28 February 2011

The Present is a Foreign Country

That was what I titled this writing in February of 2003.  We were in Seattle giving hospice care full time to my older sister who died the end of March.  It is as timely now, as then.

With all that we've been experiencing this year, collectively and individually, I have some thoughts I'd like to communicate.

A Hopi Elder says about these times:

"You have been telling the people it is the eleventh hour, now you must go back and tell the people, this is the hour, and there are things to be considered.  Where are you going?  What are you doing?  Are you in right relation?  Where is your water?  Do you know your garden?  It is time to speak your truth.  There is a river flowing now, very fast.  It is so great and swift, there are those who will be afraid.  They will hold on to the shore, and they will suffer greatly.  The elders say, 'Push off of the shore into the middle of the river, keep your eyes open and your head above water.'  And I say, 'See who is in there with you, and celebrate!  For at this time in history you are to take nothing personally, least of all yourselves.  For the moment that you do, your spiritual journey has come to a halt.  Gather yourselves, banish the word struggle from your attitude and your vocabulary.  All that you do must be done in a sacred manner and in celebration.  We are the ones we've been waiting for.' "

Ivan Illich died on December 2nd, in Bremen, Germany.
In the last 20 years of his life, he suffered increasingly from a persistent growth on the side of his face, which he never treated, nor had diagnosed.  In what was his most provocative and perhaps final comment on the "pursuit of health", Illich wrote:  "Yes, we suffer pain, we become ill, we die.  But we also hope, laugh, celebrate; we know the joy of caring for one another; often we are healed and we recover by many means.  We do not have to pursue the flattening-out of human experience.  I invite all to shift their gaze, their thoughts, from worrying about 'health care' to cultivating the art of living.  And, today with equal importance, the art of suffering, the art of dying."

Paper covers rock, rock breaks scissors, scissors cut paper...but fear destroys magic...that has been the celebrated cause of "Civilisation"...parents beating the magic from the child...religious governments and governmental religions instilling fear to cloud the reality that we glimpse periodically when we are quiet by a river in the woods, or celebrating life amongst the dearest of our friends...

23 February 2011


by Julie Caniglia at 10:30 am 2011-02-23 
Filed under: 

0 Comments   Share this

"Government Whore," 2009-2010

Artist Aaron Spangler recounts his inspiration for the carved and painted basswood sculptures currently featured in the exhibition The Spectacular of Vernacular.Spangler, whose work is shown at theGalerie Michael Janssen in Berlin and atHorton Galleryin New York City, lives 20 miles outside of Park Rapids, Minnesota, on 150 acres of land.
“These three sculptures came into focus while I was digging a hole for my friend Bruce. We were hand-digging an addition to his underground house, which is a classic piece of hippie back-to-the-lander architecture. As happens when people are toiling with shovels, stories broke to the surface throughout the day, many of which we’ve told to each other before in the course of our 25-year friendship. But this time, Bruce’s narratives about the time following the Vietnam War, during which he moved to the woods and built his homestead, found a different hook in my imagination.
I had been working on an epic twenty-foot-long piece, carving out burrows and protective islands of rural isolation, and I was thinking about how and why young Americans turned to the woods in search of a more meaningful, self-directed life—and how that was mirrored in the western migration of the early pioneers. Bruce started talking about a group of young hippies in Oregon during the 1970s who were living an extremely primitive hunter-gatherer life in the federal forest. When two “shaman” came to join the tribe, they proved disruptive to the sexist arrangement of the commune–women doing women’s work only, the men hunting, and so on–so they were beheaded.  The National Guard then decided to take the tribe out of the forest, and a gun battle ensued. All this is just to say that I had a plan for the piece, but it was at that moment too sensational and not yet detailed, and then I find myself digging a hole for Bruce, a Vietnam vet still trying to find his way forward. Adding onto his bunker by digging out one wheelbarrow-load of dirt after another, we were just working to make things a little more comfortable, putting in a kitchen sink drain so that he could get rid of the buckets. A song that he had written during the first Gulf War kept going through my head: “Government Whore.” Around the campfire it was the song that always seemed to shut the party down, like the sudden bright lights of a bar at closing time. ”

Listen to an MP3 of Bruce singing “Government Whore” – a field recording made recently by Michael Dagen at Abandoned Scout Camp in Hewitt, Minnesota. Lyrics:
“I spent two years on a foreign shore
Bein’ a government whore
Sold my body, they stole my mind
Told me, “Boy, now you’re mine.”
Those two years ‘neath the southern cross
Turned out to be my country’s loss
Kill commies for Christ, the Chaplain told me
As I prayed on a wounded knee.
Cuz,’Might makes right, can’t you see boy?’
It’s ‘Our country tis of thee, boy’
But killin’ people to set ‘em free … boy,
Seemed like fuckin’ for virginity.
What do you know when you’re only 18
Twelve years of school’s the only life you’ve ever seen
Always taught from government books
Always caught in propaganda’s hooks
So I moved to the woods, where I tried to forget
I had to admit I just didn’t fit
I fight the war most nights in my dreams
I wake myself to the sound of my own screams
But the country didn’t seem to learn from our mistake
We’re still fightin’ wars for big money’s sake
Yellow ribbons decorate our stores
We all have become the government’s whores
What do we learn when we watch our televisions?
We’re lettin’ other people make all of our decisions
Our name’s on the government’s books
We’re all caught in propaganda’s hooks…”

"To the Valley Below," 2009-10

"I Owe My Soul to the Company Store," 2009-10

20 February 2011

Dedicated Taxation

I would be okay with dedicated taxes.  For example...we already have gasoline and highway use taxes...those should be dedicated only to highways and transportation.  We have airport taxes and airline fuel taxes which should be dedicated only to airports, security, etc...We have payroll taxes which should be dedicated only to Social Security and Medicare.  If you want to have a war, impose a special war tax...if you want to have something else, impose a special tax for that...let people see up front what those taxes are for...and let them only be used for that...and let the spending on the intended item(s) and/or services not exceed the amount taxed.

        Once upon a time in ancient China there lived a man who could talk with animals. This man was especially fond of monkeys, and earned his living as a monkey trainer. One year, famine came to the land, and food became very expensive. The man had to dip into the family's savings in order to feed the family and the monkeys. Finally, it became necessary to cut the rations of the monkeys.
        The monkeys normally received eight chestnuts each, four in the morning and four in the evening. The man went into the courtyard where he kept the monkeys, and called them down to him from the trees. They came down somersaulting and chortling and sat in a circle around him.
        The man explained about how his money wouldn't buy as many chestnuts. "I'm very sorry," he said, but I'm going to have to give you three in the morning and four in the evening."
        The monkeys were furious. They chattered angrily, and called the man foul names in monkey speech. "Well," said the man. “If you don’t like the idea of three in the morning and four in the evening, how about this? How about if, instead, I give you four in the morning and three in the evening?"
        The monkeys were delighted.

(Chuang Tzu)

19 February 2011

Let's Get Real About The Budget(s)

There should be a general revenue budget...separate from the payroll tax funded social security budget.  They should never have been rolled together to mask deficit spending...thanks Reagan/Greedspan.  Look at social security separately...there are very easy fixes for it.  It's off the general revenue table.  Medicare also has its own tax system...take it off the table...treat it separately.  There are fixes for it, as well.  Now, look at the general revenue budget...the amount the current military and past obligations for the military and other defense related nonsense is obscene...that includes Homeland Security, the intelligence agencies...VA, retirement pensions, civilian contractors..ad nausem.  Now, let's submit a general revenue budget which deals with these budget busting items.  Wars and Daddy Warbucks.  What Eisenhower warned us about.  The Military/Industrial complex..and the banking industry.

Wanna get real about the budget?  We need to collect monies from the uber wealthy...400 people in the USA have more income than the bottom 50% of workers combined.  Employee pensions are busted and the shortfalls on public employee pensions need to be made up by the states.  Why?  They were invested in criminal mortgage backed securities which has caused this national and global calamity.  Are these criminals in jail?  No...some of them are amongst the 400 richest people in the country.  Their tax rates?  Long term capital gains..15% marginal rate.

American workers need to come together in solidarity and demand an end to this criminality.  We've been divided and conquered too long.  Wake up!

Don't let the folks who are becoming wealthy 'representing' us, frame the debate and dictate to us.  Koch Brothers and Corporate personhood...and The US Chamber of Commerce (who believe outsourcing jobs is good for America...yeah...the American wealthy).  Can we put a corporation in prison?  Can we execute a corporation?  No...but we can go after the people who run the corporations.

Time to bust these large trusts.  Teddy Roosevelt, where are you?

Thanks for listening.  Pass it on!!

15 February 2011

High Tunnels

Visited a friends homestead today to check out her high tunnels.  I want at least one.

Her website is redferngardens.com

Check it out!

13 February 2011

The tides go in, the tides go out...you can't explain that!


Journey Of Self-Discovery Leads Man To Realization He Doesn't Care

FEBRUARY 10, 2011 | ISSUE 47•06 
FLAGSTAFF, AZ—Three months after setting off down a long spiritual path to find himself, 38-year-old Corey Larson arrived at the conclusion Tuesday that he does not care. "I spent many long hours meditating, studying the works of great thinkers and spiritual leaders, and delving deep within myself for some kind of answer, and then it hit me: I couldn't care less," Larson said of his soul-searching journey. "Fuck it. Fuck it all." Larson briefly considered writing a self-help book to make the journey easier for others, but decided that he also didn't give two shits about whether other people arrived at the same conclusion he did.

05 February 2011

My best buddy died in 1999.  We had wonderful times together, amazing actually.  He was quite a craftsman and his widow still lives on the 240 acres they had just through the woods from us, perhaps 2 miles by canoe...a bit further by road.  Many late nights sitting around the old ashley stove in the winter talking of this and that.

He had, for years, told me that he wanted me to build his coffin and to have him buried on his land...he spoke of that with more frequency as time went on.  I used to call him Doctor Death, jokingly.  A year before he actually died I went to the county courthouse to get the paper work to set aside an acre of his land as a cemetery, legally and in perpetuity...brought it to him and he fastidiously placed it in his 'to do' file.  The following Valentine's day, Cheryl and I rec'd a beautiful card from him and his now widow asking us to stand up for them at their wedding.  Mind you, they'd been living together since the 70s...A friend of ours is the federal judge for this district, a huge bear of a bee keeper (also used to farm with horses)...in June we went to the court house and the five of us (along with the judge's assistant) met and had a simple ceremony.  Beautiful.  Followed by drinks and celebration with just the four of us overlooking their lake.  

He never did take action on that cemetery plot...that November he was out chainsawing some logs down by the lake and passed out.  When he came to he made his way to the house saying he was sick and went to bed.  He stayed in bed for three days, with just occasional soup for sustenance.  His wife finally told him he had to go to the doctor (he hated doctors)...drove him to Park Rapids, where they airlifted him to Fargo...he'd had a brain hemorrhage...he never recovered from surgery.  Cheryl, his wife and daughter and her husband and I were with him...his daughter and her husband had brought him a canoe paddle...and told his slumbering body it was to 'improve his stroke'...he loved puns, the worse the better.  After the doctors consulted with all of us we made a joint decision to pull the plug on him after they harvested his organs.  He was brain dead.  I called the county to find out about burying him on his land, but since he'd never taken action...and there was a 30 day period where anyone who was a property owner within a couple of miles of him could comment on making a cemetery there we didn't have time.  Also, in order to cross the state lines we'd need to have him embalmed...we had him cremated...and I got a number of our friends together to build a spirit house for him.  It is in the place where he'd wanted to be buried.  Some of his ashes are in an urn beneath it...and memories that others wished to share are inside the spirit house...we had a wonderful gathering, and the remainder of his ashes were spread by his brother over the lake...out of a friend of ours' float plane.

If you want to be buried on your land...take action now, don't wait.  Whatever you plan for your resting place, how you wish your body to be treated...take care of that now.  Don't wait.

As the world burns

Vietnam: As an advisor and liaison I lead native troops but nonetheless was looked upon as the "supreme local power", way too muc...