The Big Debate

American FlagCandidate One: Why not repeal the Law of Gravity? I mean, why is it that what goes up must come down? The Law of Gravity is a pernicious plot to ground America.

We’re Americans. We’re not down-to-earth any more, earth is dirty. Earth is for earthworms. Earth is for farmers who are so grounded they need suspenders to hold their pants up. Earth is for pussies and other lowly animals.  We’re better than that. We’re flying high on drugs and lies and video games. Or should be. The first day of my administration, I will start the process to repeal the Law of Gravity.

We were made in the image of God and you don’t see Him walking around, sitting on curbstones, vaping and spitting. No. He’s up in the clouds. He flying around — weightless and bodyless. Even His wisdom can’t weigh him down. That’s the way it should be for all Americans.

Peter Pan did it, Rudolph did it, we should ALL be able to do it. I say all gravity should be taken out of the Constitution entirely and given to Mexicans.

And to you scientists who claim that the law of gravity is not something a President can mess with. I say, open your minds. You’re scientists! We can build the greatest weightless machine known to man that would allow Americans to make money while floating.

America is about making your dreams a reality. Repealing the Law of Gravity is the best way to make America great again.

Candidate Two: I believe that all gun owners should be tested on their ability to do advanced calculus. If the trajectory of a bullet is such that it pierces another human’s skin, then the direction of your life is radically changed forever. No way around it. That’s calculus. But if you don’t know calculus then you’re going to think you can just kill ’em.

Candidate One: All dicks should be displayed. This law is so obvious, it’s a wonder it has never been introduced before. No more faux dick-raising contests. If you’re going to raise a ruckus and you can’t get it up, what kind of credibility does that give you? You’re all talk and no action. You’re barking up the wrong flag pole. Imagine what this will do to gun laws. Is anyone going to take your Uzi seriously when you have to display your real gun simultaneously? True dick-raising contests are about power, not sex. Anything sexually seductive will be thrown out in a court of law, because male prerogative is such, that if you can’t be seduced by power, what good are you?

Candidate Two: That will unmask the fakes and make either a woman or a male porn star president.

Candidate One: Women must wear gingham. Would you have it any other way? Whether it is the workplace, the white house, or a Pancake Breakfast Fundraiser. This way they are less dangerous and more like your grandmother. Strippers and super models are, of course, exempt.

Candidate Two: There are less people who eat at Denny’s than there were in 2012. Pancake consumption has plummeted and this is nowhere more apparent than in the maple syrup states. As a result, my vow is to have compassion for others, because there are no others, just mirrors of your own humanity, and as such, they might be ME some day, and I like pancakes.

Candidate One – Final Statement: Mexicans, Muslims, Makeovers, Melania, Maseratis, money for you, money for me.

Candidate Two – Final Statement: I gladly accepted my party’s nomination and hope that it doesn’t go past my bedtime, because the key to my platform is sleep. And sleep begets clear-headedness, which of course begets faith. A famous man once said, the clearer you are in the head, the more you’ll understand your own heart, which is my heart, which is Gloria Steinem’s heart, which was Walt Whitman’s heart, and Mother Teresa’s heart and every hermit and every politician’s heart and don’t forget the people who cook your burgers at Wendy’s, and that’s the heart of the matter — the matter being 10 billion people. As Jerry Ross once said, “You gotta have heart.”




Dealing with Bullies

fist11. Consider the source. Bullies are cowards with loud voices. They believe that the force of their personalities/ego can flatten all comers. This is more than a belief. It’s a kind of faith. As such, reasoning with a bully is not possible. Reason is not their forte. Power is.

So the first thing to do in dealing with a bully is to fart. That’s right. Create a noxious atmosphere of another kind and see how long they last. Tell them that smell is as noxious as they are. When they start with the sarcasm — “Whatsa matter Mr. Farty!” — start reciting the Declaration of Independence. This is a confusion tactic because it is a  document about the freedom of all people from tyranny. They may not get the joke, but it will be hard for them to get a word in edgewise, particularly if you are alternating with verses in high soprano of the “Star Spangled Banner.”

Now, ask them do they love their country? Are they true Americans? Asking them questions while looking directly into their eyes is something that few people actually have the balls to do, because people are afraid of bullies. But it is surprising how often a direct question will stop a bully in their tracks.

2. The reason you are being bullied is that the bully thinks you are weak. When approached by your next bully, drop to the floor and do twenty push-ups, that’ll show em! Tell them you wear a black belt to yoga class and they shouldn’t mess with you. No matter what kind of booming voice they may have, say “I can’t hear you , speak up!” and when they speak again, say, “Is that a mosquito talking? I can’t actually make out the words.” Hide your skateboard in the bushes and tell them if they don’t shut up you’re going to run over them in your Mercedes GLE SUV. Tell them that stands for Good Little Efforts Sometimes Undercut Violence.

Show them you’re not afraid.  When they ask, are you a pussy?  Don’t look them in the eye and meow. Sing your best version of “I Shot the Sheriff”  and move on before they can respond.

The biggest skill a bully has is generating fear in his audience. And human nature is such that once they’ve planted the seed of fear, unless you have the spiritual/emotional tools to deal with it, it will grow and become a monster with acne and size 14 feet. The worst chapters in human history aren’t caused by bullies. They are the results of cowardly human reactions to bullies. Bullies can’t do it alone.

3. The key is to take action, even if it’s just to show them your pet rock. Make them sign a consent form. Ask them for their bullying license. Did they pass the bullying test? That’ll scare them. Tell them NY State standards are such that you have to have screwed 100 people out of their life savings to become a Class A Bully, and do they own any property that has been repossessed from poor Americans. Absent that, unless they have been indicted by a Grand Jury or gone to prison for bribery, they are no real bully.

Remember bullying equals fear. So the best question you can ask a bully is, what are you frightened of? Then ask yourself.

Da Newspaper

IMG_0451I like reading newspapers. Always have. I hate the black smudged fingers, hate the awkwardness of folding the damn things and am not particularly partial to the smell of printer’s ink. But there’s something to be said for the leisurely manipulating with arms and fingers of a veritable blanket of news. In these days of single tap iPhones, reading a paper almost registers as exercise. It’s a kind of kinetic fun reading a beach towel of newsprint, where every square inch is covered in information. It ripples and folds and is big enough to catch the wind in its pleats.

Now here’s the odd part. We read it for relaxation, don’t we? I do. I have a hard time reading it in the morning, because there is so much to accomplish that day. I only have room for that. But as the afternoon turns to evening, I yearn to de-stress. I can’t think about another email or phone call or meeting.  I just want to sit, relax and read the paper.

Why should reading about other people’s (states’, nations’, governments’, presidents’, politicians’) problems be relaxing? My rational mind can think of nothing worse.  And one story in ten is downright awful (10 in 10 if you read the Post).

The biggest problem is negativity. It’s a constant game played between the negativity of the situation (rarely good news), the negativity of the writer (objective reporting be damned, yes because they’re human they can have negativity too), and one’s own negativity.

Let’s take a story about Al Qaeda as an example. Some cell of Al Qaeda bombed a marketplace. Okay. This is not good. I shop in marketplaces. Maybe I’d better stop doing that, particularly if I move to Sudan. (Your negativity.)  People die the world over, but these twelve people died doing something so human — bargaining for lentils (negativity of the situation).  Al Qaeda is a bunch of radical extremists who kill people with suicide bombs, warp young people to think that redemption is wearing a suicide bomb and detonating it in a public place is the only way to have friends when you get to heaven, and besides should really have a ‘u’ in their name, shouldn’t they? (Negativity of the writer.) When these three things come together you have a perfect storm of suffering negativity, and all you did was read the paper and “relax”. Hmm. Maybe I should take up ping pong.

So why do I do it? Why do I seemingly relax and enjoy reading about pain, sorrow, death and destruction? I don’t know. But here are some possibilities.

1) It’s comforting to watch/read about people taking action — positive or negative. Especially when you aren’t (at that moment). It’s a great substitute for the feeling of actually accomplishing something and all you’ve done is read a story.

2) It’s just a bedtime story. Story is one of the oldest forms of entertainment, escapism, do we really take them that seriously, whether you identify with the protagonist or not? (Do you go out and sleep with your mother after reading Oedipus?)

3) The other sections. Though you can grit your teeth while reading the front page news of the world, reading about Sports (unless you’re a Cubs fan) Arts, Business, Home, Style (as long as there are photos of models) is pleasurable.

This leads me to another conundrum. Why is reading a bad review of a play or movie pleasurable? Is it because we love to laugh at fools? Even those brave fools who actually try to achieve something difficult and great? Or alternately, do we like to hate critics?

Both of these activities give us great feelings of superiority — again, while all we have actually done is read a story. In fact, now that I think of it, doesn’t that apply to all the news stories as well? “I could do better than those idiots in Washington DC.” “Does Rupert Murdoch have any idea what he’s doing divorcing wife #3 after wife #2 cost him a cool billion?” “Should police really be given guns when polls show that triggers trigger violence and all violence really is is unhappy people having a bad day.” It allows for smug superiority of the most covert kind. Not pretty. This is what I do to relax? Serve as judge, jury and executioner while reading entertaining stories.

I’ve been in the paper before. And at its worst I felt a little bit proud. I got my name in the paper. I must be someone of importance. It’s like a mirror that only sees one way.

So that’s it! Everything, whether you’re in the paper or reading it, makes you superior. What a great trick. Of course you’d want to keep reading the paper wouldn’t you?

But here’s the rub. When I actually read a newspaper everyday, I feel cheap. I feel like a whore. You think I have time to solve the Syrian Civil War? Why are they making me read about radiation escaping from Nuclear plants in Japan? I’m so paranoid about disease, war, terrorism, the political logjam, and our democracy already, why are they adding to my burden? Why? Do they want me to have a panic attack right here, right now?

Could it be that spending that much time with printer’s ink on my hands feeds my superior attitude to the point where I’m ashamed of myself? (I get the same feeling from watching CNN or too much local news on TV) I just don’t want to feel that superior. It hurts and I have things to do that actually create value. That is perhaps the gist of it. Though the fourth estate has significant purpose to maintain free speech, keep us informed, etc. somehow too many stories just feels like masturbation, not like creating value.  Ultimately masturbation is just release. It’s creating value that makes you happy.

I don’t think I’m going to read the paper any more. At least not until I get off work. Did you hear that Donald Trump wants to use caged leopards in designer gowns as presiding physicians in clinics for four year olds? What an idiot.

The Devil King of the Sixth Heaven Explained

Monkey God

Monkey God by Gina Freschet. More art at

The Devil King of the Sixth Heaven. This is a Buddhist phrase or principle. A way of reminding ourselves just how our human is natured.

Let’s start with Heaven. This is where you live. This is where you find yourself. Picture it without the angels, the harps, the clouds, the need for perfection, St. Peter, or gates that lock. Think more of a staging ground for your life; an off season county fair ground waiting to come alive. Bring your best to it and suddenly it’s open, enlightened. Ride the Ferris Wheel. Have a good time. Your Heaven is what you put into it.

And why the 6th Heaven, not the Fifth or Fourth? Because the Sixth Heaven is the intersection of your five senses. The heart’s brain. The place that is supposed to make sense of all the input coming in to you and then suggest action.

And the Devil King? He’s your doubt, your poison, your karmic shadow. And He’s all yours. No one else can claim Him. He is specific to you. You can scale the sheer walls, you can invent a single coptered flying machine powered by bicycle pedals, but if you listen to Him telling you you can’t, you won’t. When you make His voice King, you’re one fucked monkey.

In fact, He may be talking to you right now: “Why are you reading this? Do you buy this load of crap? Monkey schmunkey. Get off your ass and get a job you worthless piece of shit. And stop eating those Cheetos you obese douche bag, you’re getting orange grease on your PhD. Your friends are crap, your life is crap, you are crap.” So that’s Him. The Devil King of the Sixth Heaven. And just imagine what kind of action you’ll take when His voice reigns — the lottery could make me a millionaire, my nose is too big, why can’t I win an Oscar? Any Faustian bargain you care to make for money, youth, beauty, fame is the product of the Devil King of the Sixth Heaven. And He is so familiarly personal. He is part of you and me because we are human. In fact, He’s at least 9 of the 7 Deadly Sins. His nickname is Freely Enjoying the Fruits of Others Efforts. (His doppelgangers are Freely Complaining about Others Without Understanding that it Takes Two to Tango, and Freely Judging Others without Taking Steps to Improve Your Own Damn Self.)

Hey I want to enjoy the fruits of others efforts as much as the next guy. Why not? Italian silk ties made in Bangladesh on sale at TJ Maxx for $3.99? Throwing away good food by the truckload because it’s not to my liking right now. And what about Donald Trump? He doesn’t deserve all that money.

But the more I chant, the more I realize that Donald Trump, despite his bad hair, knows more about money than I will ever know. In fact, his father was a wealthy real estate magnate. So he studied money and real estate at the foot of his mentor/dad. And, in fact, he probably suffers the disease of knowing money so intimately. Yes, he could beat me at Monopoly. But the treasures of his heart’s life only he can know. I can’t know his treasures, I can only know mine. End of story.

How do you get to know your treasures? You have to see the Man. Because He stands between you and them.  And since He’s all yours; He’s so much a part of who you are; He’s the king of your obstacles, always telling you why you can’t do things…well, since He’s yours, anyway, you might as well own Him. Put Him to work. Harness your Devil King.

Here’s the list of why you’re not happy right now. A_____ B_____ C_____ and D_____ E_____ F_____ and more. Let’s be honest. He’s behind every single one of them. Narcissus drowned, don’t forget That’s right. Know how to identify Him. The more you put him to work for you, the happier you’ll be–understanding that He’s negative, understanding that He’s gonna look for the easiest way out, understanding that He has forces of sugar and salt, sex and drugs, mindless music and mindless video techno game pastimes arrayed behind Him–understanding this you are stronger, happier. And when your family doesn’t invite you to Easter dinner because they hate your girlfriend, you show up with cake and a smile and tell them your girlfriend  had to be with her family. Because though the Devil King may think differently, you love your family. You want them to be happy, you want to be happy with them, see them succeed, stand strong with them as they take on every difficult adventure.

Besides do you take even one moment each day to appreciate what you already have? Ah ha! If you do, then you can defeat the Devil King of the Sixth Heaven at his own game–today. Tomorrow you’ll have to do it again. You’ve got to be consistent. Keep meeting Him, eye to eye, and saying no. No, stop talking in my head and telling me I’m not fit to sell corn dogs at the Ritz; no, I don’t look as foolish today as you say, besides I like the tie with the blue diamonds; no, I won’t put up with people who have learned to sadistically victimize me because I try to be a nice person; no, my friends may be odd but who are you to judge because they’re my friends; no, I won’t allow a lower standard for my dreams, my dreams are too important to allow laziness, tiredness, fuzzy brain, life of this moment’s needs, bad hair cuts, relatives who think they know me better than I know myself, or stale pistachios that cracked my teeth and gave me astronomical dental bills, to stop me.

Take that Devil! And I’ll be here tomorrow too. And I’ll be awake too. And I’ll look Him in the eye. And together we’ll understand that He could be my greatest asset. That even He has an enlightened side. That He could help me look for, understand and control my obstacles. That we’re a team. That there’s nothing we can’t do together, day by day. Each day. That together we can enter the 7th, 8th and 9th consciousnesses without talk of devils. Just us. Just interconnectivity. Just the music of the spheres. Just the beautiful humans squeezed so tightly on this subway car that I can’t exhale, and yet one girl in a nice red coat is actually doing her make up, running a Q-tip along her eyelid while the train jolts forward. Yikes.

And then we’ll be in. Today. Because the Devil King of the Sixth Heaven is the GATEKEEPER of the 7th 8th and 9th consciousnesses. And once you reach those, you could be so calm, so happy that the Devils and the Heavens are left behind and you’re flying at a low altitude but high enough to see the peaks and valleys and you’re firmly at the controls keeping an eye out for Him in your rear-view mirror. Don’t hit the peaks, don’t fall into the valleys. You want to be connected to your past, to THE past, to your family’s past, to your ethnic origin’s past, and the presents and the futures. You want the happiness of the flight, and the knowledge that all you have to do is just lift the joystick up one inch to get over the obstacles, not be down there like bumper cars getting turned around by every little obstacle you bump into. Obstacle after obstacle. You want to fly toward the consciousnesses that can’t be written, because they must be experienced. Seven, Eight and Nine aren’t heavens in the true sense because Heaven is an invention of the human mind and they are not an invention of any mind.To say that they are love is to limit them. They are chance. This chance that we are living, appreciating, acknowledging, aspiring with…and that we know where our Devil is.

These Aren’t My Pants


They’re browner. And they don’t really reach my shoe tops. When I go like this, they do. But I’m not going to go like that all day. My posture is bad enough as it is.

It’s too bad because it’s late. I’m already at the bus stop and the bus is coming. Walk home to change pants at this point and my whole day is off. But then, so are these pants.

They’re a little tighter. The only brown belt I have goes one extra hole. They flare like a pair of pants I used to have that I never wore. They looked and felt great until you got out into the sunlight and you realized just how shit-colored they actually were. They needed just the right kind of anti-shit-colored shirt. And frankly, no such thing exists. So they hung in the closet and once in awhile in a blind grab I’d put them on by mistake and then stand there in the mirror wincing. Too shit colored.

But these aren’t those. These have a nice sheeny brown to them that I’ve never seen before. They wear nice, they’re just a touch short. Worse, they’re not mine. They are no doubt the product of reverse thievery. People I don’t know breaking into my house to hang pants in my closet.

Did I grow two inches overnight?

I may have simply reached that time of life my Uncle did. He’d see a great sale on coats and find this incredible full-length camel’s hair winter coat for half price just his size and run up to the cashier with that certain light in his eyes–can’t believe your luck!–that kind of light. And he’d purchase it at a great discount and take it home to hang it in his closet for next winter and discover that there were two exact replicas of that same camel’s hair coat, unworn and just bought from previous years, hanging there waiting for him to wear them. Or for the California winter to reach freezing. That’s the worse part, I think.  He grew up in Chicago but had lived in LA for 30 years. Maybe one day a year on a cold day he could wear a camel’s hair coat.

My mother was the opposite. She became a schlump in her old age. She had been a very handsome and well-dressed middle-aged lady, but she just got bored with it all–the stockings, the shoes (her collection rivaled Imelda Marcos’), the sleek dresses. She had a great figure ’til the day she died when it shrunk a little. But she reached an age where she just couldn’t be bothered with any of it. I think there was a freedom of sorts in this. The rules of ladyhood just didn’t apply to her anymore. For us though, it was a little disconcerting. One day, she went from Chanel to ripped jeans. Like that.

For me the rules still apply. I like getting dressed, looking nice at work. I don’t do it for others, I do it for me. I like picking a tie, a shirt, a pair of pants, socks, a sport coat. I like putting them all together until they make something of me. And that’s exactly the process I followed today, but these aren’t my pants.

I know what you’re thinking. Either this guy is crackers, why am I reading this, or this is too close to home I’d better check the tag on my underwear they’re feeling tight.

But wearing these pants feels wrong. I didn’t buy them, I’ve never seen them, I don’t know how they got in my closet. I’d never wear trousers without pleats. These are pleat-less. And there’s something yellow in my tan shoes that just doesn’t jibe with these bluish-brown pants. It feels like I’m in a clown show. Floppy shoes, a big polka dot tie. I might as well paint my face.

Every day is different they say. You’re never exactly the same person from day to day. But today’s me is wearing stupid pants.

So clearly, today’s me is just going to have to suck it up. Stay away from mirrors and reflective store windows and forget about the pants. It’s not about the pants. The day it becomes about the pants, you’re in trouble. No deep problem can get solved with pants. But geez these are ugly. They hang on me like a jib sail in the horse latitudes.

Look. I’m older now. I know the secret of hats. When I was younger I could never wear hats. Because I was always looking in the mirror, waiting for the hat to become cool on my head. It never did. So if it couldn’t become cool on my head in the mirror, I couldn’t make it become cool as I walked around town.

Now I know. The point of a cool hat is the jaunt. It’s spirit. It’s faith. It’s not “Am I cool?” as you walk the streets. It’s “Aren’t I cool. I am so effing cool. I define cool. Look at me.”

So that’s what I have to do with these pants. Pathetic choice that they are. Eschew mirrors. Believe in cool. Walk with a spring in my step like I’m fucking Donald Trump. And dare anyone to call them ugly. They’re not. They’re beautiful. Beautiful short brown pants without all those horrible pleats. I’m gorgeous. You don’t have to tell me how good I look. I know it. I own it. John Gielgud. Laurence Olivier…

But these aren’t my pants.