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...and here, a clip from what I have been typing very slowly the last couple weeks...an old short story from 1973...

Van Gogh You Stupid Shit

mindlessness over matterlessness

Okay, if I am so smart, how come it's taken me so long to come to this moment to try to say how I would do it differently.

Yes, it is life that I refer to---past---present---future.

There is no question...only to act as if I know, as if I have always known and  accept this gracious gift of living what is.

So what, if Van Gogh lost control of his poetry---so what, if humanity made a mockery of his pain in a San Francisco art museum---it doesn't matter.

I am alive.

I am fighting.

I am learning to give and to give in.

Van Gogh was then yet as you are with us this moment.

Vincent still lives, still feels.

That is the difference of what matters. Spirits don't evaporate like farts in the wind.

Van Gogh you stupid shit! Why did you do that? Could you not see the sun?

"Who are you my friend to say these things to me? Such impertinent questions!"

I know, I know! I'm hardly anybody at all. I know, yeah? I've got a long way to go. Listen! I don't mean to put you down. you really tried hard. I guess I might have murdered myself if I'd been you---but that was your mistake. I don't equate it any other way. Sure it's a pain in the ass to be an artist---you, me, and John Lennon know all about that. But you know what?

"What?"

You gave up!

"I gave up! You fool! You do not know the first thing of giving up! What suffering have you had?"

Oh for Chrise sake! What makes you think you are the only one who has suffered? If you're gonna talk to me don't get so high and mighty indignant---you think I'm insensitive to suffering? Get off your fuck'n high horse. You're not the only one who did something important and nobody noticed.

Listen. I'm not just say'n nasty things  about you, Vincent, cause I'm jealous. For one, you probably disserve a lot more---really I'm on your side. Look! I'm trying to help you, as well as myself. But you! You got yourself in this crazy limbo because you bumped your self off.

Part of me helping you and myself is to know why you did it. Now come on---tell me why?

Silence. There is only silence in the room now. The spirit is removed. Shadows fall from the candlelight and the fireplace squeaks popping sparks, but not a word from Van Gogh. Honestly, I wonder if that man will ever grow up.

I know he is here, only he does not want to play anyone's game but his own. Crap. What a bad sport!

"Have you only foul names to call me?"

So. You came back heh? Well, how about it? Do you want to answer my question or do you just want to talk? Really though, I 'm not interested in idle chit-chat. I would like it if you told me why you had to kill yourself.

"You would not understand if I told you."

That's a possibility all right.

"I find it ridiculous to speak to such a man as you to begin with...but...I suppose it may do you a bit of good."

Oh brother! You're so damned righteous Vincent! Why can't you face the fact that maybe my life has not been any easier  than yours? For that matter there have been a whole lot of people that gave all they had and know one knows about them. There's probably a lot of those people that didn't even get a smile for all they gave.

"You are such an idealistic fool."

All right. Get back at me and call me names, but it's true, people have given a lot of things...you are not alone.

"Trifling trash. The lot of humanity has been nothing but greed infested vermin. Mankind has never had an ounce of benevolence in it's twisted existence except to save it's own rotted heart."

Vincent, you know you are just fucking unbelievable. After all this time you are still so bitter.

"Bitter! You imbecile! You have no idea of the essence of my passion. You are misguided in the depths of buffoonery. What you think of life is nothing but a juvenile dream of romance."

Boy, you like to hit back don't you?  Okay, so I'm a romantic. Big deal. I admit it. At least I still have both my ears.

Vincent? Vincent, where are you? What's the matter, I strike a nerve? Holy mackerel, this is nuts. Look. I don't want to get into a name calling game with you. I want to understand you. I just want to be friends so we both can be better...come on, Vincent?

Okay, I just said that because I thought cutting off your ear and sending it to your girlfriend was a terribly romantic thing to do. I'm not making fun of you, honest...

Oh for crying out loud! What a kid. I say one thing and off you go into a silent pout. Okay. I'm sorry. I apologize. That was mean and unjustified.

"What do you want of me?"

Oh, back again? Thanks Vincent. I thought you'd gone for good. Really, I'm sorry, but I already told you what I want to know---why did you commit suicide?

"I do not want to talk about it."

Okay...what do you want to talk about?

"Nothing."

Come on, I know you want to talk of otherwise you wouldn't have stuck around. Hey, you want to talk art?

"Please, do not say a word of painting nonsense, I never want to think of it again."

Yeah, well, I can understand that, especially after seeing that exhibit your descendents were showing all over the states. I mean, not because it was not good or anything like that. You know I love your stuff. I just thought all of those fat heads that came to ogle your work were jerks. It was one of the biggest crimes I ever saw.

"And you were not involved I suppose?"

Vincent you know I am one of your biggest fans. You were the first artist that ever inspired me. Sure, I have more to learn about it, but I wasn't like the rest of those bird brains.

"What makes you so positive of that? Were you not goggle-eyed and blabbing your foolish mind just as much as they? No one has ever understood my work except for Theo. You and the lot are fools of the worst kind."

"Hey I don't get it. How can you say such stupid shit? I cried the day I saw your exhibit. I felt so much pain for you, for your work, your life. It was all a crime---and damn you. You know I felt for you. But no, you act the idiot and a cold hearted one at that. Fuck you. Why should I even think about you? You don't give a damn for anyone but old persecuted Van Gogh. Yeah, none understand you. You disserve to be crucified...

Silence. Again with the silence. I guess we're having an argument. The fucker finally pissed me off. Yeah, I lost my compassion. God, what a dope he is. Now I don't want to talk to him. I can't think straight about what's going on. We are just making each other sicker. This is what lovers fight about. Bullshit. Friends don't do this crap to each other. The son-of-a-bitch. Who does he think he is? Yeah, lovers leap and friends find. I feel better just saying it like it is. Anyway...it's a fucked up curse to identify with such a jerk. I should bury him again. He never disserved resurrection, or a friend or compassion or anything. Come on man, get yourself together and stop talking to the wind...

 

Cool down to sifted moments and let time pass. Let it go...remembering when you hurt more than you want to remember...

San Francisco, July 1968. The weather had been that off and on cold morning fog that fades into warm afternoons.  There was the nut house in Presidio, my buddy Pete, sweet little Angel and her apartment on Pine and Jones street full of day trippers, night creatures, shattered lovers, lost children, running freaks popping in, pulling out...all of us crazy crazies. Inside eyes pull back layers, glimpses of madmen screaming tears in the middle of the night. It was a cold shiver slithering up my back into the soft moist warm dreams of friends lost and found...

Where am I this moment. Always this moment. Surfaces. So many surfaces laced together into one body, one time.

The nut house. The army. Van Gogh.

How do they fit together?

Pete in the Presidio nut house. Little Angel scratching my back yowling like a tomcat while the lights went on the high rise apartments around the roof top. The Stripper in Portland.  Vietnam. My Lai.  All of that, a thousand years ago. All of it a fast connection of kinked knots. An embezzlement of the mind. Yeah, what a profitable relationship of madness exchanging bank account numbers...

The lock-up of Presidio. Am I still insane? Was I ever sane? Tide pool. Reflections of time eternal.

Was it 1968 or 1970? I can't remember. The Van Gogh exhibition. The rotating exhibition old Charley Van Gogh had. Maybe that wasn't his name. It doesn't matter. Golden Gate Park. Yes, yes, it was there. The Museum of Art. The line of people. Pull my friend, pull. To remember that is important. How was it?

We got up early. We didn't want to stand in line. That's right. Three hours before the museum opened its doors. It was a beautiful San Francisco morning. One of those mornings when the fog burns off and the sun stabs golden blades through the park's trees.

People fuse into the green and mist. Down the shafts of light the sun glitters like lint in a dusty room.

It was a day of invitation and Zen balance. The faces blur. Who was with me?

I remember the feeling of being alone, and yet I know there was somebody cruising with me. Yes oh yes, cruising for burgers. Lally-gagging into the mood of seeing serious art. Art done by the madman genius, Vincent Van Gogh. Vincent the maligned, Vincent the misunderstood.

It was a special day for me. I had only seen one original years before, in Oregon. I was about to see more mirrors of reflected misery. Van Gogh in depth. Van Gogh in honor and glory. Van Gogh the magnificent displayed for the public.

I was prepared to have my head cracked open and filled with divine measurement. After all, he was my hero. On top of that, I even resembled  Van Gogh. All of my friends told me so, sooner or later.

Moving past the Japanese Gardens, out of the shadows, sun gold leafed sidewalks lead to the museum. I see the crowd. Three hours before opening, already a crowd four abreast and a block long. I don't want to wait. That is what I think. The army. Lines. Crowds. No, no, no.

I start to walk away.  No, I can't. The little white dog chases the black one and the magnets join tail to tail. The line is full of talk and clumsy anticipation. One hour, two hours, three. The crowd has grown to four or five blocks long. How is this possible?

Yes, Van Gogh, they want to see you. Factory workers, taxi cab drivers, suburbanites, teachers, students, whores, evangelists---they are here to see Van Gogh, the loser of losers.

The doors open and the crowd like sand at the top of the hour clock begins to fall into the museum, past the relics of time, past the refined art of old masters, past rich art for rich people.

Fall, fall,  down to the savage art of the wretched one; the one who painted for the poor.

My God, at last I was surrounded by him, the Vincent. I stand amazed.

Yes, of course the paintings are beautiful.

What is that noise?

People. So many people the room is a sardine can.

There is a red velvet rope around the perimeter. The curators answer questions of how come, when, where, why, who and whatever. "Yes, Van Gogh was very miserable at this point in his life..."and blah, blah, blah. "He was so despondent at this place that he..." blah, blah and blahed... "Vincent was progressively more...." yet blah de blah blahed.... "Of course his brother Theo was very aware that..."blah, blah and wambam blayhehah...

The room was shrinking. It was getting difficult to walk. Still the sand poured in. Where were all of those people coming from? More. Yet more. The museum officials had not anticipated such a crush. The guards and curators began to see an emergency situation was occurring in front of their eyes. Noise rippled through the echoic salon. Guards demand lines formed. Hop, one two three, march people, eyes right and see your Van Gogh. Click, see, move. Tromp, tromp tromp. Eyes right, Yes Starry Starry Night. Move on people.

The middle of the gallery is full of people anxious to form a new line. Insect lines close to the velvet rope 6 feet from the walls of hung Van Gogh joyful miseries.

The insects continue to march, Tromp, tromp, tromp. Such big bugs, they block the view to anyone not exactly in front of a painting. If you are not in the bug line, tough luck. You can watch the ceiling.

There they go. I stand in the center and watch unbelieving of what is happening this day to poor, poor Van Gogh, who no one but his brother, in his own time, thought he was any kind of an artist.

Oh, Vincent, the poor pitiful son-of-a-bitch. You see what they are doing?

Tromp, tromp, tromp, eyes right, and you have exactly three, point five seconds to see genius in front of you. Ho. people march! Tromp, tromp, tromp, eyes right.

Oh the multitudes, they are so merciless.

Van Gogh, you are spinning out there, aren't you? I can hear you groaning. You didn't want it this way did you? Look at them Vincent. Blessed are the meek. Look. They are an army of ants. peering, sputtering for a few seconds at a time at each piece of your pain.

They are wasting no time. They make quick work of you my friend. That's real gratitude for you.

Abundantly rewarded. So many of them Vincent. At last your art is beheld by mankind. Blessed abundantly. Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.

Oh Vincent, I feel like crying. Poor, poor Van Gogh. Van Gogh, you stupid shit!

CHAPTER TWO

notes: Operation Muscatine, 1st Platoon, Charlie Company

Americal Division/  11th Brigade/the coast of Quangngai Province in central Vietnam // obey a blind ideology of destruction/ Collateral Damage/During the period of 16-19 March 1968, troops of Task Force Barker massacred a large number of Vietnamese nationals in the villages of Son My / My Lai

 One them was Michael Terry in Utah:

"They just marched through shooting everybody ... they had them in a group
standing in front of a ditch, just like a Nazi-type thing. One officer ordered
a kid to machine gun everybody down. But the kid just couldn't do it. He threw
the machine gun down and the officer picked it up ... I don't remember seeing
many men in the ditch, mostly women and kids."

 

DREAMS, LOVE AND HOPE

 

43 years ago I got married to a 26 year old Go-Go dancer. She had been married 6 times before. A day later I joined the U.S. Army. I was about to be drafted. I joined so I wouldn't be put in the infantry, or worse, be made a medic in the infantry in Vietnam. Six months later I was a medic in a infantry platoon in, guess where? You got it. Vietnam. How come? You betcha, I asked myself that question more than once.

 

Today I was listening to the old WHITE Beatles album. It bumped me backwards and I saw the whole movie of myself during that weird ass time of the 60's.

 

Early on, say back in 63, 64, I had innocent dreams...what the world was and is, like William Blake with a twist of Vincent Van Gogh, a sprinkle of Gully Jemson. But here now, I sit wanting to cry, cry cry baby...yet wanting to laugh, wanting to go back and find the peaceful sleep, the guiltless joy I believed must exist. Here is reality. The Beatles cut into these words as I write and sing, "...boy, you're going to carry that weight carry that weight for a long time..."

 

I'm wondering how greedy I've been and why is it I wanted to run off to Scotland. I felt like a speck of dust at that point. I was looking for the place where I would find contentment I had never known. Yeah, I remember Pete calling me Mr. Contentment and laughing at his irony. He knew better than me that ideal was one of man's fantasies. The Beatles connect the dotted lines singing, "...the love you make is the love you take..."

 

Circles of humanity, circles of thought...Pete, My Lai, The Stripper, a cast of thousands...Vonnegut's Korass...a journey of a million miles...

 

Van Gogh are you real? Do I feel the spirit? I can't quiet the voices whispering inside my head...I can't slow the river of urgency rippling through me...

 

What is it I am still looking for? Is it magic? God is magic. Magic lives. God lives.

 

Yes, the excitement. Yes, the adventure.

 

Dollars and cents make no sense. I can't measure my life into so many life insurance policies. I can't fall into an existence where I am a gray spirit surrounded by gray people. Yet...how can I live my life without the magic of believing in a God? A magic God. God the great adventurer and the one romantic tale. That is the story I want to find, I want to follow. I wait for the moment and yet I must search for the perfect moment...

 

Where am I?

 

Are we here, together, a place called Earth?

 

No, no, it is just one of many illusions. We are in the eternal now, the eternal here. We are always tempted like Ulysious---Sirens call from the rocky imaginary coastline. Our ship, so fragile, the shore ragged with mirage dangers. The sweet voices keep calling lies. Why should they stop? It is their duty. Some of the voices even sound like friends or family.

 

Oh Magic God, save me from my swirling mind---a recorder of the bazaar, yet so beautifully mixed with conglomerate devils, angels, evil, goodness, strings of adventurous tragic romantic moments.

 

If I reach out and try to tell someone what it is that haunts me, they say, "Hey buddy, it ain't nothing."

 

Yeah, it is just a mundane little world, full of little mundane people. You are safe. Don't say things that make you feel insecure. It is all a lie in every direction but what is. Perceive what is. Who said that?

 

Okay. I am secure. I am standing on the Rock of the Great Messiah. Yeah, help me Jesus.

 

Why do my eyes reach out? I see distant lands. Am I trying to escape here? Am I irresponsible not wanting to stay in one place, one time? Will romantic notions make me wither and die? Blood runs over my eyes. William Blake painted Angels with wings on fire. Van Gogh's heart burst with want.  Gully Jemson is the lunatic in the corner laughing at everyone. Where is the pity?

 

I am thinking how long it is between dreams and things that should happen because there is magic. These things that float around in the back of the minds---they are real, yet the child, I am caught between wants. I want you. I want him. I want her. I want that. I find one-sided conversations on both side of me. I look for help but I hear myself laughing. Yes it is part of my paranoid insanity. Yes it is part of the magic. It, forever it, is reality beyond fantasy.

 

Still, I think the dream, real. Why else would I have gone on?

 

I come to loving. Love. Such a splendid plot I am always falling in. Charlie Chaplin's manhole cover. Love. I love you. It is a phrase I know. It is just a dream. it is multiple choice. Pick one.

 

Okay, I love all of you. Him, her, that.

 

Shallow though. It is only a brotherhood fad.

 

I'm in one mind and out the other.

 

If only I could hold on. Love is magic. Magic is God. God is alive.

 

I am alive and slowly the first meaning of love is coming to me.

 

Vincent?

 

I have drifted away Vincent. But you are still there, aren't you Vincent?

 

Vincent, I have never said I love you.

 

I do. You were the lover that I wanted, too much, like me. Vincent I need help too. Please talk to me. Help!

 

"I can't help you. There is nothing to be helped to."

 

You're wrong Vincent. That's not true. We can help each other---maybe only in small, unnoticeable way---but we help each other. you know, we can talk to each other. That's help.

 

 Look! You should know you are stuck and you need help. It's a game, but God, it's such a game---it's a beautiful game. Vincent try! Tell me about love, Vincent!

 

"Love? Is there love beyond blood? Theo loved me but now he is gone. I am left alone. I have looked for him...it is so dark here...dark like Arles...like Paris. If there is love, Theo loved. He was my light. he understood me. At times, I thought Mother knew me...I was no more than a stranger to her. Love! Love indeed. Theo and I were strangers together. We knew each other."

 

But you don't see, do you? It only takes one Theo, or two, or if you are lucky, three. I mean love is love. What has numbers of people or who, got to do with it?

 

"I tried to love humanity. I tried to give a gift of love to all  of man. They were dogs. The ones I loved the most, were the ones who spat on me. Gauguin was a womanizing idiot. an arrogant fool. Theo knew. I know how much I gave. I tried to love."

 

Vincent, you don't have to try to love, you just love. What is there to expect?

 

"To expect? You ask me such meaningless questions. There is everything to expect. They had no vision.  All, that any of them could see, was what some mimicking  headmaster had shown them to see. Their eyes were dead. I could see. I could paint life as no one had ever dreamed. Their souls were dimmed in a drunken  civilization of a thousand years. I disserved to expect something. I disserved respect. They only saw what they were told was art. I was the only artist. Gauguin was a whoring drunk, but I thought at times he could see. He was only guessing. He refused to listen to me. He doesn't matter. Love doesn't matter. It is so dark here."

 

Van Gogh, you're locked in a prison you keep making for yourself.

 

"It has always been a prison. There is no liberty because there is no escape."

 

That's a lie. There's liberty. I know there's liberty! I almost have it from time to time. We have choices to make. We can want or we can not want---you know, find or not find and stuff like that.

 

"Bah! You are an imbecile.  What you say is complete nonsense. Our only choice is to keep making up ridiculous rituals between being born and a graceless exit into the living dead."

 

You're just talking bitter Vincent. You have to work for respect---but that's not really what I mean to say.  Vincent you did great things. You were years ahead of everybody. You didn't have patience for them to catch up with you. They would have maybe, then you wouldn't had that thing in San Francisco. Your lessons are still coming, but there is time to learn.

 

Vincent, did you ever really love a woman? A real woman? Did you ever totally love just one woman?

 

"I don't know.  This word love is much too vague, too many opposite meanings."

 

That's what I was afraid of---you missed the whole damn point of being a man---I guessed as much cause you never did paint women worth a rat's ass. That's why you're pissed of with Gauguin, isn't it?

 

"I painted what I saw. Gauguin was an obsessed sex-maniac. It would not surprise me if he painted with his penus in his hand."

 

He could paint Vincent and he did it beautifully. He did justice to women even if he did hold his dick. Have you ever taken a close look at the women in your paintings? They are distant, cold and crazed. Even your mother looks like a space martian.

 

Vincent, women were made for men. How could you miss it all? Love? Women?

 

"You are no different than Gauguin. My art was important than satisfying lustful desires."

 

Boy, you're really nuts. Women are art and I don't know how you could think that whacking on a canvass isn't lustful.  You're bent Vincent. Didn't you ever see the poetry in women? Couldn't you see the grace? My  God, what kind of man are you?

 

"I am not an ordinary man. Few will ever understand what I meant to this world---least of all, you!"

 

Right Vincent, get on your high-horse again. What was the problem with women? You impotent in bed?

 

"You are a vulgar man! Gauguin was vulgar. You will make fine company because it is obvious you will go where he is, hell!"

 

Why do you resent Gauguin so much?

 

"I do not resent him!"

 

You do! You know you do. You are such a liar Vincent---a liar to yourself. When are you going to quit being such a big phony with a chip on your shoulder?

 

 "You are the one to call me a liar. You, a hypocrite full of impossible questions and idiotic ponderations. I beg you, leave me alone. Ask yourself these insane riddles. Good day!"

 

Vincent, don't go. I want to be your friend. I'm sorry, I'm not used to talking with ghosts. I don't even know if I'm talking to you. Maybe I'm only making this all up. Vincent? Vincent, where are you?

 

 

God, where has time taken me? Have I always been sitting in a vapor of thoughts talking to myself, or am I really talking to the Vincent Van Gogh?

 

I don't know anymore. I think I must be mad.

 

No, I'm not mad.

 

I know I have heard music played by the spheres. I know God has talked to me. I saw Jesus standing there saying "yes" .

 

I am not mad.

 

Indeed!

 

The world is mad. Van Gogh comes and goes. His soul lives. Words.

 

Van Gogh, come back, come back.

 

Oh, this is insanity. There's no Van Gogh.  He is dead. Time is dead. Yet, there is time passing. I hear the soft breath of madmen and saints. I can't deny. Spirit lives.

 

High hopes! That's what I have to remember. A moment before I was sitting in a quiet room next to a fireplace that sparked magic clicks. A veil of time slipped over me and highways flowed by miraculously with city faces and country corners laced into cosmic cartoons shaping a new stage. The lights fell green blue to fog gray. Christmas came and I packed a bag for next year. The season to be jolly.

 

I can't keep track. Has it always been this way?

 

Now it is a day after bonanza bonus day, Christmas and 5 more days before the tick tock big clock sticks another year up your kazoos'.  Five more days to rectify a bad situation getting worse.

 

What is the use of trying to talk to Van Gogh? he can't help me anymore than I can get him unstuck from his own private purgatory---hole in in time I am trying to escape too.

 

Two sides of my soul---always bickering up and down. I remember a poet writing about descending the ascending staircase. I am beginning to understand. I can walk up; I can walk down. The sin is not to walk at all. It doesn't matter if I am right or wrong or matter what I believe is not real at all. Believing is what makes anything real. I think, therefore I am. Believing is what counts.

 

Believing in What? It doesn't matter.

 

High hopes and cheerio Van Gogh. You're alive and I know why.

 

 

CHAPTER THREE  

LIFE IS LIKE A SNOWFLAKE

 

It is very interesting how I got on the cargo ship, Eurysthenes, in New York City. I mean it is interesting because it is a Greek ship going to London and I'm on it.

 

Not every Greek ship goes to London.

 

It's also interesting because I'm not going to London. I'm going to Scotland.

 

The ship's departure was two weeks late and I was ten years behind schedule.

 

But mostly it's interesting because it is a Greek ship. Naturally, this is all diagonally obscure to you and doesn't mean a thing. Just let me say this: all of the works of life are interconnected, woven into a tight blanket of time.

 

It's like what I used to say to my buddy Pete, "Hey dude, life is like a snowflake." That was when I was very young, very philosophical, before pulled triggers in My Lai.

 

But the snowflake theory; I had an amazing rational. It had to do with parallel lines intersecting out in infinity. It had a lot to do with geometric stuff, triangles and the cosmic symphony. It had a lot to do with The Stripper I married, who was married six times before. She had hair like an ashtray full of cigarette buttes.

 

The theory had a lot to do with me being a medic in the army and being on a boat going to London even though I was going to Scotland.

 

Hey, listen Van Gogh! Life is like a snowflake. It begins with structural order of intersecting lines that form arms and legs that move in a multitude of directions. Chaos. Then they balance in symmetry. Order. Each snowflake is different as they fall. Chaos. But as they fall, wind gently whispers through them. Order. They cover the earth and mingle in mass. Chaos. The sun comes out and they melt and cabbage grows, Order. Yes, life is like a snowflake.

 

Being philosophical sure is tiring. It's a strain. How I got myself on this Greek ship philosophical miracle. It being Greek is the connection to my ex-wife the stripper. She used to tell me to never trust a Greek. She was Italian. She was five feet, ten,  bare foot naked. When she put on her beehive wig and here Go-Go high heels, she was about twelve feet tall.

 

She had a thing about buying wigs and giving them haircuts. she used to buy one a week. I don't know why she didn't trust Greeks. "Honey, never, never, ever trust a Greek," she said about once a month.

 

Well, I think it is pretty obvious, how believing in snowflakes and being on a Greek ship, why it was interesting but I might be concerned.

 

Vincent, is it true about Greeks?

 

"No, it is not true at all. Never trust a Scot."

 

What?

 

"Never trust a Scot."

 

Oh come on. You're pulling my leg.

 

"Very well, believe what you want."

 

Why shouldn't I trust Scots?

 

"You figure it out Socrates. Remember, life is like a snowflake."

 

Quit being a smart ass and tell me.

 

"No."

 

Vincent, you're a real Child.

 

Vincent? Vincent!

 

Why does he do that? Pout, pout! First he talks then this aggravating silence. What does he mean never trust a Scot? The too, what does it mean, never trust a Greek? I feel paranoid.

 

The Eurysthenes is still sitting at the dock. So far, there are three English passengers and myself. I don't know who they don't trust. we are all waiting for the ship to leave, but it's raining and the stevedores don't work when it's raining. I don't trust stevedores.

 

Today is the first time I thought this journey to Scotland, on a ship going to London, was ill-fated. First the ship was scheduled to leave the 14th of December, then the 21st, then 27th, and now it looks it will not be going until January.

 

This bad. I made a promise to myself I would be out of the United States by the New Year or I would punch myself in the nose. I don't believe in self flagellation, but a promise is a promise, and I am a man of my word.

 

"You are a hopeless liar!"

 

Shut up Vincent. I'm not talking to you.

 

Then who are you talking to?"

 

I don't care, but I'm not talking to you. Why don't you go back to your silent corner and let me finish my thoughts?

 

The ship is purring its mechanical song. Outside the city sounds blur into night clutter. The Verazano Bridge gives me a big smile in twinkling light bulbs. The Statue of Liberty is lost in the darkness of another night. America roars in the background. My mind is laced with patterns of the ever expanding human comedy...

 

Oh! Right! I was in the middle of a paranoiac thought which is the misfortune of this ship, the Eurysthenes. Today we got another passenger who slipped immediately into the cast. He reminded of one of the characters in the story, SHIP OF FOOLS.

 

 I boarded the ship back on its original departure date, being I had no other place to stay or eat.  I felt very uncomfortable during our evening meal, believing this old cargo hulk is bound to sink. The new guy that came yakked his head off and the more he talked, the more I was convinced we would all drown.

 

I thought about a conversation I had earlier in the day with guard at the dock gate. He was spouting off how you should carry a gun when you go into a black neighborhood, except he said niggerhood. He said an officer friend of his carries three guns. One on his belt, another next to his belly, and one strapped onto his ankle. He then joked about how the Eurysthenes was still docked but ended by saying. "Beware of Greeks." The funny thing was he looked Greek to me.

 

Of course that is different than, "Never trust a Greek," but it didn't add to my confidence about this sailing, especially with the addition of the new passenger.

 

Between the strange things he kept saying at the evening meal, like, "I hear this ship is being scrapped in Holland," and "The captain says we have enough oil to get to the middle of the Atlantic," I began to think doom was soon. The ship will sink. I should never trust a Greek and we have a Greek Captain on a Greek ship. I am sure too, the gate guard was Greek and him and the Captain know what is coming.

 

The thing is, I am sure of my importance. It is too early for me to die. The ship can't sink because I have to complete my "Snowflake" theory. I have to put together the loose ends of too many mistakes. I didn't survive the army so I could sink to the bottom of the Atlantic a few years later. I didn't get married to a 12 foot tall Italian divorcee stripper just to have a watery grave. I didn't spend three months in the nut-house after My Lai just to end as fish bait. I'm important and I know I am here other than die on a Greek boat full of weird ass passengers all escaping America for their own crazy reasons.

 

Maybe I will get killed in Scotland. Maybe Van Gogh knows what he is talking about. "Never trust a Scot," indeed!

 

But so many people tell me not to trust this or that, I'm beginning to get suspicious.

 

This is insanity. Why am I thinking thoughts like this when I have time to think about anything I want to think about? Even if the Eurysthenes sinks and I die, I still have time to think anything I please.

 

Yes, it is time. I can dream anything I want. I am driving the boat of my soul. I am not a fool. Dream on, dream on. Time is a gift. Life is a blessing. My mind is my journey.

 

Life is like a snowflake. Crystalline beauty spun into a cobweb of diamonds. In the center begins the cross of order. Fingers of destiny dance out into the fringeland of experience. Each new pattern begins another pattern, surface over surface, life becomes layered with harmony and madness. Strangers walk into the middle of living with silent sentences, then drift off into the fog of dying, melting, never to be seen again.

 

Each soul counts. All experiences begin and end in one celebration of life. Wisdom is ours to possess but only for a moment and then it scuttles off to its next appointment. Each time we learn new the same old bag of tricks. Crystalline beauty adorns our lives in the faces of humanity.

 

We are explorers of  time and light. Some find darkness, and death in their days lived. The secrets are underfoot. The truth is painted on our foreheads. We learn to simplify in the mirror of self reflection.

 

BEHOLD, THOU DESIREST TRUTH IN THE INWARD PARTS: AND IN THE HIDDEN PART THOU SHALT MAKE ME TO KNOW WISDOM.

 

I'm not afraid now Vincent. I don't mean to be cold. I get afraid. It seems big to me...all of it. I get afraid Vincent...Vincent?

 

" I know. I understand my friend, I know."

 

CHAPTER FOUR

THE FIRST INTERNATIONAL BATTLE

 

The captain of the Eurysthenes had dinner with us passengers tonight. I feel better about the sinking of the ship now. He relieved my fears with his belligerent strength. No, the ship will not sink. Are all Greeks like Zorba?

 

The captain has two eyebrows that are like two planks of wood; one wedged over the other, while he looks you straight in the eye and acts like he knows what he is talking about. His hair wiggles on his head when he relaxes his forehead. He is convinced that Greece is the center of Europe, and the country is in agony because its people have loved the world too well.

 

One of the English passengers knows almost as much as the other English passenger. These two seem to be walking dictionaries of information everyone else forgets. They were bound to have a confrontation with the captain.

 

His eyebrows wrinkled and the hands flew lambently...

 

Greece, 4,000 B.C. ladies and gentlemen!

 

Greece began the onslaught of history.

 

The Turks marched through the Empire and fair haired Greeks ran to the highlands and never, no never, a Turk touched the Islands.

 

The captain pulled out a small plastic toy and pulled a string, as he looked at us considering whether he should continue. He continued, but democracy was brought up and quartered and he belittled the Queen. Old crazy Fredericka charges  100 percent tax on cars!

 

I said, yeah, it’s the same all over.

 

Cigarettes were smoked. I felt somewhat abstract. The English men brought up the point, “What will become of Greece without democracy...after all, is democracy the natural evolution of man?”

 

The captain said Greece already had it and the higher plain had been achieved. The generals know what they are doing and who says the majority knows what is good for them?

 

One English man felt there were too many interpretations of democracy.

 

I began to fade away and noticed the lights of the Verazano Bridge still glowed in the distance. Somehow, after all these years I was still in America.

 

There is no incentive, said the other English man.

 

The captain sawed his wood plank eyebrows down to a concern.

 

I gathered from the mixture of flying words, there were one too many commies out there screwing up the works. The captain said, “Who needs the Yankees in Athens?”

 

The English man said, “How can the working man continue with 40% tax?”

 

I began to feel sea-sick and desperate. The damn ship was going to sink after all.

 

There is some kind of game I keep seeing but never have understanding.  There is some sort of path that is painted in front of me that I am never able to walk on. The chess game is played out with flamboyance and strategy. The War Lords of words and worlds like a mad television melodrama make me a victim and a spectator of egos and honors and nothing to say.

 

Nothing to say in the hallway of memory. I wake with fear sweating from every corner of me. Who is that screaming? Why can’t that man sleep at night?

 

Night fog and slowly I can see the psychiatric ward of Letterman Hospital. There is a new group of soldiers form Vietnam. The ones that screams is a medic. Why can’t he sleep at night?

 

Earlier that I was sitting in the lawn looking at a blade of grass. Down in the stem I saw how each blade peeled off to find its share of sunshine. It made me feel afraid. The grass began to squirm in my hand and the hourglass of the universe was draining the last grain.

 

I jumped up dizzy and crazy, not wanting to think, not wanting to feel. The word NO was giant in my brain. The human experiment was a complete and utter flop.

 

I heard the nurse say, “Your picnic lunch is ready.” I thought, yes I will eat and that will make me feel better. Nervous lopsided steps took me to the table. “Don’t think, don’t think,” I thought. Eat and all of this nonsense will go away.

 

I sat at the table looking down discovering paper plates, plastic spoons as hopelessness poured Niagara Falls over my eyes.

 

I reached for a pinkish hot dog thinking eat eat. My eyes held down, paranoid to look up to see anything.  The was dividing, then sub dividing. I couldn’t hang on. Count numbers! 100, 99, 98, 97, 96, 95, eat the hot dog.

 

It tasted flat, worthless, lifeless.

 

My eyes broke away from my determined down stare. The table drifted up and floated around the room. I couldn’t stand to look t the hot dog another moment. Up my eyes roared and in front of me sat a black man who somehow began to turn purple.

 

No, he did not know he was turning purple, nor anyone else. But I knew. I jumped off the seat losing control. I had to run. I had to run from the crushing weight of a million realities.

 

My legs belonged to another man, another body. My mind hung on like octopus tentacles. The road of the park came under me and  the eucalyptus reached with jabs to tear my soul out. The whole earth was booby-trapped. Life was only the threat of foreclosure, to forever cease to exist.

 

Then the voice came inside again, “Count numbers, don’t think about this. Count numbers. You are creating this madness.”

 

The numbers came out like machine gun bullets, 100, 99, 98, 97, 96, 95, 94 and on to 0, then to start all over again, for three days and three nights. When I at last fell into an exhausted sleep I was awakened into a nightmare of the screaming medic. At other times my eyes would blast open into complete wakefulness and the catatonic of the ward stood at the foot of my bed staring at me. What did he want?

During the day I looked at my fellow patients and sometimes they looked at me.

The nurses passed out hundreds of thorazine tablets, checking under the tongues to be sure they were swallowed, "like a good boy you are," but for some reason I was not given any pills, nor ever experienced the zombie like dream world most of the patients lived in...no, they left me to my own mind to drive me crazy. Such shrewd manipulation on their part.

 

The screaming medic continued on and on. One of the troops that came in with him told me there was twenty of them near their hooch's when the shit came down. Bombs, mortars, whatever the Cong could shit their way. When it was over the screaming medic was the only one standing in the middle of all their mutilated bodies. His mind short circuited; his brains blown by bloody helplessness; his only relief in the Presidio nut house screaming through the nights and days. His screaming scared me more than the bullets that had flown by my face.

Oh, but that was so long ago. Now is different. Vietnam is over; the war done and only discussions of what madness once held us is passed around bars and dinner tables. The English people on the boat know the only problem society has is workers with no incentive, no desire to make wheels turn in the machine.

"Dear me. Is this the only anguish you have ever had? It appears to me, you punish yourself more, than anyone else."

You're catching on Vincent. But nah, that's not the only anguish I've ever had.

Outside the starboard porthole of the Eurysthenes, slush songs of the Atlantic plays through the night. The horizon goes up and down. One moment there is nothing but the blue black ocean---the ship tips and the porthole is filled with sky.

Down in the lounge, sitting in the perpetual pose of passengers, the weaves of living are threading one by one. The battle between the English and the Greeks has changed to the seduction of the poor ignored wife of the man who never listens. She has got a handsome Greek captain. The captain has another pair of tits to caress. Both the tapestries will be well woven but regret the morning.

 

You know Vincent, I know what it is like to be crazy. I know what it is like to see things no one else sees. I have much anguish.

 

"What makes you think such a thing?"

 

Well...I was thinking about parlor games and nut houses and you being stuck in the dark and me going to Scotland. It's spooky.

"I am not stuck in the dark. I am merely delayed. Man kind is yet to learn the lesson of my existence. It is then I shall be released."

Listen Vincent. I hate to spoil it for you, but you're stuck and you know it! That's what happens when you bump yourself off. I want to help you, really. I need some help too.

So you think we can talk about our problems without resorting to our usual nastiness?

"I am willing."

Okay me too. What do you want to talk about?

"What do you think you can see that other people can't?"

If I tell  you, will you tell me why you killed yourself?

"No, no, no, you have no right."

Oh my God! We're starting all over again!

We have to come to the same sort of trust Vincent, or we'll never get anywhere in this story.

Anyway, why should I tell you my secrets if you won't tell me yours?

"You will not understand."

Try me.

"You will misinterpret everything. You ask me to spill blood to you?"

Van Gogh there isn't any difference if I understand or not. The thing is I might be able to help you. No one else is helping, right?

"Yes, I am alone. Theo is gone. He would help me if he could, I know. He is somewhere better. He helped all of his life but not now."

cut from

THE CRYSTAL TIGHT ROPE ©

 

  
DAILY MOLD
Feb.28
One of our old buddies...


The last day of February.

Thank heavens, but wishing the weather gets more spring like.

So in the meantime I am goofing off doing stuff out in the "Sculpture Garden" acting like I know what I am doing...the truth it is fun just to see what happens without thinking too much.
Johnnie One Time started off the vision on the QUEEN TEE which he said looked like the Sangre de Christos (the southern end of the Rockies) and I took it on to where it is today, but undoubtedly that will change.










Feb.26



Feb.24
An email from an old buddy, John Phillips, sent a picture of our bicycles near Tucson, on our way to Mexico in 1965. We got as far as Guadalajara, before we shipped the bikes back to the USA and we carried on hitch-hiking all the way to Vera Cruz, then bussed, hitched and bought an old Pontiac in Oklahoma City, for $25 which got us as far as Chicago before we split directions...that was another life ago.


Feb.23

Gina Lola Brigida
an additional tag to her pedigree. It is:
5K
Meaning the investment in her existence, nearing five grand in spedulahville.

The very good news is her pelvis is growing new bone, and she is slowly regaining the use of her rear left leg and foot. (Thanks to Dr. Grudda)

But it is so fragile, and she is so active, each time she leaps for a catch, or slips and crashes on our very slick living room floor, I almost faint, thinking oh shit. another 2K...

Feb. 22
This date sticks in my mind because of a couple of weird choices I made back in 1967.  Cut to the race, tomorrow in 1967 I raised my hand and said "I do," and was promptly swept off to U.S. Army boot camp...I may remind you that was not a very good time to be trained as an infantry combat medic. as I was...

Today, all these years later, I still have both arms, legs, eyes, ears and a healthy appetite, as I look out my office window and see the 6th or 7th snowstorm of the winter.

Because of the weather, I have not been able to go down to the river and replenish fire wood, so this morning, I cut my sculpture pile of beautiful Russian olive branches into burnable pieces.

Oh well, how many other artists have cut up their work so they could stay warm?

Feb.15








Another stupid idea out for the whole world to ignore...

February 14 VALENTINE'S DAY

Feb.13
I have to admit, I would be very depressed if I was the only one that ever looked at theses pages...

I don't know who you are, but thank you

for looking on in on this.

Feb.12



















Feb.11





Feb.10
As the days get closer not only until Valentines Day, but WCAD 2010, I am going into advanced training...

Feb.9
The living room is resembling the laboratory of Dr. Frankenstein, with the reworking of my current sculpture, the "Original Boogey Boy..."

Ruth hated it, but once I accepted her suggestion it should look more 'Eskimo-ish" she thought it was marginally okay...more to be seen in the next few days.
Feb.7

I think I am on to something.

I see a whole Flat-Head Society.



Feb.6


As usual an hour or so in the local pub swapping tales with old friends...that was after delivering the "baby" to Ruth's shop, MOSTLY MADRID.

Ruth's partner gazes in amazement!


Feb.5
I transferred the "Buffalope" from the driveway up to Ruth's shop in Madrid yesterday.  I was going to do a new version of Santa and his reindeer this year but family death and bad weather detoured the idea.
The "Elkafoo" is on its way to a new home up in the Ortiz Mountains and the baby "Gazellelk" has had a request, so once the weather gets dry and warm again, I'll go back to making some new stick sculptures...








The dogs at the ranchero



ERRATA AND STUFF
Feb. 24
We are getting the winter blues (probably like everybody in New Mexico) because not only is it winter, but for once in many many years, it is actually a cold snowy never stop winter---not normal for this country.

There is still snow, ice and mud, mud, mud everywhere, that makes the clutter I have around the house and the studio more noticeable than ever...and I have to face the truth, that I am as bad as my father and my oldest brother, as far as having unbelievable piles of STUFF that the rest of humanity see as nothing but JUNK...

This morning Ruth and I went out to the studio, to put prices on these priceless items. As soon as the weather gets back to a normal New Mexico, or maybe the spring, which is less than a month away, I plan on putting a kind of semi-permanent display area out in my sculpture garden, and get rid of everything we can....hmmmm...

In the meantime, I have the Queen Tee parked out in front with the idea of taking the WCAD painting on until it looks more like art than an explosion at a paint factory.


Feb.23





Feb. 22

This is Java Junction, where we painted the Queen Tee (again) on WCAD.



Feb. 18
So yesterday was fun for the fourth WORLD  COMMUNITY ARTS DAY.

Feb.17
 A lot of paint spread in a very small space by a few joyful participants... more people stopped to admire and give us their blessings than actually worked on it, but it was a community experience never the less.
















8:00 PM




6:30 PM


9:00 AM
In an hour I will go to the village with the QUEEN TEE and begin this year's WCAD event at JAVA JUNCTION, our local favorite coffee shop. They have WIFI, so I will try my best to add photos on this page as the day progresses,




Feb.16
24 hours until WCAD #4
Okay, I am almost ready. The most important element was getting the old 76 Dodge Van started, as it it has not been in operation since last September when we painted the left side for Madrid's LOVE-IN.

...I have no idea what the next version will look like but hopefully it will be  not only be fun but beautiful...

So...I have put old painted canvass on the right side and with village participation we will get serious about painting it all over again...
ANYWAY... here
she* is 24 hours before the onslaught.

she* is THE QUEEN TEE in whom  I toured 37 states during two school seasons (1995/1996) , travelling over 60,000 miles, going to 450 schools with no idea how many kids saw and participated hands on in my 45 minute visual/performance piece, doing a pastel drawing demonstration,
entitled
THE TRUE HISTORY OF ART



4:PM   So Far...
went to get new battery for the QUEEN TEE and now in the process of putting the material logistics and paraphanalia  together it takes to incorporate up to 12 people at a time, creating something original, yet classical and of course, beauitful.

9:PM I love WCAD because of this:

"TOMOROW WE ARE MAKING A SCULPTURE OF THE GLOBE ON WCAD,THE ART STUDENTS OF THE PLASTIC ARTS CENTER IN HOFIT ISRAEL WILL BE WORKING TOGETHER WITH FAMILY AND FRIENDS ON THIS SCULPTURE' OUR MESSAGE TO THE WORLD IS MAKE ART NOT WAR!!!!!!! WE WISH YOU ALL THE BEST FOR TOMOROW 'PEACE AND SHALOM! FROM ANAT AND UT IN HOFIT ISRAEL" and this:

"Cath Ford We are pretty much ready for WCAD at Action Factory - the place looks great, we have exhibitions of work up, panels celebrating 25 years of the organisation, workshops ready to go, the canteen ready for hordes of thirsty and hungry creative people and we are extremely excited! We are planning to post photos and video d...uring the day and can't wait to see what everyone else is up to! Have a great day world - it's great to feel connected to a whole world of community arts"

Feb.4


So as you can see snow up to the Gazooches and that is that...and the snowy weather continues, but I keep telling my "arty" pals to prepare for something on Feb.17 WCAD 2010.

I plan to paint my old van, again, no matter what the weather February 17th,
WORLD COMMUNITY ARTS DAY
 
You will see my old van in Madrid, New Mexico rolling down the street with a small trailer full of paint and brushes behind it.

That will be my contribution, which is only a small part of what thousands of artists and joyful players of the creative spirits will be doing that day, all over the world, connecting their actions through the internet.
http://www.communiversity.org.uk/worldcommunityartsday.htm

 Feb.1

Below is the second list of ZenCowboy titles I put together a few years ago. So far,  doing the first 30 or so in my November and December Blog pages...check BLOG ARCHIVES

Starting with the title, I give it a one sentence leader, then try my best to get to the point in 300 words more or less...

29.    Lost Clown In Austria

30.    Chrissie’ Belly  “I am Dolmoos”

31.    Mustache on the Shah

32.    Humpback woman of Isfahan

33.    Painting Minimal

34.    Saving Monymill

35.    Fours Days Around Arran

36.    Drumla Cottage

36a.Grain mountains in Scotland

Xmas stories in red

94.    The Last Time I saw Pig

69.    Lost Car in London

51. The Wine House of Aushaffenburg

38.    Pig in the Redwoods

39.    Hoz Returns to The Mountains

40.    Hoz In San Diego

41.    Hoz Returns to Telluride

42.    Hoz and Brother Al

43.    Poets of Edinburgh

71.    Broken Hearts with Fi Fi La Boom

82.    In Australia the Sky Roars

37.    Bottle of Whiskey in Portland

95.    The Love Affair of Rose and Boris

44.    Forest Fire Fighting in Alaska

45.    Painting In Pilton/Smego/Phillip Spit

46.    Tommy’s  Dog Ring

47.    Stabbing a Lizard

48.    The Ice House/Johnston Boys

49.    Running The D. I. Into The Ground

50.    Leadership Schools Steps

52.    Returning To Aushaffenburg

53.    Bandits at the Guymas Picnic

54.    Plane Rides in Alaska

55.     James The Donkey and The Fractal World

56.    A Three Dollar Whore in Portland

57.    Pepita in Barcelona

58.    Gary Slack Rides and Crashes

59.    Running Through Rattlesnakes

60.    Class Reunions and $20

61.    Dumped in the Needles Desert

62.    No Brakes to Kingman

63.    Hitch Hiking To Bakersfield

64.    Meeting Bob Dylan

65.    Getting Out of the Army/Chaplin/Doctor/Hand/Psychiatrist

66.    My first Dead Body/ drive carefully, the life you save...

67.    When I fell off the Wall and Screamed Jesus Christ

68.    Scaffolding Rolls Into Traffic

70.    Playing Dead in England (Mime)

 

72.    Rolling Tires Down Long Hills in Scotland/Wee Mark

73.    The Errant Data Point

74.    Dead Black Cat on South Broadway

75.    Pogue, Grant, Max and Me

76.    Escaping Mosquitoes

77.    Mexican Farting Machine

78.    Sleeping in Guadalajara

79.    Sleeping Through Mexico City

80.    Head-On Collision in Vera Cruz

81.    Driving Around Fiji

 

83.    A Gig With The Pope

84.    Sarge” of Telluride/Salt and pepper/age

85.    A Babe Picked Me Up in the Desert

86.    Homesteads and Weed-Fed Cows

87.    Old Cowpokes at The Sinks

88.    Pig In Utah

89.    Finding Molly Gibson

90.    The Rape of Molly

91.    Pig Crossing the Street

92.    Pig and a Light Pole

93.    Pig Flies Out Window

96.    Rose The Gourmet

97.    James Brown in Corsica

98.    Losing Rose in Corsica

99.    Rose in Paris

100.  Mike the Blue Eyed Devil

101.  The Hungarian Border

102.  Lost in Transylvania

103.  Red Cloud, Rock and Sean

104.  Red Cloud and Tits at the Mailbox

105.  Arrested in Matamoras

106. The Twenty-Five Dollar Pontiac

107.  Making Love In a Hillman Minx Convertible

108.  Trying To Kill A Marine

109.  The Woman Who Gave Her Wigs Haircuts

110.  Max Golfs Los Angeles

111.  Pig in Redwoods and Hole in Roof

112.  Love in a Chicken House

113.  Hoz Goes To California

114.  Looking For Castles

115. Three Bullets Past My Head

116.  The 100 Mile Ride of Brown Valley

117.  The Last Time I Got Bucked Off

118.  Red Cloud’s Singing Truck

119. Spudnuts in Pueblo Rain

120. Scaffold Rolls into Traffic

121. Falling Off Ladders

122. Falling Off Scaffolding

123. Looking For Jeane

124. Four tires in San Diego for 25 Bucks

125. A Car in Oklahoma City For 25 Bucks