Thursday, September 30, 2010

yehuda amichai, you rock my world.

Half the people in the world love the other half,
half the people hate the other half.
Must I because of this half and that half go wandering
and changing ceaselessly like rain in its cycle,
must I sleep among rocks, and grow rugged like
the trunks of olive trees,
and hear the moon barking at me,
and camouflage my love with worries,
and sprout like frightened grass between the railroad
and live underground like a mole,
and remain with roots and not with branches, and not
feel my cheek against the cheek of angels, and
love in the first cave, and marry my wife
beneath a canopy of beams that support the earth,
and act out my death, always till the last breath and
the last words and without ever understanding,
and put flagpoles on top of my house and a bomb shelter
underneath. And go out on raids made only for
returning and go through all the appalling
between the kid and the angel of death?
Half the people love,
half the people hate.
And where is my place between such well-matched halves,
and through what crack will I see the white housing
projects of my dreams and the bare foot runners
on the sands or, at least, the waving of a girl's
kerchief, beside the mound?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

long division

I've been grieving a lot of things recently. Sometimes the music says more than I can say right now. Coexisting is hard enough, living at peace sometimes seems damn near impossible. I do what I can to live at peace because it's what God asks of me and because it's better for everyone that way, but damn does life get complicated.

Someone once told me that hurting people are the ones who hurt others the most and I can't help but wonder if it's true.

It's a long time coming,
It's a long way down,
It's long division,
Crack and divide.
This is a parting,
Some separation,
We lay in pieces,
Cracked to survive.
I'm not your villain,
Not your adversary,
I'm not your reason to crack and divide.
It's long division,
Crack and divide

Monday, September 27, 2010

under the bridge downtown...

The partner in crime and I had a great time taking pictures of pretty lights and shiny things at Ingenuity. The space in the old subway tunnel underneath the Detroit-Superior Bridge is so amazing on its own that anything added to that just sweetens it even more, and the artwork, lighting, performances, and the waterfall cascading like Niagara over the side were incredible.

It actually felt like the city was alive, because there were actually people out, and that was good to see, and instead of paying for overpriced carnival food, we got takeout pizza at Edison's and came back to the apartment to listen to the new Roots album, drink Lazizas and philosophize about relationships.

I went back the next night with Lindsay after a family dinner and watched members of the Sugarhill Gang keep the party going and chilled out to a reggae band at the end of the night. When I got back out to the east side I was so exhausted I crashed on the couch there and drove home the next morning. So much for coffee and scrabble, hopefully next time.

And despite all the drama of the past month, the climax of that seems to have something of the divine timing to it. I'll be moving out of my lovely apartment after six of the most unpredictable months in my life. I'm going to miss my garden, my amazing roomie going on to bigger and brighter things, and the crazy kids running around, but it really is the best decision to make given the situation and a mutual understanding that is reassuring.

I haven't figured out if I'm going to life with some friends in Old Brooklyn or try to fly solo for a little while. I haven't lived with multiple people in awhile, and I know I get stir-crazy when left by myself for a long time, so we'll see how this all shakes out. Right now I'm leaning toward the roomies, which are two inner city school teachers and an Ethiopian college student. I guess this keeps me from getting too comfortable and soft... or something.

Friday, September 24, 2010

I think it's turning back around...

I'm looking forward to this weekend, with the weather being perfect for driving through the city all night, getting to go under the bridge again for Ingenuity Fest, which is free this year, getting to hear some good live music, and spending time with those I love.

I'm learning more and more that love is not this warm and fuzzy abstract feeling that comes and goes with the emotions but something that is in a constant state of action and reorienting thoughts, of choosing not to continue cycles of vindictiveness, of choosing to forgive, choosing to be honest even if it hurts, choosing to seek peace and let the past be the past. So often we let life be all about our thoughts and our grievances and don't step back to look at the whole picture.

And if we didn't have sucky things in life, we probably wouldn't learn anything, toughen up, soften up or grow in the right ways. I look at so many of the things have happened in the past two years and I'm thankful I went through them because it's helped me so much with the present.

down on the upside, indeed.

Friday silliness

It's always weird doing the late night and then coming in early in the morning, most of the late night being watching the clock move and me and the grad student's continual fascination with the foibles of world leaders, who've been disappointing us as of late with a lack of unintentionally hilarious manly man propaganda, bizarre UN speeches, or absurd proclamations.

I feel bad inflicting bad music on you all, especially since I got this song stuck in my compadre's head this morning

However, this awesome song and sweet video let to this band getting banned in Zimbabwe for portraying Mugabe turning into a chicken. By the way, the puppets are stars of a South African webtv satire show that includes skits where Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela discuss Twitter. I don't get all the humor and had to look up who half the people were that they were making fun of, but it's good stuff.

And pandas in Egypt intimidate you into eating their cheese.

And I had no idea that Mikhail Gorbachev made a Pizza Hut commercial.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

turn it up it's too far down as if we can relate...

I realize I'm getting older when I go out to see some live music and end up sitting in a table by a corner behind a wall with Jim and Christine because it's just too damn loud up front. And then I'm wondering when the headliner is going to come on and if I can stay up that late. But darn it, I've paid my eight dollars and I've had a rough couple weeks, the venue is chill, and it's not every day that Grant Hart of the late great Husker Du is playing at the bar around the corner and I don't have to be at work until the early afternoon.

I listened to a lot of 80's punk and hardcore in my Kent State days and all of my Husker albums have been collecting dust since I no longer have a functioning turntable, having thrown out my old one when I moved out and when I realized it was playing all my records too fast.

I haven't listened to any of his solo stuff, but he was responsible for my favorite songs and while he didn't play 'The Girl Who Lives on Heaven Hill,' he played some of my other favorites and asked us about things that happened in Cleveland before most of us were born and exhibited a shy and somewhat snarky sense of humor.

He plugged in an old electric guitar and taped a row of picks onto it with masking tape, ignoring requests for certain songs that Bob Mould wrote and seemed to disappear into his own world. I always wonder how people can get that sense of melody and intensity with just a few chords and words but I got the shivers up my spine in the best way even with the songs I didn't know.

Now that there has been at least some return to relative normalcy, it felt good and cathartic to be around loud guitars and aching souls. It brought me back to all I've been through and how that's helped me get to where I'm at now...

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

playlist 9/21/10

trying to get back into posting playlists

cut chemist - the garden

bonobo - kong

radiohead - 15 step

twilight singers - twilight

thievery corporation - la femme parallel

diplo - summer's gonna hurt you

shlomo and the vocal orchestra - teardrop

novalima - zamba lanco

bad brains - leaving babylon

tenor saw - ring the alarm

the charmels - as long as I've got you

stan getz and luiz bonfa - insensatez

blind boys of alabama - way down in the hole

the bellrays- have a little faith

erykah badu - bag lady

mos def - umi says

afghan whigs - lost in the supermarket / stand by me/ train in vain

stiffed - hold tight

soul coughing - lazybones

linton kwesi johnson - black petty booshwah enforcer (request)

althea & donna - no more fighting

dennis brown - man next door

parliament - goose that laid the golden egg

devo - gut feeling

the dirtbombs - trainwreck

Monday, September 20, 2010

blessings and wonders

I hadn't planned out my day when I started driving out to the east side. I'd gotten a text message about the chalk festival and a tentative hangout with a friend of mine before he had to go to work, but I was alone when I got there and decided to fly solo until everyone got there and wandered around the ever-amazing and always free art museum.

Since I've been doing a lot of work with clay, I was looking at the sculptures in a whole new light and getting reacquainted with the ancient Egyptians, the tribal people of Europe, and the Byzantines, trying to figure out what the process was to get the glaze the way it looked on those art nouveau pieces and ended up having a conversation with an older lady who had a day job as a chemist and took up ceramics, woodworking, and silversmithing in her spare time. We were talking about the joys of after-work art classes and the creative process as she pointed out things that I would have never noticed on my own.

I also got another entry in the Bad Pickup Lines Sweepstakes with "Are you an artist? You look kind of, like, artsy."

Thankfully, the crew showed up around that time, and we got a box of chalk and realized we had no real plan of what we wanted to draw on our pair of paving stones so we started doodling with rainbow colors as Muk played with my camera.

I love the way the chalk looks but I'm not a fan of the texture in my hands, so I ended up just watching other people work and people-watching. There were some incredibly gifted artists down there, and the day ended up being so beautiful.

I wasn't in the mood to go back to the west side just yet so I reconnected with some old friends who'd just had a baby, stopped by to visit one of my friends at the art school and finished out the night in Jerusha's apartment where zucchini bread was made and much laughter commenced.

I drove home feeling a little less sad, knowing that for all the messed up things that have happened in the past two years, there is still so much beauty, life, and love that I have been surrounded by that I really don't deserve. It's a strange and humbling thing.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

if I could, you know I would...

It's 2 in the morning and I've been sleeping since 8, waking up knowing I have to be up in another 6 hours and wondering how I messed up my sleep cycle so completely and wondering if that has to do with all the craziness around me hitting home.

The sirens are everywhere and I don't even want to know what's happening outside. I just want to fall back asleep and not be so congested.

Today was so beautiful and we drove out to Chagrin Falls where a strange convergence of bikers hanging out in front of Starbucks drinking macchiatos and people getting married occurred. And I realized I've never driven through 'where the other half lives,' this strange and beautiful land south and east where it feels like I'm in some BBC movie with these endless acres and big country houses, polo grounds, English nanny schools, and so many trees I realize that I've been profoundly nature-deprived. I don't know people who live in Gates Mills or Hunting Valley or whatever. I'm sure there's nice people there like there is anywhere. It just feels so far removed from my land of cheap apartments, gang graffiti, and loud car stereos.

It's not that things are so bad, it's just been hard to see all the stress around me and be unable to really do anything to help, feeling if anything like a nonentity or an impediment, that I always say the wrong thing, though I know most of this whole life thing isn't my fault. I think I'm going to come away from all this stronger and more sure despite all the shifts and transitions.

It's helped to retreat into art, and I've discovered the wonders of the Cudell Art Center where you can go and work with clay, make pottery, sculpt stuff, and glaze it and hang out with really chill people and it's free, which is amazing. And when I'm not there, I come home and splice together the leftovers in the kitchen and then get out the paints, finding catharsis in the way the colors run together and listening to all my old music.

Thankful for the friends who've stuck with me through this season of struggle, who've let me cry and vent, helped me jump through the hoops of the legal system, encouraged me in making art, made dinner with me, been wonderful companions for adventures. It's meant so much to have that in my life to balance out the hurts.

And I'm wide awake now, listening to this song over and over again, grieving some losses and some current losing, knowing that this is only the beginning, that this is part of continuing to live and be human and that there's a long trail of it ahead...

If you twist and turn away
If you tear yourself in two again
If I could, yes I would
If I could, I would
Let it go

If I could throw this
Lifeless lifeline to the wind
Leave this heart of clay
See you walk, walk away
Into the night
And through the rain
Into the half-light
And through the flame

If I could through myself
Set your spirit free
I'd lead your heart away
See you break, break away
Into the light
And to the day

To let it go
And so to fade away
To let it go
And so fade away

I'm wide awake
I'm wide awake
Wide awake
I'm not sleeping
Oh, no, no, no

If you should ask then maybe they'd
Tell you what I would say
True colors fly in blue and black
Bruised silken sky and burning flag
Colors crash, collide in blood shot eyes

If I could, you know I would
If I could, I would
Let it go...

This desperation
In temptation
Let it go

And so fade away
To let it go
And so fade away
To let it go
And so to fade away

I'm wide awake
I'm wide awake
Wide awake
I'm not sleeping
Oh, no, no, no

Thursday, September 16, 2010

best of the blotter 27 (updated)

ANIMAL AT LARGE, GENEVA STREET: A man was cited for violating leash laws Sept. 8 after his black dog ran into a police car on patrol.

Police noted, it was not the first time the same dog has run into the cruiser.

The owner said he would check his dog for injuries

PETTY THEFT, WESTGATE MALL: Police responded to Target at about 11:30 a.m. Sept. 7 on a report of two girls in custody for shoplifting. Police were told that the girls apparently concealed about $130 of clothing in a large red purse. One of the girls tried on boots and tried to leave the store with them on. When police arrived, they started questioning the girls, but neither had identification. Both claimed to be juveniles. Police asked their birthdays and ages, and when the girls’ answers didn’t add up, police figured out that they had two male suspects dressed as girls. Police arrested an 18-year-old Cleveland man and a 17-year-old Cleveland boy and charged them with petty theft.

THEFT, WILSON MILLS: A Mayfield Heights girl was arrested for shoplifting from Kohl’s, 6245 Wilson Mills.

When asked about her parents, the girl told police they lived in Russia. Police later discovered the girl’s parents lived in Mayfield Heights and she was released to them.

NOISE DISTURBANCE, ABBEY ROAD: At 1:12 a.m. Sept. 6 an officer responded to the Cedarwood Estates complex to assist another patrolman with a complaint of a man singing. The officers walked the area and located an outdoor karaoke party. The homeowner was issued a summons for a noise disturbance.

BURGLARY, CLARENCE AVENUE: A woman told police on Sept. 2 that while she was in the hospital, her apartment was broken into and trashed. Police found no forced entry and nothing missing. The trouble was a civil matter over a messy apartment.

ASSAULT, SOLON ROAD: A boy, 16, riding a lawn tractor home Sept. 7 after his father had it repaired at Solon Hardware Store on Melbury Drive was confronted by a group of four to five boys who got him off the tractor, at which point one of the boys punched him in the face while the others egged him on — one of them filming the attack on his cell phone. Police broke the fight up, charging one of the boys, 16, in the attack, while three other boys are being referred to juvenile court on possible charges of inciting to violence. The basis for the dispute appears to be a stolen iPod.

BURGLARY, AURORA ROAD: A Solon woman, 40, reported Monday someone slid open a first-floor bedroom window and came in her condo, taking two game systems, controllers and games, a tennis bracelet and a pair of earrings valued at $1,680. The victim believes the theft may also be related to the theft of the iPod that led to the hijacked lawn tractor Sept. 7.

ASSAULT, AURORA ROAD: A Garfield Heights woman, 24, employed at Station 43, said she was struck in the back of the neck by a co-worker Saturday after they got into an argument over the “Special of the Day.” A Bedford Heights man, 41, was arrested.

THEFT, BAINBRIDGE ROAD: The owner of Cellphones For Cancer reported Friday six of 13 political yard signs he posted in front of his business had been stolen.

SUSPICIOUS SITUATION, PEARL ROAD: At 6:54 p.m. Thursday, employees at Buffalo Wild Wings Grill and Bar told police that an older man had been in the business’ restroom for a while, and when they inquired into his well-being, he answered, “I’m OK. I’m just doing heroin.”

Police were unable to locate any drugs or drug paraphernalia in the restroom, and determined the man did not appear to be under the influence.

The man was taken to a bus stop.

SUSPICIOUS SITUATION, JONATHAN DRIVE: A woman woke to a strange sight in her front lawn on Friday morning. In the lawn was a staked sign that read “Ye shall reap what ye has sown” on one side, and “Repent Diane, the end is near” on the other.

The resident identified a suspect, who reportedly recently sent a private investigator to her place of employment.

INDECENT EXPOSURE, ROYALTON ROAD: An older white male in a wheelchair wearing no pants reportedly traveled on Muraski Elementary School property at approximately 3:39 p.m. Friday.

TRAFFIC STOP, CLIFTON BOULEVARD: At 10:36 a.m. Sept. 9, police responding to an altercation cited a woman for excessive horn blowing and cited a man for disorderly conduct

PROPERTY IMPOUND, DETROIT AVENUE: Police received a butcher knife and sock stuffed under a trash bin at 10:24 a.m. Sept. 8.

SPECIAL ATTENTION, HIGHLAND ROAD: A resident reported Sept. 8 a male came to their home the previous evening and said he was doing a homework assignment and wanted to interview them. They said they wouldn’t let him in despite him being adamant about it. He was described as being in his late teens with full sleeve tattoos on both arms.

“DISTURBING” KITCHEN? A customer at a N. Court Street Chinese food buffet became upset after he claimed he saw a “disturbing” incident in the kitchen on Sept. 3. The man began yelling and the manager asked him to leave the restaurant, so the man left but did not pay for the food he had eaten prior to the outburst. The manager provided a description of the man to police and asked to have him banned if he was found.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

run on for a long time...

Despite all that goes on around me, with the day of reckoning near for our corrupt politicians, reeling from the suicides of lost souls, the continual sadness in the greater world, the small conflicts that rage within our souls and with those close to us, there is still a ray of hope and enough to keep me going and not fall into despair and to know that it's not up to me to get revenge or continue that cycle.

My dad was a fan of Johnny Cash and therefore I grew up on quite a bit of him too. I know some of my readers hate on the country music, but this is just its own thing and between the words and the voice... I just get shivers.

"Well you may throw your rock and hide your hand
Workin' in the dark against your fellow man
But as sure as God made black and white
What's done in the dark will be brought to the light

You can run on for a long time
Run on for a long time
Run on for a long time
Sooner or later God'll cut you down
Sooner or later God'll cut you down"

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


My playlist this morning might not look like it makes sense on paper, but it was where I was this morning, reeling from the accumulation of hurt and frustration that's been the story of this past year and especially the past few weeks.

I swayed in the studio, tired from another sleepless night, unable to totally wake up, letting the sounds wash over me of others' sadness and broken hearts... the way that these sounds resonate so much to know that I am not alone in the pain.

I used to think that once I got out of middle school or maybe high school that the drama would dissipate, but that doesn't seem to be the case. Kids might not be making fun of your haircut or your glasses but grown adults still act like children and it's almost worse because you think they'd know better by now.

"We're grown adults and look what we do," one of my friends says, but I mean the "real grownups" who have kids my age and are often grandparents now, but still exist in these us-vs-them paradigms that should have faded long ago. Maybe I'm wrong to think that age and experience really mean anything.

And I hope I don't end up like that, playing people off each other, using and manipulating and wondering why it scares everyone away. I don't want to be always expecting something and never giving, feeling like I'm entitled to anything.

I hate the loneliness that comes when there was once closeness and now there is none, yet your lives are so tangled up with mutual friends and social venues and dynamics that you can't completely extricate yourselves or take a break and wait for the dust to settle. All the shattered families and soured friendships and romances that crashed and burned. I guess it's just the way it is, and the pain and inevitability is to be expected.

playlist 9/14/10

neil young - down by the river
jimi hendrix - bleeding heart
the bellrays - tell the lie
sharon jones & the dap-kings - something's changed
funkadelic - you & your folks
afghan whigs - crazy
morphine - scratch
blonde redhead - misery is a butterfly
john frusciante - a song to sing when I'm lonely
U2 - ultraviolet
soulsavers - kingdom of rain
bonobo - stay the same
morcheeba - posthumous / tape loop
lamb - stronger
portishead - wandering stars
lupe fiasco - intruder alert
me'shell ndegeocello - solomon
massive attack - unfinished sympathy
nneka - heartbeat
stephen marley - you're gonna leave
outkast - liberation
mad season - long gone day
johnny cash - God's gonna cut you down
autolux - turnstile blues
radiohead - i might be wrong
twilight singers - papillon

Saturday, September 11, 2010

a kindler gentler machine gun hand

Everyone remembers when 9/11 happened and I was a senior in high school in between classes at Tri-C, how it was a totally beautiful day outside and yet something really bad had hit much closer to home.

I was younger and more idealistic and hoped that the people of my country would do some soul-searching, but instead someone drove their car into the Islamic center around the corner, the Egyptian kids who were Coptic got harassed, and suddenly high schools were saying the Pledge of Allegiance, everyone was wearing red white and blue, and these decals with slogans like "the Power of Pride" started appearing everywhere.

Being a snarky punk of a kid still with some born-again fervor, I remember thinking about how the power of pride is usually a bad thing, but evidently no one else saw it that way. Wasn't it pride that comes before the fall, didn't God tell us to be humble?

I played bass in a terrible punk band where we wrote songs about not going to war, jammed around to "California Uber Alles" and was so glad that I wasn't the President, because I wouldn't know what the hell to do.

I remember being creeped out by the Patriot Act and thinking about all the ways that power could get abused. I must have been so naive to think it wouldn't go as far as it did. It sickens me when I hear otherwise decent people justify torture, to think that we can act like we're on this moral high ground saying that the terrorists are doing this and that so they 'deserve it.' Like the Japanese didn't have suicide bombers or the Nazis didn't do what they did.

And my heart breaks for women who risk losing their lives to learn how to read, whose words mean nothing, and for boys that are the victims of pedophilia because of men and women aren't able to relate to each other normally. I can't imagine living in a country where I could not listen to or play music without fear of death. And for whatever attitudes there might be against us around the world, these people that we've never met are God's children too, and we are all equal before Him, just as much in need of redemption and grace.

Where does this whole bombing back into the stone age and American pride fit in with loving our neighbors and praying for those who persecute us? Do we lower ourselves to the standards of those we don't want to be anyway? Just because "the Satanic Verses" gets burned does that really mean it's a good idea to burn the Quran? Why is anyone giving this guy attention anyway? That's the last thing anyone needs.

Is it that we've gotten so desensitized to violence and torture that we don't care? Is it that we've lost some sense of humanity somewhere? I know none of this is new, but to see it so out in the opening and to hear it attempted to be justified as okay when it's not... I just don't believe that we can justify the unjustifiable.

I wonder if Bill Clinton had pulled these stunts if the response from the right would have been nearly as enabling. I remember reading the Gulag Archipelago, and for all our talk about freedom, the same things that they did in the Gulag are what's being done here.

The political discourse seems to grow more toxic every year. I thought it was bad at Kent in '04 when it was Bush vs Kerry and everyone talked so ignorant around me, resorting to groupthink, generalizations, and name-calling and pointless protests, and the way that people like Ann Coulter and Michael Moore made a lot of money out of partisanship.

And nine years later, we're still in Afghanistan but no one's really talking about Bin Laden. It feels more and more like Vietnam, where no one really knows why we're there, what the hell is going on, and maybe it's even worse. Anyone who's tried to go in there has screwed themselves over. And, as my esteemed coworker quotes from "the Princess Bride," one should "never get involved in a land war in Asia."

Our current president declares victory in Iraq again, but we've still got 50,000 soldiers over there. All this talk of "change" and the CIA is still authorized to assassinate, no one is going to be prosecuted for war crimes, Gitmo is still open, the School of the Americas still exists, we are still holding people without trial who may or may not be guilty, and we alternate between bombing Pakistan and sending it aid to rebuild. Blackwater is still getting our tax dollars.

Somehow this is ok because it's not the Republicans doing it. But it's a continuation of the same thing with a nicer face and a better speaking voice.

It's bread and circuses on the homefront and I wonder if this is what it was like living in the last days of the Roman empire sometimes, with all this imperial expansion and enough bones thrown to the masses to keep them complacent, keep them sufficiently entitled and entertained, "informed" but uninvolved. I am guilty of this considering that I vote third party and am ranting on a blog instead of getting arrested in front of the White House.

I can't remember a time when we weren't bombing someone. What does that say about where we are?

"Rockin' In The Free World"

There's colors on the street
Red, white and blue
People shufflin' their feet
People sleepin' in their shoes
But there's a warnin' sign
on the road ahead
There's a lot of people sayin'
we'd be better off dead
Don't feel like Satan,
but I am to them
So I try to forget it,
any way I can.

Keep on rockin' in the free world,

I see a woman in the night
With a baby in her hand
Under an old street light
Near a garbage can
Now she puts the kid away,
and she's gone to get a hit
She hates her life,
and what she's done to it
There's one more kid
that will never go to school
Never get to fall in love,
never get to be cool.

Keep on rockin' in the free world,

We got a thousand points of light
For the homeless man
We got a kinder, gentler,
Machine gun hand
We got department stores
and toilet paper
Got styrofoam boxes
for the ozone layer
Got a man of the people,
says keep hope alive
Got fuel to burn,
got roads to drive.

Keep on rockin' in the free world
Keep on rockin' in the free world,
Keep on rockin' in the free world.

Friday, September 10, 2010

what is meant to be will be...

Ten minutes left before the weekend and the commencement of Cleveland-ish adventures and I'm finally feeling a bit more hopeful. Going out on more photography/Cleveland adventures tonight, my cousins are coming in tomorrow for birthday festivities and such, and hopefully everything else calms down eventually.

I will continue to be challenged to life in peace, and grow in patience and love even when things really suck. Life goes on, and I've got the sweet and strong voice of Lauryn before she disappeared to soundtrack me through all of this...

Everything Is Everything
What is meant to be, will be
After winter, must come spring
Change, it comes eventually

can we rewind it just once more?

I used to say I didn't have a favorite band, but honestly that favorite band is probably U2 because so many of these songs speak to where I'm at more than I could ever articulate on my own.

Jesus, Jesus help me
I'm alone in this world
And a fucked up world it is too
Tell me, tell me the story
The one about eternity
And the way it's all gonna be

Wake up, wake up dead man
Wake up, wake up dead man

Jesus, I'm waiting here boss
I know you're looking out for us
But maybe your hands aren't free
Your father, He made the world in seven
He's in charge of heaven
Will you put in a word in for me

Wake up, wake up dead man
Wake up, wake up dead man

Listen to your words they'll tell you what to do
Listen over the rhythm that's confusing you
Listen to the reed in the saxophone
Listen over the hum of the radio
Listen over sounds of blades in rotation
Listen through the traffic and circulation
Listen as hope and peace try to rhyme
Listen over marching bands playing out of time

Wake up, wake up dead man
Wake up, wake up dead man

Jesus, were you just around the corner
Did You think to try and warn her
Or are you working on something new
If there's an order in all of this disorder
Is it like a tape recorder
Can we rewind it just once more

Wake up, wake up dead man
Wake up, wake up dead man
Wake up, wake up dead man

Thursday, September 9, 2010

the walking wounded

Pain and heartache are such a part of life, and it reminds us that we are alive, that our nerves function and our heart beats, and we still are conscious and responding to all around us.

And we all have our own, while some of us have more and many different kinds, our pain is our own burden to carry and our struggle to deal with it in life. We each carry our own, and often it is so easy to look at this person or that one and say "well their life is pretty charmed, look at how things work out for them," not realizing the stories that lurk underneath even the most clean and perfect of surfaces.

"You don't know what we have to deal with" I'm told.

And I say "I don't know completely but I know you're dealing with a lot and so am I and so is everyone else. You might not see it, it might not be the same thing but it's there. It might look like nothing ever goes wrong for me, but that's not true." And there's that look of shock when I say what the last year has been like.

If you get behind anyone's "how are you I'm fines," there's so many tales of loss, betrayal, and hard things. Getting burned, getting snubbed, being left alone and confused and wondering how to pick the pieces up.

That girl over there who's beautiful and cute and seems so bubbly happy all the time? Her brother died of a drug overdose. That guy who likes to party all the time watched two of his sisters die fleeing genocide. That woman's fiance died a month before the wedding. That man's brother got hooked on crack and disappeared. That girl who smiles all the time? She's haunted by the living and dead ghosts of the past, the wounds from others that have only begun to heal, the friends lost to murder, alcohol, depression, and drugs.

And it's not even the lost ones, it's the living and the way that people hurt each other not even realizing what they do half the time... an offhand tactless comment here, a "don't tell anyone this" there, the banal cruelty of coworkers, relatives, and friends, the sins of omission when a good thing could have been done but wasn't.

And I don't know what to say, because even if we feel empathy, there's no way we can understand a lot of things unless we go through them. I've never been divorced or falsely accused or grabbed off the street and beat up because I looked like someone else. But there are other things I do know that you wouldn't expect. And we're deluding ourselves to think that we're the only ones who struggle.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

the end of civilization

"Everyone leaves or gets married!" I tell my mom as I'm crying on the phone, late for a wedding, and it feels like it's true. The ones who don't leave or get married get drunk and I don't get drunk. Such is life in one of the nation's poorest cities and sometimes it gets depressing as hell.

I was feeling pretty down and out this weekend, sleeping, getting bummed out, forgetting about things I was supposed to do, skipping parties and Labor Day gatherings to sleep some more, wake up to clean the house, do some art, and then go to sleep again, never quite shaking the tiredness out of me.

I resurfaced on Sunday night, driving out to the east side to hang out with the usual suspects and eat pancakes, and drink a whole pot of coffee before driving out to the "End of Civilization" in the next county to find a place to look at the stars. There are certain great conversations that only seem to happen in moments like these, when the remnants of pop culture, the ruminations of frustrated English majors subjected to suicidal dead women writers, the dynamics of living in this strange weird world where our paths converge.

We found an empty lot at the end of a cul-de-sac and stared up into the Milky Way, having a hard time picking out the Big Dipper because there were so many other stars and planets and satellites. It was so still and perfectly beautiful but then someone in the house across the way must have seen us because the lights came on and we saw someone in the window and figuring we already looked suspicious enough anyway, roared off because we didn't want to try and explain why three kids from Cleveland are "just looking at the stars" especially when one of us is on probation.

Someone had crashed his motorcycle and we stopped to see if he was ok. He was conscious but there was blood everywhere and thankfully the police and EMS came though it seemed to take them so long to get everything going. I find the outlying areas scary because it's so dark and if something happened, you could lay there for hours if no one sees you and there's nowhere to go for help. Sometimes the city is a cold and scary place too, but at least there's someone around.

Me & Muk had to drive back down there to retrieve his keys he dropped in the road when he got out, and there were still sirens going and the road blocked off. We drove back listening to 1940s jazz at 3am and I ended up sleeping on his couch and driving back the next morning feeling dazed and shellshocked and still laughing over the conversations from the night before. It's always so drama-free and chill and honest in a way that I find rare. Those times don't happen as much as they used to and I miss it.

And I wish things weren't so messy and complicated everywhere else... even though life is consistently interesting and full of adventure, I sometimes wish I could be like the people who appear to have consistency even though that in itself is an illusion. It's hard for me to trust others, and so easy to long for escape and change even when I know that I can't run away from myself and always have to come back.

It seems so easy to get pulled away from what is good, so easy to fall back into past addictions and bad habits and unhealthy relationships. I see everyone around me getting sucked in constantly, saying they want certain things but not being willing to sacrifice or change to get there. We all have to grow up sometime, and I don't think that 'growing up' necessarily has to involve a soulless existence. You can't stay in college forever. You can't party with your bros or your girls forever. Everyone gets older and so do you except when you're in academia.

How can you say you want a relationship with no games when your game is what you pride yourself on? You say you want honesty yet you lie to get out of trouble. You say you want someone who's responsible when you refuse to grow up. How can you say you want to be understood and loved when you are uninterested in doing that for others, and you want to be viewed as more than just what you look like but that's how you evaluate others.

And yet, I don't have the answers all the time either besides the obvious things and find it easier just to do what I've always done and alternately ignore and yearn.

I've gotten back into reading poetry for the first time in awhile, and sometimes the fragmentation and the raw emotion is easier for me to deal with than heavy volumes of information... and Gil Scott-Heron with his amazing voice and way with words does it for me in blue moods like this.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

best of the blotter 26

THREATENING PHONE CALLS, SOUTHPARK CENTER MALL: At 8:43 p.m. Friday, a business reported being the victim of threatening phone calls as a result of the political T-shirts it had for sale, which were not “Obama friendly.” The caller cited a fondness for President Barack Obama, saying “I’m gonna come up there and get all you . . . ” Police were able to track the source of the calls.

THEFT, CEDAR ROAD: An employee of Saks Fifth Avenue, 26100 Cedar, reported an unknown male that stole a $7200 pants suit.

The male fled the area prior to police arrival and police have no suspects.

CRIMINAL MISCHIEF, WIMBELDON ROAD: On Aug. 11, a resident reported someone flashing lights on the west side of his home.

He also reported that the unknown party threw a watermelon at his home.

MENACING, PEARL ROAD: A woman reported being threatened by her 4-year-old son’s soccer coach at 2 p.m. Saturday in the parking lot of the McDonald’s restaurant at 1733 Pearl Road. According to the woman, the man yelled at her and her son and tried to hit them with his car. The woman said she had reported the coach to the soccer league during the season for “touching players roughly and yelling at them.” The team was made up of 4- and-5-year-old players, the woman said.

SUSPICIOUS PERSON, DOUGLAS LANE: A woman called police Saturday to report as she was driving on Douglas Lane, a man rushed at her vehicle. The man was waving his arms. The woman said she drove away, and the man chased after her vehicle, waving his arms. When she stopped her vehicle, he stuck his head in the window and said he just wanted to say hi. The woman said she did not know the man and had never seen him before. Officers could not locate the man.

JUVENILE COMPLAINT, SOUTH PARK: Two boys were arrested for disorderly conduct at 10:17 p.m. Aug. 19 after getting into a fight at Community Unity Days. They were both released to their parents.

DISORDERLY CONDUCT, INDIAN CREEK DRIVE: Police received a call at about 11:30 p.m. Friday about a minivan making “unreasonable noise,” including the occupants using a megaphone to say “Pull over, you’re under arrest” and “Come out with your hands up.” There had been several similar complaints recently in the Indian Creek Estates.

An officer located the van and began following it. The driver sped up and ran a red light. The driver, a boy, 17, and the passengers, two boys age 16 and 17, admitted to using the megaphone, which was in the car.

Charges will be filed in juvenile court on all three for disorderly conduct and curfew violation. The driver was also cited for the red light violation. All three were released to parents.

RECKLESS OPERATION, I-71: A vehicle following the Backstreet Boys tour bus on Interstate 71 early Saturday morning was reported to be driving erratically.

The driver had apparently almost caused an accident while trying to take pictures of the bus.

Police stopped the suspected vehicle, with the driving confessing to the reckless operation. The driver was advised to pay closer attention to her driving in the future.

life and death and in between...

I should have died more times than I can count.

I had one of those moments yesterday as I was coming home from my second probation hearing when a stolen Pontiac Firebird squealed around the corner of west 75th to get away from the cops and missed hitting me head-on by inches. There's a couple sitting on their porch watching it all go down, as the cops come through with the sirens and blow right by. I don't bother calling 911 because I've never had a dispatcher who's ever cared.

Oh Cleveland.

How many times have you tried to kill me and I'm still alive by the grace of God, having spun across ice-covered I-90, been threatened and propositioned in dark parking lots and deserted bus stops, watching fights go down in the neighborhood when trash-talk turns to legitimate threats, getting out of scrapes that were probably not the most brilliant moves to begin with on my part but always emerging a little stronger.

And yet, there are so many lives that get bruised, beat up, and snuffed out all over.

I was a little shook up when I came home but I pulled myself together because the girl who lives next door in the house facing the crack alley behind me came out to say hi. My heart breaks for this kid, because she's sweet and smart and way older than I was when I was 7. She's always babysitting her little sister who's just started walking and always seems to have a busted lip.

She doesn't have any other kids to play with and a tiny yard with a fence that seems impassable and I've never seen her with any toys except a bike that she can't ride anywhere. Sometimes her cousin comes over and he's the same age and that's when she seems most happy.

Her parents won't speak to me or my roommate and I don't think they want us in their business. She tells me that sometimes they have parties and her dad's friends try to get her and her cousin drunk and made her cousin smoke weed. "They wanted me to but alcohol isn't good for kids," she says, getting quiet again when her mom comes back outside and yells at her to come into the house and leave me alone.

That hasn't stopped her from running over to the fence that we share and calling out "Hi Friend!" she tells me that she loves math in school and that she waters what she can reach of my garden. I bought a volleyball for two dollars for her and the baby sister to play with and since her parents won't let her come over, we take turns throwing it, hitting it, and bouncing it over the fence.

I hope that I'll be able to help her with her homework, that she won't end up getting messed up by whatever her parents are into, that she and her sister will flourish even when things already seem so bleak, that this fence won't always hold her in.