Friday, December 16, 2011

Christopher Eric Hitchens (1949–2011)

Christopher Hitchens has loomed large in my life for as long as I can remember. I loved his contrarian piss-taking of otherwise-untouchable public figures as a 20-something, found him irritating and adolescent in my 30s, became livid with him over his support of the Iraq War and the Bush administration in the Aughts and came back around to loving him in the past several years as his pushback against a mindless monotheism increased in volume and frequency.

The thing I'd come to learn about Hitch, is that disagreeing with him on any given topic didn't preclude a deep appreciation of his insight, intellectual honesty, sense of justice, courage, and wicked, razor sharp wit.

And appreciate him I did. I hesitate to overstate this, but I've come to feel something akin to love for this man I'd never met, especially over the past few years, and even more especially over the past year. His unapologetic approach to his life, his unbelievably prolific output, his stridency in taking on the corrupt (with the sad exception of the Bushies), his strange charisma and his fierce debate skills brought clarity and energy to every topic he addressed. He was as fearsome and unsparing in describing his decline and mortality as he was with any of his other targets. (His final writings on the subject were painfully raw and insightful and should set a standard in the field.) He was profoundly inspiring to me.

Most of all, I now realize that while the irresistible pull of his aforementioned wit is what drew me to him, what spoke to me most deeply about the man—and what kept me reading him on a regular basis—was his unwavering and courageous commitment both to justice and to shining a light on purveyors of injustice.

The world will be a poorer place without him. It already is.


A collection of essays and obits from around the world:

LA Times
New Yorker
The Week
The Dish  1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12
The New Statesman—Richard Dawkins interview 1
The New Statesman—Richard Dawkins interview 2
Mail Online—Hitchens' brother Peter's eulogy
Associated Press
Vanity Fair

Salon catches up…
Gary Kamiya
Jefferson Morley
Mary Elizabeth Williams

Including words from those more critical…

Alex Pareene
Glenn Greenwald

Monday, March 28, 2011


Dreamt of my dad last night, this morning really. Just realized a little while ago that this is the anniversary of his death. It's been 7 years. I miss him.

Friday, March 25, 2011

I Will Let You Down, I Will Make You Hurt

Cash turns Reznor's slit-wrist fest into a timeless classic. An achingly beautiful gift to us before shuffling off his mortal coil.

(It won't let me embed, so click the link.)

I Am Going To Die

Have you ever looked at yourself in the mirror and told yourself you're going to die? Before tonight, I hadn't either. But while I was taking a piss tonight, I was also mulling over mortality, and after I finished, saw myself in the mirror. I realized I flinched and kept from looking at myself with the thought of death in my head.

Well, I couldn't accept that so, I looked myself in the eye and told myself I was going to die. Repeatedly. It was pretty cool, actually. Took some of the charge out it. Felt like I was leveling with myself.

And then I realized that it's a beautiful thing, too. Exactly as it should be. An honor of sorts. In this universe, everything changes, all life transforms. It's what we do. Letting go of this life is just letting go of one form of life. It could be a thing to celebrate and embrace. It should be. The only real hangup is my ego and, well, tough shit for it.

Now pain and heartbreak and evil and all, I still love life. With luck and and good decisions, I'll live to a ripe old age. But like every other creature in this universe, I am going to die. Cool thing is, I keep finding different way to come to terms with that.

Size Matters

Well, it feels like the week-long angerfest/pity party is winding down. At least for the time being. Feeling a little more even-keeled and...normal.

Been thinking about my childhood since the breakup. About the abuse. Pondering the impact it's had on my life. Not the obvious stuff, like sexuality and relationship. Though I clearly have some growing to do in terms of communication about boundary setting (especially in re: being online), I'm pretty content with my sexuality and it's expression.

No, what's occurred to me lately and never before, is that I've let it keep me small. That because I've spent so much time and energy and money dealing with it, healing from it, doing whatever I could to keep it from completely mangling my life, I haven't had much energy to become a vital member of society. The kind of person that I wanted to become. To become the man I could be. I've watched so many dreams and desires just fade away and let them out of this sense of resignation or fear or laziness. I've just assumed they'd die off and disappear, so why bother sweating it?

Or maybe I've preferred them to do so in order to keep myself small. To keep myself hidden. I did my dead-level best as a child to hide. Especially from my peers. Anything that called attention to myself was dangerous and to be feared. I couldn't bear being the center of attention in a group larger than a few.

I've done a lot to change that over the years, but I'm seeing now that I haven't done enough. That I still find ways to keep myself small. And that needs to change.

Your Shoulders In Your Pocket

First heard this about a month or two ago. Thought of it tonight for some reason. It's sheer, utter gorgeousness. Her voice makes me melt.

Monday, March 21, 2011

In Like An Asshole, Out Like A Dick

What's worse than a shart? A shart in public just as you're sitting down to eat. In your last pair of clean underwear. After going to your bank to transfer a meager amount from your meager savings account to cover overages in your checking account while your ex's daughter is your teller.

Alright, March, you suppurating-wound-on-a-leper's-ass of a month. What other humiliations are you going to heap on me before you're through?

Happy Equinox

Blah, blah, blah...


I just got a bunch of shit off my chest in a post that I can't bring myself to publish. It hardly matters that only one person reads this (again, hey Pete!). I write for myself, so I can get shit out of my head that needs release. But I can't decide whether (tiny audience or not) it's kosher to upload my judgements about someone in this forum or not. Much as I want it out there, I'm going with not. 

Waste Of A Day

Woke from a nap late afternoon feeling lonely and depressed. I spent the morning on a caravan of pain. I woke early to have breakfast with S, who's having a hard time of it. His mom's dying, being shuttled from assisted living centers to nursing home, he's not making any money, hates his job and doesn't resonate with where he lives. Between the two of us, I'm surprised we made it out of the restaurant wrists intact. Met with A at 11 to go through storage units. Found a scrap book from the trip we met on and looked through it together. Then continued combing through the detritus of our time together. I should never have taken the nap.…

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Moving Out

No, not this.

I put the ball in motion tonight. I told Jacquelene that I'm leaving the house. We're going to discuss details tomorrow afternoon.

I have such mixed feelings about this. One the one hand, I love this place. It's been a perfect little bachelor pad (even though I wasn't much of a bachelor). It's in a great location, has great personality, suits me, has a hot tub, cool landlady, etc., etc. So, I'm pretty bummed to be leaving it.

On the other, change is in the air. A new place will reflect that. And it'll do me good to have a different vantage point on the world. More to the point, and more importantly, I'll free up some money for paying down my debt. Or just living.

Besides this place is filled with Debbie's energy. It's time to move on...

Left Me To Love...

What it's doing to meeeeee.

Adapt Or Die

If there were an owner's manual for life on this planet, that'd be the only phrase needed.

Update: Or come up with a better idea.

A Fractal, My God

It's the craziest thing. I have the strangest feeling, tonight, that I'm a point on the end of a point in an ever-changing Mandelbrot set. Constantly churning, constantly in motion. A slave to its volition and not my own. Times like this, I think Pete is right about free will. (Hey, Pete!)

I almost feel like a channel. Not in the hucksterish sense, but like I'm just a vessel for this energy that's passing through me. Like I'm it's captive, moving at its will. It sounds ludicrous, I know. The deeper I get into a rational/science-based worldview, the less comfortable I feel saying something like that. But that's how I'm experiencing the sensation.

My reason tells me one thing, my experience another.

But I feel aflame. On fire. As if the brutality—the beautiful brutality—of life on this planet is charring me and molding me. Having its way with me.

It's as if science itself is Rumi's "Friend." Mysticism with a different language and better methodology.

Christ, now I'm sounding like the obnoxious woo practitioners that I've been poking fun at for the past couple of years. But it's what I'm authentically experiencing. Fuck, the diametrically opposed shit that lives in my head!

As irritatingly conceited as it must sound, I feel a strong sense of what Whitman meant with: "Do I contradict myself? Very well then, I contradict myself. I am large, I contain multitudes."

But then, I'm not actually myself anyway. Just this...

Update: So that's what I write like when I'm high.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

There Is No Heresy

"There is no heresy or no philosophy which is so abhorrent to the church as a human being." —James Joyce
Been a Joyce fan for years, but somehow had never come across this little gem.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Born Again Pessimist

It's finally happened.

For nearly 40 years, despite being sodomized as a four-year-old, despite being molested by my mother, despite 30+ years of conservative ideologues, religious fundamentalists and corporate plantations running my country into the ground, despite a world that's been poisoned and is rapidly falling part, despite watching dreams go unfulfilled, despite heart breaks and divorce, despite financial setbacks, despite years of floundering for a purpose, and despite countless reasons not to be, I had managed to remain an optimist. 

Oh, I wasn't a Pollyanna. I could see the shit in the world. But nevertheless,  the old me would somehow see beyond it to something heartening. Turn the next corner and things will be looking up, I figured. Wait long enough and things will improve. Look at the big pic and be encouraged. 

Well, no more. Nuh uh. Done. 

Clinging to such optimism has led to nothing but bad choices, disappointment, heartache, and pain. It's a childish need that it's time to let go of. Like believing in Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy. Or god. Or lifelong monogamy. It's time to move forward without it. 

Good riddance. 

Happy Blah, Blah, Blah

So, let me get this straight? A British-born Roman slave becomes a Christian, spends 30+ years driving paganism out of Ireland—ushering in 16 centuries of Roman Catholicism—and we're supposed to celebrate the guy?

No thanks.

I will raise a pint to the Irish, though, who throughout the centuries have shown unbelievable grit and, despite their trials, managed to create an astonishingly rich artistic culture. And who after 1,600 years are finally throwing off the yoke of their cross dressing oppressors.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Your Song

Got a link to this from Debbie today. Sweet ritual. Sweet thing to send. Thanks, Debbie.

Choice cut:
When you recognize your own song, you have no desire or need to do anything that would hurt another. A friend is someone who knows your song and sings it to you when you have forgotten it. Those who love you are not fooled by mistakes you have made or dark images you hold about yourself. They remember your beauty when you feel ugly; your wholeness when you are broken; your innocence when you feel guilty; and your purpose when you are confused.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

So My Soul Can Sing

One of my all-time favorites, freshly relevant: 

Feeling Fucked Up,
Etheridge Knight

Lord she’s gone done left me done packed / up and split

and I with no way to make her
come back and everywhere the world is bare
bright bone white crystal sand glistens
dope death dead dying and jiving drove
her away made her take her laughter and her smiles
and her softness and her midnight sighs—

Fuck Coltrane and music and clouds drifting in the sky
fuck the sea and trees and the sky and birds
and alligators and all the animals that roam the earth
fuck marx and mao fuck fidel and nkrumah and
democracy and communism fuck smack and pot
and red ripe tomatoes fuck joseph fuck mary fuck
god jesus and all the disciples fuck fanon nixon
and malcolm fuck the revolution fuck freedom fuck
the whole muthafucking thing
all i want now is my woman back
so my soul can sing

Ironically, though I hadn't thought of this poem in years, it was only a week or so before our split that I read it to Debbie and Zena.

I'll Take A Pass

Can anything be more disappointing, infuriating, and maddening than being a human being?

We come into this existence thinking everything revolves around us. We have two people who spend years reinforcing that idea. Then we spend the rest of our years reconciling reality with our faulty formative experience.

Worse, we're these hairless apes who are presumptuous enough to think we're something beyond that: spiritual beings having a human experience. Pffft. Monkey, please. Physically designed and programmed to behave like bonobos, we twist ourselves in knots to believe and act contrary to that nature. We have these diametrically opposed, deep-seated needs: the biological imperative for propagation (variety, pleasure, promiscuity), and intimacy with a mate. Then on top of that, we invent and impose cultural templates which insist we deny or denigrate our physical selves, and cripple ourselves attempting to reconcile our needs and beliefs.

Could we be any more fucked up a species? Seriously, if we're the pinnacle of natural selection (and I'm not saying we are), then, fuck, the competition must have been weaker than a Tea Bagger's reasoning skills.

Now, I've fucked up recently and disappointed myself and wounded someone I loved. I destroyed something dear. So, some of this is the personal projecting out. But I'm not wrong.

We are an exceptionally delusional, self-important bunch of meat sacks, who, at our best, tell good stories and make pretty things.

Really, if this is the best evolution can do, I'll take a pass.

Old Testament Follies

Been thinking about Job tonight. The whole Old Testament, actually. It dawned on me that crazy as most of those stories were, they helped illustrate the capriciousness and madness of life on this planet. The conclusions drawn in those books are nuts IMHO, but the experiences... timeless.

I don't recall precisely what got me thinking of Job. Eric and I were mulling the meaning of existence and how to live a better, more authentic life and I started riffing on the OT. Regardless, the story is infuriating. I don't how anyone can read it and then go back to the well for more. Here you have a guy who thinks he's doing everything right. Good father, good husband, good community member. Hell, he is doing everything right, even by yhwh's impossible standards.

Then Satan comes along and, for shits and giggles, makes a dollar bet with good old, it-which-can't-be-named. And based on that taunting bet, the good lord goes and fucks Job's life up beyond measure. Merely to see if Job remains loyal! That is remarkably fucked up.

Now, my Jewish friends will tell me that there are several levels on which to read and interpret that story. Fair enough. Even now, I can read my own metaphorical take into it. But there are people on this planet—lots of 'em—who take that story literally. And still they want to worship that god.

I can't believe we've come this far as a species.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Fire Away!

Finally, from Wired, some back story to the biggest-selling, most popular (and, frankly best) app in history.

Choice cut:

First they had to save a company in crisis: at the beginning of 2009, Rovio was close to bankruptcy. Then they had to create the perfect game, do every other little thing exactly right, and keep on doing it. The Heds had developed 51 titles before Angry Birds. Some of them had sold in the millions for third parties such as Namco and EA, so they decided to create their own, original intellectual property. "We thought we would need to do ten to 15 titles until we got the right one," says 30-year-old Niklas. One afternoon in late March, in their offices overlooking a courtyard in downtown Helsinki, Jaakko Iisalo, a games designer who had been at Rovio since 2006, showed them a screenshot. He had pitched hundreds in the two months before. This one showed a cartoon flock of round birds, trudging along the ground, moving towards a pile of colourful blocks. They looked cross. "People saw this picture and it was just magical," says Niklas. Eight months and thousands of changes later, after nearly abandoning the project, Niklas watched his mother burn a Christmas turkey, distracted by playing the finished game. "She doesn't play any games. I realised: this is it."
And frankly, I'm relieved and amused to learn that even Salman Rushdie succumbed to its charms, too. 


I just learned that more than the two or three people I assumed read The Itch are checking it out. To which, I say welcome...

And, yipes!

I'm going to try to carry on as before and write more or less unvarnished truth. But, honestly, knowing that I'm being observed is bound to change the writing, if only a little. I'll do what I can to keep it real anyway.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

So Tired...

Running on fumes. Was up until 5 a.m. or so last night and had to get up at 8:30 for a meeting. Followed by another meeting. I was remarkably functional, but am starting to fade fast. But I can't go back to sleep because I have so much to do.

Question: Can something be too good to be sustainable?

Shadow Lands

Back from an hour and a half walk. It was drizzling and a bit cold, but not too bad. I love walking the streets at night. It's so still. I can think straight. I can walk in the middle of the road without worrying about traffic. I can startle raccoons. Toward the end of the walk, I realized I was passing the post office and decided to go in and check my PO box. Then I remembered. 

The last time I was there was the night that Debbie read the incriminating e-mail. The night my life irrevocably changed. 

The funny thing about that night is that I took both Henry and Pia on the walk to the post office. I couldn't help but notice that, after 10 awkward months, they'd finally reached a rhythm, a way of being together that worked. Nobody snapped at or chased the other. Everybody seemed happy to be out walking together. 

I'd entered the house all excited to tell Debbie about their newfound equilibrium, all happy that our little fur family was finally getting along, when I turned the corner to see her balling. 

Everything from that moment on has been painfully surreal. 


I realized tonight that while she's wrong about my intentions with the e-mails, Debbie might be onto something with at least some of her harsh judgements about me. 

Maybe, for instance, I've been too coddled in my life. Maybe not feeling the sting of bitter judgement for past transgressions has kept me from being vigilant about my actions. I don't know.

And it occurs to me that she's right about living in shadow. I've spent years really believing that I'd found a good balance between the dark and the light in myself. Mostly, I pride myself on swimming in the nuances of a world of grays, but still leaning toward white. Mostly, I tell myself that I acknowledge my dark side and maybe indulge it a bit now and again, but that really I feed the more decent and caring aspects of myself. Mostly, I think of myself, on balance, as a pretty decent person who does his best to treat others well and live fully.

But maybe I've been kidding myself. Maybe I cut myself all kinds of slack that I shouldn't. Maybe I'm the monster Debbie's made me out to be. Maybe she sees me more clearly than I see myself. 

I know I've lived more of my life in shadow than most. You spend the fourth through eighth years of your childhood being sodomized by a hillbilly neighbor and you tend towards shame and hiding. After a while, it becomes second nature. 

Even, apparently, after years of therapy, workshops, men's groups, vision quests, hallucinogenic medicines, and loving relationships. 

In my hubris—in my little dream world—I'd banked enough self work to take a year or two off. I'd come to such a good place in my mental, emotional, and spiritual health that I figured I could just chill for awhile and just be a normal fucking person. 

I figured wrong.

And I just had a serious, nasty object lesson as to why. 

Poetry At My Fingertips

More of this please!

The Scars Will Remain

I was thinking recently that breaking up gets easier as you age.

You've been through it all before. You've felt the worst you can feel and got through it. You know that even if the pain kills now, you'll come through it stronger and better and find someone on the other side that matches who you are afterward.

And those things are true....but…

Maybe it doesn't get easier at all, just vaguely familiar. The older we get, the nearer we are to death. The body still absorbs these shocks, but just as our physical wounds take longer to heal, rather than being more capable of dealing with them, maybe we become less so.

Plus each time we fall in love, we have a unique experience. If we go as deep as we'd like and really tap in to the full feeling—really merge with the person we love—then the cessation of that merging will be all the more painful. Or at least uniquely painful, abrogating the sense of having gotten through it before.

And then, of course, with each new break up comes the possibility of becoming jaded or bitter or just plain emotionally spent.


The connection I had with Debbie was so deep, so rich, so nourishing, so full, so real. It was literally transformative. I'm not the man I was 10 months ago. And living without that connection is shocking. It's a waking nightmare (god help those who lose a loved one to murder or, worse, lose a child).

I never understood before why the proverbial old man or woman who lost their partner would die soon after just from sheer heart ache. I always figured, hell, mourn, grieve, rebuild your life and start anew. But I get it now. I mean, I'm too young to really have the fullness of that experience, but I have a taste of it. I get it now.

I don't know, I don't need to be melodramatic about this. We'll both still get through this and come out stronger on the other side. We'll move on and in all likelihood find someone who better suits the newer, older us. But the wounds will take longer and need more tending to heal.

And the scars...they'll remain.

Sometimes It Lasts… Sometimes It Hurts Instead

God, the chord changes and melody are just gorgeous. And the refrain…

New Living Space

As I suggested in the previous post, I'm considering finding a new place to live. Like FB, it just feels empty without Debbie there. Everywhere I look is just another reminder of our time together.

There's that, and there's the financial angle. I really need to spend less than I'm making right now. I can't get any traction to dig out of the debt I've gotten myself into, because every time I have a decent chunk of money in my account, the end of the month rolls around and I take a big hit. And I'm just not making enough to mitigate that. 

I hate to let the space go because it's so sweet. It's quirky, has great personality, is perfectly located, has a great landlady, a hot tub, and just feels like home. It was my perfect little bachelor pad....until now. Now, it's just an fucking reminder of the emptiness in my life and of the without-a-doubt stupidest, biggest mistake I've ever made. 

So, I'm going to put feelers out and see if there's anything remotely livable that I can afford. 

Monday, March 7, 2011


I just deactivated my Facebook account. This will be the first time since signing up in late 2007 that I won't be at least tangentially connected to that community.

It feels weird already. Just before starting this post, I hit the Facebook bookmark out of habit. I had to delete it so I won't keep repeating that over the next few days.

This is an exile of sorts. Self-imposed ostracization. I can't handle the exposure right now. Don't trust myself to be out and open. And all my interactions have been feeling vapid and superficial.

And it's empty space without Debbie.

Don't know how long it'll last. Maybe only a few days. But going there right now feels so...different. I can't stand it.

Now to find another living space....

Quite Possibly

my favorite comic strip ever.