So what? bits and pieces from life in Cleveland: Yes! Amazon announces delivery of all aspects of L...

So what? bits and pieces from life in Cleveland: Yes! Amazon announces delivery of all aspects of L...: Yes! Amazon announces delivery of all aspects of Life to your door. (January 8, 2017) In a surprising, yet unsurprising, unparalleled, ye...
Yes! Amazon announces delivery of all aspects of Life to your door.
(January 8, 2017)

In a surprising, yet unsurprising, unparalleled, yet inevitable societal development, Amazon said today that they are now delivering all of Life right to your door. Industry experts,who preferred to remain anonymous, said this means that emotions, spirituality and social engagement will now arrive in the familiar brown box, just like your favorite re-order of paper towels or re-purchased electronic must-haves.

Amazon spokesperson Edvard Munch (no relation to the 20th century Norwegian painter) giggled as he declared that this means that all people at every level of desire will soon enjoy the convenience of not having to remember, think, or plan about the past, present or future. Munch went on to scream, "We're happy to announce this market-cornering action, and hope its value becomes clear as more and more people stay in their homes, texting and Instagramming on smartphones securely snuggled in 20% off retail phone cases."

Amazon's CEO Seller X coughed twice, cleared his throat and whispered that fear & anxiety are the first emotions slated to be offered with Life service, with wistfulness soon to follow. Spiritual states of Grace will be available by March, with dreams and wishes able to be ordered and delivered sometime this summer.

The third phase of roll out will provide social media posts, pictures, quips, news clips and funny videos for your use, all customized to resemble your former social activities (without having to actually do anything).

Reaction to the news by such rain-on-the-parade-types as cultural studies professors at small and wildly expensive private colleges railed against the Life delivery system, one of them boldly declaring, "We will whine & bitch about this until it's time to go to get new corduroy pants--at an actual store!"

Performance artist extraordinaire Marina Abramovic (look her up, I dare you!) quickly decided to sit at a small table in front of every person in the world's door, silently waiting for something or other.

White House spokesperson A. Hole could not be reached for comment, but President Trump immediately tweeted, "Bally-who, slim jim, coo-coo cachoo."

Hillary didn't win, and Donald didn't lose

This just in: America voted and everybody lost. The biggest loser? The American Spirit. You know, that beautiful and messy remix of ideals, desires, declarations, hopes, fears, and hype. The democratic stew that promises so much taste and delivers so much contradiction.

The American Spirit seeks to be fair, affirms the individual, mythologizes success and rewards privilege. In our better days we attempt to take care of our own and make room for the others. We try to live and let live and tread softly. We care to work it out instead of making it worse. That's the American Spirit. And yesterday it took a body hit, followed by an uppercut, and landed on it's ass.

Our collective history tells a story so far beyond true and false that good and bad are the wrong questions. We declared independence from tyranny and enslaved Africans. We destroyed bodies of water and established National Parks. We created palaces of learning and locked the doors to the schoolhouse. It's a wonder we make any sense at all. Somehow we make it work, but our only choices this time around really just worked us.

Hillary didn't win because she brought nothing to the table but the same old, very same old. Cronies and phonies, back room cigars smoked by both genders and inhaled until we all got dizzy. I voted for her, primarily because I figured it's about time for a female President (and the fact that the status quo is better than jumping off a cliff). Others didn't vote at all.

Donald didn't lose because he escaped scrutiny with fast getaways in his spin-a-rama clown car filled with his honky-horn friends. At campaign stops he stomped around in his floppy-top shoes and countered protesters with plastic squirting flowers. He told untruths and promised a future of an imaginary past where jobs were good and apple pies were fresh. Slice this, and watch out for the rotten core.

I want to vote for the American Spirit in all it's goddamn glory. I'm a patriot for progress, a sucker for policies rooted in love. I don't want to settle for anything and pretend it's better than nothing.

America is a dream, not just a nightmare. And we're not down for the count just yet.

These Things Are Known

Are you kidding me? Every dog nose that the first walk of the day is the best ever, until the next one. Just like every real musician knows that the only note more important than this one is the next. Every hungry devil knows that fresh Diablo Sauce stings, and every trite-slinging writer excuses his tripe as necessary, this time. And this 51 year old father knows his son is watching everything.

In the late afternoon light gifted photographers know is the magic, as much as ice cream trucks know magic poofs into being when they pull over and stop. Every weed-whacking yay-hoo ought to know about noise pollution, and everybody knows kindness trumps harshness, but we forget.

For all the every-time you do it, even as "this time" will be the last, so will the did-it-anyway times be an opportunity for redemption. Every chicken pot pie knows it's cooked when it bubbles. And every body of water thirsts for bodies, sort of like every mountain longs to be climbed.

In the age of the image, every word knows its time is coming. Every social media touts itself as king, but every post to Instagram isn't close to equal. Every slow cooked pork roast knows it's delicious, vegetarians notwithstanding. Every dense and fecund Sugar Maple woods needs the falling leaves, even with no one there to catch them.

And for certain every heart knows it's big enough to love everything, even as our minds tell us it's not so. These things, and more, are known.


On East 55th Street, 1/2 mile south of the Lake, a Saturday afternoon in August, it's like this: a square cinder block store, all by it's lonesome, fronted by two older gents plopped on the bent tailgate of a truck parked right next to the building. A kaleidoscopic display of items dragged outside to the cracked sidewalk in an effort to catch eyes in the passing crowd.

Vacuum cleaners on rickety sidewalk tables, small appliances with maybe a few on-and-offs left, a couple of Toro mowers amid weedy patches. Then there's the decorative department: ornate mirrors reflecting a mix of sun and clouds, the venerable white hippie Jesus glossy prints in plastic frames, graphic-rich low thread count towels and unidentified ends, mostly odds.

On the way we are to the chic flea market just a half-block down from this bustle-desiring spot of commerce. It's the flea-market-as-event, with music, food and varieties of ice cream nobody ought to care about (lavender??). Yes, that's a massage chair booth off to the left of the gourmet food truck. But the day is bright, the mood light, and look around we shall.

The clothes on sturdy-grade racks tend to the "old once-now back" variety (pricey either way), and most of the jewelry is cool and earnest, some even exceptional. Collectibles and curios, snow cones promoted to shaved ice with 100% natural juices (nary a bright orange high fructose corn syrup jug to be found), expensive sports jerseys and overpriced crafty decorative items of the re-purposed kind.

But nowhere sits old-school flea junk, you know, the unearthed (un-basmented) remnants deserving of their dark fate, even in the light. Lamps looked over, once-pretty vases passed by, needy toys tepidly considered and then dismissed. But those bent and stained books were once somebody's to read, and the vinyl records in cardboard covers surely grooved into receptive ears.

It's the new old Flea Market routine: we shuffle and look, touch and say, "look," and "huh." It's just stuff anyway you cut it, dressed up and hipster-certified or grimy with a whiff of desperation. Stuff we can decide to carry, covet, buy, reject, receive or not.

Because there's always more stuff where that came from, but all the time spent looking back never returns.

Forty Speakers, One Truth

It's a Friday and most of me wants to chill at home, cocoon the night away. But the wife says her old friend with the new boyfriend wants us to meet them down at the Cleveland Museum of Art and offer beau feedback. The gathering is a mixy something--mild DJ, cash bar and all the exhibits open late. O.k., at the very least it means soaking up some majestifying light in the museum's new atrium.

A short wandering while later, now in the museum proper, faint choral music drifts down the original 1916 Building's marble steps, drawing us upward. We climb toward the Italian Baroque gallery, never expecting to be heaven sent. Because in that space, amidst the big drama art (huge paintings of Christ appearing to the Virgin, Samson getting his locks chopped by Delilah, Venus discovering the dead Adonis), we discover forty crispy quality speakers on forty individual tripods, clustered in eight groups of five, forming an oval that fills the gallery's floor space.

And from each of the forty speakers comes a single singing voice, each one recorded separately. Forty tracks of a choir singing in Latin--e pluribus transcendence.

The effect is staggering, walloping the senses--the eyes scramble at the sculptural aspect, the body zombie-moves into the middle to sit on the padded benches, the nose detects the hushing odor of greatness and the ears, well, good luck ingesting all the beauty made by this sound in this space.

It's officially called Forty-Part Motet, a sound installation by Canadian artist Janet Cardiff. There's a little booklet available, filled with artist-interview gems like, "You can almost  see the movement of the music around the room" and, "I really wanted the sense that each speaker was a person." Memo to Janet--you succeeded.

The fourteen minute song loops, with ambient choir voices filling the three minute breaks in between (you can hear singers chatting, coughing, chuckling). Artist Cardiff says keeping that stuff audible keeps the sound sculpture real.

Which is good, because the three times I've been it feels like I'm melting into the ceiling, extended on the sublime notes of people posing as angels. Each time I see and share the amazement in faces older and younger, black, white, Asian, latino, tee shirted and buttoned down, museum novices and the old guard alike.

When it's done most everybody pauses, looks around, and smiles. Forty speakers worth of truth and wonder.

In the land once ruled by golfers

Our first few visits to the new wide-open Acacia Metropark that used to be the old members-only country club meant traipsing down clean fairways and whopping sticks on the manicured greens. Like kids getting away with unspecified somethings, we rolled around the abandoned greens and blasted sand out of what were no longer traps.

A hoot for sure, because no groundskeeper was going to tell us nothing. Inevitably, in the absence of sharp blades and strict intent, the greens slowly tufted, the fairways sprung lone outposts of dandelions and the rough went really ruff. The dogs were now bounding through eighteen inches of  a tall weedy, grassy, flowery mess.

We moved among red-topped stems of growth once abhorred as insipid intruders, stands of long stemmed bluebells, lacy-like gentle white somethings, dreaded dips of dandelions and serrated edge weed leaves so unwelcome in suburbia that poison was the answer. Wet bits of brown seed pods clung to jeans, concretizing the re-bloom, or maybe revert, of the land where golfers once ruled.

In the shadow show of my mingling mind, I pause to consider; this place is no longer pristine order and tightly tended landscape. It is not really anything yet. It will (someday) be a swatch of fields and woods that close inspection will remind visitors it was once a golf course.

For now it's in-between land, not exquisite uncertainty.

"Gone to seed" doesn't capture it, and the transition of the land feels doom-y and awkward--probably a reflection of my own current state. I'm hanging on a crossroads of creative energy, descending my own staircase of doubt, occasionally pausing to rally upward to the light.

My search for life's clear moments tangles the strands of ego and desire. Demands for clarity feel unheeded by an indifferent universe--but of course that's just indulging my fears of "never getting anywhere" and not going places I imagine I want to go.

Because on a former golf course that's turning into something else, amidst a funky mixture of chaos and tidiness, the truth is that I'm already there.