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in the beginning

Once upon a time I was a beginning-middle-end kind of man.

Meaning: once I'd start to read a book I'd finish. I ate everything on my plate. Paying for admission, I'd walk the whole museum.

Somewhere in middle age I changed, the change having something to do with time and time having almost everything to do with the brain, as the neuroscientist's are now saying.

Now I stop reading almost as many books as I start, and push myself away from the table more often than not.

I've yet to walk out of a movie and can currently recommend "Bill Cunningham New York", the documentary about the New York Times photographer.


somewhere south of market

Out walking yesterday among industrial precincts, I stumbled upon the artist's studio.

The door was open.

I entered without invitation, making my way through the gloom of clutter--spilled paint, abandoned welding torches, a disembowled motorcycle--toward the small lonely figure of the artist himself, at work.

No words passed between us, as there was nothing to say.

In the sanctity of the rubble, in the stillness of this cathedral of creation, I admired the artworks, gleaming with precision yet flush with the modernist ethos of chaos and chance, as they stood up against the wall.


Happy birthday Karl Kraus

Karl Kraus was born in Vienna April 28, 1874.

Journalist and writer, lecturer, publisher of, to name only a few, Peter Altenberg, Trakl, Strindberg and Oscar Wilde, whom many believed he trumped in his ability to generate 'bon mots' (Psychoanalysis is the disease of which it purports to be the cure), Kraus was a one-man socio-cultural phenom.

The attention Kraus paid to language, the premium he placed on clear expression, and the disdain with which he regarded those for whom words were to be used in the service of distortion, politicial or otherwise, is well documented.

A member of Kraus's circle tells this story.

"At a time when we were generally decrying the bombardment of Shanghai by the Japanese, I met Karl Kraus struggling over one of his famous 'comma problems.' He said something like this: I know that everything is futile when the house is burning. But I have to do this, as long as it is at all possible; for if those who are obliged to look after commas had always made sure they were in the right place, then Shanghai would not be burning.

What fun Kraus would have had with yesterday's San Francisco Examiner--as photographed on the bathroom floor of this writers house--in which the front page appeared to have been 'sold' to an advertiser promoting Unlimited talk, text, web.

Karl Kraus died June 12, 1936, but not before ruffling der Fuehrer's feathers.

Happy birthday Karl.


seat of power

In Fillmore, Utah there's a small cafe where, each morning, all the decisions of the world are made. 

The coffee's ok, the cinnamon rolls are excellent.

The men speak in quiet voices and adjourn upon reaching consensus. 


inside a most recent easter

I made my way to the temple, walking in the rain through The Presidio to Broadway, down Broadway to Steiner, right on Vallejo to Fillmore.

Inside, the temple was warm and I felt like an apple must feel once it is inside an apple pie.

Soon the swami appeared in his robes. He bowed to the gods--Ramakrishna and Vivekananda among them--and began his remarks.

There are two ways to understand Jesus--as historical and as Christ, god incarnate, who had to cover himself with human nature to be understood by man. A dramatic death was necessary to show complete detachment from the body. Christ resides in the heart of everyone.

Then a small choir sang and the service concluded.

The swami came forward to receive those in the congregation who wanted to meet him. Most congregants bowed or kneeled or kissed his hand.

Two women stood at the exit door of the temple, each holding a box of See's candy, offering a piece of chocolate to those so inclined.

Outside, the sun shone and small white clouds were busy planting themselves like flowers in the sky.