Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Pauline Walsh Jacobson: Austin Artist

Yesterday on Facebook, I ran across one of my very dearest friends from our days tripping around together in high school and college, a friend whom I have not seen for 25-years -- Pauline Walsh Jacobson. She was more like a sister than a friend, actually. That close. She is an artist living in Austin and our roots trace all the way back to the art classes we took together in junior high.

Of course, we are both children of the revolution & anti-war movement of the 60s-70s. Pauline remained involved in art; I moved from carpentry into counseling. After 20-years in the profession, I think of her model of therapy as holding forth every bit of the promise in the spiritual journeys we all undertake as that of any of the great talk therapies.

Pauline's poster art was once part of the Austin Progressive Country music scene that contributed to Austin's distinctly bohemian-hippie character. The poster above announced the final concert at the Texas Opry House, a concert that was moved to the Armadillo World Headquarters due to Willy Nelson's problems with the IRS that temporarily forced the closure of the Texas Opry House before it reopened as the Austin Opry House.

What memories her art brings back! I lived two blocks from the Opry House on Newning Avenue, up past the old haunted house near the Opry House, which was on Academy above Riverside Drive. My freak neighbors and I used to walk down the hill to the original Schlotzsky's close by on Congress Avenue, run by Don and Dolores Dissman. On the way back, we'd say hello to Cosmo, Jack's friendly pitbull who had a ring around one eye and looked just like Petey from the Little Rascals.

Sadly, that neighborhood subculture -- Travis Heights as well as East Austin and other Austin neighborhoods -- is currently being devastated by an all-vanilla-flavored gentrification that will only be slowed by the collapse of the housing market. These neighborhoods are part of Austin's "magic circle" within which students, members of the underclass and newly independent youth can hardly afford the rent.

"Onward thru the fog!"

Much of Pauline's poster work from the 70s is now part of collections at the Barker Texas History Center, at the University of Texas at Austin.

For me, her work recalls the Vietnam War, my years of drug abuse and the days of protest we all struggled through while our country perpetrated an unjust war against a people in a foreign land, an immoral war no one seems willing to acknowledge today even as we suffer the presidential candidacy of a man now insulting the sacredness of the anti-war movement and our great dedication to the Satyagraha of those times by pretending to be a hero of that war. Just as egregiously, his supporters continue to ignore the atrocities such wars facilitate or to hold accountable the despots and oligarchs of the Military-Industrial Complex who are committing war crimes even today in the name of self-aggrandizement. Indeed, they have broken us.

It seems the memories just won't fade for those not in denial. But these are necessary memories that will not relent even under revisionist attack vis-à-vis the zealot-directed hubris of the Christianist right-wing that now serves as "the base" [which ironically translates into Arabic as "Al Qaeda"] for Neocon war criminals.

Here is a clipping from Pauline's website describing her work from the 70s. [The links below were inserted by me to make the trip more fun and informative]:
The Austin Music Scene had a number of very talented poster artists including Jim Franklin, Danny Garrett, Michael Priest, Guy Juke, Kerry Awn and others who have gained local and national recognition for the work they did mostly for the Armadillo World Headquarters during the 1970's. Though not one of the major artists, to my knowledge I am the only woman to have created a significant number of Austin music posters during that time. The original printings of these posters are sold locally at art festivals and book fairs. I have yet to see any of my posters turn up at these events, which makes me believe that copies from the original printings are extremely rare. I don't even have a complete set myself, and I donated most of my originals to the Barker Texas History Center in the early 1980's when they put out a call for artists for a retrospective they were putting together. The posters that were in that show and many more ended up at the Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.

The Texas Opry House closed in December of 1974 just before the Ray Charles concert due to Willie's problems with the IRS, and reopened in late 1975 as the Austin Opry House. The Ray Charles concert was moved to the Armadillo, and as a result, my favorite poster was never printed. The Austin Opry House closed in early 1978, thus ending my time as a music poster artist.
As I recall -- as the story goes -- one fateful night in 1978, as the Opry House's financial crisis continued, the manager, or someone associated with management, absconded with the final night's receipts and the abandoned Opry House partially burned only months later. It was renovated and now serves as office lease space.

Pauline and her husband are scuba divers. She has applied her creative spirit to the sport and has produced some very fine works highlighted here. Perhaps I can talk them into visiting Austin's sister pool (Barton Springs), out here in Balmorhea -- San Solomon Springs at Balmorhea State Park -- where scuba diving is all the rage among fresh water divers.

The above video, by GuenLovesScuba and edited by DerickSharpeye, features the endangered Comanche Springs pupfish [pictured left below] and the equally rare Pecos Gambusia [picture right below]. The song featured on the video, "This Swimming Song," is by Loudon Wainwright III, whose latest album, "Recovery," is now available on his website.

Friday, October 24, 2008

San Solomon Cienega -- Balmorhea

Okay, so Sergei Prokofiev's "Peter and the Wolf" doesn't quite work, but you get the idea. Besides, my dog "Honey" plays a mean wolf even if I couldn't get as stellar a performance from anyone else. Other stars in the play are the famous endangered Comanche Springs Pupfish and a couple of starcrossed lovers who happened to get in the way and made a better photograph than Lupe and Bailey [cropped out], who had been trying to lick them like an ice cream cone while I was getting the camera out.

By the way, the "Little Bird on a Branch of a Big Tree" is above and out-of-sight watching the whole photo-shoot going down (the tubes) at San Solomon Cienega today. The Cienega at Balmorhea State Park is one of our natural treasures here in Balmorhea, the Desert Oasis; although, we had to reconstruct it after it was destroyed when the pool was built by the CCC boys.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Balmorhea: Essenic Wonder

As an old Barton Springs polar bear now living in Balmorhea, I sometimes lose myself in the romanticism and sacredness of the Springs here -- San Solomon Springs at Balmorhea State Park.

In the late 20th Century, archaeologists in the Holy Lands began excavating the ancient site of the Essene Nazorean Monastery, a site thought to hold spiritual and historical significance, in addition to the site at Qumran, as one of the central monastic communities that gave birth to Christianity. Indeed, Jesus the Nazorean was a monastic Essene, the Essenes being one of four national religious parties of Judea during the Messianic Age. The other three were the Pharisee, Sadducee and the Zealot parties of which most are familiar.

The Essenes, their Aaron Messiah (John the Baptist), Their David Messiah (Yehoshua ben Yosef), the Essene sites at Mt. Carmel and at Qumran on the Dead Sea, their communities in Egypt at Alexandria, the quasi-historical saga of the Israelite crossing of the Jordan near Jericho, the related symbolism of water baptism and the community meal, all have a biblical and historical significance that I dare say today's nominal Christians no longer appreciate.

Even Roman Catholics seem not to appreciate that Our Lady's original appearances to visionaries, always symbolic of the Messianic Rebirth, trace to Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, one of the sacred community sites of the Essenes at the time of Jesus. Our own Lady of Guadalupe of the Americas traces her origins to Mt. Carmel through Revelations 12. The symbolic virtue of Revelations 12 is not violated; it is complete even as presented to Juan Diego of Cuauhtitlán in the 16th century.

Ironically, thanks to the science of archeology, the rightful and functional appreciation of the sacred may someday return bringing with it a sense of stewardship beyond that of the religious materialism of contemporary Christianists by whose closed minds and self-righteous hands our environment has suffered since the onset of the right-wing Reagan era. Indeed, although restrained by a threatening economic collapse, we seem on the verge of return to a commitment to the sacred that will help re-inspire our culture with a sense of responsibility for the environment, to the reality that we are not separate from the land, and to the re-realization of the fragile sacredness of our most basic life-sustaining resources -- Air & Water.

The arrogance of Regan era Christianist eschatology has been devastating in its effects, mainly of neglect and apathy regarding the environment while it wasted its time stoning itself over homosexuality and sex scandals which turned out to be the very deamons biting their own asses. Perhaps, just as in the case of the American Civil War where destruction of the Southern infrastructure and economic collapse forced the demise of the institution of slavery, Amerika may now be at the point of a depression so deep that greedy corporatists no longer have industry to sling its filth upon the land, unfettered by a corrupt political administration out to greese the palms of its cronies in war and imperial adventureism and religionists to justify it all. The dragon has been slain but its ironical anti-christ refuses to die! Baracuda, thy name is Sarah!

The struggle to save Barton Springs in Austin has been carried on by people for whom government involved Christianists refused support or commitment, if they didn't in fact disdain the noble activists for their perceived liberalness as "tree huggers." Indeed, the arrogance perpetrated by Christianism has been a curse upon the land and it continues to threaten.

San Solomon Springs is a place of baptism, a place of rebirth. It is not some contrived, hackneyed or irrelevant symbol of superficial religiosity like a stainless steel walk-in tub on stage behind a mahogany pulpit and a linen curtain, good for a cold Sunday dunkin,' a picnic with potato salad, fried chicken and cheap grace. It is a Return to Oneness of a type that requires more commitment of us than babbling the majic of a name transmogrified into an Olympian god and forgotten while American Idol is on and Mom is out moose hunting. Their's is blasphemy of the highest order, a vile zealotry only Amerikan religious materialists are capable of inveying against the very Universe.

It is incumbent upon the mainstream churches of this country to resist the duplicity being carried out "in His name" under the dominionist influences that encroach upon democracy and demand the institution of theocracy. It is partly because of the apathy of the mainstream that our country has come to this and that just when we perceived a respite in this storm of Zealotry, the Machiavellians of agnostic corporatism discovered Sarah Palin.

Today, I want to thank the folks at Cactus Rose for their inspiration and for calling our attention to the sacredness of the many artesian springs in Texas -- living waters and the good earth through which they flow that no longer seem to figure into anyone's plan of salvation. Al Gore was absolutely right when he said that his mission to help save the planet was more important than seeking the presidency.

~ ~ ~

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Cap'n Crunch Moves Into Second Place on Holy Trinity

This word just in:

According to a report appearing in this week's Austin Chronicle, The Second Coming was missed by most "Christians" who apparently have been irrevocably left behind. It has now been confirmed that The Rapture occurred in 70s at the height of our greatest need during the Nixon Administration.

Not surprisingly, due to the Pharisaical and militantly Zealot demands by nominal Christians left behind in America, the returned Messiah was quickly replaced when he died of old age by the Antichrist, Ronald Reagan and his free-market economic advisers.

Turns out, Christ-II was a Quaker, which should surprise no one, given his formal title from the Psalms, "Prince of Peace." He was known far and wide among little children -- his greatest followers of course -- as the one-and-only, dearly beloved Cap'n Crunch.

Just as predicted by the visionary St. John of Patmos, who transcribed his dreams and visions into the Book of Revelation, The Anointed One returned sword in hand; however, bible scholars are now attesting that the blood-covered sword of the Authorized King James Version was a mistranslation of the Latin Vulgate, which was mistranslated itself from the Greek by Jerome or one of his assistants. The original Greek more properly transliterates into English as "milk." Interestingly, milk often covered the sword that was used by the Cap'n for cutting bananas for his breakfast cereal.

Cap'n Crunch condemned no one during his all too brief second visit here on Earth, leaving a body of teaching that continues to astound nutritionists familiar with the kosher Jewish dietary laws spelled out in the Old Testament.

A portion of His New-New Testament has been captured on video, which we present below, in a stunningly compassionate appearance where he reveals -- if you listen with your heart -- all of the great Wisdom of history's greatest spiritual teachers. But first, "Ye must become as little children to enter the Kingdom of Heaven."

Monday, October 13, 2008

Austin Homesick Blues

The title song of this album was recorded live in Luckenbach, Texas, in 1974 or 5? If Gary P. Nunn seems to have been dragging through this version, it's probably because he was. I was there that night drunk, whooping-it-up in the background during the recording and then later getting stoned out of my mind among the boulders and the rocks overlooking the Luchenbach Saloon.

There was a raffle and I won a copy of the Whole Earth Catalog. I felt so lucky. It was like a badge of my countercultural status, one that I could show my friends later or place on my coffee table as a conversation piece next to the rolling tray. And it was so big -- 11 x 14 with a black and white picture of the earth from outer space on the cover -- I used it to roll a few numbers that night and missed the irony completely. But then, so did its authors.

My older brother, who was in pharmacy school at the time and never was the sort to actually use the drugs he was studying so that, instead, he could continue to proficiently and professionally count them and place them in brown plastic bottles and then slap on a label without fear of arrest, just shook his head at me in bewilderment.

He is still counting and measuring while I have changed careers three times since then; but I still know "pharmacology" in a way that he could never comprehend pharmacology. Of course, his brain remains in much better condition for such tasks, tasks that Buckminster Fuller and we, his countercultural followers, used to call "linear;" whereas, my gifts were more of a "spatial" nature. It's an epistemological issue, you know.

Now in my view, Black Jack and Weed was never a good combination (it always seemed to make me sick and throw-up); but I never quite got the teaching on avoidance once my frontal lobes were relieved by the night crew. I've seen grown men passed out, face down in their own vomit at Willie Nelson concerts because of this combination utilized without moderation for just such celebrations. In fact, I was awakened one morning in the same condition by the neighbor's dog licking my face as I lay in the yard -- face down in it -- outside my brother's pick-up truck where I had made it about three steps, leaving the door wide open and engine still running (I somehow managed to forget one of my younger brothers at the "Upstairs Club" topless bar on South Lamar and drove home in his truck. I probably convinced him that he was too drunk to drive and that I should keep the keys for him. I still don't know how he got home and probably shouldn't ask). Back then, I was such a hunk-a-hunk of burning love that I was getting it from one of the strippers for free until her fiancée came back to town, leaving me brokenhearted and crying "Why Me?" -- drunk of course -- to the giant live oak in the front yard of my Newning Street cabin in Travis Heights (Austin).

And as if this form of obsessively repeated craziness, drowning in drunken memories of outlaw and cowboy times long past, is not absurd enough on the simple merit the Luckenbach Saloon never was much of anything but a honky tonk dance hall for hate-crimes-commitin' rednecks until "Waylon & Willie & the Boys" made it a happenin' thang for the counterculture on the sheer power of their own legendary status -- then the fact that all of the "cowboys" and "cowgirls" and "outlaws" out there that night, whooping and-a-hollerin' were all hippies like me should set the standard for Austintatiousness so that social constructionists in the years of Culture Wars to come can effectively differentiate bullshit from genuine cultural malaise -- we being the bullshit; the red necks being the cultural malaise. Of course the easiest way to tell the recovering hippies from the righteously abstinent Southern Baptists patriots during a national political convention is that the hippies will wave at you in a whore house.

Okay, so I actually had worked on a ranch in New Mexico once. But that still doesn't explain away the pretentiousness of My Generation. Nor our romantic notions of the Old West. I was in my early twenties then and my horse was a better horse than I was a cowboy; but by then I had already done way more acid than either he or Carlos Casteneda's crow could imagine. So yes, I would say my experience was magical, but I would never compare myself to Waylon Jennings. Now that was a cowboy.

They called it "Progressive Country," and the thing that made it "progressive" you see, was the weed. Willie Nelson used to get so heartfelt concerned about the drinking among members of his band and the tragedy it caused in their lives that he'd encourage them to go to detox at Oak Springs in Austin. All the while he was smokin' bud and never has quit far as I know. But then, he's an Indian, you see. It's the cowboys you gotta watch out for in today's social paradigms. The Indians are wise and crafty like a coyote in this, our New Age shaman opera, where guys like Willie get to sing the best arias and make the audience cry.

Looking back.... er, that's Luckenbach... I still don't get how being a slobbering drunk dying of cirrhosis of the liver came to be such an heroic thing. I think even Waylon Jennings came to regret it but then there's a little phenom known as "powerlessness," that just irks the shit out of "real men" and many just can't come to that place of "surrender" that defines men as "losers" in love and war and desert fathers when they let go the masculine storyline that has always been determined by what women are not. Now there is a study in social power that contains a dissertation for some lucky candidate.

Heh. It's all about the bootstraps. What's a liver ever done for a hero anyway?

It was a time of Vietnam, of drugs, of "free sex" and of draft-dodging of the sort that defined my set as a bunch of "pinko, commie, fagot, cowards" and George W. Bush and Richard B. Cheney as a future president and vice president. They are the patriots and we are not, no matter how involved they or their families were in the making and avoiding of war, the enabling of drug trafficking during the Iran-Contra Affair, as well as the heroin and nuclear technology pipeline through Afghanistan and Pakistan that the U. S. MSM still won't touch, the infamy of the Franklin Sex Scandal and Poppy's involvement in it, or the continuing secretive Bush family sexual legacy that recently resulted in the "elimination" of Jeane Palfrey, the "D.C. Madam" who threatened Cheney and the Bush Administration with a stink of sin so nauseous that Ralph Reed, Ted Haggard and James Dobson couldn't wash off with the right wing waters of baptism from Alaska if the Prince of Blackwater himself was saying the prayers of exorcism in the name of Gary Bauer.

If money and hypocrisy are among my blog themes tonight, it's because money and hypocrisy were the things that defined us into such radically dichotomous social categories of class and status both then and now.

By the way -- Of Bush, Cheney and me -- all three of us are still alcoholic and only one of us is in recovery. Plus, I've been broke a hell of a lot longer then they have, so if they need a sponsor for how to make it without money as their house collapses upon their own heads, I'd be glad to help out but they're going to have to want my help and ask for it. Certain steps will have to be taken as well. But then, that leads us right back to the ol' "powerless" thing that's got Laura's mind made up that there's gonna be a "d-i-v-o-r-c-e" come January, 2009. [More on that later for those inquiring minds who want to know. It seems the bootstraps broke off...again and again.]

And have you heard that John McCain was a POW during that war? That's right. A POW. Gosh, that makes him the most special kind of courageous hero, and having that level of PTSD with its accompanying paranoia, hypervigilenge, rage, history of sexual acting-out and infedelity on top of a generationally extant spirt of war mongering, suggests McCain as the most qualifid candidate in the field for the presidency.... unless you count moose hunting.

These days it still doesn't matter if you had the kind of Gandhian moral courage to just say no in the face of war mongers and their coup d'etat from the Shadows that killed the Kennedys and Martin Luther King, Jr.; you have to have that "red badge" that demonstrates your "patriotism" -- that special kind of badge -- that defines you as worthy of the presidency so that you can hang with the likes of Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard M. Nixon, Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, George W. Bush and Richard B. Cheney (El Presidente de Facto de los Sombras).

Ahhhhh. Now those guys were real men. Oh, and you too, Sarah!

They say that somewhere out there -- it's probably being fought out of the same office in the Pentagon as the "War of Terrorism" *wink*wink* (you know, the one with the hot-lines to Halliburton, Exxon-Mobil and Blackwater) -- there is a "War on Drugs" *wink*wink* still going on. Well, this narrative was written by a veteran of that war. One who lost -- a loser with the infamous capital "L." Surrendered just like those Pinko Communist bastards who couldn't hold their liquor and faded away while Yeltsen continued on in a stupor until even he was dismissed to his very own place among the Ya Ya Sisterhood somewhere in the old Soviet Union or in the Mines of Mordor. Now I'm an insufferable pacifist but I don't mind it if you have an occasional battle as long as you let me know when you'll be driving the convoy through my neighborhood.


The Armadillo World Headquarters, in Austin, was an old quanset hut where some of the greatest concerts in Central Texas were held. A bank bought the land and shut us down. Culture be damned. Especially sub-culture. They went broke long before today's financial straights that are now closing down the demonic culture of Mammon that claimed the Armadillo as martyr. It was years before "Slackers" replaced us hippies as the voice of the underground in Austin (unless you count the Bohemian intelligentsia who work their way through UT at Whole Foods' headquarter store) .... except that we did it "counterculture" with energy and motivation, a thing that explains why we are still so cynical and Slackers are still just... slackers. But at least they have Michael Moore.

As for rednecks?  Well they have now added home-manufactured crystal methamphetamine to their Saturday night communion services to the effect that turned the Reverend Ted Haggard himself into a truly get-down, newly revived brand of Evangelical Holy Roller who was having ecstatic visions  of such earth shaking proportions in the color lavender that when he sang out "Oh my God! Oh my God!" it was coming in a such sweetly sopranoed pitch and timber that it must have raised Judge Roy Bean from the dead thinking Lilly Langtree and all the angels of heaven were heralding The Rapture and that every sentient being west of the Pecos had awakened to Glooooory.

Obama was right. These people are crazy as a shit bird in an Alaskan outhouse; they haven't gone away since the days of Gary P. Nunn's famously satirical  isolationist lament; and they are still "turning to religion and guns in their despair."  They are all turning out to vote McCain/Palin just as sure as a moose farts downwind in the register of high-C during a butthole puckering blizzard. 

Broken Promises, Broken Dreams -- Not Running from the Pain

It's not the first time.
I was married once.
It didn't last.
All things do have that essential nature:
They pass.

I came home from work one afternoon
And she was gone.
No arguments,
No disagreements,
Not even an explanation.
The bank account was emptied before I could get there the next morning.
That was all the explanation I really needed.
Material girls have material dreams,
Dreams that working class guys just can't pay for.

And there was Zoe.
Her name was Greek for "life."
No one ever moved me like she did.
But material girls have material dreams.
Dreams that working class guys just can't afford.

There were others.
Experiments don't come with commitment.
Sometimes they die leaving dreams behind,
And a world that feels changed, empty without them,
But so tender in their memories.
Tim died of AIDS on the Eve of Thanksgiving.

Love is something better left undefined.
It rails against you otherwise.
It appears as a shadow in your dreams
And then abandons.
Snowdrifts in howling winds that force lovers into each others' arms
And melt in the Afternoon Sun

* * *

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Bathroom in Recovery

This one's not too interesting as photos go. If fact, I find it gross. But you should have seen the "before" picture when crap was coming out the bottom of this john and ruining the floor from underneath the tile.

Definitely not dinner conversation but I wanted everyone to know what a shitty weekend I've been having.

This little house has had all the quick fixes it can take from previous residents before blowing out the crapper, two sinks and the bathtub all the same day.

Yesterday, I fixed the kitchen sink and then took-on the bathroom where I had to take out all of the fixtures, replace sub-flooring and tile and then reinstall the fixtures with new innards.

I got glue everywhere, of course. At one point I looked down and noticed that I was tracking toilet paper around with me. Somehow, it got stuck on the bottom of my shoe after I stepped in glue.

It reminded me of the Rosanna Rosanna Danna skit from SNL where she informed the Queen of England in a public restroom at a concert for Her majesty that the Royal Mum had toilet paper stuck on the bottom of her shoe.

Worse than that, I'm wandering how to get it off my new floor -- the glue that is. Acetone? I'll check around town for advice.

In the meantime, a new resident moved in. I'm not sure if that's good or bad. This one seems to have a cobra image on the back of his/her head and I'm hoping its just a water snake. No rattles but it has a diamond pattern, blunt nose and a nasty disposition when someone is trying to capture it in a plastic jug and take it to the countryside for release into the wild.

My JRT, Bailey Wu, was not about to mess with this one. I guess he still remembers the rattlesnake that got him on the side of his face, costing me a good $700 in antivenin IV and Vet visits.

While Bailey just stood there looking, not daring to make an aggressive move at the new house guest as s/he got away under the baseboard and into who knows what or where inside a wall or under the house.

Personally, I could do without snakes, blown-out johns, the smell of raw sewage and the floor falling out.... which reminds me of the current political situation in the Vice President's Office, but I'll save that conversation for another blog and another day.

Point * * * Counterpoint * * * Section

The thing that saved the entire weekend was a spontaneous invitation by members of the Chinate Foundation to join them for dinner and an outdoor movie at Balmorhea State Park during their annual 4-day get-together. In fact, we watched two movies: Hitchcock's 39 Steps and 3:10 to Yuma. There was even a Cuban street dance. These wonderful people had me longing for Austin where I lived for 25-years among the same Bohemian mix of the highly educated and the progressive, but the desert isn't done with me yet and all other doors seem to remain closed.

And then, I ran across this article on Salon.com about ecology, the world paper vs water controversy, and Japanese potty technology. Now I'm feeling deprived for having to live without a Toto Neorest. Back to stay, even after successfully remodeling my bathroom, is that all too familiar sense of relative poverty. What a shitty weekend.


Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Our Lady of Balmorhea -- Beautiful Woman of the Desert

La Calera Chapel, west of Toyahvale, is a sacred space in the desert. It is the only surviving building of La Calera ghost town and is maintained by the Calera Foundation. At night under the desert sky the Milky Way redefines itself flowing across the sky from northeast to southwest through the constellation Sagittarius. Awesome. The practice of silence out here -- of just sitting -- brings oneness and peace. Nothing else matter but this moment in His Presence, The Sublime Glory.

A couple of notes: (1) I totally forgot the role of BVM in requesting the miracle at Cana, the first in the gospel narrative; although, I didn't see it at the site, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, in Munich, Germany. (2) The music is Franz Schubert, Ave Maria, sung by Barbara Hendricks. I hope I haven't offended any purists who would have preferred Placido Domingo to sing to Our Lady of Guadalupe rather than the original aria in German as written by Schubert for the opera.

There is a better mouse trap at this the Picasa Web Site; that is, if you are interested in better quality photos than what YouTube has accomplished here; although, Picasa has been grossly undependable and I am linking now in the ho
pe that it will appear anytime.


"We sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood him, praying only for knowledge of his will for us and the power to carry that out."

Detail of painting by Contreras, 2008
Our Lady of Guadalupe
* * *

Today's Video is Dedicated

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Miraculous Pork Chop

I was up all night praying and meditating like a camped-out Jew outside the temple on Yom Kippur. When I opened my George Foreman Grill to break the fast just 10-min ago, I was taken aback. There before my eyes was a Miraculous Pork Chop, obviously a message from God about my abhorrent carnivorous proclivities in contravention of The Law. I just couldn't eat him.

So I'm going to either offer this pork-u-poine chop for auction on eBay or give it to a Hayes County deputy sheriff.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Job in the Desert: Transcending Suffering Through Prayer and Meditation


Psalm 37 (New International Version)

Psalm 37

Of David.
1 [a] Do not fret because of evil men
or be envious of those who do wrong;

2 for like the grass they will soon wither,
like green plants they will soon die away.

3 Trust in the LORD and do good;
dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.

4 Delight yourself in the LORD
and he will give you the desires of your heart.

5 Commit your way to the LORD;
trust in him and he will do this:

6 He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn,
the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.

7 Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him;
do not fret when men succeed in their ways,
when they carry out their wicked schemes.

8 Refrain from anger and turn from wrath;
do not fret—it leads only to evil.

9 For evil men will be cut off,
but those who hope in the LORD will inherit the land.

10 A little while, and the wicked will be no more;
though you look for them, they will not be found.

11 But the meek will inherit the land
and enjoy great peace.

12 The wicked plot against the righteous

and gnash their teeth at them;

13 but the Lord laughs at the wicked,
for he knows their day is coming.

14 The wicked draw the sword
and bend the bow
to bring down the poor and needy,
to slay those whose ways are upright.

15 But their swords will pierce their own hearts,
and their bows will be broken.

16 Better the little that the righteous have
than the wealth of many wicked;

17 for the power of the wicked will be broken,
but the LORD upholds the righteous.

18 The days of the blameless are known to the LORD,
and their inheritance will endure forever.

19 In times of disaster they will not wither;
in days of famine they will enjoy plenty.

20 But the wicked will perish:
The LORD's enemies will be like the beauty of the fields,
they will vanish—vanish like smoke.

21 The wicked borrow and do not repay,
but the righteous give generously;

22 those the LORD blesses will inherit the land,
but those he curses will be cut off.

23 If the LORD delights in a man's way,
he makes his steps firm;

24 though he stumble, he will not fall,

for the LORD upholds him with his hand.

25 I was young and now I am old,
yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken
or their children begging bread.

26 They are always generous and lend freely;
their children will be blessed.

27 Turn from evil and do good;
then you will dwell in the land forever.

28 For the LORD loves the just
and will not forsake his faithful ones.
They will be protected forever,
but the offspring of the wicked will be cut off;

29 the righteous will inherit the land
and dwell in it forever.

30 The mouth of the righteous man utters wisdom,
and his tongue speaks what is just.

31 The law of his God is in his heart;
his feet do not slip.

32 The wicked lie in wait for the righteous,
seeking their very lives;

33 but the LORD will not leave them in their power
or let them be condemned when brought to trial.

34 Wait for the LORD
and keep his way.
He will exalt you to inherit the land;
when the wicked are cut off, you will see it.

35 I have seen a wicked and ruthless man
flourishing like a green tree in its native soil,

36 but he soon passed away and was no more;
though I looked for him, he could not be found.

37 Consider the blameless, observe the upright;
there is a future [b] for the man of peace.

38 But all sinners will be destroyed;
the future [c] of the wicked will be cut off.

39 The salvation of the righteous comes from the LORD;
he is their stronghold in time of trouble.

40 The LORD helps them and delivers them;
he delivers them from the wicked and saves them,
because they take refuge in him.


  1. Psalm 37:1 This psalm is an acrostic poem, the stanzas of which begin with the successive letters of the Hebrew alphabet.
  2. Psalm 37:37 Or there will be posterity
  3. Psalm 37:38 Or posterity

The Sacred Site:
There is a little chapel west of Toyahvale and Balmorhea. It takes its name from the early 19th century ghost town there and is the town's only survivor. It continues to evolve slowly - ever so slowly - into some preordained destiny agreed upon by the esoteric community of the saints who maintain it but for whom organization and planning are conditions perceived as something "of the world" of which those obsessed with a now corrupt received culture and secular system of social controls seem to suffer more than others. These unfortunates are welcome -- one can sense it on visits -- for Calera Chapel is only a gateway into the Sublime, a door upon which fellow travelers and desert mendicants knock.


The Apologetics of Prayer & Meditation: The method of prayer and meditation suggested in the video is one of many. While the editor places great devotional value on the Rosary as Method (I guess that makes me a "Methodist"), he does not solicit an authoritarian following or make any demands for its use to the exclusion of others -- hollowed others -- such as zen meditation, the recitation of mantras, praying in tongues, contemplation, lectio divina, dance, song, yoga, whirling with Dervishes, bows & prostrations, kneeling on handcrafted rugs facing eastward to the holy lands or Kensho.

Contra Summa Theologica: The "Under the Threat of Hell" crowd of Dominionists and Evangelicals would scoff at the use of the Rosary anyway. They habitually do so in their ironic displays of ignorance concerning spiritual matters, a world altogether esoteric in nature and oftentimes hidden from the religious.

After four-hundred years of "reformation," during which someone decided that there was entirely too much sex going on inside Medieval monasteries, which resulted in the "casting out" of the baby along with the bath, authoritarian Christianists have determined for the rest of us that they alone are the keepers of the keys to the kingdom and that we should pray as they pray, do as they say and prey as they prey. Just call that 1-800 number at the bottom of your television screen and ask them. The rest of us have to sneak by their guardians at the Temple gates in the dead of darkness -- that Dark Night of the Soul -- when they are not looking.

Do you want to kill a moose or not? It's not that the right-wing fundamentalists, Evangelicals, Millenarians, Pentacostalists, Rushdoony Reconstructionists, Christian Nationalists, Christian Identity movers and shakers and the assorted mix of other authoritarian Dominionists who threaten the world with one Armageddon after another -- usually of their own making -- are the arch-enemies of The Enlightenment because they are "Christian" or because they are the "righteous Children of God." The victimstance of that argument, in fact, would gag a moose. It is that they are not. Neither are the "Catholic" poseurs of this nefarious ilk.

In Truth, they are neither practitioners of the ancient disciplines of righteousness -- even as Paul of Tarsus, the apostle to the Gentiles, challenged the conservative origins of righteousness [cf. Romans 4] using his argument of Abrahamic faith versus the Essene system of "works" used to develop it [cf. references in James 2; 14] -- nor are Christianists, with the exception of saintly notables among them, the Children of the Light. This becomes especially clear when juxtaposed with the historical standards for righteousness set by the Essene monastics of Judea and the 1st Century Christian Party [cf. Hebrews; James; Pesher to Habukuk; Psalm 37] who became their spiritual heirs.

"Well of the Essenes" ('Ain Es-siah), was the source of all life in Wadi Essiah (Essene Canyon). Flowing from an oven shaped opening in the southern Karmeliya ("Carmelite") Ridge and thence flowing through covered rock channels to all other areas of the ancient Nazorean Monastery. Yeshua and his disciples would have drunk deeply from this pure flowing "Essene Well", and would have drunk wine and eaten fresh garden produce produced from its healing waters.
That Yehoshua ben Yosef was a Monastic Essene is becoming more and more evident as archaeologists and bible scholars work in cooperation to decipher the secrets of Qumran and Nag Hammadi.

If recent biblical scholarship can be trusted with the sacred mandate given it by John XXIII and Vatican Council II, these authoritarian souls represent in all the
ir doctrines and political manipulations the very "spirit of the anti-christ" they claim to be fighting in you, you ungrateful sinner, you unrepentant alcoholic, you sociopathic faggot junkie, you. For they are the Zealots who we now know were the militarist national partisans who betrayed Jesus and turned him over for torture and execution. During his ordeal, he gave up no secrets, betrayed no Zealot or Essene to Pontius Pilot or discussed the Zealot insurrections. Yet because he was a pacifist, he did not satisfy their messianic expectations and was therefore rejected as the foundation stone of the Kingdom of Heaven. Rev. Pat Robertson, who has lobbied for the assassination of Hugo Chavez, the untimely deaths of liberal Supreme Court Justices and the promotion of his Power Shake he claims gave him the strenth to leg-press 2000-lbs at age 75, would have been the go-to guy for the crown of thorns, strung across and tightened upon his head in mockery of his kingship until they dug into his skull.

Did you ever hear Pat Robertson condemn Abu Ghraib or Guantanamo? Have you heard any opposition from James Dobson? John Hagee? Ralph Reed? Even Benedict XVI squeaks like a mouse about "justified wars," no doubt those we lied ourselves into in order to surround the former U.S.S.R. with a missile system and abscond with their Caspian oil and gas while fomenting a "war on terrorism" against Iran and keeping Venezuela in our sights. All in the name of an apocalyptic Jesus come to spread mayhem along with that particular brand of justice that only Christianists and Islamists seem to prefer to peaceful negotiations.

When was the last time you heard Rev. John Hagee encourage anyone to "send money to the poor?" Heh. Enough said.

A Resentful Aside
Last week, my unemployment insurance benefits ran out. I'm having to scramble to find a job -- any kind of job. The fundamental issue at the core of my recent job loss is that chemical dependency services now privatized by the federal government under a corporatist administration are no longer available in quantity or quality that would satisfy the actual needs of our client base.

The administrators with whom I pleaded for the last several years could care less about "the widow, the stranger or the orphan." And you can forget about drug addicts and alcoholics. They are of the sort who are supposed to pull themselves up by their own boot straps like George Bush and Richard Cheney did [wink, wink].

The "bottom line," of course, is determined by those who profit financially and to hell with your so-called "disease of addiction." This is laissez-faire capitalism -- the free market system of Adam Smith. Yet, as I write this, negotiations are ongoing to determine which bank, investment house or insurance company gets the $700-billion your working and middle class grandchildren will pay off on behalf of the Corporatist Welfare System.

The latest I've heard from our TV preachers of the "Christian" Right -- and I'm not joking about this one bit -- is that the current threat of financial collapse was caused by "homosexuals." Isn't that a queer thing to say? No matter how you toss it up, it still translates as "Go to your Phone and Call Me Right Now -- Send me money! The Number is at the Bottom of Your Screen and if You Call Within the Next Ten-Minutes We'll Say an Extra Prayer Just for You So that You Can Go on That Casino Ship Retirement Cruise in the Caribbean You've been Dreaming about."

When it helps us, it's called "socialism." When it helps them, it's described with all the paranoiac propaganda necessary to "prevent the imminent collapse of the free market economic system." Now, there's a twist! Or as someone said to Alice, "It's not the name of the thing that matters; it's what the name of the thing is called."

That leads us back to the Prologue above -- Psalm 37. I'm already broke but I'll try not to cheer for the sake of Schadenfreude. [You'll love this link.]
Intolerance: Please do not mistake my rant against Christianist authoritarianism for "religious intolerance." After all, what is religious about wars for empire and the monipolization of the energy markets? In fact, these absolutist control freaks have fomented persecutions, pogroms, inquisitions, religious war and fascism throughout history. In a sardonic twist of the rational, it is to them that we owe the human rights, civil liberties and democratic freedoms delivered through secular humanism and The Age of Enlightenment. And it is upon these Zealots that we should place accountability for the current attacks upon these blessings of liberty. It is not because our founding fathers were not men of faith that they erected "a wall of separation between church and state." It was because they were.

Spirituality is not the same thing as religion [cf. The Varieties of Religious Experience, by William James]. While religion can point to The Spirit as a finger pointing to the moon, it is, first of all, not the moon. Secondly, religion has just as often been the perpetrator against The Spirit -- "the anti-christ" of war and famine, of graft and corruption, of Straussian and Machiavellian manipulation of the Conservative Christian Movement and of economic plunder by the corporatists of Wall Street from within The Shadow of the White House.

If you expect at all to beat your swords into plowshares, to affect "surrender" against all ineffectively human forms of "acting-out" or genetic-based addiction -- whether given vent and negatively expressed through drugs, alcohol, sex, gambling, shopping, overeating, anger-as-power-over-others, power for power's sake, or the building of empires and other worldly power bases -- prayer and meditation is a vital step in the process of letting Go, of becoming, of being in the world and not of the world, of Experiencing and of sharing the Wisdom and Compassion that can only come from within and above -- The Sublime Glory.

San Solomon Springs, Balmorhea, Texas

-=cliffhammond, MEd, LCDC