1 Nov 2017

The Sunblock Selfie Sutra

Yes, it's a sutra now, for a subpar sojourner. I'll explain below.


They actually let me into their country! Dad deflects my harmless scary-seeming sketchiness. American empire's now in its Caligula phase. You must believe in corruption, if you want to work within the system, bring some carrots for the horse that got deputized energy secretary.

The orientation sensor on my phone is beautiful. It doesn't sense how calcified the legislatures are, on this continent. But it's beautiful, nonetheless. And it doesn't take away from the superego's point, which is that I may not know who to trust, or what legislation to support, but I know where north and south and east and west are, because the GPS works as well as it does, and chemtrails are good for us. I hope they engineer us out of this, I want a happy ending in the atmospheric theater. It's taken care of, I couldn't change anything on that scale even if I was determined to.


I'm a bad traveler. It's kinda funny, but I'm enjoying bad traveling, why not? It's not drug tourism, not coming to, in foreign lands, not come to Jesus, come on Jesus, exit Jesus, walk with Jesus (he said: "Oh you poor boy, you ain't comin' to me, no way.") Sure, the Oregon coast is inspiring, absorbing - but enough has been said poetically. Someone asks: "How deep does the cave go?" It's like, a cove cave, sea crashes in, sprays out of the devil's punch-bowl. Haven't taken any pictures yet.

I'm coming to terms with my deficiencies as a traveler. It's okay, I can relax and catalog the flaws - then, in a weird way feel good about how I'm different, even if lacking sensitivity and initiative. Be the subpar sojourner, cause nature won't come natural. Don't need to hear constant comments of "Gorgeous!", don't need to watch for whales. Look how high and mighty I am on what I "don't need". "Omg! I just saw something go up there. Was that a fluke?" It honestly doesn't do much for me. I wouldn't dare *say* that, won't go be an asshole about it. Most people have a spark of wildlife enthusiasm - except small urbanites that never venture out. How many times already have I seen things my dad would rhapsodize - and kept them to myself? Whales, Mount Rainier, the street named Deon, the house with the huge pirate flag (okay, that was for me). I'm trying hard to focus on exactly why I should be so enthralled with the tails and sprays I'm seeing. Think about it man: whales, actual factual whales, huge ass gray whales under those waves! But it doesn't connect all that strongly, maybe why I need to sample the state cash crop - don't judge me if that's the chemical tweak I need, to appreciate, alleviate spiritual rot, medicine in a real sense, especially since I've been so good about everything else, sober, and day three off the lung darts.

Going to Portland on Tuesday, where there are all the eateries I could want to choose from. Of course, that's the one and only thing my dad's friends consider. Which, I can't blame them, I've been of no help in articulating my interests or possible motivations, my bad-traveler non-agenda. I'm not gonna mention my budding interest in locally grown weed, CBD, and edibles, but was kinda stoked from browsing the local mags. Nobody lacks a bucket list more than me, all that's on mine still is DMT, and forget fentanyl and ayahuasca, for disparate reasons.

Melancholic comfort of gift shops and guest books, 2017 eclipse-brand stuff. This is indeed a Great Coast. Just can't shake my Great Irony. Even the Great Oregon Coast can't destroy it. Unless one of North Korea's missiles reaches this far. Then I would feel that 9/11-style irony-killing horror. Horror can do it - beauty, not so much. Only the beauty of a woman who is also into me, that can also kill irony. Cue painful memories of Ucluelet, picking blueberries, seeing whale sprays, the last day on the beach, she wished we'd kissed deeper. I don't remember what book we read aloud. I'm thinking about higher ground, cause they're talking tsunamis. Don't let nobody bring you down.

Nothing gives me better tingly drowsy vibes than my dad's friend talking about a "marvelous lunch". "My goodness, oh, what a day." Aah. And Japanese gardens, rock work all fitted together like a jigsaw puzzle, tea houses and little deserts. I like being with my dad and his friends, playing Scrabble. Beyond the distaste for parts of mainstream and consumer culture (obviously not all, takes money to drive a Prius) there's a soothing non-judgmentalism, an overlap where our values, or lack thereof, align. Could not be more unnecessary to be cool. Also, I get the sense that neither of them are going to freak at me about some unwritten rule I violated in house-guesting.

All the older ladies think I'm Gary Cooper. I'm not drowsy and detached, I'm the "strong silent type", got Tony Soprano's seal of approval. The ride is too smooth in a not-too-used Prius, I'm succumbing to the mobile crib, getting things done passively. They can't see my eyes closed under the shades. Read whatever you want into it, the unseen whites can stand in for whatever appreciation you'd hope for, whatever you want this to be for me, I'll say it is for you.

I love to love being drowsy, I can be aware of it and sustain it still, a little, but too much consciousness focused on it, for too long, clamps Mr. Piedlourde's feet on the brakes, breaks the spell, I have to give up, perk up in discontent. Not euphoric. Got to wait for it to happen naturally again, descend, pull me gently with it, velvetty handrails, basalt rails, so black and smooth, back to basom. Hey, I've earned it, even more than the anchovy maker from Italy in Times Square on two months paid vacation. Maybe not as much as Malik, fighting forest fires all summer.

I have a great idea, just need some venture capital. It's a "getting things done" simulator. It has a VR device component: you put on a suit and headset, and it gives you tactile sensations, swells and ebbs of mild vertigo, rocking up and down / side to side, comfy rumbling, in a car or plane, being driven or flown by a trusted person, and getting somewhere you want to be, but not urgently, you're loving the journey, it's making you sleepy. So you can sleep, like the ambien you took is kicking in, but your legacy is secure, your lineage, your children, or the work you've accomplished is percolating through the future, you can practically die, or just simulate death, play that role. You can also set the role to include associations of a specific destination, almost like a Total Recall package, except instead of going to some place for an adventure, you've got a phone full of synthesized photos of the great adventure you already had, and it was so great, and you met so many wonderful people, and accomplished so many things, there's a record of it for you to browse, and now your journey is a well-earned homecoming.

There's also the component of a tasker app that integrates to all your web services and platforms, and decides, with an artifically-intelligent discretion worthy of Her, which of your unfinished projects and plans would best fit with a suggested role play, like your lovely AI assistant, she finished that novel you barely started, more or less as you would write it, on that fictional vacation you took, and here is a mockup that doesn't even sound like parody. It would work so well with my habit of cultivating personal data sets and collections of media according to an aesthetic that gives me a feeling of purpose and pleasing order. Fussing over things can keep you from falling into an abyss, maybe why solitary confinement is torture.


It's ten in the morning, and hot. There's a bite mark in the sun. We're watching from my dad's friends' yard. On the other side of the fences are neighbor gatherings, "wow"ing" and "holy fuck"ing. Good thing there are people around me to react. Rarely been so grateful to be forced to hear ostentatious others' conversations. I still don't have *that vibe* yet. Can I borrow it? Ctlr-C / Ctlr-V it? Can I borrow a feeling? A vibe is some kind of information, surely, that I can convert. Got some kinda vibe anyway, doesn't have to be the right one, there is no right one. But I'm liking how my dad is telling us about the binocular strategy, eschewing tripods. This is his Shambhala, I'm absorbing some of it, as light wanes. There's creeping cold, arctic pale like the midnight sun. The change in feel is tripping me out more than anything, disrupting my sense of day and time. I sensed the change sooner than anyone, yay me.

I should be playing Dark Side of the Moon, the last half - except no, that's a drunk thing to do, when things go with other things, and I mash them together, but not a psychedelic thing, where you focus on one thing that becomes everything. But I will take a selfie, with my sunblock shades. I'm not drunk like the neighbors, not exactly sober like my dad and his friends, coming up on pot gummies. If I was drunk, I'd never get on some hypochondriac paranoid trip about if the eclipse glasses were *really* safe enough from the weird act I'm doing of staring into the sun directly. In a certain way, drunk would be funner, but also fluffier sprach Zarathustra. What creepy thing is going on if I'm not getting immediate painful bio-feedback but my retinae are being fried like my brain on drugs?

Neighbor dogs sense the energy of people, or maybe the eclipse. We're all moved by the crescent sun that brought us here, together. The cats still don't care. "It's so fricken weird!" A neighbor says, as totality approaches. Another neighbor says something about perceiving cosmic motion in a totally new way.

Glasses off! Total eclipse! Booyah! I win the planet!

Then the sun creeps back from the point of brilliant death-ray, radial beam splays out exponentially, inside are oscillating geometric forms in the radiation concentration, I'm receiving revelations about pi and the stock market, I want to keep looking, I want to! But I shouldn't, glasses back on, don't want an eclipse injury, worse than a party wound, Sol-fiend in the thorn bushes, every rose has its thorns, every cliche has its day. If they're such Sol-fiends, why're they howling for it to be obscured? Cause language categories create unnecessary problems, to be solved upside down on the back of the page. 

Just saw the sun in a new way, obscure revelation. There's a tick for the bucket list - didn't even know it was on, and now it's off! "Encore!" says a neighbor, laughing. My favorite comment was the boisterous lady from the party across the fence, not quite plastered: "I had no idea".

It's a crack high for my dad (so gross I use those metaphors, but they mean something to me, sadly). He says something about euphoria fading, like he's crashing. It's a sweet and gentlemanly sort of crash, because different addictions are different, but it triggers the wrong kind of association with me. I figure my dad's friend was that way with butterflies. When it comes to astronomical stuff, the rest of us are normies, not eclipse addicts - we're liking the comeback of warmth and light. But I gotta admit, I'm not *that* normie, there is a euphoria fading for me too. Part of it is the rarity of the moment of totality, the influx of value, making the most of it, like life itself, microcosm, compressed. The heart *was* pounding. An experience! Getting down with the universe, like somebody from the sixties who found Kubrick before acid.

Yeah, I did see and feel something that is unique to me, cause I'm such a snowflake. The total perspective vortex is torture for Zaphod Beeblebrox - or it should be, in theory, all the best cosmological hypotheses marinated in the greatest non-hypoxic hypocampi would indicate such - but it just told him what he knew all along, that he's a really great guy!

If they're crackheads, they're bouncing back and fiending less than any substance abuser I've seen. I'm not like them. But I can pretend. Have a hangover - a strange sort of hangover where the dynamics go from dim to bright. It wasn't a hole in the sky. I see a facebook update from my friend Lynze in Florida, but turns out she's in South Carolina on the totality path! It hasn't hit her yet, haha. I'll try not to be haughty about merely having seen something, but I'm tempted. A friend from Utah sends me a link to that picture of Trump squinting at the sun, because of course, so I riff on that, cause he looks to me like he's saying: "Baron... soon you will be king. I'm taking Ivanka with me, to the other side. I'll have the Saudi's be-head Melania when she's exiled. You will be the only one left with a ridiculous enough name to rule."


They got a weed shop downtown, so civilized. If you have to partner with the stupid liquor industry to get things done then so be the shitty compromise. When I get stoned though, value inverts so piercingly, growing pains, gnawing pangs, the intolerable hallucinatory toothache, everything ache. I pushed it cause I can handle it, appreciate both the mellow and the harsh, mallomarsched and quite possibly labarsched, sativa paranoia, fun, freaky, not exactly sober but the one substance I don't abuse. Goes good with a solar eclipse and bad traveling.

In my peripheral vision my dad's foot keeps becoming a yappy dog, but silent peripheral yapping, like what tropane delirium puts front and center, albeit with a blunted frontal lobe. I'm still gooned on those gummies as the sun creeps up unobscured, trump fnord obsequiem creeping. Can free will get me where I want to go? What about someone else's will then? If you're the devil, I want to chat with you. Lead me like a blind man. Show me a good time, spin me through the casino, cash me out, cast me out, sign me out. One day I'll explain the void well enough to get help to treat it - witnessing an eclipse may have been the first step. I'm just fostering superstitious feelings for a future feedback loop of positivity.

My dad's other friend made us some hamburgers like I've never had before, just unreal cooking style, and I love listening to them talk. I'm so glad they don't live in the ironic distance I'm perpetually locked in, Clockwork Orange style. Distance doesn't mean detached. Not even dissociated. More like hiding from, in a fucked up neurotic pain/gain alchemy of black comedy magic. Tinged too much in favor of stubbornly-held-to conceits of comfort and lack thereof. Not that distant. Never that distant. Never that near either. Always out of reach. The best things along with the worst things. The grapes must be sour. The mouth must be sore. A mouthful of sores ain't no fun, take it from me.

Ironic distance, not a thousand yard stare but a one meter stare, at a screen. Seeing pixels everywhere. Burn the dead wood, vaporize the dead weight, incinerate the uselessness, accelerate because they can't wait, get rid of me, I'm no necessity to fate like some character is purported to be in Game of Thrones. Isn't that a fun fantasy? And the only thing you could hope for after death is if the Lord of Light has some entertainingly gruesome death lined up for you, before which, you must be revived as many times as necessary, ad absurdum, with some ridiculous redundant eye patch. Thanks for listening to this week's What Really Grinds My Gears, with Alt Balterman. Stamps Dot Com.

There's a brain-on-drugs crackling sound, signaling burn out. Hoh boy, burn out's a'comin. Always a danger. But in stranger aeons even death may die.


is a Great city. Makes me insular, as most things do, cause the sun's blocked with my selfie sutra. On the drive over here, the Magnetic Zeros came on my playlist, and uh-oh, got dragged down into the mud of grief-logged associations of the last girl, in this music video I'm making for myself.

Beautiful Portland people everywhere, literally everyone in some bustling pattern of social interaction, isolating me because of my passivity, locked up lone wolf, eponymous and unpacked, bitter tea, bitten fur, maul scars. Flustered. That's why I drink to get drunk. It smooths out the fluster, the ugly ruffled feathers, the unfuckable underpinning. Don't test my patience for PDA right now, people. Fucking iron-filing people, diatomic, hydrophilic. I'm remembering the feeling of real anger, righteous or just blind rage that's at least more pleasurable than sadness: fuck you then, you are not worth this bullshit, I am worth more than this, fuck right off, forever. I'm coming to the conclusion that it's better to take heroin than seek or keep pining for real love. A way of protection, metabolizing self-hate into contempt for others.

I imagine doing a "show me your tits" whistle. C'mon, put on a little show for me. I'm not expecting anything, just reveling in being a dirtbag, scorn and poison love-addiction-withdrawal turned moldy misogyny, with a love present but twisted, sedated, buried, crushed, crystallized in the strange glassy form of an ego trip in devaluing others, keeping the value strictly sexual, contriving contempt for anyone's mind cause I can't put my dick in your dissertation honey, no matter the brilliance. Don't wanna play, just wanna nut, like a duty to fulfill, tick the box for the clipboard. And still, wanting certain others, cause it's a foolish resistant persistence. Either bend to my will, or will me to feel better.

It's giving me melodies I could make a song out of though: you're gonna see, oh, you're gonna see, oh, you're gonna see - all'a'my deficiencies, they're gonna pile higher than your last pile of misery... I'll do something with it later, maybe. It's the song of a pitiable man who became a minor youtube celebrity, unwittingly, through sub-viral videos of performing musical abortions. Anything is possible. Which of course necessitates the aggressive cynical later disavowal. It's not The Secret, it's not The Path, it's not a Law of Attraction. It's chaos, he thought it was a ladder, but they kicked it out from under him. Torrents drown tornadoes. Solar wind won't interfere with GPS for now. It'll allow geo-engineering and old timey déjà thread beach head dreams.

After the famous ice-cream store, I'm humming some good melodies I made up with sweet syncopations, so smug - then so humble, or should I say, humiliating, when I put into words what I want, not what I have, the desire that makes the whole body ache, pray-singing, sing-praying for angel pussy to help me with my mind. Maybe I should get healthier first, only then can I hope to be complimented and completed. Til then, take care of house plants, pets, but no larger responsibilities or people to fuck with. Well, I could never fuck a person up, could never have that impact, would brag about it if I did. The grapes are sour, and after masterfully manipulating people in a way I could feel good about, eventually, after sixty-nine Bowie-quality years, Mephisto would come knocking. Prolly more like seven years.

Listening to Schumann on the drive back, asking him, if you're such a genius, why couldn't you figure out a reason to keep living? Or did you decide, like Hunter S, it was just a good time to quit? And then, who'm I to argue? Obviously my perception doesn't go far enough to equal the suicide imperative. If it did I could make money from my words.


"It's the best shade of blue you'll ever see," my dad says, hyping it up real good, and when I get down to the lake, I see he's right, even with all the smoke-haze in the air. It's taking the form of a jingle in my mind's ear, the best shade of blue you'll ever see, dee dee dee. The 1:1 ratio between the crater edge cliffs above and the abyss below is so vertically satisfying. My heavy eyes linger for minutes on a sight that strikes me as unbearably adorable, a skein of ducks leaving a stately wake behind them. I can get into nature sometimes, herbs help.

I'm inside the massive caldera/lake of a volcano that collapsed in on itself seven thousand years ago. We're on a boat tour, and our guide mentions the Old Man, a vertical log who floats around and sometimes gets spotted by the tourists, but there's this element of chance. He's so entropic. Too entropic you might say, but what's *your* brilliant plan? My plan is turbulence, steady rocking rolling turbulence you can't predict. But I'm sheep-like in my predictability to go against the herd, precisely 180 degree perpendicular. When the boat tourists sit down, I stand up, and think about skulls and geology, and the devil's backbone, the rock formations, then my shoe, thinking about Burroughs in Tangiers saying you could spend a whole day staring at your shoe, the dust planet, the desert chasm, pumice, abrasive dust.


I'm ascending the spiraling shuttle-bus road, where geometric precision mingles with geological havoc, riding a frozen wave, perpendicular frequency of time. Film of human-friendly vegetation spills over the burning turbulence of ultra-low-frequency tectonic rates. Thinking about volcanoes and virgins and sacrifice, Boys for Pele. Need whores too, the jezebel nexus, best of both worlds, sluts and saints, the energy released in the conversion of those material states back and forth. And God. It turns out, he's so strangely small.

Suddenly, I'm compelled to take lots of pictures. Walking down the shuttle-bus road from the top of the caldera with a footstep beat, I'm gazing at the rolling railing shoulder with gurgling gravel, laughing foliage, listening to the spinning top of anthropologized Bob Ross sentences, topological wordscapes. Insects dominate sonic space. Gotta draw it out, draw it in, draw it out. I've seen and heard this before, it's not like it's novel, but I can appreciate more, leap frogging from years of prior articulation. The association also distorts, every mirror does. We've got a road graded just so precisely, victory over the great and terrible terrasphere. Endless forest, friendly forest from my vantage as part of that tribe of asphalt, preserved in a grid of government funds and happy little trees. Let the Bob Ross roll... let him knock you around, let him make me you a clown. The life of the pika's better than the life of the party if people've stopped stressing you out.


Visually oriented again after all this time, hearing colours, metal railing of telepathic reverberation, chocolate swirl of layer cake cosmetic. Infinite speckled cliches like every stone has a story. Star-speckled bag of stones, an old-lover's intellectual property. Sappy sage brush between my fingers, snappin' Sage, between her legs. Perfect accent, perfect scent. Rolling Rossian downward-spiraling descalator tubes to dreams of vast beachfront and mountain woods inter-perturbing, fate plumbing. All kinds of déjà vu portals to dream ecologies that breathe in this arabesque and iterate in the wind. I've dreamed these tree cast sculptures before. Except this is the bus station of the dream. One route forks right to the woodshop dream. To the left, streams off into a cloverleaf of narrative freeways in various directions, feeding substrate in elsewhere selves, watershed downspouting woods.


I have no words for this, but my sub-amateur photography is a lame substitute:


Driving with dad is almost always nice, but after nine days I can sort of see what my sister was saying, there's this sense of always being a child, in relation. Inevitable maybe, and not all bad. But for the love of American Jesus, can he stop eating Cheesies? I even folded the bag for easier access, now regret being a snackmaid. But nah, it's okay, got enough sense to not make an issue of it, just jam in some earbuds.

I see now that because of a combination of genetics and nurture, I'm just as hopelessly dorky and awkward as my dad, without the cheer, good nature, and maturity he had at the age I am now. Hence my bitterness, anger, and anxiety. The need to compensate, the failure to do so. The need to have a strong enough reaction against, difference, to feed ego, feel like my own man. He never "needed" more dirtbag friends. I needed some so I could be the fucked up person I normally lament but sometimes venerate, gives me something to write about, even sing about, although that's never fresh after once around the improv belt. I lacked peer pressure for so long, I sought it out. Met with some successful failures, people I should not mention by name, even if I love them so much, the why is mutually incriminating, just erase an ineffable pattern into the chalkboard.

I've made some strides though, made my own way, for an opportunity cost. It's also a warped value system to want to react so strongly against his style. He's more accomplished, more valuable in terms of skills, and there's his lack of toxic selfish proclivities. I can talk with him about a lot of things. But certainly not the main void in my life, the reason I have to avert my eyes and plug my ears so often, and cringe at public displays of affection. 

Downtown Bend, on a friday night. All the restaurants are closing. Let's just get something at Subway, we can go to a nicer restaurant tomorrow. Max dorkiness achieved when attempting to customize an order. The most painful Subway counter experience ever. Oh well. Not gonna say anything. Except, sorry about the confusion regarding sandwich to salad conversions, in a passive way. Mistakes were made.

Guess there's at least no pressure to make conversation and fill the silence cause, family, the immediate, not like the edginess or screechiness of more distant relatives or even friends sometimes. We're not always on the same wavelength, but he's whistling to that Beatles song and I gotta say, it's so endearing that it makes up for that last hour of Cheesies-eating mouth sounds.


Tasha Klein said...

Beautiful post!

Hector the Crow said...

thanks tasha