Ticket To Ride, Chapter 15: You just shouldn’t fuck with perfection…

communismFifteen

After a few days in Madrid, recovering what I could, passport and travelers cheques, I finished A Farewell To Arms while waiting for the train.

Lagos was good; small warm beaches, cheap Portuguese beer, and euro-touristy bars with good music where I could shoot pool, speak English, and maybe find work. The owner of “Mulligans” said someone needed a couple of people to dig ditches just north of town. I decided I’d check it out, if necessary.

The room on the hill was clean and comfortable, comfortable, comfortable (“a rose is a rose is a rose”)*. Besides the rotting fish on the front patio, the only unpleasantness was the occasional visitation by the fisherwoman’s husband. He’d grumble and move things around, sit down to eat, then go back to work. As far as I know he never slept and he was pissed that their financial situation made it necessary to take in boarders.

I didn’t hang around their place much. I preferred the beach, a little body surfing, sitting in the sand with a good book. Once, I wandered around the entire diameter of the town trying to picture it when all that existed was the part of it contained within the old walls; very insular and very much counter to modern sprawl. The new architecture outside of the center was some bastardized, watered down, low-budget version of true workmanship.

“You just shouldn’t fuck with perfection,” I said to a couple of tourists, snapping away with their camera, she, in a flowery summer dress and a floppy hat and he, in loose trousers, a sport shirt and loafers.

They looked startled, as if I’d woken them up.

“What d’ya mean then?” the guy replied, with an English accent.

“Within the walls there was a plan. Outside it’s just sprawl… fucking sprawl… should have just left it alone.”

The guy furrowed his brow, “Been to Mulligan’s Pub then?,” changing the subject.

“I know, accentuate the positive… when life hands you lemons…“

“Make lemonade,” the girl finished, sneaking a smile, “have you been to Mulligan’s?”

“… pucker and frown first, it makes your sugar-driven smile so much the sweeter…” I said to the girl.

“But about Mulligan’s,” said the guy, getting impatient.

“… and when you laugh,” I said, looking now at the guy, “try not to feel like a jackass or a mindless hyena.”

“Look mate, I just asked about Mulligan’s.”

“Place is like flypaper.”

“Right then, cheers.”

“See ya ‘round.” I said smiling.

They walked away, looked at each other incredulously, exchanged a few words, looked back at me, and quickened their pace.

I turned away and walked along the main street which lead out of town and into the orange groves. There were workmen there, tapping stones into the dirt, one by one, making a sidewalk in the old manner. The sun was hot on their backs and the care they took in placing each stone seemed to me to be somehow honorable and charming but very tedious and tiring at the same time. They were dressed in heavy canvas work clothes and were sweating heavily. The whole thing led to what would be some big resort. If the charm of the town wasn’t dead already, it would be soon. These guys would never stay there. Lucky if they could afford a drink there.

My nights were, for the most part, one game of pool after another. One particular night I went out with the two Germans who were staying in the room adjacent to mine. We shot a few games then sat down for another smoke and another beer.

Norbert was tall, thin and blonde and spoke very little. He was a student of statistics and had a girl back in Munich whom he missed terribly. He’d promised himself two weeks in Portugal to sort it all out. He didn’t get into the relationship in depth, but I guessed that he was silently deciding whether to make it a lifelong thing.

“She is beautiful you see and I love her but, how do you say in English, I’m not sure of this commitment… is that right?”

I nodded and asked if he had a picture of her.

Kristof, the bigger, darker and more talkative of the two was fixated on grandiose political philosophies. While smoking endless cigarettes and drinking “zha cheap Portuguese bier,” he was almost begging to be heard:

“… in place of the old local and national seclusion and self-sufficiency, we have intercourse in every direction, universal inter-dependence of nations. And as in material, so also in intellectual production. The intellectual creations of individual nations become common property. National one-sidedness and narrow-mindedness become more and more impossible, and from the numerous national and local literatures, there arises a world literature. The bourgeoisie, by the rapid improvement of all instruments of production, by the immensely facilitated means of communication, draws all, even the most barbarian, nations into civilisation. The cheap prices of commodities are the heavy artillery with which it forces the barbarians’ intensely obstinate hatred of foreigners to capitulate. It compels all nations, on pain of extinction, to adopt the bourgeois mode of production; it compels them to introduce what it calls civilisation into their midst, i.e., to become bourgeois themselves. In one word, it creates a world after its own image.”*

His English was good but his sermon offered little more than sugary Communist ideals wherein “everyone” would be happy. And of course, like Shakespeare’s Gonzalo, I guessed that it would only work for him if he could somehow be the leader of it all and not just a subject of it.

With another classical Spanish guitar solo coming to its crescendo, I sat listening with the enthusiasm of a week-old corpse. It was just talk and tired nothingness, pure, Chatterleyan nothingness.

“Sounds like a bunch of Marxist crap…” I said.

Kristof sort of smiled and picked up his beer.

“The American system could work,” I said, “work, and not fuck everyone at the bottom.”

Kristof put his beer back down and lit another cigarette.

“The problem is middle management… just like the middle class… they’re terrified of losing their place in line and their fear ends up fucking everyone around them.” They’ve become control freaks who will allow you to be their underling provided you cough up the password everyday. The password is different in every company but they all translate as roughly ‘I’m your man.’ But it changes all the time to keep you on alert. And ‘middle man’ is on constant alert to the changing moods of his superiors, the upper men. This makes middle man an almost sympathetic character. He was once on the lowest rung. Only the sympathy stops when one sees the true degree of his power. The men below him are dying on the vine because he is either too busy to notice the good deeds of these men; too busy vying for a spot with the Upper Men or so totally fixated on maintaining his appearance as a man of means. He’s scrambling for the opportunity to play golf with men who will let you swim in their pool, but watch for the glass cover, because until they feel comfortable with the new man, which they may never, they reserve the right close the lid. They’re like the guy on the freeway who won’t let you pass just to spite you. Sure they’re using new terms to describe employees like “co-worker” or “associate” to establish the idea that the workplace has an even playing field for everyone. But while the terminology has changed, the feudal mindset persists. If we could cut through the crap and base the reward system on effort, diligence and intelligence instead of manipulation, embezzlement, and popularity then we would be going somewhere. But until America finds its way out of this state of mourning no one is gonna move.”

“Mourning who?” asked Norbert.

“JFK, RFK, Martin Luther King, Malcolm X and Vietnam.”

I excused myself and stumbled back up the hill.

The Germans had offered to let me stay at their place in Munich, but I was pretty sure I wouldn’t make it.

and the moss and the rolling stone

green river grass, its all overgrown

and I’m alone

* from the Communist Manifesto, Karl Marx

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Ticket To Ride, Chapter 15: You just shouldn’t fuck with perfection…

communismFifteen

After a few days in Madrid, recovering what I could, passport and travelers cheques, I finished A Farewell To Arms while waiting for the train.

Lagos was good; small warm beaches, cheap Portuguese beer, and euro-touristy bars with good music where I could shoot pool, speak English, and maybe find work. The owner of “Mulligans” said someone needed a couple of people to dig ditches just north of town. I decided I’d check it out, if necessary.

The room on the hill was clean and comfortable, comfortable, comfortable (“a rose is a rose is a rose”)*. Besides the rotting fish on the front patio, the only unpleasantness was the occasional visitation by the fisherwoman’s husband. He’d grumble and move things around, sit down to eat, then go back to work. As far as I know he never slept and he was pissed that their financial situation made it necessary to take in boarders.

I didn’t hang around their place much. I preferred the beach, a little body surfing, sitting in the sand with a good book. Once, I wandered around the entire diameter of the town trying to picture it when all that existed was the part of it contained within the old walls; very insular and very much counter to modern sprawl. The new architecture outside of the center was some bastardized, watered down, low-budget version of true workmanship.

“You just shouldn’t fuck with perfection,” I said to a couple of tourists, snapping away with their camera, she, in a flowery summer dress and a floppy hat and he, in loose trousers, a sport shirt and loafers.

They looked startled, as if I’d woken them up.

“What d’ya mean then?” the guy replied, with an English accent.

“Within the walls there was a plan. Outside it’s just sprawl… fucking sprawl… should have just left it alone.”

The guy furrowed his brow, “Been to Mulligan’s Pub then?,” changing the subject.

“I know, accentuate the positive… when life hands you lemons…“

“Make lemonade,” the girl finished, sneaking a smile, “have you been to Mulligan’s?”

“… pucker and frown first, it makes your sugar-driven smile so much the sweeter…” I said to the girl.

“But about Mulligan’s,” said the guy, getting impatient.

“… and when you laugh,” I said, looking now at the guy, “try not to feel like a jackass or a mindless hyena.”

“Look mate, I just asked about Mulligan’s.”

“Place is like flypaper.”

“Right then, cheers.”

“See ya ‘round.” I said smiling.

They walked away, looked at each other incredulously, exchanged a few words, looked back at me, and quickened their pace.

I turned away and walked along the main street which lead out of town and into the orange groves. There were workmen there, tapping stones into the dirt, one by one, making a sidewalk in the old manner. The sun was hot on their backs and the care they took in placing each stone seemed to me to be somehow honorable and charming but very tedious and tiring at the same time. They were dressed in heavy canvas work clothes and were sweating heavily. The whole thing led to what would be some big resort. If the charm of the town wasn’t dead already, it would be soon. These guys would never stay there. Lucky if they could afford a drink there.

My nights were, for the most part, one game of pool after another. One particular night I went out with the two Germans who were staying in the room adjacent to mine. We shot a few games then sat down for another smoke and another beer.

Norbert was tall, thin and blonde and spoke very little. He was a student of statistics and had a girl back in Munich whom he missed terribly. He’d promised himself two weeks in Portugal to sort it all out. He didn’t get into the relationship in depth, but I guessed that he was silently deciding whether to make it a lifelong thing.

“She is beautiful you see and I love her but, how do you say in English, I’m not sure of this commitment… is that right?”

I nodded and asked if he had a picture of her.

Kristof, the bigger, darker and more talkative of the two was fixated on grandiose political philosophies. While smoking endless cigarettes and drinking “zha cheap Portuguese bier,” he was almost begging to be heard:

“… in place of the old local and national seclusion and self-sufficiency, we have intercourse in every direction, universal inter-dependence of nations. And as in material, so also in intellectual production. The intellectual creations of individual nations become common property. National one-sidedness and narrow-mindedness become more and more impossible, and from the numerous national and local literatures, there arises a world literature. The bourgeoisie, by the rapid improvement of all instruments of production, by the immensely facilitated means of communication, draws all, even the most barbarian, nations into civilisation. The cheap prices of commodities are the heavy artillery with which it forces the barbarians’ intensely obstinate hatred of foreigners to capitulate. It compels all nations, on pain of extinction, to adopt the bourgeois mode of production; it compels them to introduce what it calls civilisation into their midst, i.e., to become bourgeois themselves. In one word, it creates a world after its own image.”*

His English was good but his sermon offered little more than sugary Communist ideals wherein “everyone” would be happy. And of course, like Shakespeare’s Gonzalo, I guessed that it would only work for him if he could somehow be the leader of it all and not just a subject of it.

With another classical Spanish guitar solo coming to its crescendo, I sat listening with the enthusiasm of a week-old corpse. It was just talk and tired nothingness, pure, Chatterleyan nothingness.

“Sounds like a bunch of Marxist crap…” I said.

Kristof sort of smiled and picked up his beer.

“The American system could work,” I said, “work, and not fuck everyone at the bottom.”

Kristof put his beer back down and lit another cigarette.

“The problem is middle management… just like the middle class… they’re terrified of losing their place in line and their fear ends up fucking everyone around them.” They’ve become control freaks who will allow you to be their underling provided you cough up the password everyday. The password is different in every company but they all translate as roughly ‘I’m your man.’ But it changes all the time to keep you on alert. And ‘middle man’ is on constant alert to the changing moods of his superiors, the upper men. This makes middle man an almost sympathetic character. He was once on the lowest rung. Only the sympathy stops when one sees the true degree of his power. The men below him are dying on the vine because he is either too busy to notice the good deeds of these men; too busy vying for a spot with the Upper Men or so totally fixated on maintaining his appearance as a man of means. He’s scrambling for the opportunity to play golf with men who will let you swim in their pool, but watch for the glass cover, because until they feel comfortable with the new man, which they may never, they reserve the right close the lid. They’re like the guy on the freeway who won’t let you pass just to spite you. Sure they’re using new terms to describe employees like “co-worker” or “associate” to establish the idea that the workplace has an even playing field for everyone. But while the terminology has changed, the feudal mindset persists. If we could cut through the crap and base the reward system on effort, diligence and intelligence instead of manipulation, embezzlement, and popularity then we would be going somewhere. But until America finds its way out of this state of mourning no one is gonna move.”

“Mourning who?” asked Norbert.

“JFK, RFK, Martin Luther King, Malcolm X and Vietnam.”

I excused myself and stumbled back up the hill.

The Germans had offered to let me stay at their place in Munich, but I was pretty sure I wouldn’t make it.

and the moss and the rolling stone

green river grass, its all overgrown

and I’m alone

* from the Communist Manifesto, Karl Marx

Sixteen

 

You don’t really hate anyone…

signs-no-hateYou don’t really hate anyone. It’s all them. They’re in your computer, your TV, your phone, your rearview mirror and they’re even in your head. Sound like science fiction? Yeah, I thought so too until I remembered what a mild-mannered person I had been most of my life and couldn’t understand why I was suddenly so angry at ridiculous things and not focusing my energy on the real problem. It’s honest to goodness voodoo folks. Struggle with yourself to overcome it. Remember what great and good things you wanted to do and be as a child.

You don’t really hate anyone. Hatred is a learned behavior that can be unlearned if you can unpack the baggage of your subconscious and get rid of everything non-essential. They thrive on hatred because it’s all they know. No one ever truly loved these people and they are incapable of feeling love or feeling loved, of giving love and receiving love. These monsters are bent and broken, disfigured demons so possessed of hate and lust and desire and avarice they can’t possibly ever understand what you and I know to be true: It all comes down to love.
Think about what kind of person would want to do the work of the NSA or the CIA.
Pity them and move on, it’s all they really deserve. They’re pathetic in the real sense of the word pathetic, defined as deserving of your pathos or pity.

Ryo Utasato – Taking Us from One Part of the Globe to Another…

morgan_1293652923Ryo Utasato aka Ryo Utasato -Pike is a Japanese composer and singer/songwriter with a rich body of work that runs the gamut from electronica to ambient to world to rock and beyond. Being raised by parents who were both musicians themselves, Ryo has had no shortage of inspiration and has been creating music from a very young age. Her range of talent and unique experimental style is immediately striking and listening to one of her pieces will undoubtedly transport you to another place. Her soundtracks have appeared in a variety of film and TV, and she’s worked in such genres as sci-fi, drama, horror and action. Her work was also chosen for the theme of World Heritage series.

Ryo’s incredible musical sense combined with her genuine interest in world culture has opened her mind and pushed her to experiment with different types of sounds and instruments. Her music often features a mixture of seemingly contrasting sounds which collide at different points and produce unexpectedly moving results. On top of some of the more conventional instruments which Ryo has used in her music, she has also experimented with a number of others from different parts of the world such as the duduk (Armenia), the erhu (China) and the shamisen (Japan). The expanse and tremendous scale of her music is capable of taking us from one part of the globe to another, just by closing our eyes.

More: www.reverbnation.com/ryoutasato

a place called everywhere – the julian day kickstarter campaign

The above homemade video “American Pop (the wasteland)” is a tongue-in-cheek stab at the shallowness of Pop Culture and a call to action to make a difference in a political climate fraught with arrogance and indifference.

We believe popular music needs to have a deeper meaning again. By combining creative music with meaningful lyrics, we believe we are a contender to make the change. Two years ago The Julian Day created a DIY 6-song EP and it was quite well-received, even getting the attention of a record label in Ireland (Holy Grail Records).

Here’s more about us:

The Julian Day began recording immediately after the Winter Solstice of 2010 and posted their first song “Policy” on reverbnation during the first week of January, 2011. With the days growing longer, they felt something in the air. And then came the Arab Spring and The Julian Day were in what Shakespeare once called, “a fine frenzy rolling.”

Immersed at a young age in the songs of the great singer/songwriters of the 70s and the experimentation of 80s bands like New Order, U2 and Echo and The Bunnymen, The Julian Day fuses the two to offer a wholly new sound for 2014 that amps it up while stripping it down.

With The Julian Day you’ll find good songwriting mixed with just enough instrumentation to drive the songs along. Working with the idea that art is best when nothing can be added and nothing can be taken away, The Julian Day seeks to engage the listener head-on. Spare and spartanized, these songs have just the right amount of color and texture while offering brief lessons in the game of life.

Continue reading “a place called everywhere – the julian day kickstarter campaign”

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.

Philip

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…”

Famous vs. Successful Novelist

Discussion of Fame vs. Successful Novelist

Philip Scott Wikel:
I’m sorry if I gave anyone the impression that I would be giving away free copies of Ticket to Ride to the members of the “Ticket” Facebook group. http://tiny.cc/ticket_facebook

As much as I would like to, it’s just not feasible.

In a recent post, Carrie Williams said:
“By the way, congratulations! You’re famous!”

In response to that I have to say, honestly, thank you but I’m not interested in fame. Fame and $1.50 will get me a cup of coffee (In other words, fame is useless unless it brings readers).

My dream is to make a living as a novelist. It would be fantastic to be able to spend my day creating stories for your entertainment. For that to happen, I need readers, not fans; kindred spirits, not adoration.

Thank you to all of the readers who have thus far purchased Ticket to Ride. I hope you’ve enjoyed my book.

Patti Persons:
Yeah Yeah, we adore you because WE watched you grow up from a pip-squeak to a successful gentleman! WE are proud of you!

Philip Scott Wikel:
Thanks again. But you used one of those uncomfortable words again, “successful.” If only 10% of the members of the Ticket to Ride Facebook fan club actually purchase the book, is it a success? So far I have only succeeded in getting a book published. Granted, that’s something, however, sales are what make it a success. In my mind a writer becomes successful when he can quit his day job and do what he truly loves.

The really funny part about this is that my fans on facebook don’t even know what their proud of because they haven’t read my book. For all they know it could be a piece of ____.

Another thing they don’t know is that right now I’m only making $9.40 per hour as a cashier. And another thing: I eat mostly peanut butter sandwiches so my son can eat like a normal person. And finally, I was laid off from a very good job a year-and-a-half ago and the economy is getting worse.

So please excuse me if I don’t understand or see the significance of words like “success” and “famous.” I’m living the life of the starving artist and it’s not as glamorous as they told me it would be. And I’m not looking for sympathy. I’m just asking for people to take a look at what they see as “success” cuz it seems like people around me are just starstruck, and for no good reason.