Saturday, February 02, 2019

Monday, January 21, 2019

signs + wonders

The avenue before us was well traveled by National Guardsmen and cops and lined with burned-out, gutted structures.
“So what you think, Paris?”
“Ain’t had much time to think, Easy. I had to do some fast talkin’ to keep my store here. They burnt down the market next door. I had to keep that side of the house soaked with a hose to keep the flames off.”
“You talk to many of the white people owned these stores?” I asked.
“A few came back yesterday,” he said. “Some more today. They’re like in shock. I mean, they don’t know why it happened. They don’t see how it is that black people could be so mad at them. One guy own the hardware store up the block said that if he didn’t put his store in, then there wouldn’t be no hardware store. He said that the people who live around here don’t want to own a business.”
“What’d you say to that?” I asked.
“What can I say, Easy? Mr. Pirelli works hard as a motherfucker out here. He don’t know how hard it is to be black. He can’t even imagine somethin’ harder than what he doin’. I could tell him but he wouldn’t believe it.”
I liked Paris. He was a very intelligent man. But he was a pessimist when it came to human nature. He didn’t think that he might teach that hardware store owner anything, so he just nodded at the man’s ignorance and let it ride.
Who knows? Maybe Paris was right.
. . .
I read the newspaper while sitting on the love seat in the no-man’s-land between the kitchen and the living room.
The police had opened fire on a Muslim mosque on Fifty-sixth and South Broadway. They rushed the building and found nineteen men sprawled on the blood-stained floor. No one was shot, the article said, but they were lacerated by flying glass.
The reason given for the attack was that a shot was fired from an upper floor of the building. But the real reason was in the adjacent article saying that twelve of fifteen thousand National Guardsmen had been pulled out of Los Angeles overnight. The police were afraid of losing their authority, so they responded with deadly force.
Gemini 5 had lifted off by then and the Marines claimed to have killed 550 Vietcong guerrillas in a coordinated attack. Martin Luther King had been in Watts talking about the aftermath of the riots with Negro leaders, and astrophysicists were worried that an asteroid named Icarus would collide with Earth in three years’ time.
To some people that space rock would have come as a blessing from God. Something sent down to Earth to shake off the invisible chains and manacles holding down five people for every one that’s walking around free.
The school bus brought Feather home a few minutes shy of four and she read to me from her textbook. It was a story about an old walrus who had to swim five thousand miles from somewhere in South America to Antarctica. Along the way the walrus saw all kinds of amazing things in the water and on the shore. He saw whales as big as islands and sea birds of every size and shape.

—Waler Mosely, Little Scarlet (2004)

Friday, December 21, 2018

Monday, December 10, 2018

Sunday, November 11, 2018

lichen facts:

Sundry highland visitors—from through-hiking Cub Scouts to day-tripping Oktoberfest a cappella choirs—have referred to lichen as alpine coral reefs, as tide pools, high and dry. Sing it!

Lichen are mildly psychoactive. You have always been welcome to lick them. But you would have to scrape up and smoke or eat 3.5 hectares for a noticeable effect. Much better to stare directly into them, read them gently like braille, or to lie down on a rock covered with a thin pad of lichen and try this by osmosis.

Lichen are extremophiles, ones that probably colonized our rocky shores by way of meteors from other star systems.

Oh, but why does it have to be like that. Do they always have to be aliens? Who are we to burden these gentle creatures with our postchristian, postsecular cosmic loneliness and existential, spiritual bankruptcy?

How can you behold a lichen and not believe in God?

How can you behold a lichen and still need your belief in God?

How can you behold a lichen and not see a god? A face of God? Imagine why God would create anything but lichens in her own image?

You are correct; the above are not facts. Here’s a fact: Lichens don’t give a shit about you.

Oh, don’t worry, it’s not that, not about you, indifference. They just don’t excrete waste, about anything or anyone. But, yeah, especially not about you.

Lichens will not give your ass sex appeal.

Wait, I was thinking of Lycra. My mistake. Actually, lichens just may. If you decide to try this out, I hope you’ll let me know how it goes. I’d say your odds are good, though.

Lichens’ freckles and cones, once understood to be—and, in antiquity, worshipped as—male and female genitalia (respectively), are actually eyes and ears (respectively).

It was not Sun Tzu nor dogs pissing on stone walls from whom we originally learned the craft of claiming others’ territories, but from the lichens.

Before Altamira, Chauvet, or Lascaux. Before tattoos, Banksy, banks, your mom, your great grandmother, acne, Jackson Pollock, or Accutane. There were lichens. P.S.—After them too, there are lichens, will be lichens.

Lichens are invertebrates. Have no bones. Bite rocks. Grip mountains and crush them to dust. To dirt. You’re welcome. And that’s a rock fact.