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Archive for January, 2015

In my never-ending quest for something to do in suburban El Dorado Hills, one afternoon I watched Alejandro Jodorowsky’s early film, El Topo. El Topo is said to have had a major influence on David Lynch, Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper, Bob Dylan, Marilyn Mason, George Harrison, John Lennon, Peter Gabriel and thousands of other stoners.   

Jodorowsky  like many artists from Mexico and South America is addicted to symbolism in his art.  To many Americans and Northern Europeans all that symbolism appears a bit loopy. Unlike the Spanish artists who also favor strong colors and symbolism, the Central and South Americans seem to have a great affection for including the many meanings implied in blood and death. One of the main differences between Italian and Spanish and South American visual arts besides how they use symbolism to tell their story is that to the Italians shadow is very much a part of the color palette.

Interestingly, when I ran my district of the New York Mental Health Information Service, I noticed Spanish, South American and recent Italian immigrants at the time of their breakdowns often spoke of seeing the suffering Christ. The Northern and Eastern Europeans tended to hallucinate Hell. Not a religious Hell, but a place of darkness, shadow and threat.

I first saw El Topo in 1970 shortly after arriving in San Francisco. I went with a woman I had just met on the bus. The theater was located near the Civic Center. It does not exist anymore.

The woman and I stayed together for three years. Her name was Jeanne. I was in love with her. She wanted to go to medical school and had to take extra  courses in science to do so since she had graduated from college a few years before with a liberal arts degree. She worked hard.  Eventually she succeeded in getting accepted. During the summer before medical school began we broke up. I tried to get back together with her. She by then was also seeing another man much younger than I. I asked her to marry me. She said she would need time to decide. That weekend she went hiking in the Trinity Alps. She fell off a cliff and died. The young man and I accompanied her body back to Iowa where her family lived. Two weeks after the funeral the young man went swimming in a lake somewhere in the East Bay and drowned.  

There is probably some symbolism hidden in there but I am too far removed from my roots and too close to death to see it. As we age, the past and future grow more shadowy only the present remains colorful. That’s a good thing I think.

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I made it to Mendocino, but whatever illness it is that I caught laid me low, so I spent almost two days in bed hoping for it to pass while outside the wind and the rain battered the house. It rained ever since I arrived, so I felt it was just as well that I curl up under the blanket and feel sorry for myself. I also thought about Bill and Naida and how much more serious and real were the difficulties they now are facing than mine.

On my last night in Mendocino following a pleasant game of scrabble at which I lost horribly, I made my way to bed feeling a bit better in that the cold, flu or whatever I had been laboring under for the past few days appeared to sit a bit lighter upon my chest .

I stacked the blankets, electric and conventional, to cover me so as no hint of chill could penetrate. For the first time in about a week I fell asleep without tossing about from coughing and other discomforts.

I dreamt deeply about the events of my last week in El Dorado Hills in that metaphorical, time place and character shifting way with dreams. There even appeared a character who announced that he had just returned from a week of introspection on the Iles of Tikkun who promised to aid me in some way but who I deeply distrusted. It did not matter, it all ended in frustration, sadness and despair anyway. And so it went on interminably replaying the same things over and over until some stray morning light penetrated my cocoon and I awoke, rolled over recovered my head and drifted back to sleep where shards of despondency attacked my reverie like angry crows. And so I gave in, got up and went downstairs for coffee.

After weeks of cold, overcast and rain, the sun was shining and for the first time in weeks I went for a walk. I hiked a short way along the Mendocino Headland bluffs and stared down at turmoil of the glaring white waves breaking upon the dark rocks.

Back at the house my sister and I worked on the business plan for a while and then we drove back to Berkley where we had dinner with Brendan my sister’s son, his girl friend, a Hastings law student, and two friends. I was pleasantly surprised by a quick succession of telephone calls I received from Jason, Jessica and Hayden. Whatever melancholy I had been feeling for the past few weeks dissipated.

We all watched the first episode of the second season of “Game of Thrones,” and then George and I dashed off to the airport for my flight back to Thailand.

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Whenever I am in a funk (see above), I often dive into reading reams of escapist stuff. During past few days I read the seven books by Kevin Hearne in the Iron Druid series (one cannot get much more escapist than swords and sorcery literature. They operate like a mental laxative. Once your emotions and your mind become so constipated they freeze up rock solid, a good fantasy induces mental diarrhea leaving your brain an aching vacuüm.)

Anyway, our hero a 2000+ year old Druid the last of his kind is on the lam from the celtic god of love who for some reason or other (I forget why because it actually makes no difference) wants to kill him. I enjoy the books because the author peppers them with obscure quotes and historical ephemera. I especially liked one of the books where our Druid and a vampire talk to each other using obscure quotes from Shakespeare.

Oh, he also has a giant Irish wolfhound that talks only to him and says things like:

“I think life is like a ham bone if you live it right. You enjoy it and then you bury it when you’re finished. If you don’t enjoy it and you let it go to waste, you still have to bury it, so you might as well savor everything you can.”
Hearne, Kevin. Shattered: The Iron Druid Chronicles, Book Seven (p. 63). Random House Publishing Group.

Not to be outdone on flinging bon mots our 2000+ year old druid (who looks only 21 years old) opines:

“Making a good omelet is like living well: You have to pay attention to the process if you want to enjoy it.”
Hearne, Kevin. Hammered: The Iron Druid Chronicles, Book Three (p. 93). Random House Publishing Group.

And,

“Corporations might be harder to kill than gods.”
Hearne, Kevin. Tricked: The Iron Druid Chronicles, Book Four (p. 247). Random House Publishing Group.

And of course my all time favorite advice of an Irish father to his son:

“A man’s supposed to shit himself after he dies, son, not before. Try to remember that, lad, so that when your time comes, you won’t make a right girly mess of it. Now fuck off and go play in the bog.”
Hearne, Kevin. Tricked: The Iron Druid Chronicles, Book Four. Random House Publishing Group.

Pookie says check it out.

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