Saturday, December 22, 2012

Chemical Free--Free!

“The majority of the 80,000 [chemical] compounds the EPA [Environmental Protection Agency] tracks have never been rigorously studied for human health effects. Most predate creation of the EPA and were granted automatic approval for use when the agency came into being in the 1970s. Even today companies do not have to prove that new chemicals are safe before putting them on the market; the burden of proof falls on the government to demonstrate danger.”
      --from The Everyday Fear Zone, by Emily Anthes, Psychology Today Dec. 2012, p. 81

Our brains ‘n’ stuff are made of chemicals, so we needn’t get overexcited. On the other hand: try reading the chemical data required at most work sites. Under sections like

“Effects of Overexposure:” and
“Ecological Information:” you discover

“No known applicable information.”
“Complete information is not yet available.”
“No information found.”
“Not available.”
“Not established.” And the most popular,
“None known.” (All from actual “Material Safety Data Sheets”.) Translated into polite hillbilly jargon:

“We have no freakin’ idea.”

At home, many of us own vast collections of similar powders, pastes, sprays, and goos, for painting faces and houses, taming or killing wild nature, keeping gizmos going, and the impossible elimination of “stains.” Never use any of these products as a snack food.

The Owners often use our world as their laboratory, and us citizens as ratty subjects. When people turn splotchy, frogs get freaky, or bee empires collapse, they might desist, if their “shareholders" still get a “dividend" (code words for “rich people getting paid to do nothing.”) Health laws sound nice, but where are the cops for that? If enough of us rats get sick or die, lawsuits ensue, and the no-guilt-admitting plague-makers pay lawyers until everyone shuts up and goes away. Our smiley-face, free-to-crap-in-the-market economy.

As school children we had nuclear bomb drills; like fire drills except we ducked under our desks to avoid the terrifying imaginary debris. That cloud still hangs over us. Chemicals are much less worrisome, with a quick fix: the Owners will quit selling when we quit buying. Try it!

A toilet that hasn’t been cleaned for many moons may tempt you to purchase Well-Advertised Deep Kleaning Ka-Pow Ka-Blam, the Dirt-Busting, De-greasing, De-scaling, Disinfectant Foaming Death Spray (Now With Fresh Lilac Scent.) My own experience is that everything gets just as bright with rags, brushes and warm water. With a Free Bonus: the healthy exercise known as “scrubbing”.

Disgust for smells has recently been found to be largely culturally determined, so another tactic is to simply accept the funk. Ignore society’s decision that we naturally reek, and skip the armpit stink-pretty. “Fabric softener"--are we really so pathetically delicate that our clothing must be chemically softened and scented? And an open window always clears butt stink, eventually.

One human is ugliest, and one most beautiful; the rest of us somewhere between. Accept your naked self and skip the industrial vats of face paint. Grow some gnarly “natty dreads" and toss all hair goo too.

Cooking with a cast-iron skillet means you’ll never eat teflon again, even after it makes its way into the “food pyramid.” To make your whole kitchen sparkle, use warm water, a rag, and a 10-year-old who can’t escape “chores.”

No home interior needs chemical cleaning or painting, unless there has been an overly frolicsome bloodbath, or the baby pukes pomegranate juice while being swung 'round by the ankles. If warm water doesn’t do the job, try a wire brush, then scrapers, then chisels, and for really stubborn stains, an axe. Remember, too: no matter how filthy, a well-placed match will self-clean your house right down to its foundation. This quick-clean is perfect for when the Owners are coming tomorrow to take it back.

Has a Sentence of Death been pronounced on every bug in every home and yard everywhere? Accept bugs as little friends, not necessarily annihilated. If you must kill, go “green” and smack them with a shoe.

Want to get rid of wax, grease, anti-freeze, battery acid, and oil stains? Sell the car!

Check food labels too--if you can’t read it, should you eat it?

Did distant ancestors clean hut often? If not, let us honor their wisdom by skipping it today. If so, let’s honor them by skipping the industrially-produced eyeball solvent.

No reason to panic, dozens of wacky chemicals are already in every human’s blood, yet here we are. No need to add to it, however. For inner peace, forget shiny perfect stuff and self. Life is often stained, dirty, stinky and ugly; get used to it and fear not!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Holibrate All Celedays!

A Cheap Dude Christ-mess: How We Don’t:

The Opposite Of Every TV Christmas Special

First off, no dead tree. Which Prince of Peace ordered mass tree-slaughter? Bigger stump don’t make a bigger saint, either. And fake trees are blasphemy against the real sacred: live trees. If you must decorate and display a dead plant, try a silver spray-painted tumbleweed, hung with (also painted) milk bottle caps and little red-and-white sugar sticks bent like handicapped-assistance devices. It’s been done. Merry Cheapness.

No twinkly coal-fired house-dressing. The Light of the World is not brightened by kilowatts. All festive glow is canceled by atmospheric spew.

No wasteful feast. Food orgies for Heavenly Father make Earthly Mothers sweat and fuss for thankless hours and days. The resulting pile of dirty dishes, by itself, is reason enough to cancel the whole thing. Screw it, have a sandwich, left-overs, microwaved burritos, or boiled hot dogs. Everyone wash your own dish.

No useless gifts. Too Cheap. Sometimes we buy each other something we were going to buy anyway, like groceries. TV ads showing a beautiful person being given a shiny car make us laugh--Holy Infant, does that really happen?! Besides, why not be generous always? As Y'shua the Wise once instructed a rich dude, “...sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven..." (Luke 18:22, KJV). One day of giving doesn’t cover the other 364.

No “greeting" cards. We receive nearly none, thankfully, having sent none for several years. Money spent on pre-decorated cardboard (another arboreal auschwitz), pre-written palaver, and postage, is not required to join the Newborn King Fan Club.

No day off work. I volunteer, it’s double-time-and-a-half on holidays. Yeah I miss the “family get-together,” boo-hoo; I cry all the way to the bank (the real King of Kings.) I see my goofy tribe often enough. If yours ain’t close-knit, a holiday won’t make it so; if they are, you don’t need it. Better to visit at random, less chaotic times.

No cheery prattle. I am not offended when folks wish me a “Merry Christmas.” I hope they’re not offended when I reply, “Whatever.”

Yule-tide tunes, however, affect me deeply. When choirs sing “Hosanna,” sleigh-bells rhythmically jingle, and sweet-spirited carols fill the air, my heart swells with overwhelming emotion, and I must cry out: “Turn that crap off!”

How does one become so cynically Cheap? At five years old I discovered there was no Santa, that my parents had “borne false witness”! Over time it became clear that Christ-mess, as advertised, was an annual blasphemy, completely backwards. Eventually I decided every day is Holy, even the crappy ones. Celebrate ‘em all, by Jove!

Every Christ-mess is the best, since I gave up. Apathy is far less stressful than anger. Let everyone else scurry frantically to spend money they don’t have.

Thank you for the precious and sacred moments you waste on the barbaric self-centered yapping of the Cheap Dude. My gift to you all: permission to be as un-festive, apathetic, and/or unpleasant as you feel this season; to do as little as possible. When your gang gets hostile, you can blissfully point out that at least you’re not as bad as the Cheap Dude.

My on-line shopping fave!

"...the great world religions...have become associated with the causes of the factions, as instruments of propaganda and self-congratulation....
   ...religious pantomime is hardly more today than a sanctimonious exercise for Sunday morning, whereas business ethics and patriotism stand for the remainder of the week. Such a monkey-holiness is not what the functioning world requires; rather, a transmutation of the whole social order is necessary, so that through every detail and act of secular life the vitalizing image of the universal god-man who is actually immanent and effective in all of us may be somehow made known to consciousness."

Joseph Campbell, The Hero With A Thousand Faces, Bollingen 1949, p. 389

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Crazy Normal

Back of Alcatraz

Most of the world is crazy, of course. We were hunters and gatherers for more than 100,000 years, say anthropologists. We’re not wired for this frenetic electronic world, how could it not make us crazy?

Prob’ly the only humans comfortable in their own meat are aboriginal tribes in the remotest un-raped forests. Lives spent hunting and working the local foliage, stress free. Paradise, like the actual Good Old Days.

We in these States are crazier than the rest. Our inheritance, courtesy of the ongoing, humanity-wrenching, “Industrial Revolution.” We’re not descended from those who played it safe in the old country. We are born of malcontents, dreamers, the desperate, the dangerously ambitious, the visionaries, the schemers, the seekers--the crazies. (The Natives and stolen Africans are crazy too, from being treated like animals for centuries.)

One other thing makes us a notch wackier, in my arrogant opinion. From a comparative mythology text, not written about us but could be:

“The figure of the tyrant-monster is known to the mythologies, folk traditions, legends, and even nightmares, of the world; and his characteristics are everywhere essentially the same. He is the hoarder of the general benefit. He is the monster avid for the greedy rights of “my and mine.”

The havoc wrought by him is described in mythology and fairy tale as being universal throughout his domain. This may be no more than his household, his own tortured psyche, or the lives that he blights with the touch of his friendship and assistance; or it may amount to the extent of his civilization.

The inflated ego of the tyrant is a curse to himself and his world--no matter how his affairs may seem to prosper. Self-terrorized, fear-haunted, alert at every hand to meet and battle back the anticipated aggressions of his environment, which are primarily the reflections of the uncontrollable impulses to acquisition within himself, the giant of self-achieved independence is the world’s messenger of disaster, even though, in his mind, he may entertain himself with humane intentions.”
   from The Hero With A Thousand Faces, Joseph Campbell (Bollingen, 1949) p. 15.

So our Empire has become the world’s boogeyman, the greedy beast of ancient myths and our cave-person brains. We know it’s not right when some folks have so much while so many others have nothing. That "Jesus don’t like killin’, no matter what the reason’s for" (John Prine). We know at some level that our greenback-dollar gasoline paradise must eventually end.  Yet to speak of these is ridiculed or forbidden. They become gnawing un-nameable anxieties with which many thoughtful people struggle.

Antidotes, for me, include trying to be kind and generous to everyone, jerks included. Discovering that if I pretend to be nice long enough, I actually get nicer. (And I’m getting better at pretending, which helps on crazier days.)

Trying also to figure out, and stop doing, whatever in my daily life adds to the world’s greed and destruction even indirectly. I don’t always succeed, but trying makes me feel less crazy, without pills.

Accepting the fact that we are glorified cave-people in a sick civilization helps too. I forgive everyone, myself included, for being stupid, irrationally hopeful herd animals. We are “only human” same as ever.

So thatch your hut, gather some grub, then sing, dance, laugh, love, and all that happy crap we used to do daily, before we became techno-slaves to the machine-beast. The Owners can never take those away from us. Every other aspect of modern “success”, with its worry and stress, is waste. Time for De-industrial Revolution!

“There will come a time when everybody who is lonely will be free to sing and dance and love.
 There will come a time when every evil that we know will be an evil that we can rise above.
 Who cares if you’re so poor you can’t afford to buy a pair of mod-a-go-go stretch elastic pants?
 The will come a time when you can even take your clothes off when you dance.”

         --Frank Zappa, “Take Your Clothes Off When You Dance” from We're Only In It for the Money

Monday, November 12, 2012

Gregarious Peccary Visitation

Saturday was town Free Dump Day. Decided to haul off the rust-eaten water-heater carcass, my ugliest yard ornament. Free.

Meanwhile, in a dark corner of a son’s dank “Old Town" (old) apartment, sat a flood-stained cardboard barrel half-full of lentils, white beans, chick peas, and such. 50 or 60 pounds, 15 years old by the date on one sack. Oh, and an unplumbed second-hand toilet. He’d avoided a “cleaning deposit" by accepting the pile, and sticky floor, in a handshake lease agreement. Neither of us wanted to eat ancient grain, not this week anyhow. Free Dump Day!
Stolen from
The soil around my permanent camp is like bad concrete, so I throw vegetable scraps to my struggling trees, like food. Why not, I thought, toss this grain down too? As we flung it, I realized with mixed feelings the possible sowing of a bird, dirt squirrel, and pack rat Empire like no parched yard in my ‘hood has ever seen.

Official Free Dump Day is popular, what a pile. Ripped sofas, dented ‘fridges, dead computer monitors staring willy-nilly. Rest of the year free dumping is in the desert outside town, leisurely scavenged. Too hectic here. A lot of good stuff, but I spared my helpers the cultural shame of being with a Weird Old Dude Digging Through Trash.

That night there was indeed a grain feast. Javelina, a tropical peccary, have worked their way down South America and north into my back yard. The years of throwing rotting vegetables and moldy bread over the back fence have made the spot a destination buffet, I realize now. Our dogs have gone to heaven, and the crappy “hog-wire" fence to hell; add buckets of greenish, roof-flavored rain water, from last storm, and it’s Full Service.

My wife and I heard them snuffling and splashing outside our bedroom window. Then smacking and cracking hard grain like the crunchiest snack of all time. Appetites whetted, they rediscovered the pail of old dog food, up on a table after being knocked over in the past, and somehow, ka-bloosh!

The young'un, among the junk I kept.

So I went into the moonlight to assess the situation. They’re easy to scare off with a little racket, but I greeted them pleasantly, “Hey you guys, what the hell?” The adults bolted, but a young one came trotting toward me until I stammered, “hey, hey, easy little fella.” It stood looking up at me a few seconds before scampering off, curious as I and less frightened.

No harm done, back to bed. Soon they returned, growling and scuffling for that delicious dry-as-dust dog food. “Aw, just let ‘em eat,“ I said, and we fell asleep anyhow. Good decision: next morning the dog food was gone, the brick floor licked clean.

Now they sometimes sleep in a spot they dug under the biggest mesquite trees out back. After my night shifts, in the pre-dawn light, I hear them rustle and grunt when I get close. “It’s OK, go back to sleep," I tell ‘em. We’ll stay friends for now, me not being Cheap enough to poach a Christmas peccary just yet.

On the golf course. Photo courtesy DB Brighty otGC


The evidence of anthropology is that countless men and women, through history and pre-history,
have experienced a deep sense of communion and communication
with nature and with specific non-human beings.

Moreover, they often experienced this communication
with a being they customarily ate.

Men of goodwill who cannot see a reasonable mode of either
listening to, or speaking for, nature, except by analytical
and scientific means, must surely learn to take this
complex, profound, moving, and in many ways highly
appropriate, world view of the yogins, shamans, and
ultimately all our ancestors, into account.

Gary Snyder, The Yogin and the Philosopher, from Alcheringa, vol. 1 #,2 1975

Diana lives!

 photo stolen from