Morena

There’s nothing that will catch a man off guard like the unexpected appearance of a dump-truck booty.

I give a head nod to the Yemeni kid hanging out in the doorway of the corner store as I approach. Another step and his older teenage brother who’s standing behind the counter comes into view. The older brother’s face is stretched into a huge, awkward, deferential grin. One more step and I see why: there she is, shaped like the statue of a mother goddess from a forgotten world—yoga pants stretched over every curve, drawing my gaze like gravity. She stands at the counter in front of a pile of junk food she’s gathered for purchase.

I’m startled for one brief eternal moment and mutter to myself, “Good lord,” before regaining my manners and most of my composure; I walk right past the shelf in the front that holds the panqué I’ve come for, do a spin move, return to the shelf, pick up the panqué and take my place at a quarantine-approved six feet back from one of the most gorgeous women I’ve ever seen in my life.

She’s got a cut-off top stretched across titties to get lost in, pushed together by a bright pink bra. Smooth brown skin, a glittering jewel piercing her cheek, dark shoulder length Black-girl hair permed straight and a Mexican face of such beauty it stands to me as proof of God’s love and generosity.

She’s the star of the room and she knows it; she is soaking it in. She’s talking with the kid behind the counter and I don’t grasp any of their conversation because I’m doing my best to avoid staring, despite my longing to bless my eyes with her vision and my fingertips with the touch of her tattooed arms. The spectacle strikes me as wholly absurd; I withhold giggles.

Just in front of her is the glass-faced ice cream freezer, blessed beyond the rest of us as she presses her hip against it. Turning partly towards me, she gives a flirtatious tilt to her head, hangs a limp wrist in the air and dangles the finger that will select the correct pint. As soon as she’s put the ice cream on the counter, another man appears in the doorway.

Lord have mercy!”

The words fly out of his mouth like a birthright. He’s got the look of a working-class Black playboy, maybe mid-50s, button-up shirt and gold jewelry. It’s all I can do not to lose myself in uncontrolled laughter; I don’t want to encourage his behavior. I look the other way and roll my tongue around the inside of my mouth, holding back the laughter. The town beauty takes her sweet time finishing up with her purchases. Another man walks in, a light-skinned and tired looking middle age Latino in a black hat and raiders t-shirt. He takes no particular notice of the beauty or the booty.

“What’s up, Jaime?” the playboy says.

“Hey how are you,” is Jaime’s lackadaisical reply.

Playboy’s response comes just as the goddess-woman is disappearing back into the July heat, and it sounds more like an announcement:

“I’m doing great! She just made my whole day!”

Finally I let the laughter out; the Yemeni kid joins in. I look at the playboy and tell him, “Bruh, I’m trying to hold it together over here, and you are Not. Helping. Not helping!”

“I couldn’t do it! Couldn’t do it! God damn!”

I return home and spend the rest of the afternoon daydreaming about gazing at her face and feeding her ice cream.

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An Evening Stroll

Suppose that I went for an evening walk through my Fruitvale neighborhood, in blatant violation of both state-mandated curfew and quarantine.

A hot day and a cool evening. People on dark porches, chatting in spanish, and sometimes in english. Lights in windows, elaborate gardens lit by street lamps and the moon. Children laughing, fireworks exploding in the distance. The gentle perfume of jasmine, lavender, and the rotten stench of trash bins awaiting collection. Litter and cedar leaves, cigarette butts and rose petals.

An aging woman sweeping her porch says hello to me.

Sirens and helicopters in the distance.

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Pandemic Thoughts on a Spring Morning in Babylon

It’s been over a month since I wrote a prose piece of any length, and over two months since I shared one publicly. I’ve been focused on creating comics and kung fu videos. And, frankly, there is so much dumb shit going on right now, I simply haven’t been able to bring myself to comment publicly on most of it; I’ve been too busy living my Real Life.

However, this morning I woke up and the fire was upon me.

Since I know there’s only a handful of people who will actually read this anyway, I’ve decided to let it fly.

First off, calm the fuck down. Yes, you.

A lot of outrage related to this pandemic and its overall effects is really the same shit, different day. The general ignorance of this country’s population is always stunning; depending on my mood, I may find it hilarious or infuriating. However I feel about it doesn’t matter and isn’t the point. The results that it produces, or fails to produce, are the important factors.

Recently, someone I know made a comment on FB to the effect of, “What this pandemic has revealed is that the only collective effort people are willing to take for social change is to hide and do nothing.” It hurt my writer feelings, because I wish I had written it.

I’ve spent over 20 years now trying to figure out What is Going On, and in the process I’ve become somewhat of a scholar of what I like to call “invisible history,” that is to say, all the parts that were left out of whatever fairytales we’re indoctrinated with from birth about this country, its origins, and the nature of civilization generally.

As a result of this lifetime of study, I simply know way, way fucking more than most people about everything from history to politics to ideologies, linguistics to culture to art to language, religion to warfare to conquest to philosophy, anthropology to theology to psychology, racism to sexism to classism, comics to kung fu to sorcery to mind control.

This knowledge came with a side-effect I certainly wasn’t expecting but can’t say I’m surprised by, and it’s this: I don’t have a lot of patience, or respect, for most people’s opinions on much of anything at all. It’s a lonely mountain up here, and few are the people with whom I can openly converse, if for no other reason than it would take me too long to give the average person enough back-story for them to even have a clue what the hell I’m talking about.

These are not boasts. They are facts. This is my life, and it is valuable and meaningful to me, even if it is at times frustrating or saturated by despair. If I had fully absorbed and identified with the sort of intellectual fetishizing that european invaders are so well known for, I might have convinced myself that knowing these things makes me somehow better than the average person—the arrogance of academia, if you will.

Instead, what this knowledge has really taught me is this; how valuable and important it is to experience other human beings on as HUMAN a level as possible. That means compassion, empathy, understanding, and face-to-face interaction. It also means that in person, I spend a lot of time listening to other people’s ignorant opinions, simply because I find it pointless and even destructive to try and argue or correct them; unless I can get two or three of my seven daily chuckles out of it, I see no reason to bother.

Most importantly, I don’t need to respect a person’s opinion in order to respect them as a human being.

I frequently choose to be somewhat of an asshole online mostly because I understand in my deepest heart something simple: this shit is completely and dangerously asinine, worthy only of ridicule.

Another boon of knowledge is the understanding that this whole House of TechnoBabylon Cards is cursed, irredeemable, and completely fucked. If you grew up brown, or black, or poor, that probably isn’t news to you, even if you don’t know many of the details or responsible parties. But it seems to me like an awful lot of people have been completely and utterly shocked at how quickly a relatively mild pandemic (compared to, say, smallpox, or HIV, or machine-consciousness) has totally disrupted their everyday American Consumer Life(™). A friend of mine recently told me that he, his spouse, and everyone they know—friends, family, etc—were completely caught off guard by this mess, and NEVER IMAGINED THAT ANYTHING LIKE IT WOULD EVER HAPPEN.

As I told him: that is a list I am not on. In the words of Phil Collins, I’ve been waiting for this moment for all my life.

Every time some Woke Liberoid SJW(™) tells me—directly or indirectly—how I’m supposed to think or feel about a given topic or situation, I’m reminded that this culture, even in its smiley-faced bleeding heart aspect, is fundamentally IMPERIAL. Every time some Conservatoid Merican(™) complains about “socialism” or insists that this is the “best country in the world,” I’m reminded that this culture is fundamentally ignorant and narrow-minded.

I’ll wrap this up with some numbers. No, I don’t remember where I got them. I’m a working-class intellectual, not a college professor; I don’t take notes, make bibliographies, or cite sources, though I’ve been known to recommend books from time to time. Frankly, without a tenure track, that kind of academic activity strikes me as masturbatory and pointless; really, I could just make it all up, and you’d never know the difference anyway—I don’t think anyone has ever once followed up on a source I cited or recommended to them. Only college assholes do that, and mainly as part of their academic political maneuvering.

One consequence of the digital takeover is that people have stopped being able to tell the difference between what’s real and what isn’t—to the extent that this was ever a skill they possessed in the first place. But I digress.

Numbers. If I even have them to share, it’s because they stood out to me as so heinous that I remembered them, even if I don’t remember where I encountered them. I’ll tell you this much and you can take my word for it, or not: I know how to tell the difference between a reliable source and crackpot bullshit. This is not Tommy Tin-Hat time. This is your world, and mine.

None of this is going to make you Feel Good(™). But if nothing else, it may offer some perspective on the current situation.

Approx. number of indigenous humans on Turtle Island (North and South America to you, gringo) exterminated by european invaders: 200,000,000.

Approx. number of indigenous non-humans on Turtle Island exterminated by european invaders: ??? – Trillions, maybe 100’s of trillions.

Approx. number of indigenous species from Turtle Island wiped out forever by european invaders: ??? – Billions, maybe 100’s of billions.

Approx. number of species rendered extinct by the continuation of industrial civilization: 200 per day.

Approx. number of africans killed as a result of european chattel slavery: 100,000,000.

Approx. number of square miles of the planet converted to polluted and uninhabitable desert by industrial civilization: 1,200 per day.

Tons of toxic waste produced by mining rare earths minerals to make computer batteries, gadgets, and solar panels: ??? – 100’s of thousands per year.

Approx. number of humans in this country sacrificed to the Temple of the Automobile: 40,000 per year.

Approx. number of non-humans in this country sacrificed to the Temple of the Automobile: ??? – Probably trillions (insects are people, too).

We’re all accountable for these things, but not all of us are responsible.

The second leading cause of death for americans between 10 and 34 is suicide. If you really want to have yourself a good cry, you can look up what the suicide rates are specifically for kids between the ages of 10 and 14. Go ahead. I’ll wait.

Then you can come back and tell me some more of your opinions.

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Notes from the Quarantine Zone

As a member of this culture I’ve been subjected to any number of disturbing Orwellian catch phrases, marketed by government and media machines to justify their bullshit. “War on Terror,” “enhanced interrogation,” etc. It’s been a good long time since one of them gurgled up from the stygian depths that was powerful enough to give me both the Rage and the Fear at the same time.

“Social Distancing.”

I had to choke down on bile just to type the fucking words. It’s a testament to the intensity of indoctrination in this media-saturated culture that people can say this phrase without the hair on their necks standing up.

Y’know, I made an agreement with myself a few weeks back—to stop being upset with people because of their vulnerabilities. It would make no sense to get angry with a tree because it just stood there when the man with the chainsaw came around. Just as trees, by their very nature, are vulnerable to men with chainsaws, human beings are vulnerable to the hermetic power of THE SCREEN.

I have observed and noted, with growing disgust, the increasing distance of the Social because of the Screen for over a decade now. I’ve written piece after piece about it, had conversation after conversation, and so far as I can tell, none of it has affected anyone’s obsessive spacephone use even a little bit. Complete and total failure. It’s taken me this long to gain the appropriate respect and awe for the power this technology has over human consciousness.

Industrial civilization has split us from the land, eliminated self-sufficiency in such basics as food, clothes, and shelter. It has splintered and spread our families and friends across the map. In most places in this country it has all but destroyed even the idea of a genuine human community, having replaced it with the screen. I’m tired of writing about it. How many different ways are there to say the same thing?

And really, what difference does it make? The war is long over, and the machines won. We’re living in the aftermath.

These are conversations I can’t have with 99% of the people I meet, because people don’t know shit. They don’t know anything about history, politics, philosophy, social movements, art, literature, other cultures, or really anything other than the ever-shifting trifles of pop culture.

Strangers generally enjoy my company because I spend most of my time with them listening and asking questions about their lives. What they don’t know is that I do this, in part, because there are so many topics that are of interest to me but I know I can’t discuss with them—when I try, it usually ends up being more like unpaid teaching. That’s if they’re willing to listen. As testified to by cranks, crackpots, and fringe-dwellers throughout this country’s short history, being a curious and independent thinker almost guarantees that one will have some views that diverge far from the median.

I read somewhere that as of 2010, 80% of adults never read a single book after they graduate high school. Well, I know why. That’s exactly what compulsory schooling is supposed to do to people. That’s why it was created—to stunt learning and the desire for learning, and replace them with obedience and a de facto worship of authority & institutions. An emotionally and intellectually retarded population is easier to control, and makes easy prey for corporate marketing.

It’s been over five weeks since I severely sprained my ankle, a crippling injury that has had me stuck on the couch for that entire interval. For most of that time I couldn’t even drive, which meant I couldn’t go to the store to buy food.

In that five week time, I suffered a much more painful blow, one more likely to linger and leave lasting scars—I got to find out who was there for me, and who was not. Who offered help and who didn’t.

There was no shortage of last-minute miracles; there’s a man who lives near me, who I’d only met once before, who offered to help me out with anything I needed. That man, formerly a stranger, did more for me in my time of desperation and despair than most of the friends I’ve had for years. Thank you, George.

I live with a high degree of isolation in my normal life. Not out of spite or ill will toward other people, but because of the nature of my work and life choices. Think about this: how much time do you spend around people who are not co-workers? The majority of most people’s social interaction happens at their jobs. I work sporadically at school sites, but mostly I work at home. The only humans I see on a regular basis are my roommates, and they spend most of their time in their rooms.

Socializing outside of work almost always involves money, which has been in short supply for me since I decided I was no longer willing to be an employee. Restaurants, bars, clubs, shows… all these things cost money that I simply don’t have to spend.

And so, for the last three years, I have spend an enormous amount of time at home, by myself.

I’ve spent the last five weeks almost entirely isolated. Few visits, though a number of folks said they would and didn’t. Few calls, except from the same two people I talk on the phone with regularly (one of whom is my mother). One or two people texted me to check in. Without being able to do much, those first two weeks I spent a lot of time on FB and IG. That is, until I realized it was making me sick, spiritually, psychologically. I cut back dramatically, went back to watching movies, until I got sick from them, too.

I know these are sickening technologies. I know this. I generally take them in small doses; the coveted spacephone I don’t use at all. But there I was, stuck on the couch, at times in quite a lot of pain, so I took the plunge. Back when I still worked in the non-profit industrial complex, I spent a lot of time on (anti)social-media, cuz it was part of that world. This recent period of immobility was the first in which I’ve that much concentrated time on these platforms in over three years.

Thankfully, within the last week I’ve gotten some mobility back—I can drive again, and I’ve graduated from crutches to slow hobbling.

Just in time for the Virus Panic Show.

The Show is far more dangerous to society and individuals than any mere virus.

Now we’ve been quarantined. Here in the Bay Area, it’s official—by order of the state, you can’t leave your house to do anything non-essential. All gatherings of any size are banned (you know gatherings, that thing where people get together in the same place to stroke their phones, instead of stroking them in private). Most businesses are closed.

I’d be lying if I said I don’t get a certain amount of villainous satisfaction from knowing that everyone is now faced with the isolation I’ve been dealing with for years. Welcome to my world, y’all. We have candy and coping skills.

A whole bunch of already screen-addicted people have now been cut off, more or less indefinitely, from what little face-to-face interaction they had with family and friends. People who already have a stunted inner life, who have few if any interests that don’t involve the Screen.

Just in time for 5G.

No tin hats over here. I’m just saying.

the-matrix-pods.jpg

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Plots and Grievances: Thoughts on the New Year

I’m the first person to despise enforced morality, but some of these people need Jesus.

I’ve been giggling at vegans for at least 20 years—mostly because of their unparalleled sanctimonious attitudes, but also because I have yet to hear a one of these yippie motherfuckers offer anything resembling a competent understanding of how industrial civilization itself is the anti-life machine. Zero critique of technology, total capitulation to the technopathocracy. They love their veganism and they love their spacephones. *yawn*

Know what I noticed about BDSM geeks? They always have some kind of lifestyle ideology to sell you. This is the one brand of fetish freak that’s not content, like the rest of us, to be merely a pathological weirdo in need of counseling—oh no no my friend, they can’t wait to tell you all about the liberatory blah blah of their sexual fetish for control/controlling/etc. I’ve sat through at least three of these prepackaged diatribes in the last six months. I’ve never been big on new year’s resolutions, but I’ve decided that, after 15-plus years of encountering these trite pseudo-philosophies in the words and writings of their Stans, I’m not sitting through one more. Not. One. More.

If it gets you off to tell other people what to do, or be told what to do, or some variation thereof, you’re a minion of the pyramid gods. That’s not a moral judgment; merely a statement of fact. I would expect nothing less, here at the end times; there’s way more of Y’all than there is of Us. But I’m not going to listen to any more triumphant Orwellian speeches about liberation through enslavement. Besides, I skipped to the end of the story; we always win, because every pyramid eventually crumbles.

Few everyday events are as appalling to me as watching a grown-ass human being throw a temper tantrum. Behavior that would get you put on time-out at age 5—or, in many households, result in a memorable thrashing—has become normalized. Perhaps I’m biased, since I’ve spent the last two years working part-time in a place where my job includes having to tell people “No.” Maybe people have always been this immature. But I doubt it. By interest and inclination, I’ve noted with diligence and dismay the ongoing impact of technology on the social body. The combined effects of generations of psychologized and mechanized compulsory schooling, social media, and technological alienation has resulted in an unprecedented number of adults behaving, as a rule, as complete fucking brats. They seem to experience their profound sense of entitlement as some kind of “right.”

One of my ongoing conversations with the amaz0n queen is about people’s inability to distinguish quality in any kind of art or storytelling medium. People simply don’t know what “good” is anymore. That someone would ever sit through a steaming pile of horseshit like any one of the last eight (!) Star Wars movies, and then bother to take the time to “review” or “evaluate” it in any kind of way, is proof that the scales are broken beyond repair. Every crayon-scribbled refrigerator drawing by every pre-schooler in history demonstrates more imagination and creativity than 99% of the CGI-cartoons masquerading as films to come oozing out of Hollywood in the last 20 years. At a much lower budget.

Whether we’re talking music, comics, film, prose, poetry, visual art, design, architecture… the cold truth is that there’s no There there, and there has been no There there for quite some time. I’ve done a few breakdowns on my theories and ideas as to why this is, but I also know that 1) such evaluations create deeply defensive reactions in people across the board, as they experience any critique of something they (like)(are addicted to)(have been media-programmed to identify with) as a personal attack, and 2) any thoughts that can’t be squeezed into a soundbite or platitude tend to make people’s eyes glaze over.

Now is as good a time as ever to go through the contacts on your phone and delete the people you’re better off not being in contact with, or have no real reason to be in contact with—people who are not serving your life. I do this at least once a year, like cleaning out my closet of clothes I never wear. Go ahead, do it now; I’ll wait…

There are certain days of the year when I make it a point NOT to go out on the town, because they are days when all the amateurs come out. Halloween and NYE are chief among these. I made an exception this year that I now regret. I’ll not make that mistake again. NYE, heading into 2020: the most number of adults screaming at, fighting with, and tantruming at each other that I’ve ever seen in one day… all in a total of 40 minutes on a train and six hours on venue staff shift. Gregorianism is rampant—how much value should I place in the randomly-numbered dates and arbitrary “holidays” of invaders? For chrissake, they have to add a day to their calendar every few years just to get their shit to add up. The chaos gods partied on the Solstice; our new year has been chugging along for two weeks already.

A little over a month ago, I got hit with one of my occasional cosmo-shamanic moments of Oh Shit Something Is Happening. I realized that a doorway was opening up—one of those rare situations where it was Time to Make a Crucial Life Decision. Long story short, it became clear to me that the Babyl-Trons are clearly intent on steering themselves into a horrible future of destruction and terror—an emotional catharsis of masochistic psychotics. I realized that if I didn’t pick up the wizard tools and once again plot a course for my own future, that I would be dragged by default into theirs. So I got the tools out and did the thing. The changes are already manifesting.

I think the window is still open, probably till the lunar new year. Fuck a resolution; go formulate a plot.

The future is waiting.

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GLAM is the Truth and the Light

I’ve been hitting people in the face—and everywhere else—for over 25 years.

And being hit. And thrown, locked, choked, tapped out; on mats, dirt, grass, wood floors, concrete, you name it. My hemophiliac body knows the caress of all of the above. This is martial artists’ idea of having a good time.

The world of martial arts—whether talking about sports, tradition, or self-defense—is mostly populated by dudes. I’ve been subjected to many tirades of fantasy bullshit from people who don’t have the first clue about the realities of violence, or, in some cases, the limitations of the human body.

Like a lot of kids I grew up watching pro-wrestling. I was born in 1980, so I got to see the golden age of luminaries like Hulk Hogan, Andre the Giant, and Ultimate Warrior. In the ’90s a whole new crop of brilliant performers emerged, from The Rock to Mick Foley to Chyna to The Undertaker. As a high-schooler I would occasionally watch Monday Night Raw, but I was never a super-fan. I mostly loved The Rock, because he looked like me—a much taller and way more muscular version of me; point being that he was a brown dude in a mostly white field.

A few years back I picked up a copy of Mick Foley’s autobiography Have a Nice Day: A Tale of Blood and Sweatsocks at the Oakland library, a book notable among other reasons for having been written by Foley himself, without a ghostwriter. I was utterly fascinated, and took an interest in the behind-the-scenes world of professional wrestling. I’ve since read a number of other books, including ones about Mexican Lucha Libre, which then led to me spending a lot of late nights watching old El Santo flicks on youtube.

I heard about Hoodslam back when I first moved to Oakland in 2013. It sounded like a rousing good time, but for this reason and the other I never got around to actually attending an event. That is, until last May, when I first went to GLAM, one of the Hoodslam theme nights. I saw an ad for the event on facebook, and I was intrigued because GLAM focused on women and non-gender-conforming wrestlers. I decided to gamble twenty bucks on an experience… and my life was changed forever.

As I’ve often told folks since that first Initiation: I’ve been in plenty of Sacred Spaces, in fact I live in one; I’ve been to plenty of Temples, in fact I live in one; but I’ve never had a Church… until GLAM.

Church of the Warrior Goddess. They’re sweating and I’m praying, with shouts and raucous laughter. Church of GLAM, where acting a fool is not only Accepted, but Expected. For a woman in this culture to do what these women are doing is fucking amazing—a miracle in action.

Few times in my life have I been as deeply honored as when I met the parents of Aleyah Mia Garcia, who were standing next to me at ringside. If I was a pro-wrestler, and my parents were in the audience, I would know I had the best parents in the world. If I had a daughter, and she became a pro-wrestler, I would consider myself a successful parent.

Aleyah Mia Garcia

Despite my lifelong passion for martial arts, I have no interest in the culture of MMA—the last thing I want to see is grown men beating the shit out of each other. I’ve seen and done plenty of that. Really, I have no interest in watching dudes pro-wrestle; this sport has always been theirs. I want to see the women and the weirdos, doing shit they’re Not Supposed To Do.

In the world of GLAM, the combination of martial arts, athleticism, performance, and a gloriously local flavor creates a kind of magic that, quite simply, I have not encountered anywhere else. Seeing these folks perform in person is a completely different experience from watching it on TV. You hear the shouts and improvised insults. You see the sweat fly and the thigh-meat jiggle. You get to witness hard-won skills in action.

I’ve been a martial artist for over 25 years, and a Hip Hop performer for over a decade. I’ve rocked countless shows and I’ve been rocked. But there is nothing like GLAM.

Where else am I going to see a woman in a fetish suit kick a one-legged man in the face?

The audience of GLAM seems, unfortunately, to be composed mostly of white gentrifiers. I generally make it a point to avoid those people like the plague, not the least reason being that one of their evil super powers is the ability to suck the joy out of any situation. GLAM, and by extension Hoodslam as a whole, is so powerful that even these soulless motherfuckers cannot ruin the good time. What makes the difference? It’s hard to say, since so many factors are involved, but if I were to boil it down, I would use a term that some people might think strange when applied to the universe of pro-wrestling: REALNESS.

People like to say that pro-wrestling is fake. I always correct them: pro-wrestling is not “fake,” it is “staged.” You can’t fake a powerbomb. No amount of self-conscious, post-ironic yuppie sneering can take away from the fact that these people put their bodies on the line to entertain. Samoan Drops and Suplexes, DDT’s, drop-kicks, and off-the-top-rope special moves… even the most jaded and self-conscious yuppie can’t deny that THIS IS REAL.

This is the world of imagination unbounded, of epic mythology playing itself out. Sacred stories are being told. Sun and Moon doors, undead nurses, mystical witches from beyond, superheroes, villains, and booze.

A lot like the rest of my life.

I’ve been the Citygod Medicine Man since 2005. I spent years in the L.A. underground as The Concrete Shinobi, ninja bartender, occult superhero, and polyamorous lover. I moved back home to the Bay and transformed into the Baytime Vader, the MC with the face paint, thrower of epic house parties and purveyor of secret knowledge. When I go to GLAM, I feel like I’m seeing the struggles, victories, and defeats of my life as a fringe weirdo acted out in the ring. Here is a place where I can freely shed my charade of being a square. The Hat and the Vest come out of the closet; the Concrete Shinobi re-emerges, rocking everything except the mask. And the weapons. I laugh with the black security guards, and I grin as white gentrifiers part like the red sea when I walk through the crowd. Yes motherfuckers, I am Strange and Proud.

The first night I went to GLAM, I acquired a new Hero: the Ultra Girl, Brittany Wonder. I don’t remember who she battled. What I remember is this: a brown-skinned, curly-headed woman, thick and beautiful, maneuvering around the ring with grace, skill, and power, wearing a psychedelic rainbow-print top and skirt. I remember that she lost the match, and someone in the audience, standing right in front of me, passed her a bong; she took a nice big rip before departing the ring. I fell instantly in love with her and the entire spectacle.

brittany wonder flex

Brittany Wonder is the physical embodiment of the strength, grace, dignity, and power of all the black, brown, and indigenous women I’ve known. She looks like someone I would see at a powwow, or a house party; equal parts badass and feminine. My favorite type of woman: a chick who would twerk to the beat or punch you in the face. She enters the ring and climbs the ropes on each of the three sides facing the audience, slapping hands with the crowd. Her ring performance is expert, her presence is undeniable, and as far as I’m concerned, she wins even when she loses. If there were any justice in the world, dudes would be lining up to feed her grapes and massage her feet.

One of the greatest parts of GLAM, for me, is that I can stand right next to the ring. I see all the successful moves, I see the ones that go awry, I see the secret signals, I see the women mouthing “are you okay?” to each other after a bad landing. I lovingly guide my fellow crowd members out of the way when the performers inevitably exit the ring to duke it out on the wooden floor of the venue.

And when I’m there, I’m in All The Way. I certainly don’t come to be “ironic.” Fuck that shit. I came not to suspend disbelief, but to throw that shit out the window. ALL IN! Nothing ruins my immersion in the kayfabe. That’s why I go.

The carnivalesque world of pro-wrestling has long been a haven for people who live on the fringes of american society—cranks, crackpots, dirtbags and degenerates. People after my own heart.

Has there ever been a better heel than Heather Monroe? I’ve known so many white girls like her—beautiful, blonde, irredeemably entitled, complete and utter bitch. Watching her get triple-suplexed by Brittany Wonder was one of the most satisfying experiences of my life.

Heather Monroe

Brittany Wonder vs Heather Monroe suplex.jpg

Has there ever been a sexier wrestler than Dark Sheik? I think not.

Most of my friends know that I am Pretty Fucking Queer… of the Prince variety. I like women, enough that I find it comfortable and appealing to sometimes embody what are traditionally seen as “feminine” qualities. I’ve never in my life had a crush on a transwoman… Until Dark Sheik. OMFG. Such power, such skill, such grace… and so utterly adorable. Fabulous fashionista and social media poet, genderqueer warrior goddess, she enters the ring with fists pumping in the air, and I’m pumping mine right along with her. Washboard abs and an ass to tell your friends about, she does a back flip and takes a hit of a blunt. I am in lust.

Dark Sheik GLAM

Anton Vorhees holds it down as the host for every episode. Handsome, charming, talented, and a teacher of newer wrestlers. Added bonus, every event begins with him running around the ring pouring vodka into the eager mouths of ringside fans. I have been blessed by the Holy Grey Goose of GLAM.

GLAM takes place at the Oakland Metro Operahouse every Second Friday. I will be there for as long as it continues, right in the front, acting a fool and shouting out the names of my favorite wrestlers. Brittany Wonder. Dark Sheik. Vipress. Vulcana. Shakira Spears. Hip Hop Harry. Heather Monroe.

The gods still walk the earth. They wear spandex and fetish suits. They drink and smoke weed, talk shit and bodyslam each other.

As long as they do, I will be there.

GLAM logo

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Put Yourself in Heaven at Once

The moon is nearing fullness; by the day after tomorrow, it will be here.

Put yourself in Heaven at once.

On the back porch there’s an old bench, built by my mother’s cousin, a man with a face and build like he just walked off the Scottish highlands. The sun and the air bring the warmth of a California autumn—buzzing things are flying about, a thick walnut tree releases dead leaves to dry and crunch on the hard-packed dirt.

On top of the old bench: a cheap folding wood saw, a package of rolling tobacco, a copy of The Tai Chi Classics, and on top of that, The Tao of Wu by the Ruler Z Allah.

Abuela next door is singing a ballad to herself, a song about god and jesus and what has been provided. A single question lingers: what will I accomplish today? What will I do that will bring me closer to my goals?

The Doctor is in, the one with the courage to face the Fear and Loathing, the djinn of intoxication and absurdity.

A strand of a spider’s web sparkled with dust, the distant hum of the train. A heavy truck rumbles by.

The fast has been broken forever, the Qiyamat has come and gone. A garden of green things, shoe-prints in the dirt trace the movements of the Eight Trigram Palm. Rum and coffee, dark-skinned beauties with perfect nails reading books by queer pakistanis. Laughter and music, grim-faced hobgoblins stewing in the bitterness of metal & glass boxes.

Mutinies at regular intervals. Pirate contracts. Ol’ dirty bastards, healing circles of people sharing their stories and lives; high school girls on adventures, drunken masters, kung fu class within view of a sweat lodge.

“Put yourself in Heaven at once.”
      -Clarence 13X, father-saint of the Five Percent Nation

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A Special Kind of Hell

I’ve been scrolling through virtual pages hoping to find some kind of meaning—or some kind of escape—for over 20 years now. I started off in college, courtesy of a T-1 internet connection—state of the art at the time, it made my parents’ dial-up connection seem like chiseling text into stone. I remember a specific moment during my second year, sitting alone in my dorm room one night, typing “meaning of life” into the alta vista search bar. This was way before “google” became a verb.

While this could have been the end of the first act in a fine work of magical realism, I’m sorry to say I don’t even remember what came up. Suffice to say, it did nothing to abate my depression.

Now, every time I go out into public, there are legions of people doing more or less what I was doing in that dorm room. It’s some minor comfort to me that I at least had the dignity of being physically alone in a private room. These people are virtually alone in public. Headphones jacked in, fingers dancing on screens, body bent and mind focused… on nothing much.

What seems clear to me as the desperate and sad behavior of an isolated and neurotic teenager has now become the default mode of a mechanized populace. This bodes ill.

Most folks don’t think at all about what this technology has done to us. For those who do… it’s like they’ve given up. Resigned themselves to the inevitable. And it does seem inevitable, doesn’t it? Like a train speeding toward an absent bridge, thousands of tons of metal about to go hurtling into the abyss. This is all that’s left of the world, better get used to it. No sense in complaining, and by the way your tears are making us uncomfortable.

My Woke contacts on social media keep posting articles about melted polar ice, pollution catastrophes, and the casual degradation of a president who is clearly some sort of loathsome goblin from a fairytale demon dimension. I rarely speak on that guy, and generally refuse to dignify his existence by even saying his name, but I’ll say this: his presidency should be all the proof any thinking person needs that “politics” in this country is a circus to distract people while the wealthy run off with all the money. It’s never been anything else.

I pass by homeless encampments and wonder what life is like there, on the outer fringes—a space where at any moment, the Authorities can show up, tear all your shit down, surround the lot with razor wire and leave you looking for the next option on a rapidly shrinking list. There used to be a fairly large encampment along 12th street, between the Fruitvale and Lake Merritt Bart stations. I used to look out of the train window at folks down there, turning wooden pallets into roof patches. It’s gone now. In a single afternoon, the Authorities can turn your little village of makeshift housing into an unpopulated trash-strewn lot.

I find myself wondering if there’s some flicker of human sociality left in these places. Or are they, too, plugged in? You can get a spacephone for free at pop-up tents all over Oakland, provided you’ve got proof of being on some kind of government aid. Maybe they’re sitting in their tents, checking their updates and counting their likes.

Or maybe they’re so burned out from mental illness, addiction, desperation, and hopelessness that their village is a special kind of hell.

Now that I think about it, that’s an exact description of many well-to-do condo-dwellers I’ve met—traffic noise rising up to the heights of their glass-walled hives, they pour another drink, take another pill, another line, another sex date from an app.

Sometimes I go long stretches without writing, consumed by the feeling that it just doesn’t matter. I don’t have much to offer as far as hope, which seems to be one of the drugs people are most desperate for. It’s written all over their memes. All I can do is bear witness, and occasionally offer a chronicle, some attempt at capturing this ennui in words. If it wasn’t helpful to me, I wouldn’t do it; few people actually read anything other than headlines.

Someone once commented to me that my latest blog at the time was—and I’m paraphrasing, with some sardonic exaggeration—yet more poetic complaining about technology. What can I say? If you’ve got cancer, then every competent medical evaluation is going to address your diagnosis of cancer.

This shit is cancer. Stage four. Terminal. The social body is dying. On my bad days, I’m convinced it’s dead already.

But then again, what do I know? I spend most of my time alone in a room.

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Scars

My old scars are tingling again.

I don’t remember the times when I made most of them. Only a couple stand out. The big one on my upper left arm that I carved with a matte-black butterfly knife while drunk on brown ale. It bled a lot; I probably should’ve gotten stitches, but I didn’t feel like answering any uncomfortable questions from medical professionals. They’ve been known to put people in white robes and hold them against their will for that kind of thing. Summer of 2001, if I remember correctly. Binge sessions of downloading porn on file-sharing apps. Memories of videos of the type I wasn’t looking for and wish I’d never seen. Lots of gauze and tape.

Another scar from the summer I spent in Shanghai. There was a beautiful girl in my student group. The longing for her was too much. I picked up a cheap knife somewhere. It wasn’t very sharp; more of a skin-splitting scrape than a cut. Inside left forearm. Never faded. Japanese lager kept me company for that one. Less than $3US for a six-pack.

Bleeding cuts give pain you can see, wounds you can tend. Nothing could fill that invisible hole inside of me. I was lost, I was lost, like in that Coldplay song.

It’s been almost four years since I fell hard in love with a poisoned woman. We’d been friends, at a distance. I was on my way out of another bad relationship the first time we had dinner together, as friends. Dinner followed by hours of conversation, parked on a dark suburban street. Both of us dreamed of each other, after that dinner. Erotic dreams. Within days I was single again, and two months later we started dating. I knew after the first date that this was the woman I wanted to grow old with.

She was a recovering alcoholic and it didn’t take long before the dry-drunk abuse started. I could tell all the stories, but I’ve told them so many times, over and over, to myself and to other people, trying to sort it all out. What’s really important is, I truly believed that she was just scared, and eventually things would settle down and she would stop acting out and sabotaging; she loved me just as much as I loved her. I tried, harder than I’ve ever tried at anything in my life, to be a good and understanding partner.

Things just got worse.

And worse and worse. Until finally I had enough, and I broke up with her. Still I held onto the hope that someday we would get back together. Fast forward to now: both of us dearly hope we’ll never see the other again. Most people who know her would never believe the things she did to me. She was a great friend, compassionate and understanding… to everyone but me.

She continued to haunt me, doing things to manipulate or control or hurt me from a distance. She hurt me in my most vulnerable space, invading and muddling my world of ceremony. I continued to dream about her. It was probably mutual. Our connection ran that deep. The last few dreams, it was her as she was in her worse moments, glowing with resentment and spite, the evil shadow version of her that only I got to see. In those dreams, I told her to leave. She did.

I have a friend out of state who only calls me when she’s in crisis. Now that I think about it, I have a few friends like that and they’re all women. This one knew my ex, knew we’d broken up, knew things had continued to have resurgent moments of ugliness. I’ve spoken to this friend over the phone on occasion in these last few years since the breakup, always for hours at a time. She never mentioned something that she confessed to me when she called a few days ago; that she was still in touch with my ex. And, usually, would call and talk to her on the same days she talked to me.

Still figuring out what to do with all this.

I only know one thing for sure.

The scars are tingling.

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On Dreams and Dreaming

When we [white people, euro-industrial babylonians] think autobiographically we only include events that happened to us when awake; the Ojibwa include remembered events that have occurred in dreams. And… such experiences are for them often of more vital importance than the events of daily waking life… it is in dreams that the individual comes into direct communication with the atiso’kanak [myth/story-beings]…

These ‘dream visitors’ (pawaganak) interact with the dreamer much as human persons do… It is in the context of this face-to-face personal interaction of the self with the [atiso’kanak, pawaganak] that human beings receive important revelations that are the source of assistance to them in the daily round of life, and, besides this, of blessings that enable them to exercise exceptional powers of various kinds.

-A. Irving Hallowell, Ojibwa Ontology, Behavior, and World View, essay reprinted in Teachings From the American Earth: Indian Religion and Philosophy, Dennis & Barbara Tedlock, eds.

This is the post-human era—time of the technopathocracy, “ruled by machine sickness”—and we’re all refugees. Cartesian rationalist philosophy has metastasized, stage-four soul-cancer, and even theories of the unconscious and subconscious have been jettisoned or hollowed out—who needs them, when we have (anti)social media, anti-depressants, and spacephone screen gods to hold all our secrets for us?

Most people are in the machine cult whether they realize it or not. Recently, a friend of mine went to look at a room for rent in a house populated by a family of Devout Christians(tm). No “drugs,” alcohol, smoking, or “sexual encounters” would be permitted to renters (one wonders, if I have a wet dream, must I report myself for eviction?) And yet, every single room in their house contained that most sacred and profane artifact of demoniacal-hermetic evangelism, the Television.

A Real Christian(tm) would have no problem recognizing the ever-presence of screens and the constant stroking of spacephones as a form of idolatry.

Upon hearing about my friend’s adventure with the Devout Christians(tm), I had fantasies of kicking in their door, bible in hand, and screaming certain passages to them in a righteous rage of fiery indignation. Perhaps Romans 1:22—“While they claimed to be wise, in fact they were growing so stupid that they exchanged the glory of the immortal God for an imitation

Follow that up with Ezekiel 36:25—“I shall pour clean water over you and you will be cleansed; I shall cleanse you of all your filth and of all your foul idols.” This quote seems particularly poignant, since a bath in “clean water” will destroy just about any TV or spacephone.

The raging fire subdues into the warmth of the ascended master, and I hit them with Matthew 6:22 “The lamp of the body is the eye. It follows that if our eye is clear, your whole body will be filled with light. But if your eye is diseased, your whole body will be darkness. If then, the light inside you is darkened, what darkness that will be!

I climax with Ezekiel 14:3—“Son of man, these men have enshrined their foul idols in their hearts and placed the cause of their sinning right before their eyes,” wrapping it up with 1 Corinthians 10:14—“For that reason, my dear friends, have nothing to do with the worship of false gods.

Then I’d smash all their TVs, phones, and computers (Luddite critique), and disappear in a cloud of smoke.

The art and craft of Dreaming is fundamental to every human culture, prior to the arrival of TechnoBabylon and its cult of universal simulation. Now we have the screens to dream for us, whether we’re passively absorbing the latest streaming binge or neurotically jumping from one tube video to another.

All organized, authoritarian religions (i.e. the religions of civilization) have a shadow side of esoteric and heretical traditions. Authority always regards heresy as Enemy, stomping it out whenever possible and attempting to write it out of history. Nevertheless, heresy and orthodoxy are always in conversation.

The historical universes of christianity, islam, and judaism all contain within them teachings of dreamcraft as a means of gaining knowledge. In the islamic world, any dream featuring Muhammed (peace be upon him) is considered divine because the devil cannot take his form. Sufis, the mystics of islam, have been known to journey to the shrines of muslim saints, to sleep there with the aim of receiving knowledge in dreams.

Orthodox sufi tradition has the concept of the sisila, or lineage. I’m familiar with the importance of this concept from my involvement with the confucian world of chinese martial arts—having an identifiable lineage containing masters of note is what grants Authority to your practice. For the Orthodox to consider you legit, you have to be part of an established line, which gives you a de facto sign-off from the Old Masters(tm).

The world of the sufis also contains the idea and practice of dream initiation—in the absence of a living master, one can seek out initiation through dreams. If the Prophet or one of the saints initiates you in a dream, then the initiation is real. There are rites and rituals associated with this, including the recitation of certain passages from the Quran before going to bed.

The implications of this are enormous—if I don’t need an Authority Figure to validate my spiritual practice, it follows that I don’t need Authority Figures at all. This undermines all claims of orthodox tradition. I don’t need a pope, an imam, a guru, an elder, or a sign-off from any traditional governing body in order to receive initiation and spiritual knowledge.

I’ve known of these concepts and traditions for over 15 years, but I’ve never written about them and I rarely discuss them. It’s far too offensive to most peoples’ ideas about How Things Are Supposed to Work. But given that we’re all currently living through machine-apocalypse, post-human refugees in a world that is defined by the most extreme alienation that human beings have ever experienced, I’ve decided that the time has come to speak on it.

Not only have I known of these concepts, I’ve participated in them. I began my forays into the art & craft of dreaming when I became a sorcerer back in 2004. I have pages and pages of dream journals, I’ve had countless waking visions, and, most relevant to this essay, I have received multiple and ongoing initiations in dreams. It’s no exaggeration to say that without these initiations, I would not be who I am, and would not be living the life that I lead.

Whether or not I will share the content of these dream initiations is always a matter for reflection. Some stories are for everyone, some are for the chosen few, some are for other shamanic heretics… and some are for me alone.

The Ojibwa are a dream-conscious people… But dream experiences are not ordinarily recounted save under special circumstances. There is a taboo against this…
-Ibid., Hallowell

Peace to my Anishinaabe ancestors.

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