Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Identified as a trouble maker by the authorities since childhood, and resolved to live up to the description, Charles Carreon soon discovered that mischief is most effectively fomented through speech. Having mastered the art of flinging verbal pipe-bombs and molotov cocktails at an early age, he refined his skills by writing legal briefs and journalistic exposes, while developing a poetic style that meandered from the lyrical to the political. Journey with him into the dark caves of the human experience, illuminated by the torch of an outraged sense of injustice.

Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Mon Jun 23, 2014 11:39 pm

The Ceremony of Innocence is Drowned
by Charles Carreon
November 22, 2013

Ode to Pollock, by Marla Olmstead

What is innocence? What is it about innocence that jaded people have got to destroy it? Why the vicious attacks on even the idea that anyone is innocent? Is the media really so corrupt that the very idea of people being innocent is an offensive, obnoxious reminder that not everyone is eager to sell their soul at the altar of money? Why do documentary films about decent people turn into search and destroy missions?

What I’m all exercised about is this movie, My Kid Could Paint That, about Marla Olmstead, the painter whose works you can see at If you don’t know anything about this story, then play a little game with yourself, and go look at her work before you go any further. That way you can come to this topic with your own view of her work in the foreground of your thinking. Maybe that will help you preserve your innocence.

Probably Andy Warhol didn’t introduce the art world to cynicism, but he made it into the most saleable pose for an artist to assume against the noir backdrop of post-modern urban gloom. Warhol’s prodigy Lou Reed just died, so that tells you how long we lived with his sour brand of realism. Long enough to make it establishment creed for the boomer generation. In fact, the entire boomer experience is about disillusionment and our pain at having lost, in quick succession, Camelot, Woodstock, and Ecotopia.

Aside from those of us who fried a few too many brain cells and started down that bright tunnel of light even before we died, those of us who grew to maturity during the last quarter of the past millennium do not place a lot of stock in the viability of innocence as a survival strategy. We are inclined to figure that, if you don’t sell out, you don’t get anything, and anybody trying to tell you different is obviously sold out. But that attitude is merely a survival strategy, and it doesn’t make people like Marla Olmstead and her parents disappear. Innocence does exist, and My Kid Could Paint That tries to make that innocence disappear. In the end, the only thing that disappears is filmmaker Amir Bar-Lev’s credibility as a documentarian.

Of course, Bar-Lev is like the jackal cleaning up after the lion, because he borrows most of the “expose” portion of his film from a 60 Minutes hit piece where Charlie Rose exudes cynicism about the authenticity of Marla’s creations, distorting his visage into a gallery of masks illustrating the various genres of disbelief, while he elicits a groundless opinion from a child psychologist that Marla couldn’t have painted the works without adult assistance.

I think a documentary about a media story should actually look at the quality of the media that constitutes the story. You know, like, is Charlie Rose fulla shit? But Bar-Lev doesn’t go there, or anywhere near there. It is frankly shocking that Bar-Lev doesn’t eviscerate the core fallacy of Rose’s presentation – that a child psychologist can tell, from looking at paintings, whether they were done by a child or not! For heavens’ sake, the experts can’t even determine whether a work bought in a California thrift shop was done by Jackson Pollock! Maybe since Pollock was an alcoholic, we could talk to an alcohol rehab therapist about whether Pollock did the artwork! You can imagine the 60 Minutes episode:

Charlie Rose: So, you’re an alcohol counselor.

Counselor: Yessir, I am.

Rose: You’ve seen a lot of drunks.

Counselor: Oh yeah, a lot of ‘em.

Rose: Well we’ve shown you some paintings by a famous drunk. Do you think this other painting here was painted by the same drunk?

Counselor: Well, I’m not sure. Seems like he mighta been a little drunker when he did this one.

Yeah, I’d like to see that show. Aww, crimony get real! Beyond just failing to critique Rose’s drive-by journalism, it is bizarre that Bar-Lev, a fellow who has made a lot of films, would claim that the tawdry 60 Minutes slander-by-unqualified-expert routine actually shook his faith in the genuineness of Marla’s artistic ability. This turn of events is cheesily presented with one of those stupid, low-production value scenes where the director is driving down the road in his vehicle, with the camera photographing the interior of the car, reading some script he’s taped to his steering wheel about how he’s having all these misgivings about some abstract “people” who are going to be really disappointed when he calls them “liars.” I actually was hoping he was talking about the child psychologist Ellen Winner, and her flatulent opinion, but the Judas tone in his voice told me that was not to be.

Bar-Lev pulls this crisis of conscience crap after he has sucked us into the feel-good explosion of positivity that greeted Marla’s first show and the subsequent sales that ballooned into that most dangerous of all things – six figures preceded by a dollar sign. The number that is thrown about for the rest of the movie is $300,000. This type of money is blood in the water for the media sharks. If you are a cynical media person, a million ideas do not pop into your head when you hear about that kind of money being earned by a three-year-old. Only one idea pops into your head: “Is this kid for real?”

Oh, so I get it. It’s just another case of William Randolph Hearst telling the photographer to just get the pictures, and he’ll make the news. Bar-Lev is in fact, nothing more than a cameraman and an editor in this story. He’s not digging for the truth at any time. He’s not examining dubious assertions or revealing mistaken assumptions or finding unknown facts. He’s recycling news clips as if their every statement was fact, when in truth, some are clearly ridiculous, like the one at the beginning that says Marla’s two-year old brother commented that forty-thousand bucks would “buy a lot of candy.” It’s obvious from the movie that this was rank invention on the part of some TV reporter, because Marla’s little brother doesn’t do much with his mouth except smile and shout, and occasionally say, “I can paint, too,” in an effort to get a little attention.

What Bar-Lev has done skillfully is to worm his way into the confidence of the Olmsteads, who are two of the most extraordinary parents I have ever seen. And it is painful to see how he exploits the vulnerability of the Olmsteads, in the wake of the 60 Minutes attack, pushing Marla’s dad to create a situation where Marla will create a painting on film, for Bar-Lev’s camera. This, of course, does not work out well enough to satisfy Bar-Lev. He tries to make it seem like viewing Marla working on a canvas through this probing, voyeuristic lens, in a cold and unfriendly light, is realistic. He completely fails to see how ridiculously unrealistic and selfish his demand is. Why should a four-year-old child whose parents love and protect her worry about pleasing a guy with a camera? People with cameras come and go, and they all want to see her paint. In the end, Bar-Lev’s attitude is petulant and petty. If Marla won’t paint for him, he’ll just tell the world he doesn’t think she can really paint at all.

The evidence for Bar-Lev’s skepticism is lacking, however, and if his only argument is, “Well, she couldn’t do it in front of my camera, so I just have to doubt,” then he is far too obsessed with his camera, and should consider putting it down for a while. Things can be known without direct photographic evidence. Sometimes, things just only make sense when viewed in one way, and that way is the truth.

Marla was three years old when her Dad let her play with paint and brushes and paper. Her work was sophisticated from the beginning. She begins by engineering random effects that she blends into a full composition, making full use of the canvas, weaving bright primary colors into complementary backgrounds, all with a vital “one take” freshness. Videos of her working show a mind fluidly absorbed in its work. She rarely looks up as the minutes pass, engrossed in the swirls and patterns that she creates with precise, sensitive movements.

Ironically, all this is present and visible in Bar-Lev’s film, but he purports not to see it. He insists on releasing these clouds of skepticism that he claims he cannot dispel. He’s like the man who went to a flower show while suffering from severe flatulence. When asked how the show had been, he said it was strange, that all the flowers had smelled like shit. Bar-Lev seems to have the same problem. He looks at innocent beauty, and smells a plot to deceive the art world and harvest money by fraud. As Doug Harvey wrote in the LA Weekly back when the movie came out:

“In the final analysis, the filmmaker’s crisis of faith is unconvincing, except as one of a series of blatantly manipulative decisions that, despite the lack of any kind of empirical evidence, bolsters the most commercially viable story that can be milked from the situation — the one where Marla’s parents are supernaturally cunning con artists out to exploit the gullibility of the deluded collectors of essentially fraudulent modern art.”

Was Marla’s work really that dangerous to the art world? Of course not, but there’s no point in taking any chances, either. Is it a problem for us if, occasionally, innocence produces works of art that inspire more greatly than the products of expert labor by recognized artists? Yes, it is, because it confuses categories. Children must be children, those helpless little creatures whose minds present no threat to us because, as adults, we know more than they do. We do everything better. We’ve gained everything from our maturity and lost nothing. Except our innocence.
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Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Mon Jun 23, 2014 11:44 pm

When Terrorists Fear: Popehat Gets a Call From Donna Barstow
by Charles Carreon
November 24, 2013

When you care as little about your enemies as I do, it may take you a long time to find out what they are saying about you. On Thursday, for example, I got a phone call from Donna Barstow. Okay now, you little Popehat lurkers, you little TechDirt-haulers, Masnick-clones, Nate Anderson lovers, and Ars Technica drones, you don’t need to read another word. In fact, you shouldn’t! Copy this hyperlink and send it to Popehat or whoever your Net-correctness guru is, so they can tell you how to think about it.

The rest of you folks, whose minds aren’t wormy with Net-rot, are now wondering what the hell that was about. Who’s Donna Barstow? Well, just take a look at this little photograph of a Google search of the poor woman’s name.


Ah, she’s a Rapeutation victim. Why would she be calling me? To commiserate?

No, Donna, who was once a successful cartoonist, called me because she thought that I was posting about her at, the not-really-a-parody site that Paul Levy, the lawyer of choice for nutcase bloggers, forced me to allow nutcase blogger Christopher Recouvreur to operate. I explained to Donna that I don’t write anything that appears on the site, even though Recouvreur signs his posts, “Charles Carreon, Esq.,” which was no doubt the cause of her confusion. But, she said, “Do you think that Ken White wrote it?” I answered that if it sounded reasonably intelligent, quite possibly it was written by Ken White, since Recouvreur is not very smart.

Donna didn’t think the post, a pseudo-interview between “Charles Carreon” and “Donna Barstow,” seemed particularly smart, but she still thought it was written by Ken White. I told her what I knew about Popehat, i.e., that he is a deranged megalomaniac with powerful legal backing, with a bete noire, a dark obsession, somewhat Jack-the-Ripperish in its hold over him, that compels him to commit one savage Rapeutation after another. The Ripper was likely a gentleman, a doctor with surgical training who was allowed to have his way with disposable women, because the London police have ever been corrupt. Look at how many London policemen are currently answering charges in the News of the World scandal, because top brass at Scotland Yard took bribes and kept the heat off Murdoch’s phone hacking and privacy invasions of well over a thousand people. Murdoch’s machine destroyed the reputations of politicians and stars, and through extortion, allowed him to exercise control over vulnerable members of Parliament. London is still a fun town.

Jack the Ripper, by Joshua Hoffine

Los Angeles is another city where shit is kept under glass and offered up for admiration, and thus it is suitable for Popehat to have his office there at 333 South Hope Street, where from his office window, he can take in the spectacle of a city where iniquity is rewarded wherever one turns. It must do the devil in his heart good to know that, while he doesn’t have the time to go out and commit all the crimes that are happening in LA, someone is taking care of that while he goes about his work of committing mayhem on the Internet. Popehat is protected by the media elites in his role as avenger of the offended sensibilities of every random geek with a hair up his or her arse. Popehat is protected not, like the Ripper because he is a gentleman, but rather because he is a useful idiot who keeps the social media economy inflated with faux controversies that fuel posting, flame wars, and the belief that vitriolic, career-destroying gossip is good. Which is just to say that he is a charter member of the First Amendment Mafia, in charge of click-bait merchandising.

What is click-bait merchandising? It is kind of like running a butcher shop for cannibals. Everyday, people who sell clicks come to your shop, and they need human-meat to use for click-bait. Obviously, they want red meat, choice cuts, with a good name. The name is the most important thing in click-bait. Names with pre-existing popularity are best, because nothing is more delicious than eating today what was off limits yesterday. This explains why Charles Carreon is considered delicious – he once had a good name and some modest fame. Today, many people enjoy eating him, without suffering pangs of conscience, because Popehat revealed him to be a dangerous beast that had to be put down. As mean as Charles Carreon was, it’s just luck the meat is any good at all.

Resident Evil 6 Opens Human Flesh Butcher Shop

Donna Barstow is a very tasty dish, highly valued as click-bait. Females are always prized by cannibals, due to the tender texture of their meat. Donna was also a very successful cartoonist, so many people found it pleasant to devour her flesh once it came on the market.

What was Donna’s sin? What turned her from a human, whom it would be taboo to eat, to a pile of cold cuts? Like Matt Inman, she was a cartoonist, and like Matt Inman, she hated people posting her cartoons on the Internet. Why, then, isn’t she being celebrated all across the Net, like Matt Inman? Since Inman’s good for standing up for the sanctity of copyrights, and Donna’s bad for doing the same thing, then obviously who Popehat pillories has nothing to do with the issues. Popehat has no loyalty to principle, and the decision about who gets rapeutated and put in the butcher shop has nothing to do with copyrights at all.

What it’s about is style. If, instead of serving DMCA notices and telling people that the law was on her side, Donna had drawn cartoons of her enemies being eaten by killer whales, and done a fund raiser to save the last Orca pod in Greenland, then she might have been celebrated like Inman. At least she would not be on the menu. But instead, being the type who talks back, she provoked a lengthy interval of King Syndrome. And now she is on display, sliced into chops and steaks, right next to the prime rib of Charles Carreon.

What did Donna do that made her the target of that most deadly of slanders — “racism”? Donna said Mexico was a bad neighbor-nation.

Like a Bad Neighbor, Mexico is (Still) There, by Donna Barstow

Well hell, I’m as Mexican as you get, if genetics are the grounds for determining the issue, and I’ll tell you Mexico is a bad neighbor-nation. Not that I think it’s the fault of the Mexicans that all the border towns are snakepits of excess. It’s the border, for crimony’s sake. It’s the fault of the governments on both sides, and while Mexico is a bad neighbor-nation, the United States is a really bad neighbor-nation. My views on the subject of Mexico-USA relations are a matter of record, with my acapella tune, A Mexican Fourth of July, being a summary of my position, and Explode on the Border, being a lighthearted romp of the theme of “golfcarts burning in the sun.” I’d have no problem discussing these issues with Donna or any other conservative type, but I wouldn’t rapeutate her for her views. That would be messed up, to use the vernacular.

Donna has a right to her opinions, and how can a “free speech advocate” like Ken Popehat White set out to destroy her career because she wanted to express them? And why the hell does a jackass like Christopher Recouvreur want to associate her name with mine in some inane interview? I suppose it’s supposed to convey the idea that Donna, being the type of person Chris disrespects, would have to hire a lawyer whom he also disrespects. Chris – wake up. No one is interested in your opinions, but could you please make it clearer that they are your opinions – y’know, by signing them “Christopher Recouvreur, DMF?”

Donna had these questions in her head when she called Ken Popehat White in his elevated glass prison in the smog. Let’s stop right here and get the picture. Popehat is sitting there behind his desk, his executive chair groaning under the strain like an Aerostar van with too many Jehovah’s Witnesses in it. He’s trying to squeeze a few billable hours out of the day, after having spent most of it sticking his nose into other people’s business, turning their lives inside out with his sanctimonious airing of their purported faults. The phone rings, Popehat picks up.

According to Donna, as soon as she introduced herself, White sounded frightened, and his voice started shaking. When she asked him why he was writing nasty things about her, he had no explanation, but was quick to threaten, “If you sue me, I’ll win!” Donna asked him what he was so paranoid about – she hadn’t said anything about suing. He answered, “Your tone implied threat.” Classic Popehat – it’s always your fault.

I was in the middle of a busy day when Donna called, but I put it all on hold to listen to her, because that picture of Popehat pissing his drawers when she called him was sweet to behold. That lady could talk as long as she wanted, and she talked quite a while, because her gift had earned her my genuine gratitude. I was happy. My heart nourished, I went back to the day’s labor with renewed vigor, my mind at ease, knowing Popehat to be, in fact, the very worm I’d imagined.

I draw a few conclusions from Popehat’s fear of Donna. He’s a terrorist, who worships the power of fear. Fear is his favorite tool, because he has faith in it. It is the greatest power in his life. We are all driven by fear, but only people like Popehat are so frightened that they worship the power of fear.

Why is it that Popehat is always busy directing fire at other people? Because he fears people, and is afraid that if they took a good look at him, they would hate him. Why that is the case, he best knows, but let us take him at his word. There’s something detestable about him, and he doesn’t want people to see it. Popehat’s serial calls to behead this, that or another Internet heretic conceal a personality whose deep hatred of others reflects profound self-loathing.

Like a serial killer, Popehat takes one victim after another to their reputational grave, after a prolonged torture that Popehat conducts with gusto, while declaring his enjoyment of the process for the admiration of Internet torture fans everywhere. But his psychopathy is not complete, for he fears the consequence of his actions. We could almost feel sorry for this poor monster that has not quite managed to throttle its own conscience.

As I mentioned earlier, alluding to the way in which Donna’s fellow copyright-hawk Matt Inman was given preferential treatment, Popehat’s style of discussing Internet speech issues does not lead to free and open discussion of the issues. Instead, the topic – in this case Donna’s alleged affront to the dignity of my fellow-Mexicanos – was lost in ad hominem, and the issue of our offended Mexican dignity was never discussed. This is of course, because the point of conducting a Rapeutation is never to vindicate some moral or political position, but rather to get on with the beating, the abuse, the identify-theft and the humiliation.

The only principle that Ken Popehat White stands for is his right to verbally abuse the targets of his choosing, and it is the only principle that is being vindicated as his Reign of Terror continues, unabated by the slightest intrusion of sense into the mind of the Internet mob.
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Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Mon Jun 23, 2014 11:57 pm

The Silence of the Pigs
by Charles Carreon
November 28, 2013

Pigs, they aspire one day to be pigs. Kenneth Popehat White preaching the Gospel of Piggery to his little piggies, by Tara Carreon

Wow, some people just don’t appreciate. You can lavish all the digital ink on a topic — if it’s not on their list of important topics, it’s met with silence. Like my previous post on Donna Barstow confusing, the creation of the fabulist Christopher Recouvreur, whose Ph.D. candidate spouse will soon be turning him out of doors for his lumpen habits.

Now, you would think that the discovery of “actual confusion” between Christopher Recouvreur’s site and the real Charles Carreon would be news to Popehat and his offal-hauling minions. Shocking news, actually, since much of Popehat’s defense of parody stands on the assertion that no one would be confused by Recouvreur’s creation, and mistake it for the real Charles Carreon’s website. Except, of course, that Donna Barstow, a woman of some intelligence, was in fact confused, and thought that Recouvreur’s inane “interview of Donna Barstow by Charles Carreon” had, in fact, been written by the “real Charles Carreon,” most likely because it was posted at “” and signed by “Charles Carreon, Esq.” The impression I got from Donna when she called was that, yes, the “interview” on seemed crazy, but since there were so many people on the Net saying I was crazy, maybe I was crazy enough to have invented the “interview” and posted it on the Net!

Now that’s really sad, y’know? That Donna, in her grief and isolation, would think that I, who am entirely in sympathy with her plight, and would send all of her tormentors straight to suspended animation for the remainder of the galactic aeon, might instead be devoted to causing her more grief. So I was glad shen she called and she could learn that, no, I wasn’t a deranged idiot adding to her misery out of the abundance of my own. That is Christopher Recouvreur, although Donna is now sure that it’s Ken Popehat White. She thinks there’s a real lawyer behind the “interview,” and she thinks it’s him.

So I thought for sure when I got into the Donna Barstow story, Ken Popehat White would respond to my comments. But what do you do when you don’t want to talk about something? Do you sit there with your hoof in your mouth and your curly tail drooping? No. You perk your little pointy ears up, and you emit all kinds of noise out your snout. You talk about something else. Or you talk about the same thing, but you don’t mention the unpleasant parts. So that’s what Ken Popehat White did. He posted this lackluster, wimpy little whine about how Donna had asked Google to remove his post about her from Google’s search results because it contained her signature on her cartoon about Mexico. But as a commenter noted, all good things work together for good, because even though Google has taken down some posts about Donna due to her DMCA complaints, all of Popehat’s articles about her are still up, and one occupies the top place in Google search results for “Donna Barstow”.

Oh, yes, it’s nice to know, on Thanksgiving Day, when you’re a pig, tucking into a nice ham, that the slaughterhouses on the Internet never close, and Donna Barstow will never be free of your harassment, of the humiliation, the grief, the sorrow that afflicts her. It’s enough to make a pig give thanks twice — once for the gristly little porcine heart in their own chest, that beats with malice pure and vile, on work days, holidays, and weekends, and a second time, for the boon of an audience of readers eager to consume the endless stream of hatred that his own perverted organ can produce.

But what of me, you ask, on this Day of Thanks? How do I feast, how do I pray? Why do I cover my hands with filth, dealing with these vile creatures that I evidently despise?

Fear not, my children, for me. Playing with pigs is nothing new, and while I seem to detest them, I don’t. I revile them for their own good, so that they may ask themselves, “Is it possible that my obsession with spewing hateful speech is unwholesome? Could it hurt me? My loved ones?” Because the answers come swift and sure to those who ask the question honestly: Yes. Yes. Yes. And all the silence in the world will not hold back that truth.

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Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Tue Jun 24, 2014 12:04 am

Death by Indifference -- Not Seeing the Problem Is the Problem
by Charles Carreon
January 5, 2014


You have to find your place in this world, or you won’t know where to stand. Some people never get a chance to find their place in the world, because no one will let them stand on their own square. Every time they try to stand someplace, to assume a posture, to strike a pose, they get knocked down. Eventually they go away and get rid of themselves, so they don’t have to try and find a place to stand among people who clearly don’t want to share the spaces available in our tiny little world.

We have suicide figures. That’s what we call them, the numbers of people dead from the cold in the midst of this bleak, bleak winter of our rabid discontent. The hand-wringing begins abruptly after “the community suffers its loss,” and civil leaders rush to apply nostrums to the fevered heads of parents who wonder, “Is it contagion?” and “How could it happen here?” Left aside in the rush to find cures are the victims of the trend — the dead people who checked out rather than suffer one more social rejection.

When the nature of the problem, and its obvious solution, are as plain as the nose on our collective social face, efforts at “understanding the problem” are the problem itself. When the people charged with doing something about bullying turn to the victims of bullying and ask them for the solutions to their problem, we know we are six feet deep in official denial.

And this is what “Bully,” the superb documentary by Lee Hirsch, cuttingly reveals – that schools are hives where abusers breed and thrive, where flaccid administrators offer excuses for bullies, and accuse victims of incivility when they are unwilling to engage in phony “make-up” sessions. Where those same administrators gush about their grandkids while feeding pablum to parents who demand to understand why the hell their kid can’t ride the bus to school without being hazed like a Marine recruit in the first week of boot camp.

Bully is a well-paced interweaving of several stories. One narrative probes the aftermath of young Tyler Long’s suicide, after years of bearing a brutal campaign of abuse from his schoolmates, and features wrenching interviews with his father David, who is clearly inconsolable and just as clearly committed to protecting other children from the horror of induced self-hate. Another story explores the challenges faced by Kelby Johnson, a young lesbian whose stellar athletic abilities buy her no immunity from criticism, and are cast aside in the rush to ostracize her. A third story features the trials of Alex Libby, whose premature birth marked him with ungainly facial features, bearing up under the daily rain of abuse. Another story reports on the efforts of Kirk Smalley to draw benefit for others from the suicide of his son Ty, by creating a foundation, Stand for the Silent, to rally support against bullying. The most jarring story depicts the avalanche of consequences that befall JaMeya Jackson, aged 14, after she packs her mother’s gun along on the bus ride to school, hoping to protect herself from further bullying.

One problem with watching Bully is dealing with the emotions it arouses. It’s impossible to watch it without wanting to go out and exact some vengeance. While studying the screencap gallery prepared by Tara of the sequence where the young boy whose only faults are a pair of oversize lips and a gawky walk is riding the schoolbus, while being pelted by a hail of blows, I became internally apoplectic with rage. Seeing the face of a child of eleven or twelve, shining with malicious glee at the discomfort they are causing, along with their vicious mates, provokes searing responses within me.

When I was a child, for a while I was three years ahead of all of the other students in my class, since I’d transferred from a school that had higher educational standards for children of my age than the Catholic elementary school to which I’d transferred. I remember being put back one grade, so that the other kids in the class were only two years older than myself. The reason given by the Franciscan nuns was that “I was fighting with everyone.” I don’t actually remember any of these fights. I believe that, faced with so many people so much bigger than I, I threw myself into battles with that gleeful innocence that is warranted when the largest person you’ve ever traded punches with is ten years old!

But having vanquished bullies once does not imply they are vanquished forever. We have endless opportunities in our wanderings through this bizarre existence to encounter bullies. Whenever there is contested turf, and there is always contested turf, the bullies will be set up, waiting. What I generally like to do is come up with some type of stunt to knock ‘em off balance and get the upper hand early in the game. And that’s the type of movie I’d like to make about bullying. One that gave bullying victims strategies for outwitting their tormentors.

Don Juan Matus told his disciple Carlos how he had vanquished a bully in a dire, life and death conflict that left Don Juan’s tormentor actually deceased. Don Juan’s story is worth repeating here because it satisfies, in a wholesome fashion, that reasonable thirst for vengeance that was left in my mouth by watching Bully. Enjoy.

Don Juan said that the other two attributes of warriorship, forbearance and timing, which he did not yet have, had been automatically included in his benefactor’s strategy. Forbearance is to wait patiently — no rush, no anxiety — a simple, joyful holding back of what is due.

“I groveled daily,” don Juan continued, “sometimes crying under the man’s whip. And yet I was happy. My benefactor’s strategy was what made me go from day to day without hating the man’s guts. I was a warrior. I knew that I was waiting and I knew what I was waiting for. Right there is the great joy of warriorship.”

He added that his benefactor’s strategy called for a systematic harassment of the man by taking cover with a higher order, just as the seers of the new cycle had done during the Conquest by shielding themselves with the Catholic church. A lowly priest was sometimes more powerful than a nobleman.

Don Juan’s shield was the lady who got him the job. He kneeled in front of her and called her a saint every time he saw her. He begged her to give him the medallion of her patron saint so he could pray to him for her health and well-being.

“She gave me one,” don Juan went on, “and that rattled the foreman to pieces. And when I got the servants to pray at night he nearly had a heart attack. I think he decided then to kill me. He couldn’t afford to let me go on.

“As a countermeasure I organized a rosary among all the servants of the house. The lady thought I had the makings of a most pious man.

“I didn’t sleep soundly after that, nor did I sleep in my bed. I climbed to the roof every night. From there I saw the man twice looking for me in the middle of the night with murder in his eyes.

“Daily he shoved me into the stallions’ stalls hoping that I would be crushed to death, but I had a plank of heavy boards that I braced against one of the corners and protected myself behind it. The man never knew because he was nauseated by the horses — another of his weaknesses, the deadliest of all, as things turned out.”

Don Juan said that timing is the quality that governs the release of all that is held back. Control, discipline, and forbearance are like a dam behind which everything is pooled. Timing is the gate in the dam.

The man knew only violence, with which he terrorized. If his violence was neutralized he was rendered nearly helpless. Don Juan knew that the man would not dare to kill him in view of the house, so one day, in the presence of the other workers but in sight of his lady as well, don Juan insulted the man. He called him a coward, who was mortally afraid of the boss’s wife.

His benefactor’s strategy had called for being on the alert for a moment like that and using it to turn the tables on the petty tyrant. Unexpected things always happen that way. The lowest of the slaves suddenly makes fun of the tyrant, taunts him, makes him feel ridiculous in front of significant witnesses, and then rushes away without giving the tyrant time to retaliate.

“A moment later, the man went crazy with rage, but I was already solicitously kneeling in front of the lady,” he continued.

Don Juan said that when the lady went inside the house, the man and his friends called him to the back, allegedly to do some work. The man was very pale, white with anger. From the sound of his voice don Juan knew what the man was really planning to do. Don Juan pretended to acquiesce, but instead of heading for the back, he ran for the stables. He trusted that the horses would make such a racket the owners would come out to see what was wrong. He knew that the man would not dare shoot him. That would have been too noisy and the man’s fear of endangering his job was too overpowering. Don Juan also knew that the man would not go where the horses were — that is, unless he had been pushed beyond his endurance.

“I jumped inside the stall of the wildest stallion,” don Juan said, “and the petty tyrant, blinded by rage, took out his knife and jumped in after me. I went instantly behind my planks. The horse kicked him once and it was all over.

“I had spent six months in that house and in that period of time I had exercised the four attributes of warriorship. Thanks to them, I had succeeded. Not once had I felt sorry for myself or wept in impotence. I had been joyful and serene. My control and discipline were as keen as they’d ever been, and I had had a firsthand view of what forbearance and timing did for impeccable warriors. And I had not once wished the man to die.

“My benefactor explained something very interesting. Forbearance means holding back with the spirit something that the warrior knows is rightfully due. It doesn’t mean that a warrior goes around plotting to do anybody mischief, or planning to settle past scores. Forbearance is something independent. As long as the warrior has control, discipline, and timing, forbearance assures giving whatever is due to whoever deserves it.”

“Do petty tyrants sometimes win, and destroy the warrior facing them?” I asked.

“Of course. There was a time when warriors died like flies at the beginning of the Conquest. Their ranks were decimated. The petty tyrants could put anyone to death, simply acting on a whim. Under that kind of pressure seers reached sublime states.”

The Fire From Within, by Carlos Castaneda
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Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Tue Jun 24, 2014 12:15 am

Iphigenia, Silent No More
by Charles Carreon
January 20, 2014

[Ken Popehat White, "The Beast"] “Say What Thou Wilt Shall Be The Whole Of The Law”
by Tara Carreon

Lucretius begins his great work of rational inference about physical phenomena, “On the Nature of the Universe,” with a heinous example of the evils wrought by superstitious ignorance. He tells how King Agamemnon made a special sacrifice to secure the Immortals’ blessings for the Greek fleet bound for Troy. He offered the gods the life of his daughter, Iphigenia. The Immortals sent the wind, and the Greek armies pillaged Troy, as Cassandra had predicted. Lucretius evokes the horror experienced by a poor, frightened child whose father, for reasons incomprehensible, has turned into her mortal enemy.

Like Iphigenia, I have known the experience of being surrounded by persons cheering for my death. I have been surprised to discover a world I thought friendly to be antagonistic in the extreme. I am silent, rendered voiceless by a mob. Iphigenia’s death was the price of a successful military victory. What was my reputational destruction supposed to buy?

The First Amendment Mafia encourages the sacrifice of Internet victims to Internet hate-mongers because, they say, by encouraging Internet lynchings, we keep the world safe for wholesome, socially constructive speech. Thus, the Jews of Skokie, Illinois had to sacrifice their peace of mind to the malicious theatrics of the Illinois Nazis, cloaked in First Amendment privilege.

I’d almost consent to be Iphigenia, if my suffering would materially advance the cause of free speech for meaningful causes, like free Internet libraries. But there’s a negative connection between the proliferation of free Internet hate speech and the quantity of useful, socially productive speech. The volume of hate speech and lies have eclipsed the volume of useful, fact-based analysis on almost any topic.

Vast numbers of Internet users have slipped into the gossipy madness that used to afflict only small towns, where rumors set tongues to wagging and reputations die overnight. People used to move to the big cities to get away from that, but now there’s nowhere to go, and some people are discovering that, unlike in dreams, if you die on the Internet, you die in real life. Or maybe, even though it’s America, you can rot in jail, like Mr. Shuler down in Alabama, who has been jailed for refusing to stop blogging about the governor’s son. You would think that a man in that position would get some support from Ken Popehat White, but Ken calls Shuler “creepy and crazy … a vexatious litigant, a serial pro se abuser of the court system.” And according to the ACLU, that quotes Popehat as an authority on which way the wind blows in stink-land, Shuler has already lost the trial in the court of public opinion. So now that the Internet has uncovered the truth that Shuler’s a bad guy, there’s no need to keep him in jail.

You know, mobs have come a long way. Used to be mob justice was a bad thing. Now a mob’s findings are cited in court, through their Mad Magistrate, Ken Popehat White. Courts, you know, are supposed to determine the truth of facts through an evidentiary process, and public opinion is not the product of any deliberative process. A crowd cannot deliberate, and a mob of Coliseum-goers giving the thumbs-down is not passing a deliberate judgment; rather, it is arbitrarily determining fates. To confuse Internet lynch mobs with courts is to empower them to sentence to Internet ignominy whoever they choose. If conceding the actual existence of a “court of public opinion” is now a legal strategy, then the Law has lost its way indeed.

The public is always looking for guidance, and today, they often seek it from lawyers. As our society becomes more bureaucratic, more deterministic, lawyers assume greater authority, and the Cult of the Law becomes more attractive and influential. But what is this Cult of the Law delivering to our society? In the realm of the First Amendment, there are many who wish to make it: “Say what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law.” When Aleister Crowley declared the same to be true of our freedom to act without restraint, it scandalized the world. But the notion that speech cannot injure people, and therefore should never be restrained, has been promoted relentlessly by the media industry, and has now lodged itself solidly in the public mind. As a result, more and more people are seeing their lives and reputations mutilated overnight, sacrificial victims of the Cult of the Law.

As one of these many Internet Iphigenias being sacrificed all over the Internet, let it be said of me that I did not go silently.
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Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Tue Jun 24, 2014 12:17 am

“Jobs”: The Canonization of a Visionary Autocrat
by Charles Carreon
April 25, 2014


I don't know who Steve Jobs really was, because he is so wrapped in myth and lore and legend that his true identity is as undiscoverable as my own, hidden beneath a mass of casual obloquy. I have no desire to concretize my view of him at all, because he was who he was, and he's on to other adventures now. But we are all still here, and part of our social duty as people who care is to watch movies like "Jobs," so we have some idea of what our fellow humans are marinating their brains in.

The Jobs projected by the movie cloaks him in the aura of a medieval zealot who, like Saint Francis in Zeffirelli's classic sacred biopic, "Brother Sun, Sister Moon," has a visionary experience in a meadow and never looks back. The movie scores nostalgia points by having Steve drop blotter acid to illuminate this vision, presumably of a pristine realm where everything works just the way he wants it to, which makes him smile and do a deadhead dance in the field, so we are assured that whatever flowed from this vision, the source was pure. Tormented by visions that force him to cut family ties as ruthlessly as St. Augustine swearing off whoring, St. Jobs leaves behind family and worldly attachments to pursue the Holy Quest: computers that reflect and extend the user's personality.

St. Jobs doesn't have co-workers or partners, he has disciples, adherents, devotees, supplicants, and almost no intellectual peers. Only Steve Wozniak, the man whose geek mind is shown giving form to Jobs' early vision of a truly "personal" computer, is anything more than a minor figure. Jobs dwarfs every other character, like Pharaoh in an Egyptian tomb painting, surrounded by tiny attendants.

Okay, so what's wrong with this picture? Aren't titans properly depicted as titanic? Didn't Jobs, as Iggy Pop said in his stirring anthem, Cry For Love, "seize the world and shake it upside down?" Isn't that what we venerate, adore, in this age of disruptive technologies that send mortals with mere five-figure incomes scurrying for shelter from one disappearing employment niche to the next?

Well first, I don't think that Jobs' introduction of the machines that would mature into the eyes and ears of the NSA peeping into every corner of our lives was what Iggy had in mind when he talked about shaking up the world. The full line goes:

"Status seekers, I never cared,
Once I found out they never dared
To seize the world and shake it upside down,
And every stinking bum should wear a crown...."

It's the line about the bum that clues me in, because St. Jobs shows no interest in bums, and when it comes to passing out crowns, the instinct to basic human warmth is alien to him. Crowns were given only to worthy disciples, and just because you worked in the garage with Woz and Steve to build the first batch of circuit boards did not mean that you had earned a crown. Not surprisingly, St. Jobs pays a stiff toll at home, where he's shown with a stylish, controlled blonde playing the role of sensitive supporter, while the daughter he spurned, claiming against the evidence of a DNA test that she was the child of a stranger, does not respond warmly when he has a change of heart, and admits her to his life.

No, St. Jobs was not a nice guy. Charismatic, driven, a skilled motivator -- check, check, check. But nice, never. Oh, your back will straighten when you hear him pitch into another product design manifesto, alta voce in the face of a hapless Apple engineer, as he throws another errant disciple overboard in a meaningful rage. You can't help it. The man was a saint who brought the new dispensation -- Electronic Identity. It's better than regular identity, which has hobbled us for the entirety of human history, forcing us to actually be the person that everyone looks at. Now, we can all be who we want to be, as long as we don't mind being nobody in particular, just another mob member jostling electronic elbows with the digital equivalent of humanity.

If you hear the Gospel of St. Jobs, it sounds something like this: "Transform yourself with the passion of creativity, and transform your world with clever inventions that give people exactly what they want. Find out what they want by asking yourself what you want -- market research is unnecessary -- all truths about the relationship between people and their devices is discoverable through introspection and observation. If you are unable to generate your own creative vision, harness yourself to a visionary and serve them with unswerving dedication. Your reward will be that you leave your impress on human history, making it possible for people to do and be what they never otherwise could have been."

Did I give the Saint's doctrine a fair shake, or what? Sounds like a commencement address to me. But I hear another message, far more sinister, oozing between the lines: "Listen here, you fucking idiots, snap out of your comfortable wage-earning rut and give me the fucking creativity you said you had when we hired you! We're not here to play solitaire and collect income from past achievements. We need overnight marches on starvation rations to fight this market war, because our adversaries aren't sleeping. And if you think you can find an easier paycheck to hustle across the street, watch the hell out, because they're my friends, they kiss my ass, and you will not get far with the target I'll paste on your back as you walk out the door."

Gee, where'd I get that last part? That's not in the movie. No, that was in today's paper, New York Times, Business Section, page one, April 25, 2014, in an article entitled “Tech Giants Settle Antitrust Hiring Suit.” The settling giants were Google, Apple, Adobe and Intel, and their crime was said to have saved them jointly about $9 Billion in wages they would have had to pay their engineers if they hadn’t all agreed not to hire each other’s engineers:

Four of the largest technology companies tentatively settled on Thursday a class action brought by 64,000 of their engineers, who accused them of agreeing not to solicit one another’s employees [and] depicted the upper levels of the valley’s executive suites as a cozy old boys’ network. *** Steven P. Jobs, the Apple co-founder, was portrayed in court papers as something of a bully, a man who would go nuclear when a competitor solicited his engineers. “If you hire a single one of these people, that means war,” Mr. Jobs warned Google in an email that became public.

That’s the sort of stuff that never even gets into the script of a movie like Jobs. All the high-flown language sounds pretty bogus when you treat people like slaves, then gyp them out of a free market in their own labor with nothing more than a few choice words among friends at a local Palo Alto bistro. St. Jobs’ true labor practices are not open to inspection, much less criticism. Of course, you wouldn’t expect the platoons of lawfirms defending Apple in the abundant litigation it has pending, to allow a movie to be made filled with juicy admissions. But really, it would have ruined the movie to get into this stuff, because you can’t have St. Jobs committing, not only a major capitalist sin, but a big, fat felony that doesn’t involve cool retro drugs:

Every contract, combination in the form of trust or otherwise, or conspiracy, in restraint of trade or commerce among the several States, or with foreign nations, is declared to be illegal. Every person who shall make any contract or engage in any combination or conspiracy hereby declared to be illegal shall be deemed guilty of a felony, and, on conviction thereof, shall be punished by fine not exceeding $100,000,000 if a corporation, or, if any other person, $1,000,000, or by imprisonment not exceeding 10 years, or by both said punishments, in the discretion of the court.
15 U.S.C. § 1, the Sherman Antitrust Act Section 1.

St. Jobs, in his zeal to spread the Gospel of Consumer Wish-Fulfillment, had a tendency to get involved in these restraints of trade, and in that he was a lot like John D. Rockefeller. The U.S. Dept. of Justice charged that John D. “entered into agreements with, various persons, firms, corporations, and limited partnerships … for the purpose of fixing the price of crude and refined oil ….” The movie wouldn’t want anyone to draw that connection, so it didn’t include any information about how St. Jobs designed an eBook price fixing scheme by making the Apple iTunes Store the “hub” of a “hub and spoke” conspiracy in which Penguin Books and five other publishers served as the “spokes,” coordinating their eBook prices at the $12.99 and $14.99 level, thus forcing Amazon to raise the price of eBooks from $9.99 to $12.99. The U.S. Department of Justice sued Apple and its spokes, and they all settled. The DOJ subpoenaed Jobs’ biographer Walter Isaacson’s notes, but he moved to quash the subpoena and didn’t have to turn them over, so we don’t know what Jobs told Isaacson about the conspiracy, but as Bob Dylan said, you don’t need a weathervane to know which way the wind blows.

Thinking about how John D. Rockefeller is so often vilified for his price-fixing efforts, I think the man just needs some posthumous image rehabilitation. His actions could easily be justified on the grounds that he was enforcing order in a wild industry, strengthening the market by buying out weak competitors, and standardizing the product so Henry Ford’s automobiles could count on a source of reliable gasoline. I guess the art of PR spin was only in its early stages of development back then, when writers still had ink stains on their fingers.

In the same issue of the New York Times where I found the article about Jobs fixing the price of engineering jobs, I noticed a couple of letters remarked on how the canonization of Pope John Paul II required some planned forgetting, since the dead prelate's signal achievement was enabling the continuation and concealment of the little-boy-and-girl-raping project that the Church funded, and whose perpetrators it protected from criminal prosecution. In the same way, St. Jobs is exempted from scrutiny. He couldn't have been an exploiter of the labor and creativity of others, even though we know that Apple iPhone manufacturing has been accomplished on the backs of Chinese workers in sweatshops whose prices and wages were bid down to starvation levels by Apple negotiators. We can't present that information in a sacred biopic of a man about to be lofted into the Valhalla of consumer product design.

When you look at the big picture, the canonization of St. Jobs is merely the consumer electronics industry blowing smoke up its own parking-lot-sized ass with the aid of a wind tunnel of business pep-talks driven by a musical score that swells with emotion at all the right moments. When you've got the world by the balls, don't let go. If anyone knows the necessity of creating and maintaining spin, it's the Popes of Silicon Valley, whose shit doesn't stink because they play with wires and lights, they sit in cool places, they're chill and hip, and they've got more money than God. We, the people who want a piece of the action big enough to cover a roof, a bed, a car, three square meals and the weekend off, must know that worshipping at the Temple of Consumer Satisfaction brings Fulfillment to the Product Users as well as the Product Creators. Amen, say the hungry masses, and where do we sign?
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Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Tue Jun 24, 2014 12:17 am

Who’s Zenning Who?: Another View on Whether Susan Blackmore’s Sermon on the Way of Robotic Consciousness Was Worth Spending A Beautiful Morning Indoors With A Band of Aging Atheists One Day in Late April in Tucson, Arizona, 2014
by Charles Carreon



April, 2014

Sunday With the Atheists


Last weekend, Sunday morning, in search of fun atheists, Tara and I went to the Free Thought Arizona Sunday meetup at Tucson’s UniversityMedicalCenter. I guess there’s enough doubt about God’s existence in the place where most folks meet their final crisis of faith that they can get together there without getting somebody’s lease cancelled. You know this is Arizona, where we almost passed a law that would’ve in short order been used to let landlords kick unwed mothers out of their rental units on the grounds that they didn’t have to rent to people who obviously didn’t adhere to the same religious tenets as the landlord. So I felt kind of lucky to be able to gather under any anti-God banner at all, and awaited the appearance of the featured speaker with eager anticipation.

The un-service was kicked off by a chirpy, tall woman with a cap of silver hair attractively styled, with a confident manner of speaking that suggested no one ever interrupts her. She introduced us to the “Three Wise Men” of the day, who all had either smart noggins that they’d put to work to bring lucre into the FTA treasury, or were wealthy donors whose generosity was measured in five figures. Disappointment number one — when I was known as a Buddhist, I tried to be a generous Buddhist, and always figured if I wanted someone to like my religion, I shouldn’t charge them for it. So I found it somewhat disenchanting when my fellow Buddhists chased after wealthy donors and influential names, as if the Buddha would have interviewed for a position as Steven Seagal’s guru. I was hoping that un-religion would be un-funded, but alas, it appears to require an institution as well. And even though I don’t have a female body, I thought the choice of three wise men to be both anachronistically patriarchal and disturbingly allusive to Judaeo-Christian dogma. What, I wondered, do we gain by drawing analogies from the adversary’s lexicon?

My sense that I was at a boot camp for people who might be working to outgrow the bad habit of spending Sunday morning on their knees grew stronger as we were treated to a multi-fella acapella un-hymn for un-believers lead by celebrity atheist Steve Martin, courtesy of a slightly grainy YouTube video presented by a big, experienced atheist with a laptop. He and his wife then lead us in a singalong of the karaoke version of "This Land Is Your Land," from which Hollywood excised the activist content:

As I was walkin’ I saw a sign there
And that sign said “No tresspassin’”
But on the other side, it didn’t say nothin’
Now that side was made for you and me

In the squares of the city / In the shadow of the steeple
Near the relief office, I see my people
And some are grumblin’ and some are wonderin’
If this land’s still made for you and me

I'd have enjoyed singing those lines, but didn't have the opportunity, so I sang the ones that were displayed on the screen, feeling a little more like a sap with every saccharine verse. Who, I began to ask myself, were these people who thought this was a good thing to do on Sunday morning? I mean, I had a good time, because Steve Martin is sweet and funny, and singing out loud never killed anybody, but our friend Ramzi seemed uncharmed. He'd come with us because he was game for a new kick, but it looked like the novelty had worn off instantly. Ramzi later explained to us that they lost him when the first wise man's commendable activity was revealed to be getting the FTA on the list of nonprofits that get a cut from the Fry's VIP Card program. An old-school, natural food aficionado, Ramzi is not a Fry's shopper, so for him it was like being teleported into a crowd of the terminally nikulturni. Next there would be a WalMart promotion. Deal Ramzi out.

A Willing Crowd Awaits


Once they’d gotten the crowd’s blood moving with the singalong, they unleashed Susan Blackmore on us. Elfishly styled in pixie-type boots with snug pants and a form-fitting jacket that revealed a pleasing figure of the short Englishwoman type, Susan bounded about the stage with a lot of zip for a gal whose hot twenties are somewhat behind her. Like a lot of corporate trainers and salespeople, she had all the right moves. Her speech lined up with her posture and her facial expression. She tossed off a few self-deprecatory jokes. She looked at the audience and claimed us as her own. I felt no twinges of resistance in the audience. The pre-talk PR had clearly done its work, and Susan was drafting along in its wake, an expert with a topic and a room full of people who needed her knowledge to justify their atheist mindset and make it credible.

A One-Eyed Buddha


When you need a ride somewhere you’re often not particular how you get there. And people who have gone straight from Christian or Jewish religion to unbelief, are poorly equipped to examine the legitimacy of Susan’s claims about “Zen Buddhism,” to which she first claimed to be devoted, then later said she was not. I’ll agree with her second position.

Susan’s thesis for the day was revealed incrementally, so my surprise grew as she moved from one misstatement about Buddhism to the next, using the “nonexistence” side of Buddha’s argument to argue that really smart people don’t believe in their own existence. This was like poking out one of the Buddha’s eyes and saying that he had no depth perception, and believed all life to be two-dimensional. The Buddha didn’t say people don’t exist.

One of the most popular Zen scriptures is the Diamond-Cutter Sutra, i.e., a Discourse on the Penetration of the Impenetrable. In Chapter Six, the Buddha explains that people who understand the Dharma “neither fall back to cherishing the idea of things as having intrinsic qualities, nor even of things as devoid of intrinsic qualities.” Buddha then explains to his friend Subhuti why real Buddhists don’t say that people and things either exist or don’t exist:

“Wherefore? Because if such people … grasped and held on to the notion of things as having intrinsic qualities they would be cherishing the idea of an ego entity, a personality, a being or a separated individuality. Likewise, if they grasped and held on to the notion of things as devoid of intrinsic qualities they would be cherishing the idea of an ego entity, a personality, a being or a separated individuality. So you should not be attached to things as being possessed of, or devoid of, intrinsic qualities.”

What does this really mean? That if you are looking for answers to “existence” and “nonexistence” from the Buddha, you are barking up the wrong lotus blossom. Buddha was not teaching physics, physiology, or even philosophy or psychology. He was not pronouncing on the “reality” of our humanity, our planet, our solar system, or our galaxy, if you could even define the term “reality” in a satisfactory fashion. Buddha was teaching his way of “ending human suffering.” His philosophy is an integrated package of knowledge that it is dangerous to mine for clever quotes that support views opposed to the Buddha’s true intentions.

I, Bundle


Susan told us she had spent a lot of time asking herself the question “Who am I?” She seemed confident that she was one of a small group of people who had done this. She then took us on an odyssey of self-disassembly. Like Alan Watts enjoyed doing, Susan poked fun at the notion that there’s a “little person in your head,” a “homunculus,” as she put it, who experiences everything we see, feel, hear, smell and touch. She showed us powerpoint graphics of the brain marked up like a side of beef, all the choice cuts exhibited to show there’s no little person here, in the cerebral cortex, or the cerebellum, thalamus, hypothalamus, etcetera. This was really rather frivolous, for what person really expects to find a “self-center” anywhere in their physical corpus? That’s like expecting to find a sign posted on the sun, giving its galactic address. Not bloody likely.

Susan argued that Buddha taught that human consciousness is composed of a “bundle” of psychic factors. She never actually told us what that bundle is composed of though, whereas the Buddha was very clear that the personality bundle is comprised of five factors that act together to create the “experience of I.” Understanding how those factors in the personality bundle interact is actually a meditative process that allows a person to observe their own mind. Self-observation reduces automatic reactions within the personality bundle and frees one from unconscious action. Put simply, in Buddhism, understanding one’s personality to be composed of factors is not presented as an assault on the personality, but as part and parcel of the practice of seeing reality.

Susan blurred the concept of the personality bundle by pairing it with Buddha’s example of how a carriage is not intrinsically a “carriage,” since it is simply assembled from a frame, wheels, and axles. That is a good way to understand the component nature of a carriage, but unless Frankenstein was fully human, there is a great deal more to a human being than meat and bones and brains, and thus it is useless to analogize a human being to a carriage that is made solely of physical parts. The analogy cannot account for the most important aspect of a human being, because no carriage ever drove itself where it wanted to go, or refused to roll downhill by applying its own brakes, or ran down a child in the street because it was inattentive.


As Einstein is said to have said, “Things should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.” When you analogize a human being to a machine, you make it too simple to draw conclusions, and those conclusions are likely to be dehumanizing and dangerous. Among her fun “thought experiments,” Susan asked us how many of us would consent to be teleported, and asked one volunteer where she’d like to go. The volunteer said “Cabo,” as in “Cabo San Lucas,” the tequila sinkhole at the bottom of Baja, but Susan heard “Kabul,” the heroin capital on the roof of the world. This affected the outcome of the thought experiment in unforeseen ways, but it shouldn’t have, because the whole point was to determine whether people who saw themselves as “egos” rather than “bundles” would refuse teleportation, regardless of the assurance that all of our physical elements would be reconstituted into a person indistinguishable (in either Mexico or Afghanistan) from the one who had been teleported from Tucson. Of course, if you were blown up on arrival in Kabul, or hit by a an exploding tequila shooter in Cabo, it might all come to the same thing, but Susan’s point was that people who robustly conceived of themselves as bundles would more readily accept the new form of transport. According to Douglas Adams, the resistance to teleportation runs much deeper, as he made absolutely clear with this blast of doggerel:

And what about matter transference beams? Any form of transport which involved tearing you apart atom by atom, flinging those atoms through the sub-ether, and then jamming them back together again just when they were getting their first taste of freedom for years had to be bad news.

Many people had thought exactly this before Arthur Dent and had even gone to the lengths of writing songs about it. Here is one that used regularly to be chanted by huge crowds outside the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation Teleport Systems factory on Happi-Werld III:

Aldebaran’s great, okay,
Algol’s pretty neat,
Betelgeuse’s pretty girls
Will knock you off your feet.
They’ll do anything you like
Real fast and then real slow,
But if you have to take me apart to get me there
Then I don’t want to go.

Take me apart, take me apart,
What a way to roam
And if you have to take me apart to get me there
I’d rather stay at home.

Sirius is paved with gold
So I’ve heard it said
By nuts who then go on to say
“See Tau before you’re dead.”
I’ll gladly take the high road
Or even take the low,
But if you have to take me apart to get me there
Then I, for one, won’t go.

Take me apart, take me apart,
You must be off your head,
And if you try to take me apart to get me there
I’ll stay right here in bed.

Some Negative Implications of Seeing Humans As Machines


Why does the notion that human beings are machines so fascinate people? On an industrial scale, equating people and machines is good business, because we only need people for the work they do. A backhoe digs a ditch, thus accomplishing what many ditch-diggers would otherwise do. Treating the ditch-diggers as inefficient, costly machines, I fire ten ditch-diggers and get a backhoe on the job. It’s better for my wallet, and since I cannot experience the mental suffering and hunger of the unemployed, I need not care that the ditch-diggers go hungry. This kind of logic rules our society, to the point where we are now supposed to feel encouraged if “the economy is improving,” even if we ourselves are living behind a dumpster. A rising tide will lift all boats, ya’ know?

All ditch-diggers understand the fallacy of the industrialist argument that they are irrelevant, because it ignores their subjective being, the primary thing that distinguishes us from machines. So you’d think we’d be more resistant when people try to analogize our minds to machines, because a mind is the one thing a machine does not have. I am constantly amazed that people would analogize a video recorder attached to a computer to an eye attached to a human brain. Fercrissakes, the video never swings around to take a second look at a hot body, nor does it flinch when focussed on a gruesome scene, or close its eyes to block off a painful scene. That’s the important thing, not the fact that the CMOS sensor functions somewhat like the human retina!

The real damage to our self-understanding occurs when, having analogized ourselves to machines, the analogy takes over, and we start to make mechanistic inferences about ourselves. So not only is this analogy not very useful, because we learn little about humans by analogizing them to machines, but it also tends to project itself back upon our self-image, causing us to define our motivations in mechanical terms. There is absolutely no evidence that any good comes of this type of self-image. If I may indulge myself, “Garbage in, garbage out.”

The AI crowd, of course, want to analogize our minds to computers. For people who are equally ignorant about how computers and their own minds work, this analogy will be appealing. Because “any sufficiently advanced technology will appear to be magic to those who do not understand it,” for those ignorant of cybernetic science, computers are essentially magic. I hear people saying all the time that their computer “knows” something, when in fact it is just a sophisticated alarm clock with a very complicated schedule. Most of the time, in fact, our computers are triggering Pavlovian responses with little beeps and chirps that “keep us on track,” which is to say, in time with the industrial Leviathan that winds all the clocks.

Meditation vs. Annihilation


Susan backed up her discussion of the “Who am I?” question with the declaration that she was a Zen Buddhist, so I assumed that she had practiced the “Who am I?” meditation that is taught to both Buddhists and Hindus. But Susan appears to have misapplied the “Who am I?” practice, turning it from a path of self-discovery into one of self-negation.

Perhaps much of this confusion would have been avoided if someone had told Susan that if you are pursuing the “Who am I?” inquiry for spiritual purposes, then when you ask yourself “Who am I?” you are not supposed to articulate a verbal answer. The Tibetans call it a “pointing out instruction.” I would analogize it to being out hiking with a friend, who points at something way across the canyon, and says, “look right there.” You try and look where they’re pointing. When at last you are able to pick out what they’re telling you to look at, then you don’t need any further instructions. You actually see it, whereas before you didn’t, and you don’t need anyone’s help to know what it is. In the case of looking “inside,” you don’t actually see anything visual. Rather, you have the experience of knowing that you’re knowing. It’s very life-affirming, in a quiet way. Indeed, how anyone who’s ever done the practice would seriously get up and say, “I don’t exist” is quite beyond me. It would just be laughable, absurd, a joke.

The pre-eminent advocate of the “Who am I?” school of self-discovery was an Indian prep-school dropout who took up residence at Arunachala Hill, a place sacred to Shiva, about a century ago. Known today as Ramana Maharshi, he was fourteen when he got to thinking about how one of his uncles had died, and fell into a terrible fear that he was also about to die. He then lay on the floor and imagined he was dying, taking note of all the experiences he would not have anymore, eliminating everything that had died, until at last he remained with his own original being. His perception of the world distinct from himself disappeared. He entered into another way of being, no longer separate from “others,” whom he saw as the Self. In his dialogues with students, Maharshi deflected the projections of guruhood, insisting that he was not anyone’s guru, and recommending “self inquiry” for anyone who seeks inner peace. His questionings of spiritual seekers are demonstrations of Maharshi’s subtle skill at turning every question into another expression of the question “Who am I?” It was literally not possible to talk to the man without him trying to enlighten you as to your Identity.

Compare that with Susan Blackmore — quoting the Buddha on your nonexistence, polling neuroscientists for odds on whether you’re a robot, and insisting cheerily, when pressed on what the “no-self” theory of human Identity would do to our notions of human rights, that “Governments will give us rights!” Yeah, I guess that’s how we’d get ‘em, if we don’t exist. Because if we don’t exist, we can’t “take these truths to be self-evident.” And therefore, we couldn’t decree that “all men are created equal” and are equally entitled to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Wonderful! (Not!)

We’re From the Government, We’re Here To Help


The political implications of Susan Blackmore’s thesis are indeed dreadful, and it seems obvious that she has not contemplated them in any depth. To simply advert to the notion that “governments” will “grant rights” to people who don’t exist, whose Identity is illusory, and who have abdicated their right to exist, is hardly realistic. To give Susan her due, however, her fellow Englishman Edmund Burke promised much the same when he argued that since his ancestors had sworn fealty to the Kings of William and Orange, he could look to the monarch for protection. He would have argued the point against Thomas Paine’s opposition, on the deepest principle, that the only legitimate government is that which is by the consent of the governed.

The technocrats who control our lives and determine the fate of the planet will be delighted to hear of this scientific development — the discovery that human beings do not actually exist. Complaints from the governed will have no grounds on which to be heard. Tom Paine’s ghost will be put to rest. Statistics will no longer hide a human story. When human rights are violated it will be a misdemeanor, and the good of all can finally be determined on the basis of bloodless calculations.

Whence Cometh This One, and With What Aim?


As an evangelist for the path of exploding our own existence, Susan excels at making something out of nothing. Plucking quotes and conclusions from popular spiritual and scientific authorities, assembling notions that suit her own fancy, and modeling confidence in her own conclusions, Susan’s mind is dangerous territory for those unfamiliar with her jargon and susceptible to her manner. As the capper for her presentation of scientific-style evidence, Susan displayed a reaction-time study that showed that when a person intends to move, they start moving before they can tell you that they’re about to move. From that, Susan blithely drew the conclusion that “free will is illusory.” The best thing about it was the confidence with which she enunciated this absurdity. For a second there, before I got all my physiological responses in order, I thought she’d actually made a point. She’s a pro, that Susan Blackmore.

You gotta wonder, and I do, what the heck is so important about nihilism that we gotta put this gal out on the road to push it? Well you know, it doesn’t exactly sell itself.
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Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Tue Jun 24, 2014 12:20 am

The Whys and Wherefores of a PunkLawyer
by Charles Carreon
June 12, 2014


Today the lawyer formerly known as Charles Carreon discourses on the meaning of his PunkLawyer moniker. Let’s begin with important matters. Is this a mere descriptive label, or is it trademarkable? It’s trademarkable, because it’s definitely not descriptive. We know what people want when they ask for a tax lawyer, a divorce lawyer, or a criminal lawyer, but no one would know what you were asking for if you asked for a punk lawyer. So I’m right where I like it – defining myself according to my own inclinations. We can assume that a definition for “punk lawyer” will appear in Black’s Law Dictionary circa 2035, so if you can’t wait that long, read on.

An Original Strain

It’s night time on the freeway in 1986, coming off the summit of Grapevine pass, starting the descent into the LA basin, watching two streams of lights, red and white, flowing past. I am letting no cars get between me and the red lights of a blue and white 1961 Ford Econoline window van, piloted by my wife, packed with three kids and all our worldly possessions aside from those stowed in the 1965 Dodge pickup that I am driving with a rocking chair tied on top. I am on my way to start the semester at UCLA Law School. We have enough money for a couple months, and my wife plans to get a job as a legal secretary, something she has never done before. However, she types 90 words a minute without a mistake, comes from top cheekbones, and is 29 years old.

My wife immediately turned her employment aspiration into a reality, and began pulling more than her share of the weight economically. My transformation into an LA wage earner was much slower. Before I could be worth a dime, I need to make a big change in my mental infrastructure and outer appearance. I began the process of developing from a hippie into a lawyer. I had an inkling early on that it might be easier if I first became a punk.

Mutation by the Magic of Law

When a person goes to law school and works hard at it, they change every day. They change more than other people are changing. They are thrown in with other intelligent people and told to figure it out, to talk it out, to slug it out with words and proof. Day by day they absorb words and magic lore, words and magic lore that create and dissolve the bonds of social relationships. Marriage, divorce, business relations, employment, crime, accidents, all are regulated by codes that overlap and interact, and are controlled by invocations of magic words in legal ceremonies.

We are learning magic words and lore not to be repositories of information, but to practice law, which is magic. To practice law means to do law. A judge does law by deciding cases and issuing orders. An advocate does law by arguing one side of the case. The other advocate does law by arguing the other side of the case. You need three years of special education and a license that they don’t give out very generously before you are allowed to do law. When you have the license, you are allowed to do magical acts.

Every practicing US lawyer practices magic in two ways — by creating legal relationships through legal ceremonies, or by petitioning the courts to alter legal relationships in a litigation ceremony. Most legal ceremonies create legal documents that provide evidence of what ceremony was performed. Marriage licenses, incorporation documents, jury summonses, subpoenas, all these documents are notices that the ceremonies have begun, or are being conducted, or have concluded. Magical acts can be undone, because they are merely conceptual. Magical acts need not conform to reality. The innocent can be adjudged guilty, and regularly are. The guilty can be acquitted, and regularly are. The irrationality of a judgment is in most cases, no basis upon which to attack it. The courts could order that a dead man be brought back to life, but only if it were persuaded that there was some likelihood of the order being obeyed.

Crystallization of the Punk Mindset

Understanding how the courts worked did not excite my interest to work in them. Courts are places filled with dread anticipation. Places where final outcomes are generated by the ream cannot be fun places. Arguments, hearings, decisions, orders, judgments, sentences, appeals. Not one of those words conjures a happy thought, like “iced gelato” or “cold lemonade.”

So my wife sent me off to law school every day, and she went off to work in the litigation offices of Century City. The first day I went, I was an Oregon hippie so fresh from the piney woods that my classmates secretly called me Johnny Appleseed. The day I left, I was an extremely confused, terrified person facing a qualifying exam, the California Bar, that had a less than 40% pass rate for first timers. Second timer pass rates dropped to 28%, I recall. Odds said, if you didn’t pass the first time, you might not pass until the third or fourth time, or never. I was about $60,000 in debt, so failing that bar exam was not an option. This is the type of pressure that crystallizes a punk out of a hippie. I never took punk for a license to hate anyone, but I did take it for permission to hate stupid bullshit standing in my way. And fear was the first thing standing in my way.

I needed to getaway from that crazy scene at the law school. Heads were baking in that library, arteries were pulsing close to the bursting point. A motorcycle is the remedy for all of that. With a motorcycle, there is no one next to you for long. You can always get to the head of the line. In LA, lane splitting is legal, so arrival by motorcycle was much swifter than anything I could pull off in a four-wheeled vehicle. In exchange for risking my life, I was allowed to leave my fellow Angelenos ensnared in the bowels of the permanent traffic jam that is LA. Riding downhill out of the scoops and dips of Sunset Boulevard, it was something like liberation rounding the last cure to where it opens onto Pacific Coast Highway. The cool wind blows up the canyon like a chimney, you can see the sky meet the sea, you can taste something truly delicious, evanescent yet settling in around you like the bright diffuse light that scours the beachfront boulevards.

Self-Indoctrination as Preparation for Practice

From pressure come insights. Preparing for the bar exam creates pressure, and it causes people to have insights, to make transformative jumps in how they think, analyze, and produce legal effects. When I rode my motorcycle down to the sea, I’d do the rote memorization work that is required to pass the bar exam. I didn’t know that I was indoctrinating myself in the Anglo-American concept of justice, but I was. I was learning to give the right answers to legal questions – with the magic words! For example: What is a contract? It’s “a binding legal obligation arising from mutual agreement to reasonably specific terms that manifests an intent to be presently bound to those terms.” Every word of this answer is significant, provides the code for cracking contract questions, and is the first bit of knowledge you need to get the highest possible grade on a law school essay exam.

The anvil on which the law is pounded out is the human mind. There may be a way of learning law without getting all pumped up, but I never discovered it. Since I had to inhale all of these meanings and concepts, I found it easier to do with a dose of loud punk rock to overcome the mental noise in my head that wanted to do things other than become legally educated. The aggression in the punk rock turned into aggression against my resistant self, and so I developed an inner punk who dominated my slacker self and educated me while hijacking my identity.

Seeking and Gaining Power in the Arbitrary Realm of Magic

The law punk that I became was at first like a comet, a formless cloud having speed and direction, crashing into experiences, absorbing impacts, gradually accumulating enough mass to start taking shape. I came hurtling out of law school, smoked the bar exam on the first try, and hit the big corporate-firms like a bullet hitting a pot of quantum glue. I came hurtling out the other side three years later, having made the world safe for the wealthy in a number of trivial ways, and feeling the urgent need to collide with some legal issues worth giving a shit about. I found it with three hardcore trial lawyers in Century City intent on suing the crap out of deep pocket defendants and making as many millions as they could lay their hands on. They were busier than warlords in Somalia, and ready to teach me the magical arts if I was ready to learn some actual wizardry.

If you don’t think I mean wizardry, and I’m just being metaphorical, read my lips. Lawyers do almost the only magic worthy of the name, and it requires secret words, magical gestures, and knowing how to influence the hidden forces that control the outcome of human events. Doctors are often called gods, but they heal by the rules of science, knowable to all. Lawyers change reality with the stroke of a pen, and the rules by which they play are known only to the Supreme Court.

Practicing law means making changes in the fabric of human relations. You take a deposition, and reveal the witness for a liar. The case has changed. The witness has been defanged and presents no further danger to the case. Every minute you work at practicing trial law, you are either subverting or countering your adversary’s plans, or you are advancing your own.

The dynamics of law practice cannot be varied to accommodate human sentiment. While we can be humane and decent when we practice law, we cannot be soft to be nice. When our client is relying on us, and is in the right, we have to press their advantage. Legal ceremonies like trials can impose unfair consequences like prison sentences and civil judgments for reasons that are essentially arbitrary. When legal ceremonies are conducted, results can be controlled only by a skilled magician.

A Punk Approach to Accomplishment

The punk music revolution began with a refusal to accept that playing music was beyond the ability of anyone who wanted to play music, and the desire to discover for yourself just what type of music to play. What did we get? We got everything, from impossibly bad to impossibly good, from truly meaningful to utterly ridiculous, from really tight and awesome to hilariously loose and delightful, from industrial nihilism to psychedelic power anthems. We got musicians who made themselves like natural forms arise in nature, organically, from interior desire, assuming unique shapes true to their inner impulse. Punks treated their instruments as vehicles for expression of present creative impulse, not as tools for reproducing past works. They considered their grasp of the instrument sufficient when they were able to express themselves and were understood by their audience. It might not be perfect. It might not be exactly right. But it was done, and on a day when otherwise nothing would have gotten done, it was meaningful.

So punk says it is more important to get the thing done than to do it just like everybody says you should do it. It’s more worth it to do something if you do it your way, even if other people may question whether your way is legit. Punk says you have to pick up the tools of the trade and make them your own.

A Punk Approach to Practicing Law

Our legal system was designed by some people who were pretty punk. They eventually got so punk they told the King to take his Redcoats back to England and ship his Teutonic mercenaries back to their feudal warlords. The Founding Punks ignored those who said they couldn’t beat the King’s well-organized armies, and used the available military hardware well enough to win independence from the crown. When they wrote a Constitution, the more punk among them demanded more magic words to protect them from the new government, and got a Bill of Rights that has been a document dear to punks ever since.

Thanks to all the big talk in that Bill of Rights, African people who were brought here as slaves were eventually able to demand freedom. Since the passage of the Fourteenth Amendment, more freedoms have been hammered out on the backs of the children of the slaves, making them very important Americans, whose involuntary contributions to our country’s jurisprudence are still being denied. Although the Fourteenth Amendment has been corrupted to provide way too many rights for corporations and their goons, the principles of due process and equal protection are core punk legal principles that every punk lawyer must understand and be ready to apply to protect his clients from injustice.

The practice of law affects human lives. A punk approach to practicing law means remembering that law must serve the people, which it only does when lawyers keep in mind the larger purpose in their work, which is to make life liveable for ordinary people in society. It means keeping it simple, playing it straight, having an approach to the issues that regular people can understand, and doing your best to get the job done. A punk lawyer knows that his clients are looking to him for hope, and if he gives them hope, he has to try his best to deliver the goods. To achieve that goal, he will use every available tool.
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Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Tue Jun 24, 2014 12:26 am

How to Be a Happy Family
by Charles Carreon

Intimations of Punk Reality

Hard Questions for Pinheads


Some Ramones fans ask themselves the hard questions. Why do rodents explode when they hear The Ramones played at high volume? Is it true there’s no stopping a Cretin from hopping? Are we friends with the President, friends with the Pope? Are we making a fortune selling daddy’s dope? Are we A Happy Family?

Intimations of Punk

I never asked myself these questions until my late twenties, because in those days, I had never heard The Ramones. In 1983, I was twenty-seven, and the airwaves were filled with noxious sounds of bands such as Earth, Wind & Fire and The Village People. Lynyrd Skynyrd was making smart remarks about Southern Man not wantin’ Neil Young around, and I had been listening to the same old hippie tunes so long that I felt like I was married to the Grateful Dead. Years had passed and my boredom and unease had grown deeper. Perhaps, without knowing it, I simply longed to live on A Chinese Rock.

Something in my heart was questing for a harder, more raucous sound that would jar me out of my lost condition, but there was little I, personally, could do. I was living in a tiny town in Oregon, finishing up an English degree after years of hiding out in the woods. I had no time to explore new music. For young people, the college radio station was a pathetic desert dominated by jazz, folk and classical zombies that allowed one four-hour alternative rock show every week.

Through that four-hour window, I heard a new world, a way out of the tedious rhythm of tired contemporary music. One night, the college boys played the whole Talking Heads album, “Stop Making Sense.” I heard David Byrne singing Psycho Killer, stuttering over the f-word and warning us to RUN RUN AWAY, and I knew that my prayers for release from boredom had ended. I fortunately taped the whole album, and blissfully began to live in knew dissonant realms previously unknown to my musical senses.

Law & Disorder

Soon thereafter, I moved from Oregon to LA to go to UCLA law school. I rode a shitty beatup Vespa scooter to class that was so ugly the Westwood posers would jeer at me as I went by, like I was making their plastic paradise look crappy. On the music front, the world started opening up. I was on top of the world. I discovered KXLU radio from Loyola Marymount, and started listening to great DJs like Agent Eva, who once did an on-the -air strip-a-thon that left her widely fantasized as being down to a pair of crotchless panties, and raised $2,000 from a bunch of beach scum in a couple of hours. While washing the dishes after school, I could listen to Tex & The Horseheads, REM, X, offbeat characters like John Cale, Lou Reed, etcetera. But still I did not discover the Ramones.

My Discovery of The Ramones


Finally, during Christmas season 1985, with the fateful year of 1984 behind us, I stopped to read a copy of Rolling Stone. (This is something I flirt with every now and then, though lately it is a complete waste of time.) Too Tough To Die had just come out, and it got a five star review in one of those roundups of great rock and roll they do in Rolling Stone on a yearly basis. What really struck me was how long they’d been together. About as long as I’d been married, which was in 1974. I thought anything good that started up at that time and was still going was probably worth checking into, so I went to Rhino Records in Westwood and bought the tape. I stuck it in my Walkman and discovered a power source. My energy had been flagging, because law school is a coercive system that breaks down your will and turns your brain into mush. The entire business of being turned into a mercenary for the system, an oiler for the gigantic smoking mechanism of modern civilization, had left me and most of my law school friends feeling disoriented, if not flat crazy.

The Ramones shattered my prison, burst my chains, and invited me to march down the streets of the metropolis with them, the lords of everything we had thought lost. My dignity restored, a new vision of liberty dawning in my mind, I seized the rude implements of modern life and plunged forward. Into the smog, into the traffic, into the core of the monster, my mind blazing, my stereo cranking, the world cleansed by radiocative sounds. The Ramones accelerated the rhythm of my being until I caught up with the adversary, then ratcheted me into hyperdrive and blasted me far beyond the distant horizon. The song, “I’m Not Afraid of Life” was a great anthem that every city dweller could appreciate.

I’m Not Afraid Of Life

I am not afraid of life
of the poor man’s struggle
of the killer’s knife
I am not afraid of life
of an insane rage
of the minimum wage
I am not afraid of life
I am not afraid of life
I am not afraid of life
But I see an old lady with a shopping bag
and I wonder is life a drag?
I am not afraid of pain
but it hurts so bad
I feel so mad
no one see the truth
there’s nothing to gain
a life goes down the drain
don’t want to die at an early age
I am not afraid of life
I am not afraid of life
But I see a street crazy shivering with cold
is it a crime to be old?
there’s the threat of the nuclear bomb
we know it’s wrong
we know it’s wrong
is there a chance for peace?
will the fighting ever cease?
mankind’s almost out of luck
a maniac could blow us up
I am not afraid of life
I am not afraid of life
but I get down on my knees and I pray
is there hope for the world today ?

Well certainly the madness that afflicts the world, as described in this beautiful song, has not diminished. The Ramones touched on all of the issues that were driving us crazy then, and are still driving us crazy today. Is it a crime to be old? Is life a drag? Is there hope for the world today? Will some maniac blow us up? Are we almost out of luck?

Some People Didn’t Get It

Too Tough To Die, I understand, was deemed to be the first Ramones album that was distinctly politically correct. The Ramones before then had been considered somewhat risky. I mean, how do you really explain “You’re A Loudmouth” in a way that is politically correct? It’s an extremely rude song. “You Don’t Come Close” is so catty. And “Beat on the Brat” is really not all that funny when you think about it. Especially not with a baseball bat, though they make it pretty clear who’s fucked up with the catchy hook — “With a brat like that, what can ya’ lose?” But somehow we have got to laugh, got to stay on top of all the craziness, a step ahead of the rat-race, or we’ll Go Mental! Still, that’s not a good argument for a politically correct culture prude with a hard-on for upstarts from the lower classes.

I Got It

For me, Too Tough To Die was like a blast of some dark substance that without warning catapulted me down an alleyway, riding in the original Durango 95 that Alex stole in Clockwork Orange, sliding through the darkness between tall buildings, drifting like mercury into the steel arteries of the metropolis, merging into the streaming miles of red tail-lights winding through the hills of LA. I could feel too tough to die, “in real good shape, I have no fear.” I was immediately hooked on the sardonic pose, the irony that works best with the flattest, most deadpan delivery.

I’ve often said you can’t be honest with those who aren’t honest with you. Somebody bullshits you, you have the right to respond honestly, by telling them they’re full of shit. But that generates immediate flak, so we often respond ironically, in a way that means more than either of you will admit. Our society is not honest with us. It puts on a Pepsi face while we are left to deal with flattening social realities — streets, subways, skyscrapers, buses, parking lots, traffic jams, parks as grimy ashtrays, no day care for moms, no medicine for old people, and plenty of guns for every opressor with the brutality to use them. So the Ramones gave us a way of speaking ironically to society. Beat on the Brat sort of says, “Here, try being a nasty brute, a cruel, self-justifying child abuser, and see how that feels.” We can try all kinds of social roles through Ramones songs. In “Time Bomb,” from Subterranean Jungle, the singer is gonna kill his mom and dad, and he won’t be sad about it, ’cause they treated him so bad. He’s a time bomb, baby. This is a sweet way of saying, hey, how likely is it that someone who’s life isn’t all fucked up already would be a time bomb, wanna kill his mom and dad? So you could see the left-wing sentiment in these old songs, but you had to listen to the song first, which I think a lot of politically correct people were not doing. To see how sweet Time Bomb really is, compare it with Danny Elfman’s “Only A Lad,” with its parody of bleeding heart criminal-coddling sentiment, and its nasty aside, “Hey there Johnny boy, I hope you fry!”

Driving Under the Influence of Ramones

I soon discovered that, under the influence of Ramones, I found life bearable, and myself capable of answering its demands. The high lasted beyond the listening. A Ramones enlightenment began coming on. Jammin’ down the freeway on my motorcycle, breathing vile exhaust, borne along in a river of gleaming metal, chrome and glass, I could feel the same power, seeing poetry in the grime, a miracle in full flower. What more could I ask of a rock and roll band? I learned when I got my second Ramones album at Tower Records, on sale, Pleasant Dreams. Oh wow, that was a trip! I could hardly believe it was the same band, though of course Joey’s voice was unmistakeable, but the Buddy Holly type lyrics and syrupy emotions knocked me for a loop. I had always loved tragic love ballads, like One Last Kiss, and was swept away by the lyrics and the tune to “7-11.” The crescendo, complete with crashing thunder and falling rain, was a heart-twister made sweeter by the innocence of Joey’s delivery, and the omnipresent ironic, self-mocking note.

I kissed and hugged her
and I said goodbye
last thing I knew
She wouldn’t make it alive
On-coming car went out of control
It crushed my baby
and it crushed my soul
now all I’ve got is sorrow and pain
standing out here in the rain
the crash, shattering glass
the sirens, and pain
is driving me insane oh-yeah

The Youth I Never Had

Listening to Pleasant Dreams was like having the high school life I never had. A lot of people have likened the Ramones harmonies to the Beach Boys, but I really hate doing that, because the Ramones always used that wa-ooh sound in a way that was ironic, whereas the Beach Boys really meant it, and laid it on double thick. But the Ramones came close to being sincere about the syrupy sound in Pleasant Dreams, and as far as I know, most everyone loves the album. Two songs I got into intensely were “This Business Is Killing Me” and “It’s Not My Place (In the Nine-to-five World),” for reasons you can easily understand. I was starting the terrifying transition from long years of hippie-hood and educational responsibility-avoidance into being a prisoner in the stainless-steel and glass towers of the legal profession. I found myself in the nine-to-five world during my summer at a big LA law firm, “Irell & Manella,” which I see made its way into the top ten of lawfirm political donors this year, according to the National Law Journal, that covers those things. Dizzying heights. Never seen such big lobster claws. As big as a catcher’s mitt. Well, I’m exaggerating a little. But too damn big to be moral, or ethical, or in good taste, or anything but tasting good to eat. One day I found myself working with some lawyers for ABC, but the fact is that We Want The Airwaves was not on the agenda, that day or any day. So most of the time, I just stayed Sitting In My Room, pretending to know what I was doing, listening to the Ramones.

During that summer at I&M, I rode my motorcycle around a lot. It was a Yamaha SR500, really cool one-cylinder kickstart machine that was a little difficult to start but never precisely left you either stranded or short of exercise. I could get quite a workout before the engine caught. But once it did, we were underway. When the summer was over, I had to start commuting to downtown LA to a job working for a judge. It was a school thing, but a full-time job, that I got law-school credit for. There, I learned about grungy. Man, this is right downtown on Spring Street, just down the hill from the LA Criminal Courts building, across the freeway from Chinatown and Olvera Street. You can actually get this thing called a Kosher Burrito, which is corned beef, canned Texas-style chili, fresh onions and cheese all wrapped up in a tortilla. Shamefully good, but will give you enough gas to teach you to eat different. In the evenings, I liked to take the surface streets back to West LA, where we lived in student housing. It’s a long ride, through Wilshire district, then Beverly Hills, Century City, Westwood, then south to the Palms district, where I was finally at home. It might have all been too much for me, but knowing clearly that it is not my place in the nine-to-five world kept me from getting too confused. The city, I began to realize, was something I had to use to survive, but it was not my creation, or my home, and I was going to escape.

The Bar Exam — Gang Initiation Ceremony for Lawyers

The next stage in my development as a Ramones fan occurred when I was studying for the California bar exam in the summer of 1986. Of course a bar exam is what is known as a “qualifying examination.” You don’t get a high or a low score, it’s strictly pass-fail. You pass, you’re a lawyer. You fail, you remain a law school graduate, a Juris Doctor, which sounds quite nice, but doesn’t give you the right to practice law and charge for the service. This is much stiffer than a college or grad school exam, that you assume you’ll pass. The statistics for the California bar, that draws thousands of candidates to “sit” for the examination, a three-day 18 hour gruel-a-thon held in numerous auditoriums filled with narrow convention hall chairs pulled up to flat folding tables. The exam is given three times a year, and the pass rate is always less than fifty percent. So it’s the sort of thing that makes grown men and women freeze up inside about. Studying seems like the last thing you’d want to do. You study all these years and then you have to fucking jump the intellectual Grand Canyon on your mental motorbike as a last (hahahaha) gang-initiation trip. I graduated from law school in June 1986, and did everything before I finally got down to studying. I bought a new motorcycle on credit, a Honda 500 Ascot with shaft drive in cherry condition. I prepared my study area and prepared all of my study materials with great care, even making special book-covers for the case outlines with humorous photographs. For example, the Family Law outline had pictures of famous horror couples, Frankenstein and his bride, Mr. & Mrs. Mummy, and the Property outline had a photo of sort of goofy samurai hacking down goofy peasants. You know, ways of humanizing your study materials so they scare you less. All that stuff to learn.

My study-buddy Robin Kaufer and I used to ride motorcycles together. She had one of the first Honda Rebel 250 cc “econo-choppers,” and I noticed it in the bike parking lot outside the school. We hung together through 2nd and 3rd year at UCLA, and I remember she took our friend John Hayes to the gay pride parade on Melrose one year, ridin’ him around on the Rebel. She was part of the Lawpoets scene, as was John and Tom Brill. Robin and I studied hard once we got going. We made flash cards and quizzed each other on legal rules. Then we’d fire up and kick it into high gear, doing four one-hour essay exams in one hour, giving us 15 minutes on each exam. This regimen was quite successful, and I sailed through the essay exams a couple of months later, but at the time I was anything but confident.

Every day, I woke up in our tiny bedroom at UCLA student housing, and the exam was one day closer than the day before. More real and more threatening, because everyday there was one less day until I would have to walk into that examination hall and sit down for three days to live or die as a lawyer. Until then, I was preparing. A friend told me that a good way to steel your nerves but not sap your energy was to have a large glass of milk with a heavy hit of Kahlua every morning. That the tryptophans, coffee and alcohol together were a stress reliever that didn’t cause energy loss. I found that this was absolutely correct. I was on the Kahlua breakfast diet, with a stiff chaser of Ramones. I particularly dug into Subterranean Jungle, an album in which the Ramones are depicted with a heavily-bombed subway car as the backdrop. The album is as rackety-smooth as a subway ride, and gets you there dependably. On “Highest Trail’s Above,” comic-book hero lyrics ride Johnny’s guitar like a dragon as he reveals beautiful chromatic shadings in high-speed chord shifts. On “Somebody Like Me,” Joey’s “oh well,” delivery made me feel so much better about being a hedonistic fool.

Somebody Like Me

Tired of naggin’
Nothin’s ever happen’en
That’s the attitude that isn’t fun!
A bottle of wine — a tube of glue
I don’t know what to do —

I am just a guy — who likes to rock and roll
I am just a guy — who likes to get drunk
I am just a guy — who likes to dress punk
Get my kicks and live up my life

Tired of complaints I am ready for fun
But I’ll make friends with anyone
Are you out there somebody like me
If you are, I hope that you can see

I am just a guy — who likes to rock and roll
I am just a guy — who likes to get drunk
I am just a guy — who likes to dress punk
Get my kicks and live up my life

Don’t go to school — don’t make me laugh
Can’t hardly spell — can’t do math
In the bar or out on the street
At the concert at the boutique
I am just a guy — who likes to rock and roll
I am just a guy — who likes to get drunk
I am just a guy — who likes to dress punk
Get my kicks and live up my life

Flashback to My Charmed Childhood

This song has such a street kid feeling, I always get a kick out of it. While I have no desire to drink cheap wine or sniff glue, it gives me a serious laugh, for what reason I don’t know. We’ve all hung out with people who are totally like this song. The Ramones connected with the poor kid aspect of my personality. When I was a kid I liked to hang around the bus station in my home town, Phoenix, playing pinball, reading books and comics, and meeting the people of the road. They were often young, shifty, but sometimes older and amused at such a young kid like me running around loose asking questions.

I met a lot of regular people in my parents’ restaurant, The Mexico Cafe, on old Route 66 running through the belly of the town. I talked with the waitresses a lot, who were sometimes pretty, and often very nice to the boss’s kid. The restaurant had a bar, and I met a lot of truckers, drunks, and gamblers. The jukebox had a lot of country-western, and it got played. The restaurant had a special feature that we learned, to my father’s chagrin, drew a special crowd — gays and lesbians seeking privacy in the little hidden booths that ran the length of the restaurant down the right side when you walked in. The waitresses had to walk through a narrow hall to serve the tables. The booths were dimly-lit and had total privacy unless you actually came up to the table and looked in. My dad cut the wall down, exposing the booths to view. One of the waitresses told me that an Arizona Highway Patrolman came in one evening, took one look at the renovation, exclaimed “On no! You ruined it!” and walked out. So I learned a thing or two in that restaurant, before and after the wall came down.

From the Mexicans in the kitchen, I learned how to cook, but I was impressed with how little the cook and waitresses earned, and how uneducated they were. I didn’t see that as bad, though. They seemed a lot less troubled and less powerful than people like my mom and dad, who ran the restaurant as a sideline to their office and political jobs. Since my parents had a busy social schedule, I spent a lot of time with people who worked for them, usually poor Mexican people. They weren’t intimidating, though their houses seemed terribly bare, particularly of books. My own home was dominated by my brother’s baby grand piano in the living room and my father’s cluttered desk in his burgeoning office, afloat in a sea of books and papers that had to be moved aside to make space for a visitor to sit down. It had a certain psychotic warmth to it, in that it was our psychotic mess, of course, but the simplicity of the working class lifestyle held some attraction.

When I ran away from home, which I did repeatedly in my early teens primarily to avoid answering for bad report cards, I went to missions. My fellow mission-mates, the bums, mostly seemed not to fit into society because they were too sensitive, too childlike, too self-indulgent, spendthrift, wild and foolish. There wasn’t as much self-pity in the underclass in those days, I have to say, because it was more accepted to be poor. Now it’s like you should just die, melt, and drain down the gutter. For me, it was a relief to be with people who didn’t challenge me. School, parents, authorities, were always in my face, telling me what to do. Poor people were also impressed with my smart-kid gab. So when I grew up, I became poor. St. Francis was into poverty, and being poor meant you were resourceful and satisfied with little.

Eventually I learned that being poor meant your wife and kids felt poor. And being poor, you could work low paying jobs with low-class people as your bosses. Poor people can make really bad bosses, who can take you back to third grade with their petty sadism. No smart person wants to be in that position.

Rock’N'Roll High School


For an album with a saccharine title, this movie packs an incredible kick, but of course — it has the Ramones in it! Alan Arkush, working for sleazy producer Roger Corman, directed Mary Woronow in the role of Miss Togar, the new principal of Vince Lombardi High, facing her off against PJ Soles as Riff Randell, the Ramones’ Number One Fan, or as Miss Togar would have it, “a spoiled teenage heathen punk”. According to Arkush, the production was completed for $280,000, operating within Roger Corman’s stingy budget, by finessing all rules, including fire safety and noise laws, and any other rule not enforced by the Director’s Guild, Actor’s Guild, or Writer’s Guild. The guiding vision was Corman’s desire to blow up the school at the end using real explosions, but Corman’s big kaboom is put into the shade by the truly explosive Ramones concert footage.

The plot can’t lose any power by being revealed, because it is no plot, just a stretched rubber band of teenage eroticism, yearning, and rebellion pulled to the breaking point and then allowed to snap. Riff is single-mindedly devoted to Joey, whom she likens to “a poem” while sharing romantic confidences with her friend Kate Rambeau, the school genius. Kate pines after the top jock, Tom, played by Vince Van Patten, who isn’t attracted to her, and instead buys a “contract” for Riff’s affections from the school’s budding sleazebag, Eaglebauer, who hosts Lombardi High’s black market from a secret office in the smoke-filled Boy’s Room. The contract comes complete with a training makeout session in front of a roll-down screen of a romantic LA night in the full light of day in Topanga Canyon, an experience that leaves Tom feeling high and dry when confronted with a convertible, the city-lights backdrop, and a willing Kate as his “training partner.” But enough distraction, back to the film.

Riff has to attend the concert at all costs, so she takes her sleeping bag, chaise lounge, and thermos out to a location that Angelenos will recognize as the Mayan Theatre in downtown LA, where she camps out at the box office with her cardboard cutouts of the Ramones. Meanwhile, Kate backs Riff up with forged notes for missing school that serially announce the deaths of Riff’s mother, father, and finally, her goldfish. “They say these things happen in threes,” explains Kate. Out on the front lines, Riff learns a lesson about the tough side of rock and roll, when demonic groupy “Angel Dust” cuts into line in front of her, mocking Riff’s 72 hours of devotion and her wardrobe before telling Riff to “put it where the monkey puts the nut.” This retort stymies Riff into bemusement that is abruptly shattered by the military stamp of Johnny slamming out the opening chords of I Just Wanna Have Somethin’ To Do. This sonic detonation heralds the screen arrival of the boys in a vermillion-colored 1958 Cadillac convertible, bearing a license plate that reads “GABBA-GABBA-HEY.” Joey is sitting like a king on the trunk, his long legs planted in the back seat, eating a chicken leg that he gaily throws away with a careless toss. When the car stops, the Ramones clamber out like soldiers getting out of a truck. Arkush says the Ramones were not very comprehending of the concept of acting, and that’s their charm. They’re not acting. They’re being Ramones, a group of guys who were lovable particularly because of their simplicity. Arkush wisely also exploited the local rock scene to dredge up fanatical scenesters willing to pay to be in a Ramones movie, working up to a 22-hour marathon concert at the Roxy that rotated three casts of audience extras to rock out to the same songs repeatedly through take after take, until their patience was exhausted and another audience would replace them.

Despite the run-in with Angel Dust, Riff gets tickets for herself and all of her friends at school. Riff even gives a spare ticket to the proto-beatnik music teacher, Mr. McGreedy, who asks Riff when presented with the ticket, “What are Ramonees?” Miss Togar is less good humored about Riff’s prolonged absence from school, particularly because Riff’s final excuse involving the goldfish has been conclusively proven false, stimulating some Belushi-style sushi consumption by one of Miss Togar’s Hitler Youth hall monitors. Miss Togar then directs the hall monitors, eager to conduct a body search, to confiscate the girls’ tickets, leaving them a bit disheveled, and entirely bummed. Fortunately, Joey comes to sweetly console Riff in her room after she puts on a record and fires up a joint, a little vignette that even includes a shower scene displaying PJ’s really skinny back.

Another great scene, that gets innocently sexy, is when Riff takes over gym class to give a musical lecture about Rock and Roll High School, while the hall monitors spy on the class with evident pleasure. Meanwhile, over in the science lab, Miss Togar continues her mind control campaign, trying to explain to Mr. McGreedy and the gym teacher that rock and roll is truly dangerous. She begins with a poster-board presentation on how she has induced socially disruptive traits such as insomnia, musical indulgence, and a higher incidence of casual sex in white rats simply by experimentally exposing them to rock and roll. With respect to the clear and present danger of the Ramones concert in particular, Miss Togar explains that through testing with her Rock-o-Meter, a device for measuring “relative rock and roll intensity,” she has established that Ramones music exceeds all other rock music in intensity. After testing out the Rock-o-Meter, she directs her observers to don protective earmuffs, places a helpless rat in an aquarium, and cranks up the volume on Lobotomy. The hapless rodent spontaneously detonates.

On the testosterone beat, Eagleabauer keeps working his plan to achieve the seduction of Riff for the benefit of Tom, procuring the “Warlock,” a latter-day Cro-Magnon love nest on wheels, all bad taste and glitter, embodying the masculine myth that women melt when confronted with a display of excess. Plying Tom with hard liquor, Eaglebauer triumphantly conducts his final strategy session with Tom in the van, assuring him that now that Riff has no tickets, she will naturally come to him. Riff, however, is protected from such crude designs upon her affections by her pure love of the Ramones. When Tom calls Riff to ask for a date, with Eaglebauer coaching from a large prompt-sheet, Riff accepts, planning to slip him to Kate, who will easily take Tom over the Ramones. Then, fate takes a twist as Screamin’ Steve takes to the air to announce a Ramones concert giveaway, two tickets for the first person who can recognize the name of the tune, which is right on the tip of Riff’s tongue, causing automotive recklessness and other mayhem to occur as Riff overcomes all obstacles to be the first caller to shout “Questioningly!” The girls are going to the concert, but when they break the news to Tom, he’s a bit put out. When Tom decides to drown his sorrows, though, Eaglebauer won’t hear of it, exhorting Tom that love conquers all, and worse, if Tom doesn’t get what he paid for, he’d be entitled to a refund.

For me, who had never been to a Ramones concert, Rock and Roll High School was a lesson I had to study, preparing for that moment when I would actually attend a show. Arkush cameos as the doorman in this screen cap, admitting one large rodent (with earmuffs). Arkush’s cutting of that 22 hours of concert footage perfectly captured the pacing of a Ramones show, which in all my experiences, never varied at all. Every concert started abruptly, without introduction or chitchat. The kids came to hear music – let’s get to it. Every song followed after that with no breaks. When it was over, they’d do one, two, three encores. Then it was over, and you were listening to that big movie-western score by Kitaro, playing through the sound system, and you were back to reality, among the freaks, the leather and stud people, the edge people, of which you are one. Outside, it was usual in LA to find a deployment of fifty to a hundred police waiting for you in the paring lot at the conclusion of every Ramones concert, just to see if they could prod some adolescent into doing something stupid.

I Believe In Miracles became part of the Ramones repertoire long after Rock and Roll High School was produced, but for those of us who needed miracles back in the eighties and nineties, the film was proof that some miracles occur. A movie can be made about punk rock with humor. True love can conquer all. The school authorities can be defeated. Kate and Tom really are meant for each other, and are united in a blissful moment at the foot of the stairwell, as an honor guard of big-hipped cheerleaders high-step down the stairs as Do You Wanna Dance slips into gear, a three-bar wind-up before Joey pops the clutch with his voice and launches the melody, a happy, childish playground lyric of bright tones against the metallic blur of Johnny’s guitar.

Do you wanna dance and hold my hand?
Tell me baby I’m your lovin’ man,
Oh baby, do you wanna dance?

This could have been the joyful climax of the film, but Roger Corman had that one stipulation – that the school be blown up. So Riff enlists the Ramones in her campaign of destruction, locking herself and her fellow-rebels into the administration office, chainsawing the files, throwing school desks and the hall monitors out the upper windows, and engaging the police in a life or death confrontation that receives on the spot coverage from “Screamin’ Steve,” the radio host with the red suit in front of the police car, in case you couldn’t see him. Kate, who has spent a lot of time “splitting protons in the basement,” according to her mom, thus blossoms into a pyrotechnic expert, one-upping the police decisively by detonating the entire institution. Arkush says the explosion actually was five-times as big as intended, due to a miscalculation of the right amount of naphthalene to use for the job, due to changing atmospheric conditions. Bullshit. Those special effects guys know there’s more risk of not getting paid if your bomb is too small, and the shot is a dud, than if your bomb is a bit too big, and scares the actors. Of course if it is so big that it knocks down a helicopter, which decapitates Rod Steiger and a couple of little kids while filming a Twilight Zone episode, you probably get a lot of shit for that. You might end up on worker’s comp, sidelined with “stress.”

The Magic & Mystery of Punk Rock


I became a lawyer as my only way out of poverty. My legal education was a gigantic process of running up debt to acquire mental capital, a huge gamble on the adequacy of my intelligence. I had invested three years of my life, and my wife’s life, in becoming a lawyer. It was getting to be time to show my hand, and I was terrified. The image of Evel Knievel leaping the Grand Canyon persistently came to mind.

Fortunately The Ramones were there to give me a boost across the scary gulf between being a law graduate and being a practicing lawyer. My anxiety was omnipresent, but again and again I cut through it by plugging into the sound, rocking out in my apartment, in my van with my boom box, on the beach with my headphones, conquering the LA misery, cutting it down with the scythe of purest metal, healing the hurt with heartfelt vocals. With the innocence of Ramones music strengthening me, I faced up to the reams of legal formulas, melding my mind with the rules, performing the ritual that must be performed to don the advocate’s robe. As the fateful three days of the California bar exam approached, Robin and I armored ourselves with magic. She bought two shirts that we each agreed to wear for all three days of the exam, with GABBA-GABBA-HEY! printed across the chest. I was so stoked when she pulled those out. Then, we tied three strips of black cotton cloth around our wrists, and agreed that we would cut one off at the end of each day of the exam. Since we were taking the exam in different cities, me in Pasadena, and she in Long Beach, these promises to ritualistically share the ordeal seemed especially important.

The songs I most listened to in those days were mostly drawn from Too Tough To Die, Pleasant Dreams, Leave Home, Rock N Roll High School, End of the Century, and Subterranean Jungle. Leave Home in particular we listened the hell out of, with Gimme Gimme Shock Treatment, Oh Oh I Love Her So, Pinhead, and California Sun being among the top picks. One day I heard She’s The One on the radio and just about died. It ruled number one in my heart as favorite Ramones song for about two years. You could charm me like a cobra just by playing that song. Robin loved Needles and Pins, and I was crazy about I Want You Around, especially remembering Riff Randall in the movie, looking all dreamy in red lingerie while Joey sang her the song right there in her bedroom. I loved the saccharine sweet melody of Danny Says, and kept trying to figure out what the hell was going on at 53rd & Third. My kids and Tara, my wife, loved Rock N Roll High School, and we would all go wild over the scene where Joey and the boys ride up the street in an orange Cadillac convertible, to the irresistible beat of I Just Wanna Have Somethin’ To Do. But of course even that is topped by the climactic scene where the nerd and geek fall in love as the entire cheerleader squad comes marching down the stairs backed by live Ramones playing Do You Wanna Dance? Yes, yes, that’s the answer. We want to DANCE!

My Iron Maiden


The year 1987 was a difficult one for many people, no doubt, but for me it was particularly challenging. We moved out of student housing into a little house on the corner of Sixteenth and Bay Streets in Santa Monica, right across from the parking garage, which made it quite a noisy location due to the prevalence of car alarms going off every time of day and night. During the weekdays, I was trapped in what was then called the AT&T tower, working in the LA office of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, an old Philadelphia firm. I spent every day with rich straight guys, and their sons and daughters, working to pay off my great big fat student loans. How I had gotten in there was a mystery to some.

The truth was, I was hired by the litigators, a crew of very cool lawyers, Vickie Bonnebaker, Steve Lowry, Gary Russo, Jim Wawro, and Gayle Crosby, some of whom are still working together. They were the core of the original LA litigation office, and they understood me, but in the larger firm, I did not fit in. One day my friend, senior associate Robert Maas, told me that he had been walking with two partners, Loyd Derby and Chuck Cale, when they walked past the place where my red Honda Ascot was parked, and Chuck said to Loyd, “Do you know, Loyd, that one of our associates rides a motorcycle to work?” That was Charles Carreon, Robert had volunteered. Once, when Mike Klowden, the LA managing partner, took all the new associates to lunch at the Athletic Club, I wore what I thought was a snazzy contrasting combo, a dark blazer with beige pants. I realized I had missed the mark when one of the new corporate guys did a sort of black act, like I was dressed like a jazz musician in flashy attire, to the quiet amusement of a couple of the corporate female attorneys.

Although I had no money in the stock market, the crash of October 19th, when the New York stock exchange lost over 22 percent of its value in one day, set downtown LA reeling. Later, when the Boesky prosecution made famous in Den of Thieves took off, the firm I worked for represented Boyd Jeffries, LA financial magnate and owner of Jeffries Banknote Company, who ratted out Ivan Boesky and his pet Michael Levine. I killed time in the library trying to figure out what the hell I was supposed to be doing. One day Loyd Derby gave me a complaint and told me to draft an answer. I had no idea what the hell a complaint was, and read the thing. It said that a Mexican couple had taken their baby to LA County Hospital because it was sick, and then they never got the baby back. The baby just disappeared, and County told them that the baby had died, but they’d lost the body, and yet there was no proof of that. Horror of horrors. I couldn’t believe we represented the County. I had not thought to receive this kind of work at ML&B. I had a bad dream that there was a pile of dead babies in my back yard. The next day Loyd came and told me to stop work on the project. It had been a mistake. We didn’t do that sort of thing for that client. I felt like a death sentence had been commuted.

I had passed the bar exam with relative ease, but with that de riguer achievement safely secured, I realized that I had been cast out of the heaven of academia for a long, long time to come. I found myself confused and anxious about the future of my life. Riding my motorcycle or the bus fifteen miles from Santa Monica to LA and back every day was a bit of a grind, especially wearing a business suit. The whole thing was really so crazy I was in a constant state of amazement and anxiety. What the hell was I doing here? There was a JESUS SAVES sign on top of the building right next door to our office building, and a televangelist held church every Sunday in the building. His trashy flock would park their rattletraps in the building lot, to be ridiculed by the young lawyers in our firm. It was pitiless company, a humorless grind, although it was also very collegial, whatever that means. I was a prisoner, a brain slave of the corporate hegemony, just another salaryman, and not a very clever one at that.

Halfway to Sanity


Fortunately, in 1987, Halfway To Sanity came out, saving what was left of my own crippled self-image. This album was the first to feature Richie on drums, a harder metal edge in Johnny’s guitar, and Joey at the peak of his energy. The album was a thrill from the opening song, I Wanna Live, a driving anthem, of which a superb video is available on Lifestyles of the Ramones, featuring Joey unhesitatingly launching himself onto the packed crowd, his long, gawky legs flying free in space as a crowd of reverent arms received him. On top of that crowd of sweating, tattooed, razorback punks, he was safe as a baby in his mother’s arms. Love is a strange thing.

Sounds like Bop ‘til You Drop were the reason why we loved the Ramones:

“Stick ‘em up,
Give me your money.
You act like a big shot but
You’re really a dummy.
They want your blood,
They want every drop,
Bop ‘til you drop,
Bop ‘til you drop.

Now that Joey, Johnny and Dee Dee have departed this earth, we can fully understand exactly what they were talking about. They bopped until they dropped in the service of their fans. They certainly didn’t let up the pace on Halfway to Sanity, apparently hoping that with enough drive, they might make it all the way there. Still, there are a few weak links in the chain. The Garden of Serenity lacks a single original lyric, and frankly sounds like an ironic makeover of most of the metalhead bands who inhabited the twilight of hard rock as it caved in under a relentless assault from the Big Three: Michael Jackson, Madonna, and Bruce Springsteen. The Garden of Serenity has only two things to recommend it – the mad-horseback-ride-into-darkness beat and the pidgin-Latin chanting in the background. Thematically, this song is paired with I’m Not Jesus, an epic of self-flagellation that will make nearly any straight person wince and grimace simultaneously. Great stuff for getting rid of unwanted visitors, like pedophile priests and their apologists.

Weasel Face is a quick headbang against the brick wall of urban reality, here and gone quick, like modern life itself. Go Lil’ Camaro Go can’t compare with Surfin’ Bird from Rocket to Russia, but it gives you a chance to catch your breath before you regress to age fourteen during I Know Better Now, a superb rant-along that can exorcise a full day of urban frustration in a few minutes.

“When I was your age
I heard it all
Like livin’ under
Your martial law.
I’m not a criminal
I’m not on drugs,
Don’t wait up for me
I’m out havin’ fun.
I’ll admit it was for my own good
I’ll agree it was true,
But no-body
Can tell me
I know
I know better now.”

Once you’ve achieved that release, slide into A Real Cool Time, a hip shaker with a rhythm that invites full frontal display, and lyrics that teach you cool pickup lines:

“When I saw you at the Cat Club
You looked really kind of cool now
Well come along with me ’cause
We got a lot of things to do now…”

Keeping Richie in harness, The Ramones cranked out another couple of kickass albums – Animal Boy and Brain Drain – both of which made it clear that they had answered the metal threat presented by Metallica, Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, and their disciples. Joey started looking a bit more like a rock star, wearing leather pants like Jim Morrison, looking a bit less like a street urchin, a little more coiffed and styled at the photo shoots. But Joey’s smile stayed genuine, and the music got better and better, keeping up with the times, staying current with the issues that we were facing.

When I heard Bonzo Goes to Bitburg on Animal Boy, I was really happy, because it proved that the political edge we heard on “Too Tough To Die” was something that was there for good. This song recently got some bigscreen exposure when it served as the soundtrack for a montage of gonzo underage rocking in “School of Rock.” But the song is not at all cheery, and is actually a deep reflection on lying politicians and the excuses they make for the inexcusable. The song starts eerily with the puffing sound of a train pulling into a station as a rhythmic bell sounds out the departure for where, let me guess … then Johnny and DeeDee attack their instruments and that train takes off like a motherfucker headed straight for hell, and Joey jumps on at the last second, starting with an accusing shout straight at the Gipper:

You’ve got to pick up the pieces
C’mon, sort your trash
You better pull yourself back together
Maybe you’ve got too much cash
Better call, call the law
When you gonna turn yourself in? Yeah
You’re a politician
Don’t become one of Hitler’s children

Bonzo goes to Bitburg then goes out for a cup of tea
As I watched it on TV somehow it really bothered me
Drank in all the bars in town for an extended foreign policy
Pick up the pieces

My brain is hanging upside down
I need something to slow me down

Shouldn’t wish you happiness, wish her the very best
Fifty thousand dollar dress
Shaking hands with your highness
See through you like cellophane
You watch the world complain, but you do it anyway
Who am I, am I to say

Bonzo goes to Bitburg then goes out for a cup of tea
As I watched it on TV somehow it really bothered me
Drank in all the bars in town for an extended foreign policy
Pick up the pieces

My brain is hanging upside down
I need something to slow me down

If there’s one thing that makes me sick
It’s when someone tries to hide behind politics
I wish that time could go by fast
Somehow they manage to make it last

My brain is hanging upside down
I need something to slow me down
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Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Tue Jun 24, 2014 12:29 am

by Charles Carreon



1.A. Eliminate Phony Democracy

There's a time-lag between when something happens, and when you acknowledge it. People become bald before they acknowledge it, for example. But people who don't like you will have no trouble waking you up to the smell of the coffee, and pointing out, with unflattering cartoons in my case, that you don't have a big, healthy mane like you once did. Which started me thinking about whether there's been an advancement in hair transplantation tech since back in the eighties, when this Eastern European paralegal I knew got a hair transplant. I saw it more as an attempted hair transplant, if the purpose of hair transplant is to actually disguise baldness. He had sparsely reforested the area north of his forehead in an exact grid pattern, like a tree-farm. It was the sort of thing that kept me wondering. Why the heck did he bother? It was transparently ineffective. Now you can't say that for the coverup job that Congress has done since representative democracy went missing. Probably the majority of the people don't even realize it has happened. Congress may have a low approval rating, but Senators and Congressional reps aren't actually being burned in effigy, as would be the case if the truth were known -- that representative democracy is dead because the honored members of the Senate and the House represent only moneyed corporate interests and whoever else their handlers put in front of them while murmuring "big donor" in their ear.

At some point you don't have to ask if there's a waste disposal plant nearby. The stench makes the issue moot. Something has died here, and trillions upon trillions of stench-producing bacteria are hard at work, farting up a storm, and that's just gonna stink. The stench of corruption that has been emanating from Washington for all of these years since oh, Good Lord, my entire lifetime, that takes you back to Truman, should have alerted us to something. But like I say, it's been a damn good coverup!

America lost its nuclear cherry nine years before I was born, and everybody was in shock about it while I grew into long pants. That was called the fifties -- prime nostalgia belt stuff -- and if you want to know what everyone's nostalgic about, I'll tell you. It's not bobby sox and convertibles, waitresses on rollerskates, and people saying "Gee whiz!" No, it's the comforting atmosphere of sheer terror that pervaded a society where everyone knew that this day could be your last, because Kennedy and Kruschev were giving each other the hairy eyeball while fingering their nuclear triggers, and everybody knew that the red menace was serious. Serious, like the French say, as a heart attack. It was kind of the Zen of being a counterweight in the balance of terror. We were all in it together. That's one thing you can say for a nuclear holocaust. People say they want to go with their loved ones simultaneously. Nukes are like an app for that.

So I think you can make the argument that democracy was dead before I was born. It has just been a kinder, gentler form of martial law ever since. And now, as we are surrounded, conditioned, and monitored by omnipresent instruments of social control, we realize that we are the frog in the cooking pot so often spoken of.

The strange thing about stench is that your nose goes numb. There's plenty of towns that stink, inhabited by people who are the olfactory equivalent of deaf to stink. Usually the airborne agent is sulfur dioxide, the rotten-egg smell that is one of the core nasty smells around a paper mill. And people who live in paper towns are notoriously touchy about anyone saying their town stinks, because after a while you don't smell it anymore. So it goes without saying that a Congressperson or a Senator, is the last person who would have the first idea about what corruption is. Those who labor on the Congressional Hill will no doubt say that their little burg "smells like money," like the people who live in Franklin, Virginia, a paper-mill town known statewide for its cheerful, stink-deaf locals.

It's pretty simple. If you want to get rich, you have to put up with a lot of stink at first, and no one in Washington will argue with that. But pretty soon you don't notice anymore, and none of your friends notice, and anyone who brings it up, like that Medea Benjamin, will just be shown the exit by men wearing flak jackets, armed with Tasers and powerful semi-automatic handguns, in case the troublemaker is non-compliant and has to be neutralized or terminated.

Bush II took it as proof that Saddam Hussein had a totalitarian system because the people gave him 100% of their votes. Tyrant-to-tyrant, of course, he knew what he was talking about! It takes a stronger brand of tyrant to run a country with only 48% of the popular vote and nine judges on your side.

Talk about playin' poker with an ace in the hole. Dynastic succession is what we have here in the USA. With a two-party system that puts bluebloods in both corners, the power structure can hardly lose. Some Democrats still wring their hands over how the Supreme Court took Gore seriously when he conceded. Lawyers all agree the opinion that no judge would sign is nonsense, lacking any sound legal rationale. Because it was all about sportsmanship, you see? Gore conceded, and that should have been that, but then he waffled. His blue blood kind of flared up, and he forgot that he'd conceded. He reached for lawyers, and that was unsportsmanlike, so the Supreme Court had to intervene. They say English military victories were "won on the playing fields of Eton." Likewise, Bush v. Gore was won in the locker rooms of Yale and Harvard.

Political pundits of course would not know about the death of democracy, either. They haven't put two and two together to make four. Instead political pundits put out the idea that Congress is "gridlocked" because the "extremist Republicans" have "pushed the Republicans to the extreme right." They fail to note that this "gridlock" has not stopped a single armed drone from unleashing its load of death, has not gotten the U.S. military out of Afghanistan, has not stopped the banks from recouping all of their losses, or the stock market from minting money for flash traders. It has produced an inane system of mandatory medical insurance for healthy people who don't want and can't afford medical insurance, especially since they are unemployed and under-employed.

Congress, while "gridlocked on domestic policy," is full speed ahead on things like the Trans Pacific Partnership, that, if adopted, would restrict the scope of U.S. law based upon agreements negotiated in secret by corporate leaders and government apparatchiks. Congress is never "gridlocked on Israel," or "gridlocked on the Pentagon budget," or "gridlocked on investigating torture abuses." Nope, they're bipartisan on all that flag-wavey shit. Congress is only "gridlocked" on things like overhauling consumer bankruptcy law to allow people who only have one home to keep it. That's such a tough issue to get your head around, especially when you've got your head filled with images of how you're going to spend the campaign money you got from the mortgage-insurance company that is making so much money off the housing disaster. Congress is gridlocked.

The gridlock that exists in Congress is not accidental. It is as planned as everything else that Congress is doing. Collaboration "across the aisle" has been lost, we are told. What nonsense! There is sufficient collaboration to keep all of the agenda items of importance to the wealthy pushed to the fore of governmental action. The things that aren't getting done are things that the wealthy do not want done in a hurry. So you won't get peace in Israel, and you will get more New Yorkers moving there to populate the settlements. You won't get a civilian youth corps out into America, fixing the infrastructure and learning construction skills, and you will get higher student loan debt and a shrinking job market. You won't get immigration reform and respect for the human rights of people in ICE custody, and you will get more money for enforcement officers and detention centers.

What do we have if we do not have representative democracy? It's something like democracy, in one sense only. The populace appears to have given its consent to what government does. But this consent is phony. The phoniness was particularly apparent when the Nine Judges selected Bush II to rule, but it appears equally phony when the Congress orders the citizenry to buy health insurance, or the President orders drones to kill people because he thinks it will make U.S. citizens "more secure." Sometimes he has to kill American citizens with drone strikes. Of course he could not investigate torture. He wasn't powerful enough. The President, you see, does not have the power to investigate the acts of other Presidents. That's because he doesn't represent you. He represents the office of the Presidency. And he doesn't want future Presidents investigating his Presidency. You, and the people who were tortured, have no representation.

Yes, I said you have no representation. If something extremely awful were done to you by the government, who would you turn to? You know the government does awful things to people, right? Black prisons run by the CIA may seem a distant fantasy, but being sent to prison for a long time for what seems like small potatoes is a common experience for citizens of the U.S.A. It's more common for us Americans than for people in any other "first world" country. You got no one to help you if you fall into the clutches of the prosecution, except for a public defender, and while I don't speak ill of public defenders as a class, having been a damn good one myself, on your average day, if you're charged with a federal crime, lawyer or no lawyer, you can kiss your ass goodbye for a lengthy stretch. Unless of course, you're wealthy, or committed a financial crime too complicated for a jury to understand, and can afford a lawyer to defend you at trial. That seems to be working very well these days, for those few, rare, unfortunate financial executives who somehow attract the attention of a prosecutor, usually because their misdeeds can provide cover for those of much bigger criminals.

Can you survive in this phony democracy? Sure you can. You can vote. They would let a zombie vote in this system.
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