Most of my old friends tried their best not to learn anything in high school…


Most of my old friends tried their best not to learn anything in high school and many didn’t bother with college. They were neutral on most world events and many were anti-war.

After thirty-five years of getting baked everyday, they’re now militantly opposed to anything that doesn’t benefit them, horrified of anyone having any more material wealth than they do, and wouldn’t pause to help an old woman cross the street since their too busy staring at their smartphones (An ironic label for a phone that turns people into social zeros). On top of that, they’re on the front lines of the “Burn down the Middle East” crowd.

Are these people poster children for the adverse long-term effects of marijuana use or were they always just a bunch of sociopaths, banding together when times were good and, dispersing like rats when things were otherwise? Their politics are now what you might expect from banjo players in the “hollers” of Appalachia. They hate “ferreners,” environmentalists, and just about anyone who makes them feel like they should be doing something other than feeding their faces, satisfying their sex drive, one-upping the Jones’s, or sneering at the less fortunate.

We’re in a sad state of affairs in America. I don’t believe this sort of behavior is isolated to my old friends. I’ve observed shades of this in quite a lot of people.

“Friend” in America is really a relative term anymore. Being a friend is only acceptable when friends serve as playmates and props to occupy our time. Government fear propaganda probably started it all, and Facebook killed it by giving people a false sense of being in touch. No one’s in touch anymore. They’re just performing for each other. Hollywood and Rock Stars won the battle for the new breed of the superficial.

I’m not upset with friends anymore, however, I do fear for the lost souls of America.

Here We Are Now, chapter 13 (the sequel to Ticket to Ride)

Here We Are Now, a novel of the Grunge Generation

by philip scott wikel

chapter thirteen

poets don’t exist

they are only seen on seismographs

and geiger counters

fingers to the universal pulse

prognosticating the collective

if the world’s gone mad

an artist is its face

paint or pen

smile or otherwise

He stepped back from his first composition. It seemed to have come natural to him and what he saw before him was an updated version of Picasso’s Guernica. His response to Sept. 11 and the war that ensued.

It featured the war torn faces of the men on both sides and the innocent victims caught in the middle. There was fire and the raining of missiles and the fear and horror found only in war. Dylan had added a few Middle Eastern motifs in order to define the geographical setting. The war had begun in Afghanistan and the newspapers, the television and the radios were fraught with reports of the war on terrorism.

The painting condemned neither side and seemed to speak to a great distaste for violence. No one wins a war. One side may lose less but both lose, and the losses can never be replaced.

Dylan added this thought to his journal…

Continue reading “Here We Are Now, chapter 13 (the sequel to Ticket to Ride)”

Here We Are Now, chapter 11

Hi Folks,

I still haven’t written chapter nine but here’s chapter 11. Nine’s going to take a while and some real focus and energy. It has to be right as, like I said before, it’s the turning point of the book.

Thanks again for stopping by.

See ya next time.


Here We Are Now, a novel of the grunge generation

by philip scott wikel

Chapter Eleven

Like everyone, Dylan had a million random thoughts. Not many liked to admit it and that’s where he had many of his problems with relating.

“How can an asshole wake up an asshole everyday?”

“Why do we poison each other with the crap that’s in food?”

“Why doesn’t Donald Trump get a decent haircut?”

“Where exactly is heaven if telescopes can see as far as they can?”

“Will Charlie Sheen ever make a decent film again?”

“Why doesn’t anyone say what they’re really thinking?”

“Why, after thousands of years of ‘civilization,’ the great achievements of the Greeks, Romans, the dynasties of China, the scholars of the Middle East, the Enlightenment, the Renaissance, worldwide revolutions and world wars has the world still not managed to get it right?”

“Why does Christ get so much compassion when six million Jews experienced far more suffering than He did during World War Two?”

Every morning when I wake up I have to put myself back together. I’m in pieces and my psyche needs to be retrieved and reassembled. Some say it’s evidence of being the Taoist “uncarved block.” Nothing built-in. No expectations, illusions, or pre-conceived notions. Starting fresh every day…

It makes me think of other people; people in positions of power. People who make bad decisions based on their selfish needs and their egos. Do they wake up fractured and just decide to follow who they were yesterday? Do they not stop to think that maybe what they’re doing is wrong? Can they ever see things in a new light? Is every day a new day; new options, new thoughts, new decisions, about who they should be? Am I giving them too much credit for being self-realized? Do they just assume that the way they are is inherently right, not good or bad, just right? Maybe they just don’t question it. Maybe they struggle to avoid self-reflection.

Is it a “what’s good for the party” is good for all; what’s good for my friends is good enough for me? Or is it that what’s good for the bottom line is their vision of the greater good. Can people possibly never reflect?

Every morning when I wake up I have to put myself back together. The pieces are strewn about like shrapnel and I question my own assembly of them. And I feel more whole in pieces than I imagine others are in the assembly of their whole.

“Dad, I don’t understand the way things work.”

“Well that’s pretty ambiguous Dylan… what do you mean specifically?”

“I mean… well, I mean, it seems there was a time… maybe when you were younger… that people spoke directly to one another and didn’t dance around things so much. I understand that the PC movement is an attempt to bring about more appropriate ways of viewing the differences between people. I’m all for greater understanding… I mean people are afraid to hurt anyone’s feelings… but it seems… even in the most basic conversations things get tangential really fast.”

“You want to make sense of the world and be understood yourself?”

“Well yeah, but I’d like to understand what’s going on with other people,” Dylan paused, “I don’t know, maybe it doesn’t matter… yeah maybe you’re right. I guess I’m a bit concerned about being misunderstood. I told a friend of mine about what happened with Heather and he seemed to think I had this problem with all women… granted, I’m more than a bit gun shy now, you know it wasn’t just her… I’ve made some bad choices in women thus far… but anyway it’s not about that. It’s his understanding of that situation in and of itself.”

Morgan Blake sat thinking for a moment. His mind had been flooded with old films and conversations with his grandfather and Felix. It did seem to him that people used to be quite a bit more plain in their speaking and all this sort of creative obfuscation, used to protect the sensitivities of the person being spoken to and to protect the speaker themselves had made the average conversation something of a riddle. Obfuscation was widely used by politicians when they were trying to avoid answering a question for which they hadn’t a proper answer and, it seemed, it had made it’s way into the fabric of everyday conversation.

“Bear with me, I’m gonna try to work through this as I go… I’ve personally come to a point in my life where I know I can never be fully understood. I’m ok with that, to a point. I’ve always sought the very roots of the truth in everything around me. Sometimes this has involved allowing my mind to go too far in exploring the psychology of dark people and things. People have always judged my actions based on their own understanding of the world.  Further, my actions, many times, were performed by a thin-skinned, sometimes frightened and many times unenlightened person. For myself, I know now that my understanding is many times, limited, and it is best to reserve judgment until I have all the facts. And it’s also best to allow a little time to pass before reacting to situations. I’ve been called all sorts of things in my life.”

“It seems a lot of times people make up their minds based on the first thing you say and don’t allow time to let you work through a thought.”

“Yeah well, some think your initial response is the best and clearest. But that’s only true if you’re perfectly clear on everything, if you’re a perfect vessel. We all have blocks and it’s best to let something swim around in your head and heart for a while before saying anything definitive.”

“How do you avoid having other people misunderstand?”

“You can’t really. What you can do is to avoid those who will try to box you in. Then just try to do your best not to fall into the same traps… I try to ask for clarification when possible. I try not to make any assumptions. I avoid people who are not willing to deepen their understanding,. I ask nothing really of others but that we look at the ways we can help one another in this journey… I know, within myself, if I see someone that’s truly in need, I just help. I think of Christ and Gandhi. When someone is truly drowning, I don’t wait until they’ve asked for help 3 times and I don’t hand them a brick and try to kid them into thinking it’s a life preserver.”

“You’re getting off of it a bit dad.”

“I’m sorry, I’m just starting to weave some other stuff into it. I think it’s really just about lookng for the good in all people.”

“How’d you end up with such a good person like mom?”

“In some ways I was just lucky. She’s amazing. It took me a lot of time and sorting to finally deserve someone like your mom.”

“I don’t really get it. It seems like you’ve always been a pretty right on person.”

“Thanks, but, like I said before, no one’s perfect… and, well, you just have to be really sure of yourself before you get into a relationship. When you meet someone, they will, invariably be carrying some baggage. If they have too much. It’s best to move on as quickly as possible. You can’t run around trying to be a saviour of lost souls. When they throw their issues in your face on the first or second date, that should be a sufficient warning sign that all is not well. Me, I’m empty of my past, but I can clearly see that others like nothing more than to roll around in it…”

Skipping chapter 9, Here’s Chapter 10

Chapter 9

Zooropa (How U2’s Fall from Grace was indicative of a problem in the larger picture)

(To be written)

Chapter 10

“Where have you gone Joe Dimaggio, a nation turns its lonely eyes to you.”

– Simon & Garfunkel

In the fall of 2003, Dylan began his third year of Junior College. A personality conflict with one of his high school teachers had resulted in a low grade and being passed over for a baseball scholarship. The teacher had for a long time shown Dylan a sort of special affection. He and Dylan were much the same in many ways; quiet, solitude seekers who believed in the beauty of accomplishments achieved which served the heart. He admired Dylan’s love for baseball because he seemed to truly love the game.

The complication arose from Dylan confiding with the instructor about his girlfriend. Dylan was very much in love with Katie in his senior year. The two were inseparable and, at the same time, very natural together. Their relationship was the envy of many, some became green with it. The instructor warned him away from her. He’d had a bad divorce and was something of a hermit. He told Dylan she would be his undoing. Dylan ignored his advice. He and Katie stuck together until Katie went away to college. And when she left they agreed to leave it be. It happened like this:

Continue reading “Skipping chapter 9, Here’s Chapter 10”

Here We Are Now, chapter 8 (Living in the Light)

Here We Are Now, Chapter Eight (Living in The Light)

by philip scott wikel

In Tarpon Springs, Florida a year before, a woman had approached Dylan and his parents so she could touch Dylan’s hair. She said he had beautiful hair and that he had a light around him that made him special. This felt a little strange to Dylan and for a long time he thought maybe he was glowing and he hoped the light really did make him special. Ten years later he wasn’t sure. What he did know ten years later was that there were many in the world who would attempt to extinguish this light for one reason or another.

The day had been filled with real sponges found by a very old sponge-diver with smile lines embedded deeply in his brown skin. He had a large nose and could’ve doubled as a clown in the circus and even though Dylan didn’t like clowns much he liked this guy who’s spirit seemed to radiate in all directions. He loved to dive for sponges and had been doing so for more than forty years. He wore one of the old Captain Nemo-esque suits with the bronze helmet and a hose attached to it and a glass faceplate with miniature window panes. His name had to be Dewey or Clarence or something like that because he looked like a Dewey or Clarence. Deweys and Clarences had warm faces and were from the old school of gentlemanly conduct and good humor.

Continue reading “Here We Are Now, chapter 8 (Living in the Light)”

Here We Are Now, Chapter Seven (The Formative Years Continued)

Here We Are Now, Chapter Seven (The Formative Years Continued)

by philip scott wikel

Then there was the Jersey Shore in the summer of his eighth year. His parents rented a cottage at Seaside. The air was always heavy with the sweetest smell of brine and his dad’s friend showed him how you could make squeaking noises with your feet on the sand. Deep, thick, sultry air.

The landlord of the cottage, which was part of a group of cottages, offered Dylan his first real paying job; other than what he did for his allowance. There was a big ashtray that everyone used that was filled with sand and it was Dylan’s job to clean it using a big spoon with holes in it. The landlord was a crusty old guy who smoked cigars but he was nice and he gave Dylan a dollar at the end of their week there.

Continue reading “Here We Are Now, Chapter Seven (The Formative Years Continued)”

Here We Are Now, Chapter Six

Here We Are Now, a novel of the Grunge Generation

Chapter Six

In the white light skies of my child minds eye

Johnson’s farm was the edge of the world

green pastures, green trees

green hills like green seas

Above and beyond the David Moore Heights

the trusty trestle bridge and

elevatorgrainwhitewashed barn and house

we would Follow the track to the coal dump “Alamo” place

where I found fire and lived in fear

of ever going home

or trip down “Washington”

past the academy

up to the Thrall

what a call it would’ve been

“Uptown” city set of my child minds eye

sliding down a twisted trail

to a brick pond and beyond the “pines” forever

Three Victorian stories of attic door fear

a face without a voice without a face

not a trace of either

only a faint cerebral chill

It speaks of Calicoon Creek

the wilds of Shawangakill on

down to Rutgers

and a stone of familiar shape

indian vision or anachronism?

not a chiseled groove, only smooth

couldn’t prove the authenticity of my diamond

though knotted, tensed and cramped from climbing

Succesion of the seasons with no reason

autumn fire

winter white

rising wind

and gone

a kite

This poem represented his young life in New York. There was an old coal dump made of concrete which resembled the Alamo. He’d go there and play cowboys and indians, and with matches. One time a friend set his jacket on fire and blamed Dylan for it. The kid’s mother wouldn’t let him play with Dylan anymore. And Dylan thought the kid was a little weird anyway.

Continue reading “Here We Are Now, Chapter Six”

Here We Are Now, chapter 5

Here We Are Now, a novel of the Grunge Generation

by philip scott wikel

Chapter Five

… when I was young and full of grace, spirited, a rattlesnake…

– REM, Life’s Rich pageant

Dylan enjoyed writing poetry. This was a strong connection between he and his parents, but his true love was baseball. Since the age of 7 he’d wanted nothing more than to be the next Babe Ruth, the Big Bambino, the Sultan of Swat, the King of Crash. His grandfather loved baseball too and Dylan wished grandpa Felix had never had to die. The year after Dylan was born, his parents, Morgan and Olivia, had moved to a town in upstate New York. For them it was convenient to the city. For Grandpa it was like visiting Mecca because of the horsetrack and it’s glory of being the home of the Hambletonian. For Dylan, upstate was a vast unexplored wilderness of pine trees, rivers, lakes and rolling pasture land.

Felix would come up from the city often to see the trotters run and he would take Dylan back to the city with him during baseball season. But while he was in town he would take Dylan down to the races. They’d visit the stables and Grandpa, being a friend to all, would strike up a conversation with the jockeys, trainers, and owners of the horses. And through this Dylan would have the opportunity to meet the men behind the scenes. Many suggested that Dylan, being small in his stature, should consider being a jockey one day himself. This idea resonated with Dylan since he was a great fan of Walter Farley and the stories of The Black Stallion. Dylan placed upon his meetings with these men, the romance of these books, and would often dream of riding the great “Black” on some deserted island or in one of the great races in the Triple Crown. Hearing the stories of the great ones like Secretariat, Ruffian, and Willie Shoemaker made days like this with Grandpa feel like glorious lifetimes lived in a single day.

Continue reading “Here We Are Now, chapter 5”

Here We Are Now, chapter four (smells like teen spirit)

Here We Are Now, chapter four (smells like teen spirit)

by philip scott wikel

His mother and father were down-to-earth and both were successful writers. They’d taught him a great deal about life and finding a close to connection to the spiritual world. They were children of the 60s, adolescents in the 70s, and could have gone the way of the “freelove,” drug culture, consciouslessness of most of their generation but had found the inner fortitude to resist becoming caricatures in a time when everyone around them claimed to be moving to higher ground. That higher ground had manifested itself in one of three ways; as drug burnouts, materialists who had thought paying lip-service to the higher ground would make them happy, or becoming “average.” Average, to him, now meant complacent, apathetic, culturally illiterate and holding standards for everything from public education to personal hygiene that would make the statue of liberty cry real tears and wish she hadn’t welcomed their grandparents.

Continue reading “Here We Are Now, chapter four (smells like teen spirit)”