I have been buried in the writers cave. It has been putting me through the changes. Fortunately the changes it has been putting me through are about to change, and this is change this writer is going to use to revive the soul. I’d imagine there are millions of people the world over working in seclusion, under the watchful gaze of only their own self, and who might not feel so alone. Writing long fiction takes a long time. I began work on my latest novel, Bankrupt Heart in September 2009 when I began plotting, I began writing in March of 2010 and I am landing this book in late June of 2011. There is no substitute for the thrill of high risk work. Anyway, out I come. Wow, its the world, what’s changed?
From the Novel Bankrupt Heart
“Rosalind’s two-tone magenta beaded dress was dramatic, strapless. Where she was buxom and
bursting were sewn fine beads and sequins, bejeweling her natural endowment.
The skintight floor length dress was slit up the side of her leg well above her
knee. She was a woman with a forceful full figure accentuated ever the more by
a petite waistline. Rosalind oozed bare legs and sculpted broad shoulders. She
was a celestial apparition of unblemished, tanned, ambrosial skin swaddled in a
veneer, a gift wrapping. Rosalind was an unfettered tantalization, a
provocation, a bombshell, rare was the man with the puckish virtuosity to join
the quest to puzzle out her surrender to their libidinous call.”
On Monday I sailed with mates into the San Fransico teeth of an ordinary blow. The skipper of this boat ended up flying through the mainsail when the hull of this boat dug into the water and stalled the vessel. The famous legendary sailor Russell Coutts flew right through the sail! The ejection was epic. it was mortal, and this is the game, the sport they play…….My boat requires skill to sustain a required decorum………..the AC 45’s demand a much greater commitment. Welcome my friends to a power greater than the plan you created to keep you in the gane. This America’s Cup asks not just for your soul, it asks you for your life. This is the edge of not just change, but of what we sometimes describe while tipping a pint of the insane…………..
I’d anchored out near the bullpin where these incredibly powerful racing machines are stabled. I woke up in the morning and after lifting anchor before the legendary Bay View Boat Club witnessed this thoroughbred trotting out onto the track. If you haven’t been on San Francisco Bay the organizing reality to grasp is that the Golden Gate Bridge is an actual gap and in that space Pacific ocean air moves inland due to a sucking energy created by hot weather in the interior of California. Since this happens all the time most of us don’t note its effects. The main effect is that sailors on this body of water regularly encounter winds in excess of 25 knots and on some days must deal with winds in excess of 35 knots… If you enjoy sport you understand that if you play certain games there is modest risk of harm while if you play other sports there is an increasing risk of harm. My experience on Monday witnessing the first taste of the next America’s Cup is that this next competition is going to be unlike anything we have ever seen. Larry Ellison has invoked the principle theme of this blog………..change. 38 knots of wind will bring you change. I promise.
“Ry pushed against the varnished oak tiller. Jasmine’s white hull bent off to the side of the onrushing winds. The sail stiffened, she began to move out at a keen clip. Jasmine’s sail captured a bellowing breeze that created a stalwart force thrusting the hull ahead. Ry steered a southbound course out into the deeper blue bay waters playing with the angle of the mainsail until Jasmine’s most rapturous stride was dispatched.”
Into the cauldron of change we’d have to add the creation and adoption of Twitter to the riot of world wide communications channels that have been born. I attended the presentation of the 21st Century Visionary Award ceremony at the
Commonwealth Club of California where Jack Dorsey the man who is credited with creating Twitter. Was I loaded with doubts when I arrived and had my mind changed by the time I left. Jack Dorsey has also launched a second device
called Square. It is an electronic gizmo that allows anyone to take a debit/credit payment instantly with their smart phone. Customers can sign, receipts can automatically be emailed, a spread sheet tracks all the transactions, it is really quite interesting. The whole point of the exercise is to dispense with clunky credit card machines, allows a user to register, download the app, and almost immediately begin accepting electronic payments for services or products they are selling. If you have ever tried to get a standard credit card machine set up for business you know how difficult that process is. The big change in what this whole wave of technologies that is sweeping over us is to think of capitalism as having a dark side and on the other hand having a lighter side. Premise the notion that by decentralizing the power to take payments to virtually anyone and we have a way to expand economic activities, not just preserve them for the few enterprises that can jump through all the hoops. These technologies resist the tendency to make cartels, and erect barriers to competitors. We don’t have to listen to the news from New York we can read the tweets of actual citizens in the midst of a revolution in real
time, or take a payment right now, right from our shop, in our garage, perhaps the stain glass panel we created, or the book we wrote, or the plumbing repair we just provided. Awesome, innovative, powerful new tools….
I noted in my surfing the digital highways this morning that in two sites, http://themonkeycage.org/blog/2011/05/24/red-brain-blue-brain/ here that there is indeed a measurable difference in the way our minds work from one person to the next. The workings of political liberal minds activate different regions of the mind than conservative minds. Hard wired into our bodies are tendencies of cognitive inclinations to see things from the way our particular mind has been wired by our DNA to work. These brain mapping results are just the initial steps being taken by researchers to objectively understand how we arrive at our point of view, how we decide how we feel and think about a particular topic, and what if anything we can do to open our minds to seeing a bigger playing field that is not held captive by our inherent physiological structure. Walk away with me for a moment from the hot button issues of the day and imagine with me a world in which you explore an area of information with a curiosity to see into something you don’t know much about, that you evaluate the subject areas facts independent of your minds tendency to resist them, that you are self aware that the topic is flipping involuntary switches off inside your mind, shutting you down, arousing immediate skepticism, and that your intuitions and instincts suggest none of this can be true. I think it is becoming clear that we all have “a mind”, but it is not necessarily one that is “our mind” to do with as we wish, but rather a rather “independent mind” that we have to keep an eye on, and take care of, manage, and restrain from doing whatever it pleases after an unexamined, unsubstantiated, likely false thought rushes through our mind and before we think twice in some spontaneously bizarre action commit an irreversible action, or say something we will later regret because we confuse the fact that our mind does much of its thinking independent of us. In that sense we have to learn to take care of our mind rather than trusting it is always right and will always take care of us.
Highway Home The Novel
” It was hard to let go, might be an empty and open country ahead. Riding off the mountain meant he’d be leaving this experience. Things must come to an end. Time was running out, he’d never be able to explain it, but he had this land pictured now—the way lakes gleamed like jewels, the crests of glacial-cut rock ridges, groves of brush and trees mixed and weaving through the mountains, each community suiting itself to some piece of shade, some advantage of elevation, some right conditions that sustained them.”
It started out as a stunt in the act, then Pier 39 in San Francisco asked if I’d come down with Lacey and do some publicity shots, and the shots were for a long time part of the promo at the Pier, and let’s face it a cute dog standing on a jugglers shoulders is cute. I thought it was a good stunt, gave Lacey one more bit in the show, and didn’t mind the way it looked, thought it looked cool. But, never thought it would be a shot that a major tourist attraction in the United States would think would be just what the doctor ordered to perk up those lagging indicators and sluggish attendance figures. It comes as something of a shock when we find our work changing other peoples ideas of what they will and will not do. With regard to this particular image, but of course……….it’s a help wanted sign. And if you have a dog on your head it is pretty obvious you might need help! And remember that in the midst of all this is a man finishing his second novel. I know the question that is going through your mind right now, your thinking to yourself, does a man who balances animals on his head have a future in fiction?
We all have to do what we have to do. We might have to learn how to play guitar, parachute from a plane, water ski, or hunt for mushrooms. What is in my cue? What have I got to do? I’m not talking about chores. I’m suggesting that there are actions we can take that go against our instincts, but in so leaning against them we discover a new way forward. You might notice the nature to experiment seems inserted into us at birth and we begin exhibiting a tendency to push boundaries right off. Still seems to me we are prone to lose our spirit, our nerve, our conviction. One of the big traps of street theater is polishing an act until it is efficient, until you can draw a crowd, do a show, pass the hat, and get a
dependable return on the effort. After a while an act can get stuck. Finding new material always seems to set back the edge your most polished routines have over your new bits. This paralysis sets in and in the flash of a lifetime you
end your career too close to where you started. My show dog Lacey is 14 years old. She is deaf, she is gimpy, she is cute, has heart, and she is retired, she couldn’t do the act if she wanted. That is the second dog I’ve gone through
this with, and in each case the journey to a new show has been awkward, uncomfortable, painful, one step forward two steps back, and in general difficult, what we might call a giant pain in the butt. Still another colleague of mine has a fake animal act he has been doing too long. Been a real gold mine for him, and has provided a living for decades now. He’d love to do a new show, scrap out the old one, start with a clean slate. Problem is he’d have to take the old act down to the county dump and toss the thing in the garbage. Otherwise it’s just too tempting, too easy when he hits his first rough patch to get the old act out and show his audience a thing or two. Letting go is way hard, in variety show work it is almost impossible. It hurts like hell to fall into this hole.
Highway Home The Novel
“Noel was chilled, but it was exhilarating and the more he moved the more comfortable he was. Leslie came up for air. Noel dove toward her and swam deep beneath the surface of the stream toward her. He looked up, and when he saw her feet kicking he ascended right up and into her arms. He put his arms around her and they both sank below the surface. Noel kissed her.”
I’m in my home up in the hills. I can just see the chimney of Eugene O’Neil’s Tao House from the living room. I’ve been here since January 2010. We came from Telegraph Hill in San Francisco where my wife and I lived together since March of 2007. We had an apartment at the edge of a cliff and we faced east. The view of sunrise was sublime. We often got up just for that show. When we met I was living aboard Maestro, my 25 foot wooden sloop. I’d found my way to this home by 2004. I lived in the San Rafael Yacht Harbor. I loved it. I did a piece of life in Berkeley near the Rose Garden not far from the Gourmet Ghetto. That began in 2001. In the first six months of 2001 I lived in my travel trailer in Castro
Valley. My trailer prior to that resided on the bumper of my truck. More or less I bounced between the American Southwest for half the year and the Northwest and into Canada for the other half. That segment began in 1999. I owned my trailer until 2007 and used it for work where in autumn for this last decade I worked in Queen Creek, Arizona at Schnepf Farm where my performing dog Lacey and I spent October’s entertaining visitors. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the back of my truck where I have often slept while out doing dates on the road. For example in 2004 I did the Ohio State Fair and didn’t want to pull the trailer and in that case I slept on my bunk in the back of my pickup truck…very nice. If it was all added up I’ve lived on things that move almost as much as I’ve lived on things that don’t in the last twelve years. The biggest change of all isn’t where I sleep, but with whom and of all the changes that has been the most amazing change of all.
Highway Home The Novel
” The first decision he made was to keep on sleeping in the back of his van. He might get a place later. He found several places to park where he wouldn’t be rousted out or hassled by anyone. He rotated from one spot to another and was careful about attracting attention. It was a good time to hold his cards close. In the morning he’d get up and have coffee at The Irishman’s Café, an offbeat joint near Portland State University where customers poured their own coffee, borrowed the newspaper from the person next to them, and spoke in neighborly tones to the workers.”
Just the idea that I have to do something different is enough to vapor lock my starting motor on a hot day in the middle of traffic. I like things just the way they are thank you very much. I’d certainly be glad to take a look at it, see what is in it for me, but I can’t make any promises. Frankly, I tried that and it just didn’t work. Nobodies tried harder to find a way to make this thing work, but it just doesn’t. If we do consider it I’m not sure how soon we’d be willing to adopt the new policy. Take a number we’ll call you when it’s your turn. One of the great advantages we have here is hindsight, and we now know from previous experiments that this just does not do what you claim it will do. Personally I am all for it, but what am I going to do nobody else is. Ultimately it comes down to whether you believe you are going to be better off with this new
system. If you like the old system you can keep it until we can figure out how to destroy it and force you to try the new one. No, we don’t mean blow it up, we mean we’ll just tinker with it until it isn’t anything like what it started out to be. It will begin as a trickle and end in a stampede. Eventually it will have to be replaced with something better….
Highway Home The Novel
“He looked around and suddenly didn’t like what he saw here: these vagabonds at this truck stop, these nomads and gypsies all spoke of souls hollowed out by the weariness of the road’s empty, and lonely, endings. There was too much of the sense of crawling into a sleeping bunk at the end of a long day, alone out on the road, parked at a truck stop. This life, alone, was what was waiting for anyone who picked this trade. It was a vacant and solitary toll, and Noel took it to be a sign, a life lesson for him.”
That would be me in the center of the brochure. I didn’t runaway with the circus I took a Peerless Stage System bus. I began this journey in downtown San Jose, a not altogether bad place to begin. At least people stuck there are honest. I traveled the highway in the bus by way of the long way with stops in Pleasanton, Livermore, Tracy, Stockton, Lodi and finally to Sacramento. I slow walked my change. The circus had just been gifted a Red fox that was pacing back and forth in its cage in the backyard where the circus was parked for the night. If you haven’t heard a Red fox do its impression of a chicken clucking you haven’t really seen or heard it all yet. I found the animal’s invention and mimicry a curiosity of the highest order. I studied the animal for hours. He was wild and never going to be tamed. I think we were in agreement on that. Some animals would rather die than go against their nature. Of all the things in this foxes life he’d confronted changing the fix he’d found himself in was about the only thing he wanted out of life. He’d either have it the way he wanted it or be defiant in the involuntary captivity he’d found himself trapped into. We turned the fox over to a man who knew a good place for an animal like that to thrive back in the wilds. A few months later I found myself with a miniature horse to train. This is an animal that will open up to you, if you feed it, provide it water, good pasture, and attend to the horse’s needs it will come to trust you, care for you, and learn to enjoy being part of your life. This miniature horse was a stallion that was named Othello. Perhaps no sight in nature has been more beautiful than when Othello, the miniature horse met up with prettiest mare he’d ever seen, and she liked him too. Of course like so much love in the world, sometimes it’s just not meant to be. She lived in Ohio. He lived in a traveling circus. She was a full blooded draft horse, probably stood 17 hands, weighed 2500 lbs…Her head and neck was probably as big as the whole of Othello… head to tail. Still, it was one of the great romances, and like so many of the truly great love affairs, the one’s you remember often are the one’s where for reasons hard to understand it just never ever was going to work out…Othello I’m sure thought given half a chance if we’d just let him take a stallions chance he was sure could change all that…Honest to god I swear I heard Othello tell me to go get the stilts from backstage…
Highway Home The Novel
” Jasper heard the horse approaching and rolled up off his side and stood for a better look. The rider had two dogs with her, a pair of Border collies, herding dogs. Jasper walked out toward the dogs. The animals slowed at the end of their approach and walked up, respectful of each other. The three canines traded sniffs and identified each other with caution. Jasper had a good nature and his tail wagged and the Border collies seemed harmless and ready to make friends.”