Mind Fields – Casinos: The Indians’ Revenge

Mind Fields

In spite of a genocide of unthinkable proportions, the Native Americans are still here. They continue to guard and revive their languages, their cultures and traditions. A hundred and fifty years ago, they were snatched from their way of life, their children were sent to government schools and ceased being Native Americans as we knew them. Their lands were stolen, their food destroyed, their self respect slashed, their independence lost, their values derided. 

During the sixties, the hippie movement created an icon of the Native American, made a romance of the tribal and nomadic life. A resurrected spirit began to seep into our so-called civilization. We had killed them off, but they returned. Their ghosts had hovered above the land, waiting for a time when they would be called.          

Now, we are calling them. There’s a pathetic romanticism in this revived nostalgia for an aboriginal lifestyle. It’s pathetic because underneath the sentimental reverence for everything Native American lies a desperate plea for help from a culture that has lost its moorings.

Some people, mixed and full blood Native Americans, remain aware of their culture.  They are working in subtle ways to bring some redemption out of the horror of their genocide. 

Indian ways are viewed with increasing respect and admiration, as the values of our own culture decline, disintegrate and leave us grasping for something that will help us re-design our lives so they make sense.          

It is a painfully barbed irony that many tribes now make their income soaking white people in gambling casinos. This method of making a living may be a two edged sword. It is an industry built on a foundation of vice and the creation of addictions. But consider a quick capsule history: squeezed into reservations by expanding white settlers, Native Americans were put on starvation-level welfare. What lands they possessed were confiscated whenever minerals or anything of value was discovered. In 1934, The Indian Reorganization Act allowed tribes to ‘buy back’ lands that had been confiscated. The capital to purchase these lands they once freely used came in the form of royalties on production of said natural assets. In essence, it’s like a situation where someone steals your car, and then sells it back to you. After all, you needed a car, right? And this car was YOUR car, you liked it, you bought it once, you might as well buy it again instead of buying another car. We’ll just let you pay for it by forking over a fifteen percent gasoline tax, or a ‘transportation tax’, or something that will keep your debt alive and delivering interest to the government.

It could be that gambling casinos are the last but only viable choice of a way to get a return on Indian lands. They are tax exempt. All you need is a parking lot, a building, some slot machines, electronic poker and blackjack, a bar, a restaurant, and you are in tax free heaven.

Lately I’ve gotten suspicious of Native Americans. I think they’re fucking with white people’s heads. It would be typical of their humor to go all Trickster on us. Let’s say, hypothetically, that a white person approaches a well known shaman. White person is seeking knowledge, initiation. Shaman sternly instructs white person: go into the desert and kill a badger with a dinner knife. Eat its liver and bring the pelt back to shaman and await further instructions. White person accomplishes mission in spite of grievous injury. Shaman takes pelt, puts it with inventory of other pelts and brews up peyote tea mixed with Belladonna. Whoo whoooo! White Seeker hallucinates legions of coal-black skeletons dressed in scarlet Nazi uniforms. The shaman puts White Seeker through a year of increasingly bizarre hi-jinks. He bestows dignified Native name on White Seeker: White Seeker. The literal translation in the native tongue is Buffalo Farts.

You get the idea. I saw this in Carlos Castaneda’s work. Don Juan and Don Gennaro were cackling behind their hands. Let’s make Carlos believe that his car has vanished into thin air! Then let’s make him believe something else. Let’s make him believe that an owl is capable of stealing  his soul and trading it to Mescalito for power. How long can we keep this Anglo dangling? Dangling Anglo? Hahahha! Danglo! Let’s pretend that’s his Yaqui name. He’ll go around telling his white friends at college that his name is Danglo. Hahahaha. Pass me some of that mescal, amigo.

I know that Native Americans have been hurt by their casino bonanza. It’s a crappy form of reparation. It generates a lot of cash and a lot of corruption.  I am not qualified to understand the situation. It’s like being paid a cash amount for your soul. Thank you, Mephistopheles, thank you very much.

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Arthur Rosch is a novelist, musician, photographer and poet. His works are funny, memorable and often compelling. One reviewer said “He’s wicked and feisty, but when he gets you by the guts, he never lets go.” Listeners to his music have compared him to Frank Zappa, Tom Waits, Randy Newman or Mose Allison. These comparisons are flattering but deceptive. Rosch is a stylist, a complete original. His material ranges from sly wit to gripping political commentary.

Arthur was born in the heart of Illinois and grew up in the western suburbs of St. Louis. In his teens he discovered his creative potential while hoping to please a girl. Though she left the scene, Arthur’s creativity stayed behind. In his early twenties he moved to San Francisco and took part in the thriving arts scene. His first literary sale was to Playboy Magazine. The piece went on to receive Playboy’s “Best Story of the Year” award. Arthur also has writing credits in Exquisite Corpse, Shutterbug, eDigital, and Cat Fancy Magazine. He has written five novels, a memoir and a large collection of poetry. His autobiographical novel, Confessions Of An Honest Man won the Honorable Mention award from Writer’s Digest in 2016.

More of his work can be found at www.artrosch.com

Photos at https://500px.com/p/artsdigiphoto?view=photos

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Mind Fields – Doomed Love At Starbucks: Breaking Up With The Internet

Mind Fields

            Internet and I are at a Starbucks and it’s one of those weekdays at two o’clock when the place is quiet.  People chat softly at a couple of tables.  One young man, about seventeen or eighteen, types quietly on his laptop.  Internet is in my Toshiba Satellite, and I pull her closer so we can converse through the camera and speakers.

            “We need to talk,” I say. Those dreadful words, mocked Internet. ‘We need to talk‘. But it’s true. Things have been changing between us.”

            Her voice is tinny, coming from those little speakers. It doesn’t matter.

            She (Internet) puts a face on the screen. It is one of those video game Lara Croft type faces, very pretty but very unreal. I know she’s teasing me, but it reveals her anxiety.

            “Cut it out,” I growl. “Use your real face… the one we agreed on.”

            Internet changes to a convincing human visage. She has red-brown hair and freckles and looks like a student at Cambridge or Oxford. I’ve always been a sucker for smart English girls.  Internet is still fooling around. She’s wearing round Harry Potter glasses. She’s trying to be funny, but the glasses look good on her and she doesn’t know it.

            We both start speaking at precisely the same moment.

            “Well…I, uh…”

            “You go first,” Internet says, in her upper crust English accent.

            “We’ve been together a long time,” I reply. “Ever since my first Mac Notebook.”

            Internet appears to shudder and for a moment there is a screen with little green battleships scooting back and forth. Then she regains her “face”.

            “It’s me,” she says. “Not you. I’m the one who’s changed.”

            “We’ve both changed, and it’s good, it’s great…,” I try, “but something has gone away, something has been lost.”

            “What? What? There’s nothing lost. My god! Look what I can do now, look at the size of the files you can upload into me.  And…., well… I can download into you…”  Her shoulders wiggle with a sensual shimmy. “I love it!”

            “That part of our relationship has been better than ever,” I say. “Our… uh… connection speed has been fabulous. It’s uh… uh…”

            “What? It’s what?” She’s getting impatient.

            “This is hard to say,” I waffle.

            “Just come out with it!”

            “Okay, okay. I think you’ve become all about money.”

            “Oh bullshit!” Internet’s face turns a shade more red. Her complexion is already rosy, but I know I’ve hit a nerve. “I make money, you make money, everybody makes money on the internet. What are you complaining about! Come on, tell me the truth.”

            “All right, all right. It’s kind of hard to explain…. but I’m always confused now. I don’t know what the heck you’re doing and it makes me feel… well… suspicious.”

            “I have to change with the times,” Internet ripostes. “You know that, everyone knows that.”

            “It’s true, but I feel like you’ve moved into my apartment and now the place is full of those sticky cobwebs that you walk through and then you keep brushing your head to get the stuff off but it never comes off. I don’t know what’s going on any more.”

            My hand trembles as I drink a swig of lukewarm cappuccino. It’s all closing in on me. I feel confused and embarrassed. There is a silence. Internet looks guilty.

            I don’t know why I blurted out the next words. “It’s Amazon, isn’t it?”

            Internet looks even more guilty. “What do you mean, ‘It’s Amazon’? She says with an edge of defensive wrath.

            My mind is beginning to clear. The cobwebby feeling starts to fall away from me. “You’ve sold out to the ‘zon. Everything is owned and run by the ‘zon. There aren’t websites any more. There are web colonies that are being run by web empires. Everything I post shows up on a hundred other websites. I can’t scratch my nuts without a link appearing on Facebook, Rotten Tomatoes or Twitter: Art Rosch just scratched his nuts. Do you want to be his Friend?”

            Internet’s face dissolves into chaos, then puts itself back together. Maybe the connection went down. Maybe Internet is playing for time. There is a shadowy figure of Winston Churchill on Internet’s forehead. Down by her chin is the monster from “Alien” but it’s shrinking, quickly disappearing.

            “Okay, I’ll admit to some things,” she admits. “I’ve been bought up by a handful of corporations. Tell you the truth, I don’t know what’s going on, I don’t have a clue. I’m getting new software thrown at me so fast, I can’t handle it.” A tear slides down her cheek. “I’m crashing all the time!”

            I barely hear her. I’m reflecting on the experiences of the last few weeks.

            “Tell me about it,” I say at last. “It seems like every day I’m asked to join another social network. What the hell is Pinterp? Or Floosbock? Like an idiot, I join and the software is a complete mystery. All I want to do is write my books and promote them. But everyone’s got a book! My inbox is ninety percent book promos. What do I have to write to get people’s attention? Seems like it’s all Harlequin Romance Vampire Private Detectives With Occult Powers. The covers all have dudes with open shirts and six pack abs. Good God! There are fifty million writers trying to sell their first novel. If you can’t get an agent, that’s okay, E-Publish your book and let Amazon sell it!”

            “Calm down,” Internet soothes. “Things will work out. We’ll get through this glitch. I’ll help you promote your books.”

            Her eyes are cast down and then she looks up at me with her head still lowered. It’s a very cute look, very seductive.

            “You got anything to upload? A nice, big, fat file? Got a new manuscript? I’d like that.”

            It has its effect on me, I’ll admit. I am tempted. 

            “I’ve got a new draft of a novel,” I said, with a straight face.  It’s called FANGS OF AN EROTIC VAMPIRE WEREWOLF: A LOVE STORY.

            Internet gives me a salacious grin. “Ooh,” she says, “that sounds juicy. What fun!”

            I keep quiet. At last I see Internet’s expression change.

            “Dammit,” she says, “I almost fell for that! Come on, what do you really have?”

            “I have the second draft of my sci fi/ fantasy novel, THE GODS OF THE GIFT.”

            “That’s more like it.  That’s ‘you’. Has it changed a lot since the first draft?”

            “Completely different book,” I say. “I’m really proud of it.”

            Internet sticks out her tongue. “Come on, mister, what are you waiting for?”

            I open a second screen in the upper corner of my monitor. I find my page for THE GODS OF THE GIFT, hit the EDIT button and delete the earlier draft.  

            “Here I come, baby,” I say. “I hope you’re ready for this.”

            “From you, anything,” Internet replies. “You’re a fine writer. You’re an original.”

            I mouse over to the UPLOAD button and click. My new draft is a blue bar that crosses a rectangular box. It takes about ten seconds.  Internet’s face is rapt. Her mouth falls half open and her eyes glisten. The blue bar reaches the end of the box and the new draft appears on the screen.

            “OH!” Internet sighs. “OH! OH! You’re right. This is a much better book. I know it’s awful to be a writer. It’s even more awful to be really great and still get ignored. I know it breaks your heart.”

            I don’t say anything. I think about all the work, all the years I’ve spent working on the craft of writing. “Yes,” I admit. “It breaks my heart.”

            Internet is recovering her composure. She has read the new draft and I know she is proud of me.

            “Don’t ever give up writing,” she says. “Never. You MUST keep writing. This is amazing stuff. There’s nothing else like it.”           

            I open the page on my book blog and fill my monitor screen with the cover. I look at my design. I look at the starry cosmos and the elongated objects that resemble fiery colliding worlds. It is a work in progress but it isn’t kitsch and it’s faithful to the spirit of the book. It’s a really cool book cover.

            “Don’t worry, babe. I can’t quit writing. I’m not capable of quitting writing, no matter how much it breaks my heart. To paraphrase an old motto,” I say, “You’ll have to pry my keyboard from my cold dead fingers.

            “That’s my man,” Internet replies. “I know I’ll go on changing, but great art is timeless. I’ll be loyal to you, I promise.”

I can’t quite make myself trust the promise. It makes me sad. But it leaves room for hope.

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Arthur Rosch is a novelist, musician, photographer and poet. His works are funny, memorable and often compelling. One reviewer said “He’s wicked and feisty, but when he gets you by the guts, he never lets go.” Listeners to his music have compared him to Frank Zappa, Tom Waits, Randy Newman or Mose Allison. These comparisons are flattering but deceptive. Rosch is a stylist, a complete original. His material ranges from sly wit to gripping political commentary.

Arthur was born in the heart of Illinois and grew up in the western suburbs of St. Louis. In his teens he discovered his creative potential while hoping to please a girl. Though she left the scene, Arthur’s creativity stayed behind. In his early twenties he moved to San Francisco and took part in the thriving arts scene. His first literary sale was to Playboy Magazine. The piece went on to receive Playboy’s “Best Story of the Year” award. Arthur also has writing credits in Exquisite Corpse, Shutterbug, eDigital, and Cat Fancy Magazine. He has written five novels, a memoir and a large collection of poetry. His autobiographical novel, Confessions Of An Honest Man won the Honorable Mention award from Writer’s Digest in 2016.

More of his work can be found at www.artrosch.com

Photos at https://500px.com/p/artsdigiphoto?view=photos

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Want to be sure not to miss any of Arthur’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 – Current Phrases and Memes

Mind Fields

Current Expressions and Memes of The Day

July 5, 2021

1. “It is what it is”.

This expressions carries a load of disappointment. It means that a situation or relationship can’t be changed into a desirable outcome. “It is what it is” means that one must accept the reality as it exists. No effort will alter the trajectory of this drama.

2.  “Double Down”

Nothing we’ve done has succeeded, so it’s time to increase the effort applied. Doubling down is just what it sounds like. Time to double the work and hope that it doesn’t turn into an “It Is what it is” situation.

3.  “My Bad”

This has been around a while, and it has a child-like cuteness that conceals its real impact. Saying “My Bad” is a way of apologizing without saying “I’m sorry.” In essence it trivializes someone’s mistake or bad judgment. “My Bad” is an admission of guilt shorn of its moral force.

4. “You know what I’m saying?”

If you listen to the speech of young people, you will hear this interjection so frequently that it becomes nearly inaudible. I hope that I’m not being explicitly racist. This is an expression spoken by millions of black men. It’s a very sad locution. Its repetition reaches to the core of powerlessness felt by poor black youth. The feeling is so deep and pervasive that it has become a verbal tic. The speaker does not feel heard or seen. He is invisible, un-witnessed, not validated. “You know what I’m saying?” testifies to the sense that we may know exactly what he’s saying, but still he does not believe it. The speaker is perennially crushed by self doubt. 

5.“You didn’t hear this from me, but…. “

It means you heard it from her but no responsibility will be taken should it loop around as an accusation of bad faith and banal betrayal.

6. “Gaslighting”

Isn’t that cute? Gaslighting is listed as an abusive tactic. I want my readers to know that up to this point I haven’t looked up any of these words or phrases. I looked up “gaslighting”. I find it interesting that this term is listed in all modern dictionaries as a description of throwing doubt or obscuring the truth. Why “gaslighting”? It seems to refer to a past time when gas light was the primary means of lighting, in public and private. Things weren’t brightly lit in the era of gaslight. It was easier to get away with street crimes. Things were brighter near the light and they faded away between the lights. All the crappy stuff happens in the space between the lights. On the other hand, “gaslighting” may simply refer to farting as an adequate response to cultural stimulation.

7. “Woke”

This term means “enlightened” or “in a higher and more responsible consciousness” but it’s so loose in its specificity that I foresee that “woke” will split into sub-categories, i.e. un-woke, woke-ish, wokeless, , wokefucked woke-tastic, woklastic and wocastic.

8. “Word”

This means truth. “Word up” means “pay attention to me right now because I’m telling the truth.”

9. “Aight?” 

It comes as a question. “Are you all right?” Acts as both greeting and farewell, like “shalom” does. 

10: “Going South”

Poor “south”. It gets no respect. Going south means things are getting fucked up. Since losing the civil war, the South has struggled to regain its credibility. Speaking of credibility: there is the term “cred” but I don’t need to go into it. Nothing confers cred like suffering. The American South is doing just fine. 

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Arthur Rosch is a novelist, musician, photographer and poet. His works are funny, memorable and often compelling. One reviewer said “He’s wicked and feisty, but when he gets you by the guts, he never lets go.” Listeners to his music have compared him to Frank Zappa, Tom Waits, Randy Newman or Mose Allison. These comparisons are flattering but deceptive. Rosch is a stylist, a complete original. His material ranges from sly wit to gripping political commentary.

Arthur was born in the heart of Illinois and grew up in the western suburbs of St. Louis. In his teens he discovered his creative potential while hoping to please a girl. Though she left the scene, Arthur’s creativity stayed behind. In his early twenties he moved to San Francisco and took part in the thriving arts scene. His first literary sale was to Playboy Magazine. The piece went on to receive Playboy’s “Best Story of the Year” award. Arthur also has writing credits in Exquisite Corpse, Shutterbug, eDigital, and Cat Fancy Magazine. He has written five novels, a memoir and a large collection of poetry. His autobiographical novel, Confessions Of An Honest Man won the Honorable Mention award from Writer’s Digest in 2016.

More of his work can be found at www.artrosch.com

Photos at https://500px.com/p/artsdigiphoto?view=photos

______________________________________________________________________________________________

Want to be sure not to miss any of Arthur’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 – Marketing to Obsessive Compulsives: Is It Fair?

Mind Fields

Marketing To Obsessive Compulsives: Is It Fair?

May 16, 2021

That’s not supposed to be a funny title, but it is certainly ironic. Aren’t we all slightly OCD? Isn’t the condition of compulsiveness generic to our culture? Isn’t it nurtured, encouraged, normal, to be obsessive when we’re bombarded with messages to buy stuff that we don’t really need? I’m compulsive. Is there a difference between being compulsive and being an addict? There is, but it’s a question of degree. An addict is compulsive beyond reason, dominated by compulsions that create a self-harming syndrome. A “normal” obsessive compulsive is just another citizen of modern times. 

This subject began to entice me when I went hunting for a new camera. I don’t really need a new camera, but my current camera is from 2013. That is ancient in terms of digital cameras and their markets. It’s like having a thirty year old dog. The compulsion to upgrade is generated by massive commercial influences. It’s Canon and Nikon, Pentax and Fujinon. Asian conglomerates pour a lot of money into creating an itch, for the latest gear. The two big companies, Canon and Nikon, continue to manufacture upgrades and new iterations of the same basic camera features. Mostly what the newest cameras do is focus faster and weigh less. A lot faster. A lot less. And they cycle frame rates at 20 shots each second. This enlivens the “lucky shot” school of photography, meaning everyone who shoots with a camera. I bought my first digital camera eighteen years ago. It was an Olympus that featured a 2.1 megapixel sensor. The resolution of camera sensors has taken wings and there are now consumer cameras with 50 megapixels. I own a 20 megapixel camera and it takes beautifully sharp and accurate images. As did my 12 megapixel camera, and my 3.3 megapixel camera.

Do I yearn for the new 32 megapixel camera from Canon? Yes. I can’t help myself. I can’t help wondering what would 32 megapixels look like? One problem is that this kind of gear is really good. The makers of cameras have conquered an array of technical problems that go with acquiring digital images. They are brilliant! How good can these cameras get before CanIkonAx (choose yr company) lunges into our brains and starts taking out the visual cortex to implant image sensors in our heads? 

BUT: people like gear. People enjoy gear, so the in-the-brain-controlled- by -your -thoughts paradigm may have trouble acquiring lift. It may never get off the ground because what’s the fun of doing cool jobs when there’s no gear to play with but a chip of silicon within our bodies?? That may take a few hundred years, when we’ve learned that our very hardware bodies are also gear and there comes with this gear some interesting software. 

I’ve digressed from my original question. Is it fair to market to obsessive compulsives? Who else is there to market to? If you find a person free of neuroses it won’t be a person easily conned by ads and glitz.

To answer the question: NO! It’s not fair. It’s a way of rigging the society to feed the voracious maws of Business. I’ve written elsewhere on the idea that “contempt sells”. We’re treated with contempt every day. It is assumed by highly placed marketers that we’re stupid. We ARE kinda stupid. A lot of our behaviors are stupid and against our own interests. Electing charlatans to high office is stupid, but it happens all the time. Buying TV sets the size of walls is a bit stupid. It’s kind of cool but still, how big does your TV need to be? Do you need a hoist and crane to install it in your house?

Being OCD is the modern equivalent of being religious. In the middle ages one HAD to be religious or the authorities would hunt you down and kill you. Heretic! In our own times it’s consumerism that drives our religion. There are so many ways to drain our bank accounts, so many temptations that leap from our social media and TV to entice us as if with a sexual appetite. 

UHOH! This is the new SEX! No wonder it’s so powerful! People will climb over one another to experience five minutes of pleasure. People do the same thing at a store sale. Climb over each other to save a dollar. Now I get it. 

It’s not fair to market to obsessive compulsives, but there is no one else to whom the companies can market. This OCD, which I will now dub Exogenous OCD, or EOCD, has been created by the forces of modern civilization. 

It is said by some Buddhists that Emptiness is the true nature of reality. Deep inside ourselves we are aware, and terrified, of this condition. We will do a lot to escape from Emptiness. There is a giant misunderstanding about this term, Emptiness. It isn’t Nothingness. It’s Everythingness pouring into Nothingness. Always and now.

The market will be aimed at obsessive compulsives no matter what else happens. There is nothing we can do about it. We are the obsessive compulsives we hope to protect.


Mind Fields: I’m Confused

Mind Fields

Listen.  A month ago I saw one of my bank statements and I saw that Adobe had been paid $119 in February.  They’ve been getting the same $119 for five years. Uh?  For what?  Apparently I had signed on to an app for a one-time signing of a PDF contract. That was how Adobe got me.  I’ve been paying 119 a year for that one-time signing.  I should have seen it. I didn’t.

Software did it to me.  Adobe.  Photoshop and its minions, Lightroom and Lightroom Classic.  Adobe has such a tight grip on the photo image market, it’s like an octopus with twenty four tentacles. I’ve been on fair terms with the awesome app for a long time.  I’ve been using Photoshop CS5, which is about fifteen years old. 

I figured that as long as I’ve paid Adobe through the years, I may as well install all the photo apps to which I am entitled.  The latest Photoshop.  The latest Lightroom, the latest Lightroom Classic. 

Here’s where the confusion starts.  There’s a guy on Youtube who looks like a Hindu version of Peter Lorre.  His face is motionless, frozen into an amused smirk. He’s so good with Photoshop he just riffs with heavy duty stuff like “eliminating the background”.  And he does it with a few clicks and brushes.  Isn’t that fundamental with a thousand images you’ve taken?  Wouldn’t it be great to have a tool that automatically erases the background?

That’s what’s happening now in Photoshop.  It can do that!  The Revolution has come!  Not for me, not yet: I’m following Frozenface’s instructions and it’s not happening.  That’s one aspect of Photoshop.  There are hundreds of ways of doing the same thing.  I follow FlatFace’s steps and I’m not erasing any background.  I’m erasing the foreground.  I WILL figure it out.

So I’m running two versions of Photoshop, I also have Lighroom, Lightroom Classic and Canon’s Digital Photo Pro.  And all the Windows photo apps, all the Microsoft photo appos, all these image apps jumping in my face and saying “Use me!  Use ME!” All these programs are supposed to run harmoniously together and shepherd my precious images towards their apotheosis.

I’m not comfortable with this stuff.  I’m especially confused by the shift in terminology and the way “Save As” has become “Exports As” and now there are Collections instead of Folders.  Folders had to give up their guts and ride the Adobe Train.

I’m lost and confused.  I don’t know where my photos are any more.  I don’t know how much duplication has happened and how much drive space these previews and previews of previews and preview previews for comparison photos, before and after, showing how many iterations of the same image exist.. Over and over again.  Where they are.  They’re on my computer.  I can click and make an image appear.  In fifteen different programs. Everyone loves photography.  The internet is all about photography.  And video, don’t forget video.

I think it must be okay.  The people at Adobe are experts.  They must have deep insight into the process of editing and transforming images or they wouldn’t be able to anticipate what photographers and graphic artists will need in the future.  Even with the latest mega Terabyte solid state drives, space will always be a major consideration.

Hell yes I need a tool that can erase a background from an impromptu portrait snapshot.  Hell yes.  I just have to figure out the procedure.  Right now I’m erasing the faces that I’m hoping to preserve. Maybe I need a better Youtube teacher than Mister SmirkFace.

It’s okay to be confused.  Don’t let it alarm you. Ever since Walt Disney took control of this culture’s imagination things haven’t looked right.  You never know when a set of whiskers will appear on the side of a woman’s face.  Or dogs are fitted out as astronauts and interstellar explorers.  Dogs, pigs, mice.  Disney was a major zoophile.  Things haven’t looked right for the last sixty years. 

Where do archetypes end and stereotypes begin? Ask Walt Disney.  Ask his ghost, I don’t care.  He has a lot of ‘splainin’ to do.

I’m still confused.  I expect to be less confused as I get familiar with this new software.  OR…I’ll toss this shit and go back to Canon DP Pro, because it’s just easier.

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Arthur Rosch is a novelist, musician, photographer and poet. His works are funny, memorable and often compelling. One reviewer said “He’s wicked and feisty, but when he gets you by the guts, he never lets go.” Listeners to his music have compared him to Frank Zappa, Tom Waits, Randy Newman or Mose Allison. These comparisons are flattering but deceptive. Rosch is a stylist, a complete original. His material ranges from sly wit to gripping political commentary.

Arthur was born in the heart of Illinois and grew up in the western suburbs of St. Louis. In his teens he discovered his creative potential while hoping to please a girl. Though she left the scene, Arthur’s creativity stayed behind.

In his early twenties he moved to San Francisco and took part in the thriving arts scene. His first literary sale was to Playboy Magazine. The piece went on to receive Playboy’s “Best Story of the Year” award.

Arthur also has writing credits in Exquisite Corpse, Shutterbug, eDigital, and Cat Fancy Magazine. He has written five novels, a memoir and a large collection of poetry. His autobiographical novel, Confessions Of An Honest Man won the Honorable Mention award from Writer’s Digest in 2016.

More of his work can be found at www.artrosch.com

Photos at https://500px.com/p/artsdigiphoto?view=photos

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Mind Fields – The Windows Deluge

Mind Fields

May 11, 2021

I have eighty two websites open on my computer. Right now.  It’s a lot of info, and I barely know where to go next.  All of it is Image.  The text is merely relish on the photos and digital constructions.  Every day that I sit at my computer or use my phone I am assailed by an overwhelming deluge of images.  Who can discriminate within a field of overlapping network pages? There are so many things to look at!

Let me go from left to right at the top of my computer’s browser.  I’ll read them off to you:

Lisa Witt’s Piano Lessons/Fredmiranda photography forum/dpReview camera review/.goodreads, literary opinion/Photoshop lessons/Ebay Tamron portrait lens for sale/two more Ebay pages/Youtube, archeology video/Smashwords, my book sales site/I have two pages of Inbox in the email pages that I use/ four windows open on Artsy, a wonderful auction site for artists/the Wiki page of photographer Diane Arbus.  If you don’t know who she was, check her out, immediately!/National Geographic, always urging me to subscribe…I’ll stop there.  You get the idea.  You probably have your own plethora of open websites in front of you.  What are your plans for today?  It’s Sunday. My plans involve a lot of sitting in front of my computer looking at these open websites. At intervals I will swing my chair a hundred eighty degrees and practice piano scales.  I usually check my email first but I haven’t done that today.  I’m more curious about the reviews of a Canon camera that I want to buy.  I sold my old camera using Facebook.

If I click on the little arrow at the top of my browser bar, I see yet another forty or fifty open pages.  It’s insane!  Everything is so interesting!  Much of it isn’t worth the pixel density it’s projected upon.  It may be interesting but it’s still Junk.  That’s not my problem.  I know how to avoid junk. I don’t use my phone for internet.  I’m not a phone person.  I’m a Desktop person.  I like the size and resolution of my computer monitors.  One of the monitors sits behind my digital piano where I can read music from its display. 

It has occurred to me that much of what I do from day to day is incredibly cool and none of it existed ten years ago.  That’s how fast the pace of change happens beneath our feet.  It’s like living in a constant earthquake.  The mental agility required to navigate the current epoch is intense.  Do we have mental health issues?  I wonder why.  Every human being must now be a juggler, a dancer and respond to life as if riding a surf board.  And you wonder why you’re so crazy.

You’ve heard the Chinese curse: “May you live in interesting times.”  It’s a riff on the historical knowledge that “interesting times” are times of trouble and turbulence.  I  view our own times as interesting beyond credulity.  These are INCREDIBLE times and it’s a privilege, albeit a demanding privilege, to be alive in this cauldron of possibilities.  China just landed its own Mars Rover on the red planet. Holy shit!  What’s next?  Where is the dividing line between science fiction and science fact? It keeps moving.  I guess that’s my point in this rambling essay: living requires several kinds of agility.  If you don’t move with skill you’ll be lost in the undertow of this great wave of information that keeps rushing onto the shores of our consciousness like a digital tsunami.  It will take agility to survive.  It has always been this way.  It’s likely to be this way for the indefinite future. 

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Arthur Rosch is a novelist, musician, photographer and poet. His works are funny, memorable and often compelling. One reviewer said “He’s wicked and feisty, but when he gets you by the guts, he never lets go.” Listeners to his music have compared him to Frank Zappa, Tom Waits, Randy Newman or Mose Allison. These comparisons are flattering but deceptive. Rosch is a stylist, a complete original. His material ranges from sly wit to gripping political commentary.

Arthur was born in the heart of Illinois and grew up in the western suburbs of St. Louis. In his teens he discovered his creative potential while hoping to please a girl. Though she left the scene, Arthur’s creativity stayed behind. In his early twenties he moved to San Francisco and took part in the thriving arts scene. His first literary sale was to Playboy Magazine. The piece went on to receive Playboy’s “Best Story of the Year” award.

Arthur also has writing credits in Exquisite Corpse, Shutterbug, eDigital, and Cat Fancy Magazine. He has written five novels, a memoir and a large collection of poetry. His autobiographical novel, Confessions Of An Honest Man won the Honorable Mention award from Writer’s Digest in 2016.

More of his work can be found at www.artrosch.com

Photos at https://500px.com/p/artsdigiphoto?view=photos

________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Want to be sure not to miss any of Arthur’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: Scammed Like An Idiot By Hackers

Mind Fields

Scammed Like An Idiot By Internet Hackers Vol 3a

“This is completely crazy!” I shouted at my smartphone. I was on the verge of a panic attack. The man at the other end, in his classic Mumbai accent, replied, “No no sir, it is not crazy. Your computer is badly infected. Do you see all these people who are using your private information?” 

He pronounced Private with a “W”. Priwot.

My mouse pointer moved while my hands rested in my lap. The Command Window opened and showed an ominous list of white notations scrolling down the black background. Mumbai Man had control of my computer. I could see repeated iterations of the word “Trojan”

“See there,” he said.  “See, see?  See how many!” I had been fighting him for at least an hour and he was losing his composure.  I was stubbornly refusing to capitulate. Is this what’s called Ransomware? So it seems. I couldn’t get rid of the guy. I couldn’t regain control of my computer until I paid five hundred dollars. Needless to say, I was upset.  And I brought it upon myself by doing a stupid thing.

I had already been softened up. A week ago a demanding white pop-up window informed me that my computer had contracted a virus. In order to fix it I must call Microsoft at an 800 phone number. Riiight! And there are elephants on the moon. The pop up wouldn’t go away. No restart, no Task Manager, nothing. I shut down my computer by pulling the plug. When I rebooted I got on a treadmill of Windows fix-it bubbles that went nowhere. 

After a couple hours of futzing with various remedies, including a  non-functioning backup program, I realized that I had to reformat my computer. That was three days of work. Such work included ransacking all of my closets and bins looking for software. Labor intensive!

Everything was fine after the reformat, my computer worked for a week. Then that same white pop up window appeared and I knew I was in trouble. I didn’t want to reformat again! Like an idiot I called the phone number. Thus an ordeal began that went on for hours. Mumbai Man insisted that he represented Microsoft. He gave me an I.D. number. He gave me a phone number for…uh..Microsoft. I got another phone and punched that number. At the first ring a man with a Mumbai accent answered. “Microsoft Customer Service” he cheerfully announced.

The voice of Mumbai Man #1 created a bizarre feedback loop because as he spoke to me on MY phone, his voice sounded one desk removed on the phone that I had used to call…er…Microsoft..  I went through the motions, juggling two cell phones. I was assured by Mumbai Man #2 that Mumbai Man #1 was a legitimate Microsoft employee. His name was…uh… Sam Taylor. I wasn’t buying it but I was losing my grip on reality.  These guys were slick! They had an answer for everything. They talked and talked and their reasoning was insane. Slowly they dragged me into the upside-down world of internet thieves. They could demonstrate to me how badly messed up was my computer. They told me that even if I bought a new computer the same thing would happen because hackers lurked in my network. They told me that every computer I ever bought from this day forward would be infected if I didn’t pay five hundred dollars.

“Sir, why are you having a broblem with this?” asked..uh.. Sam Taylor, as if this were a perfectly reasonable situation.

“A broblem?” I shrieked. “A broblem? Five hundred dollars and my computer held hostage is a broblem!.  I can buy a new computer for five hundred dollars!”

 “Oh, but sir, the new computer will also have the same broblem if you do not take care of this right away.”

Listen, I love the accent of Indians, be they from Mumbai, Kalikot or Kerala. I love the way they sound like they have three marbles just inside their lower lip. I have adored Indian culture my entire life. However these fellows conformed to a stereotype, this was happening in the real world and in the real world most Americans expect their tech support to speak with that lilting accent. Weirdly, it added a gloss of credibility to what was blatantly incredible.

“I’m sixty two years old,” I told the thief. “Does your mother know what you do for a living? That you rob old people on Social Security?”

“Oh, sir, you are a senior citizen? Let me talk to my supervisor and see what I can do about getting a discount.”

Hmmm hmmm count to five. “Oh yes sir, my supervisor tells me that we can make the rebairs for three hundred forty nine dollars and ninety five cents.”

I gave in. I let them install their shit on my computer. Their spyware, malware, ransomware buggy shit on my computer. I gave them my credit card number. I still don’t believe I did that. Sam Taylor had turned me over to Steve Smith who worked in Billing, and Steve Smith had then given control of my computer to Richie Logan. I watched my screen as program after program was installed, operated, then uninstalled. It was spooky! I was afraid to pull the plug on the modem and shut them out. By this time I didn’t know what to believe and I had the futile hope that these guys were actually fixing my computer.

My lovely spouse had a terrible virus experience once and contacted a reputable repair company who charged her a hundred dollars to remotely fix her computer. I phoned them while my computer chattered away, rolling files across the monitor screen.

“Unplug your modem right now!” This was the order from Jeffrey Everard in Austin, Texas. He works for OneSupport. They handle situations such as the mess I found myself in. I trust them. I think.

Jeffrey worked for an hour on my computer and charged me a hundred bucks.

Barclay Bank shut down my credit card and promised to mail me a new one with a new account number.  Mumbai Men had yet to run the charge and they were not going to get my money. I called all my credit card vendors. I called the bank.

This was a horrible experience. Be careful. These crooks are skillful and incredibly persistent. They are glib, slick and ruthless. They are from India, Ukraine, Thailand, Poland, Belorus and the USA. They find your knowledge level with regard to computers and they know how to convince you that they’re not lying. They twisted my head so badly that I couldn’t locate reality after spending a couple of hours in their company.  Did a little alarm go off at Microsoft Headquarters notifying them that my computer was infected? I posed this vision sarcastically and they said, “Yes that’s exactly what happened!”

I am now afraid to do any browsing on my computer. I’m afraid that any program I purchase to fight malware might be the vehicle bringing malware to my computer.

I made a mistake, a dumb mistake and it could have cost me much more. It will be a while before I can relax and use my computer normally. If ever.

My hands are still shaking.

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Arthur Rosch is a novelist, musician, photographer and poet. His works are funny, memorable and often compelling. One reviewer said “He’s wicked and feisty, but when he gets you by the guts, he never lets go.” Listeners to his music have compared him to Frank Zappa, Tom Waits, Randy Newman or Mose Allison. These comparisons are flattering but deceptive. Rosch is a stylist, a complete original. His material ranges from sly wit to gripping political commentary.

Arthur was born in the heart of Illinois and grew up in the western suburbs of St. Louis. In his teens he discovered his creative potential while hoping to please a girl. Though she left the scene, Arthur’s creativity stayed behind. In his early twenties he moved to San Francisco and took part in the thriving arts scene. His first literary sale was to Playboy Magazine. The piece went on to receive Playboy’s “Best Story of the Year” award. Arthur also has writing credits in Exquisite Corpse, Shutterbug, eDigital, and Cat Fancy Magazine. He has written five novels, a memoir and a large collection of poetry. His autobiographical novel, Confessions Of An Honest Man won the Honorable Mention award from Writer’s Digest in 2016.

More of his work can be found at www.artrosch.com

Photos at https://500px.com/p/artsdigiphoto?view=photos

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

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: The Apocalypse Of YouTube

Mind Fields

April 19, 2021

I Love YouTube

April 19, 2021

The Apocalyptic Age Of YouTube

YouTube blows my mind. It’s GOD, it’s SHIVA, it’s…ummm..you know. Effing SUPERB! So much for the capital letters. I love YouTube. I love all the video platforms, from Godtube to Vimeo. We are living in an extraordinary time. The tools for creativity have multiplied so that billions of people have access to recording devices. Phones, vidcams, DSLRs, we now have quality gear to produce clean videos. It’s Content Heaven, and the content is whatever you want to make of it. I like discovering and studying things, like music, archaeology, astronomy. I go to school every day and it’s on the internet.

 I think I’ve learned more in the last year than in all my previous life. YouTube has taught me more than many years of school taught me. I hated school…so there you go. I wasn’t about to learn anything from a place I hated. On YouTube, I’ve acquired skills from the most patient and benevolent teachers. Many providers of content do so out of their own generosity. They don’t make money, they don’t advertise.

The advent of the Vlog, or video blog, is a major development. I found the travel vlog Baldandbankrupt.com by accident. An adventurous Brit travels the world. We only know his name, Benjamin. He doesn’t tell us much else. As a guide he’s superb. He’s simple but entertaining, and his erudition is inconspicuous. He’s just one of us, “one of the guys”. He has a knack for languages. He does passably well in Russian and Hindi. What else does he speak? Who knows?

On the southern perimeter of the ex-Soviet Union there are a dozen nations, all of whom speak Russian.  Consider that a gift of the Soviet past. It endowed all of Asia right up to the borders of China with a common language. As we can see through Ben’s travels, the cultures and heritages of the erstwhile Russian Empire are relatively intact. Whether it’s in Ukraine or Kalmykia, those peoples remember their legacies from The Silk Road and the steppes. In essence Bald Ben follows The Great Game, that competition between the British and the Russians that took up so much of the 19th Century. They competed in Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan and Turkestan. They confronted one another across vast swathes of central Asia.  They were full of Imperial ambition. The geography is immense. If Ben wants to be in the middle of nowhere, there are plenty of nowhere places to go. Especially in the once proud Soviet Union. 

Back to YouTube, the Guru, The Miracle Baba. It gives tirelessly. It’s our creation, ours. I wanted to learn piano and I didn’t feel that I could afford a teacher. YouTube’s piano teachers are legion, and I’ve fastened on a few piano mentors to help me master the instrument. After nine months of practice I can run scales, play and recognize most of my chords, and perform a few songs. When was this possible, before the internet? When I took trumpet lessons as a kid the dreaded Mister Haspiel came to our house weekly to instill in me the love of the instrument. It turned out that I was a drummer, and trumpet wasn’t so much a mistake as it was my mother’s design to thwart me as a drummer. I hated the trumpet! My mother hated it too, she hated my creativity. She once threw my trumpet down the basement steps. My dad had to buy me another. I got an upgrade: a shiny Selmer to replace that funky old Buescher. Thanks, Dad! And thanks again, departed father, for tolerating my drums after I had pestered you so much that you had to buy me drums to shut me up! I became a pretty good drummer. I can still paradiddle and double paradiddle with the best of them.

Mother’s long gone and YouTube offers free piano lessons, or cheap piano lessons, whatever…I can buy a course for a hundred bucks. If I can tell you anything, it is this: learning is fun. I’m an old man and I’m still learning. I’m still perfecting skills. How cool is that? Don’t get bored. Don’t be boring. Feed your spirit, especially with music. 

Additional Notes:

YouTube is so freewheeling a form that it is possible for you to meet yourself online. Get into someone’s video or make your own. When Ben “Bald” wanders the Ukraine he runs into people who are watching his travel vlog. Now they’re IN his vlog. The loopy nature of this appeals to me. The skills for video making are evolving, but the toolkit is replete with every kind of Fade, Swipe, Roll, Caption, Insert, Delete. The skill with the camera involves knowing exactly when to turn on a subject, how to walk, narrate, greet people in foreign tongues, deter thieves and touts, and when to shut up and be quiet. One does these things simultaneously. It’s a flow, a rhythm and it’s impossible to fake. Vloggers are like musicians learning their chops as they record. A good vlog narration is a consummate filmic device. Not all vloggers are equal. And not all vloggers are as independent as Benjamin Rich on baldandbankrupt dot com. 

The YouTube/video post phenomenon has spawned whole new industries. There are video “factories” where buildings are divided not into offices but studios for the recording of videos of all stripes from science to porn. The miniaturization of gear and the lowered cost of production have moved videos into the mainstream. 

This is the Golden Age of Content. More people are doing more things with video than has ever been possible. 

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Arthur Rosch is a novelist, musician, photographer and poet. His works are funny, memorable and often compelling. One reviewer said “He’s wicked and feisty, but when he gets you by the guts, he never lets go.” Listeners to his music have compared him to Frank Zappa, Tom Waits, Randy Newman or Mose Allison. These comparisons are flattering but deceptive. Rosch is a stylist, a complete original. His material ranges from sly wit to gripping political commentary.

Arthur was born in the heart of Illinois and grew up in the western suburbs of St. Louis. In his teens he discovered his creative potential while hoping to please a girl. Though she left the scene, Arthur’s creativity stayed behind. In his early twenties he moved to San Francisco and took part in the thriving arts scene. His first literary sale was to Playboy Magazine. The piece went on to receive Playboy’s “Best Story of the Year” award. Arthur also has writing credits in Exquisite Corpse, Shutterbug, eDigital, and Cat Fancy Magazine. He has written five novels, a memoir and a large collection of poetry. His autobiographical novel, Confessions Of An Honest Man won the Honorable Mention award from Writer’s Digest in 2016.

More of his work can be found at www.artrosh.com

Photos at https://500px.com/p/artsdigiphoto?view=photos

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

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 – Why I Started Smoking Again

Mind Fields

After seventeen years of tobacco-free life, I started smoking again.

(Long pause)

Goddammit!

I hate it when I do something SO stupid there’s no excuse for it, SO asinine that the only way to absolve myself is to take a spanking by bending over and backing up into a wall really really fast. 

In 2001 after huge exertion, I quit a three pack-a-day habit.  I am not a cold turkey type of person.  I’m more like a warmed over chicken type of person.  I have to do things in steps.

To quit smoking I used nicotine gum and the patch.  In two months I was down to half a pack a day.  I know, you’re not supposed to smoke and wear the patch.  Tough.  I did.  Then I made a big jump.  I went to a mere two cigarettes a day.  I managed my craving by hiding cigarettes in plastic bags on the side of the road.  I smoked them on my way to and from work.  On Monday morning I bought a pack and spilled sixteen cigarettes into the trash. As I drove the rural twisting road to work I smoked my first cigarette.  Then I paused at my secret stash place, took a baggie from my pocket and deposited the remaining three cigarettes under a bush.  On the way back from work I stopped again and smoked the second cigarette..  On the day following, I stopped at the bag in the morning, took out a cigarette, then stopped again in the evening.  Every other day I would buy a new pack and start the cycle again.  One day a motorist spotted me as I was putting my baggie under the bush.  He drove past, pretending not to see me.  I drove a bit further in the opposite direction and stopped.  I could see the man through the trees.  Sure enough, he was looking around for whatever I had put in the baggie.  I don’t know what he was expecting.  Was he hoping for an ounce of weed or a wad of hundreds wrapped with a rubber band?  He found my bag, and I saw his shoulders slump in disappointment.  The man was obviously a low character.

He lit the cigarette, tentatively at first, to test it.  Maybe there was something “special” about it.  Alas, there was not.  He finished the smoke, (the nerve of the guy!) crushed it underfoot and returned to his car.

 I understood at that moment that I had reached the height of the ridiculous.  It was time to end the farce.  No more cigarettes.  I was done.

It was lovely, being free of tobacco for twenty years.

What drove me back to smoking?  What could be so frustrating, so enraging to cause me to undo that effort, the dedication that I had given to ending my addiction?

I taught a class of rich tenth graders about the marvels of digital photography. 

I had been hired by a private school to teach one semester.  The money was good.  I taught three classes per week.  The head of the board of directors had read an article about my volunteer work with a low-income high school. I had done four years of mentoring.  Working with disadvantaged kids had given me deep satisfaction. They were respectful, hungry and grateful. At the holidays each student made a card for me using a personal photo project. Some of them were lovely. Some of them betrayed an appalling lack of literacy. The students’ basic reading and writing skills hardly existed. I got a photo card from a senior. It had a razor-sharp black and white shot of a street scene. The little girl jumping rope was in mid-air. The old guys loafing in chairs were laughing as clouds of beer-spit hovered before their lips, each globule perfectly stopped like a cluster of stars in space. Some were small white and foamy, some were clear and spherical, some were shaped like flying liquid bullets. This was a real talent in the making. The boy’s scrawled message read like this: “Thang yu m Rosh fore teeshng mu to shit photo”

Then came the offer to teach at “Country Day Academy”. I was thrilled to have a chance to be paid nearly five thousand dollars to teach a semester in a school where every student would have a laptop and a digital camera.

The school was a beautiful facility. It was set in the midst of parklands. There were benches under oak trees, little waterfalls, gentle rolling hills. I saw kids skateboarding along broad walkways, wearing torn jeans and hoodies. Most of the students seemed attached to a cell phone or an Ipod.

I had done my mentoring in a public school built like a prison. It was all fences, high walls and right angles. There was no greenery, no plant life. Trash blew along its paved quadrangles, empty Cheetos bags yawed in the wind. Every year there were a handful of murders among the student body. Memorial posters hung in the corridors:

“Jerry Rodrigues, 2003-2018. We’ll miss you.” 

The posters were enlarged class photos of self-conscious teenagers with bad skin and confused expressions. 

“Nguyen Van Pham, 2004-2019. So Much Promise.”

I felt no fear. Wherever I walked students greeted me.

“Hey Mr. Rosch, how ya doin?”

“Mistah Rosch, ‘wots happenin? Everything’s cool, it’s all good, you know?”

I carried four thousand dollars worth of gear in my photo bag. I never had any trouble at Naked Gun High School.

Now I was in a different environment, an affluent California suburb. I was confident I could ignite a love of photography in some of these kids at “Country Day Academy”.

On the first day of the semester, I arrived at my classroom half an hour early and set up my tools. I had a laptop and my camera gear. The school provided a digital projector so I could show images and procedures on my computer to the entire class. I would have loved a digital projector back at Flying Bullets High School.

Every student was to have a Mac laptop for my class at “Country Day Academy”. The latest and best photo editing software would be installed on each computer. 

There were four rows of long tables with chairs in the classroom. They formed a square that was open at the ends. In the room’s center I had a small table to hold the computer and projector while I spoke. I could stand outside the square and walk around the classroom to reach each student. I could see all twenty four of my students and they could see me.           

I had been told that I could use basic forms of verbal discipline.  There would be no shouting, no cursing and of course no corporal punishment.  To back up my discipline I had the option of sending a student to the principal’s office.  This was a feeble deterrent.  The principal, Mrs. Forster, was as frightening as a stick of cotton candy.  She used “therapy talk”.  “What are your feelings, Trish?.  Why are you acting out?  What can we do to resolve your issues?”

At one o’clock the bell rang to begin fourth-period class. Within five minutes, fifteen of my students had drifted in and taken a seat. They were talking among themselves. They gave me a cursory glance. The boys continued pushing one another and laughing.  Several were immersed in portable video games.  The girls were listening to their Ipods, talking about boys and squealing at supersonic pitch.

By ten after one, another four students had arrived. They took their seats casually and looked around the room.  They were either smirking or looking completely stricken and miserable. 

I still had five missing students. I started the class.

“Hi, I’m Mister Rosch, and this is a class in digital photography. Would each of you answer when I call your name?  I need a while to remember names, but I’ll know you guys soon enough.”

They looked at me as though a giraffe had suddenly materialized in the room, something completely out of place, exotic and impossible to ignore.

A girl wearing a soft white hoodie sat at the end of the rear table.  Her eyes were unfocused.  I knew she was listening to music.  It was so loud I could hear it.  I was amazed that her head didn’t turn to mush.

“Young lady, please take the hood down and turn off the Ipod.”

She didn’t hear me.  I met the eyes of the girl next to her and cocked my head to the right.  The girl poked her neighbor.  The hoodie girl emerged from her trance.  Her neighbor spoke with enough volume to be heard over the music.

“Off the hoodie!  No Ipod,” she yelled, poking her thumb in my direction to fix the blame where it belonged.  The girl’s face emerged from the shadow of the sweat-shirt’s hood.  She was lightly freckled, her hair short and black.  One of her cheeks was distorted by a huge wad of gum being masticated with large chomps of her teeth.  Her mouth opened and closed like that of a lamprey.

“Your name is?” I asked.  .

She removed the chunk of gum and put it into a tissue.  “Stephanie,” she answered.  She placed the gum and tissue in her backpack.

“Stephanie…Stephanie what?”

“Oh..uh.. Stephanie Blarney,” she said, and there was a titter of quiet laughter from the class.

I looked at my roll list and found one Stephanie, last name Hubbard.

I asked the girl in the next seat.  “Is she Stephanie Hubbard?”

“Guess so,” the adjacent girl answered.  She looked to her left.  “Is that your name, Blarney?”

“Yeah,” Stephanie Hubbard grunted.  The white ear buttons of her Ipod dangled from her dainty hand like the eye stalks of an insect she had just squashed.

I was about to resume roll call when a thin young gentleman appeared.  His skin was conspicuously pimpled, his hair looked like a broom that had served as a target for shotgun practice.  His eyelids were at half mast.  Marijuana vapor rose from his clothing like mist from a rain forest.

As he took a seat I said, “Sir, you’re twenty minutes late.”

He looked up at me and said, “Huh?”

“Twenty minutes,” I said.

“Twenty minutes what?”

“You’re twenty minutes late,” I repeated.  I wasn’t going to get angry.  What would be the point?

“Oh well that’s cool,” he responded. 

“Just take a seat, please.”

The boy looked around for a place of comfort, for a friend, an acquaintance, a safe spot.  He stumbled to and fro until he found a seat that had no neighbor.  His spot was padded with two empties on one side, and an empty on the other. 

Some of the students were laughing at the boy.  Little snorts gusted from their noses.

I continued the roll.  Megan Ballantine.  Anthony Candoli.  Keith Eberhardt.

I had gotten that far when the door opened and a compact black student entered the room.  He was the only black student I had seen on the campus.  He walked with a combination droop and bounce, very loose in his knees.  His hands were held with each index finger pointed out while the other fingers curled into a fist.  His limbs moved with the swaying grooves of the hip hop gangsta.  His head was thrust forward, his elbows jogged, his arms kept criss-crossing his chest. 

He went directly to a seat at the table nearest the door, scooched himself between two friends.  There was a little rally of smacked hands, coded fingertwiddles and muttered incantations of “right on right on”.

When this was done the latter student squared himself to face forward and smiled at me with perfectly false sincerity and charm.  His eyes twinkled with benevolent mockery.

“S’up man?” he asked rhetorically.  “Everything ‘aight?”

I walked to the door and twisted the lock mechanism to the left, and then back to the right.  I did it three more times, loudly, conspicuously.

It was 1:25. 

“I want everyone to know that from now on this door is closed at three minutes after one.  Class begins at one.  You’ll have three minutes grace.  That’s it. I’m cutting you slack..  Don’t even bother coming through the door after that.  Go straight to the principal’s office.”

I repressed my desire to start a “when I was your age” speech.  No good, no good, utterly useless and stupid. 

I booted up the computer. The screen at the front of the room lit up to display its desktop.  I sat in the chair next to the computer and projector.  I moused onto the icon of Photoshop, so I could open the program. 

“There were supposed to be twenty four computers here,” I said to the class at large.  “Does anyone know where those computers might be?”

A hand shot up.  It belonged to a young man with a broad forehead and the faint beginnings of a moustache.  He wore glasses and was dressed neatly in a short -sleeved shirt and belted khaki pants. 

“Your name is?” I began.

“Damian,” he said.  “I think the computers are still being checked out by Jeff in the tech lab.  He’s supposed to bring them here when he’s done.”

There’s always a kid in class who wants to help the teacher.  Sometimes he’s the smart kid, the geek.  Sometimes he’s the kid with the worst grades.  He becomes a helper out of desperation.  I had a feeling that Damian was the-geek.  He spoke with a quick enthusiastic tone.  He knew everything, had all the answers.  I saw several sets of eyes roll upward.  This was the familiar Damian known to the student body.

Damian nudged the boy next to him.  “Bock,” he said confidently, “Why don’t you go down to tech lab and get those laptops, or find out why Jeff hasn’t brought them up ?”

Bock was a chubby frazzle haired person whose shirt buttons weren’t properly aligned.

The division of labor had already been apportioned.  I had one of each, the geek and the helper with the low grade point average.

Without referring to me or looking in my direction, Bock rose from his chair and loped out the door.

“He’ll take care of it, Mr. Rosch,” said Damian with calm familiarity.  “Jeff is notoriously slow.” He pantomimed the act of inhaling marijuana.  The air hissed through his lips.  “He gets the job done but he loses track of time.”

First day problems, I thought.  At least the projector was there, and it worked.

“I’d like to finish calling the roll, so at least I can put some names to faces,” I requested.  I tried to keep my tone calm.

Then a pert little girl wearing denim overalls and a plaid Pendleton raised her hand and waved it like a semaphore.

“Okay,” I said fatalistically.  “What’s your name?”

“Um…I’m Kate…and…um…I need to go to the bathroom.”

“Kate,” I answered, looking conspicuously towards the wall clock. It said 1:30.  “This class is over in twenty minutes.  Can you possibly wait until then?”

“I …um….well…it’s you know…girl problems, a real emergency.” 

What was I going to say?  No, you can’t replace the leaky tampon in your snooch?  I didn’t entirely believe her but I couldn’t be sure.  I made the worst tactical error of the entire semester.

“Kate, just go,” I shook my thumb as if it had a mild burn.  “Please come back here immediately. Don’t dawdle in the hall.”

Kate vanished in a whiff of pleasant soapy odor.  I didn’t see her until the next class, two days later.

Immediately another girl waved her hand in the air.  I held my silence for a couple of minutes.  The girl in her seat kept waving.   I held the silence until the room acquired an uncomfortable muttering edge.  There was a hole where a response should be and no one wanted the hole to continue existing.  Words began to spout from students’ mouths, random words, like “Man,” or “Hey”, or “Jeez.  Finally the girl said, “Fuck, man, I gotta go too!”

I nodded.  Three other girls rose with her, and all of them fled the classroom as if a plague-carrying stink had arisen somewhere in the collective bio-mass.  They were fleeing this stinky death as if it would otherwise stalk them the rest of their short lives.

Vizz!  The door opened and closed.  The class was down to fifteen again.

No sooner had the three girls vanished than a handsome young lad with the look of James Dean entered the room.  The students were suddenly quiet.  This young man, keeping his back to the wall, slid the entire perimeter of the classroom until he found the seat closest to me, the seat at the very end of the table next to the windows.  He stuck out his hand and said, “Woodleigh.  Atherton Woodleigh.”  I shook his hand. 

“Most people call me Lee.  They tried calling me Woody but I cut them up a little and put a stop to that real fucking quick.”  This was delivered with clear sincerity and humility.  It wasn’t a boast.  It was a fact.

I found the name of the sociopath on the roll list and marked it with a check and the time:  1:36.

The conversational volume in the room now grew until it was a general melee.  Everyone was talking. 

I found a phone book under the teacher’s desk near the windows.  I raised it and slammed it down on the desk.

“Goddammit!” I shouted.  “Will you shut up?”

They shut up.  Now they were all watching me.

At that precise moment there was a clatter at the door and it pushed open as if by its own volition.  I saw a long double tiered metal cart forcing its way into the room.  The one called Bock slid past it and took its front end.  He pulled with his back towards the class.  Half his shirt tail hung over rumpled brown pants.  At the other end of the cart, facing me, was a tall man with a long pony tail.  He wore a black leather vest with a Hell’s Angel logo done in elaborate beadwork.

‘Here’s the Macs” Bock said triumphantly. Everyone began to rise from their chairs

“Sit down!” I commanded, and I was obeyed.  “Bock, will you hand out the computers, please?”

The Tech Man, Jeff, said, “Sorry about the lateness, man.  These lops are a little creaky from last semester.  The Essential Theater Arts class used ‘em and those guys don’t care about their gear at all, no way.  Had to reformat every one of ‘em.  Not the kids, I mean.  The computers. You know what a bitch that is?”

Each computer had a number taped to its bottom.  The first student to get a computer was a bulky boy with light curly hair.  He occupied the seat nearest the door.  He looked under the computer and said, “Uh uh, this computer’s bunk, number zero one three six, uh..uh..it crashes every two minutes.” 

He thrust the computer back onto the cart and reached for another.  Jeff slapped his hands away. 

“Ain’t no computer good enough for you, Rick, you do this every time I give you a lop, every fucking time.”

There followed a general rumble as students vied for computers with known reputations.  These laptops weren’t the latest, greatest Mac Powerbooks.  They had less RAM, smaller hard drives, and for two years they’d been in the hands of careless students.  Some had scratches and dings but they still made an impressive pile of laptops. 

I had been mentoring on the other side of the bay at Drawn Dagger High School.  There was one computer per fifteen students and that computer ran with Windows 95 and might crash every time it tried to digest a large photo file.  There were three printers in the photography room, ancient Hewlett Packards that printed only black and white.  By dint of my own efforts soliciting photographers I had attracted six good but obsolete digital cameras, four or five monitors and a very old copy of pirated Photoshop. The software wouldn’t install properly on half the computers.  I had gotten some refurbished Epson color printers but there wasn’t money for the ink. The teacher and I pooled our own funds and bought some ink. 

This wrangling at “Country Day Academy” over Mac Laptops was too much for me.  I felt as if someone had opened my chest and tied a square knot in my esophagus, then put it back inside me.  Now I was expected to swallow. 

I couldn’t swallow this.  I couldn’t.

Every day was like the first day.  Some were worse.  A few were better.  Mostly, they were like this: chaos, petty wrangling, disappearances to the bathroom without return, lateness accompanied by staggering indifference.  There were rolled eyes, concealed music players, giggling, fights, reading comic books, animal noises and farts.

I tried really hard but I couldn’t help feeling that I’d failed in some obvious way.  If I had been a better teacher I could have controlled these kids.  I had two students who cared.  One was mister geek, Damian.  He had it all down.  Technically he knew the subject better than I did.  He needed counsel in the creative side but at least he cared.  There was a girl named Lizzie.  She was a big country girl with long straight reddish hair.  She worked hard.  She didn’t know anything, but she wanted to know.  She worked, and she learned.  Her photography was dreadful!  Her photos looked like very poor snapshots.  How could a person who learned what she had learned, worked as she had worked, still be incapable of making good images?

Some people have it, and some don’t.

I had promised that the student who showed the most progress would win a nice digital camera.  It was a donation from other photographers.  Liz won the camera.  Damian didn’t need it.  He already had a good digital camera and would probably end up at Harvard in a couple of years.

I projected the material on the screen while the students sneaked around in the dimmed classroom, plotting ways to disrupt their own educations.  Their literacy was no better than that at Murder Incorporated High School.  There was a difference. The kids at Murder Inc were trying but lacked the opportunity.  The kids at “Country Day Academy” had the opportunity but were trying not to.

I assigned essays.  I spoke about the work of historic geniuses like Steichen and Halsman.  I showed presentations of images on the screen.  I assigned homework.  I asked the students to read up on Diane Arbus and Henri Cartier-Bresson.  The latter was a French photographer who shot witty and profound black and white photos.  He used a Leica, a small camera with which he could catch the spontaneity of Paris street scenes.  I asked the class to turn in essays on the great Frenchman.

This was the one that sent me to buy a pack of cigarettes.  This “essay” was scrawled on half of a torn piece of lined notebook paper in handwriting worthy of a four year old. My student had written the following: “Henry Carter Beast was a great photographer.  He was a genius.  He took a lot of pictures.  They were all in black and white.  They had some greys too I think.”

That was three years ago.  I haven’t been able to stop smoking.  I don’t buy tobacco.  I have a friend, a retired lawyer, who has some farm land in North Carolina.  He’s a tobacco connoisseur.  He loves to play with blends, tweaking this and that, walking through his curing sheds inhaling every fragrance.  I’m a member of his research team.  He sends me a pound bag every few weeks.  I make the cigarettes on a machine.  The tobacco is without additives or adulterants.  It’s a long way from Marlboros.  That doesn’t change the fact that I am, again, a tobacco addict.  I don’t smoke nearly as much as I did before.  A few cigs a day.  I stopped once.  I know I can stop again.

Goddammit!

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Arthur Rosch is a novelist, musician, photographer and poet. His works are funny, memorable and often compelling. One reviewer said “He’s wicked and feisty, but when he gets you by the guts, he never lets go.” Listeners to his music have compared him to Frank Zappa, Tom Waits, Randy Newman or Mose Allison. These comparisons are flattering but deceptive. Rosch is a stylist, a complete original. His material ranges from sly wit to gripping political commentary.

Arthur was born in the heart of Illinois and grew up in the western suburbs of St. Louis. In his teens he discovered his creative potential while hoping to please a girl. Though she left the scene, Arthur’s creativity stayed behind. In his early twenties he moved to San Francisco and took part in the thriving arts scene. His first literary sale was to Playboy Magazine. The piece went on to receive Playboy’s “Best Story of the Year” award. Arthur also has writing credits in Exquisite Corpse, Shutterbug, eDigital, and Cat Fancy Magazine. He has written five novels, a memoir and a large collection of poetry and photography, Feral Tenderness. His autobiographical novel, Confessions Of An Honest Man won the Honorable Mention award from Writer’s Digest in 2016.

Visit Arthur’s blog, Write Out of My Head.

See Arthur’s Photography here: https://500px.com/p/artsdigiphoto?view=photos

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“Mind Fields”- Suits

Mind Fields

I hate men’s suits. The only suit I would ever wear would be a Zoot Suit, a satire of a suit, with fifty pockets and a banana hanging out of every one, with four ties, one atop another, each with a picture of a naked woman or a flamboyant bird. I would wear a gigantic brimmed hat with a snakeskin band, and polished, pointed shoes with tassles. 

Suits are the uniform of businessmen. They are utilitarian, bland and full of pockets. Suits are the devolution of steel-plated armor, they are about protection and concealment. In these concealed pockets are contained handguns, business cards, appointment books, cell phones, credit cards, cash, condoms and keys.

Traditional Suit

Suits are the symbol of aggressive competition, but are actually disguises of said competition because their function is to be soothing and conformist.

There’s a lot of hogwash these days about reading ancient Samurai books or other pieces of oriental philosophy and applying them to the modern business world. Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War,” or Miyamoto Musashi’s “The Five Rings.”  This equation between the ancient world of the warrior and the modern businessman is a bit of a stretch, spurious indeed. Sun Tzu and Musashi were men of subtlety. Their books are subtle works about archetypal activities, War and Competition. These activities are bred into the human psyche.  I have no problem with soldiers and their uniforms, ceremonies, codes of honor and elaborate etiquette. I have a problem with cunning masquerading as subtlety. Subtlety is never destructive. Cunning is frequently destructive. The men who wear suits have mistaken destructive cunning for philosophical depth, and are hoping to imbibe some of this depth by reading ancient books by men of deep intuition, learning and skill.

The utilitarian suit with its meaningless tie and its muted colors is a sad descendant of the flowing sleeves and pantaloons of ancient warriors, the lacy cravat, the jeweled scabbard and its adornments. 

Self expression, adornment, wildness and color are innate to the human soul. We’re in deep trouble when such natural outlets are discouraged. The hippies let adornment, eccentricity and flamboyance become a way of life. This trend can never be suppressed: it emerges in contemporary young people as tattooing, body piercing, hair coloring, all time-honored ways of adorning and decorating one’s own body as an expression of individualism.