A Variety of Brief Observations (Sample)

Posted in Uncategorized on April 9, 2009 by squarerootofminusone

The human heart beats 100,000 times a day, moving six quarts of blood through 60,000 miles of vessels, twenty times the distance from one edge of America to the other, and for what?


            Last Tuesday, while on a hike, a very close friend told me the world could end in the year 2012. According to him the Aztecs and Nostradamus made this prediction. This means we could be pressed for time, but I doubt it.

            I have to say the last thing I worry about is the end of the world. I would much rather see a fantastic armageddon type performance than die a regular death. And that’s exactly what it would be too, an enormous drama, not a Shakespearian drama, but rather the High School Musical type. I mean. Wouldn’t it have to be?

And furthermore what about the collective experience of seeing everything we took so seriously disappear probably by some kind of nuclear disaster? Wouldn’t be fantastic to just run down every street screaming, “I told you so.”


Nietzsche said that even love is a selfish emotion in that we love so that we might be loved, but he died of syphilis, which he contracted in a brothel. The man accused of murdering god himself, influencing Hitler, and hinting at ideas that would later become the fad we know as existentialism, could not to literally save his sanity or life, be loved by a woman.

“If you love without being loved in return,” Said Marx, “then your love is impotent and a misfortune.”

Jesus said that a man could gain the world but lose his soul.

Is anything worth doing if you are not loved?  


Today’s front page head line reads, “300 dead”. Beneath it there is a picture of a basketball player. It seems to bother no one. Stalin said that one death is a tragedy, but a million is a statistic. I suppose we would have to agree.


Max Euwe described Bobby Fischer’s approach to chess as follows:

            “Fischer thinks in systems, not moves. With him, it’s not good enough to say a player has made a good move. You must know the system he is playing and what fits into the system.” He may have been on to something.

            The same might be said for life. In choosing a course of action, it’s not enough to be familiar with the immediate consequences.







Silver Lake

Posted in Travel, Uncategorized on March 18, 2009 by squarerootofminusone

It was an upstairs two bedroom apartment with a fenced in back yard in East Hollywood. The neighborhood was named Silver Lake and it was like a Rothko color study. Even the homeless people had gardens. It was such a hip and vibrant place. And one of my favorite features of my neighborhood was that you could walk a mile or two up any hill and see what seemed like all of Los Angeles: buildings on top of buildings with no real distinguishing features, and cars, everyone in LA drives three cars at once, a lot of hybrids though, but at night it was nothing but lights and space between lights, and from some streets on a starry night it was hard to tell where the sky began and ended.


Getting into Character

Posted in Travel, Uncategorized on March 18, 2009 by squarerootofminusone

Originally I had planned on moving to Los Angeles. Isn’t that what you’re supposed to do when your girlfriend’s overly eccentric musician sister calls you at one o’clock in the morning because her roommate is moving out and she needs help with the rent? Though I had never been west of Texas, and knew very well Woody Allen’s thoughts on the city, the idea of shaking the dust of this crumby little town still seemed like a fantastic idea at the time.

We packed everything we could fit and two dogs into a Jeep Cherokee and Mercury Sable, and like a terribly disorganized circus, Beth, myself, and her father began to “get into character.” My mom has cut stories, pictures, and especially cartoons out of the newspaper for me since I was old enough to read. We had already said our painful goodbyes and gotten into the car when she waved her hand. I rolled down the window, and she handed me a Ziggy cartoon. It had a picture of Ziggy in his car, and was titled “Going to Hollywood.” Inside the bubble it read, “Getting into character.”

We made it to L.A. in three days. Beth drove the entire way. I was at the time in a phase where I couldn’t drive. I would have terrible panic attacks and have to stop breathing when I got behind the wheel. Our pace made it difficult to really take in the experience of driving coast to coast. We stopped mainly to eat, walk the dogs, and sleep. We did pull over to view the largest cross in the world. It was ridiculous. If I remember correctly you can see it from space. And I remember seeing the biggest mountain I’ve ever seen. Humphrey’s peak was 12,633 feet high.

 If I’m really nostalgic about any part of the trip it would have to be the way the landscapes slowly became less familiar. People are a lot the same anywhere you go. I can always feel at home around people, but I felt 2,000 miles away from anywhere when I first viewed a desert. The total absence of grass was far more overwhelming than Grand Central Station. And the plateaus were so weird! It was one of the few times in life I can remember feeling completely new. I didn’t know these places, and they didn’t know me.

To the Common Grackle

Posted in Poetry, Uncategorized on March 10, 2009 by squarerootofminusone

I don’t think you’re so common.

I have watched the way you eat.


You know? If you were human

you would be better off, common.


Posted in Poetry, Uncategorized on October 30, 2008 by squarerootofminusone

This is my life:

A girl that loves me

in the next room

dialing wrong telephone numbers.

She desperately needs to get in touch with me,

or god, or some body.


A finger hunting for the right disease

in a moon lit room full of monkeys

does not scare me.

A life on the tracks is ok

as long as you don’t believe in anything.

I would touch Jesus

if he promised not to touch me back.


So why does she believe in me?

I’m a monster,

minus the tail,

killing the wind.

Old Jack

Posted in Poetry, Uncategorized on September 11, 2008 by squarerootofminusone

His face was a museum.

With eyes cold since Korea,

he sat at his computer and played solitaire.

His brain, growing old in his head

sent mixed messages to his jittery hand.

It could never be still,

and he was only at peace

when he slept.

It was the digestion of food

and dreams of playing in the mud.

It was there that the contrast between


and bad sin

disappeared into him.

Killing Mr. Flemming

Posted in Poetry, Uncategorized on September 9, 2008 by squarerootofminusone



He referred to me as,

“Mr. Robinette”

This was important because I learned

condescension is only effective if you allow it to be.


He had a picture, not a poster, a real picture

of an ostrich with its head in the ground,

and he would point to it and say,

“That’s you Mr. Robinette. That’s how you go through life.”


There is an alternative,

a secret passage

that leads down two roads,

six, and then a thousand.


I used to think none of this had anything to do with history.

I was too busy thinking about girls to make the connection,

to see how we slowly entered back into the dark ages

feeling nothing and feeling it comfortably.


We began somehow, like a switch,

and ran like hell to now, and then for no reason

sat down.

“That’s how you go through life.”