26 May 2009

Can't Hear It Enough


Padded with power here they come
International loan sharks backed by the guns
Of market hungry military profiteers
Whose word is a swamp and whose brow is smeared
With the blood of the poor

Who rob life of its quality
Who render rage a necessity
By turning countries into labour camps
Modern slavers in drag as champions of freedom

Sinister cynical instrument
Who makes the gun into a sacrament --
The only response to the deification
Of tyranny by so-called "developed" nations'
Idolatry of ideology

North South East West
Kill the best and buy the rest
It's just spend a buck to make a buck
You don't really give a flying fuck
About the people in misery

IMF dirty MF
Takes away everything it can get
Always making certain that there's one thing left
Keep them on the hook with insupportable debt

See the paid-off local bottom feeders
Passing themselves off as leaders
Kiss the ladies shake hands with the fellows
Open for business like a cheap bordello

And they call it democracy
And they call it democracy
And they call it democracy
And they call it democracy

See the loaded eyes of the children too
Trying to make the best of it the way kids do
One day you're going to rise from your habitual feast
To find yourself staring down the throat of the beast
They call the revolution

IMF dirty MF
Takes away everything it can get
Always making certain that there's one thing left
Keep them on the hook with insupportable debt

21 May 2009


So I decided "yes" and Roberto and Monia, the Italian couch surfers, spent a few days with me. This is a picture of them in their homeland. He looks much more robust than he actually is and she looks more glamorous. Sweet kids. Monia and I are both Sagittarius. Many of you perceived Roberto as arrogant based on the YouTube clip. We laughed about that. He is, in fact, arrogant. He's also a disheartened actor who dabbles in music and psychology. I found him amusing; he'd be a great model for a cartoon character. He and Monia have discussed his arrogance on a number of occasions.

They weren't pushy about the Hare Krishna stuff, though we did talk a lot about religion and other philosophical traditions. Monia took her major in Philosophy at university. We hit it off.

Besides a shared zodiac sun sign, Monia and I are both "lazy". We were discussing music and she said she's always wanted to play piano, believing it to be the "ultimate" instrument. I, the perennial Piano Teacher, encouraged her to take lessons. "Oh, yes, it would be a good thing but I am lazy" she said without blinking an eye. As some of you know, me and "lazy" go way back so she grabbed my attention with her unabashed confession.

When I glimpse my lazy self from time to time, two thoughts come to mind:

1. It's bad to call myself "lazy". Nearly everyone I've ever confessed to has chastised me for using such an unkind adjective to describe myself.

2. Do I think I'm lazy because I was labelled that as a child?

Wiki says "lazy" is "lack of desire to expend energy." That's not such a negative concept, is it? It's simply the opposite of being full of desire to expend energy. It's not the habitual lack of desire..... It's just not feeling like doing anything.

I often have no desire to expend energy. What's wrong with that?

15 May 2009

At Long Last Love Has Arrived

Doesn't matter if it's a brand of clothing, a TV show, a weekly newspaper column, a website, a sixth grade teacher (a painful memory)...

If I'm crazy about it, it will be discontinued. Or at least it will be unavailable in my neck of the woods. The latest instance: Dare brand Lemon Creme cookies.

I stumbled upon them about a month ago at Breaux Mart, the market on Magazine within walking distance of my house. Granted, I had no business anywhere near the cookie aisle given the size of my ass, but there I was. Looking for a snack.

Look at that package! Could you resist that package? The photo doesn't do it full justice. There were two flavors on the shelf: Lemon Creme and Coconut Creme. I'm not wild about either of those flavors generally but both packages were real standouts on the aisle. The colors: I'm not a graphic artist so I can't give you technical specs, i.e., I don't know what kind of dye or ink was used. Suffice to say the colors were vibrant. Nothing humdrum about the colors or the design of either package but,

I could not resist those Lemon Cremes... Look at that package!

Besides the colors and that cute bird, one side of the bag is in English and the other side in French AND the bag is made of sturdier-than-usual paper, i.e., not cheap. AND the manufacturer was thoughtful enough to include those little plastic wires that allow you to reseal the package. A nice albeit unnecessary touch since the cookies taste so damn good, you'll eat them all before they have a chance to go stale.

From the first bite, I was in love and stunned: what is something this good doing in a poor people's grocery store?

Yes, I ate the whole bag. I think there are 18 cookies in a bag. Over two days, I ate the whole bag alone. And picked up another bag on my way home on the 3rd day.

Some friends stopped by that weekend and I raved about Dare Lemon Creme cookies. They're both sensible women who are disinclined to eat store-bought cookies so they didn't really catch the wave.... No problem. Just left more cookies for me. I finished the bag that night watching Law and Order reruns. Sooooooo yummy with cold milk....

The next day, I went back to the store. In the cookie aisle, my inner critic started beating me up: You're in a rut! Lemon creme, shlemon creme -- can't you try something new sometime? So I bought the coconut cremes. You notice I use lower case? Nuh uh. Coconut creme didn't do me like the Lemon Creme.

So the next day, I went back to the store.

The cookie aisle was completely gone. Not one package of cookies anywhere to be found. I asked at the Customer Service counter and was told they were remodeling the store and waiting for restock supplies. I didn't burst into tears .... but I was sad walking back home.

I stopped every day for the next 3 or 4 days. Like waiting for U2 tickets to go on sale....

Finally, I stopped in last week and the new and improved cookie aisle was complete. "Excuse me!" I huffed at a woman dawdling over the Dolly Madison cakes at the entrance to the aisle and blocking my path. Humph! Dolly Madison, indeed...

You guessed it. Not a single package of Dare cookies to be found. Not the lousy coconut. Not the heavenly Lemon Creme. "Oh, we don't carry Dare any more," said the clerk.

Oh, oh..... Woe is me!! Why didn't I buy every bag they had when I had the chance? Why did I waste a week on those stupid coconut cremes?

Now I'm on a research mission. Gotta find Dare cookies...

Humm....looks like they're Canadian. I have a friend in Canada....(David....have you guys discovered Dare yet?) And, apparently I'm not the only one who has fallen under the spell and this writer mentions buying them at Albertsons. I have some friends in CA where they have Albertson markets... And Canada is mentioned again.

OMG! Amazon.com sells them!!!

Oh! And read this, from a blogger with peanut allergies:

Dare Cookies at Amazon - Hurry!!

Amazon notified me that they are now selling Dare cookies again. I have never personally tried these but have heard from readers in Canada they are great. Plus...they are made in a peanut free facility! (I verified this is listed on each of the listings below...not all Dare cookies state this on Amazon.)

For some reason Amazon does not carry these often and only have small quantities when they do. So, if you are interested in buying a case of these safe cookies, act fast!

OK. I have to stop here because it's midnight and there are no Lemon Cremes in the vicinity so reliving the good old days when Dare was right up the street....I'm torturing myself at this point.

I just got my first paying music gig in New Orleans! When I get that first check? I'm ordering some cookies -- if I can hold out till then.

11 May 2009

The Suckling Dream

I am looking for an apartment but have limited funds. I respond to a sublet ad. The current tenant, in the dream, is a woman I don't know. In waking life she is Megan Bronson, a young female acquaintance who lives in New Orleans.

She will be gone for six months. The apartment is 4 rooms on the second floor. The place is a mess. She is leaving her furniture. And her boyfriend -- a short,
fleshy, timid, dark-haired young man who smells very good.

I move into the apartment and gradually come to tolerate the mess. At dinner one night the boyfriend shyly admits that he will never leave the apartment because his girlfriend nurses him and he is addicted to the suckling as well as the milk. He blushes when he tells me how much he misses her but he also exudes deep contentment.

We share a bed. I sleep with my back to him. Each night he rests a little closer to me. He curls up against my back and somehow his body heat endears him to me. I begin to contemplate becoming a wet nurse to this adult baby...uncertain whether I want to begin. What happens when she returns?

I gradually come to realize that he does not want me to suckle him. He wants his Mommy only for that. It's just that he can't sleep alone. And I know I am growing accustomed to him at my back. What will I do when the sublet ends?

How Many Sojourners Does It Take To Open a Window

I am looking for Social Proof. What do regular people do after posing a question in email when the recipient replies withou't addressing the question? Is it pushy to write back, repeating the original question? Is it weird to ask "Why didn't you answer my question?"

I get the impression many or most questions are understood as hypothetical. So, how do we signal, in writing, that we are posing a real question?

10 May 2009

Mother's Day 2009

I spent an hour browsing images to include in this post. Besides the usual Google search, I looked through image files on my computer and flash drive hoping to find pictures of me, my son, my mother and her mother, my son's wife and her mother, my grandson. This Mother's Day I am thinking about mothering, its myriad definitions and stylings in the larger culture as well as the microculture of my family.

Historically, immense romance, mystery and hype have surrounded Mother in the popular mind. It seems we each have a dream of Mother -- like our dreams of love and home, happiness -- and the dream usually holds a high emotional charge. I know it does for me. I can't resist books and films about Mother. A few years ago my favorite theme was "mothers and daughters" but more recently it's been "mothers and sons". And, no matter what media I'm consuming, I take it all very personally and respond emotionally.

I've been essentially estranged from my mother for most of my life. I have a picture of her somewhere but I can't find it today and that feels symbolic. "Mommy where are you?"

My mother was an excellent provider for the child I was: basics like clothing and food and shelter were never lacking, even when she carried the responsibility for four minor children mostly alone after the divorce.

In retrospect, I'm humble and awed by how many luxuries I enjoyed -- piano and dance lessons, vacations, gadgetry and supplies to pursue hobbies, high quality formal education. There was a washer and dryer in the house. There were musical instruments in the house. We had a playroom and a library.We had subscriptions to Ebony and Psychology Today and Seventeen and Glamour. Lots of recorded music. We lived in a single-family dwelling that sat on a huge lot.

Except that I was not once taken to a dentist during my childhood, I concede my heritage of privilege in terms of physical maintenance. Thank you, Mommy.

I was, as they say "raised well". Etiquette and poise were taught and drilled and required. I knew the rules for behavior around adults and rich people and extended family and strangers and boys. All four of us were obedient. We made our beds every morning and put our dishes in the sink after meals. We had chores. We did not receive an allowance. We had a designated bedtime every night but Friday.

Like my mother, I was a single parent. Foremost in my approach to mothering was a near-obsession to provide what I believed I had not received as a child. Social poise and an active life of the mind were cherished features of my childhood and I made them a part of my offering to my son; but there were things I had longed for my entire life (and not found or received) leading up to my son's birth. So both my endowment and my demons shaped my mothering.

I suppose that's the deal for all mothers, huh?

It is assumed that mothers love their children. Even to think otherwise is unsettling, to say the least. And when we hear stories about mothers who did not or do not love their children, we frown or cry or cringe or spit. It's upsetting. Those stories collide with our dreams of Mother.

Mother --the popular icon as well as our private dream -- is a challenging role to play, an awesome ideal against which we measure our mothers and, for some of us, are measured by our children and society.

As I move steadily into the autumn of my life, coming to accept my limitations and acknowledge gratefully my gifts, I understand more and more about how what happened to me as a child shapes who I am today. I observe how some of what I did and did not do for my child, a man now with his own responsibilities, manifests in his life. For the 12 years that he lived with me, music was ever-present and today music is a primary force in his life. We were cash poor and lived in rented spaces throughout his childhood. Today, he goes to work every day, no matter what, delaying his own gratification to be a good provider for his family -- and they own their own home.

Recently a friend wept as she talked about her adult daughter. The relationship is difficult and often painful. I understood her pain because I could feel the gulf between her dream of being Mother and the reality. And I understood because I've been there, weeping the hard, hot tears that only conflict with your child can evoke.

Nobody wants to feel that kind of pain. When she asked, "How do I cut her out of my life?" I responded, "I think it will be hard and, if you succeed, I think you will come to regret the decision." I've never desired to end my relationship with my son but I consciously maintained separation from my mother for many years. Neither route has been easy or pain-free.

I love this picture of Gwenyth Paltrow and her mom, Blythe Danner. It's a great illustration for my personal dream of Mother: both mother and child are beautiful and full of light; both mother and child bring their gifts to the world and (at least in this publicity shot) support each other; there is physical and psychic intimacy; the mark of genes and blood and nurture are visible; Mother is a warm, dark, embracing shadow and She has your back...

There are no clear and simple ideas about Mother for me. There are questions and regrets, poignant memories and opinions. I am both a mother and somebody's child. Mother begins and persists as a trope, a rich blend of ideas and feelings about legacy, unconditional love, safety, the human body, food, art, religion, psychology, courage and mortality. Mother is Legend and Myth.

As the official day of observance approached, I reminded friends to do something for their moms and sent an e-greeting to mothers in my circle of acquaintance. Composing the greeting, I pondered what I could say to all the mothers in the recipient list. What would fit for every mother? I finally decided on "All of you are doing a great job. The World thanks you and I do, too." Luckily, there are no flagrant abusers or crack-pots among my mother friends.

This is another great image I found on the theme. It's another image that serves my dream of Mother. I especially like the detail: Mother Earth weeps, even as she continues to nourish and protect. Even as she is taken for granted and her body is plundered. Self-less generosity is a common dream of Mother. Self-less generosity is the protocol for most of the mothers I know.

Is there such a thing as giving too much -- even for a Mother?

09 May 2009

Map of Today

What an extraordinary morning this is!

If last night I'd been asked before falling asleep

What will happen tomorrow?
What kind of day will it be?

my response might easily have included some of the same elements represented in the bright reality I know in this moment as


I surely would have mentioned coffee music blogging

sporadic bursts of yoga/dance body work

The coffee is good. The perfect potency, -- bold, dark, opinionated

temperature, -- hot enough to stand up to the heavy splash of cold milk I add (with a tablespoon of sugar.....do I need to apologize to someone?) but not so hot I'm forced to drink carefully. I like to drink in mouthfuls not sips.

and quantity -- I make coffee the Chemex way: waiting for water to boil....placing a paper cone in the top of the carafe....grinding beans in my little Black&Decker Smart Grind (impossible, I realize on this bright morning that demands realization, without the luxury and miracle of Electricity)...waiting for coffee to "arrive" - drop by drop.

Brewing a specific amount of coffee is always tricky. Sometimes I don't make enough and find myself physiologically stranded a couple of hours later, trying to decide if I "really" want another cup, want it badly enough to go through the process, again... Other times I make too much and think of saving it for iced coffee later in the day even as I admit it's been 20 years since I drank morning coffee later over ice. It's just one of those ideas that occur during Keen Awareness of Ecology moments.

The computer is on and the iTunes DJ leads me through a landscape that is both familiar -- I chose and imported the songs into the Library that the DJ uses-- and, also, strange and improvised since the DJ shuffles the Library and plays cuts in a randomized sequence; I hear Bach then Gustavo Santaolalla (music from Brokeback Mountain) then Angelique Kidjo then Nina Simone then Peter Gabriel then Neville Brothers then '70s era Crosby Stills Nash and Young....JoJo Reed.......Beethoven.

It's fun.

Both inspiring and facilitating the yoga-dance bursts. I like dancing at home alone -- I almost wrote "I am freer and less self-conscious than when I'm dancing in public"....but that would overlook the great nights of dancing in The Spotted Cat (which is rumored to have changed into something else not nearly as cool.....how could it be when The Jazz Vipers aren't part of the mix?). Those were the days. Is the word "halcyon"?

halcyon |ˈhalsēən|
denoting a period of time in the past that was idyllically happy and peaceful : the halcyon days of the mid-1980s, when profits were soaring. See note at calm .
1 a tropical Asian and African kingfisher with brightly colored plumage. • Genus Halcyon, family Alcedinidae: many species.
2 a mythical bird said by ancient writers to breed in a nest floating at sea at the winter solstice, charming the wind and waves into calm.

Artist: Mario Algaze. “Nina Simone600”

Even waking up early (although waking up alert, full of energy AND ready to actually get out of bed is at least noteworthy for me) is easily within the realm of possible predictions I'd have made about Today

if last night I'd been asked before falling asleep

What will happen tomorrow?
What kind of day will it be?

What's most remarkable about this day lies in the exquisite detail that only Chance lends. (Some call this aspect God. Others thank the saints or the ancestors. And others chock it up to Good Luck.)

For example: When I first opened my eyes this morning, the house was full of soft, glowing light. The sun was not really up yet so there was no heat in the brightness. Ahhhh, refreshing after yesterday, the first of those days that smack your face and remind you that, Fool, this is Louisiana where Summer makes folks humble. Refreshing to fill the lungs with cool morning air.

I take Air and Light somewhat for granted so I might not have remembered to mention them in my prediction.

This is Day Five of No Cigarettes. The coffee is begging for a smoke accompaniment but there's no tobacco in the house.

Now is that a "plus" or a "minus" on this beautiful new morning?


I said "yes" to Roberto and his girlfriend Monia. They will arrive next Saturday.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts and feelings with me. I am touched by the earnest, solicitousness of your replies. Something akin to guilt bubbles into the back of my throat....I was sincerely interested to hear your opinions. Some of you responded as though you perceived me to be struggling and in need of assistance making a decision....which was not the case. But you responded with such sincerity and heart and focus....I feel a little undeserving.

Anyway, I will likely post here after they arrive and report what unfolds.

05 May 2009

The Jury is Still Out

I'm a member of CouchSurfing (http://www.couchsurfing.com/index.html ) for a little over a year. After the rush of visitors from December through Mardi Gras, I took a break and hosted no visitors. One of the first requests to reach me after I reactivated my membership last week came from a young Canadian woman arriving next week for a 12-week internship.

Her picture was nice but she was a new CS member with no references. I decided against hosting her because a) 12-weeks is a long time (even though she said she would be appreciative of any portion of the time), and b) she had no references.

Judging from what I read on discussion boards at the CouchSurfing website -- and a few live conversations I've had with other CS hosts -- it's common for a host's enthusiasm for the CouchSurfing Project, as well as his/her inclination to accept requests, to fluctuate. His/Her philosophies and policies relative to CS will also evolve over time -- do you give guests a key to your house? are they allowed to use your computer?

As Surfers come and go, a body of experience accumulates and for the Host, these experiences inform the decision to accept or deny a request.

My decision-making formula seems to be:

Spirit or Vibe of the Request: Does the request feel fake, frenzied, crazy, neurotic, slimy? or Warm, sane, intelligent, curious, self-confident, independent and creative? Am I attracted or repelled, i.e., after reading the request a second time, do I have any interest in visiting the Surfer's Profile Page at CS.com?

CouchSurf Profile Page: Is it complete? Are there pictures? Any references? What does the member say about herself/himself? How long has s/he been a member?
Special Features or Bonus Material

Sometimes Surfers offer links that lead to digital materials that expand what I know about them as a person.

The most recent request is from a young Italian male/female couple. The male is writing.

The request is a bit rambling --clearly English is not the writer's first language -- but friendly, i.e., I am smiling as I read...until he mentions Hare Krishna.

The picture shows two attractive young people. The shot is playful not goofy. They appear sane, intelligent and creative.

My impression of the CS Profile is mixed -- e.g., the couch photo at the top of this blog is borrowed from that page but under "Types of People I Enjoy" is written

Crazy and weirdo people with freat sensitiveness and sense of humor

What is "freat"? "Great"? "Freak"?

I do not suffer the illusion that I am striving to be a "type" of people that the Italian couple enjoys but my experience suggests what is written here hints at the expectations a Surfer may hold. I tend to be especially guarded or downright defensive when "sense of humor" is mentioned as this phrase can indicate anything from an urbane chuckle to never-ending wisecracks to hysterical guffaws.

The Profile includes references and I like what other people say about Roberto (the guy making the request).

About himself, Roberto offers a link to YouTube. At YouTube, I discover he has posted a number of clips. I watched the first one which is entitled "Marrakech, morocco 3/3".

...and I'm leaning toward "yes" after seeing it.

But that Hare Krishna stuff is still an issue.....

What do you think?

01 May 2009

It's Almost Derby

As the month of April drew to a close, and May was upcoming I remembered

the first Saturday in May is the Kentucky Derby, the Run for the Roses.

Derby was always something of a big deal when I was growing up in Kentuckiana--the locals' name for any area demarcated by the gentle jumble of small Indiana towns hugging the north shore of the Ohio River, the big city of Louisville KY sprawled along the opposite shore, and the river herself.
By the time the sad story of the Louisville Falls Fountain Fiasco had begun in 1988, some of us were dreaming and scheming escapes to some place/any place more jammin' than our pathetic little river cities. We were bored and amused by Louisville's wannabe posturing.

For the celebration,
hundreds gathered on the Clark bridge to watch the launch.
At sundown the switch was flipped and the colored lights came on
and the water shot up 420 feet in the air for the first time.

The next year I met J. His birthday is 3 May. I usually think of him on his birthday.

When I look at this picture (shot in Louisville, KY in 2005 with my cell phone during a very long 7-day visit I made) I remember his bright blondness. So fair that he nearly disappeared in the sunlight sometimes, like in this picture; but his will and ego and talent and desire were solid things that took up space in the world.

I look into the eyes of this image and can almost feel his presence. Or feel his presence as it presented 20 years ago.
I don't know him today.

And if you were only looking at this picture for the first time
without knowing the man
you might perceive none of this...
might take a very different impression...
looking at this White Man with Long Fingers.

Now I live in New Orleans. Another river city but in New Orleans May means JazzFest.

This is the second of the two weekends of JazzFest. I gained admittance to the Fest yesterday by administering 20 surveys among the audience around the Gentilly Stage. Then , in exchange for turning in the surveys, I received one admission ticket good for any of the remaining days of the festival. I'll probably go Sunday.

Thanks and appreciation to my dear friend, Bill, who shot these pictures of me yesterday, preserving for posterity Miss Alex Surveys JazzFest 2009.