Avoiding the Squirrels Blog

A Thought on Messiahs

I tend to be skeptical of teachers.  It’s important to have them and I’ve had some good ones.  They can really help you along the path, but only for a short time.  Ultimately you need to go your own way.  The most profound teachers are called messiahs.  The following is paraphrased from “Illusions” by Richard Bach.  I like the imagery.

Once there was a group of creatures that lived at the bottom of a deep and powerful river.  They survived by clinging to rocks and catching little pieces of food that floated by.  Their life was defined by resisting the current.  One of the creatures thought there must be more to life than clinging and grabbing at food.  He decided to let go and see what happened if he just went with the current.  The other creatures thought he was crazy and called him a fool.  They said that the current would surely kill him, and even if it didn’t he wouldn’t be able to catch enough food.  None the less, one day he said his goodbyes and let go.  Initially the current bounced him into rocks and bruised him up.  But he refused to cling again and eventually the current lifted him off the bottom and into the stream.  There was plenty of rich food and he knew joy and beauty as it carried him through the world.  Occasionally he would see other groups clinging to the bottom as he passed.  He decided to drop down and tell them what he had discovered.  When they saw him they thought it was a miracle.  A creature like them who could live without clinging and ride the current.  When he tried to explain that they could do it to they only cried ‘Messiah” and clung all the harder.  Disgusted, he launched himself back into the current, leaving them to pass down stories of the saviour who had visited them.

I really like this story.  I hope that someday I can let go too.

The Fake Authentic Experience

I think everybody (and by everybody I mean me and my assistant, Veronica) would agree that large corporations and the governments they elect are the primary source of squirrels in our society.  One of the things that they demand is a bland conformity.  It serves two purposes:  It makes the sheep easier to control, and it makes it easier to sell them large volumes of crap.  There’s a tremendous cost, an eradication  of creativity, when you’re surrounded by identical details all day long and it has two long term societal effects.  One I call the Great Homogenization, and I’ll look at that in a later post.  The second is the Fake Authentic Experience or FAE.

As I’ve mentioned in earlier posts the squirrels use fear to accomplish their busybody agendas.  They use the media to keep everybody nervous about all sorts of things.  One of their constant messages is that different is dangerous.   There is a ‘Real America’ that’s made up of white heterosexual christian families with two kids that shop at Walmart, vacation at Disneyland, and work for Megamicrocorp in some capacity.  Anybody that doesn’t fit into this narrow definition is suspect and might be dangerous.  Artists, minorities, immigrants, bikers, the homeless, hippies, punks.  I could continue this list for hours but you get the idea.  Any member of these groups might beat you up or steal your wife or question your assumptions.  And they’re certainly bad for the children!  Needless to say, this is a load of bullshit but it works, and it works well.

There’s a problem, however, that the squirrels face with this agenda.  It’s that all these weirdoes are infinitely more interesting.  They hold a siren like appeal to even the narrowest mind.  Oh, the conflict.  Everything is dangerous and bad for the children, but it also seems like some of those people are living fuller lives, having a lot more fun, and eating much better food.  Corporate squirrels certainly don’t want their sheep to actually try real life and don’t want their constant message of anxiety exposed as fraudulent.  They do want to make a few bucks and control and mitigate that interest.  So they invented the FAE!  The FAE is a corporate attempt to take interesting experiences and sanitize them for ‘Real Americans’ so that they can pretend to be different without any risk. Let me give you some examples…

Most cities have coffee houses where artists and writers hang out and drink exotic blends of coffee or tea.  Most ‘Real Americans’ would be terrified to actually go sit next to the kid scribbling madly in a notebook between sips of espresso but it is certainly more intriguing than Mcdonalds.  Here comes Starbucks to the rescue.  In Starbucks you have Bob Marley on the soundtrack. You have a cartoon on the wall that isn’t quite Jean-Michel Basquiat. You have a photo montage that isn’t quite Robert Rauschenberg. You’re given high levels of better tasting caffeine and you believe you’re about to have an avant-garde moment.  But you’re actually in a strip mall outside Akron, and if an unwashed kid starts loudly reading his poetry he’ll be quietly whisked away.  You’re having a FAE.

Chinese food is tasty and frequently spicy.  Chinese people are foreign and who knows what might be in those dishes, and who can read that huge menu anyway.  PF Changs Chinese Bistro to the rescue!  Right down at the mall you can go in to the psuedo-urban bistro and have bland fried rice and egg rolls.  See how sophisticated we are!  Hurray FAE.  Can you imagine the reaction if PF Changs brought out the Dim Sum tray with chicken feet on it?  That wouldn’t be safe at all.  Outside a lot of suburban malls are rows of these places.  Mexican, but no taquerias or menudo.  Japanese, but no fried shrimp heads.  You get the idea.

Bikers are cool.  Just ask any kid.  So now every mall store has biker t-shirts and chain wallets and heavy boots.  Everything you need to live the biker lifestyle without the dangerous motorcycle.  Tattoos are cool.  Now there are Ed Hardy t-shirts everywhere, but not too many Ed Hardy full body art pieces.  Martial Arts are cool, but there are a lot more people wearing Affliction clothes than there are people working out on a mat somewhere.  All these are FAE.

I live in SF.  Along with New York we are the very symbol of all that is un-American.  (Never mind that we live here too and probably live up to its ideals more fully.)  Tourists come here and sometimes have difficulty because they don’t understand that we aren’t sanitized for their protection.  They treat SF like some version of Disneyland.  There’s Chinese Land, Mexican Land, Hippie Land, Homosexual Land, Overpriced Tourist Wharf, etc.  I recently saw a family standing and gawking at the gay couples in the Castro.  Two wonderfully aware men saw them, embraced each other enthusiastically, and then blew them a kiss.  They literally ran away down Market St. dragging their little brats behind them.  The reality of the situation was just too much for them.

I’m sure you see what I mean by now.  Look around.  They’re everywhere.  Beware.  Your lifestyle might be next.  Living a real, vibrant, and slightly dangerous life is the best revenge!  Vaya con Dios and Viva la Revolucion my weird friends.

– Archbishop Angus

What God Might Ask

Here’s something to ponder.  Ask your religious friends.  It certainly set me to thinking…

If God appeared to you and asked you for a sacrifice to show your faith, would you give it?  I think most people would.

If God put you through some trials would you gladly do as asked?  Again, I expect so.

If God asked you to bleed for him, would you?  There is plenty of evidence for that.

If God asked you to kill another in his name, would you do it?  Historically not much problem there.

Is there anything you would not suffer for your God?

What if God put his face right in front of yours and demanded that you be happy all through your life?  What if he insisted on joy instead of suffering and pain.  Could you do that?  Would you even try? 

Is it possible that by interpreting God as demanding suffering we are short selling him with our own need for fear?  I think a loving omnipotent God would ask for joy, but we might not be willing to do that.  Just a thought.

Love and Fear

Although it probably won’t mean anything to anybody else, I have a fairly developed philosophy of life.  It works for me.  You’re welcome to any parts of it you might like.  I like to explain things with stories that everybody knows.  Goldilocks explains why this philosophy isn’t for everybody.  A lot of Papa Bears will think it’s too simple.  They’ll know a whole lot about some of the subjects I’ll touch on and criticize the work as too superficial.  There will also be a lot of Mama Bears who think it’s too complicated.  It talks about so many things and asks the readers for so much responsibility.  Well, it’s not written for either of these groups.  It’s written for those people who think it’s just about right.  In fact, the whole damn point is to find that place in your life that’s just about right, not too hard and not too easy.   And I don’t claim it’s original.  Some of it might be.  I don’t know.

I believe that human beings are only motivated by two things, love and fear.  Every positive thing you do is motivated by love.  In future posts I’ll expound upon this more fully.  Right now I want to talk more generally.  We face the decision between these two motivations every day.  Love is always the right choice and fear is always wrong.  Unfortunately we don’t choose love very often.  Love is hard.  It requires effort, risk, and responsibility.  Love involves change.  Fear is easy.  It means staying where you are, protecting yourself, and is easily justified.  Beware.

Sometimes in life there is an interesting phenomena.  We make a series of small decisions that all seem to be correct.  Then we look back and it turns out they led to a big mistake.  How can it be that a hundred small good decisions could lead you to a big mistake?  It hppens because those decisions were made out of fear.  Fear is insidious and very powerful because it always sounds so damn reasonable.  This is a deep vein, and I’ll be mining it a lot in the coming months.

Squirrels have a place in this philosophy too.  Squirrels always want you to choose fear.  They scare and manipulate you for their own gain.  They’re scared all the time and they want you to be scared too.  Pointing out these squirrly schemes is one of the reasons I have this blog.  Piss off a squirrel.  Spit in the face fear.  Go do something for love.

Bah Bah Bah

There are times that I can’t stand human beings.  The day after Thanksgiving is one of those times.  People are acting like fucking sheep.  A big group of corporate squirrels announce that everyone should go shopping and so the malls fill up.  Stores are opening at 4 am.  A guy was killed in a stampede caused by a Walmart opening their doors for business.  Enough already.  Lemmings.  Sheep.  Mindless workers in the ant hill.  Stop it.  Stop it right now.  Wake the fuck up.

I worked in retail.  I sat in on meetings.  I’m only going to explain this one time.  Big retail corporations make as much as 40% of their gross profit between TG and Christmas.  They do this by getting you to buy shit you wouldn’t buy otherwise.  They probably can’t survive if you only buy the stuff you need or even want.  They need the Christmas shopping season to sell you a bunch of other crap.  Their existence depends on it so they’ll do anything to make sure that happens.

Big retail operations know a lot about what makes people buy shit.  Everything from carpet color to music to smells in the store.  One of the things they know is that the earlier you start Christmas shopping the more you are likely to spend.  The sheep who starts buying in November will buy more than the sheep who waits until 12/20 so they try to get you out as early as possible.  They get the media and news sheep to do stories about the biggest shopping day on Friday after TG.  It isn’t.  The Saturday before Christmas is.  It probably is about fourth or fifth largest.  But if you shop today you’ll probably spend more total dollars in the next month.  They also know that if they can get you in the door they stand a better chance of selling you shit so they have a few really good bargains.  This deep discount serves a second purpose because it means some morons will probably stand outside the store all night generating excitement and publicity.  Nice going.  You waited 32 hours outside a Best Buy to save $100 on a cheap laptop.  You made about 3 bucks an hour.  Fucking genius.  How impossibly stupid do you have to be to wait outside a Walmart all night when that Walmart is open EVERY OTHER FUCKING DAY OF THE YEAR!

I would like to announce here that the day after President’s Day is now Black and Blue Tuesday.  Everyone should spend that day hitting themselves over the head with a hammer.  People can line up outside Home Depot to buy special cheap hammers.  The networks can dispatch reporters to tell us that this what everyone is doing.  The aspirin companies will thrive.  If you’re a good loyal American and good Christian you’ll go grab your hammers and start whacking away.  I hear everyone is doing it.  Vaya con Dios and Viva la Revolucion!

– Archbishop Angus

A Biker Monk

Bikers and  Martial Artists have something in common.  They are looking for a little calm and they need the presence of danger to focus them.  The following was posted on the XL list by Bill.  It explains it pretty well from the biker perspective and would be equally true of martial artists.  I must be particularly fucked up since I need both!

We have a wacky theory for why people like to ride motorcycles, and it goes like this: The act of riding is a form of meditation, because the concentration that’s required to safely ride a motorcycle tends to focus the
mind in a way that eliminates other mental distractions that might interfere
with the mission.  This creates a single-mindedness that, in effect, displaces the continuous stream of thoughts that normally flow through our consciousness.

Thoughts about what to eat, who to meet, and worries about the common stresses of everyday life, such as pressures from work and home, disappear from our minds during the ride, because the concentration that’s necessary to focus on the ride pushes those thoughts far into the background.  The result is that the mind becomes refreshed after a ride just like it would after a session of formal meditation or a relaxing vacation.

Just like some people get “hooked” on meditation, motorcyclists get hooked on riding because of the mental relief that it brings.  I wouldn’t be surprised if someone discovers that endorphins or something are released during the act of riding.  I’m sure you’ve noticed that you can’t “zone out” on a motorcycle like you can when driving a car.  Riding safe means being focused and alert at all times – which is one of the reasons why it’s so important to stop and rest at frequent intervals when riding a motorcycle on a long trip.

Slowing Down

I like this idea.  It was written by Donella Meadows.

THOSE OF US WHO think the world needs saving-from environmental  destruction, rapacious greed, decaying morals, drugs, crime, racism, whatever-keep very busy crusading for our favorite remedies. Carbon taxes. Campaign reform.  The Endangered Species Act. A lower capital gains tax.  Strong regulation.  No regulation. You  know. That long list of mutually inconsistent Holy Grails with  which we like to hit each other over the head. There’s one solution to the world’s problems, however, that I never hear the frenzied activists suggest — slowing down.

Slowing down could be the single most effective solution to the  particular save-the-world struggle I immerse myself in-the struggle for  sustainability, for living harmoniously and well within the limits and laws of the Earth.  Suppose we weren’t in such a hurry. We could take time to walk instead of drive, to sail instead of fly. To clean up our messes. To discuss our plans throughout the whole community before we send in  bulldozers to make irreversible changes. To figure out how  many fish the ocean can produce before boats race out to beat other boats to whatever fish are left.  Suppose we went at a slow enough pace not only to smell the flowers, but to feel our bodies, play with children, look openly without agenda or timetable into the faces of loved ones.  Suppose we stopped gulping fast food and started savoring slow food, grown, cooked, served and eaten with care.  Suppose we took time each day to sit in silence.

I think, if we did those things, the world wouldn’t need much saving.  We could cut our energy and material use drastically, because  we would get the full good out of what we use. We wouldn’t have to buy so many things to save time. (Have you ever wondered, with all our timesaving paraphernalia, what happens to the time we save?)  We wouldn’t make so many mistakes. We could listen more and hurt each other less. Maybe we could even take time to reason through our favorite solutions, test them, and learn what their actual effects are.

Said Thomas Merton, who spent his time in a Trappist monastery: “There is a pervasive form of contemporary violence to which the idealist . . . most easily succumbs: activism and overwork . . .To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many demands, to commit oneself to too many people, to want to help everyone in everything, is to succumb to violence. The frenzy of the activist neutralizes his work for peace. It destroys the fruitfulness of his own work, because it  kills the root of inner wisdom which makes work fruitful.”

A friend in India tells me that the onslaught of Western advertising in his country is a cultural blow, not so much because of the messages of the ads but because of their pace. The stun-the-senses barrage of all TV programming, especially ads, is antithetical to a thousands-year-old tradition of contemplation. I can imagine that.  I have been driven crazy by the somnolent pace at which things get done in India. Don’t these people know that time is money?  What they know, actually, is that time is life, and to go zooming through it is to miss living.

S l o w . . . d o w n. Do that first. Then, quietly, carefully, think about what else might need to be done.  The only problem with this cure is that I can’t prescribe it for others, because I have such trouble following it myself. It’s so easy to get swept up in the hurtling pace of the world. Like most of the other world-savers I know, I’m way too busy to eat well, sit quietly, take a vacation, or even, some days, think.

Edward Abbey, the great curmudgeon of environmentalism, knew better when  he said: “It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it.  While you can. While it’s still here. So get out there and hunt and fish and mess around with your friends, ramble out yonder and explore the forests, climb the mountains, run the rivers, breathe deep of that yet sweet and lucid air, sit quietly for awhile and contemplate the precious stillness, that lovely, mysterious and awesome space. Enjoy yourselves, keep your brain in your head and your head firmly attached to the body, the body active and alive, and I promise you this much: I promise you this one sweet victory over . .  . those desk-bound people with their hearts in a safe deposit box and their eyes hypnotized by desk calculators. I promise you this: You will outlive the bastards.”

Good advice. Too bad I don’t have time to take it. I have to go save the world.

Approval and Disapproval

Disapproval is an unpleasant way to go through the world.  When I’m in a good space I approve of everything!  When I’m in a bad space what I think is irrelevant.  Criticism and judgment assume knowledge that you just don’t have.  ALL knowledge is just a guess.  Many of those guesses might be right, but we just don’t KNOW.  At best we have only perceptions filtered trough our senses and our brain.  Since we know nothing for sure we can’t possibly make any kind of definite judgments.  How can we approve or disapprove of anything if we don’t fully understand it?

We can have opinions.  I like love better than fear.  Chocolate ice cream is better than genocide.  Sex is better than sitcoms.  But be sure to keep these opinions in perspective.  We are not that damn important.  Each of us is irrelevant in the overall workings of the universe so how much weight should our opinion carry?  We shouldn’t even take them too seriously, let alone expect someone else to.

The only thing that has any significance is action.  You have a very short time on earth, and very limited energy.  You’d better use it on actions and not waste it with irrelevant approvals or even opinions.  When we stop disapproving and approve of everything the world opens up.  Joy is manifest in you and you just want to smile!  Or not.

Prop 8 and Sex

All of this drama around gay marriage has me thinking about sex.  Well, actually, I’m thinking about sex most of the time.  I meant it has me thinking about sex as a social and psychological force.  This country, and perhaps most of this world, is seriously fucked up when it comes to sex and prop 8 is just the latest of million recent examples.  Let me elaborate.

As Violet Blue (definitely someone who avoids the squirrels) recently pointed out in an article on SFGate, prop 8 was about sex.  The squirrels who went to the polls and voted to strip rights away were totally freaked out by sex.  There’s no other reasonable explanation.  No one is bothered by two male roommates living together.  Two widowed brothers raising children would be considered heroic.  No one would need to protect children from the idea that two women might stand in front of them and hold hands.  The only unacceptable part of gay marriage is what people imagine they might be doing between the proverbial sheets.  That’s why we need to “protect the children’ and reinforce traditional marriage’.  The real message is the only acceptable sex is between married heterosexuals for procreation.  This is the ‘traditional value’ they’re trying to protect and they’d put that in the damn constitution if they could get away with it.  This is the battle that conservatives are always fighting, and I’m fucking sick of it.

From now on anytime you see one of these right wing religious freaks on tv talking about something you should apply this new knowledge.  Here is a quick translator to get you started;

Protect traditional marriage = Keep people from fucking outside of marriage.

Traditional values = monogamous heterosexual sex for procreation.

Antiabortion = Don’t have sex for fun.

Real American = Repressed sexually.

The Gay Agenda = People who acknowledge that sex is cool.

Secular Humanist = Joyful in their human sexuality.

In a later post I’m going to flesh out this theme of sexual repression and what it costs us as a society and as loving people.  In the meantime don’t let the squirrels keep from enjoying a good time with your genitals!

The Biker Code

I’m a biker.  That doesn’t mean I’m a thug or uneducated.  It means I choose to ride a motorcycle.  And I choose to live life a little more fully and little more dangerously. My friend Raven sent this Biker’s Code to me and I liked it.  So I’m going to republish it here.  I think it’s pretty solid advice.  Try to follow it.

The Bikers Code:

It used to be that all bikers shared a common bond, an unspoken code of ethics and behavior that transcended words and was built on actions. There was never a bible written on this Biker’s Code of the West and there was no need for such to me.  But the times are a-changin’ and there seems to be a lot of new riders out there. These days the riders you see blastin’ down the tarmac are just as likely to be clad in shorts and sneakers as jeans and engineer boots. And the roughest, toughest-looking biker you pull up next to could be your doctor or lawyer and may be wearin’ a Rolex watch under his leathers. There’s nothing wrong with that, so long as these new riders learn the Code of the West just as we old-timers did. 

Being a biker used to be about using your creativity to take a basket case old hawg and using only grit and ingenuity, turning it into a one of a kind eye dazzler, then risking your life on the asphalt on a bike you made yourself out of pride. Bikers wore leather and grease because they knew cagers would just as soon run them down as look at them, so they had to be intimidating. We were a breed unto ourselves with no union, no support group, and in many cases, no family (they threw us out). We had to make it in the world of our own, against all rules, against mainstream society, and against all odds. You know, we survived and prospered because of the Biker Code of the West and we never took shit from anybody. As an old scooter tramp named Jug once said, “It’s every tramp’s job to school the young. How else are they gonna know a Panhead from a bed pan?” With that in mind, we bring you a primer on the basic two-wheeled Code of the West. Take heed, brothers and sisters, for our Code is a hallowed one filled with honor and loyalty, the likes of which have not been since the days of knighthood. 

The Biker Commandments

* Don’t take any shit.  This is an essential part of being a biker. It has to do with respect and honor. Anyone can be a brash, quick- tempered lout. Be cool, stand tall and backup what you say with action. 

* Never lie, cheat or steal. Another way of saying this is to always tell the truth. Bikers are always the greasy bad guys in the movies, but every real biker knows that his word is his bond. Your word is all you have in life that is truly yours.

* Don’t Snivel. Absolutely no one likes or respects a sniveler.  Another way to think of it is, “Don’t sweat the small stuff.” Most of life’s little inconveniences work themselves out whether you snivel or not. 

* Never say die and never give up. Whether it’s in a fight, a debate, or a business deal, no matter how bad it gets, a biker never gives up. That’s why you see a lot of wealthy bikers these days, ’cause they don’t know how to quit in any element of their lives. In the biker world of rugged individualists, only the strong survive. 

* Help others.  Even moral support, if that is all you can give, is better than riding on by. Remember life is about the journey, the ride, not getting there. You already are there.  And don’t just help bikers, show the world that we are better than our image portrays us. Courtesy costs you nothing and gives you everything. 

* Stick to your guns. Do what you say you’ll do, be there when you say you will. This is called integrity. 

* Life is not a drill. Yeah, this ain’t no dress rehearsal. This is life-go out and take big bites of it. You’ve got no time to lose and bikers don’t stand around waiting for the party to come to them. You only go around once. Tomorrow you could be road kill, thanks to a chain smoker asleep at the wheel of his Caddy. Live life now, make the most of each moment.

– Author Unknown