed with excuses, Dr. Salla was upfront, transparent, and cleared this up with aplomb.Continue reading “A Foto out of Place: UFO Disinfo Confusion” »
Machines break down and stop. People break down and somehow keep going. Machines are all about function and efficiency. People are for creativity, making messes, and love.
Chaos was silent. No blaring horns from cars around me. No one reads beyond the edges of their digital screens any more. Finally stopped wondering how people sitting in cars behind me might respond or react to my bumper stickers. Nope. They’re too busy merging with their, ahem, “mobile devices” as they herd themselves into the Internet of Things. At every stop during the last few days all across the City of Seattle I’d see heads bow down and fones rise up in the postmodern autonomic digital prayers of the unconscious. Can’t even get a HONK! Not even one faint li’l bitty ol’ frickin’ honk. Then, BOOM BOOM CHOP! I had to put my 16-year old blue car in the repair shop up north on the Greenwood side of Aurora Avenue, and I met real people out on the streets in the everyday circus of madness and bliss.
She sat hunched over in the woodchips alongside the sidewalk in the shade of Gold’s Gym under a row of leafy trees with her face kinked between folded arms and knees. Her body was so scrawny the spinous processes of her lumbar and thoracic vertebrae poked out like those strange fins on a stegosaurus’s back called scutes or dinosaur dermal plates. They arched over with her spine in such a way I could almost feel the connection to her reptilian brain, but, hey, she’s a mammal, a hominin like me. We’re hominins in America. Hominins in America! The United States was and is still a quasi-fascist, pseudo-democratic oligarchy masquerading as a constitutional capitalist killer clown republic, Barack Obama was POTUS, and the Dem-Rep Duopoly self-gridlocked. Global Climate Disruption worsened, and the Great Global Depression wasn’t over at all for millions and millions of unemployed and underemployed lost people like us. She sat. I walked. She smoked. I judged. She despaired, and so did I.
A red suitcase lay loosely shut with clothes hanging out next to her. She smoked a cigarette somewhere down there under crossed arms, I could smell its acrid, stale heat, but I couldn’t see her face. I could see the crack of her ass between her shirt and her shorts. She was a young White woman with brownish, straw blond hair and all skinny and boney and all alone. I felt huge sadness and empathy. Oh, she was so alone in this world! I felt her energy as I strode around her towards the Gym. Without even trying, I could feel into her dark pool of synaptic fog just by walking by her. She felt sad, hung over, frustrated, desperate, and zonked out depressed. I could feel the ice-cold glitter of pain screwing thru her veins as the yearning for the next fix built up hot under her long sleeves.
I was in a hurry, however, as my car was in the shop, I had errands to do, and I was walking everywhere without any wheels. I wouldn’t take the bus. Nope, no bus today. Gonna walk for exercise. I stopped myself from going over to her, however, and reminded myself I have an old, bad habit of rescuing people. I am not going to rescue anyone anymore, no more drama triangles in life, and so must hold tight to my boundaries. Yes?
Hurried off into the Gym and trained hard with the weights. Slowly regaining my health after a prolonged and strange illness. Came back out after my workout with a long walk ahead of me. There she sat, more sad and desperate then ever, without looking up. She didn’t need to look up. She was primal enough to sense what was happening around her, even if her senses were warped and fragmented by too many of the wrong kind of drugs. I felt her coil without coiling and sensed the dead pulse of mutant killer kundalini. She cranked taunt as locked gears forced apart and popped as automatically defensive as a robot sentinel left behind to guard some long-abandoned ancient fortress. I stopped. She bristled and the image of her lunging at me with a dirty syringe in hand burst into my mind as real as a wild ass grizzly bear rearing up on her hind legs. I shuddered and recalled being homeless myself not all that long ago…and scared.
Hungry. Sun blazing in my eyes. Making me squint as my belly growled low like a dog guarding a slab of meat. Hadn’t eaten since yesterday. Felt ravenous after I spent too much of the morning in the hospital being poked, pierced, measured, and explored by fantastic doctors and their curious assistants. Prodded me like a damn bug followed by quick pecks on their computers. Felt as if I was a giant insect splayed out and peeled apart in an enormous Petri dish by mad scientists and clever kids. Who behaved as if any moment they would hobble over and slather weird baby food goo all over me to see what monsters might grow. Ahhh, yes, call me…Petri Dish Man! BAM! BAM! BAM! DON’T BAN THE PETRI DISH MAN! ran thru my head over and over, tho I dared not tell anyone at the time, as it felt so strange.
Brought back memories of being in the Battle of Seattle during the so-called Anti-Globalization Revolts, and memories of being in Occupy Seattle and Occupy Olympia. Yes, even brought back memories of being homeless during the Great Global Recession after rich, capitalist pundits declared it long over. Despite being such a proficiently medically inspected man, however, I felt grateful for Obamacare’s ACA here in Washington State. Thank goodness it covered what my employer’s private health insurance plan wouldn’t cover. I shake my head funny too, as it seemed plain old common sense for 21st Century America, indeed all of Planet Earth, to have an integrated single-payer universal health care system, a democratic economic system, a socialist system.
Thus satiated on clarity of vision, I ventured hungrily into The Dish, a funky Seattle café, for a belated breakfast. Call it brunch. Time was 11:30 am. It’s a lively little café in my neighborhood. I currently live in a small, quasi-cooperative household below the landlord’s family in a house uprooted from the I-5 Corridor running north and south across the States between Canada and Mexico. The house sits beneath three immense Western redcedar trees in the Tangletown-Latona part of Green Lake up in the middle of North Seattle. At least till the rent rockets up. Only my second visit to this cafe, too. Rarely eat out anymore. Now it’s a treat! The place was abuzz, too.
Two staffers had called in sick, however, leaving the business understaffed. Only two other people were out front serving including one new worker who admitted she didn’t know how to work anything quite yet. But they were game and smiled anyway. Big, welcoming smiles, too. They bustled in and out among crowded customers, and the one cook in back paced himself as he had to. The warm smells of cooked food swirled with exuberant colors intoxicated yours truly Petri Dish Man.
The ghost of a homeless guy watched everything right over the lip of his big orange coffee cup. He was so invisible it as was if I couldn’t see him but nevertheless still sense his presence. I felt the color of his large, tattered coat fade charcoal and gray. Was his bright orange cup just a reflection of the Sun upon a glass bowl of slivered fruit? No, he wasn’t there, just a coat and a cup and the ghost of a man who gave up everything precious but his dignity and curiosity.
In the end
The woman was a stranger to me.
She laid curled shuddering in blood and tears
At the bottom of her privacy so long
Hot water ran cold as if from faraway graves.
I chose her anyway.
All of her.
Every damn bit of her
She couldn’t believe it.
Didn’t really want to, even.
Tho she said she was glad
Turns out she’d merely gone mad.
Rally for Bernie in the Key Arena, Seattle, WA. Foto by Kristina Katayama. Sunday 20 March 2016.
This isn’t about Bernie. It is for integrity and strategy.
Bernie, of course, is Bernard Sanders, the Independent Senator from Vermont who calls himself a “democratic socialist.” He’s charging forward to secure the nomination of the Democrat Party as its Candidate for the American Presidency. The state caucus is today this Saturday the 26th of March 2016.
It’s unethical to play musical chairs with the fate of our nation and go play Democrat just for one day if you have no intention of actually joining the Democrats to stay a Democrat. It’s shortsighted and self-defeating to get so caught up in Bernie’s amazing rise that one short-circuits the long-term building of a new party for the 99%. If we don’t stay focused on the new movement for the working and middle classes we’re going to end up right where we started, broken upon the altars of Lesser Evilism.
Many of my friends among the Left are crossing over into the Democrat Party to vote for Bernie Sanders in the Washington State Caucus. These people are usually independents and/or members of smaller parties outside the Democrat-Republican Duopoly. Most of those smaller parties represented are the Socialist Alternative and the Green Party with a few Libertarians. While a member of both SAlt and the Greens, I have engaged very little with either in the last couple of years due to a prolonged, chronic illness and due to my work and family schedule. Bernin’ for Bernie, however, burns all across social media.
There’re a sizeable number of my comrades among these same small parties that plan to vote for Bernie if and ONLY if he secures the Democrat nomination to run for President, or, failing to do so, launches an independent bid. They are NOT voting for Bernie in the Democrat Caucus. I am NOT voting in the caucus for Bernie either. “What? What! Why not? WTF?!” is often the response.
One light shines thru the window next door
All is shadows and spiders twitching
October rains darkness in all directions
Cold seeps from tomorrow’s bones
Flows home to all the stars of yesterday
I turn toward the woods
Rest my hands in my pockets
Feel heartbeats in each hand
Nothing feels real but the pavement under my feet
Nothing feels real but the pain, the forever pain
Oh, I open to the Love
I feel it surge hot as plasma
Searing open the Kosmos with a rip in the sky
The divine laughs like that sometimes,
Like an owl dancing in love with mice
The divine laughs like that sometimes,
As fierce as a nail bent naked
After I am gone forever
She comes to the window next door
And stands watching spiders bob flies in the light
She comes gone
William Dudley Bass
17 October 2014
21 March 2016
Cold desert sunset
Smokes burnt orange
Over frozen undulations
Of sand, rock, mountains,
Broken asphalt stretches
Before me into
My right foot kicks aside
Broken bottles and rusty cans
My left foot crushes
Old cardboard wheezing Made in Milwaukee
Three cars and a pickup truck sit wrecked in the ditch
They rust amid broken coils of
Barbed wired and skeletons of cows and deer
I weave north towards Polaris and not Sirius
I walk thru tumbleweeds
I dread the dawn
Darkness abides its demise
Birth is inevitable
If only Ed Abbey was a woman
William Dudley Bass
Friday 18 March 2016
So tired of Facebook love
So tired of falling in love with beautiful women so far away
Brilliant women, too
Deep soulful women
Most seem too young
Oh, there’re a few close to me in age
Some even older
Every one a Goddess Incarnate within the human animal
But all too far away
I throw my smartfone into the darkness
It glows back at me as blue as a UFO
Keeps me up at night
Keeps me awake all night
Until I go crazy with loneliness
Or am I crazy from too much light?
The digital bonds stretch into emptiness
More yawning than the desert twilight
Roads disappear into
Before time snaps me awake
I want a hotel
A place to sleep
Can we fuck now?
All is unplugged
Minds zoned gray as grey
Hearts still as stones before the tide
But no water comes
Quickly I retrieve my fone amidst inky stillness
I text too much still
Without ever coming close to filling the Void
Facebook feeds us all into like blue and white Soylent Light
Out among destroyed celestial spheres and broken stars
Shiva battles pseudo-Shivas as real as every machine
To save darkness from white light blue.
William Dudley Bass
Sunday 13 March
Monday 21 March 2016
She calls soon after dinner
Right in the middle of the presidential primary debate
I do not answer
I do not want to answer
Later I listen to her voice mail
She is distraught
One of her animals died in her arms
I can’t make out which one or what kind
Only this animal is dead
And it died in her arms
And she loved this animal
Now my friend felt buried alive
In her solitude
She needed someone to talk to
Someone to listen to her
I can’t deal with it just now
I’m listening at Bernie & Hillary
Getting into it over Trump
Three hours go by
And I call her back
I listen to her with my heart wide open
After we are complete
I put down my fone
William Dudley Bass
Wednesday 9 March,
Sunday 13 March, &
Monday 21 March 2016
A group of us men and women worked steadily in the cavernous chill. We stood and shuffled around large, crated boxes of outdoor adventure travel products. These items were all returns, i.e. customers had purchased them from the retail company we worked with and for whatever reason returned them. We prepped them for a one-time clearance sale and marked down the prices with metallic silver ink pens. It was early in the morning close to the Winter Solstice. While it wasn’t freezing, we were in a large concrete cargo bay where it sure felt icy as Hell. Cold, dank, clammy, and gloomy, too. We kept ourselves warm by wearing layers of funky colorful clothes in all combinations borrowed from where they were heaped up in those crated boxes. I didn’t even check to see if I had on a woman’s or a man’s fleece jacket. One person pulled on a kooky mix of pants under two padded, insulated skirts and giggled. We quickly discovered a certain rhythm and worked hard. At the same time we entertained ourselves by reading the return tags to see what reasons people used to justify returning an item.
Mount Rainier aka The Mountain from along the Chirico Trail on West Tiger Mountain on Monday the 26th of January 2015. Furthermore, it’s time to restore The Mountain to her chosen Native name: Ti’Swaq’ … the Sky Wiper!
Monday 26 January 2015
Our day hike had two purposes: to spend time together reconnecting as father and daughter, and for my daughter to train for her upcoming attempt to thruhike the Appalachian Trail. Morgan and I are both rather eccentric. We both know it, too, and value such in the other. We both appreciate being outdoors and nature is a spiritual connection. Otherwise it feels like night and day to me. This day, however, we were late getting ourselves together as we made the gravest error of making busy work a priority. Especially me.
“Hurry up, Dad!” Morgan shouted. “Jeezus, Dad! You’re always yelling at me to hurry up and let’s go and all, and here you are texting old girlfriends and stuff!”
Except I didn’t have any girlfriends at that point, old or otherwise, as I was divorced and still single.
At this point our hike had to meet several criteria so as to qualify both as quality bonding time and provide at least SOME training. First, both drive time and trail mileage had to be short. The trail also needed to be steep as all get out to make up for being so short. We also wanted a trail we haven’t done over and over again.
Ah! Poo Poo Point! Yes!
“What?” Morgan asked with a scowl. “Poo Poo Point? Ew, gross, Dad. Like what, horses and cow poop and stuff?”
“No, it’s a short, steep hike up the side of Tiger Mountain from the back side of Issaquah. You’ve done it once before with Kate and Talia and me and Kristina back when Kristina and I were married. We watched paragliders sail off the cliff top.”
“Oh. Yeah, I remember now. OK, let’s go.”
What many call the Poo Poo Point Trail is really the Chirico Trail. This locally notorious footpath drives straight up the slopes of West Tiger Mountain. It’s steep and sweaty sweet before unraveling into rambling twists and turns. Two open, grassy meadows high up near the summit provided launch jump-offs for hang gliders and paragliders. Well, one doesn’t see hang gliders much anymore as paragliding has won out as technology advanced. Hiking thru wintry trees, however, one can look south upon the mighty leviathan bulk of Mt. Rainier, or as the Native Americans prefer, Ti’Swaq’ the Sky Swiper!
A Winter Day Trip to Mt. Rainier in the Throes of Climate Change,
Monday 29 December 2014
Morgan (L) & Anne outside the Nisqually Entrance to Mount Rainier National Park. Normally the snow is deep and there isn’t much frozen snowmelt on the road. Not the case here this time nor up around the bend.
On the last Monday in the Year 2014 Common Era, I drove three of us to Mount Rainier National Park. The other two were my oldest daughter Morgan, a few months shy of turning 21, and her maternal cousin, Anne, of about the same age but a little older. Morgan had recently moved back to Seattle from Bellingham to prepare for her journey along the Appalachian Trail. Her mother Gwen Hughes, Anne’s auntie, and now my ex-wife tho still dear friend, and I had thruhiked the AT once upon a somewhat long time ago back in 1991. Gwen and I, originally from Virginia, still lived in Seattle, Washington. Anne was from Florida, and had not ever been to Seattle or Mt. Rainier before, and wanted to go. Woo Hoo, Mt. Rainier! Off we went. We didn’t make it past the bottom of The Mountain.
Global Climate Disruption as exemplified in one solitary place in the Glacier Peak Wilderness of the Washington Cascades from a hiker’s perspective
Modified from Image of Mt. Chiwawa’s Lyman Glacier melting away across 118 years between 1890 and 2008 per glaciology field research in the North Cascade Glacier Climate Project by Nichols College based in Dudley, Massachusetts.
In August 2006 and nine years later in July 2015 I climbed up Spider Gap and looked down the flanks of Chiwawa Mountain upon the dirty ice of Lyman Glacier. I was shocked to behold how much snow and ice had vanished across such a relatively short span of time. This short article is my attempt to record this one example of Global Climate Disruption in one solitary spot thru my words and pictures. Far fewer pictures exist for 2006 as most of my then-extensive fotograf collections were destroyed when my house burned down back in March of 2010. For the record, the science is clear human pollution is destructive to our planetary biosphere and affects our global climate.
Lyman Glacier melting and dropping rockslide debris into Upper Lyman Lake, Glacier Peak Wilderness, Tuesday 28 July 2015. This and all subsequent Fotos by William Dudley Bass & are copyrighted with all rights reserved, thank you.
Older controversies regarding global cooling have already been addressed, resolved, and discarded. Now, however, newer material emerges as we’ve become aware our solar system is undergoing numerous widespread changes as it speeds thru a section of the Milky Way Galaxy currently dense in cosmic radiation. It appears this galactic-solarial interaction may be having a much greater impact upon Earth’s climate than human pollution. This process is also not understood, and our pollution clearly makes our destabilized global climate worse. In addition, long-term planetary history demonstrates periods of global warming are followed by ice ages. Which means we really don’t know what the hell is gonna happen next. Right now, however, we in the American Pacific Northwest are entering into the third year of a drought. Although snow has recently fallen in our alpine elevations, an unusually powerful El Nino system in the wake of the Pacific Blob anomaly promises a wild, warm ride into the unknown.Continue reading “Lyman Glacier Melts Away: Global Climate Disruption in One Local Spot” »
Discordian Harmony at the Pacific Northwest Folklife Festival
Mystery Musician aka Zombie Jimi
Sunday 24 May 2015
My eyes heard him hunched over his old green guitar before my ears could see him stretching notes thru the air. Old Man God stood in the Center of Seattle crouched in the corner facing Jerusalem on the other side of the world before turning his back on Abraham’s minions to face Ancient Timbuktu instead, his skin all black as Mississippi Goddamn and his beard as snowy white as polar bear belly all while focused on changing what never changes as he grasped the old, banged-up, burring, purring, electric, green guitar in his hands the same way Neptune once burst open the sky with his trident held high all a buzzsaw humming like Betty Dodson’s Hitachi Magic Wand gripped in Goddess hands orgasming the Himalayas apart with the Love Song of a Cosmic Chainsaw. His hands trembled all steady with purpose as he caressed his green guitar with the adoration Zeus once had for electric thunderbolts and nymphs sweaty with humid rust. Old God Man shuddered back on his feet, unwound his pelvis as Mike Mulligan once cranked up trusty Mary Anne, lumbered forward at the wall as a Zen steam shovel on testosterone and played his green guitar with a certain must with a deliberate lust driven to play things as they are with a ferocious thrust not what others demanded oh yeah he played with raw beauty and ugly grace oh yeah he played with verve to shear men and women like sheep oh yeah played his old green guitar so damn hard I swear the sky blazed electric blue and in the midst of such Rapture heard a vast groaning zombie drone as reanimated angels buzzed straight up outa the ground like Jimi Hendrix lighting up Woodstock high up on stage high above the mud deep down in O Mississippi Goddamn mud it’s Nina Simone eating up the sky with her brow all furrowed like eight thirty o’clock way up upon a stage crowded with pianos on fire PIANOS ON FIRE! giving voice to the lynched the burned and to the drowned. Aye, my hearing aids filled with the android squeals of Betty Dodson Jimi Hendrix Nina Simone jackhammering open bones skin and soul to touch my love with feathers stuffed with steel.
Dragonflies are small animals and ferocious predators. They live all across the planet except Antarctica. Prehistoric ancestors of today’s dragonflies were huge insects with wingspans of almost 30 inches or 7.6 centimeters across. The Dragonfly is also a symbol of transformation, power, adaptability, and poise. A number of us communitarians came together from different urban cooperative households across Greater Seattle to explore new communal possibilities. Some of the early meetings held anywhere from 20 to almost 50 people. Eventually some of us formed a new intentional community. Our new family came to be known as Dragonfly or the Yellow Dragonfly House. We chose this animal as our spirit totem with a focus on personal and group transformation.
TRANSFORMATION: a 150 foot long dragonfly crop circle apparently created overnight in England, the U.K., in June of 2009.**
What came to be known as simply Dragonfly or the Yellow House was established in October 2003, but the process of community formation began much earlier. People from older groups such as Orca Landing and The Barn began coming together in 2001 to determine what was next for them as individuals, families, and communities. Some of them were monogamous families. Others were engaged as a polyamorous cluster. And a few were single. All were deeply spiritual and engaged in profound personal and professional growth, training, and development. Most were ethical stands for love, communication, and for community. Those who were not left Dragonfly of their own accord except for one person, initially intensely involved, who was asked to leave.
During the years of 2002 – 2003 the members of Dragonfly embarked on a series of trips to spend time together in nature and to strengthen the bonds of community. Not every member of Dragonfly Community went on every adventure. The following fotos are from six of our trips including our major outings. Some of the earlier members and candidates are not in any of these fotos. The core ones are celebrated within. These pictures survived the 2010 burning down of my and then-wife Kristina’s post-Dragonfly home. I took most of these fotos, and some were by Kristina, and others by friends who gave us copies after the fire. I edited most of those images. They captured moments in time and space representing the forging and celebration of relationships amid the great outdoors of America’s Pacific Northwest. Enjoy.
Dragonfly Backpacking & Camping Trip to Second Beach, Olympic National Park, Thursday 4 July – Sunday 7 July 2002:
Fotos & Reflections from my 65-mile Solo Backpacking Trip into
the Glacier Peak Wilderness,
Washington State/Cascadia, Monday – Friday 27 – 31 July 2015.
*Click on each foto to blow it up big. Enjoy!*
Views of Image Lake and of Dakobed (Glacier Peak) and surrounding mountains from deep in the Wilderness on the morning of the Third Day, Wednesday 29 July 2015.
“Off the Grid & gone. Solo. Well or unwell. Glacier Peak Wilderness will swallow me up. Reemergence in about a week. Been planning for a year. Going into the Deep High Lonesome. Adios.”
Those words were my Facebook post for Monday morning on the 27th of July before I left Seattle for the Glacier Peak Wilderness. Before my adventure was over, it had turned into a middle-aged man’s Hero’s Journey, a strange Quest of sorts, and on the last day there was a time I realized I might not make it out alive. I did, of course, despite developing what turned out to be rhabdomyolysis, as I share these words and pictures with all of you. My travels into the Deep High Lonesome proved transformative in slowly unfolding ways, ways I am aware of as I write these words well over a year afterwards.
Chiwawa River. Looking upstream from a roadside campsite in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest towards the Glacier Peak Wilderness Area. Day 1 on Monday the 27th of July 2015.
Another roadside campsite beckons, but I stop only to stretch my legs, relieve myself, and smell the fresh forest air of mountains & rivers.
Looking across the Chiwawa River into the Glacier Peak Wilderness from the same campground. The river’s running low, and the temperature’s rising. I’m the only person here at the moment.
Dusty ass road walk. I parked my car at the Buck Creek Trailhead at Trinity (792.50 meters or 2,600 feet) and walked all the way back and then up the long Phelps Creek Road towards the Phelps Creek Trailhead (1,066.80 m/3,500 ft) to Spider Meadows. I started walking from Trinity about 15:00 or 3:00 pm PDT in the afternoon of Day 1, Monday 27 July 2015.
Was reminded of the words of Doug Scott, the British mountaineer from Nottingham, England, who once pointed out when one goes into the mountains one must be prepared to die. Not wanting to die, of course, but mentally understanding and accepting the risk. Didn’t plan any alpine mountaineering, tho, as my intention is to trek and scramble cross-country in a physically demanding and remote part of this journey.
The section I planned to traverse off-trail from Buck Creek Pass up into the alpine zone towards and then down into the Upper Napeequa Valley was expected to be the most daunting. Scrambling thru High Pass on the way was one of the highlights I looked forward to experiencing. The Napeequa was notorious for being remote, difficult, fly-infested, and spectacular.
As I contemplate the possibility of dying amidst such magnificent beauty, however, I know I’ll be fine. Just what’s going thru my mind. In case this proved relevant for any search and rescue, which I hoped there wouldn’t be any need for. So, here I am, very much alive and ready for more.
Selfie shot standing in the hot, dusty ass Phelps Creek Road. Gusts of wind swirls dust devils and flying sheets of grit. Even so, it is a beautiful day in the backcountry. I’m grateful to be here in the Great Outdoors.
Up thru Global Climate Disruption & the Movement to Restore Native Names
to the Mountains
Global Climate Disruption leaves Mount Rainier bare, baked, and dirty. Even so, it’s time to restore The Mountain to her Native name: Ti’Swaq’ … the Sky Wiper!
“Saw something beautiful Tuesday I’ve not ever seen before. During a dark, early morning drive to Mt. Rainier, the upper half of the massive volcano appeared to spout clear yellow flames without smoke. Weird. And pretty! The top half split into a dozen scimitar slices of bright golden pink. Ahhh, sunrise! The mountain’s glaciers, bereft of snow due to the drought, revealed giant crevasses open wide and staggered one above the other up the side of the volcano. These steep-sloped glacial crevasses of undirtied ice caught the dawn reflections. Traffic was too heavy to snap a pic, & I hate shitty pics. So I drove on. We ended up hiking up to Camp Muir at about 10,180 ft. Needed crampons. Hard blue ice. And dirt. No snow. True gold was the morning Light as it fell from the heavens into the open jaws of Earth.”
~ From my Facebook post of Thursday 8 October 2015 “at 5:20pm.”
One of many travertine falls in Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia, European Union. Photo by Donar Reiskoffer in the Public Domain. 2013.
What is the one place down on the surface of Planet Earth’s crust should everyone go visit at least once in their life? As gorgeous as they are, it’s not those beautiful lakes that fall one into the other in the picture above.
So many people pass thru Seattle these days and night, coming and going and going and coming, from somewhere to nowhere to everywhere. It seems Seattle is now the one place to go, or it’s what I hear from so many tourists. Which surprises me. Seattle is booming, yes, one survey earlier this year counted 80 construction cranes dominating the Downtown and Belltown areas alone. Despite the magnificent scenery of the Salish Sea and the Olympic and Cascade Mountains, however, Seattle isn’t The One Place On Earth One Must Go. I love Seattle, tho.
During the Great Recession I worked in retail at the Downtown Seattle REI Store, its largest flagship, and met people from around the world. Still do. Love working here at REI. Many fellow human beings from all over Cascadia, too, came and went and come and go as they tell stories about past trips, excited or in some cases afraid of upcoming adventures. Many people come into REI to buy supplies on their way to help out others, whether it’s devastating earthquakes in Haiti and Nepal, supertyphoons in the Philippines, giant mudslides in Latin America, or the Ebola epidemic in West Africa.
At work I am usually in sustained motion. When it’s slow, I either stock products or stand briefly and people watch. Engage and talk. Ask questions and listen. Help them find appropriate products, or if we don’t have them, suggest other places. Once there was a man from Yakutsk, the capital of the Sakha Republic in Russia’s Siberia. He was of Turkish-Mongol-Siberian ancestry, was unusually tall, and was in the United States for the first time. Dressed like a cross between a tweedy college professor, a backcountry woodsman, and a steampunk engineer, he was in quiet awe of the amount of merchandise in every store, including North American grocery stores. He was especially in awe of REI’s depth and breadth in outdoor adventure travel.
Claiming to be among the numerous proud descendants of Genghis Khan’s warriors, he said I should visit Siberia. I’d love to go, I replied. Siberia! One of the wildest, most extreme regions on Earth! The vast boreal forests of the Siberian Taiga, deep and mysterious Lake Baikal, hungry brown and black bears raiding villages, gigantic rivers pulsing towards the Arctic Ocean, bitter subfreezing temperatures, exploding scary ass methane craters in Yamal, the wild, remote, volcanic Kamchatka Peninsula, meteorite-hit cities, huge mountains and isolated deserts, southern steppes and northern tundra, Eurasian ethno-cultural blending amid ancient, little-known ruins, and the longest railroads in the world. O, Siberia!
But, no, not even majestic Siberia. There’s another place even more incredible everyone must try to get to. Yes, everyone.
Sketches made by the author the evening of the same day he witnessed the UFO over Seattle.
Close up of one of the author’s sketches of the UFO he saw on 9 September 2015.
I saw a UFO today. Quickly. Clearly. Briefly. Boom! It was over there. Now thatta way! It’s moving around across the sky. Oh! Now it’s spinning and performing loops and changing shape. Whoa! Now it’s… Boom! Gone. UFO = Unidentified Flying Object. No sign of it anywhere. And it’s not a drone. Drones do not wink out of existence, as orbs do, and it’s too big for a drone. Unless cloaking technology is developed enough to hide ships in flight. This silver triangle looked like a mechanical craft, performed normal actions such as flying in a straight line, and crazy actions such as spinning around in loops. Then this UFO did the unexpected as it changed shaped and winked out of the sky.
Does anyone reading this take Donald Trump seriously? Do you take Donald Trump seriously? It’s so easy to dismiss his pompous and bombastic rhetoric, shallow of substance, yet cleverly spun to hook into the emotions of frustrated and enraged people. Trump is a master showman. He’s as shameless and as tricksterish as P.T. Barnum and as bellicose and banal as Mike Tyson. He ripped off and trademarked Ronald Reagan’s slogan, “Let’s make America great again.” His followers don’t care, however, as it reminds them of a nostalgic past when White men thought they ruled the world.
For the rest of us, however, as dismayed as so many of us are with the Clinton Democrats as well as the fractious Republicans, Archcapitalist Trump and the Alt-Right presents us with an opportunity. It’s beyond time to rebuild the Left. We must find new ways to build a united front between labor and environmentalists, between indigenous tribal activists and social justice advocates, between scientists and the spiritual, between military veterans and peace advocates, for Black Lives Matter and predominantly White revolutionary Socialist groups. It’s an opportunity to build new mass movements of the Left for a major new political party to challenge the Dem-Rep Duopoly. This is an opportunity to raise working class consciousness and help organize working and middle class people for a new mass working class party of the 99% to spearhead the transition from Finance Capitalism to Democratic Socialism and away from Fascism.
Let us remember a famous book, well written yet choked with racist rants and fantastical declarations. Adolf Hitler wrote out exactly in Mein Kampf what motivated him and what he intended to do. Few took him seriously, and he was dismissed as a buffoon. Hitler went on to win democratic elections in the German Weimar Republic. He consolidated and expanded his power including leveraging false flag events such as the burning of the Reichstag. Having conquered Germany, he then moved forward in his attempt to conquer the world.
Trump is no Hitler. Not even close. Adolf Hitler was an anomaly, and Nazism is extreme tyranny. Trump much more resembles Fascist bully Benito Mussolini with their mutual love of show and pomp. Mussolini lusted for power, glory, and fame. He appreciated drama for its entertainment value as well as for its psycho-propaganda usefulness. So, too, does Trump. One who seeks power, glory, and fame can never have enough of them. As Hitler did, however, Trump wrote a modestly bestselling book in which he combined his belief systems and world view with personal memoir. The Art of the Deal, written with lots of help from Tony Schwartz, came out in 1987.
While his advice is focused on capitalist business and not politics, the book encapsulates Trump’s world view and how he approaches everything. Life is for action, and successful action is all about leveraging assets and liabilities to secure the best deal. Those with the best deals win the contest. Making winning deals and managing the results gave Trump his singular life purpose and he applies it to all areas of a life for action. Such an approach naturally fed into an addiction for more power, glory, and fame.
Mussolini, however, followed a clear ideology as a Fascist Party dictator, Il Duce, The Leader. Portraying himself as a fearless strongman and demagogue, Mussolini leveraged both the capitalist petty bourgeoisie and disaffected workers to establish a Far-Right wing Empire. Trump, by comparison, doesn’t adhere to any one ideology. He seems to view ideologies as tools in toolbox to pull any one out from as he saw fit to accomplish whatever he wanted to achieve. If anything was ideological, it was Trump’s belief making deals, especially business deals, gets stuff done. Thus deal making is both show and pomp as well as melodramatic artistry. Hence, The Art of the Deal.
The Donald is a uniquely American phenomenon. He represents the dark side of American Exceptionalism. He is the epitome of Ayn Rand’s Romantic Fascist supermen. Ayn Rand herself disdained the masses as “human parasites” and considered William Edward Hickman, a serial killer who dismembered girls and called himself The Fox, her hero.
Both Rand and Hickman are twisted products of American Exceptionalism, the kind the politicians and cheerleaders of empire refuse to even acknowledge. American Exceptionalism is the watered down U.S. version of White racism and European colonial imperialism with the latter’s emphasis upon the White Man’s burden, Protestant Christianity with its Calvinist work ethic, and fantasies of Manifest Destiny as some kind of Divine Right of Empire. It’s a belief America is inherently superior to all other nation-states, was and is chosen by God as the Chosen People for the New World.
Arising out of American Exceptionalist belief systems, Rand is the Immigrant, which is ironic as The Donald and his bellicose herd are militant anti-immigrants. Rand was born into a Russian Jewish family in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) and during her early 20s immigrated to America. The Fox was as American as the Bush and Clintons. Hickman was born in Arkansas, grew up between Texas and Missouri, and spent the rest of his short life in California.
Both The Immigrant and The Fox were Exceptional Americans. From “the Dark Side,” yes, but as such they are not anomalies but as perversely normal as apple pie and guns. As such they fed the mad, crazy ugliness that captivates, hypnotizes, antagonizes, numbs, dumbs down, and distracts the mainstream public from any clear sense of unity and purpose. The lack of such vital clarity plays a significant factor in the low mass consciousness of the American working class.
Ayn Rand praises her psychopathic, slaughterhouse pedophile with language devoid of all empathy, of all sympathy, other than cold abstract admiration for her Satanic, rightwing godman:
Part 2 and follow-up to “Grexit Crisis: EU Disunion or Greater Unification?”
Sometimes the fate of the world hinges on how a seemingly local crisis is resolved or escalates. Nothing happens, however, life goes on regardless of changing circumstances, and the existence of fate itself is dismissed. So it is with Greece.
The underlying and all consuming economic and political system itself must be not changed but transformed. Today that system is Finance Capitalism triumphant. It devours all political systems from liberal democracies to despotic tyrannies, in turn leaving Corporatocratic Fascism triumphant in politics and governments. People from before Aristotle to beyond Wallace Stevens have observed everything changes yet somehow remains the same anyway. The nature of slavery has changed, and yet, we still have slavery. And so it is with Greece.
Today I received the email below from the Green Party of the United States, and I responded by writing the following letter to the Commission on Presidential Debates. I urge you as well to compose a similar letter in your own words, even if you disagree with my political views but stand for open, fair, and inclusive public debates.
In hindsight I wished I’d added a demand for rigorous and honest debate, not rehearsed campaign slogans and sidestepping speeches designed to distract voters and avoid the responsibilities of debate. Dr. Jill Stein is once again the presidential candidate for the Greens, and she is an articulate, knowledgeable, and formidable debater. Turn her and the others lose upon the public stages of America! Again, this is not about supporting Jill Stein or any one particular candidate or political party, but about opening up a closed system that in being so closed makes a mockery of the U.S.A. as a democratic republic.
Sometimes the fate of the world hinges on how a seemingly local crisis is resolved or escalates. So it is with Greece.
Greece and Europa, and yes, the world is at yet another unsteady crossroads. We look at the Grexit Crisis within the context of the Bigger Picture here in this article. The outcome of today’s Grexit Crisis may plunge us further into recession and depression, or begin to turn things around for the working class everywhere. The Grexit Crisis may trip us closer into a nuclear world war, which, seriously, already looms far closer than many realize or most want to think. Or in a much more preferable outcome so rearrange the balance of military and geopolitical power as to make such a conflagration unlikely. The European Union could fracture, as seems likely, as it is primarily a non-democratic financial treaty organization, or draw itself together into a truly democratic political federation where the working classes assert more socialist power.
The leaders of the European Union, under pressure from the Troika, today gave Greece and its Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras five more days to submit another set of proposals. The Troika demanded the new proposals be worded as if the Greek government is, ironically, responsible to save the Eurozone from financial catastrophe and possible economic collapse. It’s as if those political puppets of the capitalist plutocrats are crying, “Save us by further enriching the banksters who engineered this damn mess in the first place!”
The creditors of the Troika composed of the European Central Bank (ECB), the International Monetary Fund, and the European Commission (EC as the executive body of the EU), demand repayment and greater austerity from a nation unable to do either. The Troika has manipulated and exploited Greece and sucked it dry. If anything, the banksters, those pro-Troika gangsters in business suits, praised as educated standard bearers of capitalism, behave as financial vampires. Anchored in bastions of global financial power, they are determined to uphold the domination of finance capitalism as a form of neo-fascist tyranny over Europa. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the woman who stared down Vladimir Putin and made him squirm in his chair earlier this year, comes across more and more as another cold-hearted Margaret Thatcher. We are all in a global class war, and the Grexit Crisis is a major battle in our struggle.
Much fear and paranoia has been and continues to be projected out into the mainstream mass media as well as some of the alternative ones. The pro-Troika side fears whatever they do or don’t do with Greece will set a bad example for the rest of the Eurozone. If they bail out Greece, then other nations within the EU will expect something similar. If they kick out one nation, then the others would fear being kicked out in the future, too, including for any hidden purpose with debt burdens as an excuse to cover the real reasons. If Greece exits the Eurozone, thus the Grexit, Greece exits the European Union. How else can the Greeks stay in, as the EU is not a political union of equals but the result of an economic treaty between unequal members?
“Extinction is not something to contemplate. It is something to rebel against.”
— Dr. Helen Caldicott, one of Jim’s heroines.
This is a critically important book. Its message is urgent. Democratic world government is an idea whose time is now. Our species stands at the threshold of global upheaval and possible extinction. A convergence of challenges unique in human history threatens to overwhelm us, and a cooperative worldwide response via a constitutional planetary democracy with a socially responsible economy represents the most effective way to address these issues. First, however, we must choose to create these new human systems for our planet. Jim Stark of Canada has come up with a novel yet simple approach to help us get there.
This book is a rare integration of vision and pragmatism. Jim Stark advocates a grass roots, internet-based Global Referendum along with paper mail-in ballots. The ballot proposition is simple and direct. One votes “Yes” or “No” for “Do you support the creation of a directly-elected, representative, transparent, and democratic world parliament that is authorized to legislate on global issues?” Early polls indicate a majority of people around the world and across many different religions and ethnic groups would vote yes if they could. Nation-state regimes, including the non-democratic United Nations, will also have a choice. They can work together with this movement, or be by-passed. In regions of severe repression, warfare, and socio-political-economic upheaval voting may not be possible. And it is a start. It’s start toward achieving a dream many have had for centuries.
“Yeah! I think this is like Your Band’s first review!” ~ Ben Callup of Your Band
Your Band distorts gravity down at Cafe Racer~
My Saturday was awesome. Awesome beyond cliches, Hell yeah it was! The 3rd of January! 2015! Busted my middle-age Happy New Year ass in the Gym. Hung out with a dear friend I haven’t seen in almost 2 years and dove down an esoteric rabbit hole with her between death & life, and spent the evening of a Full Moon Eve at Café Racer where I met up with friends from the Socialist Alternative and listened to a trio of bands jam. It was good to get my butt away from the house and out on the town a bit. Slowly enjoyed a pint of Scotch Style Pike Kilt Lifter Ruby Ale from a scruffy, jolly bartender. I’m a glass-draining, guzzling gulper by habit, so I disciplined myself to slow it waaay down to one, delicious slow-drinkin’ beer while eyeing all the qwerty-quirky colorful, kitschy, & strange ugly ass art all over dayglow walls. Outside on the sidewalks knots of people smoked cigarettes in the rain as if it was the most natural thing to do at night in the misty Seattle rain.
Long overdue recognition for a nearly forgotten part of the Cold War
Image of the 2010 Amazon kindle edition cover of Jim Stark’s 1989 book.
Cold War Blues: The Operation Dismantle Story is unique. Jim Stark’s book is a rare and worthy addition to our history of this enigmatic and most dangerous war. First, this book is original history, i.e. a primary source, from the Cold War. It’s not a rehash of espionage dramas, combat ops, or Cuban Missile Crisis politics. It is a detailed account of this planet-wide conflict on a personal level from the anti-war camps. Specifically it addresses the rise and fall of the Operation Dismantle campaign of 1977 – 1985. What makes the book an especially novel read is it’s written in memoir fashion from the perspective of a Canadian pro-peace and anti-nuclear weapons activist, not those espousing American or Soviet viewpoints. One hears the desperation and hope of those within other nations compelled to choose sides in a glacial world war that more than once almost erupted into thermonuclear Armageddon.
Jim and his fellow Canadian activists carved or threatened to established a third front to challenge not just Soviet Communist totalitarianism but the hypocrisy and murderous arrogance of the Western Capitalist, anti-Communist regimes. “Yes, I managed to piss off both superpowers at times,” wrote Jim. Operation Dismantle became a major force to be reckoned with not only in Canada but also with the Americans as it came close to stopping the deployment of U.S. cruise missiles including those quietly armed with atomic warheads into sovereign Canadian territory. Continue reading “Cold War Blues: A Review” »
Pope Francis denouncing global violence as “a piecemeal Third World War” at Redipuglia Cemetery where 100,000 Italian soldiers killed in the First World War are buried in Italy near its border with Slovenia, 13 September 2014. Agence France Presse (AFP).
We have been engaged in a nearly continuous but rarely acknowledged war for thirty-five years. It began in 1979, twenty-two years before the terror attacks of 9/11. This war is fought around the globe as a patchwork of campaigns between various factions of multiple and shifting alliances. Even Pope Francis recognized this odd and gruesome conflict as a “piecemeal third world war.” Although the combat is small in scale, it has at least two characteristics of a world war: 1) the sheer number of nation-states, stateless-nations, and non-state groups engaged, and 2) fighting and bombing on every continent save Antarctica.
This war has also been called the Middle East’s version of Europe’s Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648) and the Hundred Years’ War (1337-1453) due to its widespread, confusing, and desultory patterns of overlapping conflicts and aims. Yet this war is barely recognizable as one long war. Even fewer see the direct relationships between the capitalist system and warfare. The more people see and openly acknowledge we have been in an ongoing war for at least 35 years, the greater we experience a long, overdue change of perspective. The sooner more and more people recognize this long war and numerous others are driven largely by capitalism with its systemic exploitation of ethnic and religious divisions to better access and control natural resources and transportation routes, the sooner we develop strategies to end war. A deep shift in perspective may shift how we approach and resolve this conflict. First we need to see what we are doing.
Two days after the People’s Climate March in 2,200-2,500 cities across the planet and the morning after airstrikes and cruise missile attacks on homes and buildings destroyed by the United States, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates in Syria with France and the U.K., already in Iraq, planning to join Dutch forces in the Syrian campaign against the Islamic State, 24 September 2014.
HUMAN-CAUSED POLLUTION, DRAMATICALLY WORSENED BY CAPITALISM, CONSISTENTLY EXCEEDS POLLUTION FROM VOLCANIC ERUPTIONS TO CAUSE SEVERE CLIMATE CHANGE INCLUDING GLACIER MELT, GLOBAL WARMING, SUPERSTORMS WITH EXTREME WEATHER AND TEMPERATURE OSCILLATIONS, AND TUNDRA THAW WITH MASSIVE METHANE RELEASE AND REVIVAL OF LONG-FROZEN PREHISTORIC MICROORGANISMS
West Antarctica’s Thwaites Glacier melts into Earth’s Southern Ocean.
Antarctica and Greenland
“Remember the front page of The Seattle Times one day last week, a week ago last Monday?” I asked the other participants in the room as I held up a copy from 12 May 2014. The lead article was adorned with a dramatic photograph of West Antarctica’s Thwaites Glacier melting in slow yet accelerating collapse into the Southern Ocean. The image was beautiful. Huge. The photo made this crisis feel Leviathan. It felt personal. Still does. For me seeing this news report was my “Oh Shit!” moment, my big “Oh Shit!” moment.
This crisis, this moment also presents an opportunity for those of us on the Revolutionary Left. We’ve been engaged in struggles to unify the working classes and others among the 99% to build a Democratic Socialist civilization atop the wreckage of our Capitalist system for a long time. This is now our time, and it will stay our time but only if we make it so. Climate change will not wait. Capitalism will not wait as it continues to bind the world into an iron net of digital tyranny and financial despotism. The logical conclusion of Capitalism is globalized Fascism and self-destruction as what’s left of our biosphere is ruined in the desperate scramble for anything to eat, steal, sell, or blame. The twin disasters of Capitalism and climate change seem slow and twisting. Yet they accelerate toward one disaster after another. Neither crisis will wait for anyone or for anything.
The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change, the UN IPCC, released a new and disturbing report earlier this Spring of 2014. It firmly established the primacy of anthropogenic or human-made causes of climate change over other factors. The scientists involved drove home climate change is a long-term problem with a severe impact upon our biosphere. Indeed, there will be multiple severe effects. This likely will produce unexpected surprises. Perhaps the surprises won’t be as dramatic as a world war or an extreme climate yo-yo but something more subtle such as the resurrection of dormant prehistoric bacteria and viruses released from thawing tundra.
Scientists earlier this year discovered giant viruses reanimating out in the Siberian tundra. The world is warming up. The Arctic tundra is thawing out. Methane gas is escaping from the permafrost. Frozen mammoth specimens are found in spectacular condition. And the largest known viruses, so far, are reviving. The most recent one is an enormous Siberian Pithovirus 30,000 years old. These giant viruses are still alive. They’re infecting and killing the local amoeba population. Scientists consider it easily probable other prehistoric pathogens, frozen alive for tens of thousands of years, may escape as temperatures rise to cause pandemics of deadly diseases among contemporary humans, livestock, and crops as well as wild plants and animals.
Giant 30,000 year old amoeba-killing Pithovirus from Siberia. Image by Julia Baroli & Chantal Abergel, IGS, CNRS/AMU, 05 March 2014.
We are vulnerable as a species. Adaptation and preparation will prove crucial although exhausting. We’ll encounter limits as we run out of options. Most importantly, however, is we move forward with great speed and urgency to implement significant, indeed revolutionary changes. We do not have much time. We do, however, have choices and proven strategies.
A Democratic Socialist alternative, for example, will allow our species to establish a common front to address this Capitalist-induced destruction of our planet. We must first build such a unified front. Here in Seattle, those of us in the Socialist Alternative are positioned to provide leadership and inspiration to working people during this time of worldwide climate disruption. A majority of citizens recently elected Kshama Sawant, a teacher, economist, and activist in the Socialist Alternative, to the Seattle City Council in 2013 over a long-entrenched Democrat. Together with other labor activists we successfully spearheaded a rough and tumble drive to raise the minimum working wage to $15.00 an hour.
Numerous other groups are active as well in the struggle for our environment. Most of them are focused on singular issues such as stopping the coal and oil trains, tackling fracking, reducing carbon dioxide emissions, cleaning up polluted areas, and transitioning away from fossil fuels to green renewables. There has been a patchwork of local and regional successes, but many have been reduced under repeated onslaughts of Big Business as Capitalists seek to deepen their grip on our society. The Corporatocracy is relentless in its pursuit of resources to fuel its expansion of power. We’re focused, however, on local-global economic and labor issues. Yet climate change won’t wait for workers to wake up and take charge of our economy. Nor will the Capitalists in power wait for us workers to rise up. Earth’s environmental crises, however, won’t wait, not for anyone. Within the past year we Democratic Socialists achieved remarkable successes locally. We’ve been driving hard in a most difficult struggle to improve the lives of workers and their families. Economic and environmental issues are mutually intertwined. Will we take this opportunity?
Look at the picture of those melting glaciers in West Antarctica again.
James Yungel of the NASA team captured the photo. The “collapse of massive portions of the Antarctic ice sheet” appeared “inevitable.” Indeed, the speed of melting and collapse with rising seas is faster than initially feared. The epic disaster unfolding across our southernmost continent was deemed “unstoppable.” Mother Jones even shouted, “Holy Shit!”
This calamity is global. It was visible. You can see it all around without the immediate drama of human beings with their towns and cities ravaged by wars and earthquakes. Yet it could conceivably help bring an end to the current global civilization humans have built here on Earth. The melting West Antarctic ice sheets reinforce the idea global climate change, including global warming, is really global climate disruption.
Earlier this month I posted a link on one of my social media sites to an essay I wrote the night before, “Yes, $15 an hour minimum wage, NOW!” Among the people who responded along a spectrum between yes and no were two from my native state of Virginia. Let’s call one of them Brigid, which, of course, is not her real name. Brigid, a progressive liberal more radical than many and as mellow as a Summer pond at twilight, expressed concern about us activists moving too fast to raise the minimum wage. She thought proponents for $15 now would be wise to slow down and take more time. After all, why rush it and mess it up for all of us?
More captivating, however, was a wrenching inquiry from a friend of mine back East. He was a small business owner who ran a small but bustling bakery and café. My friend, let’s call him Isaac, declared raising the minimum wage up to $15 an hour “would put” him “out of business in one month.” Unless, he said, he jacked up his prices. I could hear him as he pounded his fist upon the countertop as he continued. “The socialist-workers rights-stick-it-to-the-man person in me loves it, but I am the man here. This seriously would break me,” he wrote. “Why do this if prices just rise in concert with pay?”
Fight for 15, Fight for the Working Class, Fight for Justice, Fight for Freedom. Solidarity!
Those who argue against raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour do not get it. These naysayers spin broken webs of economic facts and figures rooted not in the reality of our natural environment but inside the charts and computer algorithms of a virtual world divorced from physical reality. It’s not about the money. I want to stand up and shout, “It’s not about the money; it’s about people! Real live human beings! It’s about relationships, our relationships! It’s about class war.”
Life is Struggle. The working classes get life is a struggle. So do artists and small business owners. So do the unemployed, the underemployed, the homeless, the foreclosed, the laid off, the poorly paid, the uneducated, the overeducated, students deep in debt, the hungry, the sick, the pissed off.
This is part of our struggle to build Democratic Socialism. As such we seek to remove banksters and Corporacrats from power. Get them out of out of politics and government. We work to reclaim democracy from the grip of the rich. We intend to go further and put democracy and justice into business, into the workplace, and into the marketplace.
This struggle is part of finishing what the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., started. He knew we couldn’t have political democracy until we also have economic democracy. This is not about the stupidity of self-righteous fools who ridicule the spelling and grammar of hardworking low-wage workers such as myself, but for democracy based upon human rights and social responsibilities instead of property rights and financial violence.
We understand this is an issue of ethics and even morals. We get in a way sheltered pundits do not the Great Global Recession did not end in 2009. Indeed, this worldwide almost-Second Great Depression continues to grind on and on without any clear end in sight. These are hard times for large numbers of people from the poor to the middle.
Remember bad times don’t last forever. We must remember our victories during times of discouragement. We must remind ourselves during those moments when we just wanna quit all this will pass. So, yes, stop and rest a bit. Then get back up and keep going. Because we’ve already come a helluva long way! We learn, adapt, and adjust. Together we recalibrate, grow, and evolve. Ours is the search for what works and best serves us thru inquiry, action, results, and analysis. It is the Dialectical process.
You keep going. We all keep going. We go. Action is better than indulging in cynicism, apathy, and do-nothingism. Struggle serves to move us hard working people from enduring ever more suffering-to-barely-survive to rise up to stand in our power and thrive.
The Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., reminded us in the last speech he made before he was assassinated he’s “been to the mountaintop,” he stood up there and looked over and saw the Promised Land. He knew all of us would get there. We will get there, and we will get there together!
William Dudley Bass
8-9 April 2014
Are our leaders mad? Are they deliberately setting the stage for a series of interlocking wars and economic collapses? All to look like accidents? Our leaders’ heartless mistakes of opportunity may indeed wipe out millions, even billions. For what? Are they are prepared to absorb extreme costs as the price to pay for extreme victory? Or are our leaders clueless? Are they just fucking stupid? Reacting with military precision directed with sloppy, nationalistic stupidity to converging crises overwhelming common sense, good judgment, and cooperative intelligence? And what the hell are We the People gonna do? Are we going to just read about it in a tweet the next day after half the world blows up? “Good morning! 1/2 earth blown up…the end looks better n movies & cool, i can still tweet!”
Violence, nonviolence, and civil disobedience are tools in the great struggle against tyranny and oppression. They have been used in the great class war against the Global Financial and Political Elites. They still are. These tools are strategies and tactics based upon values and principles. Violence and nonviolence are no more anything else than the term Global War on Terrorism is rife with misnomers. Terror is a feeling. It’s an immediate physiological response to a reactive emotion. Flight or fight or freeze and still piss your pants. Terrorism is a tactic in crime and war. It’s been pointed out repeatedly one cannot wage a military campaign against tactics. Instead, one does so with strategies and tactics against enemies using terror as a tactic.
Many of us confuse nonviolence with being a rigid “thing.” Growing numbers of people continue to feel inspired by the fierce stands Mahatma Gandhi and the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., took for nonviolence. Ironically, both were murdered almost 20 years apart during periods of violent civil strife. Their deaths sparked even greater outbreaks of violence.
Even so, many people view nonviolence as an inviolate colonnade of pillars holding up temples of peace as if such abstractions of mind existed out in the physical world. Nonviolence, a tool, has come to be regarded as religious doctrine by many people. Instead of a tactic, however, it’s another invisible but real, to them, flying buttress supporting the invisible architecture of an abstract cathedral. By doing so, these believers in the holiness of this abstract tool risk bringing everything they stand for collapsing down upon them in bloody ruin.
The proponents of nonviolence, upholding Gandhi and King and even Buddha and Jesus, often dismiss or suppress any challenge to nonviolence. Who would dare question nonviolence? I imagine the Global Elites and the security and intelligence apparatus under their control appreciate being the only ones to dispense violence while not receiving any in turn. Nonviolence helps keeps them in power.
Don’t make any abstraction of mind so rigid an ideology it cripples effective action. It doesn’t matter if it’s politics, religion, economics, or tradition. Those nouns, those words stand for concepts with definitions held within the abstract mind. Which means we make it all up in our heads and call it “real.” If enough people agree yes, it’s real indeed, and then we label it “consensual reality.” And so we go, as brilliantly collapsed as ever. All abstractions are tools.
The most effective toolboxes have a modest variety of choices. It is the same during resistance against oppression and struggles for justice, equality, and liberty. We struggle against the class war of the financial elites, against institutionalized racism, corporatism, sexism, corruption, and fascism. We struggle for social, environmental, and economic justice. We struggle for power. Aye, we struggle for the power to determine our own lives together.
Up Close and Uncompromising! The front of one of the famous Red T-Shirts worn by volunteers for Kshama Sawant’s Socialist Alternative Campaign for Seattle City Council, Position 2, the 5th of November 2013. Photo by William Dudley Bass.
Those who argue against raising the minimum wage do not get it. The naysayers spin broken webs of economic facts and figures rooted not in the reality of our natural environment but inside the charts and computer algorithms of a virtual world divorced from physical reality. It’s not about the money. I want to stand up and shout, “It’s not about the money; it’s about people! Real live human beings!”
I really want to jump up and yell, “It’s not about money, you insert language most foul!” Such verbal intensity, however deliciously vulgar, would just rile up the troll militias, so I won’t cuss here. It’s challenging enough to feel compassion and empathy for my fellow human beings, including those who exhibit cruelty and heartless stupidity. No matter. We all suffer. Everyone single one of us experiences suffering. Life is Struggle.
The working classes get life is a struggle. So do artists and small business owners. So do the unemployed, the underemployed, the homeless, the foreclosed, the laid off, the poorly paid, the uneducated, the overeducated, students deep in debt, the hungry, the sick, the pissed off. Reformers understand action is better than indulging in cynicism, apathy, and do-nothingism. Revolutionaries understand reform only goes so far before it dead ends in a mirage. Struggle serves to move the working classes from enduring ever more suffering to survive to rising up to stand in their power and thrive.
During these bleak but exciting times I volunteered for Kshama Sawant’s openly Socialist campaign for Seattle City Council. I joined with other veterans of the Occupy Uprisings from the Green Party of Seattle and the Seattle branches of the Socialist Alternatives to serve to get her elected. Other Socialist Alternatives ran strong campaigns elsewhere, especially Ty Moore in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
It proved a tight race. Still counting ballots days after the Election. We rocked the city and made waves across the nation. Ripples were felt around the world. It was an astonishing experience. A small, highly disciplined organization raised well over $110,000 and marshaled over 300 volunteers, many of them part-time volunteers such as myself. What helped us stand out in addition to our red t-shirts was our uncompromising stand for a $15.00 an hour minimum wage.
I lay my head down
in the boneyard of relatives
to feed Aunt Bea’s chickens.
Over in the corner
in the shade of Grandpa’s old pear tree
my mother lays among buzzing yellow jackets
feasting upon apples scattered in decay.
Momma pushes away all of her children,
those of us still alive;
screams for us to grow up;
demands we stop listening to the news;
shouts we better hunt us up
some animals for breakfast.
Desperately she lifts tattered, dirty burlap,
shoves small bones ragged with chunks of meat
into her vagina as she mourns and grieves
the deaths of three babies
from dirty, unwashed hands.
I glance up and see Aunt Bea peeking down
thru broken shutter slats guarding old attic windows.
She won’t come down;
expects us to visit her instead.
We do not dare, of course.
Aunt Bea is hungry beyond pain,
yet she avoids the bone yard where
her sister screeches
in the shade of serpent grief.
She pushes notes at us
from under her door,
notes so raw her letters leave us
wet with terror.
Aunt Bea’s eye sees me as it always does,
quivers with relief as it watches my head twitch.
Her one enormous eye, wild, heavy, swivels “Yes!”
I stand up headless and walk away
as chickens cluck and peck at my face.
My old twin head Wilson, severed across the throat,
rolls in staggered jerks beneath
swarming hens, roosters, and slaps of Momma’s shoe.
I’d once saved Wilson’s life from drowning.
My twin washed up on Absinthe Beach north of Yurka
five years after vanishing off Nikumaroro.
I return to the shed to cook down
p-ephedrine with hydroiodic acid,
red phosphorous, iodine, and lye.
Daddy slouches naked in the shadows
among broken antique furniture once
slathered in now faded yellow, green,
red, purple Dutch Boy lead paint.
Zoroaster (Zarathustra) above the two fish-human hybrid gods called Dagon (Dagan).
Nommo the Fish God from the Sirius Solar System; sacred to the Dogon tribe of the Hothburi Mountains of Mali’s Sahara Desert, near the Ancient city of Timbuktu.
I love making coffee in the morning. Every morning. Every morning here in Seattle. Oh, the gradual, sloppy slide of my naked skin over the edge of my bed after I ax my alarm, the
WHUMP! WHUMP! WHUMP!
pillow thumper dumper alarm
hearing folks sometimes think is a goddamn bomb.
Yeah, pillow thumper alarm clock. My clock as a small, thick, flying saucer-shaped vibrator I slide inside my pillowcase. It bangs my brains awake. See, I’m beautifully deaf in both ears. I can’t hear. I can’t hear very well, so I therefore I feel. Feel into the world. Feel into it all. Oh, yeah, where’s my Adderall? Where did I put my pill bottle? Oh, goodness, this crazy feeling! So much to know! Just didn’t know I could do it, this feeling, feeling this way and that way, at the unexpected moment I watched someone die. She died horribly, too. Died right in front of me. Died drinking coffee. Or while I was drinking coffee. Bus stop coffee. It’s all a haze of red and brown mist now. As she passed on into the Afterlife, I felt life wrenched loose from dying flesh. Scary at first. Almost…intoxicating. As intoxicating as the smell of fresh roasted coffee in the morning as I prepare the drink of Gods.
An Analysis of the Successes and Failures of the Occupy Uprising, Occupy’s Comparison with Previous Recent U.S. Revolts, and What’s Likely to Occur Next
Occupy Wall Street! Occupy Earth! Occupy Love! What is our one Demand? WHAT IS OUR ONE DEMAND? Image altered from the Commons.
Occupy, of course, is not dead. The residue of the movement continues to smolder among the ruins of the Great Global Recession. An occasional flare-up bursts forth in protest here and there. In the underground of cyberspace, however, there lives a vibrant hum of activity. Instead of dramatic visibility in parks and streets, many in the Occupy movement carried their ideals, values, and freshly exercised practices away to their homes, farms, businesses, and neighborhoods.
A new alternative civilization is emerging from the osmosis of Occupy into the greater culture at large. A good term to describe this organic yet deliberate dynamic planetary community is the Breakthru Civilization. We’re breaking thru old paradigms and ways of being that no longer serve humanity as these obsolete ways aid in the destruction of life on Earth. Breakthru from love and respect for life to love and respect our selves, one another, and our planet. It is a difficult challenge to move forward towards hate, fear, and violence with compassion, forgiveness, and love armed with nothing more than aware minds, open hearts, and firm backbones. Yet this Breakthru accelerates the expansion of individual awareness and mass consciousness to understand and embrace Socialism as perhaps the only immediate alternative to the current system dominated by Capitalism and corporatist fascism.
The number of activists has dwindled since those promising days from September 2011 to May 2012. They certainly no longer reflect the greater 99%. Instead, Americans woke up to the reality of economic inequality and class war. Occupy called attention to this invisibly visible ugliness so vividly the topic of class warfare was debated among Republicans and Democrats during the 2012 Presidential Elections. Yet Occupy itself subsided into the nooks and crannies of local neighborhoods.
What happened? Especially after so much occurred in the beginning to astonish and galvanize people around our planet?
Before I answer those questions, we must acknowledge and celebrate Occupy’s multiple successes. Occupy left enough of a significant impact, certainly in the short term as this story has yet to run its course, to perhaps catalyze a larger and more multifaceted transformation than is often realized. It’s still too new. So let’s celebrate a few successes:
“The Extreme Inequality is Killing us – our Commons, our Democracy.” Syd Fredrickson of the Green Party in Occupy Seattle, 8 October 2011. Photo by William Bass.
Ghost Hunting amid the Echoes of Tragedy and Carnage at Saylor’s Creek
Midnight came and went across the woods and fields of a 118-year old Civil War battlefield. With a firm grip on powerful flashlights turned off, we crept along the edge of the bridge and peered downstream into the darkness for ghosts. Well, for a specific ghost in particular, a ghost named Headless Sally. The three of us stood there in the dark feeling stupid and scared all at once. It was cold, too, down there in the damp mini-valley of Saylor’s Creek. A full moon hung in the sky casting shadows through trees and thickets leafless in Winter.
Earlier during the day we had agreed to hunt for Headless Sally under a full moon in a relatively clear and calm night sky. Luna draws out the madness in people, draws out mindless ghosts questing about on soulless autopilot, the objects of long-faded desires lost to spiritual dementia. And here we were, three Witches of Silverwood, leaning over the bridge railing facing downstream looking for the ghost of a floating head or perhaps her headless torso. We were confident of our abilities to protect ourselves against harmful or mischievous spirit entities. Besides, we figured after midnight on a cold weeknight there would be far less traffic on a lonely country road to disturb our focus than earlier in the day or on a weekend.
We have visited with ghosts nearby at the Hillsman Farmhouse at the epicenter of the Battle of Saylor’s Creek. Fought on Thursday 6 April 1865, as heavy rains fell and the creek rose, the fields, woods, creeks, and farms were the scene of a ferocious and savage three-part battle between Confederates and Federals. American Civil War combat was often at close quarters with severe injuries from up-close discharges of firearms and artillery as well as hand-to-hand fighting.
The Hillsman home was occupied by the Federals and used as a battlefield hospital. The family and servants there were forced downstairs into the basement, but afterwards helped dig mass graves for the dead. I don’t know if the “servants” were Black slaves, lowly-paid Whites, or White indentured servants. Indentured servants as an institution, shockingly enough, endured in the U.S.A. until 1917, long after slavery itself was legally abolished. Few narratives from Civil War battles more than mentioned the presence of slaves as if they were a bothersome afterthought.
The medical staff operated on screaming Union and Confederate wounded without question. Stories were told of so many amputations deemed necessary as the gory battle unfolded, the pile of severed limbs and body parts tossed out the windows reached up to the windowsills. Soft lead Minié ball bullets tore large holes through soft tissue and shattered bones. Cannons firing loaded canisters bursting with lead and iron balls packed in sawdust mowed down troops on both sides.
Sanitation was unknown, and this lack of hygiene helped generate severe rates of infections such as gangrene. Doctors and nurses, including surgeons, may care for their patients and feel passionate for their professions, yes. Their knowledge and technologies, unfortunately, were surprisingly Medieval during what many historians consider the first Modern, Industrial Age war. No wonder so many ghosts haunted the area. Sally, however, didn’t die in the war.
Ruminations, Romance, and the Lives of a Family Long Dead
Story and Photographs by William Dudley Bass
Ruins of the old Sarver Homestead along the Appalachian Trail in Virginia, May 1991.
In late May 1991, almost three months into our odyssey along the Appalachian Trail, my wife and I planned to sleep among ghosts. Old-timey Virginia ghosts. It seemed like a fitting thing to do while walking across our home state, a journey as rich with rumination as it was with hardship and joy.
Gwen and I had embarked on the first day of spring from the top of Springer Mountain in northern Georgia to backpack the whole Appalachian Trail end to end. The AT, as we hikers called it, or simply “the Trail,” stretches more than 2,000 miles northwards across 14 states to the summit of mile-high Mt. Katahdin in north-central Maine. Almost a quarter of the Trail passes through the Old Dominion, making Virginia home to the longest section of the AT, more than any other state. Gwen and I took six-and-a-half months to backpack the whole Trail, climbing Katahdin in early October on the day after our third wedding anniversary.
Rich in both history and wildlife, the Appalachian Trail is an intersection of people and wilderness. Those who backpack end-to-end in one push are known as “thruhikers,” while those who attempt to complete the whole thing in stages are called “section hikers.” Most take on trail names. Gwen and I were thruhikers, as such a distinct minority among the day hikers, weekenders, and picnickers. We called ourselves the Pregnant Rhinos.
Our trail name arose from a backpacking trip out West the previous year, when we got teased about the huge new internal-frame expedition packs bulging from our backs. “Damn, y’all look like a coupla pregnant rhinoceroses,” exclaimed a teenage boy, his own rickety, external-frame pack jangling with pots and pans and sloppy blankets.
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Morgan showing Talia how to skip rocks into the Sound, Carkeek Park, Seattle, Wednesday 16 June 2004.
Kristina, my partner at the time, and I discovered one of the best ways to blend our quirky families was to play together. Shared activities made any chore much more fun and the play a hooty wild blast. Sometimes we played rough, too. My kids and I called wrestling with Daddy “rumble tumble.” Kate was the roughest, although Talia enjoyed a good tumble, too, until she decided she didn’t appreciate a particular move. Morgan didn’t care for such forceful fun. She was a more gentle, restrained, and patient player who valued eccentric, witty goofiness over “play fightin’.”
Did a Sasquatch tear up the woods between two Virginia farms?
The mystery of this strange event has never been solved. Recent scientific discoveries and claims, however, may provide the inquisitive with clues.
It’s springtime in Virginia. The year is either 1967 or 1968, and possibly as late as 1972. My memory of time and dates from long-ago events are a little hazy these days. Not the incidents and sequences of events, however long ago they occurred. These events are crystal clear in the “documentary film” of my memories.
A giant and mysterious beast went berserk in the woods shared by two intermarried family farms. The destruction was extensive and required immediate repair. We farmers kept our herds of cows and heifers separate to prevent them from getting all mixed up. Both farms had planned to turn loose their herds into adjacent fields separated by the fences along Lost Creek. Compounding the mystery was odd feeling the destruction appeared to be far more playful than malicious. Or perhaps it was a warning?
Maybe there was more than one entity. Perhaps a small family of these unknown monsters was responsible for the bizarre rampage. At the time people, adults as well as us kids, thought a tornado was the most likely culprit even if a tornado made no sense at all as there were no storms. So we imagined a giant, troll-like creature and named it the Lost Creek Monster. We certainly hoped if there really was such a beast there was only one at most. Feeling a bit superstitious, we nonetheless prayed the monster would leave us alone. Especially if it was the Devil. But we were just as afraid of God.
Once I had an OBE, an Out-of-Body-Experience, and flew across the sea. There were a few times I am certain I had other OBEs, one bordering on a NDE or Near-Death Experience. This particular OBE had one significant difference, though, that distinguished it from all the others. As of March 2013, this event remains the only time I managed to intentionally astral travel. All of my other OBEs were unintentional and spontaneous. This particular astral journey was startling in its clarity. I remember it vividly many years later as if it happened yesterday.
During my time as a Wiccan, I was exposed to a number of practices and paranormal phenomena at odds with mainstream orthodox science. Among these were strange “things” called astral projection, astral travel, or out-of-body experiences. They are different terms for the same phenomena. One could dismiss such things as magical thinking, a level of psycho-spiritual and socio-cultural evolutionary development considered inferior. Magical thinking is a cluster of different religious and psychological belief systems wrapped up in elements of what many deride as “superstition.”
The one primary distinction shared within this cluster is the idea thinking certain thoughts either intentionally or unintentionally generates actions and events in the outer or “real” world of matter and energy. Research into psychic phenomena and brain waves demonstrate the power of focused mental energy to affect change in the environment beyond the body. Meditation, prayer, casting spells, calling down old Deities, and focused ESP represent different examples of focused mental power.
There is still much to learn regarding the mysteries of consciousness. The experience of Afterlife beings raises questions about definitions of life, especially beyond biological death. None of this mattered to those who feared for my soul, however, as they were sure these “things” were real. My Fundamentalist Christian friends and a few family members swore I was deluded by the Devil and flying straight down into Hell.
One afternoon, however, regardless of Heaven or Hell or the Levels In Between, I faced my fears and deliberately left my body for what proved to be an exciting adventure.
Once I saw a doppelganger, although I wasn’t aware of it until the next day. This mysterious event still baffles my mind. Strange and still unresolved questions were raised for which “hoax” would be the easiest yet least likely answer. There are questions regarding the possibility for the bilocation of matter, especially biological organisms, at high levels of material cohesion. Can a person split themselves at will or unconsciously? Other questions provoke inquiries into the evidence consciousness extends beyond our living bodyminds as well as continues, at least for a while, after death. One may speculate as well upon the spiritual ramifications of doppelgangers.
I was not the only witness that warm, sunny afternoon. First, however, what is a doppelganger? Yeah, what the heck is that? And is it dangerous? There’s no way this was a hoax. Well, a hoax is highly unlikely. I’ll explain why further down in this article.
Doppelgangers have existed in myths and legends since Ancient Times. I’d never given the phenomena much attention or credibility prior to this event. Yet my wife and I and others witnessed a doppelganger. Later that afternoon, one man even worked unknowingly alongside this doppelganger. When the man discovered he had done so, he freaked out and prayed feverishly to God so he wouldn’t be snatched up by the Devil and flung down into the fires and stench of Hell.
The following anomalous event occurred one summer in the early 1970s in rural Prince Edward County, south-central Virginia. It remains unexplained.
This weird incident happened about five or six years after my family and I experienced an unidentified flying ship over the fields and woods behind our farmhouse. Those two experiences may have nothing to do with each other except both were strange and were dismissed, ridiculed, or explained away by our American Government.
Our paranoid Cold War fears intensified after the anomaly occurred this particular hot and sweaty summer evening. I was a young teenager back then. A group of us kids played outside in a grassy cow pasture between my house and the neighbors’. Joe, my younger brother, was running around with us, too. Our parents were out and about in their respective yards. The fireflies were already out, winking on and off along the edge of the woods bordering the field even though there was still plenty of light left. We called ’em lightnin’ bugs. We jerked alert as we found ourselves and everything around us bathed in glowing light. It happened fast. BOOM without sound.
“Whoa, look!” shouted one friend in awe. “Look at the sky!”
“What the hell is that?”
“I sure don’t think it’s Jesus comin’ back. Don’t hear no trumpets a blowin’.”
“Trumpets, shit. Maybe the Russians are bombin’ us.”
“Or aliens from Outer Space!”
“Whoa, look at that! Hey, over there, too. Oh man, the sky’s on fire!”
or is love merely a human attribute projected upon an imagined image of deity ?
If indeed God is Love and Love is God, can Love love?
We humans make messes of Love.
Such as celebrating our lust as things fall apart.
Ancient Pagan Festival of Lupercalia
Saint Valentine’s Day
Blood and Life
Birth and Death
Armageddon of the Heart
Bereft of a Lover, she reads alone in the chill of February. It is the only way she knows to escape from her pain without dulling her soul.
Ruins of Ancient, Postmodern Lupercalian Sex Machines too broken down to fuck this lovely Valentine’s Day Night.
The air changes all who breathe. Breathing changes love. It all changes you. Air is life. Air is death. Breathing fuels every cell to live. Gaia yearns for Cernunnos to merge and spawn. Goddess gives birth to more Gods who work with Prometheus to mold our flesh deep in the ovens of the Holy Sun. Soul cleaves with Spirit to penetrate matter. Life blossoms from energy and emerges across the Universe. Enchanted with life, Sophia birthed forth Demiurge. Ignorant, isolated, and bereft of LOVE, he grew increasingly malevolent. Demiurge thundered forth to create his universe of worlds and battled the Higher God of Love and Creation for domination of the Earth. Humans were terrified, confused, and forced into believing Demiurge was the only God to worship. Sophia was forgotten along with Gaia and every other Goddess. The entire Universe screamed in protest, a scream we still hear as we listen to the electromagnetic shrieking of Matter across time and space. A most wicked and capricious Demiurge tormented all his creations as he raged and cried out for and against a Mother he hasn’t known since birth. Demiurge set himself up on a giant throne to toy with and destroy bit by bit his own creations and smeared all others Divine as of the Devil. As the true Shaitan, Demiurge hid the truth from men and from women of his hideous yet powerful Imposition. Only Love will transform this Devil God, and it must be Love wrapped in kindness and compassion backed by the strength of billions of strong, resilient spines.
Our culture is riven with wounds. The linguistic tapestries woven from many of our stories arise from psychological, emotional, social, and physical trauma. Ken Woodley, a man who once attended the same small, all-male college as I did went on to advocate for deep racial and social healing between Blacks and Whites in Virginia and across America. From his position as Editor of The Farmville Herald, the local newspaper in Prince Edward County where he still works, he once stated, “We are not responsible for a lot of the wounds we find, but we can be responsible for the healing.”
Healing of such magnitude begins with awareness and presence. Healing of any kind demands such presence. Awareness begins with waking up. Dreams aren’t any good unless you wake up to take action to make your dreams come true.
Ancient image of Cernunnos on the silver Gundestrop Cauldron created by Celtic craftsmen during the European Iron Age. Photo from Wikipedia Commons.
A Modern image of the Horned God of the Wiccans dispayed in the Museum of Witchcraft in Cornwall, the UK. Photo from Wikipedia Commons.
What transpired is true and cannot be proven.
Once upon a time in the deep dark of night my first wife Margaret and I walked in the door of our home and saw a goat-headed devil sitting in the chair watching us with his legs crossed and his hands in his lap. Scared the bejesus out of us, too. We didn’t know what in Hell this creature was other than it was male. He certainly challenged our religious, psycho-spiritual, and cultural upbringing.
Thick, smoky fog oozed through the woods and draped the open fields. Down the hill beyond the bluffs snaked Big and Little Sandy Rivers. It wasn’t too cold, but the damp chill made the fog drip with hypothermia. Margaret and I arrived home close to midnight. We’d been out at a gathering celebrating Goddess and God with the other Witches of Silverwood Circle. Our group was a Neo-Pagan Celtic Wiccan coven in Prince Edward County, Virginia.
My wife, well, she was my first wife, was the Inner Flamenca or High Priestess of Silverwood. Our close friend, Paul, was the Inner Flamen or High Priest. We preferred “Inner” instead of “High” to promote ideas of going deep into the mysteries rather than someone being superior above others. The terms “flamen” and “flamenca” derived from Latin words for Roman priests and priestesses responsible for the sacred flames of Gods and Goddesses. They’re not as common in Wiccan usage these days, but some Celtic Wiccans preferred the Roman words to distinguish themselves from Neo-Celtic Druids.
The closer we approached our home the colder and clammier everything seemed. We felt open psychically, perhaps too much so, for we had relatively little training in the arts of psychic and spiritual self-defense. We were beginning to encounter spiritual entities for which we were unprepared to meet.
Old Bass Family Farmhouse on a visit to Virginia from Seattle, December 2005. Foto by William Bass.
A ghost, yes, an invisible ghost, scared me nearly all to pieces once upon a time back when I was a little kid. I was young, so you can laugh if you wanna, but I was well read and smart, too for being such a squirt. The way that ol’ ghost stomped down the hallway of an old farmhouse in my direction freaked me out. Made my big Frankenstein hearing aid SCREAM. I could hear this ghost, too. I could feel it, feel both the vibrations of the stomps and the cold blob of air moving along with it.
I was a young boy back in the mid-to-late1960s sometime. I don’t remember how many years old I was or what grade I attended in school. What I do recall, however, was the weather. It was Summertime. Lush, green Summertime! It must’ve been between grades. I reckon I was in late elementary school or maybe even early middle. Not sure. But it was Summer that I know. And a ghost scared the bedoobus outa my insides. This true story began late one afternoon.
Amendment II A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
This is the second of the first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution, those collectively regarded as the Bill of Rights. The Second Amendment was ratified on December 15, 1791. That’s a little more than fifteen years after the American Declaration of Independence and eight years after the Peace Treaty of Paris ended the American Revolutionary War. It became known as the “Right to Bear Arms” amendment.
Note the Constitution lacks any direct reference to individual self-defense. Instead we have a muddled Second Amendment that declares a stand for the right to bear Arms. Not swords, battle-axes, legs, or cannon, but arms as in firearms as in guns. It doesn’t proclaim a right to self-defense. Indeed, there is not any reference whatsoever to any right of self-defense. Which is interesting, isn’t it?
To all those dreamers who dare to write science fiction, fantasy, and horror and thumb their noses at the arty-farty literati. We can all have fun being serious.
All the Darkness in Space:
Flames burned purple at the dawn of death. The skies droned with the color of moron flesh. Silent explosions flared upon the distant horizon beyond the lake. Gesele stood among the pines along the shore watching the dawn mists rise and float above still waters. She squatted, enjoyed the crunch of pine needles and pebbles under foot, ran her hand through the water feeling the almost creamy smoothness of calm water then jerked it away. The lake was ice cold. She watched droplets of water drip from her fingers. The skies grew lighter and lighter with a video dullness. A breeze began to stir through the trees and rippled the waters. Grey boulders jutted out of the metallic pond. A sun bleached log lay across the sand, its top half still in the water. Stark, skeletal branches cut through shadows of the dawn. The sun rose churning fire.
A whirlwind of sunlight crashed through the conifers, drove out all shadow and seared the forest floor. Gesele backed away, shielding her eyes with her hands, stumbling, tripping, falling down. She cursed the sun, her breasts heaving beneath her tight suit of flexible, breathable armor. The breeze whipped into a wind and gusted across the now choppy lake. The early morning fog blew alive and writhed with energy. The sun sucked mist into its maw. Straw-like reeds bent across the water toward the rising heat. It was her first morning in what used to be the old American state of Maine. Despite the terror of war she loved the Maine outdoors. Gesele relished the early-morning knife whip of sun-warmed wind.
Fighter planes pulsed overhead, screaming silently into the radio static. Gesele cussed again and ran deep into the woods, pushing through pines and firs to hide among giant red spruce. The earth was so soft yet cobbled with rock. More explosions. The sky flared with radiation. Gesele wiped sweat from her brow and stood there, ribs swelling and falling with each breath, her taut muscles flexing, curled fingers flicked open sharp as talons.
Goddammit where the Hell is Korbin?
She reached up behind her left ear and pushed. A microbutton, resting just under the skin, indented and clicked. She grumbled at the obsolescence of her augmentation for the newer ones didn’t need tiny buttons. All you need to do with the new ones was think the command. Her neurocomputer implant flashed behind her eyes as she mainlined into enhanced reality.
Gesele scanned the forests. Every object shimmered with auras of electromagnetic radiation yet registered with amplified digital clarity. She focused her electronically amped vision and expanded her own aura. Pseudo-psychic sparks erupted as tongues of bioplasmic energy rubbered out through the woods, searching. More planes zoomed across the face of the rising sun, blasting the rebel forces dug into the mountainside.
ZEEEMmnn . . . a sensation of iced razorblades slit her consciousness. She cried out, surprised by the intensity. There. A kaleidoscope of glitter pinwheeled her into a vortex, and she went with it. As the wind coursed over the lake she flowed through the morning quicksilver and then she was there. Gesele reached up behind her ear and dropped out into the real world.
Ahh, the real world, she thought as she took off her cap and ran a hand through black, spiky locks. One had to be careful not to wander too long among the planes of enhanced reality. It was the outer space of the mind fused with electronic synth tissue. It was nowhere yet everywhere far beyond the borders of the ancient Internet and things virtual. There were people who never came back, leaving their bodies catatonic while they wandered lost in an illusion. But the illusion could be so sensuous, the sheer erotic power of it, the showering sparks, the multilayered colors of a billion auras, the wild, still unexplained mystery of computer-enhanced extrasensory perception.
There were even some, it was whispered, who deliberately sought to lose themselves. Many among the super wealthy had the resources to keep their bodies plugged in and fed, some longer than others. Some claimed the world of illusion was just as real, if not more so, than the mundane. It was beyond dreams and out of the mind. They were out there searching for the perfect astral orgasm, the melding with nirvana, to electronically escape from the mundane world into the seduction of the unknown. Cyberghosts, they called themselves, and in some weird way their sacred scripture were yellowed paper copies of Walt Whitman’s poem “I Sing the Body Electric.” Most failed to break out, many went insane, but a fabled few never returned. Where they went no one knows.
Ahh, it was so beautiful here amid the pine and maple trees clustered around old ice age boulders and primeval lakes of cold, cold water. Combat ships howled across pale blue skies and worn-down mountains as a cool morning breeze caressed her unwashed face. She could settle down and live here…almost…maybe…just maybe…
The Author staring across Puget Sound towards the Olympics from the beaches of Carkeek Park, Seattle. This foto is not from the same time as the essay as those pictures, original slide transparencies, were lost in the 2010 house fire. This foto was taken years later on 6 November 2011 by my middle daughter Kate Bass. Even so, Kate’s picture captures the chill of the story.
One bitter cold sunny day I came upon a tall, balding man standing on the beach wearing nothing but a skimpy Speedo swimsuit and smoking cigarettes. He had an enormous belly, a tremendous leviathan of a belly; the kind of tight power belly a big man could even feel proud of. Yet he moved like James Bond in the movies. He smoked like Humphrey Bogart used to in the movies, too. Him and Katherine Hepburn, remember? This man stood barefoot before me in sand, pebbles, and broken seashells as he gazed across the Salish Sea from the shores of Carkeek Park. I estimated he was a youngish sixty. An icy breeze sliced through my coat and stung my cheeks.
U.S. veteran Benjamin Colton Barnes, proud of his guns, in a photo from Pierce County Sheriff Department archives. Note the high-capacity magazine clips on both firearms.
Ranger Margaret Anderson, Mount Rainier National Park, Washington State. Photo from MRNP archives.
New Year’s Day 2012 began as if Doomsday had arrived way too early from out of the prophesized Mayan Apocalypse. By the time the one-man war of Army veteran Benjamin Colton Barnes ended, two people are dead with four more injured, two of them critically wounded, three children left without parents, and communities across the United States, including Mount Rainier National Park were devastated. It’s almost a year, too, after Rep. Gabby Giffords and a number of others were shot with many killed in Tucson, Arizona. Excuse my lack of professionalism, but WTF?
In grotesque mockery of its own Constitution, the United States Government continues its overreaching neo-imperial agenda. We invade Iraq for the oil, for revenge against Saddam, and to outflank Iran and thumb our noses at Russia and China. We spend more money on our military than the next 17 countries combined. Yet we don’t help our veterans. And anytime you send people into combat, battles, and wars, guess what? Real, live human beings – men, women, and children are killed and maimed, often in horrific manner. Many in our Armed Forces return with damaged minds. Not everyone, but many more than most admit.
Since our government is so deep in debt and has been played by the banksters, it implements austerity measures and cuts services. National Park services get cut. Rangers get less support.
Bankster and corporatocratic manipulation of finances, markets, political elections, and government leads to illegal wars and economic disruption.
Illegal wars are still real wars. Our young men and women kill and injure other human beings. Many of our men and women are themselves killed and injured. All survivors witness great destruction. The Americans return home, and some of them break down, fall apart, and go crazy. And usually not in ways that engender sympathy.
A government short on money begins by cutting then chopping services. “Our” Federal Government begins by eviscerating federal institutions. Not nearly enough health care is provided for our veterans and their families, especially psychotherapy and counseling. It’s easier, faster, and cheaper to build flashy new weapons and weapons systems. Other federal services get cut, including the national park service.
Benjamin Colton Barnes was a former soldier in the United States Army. He served in the Iraq campaigns of 2007-2008 during the Global Long War on Terror. A private first class, he served in communications while deployed into Iraq. Barnes was also released from the military with a misconduct discharge for a string of offenses.
At a New Year’s Eve 2011 party in Skyway, a satellite town on the edge of the Greater Seattle Pugetopolis, Washington State, a number people brought guns including military weaponry to show off, brag, and posture. The rest of us would likely call them “gun nuts,” a term I reserve NOT for those who respect the firearms they collect and the responsibilities the right to possess a firearm demands, but for those who are immature, violent, and spoiling for a fight. The latter are consumed with egoitis. Barnes was at the party with several hot dates, all of them guns.
Posturing and bragging led to bruised egos. The ego is easily wounded when one’s skin is so thin. Arguments escalated into threats escalated into a gun battle. The details remain murky, but so far it appears Barnes took on the others, big bad soldier from Iraq he is, or was. In the ensuing firefight Barnes shot four people. Two of them were grievously injured and remain in critical care.
Barnes fled the party early in the morning of 1 January 2012. He drove off in a car with guns, knives, ammo, and survival gear. He raced into Mount Rainier National Park to hide out in the middle of the Cascade Mountains. Mt. Rainier remains one of the world’s most dangerous volcanoes, is more massive of a mountain than any of those in the Himalayans, and soars skyward to 4,392 meters or 14,411 feet above sea level. The Mountain dominates the Pacific Northwest and is the black hole of severe winter storms. It receives astounding amounts of precipitation. Its vast slopes are blanked with heavy, deep snow, thick forests, and icy glaciers.
Some kids dress up as superheroes and monsters from Outer Space. I dreamed of being a serial killer. And as Richmond sat surrounded by Civil War battlefields, there were many grownups that dressed up in butternut and gray to play war among trashy shopping malls and picnic tables. Ever notice they’d rather shoulder rifle-muskets and fire cannons than play at being saw-wielding surgeons surrounded by piles of amputated mannequin limbs?
Me? Well, I was different. I am a serial killer. But, I ask, who killed and maimed more people? Soldiers, of course. I was far more selective. Yes, indeed, I am a serial killer. Yea, I imagined I lived in a comic book and was born for death.
To be more precise, as Unidentified Flying Objects seem to come and go as they please and not when and where as we would expect or even like, it is the topic of UFOs which is taboo. This includes many squirmy topics, which may or may not be completely true nor completely false, such as: shape-shifting and transforming objects, alien abductions with grotesque medical, genetic, and sexual experiments, mutilations of animals including cattle, horses, and humans, USOs or UUOs (Unidentified Submersible Objects or Unidentified Underwater Objects), secret underground and underwater bases, soul harvesting, anomalies on the Moon and on Mars and elsewhere which appear to be the ruins of vastly ancient civilizations, mysterious orbs, biomechanical or cyborg ships, Cold War conspiracies, ridicule by the authorities, stupidity in the media, cover-ups by hypercompartmentalized entities within or outside the military/security-industrial/corporate-education/prison-intelligence/surveillance complex, extraterrestrial and/or interdimensional species and technologies, free energy, and secret weapons.
There are allegations by whistleblowers and others in or who used to be in the militaries, intelligence agencies, scientific institutions, and other reputable organizations around the planet about and for these things. There are the so-called “black projects” within Unacknowledged Special Access Programs (USAPs). A deluge of documents has been declassified by a number of governments that demonstrate a significant and prolonged interest in a mystery otherwise dismissed and debunked in public.
Lookit that damn fool Willy standin’ there under the giant ass end of General Robert E. Lee’s monstrous horse waving the axed-off head of a rooster up in the air for all the world to see. Scaring all of Richmond, Virginia down into the James River and out to sea. Folks driving down Monument Avenue jump up outa their seats, point like little kids, and almost wreck their cars going the wrong way down North Allen. By the time they popped outa their trance they laid on the horn and shout everything but hymns. Willy didn’t care one wit. He’d already seen the beginning of civilization and the end of the world. And so he scattered droplets of blood everywhere while dancing 65-70 some feet below the end of a bronze horse.
Red against the pale granite of the monument base was a large, square cloth. It was half as big as a picnic table and more crimson than a pool of fresh slaughterhouse blood in sunlight. Rocks held down the corners and the sides, rough chunks of granite and quartz dug out of red Virginia clay. Crushed slices of silvery-glass mica and yellow fool’s gold lay scattered across the square of the cloth. In the center, bound up in orange red twine, was a headless rooster with his chest cut open. Off to the side was a fifth of whiskey. Good whiskey, too. Not great liquor, but souvenir spirits. A black and tan bottle of 1964 George Dickle Tennessee Whisky strapped with a worn leather choker. With a file-sharpened felling axe layin’ right up next to it. There was, however, not a candle in sight.
There are days and there are nights when the best way to face horror and tragedy is to go right into it, into the pain, and not turn away.
The recent gun massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, touches us all on some level as our lives are so intertwined. A young man, Adam Lanza, sick with perhaps more than one illness, shot dead 20 young boys and girls, seven adults, and then took his own life. His illnesses are termed “psychological” or “mental” even though all such disorders stem from the body as mind arises from brain activity. Reports claim he shot many of these people numerous times. He was so accurate with his gun that there were no survivors among those he shot.
Police reports claim he used a Bushmaster .223 caliber Remington AR-15, a semiautomatic rifle. It’s a demilitarized version of the Army’s Vietnam-era M16 and is categorized as an assault rifle. Our national ban on assault rifles expired in 2004. Adam Lanza also allegedly carried two handguns and several hundred rounds of ammunition including high-capacity magazines for the Bushmaster. He stole these weapons from his mother, a registered gun owner, whom he killed first.
Regardless of deep emotions and strong beliefs inflamed by such murders, this massacre of schoolchildren as young as six and seven years old aroused a nation. Indeed, it aroused the world. We are once again reminded that even though we divide ourselves over politics, religion, and ethnicity, we are still one species sharing one planet.
Many issues are at stake here. What is most striking is even though so many people have staked out rigid positions on the various issues; many more are willing to engage in dialogue about them for solutions. That is good news and feels long overdue.
Let me name the dragons we finally have the courage to face as a nation. Keep in mind that to name something is to identify it and to some degree rob it of its power. To name something is to respond without reacting and thus we take on being responsible. By taking on responsibility, especially after first accepting what has happened even if we don’t like it, we become cause in the matter, not victims of circumstance.
Below I name our dragons:
This is an issue of emotionally laden language between groups of people who label each other “gun nuts” versus “gun grabbers.” The issue is the capacity and the willingness to set such divisive blame and shame language aside, or the incapacity and unwillingness for people to do so. Can we stop calling each other names?
Wanna hammer down a creek few have ever paddled? Flush through crooked, boulder-strewn chutes and delicately pick your route down Class 5 Wildcat Falls as you drop off the edge of the world into forever? Then throw away your guidebooks and come south prepared to hike in with your boat. You won’t forget this big, open secret as you rassle with the River Gods to turn it loose. This little bugger roars.
April 4,1989. We were deep in the lush, virgin forests of the Joyce Kilmer – Slickrock Wilderness putting onto a stream we knew very little about. None of us had hiked it, and we only knew a handful of other NOC boaters who had paddled it. Rain had been falling steadily, and we were looking for something different. Steepcreekin’ in Appalachia is Southeastern tradition, and part of the fun is seeking out and paddling remote and seldom run descents. As thunderstorms rolled over the mountains and feeling as if we were in a jungle, we knew we were in for dangerous adventures in a mysterious whitewater gorge.
We expected extreme whitewater. We knew we were all skilled paddlers, climbers, and hikers and could handle ourselves in the wilderness. We were trained in river rescue. We just had no idea our party of four kayakers would get stuck in a confrontation with the Grim Reaper deep in a remote Appalachian gorge as the Sun slid down behind the tallest trees.
In the pages of North Carolina Canoeing, Bob Sehlinger and Don Otey write of the notoriously wild Chattooga River, “If Section IV bores you, try Overflow Creek.” They declared it was for “boaters with…a little insanity.”
Such crazy madness was the predicament the four of us found ourselves in one sunny, warm afternoon: were we really all that bored with Section IV? Heck, after all, the Chattooga was at a romping 2.8 feet on the gauge. In the end we figured we were indeed bored with Section IV and probably not quite all there in the head, either. Though we were much more of a humble and calm team. We were just more on the spiritually cool side of gonzo.
Truth be told, we mainly wanted relief from rowdy crowds congregating along Section III that day for the recent International Peace Rally hosted by the Nantahala Outdoor Center. As much as we enjoyed partying with the Soviets and Costa Ricans, when it came down to the water, we were seekers of solitude. So off into the wilderness of North Georgia’s Chattahoochee National Forest we went.
I felt swallowed by suffering into the giant maw of a monstrous lion. Over the past few years I’ve lost almost everything but life, and even that was in question at times. In the midst of such suffering I learned to run towards the roar, the roaring of lions mute with fear and rage and cravings. I had to learn to do so or else the Grim Reaper would hug me with his scythe. I learned to run towards the quiet roar, the quiet ROAR of the Dharma, to stay present to the miracle of my life.
An unusual compression of numerous losses traumatized me more than I would like to admit. I even ended up semi-homeless for two months and staying with friends for a few more. I say “semi-homeless” because I lived out of a tent pitched back in the bushes behind three enormous woodpiles and a Native American sweat lodge with access to the facilities of a nearby house. All in the middle of urban North Seattle. In each moment I was awake I ran and sometimes stumbled towards that quiet roar, that quiet ROAR of the Dharma.
Sunset from the bluffs while gazing across the Sound toward the Olympics. Richmond Beach Park, Shoreline, Washington, Sunday 23 September 2012. Foto by William Dudley Bass.
Something has shifted in me recently. What has shifted is I’ve lost my taste to speak harshly of others.
During the unexpected challenges of recent years I almost crumbled. The past few months were particularly difficult emotionally and financially. I could’ve sunk deeper into cynicism and bitterness and wallowed in apathy and self-pity. Instead I found the strength and the courage to pivot into a field where there are no paths. My life was my own to choose. My life was mine to live.
With more and more people becoming involved in whitewater, it’s time to rethink swimming. Many steepcreekers have been swimming differently for years, and their experiences can improve the swimming techniques for both those who take a once-a-year commercial raft trip and the average weekend paddler of Class II, III, and IV rivers.
During recent years there has been an increase in drownings and injuries among even experienced boaters as well as casual rafters, which could have been avoided, had they swum differently. Of course we all go out there thinking and hoping we’re not going to fall out of our rafts or come out of our boats. But let’s face it: sooner or later we will all swim, and swim again. Swimming is an integral part of whitewater, and just like combat rolls and eddy turns, it should be done properly and safely. It should even be practiced.
Swimming aggressively instead of floating passively is the key. A number of paddlers have been killed or injured in a variety of river conditions from long, continuous rapids to fairly small rapids. There are numerous cases of flush-through drownings where boaters were swept for extended periods while maintaining the old float-with-toes up position.
Earlier this year in a different type of incident a tandem open boater drowned in Nantahala Falls, a Class III rapid in North Carolina. He and his partner had quickly gotten into the traditional swimming position: toes up, head upstream, floating on one’s back with the arms out to slow one down. His partner shot along the tongue of the falls to safety, but he dropped over a ledge in the steeper section and pinned. His feet and lower legs became entrapped in a crevice, and he drowned. In the same incident, a would-be rescuer also trapped his foot in the same spot and nearly drowned as well. It is likely the victim would be alive today if he had swum aggressively.
Looking at the Great Kahuna, crux of the Nantahala Cascades, from a photo dated November 14, 2009 when the Upper Nantahala Gorge was running about 950 cfs. NOTE: This foto has since been removed and the server is often unaccessible.
The Nantahala River is one the most famous whitewater runs in North America. Most people, however, know it merely as a scenic but beginner-level run. Only recently has word been getting out about “the Other Nantahala,” the river of the Class V-VI Cascades, frequent floodstage big water, of shooting the Horns of the Ram into the maw of Big Wesser Falls. Carving a deep gorge across an earthquake fault through some of the steepest mountains in the Southeast – mountains so rough they have earned the dread of many Appalachian Trail thruhikers – it is home to the paddleheads of the Nantahala Outdoor Center.
Located deep in the boonies of Southwestern North Carolina, down there where Tennessee, Georgia, and South Carolina all butt up against the Tarheel State, the “Nanty” runs year round. Most of the recent International Peace Rally-Nantahala ’90, featuring competitors from around the world including the Soviet Union – were held in the Nantahala’s narrow, heavily-forested gorge. Right before the rally, the Nantahala raged up to a near-record 9.5 ft.
After several years of unrelenting drought, the Southeast has been in the whitewater limelight since heavy rains and frequent flooding returned in January 1989. While disastrous in the eyes of many, the high water has been a boon to paddlers. It has been a special boon to water-starved boaters of the Nantahala area.
Rising high in the Nantahala Mountains, the small river and its headwaters drop into an artificial impoundment, Nantahala Lake. Here Nantahala Power and Light Company (NLP) pumps water through 5.6 miles of pipe and releases at the generating plant about 13 miles downstream.
Most boaters put in below the powerhouse for an exciting dash through continuous Class II-III rapids as the river drops a mellow 33 feet per mile. The icy waters clash with the warm air to create thick ribbons of fog through which one spies bobbing multicolored helmets. In fact, the word Nantahala is Cherokee for “Valley of the Noonday Sun.” The river crashes on until the run culminates in Class III Nantahala Falls, 400 feet above the takeout.
This is the normal run, great for beginners to learn and for intermediates to hone their moves without fear. In the summer the river is often crowded with rafters.
But for others there is the Other Nantahala, the Nantahala of frequent high water. For a time in 1989, NPL was releasing from the lake itself. Water continues to pour down the spillway even now. In both 1989 and 1990 there were numerous extended releases on White Oak Creek, a major tributary of the Nantahala. The character of the river changed as boaters came from all over to experience the Upper Nanty, the Cascades, and Big Wesser. Or even the regular run during high water.
For many miles below the dam, the Nantahala runs through dense willow thickets, gradually widening and descending. The rapids begin to build up to Class II, sometimes III, becoming more continuous and technical. The river plunges over three jumbled waterfalls known as the Upper Cascades and finally merges with White Oak Creek to form the famous Upper Nantahala run. The stretch above the confluence is only rarely run due to the congestion of brush and the fact that the Class IV-V+ Upper Cascades are runnable only when the rest of the Upper Nantahala below is just too high, thus prematurely ending the trip.
White Oak Creek deserves mention. It is one of the hardest hair runs in the Southeast. White Oak flows through continuous Class II rapids through a gentle valley into a small NPL lake. Below the dam the bottom drops out as it plunges for several miles through a tiny gorge with continuous Class II-V rapids. Halfway down is Triple Drop (or Becky’s Catapult), a nasty Class VI three-tier waterfall choked with jagged rocks, vertical pins, and shallow pools. It has been run only once to my knowledge. Becky Weiss, one of NOC’s best hair boaters, catapulted end over end, miraculously without injury.
We are at the brink of war. You won’t find this being addressed in our current run of debates between Republicans and Democrats here in America. When I say “war,” I refer to major regional or world war, not the Global Long War on Terror. The black hole of world war is opening right now in the Middle East.
Allied countries, despite their angry rhetoric with each other, are lining up against other allied countries that also squabble among themselves. Common self-interests in the midst of extreme crises have a way of polarizing nations into opposing armed camps. This whirlpool of destruction will quickly pull in a succession of nations from all over Earth. Ongoing smaller wars around the world will likely merge into a planetwide conflagration as fast as news zips through cell phones and the Internet.
You will find little news of these urgent matters in the majority of the mainstream mass media, although tidbits surface now and then. I search through military and intelligence sources, scan news from both the far right and the far left, and sift through educated opinions from ivory tower pundits to conspiracy theory gurus. There is a lot out of detailed information out there, but so little for the public to readily see.
Why is something so vitally important kept out of the public discourse?
Several reasons exist. Primarily no one in power really wants all-out war and thus they seek to ignore or deflect attention away from its buildup. Why not inform the public? We can handle the news.
Many in the know understand such a war will crash the world economy during this Great Global Recession. An economic collapse will lead to greater environmental destruction and possibly famine. Survivors will ravage our environment even further for energy and resources in order to rebuild. We’ve not as a species experienced the collapse of a complex global economy on such a scale before. No one in their heart wants this in their legacy.
Because such a war will upend significant elections such as the American electorate voting for Obama or for Romney or other candidates. No candidate wants a war on their hands in a war-weary nation. Right? After all, we’re inundated with doom and gloom and jokes about the end of the world because it’s the year 2012.
We need to establish public control of the money power. We must transition away from central bank currency such as Federal Reserve Notes to printing our own currency. Money is currently dominated and controlled by the international central banking system and national tax regimes. In the United States that means the Federal Reserve System, the Big Banks, and even the IRS. Our money is controlled, dominated, and even owned by private interests among the Global Financial Elite and their Allies behind the facade of the Fed and our banking system. Even our Department of Treasury and many government regulators are beholden to the central banks and transnational financial institutions that dominate Wall Street and thus Main Street.
Our money is not truly “our” money. Not yet. The principle of civilian control of the military power serves as a model to apply.
On June 23, 2010, American President Barack Obama relieved General Stanley McChrystal of command of global Allied forces in Afghanistan. It was a quick and decisive stroke by a President often criticized for prolonged deliberation or by war hawks as “not man enough.” The sacking of McChrystal has been compared to President Abraham Lincoln’s firing of General George B. McClellan in the U.S. Civil War and of President Harry Truman firing General Douglas MacArthur in the Korean War.
I pissed off a blizzard of yellow jackets the other day. They were the Mask of Death rising up without any forewarning or expectation. The Grim Reaper swung out his scythe in warning as I jumped high, and we both whirled away in opposite directions. Death by surprise with the horror of a thousand toxic stings. Except it wasn’t my time to pass on through to the other side…yet.
On a sunny Tuesday afternoon in early October 2012, on the 2nd of October to be exact. I stepped outside into the backyard to help clean up some trash and debris. I’ve been staying with my friends Gabriel and Joy in Shoreline, just north of Seattle, as they settle into their “new” home. The backyard was a glorious overgrown wood with tall, beautiful trees and thick bushes bunched around an urban meadow of shaggy grass and dandelions gone to see. In the corner set an old, abandoned metal garbage can. The lid sat somewhat ajar. Bits of trash hung out over the rim. One long, blue length of twine spooled down and out and lay snarled in weeds and sticks.
Behind me on the upstairs balcony Gabriel and his little boy, the one I call “Young Master,” were cleaning up, too. They watched from above. And they just as easily could’ve been out in the yard, too. Young Master could’ve been walking right there with me to peek inside the old garbage can with the same curiosity that possessed me. After all, he was out there messin’ around a couple days earlier over the weekend.
I carried two bags of trash and one of compost. Without much thought I strode up to the ugly old can squatting among the bushes on the edge of the woods. My hand reached out, grabbed the lid, and lifted.
My eyes caught a quick view of what looked like gray paper. Immediately, a monster swarm of bigass yellow jackets rolled out in a thick curling cloud. These were plump, end-of-summer demons all fattened up to die in another month or so. They came together in the air like a biological chainsaw, like a living robot from the Transformer movies, and they were enraged. When I lifted up the lid, apparently I’d ripped their nest apart.
For a moment so brief yet so long I stood there on hyperalert seeing the massed swarm of buzzing yellow jackets pouring out of the can into the air around me. Everything seemed to move in slow motion, way slooooww mooooshunnn. I felt as if I was inside The Matrix movie.
Don’t waste your vote on two-headed snakes. Do not vote for Democrat Barack Obama or Republican Mitt Romney. Vote independent.
Please don’t get me wrong, as both President Obama and former Governor Romney are fundamentally good men. They do, however, represent the lock on power the two major parties have on behalf of the Financial – Power Elite and their Allies. They already dominate our political landscape from Washington, D.C. to the most remote county. Any major party candidate, left and right, it doesn’t matter one whit, is constrained by dependence on sponsors and handlers. As such they will continue to undermine your Constitution. Their actions increase or allow for others to increase the power of the 1%ers over the rest of us 99%.
Republicans and Democrats rile us up and tear us apart over social issues and yet they differ little on true and significant reforms. There is little or no real movement to address the truly serious and potentially catastrophic issues we face today as not just Americans but as a species sharing this planet.
Instead our major politicians debate like entertainment celebrities and offer bland, band-aid solutions as they stay the course straight toward the edge of the cliff. For example, none of their ballyhooed economic and financial reforms will make a lick of difference until drastic reforms of the Fed, the international central banking system, fiat currency, the tax regime, and the ruptures between our economy, energy, and the environment are resolved.
Over the years you’ve likely heard the mantra warning citizens not to waste their votes on third party, alternative, or independent candidates. We the People are encouraged to give up and surrender to the reality that politics are a corrupt circus dominated by Big Everything – corporations, banks, political parties, special interests, and the military-industrial-surveillance complex. So we are told don’t waste our votes on any candidate who is not a Democrat or a Republican.
I say don’t waste your vote voting for the major party candidates. Save yourselves. Save your counties, towns, parishes, cities, states, territories, wards, and districts. Save your country. Save America. Save Planet Earth. Vote independent. Vote third party. Vote for liberty and the constitution. Vote against the tyranny of a gridlocked, two-party system that divides people emotionally over hot button social issues like abortion but otherwise are the same.
Once upon a time not all that long ago somewhere over there in the Land of Barely There and Right Here Now, a group of men and women from across different religions and races gathered together in the city. They were fed up. They were fed up with frakkin’ ass local politicians, bureaucrats, and bankers hobfoggin’ all together to hire those guys from Way Over There to come way over here to install those robotic spy cameras all over town.
So these men and women from a number of ethnic groups and of varying religious convictions took up arms, as was their right, and blew the FRAK out of all those damn traffic surveillance cameras in Lipwood, George, the once-new state named after the first American president’s first name. Yes, George was a composite of counties that once bordered two states. Could be what used to be the Washington – Idaho border. With a corner of Oregon? Or Colorado-Nebraska with a corner of Kansas? I suppose it doesn’t matter because the once-famous State of George doesn’t exist anymore. In the beginning, however, their clamors for secession were so loud and cantankerous the rest of the states hollered, “Truck ’em away, goddammit! To Hell with ‘em then!”
Oh, it was a wild, righteous joy to pump slugs from a shotgun into those damn spy cameras. Never mind one or two shooters themselves had a couple of tiny little surveillance devices discreetly tucked away on their persons to record such destructive indignation. In the shouts of revolt all justifications arose and no one would remember the lessons of violence throughout time. Something just had to be done…NOW! People were beyond feeling FED up! Aye, We the People felt frakkin’ FED up with the flipass FEDS!!!
Oh, it felt good. Real good. They weren’t terrorists. Who the hell were they terrorizing? Even the cops felt waves of relief. Yes, these good men and women considered themselves patriots and reclaimed their privacy from corporate-dominated government gone amok with schemes to get rich by privatizing domestic spying. F*ck*rs.
Yes, these rowdy citizens considered it their solemn duty to get out yonder and blow shit up. Especially when they found out their own shit was looking back spying on them. So out came bags of nitrogen fertilizer and cans of diesel fuel, yeah man. Freedom loving democratic socialist vanguard redneck libertarian green goo anarchists coffee tea whiskey mixing neo-communist muhfukkahs LOVE to … blow shit up.
Biznik Haiku for
Tuesdays with Deborah D
Snow dusts daffodils
Tuesdays with Deb’rah
Friends, Philosophy, and Tea
One drops his coffee
Winter died last night
amid thunder snow and
sparks flowers froze crystal
Meh brains devoured
amid this Vernal Din by
yonder Flying Spaghetti Monster…but the rest of me’ll show up.
Monday 19 March 2012 as part of a light-hearted exchange between fellow bloggers being seriously silly online as spring snow fell outside. Biznik is a widespread network of entrepreneurs and businesspeople with local ones in the Greater Seattle-Bellevue area. Tuesdays with Deborah is a circle of bloggers, writers, and marketers who gather around to move each other forward and is facilitated by Deborah Drake. See more TWD @ http://www.authenticwritingprovokes.com/inspiredwriting/. Thank you.
If some folks can’t handle the vast variety of marriages expressed around the world, wait till humans start marrying sentient machines.
(Saturday 12 May 2012 via Twitter to Facebook)
Response to Facebook Friend Liz T.: Liz, I’m honored. My comments were inspired by a convergence of 4 thoughts: Romney’s recent address at Liberty University where he collapsed his opinion & wants with a definition of marriage, and I sought to respond by not being one of many autokneejerk reactions, and of studies of marriages taking many forms including but not limited to polyandry, polygamy, polyamory, group marriage, open marriage, gay marriage, intersexed, etc., without extolling nor condemning any one choice. Ethics, not morals.
(13 May at 8:46am via mobile to Facebook)
Yellow jacket punches thru a spider web as a humming bird dips into petite, purple flowers. Green stalks quiver above the grass as I brush my teeth this side of windows.
(Mother’s Day Sunday Morning 13 May)
Sol slips behind the Olympics across the Salish. Sometimes those mountains rise above the water. Tonight they cut open the sky as it bleeds down into the sea.
(Monday night 14 May just after sunset.)
Once upon a time a long, long time ago in some faraway place much like home, an epidemic of broken hearts raged thru a land afflicted with romance and delusion. The realm’s healers were quite perplexed to discover a broken heart does not bleed but turns to stone. And when they chipped away and cracked these broken hearts open out spilled the most sparkling diamonds. From every one.
(Tuesday 15 May 2012)
Overcome with emotion, the first healer scooped up handfuls of diamonds from the cavity of a broken heart turned to stone, the one he cracked open eight minutes ago, to discern any clues to the current epidemic. For a moment, for one, infinite moment they sparkled with the Eye of God. Blinded into madness by such health, he danced with the Joy of Oneness as he knew nothing else no longer mattered.
Jealous and dismayed, his associate broke open another broken heart turned to stone, snatched up 6 diamonds only to feel them dissolve into liquid and penetrate his skin. His glee turned to surprise then fear then horror.
Yesterday morning I sat down with a cup of strong Irish tea to catch up on a ton of email. I didn’t get very far before I discovered Chris Guillebeau was scheduled to speak that night at Town Hall Seattle. I’ve never met the guy, and his writings expressing his unique way of thinking about our world provoke and inspire me. I love his blog The Art of Non-Conformity: Unconventional Strategies for Life, Work and Travel. He has a book out with the same title that also stirs the pot, your pot, with relish. It stirred my pot for sure.
Fueled up with a late afternoon cup of coffee, I hustled downtown and promptly got lost. I make the same stupid mistake every time by parking in the wrong underworld garage then meandering around in the labyrinthine maze atop the Convention Center lid over the freeways. I caught myself ranting on the phone to my wife as I tried to get her to come meet me, but she was too far away to arrive anywhere close in time.
She listened with more patience than me as I caught myself getting angry. Feeling silly, I burst out laughing at what a fool I was. I cooled off quick and chilled out. There were more important things to do than get wiggy over buses and cars, and, boom, Town Hall. Wow, I’ve never happened upon it so quickly. I could hear the Universe poking me and saying, “So, there!”
It was only $5.00 to get in to Chris Guillebeau’s presentation Downstairs at Town Hall. Wow. And between the time I paid $5.00 and scurried back from the bathroom the numbers of people in the room had swelled from about a dozen to well over a hundred folks. As more poured in the staff flung open the partition curtains and arranged more rows of chairs. And still more people arrived.
Chris Guillebeau is a tall, lean, young man who lives with his wife Jolie in Portland, Oregon. Apparently she lets him travel as long as he promises to keep coming back home to her. He’s never worked a real job and has been self-employed most of his life. Chris is a world traveler and adventurer who’s been to, as of last count, 183 nations. He’s a salesman, volunteer activist, writer, entrepreneur, networker, published author, and a blogger with a global following.
I think of Chris Guillebeau as a type of guerrilla Seth Godin as he operates on a much smaller budget than that genius on the Hudson. Chris has demonstrated he’s a man of action and vision, probably in that order, and is both proud and humble.
In person he’s courteous, friendly, easy-going, and piercing. Up on stage he is an acute, attentive listener with a quick mind. Chris bows before his mentors and his followers and acknowledges he wouldn’t be anywhere without both. He demonstrates a gift for speaking with a certain cadence right into the ears and minds of another’s listening. And his stories are … amazing. What people do to move forward when they choose to move is awe inspiring. His unique perspective on the Great Global Recession with his mix of gloomy realism and optimistic opportunism inspires. I could feel the whole room bend forward in … wow, in gladness, in hope. But don’t get your hopes up too high. Chris Guillebeau is much too pragmatic and down-to-earth to be anyone’s messiah.
Chris is on a whirlwind tour across North America to market his new book, The $100 Startup: Reinvent The Way You Make A Living, Do What You Love, And Create A New Future. He presents his two primary themes: “freedom” and “value.” He is all about freedom. He is for each person establishing their freedom – if they choose to do so. It is a choice, and he points out too many people give up before they even get going as they believe being free is just too hard, too much work, too expensive, etc. And he is aware to be truly free and independent is only true within the context of our interdependent networks. Chris is also a big stand for value and redefines value as something a person creates to share with others. It doesn’t do any good to invent or create the most astounding thing only to hide it or use it for extorting extreme prices.
There are other themes, too. Our current economic hard times are truly HARD TIMES. Everywhere he goes Chris encounters many, many, way too many highly qualified, educated, and skilled human beings out of work or underemployed. Either they lost their jobs or their businesses failed. When Chris saw over 300 supereducated people apply for a low-level clerical position for $14 an hour with 0 benefits, he knew the system is broken.
Tears welled up from my eyes – for my self – for the first time in many moons – and I felt them wet upon my face. Ever since my heart got turned to stone 27 years ago, even after that story was dissolved & discarded 3 years ago as all made up in my mind, I find it hard to cry for myself, easy to cry for others. A moving incident from a book, movie, or article – both fiction & nonfiction – can move me to generate a flood of tears. But, oh no, only a drought to dry up my soul. I felt the depth of my own sorrow at the pain I’ve caused those I adore so deeply. Sorrow that turned to grief and eventually via the alchemical transmutation of forgiveness & compassion up into joy.
(First shared on Facebook in Prezz Pressley’s group “MEN who r NOT AFRAID 2 CRY.”)
William Dudley Bass
On Facebook on 27 June 2011,
Here on 8 July 2011
30 March 2012
Aye, I like that dirty ruttin’! where all things Primal are revealed to be Divine, where all things wet & messy are but the rapture of a mango opening into your mouth, where intimacy is the portal for spirit to merge with soul, for flesh with flesh, for star dust with stardust, the many becoming one.
(Inspired posting to Prezz Pressley’s Facebook Group “MEN who r NOT AFRAID 2 CRY“.)
William Dudley Bass
Posted to FB on 26 May 2011,
Here on 8 July 2011
Magnificent Gabriel came down upon the earth, folded back his wings, & clambered up into the cave above Mecca to recite the words of Allah to an illiterate merchant. Muhammad, PBUH, chose to listen in spite of his fear…to listen as if he had elephant ears…cuz he knew to be The Last Prophet of the Axial Age he had to do more than just hear so never mind the wind and rain the heat and cold the searing pain…till finally Gabriel relaxed his grasp and Muhammad, PBUP, as the great angel exhaled he the prophet inhaled, inhaled the sacred exhale of Gabriel, inhaled the Recitation, breathed to life the Qur’an, and then out across the deserts he walked and he rode, laying the foundations of the worldwide Umma, and history was never the same again. Surrender to God as freedom, not enslavement, was the greatest gift of submission. Oft misunderstood as enslavement, and still misunderstood as submitting to something way out there, while within, The Lord of all the Worlds, The ONE beyond all Gender even beyond all Attributes awaits thy ultimate surrender, inshallah. Amen.
(Prose Poem inspired by “Gabriel Secret,” prose poetry by Prezz Pressley posted on 6 July 2011 in the Facebook Group “MEN who r NOT AFRAID 2 CRY,” and inspired by my own studies of Islam and a late-night-just-before-dawn mystical experience of Allah.)
William Dudley Bass
7 July 2011
30 March 2012
As the we ride the Earth thru endless cycles of rotations upon its revolutions around Sol, cycles that may someday stop perhaps even before Sol drags all its planets around the center of the Milky Way, light shifts, darkness expands, love heals, and across a Kosmos jammin’ with spinning masses a voice shouts suddenly from the shadows before a fire blazing in the hearthmaw…jerks us awake as copies of The Rag & Bone Shop of the Heart slips from our grips…and with scolding index finger jammed up the Sacred Ass of God with 3 more dirty fingers pointing back down into Blessed Inferno…the reincarnation of Krishna Allah shakes His many eyes open & peers around the circle at us & shouts again, “Each one of us has a point of view. Each culture and religion has a nest of views like a den of snakes. Above, however, above Us only God has View.” Another shout breaks open the smoke…”Assalamu alaikum…for the 10th Avatar is here in our midst as the mystic Christ revealed not as another Prophet, but as…us! You! Me! Yes, us, all of humanity.” And the Kundalini rises blind up the spine singing “Everything is Sacred even if you hate it.” Cerridwen Shiva Mary Vesta Isis Gaia boils hot love deep inside every nuclei of every cell as She weaves One Giant Eye in Divine Dance to crown Her spiraled, flaming root.
(Inspired by Prezz Pressley’s poem “EYE” of 6/20/2011 warning one to consider the angle of one’s sight amid the Sun and the Night when one is Wrong and one is Right.)
William Dudley Bass
22 June 2011
30 March 2012
Toppled from the throne of a once-vast and mighty empire whose fearsome name no one remembers except broken stones, King Ozymandias bled his tears into the sand, sand that sucked him deeper as a mad old lover whose yoni won’t let ’em go. The more he cried the deeper he sunk & drenched the sand with three million tears, fifteen hundred thousand tears from each eye, the tears of all he killed raped maimed and tortured upwelling thru his body like water pushing up thru a tree to breathe & become one with air. Tears dried & sand turned hard as cement became rock as Ozy all petrified his core solid rock choking his soul so tight his head splintered off his neck into scattered shards of light……with a whistling sigh only the wind heard the lost souls of thousands soared high & free riding upon the wings of they own sorrow grieving nothing save the ecstasy of union with Earth. Eons later as humans walk the Earth in blind oblivion of their own impending tipping point so many so many can’t even see the very Altar they stride upon everywhere they turn, an Altar hungrily awaiting for its sacrifice, waiting for its flood of tears. Yea, O Hungry Ground.
(Inspired response to Prezz Pressley’s poem “The Altar” in June 2011 in the Facebook Group “MEN who r NOT AFRAID 2 CRY.”)
William Dudley Bass
23 June 2011
30 March 2012
Oh a window opens in the sky
And I see myself
Far away among stars
I behold the most precious Earth,
Beating back the darkness of death
Men and women and children running about
Screaming and shouting
In the center of it all
God dances with no arms
William Dudley Bass
Thursday 21 January 2010 – after a week of pondering
When a Man stands tall
And his head is on top,
People forget how holy
Everything else is.
People tend to forget
All that is below.
Everything as an expression of the Divine
Can be viewed as sacred, right?
But how many people know that?
So when that mountain loomed high above
And I felt scared and alone
I stood up,
Stood up tall,
Then fell prostrate upon stones and dirt.
God heard me.
He lifted up my balls,
Put his finger up my ass,
And reminded me of his Holiness
Thus I climbed the highest mountain,
Are you ready for God’s finger?
William Dudley Bass
Thursday 21 January 2010 – after a week of pondering & a little work in the Men’s Group
Without knowing why or understanding any reason
Once a sun came alive.
A star awoke into consciousness,
Self-awareness blessed with intelligence.
Restless, the star sought to break free of its orbit
Around the galaxy
And wander throughout the vastness of space.
After much deliberation,
This star determined it could channel its fiery energies
Into massive jets of blazing plasma and scorching radiation
And compel its body to travel across the Cosmos.
God appeared, amused, compassionate, firm,
“Sun, you are now alive.
Thus you now have a choice.
You can choose to spend your life going around the galaxy
With planets and their moons going around you,
Blessing many with your wondrous light,
And live for a very long time
Allowing living beings to flourish in your light.”
“Or,” God continued,
“You embark upon a journey to discover all that you can
Knowing you will never see everything or go everywhere,
Expending all your energy on moving yourself, a star,
Across space, constantly breaking free of gravity,
Experiencing all the wonders that you can,
And die after a short life.
And your life will be short.
And you will destroy much along your way.
Imagine a solar system teeming with life
All its worlds in harmony with one another,
And a new sun comes wandering in all curious?”
God paused and waited.
The star churned as it deliberated.
“Freedom,” replied the star, finally.
“So be it,” God responded and vanished
Leaving this Sun alone with its freedom.
Many ages went by as this star roamed the Universe
Destroying all in its approach as well as in its wake.
It was more alone than ever
As it attempted to explore star system after star system
Teeming with life and even civilizations.
Some of these even tried to attack the star
But to no avail.
Others prayed for the star to go away,
Again to no avail.
And the wandering star grew lonelier still,
Becoming envious of solar systems
Where celestial harmony reigned,
Where suns were even worshipped,
Where life grew verdant,
And in some rare cases entire solar systems
Reached a level of self-aware interdependence.
And the wandering star felt even more alone.
A moment arrived when the star’s energy waned.
This sun churned as if turning inside out, then
Blossomed into an almost-empty red giant
Of a monster, a planet-devouring colossus.
Feeble attempts to move spun into nothingness.
The star felt itself losing consciousness.
Whirled apart in last burst of struggle
The star blew apart in one final explosion of light
Seen many billions of light years away.
Lifeless the remnants collapsed
Deep into the center of the void,
A black hole sucking in all existence,
Crushing everything into nothingness,
The mystery of obliteration
All that remains.
Light arose from the depths of Darkness
Light falls back into Darkness.
Both are richer than before.
As it is with life and death
If only all could see.
Without knowing why or understanding any reason
William Dudley Bass
Thursday 21 January 2010 after a week of pondering
Edited and reposted
30 March 2012
As refreshing as a cup of cool water
Pulled up deep from the well
In the afternoon of a hot, sleepy day
God lives inside my Mind
Or so my Mind likes to think.
God lives deep inside my Heart
And sails the mind everywhere
As a ship sails the ocean
For Mind is everywhere an ocean unto itself.
With Mind anything is possible
If so believed.
The Body may turn Mind aside
Even as Body stays rooted in
The Earth of a Planet turning around the Sun.
When my ego turns inward
And I lift my eyes to
See the sun rise upon the cusp of dawn
I look inward across the infinite seas of Mind
And feel God pounding in my heart
Pounding as the greatest most fierce
Most kind lover
I have ever known.
William Dudley Bass
Tuesday 22 December 2009
Wednesday 13 January 2010
29 March 2012
“Forget the Enlightenment,” Michael Meade said as he came out swinging. “We’ve now entered into an Age of Endarkenment.”
In early November of 2009 I visited Port Townsend with my friend Michael Scott Brooks, called Scott by those who know him, to hear Michael Meade. Port Townsend is a beautiful place, a progressive town where liberals thrive amid isolation. It’s at the tip of a peninsula on a peninsula and a ferry ride followed by a long drive from Seattle even though as the crow flies it’s fairly close by. The waters of the Salish Sea surround it with views to mountains all around. Olympic National Park squats in massive diversity behind a veil of hills. The workshops were held in the local Unitarian Universalist church, itself a bastion of self-proclaimed “liberal religion.”
Scott’s a friend of mine who facilitates Men’s Work in the mythopoetic vein of Robert Bly and Michael Meade. Although not as well known as they are, he’s an amazing man in his own right, a survivor who transcended deep trauma, and is still in training. Scott’s a master of ritual and an intuitive healer who brooks no nonsense. He cuts through bullshit with rigorous lovingkindness in a way I’ve seen very few people do. As I’ve written before, Scott transcends the boxes many contemporary Men’s groups try to put us into. Instead, he grounds himself in the timeless wisdom of indigenous human beings.
In the eye of a fierce storm I came face to face with God on fire. Well, almost face to face. God burned Holy, and I didn’t even realize it at the time. Michael Meade and his mythopoetic work have weighed on my mind since I first encountered him over two weeks ago here in Washington State. I signed up for his intensive workshop on Saturday, December 5, 2009 over on Vashon Island, “The Holy Thread of Dreams: Mythic Imagination and the Dreaming Mind.”
My friend Michael Scott Brooks turned me on to him earlier this month, and it’s been a ride ever since as I’ve discovered this extraordinary mythopoetic teacher and storyteller literally right next door. Soul and Spirit danced and battled with each other beneath the sweeping glare of Science and Reason.
I awoke from a dream this morning, this dream:
“It felt long ago into the future, and it was past midnight on a cold autumn night. The Salish Sea was dark and stormy with chop. Our boat carried us through the waves across the waters. I sat in the boat with other people, others who felt familiar but whose faces I could not see in the darkness. Our boat was an old-fashioned rowboat, a dory, with an oil lantern fixed high upon the bow.
Silence I hear nothing
I grip the bars of my playpen
Wooden slats to my mother
But to me I’m in jail
No such words arose in me
All I knew the one I loved
Put me inside this prison
From which I could not escape
My mother bustles in the kitchen
Surprise turned to hurt
Hurt turned to anger
Anger turned to rage
I shake the bars and howl
If she said anything to soothe or calm me
I could not hear
I was deaf
And she didn’t even know
I was deaf
And she wouldn’t know for a few more years
And while still in diapers still
I didn’t even know there were any Higher Powers to call upon
I didn’t even know about God yet
For all the good such superstition ever proved to be
I wanna break outa my cage
I wanna tear everything up
Destroy, kill, maim, burn
I’m always in trouble
And not even aware of it until angry hands descend from above
To snatch me up
And put me in Hell
No prayers saved me
No God or Goddess or Great Spirit existed to hear in the first place
Now many years later
I react react react react react
Fight or flight or freeze
Fight or flight or freeze
Fight or flight or freeze
Exhausted I collapse
In my own waste
And as I lift up my head
I see I can walk away
From my own prison
The one I began building decades ago
While deaf in diapers
As an elephant tethered to a string that used to be a rope
Stands still inside a burning barn
And burns to death instead of running free
I too stand burning inside my own barn
And now I walk out breathing
And I walk on breathing
I walk on
The flames vanish
I am free
Free from all the stories in my mind
Free from rage
Free from regression
Free to rediscover The One God Beyond All Others
With freedom comes responsibility
I must remember all those left behind
Still trapped in prisons of the mind
I open wide my angel wings
Black as mountain shadows
Light burns white from my heart
Scorching all our truths with the one truth there is,
William Dudley Bass
13 October 2009
28 March 2012
From my Mythic Awakening period.
NOTE: This Prose Poem Rap from one of my earliest childhood memories was inspired by Mythopoetic Men’s Work with Michael Scott Brooks. It was first published on my earlier blog, Cultivate and Harvest, on Monday 9 November 2009, at http://cultivateandharvest.blogspot.com/2009/11/scream.html. Later it was revised and re-published here this March 2012. Thank you.
Concussions, Sports, Psychology of Sports Injuries, and Brain Trauma
Yes, on one sunny afternoon during high school football practice I smashed into Doug helmet to helmet. We crashed to earth, I blacked out for a moment, and then I awoke and saw the stars of Heaven. Damn, I felt drunk and drunk enough to play again. Our coach pulled us aside.
Doug kept his mouth shut as he walked as normally as he could without wobbling. He was smart and played cool. Me, I played doofus dork and insisted I saw stars. They whirled around my head. With eyes open, too.
“What happened?” asked Coach Fore. Coach Skeeter Fore, as he was called. He was locally famous for being a ferocious winner and a gracious loser. Coach was a caring, generous, funny man and the opposite in body type from a li’l bitty mosquito. He simply didn’t know much about brain injuries back in those days either.
It was the mid to late 1970s in Farmville, Virginia. Late Summer-early Autumn of 1976 to be exact. I was a senior in high school, Class of 1977. I played varsity football for the Prince Edward Academy Wolverines, and I was the smallest person on the team. I played primarily defense, often as a nose guard, and ran on kick-off. I rarely played offense, but I was a rascal of a nose guard. I’d throw my little ass across the legs of those big brutes hulking over me and logroll ‘em good. I’d dart between giant cavemen-like high school students who look like they should’ve graduated three years ago and try to tackle somebody before I got stomped. I loved wearing my orange-and-black Wolverine jersey with the black and white lettering. Even if I got stomped by trolls.
Uncle Watt bit off the head of a big, fat, juicy green tobacco worm, peed on his deaf cousin, and poked mules in the ass with a sharp stick just to see ‘em kick. Oh, yes, he was full of the Devil. Yes, he was! So people said, and thus my efforts to untangle dead ancestors one from the other to find the truth lured me down into a genealogical exorcism.
“Oh my Lord, he done got the Devil in ‘im BAD,” Raffie, an ancient-looking man who said he used to work beside Uncle Watt on the farm once told me back when I was a young lad. “Yeah, Lord, I’m tellin’ ya, it’s BAD!” As late as July 2009, Helen, one of my beloved aunts and a Beatnik artist in her 80s, when reminded of Uncle Watt called him “quite a character.” And so I tumbled down the dumbwaiter chute of a family mystery. Who was this “Devil?”
My Dad told me stories. Raffie told me stories. Uncle Willy told me stories. Even Uncle Aumon who got peed on told me stories. Willy and Aumon were brothers, and as they were also my Dad’s uncles they were really my paternal great-uncles. All of them would shake their heads with bemused dismay and chuckle. They could laugh simply because Uncle Watt was dead. He died young and wasn’t around anymore to torment anyone with all his foolishness. I never got to meet him. Dad said, “Uncle Watt died before you were born, Son, long before you were born.” He didn’t remember what of, tho.
“You don’t remember what he died of?” I asked all eaten up bug-eyed in impatient dismay.
“No, I don’t recall anything,” Dad replied. “Wait. Something about his toe. His big toe, maybe? Hell, I don’t know. Can’t help ya there. Got work to do now. Don’t you?”
Turns out Uncle Watt died long before my Daddy was born, too, as in a little over two decades before Dad’s birth. The strangeness about Watt Bass includes those who told all those crazy wild tales about him spoke as if they were there running alongside him in the same window of time. Whenever I asked way back then how long ago did those events happen not one person seemed to know. Asking a few questions turned into an unexpected adventure in genealogy as I dove into the rabbit hole of fading memories, cryptic notes on faded paper, and incomplete information online.
He was a fun-loving guy who apparently was constantly pushing people’s buttons, telling jokes, and playing pranks like biting off the head of a giant caterpillar to pee all over Uncle Aumon, who was but a laddie-lad, too. He lived life on the wild side. Chased pretty girls but never married. Or so I was told. Which I found out was wrong, wrong, wrong as he certainly did marry. Unless I stumbled upon the tombstone of the wrong Uncle Watt. Turns out I didn’t as the correct tombstone was also the same shared with his now-deceased wife.
A blonde Barbie doll sticking halfway out through the roof of a car shuddered as the edge of a sliding glass window trapped her against the edge of the sunroof portal. A grinning man kept jamming the edge against the trembling doll as his kids watched in horror. Buckled up below in the back seat, his little girl screamed. For a moment I felt I actually heard the Barbie doll scream. Maybe, in a way, it did.
Moral dilemmas pop up, of course, when you don’t want them to. I mean fast moving ones such as right now something terrible is happening, events are unfolding, life is happening and maybe dying. Moral dilemmas force us to make decisions when we’re caught off guard. As we are always at choice in life, choosing to react blindly or to respond with intention, too often moral dilemmas trigger fight or flight or freeze.
Since this seems to happen to me more than I like, I hate moral dilemmas. And at the same time, oh, what a gift. Yes, these are gifts, each one a lesson in failure to feel into, to study, and to learn from. Part of the practice is for me to let go of remorse and stop beating myself up. In a perceived reality of cause and effect, where our thoughts and emotions lead to action, we are always at choice. Yes, in spite of circumstances, history, ethnicity, gender, religion, abilities, genetics, geography, culture, education, socio-economic class, and the illusion of true free will, you and I are always at choice.
Six nights ago I dreamed about a long-dead friend and have felt obsessed about it ever since. Just finished looking at old pictures of her I found in dusty high school yearbooks. She graduated in June of 1976 a year ahead of me. Her name was Jo Anne.
We didn’t hang out much at all in high school. We became friends many years later after she tracked me down to Richmond, the capital city of Virginia, where I lived and attended grad school in the mid-1980s. She wasn’t my girlfriend. We were never lovers. More like I was her confidante – we were buddies and pen pals there for a while. Before she died.
We were both rural kids bussed from the far corners of Prince Edward County into the town of Farmville, where we attended high school in the south-central part of Virginia. She was a wild beauty who once stood up and shouted out in the one class we ever shared, “If it feels good, do it!” Followed by a big, goofy laugh.
The rest of us fool kids giggled and either nodded our heads in agreement or shook it like “She’s crazy, crazier than us, like rilly crazy.” I did all three. Jo Anne was tall and slender with long, black hair. She carried herself with an air of crazy confidence, reminding me sometimes of that zany Swedish character Pippi Longstocking. Art was among her favorite subjects, and she was known to be quite imaginative with both pen and brush. Back then I was way too shy to do anything but laugh with her and admire her daredevilry.
Ten or twelve years later, after I had already graduated from high school then college, been married and divorced, moved to the city, and was buried into my first intense year of graduate school, Jo Anne looked me up and found me. She got my contact info from my parents back on the farm in Prince Edward. She knocked on my apartment door where I lived down in The Fan, the Bohemian part of Olde Richmond Town. I opened my door, and she came on in and sat down. Just like that. Out of the blue.
I had to hold my breath and pretend nothing was the matter. She had warned me, but it was still a shock. She was all broken up from a terrible automobile accident. Or maybe it was a motorcycle wreck? I just don’t remember now. But she had a severe limp, was kind of hunched over, and had lost an eye and part of her face. Her voice was husky and whispery, as the accident had damaged her neck and throat. She was still beautiful in a ghostly way, and it was clear she was struggling with it all even as she tried to dismiss it all as another “just what happened, life goes on” kind of thing.
The Blended Family Wedding of Kristina Katayama (L) and William Bass (R) with vows to their children (Morgan, Kate, & Talia) and with their Community.
I married Kristina this past 11 July 2009. She was the great love of my life at that time. We have been together over 7 years, ever since late 2001, as I write this essay. Kristina is a vibrant and dynamic woman, bold, sexy, intelligent, professional, and passionate. She lives full out as a Postmodern Age human being. We married ourselves privately in May 2005, became officially engaged back in November 2005, and intended to celebrate with a public, legal wedding in the summer of 2006. We felt too busy with careers and children, however, and lived as if already married. And in 2009 we finally did it. Up to our Wedding Day, she used her father’s family name, “Katayama,” as her own. And after our wedding she insisted on changing her name. Or, to be more accurate, adding my surname to hers.
“What?” I asked incredulously. “That’s old-fashioned culturally-ingrained male domination of females. I don’t own you. I’ve fought against this kind of bigotry my whole life.”
I had more to say, too. “I LIKE the Japanese sound of ‘Katayama.’ Mine is an “Olde English” name. I like the global feel of Bass and Katayama being together as a couple. It supports Euro-Asian-American planetary integration! My name is short and monosyllabic. Yours is long and lovely with four syllables emphasizing the same vowel. And don’t you dare hyphenate! That’s a monstrosity!” Blah blah blah.
Our Blended Family Bike Excursion on the “Iron Horsie Trail,” Washington State, during the Summer of 2006
Biking down into the Center of the Earth, or so it seemed at the time… Katayama-Bass Family Self Portrait, Sunday 20 August 2006.
Woo Hoo!!! A Wild Family Trip with William & Kristina and the Kids! Yeah!
We pulled it off! Our wild and crazy family mountain bike ride across the Washington Cascades! Well, sort of. At times we felt we descended beyond the Gates of Hades on our own nutty journey into the center of Planet Earth. But a fun journey. It was a logistical workout, and blessed with a treasure of memories. Originally Kristina and I planned a 3-day family bike ride with all 3 kids along 40+ miles of the John Wayne Pioneer Trail thru Iron Horse State Park in the Cascade Mountains. We’d planned to carry all of our gear and camp along the way. We were unable to work out the logistics to our satisfaction, however, as we didn’t want to take two cars.
So we turned it into a different sort of trip and just took off on Friday 18 August 2006. By then all the campgrounds were full. We whimsically drove up winding National Forest Service roads and stared over cliffs toward dramatic mountain scenery. In grim, puzzled silence, we rumbled past a weird, old man living out of a rusty, red car who tied plastic bags up in the bushes alongside the road. He turned and stared at us as if he could eat us all up for supper. Imagining great and terrible things then giggling like embarrassed maniacs, we drove on around the rocky corner.
Many a dusty mile later, we found a lovely, open spot among the woods, rocks, and overgrown logging slash. There we wild-camped near the top of Amabilis Mountain. Arid conditions and clear skies greeted us. Big, wide-open skies. The Milky Way seemed to cleave the heavens in half like some incandescent sword. A meteor shower was in progress, too. Beginning every late July and stretching into the middle of August, the Perseid Meteor Shower is a treat out here in the clear, arid skies typical of our Northwest summers. Several spectacular shooting stars and flurries of little ones blazed across dark skies every night. Friday night there we slept.
Then 12 and a half years later we divorced, darn it, but not before we dove thru our Hearts deep into the Center of the Sun.
Kristina Katayama: Businesswoman, World Traveler, Adventurer, Mom, Stepmom, my Fiance, & then my Wife. Professional Photo by Cass Redstone for Kristina in Seattle on 23 April 2008, & adapted on iPhoto by William Bass for this essay on 17 March 2012. Seattle, Washington, Cascadia.
Note:Click on any photo to expand it, and click again to make it even larger. Click the back arrow to return to the essay. All photographs protected by Copyright with All Rights Reserved. Thank you, and enjoy!
A brief photo-essay of memorable times when my oldest daughter Morgan Hannah blossomed from pre-teen into full adolescence as she navigates to womanhood. She was 14 years old and a 9th Grader at Roosevelt High School in Seattle, Washington, when these photos were taken. They were shot by a classmate in black & white for a photography class Morgan and her friend participated in. In just two more days, Morgan turns 18 years old as she enters adulthood as a young woman. I am thrilled and feel deeply blessed. Here is a snapshot in time altered for fun as we explore life from sometimes unusual angles.
Morgan Hannah Hughes Bass, age 14, Seattle, WA, Autumn of 2008. Photo by Classmate.
Youngest first! These school portraits provide snapshots in time when my three daughters dove into life. The originals were destroyed when our home burned down in 2010, so these are digitalized copies from those halcyon days before the fire.
All photos are from the Seattle Public Schools in the northern half of Seattle, Washington. Enjoy.
My Momma always used t’say I was rough on things. And after awhile, my Daddy started saying the same thing. They called me by my middle name, and said, “Dudley, you’re rough on things!” Well, I was a very energetic little boy. Things had a tendency to break around me.
I grew up on a dairy farm in Prince Edward County in South-Central Virginia during the 1960s. I lived in a house built in the middle of what used to be a big pigpen. “Hogs,” they called ’em back then. When pigs got big they called ’em hogs. “Hawgs.” As in “Hawgs!” You could even see the straight line of trees where the old woven wire fence used to run to keep the hogs in the pen. Otherwise it was all green grass, daffodils, shade trees, pansies, irises, and vegetable gardens.
It grossed me out a few years later, though, when I got my hands on a couple of Daddy’s college textbooks on parasitic worms and other nauseating diseases associated with domestic livestock. The books showed the most graphic and horrible pictures, and I found them quite fascinating – until I realized I lived inside of an old pigpen.
My house back then was small. I could run from one end to the other, and often did. The front door opened from a small, cozy front porch into the living room on the almost-east side of the house. That flowed through a big wide walk-through into a dining room, which opened into the kitchen, which opened onto an enclosed back porch where the washing machine was. All the bedrooms, closets, bathroom, and the den were on the sorta-west side of the house. I could run all the way from the front door to the back door and back again. The full length of the house. As hard as I could. Fast!
Drove my Momma crazy. “Dudley,” she would yell, “Stop slamming the front door! Either go out and play or stay inside and be quiet.”
“Yes Ma’am!” I shouted and deciding to stay inside, charged through the house as fast as I could, my little feet drumming across the floors. That drove my Momma crazy, too.
“Dudley!” she scolded again. “Stop running in the house! Go outside and run.”
Kate the Great was in good spirits this one, crazy Seattle morning in early Autumn of 2007. And after being so TESTY last night, too. Play play play every day day day. Even raided Gwen’s kitchen, the private abode of her mom who lived downstairs. Raided the kitchen like a hyena turned all a loose up inside cupboards, refrigerators, garbage cans, and every darn thang. Tho she did gwarbbled up the eggs I scaramboolled up with sharp Irish cheddar. Yea, play play play all day day day. After just one visit back to Virginia, Kathryn’s grandparents on both sides of her family nicknamed her “Hurricane Kate.”
She’s such a BELOVED third grader, beloved because everyone who doesn’t live with her just ADORES her, and only 8 years old, too. Soon to be 9 years old, she’ll let you know. Kate is my wild, wild, crazy ass daughter. And I love her madly cuz she is so daggone crazy and she is clear her name is KATE and she is the only real KATIE KATE KATE this side of the Moon but she ain’t no loon!
And I’m in good spirits myself this morning, having drunk too much coffee, and being a beehive talkin’ country boy from the South who done relocated to the Northwest and tucked away my pitchfork, so started talkin’ like one to remind my lovely Emerald City lasses of their dangerous heritage. All of which drives my kids crazy cuz they HATE it and laugh and shout at me to “Stop talking like that, Dad. DAD!!!”
The events of my father’s death followed by my mother’s and all that arose afterwards were pivotal events in my life. They are, I would imagine, for the majority of human beings around the world. My writings on these topics took place over time and have evolved into the narrative contained within the following series of essays, ruminations, photographs, and poems.
Death is an everyday aspect of life, and yet in our culture perhaps the least visited, the least discussed, the most disturbing, the most feared, and the most liberating. Bereft of a cultural web of community grief and loss, we nowadays hurry the dying out of view and the dead into the ground or into an urn or whatever just so we can get back to what we really have reduced our lives to: being too busy. In the process of freeing ourselves up to be so busy we have unwittingly robbed ourselves of something intimate, indeed of something which can be a rich affirmation of life and purpose.
Loosely I lump the following as my “Death of my Parents” canon, and it’s much more than the deaths of Mom and Dad. Each is fully self-contained, although they do flow one to the other. Some are long, while others are short. Most have photographs, some don’t, and a few have lots and lots of pictures. I list them below in the chronology of which I published them on my website, William Dudley Bass on Earth at the Brink, although as with blogs they show up in reverse order with the last one posted at the top.
I invite you to dive on in and join me on a certain timed yet timeless odyssey.
Kate, my 4 year old, crawled around the corner into the room pushing a big, grey, toy horse with a shaggy, black mane. A naked, plastic woman was bent backwards across the saddle of the horse with her large, plastic breasts pointing up and out into the parlor. Unlike her limbs, her breasts were immovable. I was amused by the way Kate had the doll face-up over the horse instead of draped face-down as “in reality.”
Morgan, my 9 year old, stares.
“Oh, my God,” she blurts out. “A naked Barbie!”
Hmmnn, not only is my third grader a self-professed Atheist, who like many Atheists continue to use the Lord’s name, but she has become increasingly self-conscious about her pre-budding figure.
“Kate, are you ready to go to the bus stop with me and Morgan?” I asked.
“You are NOT taking a naked Barbie to the bus stop!” Morgan declared.
Free of clay
I see the Moon
I am already
On the mirror side of Life
Surrender to the flow of all that is
Time for a drink
With my friend Kurt
Who once enlightened
Said, “May you be fully disillusioned.”
OK, I said
Make mine whiskey.
William Dudley Bass
NOTE:Also inspired by my experiences in Robert Masters’ Psycho-Spiritual Training Practicum and inquiries with my buddy Kurt Treftz, this was first published on my earliest website, Cultivate and Harvest, on Wednesday 19 November 2008, at http://cultivateandharvest.blogspot.com/2008/11/when-kurt-says-may-you-be-fully.html, then revised and republished here this 4 March 2012 with my permission as the Author. Thank you.
Five seconds before my conception
Death rides me
With a wild laugh.
I awake raw and open
From cannibal dreams.
I feel my heart beat…
…still inside my chest.
My heart opens behind closed ribs
A searing bright chakra sun
Opens as a giant hand
And grabs me from the inside out.
Shakes me apart,
My beating blood hot heart.
I want more
I want me, all of me.
I am I
Ego dies in life
Self dissolves with Death
Not even deatharoni and cheese.
William Dudley Bass
2007 in British Columbia
NOTE: I composed and shared this wicked little poem in my Psycho-Spiritual Training Practicum on in 2007 up in Surry/White Rock, BC. It was first published on my earliest website, the one created for homework for that Practicum, my blog Cultivate and Harvest, on Wednesday, November 2008, at http://cultivateandharvest.blogspot.com/2008/11/deatharoni-cheese.html. Eventually I chose to revise and republish it here on my new website this January of 2012. Thank you.
Justice springs unbalanced
From swinging scales
Our Totem Animals
Emerge from Id
As jackals and hyenas
Twelve Titans all,
We devour ourselves
In cannibalistic incest.
Amok beyond Tartarus,
Sired by excess of heart
Our skeletal hands
Rise with Chthonic howls
To clasp your lips
And with Cultish frenzy
Pull YOU back
William Dudley Bass
2007, 2008, 2012
NOTE: This was originally handwritten for the Counseling Practicum as we wrestled with the moral dilemma of how to respond to someone who refused to participate in violation of his or her commitment to participate. It was first published on my earlier website created as homework for that same Practicum, my blog Cultivate and Harvest, on Wednesday, November 19, 2008, at http://cultivateandharvest.blogspot.com/2008/11/titanomachius.html. Eventually I revised and reposted it here on my new website/blog this January 2012 as the Author. Thank you.
Hey Hey, Crazy Gweeyin,
In the news today,
I heard Big Government say,
All the airlines have to play
The way we say
And all passenger information
On all international flights
Has to be reported directly
To Homeland Security…
Security Security Security
So I ran a comb thru the air
And disappeared into thin hair
Locked in a black jail
By the CIA
And the NSA
With only a pail
And a bed of hay
Where you can’t call Triple A.
We’re worse off
Than in George Orwell’s 1984
Where peace is war
And Security is now our Haven
Where for “Safety Reasons”
We’ve become craven
Slaves driven Insane
By Psychotic Corporations
Living in Freedom
By Purchased Declarations
Spawned in greed
Among bloody, dark Corruptions.
Now what the … FUCK!!!!!!!!!
George W. Bush,
American President by a Bloodless Coup,
Says our “Constitution is just a goddamn piece of paper.”
“The most successful dictatorship is one that presents itself as a democracy and enrolls the majority of the public into that belief.” Yep.
And on top of that I-5 & I-90 from central Seattle to SeaTac to Bellevue will be shut down to 1 lane of traffic each way for 19 days of mass construction beginning tonight…yes, beginning tonight.
I shave my head in shame
And remove my Name.
I stand in line
To pull myself
Out of Time.
BOOM!!! FUCKA FUCKA FUCKA BOOM FUCK!
“WTF?” ain’t no Government Agency.
It’s the Question all the Talking Heads in the Mainstream Mass Media Need to start asking LIVE on prime time yea peel the duct tape off your mouths cuz its time its time and its long over due this time to say it shout it whisper it slam it down all along the grapevine lines and all across the dinner table to make the microwave oven jump and make folks turn their round WALL-E faces away from screentime mating:
In the news today, THIS really happened, folks!
Ain’t no lie
Ain’t no air left for hair
Ain’t no comb big enough to shove down
Into the deep, deep Big Government Pies
And rake out Big Bankster
Corporate Nits and Lice and Happy Lies
As THEY plug your brains into the nice, warm Matrix
As Orange as Clockwork on Mars
And Green as Soy on Lent,
Only two questions left to ask
All you happy little Bell Jars:
Who’s driving those UFOs?
William Dudley Bass
10 August 2007
Edited and reposted February-March 2012.
A poem found amid ruins of faces which once knew love
Over hot coffee
I study faces
From almost a hundred years ago
Torn apart in the First World War
Which was neither the first nor the last
But one of the most horrific.
Mud without romance
Massive artillery bombardments
Machine guns pouring lines of fire
Rotten corpses unburied by shells
Men lived in trenches
You stand up
Bullets punch your skull
Shell fragments rip your face
Mud sweat blood & rat feces
Unseen things breeding
Everywhere on everything
Inside filthy, uniformed
Ahhh…my gut screams!
Red mud pours out my ass
And cements me to Earth.
Oh, my Mother would’ve loved it,
Not the killing or the pain or the horror,
But the truth of horror
Right here on my kitchen table
As I drink hot, black coffee
And turned the page.
Extreme high number of injuries above the chest in the trenches marked the
Great War of 1914-1918.
Art blossomed by men deranged
Paint and write madness to liberate them selves from horror.
Masks by a corps of artists covered mangled faces
Rescued from battlefield carnage.
My mind makes a collage of masks and faceless faces
From this Smithsonian magazine article.
My Mother would have loved it,
So curious was she for all things true and weird.
Over an image of my own face
Black coffee splashes
The color of war.
Poetic Ruminations from sitting in my dead Daddy’s favorite chair:
One morning in March
I go and find my father’s
Old green recliner and sit in it.
My dog sits at my feet
As my beloved sleeps
down the hall in the bed.
The old chair is cozy and warm.
No wonder my dad used to sleep in it.
I sit and stare out the window
At spring snow melting away,
At ponderosa pines, white birches,
Cottonwoods and old stumps.
Blue emptiness fills mountain skies
Out here in the Washington Cascades.
It would be an alien landscape to my father,
Who died three years and over three months ago.
My brother was spooked by the chair;
Thought it haunted, kind of, and asked me to take it.
Said it smelled too much of Dad.
That chair traveled over three thousand miles
From an old farmhouse in Virginia
To a new western lodge in Washington,
From the Sandy River to the Wenatchee.
Once or twice I thought I sensed my dad back in his chair,
Just left-over energy, an echo of a cherished memory.
Mom’s nurses swore they saw his ghost at least twice;
I wanted to see his ghost, too,
But never did.
My father moved on after Mom joined him beyond Death.
As I sit in my Dad’s old chair
With a dog insisting on being petted,
Pushing its head and lifted paw into my lap,
I surrender to God.
My ego battles with the Divine
Not owning its divinity.
I pray, meditate, contemplate the future.
And as I gaze out the window
I miss my Dad.
William Dudley Bass
Morgan jounced along with me as I drove across the Continent from Virginia to Washington State in a moving truck crammed like an old-fashioned peddler’s wagon. My parents had died fairly recently, Daddy in late Autumn of 2004 and Momma about two years later in 2006. As a result of their passing, I inherited many of their possessions. The last time I’d driven a moving truck packed with so much heavy furniture and jangly stuff cross-country was back in 1993. This road trip also signaled a completion of a cycle of death-journeys back and forth from Seattle to rural Virginia around the deaths of both parents.
Catching Daddy droolin’ one night sleeping in the Truck, April 2007. Foto by Morgan Bass.
Morgan and I arrived with all belongings in the wee hours of Saturday morning, about 2:30 AM, on 14 April 2007. It was quite a trip. And it was a special trip, a long overdue opportunity for some father – daughter bonding. Morgan is my oldest daughter of three and my only biological offspring. She had turned 13 a month earlier. I love her dearly, and it was painful to stand aside and watch her grow up and apart. I didn’t expect it to happen so soon, but at 12 she started taking off.
As my eldest daughter, she was but a sprout compared to her grandparents who recently died in their mid-70s. Dad passed first, dying on the 1st of December 2004, the third anniversary of my partnership with Kristina. After a few false starts, Mom finally followed on my brother’s birthday, 15 November 2006. My sister Beth had successfully navigated between doctors, lawyers, accountants, funeral home directors, tax preparers, insurance agents, courts, gravediggers, bankers, and stressed out relatives. Beth performed difficult job with perseverance and excellence, all while working full-time, raising a daughter, and settling in from Arizona back into Virginia.
The closure of this entire mess o’ dying proved to be an adventure yet.
Through the Windows over the Mountains
Saturday 7 April – First, flying from Seattle, WA to Richmond, VA via Chicago was uneventful and smooth, albeit we landed at 11:30 PM that night. Ray Hinde, my sister’s second husband, was generous to pick us up at the airport as our rental car plan fell through. He had just driven to the airport the night before to pick up his son and daughter by his first wife. They had buzzed in from Arizona.
Morgan goofin’ up de plane.
On the plane I read David McCullough’s history book 1776 and was struck by the irony of me, a Virginian living in Washington, reading about George Washington, himself a native of Virginia and in whose honor my adopted state was named after. And Morgan is a native of Washington and is visiting Virginia. The events of that gripping narrative, however, describe a situation that changed history. If the American Revolution had failed there would be no “Virginians” living in “Washington.”
Even so, we paid my Aunt Helen a midnight visit down in the Fan, the Bohemian area of Richmond. Helen, my daddy’s Big Sister, had a box of gold-rimmed china from her mother to give Morgan, who is Mary Yeatts Bass’s great-granddaughter. Helen, a morning lark, was kind enough to stay up late for us to visit. It was stunning to walk into her home in the Fan. On every wall was beautiful and vibrant art. On the table was another project in process.
Helen excitedly led us into her basement art studio to show us a number of fun and expressive pieces she was crafting from a mélange of seashells, driftwood, stones, beads, and paints. And also where she tripped over a cord and smashed to the floor. Morgan was thrilled to see Helen again and it was her first visit to Helen’s organic and living in-home museum and studio. I wished we could all visit more often; tough to do when we lived 3000 miles away. Helen, thank you for being such a gracious host beyond the Witching Hour. And Morgan feels awe to receive her great-grandmother’s china.
Ray drove us on back to the old Bass farm outside Rice. He and Beth have a new home on a hill overlooking the lake formed by the Sandy River Reservoir. He took us to my deceased parents’ empty house. Morgan and I spent the remainder of the night there, wondering if we would see ghosts. I slept very poorly.
As Momma lay dying of cancer, my father’s ghost was sighted at least twice. The home care ladies and nurses who saw him, however, begged me not to have that advertised back then as they didn’t want to be regarded as nuts or superstitious. Or maybe even lose their jobs. Who the hell would want to hire crazy people who see ghosts to take care of the dying?
Once a woman who worked in my parents’ home as a home care nurse was bent over cleaning the floor where my mother had just thrown up on the carpet. She glanced up and there he was. Bill Bass himself. His ghost, anyway. He stood there in the corner with his hands clasped in front of his privates like he used to do back in real life, looking down at her scrubbing the rug. It was clear as daylight that ghost was Bill Bass, and you could see right through him, too. The moment he realized she saw him, my father’s ghost moved quickly and disappeared in a flash of nothingness. Spooked the shit out of the lady on the floor. She wanted to go home!
A second time he was sighted by a different person standing next or behind my mother in their master bedroom where my Mom laid in a hospital bed. The woman who saw Daddy’s ghost declared it felt he was waiting for Momma to die and being a little bit impatient about it, too. She said it had a distinct feeling to it. It felt as if he was thinking “Dot, what’s taking you so long?” At my mom’s funeral the minister alluded to this incident somewhat obliquely. But my Dad is a warrior, apparently in death as well as in life, and while so impatient when things got serious proved to be the most patient one of all. Again, the moment that ol’ ghost realized he had dropped his invisibility cloak or whatever it was, he disappeared from biological view in a heartbeat. Snap! Gone, just like that.
My mother never commented on ever seeing a ghost. “Oh, I wouldn’t want to,” she once said with a shudder. “It would scare me to death.”
The morning after we buried my Mother
Dawn opened up the day with mist and gray
I stood on the porch of my sister’s new house
Cold upon the lake
Remembering the chill of touching
Momma’s lifeless hands and face
As a wall of fog gray as corpses
Shields trees and water from view
Birdcalls sparkle in the void
Bordered by clay red and torn
Edged with grass brown and wet
Fog glued together heaven and earth,
Sky and lake, and turned bone-white
And as the sun rose above skeletal trees
The fog began to move and churn
Across waters stilled before the sun’s return
Unstaked wild life’s hunger for warm bright light
November brings paleness to shortened days
And time ebbs and flows
The moment recedes into the past
Memories become as fog
And all things die
As it’s just another day
As it’s just another day
And it’s just another day
Before darkness returns to take us Home.
A Prose Poem
William Dudley Bass
19 November 2006
16 January 2007
Revised 29 February 2012
Rice, Virginia &
Two Comments from the Original Posting from the older website:
True North said…Ahhh William, thank you…I have just come home from working downtown today, hung up my suit, brewed a coffee and opened your blog…my heart shrugs off the dense energy of cement and iron, unmanacles and expands into the depth and vision of your words…ahh, now I will read on…Cindy
A Flower For All Seasons said…So wonderful to hear your poet’s voice William. To touch the timeless through your eyes and breath. And a lovely feeling of anticipation as I choose to read only one entry on any given day, knowing that each time I visit here your voice will awaken something in me that will take me who knows where… Wendy
NOTE: This was originally published in my oldest blog, Cultivate and Harvest, on Tuesday 16 January 2007, at http://cultivateandharvest.blogspot.com/2007/01/morning-after-we-buried-mom.html, and reprinted here this January 2012 with my permission as the Author. I also copied comments from two of my colleagues from the Robert Augustus Masters’ Psycho-Spiritual Counseling Practicum we were in at the time. Thank you.
It was indeed a dark and stormy night when the phone buzzed with news from over 3,000 miles away. It was Wednesday the 15th of November 2006, my brother’s birthday. That wasn’t what the news was about, though. Waves of cold chills dashed across my body. I steeled myself to see my Mother’s ghost.
There wasn’t, however, anything remotely ghostly amid the crashing storm. And yet I was certain, grimly certain…there was something, faint and fluttery like a quick-darting butterfly, that was there, right there, and gone, nothing more, as if there never was any such beating of ghostly wings. In the darkness of pounding rain and gusty gales I wasn’t quite prepared to be scared out of my wits. After all, I wasn’t even properly dressed to greet Momma’s Ghost unless you considered a 47-year old birthday suit appropriate for such a passage.
Mom had been battling cancer since 2003. “Battling cancer” doesn’t even begin to describe the war itself. It is far more than the appearance of cancer cells and invasive tumors that seek to hijack and consume the body. The immune system degrades. Diet and nutrition suffers. Repeat secondary infections by bacteria, fungi, and viruses do tremendous damage and like squads of vicious hit men end up doing the killing. There’s the emotional, neurological, and psychological toll. There’s an enormous social toll and the rippling impact on family, friends, neighbors, and businesses, essentially all of one’s relations.
Cancer itself is an umbrella term for a messy web of mysterious diseases with multiple causes that mutate into one monster after another. And though a lot of folks are not always comfortable with the curious topic of money, cancer extorts a staggering financial cost. Is it any wonder we apply military terms to “dis-ease?” And perhaps, as humanity comes through millennia of slaughter to finally confront the useless futility of war, it is time we too consider embracing cancer and its runaway cells with something other than mortal combat. But war is the approach my feisty old mother chose.
Little Dottie Wottie Totsie, age 2 or 3, Virginia, 1933.
Dot Ussery, age 16 or 17, Blacksburg, Virginia, 1948.
The Marriage of Dot & Bill, Blacksburg, VA. 22 August 1953.
Golfing away the Summer of 1958…L2R: Ussery cousin & 3 Ussery sisters Dot, Marianna, & Nancy, Blacksburg, Virginia.
Proud Momma Dot & her children. L2R: William Dudley (me), Joe David, & Beth Bass, Rice, Virginia. 1970. Foto by my Dad (William M. Bass). I have a vague memory of not being exactly thrilled as I was told to do something and didn’t hear it or understand or didn’t want to in reaction. Joe’s mind is churning with observations, and my sister’s happy smile looks amazingly similar to that of my oldest daughter at times. Momma had her hands, full, too. So did Daddy.
Mom at 53 in Happier Days, Riverview Farm, Rice, VA. She’s leaning over the bed of our old red Ford pickup truck with the unoccupied original Bass Family Farmhouse still standing behind her. October 1984. Foto by William D. Bass.
Blurry with Drink! Dot at the Pub, Bristol, England, UK. Summer of 1997.
Near the End. Mom with Daughter Beth Bass Hinde and Granddaughter Allison. Late Summer 2006.
During My Mother’s Dying
Early July 2006. My Mother lays ill in the last cycle of her life after battling metastatic ovarian cancer for three years. Her name is Dorothy Elizabeth Ussery Bass. Most folks call her “Dot.” Although my home has been Seattle, Washington for quite some time, I am again in Virginia, the land where she gave birth to me, and feel compelled to write down the following impressions and chronicles:
Last night I slept ten and a half hours, awaking from a heavy dream combining aspects of Mt. Rainier, the Appalachian Trail, and my friends David and Tina from Richmond. The night before I slept only 3-4 hours. I got out of bed early and went for a walk, rambling around the farm and across the land. Did push-ups on the concrete apron of the old cow lane, my hands pushed down where cow shit used to pile up in boot-sucking quantities. Now the concrete runway’s been washed clean by the rains and bleached by the sun.
The most beautiful songs burst forth from songbirds perched up in treetops and on the barn roof cupolas. We don’t have songbirds much out West, they tend to thrive East of the Great Plains – they need deciduous forests. Astounding arrays of bird songs fill the morning air. The Virginia country air feels so cool in the morning, so cool but only because warm air is cooler than hot air. The temperature later shot up to a sweltering, humid 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Damn. People slow down. Dayum. Day-yumm. You walk with deliberation and a sense of conservation. People say it is unusual for such temperatures so soon. That’s August weather. Global Warning (sic, yes). Amid the dying of a matriarch I hear the songbird singing trail off into the blazing, hot Void.
Mom between Dyings; Her Last Christmas, Virginia 2005.
A Letter to the Living…
Recently read Robert Masters’ book Darkness Shining Wild. One of his themes is bringing Death out of the closet. Into our everyday lives. Being present to Death. As some of you “older veterans” may recall I was with my Dad during his dying from cancer. That was a cathartic event that catapulted me into the workshop I jokingly refer to as “Nightmare in the City.”
Now my Mom is going down. After 3 years of battling cancer, almost dying the same year my Dad died, after going into remission and getting better, the tumors have returned and spread with a vengeance. She’s terminal, tho aren’t we all. Supposedly she has less than 5-6 months left. Who knows?
She is in so much pain now. The fury of the pain blinds her at times and robs her of her dignity. We think we’re going to die a certain way, looking good as we go, but often we don’t. My dad’s death taught me we leave this world as messy as we enter it. Covered in blood and shit. I will be at the Men’s Group this Monday, and then fly out to Virginia for a while, and then again this fall.
My Mother’s looming death feels like some kind of initiatory bookend. At times this woman was a horror and yet she gave me everything. Life. Love. I don’t quite know what to do except to go into it. And unlike some terminally ill folks she does not want to die. She wants to hang on to every breath she takes.
From an Email to Passion Warriors WarriorSage Seattle Men’s Group, Wednesday 21 June 2006.
P.S. I am no longer affiliated with this men’s group or with WarriorSage. Both served their purpose during a crucial time in my life. I have since moved on.
William Dudley Bass
21 June 2006
13 November 2008
Revised 26 February 2012
William M. “Bill” Bass, U.S. Navy, 1949-1952; Norfolk, VA. (Photo damaged in 2010 house fire.)
Dot & Bill, Playful Lovers, Blacksburg, Virginia. Summer of 1953.
Dashing thru the Rice: Dot & Bill Bass leaving their Wedding for their Honeymoon, Saturday, August 22, 1953. Blacksburg, Virginia.
My Dad & I home on Riverview Dairy Farm, Rice, Virginia, March 1960. He’s 30 years young, & I’m 11 months old. We had 44 more years together.
Bill & Dot Bass at home in Rice, VA. Early 1980s.
Brothers Dudley & Joe Bass, Rice, VA. Joe’s 18th Birthday Party, 15 November 1982. Photo damaged in March 2010 House Fire in Edmonds, WA.
Brothers Joe & William Bass, Rice, VA. Christmas 2005, about a year after Dad’s death, and our last together with Mom.
Intro from July 2006: As a Prelude of sorts I first include sections from an email I wrote a few days after my father died early in the morning on Wednesday on the 1st of December 2004. At the time my life had fallen apart about a year earlier and I was bankrupt, divorced, unemployed, and half-mad. I was struggling in my relationship with Kristina and desperately trying to get my feet back on the ground. It was one of the worse times in my life, and a cauldron for eventual success. I was also deep in the Warrior Sage work and had not yet been disenchanted with the philosophies and practices of David Deida and his followers on the West Coast. July 2006.
Death with Father, November – December 2004
I am a rich man. I am blessed with an abundance of pain and growth and waking up and amazing things happening, a wealth of life experiences. It’s been rough. I sail my ship thru one storm after another, and it’s been rough. My stomach heaves as each swell rolls underfoot and each rogue wave washes the decks clean for each new beginning every moment.
Dad died early Wednesday morning in the ER. It was bitter cold and the third anniversary of my partnership with my fiancé Kristina Katayama. My brother Joe and I were up all fucking night. Death was messy and brutal. As Gary, the founder of the men’s group I was in then told me afterwards, “We come into the world messy, and we leave messy.” At least it was quick. So quick I wasn’t even aware he was dead at first, just sleeping.
About three days ago I got my father alone and said, “Dad, listen up. I want you to know I love you.”
“I love you, too,” he said.
“I flew here because this might be the last time we see each other alive.”
She was my Lover; Only last week we rode each other hard like wolves. Now we hide then run, And stumble pass corpses roasted Still holding guns. She pushed apart thorns As I battle briars; We bend between old, rusty, barbed wire Into a forest clearing edged with boxwoods Overgrown, shabby, and still magnificent.
To our surprise tombstones totter among moss and ivy With names and dates worn down from the 1850s: “Shelley Marie Gilead, Beloved of Samuel Ross Gilead, b. April 13, 1835, d. February 15, 1857 of Childbirth Fever.” Carved across a grayish-green short stone was levered A broken name lost to time and the dates, “February 14 – 18, 1857.”
Suns flash in the nearby distance, Heat and flames pulse over us and roll the dead Into the waters of a beaver pond swamp Edged by drowned forest, lifeless birds, and waters rising With dead, blistered fish. Inside me I question Divine Love, Divine Mercy, Divine Compassion… Where on Earth are they? Or are we already in Hell?
Genesis Extinguished beneath Saturn’s Return
“Saturno devorando a su hijo/Saturn devours His Son,” Francisco de Goya (1819-1823)
“Saturno devorando a su hijo/Saturn devours His Son”
Apocalypse in February on the Edge of Swamps
Genesis plays out over and over again As Earth reforms every few millennia or so. From PreAncient Antarctica to Atlantis to Noah and Gilgamesh, From Gobekli Tepe to Catal Hoyuk to Harrapa and Uruk… Long Time marches forward, Clocked against the sky and Measured in Long Counts by the Mayans Beneath the long gaze of the Annunaki, We destroy ourselves in the childbirth of civilizations Long before any Prehistoric Gods return to eat us.
But not fast enough to learn We are the Ones Who must first master the Power of loving and forgiving Ourselves And share compassion and wise stewardship of Home. We stagger to water’s edge where trees crumble and rot As boils rise from our flesh amid a rain of blood. The Sun burns away Sol And Darkness reigns beyond Night. Thirsty, we stoop to drink.
Sun burns away Sol
Saturn returns with famished Hunger Amid the Chaos of Titans and Annunaki Between Terra and Caelus. We lift up our arms And before they fall off We shout a final cry toward Wormwood skies, “MOMMA!”
Momma Pregnant at the End of the World becomes The Ark.
A Photo-Poem by William Dudley Bass February 1982? 1983? 1984? 6 January 2007 20 February 2012 Seattle, Washington
NOTE: The image of the painting is from one of The Black Paintings by the Old Master Francisco de Goya y Luceintes of Spain between 1819 -1823. It is now Public Domain. All of the other pictures are photographs by me and as such remain Copyrighted by me as the Author. The first three are versions from a dayhike into the beaver pond swamps of Sandy River, Virginia in the early 1980s. The latter two are from around Seattle, Washington in early 2012.
Lightning Storms are common in the Mountains. Foto of multiple plasma strikes in the Rockies from a free wallpaper/stock photo set.
Lightning struck the mountain as the heavens cracked with thunder. Snow and ice burst loose like boiling water, and I was swept down the couloir, a steep gulley plunging down the flank of the mountain. Runaway snow felt like galloping wet sand and hissed like snakes. It was a hell of a way to spend a summer vacation.
It was mid-July 1986, and I was in the Wyoming Wind River Range toward the end of a 30-day Wind River Mountaineering Course with NOLS, the world-famous National Outdoor Leadership School. Headquartered on the edge of the range in the cowboy town of Lander, Wyoming, NOLS was the premier outdoor adventure school of my time. Once I was on purpose to become a NOLS Instructor. At least I was until love, romance, and a broken down car got in the way. Nevertheless this 30-day NOLS mountaineering course proved to be one of the most pivotal points in my life.
Back then I planned a career in outdoor adventure and sought concentrated training in hard skills such as alpine rock climbing and glacier travel and in soft skills such as teamwork and leadership under pressure. Along with those skills NOLS also taught natural history, science in the field, environmental responsibility, wilderness navigation, and backcountry first aid, all knowledge I desired. I had one semester left in grad school, too, back east in Richmond, Virginia. And, to be sure, what I most wanted as an ol’ farmboy from Virginia was an immersion adventure in the Wild American West. And I got it.
Blended Family Wedding: The Marriage of William & Kristina, Seattle, WA, Saturday 11 July 2009. Photo by Carol Ernst. Soon to be “derailed.”
My Camera Post-Fire (the memory card with ~ 800 pics survived) at the Burn House. Photo by William Bass.
Searching for Evidence in Kate’s Room (below the Kitchen) at the Edmonds Burn House. Photo by John Westfall, March 2010.
Morgan’s Room…& Insurance Investigator outside. Photo by John Westfall, March 2010.
Sweet 16: Morgan’s Harry Potter Birthday Party night before the Fire. Morgan is far left & front. Kristina’s family Butsudan Shrine in the background. Edmonds, WA, Friday 19 March 2010.
Morgan’s Birthday Party w/ Peter Lik’s “Tranquility” on wall behind the kids, Edmonds, WA, Friday 19 March 2010.
The Last Chess Game, Morgan’s 16th Birthday Party, Edmonds, WA.
Fire changes things. Destroys. Creates. Transforms.
Think of metamorphic rocks, rocks such as gneiss, slate, quartzite, and marble. Think of transmutation of elements. Transmutation as illustrated by the old alchemical striving to turn lead, the base metal of Satan the Devil, into gold, the metal of Gods and kings, or modern nuclear reactions, explosions, and radioactive decay. One forgets among the unleashing of atomic demons the alchemists were more esoteric than literal as they sought to transform their very souls.
Sometimes those who spend lifetimes in search of such divine gifts never obtain their goals.
Sometimes those who don’t seek these Gifts of Fire end up in flames anyway.
Sometimes life spins out of control.
It feels that way at times. Certainly within our minds. Even if Life goes on until Dead.
Jeff Shushan, a brilliant and insightful psychotherapist Kristina and I worked with off and on through the latter part of 2010 into 2011, used the term “derailed.” An unexpected and traumatic event occurs. It is a life-changing event. Circumstances feel overwhelming and throw people off course. Yes, you can be alert, awake, aware, present, mindful, and choose to respond rather than react. Still, to full heal one must take time to grieve, to reassess, to determine what steps to take next and in what direction, with whom, and how.
My house burned down on the morning of Saturday, March 20, 2010. We lost almost everything, “we” being a post-double divorce blended family with my wife Kristina and our three daughters from prior marriages. Fortunately no one was burned or injured in anyway. Thankfully no one was killed in what the fire fighters called “a killer fire.”
Keeping the Fire Down. Edmonds, Washington. Saturday 20 March 2010. Photo by William Bass.
Thru the Front Door to the Sea. Photo by William Bass.
Entering … Nothing. Photo by William Bass.
Doorway to … ? Photo by William Bass.
Kitchen floor collapsed into double bunk beds in Kate’s Room on other side of wall from Morgan’s Room & the Family Room/Library. Photo by William Bass.
The remains of Morgan’s Room. Photo by William Bass.
Kristina & Kristen contemplating the Loss & the Miracle. Photo by William Bass.
William & Kate goofin’ around 7 days after the Fire; Woodinville, WA. Photo by Morgan Bass.
Morgan Bass below Whitehorse Mountain, near Darrington, WA. 12 June 2010. Photo by William Bass.
Talia cleaning Lindsay’s Bathroom in Woodinville, WA. Sunday 4 April 2010. Photo by William Bass.
William & Kristina Bass, New Year’s Eve, Seattle, WA. Friday 31 December 2010. Photo by Jean Katayama.
Kate, Talia, & Morgan Bass (L to R) Celebrating DaDa William’s Big Climb race to the top of the Columbia Tower, Seattle, on Sunday 20 March 2011 – Exactly 1 year after the Fire. Photo by a stranger for William Bass.
After the Fire
“Sometimes I can’t even feel the ground under my feet anymore,” my wife Kristina cries. “I can’t feel ANYTHING!!!”
Days and weeks wheel by in a blur after our house burned down in the Fire. Frenzied action is broken by spells of dazed inaction. There is too much to do so soon. We move through it all anyway. Sometimes we even laugh. Sometimes the Fire seems years ago, or feels it never happened at all, or worse, just yesterday. Saturday 20 March 2010, however, was only 30 days ago as I first write this blogpost for the bassfamilysupport.ning.com website friends set up to organize help.
Fire! Our house in flames, Edmonds, Washington State. Saturday 20 March 2010. Foto by Unknown.
Inferno of 1,200 Degree Flames & Toxic Smoke.
Lingering Fire amid the Ruins, Edmonds, 20 March 2010. Foto by Youngman.
Back of our Home, 20 March 2010. Foto by Westfall.
View thru the Front Door out the back across the Salish Sea to the Olympic Mountains. 20 March 2010. Foto by Youngman.
Kristina Bass (left, in black) with friend Kristen S. a day or two after the Edmonds Fire. Foto by William Bass.
The Fire: Part 1 of 3 Saturday 20 March 2010
One week ago our house burned down. It was traumatic. Thank goodness everyone is alive. No one got hurt. Not even the firefighters. But we lost just about everything else. And the response of our communities of family and friends from all around the world was and is deeply generous, much appreciated, and unexpectedly overwhelming.
We got uplifting responses not only from all over the Northwest but from folks from Japan to Norway, Virginia to California, New York to South Carolina, Alaska to Vermont, Mexico to Canada, Jordan, Turkey, Spain, Germany, Italy, China, Kentucky, Florida, Connecticut, North Carolina. Texas. Tennessee. Illinois. The list goes on. From Christians to Muslims to Atheists to Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, and Pagans. Amazing. We were reminded not only how lucky to be alive but we’re all part of one giant family of humanity sharing one small, beautiful planet. And, yes, the Internet was the primary tool facilitating such communications, especially Facebook.
Saturday 20 March 2010. It was 11:00 in the morning in Edmonds, Washington, a waterfront city north of Seattle noted for its small-town feel with lots of trees. It was an unusually warm and sunny day. Morgan, my oldest daughter, had recently turned 16, and we were hosting a post-birthday slumber party for about 12 of her friends. The celebrations began Friday evening after school and work. Her younger sisters, Kate, 11, and Talia, 7, were at their own sleepovers back in North Seattle. I left to drive down into Seattle to pick up Kate and Talia and bring them home while Kristina left to take our dog Jo to the vet. There were 8 teenage girls left in our home by then.
They’re great kids, these girls. We’re delighted Morgan had a great circle of fun, funny, artistic, and responsible friends. They were hanging out upstairs playing chess and preparing to cook breakfast. First they noticed a thin smoky haze and remarked how pretty the sunshine was. Then they realized it was smoke. Were pancakes burning on the stove? No, no fire from the stove. No one was even cooking. There were no candles, no incense, no smoking, none of that. Thick, toxic smoke rolled out of the heating vents and roiled up the stairs from the basement, our first floor. The smoke was so thick they couldn’t even get out the door.
A few kids wanted to run down and rescue items: shoes/boots/clothes/cell phones/iPods/sleeping bags/coats/birthday presents. It easily ran to about $1,000 a teenager, mindboggling for even us parents when we tallied it all up, and among our guests were twin sisters, so, yes, many wanted to race downstairs, just once, running just really, really fast, y’know…and Morgan took a stand.
“No!” she shouted. “We need to get out of here NOW! This way!”
Seth Godin, a master blogger and bestselling author over in New York highlighted, once posted on the tension between faith and data. First, allow me to distinguish between those two words.
I define “faith” as a belief in something without any evidence and often in the face of evidence to the contrary. Boiled down having faith is the desire to believe. And humans want to believe what they wish to be true.
Sometimes faith is a negative. Witness, for example, all the bloodshed committed and endured in the name of religions, notorious for demanding faith in many things for which there is no empirical evidence and with each religion claiming competing and opposing “truths” for faiths at odds with each other. Religious institutions demand faith from their followers.
And yet faith is what drives people to push on through great hardship and challenge to ultimately succeed. Faith inspires people to attempt and actually achieve amazing things often in the face of ridicule, harassment, even “proof” held up and waved in their faces to demonstrate their foolhardiness. Faith triumphs. But is it really important?
Almost a year after I first urged people to vote and to vote “YES!” in the Global Referendum for Democratic World Government, humanity continues to blunder toward global collapse where worse case scenarios are fast becoming the most likely scenarios. Those who sound the warnings may as well be shouting into the hurricane for even more seem eager to ignore and deny the mountainside of complex troubles avalanching down upon us.
Those who are aware wonder what more can they do if anything. Many struggle alone or in small groups in the cause of their choices, large organizations have gone deep to stay alive but focus upon only one cause, with much of their energy diverted to fundraising, while the rest of us feel resigned, cynical perhaps, apathetic, demoralized, even depressed. I call this the “whatever syndrome,” as in when you tell someone that this time the sky really is falling or the wolves are actually killing and eating the sheep they just shrug their shoulders, mumble “Whatever,” and go back to doing whatever they happen to be doing. “Whatever,” right?
Folks, there IS something positive each one of us can do.
Democracy lost on January 21, 2010. It is a significant loss in the on-going war (let’s cut to the chase here folks, this ain’t “tension” between factions within a national democracy; it’s a war for global domination between those favoring American democracy versus the transnational corporate elite).
The case in question is Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. The United States Supreme Court rule 5-4 in favor of Big Business and the financial elite and their power to corrupt our political elections and thus buy out our governments at all levels. The Corporatocracy won another round in its efforts to not just influence but also dominate the government of the most powerful nation-state on the planet. Little noticed in the outcry is that labor unions also achieved a victory, although unions have been in decline for decades now and are dwarfed by the financial elite.
This ruling gives more power to the principle known as “corporate personhood.” Human beings create corporations. They outlive people, often influence and dominate society at all levels from local neighborhoods to international, and are composed of people from numerous nation-states who are often not citizens of the countries in which corporate power is wielded.
The giant Indian Ocean and Asian earthquake and tsunami of December 2004, which claimed about 230,000 lives and probably more from the East African coast to the Indian subcontinent to Indonesia and Thailand, caused the entire planet to vibrate. It also elicited the first truly global response to a humanitarian disaster. We even saw two former American presidents of opposing political parties, George H. W. Bush the Republican and Bill Clinton the Democrat, working together and working together as friends to help lead the relief and reconstruction efforts.
The May 2008 Typhoon Nargis disaster in Myanmar/Burma was a potential international aid response but was thwarted by the military junta in power. There were and have been other significant disasters, many that did elicit aid from different countries responding to a crisis in another, including famines, but nothing of the scale of the global response to the 2004 tsunami.
In Haiti in the wake of the devastating January 2010 earthquake we see it again and in a more evolved fashion. The response to the quake was immediate, far more immediate by the United States, for example, than it’s response to its own 2005 Hurricane Katrina disaster. In fact strong aftershocks continue as I write.
Our response to Haiti’s crisis is beyond international; it is global. Fellow human beings from around the planet have rallied to support their own in a small nation-state ravaged even before the giant quake by decades of poverty, dictatorship, coups and low-level civil wars, military occupation, economic exploitation, and environmental destruction.
Atlantis the lost continent may lay buried under the mud at the bottom of the sea, but Atlantis the space shuttle soared high into Space. Captain Christopher Ferguson, United States Navy and a NASA astronaut, is the Commander of the last space shuttle. Not only is the last shuttle for America but also for the world.
The only other one was the Soviet Buran that flew once, unmanned, and then was shut down. In some ways the Buran was a superior vehicle and in other ways not. In any case, no other nation-states are positioned to launch such massive ships. The Soviet Union no longer exists, and the United States has become an overextended and nearly bankrupted empire. It now depends upon the Russian Soyuz to transport humans and supplies to the International Space Station. Unless something goes awry, Atlantis has 12 days to complete its mission.
Atlantis blasted off to cheers and tears this morning of 8 July 2011. This mission is the 33rd for Atlantis and the 135th for NASA’s shuttle program. Almost a million people came to watch the Cape Canaveral, Florida and the NASA Kennedy Space Center may well turn into Postmodern ghost towns. Thirty years of glory with its share of tragedies stirs powerful emotions. Many people remain passionate about the exploration and colonization of Outer Space. Not just Americans, but people from all around the world. Russia, China, India, Brazil, the European Union, even Iran.
The less than two hundred human nation-states of Planet Earth appear doomed to endless squabbling and bloodshed despite grand proclamations of international cooperation. And who can blame them? Our problems feel too vast and overwhelming for the average person including our politicians to understand.
It is easier to go to war and kill each other. It is easier to pollute our environment. It is easier to bail out our faux economy with made-up money. It is easier to go shopping, buy shoes for the kids, and get drunk while watching the latest celebrity scandals on television. Nuclear disarmament in an age of terrorism? Biological warfare? Global warming and climate change? Global climate disruption? Global warming leading to ice ages? Fundamentalism and extremism on the rise in most religions? Poverty? Disease pandemics, hunger, bigotry and discrimination, pollution, deforestation, desertification, overpopulation and mass extinction of species along with weapons of mass destruction freak us out. What are we to do?
In an October 2009 interview in Time Magazine, Kofi Anan, the former Secretary-General of the United Nations, was asked whether or not “the U.N. should be given the authority to intervene militarily in situations like Darfur.”
“I’m not sure the member states are ready to give the U.N. a standing army….It’s a question of will. And I don’t think you will see a U.N. army,” Mr. Anan replied.
As local crises converge into global crises and threaten to overwhelm us, as the movement to create a democratic world government continues to move forward, national and ethnic military forces will remain perhaps the greatest obstacle to such a government. There exist today a number of different global citizens and democratic world government parties, alliances, coalitions, and institutes.
The majority of New York’s citizens are frazzled this September 2009 by the traffic jams caused by the gathering of the United Nations General Assembly. People wished the whole crowd of dignitaries including undignified celebrity politicians and petty tyrants as well as Neocon-Neolib architects of what seemed to many as the New World Disorder would all go away to another country.
People in other cities and other countries are probably glad the U.N. is not in their town. We all need to remember, however, we may be many countries but one world, many ethnicities but one species. Our finite resources are being consumed by wars and competition between peoples rather than cooperation to address the global crises of our time.
American President Barack Obama, during his first address to the U.N. General Assembly, on 23 September 2009, noted the serious challenges confronting us all these days. He listed some of them, including terrorism, nuclear proliferation, climate change, poverty, protracted wars, pandemic disease, the pursuit of peace, and the global economic recession.
Echoing similar themes of global cooperation from his Berlin Speech in May of 2008 and his Inauguration Speech in January 2009, he declared “Those who used to chastise America for acting alone in the world cannot now stand by and wait for America to solve the world’s problems alone. We have sought – in world and deed – a new era of engagement with the world. Now is the time for all of us to take our share of responsibility for a global response to global challenges.”
Down at the Seattle Center, I climbed a grassy knoll waving my smart phone around in the sunshine for better reception. Below me in the Fisher Pavilion hundreds of people including many of Vietnamese descent celebrated Tet, the Vietnamese New Year. Kristina, my wife at the time, remained down there with our foreign exchange student from Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam. I turned around, heard a helicopter overhead, looked up into blue skies, and saw the helicopter circling toward Downtown where Occupy protests were occurring. Then I spied the UFO.
What appeared to be a silver sphere moved in a straight, horizontal line from the southeast, or the direction of Downtown Seattle, northwest over Queen Anne Hill toward the Salish Sea. The object flew swiftly and steadily, perfectly straight. It was shiny silver and reflected the sunlight. The sun was low in the sky more toward the southwest. The time, date, and date was 3:00pm on Saturday 21 January 2012.
For a second I shrugged it off as an airplane or helicopter, then I realized, wait, hey, it’s far more silvery-metallic than any of those would be. More importantly, there were no visible wings, fins, rows of blinking lights, jets, or visible thrusts, rocket engines, or propellers. It was silent, and flew so straight as to be smooth, as in none of the buffeting and wing-dipping I normally see even on straight-flying aircraft. At one point the object appeared to pivot or partially rotate while continuing to “fly” in a straight line at a steady pace. When it pivoted, it appeared as more of a silvery rod, a short, stumpy rod, and reminded me of a fat airplane fuselage.
Courageous people are demonstrating against corporate and bank domination of the American political process and protesting against the abomination of corporate personhood. It is an inspiring call to freedom, a nonviolent call to wake up and occupy, a call based upon a fundamental understanding corporations are not people. We the People of this country…and I would add of everywhere else on our Planet Earth, need to remember some crucial points.
Yes, corporations are not human beings. Corporations, as are any other organizations, are formed by and are composed by individual human beings working in concert and by agreement. Only individual human beings have rights. Human organizations do not have rights. Human beings have rights as individuals because they are human beings, not because individual people are a member of some organization. Human beings as social animals are people, and the people are composed of individual persons.
Corporations are not people. A corporation or any other organization, formal or otherwise, is not a person. Any law stating otherwise exercises fraudulent representations of what a person is and must be repealed. I am reminded of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s distinctions between just and unjust laws, his spotlight on the criminal abuse by authorities of just laws, and his reminder “everything Hitler did was legal.”