SPEAKING CALIFORNIA … It’s a tongue I once knew well. And I’m learning I never fully forgot it … My dad’s neighborhood had a block party today. And a techie green card from Israel living down the block observed how American it was, citizens willing to invite people from the whole neighborhood to a party on their lawn, provide chairs and dessert and even name tags – not only for their friends and neighbors but for strangers from Colorado and Tel Aviv, just to share a good time … He attributed this American trait of open-arms community (more pronounced on the West Coast’s Pacific Rim than on the East Coast, with Colorado sort of halfway in between those poles of behavior) to the fact that we all spoke the same language – that English had given us the gift of access and familiarity to each other, even if we were very different and from different places and cultures … And he went on to explain, “Go a thousand miles in my country,” he smiled, almost grimly, “and people would not speak the same language, nor be of the same religion, nor welcome you into their homes.”
MOUNTAIN VIEW … It's the Fourth of July in Estados Unidos. I am south of San Francisco in a frenetic exurban burb in Silicon Valley called Mountain View, home of the Googleplex and bulging with computer geeks from all over the world. Fireworks are going off. Individual fireworks are illegal everywhere here, as the drought and the subsequent fires have everyone freaked (Big Sur is burning out of control as I write this). But each town around the bay still has its fireworks show. There’s even one here down by the mudflats where I bicycle when I can, at Shoreline Park, chemical ash sifting down into the bay … I can’t see anything from Dad’s yard. But in my little studio room I hear what sounds like distant bombs bursting in air. It’s patriotic, familiar and unsettling all at once. I think about Afghanistan and Iraq, where real bombs are bursting, women turning into suicide bombers and the corpses piling up … In the next room my dying father is watching a television game show, his choice, as his life ebbs away … And I realize I’ve become addicted to the San Francisco Chronicle – a daily paper that was once a college course of study all its own and has now become just another weak link in the once-mighty Hearst chain … And so I wrote this week’s Talking Gourd, Myamar – one of my Hai-unCouth series. While it follows the 17 syllable format of American haiku, it ignores most of the complex strictures of the Japanese renga/hokku/haiku tradition … Could it be, I keep asking myself, reading a web full of unfiltered stories and a press of carefully edited spin, that here in the most powerful nation in the world, we appear to be only a few missteps away from sliding into military coup (like almost happened to FDR)? … Are we ready for a return to our revolutionary roots?
COMMIE TORTURE … It will never cease to amaze me that people who preach what they claim are Christian values are the biggest voting block supporting Bush League and his Neocon Chickenhawks with their flagrant employment of interrogation methods, lifted verbatim from Chinese handbooks during the Korean War … And thus, having fought Truman’s “police action” for freedom, we find we’ve come full circle, and we, the American capitalists who helped establish the Geneva Conventions after the genocidal horrors of WWII, are now the ones employing Communist Party “coercive management techniques” … Hearing that, who isn’t ashamed?
SHROOM STUDY … Anyone see the AP report on a John Hopkins follow up study done with humans dosed on the extracted alkaloid found in Psilocybe spp. and then tracked and interviewed months later? The headline read in Hearst’s San Francisco Chronicle last week, “Benefits seen in psychedelic drug” and a subhead, “Study finds most volunteers in test felt better – some very scared” … According to the report, more than half the 36 subjects continued to have at least a moderate sense of well-being and warm fuzzies associated with the experience over a year later … Some, like Dr. Charles Grob of Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, are heralding it as the springboard for further studies on the usefulness of entheogens in hospice, dependency recovery, addictive therapy, and for other health and medical conditions, perhaps even pain and anxiety … Golly, I’d sure love to hear Dr. Roland Griffiths explain his research on what are known as hallucinogenic or psychedelic compounds (although many of us fungophiles and psychonauts prefer the term entheogen, meaning roughly “takes you to god” and thus entheogenic compounds).
HIDEOUT LAKE … Is just one of three developments bringing over 750 units (literally, thousands of people) to the southernmost tip of the Uncompahgre Plateau? Is all the traffic coming out Dave Wood Road? Ouray County and Hideout are in a standoff right now over what percentage where … As far as our county, we want to be prepared for whatever, and our citizens in that area have overwhelmingly asked us to limit traffic, and not turn the county road into a high-speed thoroughfare. And I think that’s a great idea. Maybe leave several sharp turns in the design as calming devices … We also played enough hardball to get the developers to sign agreements with us for anteing up funds to improve the deficient Sams intersection on Dallas Divide (which is an accident waiting to happen, but isn’t even on CDOT’s wish list) … Bottom line, all the transpo jockeying aside, Ouray County and the area north of Dallas Divide is about to take a quantum leap forward in population numbers with new gated communities, far from transportation corridors and government services.
THE TALKING GOURD
Is that our fate?
Peasants in the organic countryside.
Ruled by coup.