Blue skies versus five hundred feet tall cactus, needles as sharp as razors and as long as scimitars versus a dun-colored rock giant ambling and mumbling down the roadside versus a-James Tiberius Kirk-silly looking villainous monster in the desert and I realize I’ve been dreaming, awakened by the civil defense siren squawk of a Cactus Wren.
Oh yes, I am in the desert. And where the dream ended the day began, although I am still not sure exactly how it occurred.
The coffee was thick and syrupy, like star-of-anise flavored motor oil. As I stumbled out onto the patio a Phainopepla’s red eye stared down at me from atop the saguaro. I grimaced in the face of the fierce sun, turned inside, devoured a meal and set off for the day, determined to not miss a single moment, although so often I lose them to random indeterminacy, a failure to remain mindful.
The road is an asphalt strip to town and then up into the hills. Apparitions appear and disappear in tandem. A brief flurry of activity in the park HQ, Ranger Dave offers tips for sunsets, photo ops and hikes, but I’m just soaking up the kindness, taking a moment.
An horizon of fractured faded cantaloupe rocks is punctuated by the tall spine of a Joshua Tree, a Hindu deity lost in the desert, dozens of hands uplifted toward an empty, fried blue sky.
Where is the water?
Smell the winds dusting up off the Mojave, Yucca flowers in bloom, Juniper and skunk weed. A forest of Joshua Trees, yucca brevifolia, pink stair step hills and a snowcapped peak behind them.
All the while the plaintive call of a flycatcher echoes across the hidden valley. A rainbow lizard races from cactus to cactus.
Smell the pine. Feel the grit in my teeth. Hear the White-crowned Sparrow song lilting away on the wind. Feel the winds cool brush on my skin and the sun beating it to a fine blush. The crunch of pulverized granitic sand beneath my feet. Hear the buzz of a fly. The scratch of ink on paper . . . the moment stretches into an infinity. Rocks formed before plants came up out of the primeval soup to colonize the land, two billion years ago.
The views stretch on forever, mobius strip-like, repeating themselves.
The whip-crack of a sonic boom sounding above the Salton Sea a milky, aquamarine jewel. It sits, filling up with the industrial effluents draining the Coachella Valley, where the great Grape Strike, which made Cesar Chavez, began in 1968.
Signal mountain is an obscure, hazy black dimple on the horizon ninety-five miles away on the US-Mexican border.
An afternoon in a saloon, a blur of images, car wrecks transmitted through a television, baseball and a leggy blonde with the voice of a succubus.
Where, exactly, was I again?
A saloon in the west.
Small talk, but the best kind of small talk, what Virgil called tam dulces fabulae, sweet little lies. Alas, the day changed again, Protean-like, in ways Virgil and Dante amidst the treasures an torments of the underworld could never conceive.
Where is the water?
Food wolfed down, a shower, a drive back out to the park and the sunset. Now golden, now orange, now a rippling, hovering tangerine that bleeds secondary pinks into the high cirrus. Just as suddenly a blanket of violet drapes the skies. Finally, darkness and the dance of stars, perhaps to dream again and repeat such a day well lived.
Bill O’Reilly frames his best asset
It’s odd that a man who claims among his favorite guests both Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart would have a problem with President Obama’s appearance in a comic interview on the website Funny or Die. But he does: Continue reading Bill O’Reilly: Blue Nose
AFP via Truthdig – A public row erupted Tuesday between the CIA and the US lawmakers who oversee its intelligence work, with the agency’s director angrily denying claims it spied on Senate staff.
Senate Intelligence Committee chair Dianne Feinstein launched an attack on the Central Intelligence Agency, accusing it of searching computers used by staffers investigating CIA interrogation methods.
Begin with the manly mints and scroll BACKWARDS for all of yesterday’s photos.
The full set is here.
I left San Antonio at 830 in the morning. Arrived in Joshua Tree the next day at 300 in the afternoon.
What happened in between was stunning.
Palo Duro Canyon and Caprock Canyons State Park in the Panhandle of Texas are worth seeing. As a friend said, “the floor literally drops out of the plains into the bowels of hell,” the last refuge of Quanah Parker and his Comanche warriors.
But, had I literally not woke to the Grand Canyon they would have been seared into my memory. How does one overcome the Grand Canyon to appreciate Palo Duro and Caprock Canyons?
Alas, I get ahead of myself.
It was a long, brutal ride from Amarillo to Flagstaff. Strange, surreal night-scapes passed before me. Inexplicable images, strange lights, bizarre industrial installations in the middle of nowhere passed through the filter of countless cups of terrible roadside coffee and bleary, tired eyes. The visions of the night are like those light towers in the darkness that duplicate themselves on your retina when you blink. The night was a cross between a dark painting of straight, abstract lines and the faded colors of Vasilii Kandinsky and the swirling nightmarish background of Edvard Munch’s “The Scream.”
In the long night of the desert, between Amarillo and Flagstaff, the full impact of our industrial civilization becomes evident. What we hide from ourselves comes out in the dark. The depots for mines are lined with 18-wheelers waiting their fill of whatever mineral has been scratched from the earth. Trains are long snaking lines in the howling emptiness. Coal fired power plants belch out even more smoke at night, to better hide it, long tailings of cottony carbon fill the clouds, heating the planet.
Paradoxically, the temperatures plunged between Tucumcari and Gallup and by the time I hit the Grand Canyon it was 23*. I had blod shot eyes and felt inhuman, but stumbled out of the car and onto the southern rim of the great canyon in a fog. One look at the canyon, the violet pre-dawn skies and I was wide awake.
I’ve traveled a great deal in my life and from time to time I’ve assumed the pose that “I’m a traveler, not a tourist.” In fact, it’s something I wrestle with frequently while I am on the road. “I’m no different than a tourist,” I tell myself. For there is no distinction between a tourist and a so-called “traveler.” It’s really only the place that marks any difference. Or an assumed attitude of superiority.
At the Grand Canyon yesterday morning there were about a 100 of us waiting for the sunrise and at first I struck that pose. But the moment the sun peaked up over the rim of that magnificent canyon, it all melted away. I was a tourist, a fellow human traveling along the ride of this crazy, glorious creation.
Lesson: sometimes it’s good to be a part of the spectacle and not set oneself outside of it.
Check it out, here. This is the full set, so far.
This world is a veil and the face you wear is not your own. Preacher Joel Theriot, True Detective
Tent preacher Joel Theriot’s full sermon from episode three of True Detective provides a preview and explanation of detective Rust Cohle’s conversion from a laconic nihilist extraordinaire who can barely live with himself to an enlightened soul with some prospect for peace.
In episode 7, Cohle laments his long journey through violence and depravity then says I’m ready to tie it off. Many suspected that this forecast death for Cohle in the final episode. In a very real sense, that theory proved correct but it was a different type of death.
As it turns out, True Detective is the story of a seeker of truth. Rust Cohle’s moment of enlightenment in episode 8 came after years of searching and suffering.
Continue reading Rust Cohle’s Conversion – True Detective Finale
Despite claims to the contrary, the US has a state-sponsored and supported religion.
Like all religions, it has its dogma, a group of fundamental beliefs, that are accepted “on faith,” without any physical proof. And like all religions, it has its clerics/priests, an organized structure for its support, and the priests have their own body of laws inviolate from laws governing the common people.
The high priest of this religion is the Chairman of the US Federal Reserve. He makes religious pronouncements, which have enormous effect, and do little to explain the dogma – rather they make understanding the dogma more difficult. The goal is to confuse the masses, and insulate the priesthood. Clearly, only He can talk directly to God, because when he explains, the message is incomprehensible. Continue reading The US State Religion
AFP, March 8
Baghdad – Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki accused Saudi Arabia of supporting global “terrorism,” both inside the Arab world and in other countries, in an interview broadcast on Saturday. Maliki, in an interview with France 24, slammed “the dangerous Saudi stance” of supporting “terrorism in the world – it supports it in Syria and Iraq and Lebanon and Egypt and Libya and even in countries outside” the Arab world.
Saudi Arabia and Qatar are destabilising Iraq by supporting militant groups and have effectively declared war on the country.
“They are attacking Iraq, through Syria and in a direct way, and they announced war on Iraq,” the premier said.
Also, AFP: Maliki: Saudi Arabia and Qatar are at war with Iraq
Show of force from government comes as regional body supports the government’s ‘peace initiative’
Al Jazeera, March 8
In a major show of force, hundreds of National Guardsmen in riot gear and armored vehicles prevented an “empty pots march” from reaching Venezuela’s Food Ministry on Saturday to protest now-chronic food shortages.
President Nicolas Maduro’s government, meanwhile, celebrated an Organization of American States (OAS) declaration supporting its efforts to bring a solution to the country’s worst political violence in years, calling it a diplomatic victory. The United States, Canada and Panama were the only nations to oppose the declaration.
“The meddling minority against Venezuela in the OAS, Panama, Canada and the U.S., is defeated in a historic decision that respects our sovereignty,” government spokeswoman Delcy Rodriguez tweeted.
Continue reading Venezuelan protest overrun by government forces
Canadian film director, writer, and producer Karen Lam whose chosen genre is horror with a feminist twist, posed this provocative question.
Lam’s choice and musings were influenced by her father’s penchant for twisted storytelling and the real-life violence committed against women. What particularly stood out for Lam were the cruel murders of 49 women by BC pig farmer Robert Pickton who fed their bodies to his pigs and friends and the Highway of Tears murders that, according to aboriginal leaders, has claimed the lives of 43 women – these murders remain, as of yet, unsolved.
Incidentally, last Wednesday, the Guardian disclosed that a recent report revealed ‘extensive violence against women in EU’ with Denmark, Finland, and Sweden, three countries that strongly support women’s rights, exhibiting the highest numbers. Shocking, isn’t it? Continue reading Should women fight violence with violence?
PIMCO just hasn’t been the same since Paul McCulley left. You know, the guy who coined the term, “shadow banking system.”
SO, here’s a tweet from Bill Gross, the CEO of PIMCO (who is a very smart man, himself):
Quick question: say I own this crap, right? Who the fuck do I sell it to, if not the Fed?
You see where this is going?
Saturday morning I leave for a long road trip. A road trip I have long wanted to take. I’m headed to Joshua Tree National Park.
If all goes well I’ll hit Palo Duro Canyon in Texas for the sunset Saturday, drive through the night, have my coffee and sunrise at the Grand Canyon Sunday morning and then be in Joshua Tree by one in the afternoon.
Expect stories and photos from the road.
Been a while since we traveled together, y’all and me, hasn’t it? Well, we’re going to have fun!
As always, suggestions welcome!