The Hunger Games: Elite Edition

Twelve score and 2 years ago, our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that sacrifices will be made upon the altar of privilege to the great God of the White Establishment…

Wait. No. That’s not right.

Or is it?

This nation has protested. This nation has marched. This nation has petitioned. This nation has raised activist dins from within and without government halls. This nation has waged massive and sustained media campaigns. This nation has filed civil suits. This nation has demanded indictments.

This nation has honored nonviolent methods of reform across the spectrum.

And still, the thin blue line toes its line. And still, The People suffer the summary executions of their family, friends, and neighbors for stealing candy bars. Reaching for their IDs as asked to by their stand-by executioners. Being black in a white neighborhood.

And still, the thin blue line toes that line.

The Thin Blue Line

The thin blue line isn’t an actual line. It isn’t even an arbitrary one. The thin blue line is the automatic denial on the part of law enforcement agencies behind which they enjoy mutual protection for all their sins, complicit in murder after murder of civilians – on camera, no less – without fear of retribution and without any intention of changing.

When a video of a crime shows an indistinct but reasonably identifiable suspect perpetrating that crime, even if we’re talking about a 40 second video, we call that “evidence”. In fact, if we have video of a crime being committed, we tend to fairly universally refer to it as damning evidence.

When we see a video of such suspect killing another human being, the law enforcement agencies bring their unlimited power to bear to go after that suspect in the name of justice.

But when we see a 40 second video of police officers clearly executing a citizen, we are told by law enforcement – wait, you can’t draw conclusions from a 40 second video.

Isn’t it ironic that a 40 second video (or far far less) is plenty to convict a non-badge-wearing civilian for a crime, but we’re told that it isn’t enough to even accuse an officer?

As this nation has peacefully railed against this blind denial, more and more sons of grieving mothers have fallen to the inappropriate standards of authorization of the use of deadly force which law enforcement paradoxically insists it needs in the face of dangers which statistically do not exist.

Police Lives Matter

Yes. They do. However, the Police Lives Matter movement exists to perpetrate a fraud in reaction to the Black Lives Matter movement.

Yes, I’m declaring that a fraud. Openly.

I’m doing so because every conceivable metric in the world that measures officer safety agrees universally that it has never been a safer time in the history of the nation to be a police officer. Meanwhile, statistics exist all over the place that, particularly, black youths are being snuffed out. But they don’t want to give up the post-Patriot Act power they’ve been given, so toe that thin blue line, making themselves accessories to murder after murder of civilian and creating the very demon they allege to stand against.

So while we’re all watching citizens being dropped like flies, we’re told that it’s because it’s so dangerous to be a police officer that it’s necessary to sacrifice a possibly innocent person if there’s a chance that an officer might be in danger.

Voila the inappropriate shift of the standard of the use of deadly force.

Voila the increase in outrage over our law enforcement agencies operating contrary to the concept of innocent until proven guilty, and the presumption of law enforcement that their role is to take it upon themselves to act as judge, jury, and executioner.

They have turned streets into The Hunger Games. And Dallas District has, apparently, declined to participate any more.

Hopefully, where peaceful and nonviolent methods of reform have failed across the board, what happened in Dallas will make the establishment wake up and there will be no repeat.

But already, I’m seeing representatives of law enforcement double-down on the illusion that there’s an imminent danger to them that they aren’t, themselves, creating.

Cause -> Effect

This is an analysis, not a rally cry. Nonviolent methods of reform are the intent of every part of the design of this nation; they should be the mechanism for all change.

However… When nonviolent methods of reform fail across the board, there’s a reasonable expectation that The People are going to begin to use their 2nd Amendment rights to stand up to the injustice. That right, after all, is far more suitable to overthrowing out-of-control law enforcement (magistrates) than it is realistically suitable to rebelling against the strongest military the world has ever seen.

The effect sucks. It’s disgusting watching our peacekeepers being targeted.

Ask yourselves, though – just what is it going to take to get that thin blue line erased and our pre-Patriot Act police presence back again? Because that is most definitely the cause. Nonviolent action? Okay – which ones? The gamut of them have been wailing against the establishment for years to no effect. So you tell us – do we need to say “pretty please”?

Innocent until proven guilty. Peacekeepers.


One More Song

You’re strolling up your walk, round a bend on which you’ve coursed every day of your life for years, mind idly ticking off checklists or carrying a tune or rehashing your day.

And just for a moment, a flash of a second that realized you weren’t paying any attention to it, the world bends and something impossible happens.

And you think…

Did I just see that? Did that just happen? It can’t have happened, it’s impossible. But if it did…. Of course, though… I could not, so it must not have.

And that fleeting second breathes a sigh of relief as your mind for peace’s sake files the momentary lapse in rationality under a “Forget about it” label and tentatively leaves it on the edge of a shelf in your mental library’s daydreaming section – but not quite in the rows properly. Just… Left there on the shelf to be forgotten, to be picked up, whatever, a non-thought, uncategorized and unindexed, a memory that might come fleetingly to mind once in a while as you wander that daydreaming library and make you go hm, shake your head a little, and drop it back into its limbo position on the shelf to chase actual fantasy thought. .

Deep down, though, you know it did in fact happen. YOu just can’t bring yourself to actually put that thought into words, to ratify it, to undo the security of being sure that impossible things simply don’t happen and the world remains a practical reality of cause to effect.

You’re in your basement. You’ve been in your basement a thousand times. You’re looking at the same walls, the same rafters, the same appliances, the same shadows and indirectly-lit crooks that you have seen times untold. And the hair on the back of your neck stands at attention. You don’t know why. In fact, you know there’s no reason. With every fibre of your rational being, you know you can take a breathe and dispell it and go about your business like the feeling never happened.

But as you find yourself on the step to return upstairs, you hasten your step. And with each step, you are flying faster up the stairs until you’re at a full run and your heart doesn’t stop pounding harder and harder until the latch closes behind you.

And you laugh a little. So silly.

But then again… There are memories uncategorized and unindexed and intentionally not thought about, abandoned to the shelves of your deepest most private experience. And because they’re there….

You ran up your stairs, away from nothing.

Because you don’t allow yourself to know it, but you have experienced impossible. Unreal.

And because you know that that which is unreal does occur – we’re afraid of the dark.

Psychologists will say… Fear of the dark is a natural consequence of predation.

Were you afraid a lion was going to leap out from behind your washer or dryer and eat you?

I don’t think so.

As children, it’s a vague and completely undefined Bogeyman that’s supposed to haunt the dark places. And that – all by itself – is where the terror lies. Not in what he’d do, this unshaped implied-humanoid thing, but in his very existence.

For him to exist, all of what we like to know is true becomes something we can’t quite count on, especially when we’re alone, especially in the dark.

So I’m sitting on the couch last night, and the world bent just a little bit, and light and sound with it, and the note that I struck on the low E of my guitar dipped impossibly low as if I’d bent the guitar over onto itself and relieved the string just for the briefest moment.

And I’ve thought about this before, the can’t be but is, many many many times, so when it happened I thought, “Ooo… A little bit of magic.”

And plucked some more out of the box, and played around with it, and thought…

Time to clear the camoflage.

Six Degrees of Separation: Anti-Social Media

My Cultural Anthropology professor abandoned the syllabus a few times and, instead, gave us very intriguing hour-long soliloquies about “evil anthropologists” (occasionally punctuating the speeches by warning me against becoming one lol).

It was before Facebook existed, in fact before MySpace, too, AOL chat was dying out to Yahoo chat and sociologists had barely begun looking at their social impact at all in any serious way.

In the roots of mass social manipulation were (and, so far, remain) the parts of society conceived of by these “evil anthropologists”, the “cool-setters” or “trend-setters” as he liked to call them sometimes, “assholes” as he’d call them other times.

These are the people that, for instance, gave us the Nike swoosh. An almost accidental-looking visual brand that, using rudimentary mass-social tools like non-interactive TV, had achieved a historical god-like status which granted it adoration when put beside identical, or even superior quality, items not so-branded. And on the authority of this programmed artificial devotion, Nike sweatshops were born and continue to operate to this day.

The evil anthropologists, essentially, were those C. Anthropologists that had abandoned their objectivity and violated the most basic tenet of the field of non-interventionism and pure observation. They had, in fact, become Sociologists which, in his mind, were nothing more than Peeping-Tom-Cultural-Anthropologists – mass manipulators by any other name,

k guilty on the long-ago charge of becoming an evil cultural anthropolgist; I have totally used the once-in-a lifetime opportunity of social media’s inception and roll-out to not just study but to tinker with not just my own culture, but every culture out there that’s connected via these networks, but I’ve only tinkered and I like to think in a positive way which forces people to think against the grain of their own beliefs and/or social programming.

Which is why I very firmly defy the branding of Facebook et al as “social networking”. And defy the branding of our age as “the information age”.

Because I’ve looked with a sociologically manipulative eye at the way each function, and conclude that they should be labeled “Anti-social media” and “the disinformation age”, respectively.

And that’s not born of cynicism; it’s an objective conclusion. I might quite seriously write a book on it sometime soon.

Everyone has an almost instinctive knowledge of Facebook’s deleterious effect on individuals and groups alike, but very few take it seriously so even knowing better they suspend their intellectualism and allow it to affect them anyway.

In this way…

We have concentrated the knee-jerk color code voting that was already endemic, while social momentum (ironically, and against design) is beginning to drive in directions contrary to the electoral polls.

Cognitive dissonance makes the internet-world go ’round.

Goodbye, Yellow Brick Road

It’s late. The fan is blowing white noise around the room, slowly stirring a resentful chill through the glare from this phone’s screen.

The chill doesn’t go quietly; it grabs for purchase at finger and toes, determined not to let slip the stillness of the night, reaching through the comforter like its not there at all.

Sleep, it says, retire. Extinguish the light, it’s only hurting your eyes. Shhhh sleep. Dream.

But the mind wanders, and it doesn’t care to have another night stolen by a dreamself that doesn’t share. Blink, and it’s morning. Everything between forgotten.

What value, dreams, if they only happen when we’re not looking?

Old sentiment, like a bad habit that feels impossible to break. Cynical truth.

Here’s another minus the cynism. Faith is what happens in between reasons, and, often, in spite of them. It does not require support. Or justification. Or even hope. If it didn’t feel like hopelessness, in fact, we’d call it “reason” instead of “faith”.

So the mind wanders. It wanders looking for wrong turns to undo. And dreams to conjure into reality.

And it doesn’t seem like cold, dark, chilled white noise lullabies promising dreamless unmarked time interest it much anymore.

It’s too busy looking forward for more than that.

Sorry, Chill, but I think you’re in for a sleepless night, yourself.

Through the looking glass…


We’re born knowing it, and spend our childhoods championing it. We become adults when we learn to pack our ideas of it into a category of “childish things” and put them away. To be still and quiet. To lie dormant under the thickening fog of adulthood, the club whose only real rule is that we must surrender to a universe where cause always precedes effect and imagination is something only barely engaged for brainstorming purposes. Where everything happens for a reason, and in one direction through time. Cause always precedes effect in the adult world and Blame becomes everything.

A child, though, will (inevitably) ask, “Why is the sky blue?” Some people have absolutely no idea. Their white flag waves at the first answer, “It just is.” Some people know it’s because oxygen is blue and there’s oxygen in the atmosphere. Their white flag waves a little further up the field; “Why is oxygen blue?” – “It just is.” Some might be able to explain further, explaining gravity bends light around the molecule, changes the frequency, our minds interpret the signal in our brains as blue. And that’s where the white flag gets planted, but the relentless march of Why’s will always exceed the reach of reason.

Why does gravity pull? Why is an electron a negative charge? Why is Rush Limbaugh an asshole? Some things just are. We don’t like to admit it, but at some point along any line of reasoning, no matter how well-researched or knowledgeable, there is always a white flag at the edge of the field.

Adults are fine with that. We just figure we need to look deeper for the answers and the answers will come.

That’s true, but maybe not necessarily because they’re there to find…

Perhaps because we imagine them first. In fact, it must be that way. You can’t perceive something that you can’t first imagine.

Most people have heard of the double slit experiment. Some have an idea of what it is. A few are familiar with it enough to wonder about it.

No one seems to realize what it tells, us, though.

We know, thanks to Einstein, that as we approach the speed of light, time slows down. The relationship between cause and effect changes.

Why doesn’t anyone reach the rather obvious conclusion that if that’s the case, then AT the speed of light, time becomes null and there IS no relationship between cause and effect?

So if light “needs” to be a particle to produce the results we see – it’s a particle. If it “needs” to be a wave to satisfy our expectations, then it’s a wave. Voila. What’s the big burning mystery?

We’ve seen it elsewhere. The God particle. Proven to exist? Eh…. Not REALLY, no. What CERN researchers have discovered, broken down and all hooting and celebratory shoulder-slapping hollering aside, is that WHEN THEY EXPECT TO SEE THE EFFECTS OF ONE…  they do.

And only then, only when they’re looking, only when expectation requires it according to rules they’ve imagined first.

It doesn’t happen any other time; there’s no spontaneous effect to be found happening minus that expectation.

We see it a whole lot more often than that, too.

What are the odds of flipping a penny in the air 100 times? 50:50, right?

Wrong. Random is random. There is no reason that 50:50 should be more likely to happen than 80:20 or 95:5. All are equally probable results.

Except we expect 50:50. So that is the tendency that reveals itself.

We look at the universe through a looking glass. Everything we see is a reflection of light. Everything we experience is actually a memory.

Einstein showed us that as we approach the speed of light, time slows down; the relationship between cause and effect breaks down.


AT the speed of light, cause no longer necessarily precedes effect, and that’s the mystery of the double slit experiment explained, right there. If light “needs” to be a particle to satisfy our expectation, it is. If it “needs” to be a wave to satisfy that expectation, it is.

And if light itself isn’t bound by the rules of the club of adulthood, but *IS* bound by expectation, then our experience is only as much cause->effect as we agree it is.

And as much magic as we imagine.

And at the edge of what we can imagine, there’s always more to imagine.

So there’s always a white flag.

Which means that


And if that isn’t babbling rambling, then I must admit I have no idea what is then and here lies my own white flag.

But… The next time a child asks you why the sky is blue, tell them “It’s magic” and you will be less wrong than you have been in a very long time.

Only Solitaire

Summer feels it. It shivers in the cold, quietly mis-dealt day

The deck is unloaded;

there are no more marked cards to play

The album scratches discordant lines faintly whispered

by a child of war called home

Far below the highest bidder runs a 4 bit seige

crawling in boxes alone

Kickball roulette veteran vine breaker

lay upon the ground

Turn a card on the Citadel altar

and remember your broadsword

if not your talisman

Turn another onto the stage

the audience has gone home

Turn one more into the dark

where music shook the floor

900 feet of salvation

blowing a whistle

Turn them all one by one

scenes of everything undone

Wind up wind down

what have you done

Summer feels it. It shivers in the cold, quietly mis-dealt day

The game ended before it was begun

everyone walked away

Flip the cards

Flip some more

after all

it’s only solitaire


When the Bough Breaks

I actually had this title and a vague concept prepared prior to Robin Williams’ untimely death, but the avalanch of internal reaction to that has crystalized the concept for me in a way that I don’t mind it being somewhat hijacked by it.

Aging fascinates me, in a way that’s probably more akin to obsession. Somewhere back in the murky levels of my memory, way back inside the first few years of my life before my mind started cataloguing every thought, sight, sound, action, and dialogue, I reached a conclusion in defiance of blurred and incomplete understanding that was basically, “death is an evil that is visited upon us all, eventually”.

Surely, the words weren’t so precise. In fact, like any other thought or concept, it likely popped into existence fully-formed without words and, being so young, I lacked the vocabulary for my inner voice to define it and put limits around the thought.

And without limits, it grew. It grew deeper, it grew more sensitive, it grew sadder, it grew more afraid.

In the beginning, there was nothing and everything, and the cradle rocked gently at the top of the tree, and there was youth in the world and smiles and laughter, fanciful and impossible stories of old men snoring and an oddyssee of poor meatballs, and none of it made sense but it was all good; we’re born into a world of magic and nursery rhymes and nonsense songs of the Dell, looney tunes, and mythical mystical creatures that visit in the night to barter teeth for coin or toys for good behavior.

And the Elders take care to keep the nursery of our minds full of talking dragons and dog detectives and tooth fairies and elves and for every action in life, for every blowing of the wind, they rock us with nonsense at the top of a tree, keeping us from ever touching the ground far below where cold reality lives, in endless refrains of ee-aye-ee-aye-oh’s.

Over time we break the bonds that bind tooth to fairy, elves become unreal; the tree beneath us begins to chip away in little bits until we’re treading the earth lightly, eased into it as our Elders reluctantly stop stocking the nursery in the hope that there’s enough magic within to carry us through to the end.

Nursery rhymes become meditations, and with the simple dropping of tiny words like “tick-tock”, some small piece of our mind thinks back to when the tree was young and closes its eyes to delight in the feel of the wind blowing. But just for a moment, and rarely in a way that shows.

Laughter becomes a thing of barter, traded not shared, and we gather to feed on it as it’s thrown about on a stage, like music, as eager to devour whatever pain or fear or anger that the performer is burning up to make our bellies laugh as they are to unburden themselves of it. And in this way, there’s an intimacy that is never talked about, an understanding where the performer says, “the wind is quiet; let my storm rock your cradle a while” and both performer and audience go home feeling a little less bound to the earth below, for the brief time spent playing at the top of the tree. Renewed.

Eventually, all things must end. Which is the great unfairness of life itself, of reality itself, of the universe with its cold ground under an aging tree fading in a growing sunset.

We live in the knowledge that everything we know will be gone. Every person. Ourselves. And somehow we still function, though how that is is a mystery to me. We know that in the vast unknown of “someday” there will be a time when endings will come, so we live in the now according to a philosophy of that’s all there is, never quite letting ourselves realize that it’s less philosophy than it is stark reality.

When someone passes before their time, the blow can be a tragic one, forcing stark reality to look philosophy in the eye and explore the painful recess left behind like a lost tooth.

So performers come to love their audience as much as their audience loves them, and collectively millions of people tune in to lift the burdens of the performer’s pains and passions and find togetherness in a wordless way that rocks millions of trees and makes millions of people young together for a while.

Until the performer’s pain becomes too heavy to throw down upon a stage, and they choose a ghastly and untimely end.

And the bough breaks.

And for a while… The laughter rapture has come; all that was funny in the world was carried away leaving nothing left to laugh about anymore.

Or wonder about. Or smile sweetly about. Or feel inspired about.  Robin did all that and more.

For a while, there’s just an apology that feels like deep grief and no one to hear it and grant absolution.

Robin, we are so sorry that we couldn’t unburden you enough. As fast and as passionately as you unburdened, we were happy to accept anything you threw off.  As much or as little.  We’d have taken it all if we could and still been looking for more.

I’m in shock over it. That someone who so brilliantly used humor as a self-defense mechanism could be overwhelmed is like a fatal blow to the concept of hope itself.