Monday, April 21, 2014


The image of a perfectly clear mountain stream tumbling down the sheer rock held my gaze for several minutes. In a rare moment of clarity, I had a visualisation of all the jumbled reasons I took to the road at the naive age of 18.
It was something as simple as that, something you could not come across on the flat plains and grasslands of Illinois. That is not to say the road was always favorable. Atter a full day of extending my thumb in Kansas, darkness made my mannequin act more pointless than it appeared during daylight, and after pushing myself into a sleeping bag, in the early hours of morning, a pack of wild dogs spent an eternity snarling at yours truly stuffed inside that cocoon.
Then there was the Navy kid who indulged in one too many amphetamines who rolled up to provide a ride across the Mojave Desert who in the psychotic thrall of a metabolism on overdrive, that treated me to a infinite tape loop of the Hallelujah chorus on his eight track player. As I slept on the desert floor during a midnight rest stop, he suddenly started his car without warning and began to drive away...Hey!
At that time, my generation had taken to the highways of a lost American landscape going everywhere with no actual destination in mind. As Norman Mailer observed that while the Vietnam war was grinding away the hearts and minds of this country, many of us were napalming our minds with no exit in sight.
One of the prettiest girls in my high school class jumped off a cliff. My girlfriend's cousin drove his motorcycle into a moving train.
Assassinations and self loathing at the end of a rifle barrel rolled by with the months as cities burned and love it or leave it became a choiceless choice...intentionally so while liberating this or liberating that became a sort of signal noise yet to be deciphered as any coherent alternative.

Larry and I found an old mimeograph machine and organised students into a cadre of like minded malcontents to air our grievances against “the machine” only to have your author wander from out of a driving rain into some now nameless bookstore and out of idle curiosity pick up Ouspensky’s translation of Gurdjieff’s teachings, and with a random opening of the table of contents found “Man Is A Machine” ...Several dialogs with Larry much later, he had purchased ( somehow) the incredibly expensive volumes of commentaries on those teachings and soon our wise and learned minds babbled about the buried philosophies of Jethro Tull..while all of the senior class staged a walkout on the football field to defiantly protest assigned seating during lunch hours as an act as surreal as the chaining of the exit doors during “pep” rallies
I kd you not.
In order to demonstrate the toxic nature of peanut butter cookies served in the cafeteria, I lit one afire and tossed it across the table. The Dean of Students somberly informed me he ran out of room in his file folder that accounted for such heinous acts. Larry was approached by this crew cut authoritarian and shaken only to have several place settings of school cafeteria silverware drop out of his pants and jangle to the floor. Hmmm..we were stir crazy in a hermetically sealed pressure cooker.
One of our star football players discovered that the spray can of chalk fixative in art class made a handy blowtorch...Dennis put his talents as a naturally gifted portraitist, worked in a pencil medium to work selling nudes passed under the formica tables in exchange for cigarettes.
What did we learn in school today? As the draft lottery racked up warm bodies for incineration, we bounced off of every available wall. A nifty example of this passive \ aggressive dualism during a art assignment to sketch nature, we slowly moved further and further away by stealth in sight of the gas station just beyond those trees...Our befuddled and exasperated teacher shouted vainly..come back! .
The kid ran up to me on the sidewalk  along the streets of Berkeley shoving a pair of dirty sneakers in hand while pronouncing that these were his last personal possessions although he remained clothed...In Denver during a maniacal deep freeze, a born again Ahab dressed entiely in black ranted against we the homeless, offering a moment of warmth and soup in return for being preached at interminably
Although I was frozen to the bone, I walked away for this less than charitable offer only to be given a bowl of soup in a greasy spoon by a kind hearted grandmother type who had known her share of paying dues to a aching sense of necessity.

We were relentless in search of a Oz far removed from the conveyor belt of being molded into automatons, or so we thought without being self aware enough to express it, like rolling stones pushed by a stream we did not relish our future prospects of being ground down like our largely “successful “ parents...and yet in every move that was made, although in hindsight the entire play was my generation’s pantomime of adulthood as some ideal summer perfect  day lived to the fullest without effort beyond that which seemed to suit us at the moment.
Sitting in the audience of one of what was more than likely one of the first seminars of the women’s liberation movement whose activities were equally interesting due to my attractive companion as well as idle curiosity, I was summarily called out in front of an entire auditorium for being male and was tossed out into the street. Ah, liberation versus liberation versus language, images and stereotypes as if the universe was defined by Look Magazine.
Memories of a divine comedy.
Call this a metaphor, call it a misspent youth, is probably both that I suspect rolls like a player piano in a continuum occupied by similarly disadvantaged wisdom as randomly demonstrated by the youths of Rome or some other quiet conflagration of civilizations yet to pop out of the soil...


  1. Hi Bruce,
    really into reading your blogs lately-no matter the subject!!
    the piece about Chicago is sad beyond belief -
    One thing that has been having a very 'unhealthy' fascination for me the last few years is how deeply our society and mankind is hypnotized-
    why -when we are given such comparatively huge brain boxes do we insist on acting like a schizophrenic herd? Your recent posts here plus the surreal 'foreign policy' of this nation (UKR 'crisis' etc) plus my reading The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich leave me stunned at the hideousness of what can lurk in the human mind.

    atb my friend-I hope you are well,

  2. Devin
    There is a tenuous link between 1969 and the current catastrophe in Englewood and that is in the form of a question. How many other animals create their own problems by the nature of their consciousness? In 1969, as kids our environment was a pressure cooker and we knew that and reacted to the failures of materialism while being in the midst of a meaningless war, political assassinations and the struggle for civil rights. Out of that came the nascent movements for ecology, civil rights, alternative consciousness, activism against propaganda, war, corporate profiteers, etc. This generation lives in a pressure cooker with more far reaching catastrophic issues such as climate change, the consolidations of institutional power, and within this, political malfeasance. Yet as they say, the roaring silence of ambivalence is striking..Why is this?
    The consolidation of capitalised corporations in size and influence is equally striking from the ownership of media to the purchasing of legislation, which has a paramount agenda, to accumulate wealth. How do we define wealth?
    If the genocide in Englewood was constituted by white kids instead of African American kids, would there be more of an effort to get to the root cause? The root cause is poverty and the line between the haves and have nots is becoming bolder, more pronounced. Why is there no investment in Englewood to create living wages to eradicate the core situation?