As I Bid Farewell to “Cosmos”, I Thank the Minds Who Made it Happen!

Posted in Body Mind Soul, In My Life with tags , , , , , on June 8, 2014 by Mike Hatalovsky

As I finish watching the thirteenth and final episode of the new Cosmos, I listen to Dr. Tyson giving us the benefit of his experience as he tells us how we all can use science to search for Truth in every aspect of Life. Right before this, we were treated to Dr. Sagan’s narrative about our “Pale Blue Dot”. It is with many strong and mixed emotions I write this, as the long, shiny silver Ship of the Imagination sails across my LED flat screen for the final time on Prime Time network television. It is with a poignant combination of satisfaction and sadness that I hear the soul-stirring music play out over the final scene, showing the empty captain’s chair on her now vacant bridge.

As much as I looked forward to this series with such child-like anticipation, I truly had no idea just how much this new invocation of THE best science series ever made would affect me. Glued to every episode, I learned so much more than I ever thought possible. I mean, I am quite well-read and knowledgeable on the various disciplines of science, but just the same, I am but a humble layman; an every-day Joe who drives a fork lift and could never pretend to have the same grasp, in scope and depth, on the complexity of our Cosmos as, say, astrophysicists.

But I believe, wholeheartedly, that Cosmos, both in 1979 and 2014, was made especially for me and people like me; ordinary average nobody’s who desire to have a better understanding of our world, our place in it, and how it all works. It was made for folks who may have been raised to unquestioningly accept the dogma of whatever religion they may have been born into, but felt that things didn’t quite add up. It was made for folks who, when they look at a forest, see not just the trees, but the molecular structure of everything the forest entails. Made for folks who understand that there is so much more to Life than beer, work, bills, taxes, and bad television!

And best of all, Cosmos explains science, simply, thoroughly, to non-scientists in a way we all can understand and to which we can relate. My only chagrin concerning Cosmos is twofold: that it has come to an end, and that, of all my family, friends, and coworkers, I am the ONLY ONE who has watched a single episode. Truly, a sad and tragic loss for them!

So, it is with my final tribute to Cosmos I give a heartfelt, most sincere Thank You to Dr.’s Sagan and Tyson, Ann Druyen, Seth McFarlane, Mitchell Cannold, Brannon Braga, and Jason Clark, and everyone else, past and present, for making such a priceless gift available to all, especially in the age of the 700 Club and Lizard Lick Towing. Of course, I have the iPad app, and have already seen most episodes at least twice. Tuesday, I will own the Blu-Ray DVD collection. Again, thanks for restoring at least a little of my Faith in Humanity, guys! Science Bless!

Sitting Here, Missing the Stars Tonight

Posted in Body Mind Soul, In My Life, Zen with tags , , , , , , , on April 27, 2014 by Mike Hatalovsky

As I watch tonight’s episode of Cosmos, I learn some wonderful things about the countless incandescent bodies known as stars. Dr. Tyson opened tonight’s lesson with a Twenty-first century Reality so many of us urban dwellers fail to notice. As we are blessed with the gift of incandescent light, trillions of little man-made stars, to burn away the scary darkness of night, there is indeed a downside to living in cities which never sleep.

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Light pollution is an unfortunate by-product of living in 24/7 urban America. While we are fortunate to be able to go almost anywhere we need at any time of night, we have lost our connection to this most abundant and familiar aspect of the Cosmos. As a matter of fact, we are as disconnected from these brilliant, distant points of light as our ancestors were connected to them. After all, as Dr. Tyson pointed out, their very lives depended on them. To modern Homo Sapiens, however, they are but a curiosity.

I have always been fascinated by the stars, forever trying to get my nieces and nephews interested in at least joining me for some naked-eye astronomy. Even as an adult, I still immensely enjoy planetariums and reading star charts. Every ride to work in the wee hours of the mornings of winter, spring, and fall finds me looking for planets and constellations in unobscured skies on the outskirts of the city.

Although it is clear tonight, sitting here in Knoxville, right next to TN 62 and I-640, I feel disconnected from these beautiful distant nuclear reactions by a hazy, taupe-colored dome bright enough to allow the occasional unsuspecting motorist to innocently hiss down Western Avenue with his headlights still turned off, shining out all but the brightest of the heavenly bodies. Tonight is one of many nights I am missing the stars!

Not only is it my lifelong interest in stars that causes my pining, but also a very unique experience during my Navy hitch in the early ’90s. I would routinely stand the midnight watch aboard the flight deck of my ship as we floated in the Arabian Gulf. As I stood for four hours each night looking for Stinger missiles, I would be just blown away by just how many stars I could see from the deck of the USS Savannah; every one of Sagan’s billions and billions of them!

In all the places on Earth I have been, there is no place darker than midnight in the middle of the ocean. Never before have I seen so many stars in the sky, even with the best amateur telescopes! These night watches (which most of my shipmates would refuse to stand if they could get away with such insubordination) were easily the best experiences of my life. Seriously, few experiences in nature are more breathtaking than a night sky in the middle of the open sea!

It’s been over two decades since I have seen this spectacular sight through our celestial window, and I hope not only to see it again before I return to the stardust, but also, I hope to share this awesomeness with my wife and everyone else important to me. But I remind myself that, though I am again missing the stars, that even if I cannot see but the brightest of them, they are still there, and will be for many thousands of years after I have rejoined them.

I take comfort in the relative Eternity of my distant glowing stellar soul mates. I may miss their bright, dancing evening shows, but it gives me solace to know that, even while separated by the glow of Westinghouse and GE, that they wait patiently, like billions of distant twinkling Buddhas, for my return as they continue to entertain millions of other mariners sailing over the Midnight Seas!

The Kingdom is Here for Us, Are We Here for It?

Posted in Uncategorized on April 20, 2014 by Mike Hatalovsky

JusticeLivesNot:

May I humbly reboot this one to JLN? Truly inspirational and beautiful indeed!

Originally posted on smilecalm:

Tree has got its Zen on ~d nelson

You don’t need to die in order to enter the kingdom of heaven. In fact, you have to be truly alive in order to do so. It’s not too difficult. Just breathe in and bring your mind back to your body. That is the practice of mindfulness.

When we breathe peacefully, the peace of our breath will penetrate into our body and into our mind. Then very soon, in no time at all, body, mind, and breath will become one in concentration, and we get the energy of stability, solidity, and freedom generated by every step we make. “I have arrived. I am home.” That is not a statement. That is a practice, and you will know whether you have arrived or not in the here and the now. You don’t need another person to tell you.

The address of the…

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Cosmos: A Precious Gift of Accessible Knowledge and Understanding Lost on a Clueless American Public

Posted in Body Mind Soul, In My Life, Society with tags , , , , , , , , , , on April 13, 2014 by Mike Hatalovsky

I first saw the Original Cosmos in the ’80′s on PBS. I have seen every episode of Carl Sagan’s groundbreaking series several times over the past several decades, and it still captivates me so. When I heard that FOX was going to air a re-invocation of the series with the collaborative efforts of Ann Druyan (Sagan’s widow and collaborator), Seth McFarland (animation guru), and Dr. Neil DeGrasse-Tyson (Sagan’s “heir-apparent”), I expected an excellent evolution of where the original series of 30-some years ago left off, that would be as visually stunning as it was informative. I was not disappointed!

What would prove bitterly disappointing to me, however, was the fact that each Sunday night, in spite of living in a lively house, abuzz with the activity of many people of all ages, I would be watching this most marvelous and entertaining gift of a television series…all alone!

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I have no idea of the Neilsen or Arbitron numbers indicative of the viewership of Cosmos since it’s premier, but in the Casa de Justice, that number is a prime number, but not a good number for prime time!

My wife and sister-in-law are in the back bedroom watching “Flea Market Flip” on the ironically-named “Learning Channel”. My second-grader niece, an artistic, highly-intelligent, beautiful little red-haired fireball, is in the spare room with the mind-rotting Disney Channel dreck. With her, being enlightened by reruns of “Jessie” and “A.N.T. Farm”, is my oldest niece, a 4.0 junior majoring in Psychology at the University of Tennessee. Finally, there’s my smart-as-a-whip nephew, a high-school freshman with aspirations to be a pyro-technician (and to procure the necessary PhD in Chemistry), is on our computer playing video games like “Happy Wheels”.

No, I’m not mad at them, albeit a little disappointed. Mostly, however, I am sad tonight as I enjoy this epic episode exploring the microscopic world of sub-atomic particles. Sad because the home I share with so many intelligent people has decided (before even watching) that they would find Cosmos boring, opting for Honey-Boo-Boo-like garbage reality shows and other forms of vapid entertainment. Sad because, even though I almost never watch TV, the one show I choose to watch each week, again, I end up watching all alone!

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Sad because these wonderful members of my family are cheating themselves out of a priceless opportunity to truly gain a better understanding of how our world really works. Dr. Tyson does such an excellent job making complex explanations of science, physics, astronomy, chemistry, and biology accessible and understandable to the average American without being condescending. He is truly a fitting choice to pick up where Carl left off, showing all the passion, all the wonder, all the entertaining, humorous, and brilliant insight of his late mentor!

I cannot be mad at my family members for their indifference to learning. After all, American pop culture reveres the idiot, and mocks the brilliant individuals among us. Truly, we are in the infancy of the Idiocracy, and a plea for sanity does indeed sound like a madman’s ravings. As Aldous Huxley observed so long ago, to a collectively insane society, it is the frustrated sane among them who are treated like they are the ones who are insane.

It is such a shame that, with such a wonderful, entertaining, accessible, and enlightening show as the continuing saga of natural science that is Cosmos so available to the American viewing public, that even Americans who are by no means stupid, would rather cling to the familiarity of banal, vapid televised pablum, spurning the opportunity to broaden their horizons in favor of choosing the familiar comfort of being dumbed-down, thirty minutes at a time!

©2014 Löcrian Nitemare Creations.

Discovering Lenny: Seeing Beyond the Facade of Society

Posted in Heroes, In My Life with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 11, 2014 by JusticeLivesNot

Being an introspective, intellectual child can make you a misfit, and the life if a misfit can be a lonely journey. Being a young boy with an insatiable curiosity and natural skepticism can land you in a heap of trouble with assorted authority figures. And, especially 40 years ago, a studious kid who’d rather read a book than play stickball with the other neighborhood boys quickly earned the title of ‘faggot’.

Yes, the type of personality that, especially at a young age, starts noticing that things just don’t seem to add up are often punished for their inquisitiveness, only to become the black sheep, a pariah in the conformist human flock.

Ah, but being the misfit can also be advantageous, for the Truth is, when you live inside that dirty fishbowl called Society, you cannot see how filthy the water truly is! No, the outcast has the distinct advantage of a unique perspective, a vista which can only be observed by one exiled to the outside, looking in.

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I didn’t discover Lenny Bruce until my mid-teens, circa the spring of 1985 or so, but the seeds that would be so crucial to making that important intellectual and spiritual connection to this groundbreaking gadfly were sown in me over a decade earlier. As some people in my broken, dysfunctional family discovered my apparent passion for reading (even as a pre-schooler), it was only natural that I would be given many, many books, passed on down to me from various aunts, uncles, and older cousins.

These books spanned several decades. One of the earliest collections was a 31 volume set of the Encyclopedia Americana, a handsome set of books bound in dark brown fake leather with shiny gilded lettering. The 1948 edition, it was already out of date by 25 years, with such factoids as “Texas is the largest of our 48 states”.

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There were old back issues of yellowed, nicotine-tainted magazines like Time, Life, and Look, each containing a rich, detailed account of the events of the McCarthy era through Watergate. These old periodicals, with their interesting pictures and strangely anachronistic advertisements, would be instrumental in providing me with many of the important reference points necessary for my understanding of Lenny’s comedic observations, all of which happened many years before I was even born.

Shockingly Racist Vintage Ads (14)

But perhaps the most vital seeds planted within me were the old issues of Mad magazine, and the associated abridged paperback editions. These were my Sacred Scriptures, truly. Not only did they make me laugh, but when I read Bill Gaines’ publications, I instantly understood them; more importantly, I finally discovered someone else out there who obviously understood the Reality hidden beside the so-called “Necessary Illusions”!

Of course, mom and grandpa hated Mad, just like they hated everything else that questioned authority. I think George Carlin put it best when he observed that parents never teach their kids to question authority, because it would undermine their own bullshit authority in the home! But since I was an unhappy child, they tended let me keep reading Mad, since these ridiculous Truths made me laugh. And as long as I was laughing, the Outside World would believe I was happy, and therefore, had a great family as well (another “Necessary Illusion”)!

So it was around that time I discovered the stand-up comic. I had seen several on some of the cheesy eight-o’clock weekday variety shows of my youth, but many of them either went over my head, or were unfunny and quite forgettable. But mom had at least six Bill Cosby records that I remember well. One Saturday morning, she noticed how much my sister and I loved to watch Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids on CBS. She played “To Russell, My Brother, Whom I Slept With”; to this day, one of the funniest routines I have ever heard. I was hooked on stand-up since!

Soon after, I discovered Steve Martin, David Brenner, and Robin Williams, although I was ‘too young’ for that kind of humor. Also, they said the kind of words all the grown-ups said, but I was not allowed to say. Eventually, I discovered Richard Pryor, George Carlin, and Eddie Murphy, followed by Rodney Dangerfield and Sam Kinison, thanks to the early ’80′s infancy of HBO. And it was through this newly-formed medium known as Cable TV that I saw the movie that introduced me to the legend himself!

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I was just 17 when I saw Dustin Hoffman in “Lenny”, the 1974 Bob Fosse biographical film. The movie was just starting as I walked into the apartment, my mom on the couch settling in for the night. I had no idea who he was; nobody in my household had even mentioned him, as far as I could remember.

As we watched the movie, mom explained to me that she had seen him once in Atlantic City back in 1962. She had just graduated from Pennsauken High School, and it was indeed a big deal back then. She talked about how he’d ask the audience if there were any “niggers” out there or “how many kikes we got tonight?”. Suspended between her recounting of attending his live performance and listening to Hoffman’s impeccable impressions, I started to see where the modern stand-ups got their schtick!

To this day, I am still haunted by the final image of that film; the grainy black-and-white photo of Lenny’s naked corpse laid out on his bathroom floor. I knew I needed to find out more about this crazy Jewish comic, but in 1985 Knoxville, there weren’t many people among the older Hee-Haw crowd who had even heard of him, and none that had who really cared for his brand of ‘dope-head’ humor.

Several months later, I had made a new connection through a good friend of mine who could score us ‘cid and ‘shrooms. He was intimate with a couple of older folks who hung out around the University of Tennessee that were known as the Hipsters. As a long-haired metal-head looking dude, I felt kind of funny around these quite anachronistic types which reminded me of Barry McGuire and Ray Manzarek. But they were actually pretty cool; in their late-twenties, but looking like they just arrived from the early fifties.

That summer, we hung out at my boy’s house for a little electric kool-aid party. As usual, they put me in charge of the tunes, which were, of course, either vinyl LP’s or cassette tapes. Well, imagine my surprise as, while flipping through the milk crate of albums, I find a copy of “The Sick Humor of Lenny Bruce”!

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“Holy shit!”, I asked my pal. “Where’d ya score this?”

He replied “The Hipsters laid it on me”. It figured!

It was one of the weirdest comedy discs we’d ever heard, an esoteric mix of ’50′s avant garde jazz and comedy bits. As the party was peakin’, the small gathering was about 50% “That’s hilarious!” and 50% “Turn that shit off!”. So, in order to preserve the harmonious vibe, I removed the ambiguously-received vinyl and put on some Ummagumma; good ol’ trip-savin’ Floyd!

But I wanted more! And the pickin’s were mighty slim in my neck of the woods (and the Hipsters kinda just drifted away….away….). Not even the most esoteric of the hole-in-the-wall used record stores had any Lenny Bruce sides to speak of!

Several years later, I watched a movie called “Pump Up the Volume”, which would go on to become one of my all-time favorite films about a misfit high-schooler who, secretly ran a wildly popular pirate radio station from his bedroom every night. There’s one scene where he checks a book out of the library entitled “How to Talk Dirty and Influence People”, which I learned was the autobiography of Lenny Bruce.

Of course, I hit the library circuit the next morning, with no luck at all! I finally found a paperback copy in a second-hand book store in town. I read it in only two days, and marveled at his antics; many of which the movie never even mentioned (and imagine my surprise, almost two decades later, when I sadly discovered that Mr. Bruce, ever the showman, had filled his life story with copious amounts of fiction!).

As the years rolled on, I still got to enjoy the legacy of Mr. Bruce through all the relevant stand-up comics who brought so much Truth and laughter into my sometimes grim Reality. But it wasn’t until the Age of the Internet that I really got to experience Lenny as he performed, thanks to such websites as YouTube, DailyMotion, and assorted foreign video sites.

Wikipedia got the ball rolling for the commencement of my journey into the life and the mind of a comedic genius, introducing me to several good books about his life and career, until finding just last year what I consider the Holy Gospel of Lenny. “Ladies and Gentlemen…Lenny Bruce” by Albert Goldman, a thick paperback tome of over 800 pages, is easily the most exhaustive, thoroughly researched biography I have ever read on any person.

And believe me, it was no kissy-ass puff-piece written by a fawning sycophant fan. Goldman (and co-author Lawrence Schiller) totally went for the whole Truth about the man, and quite frankly, there were times that Lenny was a total fuckin’ bastard; wife-beating, lying, scamming old ladies, impersonating a priest, even the reprehensible act of turning snitch on his fellow dope feinds to save his own hide from a drug rap!

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But I don’t hate him, though. Not one bit! No, I definitely don’t excuse his reprehensible behavior one bit, either. I knew Lenny was no saint, but I didn’t know he had that little honor. But, especially as a junkie, he was a desperate man with a lot to lose! Again, it doesn’t excuse him, but it did something to him, in my eyes, that made me love him more:

It made him human!

As an impressionable youth with no real father figure to guide me, I idolized Lenny to a degree which would have probably brought me nothing but disdain from him if he were alive and involved in my world! No, he never aspired to be a saint, nor much of a father for that matter. He reminded me of many of the rogues I ran with back in the day, guys I looked up to, guys who taught me street survival, but guys who, in the end, who had no time for a clingy little adolescent.

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But what made him a hero to me (and what still makes him one today) was how he brought the seedy underbelly of the American Establishment out into the light, ripping away the phony veneer covering the hypocrisy of our culture. The Ruling Class, with their supposed disdain of profanity and prurience, was every bit as dirty, crooked, and vice-prone as any common street hood, the Church every bit as deviant as corrupt as any brothel, the governemnt every bit as on-the-take and shifty as the Mafia!

These institutions are simply dressed in the phony facade of respectability, and Lenny brought that facade crashing down around them!

And that is precisely why the Establishment did everything they could to destroy him, and eventually succeeded. As one emcee famously put it, they called him a “sick comic”, if only to scare Prude America away from his shows. When that didn’t work, they threatened to shut down and bankrupt any venue who would let him perform, again, under the hypocritical guise of “protecting the public decency”. They preyed upon his smack addiction, watching him like vultures circling a dying horse in the desert. Hounded incessantly as he was, no wonder he acted out in some of the ways he did!

Even abroad he wasn’t safe from the System, like when he and Honey were poisoned in Havana in the early ’60′s for the sin of imitating Castro from a hotel balcony. Add that to a seemingly endless string of obscenity trials that drained him financially and emotionally. But he never gave up. He fought them back right up until the very end. And we free-thinking Americans owe him a hell of a lot for that!

Yes, Lenny led the way for the fools of today which bring us the Naked Truth, those jesters whose timeless routines make us laugh and, just as importantly, makes us think! I’d say, before his passing, that it was quite fitting that Lenny passed the torch to heir apparent George Carlin (who, incidentally, was seated right next to Lenny in a paddy wagon for the heinous crime of attending one of Mr. Bruce’s ‘filthy’ shows).

Too many greats to name owe him everything for sacrificing what could have been a comfortable career basking in the successful mediocrity of ‘safe’ comedy, to lead the fight against the phony double-standards of “polite society”. He didn’t merely “open the door” for the up-and-coming social critics of comedy. He blew it off its rusting, creaky hinges with a vengeance!

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Posthumously, Lenny became a cultural icon, even for musical legends like Bob Dylan, The Beatles, Frank Zappa, and REM. His influence on me as a writer, an artist, and a free-thinker is invaluable, and I dare say there’s a little Lenny in everything I create, even if I’m simply sculpting a hedgerow or stacking a pallet at the job. It seems so unfortunate, however, that his talent, intelligence, insight and, most of all, his chutzpah, was only given the widespread respect and appreciation due him after he cashed out.

©2014 Löcrian Nitemare Creations.

In the Next Life

Posted in Creative Writing, Fiction, Parables and Koans with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 7, 2014 by Mike Hatalovsky

It was late one Friday night as Jesse left the seedy little dive on the outskirts of town. Not exactly snot-slingin’ drunk/not exactly lucid, he stepped cautiously into the battling, flashing halos of the neon Miller Beer sign and the lone traffic light (now in blink mode due to the non-existent traffic), the only signs of life at this otherwise deserted crossroads.

He cautiously felt his way through the half-dozen vehicles parked in front of the tavern, making his way to his old silver ’70 Pontiac LeMans, dropping a couple of wadded-up dollar bills as he fumbled in his right front pocket for his keys. He was leaving the noisy White Eagle roadhouse for the final time. But he wasn’t going home.

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As the animated flapping neon wings of the huge eagle on the roadside sign reflected on the dusty windshield, Jesse inserted the rectangular-headed starter key into the ignition and brought the 300-plus horses of the sleeping V-8 to life with a blast. After cautiously backing the big ol’ sled parallel to Highway 11, he dropped the Hurst T-handle shift into 1st, and with a hail of gravel, hauled ass outta there, demon-eyed tail lights disappearing into the dusty darkness.

Over the fuzzy drone of the Thrush glasspacks, Jesse mused over the days events that led up to him celebrating his 10th wedding anniversary without his wife Priscilla. They truly loved each other (in a strange sort of way), but that love was quite volatile (yet by no means violent). Lately, however, they barely talked anymore. Their relationship, beginning with so much promise, had decayed into a malaise of passionless, predictable routine. Essentially, they had grown apart, becoming two quite dissimilar roommates who split expenses and occasionally fucked.

Oh, they were opposites from the word ‘go’, but somehow fell for each other anyway. Jesse was a typical James Dean bad boy; an unwanted bastard child resulting from a careless high-school tryst under the bleachers after a Friday night football game one unseasonably warm October night in 1976. A sullen, cynical loner with a razor-sharp wit, he was the adventurous type who lived by the phrase “nothing ventured, nothing gained”. Ever the outcast, he was somewhat of an anachronism in the Facebook age, preferring Kerouac to King and muscle cars to rice rockets. But heavy metal music was his passion; he loved Slipknot and Korn as much as Priscilla hated them.

Prissy, however, was a typical All-American country girl with a very close-knit (almost hovering) extended family. She was a strange mixture of Pollyanna and Debbie Downer, swinging like a 100-foot bi-polar pendulum between trusting innocence and cold suspicion. She stayed true to her Southern Baptist morality, in glaring contrast to Jesse’s scornful agnosticism. Preferring the vapid wasteland of Reality TV to the tedious chore of reading, they often came to odds whenever it came to how to spend their free time, which became increasingly spent doing separate things in separate rooms (and eventually in separate places with separate people).

Their initial meeting was a strange event indeed. She worked at the local Dairy Queen on Highway 25W, where he once stopped in for lunch during a construction gig while building an adjacent strip mall. What was supposed to be a Danny N’ Sandy-style summer romance ended up growing into a very unlikely marriage after a couple years of dating.

Her innocent, child-like heart and look captivated Jesse as much as his rough-cut blue-jean persona and streetwise attitude had her hooked from the start. Opposites attract, it is said, but, as the story unfolds, we see that although a fish and a bird can marry, they end up going through hell trying to survive together.

As the old Pontiac sliced through the midnight rural air, Jesse chucked his cashed Marlboro out the window and loaded a homemade CD into the narrow mouth of the cheap flea-market in-dash stereo. The first crashing power chords and cymbal chokes of “Prayers” by In This Moment blew his Gene Krupa hair back like an old 1980s Maxell ad.

He slammed the Hurst down into 2nd Gear and floored it, causing the ass end of his machine to slip sideways with the squawk of the 50 series white-letter GoodYears chafing the asphalt. The 455 screams as the tach needle flings itself toward the red line, sending the classic GM hurtling down the unlit 2-lane highway like a giant silver bullet.

When Maria let loose her opening scream, Jesse thought about his gradual estrangement from Priscilla. What had started out with such promise ended up sinking into the ooze of American middle-class ennui. When they dated, Life was an adventure, an exciting journey to be experienced, and not merely survived; true living versus mere existence. As a young couple, they were quite extraordinary. Now they were just plain ordinary. The only exciting thing about his Life was his newly-acquired 4-speed toy, speeding his rapidly sinking heart west to hell-knows-where.

When we were young, he thought to himself, we had nothing to lose. Janis Joplin said it best. We used to be free once upon a time.

And then they settled down; actually, they merely settled for the illusion of security in crappy dead-end jobs (for the benefits), and for the typical bullshit life of work Monday through Friday with church on Sunday, with a little scrap of Saturday devoted to chores and maybe a little fishing. Eventually, Jesse grown to feel he had been baited-and-switched by Priscilla, who had once promised to be Yoko to his John, Nancy to his Sid, Honey to his Lenny.

It seems that Prissy had other plans for their future. She was the ‘good girl’ who wanted to tame (castrate?) the bad boy. To ‘save’ him, clean him up, and mold him into the good church-going type of man that would fit in better with her family. He gave the church life his best, most honest shot for her, but soon realized (as Mark Twain noted nearly a century and a half earlier) that, although they accepted him for what he (tried to) believe, they turned him out for what he knew.

These are my unanswered prayers…The time has come for me to say…good…bye…

As the tender opening tones of “Circles” waltzed their 3/4 cadence from the 6×9 aluminum Babb cones, Jesse pondered the early morning conversation with Priscilla. How ironic, this certain track on his homemade CD commencing as he thought about the conversation they had a thousand times. That’s all their conversations were; endless little circles, going round-n-round-n-round in and endless, pointless Möbius Strip of a relationship. An eternal dance of deception, with his inquisitiveness followed by her evasiveness.

…as we go in circles…I am fading now…as we go in cir-cles…

The jittering needle of the speedometer was passing 100 as he thought yet again about the deception he felt his wife perpetrated upon him during their two-year courtship. How she seemed to dig listening to the Chili Peppers and Primus, but now couldn’t stand them. How she seemed so enthralled as he would read “The Dharma Bums” to her. How they hiked hand in hand to the summit of Kettles Peak (where they made love for the first time).

Yeah, he kinda put the whole trip on her, but it was truly a mutual deception; she did what she thought she had to do to land him, he did what he thought he had to do to keep her!

By the time “Next Life” blasted ruthlessly through the grey leather cockpit, tears were already welling up as Maria Brink and the souped-up big-block V-8 competed in an epic screaming match, mirroring exactly what Jesse was thinking.

You don’t know the torture! You don’t know the pain! Loving what you can’t have is driving me insane!

After a lifetime of choking back his emotions, Jesse had programmed himself to actually feel very little by this point. But Maria sang to him in a way that truly gripped him by his guts, and Beautiful Tragedy was his spiritual cathartic; the finger he’d force down the throat of his soul, if only to save his sanity. And this song was the finisher, his emotional orgasm to cleanse his mind to where he could once again face humanity like a ‘man’.

So now we’ve gone our own ways. Memories dried and scabbed…

So true indeed. As far apart from each other as East from West, Jesse knew that him and Prissy were basically strangers anymore. The tears were almost blinding him as the speedometer buried its needle into the depths of the dashboard lights. He knew it was truly over, that they were incompatible, that it was all a folly, a childish wish made in vain. But his heart was in it all the way, unfortunately.

I’ll be waiting…

He knew he couldn’t live with her anymore.

…waiting for you…

But he couldn’t live without her, either.

…meet me in the…

The unfamiliar highway was dark. The railroad crossing unlit.

…in the Next Life!

©2014 Löcrian Nitemare Creations.

Excerpts from the Diary of an American Runner

Posted in Body Mind Soul, Zen with tags , , , , , on March 3, 2014 by Mike Hatalovsky

As any urban/suburban runner can tell you, there will always be folks who see you as a hazard, an obstacle, or a joke. All too often, motorists seem to forget that roads are meant to be shared by everyone (excluding, of course, Limited Access roads for high-speed travel). Even runners who take extra steps to minimize the inconvenience they may cause to those who must drive become targets for condescension and even assault.

My Current Line-Up of Athletic Footwear

My Current Line-Up of Athletic Footwear

As a youth, I used to walk everywhere and ride city buses. People drive by and yell/throw shit all the time; that’s just part of it, I guess. I used to be the angry youth who carried a bag full of nice, big rocks to throw at people driving by with big mouths. I didn’t care about the size or number of my drive-by haranguers. I had even hit a few and dared them to turn back around and come back for me. Obviously, I was miserable and full of rage (funny how one almost always accompanies the other).

This, of course, devolved into road rage over the decades, making what should be the mindless joy of traveling into another ulcer-inducing headache. When I had my wake-up call back in April 2010, one of the most important things I have learned was that almost all my suffering was self-inflicted. The reason these assholes would upset me so was because I had decided that it should be so. I chose henceforth to not react to their negativity with even more negativity which is, as they say, much easier said than done.

Below are a few key excerpts from my runner’s journal over the past several years that would have had me throwing rocks at all their cars back in ’92. It’s amazing how a minor adjustment of inner thought can change even the very core of even the most volatile personality.

Monday, March 21 2011 – parked at Kroger for errands. Decide to run on foot to pay electric. Pass carload of teenage stoners. Guy in back yells “run, dude! It’s gain in’ on ya!”. They laugh as the traffic jams up at the light.

Instead of even mentally reaching for my rocks, I made only enough note of them to be safely aware of their presence among the hundreds of other cars. The smell of what must have been some really good shit brought me back to the care-free party days of my youth. Finally, I thought of how effortlessly I was able to slip through the traffic snarl leaving the parking lot on foot, while Jay and Silent Bob back there are still stuck in it! Then I began to pity them, cuz I’m sure they were itchin’ for some munchies at that point.

Sunday, August 21 2011 – Running down Ball Camp Pike late afternoon. Passing car nails me right in the bare back with a cup of crushed ice. Felt like getting hit with a baseball. Kept on running without further incident.

Again, I remind myself that assholes who throw shit from speeding cars will always exist, since there will always be cars, and there will always be assholes. The lingering pain of the assault is but another physical threshold to push past, I thought to myself. Furthermore, my focus was on my journey, and the unprovoked attack never broke my stride. That was the day I realized the importance of mental strength through focusing on the moment only in the moment, and that moment was gone the moment the ice pellets shattered against my shoulders.

Wednesday June 13 2012 – During lunch break run at work, carload of dudes yell things regarding my alleged sexual orientation. I can’t help but flash them a big Broadway smile and wave.

What would’ve been fighting words to me many years back didn’t even phase me now. I did have my shirt off, after all, and my upper body has improved quite a bit. I can only ascertain that they were coming on to me, or perhaps they were just jealous, given the beer bellies sported by this group of slack jaws. I felt flattered by their ignorant comment, actually, for it is the exceptional that are envied by the lazy. Losers hate winners. Period.

Friday February 22 2013 – Lunchtime run. Headed towards sewage treatment plant. Sewage worker swerves towards me, causing me to jump into ditch. Really pissed me off big time!

This was hard to deal with (and I almost called in on the guy to get him fired). So I just let it go. It was easy when I thought about how the man driving the sewage truck was at least my age and outweighed me by over 200 pounds. It’s not like he didn’t see me every day, Monday through Friday, running past his work during lunch.

When I thought about all the health and social problems he must have, I began to pity him. Sure, I wasn’t happy about having to dive into a wet, thorny, garbage-filled ditch, but the imbecile who did it to me lives with his own misery 24/7; just like I used to! And, after all, he works in a sewage treatment plant. ‘Nuff said!

For most of my life, I had been active, but have never really been into running. My passion for running has only taken root in the last decade of my life. During that time, it has become more of a spiritual thing for me than physical.

Running connects me to the Universe, yet sends me to a world all my own.

Running helps me channel any aggression into a beneficial physical outlet, while simultaneously purging the mind of said aggression.

Running helps maintain Zen as I realize that every seemingly negative incident of my run isn’t isolated from it, but rather is actually a minute particle constituting the entire experience (as it would be in Life itself).

For every American who runs whenever/wherever he/she can find a reason/excuse, there will be some genius yelling “Run, Forest, Run!” for the millionth time. It is the price a runner pays for his passion if he doesn’t want to become confined to a treadmill like a gerbil. It is a necessary and inescapable part of the true freedom experienced by the American outdoor runner.

©2014 Löcrian Nitemare Creations.

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