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High and Dry

I went to a little party just a few hours ago in a little hidden gem of a beautiful villa right off the main hipster drag of 4th Avenue. All the drunks and college kids never know this place exists. There was a pool and food and drink and a guy recording whatever you wanted to say or sing or play, onto a laptop, and looping it and mixing it with whatever anyone else did before, and then playing it back on the PA. It was a cool little collaborative-interactive touch. and there was poetry and music. I read a portion of "The Invisible Generation" into the microphone over the sound of fingers tapping on a stand-up bass, read the Burroughs essay about tape cut-ups, and how you can change the world with recordings. You can remix reality and make it better or worse, Burroughs was saying.
My friend told me I sounded good, on the recording.
I think it was because that essay is a part of me. It was something I first read around 19 years ago, the first I'd ever heard of William S. Burroughs, and it had a profound effect on me. It's internal, so when I read it aloud, I guess it makes sense that I perform it well, because I believe it, and live it, and have for a long time.

Suprisingly, there were mostly women at this party. Only women used the pool, none of the men. I guess it's too hard to look properly hip when you're in a pool. Also, only 5 of us participated in the audio loop thingie, out of about 30 people. Like I keep observing, interactivity isn't for everyone.

Here's a brief glimpse from the eye of my phone during the event, a brief flash of the at least somewhat sublime, in some way, Tucson summer:

Jack R.I.P.

Yesterday a very sad thing happened in our little world. Jack Jibby Bark Undersun, the best dog in the world, Greta's constant companion and best friend fo 15 years, passed away.

When I first started dating Greta, over 2 and a half years ago, I met Jack and she asked me if I liked dogs. I replied "Well, I don't dislike dogs." She didn't view this as a very positive response, but all I meant was that I had been ambivalent to dogs so far. I had not ever had a very high place in my life for pets, and I grew up with dogs in the family that were not crazy but were also not really good with kids or "close" to us.

Jack taught me to love dogs. Jack and Greta taught me what a deep bond someone can have with their pet. He was a little puppy, wild on a farm in Virginia when 20-year-old Greta found him, the day after having a dream about him. Since then he was with her for countless adventures. He was there when she had nobody else to be there for her. And with her love and attention and care, he grew up to be the gentlest, kindest, most loving dog I've ever known. Everyone who knows him loves him, and he has many friends who will be sad to hear this terrible news. Our friend Peter drove up from Bisbee and the three of us are here in this house that seems empty, blown away by this sudden tragedy. Peter's dog Nori keeps looking around for Jack, her best doggy buddy, not quite understanding what has happened. Where did he go?

In the morning yesterday, I prepared his breakfast like I often do. On every other morning, he always would rush to the bowl and start gobbling away eagerly. Yesterday morning, he didn't want to eat it at all. I knew something was wrong. He was lethargic and panting hard and not walking very steadily. Jack has had a mast-cell tumor, a type of canine cancer, for over a year now, and we have known that this made his days numbered, even more so than his advanced age. But he's been on medicine and doing really great for a long time. We may have started to forget that at any time he could go downhill.
He started feeling better after we gave him a dose of his prednasone in a bowl of ice cream. He has always really liked ice cream. But then in the afternoon his condition got worse again. He was trembling all over, having trouble breathing and panting hard like he was in pain. We had called the vet and made an appointment for later in the afternoon, but when Greta offered him more ice cream and he refused, that was when she knew something was seriously wrong. She got him in the car and headed for the vet, meeting me on the way home from a meeting I had near campus. I drove the rest of the way with her in the backseat holding him.

They took him out of the car and into the clinic on a little doggy stretcher.

I can't really bear to continue at this level of detail. Suffice to say that the prognosis was grim. The cancer had clearly spread, and the mast cells were releasing histamines into his bloodstream that were causing him to go into severe shock. He passed away gently and with a minimum of suffering, in Greta's arms, at about 6pm.

We will miss him so much. Goodbye, Jack.

Get Thee To a Cardboard Box

This post is one of those non-personal musings (rants?) about current events, rather than a detailed explication of my recent activities.

What I'm musing about here is Bernie Madoff, after reading something about him and his "victims" in the latest issue of Harper's. (why do I instinctively put "victims" in quotes? Read on...) In this short entry in the Readings section of the magazine, the editors provide a selection of Victim Impact Statements sent to the judge during the sentencing phase of Madoff's trial. This one particularly struck me:Madoff deserves no better than to live under a bridge in a cardboard box, scavenging for food - the existence to which he has undoubtedly consigned some of his victims.
Now, is this complete hyperbole, or is this writer actually claiming that some of the people who invested money with Madoff are now literally homeless paupers because of his betrayals?

How could this be? Of course I sympathize with any innocent people and organizations who were cheated by this guy, especially non-profits who were affected. But let's get real: anyone who put all their eggs in one basket sort of, at least somewhat, deserves whatever they get. I mean, c'mon! You gave Madoff ALL your money? Every cent, other than the $1000 you spent on that magnum of champagne you drank the night before he got caught? Did you even give him the Rolex on your wrist?

Everyone with a brain understands that you should diversify your investments. You put something in high risk, high yield ventures but keep some in something solid, like treasury bonds or, hell, maybe you might just want to keep some of it back in an FDIC-insured savings account, for a rainy day? You don't just hand everything you have to some fast-talking guy named Bernie. Even poor people understand this. That's why they have multiple kids.

Or "invest" in friends and family so that you'll have someone who'll take you in on their couch when you lose your home, maybe.

The thing is is that this "impact statement" and all the others elide a certain unspoken truth that very few are talking about, regarding Madoff's scam but also applying to the general financial crash we are all still reeling from: you can't get something for nothing, and if you think you can and you put everything into your something for nothing scheme, then you're a fool. And there have been an awful lot of fools, of various types, getting the other shoe stomping on them.

And if you're rich enough to be investing in the first place, in anything, you're on a level, you're in a class, far above many many people in the world. A huge number of people even in the U.S. make barely enough to stay out of poverty, and in the wider world, the numbers are even grimmer and "investing" means having enough kids so that after half of them die you'll still have enough able bodies to till the fields and take care of you when you're old.

Madoff certainly had no right to steal your money, oh "victim," but where did you get that money in the first place? Was it really yours? What gives you the right to have all that money to invest, when most people in the world struggle every day just to feed their families? You are the beneficiary of a global, millennial ponzi scheme called Late Capitalism, and you're too stupid or in too much denial to know it, and you're now whining because you were too stupid to at least stash a little emergency funds away somewhere safe?

You're on the karma payment plan.

To Arivaca Film Expo

Today I'm heading down to Arivaca, a little town near the border, about an hour southwest of Tucson, to show "Wild Versus Wall" at the Arivaca Independent Film Exposition. I think this is the third year that I've had something in this yearly 1-day festival, but I've never actually been present for it, so I figured it's about time I show up. It looks like there are quite a few interesting films, both documentary, and narrative, shorts and features, so it should be fun. The only thing is that just like with the Sedona fest last week, it feels like I'm taking time out that I don't have, but at least in this case it's only an afternoon.

Remember...

On this day, Memorial Day, please take the time, just a minute if that's all you have, to not only think of those who fought in our wars, but also think about how few of those wars were really necessary, and how many of them were begun based on lies to the american people.

I don't have time to write much more. Antiwar.com has a wonderful Memorial Day message that pretty much covers everything else I would like to point out.

Today, we are told that we must fight the "terrorists" – defined as anyone who opposes the U.S. government and its plans to manage the world – and that this must be a war without end, without a definable enemy, and without the moral and legal constraints that have governed warfare and international relations in the modern era.

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