Thursday, March 31, 2011

The City Den

The armed guards slid apart the barbed-wire-fenced gates and admitted the tall lean man and his blonde companion. Large jeep trucks were parked on the cement and hungry dogs walked around with their noses to the ground. Inside, men brought them to the drug lord.

Men with guns lounged on couches smoking hashish and opium. Women strewn on the arms of couches and chairs like forgotten jackets were passed smoking pipes. Jesus, the man in charge, stood with his back to Eduardo Sanchile at a white marble counter. The man's wavy black hair was slicked back tight against his scalp. He turned to face his client. His blood-shot eyes opened wide and his face tensed.

“Who is this?” Jesus asked seeing Kaite. “Do not think you are above the rules, Sanchile, just since we have known each other since childhood.”

“Never mind,” Sanchile said, “she is with me. I trust her.” Jesus lunged for Sanchile and pushed him against the mildew-yellow wall. He held his hunting knife up to his bare neck.

“No visitors, cholo,” he growled. “That's the law here and I'm the law.” The long knife pressed into Sanchile's neck turning the skin around it pink from its pressure. Sanchile stood still. Kate's arms were held behind her by a different large man. Jesus lowered his knife and thrust it towards the woman with a snarl. He took her from the man and grabbed her around the chin. She squirmed but didn't scream.

Sanchile moved to rescue Katie and then every man in the place despite smoking crack or drinking booze lifted the muzzles of their guns up in his direction.

“Don't think you can get out of this,” Jesus said. “You will either let me take her to bed or die.” Sanchile stood with his feet wider than hip-width apart and his arms bent at the elbows. He was only armed with a pistol which would not last one minute against the army of AK47s and automatic handguns. The drug lord stared Sanchile down and bared his gold-plated teeth.

“Remember our struggle Jesus,” Sanchile said. “We were both little boys with nothing and as a team we helped each other survive. I would distract the American tourists and you'd take their money and run. We'd use that money to eat together. That makes us brothers and brothers watch brothers' backs.”

Jesus's bulging eyes widened even more, and he grinned to his ears. “Put down the guns, cholos,” he said. “This is my little brother, si? We're just playing, right Eddy? Like old times. Here's your whore,” and Jesus shoved Katie back to Sanchile. She fell onto her knees and the room erupted in laughter.

“Brother,” Sanchile said offering Katie a hand, “I thought you knew how to treat a woman.”

Jesus laughed, turned back to the table, and said “Let's talk business.”

The shipment was in white-bagged kilos. Jesus wanted Sanchile to distribute the cargo to more than a dozen distributors around the city in exchange for a percentage of the profits.

“Do you think you can handle such a big boy task, little brother?” Jesus asked Sanchile.

“I've never let you down,” he responded. “Get me some bags to carry the goods in. I'll need a new hotel room, $500 cash and a gun.”

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Vocal Shadows

It's been happening again. Now they're knocking on my door ready to break through, and I don't know how she followed me inside.

It started with small fireflies that would disappear as soon as I noticed them. Like little sparks of electricity in the atmosphere or dissipating after thoughts. I would be in the shower lathering my arms and these light-bugs would appear for an instant. I remember smiling and in a high pet voice, greeting them and wanting them to stay and play.

I think it all started with the light-bugs. Those came just a few weeks ago before the shadow-beetles or the big long black bugs that crawl on the sidewalks just out of vision. They're like full adult roaches but all black and swim on the ground like amoebas. They always dissipated like shadows in the sun before I locked my gaze on them but they followed me along on the sidewalk, just a few at first.

When they came into my apartment, I could feel them behind me when I'd sit on my rug. I'd quickly turn to catch them but they'd be gone. So I bought insecticide and the poison took care of the horrible infestation a few days later. Although my apartment was free, the edges of the city streets still crawled with these indiscriminate eye-sores.

Thousands of shadow-beetles appeared on my walk over to my friend's house for her dinner gathering. There was no use counting and the only defense is to look straight ahead or straight up in the air. She lives less than a mile away from me in a rental house. I pushed the unlocked door open and greeted my friend and met several new acquaintances.

“There certainly seems to be an infestation of the shadow-beetles around town this time of year,” I said. A young man looked at the hostess with a raised eyebrow. My friend laughed but it was clear to me that she hadn't seen the beetles. After a few minutes, she called the gathering to order by bringing the fragrant dishes to the round table.

I finished every morsel on my floral patterned plate then rested down my fork and listened. One of my newly acquainted friends who was introduced to me as a yoga instructor held the conversational thread. While he talked, a woman began muttering behind me. It was distracting so I turned around. No one was there.

“I make my baked goods with applesauce instead of eggs,” he said. The others continued conversing, but that same woman's frantic high voice spoke on a completely irrelevant topic.

“I left my daughter at the daycare center but I just don't trust those people there. I've got to go back and pick her up and take her home,” she said. “I can't believe I left her there, I should have trusted my feelings. I can't stay here anymore. Why am I here? She's not safe.”

I cleared my throat and said:

“Why don't you leave and pick up your daughter. I'm trying to listen to the yoga teacher.” The whole table went silent.

“Jim,” the hostess asked clearly uncomfortable, “what are you talking about?”

“One of you was talking about leaving your daughter at a daycare that you didn't trust. I was just saying that you should pick her up so we can keep talking. Worrying about it's not going to help.” Everyone at the table was frowning now as they looked back and forth amongst each other. Then they rested their steady eyes on me. They were putting one up on me.

“None of us have any kids,” she said with concern.

“Just because I don't know everyone here, doesn't mean I have to be the butt of a big joke,” I crossed my arms on the table and tilted my chin towards my chest. They kept looking at each other, still frowning, still scheming.

“I've got to pick up my daughter,” the woman's hysterical voice wavered. “Those people can't be trusted. They'll abuse her and make her cry. I don't like how those men LOOK at her.” Her voice dropped in volume at the end of the sentence.

How could the other guests be so unsympathetic to this woman's pain?

“If you're going to gang up against me,” I said, “I'm going to go help this woman pick up her daughter from daycare.” I quickly thanked the bewildered hostess and excused myself. “Come on lets go pick her up.”

Shadow-beetles littered the streets. My eyes followed the center crack in the concrete sidewalk to avoid looking directly at the swarms of beetles that bubbled over the curb and out of the grass. To ignored their fluid movements, I listened to the woman. She followed closely behind me and would not stop worrying about her daughter's safety. So I sped up.

The day care was closed and had been for hours but the woman continued to wail. I told her that there was nothing I could do now to help and that she should try to get a good night's rest. I walked home but she followed me still hysterical. The darkness moved like a woven carpet of shiny black beetle backs stretching across the streets and up to buildings' stoops. I began to run from the woman and the shadow-beetles.

The stairs to my apartment were beetle free, and I bolted up the three flights until I was short of breath. I unlocked my door and quickly shut it. I spun around making sure she wasn't behind my back and pressed myself up against the wall to make sure.

“My daughter!” she screeched.

I couldn't see her but she was in the room. I jumped on my bed and collected all my sheets up close to me as she began to violently sob.

I didn't sleep, but in the morning an authoritative knock sounded against my door.

“Jim, we're here to help,” a man said.

I couldn't be sure.

Topic 5

The newest topic is Emotions

Saturday, March 19, 2011

New topic

Let's get our schedule back; new topic for 3/19-3/21 is Degeneration.

 Welcome to Electric Thought! Thank you for visiting.\



Friday, March 18, 2011

Condoms as Currency

Sex has become a commodity. It denotes power, influence and high status. Evolutionarily sex or reproduction along with survival carries genes and lineage from one generation to the next. The millions of brains among today's digital society have yet to fundamentally adapt to technologies that diminish the value of humanity's survival and replication traits that have reduced many common threats to our lineage.

Condoms allow the exchange of sex to occur at an exponential rate with fewer consequences. These 20th century technologies have diminished the power of sex's value toward reproduction but the human brain fails to evolve fast enough to adapt. Psychologically sex is as powerful 5000 years ago as it is today. The rate of exchange for sex has drastically increased with the introduction of a medium, condoms, of trade.

Thursday, March 17, 2011


Mine's a dream of circle-value
 Net 0 creates no-
        thing without our
 to which we reply
"all of it"

I have in my notebook "if you please" as part of the last line but I'm not sure about it. Thoughts anyone?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Off to Mexico

By this time, they had nearly reached the Mexican border in their 1970 lime green El Camino. San Diego disappeared in a blur of conversation on meditation and altered mind states. Vince who had traded in his Beamer for the perfect getaway vehicle kept his eyes focused on the road while he listened to Joey talk extensively about his two favorite subjects. Eric sat in the back seat leaning forward in an attempt to hear the topic of conversation over the howling wind.

“The mind is our last frontier,” Joey continued with exaggerated gestures like those of a television salesman. “There is so much to be explored and so little explanation on how to do it,” Joey said. He was too excited to stay sitting in his seat for long. When he turned his head towards Eric, like a dial or knob his hips would twist as well. “The geographical world has been uncovered. Nearly every inch and cranny fully explored and charted extensively except perhaps the deepest oceans and the coldest parts of the poles.”

Vince turned to look at Joey over the rim of his ice black sunglasses. His dark eyes and brows were relaxed. He observed Joey's quick movements and excitability and wondered how long his energy would last. Their trip to Mexico had only just begun and they hadn't even approached the border yet. Vince nodded because he agreed with Joey's ideas and the car peeled down the highway.

Eric watched Vince's shortcut black hair grip the wind, followed his strong neck down to his arm which he held out the window. Anxious, because he got caught up in the spontaneous decision to blow off everything and drive to Mexico, Eric crossed his black shoes at his ankles and held his restless hands in his lap drumming his fingertips together. He leaned further in towards the console trying to hear Joey talk over the high winds storming around the convertible.

Joey's demeanor relaxed for a moment and he took a breath.Vince let go of the wheel and clicked on the radio. A hissing jazz station came on it. He drew his left arm in from the arid burst of wind and stroked his hand through his hair. With the convertible top down, the alto sax's faint call could still be heard over the wind tumbling past the windshield.

Freeway signs for 905-East shot by the El Camino which continued on towards Tijuana. Other green signs announcing the approach of the Mexican border sprouted up in the highway embankments like Picasso cacti. Joey reached out and pretended to grab the distant sign in a tight fist. When it quickly bolted past, he darted his arm back and released his grip. The frills on the sleeve of his red leather overcoat got caught in the wind hurricane rushing by the convertible. The walking bass of the jazz song inflected the wind's roar with a heavy swing.

“There's no rush to get where we're going,” Vince said lifting up his glasses and showing his white teeth in a smile. His faint five o'clock shadow gave his jaw authoritative definition. “Sit back. Enjoy what's brought to us as a gift. We are the prize.” Eric nodded and looked at Vince's sleeveless black leather vest. His muscular upper-arms had several dark tattoos which writhed as he gripped the steering wheel. Vince swung his glasses back up to his eyes shielding them from the afternoon glare and hung his left arm loose out the side of the car. Eric tried to sit back and feel relaxed, but he couldn't get the feeling to stick. He couldn't appreciate that this adventure had really materialized and they were now on the road to Mexico, on a whim.

Joey settled his back against the passenger door and bowed his head down to listen closely to the music. With his focus he picked out sounds amongst the environmental chaos of a drop-top convertible and identified the Dave Brubek quartet. He could hear the familiar song now amongst the gusts of wind. He closed his eyes and filled in the missing pieces till it came in clear.

Soon the traffic around the El Camino began to slow as the border approached. As the car's speed reduced the wind's monopoly on the rider's ears let up, and the end of the song was audible. While the drummer faded out the track with cymbal rolls, Vince switched off the station. Eric looked around at his surroundings and realized that he was scared that it was too late to turn back from this unknown adventure.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

New topic

After a short delay the topic for C is in
Pane of glass:
Show me shadowed reflection
          to look through
myself I
   (on the other side)
see simple things; cars,
 telephone pole
How fascinatingly mundane I am

Thursday, March 10, 2011


ticky type
the pads of my finer fingers
plod about the flatness with raised squares
each square represents
a representation of
a piece
that represents
all that is imaginable all that is seen
all of all
simple utterances
guttural grunts
phonemes strung
from fingertypes
onto blinking screen
what is good to see hear feel

Typing typing, odd meditation.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Banality - the inventor's dilemma and biggest fear. An inventor consistently needs to create something new and original or else his failure is complete.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Organic Banality

I got into a big argument with someone tonight over something so minimal. These moments punctuate my life. I'm not usually proud of them--I see them like binges, unhealthy episodes which mark, simultaneously, my passion about something and my inability to face something. Often when a relationship with someone enters a certain level of intimacy, a certain degree of importance, a stupid argument occurs. I must not be alone in this. But it's particularly frustrating when it feels like I'm unable to move beyond the banality that initiates the argument, to get to the level that actually matters to both of us.

My Indian flatmate says, Black men have big penises, Asian men have small ones. I can't begin to count the number of times this has come up in a conversation I've witnessed. It's come up so many times that the question itself has become a truism.

The relationship between race and sex is the most complicated part of this discussion, and the part I began to try to talk about. Public debates about integration in the United States would hinge, quite often, on the segregationist's question: "yes, but would you want your daughter marrying one?" For me, this question leads to the banal part of the discussion: was there not a more profane implication in this question? A question about your daughter's white vagina, and the black man's penis?

I objected to the way that she summoned this "simple fact," I guess because of the number of times I've seen it summoned, as though it was a reversal of racism, in itself, as though the person saying it was somehow correcting a wrong or doing someone a favor. I've heard people say that God cursed black people by taking everything from them but the consolation prize was the big penis. This is a joke, but there's something so deeply unfunny about it. A few people have pointed this out to me carefully, that people so easily accept the idea that a big penis is a good thing, a blessing, when so recently it meant an equivalence with animality, with banality, perversion and lowliness. This is why Michelangelo's David has a child-sized member.

It is as if the final undoing of racism is supposed to have begun in the most banal way, in the male sex organ, that all of a sudden the entire hierachical system of Western aesthetics will have been overturned, starting with the revaluation of a 'natural physical characteristic' of a homogeneous group named 'Blacks.' The most amazing part is that we actually accept this without thinking about it. Fanon explains this in Black Skin, White Masks. While castration of blacks is a common practice of white racists, the Jew (or the Asian) is not castrated by the racist--only killed or 'neutralized,' because it is not his physique but his mind that is a threat, his cognitive and technical capability to make money.

In this sense the supposedly small penis, of the Asian or of the white in relation to the black, stands for his actual dominance, economically, cognitively, and technically. The symbol stands in this case for the antithesis of the actual. This is the hidden, awful thesis in the penis size debate. It may be that blacks have the 'best' bodies, but we know very well that this is their only prize, and that this is not a social construct but an immutable biological fact.

So the penis size debate may seem to be an empirical one, a non-racial and non-political one. You can leave it at that if you don't want to ruffle someone's feathers. But it is also one of the many places where the importance of metaphor presents itself once again.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Hanging Off Half Dome

A few summers ago my friends and I road tripped from Los Angeles to Yosemite National Park. We planned to climb half dome, our biggest adventure of the trip. It's a full day hike that includes an 18 mile trek and 9000 feet of elevation gain. When we got there Friday night, we made a delicious campfire meal, had a few beers and then slept under the infinite stars.

We got up early and drove to the trail head. I packed my green Jansport bag full with tuna fish, nuts and water. The trail was quite steep and I could feel it. At the time I was a heavy smoker, and had lost a lot of my fitness from years of karate and wrestling. But the hike was hard for my friend Ana too. I hung back with her for a while and helped her get through the difficult parts. After a while though the mountain air, energized me and smoking seemed to be a thing of the past.

Our group of six made it to Nevada falls where we ate lunch. We ate our peanut butter and tuna fish near this beautiful river that continuously roared past. I lied down on the sun-warmed granite rocks and ate my food. Several squirrels were smart enough to hang around. One had enough gusto to drag a plastic bag with our rations towards the bushes.

Before we kept going, my friend GB jumped into the river. That's what she does. We all jumped in after her. Although it was July, the fresh water was still chilly.

After a few more hours back on the trail, the dirt path faded away and we arrived at the actual rock of half dome. When you look up at the last several hundred feet of the climb up the rock face, an anchored rope is your only support. While I pumped myself up for the final stretch, a group of people came by and told us that a few days ago “someone had fallen and died, so good luck”.

After picking up a pair of climbing gloves that endlessly cycle up and down the steel cord, I gripped on and started up. Honestly, I was scared shitless. The rock is slanted at 30 to 45 degree angles at certain points, and I knew that if my brain somehow failed to communicate to my hands, “hold on,” I would tumble down the top of the mountain to my death.

By the end my forearms were so tired that I thought they might stop functioning. I was gripping the cord like a lobster. Eventually the rock face evened out, and once atop half dome my friends and I photographed the panoramic views. We all got on our stomachs and peered over the edge of half dome. We looked down and around Yosemite valley. I saw hawks gliding effortlessly in the sky. The height and sheer drop was incredible.

But this was only half of our adventure. We had to get back down.

Friday, March 4, 2011

New topic for B, round 2

I was trying to avoid this as a topic. Or maybe I had thought of a different topic that I liked more but forgot it. Anyway, new topic is Banality. Sorry for the delay

Thursday, March 3, 2011


Had a good technique exploration today (I think, we'll see if it actually yields anything). I sat in on a class on James Joyce's Ulysses and felt wholly inadequate in front of the breadth and depth, the general vastness, of his writing and the wisdom behind it. How does one approach the topic of writing in the shadow of things like this?

Icy pool of
Staggering blackness
Infinitely deep, I
How to immerse
the I
such knowledge
cast away on waves
of insufficiency, drowned
oceans of my own shortcomings
How many years did it take for him to Bloom?
Can I last that long...
One petal at a word;

Ultimately, the goal is to be able to use all these smatterings of practice to weave a single idea together over a great deal of time. I gotta keep my eyes on the goal; learn how to induce a state of 'focused inspiration' rather than a state of whimsical candor. Basically that; induction (though it may be 'false inspiration,' as some would say true inspiration 'strikes you' rather than you making it happen). We'll see