Sunday, December 27, 2015

Snake in a Flood Plain in a Tree in a Rainstorm

I'm beginning to think of them
free from the sheer fear of them
after 20 years of living among them
mostly hidden
but who's really doing the hiding
thinking about them now
sometimes but not each time
as I would butterflies with fangs
(and that thought brings a tremble!)
with their perfect form
and inexorable designs on beauty
their amazing maneuverabilities
and seeming unpredictable ways
each owning the perfect adaptation
of the most skillful adepts
those whose inhabiting of self
is perfect in every way
without even a thought by them
in that direction.

This further dimunition of fear
is courtesy of the blacknecked garter snake
I saw early evening tonight
two feet long and fairly thick
or solid and substantial-looking
big from my experience of garter snakes
including two smaller ones coiled in coitus
(note the word-derivation fun there!)
found years ago humming silently
in the otherwise vacant center
of a coiled green water hose
whereas the one I saw tonight
was balanced not quite effortlessly
but with utmost certainty
mostly straightened with two minor curves
on a horizontal tree branch about eye level
about eight feet in front of me
and facing away but looking back at me
with its slender black face turned just so
an eye being kept on this upright one
entering her chosen territory
as she awaits the coming rainstorm
high above any localized flooding
because snake is always local
my near neighbor
and I'm comforted she's safe resting on her branch
not needing to leave for fear of me
any of the four times I approached her tonight
flashlight in hand
as she sniffs my approach
and I'm guessing she's there still.

Maybe I'll go
and visit my neighbor again
once the all-night rain lightens
or more likely clears for a while.

I long for the next time I may see her
with her beautiful yellow and black markings
a patented pattern of unique and specific beauty
among even all other patterns of unique beauty
(The Whole Living Multifaceted Universe
And Everyone And Every So-Called 'Thing' In It!)
the hint of redness in each yellow block
the seamless yellow gold streak following her spine
her black face glossy and innocent
all of her personage appearing new as if just emerged
from a spent gossamer skin
still in full stretch somewhere
perhaps hanging from narrow opening between rocks
her wet muscular length for now relaxed in place
waiting for respite and to move on.

Larry Piltz
Indian Cove
December 26, 2015

[Photo is from stock]

Fox Midstream

An hour or so ago tonight
walking up long driveway
through the woods
I shine light leftward
into narrow clearing
only five yards away
a fox is frozen in place
front paw in midstep
and holding eye contact with me
for three to four seconds
searching me for intent
wary but confident
in its speed and agility
each of us cooperative
the fox stealthy
and each grateful
for our own reasons.

Larry Piltz
Indian Cove
Austin, Texas
December 9, 2015

[Photo is stock]

Monday, December 14, 2015

Fox Midstream Too

Four dusks later
between a supermarket
and a psychiatric hospital
up from the grassy creekshed
and onto an expanse of lawn
lopes the limber graceful profile
long lithe and lush
of fox at work
though looks at play
with her buoyant fluid stride
and strand of purpose
interlacing the evening worlds
as if there were more than one
and she their arbiter.

Larry Piltz
Indian Cove
December 13, 2015

[Photo is stock]

Friday, November 13, 2015

Tuesday, March 25, 2003 @ 11:26 PM GMT.
Take Back The Media.  Commentary by L.A. Piltz
Tolstoy wrote, "And so once more the men who reaped profit from it all will assert with assurance that since there has been a war there must needs have been one, and that other wars must follow, and they will again prepare future generations for a continuance of slaughter, depraving them from childhood".
TV’s Iraq War Coverage Is A Pentagon Snuff Film
Remembering Precious Life Amidst the Unnecessary Carnage and Special Effects of the Iraq Invasion's Vast TV Wasteland:  Bush Creates Desolation and Calls It Peace.
Now that the Bush administration's Iraqi war campaign has begun in holy earnest, the way that the monopoly U.S. media present this attack needs to come into sharp focus and graphic relief.

I'm talking about the inherently gratuitous prurience of war video footage, which in ethic and effect are no better than the craven exploitation and murderous lust of the fabled snuff film, a mostly urban legend with some rare basis in fact, which shows the literal torture and murder of an unwilling innocent victim.

Viewers worldwide will be watching living, breathing people blown to bloody bits. People will be dying and maimed in real-time video, in loving slow-motion pan and zoom.  This will be replayed endlessly as if it's NFL Sunday or the World Cup. Commentators will clinically describe target acquisition and payload technology, laser-guided to locations very much smaller than the metaphoric football field.

For the most part, newspeople will meticulously avoid dwelling on the suffering of their fellow humans, as well as of animals, who are all 10,000 feet below and a world away.  For the embedded and censored lackey journalist and windblown coiffured news-speakmodel, the victims may as well be made of sheetrock, or never have existed at all.

Yet even survivors will horribly suffer.  And they will die.  From grievous wounds, exposure, thirst, starvation, persecution, continued medicine blockade, diseases caused by intentional destruction of water treatment plants as in Gulf War I, and more cancer from tons more radioactive ammunition, also as used in the first Persian Gulf War as well as now in the present invasion and occupation.

However, because of the way that the war's presented, its victims will disappear beyond most people's consciousnesses as surely as people disappeared into the labor and death camps of the 1930s and 1940s, as two million Vietnamese dead seemed to disappear into history, as Rwandans, Bosnian Muslims and Palestinians ethnically disappeared, as Russians disappear Chechens by gradual decimation, and as the POWs at Guantanamo today remain disappeared in an intentionally purgatorial, dehumanizing anonymous nihilism.

This institutionalized and televised desensitization of the public will again be accomplished by willful legerdemain.  Nothing up my sleeve here in the Humvee, nothing to look at there in the ruins, and presto change-o-regime, it's over.  No harm done to my recliner.  It's an electronic sleight of omission used as weapon of mass hypnosis.  What you don't see is what they get.

This macabre illusion, however, actually shields a very real torture by voodoo, with countless innocents suspended as helpless as dolls, human sacrifices who never volunteered for the grisly duty, gruesomely struck with calibrated, precision instruments of havoc and doom, in often pinprick-accurate military strike, backlit by media's proxy acceptance, as well as by bombardment with who-gives-a-shit let god sort them out headrolling.

Deprived of context, they suffer and die, offstage, invisible but omnipresent, yet never to be heard from again, and, therefore, seemingly never to have existed at all. If a bomb falls in a village, and you don't know to care, was there ever a village in the first place? We know, but we don't know.

Many viewers will be made to feel safe, thinking they're watching their fears bombed into oblivion, appreciating only that they'll continue to see these Pentagon snuff films in the haven of their private homes and thoughts.  They won't make the connection that the people they're not seeing won't even have homes or thoughts any more.

They can change the channel, record it for posterity, turn it off or walk away. They will have this choice, even as they rationalize that the people of Iraq have had their choice as well, no matter how ludicrous and self-serving this sop to their consciences would be.  It's a personal whitewash, taking its cue from the collective eye.  It's a dodge from responsibility and feigned personal absolution.

Even TIVO will get into the act, dutifully recording "The Littlest Caesar, Episode I, Revenge of the Prodigal Son, the Emperor's Cut", as part of some Stepford family's preferred viewing choices.  Too bad February Sweeps has passed, though the networks could blame the U.N. and the French for that. Oh, well, there's always Fall Sweeps.

This footage is a 21st-century satellite version of Nazi Germany's choreographed Riefenstahlian cinema propaganda newsreels, of torchlight parades, blitzkrieg onslaughts, menacing Panzer tanks, and terrifying Stuka divebombers.  Today's version shows the goosestepping automatons from der old neighborhood, sporting the refashioned Nazi military helmets of the modern U.S. military.  Deja vu and General Tommy Franks too.
This footage invokes the cathartic apostasy of Orwell's two-minute hate, stretched to fit the evening news, transforming historic cautionary fiction into great mindless TV.  So crucial must this carnage be to the smooth operation of our political ways and means, that the TV networks suspend regular programming.  We brake for war, they seem to say, bowing down to face their Mecca - and the real Mecca - yet again.

However, a more important kind of programming, of the viewers, is actually taking place.  In a sense, the Bush administration is throwing a real "Heil Mary" pass, desperately trying to both distract from the crashing economy and to condition its citizen-consumers to the junta's realpolitik:  War is good for business; get used to it.  SUV's, stocks, and diamonds can always be sold later, after war boosts confidence in spending.  The media are spared a choice between Caesar and Mammon and will have no other gods before them.

The thrills are vicarious and the spills tax-deductible.  There's mayhem every minute and both sexes in the bunkers.  It's war, folks, and since the real thing would be too graphic, instead we get brainstem-tingling special effects from Military-Industrial Light and Magic.  Real enough to titillate and excite, and illusion enough to disappear the dead and discomfort.  Caveat pre-emptor. Chauncey Gardner wouldn't watch this must-be TV.

Tolstoy wrote, "And so once more the men who reaped profit from it all will assert with assurance that since there has been a war there must needs have been one, and that other wars must follow, and they will again prepare future generations for a continuance of slaughter, depraving them from childhood".  In "The Aeneid" Virgil adds, "Hysteria soon finds a missile". News feed frenzy at 11.

War has always been violently obscene.  The major media now cynically filter the violence and obscenity, projecting and personifying Hannah Arendt's banality of evil characterization for yet another generation.  Evil does triumph when good people do nothing but watch it. Does your disgust about the war and its coverage always outweigh your fascination?  Isn't it still transfixing?

This media coverage debases all who see it, converting passive observers into material witnesses and war supporters into accomplices, while hiding in plain sight the amorality and sadism of war crimes. Many will say "I didn't know" that there were people in those buildings, but if they're honest they'd actually say they didn't care that there were souls in those people.

Pentagon snuff films assault the mind, subtly alter who we are, and cause profound change in the body politic, introducing serial chaos into the social contract. This causes the very violence that we inevitably observe infiltrating society, after the fact, propagating nihilism like a virus. It eventually takes its toll, usually on the most vulnerable, through scapegoating, ostracism, domestic violence, and random acts of psychotic blindness.
However, these films can be antidote, the beginning of knowledge if used as teaching tools.  The antidote is to use them as gentle instruments of peace, resurrecting from within their tragic core of pathos, the cherished values of humaneness, compassion and cooperation. There are people in that rubble, and there are hearts in those people watching war coverage. Linking the two together is peace education, and everyone's an instructor.

We have to keep educating, keep researching, keep writing, keep learning, keep organizing, keep protesting, keep campaigning, keep hoping, keep praying, keep playing, keep loving, and keep the pressure on the media, even locally. They’re all human too and will eventually respond as such.

Keep at it, and ultimately there could be less war to film, and then let's snuff it out.
[The Take Back The Media site on which this article appeared no longer exists.]

Friday, September 11, 2015

The Lifelong Quest

The lifelong quest
for an imaginary perfection
has come up short
and experienced a defection
with a decided inflection
toward a kinder sport
and with a jocular snort
abandons the infection
embraces self-ejection
from that palisaded fort
and heads for the intersection
hoping for the best

Laffitus Maximus
2015 B.C.E.

(Translated from the original Pig Latin)

Sunday, August 16, 2015

New Orleans or No Orleans

     I was born in New Orleans, in '1951.  I grew up in tight cultural orbit of The Crescent City with WTIX The Mighty 690 and WYLD* radio as soundtrack, hearing Jock-a-Mo before it became Iko Iko, Ernie K-Doe, Fats you-know-who, Al Hirt, Irma Thomas, and young Aaron Neville (Tell It Like It is), and many others, all while sitting at the T-pier dock of Biloxi's Back Bay pullin crabs outa the net and takin hardheads off the line.  Sometimes I felt far from home but most of the time felt as if I'd never left and was only on an extended nature vacation fit for a kid.

     Music can do that, be a lifeline to the soul, and New Orleans radio never let me down.  I once even won a tiny Japanese transistor radio from The Mighty 690 in a contest.  Visiting my grandparents in New Orleans regularly also helped me stay close to my roots, including trips to Audubon Zoo with my Papa and eating at the tiny counter at the casual and cramped nearby Camellia Grill afterward with him.  It didn't hurt the cause that I learned to play pool in New Orleans on a 1930s antique Brunswick-Balke-Collender table Papa kept in his aboveground basement that my mother had learned to play on.  In a way, it felt like I had New Orleans itself as grandparents. Nor did Biloxi let me down, having absorbed the laidback vibe of its Big Easy neighbor while savoring its own coastal savoir laissez faire milieu.

     Musically, I inferred that the whole world sounded like Allen Toussaint and Professor Longhair and what a disappointment to later learn otherwise.  I also half-assumed the whole world got to hear "Carnival Time" by Al Johnson every springtime while it blared from my transistor's tinny speaker and later felt the world had been cheated by half because it hadn't.  Not only was New Orleans in my blood, but I was also in its, whether it wanted me there or not. I wasn't an antibody or even a free radical but happily just along for the ride. I eventually came down with Beatlemania, also through the groovy graces of WTIX, and in its throes evolved 'uniquely', as did most of the rest of the world.

     I moved back to New Orleans as soon as I could, not just for Mardi Gras, but for college, studying among other liberal arts the observable effects of legal alcohol for 18-year-olds.  I rode the Freret Jet city bus at night down Freret Street to the Quarter and back, once standing next to one of the original Ink Spots coming home from a gig still wearing his tux, and next to who knows who else in this city of perpetual characters.  I only stayed a year then but moved upriver to Baton Rouge within drunk-driving distance, though later moved back for another unique year, all this being before designated drivers became common.

     My father, from the Mississippi Delta, speaking of music, once lived upstairs in the Quarter across from The Court of Two Sisters.  My mother grew up a block away from Notre Dame Seminary and the Archbishop's residence near the end of the St. Charles streetcar line at Carrolton and Claiborne.  My Nana, who perfected a gumbo for which I still have the recipe if not the touch for a perfect roux, later ate lunch with Pope John Paul II at the Catholic rehab facility next to the seminary.  My Papa, whose industrious hobby was raising prize-winning camellias in the deeply dug fertile ground surrounding their house, was vice president of Standard Coffee Company on Magazine Street for 30 years, including the summer of '63 when Lee Harvey Oswald, aspiring patsy or not, worked there as a machine oiler.

     New Orleans, for me, beyond its Strange Times On The Bayou mystique, had a Fast Times At Contact High flavor and was a peculiar delight of a city with its extrovert originality reinventing itself every morning after.  It will always be the wind-beneath-my-whims and precious behind-the-levees dry land of my birth and of a few risky years of teenage debauchery and intrigue, including my secret Tuesday forays from Biloxi at Mardi Gras, and the lush black subtropical bottom soil, the kind my Papa's blue-ribbon prize camellias grew in, may yet end up holding my own grounds.

     My thoughts of post-Katrina New Orleans are these:  I'm happy for the people who still get to live there and visit there and wish them all very well.  I'm very sad for The Diaspora who were forcibly displaced and prevented from returning if they wished to or otherwise couldn't.  The corporate buskers of the new city, as nice as it may be getting, have created more or less a No Orleans, rather than a new New Orleans.  No Orleans is a big Potemkin village hologram and represents a cynical and manipulative engineering feat of ethnic-cleansing, though someday the city could regrow its soul, but only if The Diaspora are properly mourned and redressed.  Talk about a need for a Right of Return.  And an argument for better levees.

     I wish for a new generation of leaders, who aren't driving drunk with absolute bottom-line corporate power, to help New Orleans regenerate to its former greater expansive self, keeping the positive changes, but retrieving its soul, because the city and its people deserve it, especially including The Diaspora.

-- In 2nd photo: 
Harry Tervalon, Sr., right, with his longtime grill-mate, Wildred Batiste.  Tervalon, who worked the first day Camellia Grill opened, stayed there and worked for another 49 years.

-- If I Didn't Care, by The Ink Spots --
-- Carnival Time, by Al Johnson --
-- Lower 9th Ward Blues, by Al Johnson --

* "The legendary Joe Banashak held auditions for his Minit Record label at WYLD in the fall of 1958. The line-up included the cream of the crop of New Orleans R&B artists—Irma Thomas, Aaron Neville, Ernie K-Doe, Jessie Hill, Benny Spellman and Allen Toussaint, who became the arranger for the label. WYLD was the harbinger of the black music scene in New Orleans".

Thought Xperiment @JEWanon  # jfds ;lfjrjfsdr There's a fluid stasis as the basis for those thoughts that hound ...