Monday, August 31, 2009


I've posted herein on Japan's Vanilla Syndrome before; I suspect that the radical results of yesterday's election will be a political example thereof. After 50 years of political vanilla, with no real suggestion of change regarding all-out public works on concretized rivers, dams up the wazoo and bridges to nowhere; no complaint about politicians being scions of wartime zaibatsu; no sense of impropriety at the revolving door of descendants of prime ministers becoming prime ministers, the Japanese public has by a wide majority selected chocolate, an apparently new political flavor where there was none before.

But is it really a different? Is it truly chocolate? Or is it just dyed vanilla? Mightn't it be like the standard Japanese chocolate cake, i.e., pretty much flavorless cakiness colored brown and declared deliciously chocolate? Japanese ice cream as well has made a skeptic of me; I suspect this will be another political example of the Vanilla Syndrome, to wit:

Taro Aso, the vanilla prime minister, is the grandson of former Prime Minister Shigeru Yoshida, who co-founded the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). Aso's wife's father was the late Prime Minister Zenko Suzuki; his sister married into the royal family.

Yukio Hatoyama, the chocolate prime minister and head of the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), is the grandson of Ichiro Hatoyama, who was prime minister from 1954-1956 and a co-founder of the LDP. Yukio's father Iichiro served as foreign minister; his younger brother Kunio has served in several ministerial posts in the Aso government.

I wouldn't bet on this being chocolate. It may be called chocolate, it may even look like chocolate; but to an old genuine choice-lover like me it looks a lot like it could be the same old vanilla with just a little coloring.

Let's have a taste and see... any hint of chocolate in there?

Funny that didn't come up during the campaign... You have to wonder, though,
about the effect this will have on the nation's extraplanetary policy...


She also eats the sun,
and knew Tom Cruise when he was Japanese...

Chocolate is beginning to look like the Rock of Ages...

Saturday, August 29, 2009


The erudite, attractive and tasteful readers of PLM are well aware by now of how much I appreciate my naturally grown produce that the monkeys don't get. Those same perceptive readers also agree with my conviction that the only kind of food to feed oneself, let alone one's children and grandchildren - unto seven generations at least - is the unpoisoned kind. If that's fully possible anymore...

Such readers also likely have, like myself, recently encountered a flurry of articles in the mainstream media attacking organic foods and their proponents. As an antidote to salaried opinion (as Walter Cronkite said "In all my years as a news commentator I was never once able to tell the truth, about anything."), here's a valuable perspective on that ongoing concerted attack against honesty and integrity in the food that will become you and your descendants.

"You may have noticed an uptick this year in news reporting that organic food isn’t really better for you, opinion pieces by conventional farmers saying that they are tired of being demonized by 'agri-intellectuals', and guilt-inducing ads by Monsanto [link mine; RB] in highbrow publications like the New Yorker touting the company’s ability to feed the world through technology.

Though all of this could be disturbing to those of us committed to sustainable agriculture and food that is fair to eaters, animals, workers and farmers, I’m choosing to see this as a good sign. I think it means we might be winning." Full article

Friday, August 28, 2009


I was in front of him, what happened with my phone?
(Click to enlarge)

How many roads must humanity walk down
before they can talk to themselves...

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


Coming up the road from the train last night I was rolling slowly on the motorcycle because on my way home at this special time of year I'm always gazing at the beauty of the old-ivory crescent moon dangling before the blue velvet tapestry sprinkled with diamonds above the pale gray mountain shadows (as I've posted about before), which esthetic activity can lead straight into a concrete telephone pole if you're traveling at even moderate speed through darkness along a curvy mountain road - especially if, like me, you're also wearing your reading glasses to keep the bugs out of your eyes - so as I say it was a good thing I was going slowly, even moreso because just as I rounded the second curve through the rice paddies I saw at the bottom of my vision a blurry brown something in the roadway and slowed even more -- what was it, a dog? No, it was an inoshishi (wild pig) almost as big as my motorcycle, galloping panicly toward me down the road in and out of my headlight, seeking escape, when just a moment before it had, in the way of all pigs in these nights of these parts, been trying to find a way through the low electric pro tem fence to get at the tender rice grains dangling in savory bunches just inches away from yearning pork teeth, all ready to devour.

But there in the face of porcine efforts, suddenly blocking the gourmet way, came a roaring creature with one big blinding eye, advancing relentlessly onward - the pig at first rushed toward me, trying maybe to get by and keep going downhill, but because of the headlight, it couldn't be sure how wide I was, so gave up on that and turned uphill, always the less desirable choice when escaping pursuit, and began trotting upward, now and then nervously glancing back over its shoulder to see if the roary monster was gaining, with possibly giant fangs.

Apparently the pig hadn't had much close-up experience with one-eyed monsters, nor had I any close-up motorcycling experience with solo nervous porkers, so I didn't want to try to race past a panicky pig either, I just kept traveling upward at pig trotting speed, gunning the motor now and then to urge the beast onward and upward, which the pig agreed was best: head for the safety of the woods above, there are no one-eyed monsters in the woods, but when I began to fall behind, the pig began to slow down too, so I beeped the horn and the pig perked up considerably, trotting quickly up the road - as pigs in front of motorcycles should damn well do in all cases - and, leaping at last into the welcome darkness and quiet of the woods, let the bright-eyed monster roar by, leaving darkness and silence in its wake.

In the Tao of the Pig, as in The Tao of the Human, the way is that by which one avoids consequences.

Monday, August 24, 2009


(From when the twins were born, 6 years ago this month)

Well, the newborn twins are with us for a while, and are they ever new. And since we know from experience that newborn newness is as temporary as a dewdrop we are making the most of it, short of keeping the little sleepies awake too long.

After each of the babies in my life has grown up, I've somehow managed to forget how tiny newborns are, a lapse absolutely corrected by the next newcomer. Throughout their ephemeral awakenings, how wrinkly and skinny and endearing they are, with their tiny actual legs and feet with genuine toes, hands and fingers that work, professional yawns as though they've been yawning all their lives, which in fact they have been.

Between yawns they lie there patiently, practicing all the many faces, smiling a full-bloom smile before they even have a sense of humor; then there's a look of heartbreaking disappointment, hopefully never to be used, but practiced nonetheless. And rage, and glee and other excitements: all rehearsals.

Even when their kitten-cries pierce the air like arrows, carry upstairs and downstairs, penetrate thick walls and doors and bring instant silence to the most important adult conversation, they aren't really crying, they aren't in actual despair; like humor, that also requires personal experience of the highs and lows of the world out there, for which they're busy rehearsing. So as they weep and laugh it is our pleasure to feel it on their behalf.

And before they drift off to sleep, they watch for miracles with those bright brown eyes, as the faces of ancestors drift through their own by the minute, as clouds through a sky: there is their mother in the smile; now their father about the eyes, then the look of an uncle of mine, and then the young face of my mother, as they pass through all the faces they have come from, including me, I guess. It is startling to see one's own memories flow across those tiny others, who just got here. At no moment in our lives are we apart from eternity.

Hence the familiar ancient feeling one feels, on peeping in through the bedroom door to see them at last asleep: two tiny quiet bumps in the coverlet beside each other, two tiny lifesteps out into the world that we will do our best to ensure are continued on pathways of goodness and joy.

Saturday, August 22, 2009


Bob's comment on my previous post got me thinking again about something that I've often touched upon herein in one way or another, because it is so close to my heart: the value of a home garden.

Apart from the natural wealth a garden provides as a source of the deliciousest, healthiest, freshest produce, a garden is a superb gymnasium and place of work meditation-- but perhaps most importantly, for the kids it's a gateway to the root of things, an opening to the deep reality of the world, so radical (and necessary) a departure from the illusions of TV, movies and video games as to be like water to one lost in the desert...

When the girls come to visit I right away take them to learn with their own eyes the latest news of the garden, to glimpse here and there on the dark soil, beneath the big green shady leaves, the now much bigger golden butternut squashes-- they come out of the ground!

And little hands reaching into tangles of tomato vines to get at the bright red fruits hiding there in the depths like suns in a galaxy-- how fast they fill the big basket! Then on top of those go all the slenderfinger greenbeans that only a moment ago were beckoning from their vines, saying pick me! pick me! now green on red in the basket...

The same hungry hands pull upward on a bunch of feathery leaves growing straight up from the earth beside the tomato vines, until there's a soft sound and out from the ground comes a big orange carrot, a real carrot there at the end, then another and maybe another for lunch...

We turn around and there are the tall pepper plants, where the shy peppers hide like shiny green leaves among the green leaves - a couple of those - then one of the girls looks up at the big wall of soft green growing up the net, where high up here and there hangs a knobbly goya - still too small for today though--

Then there is ginger and basil, pumpkins and sunflowers, spinach and gobo, shisso and broadbeans-- all organic, grown using the compost the girls helped gather and pile up last autumn-- as a result, fascinating insects can live here, like those ladybugs and katydids, and that big green luna moth caterpillar sandbagging on that tomato vine like they were twins, with now and then a garden snake fleeing at top speed from the approach of us huge beings, and all in good time the crows come to check out the scene, stand around and yak, and outside there are footprints of deer that wanted to get in during the night, all that fun, learning and visual delight, seeds of thought, seeds for life, things to ponder and dream about, be nourished by-- and we haven't even eaten yet, except some beans and tomatoes, right off the vine!

Then when we do have lunch or dinner, what a better taste it is, that rainbow of rightnow flavors that fill the tongue, than we'd ever get by driving the car to the mall to get medicined generic vegetables grown far away, picked three days ago and shipped here on big trucks to lay there and wait for us to buy them, no labor of love there, no relation to us or our lives other than through cash, where's the wisdom in that, a garden is a place of wisdom, too, and closeness...

How much more the girls get from all this, the real garden, of visions and knowings, of rememberings and understandings, that will serve them throughout the gardens of their own lives, seeds that they are.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

or: You Put that on your Sushi?

If you’ve spent any time in Japan and so have tasted genuine traditionally brewed shoyu (soy sauce), there is no returning to the mockery that is LaChoy. Shoyu (and especially its earlier form, tamari) becomes an item and a subject dear to your heart.

For millennia, the Japanese have been making this sauce the traditional way, using the natural process of fermenting a blend of soybeans, water and koji for several months in specially made wooden vats to achieve the flavor peak-- the slow chow summit.

To make a wide story narrow: who has the time for that slow stuff anymore? Some entrefarceur came along and slapped together trainloads of hydrolyzed soy (or other!) protein, a few cargo containers of flavor enhancers and some tanktruckfuls of artificial coloring to make overnight what unknowing consumers in other countries call "soy sauce" (at which the Japanese laugh up their kimono sleeves, much as the French chuckle into their berets at Newark Camembert). Thus began the Shoyu Wars, which have been raging spicily for some time now. And things are not getting simpler.

Few have heard of an organization called the International Hydrolyzed Protein Council, which supplies the elemental falsehood (at least it’s the remnant of a protein) that goes into “soy sauce,” a non-brewed fingersnap containing caramel color, corn syrup, salt and hydrolyzed soy (or "other" (unnameable!)) protein. This brownish, salty, uncertain liquid is to genuine shoyu / tamari as kerosene is to Chardonnay. A difference reflecting the fact that some societies have time-honored traditions to maintain and are still sticklers for quality and considered action - native yearners for the real thing - whereas some societies (perhaps ultimately even Japan itself) don’t seem to have the time.

In any case, the IHPC has justified its position by observing that its soy swill sauce has been selling for decades now, and no consumers have complained. Perhaps there has been no complaint because they know no better, or maybe they are no longer living - who really knows - but the consumers anyway deserve the brush-off for buying such stuff with no questions asked, in the fastfood manner.

Not surprisingly, the Japanese want genuine soy sauce, made in the traditional way, to be the international standard, which is what anyone in his or her right mind would want, but the Right Mind category seems to exclude the folks who make the faux sauce and the folks at the IHPC, who supply the chemo that covers up the octane. They want the standard to read something like: “Soy sauce shall be defined as anything that has 'soy sauce' written on it." Big bucks there.

And a slap in the face to tradition, quality, care, nutrition, integrity and all that other useless baggage that just slows us down as we careen headlong through the Fast Century.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


What price the sweet solitude spelled by a hawk in the sky, stance of a crow on a fencepost, call of a frog from an apricot limb, song of cicada from a cedar bough, the gaze of a deep-blue lake amid green mountains outlining a sky as blue at sunset as golden at dawn--

Solitude, the subject of the long slow sunset chorus, whispering heights of bamboo, gold-headed jade of rice stalks, all spread out like a tapestry before islands in the rising mist, willows bowing to the evening breeze, jasmine waiting for the night--

Solitude, now and then crystallizing as a thought, a memory, washes in to the fertile shore you are...

Monday, August 17, 2009


Nobody ever says much about pants, which would be like talking about air. Most pants are just fashionable or fundamental covering, but the right pants for the job are just as valuable as the right tool for the job, as I'm now rediscovering. (Another priceless benefit of aging is the almost daily discovery of another thing I used to know.)

What brought pants to mind was that I just got some new carpenter's pants, with lots of pockets and tool-carrying arrangements from Gempler's (5 days shipping!) that are just what I need for gardening, firewooding and general rousting about among rocks, trees, dirt, axes, chainsaws, weedwhackers, other heavy-duty tools and all the things that go to make up the daily home life of an eclectic character who lives on the side of a mountain in Japan, with all that that entails.

I will make good use of those reinforced knees, those reinforced pocket openings, handy cargo pockets and other little pockets, and those right-there loops and tags for the tools and the myriad things I take with me when I leave the house, so that whenever I'm ready to tackle a task and don't have the right tool on me I don't have to walk back from wherever I am, take off my boots, galump back inside and get the damn tape measure or whatever it might be, which happens all the time with the lesser pants (there are hierarchies of pants) I've been wearing for some years that were designed for skateboarders, their movements and catastrophic tumbles, with crucial reinforcements against sudden impact and extended abrasion, plus key grommeting, gusseting and what not - great pants for wild action and rapid deceleration, but not great for broad-spectrum utility. Moreover they are now worn out and have holed pockets; also, they were built for the Japanbody, and like the shoes here never fit me quite right, but they were cheap at the local youngster store because there are no skateboarders out here in the countryside where kids have actual physical things to do, so the pants languished on the rack until I came along and got them for a mere price. I wish them well wherever departed pants go.

Out in the garden the new pants can carry everything I need, with me in the middle.

Friday, August 14, 2009


The term "work" as used herein refers to any task that's not included in the phrase "I wouldn't do that if you paid me," the unspoken corollary being "I wouldn't do that unless you paid me," which we know as a "job." (I.e., "Actually, I'd rather do something else.")

What brought this to my wandering mind was news that the US - well, Utah at least - has apparently drawn a bit closer to the human work ideal, having introduced a 4-day work week (shrinking workweek-related headlines always catch my eye), and is thereby saving 13% in energy bills, plus I suppose there is the welcome bliss of recurring 3-day weekends, but don't be fooled. If you read the fine print (the text below the headlines), those Utahans do work 4 days a week, but they work 10 hours a day, so what's new under the desert sun. Even if it were a REAL 4-day week, how many workers would that affect over there in Utah, which has a population of what, 2,736,424?

And Utah would still have a long way to go till it achieved the unpatented and untrademarked Brady 3-day work week, established nearly 10 years ago by yours truly after terminating my minimal stint at full-time employment following my extended period of 0-day work weeks. Personally, I prefer the 0-day work week, an ideal arrangement in which one can do whatever work one wants whenever one wants to (or sometimes has to), though it's not for everyone; not all are born with the requisite sandbag index.

The 0-day work week was first enjoyed in the Garden of Eden, until the overcurious couple were driven out into what is now called the job market, a market that I too joined after my post-college decade of 0-day work weeks. Eden is good at that age, when wonderment, wanderment, action and curiosity can best be satisfied.

As for Japan, I suspect it would take some sort of neoBlack Ship-type event before the Land of Wa would even begin to consider a 4-day week, if ever; the nation's housewives would rise in revolt at the increasing presence of husbands. The J-workforce was loping along at a 6-day week until not long ago, then came a 6-day week twice a month, then a 5.5 day week, then a 5.5 day week twice a month, then a national gasp and the actual 5 day week, when the concept of the "weekend" began to rise from the depths of the national consciousness. I suspect that will be enough psychic trauma for a generation or more. Certain things move slowly here, like political change and additional flavors of ice cream.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


Every once in a while when that old bubble of inspiration wells up I like to steal away to a grove beside a babbling brook where, steeped in birdsong and breezy sighs and generally poetic ambience, I can suitably carry on the ancient poetic tradition of inventing new hells, to accommodate certain individuals in ways more suited to these changing times, or 'do a Dante,' as I put it if anybody asks, which of course in this drearily prosaic age nobody ever does, ergo I'm pointing it out for the first time publicly here, so take it or leave it.

Dante was a real expert at Hadean design and had a similar no-holds-barred approach, though he tended to go for general levels of eternal torment, rather than the individualized facilities I prefer. As to the big D's reasons for imagining infernos, I'm sure he had a major infernoload of reasons right there in his own day and age, just as I do, and so had to be selective, you can't invent a new pit of perdition for every pain in the ass that comes down the pike; infernal design takes time, with priority based on need.

I don't mean to imply that Dante had any less reason for all his hard work in this regard than I do now, but a glance around will tell you that perditional expansion has become a matter of some urgency in our time; besides, Dante was a pioneer, so he inevitably missed a few, not to mention the fact that progress practically goes hand in hand with hell development. Such creative condemnations relieve the tension and make this a better world to live in than it would ever be otherwise, as Dante was no doubt aware, I mean you can feel it in the push of his lines.

Also, Hadean architectural design affords me greater understanding of the deeper motivations and the many sources of the big D's inspiration, not to mention the personal satisfaction involved in seeing a successful design put to effective use, such as the one I just finished for select denizens of Wall Street, who will bake in the ashes of their fortunes while watching their unshorted stock prices fall for all eternity.

It's been a busy week. Just now I was devising an infernal program for the inventor of those stickers they put on things in stores, that you peel off when you get the thing home and find out the sticker won't come off but leaves a scratchy patch of devilishly gooey tackiness that you have to work at for years over the otherwise pristine surface of the otherwise beloved product until you finally give up trying and seethe a little down the decades each time you use whatever it is that has been permanently uglified by that tacky smear right there in of course the most prominent place, and I came to think that for the sticker malefactor, mentioned nowhere in Dante, a nice maximally negative eternity would be just the thing, in which said individual, as a life-sized product in the much-overheated Bargain Basement of Hell, is bodily wrapped in giant versions of these sticker tags and eventually purchased at a ripoff price by an irritable consumer-demon with pointy claws and all of time on its hands, and is taken home and peeled at for eons in growing frustration, using boiling water and various superheated noxious fluids together with various ineffective scraping tools, and then, when all raggedly stripped and tackily gummy, this sticker person is returned and restickered and put back on the shelf for resale, and so on throughout eternity.

I think this would be good, and I know Dante high-fives me on that; besides, he's in heaven, where moneymen are barred and there are no prices, so it's one big high-five anyway.

Sunday, August 09, 2009


In America as I recall, the dead don't come back to visit the living in any organized way but rather choose their own occasions, which is very much in the American tradition, now that I think of it. In Japan, by contrast, where things often seem supersystematic, the dead all come back in the middle of August, when it's convenient for the living to take a few days off.

During these days of the dead, called obon, when the living entertain throngs from the afterlife, stores close and offices are at half-staff, everyone being busy honoring the dear departed because so many more are passing away to ancestry every year that each obsequy must accommodate a greater spectral population, thereby diluting the effect on individual spirits, who this year begin their clamor for due attention on Wednesday August 14, when they will walk through dreams, tap shoulders in the dark, knock on walls and generally get it on in a posthumous way; and in the corridors of merely earthly business, where commuters both dead and alive have spent so many decades, there will be a palpable and welcome absence, for the dead have returned not for commerce, nor for tourism, but to mingle with relatives, drink some sake, party a bit, have some rice crackers, whatever the living will offer, for the dead will eat anything after a year without a nibble.

So the living all visit their ancestral graves and ladle water over the stone and leave a drink and some flowers and snacks and burn some incense, say some prayers for the ancestors, ask their intercession in the matter of say a red Ferrari, sometimes ancestors can swing such things if they have any pull on the far shore, you do see some people driving Ferraris in this life (are there Ferraris after death?), though the ancestors in their wisdom seem to know it doesn't make much sense to have a Ferrari in Japan, where there are no straightaways of any length and the standard speed limit is about 40kph, and where the police not long ago arrested one of the living for courting death in a red Ferrari by driving nearly 240kph on an expressway, a record for Japan, and prime-time front-page news throughout the land because generally not much fast living happens while the dead are around.

If you do see a Ferrari it's most likely just sitting there rumbling very expensively in the long lines of traffic that grow and grow, particularly during the days of the dead because there is clearly a strong connection between death and expressways, where the living sit entombed for hours, idling - revving - idling with the air conditioning on, looking out the windows trying to fathom the reason. The dead seem to enjoy the nostalgia, for it happens every year around this time, the dead traveling freely while the living edge forward on the roadway, impatient to reach the toll booth, though everyone gets there eventually.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009


The trio of grandies Kaya, Miasa and Mitsuki arrived from across the Lake late yesterday afternoon in a big van full of themselves (driven by their lovely mother Kasumi) and amazed me with their growing and maturing-- living proof that miracles are perfectly natural.

They brought with them the usual bunch of puzzles that attend grandfathering a cluster of lightbeings, such as what to do first or is there a first-- but no problem in this case-- as always, I immediately took them out into the garden where they love to rummage (which they don't get to do in their pro tem city apartment), especially in summer when everything is green and the spicy air of late day is so rich with fragrances ("Let's walk up the road, too!" they yelled when we got outside).

Of course I right away had to show them the long green carpet of basil - they're basil fanatics - and over there was the opportunistic watermelon, growing meters and meters in length out of a seed left in the compost pile (on whose original bouncy heap of rustly autumn leaves the three girls had giggly danced just last autumn), they ooohd and aaaahd at the softball-sized green baby watermelon that looks so cute snuggling there in the grass where the vine climbs over the stacks of shiitake logs on its pale green way up into the cedars, then they sniffed the lemon verbena - there are ritual steps to the garden re-acclimation process - then into the garden proper with the towering tomatoes, green wall of goya and climbing green beans, gangly sunflowers, leftover turnips and amazing butternut squashes getting bigger and bigger but hiding under those huge leaves, the trio showing me where they've just gotten new mosquito bites, we picked some green beans, Morocco beans and tomatoes, checked out the goya flowers up close - the three LOVE goya!

Then they sniffed the ginger leaves, checked out the baby green peppers, which were "Cuuuuute!", tickled the tiny green feathers of the new carrots and got mad at the monkeys who stole the older carrots that they themselves could have picked right now; then we walked over and talked for a while with Brightface, the biggest Sunflower in the garden, who nodded to the girls and asked a few questions about being human and good and going to school, told them some nice stuff about being a flower and having fun even being so tall and thin and with no feet, here among all his vegetable friends, it was a grand life, following the sun. And it wasn't my hand moving the big blossom or my voice saying those words with a sunflowery accent. Pay no attention to that man beside the sunflower.

Didn't matter, the girls liked their conversation with Brightface. Lots of green and purple shiso frilling around too, they also love shiso. They love everything, I think. They squeally enjoyed diving into the high wide tomato bushes to get at the gemmy rednesses in there and putting them in the basket one by one with the bunch of beans, then we headed back up to the deck to plan the tent, which they'd been calling for all along but forgot as soon as there were snacks.

New minds move fast.

Monday, August 03, 2009


She was already on the morning train when I got on at the country station, was sitting in the seat opposite the one I happened to take, and so from under my baseball hat I got to look at her while she gazed at the way to Kyoto.

First at her eyes that had fire in them as a little spark, with the iron and flint that made it, then at her small strong hands with all the character worn in, hands that had fellowed the world, its water and soil, the worn-nailed fingers clenched around the black velvet strings of a soft purply glittery purse of the kind young women used to carry back in the sepia days, when she was a young woman and young women wore kimono...

It was an old purse and the hands were old hands, a farm woman's hands, toughened like walnuts by work and weather, she wore baggy tweed pants, strong as iron but with a touch of non-work-clothes refinement suitable for a farm grandma's rare trip to the city, the pants in the fashion of monpei but distinctly not monpei, a fashion statement in its own way - she clearly had opinions about things - and her mauve jacket, brand new but decades old, they don't make them like that any more, she must have gotten it in one of those little village stores you pass by on drives through the countryside, that have the old wooden walls with little ancient windows where you see just hanging there for what appears to have been a very long time (forget about display these are just clothes after all, buy or pass by,) the taupe and mauve and beige and brown and gray goods in the windows: cardigans, jackets and pants you can't imagine who will buy because you don't live anywhere near that time...

But then all of a sudden in the midst of these hurriedly commuting and generally waning modern up-to-date lives there she is, in brusque just-sitting-there-stone-healthy-at-85 contrast to all this office paleness, this borrowed sophistication and fashionably impending transaction sweat: one beautiful old farmer woman in lovely old-new stodgy eternal clothes from a far away place of mind and time, fashion from way back when there was no fashion except a change from kimono and monpei...

This was rad back then, and that's what she still wears now, elderly rad, this mauve rough weave jacket with the just barely perceptible red threaded through, blossoms in the pattern somewhere, no doubt she knows what blossoms they are, and with shiny purple silver-speckled buttons, a pale violet scarf and one of those taupe sweaters from the window of such a store too, just a little silver in her black hair, her face brown-wrinkled, topographic with life, eyes that reflect all that can be known to the bone about garden and birth, time and death and what the hell are salaries...

She is like a rock in the midst of these fluxy tides and fickle currents, she is the secret rock of this country, of all countries, of all of us who have gotten this far, of whatever constancy humanity can lay claim to... sons and daughters know it is the mothers who carry it all, and if it all falls it is the mothers who remain to get on with the getting on...

I gazed at her secretly until I dozed off, and when I awoke she was gone.

Sunday, August 02, 2009


This is one of the longest rainy and sunless seasons I've ever experienced here (even the rice farmers who love rain are troubled by the lack of sunlight). It dwarfs even my month-long everydayandnightrainy drive to, into and back from Seattle in the early 70s. Now and then though, by some heavenly error a solitary beam of sunlight comes poking through a nanobreak in the clouds and crashes down on the ground with a noisy goldenness.

I saw one on the ground in the garden the other day and had to poke it with a stick in my sunless delusion, it looked like some kind of oddly colored earth or maybe some alien photoectoplasm, things do get weird after so long unsunned-- a renegade sunbeam hits a tomato or a sunflower and the poor thing vegetatively lifts its groggy head and goes Wha? Huh? Somebody say something? Then the clouds quick close the hole and the vegs go back into their slow stupor,which I'm beginning to share. I now have even more in common with the various vegetables.

Saturday, August 01, 2009


Here at the depths of the economic depression brought on by the major financial entities who were subsequently rescued by the taxpayers, said financial entities and taxpayers met over drinks last night in a welcome attempt to discuss and resolve the economic crisis vis-a-vis the vast profits and bonuses recently accrued by those entities, who at the event paid for their champagne with IOUs against rumored equity at 0.01% non-compounding that mature in 2050 if not later, to be backed by several generations of taxpayers, who drank from plastic cups of water from a well surrounded by economic cesspools; but upon seeing the tailored silk suits, breast pockets holding million-dollar bonus checks, the Grand Cru, the crystal goblets, Cuban cigars, $500 haircuts, $2000 eyeglasses, $1000 shoes, easy laughter and waiting chauffeurs, the greasy work-clothed taxpayers took their work tools in calloused hands and charged, throwing the financiers into the cesspools, reclaimed their own money and country, then walked home.


NY AG: Banks Paid Bonuses That Were
Substantially Greater Than Their Net Income

"...combined, these three firms earned $9.6 billion,
paid bonuses of nearly $18 billion,
and received TARP taxpayer funds worth $45 billion.