Tuesday, November 30, 2004

In addttion to experiencing the spiritual, transcendent, material, visual, gastronomic and hyper-sensory delights of Italy there was another major benefit to my trip.

I did two things that are sometimes difficult for me to do when not meditating, exercising or listening to music. I forgot and I remembered, for 10 straight days.

I forgot about work

I forgot about China

I forgot about the election, the war, the Bush.

I forgot about the 21st century and its pace, ills, transience, shallowness, pains, fears and blunt, traumatic realities.

I forgot my petty fears, material concerns.

I remembered that we are spiritual, brilliant, curious, talented, scientific, endeavoring and inexplicably paradoxical creatures.

I rememebered that my cultural heritage is so rich, so varied, so deep and so full of magnificence.

I remembered that among the ruins of ancient Rome, flowering of thought and art in Florence, the natural beauty of the Amalfi Coast and the hectic pace of city life in Naples that we are lightening flashes in a gorgeous, violent, slow moving storm.

I remembered that to be human is to embrace the natural, scientific, spiritual and human essences of the regenerative and perfectly balanced universe.

I remembered to keep moving on a journey through space and time to learn as much as possible, think as much as possible and act as much as possible as a return on the gift of life.

Through forgetting so much, I remembered everything.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

I've just returned from Italy where I experienced 10 of the greatest days of my life. I have traveled the world over and this was an experience that transcended all of it. This experience was not only a transcendent one but one that has indelibly and permanently altered my consciousness.

All of the history, art, antiquities and geography that I have studied, loved and given my life to all came together in an unending orgasmic stream of sensory, spiritual and existential bliss.

Where could I even begin to describe it all? How could I do it and even approach doing the experience and my feelings justice? I couldn't do it as a simple run down of my travel itinerary, it would have to go much deeper than that. Would anyone be interested? Would I find the right blend of travelogue and spiritual relevance?

Is it something that I should commit to the written word? Yes, I have to. Shall I do it here? Where?

I will make this note because it is all I am capable of right now. Traveling from the antiquities of Rome to the renaissance beauty of Florence was spectacular. Climbing to the top of Vesuvius and then down to explore the streets of the cities it buried for 1800 years was to move among shadows and ghosts. But traveling to the mountains and fields of Campania ninety minutes out of Naples to Santa Lucia di Serino in pilgrimage to the town of my ancestors was an event that was truly deserving of the words, unique, once in a lifetime, transcendent and beautiful.

I met with the parish priest in this tiny mountain town of 1500. He is my fifth cousin. He showed me the records of my family dating to 1580. They left for America in 1896. One hundred and eight years later, I went back.

Monday, November 22, 2004

The Forum

If we mortals of the Earth do take spectral form post-mortem, then no place on earth could have more ghosts than Rome. From the time of Etruscans, to The Roman Empire, the renaissance, no place has seen more people, from more places doing more things than Rome.

Perhaps no place has been the inspiration of, and for, more of man's passions than Rome. Power, wealth, Empire, art, war, music, excess, food, spirituality, holiness, bedevilment - all have lived and died and lived again in Rome for 2500 years and counting.

To know Rome intimately is to know human nature. After having traveled the world extensively, I am left without adequate words to document my mental, physical and spiritual state after four days in Rome. All of my passions come to the fore. I have mentioned them in a previous post.
Tomorrow I leave for Florence and I wll be on guard for the fist symptoms of Stendahl Syndrome.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Castel St. Angelo at Dusk

11/20 Rome from the Cupola of St. Peters

Thursday, November 18, 2004

The world is a book, and those who do not travel, read only a page.
-Saint Augustine of Hippo

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.
-Mark Twain.

Travel has a way of stretching the mind. The stretch comes not from travel's immediate rewards, the inevitable myriad new sights, smells and sounds, but with experiencing firsthand how others do differently what we believed to be the right and only way.
-Ralph Crawshaw

Only 150 more to go.

I am leaving for Italy this evening for a 10 day holiday. Italy will be the 26th country I have visited. Well, I guess the Vatican will actually make it 27. It amazes me that with all of the places I have been I have never been there. Rome, Florence, Amalfi/Capri, Naples, Pompeii, Avelino, Herculaniam and my ancestral village, Santa Lucia are on the itinerary. This is the type of trip that brings all of my passions; travel, ancient cultures, art, history, spiritualism, music, food, Europe, into one awesome package.

For the curious, my country list is as follows. Where have you been and what are your favorite travel moments?

China-Japan-Mexico-Canada-England-Scotland-Aruba-Bahamas-Jamaica-Netherlands-France-Dubai-Jordan-Israel-Egypt-Venezuela-Brasil-Belgium-Germany-Argentina-Bermuda-Dominican Republic-Ireland-Switzerland

Ciao bella. Arrivaderci. I will post from Italy as I can.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it

-W.B. Yeats

Just how fucked up is the DisUnited States of America?

I am sure by now most of you heard about the Republican who wants to change the name of Interstate 69 (I-69) in Indiana because it has "sexual connotations". Well, try this story on for size.


From the AP today:


A long running tradition in which boys dress like girls and vice versa in a tiny Texas school district won't be held today after a parent complained over what she saw as the event's homosexual overtones.

As a substitute for "TWIRP Day," the Spurger, Tex schools, from elementary to senior high, decided to hold "Camo Day" - with black boots and Army camoflouge to be worn by everyone who wants to participate. TWIRP, for "The Woman Is Requested to Pay," was meant to give boys and girls a chance to reverse social roles. - Associated Press

The way this story summarizes the paranoia, fear, intolerance and militaristic tendencies of modern America is beyond unbelievable.

It is my experience that gay men and women (at least the ones who are my close friends) represent everything the rest of the people in this country should be. Smart, educated, successful, well off, tolerant, loving, affectionate and peaceful.

We would have been better off if Texas had remained an independent republic. Shame on you all.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

What will it take for change to occur?

Are you taking over
or are you taking orders?
Are you going backwards
Or are you going forwards?
-The Clash, White Riot

Random thoughts two days before I leave on a 10 day holiday to Italy (whether I come back or not is up in the air)

Will people ever be angry enough to really challenge the status quo in this country through action rather than words. A White Riot of sorts?

Only George Bush and the neocons could leave me feeling sympathetic to the CIA

When will people realize the Chinese and Indians are not "stealing our jobs" and that their desire for cheap goods they don't need is giving them away (Hello Wal-Mart)?

Will we ever see Hockey played again and on a related note will Arsenal be able to keep pace with those Emirates flying fucktards from across town? :sadbanana:

That is all.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Greatest Album of All Time

Today I could talk about the dead marines, dead civilians and destroyed infrastructure of Fallujah. What experts are now saying could take 10 years to rebuild, but I won't. Instead, inspired by the bonds of soul that Darth's lyric listings awakened in me (I swear it seems we share brain)I will list my 10 favorite rock/punk bands. I will need seperate lists for Blues, Jazz, Reggae and Classical. I look forward to finding your lists in the comments box.

1. The Clash
2. U2
3. The Velvet Underground
4. The Pogues
5. Pearl Jam
6. Nirvana
7. Pink Floyd
8. Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band
9. The Grateful Dead
10. Blues Traveler
(The Jam, The Alarm, The Ramones, The Beatles, Hole, Dead Kennedys, Rolling Stones)

Friday, November 12, 2004

Man in Black


When I was 13 I was introduced to the music that would change my life. Punk Rock. It started my social and political consciousness, moved me to action and gave me a soundtrack for my life. Back then I started wearing black. Here I am all these years later and I still wear black almost all the time.

A woman I met in China last year asked me why I wear black all the time. I told her is its the look that suited my mind. Well, these lyrics tell the whole story of why I wear black better than I could have ever put it. In fact these lyrics give you a direct line to my soul, way of thinking and consciousness. Even the part about Jesus, for as much as I dislike fundamentalists, I do believe in the pre-Constantinian precepts of Christianity, love, charity and acceptance.

From one of my heroes. Johnny Cash.

Well, you wonder why I always dress in black,
Why you never see bright colors on my back,
And why does my appearance seem to have a somber tone.
Well, there's a reason for the things that I have on.

I wear the black for the poor and the beaten down,
Livin' in the hopeless, hungry side of town,
I wear it for the prisoner who has long paid for his crime,
But is there because he's a victim of the times.

I wear the black for those who never read,
Or listened to the words that Jesus said,
About the road to happiness through love and charity,
Why, you'd think He's talking straight to you and me.

Well, we're doin' mighty fine, I do suppose,
In our streak of lightnin' cars and fancy clothes,
But just so we're reminded of the ones who are held back,
Up front there ought 'a be a Man In Black.

I wear it for the sick and lonely old,
For the reckless ones whose bad trip left them cold,
I wear the black in mournin' for the lives that could have been,
Each week we lose a hundred fine young men.

And, I wear it for the thousands who have died,
Believen' that the Lord was on their side,
I wear it for another hundred thousand who have died,
Believen' that we all were on their side.

Well, there's things that never will be right I know,
And things need changin' everywhere you go,
But 'til we start to make a move to make a few things right,
You'll never see me wear a suit of white.

Ah, I'd love to wear a rainbow every day,
And tell the world that everything's OK,
But I'll try to carry off a little darkness on my back,
'Till things are brighter, I'm the Man In Black

Thursday, November 11, 2004


Welcome my son, welcome to the machine.
What did you dream?
It's alright we told you what to dream.
-Pink Floyd

"In the introduction to McLuhan's Understanding Media he writes: ‘Today, after more than a century of electric technology, we have extended our central nervous system in a global embrace, abolishing both space and time as far as our planet is concerned. Like much of McLuhan's writing this statement is vast and poetic, with its strength of conviction making it quite persuasive. But if we are to be believers in this rhetoric we must have an understanding of what he means.

The underlying concept of McLuhan's view of electr(on)ic technology is that it has become an extension of our senses, particularly those of sight and sound. The telephone and the radio become a long distance ear as the television and computer extend the eye by projecting further than our biological range of vision and hearing.
-Benjamin Symes

The last few months I have been thinking more than usual about media, the electronic age, the post information age and the million ways in which our lives are now interconnected with media.

The war, the election, "reality TV" new advertising methods and paradigms(especially that of creating entire cultures based on advertising friendliness)and the internet.

All of it has led me to a conclusion. That we are no longer served by the media and we are no longer simply absorbing information. No, the information is the CULTURE now. We have gone beyond the medium is the message to the medium is the culture.

There are almost no aspects of life or atmospheres in which we live it today that have not been plotted, planned, researched and focus grouped with care to minutiae of psychological effect.

I believe we are actually living in the Matrix. Not an unseen computer program that creates our physical and mental realities. No, a Media Matrix that has now become our physical, mental, spiritual and cultural reality.

Think about the Matrix in your life. The radio wakes you up in the morning with advertising, your commute to work, your newspapers, your TV, your Internet, your governmental agencies, politicians speeches, your palm pilot, your movies, your travel brochures, ID cards, credit cards, chip implants. All have been meticulously plotted and planned by sometimes overt and sometimes shadowy groups of people and organizations to work on your deepest psychological traits, designed to move you to action and a different sense of perceptive reality.

Was the guy who claimed he was receiving mind control signals from the TV insane or simply ahead of his time?

Just HOW pervasive is it? How many people realize it exists(is it only me)? Have we reached a saturation point with open cultural rebellion on the horizon or is there room for it to grow and become even more controlling? Is there any real experience left to be had in this world?

Or are we simply a part of the media matrix that is, without much fanfare, marking the latest seismic growth spurt in human 'evolution'?

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

The second quality of Buddha-nature possesses bliss (dewa). Buddha-nature is bliss precisely because when we are not interacting with the world from an egocentric viewpoint, we are coming from a point that is open and receptive. We are responding to things rather than reacting. When we operate under the influence of ego, with its selfishness, arrogance, self centeredness, neediness and greed, we become so completely one-directional and fixated that our vision becomes extremely narrowed

The reason the older Buddha's belly is so fat is this. Here he stored all of the acceptance he learned as he got older. He realized the path to a complete and enlightened life was through complete acceptance of life on life's terms.

Louis Armstrong singing in that raspy, ethereal, guttural voice - complimented by the smooth, vibrant, clear sheen of his horn. The sound a hockey puck makes when it hits the back of the net. Walking the Great Wall of China.

Forgetting who and where you are while dancing. Eating with your hands. Standing on pink clouds, tangerine dreams and marshmallow skies. Abandoned in the dessert, the only oasis your mind. Dream jobs and blow jobs. Stream of consciousness binary code. Follow your bliss.

Monday, November 08, 2004


My passions are the window to my soul. Among these are archaeology, history, comparitive religion, ancient cultures, antiquities and the classical arts. Music, sculpture and painting.

If granted a wish from the Genie it would not be for money, fame, or immortality. No, it would be to travel back in time for a few brief minutes look at some of the places, people and times that most fascinate me. Ancient Rome, 19th Century London, Feudal Japan, The Ancient Holy Land.
Now, I'm not expecting a genie any time soon, so I am left to other devices for time travel.

On Sunday afternoon I went to Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts (something I do once per month) up the road from my apartment in the now thoroughly isolated, despondent and no longer loved by all Americans city of New York.

I went to see the Dresden Philharmonic play an all Brahms set. On my way there I thought about how the spirit and reality of The Phoenix is always around us and how important it is. Dresden, once of old Europe's most beautiful, cultured, and historic cities was utterly flattened by Allied bombing in WWII (largely in retribution for the Blitz of London). And from those ashes sprang to life once again, the beauty, the art and the best of human nature in the form of a Symphony Orchestra.

What does any of this have to do with time travel you may be wondering? Simply this.

Using my imagination and my ability to quiet my mind and close it to everything while sitting in that concert hall, I was able to travel back to 1875.

Live classical music allows time travel. Every note and movement is played as it was written and performed 125 years ago. The musicians are all wearing black and white, the conductors baton the same, the music the same. No light show, no amplification, no dancing or tc monitors and video screens. As I closed my eyes I was in Vienna 1875.

One fascinating feature of a classical concert is that when the music stops between movements, there is no applause, only the sound of 2,000 people coughing. On cue, every time. Music, pause, 2,000 coughs, music. As if after the movement everything that the enormity of the music surpressed in everyone come bolting out from the back of the collective throat.

As I traveled back in time to the genius of Brahms and the accompanying cacophony of coughs, I felt myself falling into a sort of a fit. As I fell into a trance and
the music entered my soul and washed all of the nerve endings in my brain, I became unable to speak, or think clearly and was momentarily overcome.

I knew the symptoms as I had them before. It seemed like a mild but not complete case of Stendhal Syndrome.

Stendhal syndrome (sten.DAWLZ sin.drum, -drohm) n. Dizziness, panic, paranoia, or madness caused by viewing certain artistic or historical artifacts or by trying to see too many such artifacts in too short a time. Also: Stendhal syndrome.

In Tuscany they have a term for it. They call it "Stendhal's syndrome" because the 19th-century French novelist is said to have been the first to write about the dizzying disorientation some tourists experience when they encounter masterpieces of the Italian Renaissance.

I do know for sure that all my my passions gel into one glorious feeling of euphoria when I do these trips. Art, architecture, antiquities, archaelolgy, music, history all become one and for a brief period, I am allowed to travel back in time. No Genie needed.

I am heading to Italy on November 18. I am going to Rome, Florence, Naples, Pompeii and Herculaneum. I know for sure I will be traveling back in time, I know there will be many coughs. I wonder though, will I be overcome by an full frontal case of Stendhal Syndrome?

Thursday, November 04, 2004




That is what we are left with today. Thousands of articles and millions of people talking about why Bush won. Yet, the story really hasn't changed and I am shocked so many people are just waking up to two simple facts:

1. The election was won on religion and "morals"

2. The US is a deeply divided nation that has two completely different points of view on what America is.

For three years I have written articles, given speeches (here and abroad) and worked to alert people to the fact that there is a religious, cultural and social war taking place in the US and that the progressive, secular, scientific and financial/entertainment/rule of law side is losing badly.

In today's New York Times, Thomas Friedman(the increasingly less credible, coherent and principled Pulitzer Prize winner has flip flopped his way through the last two years, supporting the war in Iraq and Bush and then not) summed it up well.

Two nations under God

He says:

"But what troubled me yesterday was my feeling that this election was tipped because of an outpouring of support for George Bush by people who don't just favor different policies than I do - they favor a whole different kind of America. We don't just disagree on what America should be doing; we disagree on what America is.

Is it a country that does not intrude into people's sexual preferences and the marriage unions they want to make? Is it a country that allows a woman to have control over her body? Is it a country where the line between church and state bequeathed to us by our Founding Fathers should be inviolate? Is it a country where religion doesn't trump science? And, most important, is it a country whose president mobilizes its deep moral energies to unite us - instead of dividing us from one another and from the world?

EXACTLY! What has me depressed, dismayed and worried unlike the days after ANY other election before is that the differences are not in policy, but in CULTURE, SOCIAL STRUCTURE, INSTITUTIONS and RELIGION.

Well hello!! That is what I have been saying for three freaking years!!!! RELIGION TRUMPS WAR AND ECONOMY IN AMERICA!!! And now, Democrats and progressives will be forced to adopt the language, policies and "morals" of Christian Evangelicals if they ever hope to have power again. But what power is there in morphing into a carbon copy of the opposition?

Out with the constitution and in with the bible. Welcome to America 2004.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Yankee, soldier he wanna shoot some skag
He met it in Cambodia
But now he can't afford a bag
Yankee, dollar talk to the dictators of the world
In fact it's giving orders
An' they can't afford to miss a word
I'm so bored with the U...S...A...
But what can I do?
Yankee detectives Are always on the TV
'Cos killers in America
Work seven days a week
Never mind the stars and stripes
Let's print the Watergate Tapes
I'll salute the New WaveAnd I hope nobody escapes
I'm so bored with the U...S...A...But what can I do?

-The Clash

I am shocked, dismayed, dumbfounded and disillusioned. I accept the long used Conservative accusation against me and my kind. I am indeed out of touch.

I will readily admit that I am out of touch with the majority in this country. That isn't to say I don't know what most people here believe in or think, I just mean I don't share the same beliefs and vision.

I wish the republicans luck in the next four years. You have the White House, The Senate, The House, The Supreme Court (with 3 new appointments coming for you) the Governorships and the the majority of the populace. I truly hope you can find a way to improve the economy, secure the country and make us an important part of the world community and not a pariah in it. I am not optimistic though. As for me, I am done talking about or being involved on any serious level in politics.

I will simply process my unhappiness, put it behind me and watch it all unfold as a disinterested observer. It was never a central focus of my life before this election and it never will be again.

I believe these people are leading the world down a path of hatred, destruction, mayhem and hurt. I'll leave them to it...

Monday, November 01, 2004

Elections have polarized a country on edge

That is the headline on today's New York Daily News. I think they have it nailed. I think everything that can be said, done, thought about is done.

I think that all of us who care are worn down to the nab of our very last nerves.

That is why, even though it is election eve, and I should have one more election post left in me, I don't, can't and will not do it.

Rather I will talk about one of my passions, reading. Eighty percent of what I know I know from reading.

So here are a list of 10 of my favorite books. This is not a top ten list but a sampling from my top 30 fiction. Please, if you can leave some commentary with your favorites I am always on the lookout for new books and would be most appreciative.

1. War and Peace - Lev Tolstoy

2. David Copperfield/Great Expectations tie - Charles Dickens

3. Skinny Legs and All - Tom Robbins

4. The Brothers Karamazov/The Idiot tie - Fyodor Dostoevsky

5. White Noise - Dom Delillo

6. Leaves of Grass - Walt Whitman

7. The Source - James Michner

8. Don Quixote - Miguel de Cervantes

9. The Divine Comedy - Dante Alleghrini

10. Franz Kafka - The Trial

I'm Looking forward to hearing yours.