Sunday, August 7, 2016

The Sculptor

She is young. She is an artist. She has boundless dreams and steady hands.

The clay is fresh. The clay is moist. The clay is shapeless.

She places the clay on the wheel and presses the pedal that makes it spin. The clay is squishy between her fingers. It kinda' tickles. The clay slides across her palms. It feels good. She strokes the clay deliberately. She smiles as the clump begins to take shape. She is her own master. She will stop the wheel when the clay has become as defined as her boundless dreams.

As the wheel spins…Maybe she stumbles upon a nameless dude in a corduroy jacket amongst a million nameless dudes amid a late night freshman troll on Match. Maybe he finds her affinity for microwaveable teddy bears and the 1978 Dr. Strange TV pilot too irresistible so he speechlessly carves his feelings into her stomach with his finger. Maybe she drinks too much Southern Comfort and asks him "What do you think it would be like to be engaged?" while Jethro Tull's Thick as a Brick plays on vinyl pre-hangover. Maybe he buys a Whiffle ball and rubber bases and sends a group email to friends instructing them to wear shorts and a tee shirt to the reception, where Whiffle ball replaces a DJ. Maybe they exchange wedding vows beside a band shell hosting a puppet show merely 30 yards away.

Though the wheel spins she loses some sight of the clay. She caresses it with her fingers, but with less resolve. Small chunks spit onto her plaid shirt.

Maybe she sees an expecting woman in the infant section at Target and weeps with what she hopes will soon be empathy. Maybe he hides the Parents magazines in the basement because she weeps in her unexpectedly prolonged yearning to empathize. Maybe she weeps when the nurse hands her Uriah because her empathy is fully realized. Maybe he finally weeps too. Maybe they settle on outer space wall decals to decorate the baby's room while they haphazardly redecorate the walls in the new uncharted room in their lives. 

The wheel is spinning…spinning…spinning. She subconsciously weaves her fingers, purposelessly shifting the clay. She doesn't heed the forming cracks.

Maybe she scours the CCAC nursing program website, or nearly aces the PA Civil Service test, or peers over the bobbing head of a still-awake toddler to notice the clock slip to 1:04 AM. She continually strives to be a perfect mother. Maybe he "causes a scene" when Jordy Mercer boots a surefire double-play ball, or orders "one cheese, three craft beers, and an M&M cookie," twice a week, or walks his son about Greenfield to allow Mama the occasional breath.  He continually strives to be an adequate father.  Maybe she wakes up yet fifteen minutes earlier to accommodate a chaotic-er morning because he punched a refrigerator and can't lift more than twenty pounds. Maybe, just maybe, he actually punched a fucking refrigerator and broke his hand like an idiot. Maybe they…

She lifts her foot from the pedal, and the spinning wheel stops. The clay is dry like dirt and amorphous like mud. Her plaid shirt is covered in crust.

He joins her at the wheel. He lifts the clump and holds it in his hands. He wants her to know he's seen nothing so unique--all others are shooting stars, but in a meteor shower; nothing so beautiful--all others are sunsets, but in a world that doesn't rotate; nothing so forever--all others are diamonds, but better left in the ruff. Nothing so befitting an art show all its own.
He tosses a clump of clay--fresh, moist, and shapeless--onto the wheel, and presses the pedal that makes it spin.

...They are young. They are artists. They have boundless dreams and steady hands.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Where To Begin: A Note On Race Relations, and Neon Green Hats

America is at peak jitteriness. The sound of a child's pop gun may ignite a carousel of panic and chaos that would make the Revelation of Saint John seem like a Webelo campfire singalong of If I Had a Hammer. Racial tensions are steaming, and too damn near a boil. If the scalding water jumps over the pot lip fourth degree burns may result.

I—each of us—step into public eminently cognizant that others are eminently cognizant of not only skin tones, but a history of racial injustice grievous and blunt, subtle and nuanced—despite Facebook status updates and Tweets that identify and define racism, or "reverse-racism," so crudely. Since 1619, the deepest think tanks still fumble with the most intricate dissection of the mechanisms of racism, and racial tension. Therefore, racism and racial tension endures.

By no means do I, especially as a result of this naïve essay, attempt to cool the burner. (Can the burner be cooled, anyway?) I lack the influence and scope, if not necessarily the resolve. But I've been irritated by a sentiment repeated too often by white folk either too shortsighted, or too pigheaded to spin the lazy susan of humanity and fathom what's on the other side.

Hey, men. What's it like to be pregnant? We men—I am, after all, a dude—couldn't describe the physical and mental traits of pregnancy, let alone the pain of childbirth. But I know that pregnancy is both joyous and arduous, at times. Women, my beautiful wife included, have said so. I don't disbelieve women. I don’t disbelieve my beautiful wife. I know childbirth is painful. I witnessed the strain on my wife's face as she delivered my son. I don't think she was faking. If I asked her if childbirth was painful, she'd said "yes, dummy." Imagine if I called her a liar?!

Yet, when black folk publically decry inherent disadvantages in a predominantly white America, too many white folk almost instinctually label them as delusional, or simply rabble-rousing for spectacle. (Author's note: I do not mean to insinuate that every black person recounts the same American experience.) Accounts of the modern black American experience are too often, by too many, jettisoned like junk mail into a star-spangled trash chute.

If I told my wife that the pain of childbirth was a mirage, or worse, that she feigned the pain to get the epidural, I'd deserve a hearty knee to the manhood. Any self-respecting man would leave me to writhe on the tiles rather than help me up. Why do so many white folk so confidently disregard black folk who assert a perpetual awareness of their race in daily life as a result of suffered biases, or prejudiced experiences? Why do so many whites regard the Black Lives Matter movement with suspicion? In short, why do so many white people off-handedly dismiss black people whenever a black person declares that their black American experience is different—less advantageous?   

Hey! Wanna' cannonball into a veritable cesspool of racist sentiment? Read the comments section after nearly every Fox News article, especially if the headline contains the word "Obama". The racism is anywhere between the "magic eye" racism (remember those "hidden" pictures that appeared when you stared long enough) to blunt, cold-cock with a ball-peen hammer on the skull racism. Seriously, the Fox News comments section reads like dialogue cut from the film American History X for being too sensitive.

Spoiler alert. I’m not black. In fact, I’m about as white as can be—nearly pale. But if a black fellow told me he believes his experience is different—more taxing with fewer advantages—I’m going taking him at his word. Why would I not? (Not to mention, facts and stats quantify this position.) What kind of an asshole would I be to reactively assume he's delusional, or a con artist? There's enough assholes in the world already, as they say.

I can’t possibly relate to, or comprehend, the black American experience. If you are white, neither can you. Neither you nor I can empathize. We can never. John Howard Griffin, the author of Black Like Me, darkened his skin with sunlamp therapy, drugs, and creams to try to appreciate the American black experience, albeit in the deep south in 1959. Read his accounts. They’re exactly as you’d imagine.

That a black lady or gentleman is quickly discounted simply because of his or her assertion of bias underscores that there is a bias. (Go ahead, excuse the bias as subconscious. With tweezers I’ve plucked this bias out of its spider hole in the brain. You’re aware of this bias now.) You might as well be wearing a neon green mesh trucker that says Racist Prick if your knee-jerk sentiment is somewhere in the vicinity of “Shut up. You’re wrong even though I can’t possibly have any notion of the black experience in 21st century America,” or sitting somewhere down the pew from “Shut up. You’re lying to stoke racial tension and advance a black agenda.”

It might not be my place to say it but: To those in the neon green hats…Shut up. Shut the fuck up.

To initiate any meaningful dialogue meant to temper and improve race relations starts with the simple acceptance of the viewpoint of the other. Anything less locks the starting gate before the starting gun. Not only is the dialogue stalled, it can not start without a fundamental change in mindset. (Never underestimate the stubbornness of the neon green hat crowd to reconsider anything on the most fundamental level, let alone reconsider removing the peeling Rush Limbaugh Fathead wall decal from their man cave.) 

Childbirth is painful , and the average black American endures systematic struggleseither "magic eye" or ball-peen hammerthat the average white American does not. I believe you. The burner needs cooled before the boil. Now, let's talk.

Thursday, July 7, 2016


I wish to thank the conservative-minded FB users who post memes, share articles published on right-wing blogs, and display tweets.

I admit, Kermit the Frog sippin' on iced tea and sassin' Obama's clandestine Muslim agenda really ripped off my blinders. That sentiment from Crushin Libs, the transcendent site which boasts itself as "a stomping ground for putting liberal simpletons in their place" is a renowned bastion of critical thinking. And that scathing yet sobering quote from luminary Phil Robertson...

Ok. Enough.

Have a friggin' opinion of your own for once. Could you? If you're so angered by the state of affairs perhaps you should take residence behind a keyboard and attempt to formulate a reasoned argument to justify your position, however senseless. Rather, you gleefully duck behind your faux witticisms, which are merely billboards that pronounce your inanity. Re-posting recycled dimwitted memes and illogical conspiracy theories of like-minded nincompoops merely underscores the notion that a feckless and intellectually impotent mind is feverishly pushing buttons and yanking levers behind the curtain, haphazardly directing the grating social saber-rattling on stage.
Anyway, your rabble-rousing Kermit begs for a reaction. This "rable" is roused.

You want a fight. So do I. But you may lament those gun rights you hold so dear. I possess all the goddamn ammo.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Trump/Hitler's Skull Fragment 2016

Here come the "Trump/Hitler's Skull Fragment 2016" bumper stickers.

The wait is over. Finally, the American people know who will lead the country in the fortunate event that Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump—should he be elected by a quasi-retarded electorate—becomes mercilessly pelted into nonexistance with a ball-peen hammer. Today, amid a rally in the backwoods outpost of Schlongdoodle, Tennessee, Trump announced the infamous skull fragment of Adolf Hitler as his running mate. Although the announcement itself was merely the incoherent rambling of a dayglow crud spelunker, media present pieced together segments of Trump's stream-of-consciousness brain dysentery, "Proud to announce…running alongside me...Hitler's skull fragment…fits nicely in my breast pocket…calcium deposits…sideways pumpernickel miter saw…great deal maker, despite being an inanimate scrap…it'll be great." The news was gradually absorbed by the infantile brains of Evangelical meth heads and cockamamie dweeb-holes at the event.

Furthermore, if elected president, Trump vows to nominate Pol Pot's scrotum, preserved in a Big Gulp of formaldehyde, for the Supreme Court.