Mind Fields: Why Are Commercials?

Why Are Commercials?

May 2022

I’ve been watching these f..ing things since the beginning of television in the early fifties.

We call them “commercials”, thus making the word a noun. On offer in our affluent culture is a system built upon the marketing of various products. Without marketing there is no Capitalism. In the early days of TV we took for granted that every ten minutes or so the program would pause for a “word from our sponsor”. In most cases that sponsor was one of three things: food, pharmaceuticals or automobiles. 

It hasn’t changed. We still see these interruptions every X number of minutes. Nowadays we mute the volume or we fast-forward but we are forced to waste time on them, one way or another.

When I watch these things I feel a mixture of amused contempt and chagrin. The contempt is for myself and my brethren who have absorbed so many of these messages that the wasted time must amount to… what? Months? Years? I have to wonder. How much of my time has been spent either watching or avoiding these marketing techniques? As much time as I’ve spent sleeping, certainly.

The first commercial that I was aware of was the brand of Twenty Mule Team Borax. It was laundry detergent. It completes the picture of the happy housewife in our capitalist society. She washed clothes in her brand new washer-dryer combo. She fed her children the repulsive junk that was flogged on the Saturday morning cartoon shows. Breakfast cereal. Wonder Bread. Jif peanut butter. Canned peas. I shudder. My insides are permanently made of glue.

The happy housewife model of consumer heaven ruled our lives from the airwaves. Our moms were supposed to be efficient smiling providers of nurture in the form of supermarket comestibles. We had Twinkies. We had cupcakes. So, how come my mom was a raging manic depressive with sadistic tendencies?

I was more likely to get strangled in her apron strings as I was to be poisoned by sugared manna from the delicatessen.

Guess what, people? We have a past. We have history. Our culture has evolved at a rocket pace to keep up with the rate of change. But a lot of us folks came of age in a different world. We don’t understand the stuff our kids and grand kids are consuming. What is this shit? Uh…uh. No Way. 

It’s the same old story updated for modern times. It’s still fast food, pharmaceuticals and Ford pickup trucks. 

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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: Food Disorders And Other Fun Things to Do To F**k Yourself Up

Mind Fields

2022, The Year Of The Great Fungus

I have a conceit, i.e. that I should hold the title as “The World’s Most F**ked Up Person”. The only problem is that all of you would also like to hold this same title. Don’t try to con me. I know what you think. The only reason I know what you think is that it’s the same thing that I think.

Or. I used to think. When I recognized that each of us claims this title as the most neurotic person on Earth, I began to have more confidence in myself. Surely, I reasoned, if I am exactly the same amount of f**ked up as everyone else, then I must belong to this Family of Man. I’m human. And we all know that there is great dignity to being human. We are builders of pyramids, makers of satellites and space ships.

I have a very weird relationship with food. The first time I grasped that I was deeply crazy was when I began to eat huge amounts of food. I indulged especially in sweets. If I were to make a pie chart of my life (and refrain from eating it), I’m sure it would show huge chunks of time in the bulimia/anorexia’ zone. The worst of my food disorders followed me through adolescence; years seventeen through twenty two. I was out in the world, trying to maneuver by being on or near college campuses.

I had a sneaky way of being anorexic. I deluded myself into thinking that this was a spiritual discipline.  Macrobiotics. It would get me high, exalt me spiritually. By eating small portions of brown rice and onions, chickpeas in barley, I was the paragon of yogic discipline. This was who I wanted myself to be. I got skinny. I weighed 125. On top of this I was taking LSD and smoking DMT. I was deep into my purpose, my destiny of becoming a musician of salvation and a figure of reverence. I was grandiose as all hell.

Then I came to a breaking point. After a year of Macrobiotics, I had such a craving for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich that I bought the ingredients and took them back to my hidey hole. “What are you doing?” I asked myself. “This is a self betrayal, this is the opposite of Macrobiotic food. You asshole, what a failure you are!” So I ate it. Then I ate something else sweet and gooey. Then I couldn’t stop eating every kind of junk food on the planet. I had been like a spring ready to snap. Boing!

I was so ashamed of myself. This was 1967, before eating disorders had been invented. I was a pioneer. My bulimia wasn’t the pukey kind. It was the Exercise Freakishly type of bulimia, the one where on alternate days I would purge with sweat and effort, then follow with a day of relentless eating: an entire apple pie, backed up by a half gallon of ice cream. That kind of eating: epic, disgusting eating. After that came the cookies, and so forth. One day exercising. One day binge eating. Back and forth, one followed the other, for more than a year. I looked for help. I went to the college shrink. He said, “I don’t know what’s happening to you and I can’t help you. Besides, you’re not even enrolled as a student at this college.”

I lost weight during this time. It was paradoxical! How could I be losing weight? My metabolism must have been very confused. My waist was a twenty nine or thirty. I was living in a vacant student’s quarter, avoiding the security guys and bedding down with a pad and sleeping bag. I got money from my dad. I worked as a stable boy at a local horse ranch. A stable boy. I had my drums stashed at the university’s music building in a practice room. I practiced there for hours every day, getting high by all means and experimenting with the limits of my technique. That was the point of not going to college. I let my dad pay for semesters at Western Reserve or Wayne State, and then I would slip down to Yellow Springs from Cleveland and hang out with people who talked to trees. I would practice all the time, working through the famous “Stick Control” books and listening to Coltrane records.

This was a pleasant period that lasted about a year. I may be conflating two different periods of time. It doesn’t matter. That’s the way memory works when it sort of fails to work. I think there’s a memory bank in the brain and it gets filled up and needs to be purged once in a while. It’s all just story anyway. Life truly is fiction, it has to be. I just want a subject to write about and my life has been so bizarre that it qualifies as the stuff of novels. That poor guy (that is, myself) didn’t know what lay ahead. He thought that if he took enough acid, did yoga, ate rice and played the drums then he would launch himself into nirvana. It’s not a bad plan, really. The problem was that I was fractured psychologically, harboring behaviors that would shame me again and again. I was very (he says solemnly) very f**ked up.

These were adolescent ordeals, but they were precursors to my future. In the sixties my eighteen year old self dreamed of cosmic unity while the biggest thing that lay ahead of me was coke and heroin addiction. I interrogated my psyche by reading about psychology. After that came years of therapy. I was determined to save myself ,in spite of my terrible behavior.

It took a long time but none of it can be repudiated. It’s lucky I’m still alive and well.

After my food disorders came cocaine, and then, heroin.

I’m still slightly food disordered. I control, compensate, manage. Mostly I exercise.

The cocaine and heroin almost killed me. 

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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: When A Man Ages

Mind Fields

Dating And Aging: A dilemma

If you’re fifty years or older and you’re looking for a romance you will find that things have changed. In the past it was “the bad boy” who got all the ladies. Now, to these ladies, a bad boy is just an early version of a bad man.

I used to be a bad boy. I was a jazz musician, which is a permanent “bad boy” pass. Now I’m an elder musician. I’ve given up on looking for romance. It can find me; that’s okay.

 It has been difficult for me to re-calibrate my visual expectations. Men are sexually stimulated by their eyeballs. When I was a kid I looked at my dad’s magazines with complete and ardent attention. Without this masculine visual appetite. there would be no porn, no Playboy or Hustler. But there IS, and men like to look almost as much as they like to touch. Men LOOOVE to look.

When I go out into the world, to shop or keep appointments, I see women of my own age in all their seasoned glory. It is an adjustment for the testosterone-fueled man to make… to keep the fires lit on these ladies of fifty and sixty something years. They’re not likely to have fresh pert boobs. Nor a smooth silky skin. As for the shapely ass, eh, maybe… maybe not. 

It’s natural for men to seek young women but that doesn’t make it wise. When a man discovers that young women are children with boobs, he finds a clear warning: this is not going to work. If he fails to sense this warning he’s letting himself in for a universe of grief.

When I set out twenty years ago to look for a partner I was already…uh…old. I knew I was looking for women near to my age, that is, I knew it with my mind but my body and unconscious adolescent still sought out twenty three year olds. I understood that women of my age are mothers and grandmothers. I was stuck inside my twenty three year old male lust for women of reproductive age.

It is nature’s way of ensuring that we continue to reproduce our species. Men were designed to want young women. I’ve been in a battle between twenty something ME and seventy something ME. Men want to follow their instincts and spew their seed far and wide. That doesn’t change but the DRIVE in the older version of myself has changed, it isn’t so insistent, so relentless. Maybe it’s time to change the entire aspect of love, eros and friendship.

Changing these core drives gives me a little breathing room.

It gives me a chance to take a step backward and look at myself. I don’t have abs any more. I have… uh… call them abdominal folds. I’m ridiculously fit, BUT. Fitness is not a definitive draw for women. The females of the human species are attracted to emotional intelligence and vulnerability. They want to know and feel your emotions. After failing repeatedly with women, I got into therapy. I found that a few years of therapy is the most erotic asset one can have. It’s also good for acquiring self knowledge. And this, self knowledge, is the most valuable asset of all. The more you know yourself, the more you know what you’re doing. It’s time to put on your big boy pants. Or your big girl pant-suit; as the case may be.

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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: It Began With Television

Mind Fields

It Began With Television

April 2, 2022

It began with television. I was born in 1947, which makes me the first generation of TV people. I watched Howdy Doody, Sky King and Death Valley Days. How imprinted in my soul is Twenty Mule Train Borax? It’s permanent. As is….The Twilight Zone, Gunsmoke and Rawhide.

Television took the ancient art of storytelling and whisked it away from our personal imaginations. It brought down a shutter on our fantasy and took the lead in guiding our young personalities in ways we could not anticipate. Regard the PURPOSE of television: to make money. We were beyond infatuation. We were addicted to the TV. We stayed up late until the test pattern came on.  When we turned the set off we watched the picture die into a small white dot that after a second turned black. It was time for bed. Our parents didn’t care what we watched. We watched most of it together, except on weekend mornings. There was nothing subversive or dangerous on TV in those days. There were only the illusions of the capitalist marketing system. It sold a lot of laundry detergent. It was very tribal and sad. Yet… hypnotic and cute.

TV affected us. We don’t yet know how the effect scales up. We don’t know what has been done. We base our existence upon what presents on the screen. We are Creatures Of The Screen and it continues, until we have whole walls as screens. And they keep getting bigger! The emitted light enters our bodies and charges our cells. Television is both success and catastrophe. Television morphs into cell phones and monitors. It’s in the gas station restrooms. It’s in our pockets. If it JUST STOPPED right now: what would we do? For a while we would be lost. Many of us would just give up. It’s too hard being a human in this culture without that continual entertainment. We might… some of us… turn to reading or writing. Or solving math problems. Or speaking to our friends and family. 

We are unbearably lonely. That’s what TV has done. It has infected us with our culture’s unprecedented loneliness. Americans are the loneliest people in the world. It doesn’t stop there. Go to the worst barrio in Manila. You will see satellite dishes on the most humble shack. You will see TV sets playing within tiny shops that sell pencils and sponges. Their owners don’t even watch them. They play  Exotic Soaps and Indian made porn tapes. In the souks of Damascus. In the bazaars. Television.

Only the automobile has had such stupendous repercussions. Now, the T.V. has entered the vehicle and drives us to our destinations. We are embraced into the womb of the new culture. Soon, we may not need destinations. We will just be. In our cars. With our media. With our T.V.s.

It is, after all, just story telling. 

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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 – Why Do We Pick On Ourselves?

Mind Fields

Why Do We Always Pick On Ourselves

from Mind Fields at writingtoberead.com

Americans pick on themselves. We do it constantly, relentlessly, awake, asleep, we pick on ourselves about everything. It’s as if a perfectionist mother–in-law sits inside our heads on a platform at the very center of our thoughts and points here and there, hectoring us with criticisms.

“You know you could lose a few pounds,” she will say.  She points with a drooping finger. “You’re getting heavy.” Her eyes narrow and she leans forward. “What’s wrong with your face? Is that a zit? How could you have a zit at your age? Your pores are kind of large, too. Speaking of age, wow, It really shows you’re getting over the hill.! I see wrinkles at the sides of your mouth and eyes. And that big one in the middle of your forehead, wow.”

Her elbow rests in her left hand while she taps her cheek with the right index finger. “Who could love a mess like you? Who buys your clothes, a retarded pygmy? My god, where did you get those awful shoes?”

Her inspection continues with a glare all up and down the length of me.  “Who does your hair”, she rasps, “a baboon? Get another stylist before it’s too late. The damage that’s being done, what a shame,  a real shonda. Your hair is thinning out too, a little bit day by day. You’re getting a pot belly! Ever think of wearing something, a brace, maybe?”  She sits in a rocker and lights a cigarette.  “I have a skin  cream that I can recommend. You’re at that age where it loses its elasticity.”

I’m quivering with shock now but determined to let her have her say. “Your teeth are a little funny. Has anyone ever suggested cosmetic dentistry?”

Pick pick pick, pick pick pick. Am I wrong? Have I overstated the case?
She never stops, this critical demon of the shadows. She is a product of decades of indoctrination. I only say “She” because I had a terrible mother. I’m still pissed off about that.

“I should remind you” she says inside my head, “to get your cholesterol checked. It can happen; any second it can happen, bam! and you keep over.You’re dead! Then what happens to your family?  Do you have a good lawyer? My brother in law knows one. And his cousin’s a doctor! Have you checked your prostate lately? I hear there’s a new medication for that. There’s a pill for everything these days, just watch sixty minutes. I mean the commercials, not the show. There’s a pill that’ll help you stop smoking if you survive the side effects. I love the medications where one of the side effects is ‘diminished semen’. What does that mean? What kind of pill can have ‘diminished semen’ as a side effect? Isn’t that the scariest thing a man can hear, short of ‘penis may wither and fall off?’ Loss of semen really means having crappy sex, doesn’t it? So why don’t they say, ‘may have brief weak orgasms’?”

This yapping harridan, this carping abusive inner voice, how did it get inside our heads? Let’s make it simple. First there’s television. There are a lot of good things about television, it’s not the monolithic purveyor of propaganda it might be in some other countries. Still, it hauls a freight train of psychological toxins every second of every day, no matter if the sound is on, whether or not you’ve blocked the commercials. It doesn’t matter. The marketers behind television are so sophisticated that we don’t have to turn on the device to be contaminated. In our society, television has become a self-referential culture, the subject of billions of conversations. It has moved into our thoughts and taken residence, permanently.
After TV there’s movies, the internet, magazines, newspapers, radio, you can’t escape marketing anywhere, not even in an airport restroom.

We barely live real lives any more. We talk about fictional characters whose lives are infinitely more exciting than ours and whose dangers are far beyond anything we would ever permit ourselves to face.

It would be interesting to snatch someone from the past and have this person witness our marketing techniques. Show a Viagra or Cialis commercial. What if we brought someone from the Victorian era, from around 1895, and showed commercials for keeping your thing hard? Every ten minutes another commercial showing a man of about fifty with a woman of about thirty eight, snuggling together, holding hands, watching the sun set. We would have to explain the nature of this product to the viewer. Without the warning “see a doctor if erection lasts more then four hours” there is nothing to indicate what this product does, what’s it’s for. When we explain it to our time traveler, what will this person think about our culture? How embarrassed would he or she be, how shocked at the impropriety?

Well, sure, they were prudes. Their repression caused them vast inner conflicts, but I would speculate it added an extra thrilling dimension to sex. It seems that when we started discussing our president’s blow jobs on the public airwaves, some line was crossed, some basic decency and sense of proportion was jettisoned off the side of our big ocean liner of a culture. Sex also got a little bit more ordinary, a bit more like costume jewelry.

I digress, I was talking about how we pick on ourselves. It’s stupidly obvious. It’s about getting us to spend money. The entire purpose of marketing is to manipulate our desires. The basic technique is to infect us with feelings of inadequacy. Then we are bombarded with glittering images of things we’re led to believe will make us feel better. If we feel bad enough we’ll go out and buy some ridiculous cream, or pill, or car, or hair weave, or something that makes no sense at all, we’ll just go buy anything, walk into Walmart with our credit cards and shop, as an anesthetic. We’ll be perfect consumers, depressed, dazed automatons piling up debt. Glassy eyed, we walk the aisles of the stores, pace the infinite mallways without destination until we find ourselves back home with bags full of junk. How did all this crap appear in our houses? I don’t remember buying an eighty eight inch Super High Definition TV set with a quadruple-woofer ten speaker sound system with Dolby nine point two noise reduction software.

We’ve been had. We’re nuts. We pick on ourselves because all our role models are distortions that are dissonant with real life. We don’t see authentic people in the movies or on TV. We see heroes who can kill a dozen trained hyenas by throwing wooden chopsticks from fifty feet. We are not encouraged to admire people who aren’t particularly beautiful, rich or talented. We aren’t given strength of character as a yardstick of true heroism. It isn’t enough to be an ordinary person anymore, we have to be some carefully crafted mannequin, with no missing teeth, no bad habits. We’re going to live to a hundred and fifty in perfect health, glowing and radiant, with a beautiful partner by our side. There won’t be any old age, slow decay, debility, nothing like that because the inner witch-voice won’t allow us to relax and be human, be ordinary and obey the laws of nature even when they take our youth and beauty.

Isn’t that the primary mechanism of marketing? To raise dissatisfaction to a level where we’ll do anything to “better” ourselves in the form of consuming whatever’s consumable to get a buzz for a few minutes or hours?

Pick pick pick, we’ve learned to pick on ourselves without mercy. Go ahead, take a look at yourself in the mirror! Do you like what you see? Have you been taught to accept yourself with all your flawed genes and pathological behaviors?

Can you accept and love yourself as the unique creation that you are?
Of course not. There’s no money in love.

Not yet.

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 – Cannabis Can And Sometimes It Can’t

Mind Fields

I started smoking marijuana at fifteen. At that time, marijuana was simply Pot. Weed. It was Reefer, Dope, Ganja. Sometimes it was just Shit. It was so hard to obtain that we went to dangerous housing projects like Jefferson Barracks or East St. Louis.. These are rough ghetto neighborhoods. Here’s the classic scenario: drive to East St. Louis, to a certain intersection. A man will be there at nine p.m. taking orders. Give the man your money.  Pull around the corner and wait in the car. Half hour goes by and everyone who passes gives you the skank eye. Wait in the car. Another twenty minutes pass. Shit, did the fucker burn us and bail? There’s more skank eye from the locals. A nondescript Ford rounds the corner, driven by a white man in a fedora. “Get down, that’s a narc!” We hunch down over the drive shaft. The man could be anybody. Probably not an officer of the law. We laugh nervously: maybe he’s scoring weed, too. Haha.

I’m about to call it a night, write it off to misery when the connection shows up, rapping quietly on the steamed-up window. He’s palming a baggie. Whew, Groovy. Thanks, man. There are more side-eye looks than a herd of horses as the connection sneaks off. 

Cannabis Bud

Now it’s called Cannabis. From old habit when I talk to myself I call it Weed. But…hey… It’s the majestic Cannabis. It’s not a weed. I won’t call it that any more.

I could write about cannabis all day. One thing that stuns me (aside from the THC) is the post-legalization culture that has arisen in a few short years. The explosion of new ways to consume cannabis is one aspect of this cultural eruption. Would you have dreamed, twenty years ago, that you would go to the “pot store” to get your cannabis? THAT IS CORRECT! I go to the POT STORE! WARNING: it can get expensive. Some of the marketing is clever and ‘scammy’. The research for this article has cost me a couple hundred bucks. Pot is getting the late-capitalist treatment and is being commodified in ways inventive beyond the craziest dreams of any baby boomer. There are vape pens full of THC. There are Resins, waxes, elixirs, inhalers, collectors, nectar tubes, dab nails, glass in a thousand exotic shapes: this stuff Is appearing at breakneck speed, overwhelming in its complexity if not hilarity. 

Oh…cannabis…wonderful cannabis, the jazz musician’s vitamin. I have smoked in many cars of vintage breed. They were not, at the time, vintage. Back in the day we called our vehicles “shorts” i.e. Where’s your short, man? I parked it around the corner: Continentals. Thunderbirds. Gran Prix, Impalas. Our shorts loom large in our fantasies of past reefer madness because they were often the only places we could smoke pot. My dopey memories of the 60s occur in some car or other, some parking lot or street in some disreputable part of town.

I never thought I would be able to light up on the street in broad daylight. Now we have cannabis named for every kind of wacky idea that marketers can devise. Here are a few brand names: OG Skunk Cult, Canna Candy, Fumero, Caldera, Purple Phase, Errl’s Oil. Here’s one: Guava Fig X Face Mintz Extract.

In 1965 ten bucks got me a matchbox of Mexican grass. The name brands were Michoacan and Panama Red. There were Thai Sticks. Sometimes I could get hash from Nepal. An ounce of grass was called a “lid”. Three and a half lids are an eight ball.  Back in the matchbox days it was either a nickel bag or dime bag. This is sixties stuff, I’m jamming with Jimi, not Fats Waller.

Legal weed is a fucking explosion! The pot store looks like a bank! Maybe it was a bank before it became the Pot Store. Yeah, that’s it. The packaging for the inventory is on display in cases against two walls while the cashiers occupy windows at waist-high counters around the other two walls. The merchandise is offered in all its colorful boxes, jars, droppers, cartridges and spliffs. Twenty-five-year-old cannabis experts talk to customers about the products. This strain of cannabis, the cashier explains, has such and such a percentage of THC ratio to CBD. This one has 88.5% THCV. This one’s good for pain, this one’s good for sleep, this one won’t increase your appetite, this one will. We get new terpenes every six months.

Now we have designer dope for the elite. Ninety bucks for a one gram jar about the size of a quarter. Shee-it! Weed should not be expensive! Never never. Stop it! 

I get my dope from a dude named Steve who lives in an RV at the corner of Colegio and Runyon. It comes in baggies. No boxes no jars. Ten bucks for a big bag of buds. That’s more than a lid.

That’s Old School.

_____________________________

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 – The Ideas of A Morning

Mind Fields

I value originality. It requires a level of commitment and a sense of one’s self as being unique and talented. At some base level NO ONE is truly original but in the world of human expression, of artistic and technical feats that are part of our culture, there are individuals who stand out as being special. They have hewn materials out of the core of their selves, and the results are striking and unprecedented. It is the unprecedented nature of the creations that forms the matrix of originality.


The Primacy Of Memory

There is a moment in life as one grows older that the memory recreates all the life’s experiences as if for the first time. Re-living my life from the sheltered glade of memory has been a rich meditation. What did I do and why did I do it? Observing behavior that was inexplicable at the time but contemplation later reveals why something happened. At no time have I lost a firm conviction that higher powers are always at play in the Self and that these powers design with great wisdom all that shall befall the sole witness to this life and that is one’s Self. The events in a life are far from pointless: they are signboards on a journey of profound discovery. Having a deep faith in that idea has enabled me to survive otherwise insane events that boiled up from within myself. When the psyche accepts full responsibility for the unfolding life it gains a power that shows itself in acts of compassion. Some of the work of compassion is restraint from judging people and events without consulting the context in which their behavior forms. Sometimes it is needful to discern and this discernment is a form of placing a context over the specific acts and ideas that carry the consequences of thinking. ALL thinking is consequential. Thinking is the most important thing one does and the skill brought to thinking shows development of the soul’s concept of itself. If you are going to think, it is wise to learn HOW to think and WHAT to think about.

Watching The Domino

We ordered a pizza for delivery. In twenty years, we’ve never ordered food to be delivered so this was a special birthday gift. What set this apart was the experience of tracking the delivery driver’s trajectory as he wound his way through the complicated streets of our neighborhood. We sat watching the phone in fascination as the vehicle’s icon reflected the driver’s turns and twists as he negotiated the neighborhood looking for the right place. This went on for ten minutes and we became like cheerleaders hoping for our team to score. We were thrilled when he came onto our driveway and broke out in cheers as this ordinary experience of modern tech showed us that it worked and that it was, indeed, completely ridiculous.


Mind Fields – People Are Crazy

Mind Fields

People are crazy. Many people who are crazy don’t know they’re crazy. They think that they are right, and that their form of crazy should be everyone’s crazy.

That’s crazy. Right? NO! We’re all wrong, most of the time! It would be nice if people could admit this fact. If we examine the history of human beings it looks like a traffic jam of midget cars where everyone jumps from the cars as if they got caught stealing them. They shout “That’s not my car! I’ve never seen that car before.”

This is not my planet! I’ve never seen this planet before! The very nature of life on this world is that humans get the wrong ideas about things that should be easy to understand. Those who don’t recognize their instability are dangerous. People who don’t recognize their craziness have few brakes. At some time or place such people can do terrible harm. They harm people who are crazy in a different way. We can inquire about Germany in the 30s and 40s. In today’s world Germany is known as a refuge for the dispossessed, a humanitarian engine of liberal democracy. Eighty years ago Germany was in the throes of a mass psychosis that turned the state into a killing machine.

This form of psychosis is always available to cultures. It’s there, waiting for the right conditions. It will burst forth and flourish for a while as it does its murderous business. Then it vanishes, only to revive in another time and place. Cultural psychosis is part of the human condition; it’s an undercurrent that feeds on poverty and distress. It thrives on income inequality, builds on the resentment of disenfranchised classes.

We’re ripe for another one. God forbid, as my grandma used to say. God forbid we should replay genocidal brutality like Nazi Germany, or Cambodia, Rwanda, Armenia, Bosnia. The United States with its native Americans, The Turks against the Greeks. God forbid. I pray that I’m wrong but I feel that looming presence, that evil spirit that is like a parasite fattening on its millions of aggrieved Americans who have not a single clue that they are insane. They have nothing to complain about. They are housed and fed, they have health plans, the very poorest of them are better off than anyone was a hundred years ago. You can’t convince them that they’ve got a good deal going. They’re certain that they’re being screwed. We sit atop a festering insanity that has been in America since before its founding, when vast crimes by white Europeans were enacted on the whole population of the western hemisphere. 

God forbid. It’s a comfort to think that things have changed, that maybe a threshold has been crossed by human nature itself, that we’ve learned from our past sins, that we have EVOLVED. Isn’t that possible?

I don’t know. I won’t pronounce this salvation as a done deal. Something IS different. Our children are different; they do things that were impossible. They move their bodies in new ways, they think in new ways. I don’t regard myself as a cynic but I am jaded. I’ve seen too much horror. 

It isn’t one thing or another. We’re neither saved nor doomed. We are continuing the story of life on earth. The planet keeps turning and it will turn for another several billion years. The drama of human life unfolds in its many chapters. Yes, we are crazy. History is a book of insanity, a review of the irrational.
Good judgment and reason break out in little pockets. They seldom last long.

The United States Of America is ripe for deep horrible craziness. I tremble for my children.

__________________________________________________________________

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.


Words to Live By – Inspiration, Legacy, and Beatles Music

Words to Live By

The first Wednesday of the month, writer Jeff Bowles muses on life, creativity, and our collective destinies as makers of cool stuff. You’re a writer, but have you ever thought about how or why? Here are some words to live by.

Paperback Writer

Over the holidays, I watched the new Beatles documentary released on Disney+, The Beatles: Get Back. I’m a huge fan of the group and always have been. I realize there are non-Beatles fans out there, but I have to admit, I’ve always been mystified by their lack of enthusiasm. To me and millions of other Beatlemanics, the band is a historical landmark, having written and recorded music that changed pop culture for generations to come.

This blog entry is about inspiration and legacy. I liked to write stories as a kid, but really, I wanted to be a rock star. This would’ve been in the mid-90s. At the time, many potential role models existed for me and every other outcast kid who picked up a guitar. I wasn’t into Nirvana or Linkin Park at that age, didn’t appreciate Red Hot Chili Peppers or Green Day. I loved The Beatles, plus lots of other groups from the 60s and 70s. Never mind that my older brother and mom began spoon-feeding me this stuff at a very early age, or the fact that I looked up to my brother and enjoyed liking the things he thought were cool. The Beatles were special, supernatural even. I believed that then and I believe it now.

But the truth is, I haven’t been feeling particularly inspired lately. Not even Christmas cheered me up. In fact, it only made me feel worse. This Get Back documentary, it’s exhaustive (and a little exhausting). Only a mega Beatles nerd could’ve pieced it together. Peter Jackson (director and co-writer of The Lord of the Rings trilogy) happens to have been that nerd. The film is almost eight hours in length, split over three episodes, focusing on just one month or so in the lives of the famous foursome.

The great thing about it is that we really get to see The Beatles’ creative process up close. Lots of labor and missteps, mistakes and dead ends. Critics have said this proves they weren’t as legendary as fans have always claimed. To me, it makes them more human, which is a comfort, because it proves anyone anywhere can muster enough talent and drive to produce work of honest significance.

Inspiration is great, but it’s not nearly as effective as perspiration. When I was learning to play and sing and write songs, John Lennon was my idol. I wanted to be him, and man did all the other kids in school think I was strange. I remember looking up at the stars one night when I was ten years old and whispering to the heavens,

“I want to be the greatest rock star ever.”

Or something to that effect. As it turned out, I lived a small (very small) portion of that dream. Played music with people all the way through my teens and early twenties. Lots of tiny coffee house gigs, open mic nights, bars, private celebrations. When I was twenty-one, I met the woman I would one day marry, and eventually I found I wanted different things out of life. Writing short stories and novels, the pursuit of some kind of career in this field, it replaced my desire to make music almost entirely. I grew dedicated to the craft and learned a hell of a lot. For the most part, writing has made me happy. I’m glad I took the years necessary to get good at it.

But I wouldn’t have found that dedication, that fire in my heart, if I weren’t already intimately familiar with it. There is an electric feeling that occurs inside the body and mind of a musician caught in the flow of her or his own creativity. The Beatles clearly knew that feeling well. It’s potent and wonderful, thrilling and powerful.

I came to learn that writing is a slower burn. Tons of work up front, and then maybe (maybe) a bit of adulation months or years later. But it still holds moments of intense creative gratification. No matter who you are, how popular or famous or legendary, this process, this mental birthing experience, it can be difficult and frustrating. John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr were all wonderful musicians. They had nothing to prove to anyone, yet they still worked themselves to the bone to make stuff that simply had no equal.

So here’s my question for all of you: how dedicated are you to what you love? What thrills you and gets you excited for writing or anything else in life? Maybe it’s a bit unfashionable to admit that music recorded some sixty years ago makes me feel ready to take on the world, but it does. Especially when I get to see it up close, visceral, all the creative battles, coming to the logical and favorable conclusion of work that stands the test of time.

Next time you’re feeling down in the dumps and not at all creative, head back to the source—your personal wellspring of inspiration—and see if it won’t refill your cup a little. Pick up a guitar, or a pencil or paintbrush or a media powerhouse of a computer, or maybe just watch a good film about one of your favorite things on earth. All hail the makers of cool stuff. Be they Beatles or bestsellers or nobodies in particular.

Peace and love to you this new year. May it bring you everything you need, and maybe a few of the things you want, too. Until next time.


Jeff Bowles is a science fiction and horror writer from the mountains of Colorado. The best of his outrageous and imaginative work can be found in God’s Body: Book One – The Fall, Godling and Other Paint Stories, Fear and Loathing in Las Cruces, and Brave New Multiverse. He has published work in magazines and anthologies like PodCastle, Tales from the Canyons of the Damned, the Threepenny Review, and Dark Moon Digest. Jeff earned his Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing at Western State Colorado University. He currently lives in the high-altitude Pikes Peak region, where he dreams strange dreams and spends far too much time under the stars. Jeff’s new novel, Love/Madness/Demon, is available on Amazon now!

Love Madness Demon Cover Final

Check out Jeff Bowles Central on YouTube – Movies – Video Games – Music – So Much More!


Want to be sure not to miss any of “Words To Live By” segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress. If you found it useful or entertaining, please share.


Mind Fields – Overdose!

Mind Fields

I didn’t think one could overdose on cannabis.

I was wrong. You can. I did. 

I use tincture that I buy from a local grower. It wasn’t the tincture’s fault. I made a mistake. The bottle comes with an eye dropper for dosage measurements and this particular bottle was so low on tincture that I couldn’t fill an eyedropper. So I simply up-ended the thing and poured it down my gullet. That’s not even a dose’s worth, I thought, and proceeded to add another half dropper from a new bottle.

Uh oh. 

I’ve been a hard core doper for much of my life and cannabis didn’t scare me one little bit. The most egregious overdose I ever had was with pharmaceutical Ketamine. Oh lord, that was dangerous. I made a perilous mistake and measured out a decimal point one too many after reading the Physician’s Desk Manual. I guess I wasn’t tracking too well even before taking the drug. That decimal point represented a ten times overdose.

After taking that stuff, I became completely dissociated. I was alone in the house. I sat in front of a candle, too terrified to move, while the candle burned down from its top to a mere stub. It was dark when I took the ketamine. It was light by the time I recovered enough to take stock and shake myself out of the trance. 

That was my most profound and wretched experience in a lifetime of drug abuse. Until yesterday.  I didn’t have enough awe for the cannabis tincture. I should have known better.

I proceeded with my normal day of chores and piano practice until I was pretty bone tired. I retreated to the bedroom, where I joined my wife for some late afternoon TV watching. 

I began to roll around inside my body. That was very strange. I felt VERY STRANGE and somewhat close to a state of panic. My cognitive ability retreated to a little corner of mind. About ten percent of me was still present. In that corner I recognized that I had taken too much THC tincture. I could use that ten percent to get out my tool box for the treatment of anxiety. Deep breathing. Yoga. Everything. The alternative was simply panic.

My wife recognized that I was in an odd state. She is forbearing and reluctant to interfere in my escapades. I had to slide the words out of my mouth. “I am feeling very dissociated.” 

I was confused. Where am I? I had to ask of myself. What is that? I was referring not so much to the TV but the programming that was on it. I recognized one of our favorite shows, a veterinary adventure, but I couldn’t connect with the content. I wanted to. It seemed petty and ridiculous in light of my emergency. I tried to explain it to Fox.

“Too much THC”. I struggled to form the words. Fox got the message.

“Can I help?” I didn’t know what to tell her. The idea of food crossed my mind. It might dilute further enhancement. It might bring me down. I wanted to come down. “Can you…banana dr…drink?”

“Don’t move from there,” she cautioned wisely. I didn’t move. I felt the urge to get up, but I listened to what my astute partner said. 

It’s easy to say, “I was sooo fucked up!” What does that mean? There are a billion versions of “fucked up” and some of them are not great. I was so fucked up that my very consciousness was tied in a knot. I didn’t know where “here” was. I didn’t know whether or not I was “here”. 

For further reference, it’s a good idea to know that you are “here”. Not knowing is a weak place, it’s ghostly and things can knock you over. I don’t want to ever get knocked over by anything.

I am HERE.