A Clutch of Grouse (May Cause Seizures)

Over an exquisite brunch my friends and I bemoan the state of the world. All of us are pessimistic. The species is doomed. Two friends live in a block-long five-story apartment complex in Oakland for which there is one green bin. It is emptied once a week. It is never more than one-eighth full, almost entirely what they’ve contributed. Nobody else bothers. At the meditation center where another friend volunteers to clean up, few practitioners pay attention to what should go into which trash bins, though they are clearly labeled. Nor do they empty their cups down the drain before they toss them into the trash, ergo, slush. Isn’t the point to pay attention?

Speaking of slush, the media’s narcotic attention to Twitter. I am a straw away from cancelling the Times. So much twitching, so little light cast on people working to throw the grabbers out of the trough.

According to Farhad Manjoo in an article in that faulty paper, Americans spend on average 11 hours a day looking at a screen. Is it any wonder the culture has a slippery grasp on compassion? Of course I consume this statistic by virtue (so to speak) of a screen, and pass it on to you by pixels to your screen.  Read quickly. If you want consistency, get thee to a bakery. None of us are saints, except maybe Mr. Rogers.

Approximately 2.5 of my 11-hour allotment today was in the front row of the Alamo moviehouse on Mission—the only seats available for the 3:30 showing of The Incredibles 2. I am a not Pixar/Disney fan. Never was, never will be, but I saw #1 before it was #1 back in 2004 and was more than a little surprised to like it so much.

Fourteen years. Ago. My.

Incredibles 2 relies on the same basic premise of 1, that superhero-ing is illegal. It takes that slightly charming construct and smushes it to the ground with mayhem, car crashes, train crashes, boat crashes, you name it and you’ll see it go flashing past. The warning screened before the start of the movie, that some scenes might trigger epileptic reactions, was worth taking seriously. These peaks of noise and CG pyrotechnics are separated by valleys of exposition trying to get us to care. We do not. The baby superhero gets a few laughs from the kid next to me.

Fight after fight, kicking, punching, gouging, shooting. What would Mr. Rogers say?

Now that we’re post-racial, it’s crystal clear from the movie how liberal values have won the day. There are black and brown heroes and girl and troll heroes and even I’m pretty sure gay heroes in bit parts. It would be churlish to point out The Incredibles are all white, although the teenage daughter looks like she might be Asian/adopted. Perhaps another ethnic base to show some love, I don’t know. There are some flagrant oddities, why Mom Incredible is known as Elastigirl. And how she got that figure, that really big butt in relation to a wasp-waist. And why our viewpoint for several seconds is right up behind that big butt, sniffable almost.

Someone else will have to analyze what exactly is going on chez Pixar. What is clear to me is this: Hollywood, it doesn’t matter your thoughts are pure if your head is up your butt. Serving up violence as entertainment, mainlining it to kids, is not incredible. It’s despicable.

I hereby quit going to movies although I may go to see the documentary about Mr. Rogers. Last night I found a link to an article about him.https://www.esquire.com/entertainment/tv/a27134/can-you-say-hero-esq1198/

Thank you God.

If I see the movie, I’m going to need a box of kleenex.


Life is a Pitch

To celebrate this year’s July 4, I decided I would lie all day. I’m not referring to recumbency, but to incumbency, The zeitgeist demands prevarication, even if it is a five-syllable word. Zeit is German for swamp, geist means gas.

Lying is not as simple as it appears, especially if you are ambivalent about it, i.e, have some morality around it. Thou shalt not and such. Some of my friends claim they never lie. Some are proud of their knack for it.

On my way to the J-Church I saw a bumpersticker that read, Life is a Pitch. I had to wonder, which is it, a curve ball, black tar, a downward slope,a rectangle in which Nigeria will win the 2022 World Cup, or a musical tone? Definition 5 in Webster’s Seventeenth Collegiate trumps the others: to utter with glib insincerity. Achtung. Zeitgeist.

I had not gotten as far as Church Street and embarked on my prevaricative orgy before questions arose. First of all, I regret to say that my life is so humdrum that there really is very little to lie about. I wouldn’t even call what I do lies. Fibs. Little beige lies. What everybody does. You look so much younger. Of course I can deduct those meals.  Not prime fib, for sure.

You work with what you have. My question was, how believable should the lies be? There is a trope that says the best lies have an element of truth, but our president took that down with so much else. For instance I planned on telling the protest choir I didn’t bring my accordion because of having a sore back. Now I have a sore back so that was true but it wasn’t the reason I didn’t bring my accordion. If I had really wanted to bring it I would have schlepped it the 5 blocks to the J-Church and schlepped it back home and my back would have been no worse and no better. Why did I not want to bring my accordion? Because I have gotten so good that I might overwhelm my comrades with my improvement. I am that humble.

The plan was to meet with the protest choir in Dolores Park at 12:30 under the statue of Hidalgo, Liberador de Mexico and the plan happened as planned. Now that doesn’t always happen, especially now that we are so connected electronically. Somehow it’s easier to get lost. For instance, what was the Liberador de Mexico rising grandly on his pedestal above Dolores Park doing there? Especially on July 4th.  Reaching into his pocket for his smartphone.

Our first song is always, You Can Get it if You Really Want, a prevarication if I ever heard one but a damn good song. Jimmy Cliff would be amazed how well I play it now. While we were rocking away, up the slope came a group of ten or so girls, every one with skinny legs up to their armpits, a herd of gazelles. They came over and started stepping to the beat. They were like a mirage from a better world, although the world of Dolores Park in the early afternoon sunshine was not bad either. Where were they from? Senegal, they said. They had to be lying.

Below on the soccer pitch the Mime Troupe was getting set up for their annual Fourth of July show. I didn’t stay to watch the show. I told my comrades I wanted to wander, but all I did was walk home and write this.

In which Faro has Feelings


My neighbor Luisa

When she was dying Luisa had three requests of her grandchildren.

Be kind to your parents.  Take care of my dog (a 3-legged mutt).  Never vote Republican.

Another day with the illusion it can’t get much worse and it gets a lot worse, spiced appropriately by a mass shooting.

Stolen election, stolen Supreme Court seat, stolen the belief in decency and progress. Lest we despair, we who are not likely to outlive Gorsuch and such: think how far gay rights has come in one lifetime.  Women are rising up.  See Ireland. Things change, sometimes rapidly, sometimes even for the better

Announcing: renouncing

In preparation for confirmation the nuns had us practice the answers to the questions the bishop would ask.

Q. Do you renounce Satan?

A We do renounce him.

Q. And all his works?

A. We do renounce them.

In in a previous warble, inspired by Bobbi Feyerabend’s categories, I winnowed some of life’s offerings into either Alma or Sin Alma, Now a little older and a lot crankier, my segregating has simplified into Works of Satan and Everything Else. At confirmation age, I wasn’t sure how to identify his Belzeebubian hoofprints but now I know more.

My choices for perdition have, I hope understandably, a horticultural bent. One thing they all share, there’s something mightily attractive about them.

Feel free to call me unspeakable names and/or offer your own candidates.

Works of Satan (a partial list)

leaf blowers, helicopters, Fox news, Uber, oxalis, the AT&T voice saying“Let me just look that up”, feedlots, landscape fabric, plastic toys, the NRA, jasminum polyanthum, Round-up (if used on jasminum polyanthum, we can debate), football, and starring in its latest prosperity-creating iteration, la migra separating children from parents .

Everything Else

subject to review

Make America Angels Again

Maybe it was a pigeon

but something, a wing,

brushed the air, a feathered shadow.

I thought this might be the moment

we were waiting for.

KNOWN UNKNOWNS, or, What would Jesus do?

For some reason “Name Unknown” tags appeared on my photos with faces. When I tried to get rid of the annoyance another screen popped up, in the middle of which were three faces selected from my stored photos. The tenor of the screen suggested helpfulness, encouraging me to label these three as a start. The first face was Jesus, the second and third almost identical close-ups of the Buddha on my patio. Like a slot machine, one strawberry, two cherries. The strawberry was Jesus as portrayed by (maybe) Leonardo. Salvator Mundi, famous for having been the subject of a previous warble (I waited in line to have my view and snap my photo) and shortly thereafter selling in auction for 450.3 million dollars to a Saudi princeling. (Instead of  having to pay for it upfront, the sellers are letting him pay in six monthly installments of $59,385,416.67 each. I was wondering how he could afford it.)

Salvatore is headed to the Abu Dhabi Louvre and Buddha sits here on the patio getting mossy, extremities slowly dissolving.  Those are Knowns.