Tag Archives: The News

View from Nowhere

The news makes you feel terrible and guilty and ashamed. But you jones for more, popping outrage or fear or morbid curiosity like a junkie on the good shit. These dealers don’t disappoint—they even give it to you free. Brought to you by advertising. Advertising makes you feel terrible and guilty and ashamed. What a loser I am, I’ll never have this thing or travel to this place or wear this style.

Consumerism appears to be a misery-based system, a distortion of reality as unnatural as big fake boobs, yet we desperately need the what’s left of the jobs that make it happen. This polarization of principles is so ingrained we think it’s normal. Exactly how much is the politically correct amount to enjoy life? Is the key to happiness acceptance or aspiration? Gratitude or greed? Or is it just being true to our own delusions?

In an endless cycle of madness, the news stories that sicken us when exposing sweat shops, diamond mines, factory farming  and all forms of human and ecological exploitation are bankrolled by the same companies that produce and advertise these products from hell. Many of us in our hearts feel manipulated. Some of us become freegans by necessity, some really try to break free, and many are just owned by the system—the cult of the follower. In some futuristic world it will be politically correct to effect a global campaign against overpopulation but until then, the planet convulses in desperate imbalance.

I took maybe a thousand pictures this year, making up blog post titles as I went, but in the end none seem worthy of more than a caption. It’s not that I don’t have anything to say, I have too much. And with the holiday season coming up, I may well augur my head firmly into the hard red Arizona sand, as I don’t wish to get caught off guard hyperventilating through some evil diamond ad or cringing at Black Friday anarchy videos. Consumerism is like a chain of mob bosses, each rung generating new predators in the midst of hard-sell hysteria.

So what is real? For me it’s a brief moment of relief from routine gloomwatch. A blink of anti-bleak. A lizard-brained lapse in my neuro-guerilla-theater-of-the-damned. Here are a few of those moments.

Alligator lizard in my driveway—looks like a snake with legs.

One of my customers throws apples out into his yard at night and they're always gone in the morning. He got a birdcam and we are thrilled to discover who's eating them!

One of my customers throws apples out into his yard at night and they’re always gone in the morning. He got a birdcam and we are thrilled to discover who’s eating them!

What's better than an elegant little gray fox? Two of them.

What’s better than an elegant little gray fox? Two of them.

This has got to be the offspring of an adult regal horned lizard I've seen in my yard in previous years. I am so honored. I keep my water stations clean and they love it.

This has got to be the offspring of an adult regal horned lizard I’ve seen in my yard in previous years. I am so honored. It means I’m doing something right.

Saw this old cowboy traveling down Hereford Rd. with his packhorses.

Saw this old cowboy traveling down Hereford Rd. with his packhorses.

He was a seriously cool guy. Just rides around the country. He gave me a paper about a Christian organization whose purpose is feeding people. I gave him $10 and some directions.

He was a very cool guy. Just rides around the country. He gave me a paper about a Christian organization that feeds people. I gave him $10 and some directions.

Best monsoon ever this year. So many frogs and toads and critters of all kinds. Our driveway is a popular spot because the porch light attracts lots of yummy insects.

Best monsoon ever this year. So many frogs and toads and critters of all kinds. Our driveway is a popular spot because the porch light attracts lots of yummy insects.

A curious leaf bug

A curious leaf bug

The swallows came as they always do and had two broods on the porch light. The juveniles like to snuggle as long as they can, until they're almost full grown.

The swallows came as they always do and had two broods on the porch lamp. The juveniles like to snuggle as long as they can, until they’re almost full grown.

Right before the swallows leave for the winter they are very active and busy. They must be planning. The parents and their two broods of three (one died) gathered on the street cable beginning of October, and then they were gone.

In the days right before the swallows leave for the winter they are more active and vocal and close-knit than usual. Then the parents and their two broods of three (one died) gathered on the street cable beginning of October, and then they were gone.

I borrowed my customer's birdcam and got the best pictures of the Mexican longnosed bats since I've been here.

I borrowed my customer’s birdcam and got the best pictures of the Mexican longnosed bats since I’ve been here.

I wasn't able to record their acrobatics as well with my camera as well as the birdcam does.

I haven’t been able to record their acrobatics with my camera as well as the birdcam does. Look at the barren mulberry trees—we had a Tussock’s caterpillar plague that stripped every mulberry in town. That’s another story.

The birdcam picked up these javelinas too. Nobody really wants them in their yards though because they can be aggressive.

The birdcam picked up these javelinas too. Nobody really wants them in their yards though because they can be aggressive.

I've been going over the border more for a couple of reasons. There are so many strays, it's so depressing. I could not walk by this emaciated, sick little guy I saw on the street. I picked him up and took him home. I thought they might give me some trouble at the border crossing but they didn't.

I’ve been going over the border more often for a couple reasons. There are so many strays, it’s so depressing. I could not walk by this emaciated, sick little guy I saw on the street. I picked him up and took him home. I thought they’d give me trouble at the border crossing but they didn’t.

Here he is a week later, healing physically and mentally. I can't keep him so when he is fully healthy he will make a loving person and wonderful pet. Border Animal Rescue (praise them) are helping me with his vet bills. He weighs four lbs. and how he ever survived on the street is a mystery.

Here he is a week later, healing physically and mentally. I named him Dante. I can’t keep him so when he is fully healthy he will be adopted into a loving home. Border Animal Rescue (praise them) is helping me with his vet bills. He weighs four lbs. He probably wouldn’t have survived much longer because it’s so cold at night now.

Jada, Blitz, Rabbit, Mops. I don't know why people are always saying cats and dogs don't get along, or that you have to be a dog person or cat person. It's a stupid myth that needs to be let go.

Some members of my family, Jada, Blitz, Rabbit, Mops. I don’t know why people are always saying cats and dogs don’t get along, or that you have to be a dog person or cat person. It’s a stupid myth that needs to go.

I was walking out in the scrub with Jada and met an earthy woman who showed me her home. It's an honest to god mud hut complete with outhouse. I had no idea it was there.

I was walking out in the scrub with Jada and met a woman who showed me her home. It’s an honest-to-god mud hut complete with outhouse. I had no idea it was there.

Unplugged

I’m just a soul whose intentions are good…oh lord, please don’t let me be misunderstood.
(Not written by, but made tearfully famous by Eric Burden in 1965)

Changes. They’re harder when we get older but are often worth the struggle. I just got back from a week in CT, my home state. A family member I hadn’t spoken to in 20 years called because she needed me. I did not hang up on her, I got on a plane. A highly emotional reconciliation and physically demanding visit followed. It was wonderful. I have been telling people all my life I have no family but now that has changed, and a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. She had me ROFL when she said, in all earnestness, “well you know you come from a long line of over-reacters.” Ha ha, like you don’t? I laughed so hard I fell off the couch.

I spent the week ‘unplugged,’ my first since the beginning of the computer age. No email, no google, no Trayvon, no bitter news to keep me in a constant state of agitation. (First thing I read when I got back though was this unholy alliance between Hollywood and Washington. It’s always been there, but this spectacle splashed all over front pages everywhere makes me sick in a whole new way—two professional groups of liars teaming up, a powerful fusing of the sordid with the corrupt. America, running on a currency of lies and coverups is now one big hateful reality show. Incontinent conservatives, please stop! You’re HELPING him!) But my hiatus was freeing, and had begun before I left. Too ashamed to dispense my moody posts, too involved in my own demise to comment on others. I apologize to my friends for neglecting you, but I do not sparkle with wit and humor, I crackle with confrontation and cynicism.  My friend Harry from The Fool Folds his Arms had these wise words:  I sometimes wonder if the Internet was invented to keep people occupied and passive while the powerful continue to chip away at what little they don’t control already. Well put Harry.

When I got home I learned of two shocking deaths here in AZ. The first was an older woman I adored, cancer. It happened fast and I didn’t know and I still can’t believe it.

The second was the untimely death of a young man whom I had struck from my life because of his cruelty toward his animals. I grew to hate him. I will not miss him but I am not glad he is gone. Like wishing for revolution and getting it, then cowering as the new regime inflicts more aggression and brutality than the last, I can’t know what will replace him. His (very nice) family is dumping the house cheap. Is it wrong of me to feel in my heart it’s about to get worse? No, it is merely experience speaking for me—I can’t unknow the past. Does the deletion of a selfish person add balance to the world? Absolutely not. It doesn’t work that way.

Here are a few pictures from around town this week.

I tried to research this bird but could not be sure what it is. Can anyone help? Saw him along the San Pedro River.

We don’t get many bluebirds in my neighborhood so this was a treat. He hung around for a few days and now he’s gone. But the exotic orioles are beginning to arrive, and they too, are just passing through. Time to buy oranges. The swallows are back and rebuilding their porch light nest with great dedication and style.

Funny young pigeon watching me at a customer’s house. I was so flattered how close he let me come to him.

These new solar panels in the historical part of town have got everyone’s panties in a twist. Irate letters to the local papers abound…’the town wouldn’t let me put a carport in because it wasn’t historical!’ and ‘why didn’t you make them put the panels IN BACK OF the inn?’ etc., etc. Now I learn they are selling the power generated from these back to the power company. What do you think?

Look familiar? Although not the exact model as “Christine,” they used several models in the movie and this ’59 Plymouth Savoy was one of them. I love the flag on the antenna. Don’t see many American flags around here.

 

The Month in My Sepulchral World

It’s not that I don’t have much to say, rather too much. Most Americans know that something is very wrong.  I’m so troubled by all of it, and it manifests in avoidant behavior.  At least I’m self-whiny though, and try not to inflict it on others, so I anesthetize with work, books, and Netflix.

‘Uncivilization’ coming soon to a town near you
I’ve been reading about ‘preppers,’ millions of Americans who are preparing for the worst.  There are over a million hits for advice, a disturbing gauge of our anxiety as a nation. Preppers believe America is headed for a social, environmental, or financial meltdown. They’re buying generators and storing food, similar to survivalists but they don’t live in the wilds of Montana, they live in the cities and suburbs of America. If I could afford it I’d do the same—every day the news warns us of major upheaval.  Here on the border many folks say your best investment is ammo. Can’t say I disagree.

The CruelPhone5
All this news about iPhones manufactured in China under wretched conditions, and they blame it all on the insatiable Americans. I don’t know one person who could afford a $700 phone. If they didn’t hype these phones, wouldn’t people be content with the amazing phones they already have? Apple has a million reasons for making them in China, many of them absurd. In the end it always comes down to the greedy Americans who won’t work for $17 a day and live in dorms with 20 people sleeping in one room. There’s a high rate of suicide among Chinese workers, so the company sprang into action and installed nets along stairways so they can’t jump off the buildings. Thanks Foxconn and Apple, your compassion is heartwarming.

Yummy!
I was going to make a joke about the word pizzle (steer or other animal penis) and offal (entrails of butchered animals) but I discovered that steer pizzles are a popular dog chew, prepared by stretching, twisting and drying the organ. Here are some quotes from sites that sell them:

♦  The rich flavor and crunchy texture keeps dogs chewing for hours!
  The first time I had Coco sniff one her eyes got big and tail wagged and
she’s been nuts for them since!
  Pizzle stick blowout! ValueBull Jumbo 20% off!

I read further and found many recipes for pizzle and other entrails. One recipe said  first, slice the pizzle open along its length and remove the urethra. That might make your stomach lurch but if an animal has given us its life, the least we can do is eat all of it. What I can’t stand is animals like seals being killed to make powdered pizzle, as well as other species nearing extinction because some cultures believe their horns or other body parts will do everything from increasing virility to warding off evil. Chemical tests show the body parts have no medicinal effect—the pizzle I guess just tastes good.

Boyfriend Story (sorry, the drivel made me do it!)
I dated this baker once, Bob “Shortcake” Pizzelle.  Little guy, looked like a breadstick. He was flaky though, and had this constant glazed look. He kept promising to whisk me away but it was always some half-baked scheme—we weren’t exactly rolling in dough. He was crusty about it and we had a big fight. When he called me an old baguette I had to batter him and insert into a preheated oven. He was pretty mad even though I deliberately undercooked him. As I walked out I heard him whimper, ‘don’t leave, I knead you!’ Forget it, you crumb, this little tart is done.

Insight and Faith
My philosophy has always been to carry on no matter what. Two extraordinary  friends have inspired me recently, their convictions more powerful than any new-age notion promising to autotune your life in five easy steps. It doesn’t work that way. One friend, devastated after just losing her job of 15 years writes:
My circumstances may change greatly, but I’m more than mere circumstances, and knowing that will be my saving grace.

My other friend sent this:
I-91, somewhere between Nowhere and Not Much
Infinite stars on a fine night to ride with a thousand wishes
May we still have the faith to make wishes, and the focus and fortune to be led by their light.

Thank you both for inspiring me, and to all who continue to fight the good fight.

I usually hate all pictures of myself, but I like this one. We met some people on the shooting range who invited us home. We sat around their tiny trailer and drank beer and talked for hours. Look—they even gave me a glass. Barely visible is my .327 Taurus revolver on my hip. When I got my CCW I had to go back a couple times because they couldn’t get clear fingerprints. The sheriff’s department explained that the chemicals I use to clean houses has worn away my prints—it happens. We believe that the right to bear arms is about protecting ourselves from both crime AND the government.

Old wood and rubber wheel in their yard. It was attached to some strange metal thing, like part of a train. We can’t date this or determine whether it was a wooden wheel ‘modernized’ with rubber, or if it was built this way. If you know, please tell me. Note the cut-line in the wooden rim, we think this is how they adjusted the wheel.

The trailer we visited—Arizona livin’ on the cheap.

Hate Mail for Dummies

A while back I wrote a post that some readers found disputable and felt compelled to discharge a barrage of nasty comments—my official initiation into the world of public hate mail. It wasn’t my first experience with it, but it was the first on my own blog.

I appreciate passion—without it we’d still be living in the stone age. Passionate people create great art and literature and build cities and save lives. And even if they accomplish none of these great things, passionate people are at the heart of the small things that make a difference in the daily lives of creatures everywhere.

Which is why I want to hear from them. I don’t expect every reader to agree with me—blogging isn’t about accumulating a thousand “friends.” But even if you disagree so fervently that it causes you to feel abusive, there are still guidelines to observe in order to be taken seriously. These basic rules are stated on almost every comment section of online news sources, message boards, discussion groups, and chat rooms. A few simple golden rules that many people, obsessive about their own views, choose to completely ignore.

Some of the mail I received was unprintable, and caused me to switch to moderating all comments instead of only those I have not previously approved.

The comments were passionate, yes. But civil, tactful, or even coherent—no. The unmistakable outcome can only be the exact opposite of what the raging, sarcastic commenter wants me to embrace. I read a wide assortment of news and blogs every day (no TV) because it’s important to consider all sides and remain open to changing my mind. In fact, sometimes I want to be swayed—I’m just seeking good reasons why I should. But hostility is the last tactic on earth that’s going to magically transform anybody’s thinking.

How easy it would be to edit nasty comments and print them! Some came from bloggers who fancy themselves respectable. But once you catapult that condemnation into cyberspace, you no longer have control of it. I could take that comment, now fully in my possession, and twist it to make the sender appear to be a criminal, comically deranged, or a pervert. Or worse yet, I could make the commenter agree with me.

I don’t do those things because I believe you reap what you sow, and I want better than that. There is a time to attack. You attack to protect yourself or somebody you love from harm.

Reckless comments can plague a person forever. And if you truly believe in your passions, your aim should be to persuade me–with logic and reason–that you’re right and I’m wrong. Use your passion to influence, impress, seduce. It’s why presidents have speechwriters—so they don’t make jackasses out of themselves on videotape. Before you go public with your passion, consider the most effective way to convey your view. You might feel brief satisfaction after a furious offensive, but it’s a hollow victory because you haven’t accomplished a thing except to expose your own intolerance. And that’s not going to convince anybody.

Poppies, Pipes, and Plagues

We are not the only ones in the world dealing with tragedy this week. Friends in Australia say the floods are the worst thing that’s ever happened to their country. Nearly 500 people have died so far in the Brazil floods. Women are still being flogged and beaten all over the world by religious psychos, bombs are still being set, animal shelters are still overflowing, everybody but the cruel are struggling.

This morning on the way to work a bright orange glow caught my eye from the side of the road. Poppies. In January. Arizona is so beautiful and not at all how the media tries to define it. I used to think people were the same all over, but not anymore. The friendliest, most creative, easygoing people I’ve ever met live here. People smile and chat with you in stores and on the street—it’s nothing like Connecticut at all. Maybe because life is harder there. In CT I didn’t know any of my neighbors, here I know everybody on the street. I wouldn’t trade my crappy little house on the border for the biggest McMansion on the eastern seaboard.

Arizona poppies in January

Fence made out of wood and pipes in Bisbee

Gate made from old pipes

Abandoned cactus wren nest in dried yucca

Snake eggs we found when we moved an old lawnmower in the yard. They smelled horrible. I don’t know what kind they are, but they’re not rattlesnake because rattlers give birth to live young. We’ve had rattlers in the yard, I worry about them because they can kill a dog.

The shapely Chinaberry tree in winter. These beautiful trees are not native to Arizona, but they flourish here. We planted a little one in our yard two years ago and it’s already grown a couple of feet. Some people don’t like them because they shed all these berries, but what do I care? In the summer they provide a shady canopy, in the winter their beautiful form.

Our Inferiority Complex, the Death Panel and My Blood Pressure

I just read an article on today’s MSN homepage called Are We America the Ignorant? and the accompanying gallery entitled America the Ignorant—Dumb Things Americans Believe. Sheesh. I’m so sick of being made to feel embarrassed to be American! It’s not helping anything, because it pits people against one another, as readily evidenced in the comments. Because the issues we’re divided on are so emotional, we can’t have a conversation about them and that is indeed pathetic…and of course the issues are related to either politics or religion.

Articles like these are on the rise as it becomes more fashionable to hate America. We are stupid, ignorant, decadent, racist western filth. The media as an industry has the power to create its own spin on our culture and shape how others see us and how we feel about ourselves. In this article they’ve taken things a minority of people believe and given it an America-Land-of-the-Idiots twist.

However, I dislike both the far right and the far left and refuse to take sides. One of the featured Dumb Things We Believe says that four in ten Americans believe that Obama would institute a “death panel” as part of health-care reform, apparently fueled by a comment made by Sarah Palin. I wouldn’t have believed this ratio before last summer, when I had to spend a night in the hospital due to an animal-rescue epic fail. I hated being there and the next day I got up and got dressed and impatiently paced around the room waiting to be released. A slovenly woman trundled down the hall past my room and into the room across the hall, which housed an old lady, her mother it turned out. The daughter started bible-blabbing to the mother. I couldn’t hear what the old lady said but I clearly heard the daughter squawking good and loud so everybody on the whole floor could hear “well everybody knows that’s the first thing he’s gonna do Mama, kill all the babies and the old people!”

I kind of lost it. I stood there listening to this bullshit getting more and more annoyed. The nurse came in to do a final blood-pressure check on me, and it was off the charts—so they wouldn’t let me go! Grrrr!

But in spite of this I believe our generosity spans the limits of our beliefs—and beyond. We as both a nation and a people give aid freely to countries who need it, regardless of the abuses that especially women in those countries suffer daily as a way of life. We are taunted with images that make us crazy. Stonings, female genital mutilation, being a prisoner inside a one-room mud shack dumping out babies your whole life then you die—2000 years of civilization has brought us lucky ones from the stone-age to a place where people really do have some rights, but you’d never know that from reading the news. We are constantly being asked to accept ways of life that repulse us as lovers of freedom.

A lot of Americans are hurting. We’re broke, have no health insurance, can’t find jobs. But I’ll bet even this awful lady with the big mouth in the hospital opened up her purse and donated—to Katrina, Haiti, Pakistan or whatever we are asked to—because that’s what Americans do.

I’m sorry but I rather love the godless shitbeast to death. Your thoughts?