Friday, May 30, 2008

Unlawful Free Speech?

Contact: Frida Berrigan (347)

WASHINGTON, D.C. – May 29, 2008
Thirty-four Americans arrested at the Supreme Court on January 11, 2008 were found guilty after a three-day trial which began on Tuesday, May 27th in D.C. Superior Court. The defendants represented themselves, mounting a spirited defense of their First Amendment rights to protest the gross injustice of abuse and indefinite detention of men at the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay.
Charged with “unlawful free speech,” the defendants were part of a larger group that appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court on January 11—the day marking six years of indefinite detention and torture at Guantanamo. “I knelt and prayed on the steps of the Supreme Court wearing an orange jumpsuit and black hood to be present for Fnu Fazaldad,” said Tim Nolan, a nurse practitioner from Asheville, NC who provides health care for people with HIV.
Defendants and witnesses argued that they did not expect to be arrested at the Supreme Court, “an internationally known temple to free speech.” Ashley Casale, a student at Wellesley College in Massachusetts, told the court, “I am 19-- the youngest person in this courtroom—and I come on behalf of all the prisoners at Guantanamo who were younger than I am now when they were detained. According to the U.S. Constitution we have a right to petition the government for a redress of grievances and Guantanamo Bay prison is beyond grievous.”


Who knew you could be convicted of "unlawful free speech."

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Recycling Begins in the Heart

“Don’t you dare put any more paper plates through my new paper shredder,” Sherri called from the bathroom.

Ken froze in place, paper plate just millimeters from the mouth of the shredder. “I was just getting them ready for the composter.”

“I don’t want those dirty plates in my new shredder. Use the old one. I put in on the porch. Somebody put humus into it and the office stunk like a falafel house for a week.”

“Sorry,” Ken called back, “Two plates were stuck together. I didn’t notice until it was too late.”

“And you’d better not have those kitchen scraps in there on my new carpet.”

“No,” said Ken as he quietly picked up the plastic bag from the cream-colored sisal which had been delivered a few weeks ago. “I’ll just go use the shredder on the porch shall I?”

The old shredder did smell of rancid garbanzo and tahini, but it growled appreciatively as Ken fed it paper plates from last night’s dinner.

“I’m not sure why I’m still feeding the composter,” Ken told the shredder. “Sherri was the one who wanted to build the thing. But I’m the one who brings out all the scraps and turns the stinky thing with a shovel.”

“Grrrrgggrrrgggrrrgggrrrggg—aakk,” replied the shredder.

“I borrowed CC’s rototiller and laid out that garden plot in the back yard, but we never planted anything. It’s too late in the summer now and the grass is taking over already. It’s like I never did the work. She just doesn’t seem interested any more.”

“Mmmmm, quite tasty,” growled a voice from behind Ken. “Lost ambition, tangy with a salty touch of self pity.”

Ken whirled around to see a glowing ball of fog hovering near the rhododendrons. It shimmered as if lights were rotating slowly within it. The next door neighbor drove past the house in her SUV and waved at Ken as if it were just a normal Wednesday morning, as if there were no preternatural glowing fog throbbing gold and red on her neighbor’s front porch.

Ken waved back, but he was watching the misty orb. “Did you just say something?”

“You could be going crazy. Hearing voices. Halucinating.” The fog thing pulsed in time with the voice which unlike the misty appearance of the apparition sounded solid, like stones clacking against each other in a stream. “Of course I said something. The question is did you hear anything?”

His knees wobbled a bit, so Ken sat down on the plastic lawn chair. “I’m talking to a glowing fog.”

The front door opened and Sherri came out briefcase in hand. She walked past Ken and retrieved her cigarettes from the matching plastic table. The fog lifted gracefully up to avoid Sherri’s hair and then lowered silently back down to hover over the rhodis again.

“Illusions of lost youth,” the fog said with a hint of a wistful sigh. “Maturing nicely, but she’s not quite ready to let go yet. Oh, well I can wait.”

“Don’t sit here all morning, and don’t forget to take those packages to FedEx,” Sherri said as she lit a cigarette. “They have to be there before ten or we will miss the deadline.”

Stepping off the porch, Sherri waved with her cigarette over her shoulder and headed for her car, leaving behind the smell of tobacco and hairspray.

“She didn’t see you, Mr. Fog,” said Ken.

“Hell,” replied the mist, “She doesn’t really see you. Why would she see me?”

Ken cocked his head to one side and lifted an eyebrow in his best Spock imitation. “I get it. You’re that glowing light creature from Star Trek, the one that made Kirk’s crew and the Klingons fight each other with swords while it fed off the violent emotions. You’re trying to make Sherri and me fight with each other.”

The mist rippled and made a grinding noise like waves on a rocky beach that could have been laughter. “No, no, and no. That was the Plot Monster. He is in most movies and TV shows. You just don’t usually see him. Old PM makes the characters do inexplicable things to drive the plot into the direction the writers or the director want.”

“I’m not the Plot Monster. You can call me Eater, or Baku if you speak Japanese.”

“I always wanted to learn Japanese,” said Ken.

“Don’t tempt me with fast food like that, Sonny Boy. I need something more substantial, something that won’t leave me hungry again in an hour.”

“What is it you eat exactly?” Ken asked, not sure at all that he wanted to know the answer.

“Dreams. We haven’t been formally introduced. Sir, I am The Eater of Dreams.”

“You’ll excuse me if I don’t say pleased to meet you? I’m not sure I like the idea of someone eating my dreams.

“It’s all just recycling. Don’t be squeamish. You didn’t apologize to those hotdogs last night. You ate them. And if you hadn’t there is any number of organisms waiting in line to eat them, from the neighborhood cat to microscopic bacteria. They will even eat you someday. In fact that fungus between your toes isn’t even waiting for you to die.”

“But dreams are different,” said Ken, not sure he really believed it as he said it.

“No they’re not. Can you imagine how crowded the world would be if no one ate the dead dreams? You’d be drowning in them within a week if it weren’t for me. It’s only natural, everything gets eaten.”

“So what eats you, Eater?” Ken asked. “And why can I see you?”

“Don’t be vulgar, Meat Boy. And I am not the Eater of Unanswerable Questions. You’ll have to talk to Koan and his Zen Gang about that. But I can demonstrate the sound of one hand clapping. Shit, I don’t have any hands! Sorry.” The Eater made that rumbling laughing sound again.

“Okay,” said Ken nervously. “So what do you want?”

“Oh, nothing much. Just thought I would thank you in advance.”

“Thank me for what?”

“That would be telling, and loose lips spoil the soup. Just wanted to say that every dark cloud has a silver lining, or a jelly-filled center.”

The Eater of Dreams, contracted slightly then the lights seemed to speed up their rotation within him with anticipation.

“Gotta go now, Ken. Hang in there Kipper. It’s election season, so there are discarded illusions of democracy all over the place that need cleaning up. Nice chatting with you.”

There was a blinking, winking flash of light and the Eater was gone leaving behind a whiff of ash and dust.

Ken stood and carried the bag of table scraps to the garbage can by the curb and threw them in. The composter was too full already.
Credits: Words and Collage by Jay Larsen

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Daddy Won't Mind

Daddy Won’t Mind

When you were young
And wanted to play
Your friends would lure you out
Saying, Daddy won’t mind
Stay out all night
Take the car
Give me a light
Daddy won’t mind

But Daddy always did
He loved and watched his kids
He wanted them safe
He wanted them smart
He wanted you to mind
When he said, Don’t

Now you’re grown
And Daddy is older still
He’s retired and has no kids
You want him to take your advice
You say, Daddy come home
Don’t drive that car
Why won’t you see the light?
But Daddy won’t mind

Daddy won’t mind


Credits: Words by Jay Larsen

Picture from the film, Logan's Run

Friday, May 23, 2008

Code No Code

Code No Code

Question No Question
Mark my words
Emptiness No Emptiness
Echoes the heart
Boom No Boom
Boxed into a corner
Room No Room
To spare the child
Doubt No Doubt
There be monsters
Fear No Fear
Form one line here

Mind the gap
I No I
You they we
Obey No Obey
Resistance is futile
Code No Code
That’s it
That’s it
Credits: Words by Jay Larsen
Graffiti by Banksy
"Gone, gone, gone beyond, gone altogether beyond, O what an awakening, all-hail!" from the Heart Sutra where the Buddha teaches the emptiness of emptiness.
Have a happy Memorial Day.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Postage Due

Postage Due
By Jay Larsen

“What do you mean it was delivered postage due?”

Lipstick was put back into his chrome case and unceremoniously dumped back into the white leather purse. Despite his most energetic magenta ministrations, the line of Sherri’s lips continued to fall. All the makeups were worried. Sherri had enjoyed such gravity-defying perkiness for so long, but now all that was changing.

“How much does he want and where is the package from?”

Her hair, her lips, the corners of her eyes, all seemed intent on drooping downward. Even Padded Bra could not hold up the now sagging breasts. They had been so buoyant not too long ago with their helium-filled pertness.

As he came to rest against Pock Calculator, Lipstick let out a sigh.

“It’s tax time again,” said Calculator. “Maybe that is what is bothering her.”

“I don’t remember ordering anything from India. Ask him if we can look inside first?”

“Do you think she is going into menopause?” asked Tampon, a tinge of fear in her voice.

“Twelve-fifty! You’ve got to be kidding me. Give him the company Amex card already and get back to work.”

“What’d I miss?” Mascara asked, as he came tumbling back into the purse with Mirror.

“Tampon thinks Sherri is going into menopause,” answered the latest pack of Breath Mints.

“Since when doesn’t the U.S. Postal Service take American Express? Shit! Get me the checkbook and get back to those files I gave you three hours ago.”

“No way,” countered Mascara. “I just saw a super economy sized box of those new Maxi Pads in the bathroom this morning. They were the cute ones. I remember `cause they were flirting and wiggling their wings at me.”

“This has got to be some worthless Third World piece of junk Ken ordered. This box looks like it was mailed by Gandhi himself in the Nineteen-Forties. Twelve-fifty postage due for God’s sake.”

“Those Maxis are nothing but big sluts,” Tampon pouted. “Besides you think every object in town is hitting on you.”

“That husband of mine buys the most useless junk. Crap normal customers will not touch. And by touch I mean pay money for.”

“Yeah, you hussy painter,” Mirror taunted Mascara. “You were trying to seduce Blow-Dryer last weekend. “I heard you talking about getting her to blow a fuse.”

“Postage due. If people are going to mail something, they ought to pay for it. Not just throw it at the system and wait for someone else to cover for them. It’s irresponsible.”

“Mmmmm, Momma,” sighed Mascara. “That sexy appliance gets me hot!”

You think I should open this? I paid the damn postage due—That makes it mine, right? Or at least half mine.”


Credits: Words and Collage by Jay Larsen
USPS brought into being by the Second Continental Congress

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

One Year Ago: Emperor Jack

The Emperor Has No Closure

Emperor Jack chased his mother’s skirt across the well manicured lawn.
Everything he needed could be had with speed and precision.
But everything he wanted was always just out of reach.
Mother was supervising the restoration of the old pavilion.
She was especially concerned about the custom glass and the cornice work.
Workers in white coveralls scurried out of Mother’s path,
Leaving the Foreman exposed and vulnerable despite the clipboard in his hand.
“Ah, Madam,” the Foreman said with a minimal nod of the head.
Emperor Jack, skidding to a stop to avoid bumping into Mother’s backside.
He was not an expert in the intricate rituals of courtly protocol,
But he was sure proper respect was not being paid.
“You can see,” continued the Foreman, sweeping the site with the clipboard,
“The work is progressing apace. Although the glazers will require significant flogging
If we hope to finish the work on schedule.”
As if to punctuate this feeble statement with an oversized exclamation point,
A man with a trowel yelped and jumped backward
Just as a twelve-foot pane of glass fell out of its frame
Shattering into ten-thousand shimmering pieces
With a curiously muted sound.
One triangular segment slid across the pavement
Coming to a stop only an inch from Mother’s ruby slipper.
Emperor Jack noticed a small red splotch on a corner of the glass.
Horrified, he felt sure it was a flake of red from Mother’s shoe.
Then with relief, he thought it was only the worker’s blood.
But with growing puzzlement, Emperor Jack watched the red
Solidify and clarify its form into a circle made up of printed letters,
A logo of some sort printed on the corner of the pane of glass.
“Callard & Bowser: Confectioners”
“The sugar glass is not strong enough, Madam,” the Forman stated.
“And it will surly not survive the rainy season.”
Mother reduced her eyes to sinister slits and stared at the Forman.
“It is you who will receive a flogging if schedules are not met.”
Mother spun, skirts expanding like parasols, and stalked away from the pavilion.
Emperor Jack snatched up the triangular fragment from the pavement.
He waved it under the nose of the Foreman like a dagger.
Then Emperor Jack bit off a large portion of the sugar glass.
Emperor Jack chased his Mother’s skirts across the well manicured lawn.
He did not need the confectioner’s glass.
But he wanted it.
Even as it cut his tongue.


Credits: Words and Collage by Jay Larsen

Thin Ice?

Dwane Powell / Raleigh News and Observer (May 20, 2008)

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Secondhand Mussels

“You can’t eat those—You don’t know where they came from!”

“Ken, I obviously know where they came from. These are green-lipped mussels from New Zealand. They are one of the largest of the mussel species and are unique in that they only have one adductor muscle.”

“I know the’re mussels, CC. I mean you don’t know how they got here, on your front porch. You can’t just eat raw shelfish left anonymously on your door step.”

“Why not? Are you telling me that you would turn away from an obvious karmic gift like this? Besides, Kenny-boy, they are packed in ice.”

“Are you just fucking with me CC? You come home after work and find an ice chest, a grody held together with duct tape ice chest on your front step, and you are just gonna dive right in and eat the contents?”

“Of course not. I’m going to plunge these babies into boiling water and watch until the shell just starts to open. Then I am going to dip them in melted butter and eat them. Mmmmmm….”

“But how long have they been here? Who left them? Are they still good? Do you have any enemies? Death by food poisoning would look pretty natural.”

“Ken, you’re a smart guy, but you get overwhelmed by fear at the strangest times. Then other times you are completely oblivious to the obvious and real danger you are in.”

“Okay, Mr. Cryptic. What real danger?”

“Like yesterday when your wife came in with that pin-striped lawyer and handed you all those papers and a shiny new pen. You should have smelled the musk of corporate carnivore oozing from around that guy’s French cuffs and run for the back door of the store. But you just stood there nodding and smiling and asking Mr. Sabertooth Esquire if he was related to the Ventura Sabertooths because you have a cousin who married a young Sabertooth. You don’t know when to be afraid is all I’m saying. You jump away from ropes and then naively ask snakes if they will keep an eye on your pet mouse.”

“Fuck you, CC. Sherri is just cleaning up some of the legal paperwork. You know you never take care of that shit. If she hadn’t gone through all those old account books the IRS would own the store by now.”

“If you say so.”

“Well, don’t talk shit about my wife. That ain’t cool.”

“So now you grow a spine and bare your teeth. Ropes and snakes. See what I mean?”

“Sakes and ladders, dude. Snakes on a plane. Snakes in the fucking grass. Don’t pretend to be my friend and then attack my wife.”

“I am your friend, Kenny. I just think Sherri’s been buying too much snake oil lately. I love you guys, man. But she’s not the same girl you met in college. That’s all. She’s getting too attached to the money. Money can pull you off center, make you do bad things.”

“Whatever… Are you really gonna eat these things?”

“Yes, I’m going to eat the shellfish left on my porch. I don’t look a gift mussel in the mouth. You want to hang out, help me cook ‘em? I’ve got ravioli left if you don’t dare lock lips with a New Zealand green lip. What you say?”

“No, that’s alright. Sherri wants us to go to this new place over by the marina. They have crab cakes to die for, apparently.”------------------------------
Credits: Words by Jay Larsen

Monday, May 19, 2008

Dead Writers & Whistling Espresso Machines

Dead Writers & Whistling Espresso Machines
By Jay Larsen

Every Monday Ken and his dead friend Karen would write together. They would meet at The Parisian Used Book Store & Café in the Mission District of San Francisco. Ken would sip coffee, paying for every refill. The waitresses loved Ken because they thought the subsequent payments were tips for good service, and being good American lovers of money, they also loved its source.

Karen would sit across from Ken and tell him things to write in his notebook. Karen didn’t like coffee anymore—the afterlife has that effect on some people—but she did like the whistling coffee and espresso machine at the Parisian. She would listen for hours to the variety of tunes the brass contraption would perform. Being Italian, the espresso machine had an affinity for Italian love arias, a fact which annoyed the Parisian’s Korean owners to no end. They were always cursing at the Italian apparatus and whacking it with large wooden spoons, threatening and pleading with the machine to whistle anything but Italian opera. “We in Amellica now. Why you not whistle Amellican songs? Spllingstien or Simon and Gallfunckel? At least something Fllench!”

Sometimes the machine would relent and buy itself a pause in the beatings by belting out a few Sinatra tunes: “New York, New York” and “My Way.” But after a short time the arias and the complaining would begin anew. Karen would listen to the espresso machine, as well as the Korean complaining, with a sparkle of joy in her eyes that Ken had never seen while she was alive. And he noticed that none of the customers ever complained about the machine’s taste in music.

“Being dead really makes you appreciate things,” Karen would say when questioned about her reaction to the recurring conflict. Then she would tell Ken to shut-up and start writing again. The waitresses thought Ken was talking to the portraits of Dead American Writers that hung on the walls, all of which had written in Paris at some point in their now famous careers. It was obvious to the waitresses that Ken was a writer who finding himself removed from the literary center of the universe, Paris, attempted to contact his muse in the next best place for writers outside of France, the Korean owned Parisian Used Books Store & Café.

Ken had no desire to be a writer or even to talk to dead ones. In fact, he was not even troubled by the complete lack of books in a shop which proclaimed itself to be a used book store. The coffee was good, and that was good enough for Ken. Also, he missed his dead friend Karen, and she would only meet with him if he agreed to document her fantastic accounts of the realms beyond the mortal plane. So Ken would sit, pen in hand, and he scribbled notes in his notebook while talking to Karen about whatever subject came up: business at the Store; Sherri; the raise in tuition at State Universities; or the construction of pyramids (a subject which Karen claimed to know a great deal about).

No, Ken had no desire to be a writer, but he did enjoy hearing his old friend’s voice as it wove a delicate duet with the whistling espresso machine. And as long as the pretense of a notebook and a chewed up pencil kept him from losing contact with Karen, Ken was willing pay.

Luckily, Karen never thought to say to Ken, “Now read that back to me will you?”


Credits: Words and Collage by Jay Larsen

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Edwards Endorses Obama

Edwards Endorses Obama

I was originally a John Edwards supporter before he dropped out of the race.
Obama was my second choice. I had hoped that Edwards would endorse Obama, but Edwards said when he dropped out that he would not endorse anyone until the voters had decided.
I guess John Edwards has looked at the math and decided that the voters have decided and that the Democratic race is finished and Barak Obama has won.
Now someone with a basic understanding of math should explain it to Hillary Clinton.
Unless she feels that listening to math experts would be too elitist.

Plans Make Us

Plans are what we make
While life is happening
To other people
We don’t know personally
But we should be reassured
That a friend of our friend
Saw it first hand
That’s got to be worth
At least two in the bush
Cause out in the wilds
You need a good map
So we’d better make plans
To cope with this territory
Before our plans make us
Stop this car
Don’t think that we won’t
We will go right back home
If you kids don’t learn some respect
For the plans your elders have made
Without consulting snotty-nosed brats
Who’ve never worked a day
In their life
So you’d better lay off
You’d better make plans
Before your plans make us
Into other people

Credits: Words and Collage by Jay Larsen

Plans presented by a friend of a friend

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


I wasn't sure what to make of this sign when I first saw it.
Not speaking Russian, I tried to guess what it meant from the iconic imagery.
Don't watch the sunset from the middle of the road!
Beware of overly friendly men in the median!
Casual gay encounters should not be conducted in traffic!

My Russian speaking friend Anton translated it for me:
"Driver, attention! Undisciplined pedestrians!"

Who knew that undisciplined pedestrians always come in pairs?

Friday, May 09, 2008

Godzilla Goes To The Opera

Audio Video Blog:

Video Link (for those who can't see the video above)

Godzilla At The Opera

Rabbit looked at me over the top of his Ray Bans and smiled.
"Despite Robot's reputation as an original thinker, I can tell you that none of us has had a truly original thought in ages, if ever."

But before I could ask him what he meant, the first limo pulled up to the curb and Rabbit swung into action, greeting the guests one by one.
"Ladies, it is wonderful to have you here this evening. Please take a complimentary program and wait in the lobby. Refreshments are being served, and the great green beast from Tokyo will be with you soon. He has been temporarily delayed by the futile attacks of the Air Force, but I can hear him approaching the city from the harbor now."

I caught Robot spying on us from the roof of the building across the street as the theatre filled with patrons.
"I will be blogging this!" Robot yelled, waving a metal fist in the air and snapping pictures with his camera phone.

"See what I mean?" Rabbit replied, "That box of bolts just doesn't understand the demands of true artistic expression. He has reduced the whole thing to simple journalism. Any dolt can echo the thunder, but it takes genius to produce real lightning."

Rabbit shook his fist at Robot and yelled above the wail of the sirens announcing the arrival of the main attraction.
"Go charge your batteries, you monster!"

Godzilla stopped at the painted tape, threw his cape over one shoulder causing an attack jet to spin out of control.
"Don't these people know who I am?" he rumbled.

"Pay no attention to them, Maestro," Rabbit soothed. "You have a full house tonight, and your claws look fantastic. Did you get a manicure?"


Credits: Words, Images and Video by Jay Larsen

Godzilla brought to you by Fears of the Atomic Age

Thursday, May 08, 2008

True Love of Coffee

Ah, Coffee in Love...

My wife, Evelyn, loves coffee

And I love my wife, Evelyn

And she has 2 children

Which makes her a mother

Sunday is Mother's Day

So Happy Mother's Day, Evelyn

My Coffee Loving Wife

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

What Does It Mean?

What Does It Mean?

Hillary wins Indiana by less than 1 percent.
Barack wins North Carolina.

What Does It Mean?
It means Obama picks up 13 more pledged delegates, erasing Clinton's Pennsylvania win by the way, and increases his delegate lead to at least 166.
It means Obama still has at least a 700,000 vote lead in the popular vote.
It means there are only a few contests left with only 217 pledged delegates up for grabs.
It means Clinton would have to win 77% of the remaining delegates.
It means that Hillary had to loan herself another 6 million dollars (for a total of 11) to stay in this long.
It means that Obama built up a big enough lead that even if Michigan and Florida are counted (and they should be) Obama is still in the lead at the end of this process.
It means Obama can’t get enough pledged delegates to put this thing away either.
It means that Hillary still has every right to stay in the game until the end.
But it also means that the Clinton Camp can only win by dropping a bomb on Obama (some have been hinting at some “dark secret” yet to be revealed) or by getting super delegates (and even pledged delegates) to switch their votes at the convention.
It means that unless Hillary gets really, really mean, Obama has wrapped this nomination up.
It means that Hillary Clinton is probably playing for concessions and a chance to pay herself back while the campaign fund raising machine is still in full operation.
It means we will be playing this game up till the convention this summer.

What Does It Mean?
Heck if I know what it means.
Political math seems to be different from the math I learned in school.
Corporate Media plays by its own unpublished rules and shines its spot light on the strangest aspects of this situation.
And unfortunately it seems to be coming down to predicting the voting pattern of the key demographic in this contest: Middle-aged, under-educated, working-class, white voters.
The question seems to be, since Obama can get the votes of most other demographic groups (young people, college educated people, people of color), will the trailer parks of America vote for a black man?
And since I am not in that demographic, I can’t tell you what it all means or how it will turn out.
But I can predict that the Corporate Media will be aiming its rhetoric at that demographic.

Radio Personality

I first wrote this story in 1990 to explore the way real life and the radio broadcasts sometimes sync up. It deals with two of my favorite topics, technology and synchronicity. My short story professor in grad school said no one would ever publish this story because it was too abstract and the characters had no names. I was trying for a psychological everyman story, but he didn't get it. Later the story was published by an English Language Magazine in Japan called Printed Matter. So it just goes to show how much your professors know.... I even got some fan mail from Japan. One guy said it was amazing how well I knew the Japanese male Psyche. I have never been to Japan. Any way, hope you enjoy it.

Radio Personality

He flipped the sterile page of another day and was pleased to notice an inscription in thin red ink on today's calendar page. A rush of suppressed memory came flooding in, to infuse what he had expected to be another ordinary day with exquisite anticipation. Today he would sample the new radio station. The red ink told him so.

The station was not strictly speaking new; it had begun broadcasting exactly one year ago today. But knowing the true importance of the magic called radio he had made a conscious decision not to tune-in this new station during its first year. Virgin stations were not to be trusted. During the first year things would be wound too tight; programming would be designed only to convert masses of new, unaware listeners. The broadcasting personnel and the machines they served would be new at their jobs, unused to working together. The red notation on his calendar, recorded by his own hand one year ago, proclaimed that it was now safe to sample the waters of this untried station.

With false calmness, he flicked the familiar power switch on the stereo receiver. As the power hummed through the cold circuits, he was twisting the dial, sending the glowing green band-indicator gliding across the face of the radio like a canoe skimming the surface of an unexplored lake.
Credits: Words and Images by Jay Larsen

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Q: Haul 3 Tons and What Do You Get?

A: Another day older, deeper in debt and A New Driveway.

The wife and I put in a new gravel driveway, with the help of a 10,500 pound dump truck.
Probably only exciting for those of us that did the work and those that don't have to step in the mud puddles anymore. But we're proud of it.

Man of Danger

Man of Danger, Audio Video Blog:

Man of Danger

The blind man takes a job
He answers phones
At the off-track betting parlor
He finds the strident voices
Of the track announcers
Strangely compelling
Mixed with the stale smells
Of cigarettes, perfume
Whiskey and beer
It stirs up a smoky
Cocktail of intrigue
He sips and savors
Every week night
From 7 until 11 PM

He imagines himself
A minor character from
The Sting
Minus the Ragtime piano
He plays the charming criminal
With a heart of gold
Waiting for the swish
Of silk stockings

To signal the entrance of
His late night lover
Drawn to him at last

“Hey, hansom, got a light?”

The blind man keeps his lighter
Fully fueled
In his pants pocket


Credits: Words and Images by Jay Larsen

Video for the blind conceived by a cat with a silver dollar

Monday, May 05, 2008

Congrats to Siona

Congratulations to Siona, she just turned 18.

Maybe I should be congratulating her mom instead?

Siona is a great kid. I'm sure she will be a great adult as well.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Old Cathay

Old Cathay: Or the Essence of Communications

A telephone with wings made a certain kind of sense to Ken. But the wings might have been better attached to the long distance call speeding across space to a shop in Cathay.

“Can’t you get hats locally?” asked Sherri.

“Yeah,” said Ken in between leaps, trying to snare the winged spawn of AT&T. “But not like the hats Chu Yin makes in Old Cathay.”

“China, you mean? No one calls it ‘Cathay’ any more.” Sherri made those “quotation marks” in the air with her fingers as she spat out the word “Cathay.”

Ken rolled his eyes back in disgust and almost fell over the low glass and mahogany of the coffee table. Sherri plucked her herb tea from the jolted table and stroked the warm ceramic of her orca-shaped mug. Ken sprinted to the hall closet and grabbed a Pepto-Bismol pink bath towel. If he did not capture the escaped phone soon his call would be completed without him.

He could imagine Chu Yin sitting in the dark clutter of his small Rug & Clothing Shop. The old man’s pre-WWII rotary phone would beat its clapper against its rusty bell. Yin would put down his needle and thread, pick up the great curved receiver and squint his eyes to better hear the muffled voice of the telephone. His phone, being so heavy and lacking the modern conveniences of wings would of course sit perfectly still on the cluttered work bench.

Ken swatted at his cordless escapee with renewed frenzy, the pink towel thwapping the ceiling and upsetting the balance of the brass and oak ceiling fan. Sherri, massaging the ceramic blubber of her drinking whale, let the truant phone wing past her nose without lifting a manicured nail to capture or divert the frightened device. She was watching motes of dust fly from the twirling blades of the recently upset fan and thinking about scolding the cleaning person.

“You still have a few Chu Yin hats left at the store,” she said, looking down at the herbal guts of the whale. “You could send one to Chico in the Philippines and have him copy a few thousand for you in half the time it takes old Yin to make two dozen.”

Ken stopped the phone’s escape into the kitchen by throwing the latest Tom Clancy novel at it. Surprised, the phone bounced off the wall and got its antenna momentarily caught in the lace window curtains. It let out a few anxious clicks and pops and darted out of the curtains just as Ken came speeding to the window.

“Shit!” Ken spun on Sherri, towel again in hand, panting as he took his eyes off the phone for a second. “These hats are made from the wool of an ancient breed of sheep that only lives in the highest mountains of Cathay.”

Ken could almost feel the air thinning and the temperature dropping as he imagined those high secret places. He could hear the sheep bleating reverent chants to the Dragons of the Air while being herded by shaggy and wise Foo Dogs.

The phone beat its wings furiously and rose up to bang against the sunroof. A tiny Chinese voice broke forth from the Korean-made speaker in the phone’s head; it was the slow venerable voice of Chu Yin.

“Shit,” Ken cursed, jumping up onto the coffee table, scattering the current issues of Vogue, Cosmopolitan, and Barons.

“Hold on Mister Yin,” Ken pleaded, swinging the pink towel. “It’s me, Ken. I need some of your special hats, but I’m having trouble with the new phone.”

Sherri, fearing the destruction of her glass table top, put down the steaming killer whale next to the green-shaded reading lamp and pulled the power cord from the AT&T phone base.

Its red light going dark and its wings falling limply to its bone-white plastic sides, the phone fell spinning to the plush stain-resistant carpet. Ken knelt down before the now quiet messenger and stammered, “Chu Yin, Chu Yin…”

Watercolor mists obscured the magnificent peaks of Old Cathay. The Taoist sheep and their Foo Dog companions faded into a hazy rice-paper static which settled into a prolonged sepia black silence.

“I’ve lost my connection,” Ken said, cradling the fallen phone in his hands, the towel forgotten on the floor.

Sherri smiled, sat back in the leather couch and sipped the cooling essence of killer whale.
Story (written in 1993) and Collage by Jay Larsen
That sense that technology has a life independent of what its creators intended brought to you by the fact that technology does things we did not intend and cannot predict.