lenny, me, and the “N” word

lenny, me, and the “N” word

“well, you see, ms jones, i was using a metaphor for the disempowerment of the gypsy people of romania. a metaphor for the dispossession of the entire roma people. i was actually standing up for the underdog people of the world when i said that “the gypsies were the niggers of europe”. just the way john lennon and yoko ono said that “women were the niggers of the world”. just the way lenny bruce used the words, ‘nigger. niggger. nigger. fuck fuck fuck. nigger nigger nigger. fuck fuck fuck.’ they’re just words, ms jones. understand? nigger, fuck, cunt, pussy. words! just words! but we load them like guns. and we shoot them off at each other. and some of us can use them. and others of us can’t. how are we supposed to know, ms jones? who’s to say who can say which words to whom? i didn’t call anyone a ‘nigger’. i don’t hate black people. i didn’t mean to hurt anyone’s feelings, ms jones. if i did, i’m sorry. i already apologized to everyone i could think of. why won’t fucking white liberal rachelle get the fuck off my case, ms jones?”

end of the empire?

end of the empire?

but ay, here’s the rub. as promised, i’m thinking as much about american empire as i am roman. specifically, i’m thinking about mr. gibbon’s insight and explanation for the decline and fall of the great roman empire… and finding it frighteningly parallel to the current state of our american empire. no doubt, our 20th century, and now 21stcentury, american empire is the greatest in the history of mankind. with our cyber and post-industrial tentacles of the age of technology, the internet, and the global economy reaching ominously and lucratively around the entire planet, we have had more influence and more control over the the economies and politics of the world than any empire in history. the reach and scope of the current american empire simply dwarfs such predecessors as the greeks, romans, chinese, mongols, moghuls, autro-hungarians, british, soviets, or any other previous conglomeration of tyrant, government, religion, or nation-state. simply put, the power and influence of hollywood, wall street, and madison avenue have collectively hypnotized and seduced a good majority of the rest of the world. and sure, the muslim and chinese civilizations have been giving us a good recent “clash” or two, but what i’m most intrigued by… should i have the courage to admit it… is the end of the american empire.

wanna travel vicariously?

wanna travel vicariously?

by now the airport shuttle bus from attaturk international is driving over one of the many, many bridges that connect the city into a whole, and i can not only see the multitude of islamic mosques dominating the istanbuli skyline, but i can hear the muezzin’s call to mid day prayer, which for me, is the clearest sign that i’m no longer in the clutches of western civilization. the shuttle drops me in dead center of taksim square, for lack of a better comparison, the istanbuli equivalent to the big apple’s times square at 42nd and broadway. perhaps taksim should be called “the big olive”, because there seems to be all the energy and bustle of an 18 million person cosmopolitan capital hovering on the crossroads of two antithetical continents. but there, smiling at me welcomingly, is hassan, the manager of “istanbul apartments”, our home for the next 2 weeks. as i de-board the bus, i can hear the cacophony of arab-turkish “belly dance” music, mixed with the sounds of britney spears, turkish rap, and the loud voices of touts on megaphones, hawking their restaurants’ mid day discounts.

“trules speaks”, changing the world 1 student at a time

“trules speaks”, changing the world 1 student at a time

may 21, 2010 bucharest, romania, it started out with just the 2 of us. mihaela and i. sitting for lunch at a little wooden table at the “one” café, right next door to the caragiale film and theater university, where i’d been invited to teach for 2 weeks on a fulbright from my imperial government. it was the first day after the first class of solo performance and only 7 out of the 19 students had bothered to show up. half of them late. you know, “romanian time”. i had met mihaela on the street, after the performance of “hamlet”…

in my time of dying?

in my time of dying?

it seems like the perfect time to make my exit. to die. to watch my own death… right here on the still shag-carpeted, not hard wood, floor. yeah, my wife’s in the other room. my gray wolf, faithful old dog, clay, is lyin’ right next to me in front of the hearth; i could do it right here… at home. an act of will and surrender, simultaneously. i mean, everything’s in order, right? i’ve had my living will and trust drawn up a few years ago when the old man passed, my 401k is big enough to support my lovely wife for a few more years until she grows into the rest of her life; there’s nothing else i want to do or accomplish. i could just…. let go… sink to the floor… like a movie… right now… and watch my life… be… gone.

on turning 60, or following the yellow brick road

on turning 60, or following the yellow brick road

i’m drivin’ hard along the I-70. just west of kansas city. pushing 90, eyes on the rear view, lookin’ for the fuzz. the radio’s tuned into K-MAX, blaring kelly clarkson, carrie underwood, and miley cyrus, the young estrogen tri-fecta! my foot’s heavy on pedal, and i’m dreamin’ of “oklahoma joe’s” which has the best pork ‘n beef ribs either side of the mississippi. “joe’s” is situated in the back of this little mom ‘n pop gas station off the highway, and i’m headin’ there before my eyes droop closed and my head hits the wheel. it’s three in the morning…

a curmudgeon’s appreciation of the walt disney concert hall, with dog

a curmudgeon’s appreciation of the walt disney concert hall, with dog

      paris’ cathedral de notre dame. the leaning tower of pisa. new yawk’s empire state building. shanghai’s jin mao tower. the roman coliseum. java’s borobudur buddhist temple complex. beijing’s 2008 bird’s nest olympic stadium. what’s your favorite man made architectural achievement? and how do you choose? how can you compare ancient temples to modern skyscrapers? places of worship to places of commerce? antiquity to modernity? simple answer: you can’t. yet… people do. they always want to know: “what’s your favorite?” your favorite restaurant, city, country, beach, food, mountain range, camp site… building. the list goes on. me? i…

terminally hip

terminally hip

there is a difference between “hip” and “cool”; between “being hip” and “being cool”. hip cats know it, people worried about being cool don’t. and hell, i do, fer sure. it’s like the difference between fashion and style; between following the ever-changing but buyable trend or having your own sense of personal and self-generated bada-bing. between being “spiritual” and having “soul”. between having money and being rich. hipsters pride themselves on “knowing what’s hip”. people who “try” to be cool are more often, clueless sheep. hipsters don’t care what others think; coolsters do. hipsters live on the edge, maybe slightly…

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