Mind Fields – My Suicide Note

December 15, 2020

I was a mess. I could smile, say hello, pretend to be okay. I wasn’t okay. I was being squeezed by a depression so ferocious that I seriously began to consider ending my life. However… I had a problem. Every time I tried to compose a suicide note I ran into a wall when I asked myself: What if my suicide note sucks?

This is a daunting challenge for a writer. First I have to ask the question: why the note? Why are suicide notes such an institution? They seem de rigeur in the traditions of suicide. Gotta have a note. You can’t leave people wondering what happened to you. This colossal egotism is rampant: we all think we’re so important. The truth is that hardly anyone cares what happens to you. I suppose the note is for loved ones; but often enough in the case of suicide, there ARE no loved ones. Or there are loved ones who didn’t behave in the desired way.

We get attached to our lives. They’re like the suits in which we live and sometimes they get threadbare. Still, they’re OUR lives. It’s no easy thing to toss aside an entire life, the whole story of how you got to this point. A note is the least one can do to summarize the effort of living for X number of years. Of surviving. It takes toughness to survive. Clearly I wasn’t tough enough to make the grade. So, it’s goodbye to friends and relatives. Such as they are.

The effort of being conscious can be arduous. The problem is that Consciousness is hard to escape.  The suicide is taking an awful chance. What if things don’t end with the bang of a gun or the sting of a razor? There might be something else in the market/bazaar of consciousness waiting on the other side of that decision. Wouldn’t that be ironic?

I spend many hours each day in a state of oblivion called sleep. Isn’t death much like sleep? Isn’t it just….oblivion? I have a hard time believing in oblivion as a paradigm. It is clearly not one of the dominant features of the universe. And, if it IS: who knows or cares? That was a sly joke. I hope someone gets it. Consciousness, on the other hand, is bound to pop up again. I will experience “I-ness” or “selfness” or some form of individual awareness. I might be reborn as a sea slug. Who knows what sea slugs think and feel? It would be boorish to dismiss them as unthinking automata. Life isn’t really like that. Consciousness is all over the place. This is why I refrained from killing myself. I’m pretty sure I’ll pop up somewhere else.

The note satisfied an urge to continue being myself in spite of the intention to stop being myself. I was so depressed that I thought I couldn’t endure it. Deep down, I didn’t believe I was capable of going through with suicide. I have too much ingrained optimism. I’ve always felt that problems might have solutions, if I just wait long enough.

Every time I began to write a note in my head I would say to myself, “You’re writing a suicide note in your head. Stop it!” I would stop. The urge would arise again during the day, and again, I would tell myself to stop. I had a problem, i.e. every suicide note that I authored was utterly terrible as literature. My notes were awful! They were filled with self pity, which I have never found to be attractive. Instead of murdering myself I decided to try an anti-depressant, Lexapro. Within a week my depression had lifted. It was amazing! The horrors simply vanished. Quickly. 

I’m glad I didn’t commit suicide. Life has greatly improved. I dabble with the idea of stopping the Lexapro. But….  I don’t think so. I don’t EVER want to be visited by such black depression. I’m not naïve. These thoughts and feelings are still inside me, somewhere. There is TRUTH in depression.  Living is complex and the world we are given is often intolerable. It’s possible that when I hide from things, they wind up at the top of my emotional in-basket. Do I need to test the limits of my courage? I’m not brave. I shrink from the worst case. I will let these sleeping dogs stay asleep.

In spite of my Inner Wuss I have survived and even come to thrive, lo, these many years. I’m just beginning to have fun. It’s about time. If my depression is like a hibernating bear I will squirt it with some drugs to keep it asleep.

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Feral Tenderness

A Midwesterner by birth, Arthur Rosch migrated to the West Coast just in time to be a hippie but discovered that he was more connected to the Beatnik generation. He harkened back to an Old School world of jazz, poetry, painting and photography. In the Eighties he received Playboy Magazine’s Best Short Story Award for a comic view of a planet where there are six genders. The timing was not good.  His life was falling apart as he struggled with addiction and depression. He experienced the reality of the streets for more than a decade. Putting himself back together was the defining experience of his life. It wasn’t easy. It did, however, nurture his literary soul. He has a passion for astronomy, photography, history, psychology and the weird puzzle of human experience. He is currently a certified Seniors Peer Counselor in Sonoma County, California. Come visit his blogs and photo sites. www.artrosch.com and http://bit.ly/2uyxZbv

Arthur’s books include The Road Has Eyes, The Gods of the Gift, and Confessions of an Honest Man. His lifetime collection of poetry and photography, Feral Tenderness, is soon to be released by WordCrafter Press

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Want to be sure not to miss any of Art’s “Mind Fields” segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress. If you find it interesting or just entertaining, please share.


Fish Store

Mind Fields

Trevor Joyce made sure that the two hundred foot extension cord was securely fastened too the outlet in his garage. Carefully he measured out the length to the swimming pool. He walked with the plastic reel, paying out the line, around his Ferrari, past his Bentley, and when he came to the last of his car collection, the Silver Ghost Rolls Royce, he kicked the cord firmly under its rear tire so that it wedged there. Backing up the driveway, he tugged at the line, ensuring that it was firmly seated under the tire and would not come loose. 

The driveway angled steeply upward under a line of cypress trees. From the top, Trevor could see the ocean and a big chunk of Malibu Canyon with its winding roads and private gated houses. He stopped and scratched at one of the tattoos on his right arm: it was the band tattoo, the famous one-eyed cat that rock fans instantly associate with the heavy metal group, Fish Store.

For eighteen years, Trevor had been the lead guitarist with Fish Store. As of last week, some snaggly little kid named Keewee Bonior was the lead guitarist with Fish Store. One by one, the old members were being squeezed out. Trevor had seen it coming; first it was the keyboard player, Pierce Holling. Okay, Pierce had lost  three fingers in a car crash. But that was just a bullshit pretext for booting him out of the band. Pierce didn’t need ten fingers to play rock and roll. It was really the paunch and the wrinkles, that’s what  it was all about.  He just wasn’t fucking cute anymore.

The extension cord reached all the way to the hedge at the far end of the pool. Plenty of length for Trevor’s purposes. He wound it in long loops between his thumb and his elbow and returned to the garage, laying the cord carefully on the trunk of the Rolls Royce. 

He went upstairs and got his favorite guitar and his little amplifier, the Boogie, the one he used for rehearsals, “the little screamer”, as he called it. The guitar was the pearl-inlaid Flying Vee, once owned by the late guitar legend Claxton Wanko. It had played many immortal rock hits in Claxton’s band. It had played “Eat My Heart Out”,  “Work Me To The Bone”, it had played “Tough Love Tonight” and “Willng Pussy”.  Trevor had bought it at auction for six thousand dollars in nineteen eighty five. 

He gave it a little wipe with a polishing chamois, flipped it around on its strap button, inspected it from the top tuning peg to the green serial number etched into its bifurcated body. He hefted the guitar in one hand, the amp in the other, and returned to the garage. Trevor placed the guitar and amp carefully on the work bench that ran the length of the left hand side of the cavernous chamber. He returned to the interior of the house, walked up the soft purple carpet, past the billiard room and the theatre room to the master bedroom.

He went into Lynda’s bathroom; Lynda had been gone for weeks. She wasn’t coming back. There was nothing to indicate her eight years of residence in the house, but a hairbrush with a few wisps of blonde hair, a chunk of glycerine soap and a bottle of Jack Daniels, half empty. Trevor took a swig from the bottle, wiped his lips, then looked at his reflection in the mirror.

“The fuck,”  he said, mumbling to himself. He splayed his fingers and ran them through his long, lanky, thinning black hair. “Kick me out of my own band ‘cause I’m going bald. I’m not going bald.” He could not, of course, see the round circle of flesh at the very top of his head, like a monk’s tonsure, from which his flowing locks seemed to emerge as if they were rivers running off some invisible glacial lake. 

He took another swig from the bottle of whiskey and went across the bedroom to his own bathroom on the other side. He opened the medicine cabinet and took out a little sealed glass bottle shaped like a bell.  Morphine Sulfate, Two Hundred Milligrams.

“That should do it,” he said, tapping the bottle with his fingernail. From one of the drawers he withdrew a rubber tourniquet and a twenty two gauge insulin syringe. He took these items back into the garage, and set them carefully next to his guitar and amp.  He then got the end of the extension cord from atop the trunk  of the Rolls and unwound enough of it to reach the work bench.

From the far corner of the double-doored garage, he pulled a blue plastic tarpaulin off his gleaming Harley Custom. The motorcycle stood there like a science fiction insect about to ingest some screaming prey. Its headlight was like the eye of a cyclops. Purple swirling paint swept in flames down to the One Eyed Cat logo painted on each side of the silver gas tank. 

Trevor pushed it off its stand and wheeled it around his cars to the tool bench. There, he put it back on its stand and straddled its bulk. He reached for a roll of duct tape and pried a few inches from the fat cylinder and hung  the sticky part from the bar of the motorcycle. Then he placed the amplifier in his lap, settling it as comfortably as possible, dividing its weight between the bike’s saddle and  his thighs. Methodically, he began taping the amplifier to his chest. Holding it with his left arm, he wound the tape around the amp, then switched off to his right hand and continued winding around  his back, over and over again, until he had the electronic device reasonably secured to his torso. 

He picked up the guitar and used a patch cord to connect it to the amp. Cumbersome, he decided, but certainly do-able. He put on his shades. He tied a bandana around his head. He was already dressed in leather pants and a sleeveless leather vest that showed all his obscene tattoos.

He plugged the amp’s power cord into the long extension cord. He turned on the amp. The light glowed green.  Clumsily, he strummed a C Chord. Thwong! It echoed hugely in the garage.

“Yeahhh,” Trevor drawled. “Ready ready ready.”

He kicked the motorcyle into life. Its engine roared and he throttled it so the noise of the bike and the noise of the amp blended into a single savagely gleeful thunder.

Then he took the vial of morphine and filled the syringe with its contents. He had forgotten to tie off with the rubber tourniquet, so he used the guitar’s patch cord to raise one of his few remaining useful veins. He had collapsed the big one inside his elbow and the big one that ran down the side of his arm, and most of the medium sized veins, lower down near his wrist. But there was still the inch-long minor vein about two inches down from his elbow;  he had been getting hits there for the last couple weeks, he knew he could hit it, even with all this stuff strapped around him. It took a few jabs, a few misses, but finally he found the blood and mainlined that huge hit of pharmaceutical dope right into his bloodstream. It took only a few seconds to feel its soft blanket spreading from his innards to the periphery of the nerve endings at his fingertips.

“This is it,” he thought. “The perfect rock and roll suicide!”

He gunned the motorcyle. He turned the amplifier all the way up and thwanged a huge chord. He was going to accelerate into the swimming pool, electrocute, overdose and drown himself all at the same time. Someone would find his corpse in the next couple weeks, sitting there at the bottom of the pool on his Harley, with his Claxton Wanko guitar strapped around his shoulder, his Boogie Amp short-circuited, his blood full of dope.

“Yeehaaaa!”  he yelled, strumming the guitar. He managed to roll the bike out of the garage, extension cord trailing behind him. He went to the very bottom of the sloped driveway, just inside the swinging metal gate, gunned the engine, twanged the guitar, turned the motorcyle around and roared up the drive towards the swimming pool. 

He strummed as he ascended. B flat Chord, A flat Chord, F Chord, the famous intro to Fish Store’s biggest hit, “Slam Me, Ma’am”. He fought to keep his balance. He got to ten miles an hour, fifteen, twenty. He got to the very top of the drive and the extension chord snagged on a bit of outthrust pavement and whipped loose.  The sound of the guitar suddenly died. The lip of the drive acted as a ramp and Trevor flew over the pool like a stunt rider, landed in the hedge, passed through it, tore through his downhill neighbor’s fence and wound up on Malibu Drive, stoned out of his mind, but not dead, carrying his guitar and his amplifier on his Custom Harley. 

“Aw fuck,” he said aloud, as he swerved across the dividing line on the serpentine road.

A Mountain Springs water truck honked at him and managed not to squash him.

Unable to control the motorcycle any longer, he gunned the throttle, closed his eyes and simply let fate carry him. He hit a curb, went over some rocks, crashed through rhododenron bushes, flew into the air and finally landed with a gigantic splash in someone else’s swimming pool. 

He was still alive. Hands came to the bottom of the pool, pulled at the amp, pulled at his armpits,  hauled him from the pool. A dozen teenagers avidly surrounded his stunned form.

“That was fuckin’ great, dude!” One of the youngsters said. “Awesome! Did my mom set this up? Fucking great…..hey. Aren’t you Trevor Joyce? Aren’t you, like, Fish Store, dude?”

The kid did a naïve imitation of Trevor’s duck-walking stage style, mocking the chords to “Slam Me, Ma’am”, playing air guitar with his tongue hanging out.

Trevor handed the Claxton guitar to one of his young admirers. He took the bandana from his head and wrung it out. 

 Not today, he thought. Not today. I’ve still got fans.

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A Midwesterner by birth, Arthur Rosch migrated to the West Coast just in time to be a hippie but discovered that he was more connected to the Beatnik generation. He harkened back to an Old School world of jazz, poetry, painting and photography. In the Eighties he received Playboy Magazine’s Best Short Story Award for a comic view of a planet where there are six genders. The timing was not good.  His life was falling apart as he struggled with addiction and depression. He experienced the reality of the streets for more than a decade. Putting himself back together was the defining experience of his life. It wasn’t easy. It did, however, nurture his literary soul. He has a passion for astronomy, photography, history, psychology and the weird puzzle of human experience. He is currently a certified Seniors Peer Counselor in Sonoma County, California. Come visit his blogs and photo sites. www.artrosch.com and http://bit.ly/2uyxZbv

Arthur’s books include The Road Has Eyes, The Gods of the Gift, and Confessions of an Honest Man. His lifetime collection of poetry and photography, Feral Tenderness, is soon to be released by WordCrafter Press.

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Want to be sure not to miss any of Art’s “Mind Fields” segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress. If you find it interesting or just entertaining, please share.


Curvature: An Essay On Discernment

Mind Fields

Curvature

Discernment is the ability to obtain sharp perceptions or to judge well. That’s from Webster’s dictionary. I bring it to your attention because if this nation is suffering from a widespread psychological disorder it is this: a lack of discernment. It is the inability to judge well from the information that’s available. There are millions of casualties to this disease which is more sinister than Covid 19. It is something that has no name. I call it The Plebny or Recalcitrant Flux. Any force, power or person who spreads this disease is committing crimes against our planet. In this turbulent time we NEED discernment to pick our way through the fields of ignorance and bad information.

Listen to me: bad information. There’s no such thing as bad information. I refer to distorted content, warped propaganda, mendacity in the service of ego and power. We’re afflicted by people in power who lie automatically, without internal scanning or external censorship. Damage is being done! Without discernment we are easily manipulated, like cattle being led by nose rings. 

Further, these people without discernment are unaware of their lack. It is impossible to engage in dialogue with people who can’t perceive with precision and conscience. I am willing to consider other points of view. I’m not stuck. It takes a little effort to discern things. It takes honesty, most of all. 

With whom are we honest? We must be honest with ourselves most of all because human beings have a tendency towards various mental impediments to honesty. These obstacles have names, like Denial, Shame, Depression, Grandiosity, Narcissism, Sociopathy, Psychopathy, Crushed Affect, Sleepwalkers Syndrome, Intentional Psychomyopathy and Heartbane. 

There are so many wacked out people in the world that the earth is saturated with their craziness. It is possible to ask, “What behavior is not crazy and how can I do it?” If you conjure an answer to that question, which is a deeply personal one, you’ve found the first gate to discernment.

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Feral Tenderness

A Midwesterner by birth, Arthur Rosch migrated to the West Coast just in time to be a hippie but discovered that he was more connected to the Beatnik generation. He harkened back to an Old School world of jazz, poetry, painting and photography. In the Eighties he received Playboy Magazine’s Best Short Story Award for a comic view of a planet where there are six genders. The timing was not good.  His life was falling apart as he struggled with addiction and depression. He experienced the reality of the streets for more than a decade. Putting himself back together was the defining experience of his life. It wasn’t easy. It did, however, nurture his literary soul. He has a passion for astronomy, photography, history, psychology and the weird puzzle of human experience. He is currently a certified Seniors Peer Counselor in Sonoma County, California. Come visit his blogs and photo sites. www.artrosch.com and http://bit.ly/2uyxZbv

Arthur’s books include The Road Has Eyes, The Gods of the Gift, and Confessions of an Honest Man. His lifetime collection of poetry and photography, Feral Tenderness, is soon to be released by WordCrafter Press.

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Want to be sure not to miss any of Art’s “Mind Fields” segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress. If you find it interesting or just entertaining, please share.


“Mind Fields”: Am I Real?

Mind Fields

Am I Real?

October 15, 2020

Existence. It can be ordinary. It can be magical. It can be hell. Whatever it is for you, in this moment, there’s no getting away from it. YOU EXIST.

I find that there is an aura of strangeness to existence. Like, how did I get here? Why am I here? What are these gases that I breathe? Do I REALLY exist or is this some kind of dream, cast upon the waters of the void by some Being whose nature I can’t fathom? Still, it’s inescapable. Unless I kill myself this very moment, I am here and am likely to be here for a while. Even IF I kill myself, I’m messing with the odds. More than half the people on this planet believe in re-birth, i.e living over and over again in different bodies. I believe in reincarnation. I may be wrong, but that’s what I believe. A suicide has consequences. It carries a ton of karma. The concept of reincarnation answers many questions, but it also asks some important ones: like, what is the mechanism of continuity? Is it my “soul” that holds the threads together and maintains some mysterious seed of consciousness?Soul, spirit, whatever we want to call it, there is a suggestion of the reality of a non-material realm and of a path or route of progression TOWARDs something. Towards what? I call it Self Knowledge.

When I was a kid, seven or eight, I thought these same thoughts. I would walk up our street and step on the sidewalk cracks. Each time I did, I said aloud, “I am real, I am real.” Even then, I wasn’t sure. 

Reincarnation does a great job of explaining things. Why am I this way?  Why am I creative, musical, compulsive, sometimes greedy, sometimes cruel? Can all this complexity be explained by genetics and environment?Maybe in my last lives I had some of these attributes and I simply continued. I’ve always wanted to know the answers to these questions. I’ve read some of the craziest books and perused the world’s wisdom traditions. I have a curiosity that walks inside me like a second skin. I REALLY want to know. I don’t see much point in things if I don’t get to know….at least…SOMETHING.

I began a long string of poetry writing some forty years ago with a poem that ended with these lines: “I want to know I want to know echoes in the chambers of my heart until the lone spark in the abyss of infinity has become the desire to know.” As soon as I had written those lines a huge reservoir of poetry opened, and I wrote and haven’t stopped writing. I had identified a desire, an intention, that has dominated my life.

 I think…I…may know….a little bit of something. Just a bit. I’ve seen the tiny stitches on the lowest threads on the darkest panel of God’s robe. Just the tiny stitches. That fills me up sometimes. It helps me to relax, to stop fighting against the process of life.

Lately, existence hasn’t just been ordinary, magical or hellish..  Existence has been REALLY WEIRD. I mean weird weird. Like this isn’t the regular old bullshit hieroglyphics panel that we call Normal. The phrase has spread like lightning: The NEW NORMAL. The Old Normal will never return. The challenges of the 21st century are so numerous and disturbing that we must adapt or perish.

Adaptation is a question of flexibility. I’m reminded of the Zen concept of Beginner’s Mind. In Zen we are taught that whatever convictions might exist inside one’s self, it is wise to treat them as provisional rather than certain. NOTHING IS CERTAIN. In this realm nothing has been or ever will be certain other than the fact that everything born eventually dies. I would even treat THAT axiom is less than certain. Who knows what people have accomplished? If  by some weird and  persistent work I achieve immortality, do you think I will tell everyone about it? Are you kidding? I would either get taken away in the funny wagon or I’d be overwhelmed by requests to share my formula. And that’s the thing…everyone creates their own formula. If you want to have your eyes opened, to GET IT, you need to do some basic homework. This heavenly sizzle isn’t just there for the picking. It takes patience and character. I have so many defects, but let me stress that the THING, the Sizzle of wider consciousness, does not exclude the defects.

It encourages them. What, in your life, has taught you more than your dark aspects have taught you?

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A Midwesterner by birth, Arthur Rosch migrated to the West Coast just in time to be a hippie but discovered that he was more connected to the Beatnik generation. He harkened back to an Old School world of jazz, poetry, painting and photography. In the Eighties he received Playboy Magazine’s Best Short Story Award for a comic view of a planet where there are six genders. The timing was not good.  His life was falling apart as he struggled with addiction and depression. He experienced the reality of the streets for more than a decade. Putting himself back together was the defining experience of his life. It wasn’t easy. It did, however, nurture his literary soul. He has a passion for astronomy, photography, history, psychology and the weird puzzle of human experience. He is currently a certified Seniors Peer Counselor in Sonoma County, California. Come visit his blogs and photo sites. www.artrosch.com and http://bit.ly/2uyxZbv

______________________________________________________________________________

Want to be sure not to miss any of Art’s “Mind Fields” segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress. If you find it interesting or just entertaining, please share.


Art’s Visual Media(/Life) Reviews: My Life With Jazz

Art’s Visual Media Life Reviews

Jazz has been one of the great loves of my life. I know, I get it. Jazz is not popular music. Jazz appeals to musicians and people with unusual tastes. It can’t be forced on anyone. It’s pointless (as I learned painfully) to throw it into the mix at a party. It’s a good way to get thrown out of a party.

It’s possible that you know nothing about Jazz. You might have seen films like “Bird” or “Round Midnight”. In spite of its relative obscurity, Jazz has nonetheless crept into our Pop Culture like the ink from a cephalopod. That is…an octopus or a squid.

Jazz has been for me a lifelong experience. I first heard Louis Armstrong when I was twelve. I was in the sixth grade! I had joined the Capitol Records Club, and ticked Jazz as my favorite category. I don’t know why. I had been listening to classical music, especially that of Richard Wagner, and I was getting a bit bored. Thank you, Capitol Records Club, for sending me this LP in the mail. I eagerly withdrew the vinyl record from its sleeve and put it on my blue and white Zenith Portable Stereo Record Player. This rig was built like a suitcase. There were snap-locks on each side and those opened up to become speakers that deployed to the left and the right. For a kid in the early sixties it wasn’t a bad place to start with regard to sound systems. The MacIntosh and Dynaco amps and pre-amps were cool as hell, but I could wait. In a couple of years I would be all over amps and pre-amps until my basement began to look like a used electronics warehouse.

I put on the Louis Armstrong record and held my breath. The music began with a blare of brass. At first it sounded like some kind of Asiatic music, it was  alien and incomprehensible. I heard charging rhythm and thickets of notes. My confusion lasted about half a minute. Then, as if someone had rotated my brain, I started to hear that shining trumpet of Satchmo and it started making sense. I’d been playing trumpet in the school band since I was in the fifth grade. Okay, that’s only a year. I hated practicing and did as little work as possible. I was a Natural and I could coast on my good ear. I could play a little bit.

The Atomic Mr. Basie

The next album I acquired was recorded by Count Basie And His Orchestra.  The album cover was a photo of a mushroom cloud, all scarlet shades and orange flame. It was called, of course, Count Basie Explodes! I put that on the record player. I oh so carefully lowered the tone arm with its precious cartridge transducer until the needle hit and the speakers went “hissssssss” for a second or two before the wildest most confusing outburst of twenty two instruments raged forth and I thought, “Aww shit.  Asiatic music only bigger.” Again, it took a little while for the music to come around and reach my precocious ears. 

The mail man drives down the street in his little cart. He’s bringing another record from Capitol Records Club. Miles Davis’ “Birth Of The Cool”. This is one of the most important jazz records ever recorded. Miles had organized a curious group, an eight piece band otherwise known as an octet.

I didn’t have many friends in the fifth and sixth grades. I had Jay, who was a fellow musician and jazz fan. His mother was a jazz fan.  This was in suburban St. Louis in 1962. It was rare but it happened.

My mom, on the other hand, wasn’t gonna support this shit at all! If I had to play the goddam trumpet, she often screamed; at least I would play respectable music like Mantovani or Andy Williams.

No mom. No. Not happening. I’m going my merry way and you can screw yourself.

My bedroom was at the far end of the house. I had some distance. Some. I could play what I wanted while my mom popped Seconal and slept away her life.

By this time I’m fourteen and I’ve moved into Charlie Parker, Cannonball Adderly and…ultimately…John Coltrane. If there is a magnificent Ganesh-Guru Hindu Monster Elephant Deity of Jazz Music it is John Coltrane. He was doing the impossible. His ideas were so deep and complex that they became equal to the founding of a neo-Buddhist philosophy. A School. A dynastic lineage of Consciousness. 

Coltrane became my teacher. He became thousands of musicians’ teacher and remains so to this day. Get on Youtube and join the session. It’s alive and well. The young musicians, the ones who are serious, want to study and learn. And music’s everywhere. It’s in the air. Then it’s gone. That’s what Eric Dolphy, one of the unsung monsters of Jazz, said at the end of one of his precious recordings. Both Trane and Dolphy passed in the sixties. They were young. We don’t really know what happened. How did these magnificent musicians leave the scene so suddenly? It was shocking and it knocked me off my feet. I had yet to understand how dangerous was the jazz life, how stressful it was to make a living play Jazz.

Fortunately, we were left with other dynamic musicians. We had Charles Mingus and his epochal release of the album “The Black Saint And The Sinner Lady.” This is some of the most sensual music ever recorded. It outrages church goers, it shocks listeners who aren’t prepared for music so graphic as to be well….erotic.

I developed new Jazz heroes. Ornette Coleman was sawing his way through musical tradition and his ideas caused fights on the Lower East Side.  Imagine that: ideological fistfights over varying philosophies of Jazz. Strange but true. Jackie McLean kept the tonal orthodoxy but added intensity and adventure. I was pushing sixteen at this time and my world was filled with all this musical color, all these vibrant creative characters who courted addiction and death to get through the pressures of the jazz life. 

By the age of sixteen I had acquired a set of drums and my instrumental voyages took on the nature of a student: a dedicated student of a peculiar art form. That was my jazz. That was my passion and I was about to leave home in the summer of ’65. I was determined to meet the by-now world famous Ornette Coleman. And so I did…but that’s another story. It’s in another book. 

Confessions of an Honest Man, by Art Rosch

You can find a fictionalized story which mirrors many of Art’s young life in Confessions of an Honest Man: https://www.amazon.com/Confessions-Honest-Man-Arthur-Rosch-ebook/dp/B01C3J0NK2/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=Confessions+of+an+Honest+Man&qid=1601086887&s=digital-text&sr=1-1

A Midwesterner by birth, Arthur Rosch migrated to the West Coast just in time to be a hippie but discovered that he was more connected to the Beatnik generation. He harkened back to an Old School world of jazz, poetry, painting and photography. In the Eighties he received Playboy Magazine’s Best Short Story Award for a comic view of a planet where there are six genders. The timing was not good.  His life was falling apart as he struggled with addiction and depression. He experienced the reality of the streets for more than a decade. Putting himself back together was the defining experience of his life. It wasn’t easy. It did, however, nurture his literary soul. He has a passion for astronomy, photography, history, psychology and the weird puzzle of human experience. He is currently a certified Seniors Peer Counselor in Sonoma County, California. Come visit his blogs and photo sites. www.artrosch.com and http://bit.ly/2uyxZbv

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Obsession: Craving Flashlights

Flashlights.  Who would think of flashlights as the subject of a passionate obsession?

I had no idea what was coming as I scanned the pages of Amazon for ordinary household flashlights.  Things have changed and I was about to discover another dimension, a new subculture of obsession. Flashlights!

It began when I bought a slender black flashlight from the local hardware store. It cost thirty bucks; a bit pricey but it was rechargeable via a USB cable, and it looked really cool.  The battery was included. The word “TACTICAL” was splashed all over its package, like this was some kind of ninja self-defense weapon. Indeed, it was solid black.    I liked its weight and heft, its balance and setup. As evening fell I took the gizmo into my office, turned off the lights and pressed the switch.

Holy Shit!  A circle of brilliant radiance spilled across the room like the light from a movie projector.  I was not expecting this. The flashlight had features like “zoom” and “strobe”, and, for all I knew, “kill” or “maim”.

I had, in effect, a Magic Wand. This was my introduction to the world of modern flashlights and those who love them.  The tech has changed.  Teeny LED bulbs can now emit awesome degrees of light, powered by modest Double A batteries.  Some devices have multiple LEDs in specially designed arrays. A handheld flashlight can light up a stadium.  This is power, which is hypnotically attractive. I needed another flashlight.  Maybe two, maybe three flashlights.  I went into the almighty catalogue, AMAZON, to peruse the flashlight market.

Now we get to the reviews. There are astonishing numbers of reviews for every goddam product on Amazon, from diapers to defibrillators.  It is possible to get a consensus about anything at all.  Want to buy a dildo?  Look up the many devices and their reviews.  Did this particular dildo do the job? Was it flexible enough or too unyielding?  Here is a real product with nearly 700 reviews.  It’s called “Rechargable Personal Wand Massager with 20 Vibration settings, variable thrust, flexion, USB port, realistic texture, suction cup, money back guarantee.” The pictures leave no doubt.  Personal wand massager my ass!

Why are these dildos so huge?  Where are the normal sized penis replicants that won’t cripple you?  I don’t know.  What does this priapic gigantism say about our culture? Never mind.  Let’s return to flashlights.

The reviews sometimes run to pages.  Everyone wants a voice, wants to be heard.  Maybe these reviews give people their voice.

Some of these new death-dealing tactical flashlights run to six hundred bucks.  What do you get for six hundred dollars that’s different from the thirty dollars I paid for my Litezall  field flashlight? Let me read the reviews.  Yes, the light is extremely bright.  Among its features there is an emphasis on self defense.  “Blind an attacker with the sudden flash of the Thrunite AB9000.”  Or, “The Fenix L20,000 will stun an assailant better than pepper spray.” Yes, they are brighter than shit.  You can’t use them at home if you have children.  Take one to an empty stadium. Another benefit of the six hundred dollar flashlight is its amazing battery life.  You could turn it on and leave it on for a week.  I don’t know when such a demand will arise: maybe some disaster will call out this flashlight’s virtues. Who needs a week of 9000 Lumens?

I have so much fun looking at flashlights online! I love it.  Just writing this article threw me back into my obsessive mode, as I compare the specs of hundreds of black anodized titanium flashlights.  I have six of these hand held monsters but my favorite is still the first one, the Litezall USB S2000. I’m also fond of my Gearlight ArcFlash, with its zoomable front lens, with its maximum light circle diameter of thirty feet.  Awesome!

These flashlights are made in China.  They’re well made, beautifully crafted. They’re impressive yet they’re affordable.  Thirty bucks for a light that can stop an advancing hippo?  Do it.

(For help withdrawing from flashlight addiction, contact “Nameless Flashlight Addicts, at the following website: http://www.myeyesmyeyes.com)


Ant Man And The Wasp: A Critique Of Marvel Movies

When I watch a movie from the Marvel Comics empire I have to remind myself NOT to view this material with an adult mind. It’s better to watch with minds like those of my grandchildren, aged ten and thirteen.

            Last night we watched “Ant Man And The Wasp”. My grandkids loved it.  I endured it. Marvel movies are bloated with filler, that is, every “BOP! POW! And WHAM!” takes up screen time and makes for a longer film. Each mighty punch sends characters toppling end over end until they land with such force that their booties excavate the pavement or shatter all the windows in an office building. Such destruction! Miraculously, no one is crushed by the falling buses or lethal shards of sky scraper glass. unless that injury is an important plot device. Otherwise, the hordes of innocent bystanders are blessed with hair’s-width escapes from catastrophe.

            It seems to me that good writers are those who go the extra mile.  Lazy writers are those who go right up to the mile before the EXTRA MILE, then dust their hands together and stop.  That’s what’s frustrating about Marvel movies. The producers know that they can inject a liberal amount of fake fighting and harmless destruction into the script.  How much?  Fifteen minutes? Twenty?  Maybe half an hour of combat-without-consequences?.  IF (and we are) raising children with this stuff establishes a dangerous idea, that is, “THERE ARE NO REAL CONSEQUENCES”. There are just provisional outcomes that can always be changed by using a time machine or some deus ex machina, some easy way out.  Kids absorb this data hungrily and without critical thinking.  They love the bop!bam! stuff and don’t seem to be frustrated by the relative emptiness of the script.

            “Ant Man And The Wasp” deals with some heayy concepts, like the world of Quantum Mechanics, the realm of the minute sub-quark particles. The visuals are pretty amazing in their depictions of these mysterious areas.  “Someone” I thought (but did not speak aloud) has been smoking some DMT or ingesting psilocybin.”.  I took a few moments to explain Quantum Mechanics to my grandkids.  They’re super-bright little people who are inherently more evolved than I am. But  they’re still kids.  I have to tell myself to chill; watch the Marvel Universe with a clear mind and just have fun. The kids understood my explanation of quantum reality as “part of a continuum, from the mighty sizes of galaxies to the infinitesimal sizes of sub atomic particles. BUT..if you live in any of these places then it all looks normal-sized to you and your friends”.  Right?  Right.

            A few minutes ago my grand-daughter came into my office and asked “Whatcha doing, Poppa Art?” I said that I was writing a review of the movie we saw last night.  I explained my point of view and she seemed to grasp that a world in which no one REALLY dies is a bit fatuous.  I explained that Marvel’s tactics remove the real terror from their productions.  We all know that none of the heroes will die.  That there’s always some last-minute rescue, or the sequel will resuscitate the seemingly annihilated people.

            Haven’t our movies and TV shows always been like this? The soft-peddle American media archives are full of plots with happy endings. The hero always triumphs; the frustrated couple always get their passionate kiss.  Yeah, it’s always been like this but in 2020 we are seeing the maturation of world-shaking technology that is changing the tenor or our lives from the ground up..  There’s more technology, more ways to soften the blows of so-called REALITY.  As if to compensate, REALITY amps up the blows, grows more furious with each passing year.

            For my grandkids, I fear that reality has never been less real.

            The soundtrack of “Ant Man And The Wasp” brings a relentless rhythmic figure, a continuous percussive BAH BAH bu BUH BUMP BUMP that induces an excited state in the viewer. It is so pernicious that my sleep was disturbed last night until I got up at around three in the morning and quietly played some Joni Mitchell.  THAT was the last thing I heard before returning to bed and snoring away the next four hours. It’s important to understand this level of aural hygiene.  The last sounds you hear remain in your head until you hear something else.  If you want to sleep, you need to ditch the agitating sounds in favor of something soothing.  It works that way for me, anyway. 

            I explained the thrust of this essay to my granddaughter: that none of the heroes REALLY die and that makes the movies way less scary.  I think she grasped my point but I don’t really know. The universes in which we live are so different. We’re family, we’re close but I can’t escape the sense that people live light years apart despite being in the same room.

            I’m less worried about the future when I see how these kids cope.  Quantum Mechanics? They don’t care; its just something people say that means invisibly tiny stuff, like stuff that makes bacteria look HUGE by comparison! 

            They get it. They know that bacteria are too small to see, so why not even smaller stuff that makes invisible germs look huge?

            If we take care not to squash the imaginations of these grandchildren, they will be better prepared for the turbulent future that is roaring towards them with all of its dangers.


“Mind Fields”: The Air In The Sky

Mind Fields

 

The Air In The Sky

May 23, 2020

 

All night the distant roar of the highway

augments the silence

wrapped around the house.

There is no wind, the Mimosa hang still.

crossing speed bumps.

trucks chatter half mile away.

Sound of a jet fading above low clouds.

My belly is full.

My feet sink into the carpet.

I wear only a torn t-shirt.

My bare legs are slightly bowed

but shapely.

I am old

and strong. My pains avoid me.

We have a treaty signed

by the doctor.


A Midwesterner by birth, Arthur Rosch migrated to the West Coast just in time to be a hippie but discovered that he was more connected to the Beatnik generation. He harkened back to an Old School world of jazz, poetry, painting and photography. In the Eighties he received Playboy Magazine’s Best Short Story Award for a comic view of a planet where there are six genders. The timing was not good.  His life was falling apart as he struggled with addiction and depression. He experienced the reality of the streets for more than a decade. Putting himself back together was the defining experience of his life. It wasn’t easy. It did, however, nurture his literary soul. He has a passion for astronomy, photography, history, psychology and the weird puzzle of human experience. He is currently a certified Seniors Peer Counselor in Sonoma County, California. Come visit his blogs and photo sites. www.artrosch.com and http://bit.ly/2uyxZbv


Want to be sure not to miss any of Art’s “Mind Fields” segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress. If you find it interesting or just entertaining, please share.


The Later Seasons: “Thirteen Reasons Why” Takes A Dive

Part Two: The Later Seasons of THIRTEEN REASONS WHY

The story is told. Hannah is dead. The series is popular enough to warrant funding for more seasons. I’m reminded of the Road Runner cartoon, where Wily Coyote follows Road Runner off a cliff. Road Runner doesn’t fall. He just stands there and says “Beep Beep”. Wily zooms over the edge of the precipice, stops dead still…and doesn’t fall. He stands next to Road Runner. He’s about to grab Runner in his evil claws but then he looks down. Way way down there is the bottom of the gorge with a teeny strip of road. When Wily realizes that he is standing on empty space, only then does he fall! EEEEeeeeeoooop! Puff of distant dust down below.

The three following seasons of “13 Reasons Why” bring to mind the dilemma of Wily Coyote. The first season received critical and audience acclaim. The series was banned by numerous school districts and libraries, the putative reason being “that it glorifies suicide”. This smacks of the disingenuous (I think it’s really about the sex, lots of it) but it put a rocket under the series’ ratings and created a demand for further content. Imagine telling an adolescent that a “hot” series is banned and forbidden. That’s like leaving a mouse trap sprung with the bait still in it. What an insult to the inventive intelligence of today’s teenagers. The writers and producers of this series got the funds to make yet another season. And another. And, yes! Another! Three more seasons! They’ve run off the cliff and don’t know yet that there is no ground under their feet. Netflix is usually so canny with regard to marketing and deploying content. That doesn’t mean they don’t stumble occasionally. Everything that follows season One is a reason to allow the characters to utter the same dialogue, hundreds of times. 

“Are you okay?” asks Clay’s mom.  “I’m fine,” says Clay, all surly and concealed. He is clearly not fine. His teenage brow is wrought, his eyes are tormented. “You can tell me anything, Clay” says mom. “Absolutely anything. We love you unconditionally. It doesn’t matter what you’ve done”

Mom has no clue what Clay has done. No one knows what anyone’s done. Has Jessica fucked Bryce without Justin knowing? Has Justin robbed a bank in the next town and raped a prostitute? Has Clay masturbated in front of the school principal? No one knows but people will say anything about anyone to get revenge. Teens live in a hot mess of drama like an X-rated Shakespeare play fueled by hormones. They’re dripping with pheromones and committing real crimes. Anyway, it isn’t about what anyone’s done. It’s about what they’re capable of doing. Bryce has raped Hannah, Jessica, maybe Clay’s mom. Bryce is a real villain who provides a lot of emotional energy to the series. Bryce has raped just about everybody, including the dog. Justin’s a drug addict, but now he’s clean. Uh oh. He’s not clean. He just bought a bunch of dope from his mother’s boyfriend.

There’s a curious variation of competence and skill in the casting. The actor who plays Clay Jensen couldn’t act his way out of a police lineup. That’s an apt metaphor because Dylan Minette has trapped himself in a repertoire of basic emotional modes. He plays “sensitive teen stricken with guilt” until I want to strangle him. I wanted to like him. He’s so nobly protective of Hannah. His obsession and unrequited love are sloppy sausages filled with angst. In the end it just seems like he’s fishing for credibility. He’s the series’ star but he’s also the worst actor in the ensemble. Whose decision was that? Most of the others fare pretty well. The roles aren’t terribly demanding and that strikes to the core of the problem with this as drama.

This is really a soap opera. It’s about bad decisions and catastrophes. The drama is predictable and sour. The plots are so thin that if they turn sideways they become invisible. We can speak the coming lines before the characters get to utter them. After the first season, the stories are fatuous and boring. They are soaked with the psychological arrogance of the writers and producers. “We know what’s going on with high school kids.” They seem to say. “These kids are the same age as our kids. We’re good parents; we’re Woke. We understand their issues.”

Season One was a siren and a rotating red light on an ambulance roaring down the street. The episodes reek of parental terror. “Our kids are dying!” they scream. Seasons 2.through 4 are a paper whistle from a carnival. The terror is gone.

Fuff! Tweet!  The ragged ass follow-on seasons of Thirteen Reasons Why can’t stand up under their own weight. 

Watch the first season of this teen-angst drama and leave the rest alone unless you’re a glutton for punishment. (See my review of season 1 here.)


A Midwesterner by birth, Arthur Rosch migrated to the West Coast just in time to be a hippie but discovered that he was more connected to the Beatnik generation. He harkened back to an Old School world of jazz, poetry, painting and photography. In the Eighties he received Playboy Magazine’s Best Short Story Award for a comic view of a planet where there are six genders. The timing was not good.  His life was falling apart as he struggled with addiction and depression. He experienced the reality of the streets for more than a decade. Putting himself back together was the defining experience of his life. It wasn’t easy. It did, however, nurture his literary soul. He has a passion for astronomy, photography, history, psychology and the weird puzzle of human experience. He is currently a certified Seniors Peer Counselor in Sonoma County, California. Come visit his blogs and photo sites. www.artrosch.com and http://bit.ly/2uyxZbv


Want to be sure not to miss any of “Art’s Visual Media Reviews” segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress. If you find it interesting or just entertaining, please share.


“Mind Fields”: The Big Grief or Computer Wipeout

Mind Fields

Mind Fields

May 2020

“Enter Password”.  Okay.  I type in that which I remember as my password.

“Password Incorrect”.  That’s what it says. Small wonder.  I may have used a hundred different passwords this week, just to log into Google. I had a computer wipeout, a big one, and now my browsers have forgotten my cookies: they’ve forgotten my cakes, my donuts, and my fritters.  I have to re-up the whole password thing.

“FORGOTTEN PASSWORD?” Click here. OK.…it says it will send a link to my email account.

R..uh R..oh.  I need a password to get into my email account. I can’t recover my password until I recover the password to my email account.  Is that a Catch-22? Yep, A classic!

I try guessing some of my go-to passwords, things that contained my year of birth.  Sometimes I base a password on the Hebrew year.  What year is this for Jews? It’s the twenty second of the month of Iyar, in the year 5780.

Yep. I think my password is Jew!5780.  I’m a Jew. This is private humor, not chauvinism. Click. Wait a moment. Then: “Password Incorrect”. Passwords used to be simpler.  That was before paranoia became normalnoia online.

Without the right password, I can’t do shit. I can’t even get into my email to collect my reset password. I’m screwed.  The logical conclusion is that I need to invest in some password management software.

I buy Password Manager.

Enter Password, it says. I know, I’m supposed to invent one.  My “master password” it’s called. When I click “enter Master Password” I am asked to fill out three pages of “Profile Information”.  Remember when Profile was a bad word? Now you’ve got to have a profile.

I have a lot of folders on my outboard USB drives labeled “Bathwater”.  I can’t name password list files as “Password List Files”. I call them “Bathwater1” or “Samurai9”  “Let me see what I’ve got here.  I’ve learned the hard way to date my entries into this file.  I began this file eleven years ago and it’s gotten grotesque.  Shit. Two hundred pages of passwords.

I have backup drives.  I have USB devices containing mountains of data: tens of thousands of pictures, files of my writing work going back twenty years. I thought that getting a terabyte USB drive would give me space for a long time.  Hah! How naïve! I’m looking right now at three USB drives containing ten terabytes of space.  Yeah, available storage space, filling up fast.

If you’ve ever had a massive computer wipeout, I hope you’ve got a backup.  The struggle you’re about to endure will drive you nuts! It is almost better not to have a backup.  Almost.

My computer wouldn’t boot unless I did nutty things.  Go into BIOS, re-arrange boot drives, that kind of stuff. This is a sure indication that my computer is a mess.  The C: drive needs to be restored.

The backup software I use is called Acronis True Image. But today Acronis doesn’t see my backups. It isn’t True and it has no Image. I have other backups.  I take no chances  Maybe Windows can see the Windows Image Backup (that is, the WIB) that I made a few months ago.  Oh, look!  Windows sees it, there it is.  The backup to the backup, thank god.

I’m a compulsive ‘backer-upper’.  I back up everything to USB drives, discs, the Clouds, I back it up! In theory, I should be able to do a System Restore or recovery without much effort.  I suspect that our entire universe is a backup!

I have six Acronis backups spread all across my drives.  I found the most recent backup, clicked “Yes” on Acronis and then waited an hour and a half.  I left my office for a while.  When I returned I saw this message, which I now paraphrase: “Acronis worked its ass off to restore your backup but it couldn’t find ‘such and such’ a file and is unable to complete the restoration.”

It took me six hours of trial and error to reach this point.  I wanted Acronis to work; mostly because it cost me seventy dollars when I bought it in 2011. Do I have an assumption? To whit: Windows products aren’t as good as outsourced software.  The Windows defraggers, searchers, keepers, sleepers and beepers aren’t as good as software that costs a hundred bucks.  Maybe I’m wrong; maybe Windows can get the job done.  My “WIB” was waving at me.  “Press OK and I’ll do it, FREE!” Windows 10 is waving at me and I’m too much of a snob to let it do its Thing.

I went to sleep without a functioning computer.  I am seriously co-dependent with this machine. My sleep was interrupted by binges on chocolate bars.  These candies shoved themselves into my mouth.  They muted my frustration.  In the morning I’ll punish their wrappers.

Here it is: another morning.  I’m going to try my WIB, my Windows Image Backup.  I think the folders are stored on USB drives “N”, “F” and “K”.  I’m going into my files to do a search.  “WIB BACKUP”.  I enter the terms. Hoping, hoping. Not expecting anything.  I’ve had so much failure this week that I’ve become apathetic.  Jaded. But…..

Omigod. The search program sees my wib.  My WIB!  All right. Let’s see if this will do the job that Acronis failed to do.  Let’s see.

“Do you want Windows Backup to restore your files?”

Hell yes!  I’m desperate.  I click “Restore Files” and watch as the dialogue window indicates that some mysterious work is being done.  My WIB has been seen and has been pressed into service.

Fifteen minutes later: “Oh my fucking god!” It’s done.  My computer has been restored with the humble Windows Image Back The Fuck Up from Windows Ten 64 bit Home Pro Edition and I am so thrilled and surprised.  Why should I be surprised? It was that assumption, to whit: Windows software is no good.  It’s got to be some hundred dollar hookah from which I puff.

Not so. Not so.  Windows Ten took good care of me. If there’s a Windows Eleven or a Windows Twelve, I’ll be there, first in line to buy the damned software.

There’s no escape.


A Midwesterner by birth, Arthur Rosch migrated to the West Coast just in time to be a hippie but discovered that he was more connected to the Beatnik generation. He harkened back to an Old School world of jazz, poetry, painting and photography. In the Eighties he received Playboy Magazine’s Best Short Story Award for a comic view of a planet where there are six genders. The timing was not good.  His life was falling apart as he struggled with addiction and depression. He experienced the reality of the streets for more than a decade. Putting himself back together was the defining experience of his life. It wasn’t easy. It did, however, nurture his literary soul. He has a passion for astronomy, photography, history, psychology and the weird puzzle of human experience. He is currently a certified Seniors Peer Counselor in Sonoma County, California. Come visit his blogs and photo sites. www.artrosch.com and http://bit.ly/2uyxZbv


Want to be sure not to miss any of Art’s “Mind Fields” segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress. If you find it interesting or just entertaining, please share.