An Almost Fatal Accident At The DMV

I needed to renew my drivers license so I made sure I was dressed nicely. I shaved and was wearing my favorite eyeglasses, since I know the picture on my drivers license is representative of me as a human being to those who do not know me. I realize that potentially, in certain situations, this picture has the potential to make or break me.

I arrived at the DMV early so as not to miss my 10:10 am appointment. Because I am often miserable in the mornings, I stopped first to get a sugary oat scone and a cup of coffee to lift my mood. Once I arrived at the DMV, I began the process of loosing my personalized identity and becoming just another body in a sea of other bodies. A man in a uniform directed me into a line where a bunch of other bodies stood patiently waiting. There were beeping sounds and an Orwellian computerized female voice announcing numbers and letters over the intercom. When a bodies number was called, they launched up from there plastic chairs as if someone had just lit a match under their ass.

I gulped down my large coffee as I stood in line and felt the oat scone that I inhaled cleaning the insides of my colon. I was called up to a counter that said START HERE on it and a black man behind the counter asked me some questions in the same way that he talked to all the other ten thousand bodies he encountered in a day. I stuck my thumb on to some kind of digital scanner and once my identity was verified I was given a peice of paper with F080 on it and told to take a seat until my number was called.

At the DMV it does not matter how cute you are, how cool you are or what you do for a living. The DMV is a living example of how equality is still alive and well in a world that seems to indicate the opposite. Everyone becomes a body that needs to stand in-line and wait it’s fucking turn. Other than the abundance of germs flying around in the DMV I enjoy sitting there, observing the multicultural sea of bodies that come through the place. For us humans the DMV is the cattle processing plant- the place where bodies are identified, updated and registered legit.

As I sat in my plastic chair watching bodies and waiting for my number to be called, I felt the oat scone and coffee mixture make it’s way down into the depths of my stomach. Immediately, I was overcome with an unavoidable urge to shit.

Sometimes there is no reasoning with my bodies need to eliminate whatever is inside. When it has to eliminate it gives me very limited time to find a location to plant my ass. I have had bowl movements in numerous public places where I was just not able to beat the clock. These experiences have been embarrassing and humbling because they make me very aware of the fact that no matter how hard I try, I have zero control over what my body ultimately wants to do.

I knew I was fucked. My stomach demanded release no matter how hard I tried to tell it to wait until I was finished at the DMV. F078 was just called and even though a near fatal accident was about to occur, I did not want to miss my turn. I felt my anal sphincter expanding like gates being opened. As hard as I tried to hold those fucking gates shut, I could not. I shot up out of my seat and was so frantic to poop, that I did not even bother to find out where the restrooms were. I headed for the nearest tree. As I was running through the crowd of bodies I unbuckled and unzipped my bealt and pants. The first thing that vanishes in emergency situations is your concern about what other people think of you.

By the time I got to the tree my pants were ready to be pulled down and the coffee, oat scone and whatever else was in there was already half way out. I pulled my pants down, squatted on the ground and let out a huge sigh of relief as I surrendered to my stomachs demand. A white inter-con security car idled a dozen or so feet away but the officer inside was way too absorbed in his cell phone to notice the body of a well dressed, middle aged gentlemen who was squatting with his pants down behind a tree on DMV property.

As I walked back into the DMV with a lightness and a joy for living that can only be attained after a person has made it through a potentially fatal incident, I heard the computerized female voice on the intercom announce F080 go to window 16. Sometimes everything just works out that way.

The Captive Audience

images-1 There are train tracks close to my home. Trains heading into and away from downtown Los Angeles pass by on these tracks. Often times I feel like these trains are like toddlers, screaming out and making noise with no concern for anyone around them. Such is life in our “modern” hurried up age. You can only imagine how happy I was when a train broke down on the tracks by my home the other day. In my mind it was the trains karma for all the disruptive noise it had made. Fair is fair. But I felt bad for all the passengers inside, who were instantly turned into prisoners. They really had nothing to do with the trains bad karma. They were just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

It was hot outside and I imagined it was probably just as hot, if not hotter, on the inside. Wanting to be of service to all these locked up prisoners, I took a stack of my drawings and paintings from my garage and carried them up to where the train was stopped. Engineers and other train workers were hard at work trying to figure out what was wrong with the train. One at a time, I held up my drawings and paintings so that they faced the innocent prisoners inside and walked each one up and down the entire length of the train. Some people looked at me, smiled and waved in a display of gratitude. Others could give two shits about the art I was exposing them to. They seemed perplexed about what I was doing, almost angry. One disgruntled person even mouthed the words “fuck off” at me. I understood that being held prisoner for something you did not do can bring out the worst in people so I did not take their hostility personally. I continued to walk each one of my paintings and drawings up and down the train. The prisoners were getting a personalized gallery showing of my work. I thought it could be helpful for them. But really I did it for selfish reasons. I figured it was a good opportunity to expose the world to my art, since finally I had a captive audience.

The Pothead

marijuana-dbc04668ba596d1d11bbfdcab899d5bdcf6b293a-s6-c30 (The Pothead. Please pass this along to those whom you think could benefit. Thank you.)

He is not your ordinary pothead. In fact, by looking at him you would never know. He smokes pot most of the time. He consumes pot in the same way a sick person would consume her medicine. He does not mind telling people that when he is smoking pot everything feels better. His life long depression seems to slip away. Suddenly he cares about how he looks and feels an excited vibration towards life just around the area of his heart. Dark clouds part from the sky of his consciousness and light starts to flood in. Have you ever seen what happens to a child who is protein deprived and then receives a good dose of protein? It’s as if they are risen from the dead. He likes to tell this to his doctor who thinks that the daily consumption of pot can lead to lung cancer, schizophrenia, short-term memory loss, amotivational syndrome and intellectual stupor. Every time he visits his doctor (which is less often since he started consuming pot regularly) he reminds himself that he needs to find a new, more enlightened doctor.

His favorite time to take his medicine is in the mornings and again in the evenings. He works at a local bank and it is a job that often depresses him and causes him a great deal of inner conflict (as a progressive, radical, leftist, anarchist he believes that banks and corporations go against his deeper liberationist values). When he takes his medicine in the mornings he is suddenly excited about the day ahead of him, even if it is a ten-hour work day at the bank. After he takes his medicine, life feels good again and anything that he does can be experienced as a pleasurable activity.

He does not smoke to get high, not eighty percent of the time at least. Well this is not true- in the evenings he consumes pot to get high, to be fully immersed in a relaxing cocoon, to be in love again. In the mornings he consumes pot to feel better, to feel excited about life again. Normally in the mornings he is miserable. He has practiced meditation, exercised, done all sorts of things to feel good in the mornings but nothing has worked. After taking his medicine in the mornings he can be seen skipping around, smiling, pleasurably writing, going for long joy filled walks and laughing. It’s as if the depression immediately dissipates and he becomes awake to his life in ways that were not accessible to him when not consuming pot. His girlfriend likes to tell him that when consuming pot he is fun to be around again.

No one at the bank knows that he consumes pot. If they knew that the reason why he was so engaging, exceptional at his job and happy was because he was under the influence of pot, they would judge him. They might even see him as a drug addict (even though most of them take daily anti-depression medication pills), so he keeps his pot smoking to himself.

Certainly when he is not under the influence of pot he feels a higher degree of agitation and depression. He feels less satisfied, as if a certain quality of happiness has abandoned him. The negative side-effects of pot are a small price to pay for what he gains as a result of his consumption of pot. Everything has its trade offs, he believes. There is the yin and yang in every aspect of life. The definition of intelligence is to know and act appropriately when the positive outweighs the negative and vice versa.

This morning when he awoke it was dark and cloudy out. He felt a heaviness in his chest and a blackness in his head. He made himself some coffee and read the paper version of The New York Times. He felt heavier and heavier until finally he decided that it was time to take his medicine. Within ten minutes he was in the shower and then getting dressed up nicely for work. He was smiling and joyfully listening to music. He did some cleaning up around his house before leaving for work. He kissed his cats goodbye. On his drive to work he did not feel the heavy, unsatisfying weight of displeasure that can consume a person when going to a job that they hate. Instead he was present, enjoying the music coming through his car speakers. He felt lucky to have a car.

The pothead consumes pot every night before going to bed. Prior to not consuming pot before bed his sleep was always interrupted by back pains, leg pains, chest pains, breathing problems and the never ending gyrations of a restless mind. Now he sleeps every night through, uninterrupted by anything except the occasional need to pee. He is not troubled by overwhelming dreams or any other discomforts while sleeping. His sleep is the sleep of those who inhabit the realm of weightlessness, boundlessness and have been able to completely let go of all attachments. It is the sleep of a very pleasant nothingness.

When he does not take his medicine his cats drive him crazy. He feels overwhelmed by the mess they make, their financial upkeep cost and the damage to his home that they have done. He often ignores them. After consuming pot, there are few people’s company that he enjoys more than his cats. He loves his cats and wants to play with them. He laughs at the amount of trouble they cause and appreciates their defiance and destructiveness. His cats become his best friends. He is well aware that when he takes his medicine (consuming pot) the whole world becomes like his cats. Everything becomes interesting and enjoyable. He is comfortable with his life and life seems comfortable with him. Activities that often cause him drudgery are fun. He wants to engage with the world. When under the influence of pot he is able to see just how unhappy and heavy the majority of people are (including himself at times), how uninspired they are about their lives.

He is well aware that this is a fundamental part of being a pothead that he needs to accept. When under the influence of pot his consciousness seems to work better. It seems to become re-invigorated and alive. However, the majority of humans that he is around are unable to access these plateau states. They are weighed down by life. This can be alienating for the pothead, but what he has learned is that through being more alive, more invigorated by life, he has a greater capacity to handle the daily suffering of the human race. After all, life involves a great deal of suffering. The person who lives for 40 years and does not experience a great degree of suffering is someone who is exceptionally lucky. They have a high degree of good karma. However, even they too will eventually experience an increase in their levels of suffering as life goes on. For the pothead, the general suffering that seems to be involved in daily living is almost completely eradicated when consuming pot. It would not be a stretch to think of the pothead as someone who has mastered the art of living, once they take their medicine. The pothead is well aware that pot could indeed save the world.

The pothead is thinking that this weekend he will buy a new bike and start going on long and spontaneous bike rides.

What To Write?

imagesI’m sitting here in front of a blank digital page (obviously it is not blank anymore). Empty coffee mug to my left and a small book by Boyd Rice on my right. It is Monday morning, the beginning of a five day work week. How many of us are happy about this? How many of us are resentful that we have to leave behind the weekend’s promise of the freedom to do whatever we want and be whatever we want to be? I don’t fully understand it, but it is always on Monday mornings that I hear more ambulance sirens than at any other time during the week. Maybe the weight of the week ahead is too much to tolerate for certain human physiologies. I should be working on writing the novel that I have been writing for the past few months, but I have lost interest. My mind seems to think that it is no good, a failed word soup with too many different ingredients in it. Instead I have been doing other things, like writing smaller pieces such as this one, reading, painting, cleaning, listening to music, surfing around on the internet, hanging out in the sun. Anything to avoid the drudgery of working on my novel. What’s the point of writing a novel these days anyways? Hasn’t the attention span of humans been cut in half? I sit here staring at a large Mulberry tree through my studio window. I have to leave the comfort of my home and be at work in less than two hours. This is something I have always resented about work- it has a tendency to take me away from where I want to be. Maybe I could do a little reading before I need to get dressed for work? Sit in my chair and listen to the birds conversing with one another in the Mulberry tree? Meditate? I need to do something other than this, since currently I have no idea what to write.

No Trespassing

sgp4_hi  It’s never a good sign when a neighbor puts up a No Trespassing sign in their yard. If you look through my bedroom window, the sign will be looking directly back at you. Yesterday, I was sitting on my bed and I was just staring at the No Trespassing sign thinking about the No Trespassing sign that terrified me as a child. It was nailed to a wood fence and I would pass by it on my walks home from school. The sign terrified me because on it there was this picture of what I thought was a Tres- an all black ape like creatures with no eyes or mouth that was wandering around, somewhere. I thought that the sign was telling these shadow like creatures that they were not allowed to pass by that area, which must of meant they were around. I was always terrified that Tres were hiding in the bushes, under cars, behind houses- just waiting for me. I asked other people about Tres but no one knew what I was talking about. Still today when I look at that No Trespassing sign, a chill runs up and down my spine and arms. My mind seems to still believe that there are Tres around. Under the cars, behind the trees- just waiting.

Where, Were, Their, There, They’re, To and Too

stress3-brain  Their is no doctor that can help me resolve this. Teachers and friends have never been much help. I have talked with a few neuroscientists about it and still I have come away empty. I have made charts and tacked them to the wall above my desk. I have spent hours sitting on my patio (in my favorite Herman Miller outdoor chair replica) trying to commit the proper use of these words too memory. But still, almost everyday in my writing life, I will misuse many of these words several times. It is as if I have a neurochemical block when it comes to using the words where, were, to, too, their, there and they’re in my writing. Maybe these words are plotting against me, deliberately trying to undermine any of my efforts to have a legitimate writing career. They sneak in at the most opportune moment and are as difficult for me to catch as would be a coyote running wild in the desert. There sneaky, skilled and they’re very existence is predicated upon undermining all of my efforts to use them correctly.

The Authentic Hipster, A Manifesto

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It’s an over used word, I know.

Hipster.

I have friends that refuse to use that word anymore.

They feel like it’s a word that has lost its inherent counter-cultural value because of its now globally popular use.

Now-a-days, for the right price, anyone can be a hipster.

Seems as if hipsters have become commonplace.

Ironically, to be a hipster is now a popular trend and it’s packaged and sold in mega chain stores like Urban Outfitters and Target, across the globe.

I find that it is more common now than ever that hipsters are often confused for what I generally refer to as the real thing.

Like any real thing, you know it when you see it.

Nick Cave is the real thing.

Tom Waits.

Jim Jarmusch.

David Lynch.

A tree.

Sonic Youth.

However, it seems as if it is harder to tell with a hipster whether or not she or he is the real thing or just in it for the vanity.

When I meet a hipster who is really hip I often say something like, “so nice to meet someone who is the real thing.”

For purposes of this manifesto rather than using what I realize is a somewhat trite phrase (the real thing) to designate that which I feel is authentic, I am just going to use the word authentic.

The use of the word authentic is just an easy way to cut to the bone.

It gets right to the point.

I understand my friends (two in particular) rejection of the word hipster and I realize that this rejection is precisely what makes them so hip.

The word hipster seems to have lost all connection with the word authentic.

At their core, these two friends of mine are the very embodiment of what it means to be an authentic hipster (more about them later).

I, however, do not mind the use of the word hipster.

I also realize that many people have a problem with the word authentic.

They feel it is too general and is filled with spiritual and psychotherapeutic self-help undertones.

Ok, maybe so, but for the purposes of this manifesto I will use the term authentic hipster only because, like I said, it gets to the point.

Recently, I have been making a concerted effort to use the term authentic hipster more often.

When I use the term authentic hipster it always starts some kind of conversation.

What is an authentic hipster? people tend to ask.

This is my doorway into their perceptions.

For this reason I use the term whenever I can: family gatherings, social engagements, one-on-one conversations, art exhibitions, when volunteering at the homeless shelter, at work and even when engaging with my server at a restaurant.

Granted, maybe I am over zealous in my use of the term authentic hipster, but there is a manifest reason why I am using this word so much.

In the same way that a political activist is passionate about letting people know about what is going on in say Gaza, I want to let people know about the difference between a hipster and an authentic hipster.

It’s important to me.

Until now, I have not taken the time to write a manifesto about the authentic hipster (maybe this is because I am lazy or maybe because I feel a bit too unhip to write a hipster manifesto), so talking about it was my way of making manifest my inner beliefs.

Until now I would talk about the authentic hipster, enlighten people about what it actually means to be an authentic hipster, instead of writing it down.

This manifesto was born out of all those pleasant and sometimes unpleasant conversations.

Throughout my readings and conversations, I have found that the majority of people have very little understanding about what it means to really be a hipster.

They think of Urban Outfitters and rich parents.

Or they think of white pretentious people with mustaches, beards, an American Express card, tomboyish women’s clothes and bad attitudes.

They think of a group of overly stylish people who think that they are better than everyone else.

Admittingly there are indeed elements of all of these traits in the authentic hipster.

The difference is that the authentic hipster, the real thing, is not a person who is just a consumer and a follower of popular trends.

The authentic hipster has constructed a life out of a love for things creative, counter-cultural, underground and artisan.

They are the ambassadors of good taste (you can see this in their clothes, their food, their music, their homes, their cars, the movies they watch and on and on).

They are not in it for the money (vanity) so to speak.

They care about quality and independence.

They care about a radical revision of the way we live our often mundane lives.

When I use the word hipster, I am referring to what I believe is the essence or the root use of this mainly Americanized word (it is also used in England a lot).

I am going back to the beats and using the word hip in the same spirit that they used the word beat.

To be beat was to be cool.

To be beat was to be self educated and passionate about literature, philosophy, art, spirituality, poetry, sculpture, crafts, sexuality, fringe music, style, drugs, and leftist, anti-government political ideologies.

To be beat was to be counter-cultural.

To be beat was to be free of ordinary and often religious social restraints and to dress in a way that was evidence that you were not “one of them.”

Every time that I use the word hipster I am invoking the spirits of Jack Kerouac, William Burroughs, Patti Smith, Brion Gysin, Allen Ginsberg, Neal Cassidy, Diana di Prima and Herbert Huncke- for they are the original hipster.

Hell, I could go all the way back to Rimbaud, Keats and Blake but for purposes of this manifesto I will stay with the beats.

The beats really are the soil that the contemporary hipster grows out from.

Most people that I talk to about hipsters think that beat refers to something that happens in a song or in the heart.

Or if they have heard of the beatniks, their knowledge of the genre goes as far as On The Road (which, in most causes they did not even finish reading).

As I often say, it is impossible to understand what it means to actually be an authentic hipster without an understanding of the beat generation.

It is like referring to The White House without any knowledge of who lives there and what goes on inside.

It goes without saying that my two friends (who do not want to be named and who are a lot hipper than I am) were deeply influenced by the beats.

This is the main difference between an authentic hipster and all the rest.

The authentic, contemporary hipster is in some way, shape or form deeply influenced by the beats.

If you consider yourself to be a hipster and you have no or very little knowledge of the beat generation, I recommend that you start reading.

Without this knowledge under your belt, you are an imposter.

You just look good.

My two hipster friends will probably not even get this far in reading what I have written.

By the end of the first page they have probably been put off by my continual use of the word hipster.

Ok, so be it.

They probably think I am being corny by using the term authentic hipster.

Or maybe it is too painful for them to be accurately mirrored in the way I am attempting to do here?

Who knows.

The authentic hipster derives a great deal of his or her confidence from the fact that they are very unique and there are only a select few whom they share things in common with.

This is why often times the authentic hipster is a complete and absolute loner.

When they look around them at their fellow man and women they often feel isolated and disconnected.

This is why the authentic hipster dedicates so much time, interest and energy towards finding musicians, poets, writers, designers, artists and other out of the box creative individuals.

They are continually reaching towards finding some kind of specific connection with something or someone radically different to pull them out of what often feels like a vacuous, uninspired and soulless void.

The Urban Outfitters hipsters don’t even see the void.

They are too distracted by their Facebook, Tumblr and Twitter accounts (the authentic hipster often uses these social media platforms as well, but they are doing it for deeper connection and creative expression- not just distraction, frivolous socializing and vanity.

What my two hipster friends have indirectly taught me is that to be the real thing means that the authentic hipster is actively engaged keeping alive a particular underground or counter-culture that the majority of people in the world have no idea exists.

The reason for this lack of knowledge of this underground culture is because the majority of people do not care enough and/or are not educated enough to dig even a few feet beneath the level of information that is fed to them by popular media outlets.

The majority of people just take the few popular and almost always corporate (big business) options that they are given (what is accessible) and do not go much deeper than that (the majority of hipsters are victims of this corporate, ideological branding process that happens to most in America).

The authentic hipster, on the other hand, keeps the non-corporate, the independent, the counter-cultural alive.

They are heroes of the underground and they have a genuine and often inspired interest in cool niche things.

Most of the niche things that they are interested in are not even noticeable by the majority of people.

Like when the Native Americans could not even see the huge Spanish ships just off the shore because they had no reference point for these ships.

The majority of people have no reference point for the cool niche things (clothes, music, books, furniture, art, fashion, film, design, etc) that the authentic hipster is interested in.

Like the fleet of Spanish ships just off the shore, the majority of people don’t know what the fuck to make of these niche things so in their confusion and ignorance they call them pretentious.

What a tragic misinterpretation.

The authentic hipster is a master crafts person.

They craft their life away from the mundane norm and towards the beautiful, the creative, the organic, the indie, the cultured, the profound, the soul.

They look aesthetically refined because of the careful choices that they make.

Their attention to detail, durability, quality and style in all that they wear, eat, watch, listen to, talk about and on and on creates a way of living that is closer to a work of art than it is to anything else.

Here is a good example of some authentic hipster looks: http://thestreetstylecurator.tumblr.com/tagged/menswear

Oscar Wilde said that an artist’s greatest work of art is themselves, and the authentic hipster has mastered this way of living.

Everything from their food to their hair to their watches, belts, socks, t-shirts, socks is refined, independently made, artisan and attended to with a concern for detail.

Have no confusion about it- the authentic hipster is much more alive than most people are.

They are engaged with being alive in ways that most people are not.

Life and art are one and the same for them.

In listening to say a piece of experimental music on vinyl, or in reading a highly literary book by an obscure counter-cultural author, they are communicating with a radical energy that is often liberating.

This is why if we can all get beyond our judgments and inferiority complexes (which is natural because authentic hipsters make everyone else acutely aware of just how unhip they are), there is a lot that we can learn from the authentic hipster.

They can teach us things that will enhance our quality of life.

They can teach us about quality and independence.

They can teach us about doing things ourselves (DYI) rather than asking others to do the work for us.

They can teach us about creating our own identities rather than going along with what is socially acceptable and commonplace.

They can teach us about the finer things in life- excellent quality food, smells, sounds and visual imagery.

They can teach us about how to make creativity into a way of being in the world.

In short- they can teach us about how to live independently.

Of course my two hipster friends would not admit to any of this.

If they are still reading this they probably think that I have gone off the deep end.

They might agree that they are deeply interested in niche things.

They might even also admit to having deep reverence for anything underground.

But like I said before, the very thing that makes my two friends authentic hipsters is that they do not see themselves in my description of what it means to be an authentic hipster.

They have an innate aversion.

Only the imposter hipster is like Narcissist who sees his own reflection on the surface of the water and writes all kinds of status updates about it on their Facebook accounts.

These imposter hipsters have done a great dis-service to each and every authentic hipster.

It is mainly for these imposter hipsters that I am writing this.

Please see the errors of your ways and try to correct them.

Stop being just a consumer and learn about the deeper history and meanings behind the very way of being that you have so mindlessly embraced.

Authentic hipsters avoid all things large scale and corporate.

You will not find them at Target or Urban Outfitters (well maybe sometimes).

You will not find them at the new big blockbuster movie (well maybe).

You will not find them on CBS, ABC or NBC (well, you might).

Educate yourself about the counter-culture, artisanal movements and the underground.

Years and years can be spent learning about these things.

There is an endless amount of information and experiences out there but you will find none of it in your local mall, those giant festivals, in the news or on TV.

Just imposters.

Lift yourself out of your limbo so that you can become more informed and move more towards embodying what it truly means to be an authentic hipster.

This is the only way that lasting counter-cultural movements can occur; when the majority of those involved are more than just a look.

When they have depth, purpose and a collective vision.

When they are authentically finding ways of being in the world that have not been flattened by the hands of corporate, common place America (work, house payments, kids, Madmen and weekend sporting events).

This is when a radical movement can be born.

But this is the fatal irony inherent in what it means to be an authentic hipster.

An authentic hipster is by their very nature an outsider.

They live on the margins of society because they do not want to have much to do with society.

They could give two shits about politics and starting radical, counter-cultural movements (some however do care about creating small, independent communities).

The authentic hipster is too in love with their books, music, clothes, coffee, food and general way of life to really care too much about larger social issues.

The way they live their life is their act of political protest.

I suppose this is why I have written this brief manifesto.

I just wanted to let you know about what is going on in the fringe areas of major cities and in the less affluent parts of suburban towns.

The authentic hipster is out there.

They are not all imposters.

Next time you judge one, hopefully you will be able to tell the difference.

And if you are an imposter- hopefully you will find some inspiration in these words and deepen your knowledge about what it really means to be hip…..