please stop tickling me

In which we laugh and laugh and laugh. And love. And drink.

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Location: Portland, Oregon

Otium cum Dignitatae

Thursday, August 23, 2007

"...I'm gonna live for-ev-er!"

I see here that I considered shaking the hand of Dick Van Dyke to be a thing worth noting, once. I suppose that I still do, just because it's strange. It far outweighs meeting, say, Jerry Lewis, who now has seen to it that I shall never, ever get the phrase "Jesse the illiterate faggot" out of my head.
Dick was in town to be the keynote speaker at the 1984 Oregon Democratic Convention, and he achieved this largely by delivering a string of unfunny jokes about his son's own (senate?) race in California. Later, I shook his hand, marveling at the tremendous amount of pancake makeup the man wore. End of story.

See? The problem with the brushes-with-greatness are that they tend to be unlovely in content, and more often than not involve famous people I don't actually want to meet. "Meeting" Edie Brickell, for instance.
Which is to say, being on mushrooms in a bookstore in the late Eighties and noticing a very tall, beautiful woman looming directly to my left. (She must tower over poor Paul Simon.) I recognized her, as she was going to be playing a show in town that evening, and several of the girls around school were certainly psyched for it.

I got Pete Miser's attention, and said, "Hey, look over there."
"Hm," he said, "isn't that..."
"Yeah...It's kind of a shame, isn't it?"
"I know..."
"That neither of us likes her, that is."

Or the time I met Elaine Miles. Who? Well...
It's We Loves Us Some Injuns week (or Native American Appreciation something Week), and I have been left in charge of all things Audio and/or Visual in the lecture hall of the museum where I was employed. The guys from the audio equipment company come and drop off their shit, and inform me that there will be no lecture, but could I still sit here and babysit their equipment? They'd be willing to pay me hourly...
Certainly, says I, contemplating the wonder of receiving dual paychecks. So, I'm sitting in this empty auditorium when who walks in but...The Lady Who Played 'Marilyn' on "Northern Exposure"!

"Hi, I'm Elaine," she said, in that same way she talked on the show; with a little verbal shrug of the shoulders after every line. As if to say, I'm just sayin' what I'm sayin', y'know... This was the trademark of her and every other stereotyped small-town-Buddha-like-Native on the show, causing my pal Vlad once to observe, "Oh I see...It's a show about a small town in Alaska where everyone is an idiot savant."

It would seem that everyone knew that the lecture was cancelled except for the lecturer herself. This made me sad, and it probably didn't do her self esteem any wonders, and now I was not only babysitting an empty lecture hall and someone else's AV equipment, but also An Abandoned D-list Star.
She was really nice. She's Cayuse, which means she's actually from the same part of the Northwest as I am. We sat and chatted about whatever came into our heads until she finally wandered away, first autographing a head shot of herself. That was a pretty sizable box full of those damn things that she was lugging around that day: I imagine her walking up to people amongst the fry bread booths outside, saying, 'hey, i'm elaine' in that tiny voice, pointing to her enormous box of pictures of herself. Not that I'd ask or anything, but maybe you'd like an autographed picture of me, Elaine Miles? (shrugs).

It's too damn sad. As a child, I often dreamed of the glamour that lies behind the scenes. I wished like hell I could get backstage, where all the action is, you know. Now, by dint of my profession, I'm backstage all the time, and indeed, there would be no 'stage' to be back behind without me.
And I gotta tell you; every famous person I've met has somehow managed to be one that I had no real desire to meet. In the case of those that I did want to meet, they are no one especially famous (smoking pot with the members of Freakwater springs to mind here, as does having a hotel room next to Robyn Hitchcock, and stealing his tequila).

The high school I went to was filled with the children of the rich, and so therefore a number of minor celebs emitted from there. Lisa 'Kennedy' Montgomery easily being the most famous. She who made it cool to feign masturbation during Rudy Giuliani speeches, and remind us all that the Alternative Nation was, at heart, childishly reactionary. Lucky us.
I'm reading Events Leading Up To My Death, by Howard K. Smith, perhaps the greatest title for an autobiography I've ever heard. He noted right up front that he is from the same small town that produced Jimmy Swaggart, Mickey Gilley and Jerry Lee Lewis. He then goes on to note that, to his knowledge, outside of geographic similarity, he notes no real connection between these men.
Odd for a journalist to have missed the fact that Lewis and Swaggart are cousins, and that all three men are musicians. I dunno. I'm just waiting to see if he explains to me just what exactly Andy Rooney did for all the years between 1945 and 1980 at CBS. I look forward to it.

Portland is actually a very easy town for casual celebrity spotting. We also like to act like we don't know who you are around here, as we figure that is probably how you would like to be treated. This has led to me having no idea that I was talking to Todd Haynes at a party once, doing my damnedest to act like the guitar case I'm carrying for the six-foot-almost-seven man next to me doesn't belong to Krist Novoselic, and so on.
One of the better applications of this follows. Janet Weiss has lived here for years, long before she joined Sleater-Kinney. So spotting her out playing pool or having breakfast has never been a difficult thing.
One evening, my housemate and I were out on the town, and ran into a couple friends, who were then joined by Janet and date. We were introduced to this person we already knew from countless album covers and live concerts by her name, as if she were any old person, which she is.

My housemate was a huge Sleater-Kinney fan, and I love Quasi. I even sort of consider her drumming style to be an influence on my own. But is this what we talked about?
No: I told her where I worked, and how I'd actually served her (and Elliot Smith) breakfast on several occasions. We also discussed the friends I already knew we had in common. A good time was had, and my housemate whispered to me later:
"We oughta keep calling her 'Debbie' or 'Karen' or something, as if we really don't know..."

And people who I wouldn't have minded meeting, like Jorma Kaukonen, both as a member of two of my favorite bands (Jefferson Airplane and Hot Tuna, you guys) and as a good Suomolina boika like myself. He arrived with band in tow, at the Crystal Bathroom when I worked there as a box office droid, but preceded, at all times, by his manager, Irv.
Irv has all the Middle-aged Jewish dude bling on. Gold mogen David...A fucking gold dollar sign necklace, for Maimonides sake! They seemed a bit put out by the fact that there was no one available to schlep their equipment anywhere, this being Noon, a good four hours before the production boys would arrive.

"Well, you can unload your stuff if you want, and just leave it here. I'll keep an eye on it; it'll be safe," I said.
"No," said Irv, "I don't think we'll be unloading shit. We'll let you guys do that."
Oh, right. This wasn't some indie band where the roadies are your girlfriends and drinking buddies. This was a certified legend, of sorts. I told them where they could go get some lunch.

Best of all, I bootlegged the show that evening. Irv did the intro:
"Hel-lo Poat-lin! Ballroom...Crystal Ballroom it is!" And, once he figured out where he was, he pointed out how fortunate we all were to be seeing his meal ticket.

The point is (there was a point?), now I live backstage, and am underwhelmed as always. After spending that week at Nike last December, the things I learned included what a 'waffle package' was, and how 'leather opportunities' might be possible ("who wouldn't want one of those?" my fellow AV guy asked) in a shoe; what the 'design story' was...On a shoe! And how certainly, certainly putting all their marketing and promotional might behind a Michael Vick shoe was a fantastic idea.
But even more so; how much money entities like that have, and how they enjoy throwing it around. How flying all of their sales reps in to Portland for a stupid fucking fashion show seems like a fine idea, even necessary to the basic functioning of a corporation that could probably run itself. And probably paying for air fare, hotel accomodations, limos, meals and booze for several hundred people (plus paying people like me handsomely) all falls into deductions under 'business expenses' for an entity such as Nike. Certainly.

And that's the thing: "To do well what should not be done at all," as Gore Vidal would have it. Over these last four days, I've spent two at Nike, plus a couple more setting up/loading out Justin Timberlake and Beyonce. What I do is, as anyone who's ever bitched about the nature of unions has pointed out, something anyone could do. Tightening screws, for instance. I tighten a lot of screws on a lot of bolts that hold together the truss that several thousand pounds of lights and speakers are attached to, shortly before I attach the span sets (elastic bands with shackles on them) to the chain motors, and the whole thing levitates fifty or so feet in the air.
Now, yes, anyone could do what I do, at basic. Anyone could wait tables, too, it is often said. As a person who has done both, I have to ask, Yes, but wouldn't you rather have someone who knows what they're doing?
Sometimes I look up at all that steel hanging over all our heads, and I think, my concern here is not that these people have the opportunity to see Good Charlotte so much as it is that people don't die here this evening, during this pointless event.

Which reminds me: the lead singer of Good Charlotte, who opened for JT, is dating Nicole Richie. I saw her. Being a coked out little whore who happens to be pregnant really agrees with her. As I say pretty much anytime I watch VH1, "Even if you got together with someone with that kind of wealth, she's a jungle of diseases from so many years of acting out, and her mansion is still located in Los fucking Angeles!"

That's pretty much it, though still only tip o' de iceberg. Probably more to come. Tonight: Muse, with Juliette Lewis and The Licks opening. They tell me that Juliette, like her spiritual sisters Lili Taylor and Parker Posey, isn't acting at all. She continues to be typecast as crazy, stupid women because she...
I dunno. Oh, I'll just die if I don't get to briefly look at her, as I am doing this thing that I do.


Sunday, August 12, 2007

How to Be a Man (TM)

I was recently reminded of the fact that I used to be friendly with a fellow who once beat up two cops because they refused to buy Girl Scout cookies.
Mike had been drinking, you see, and had then wandered over to Safeway, where he encountered the girls selling the cookies. Being an obliging sort, he bought some cookies and stood there eating them.
Then the two cops walked up, trying to enter the store, where they were blocked by Mike's not-inconsiderable bulk. "Why doncha buy some cookies?", he asked.

They refused, or declined in any case. Perhaps they were using a tone a bit more dismissive than they would have chosen, perhaps looking at Mike and seeing some homeless dude who wasn't worthy of attention until he started trouble.
He obliged by starting some. After demanding that they be nice and purchase some fucking cookies, they got bent out of shape by his tone, and things pretty much fell apart from there.

Mike was beating them both soundly (and I really wish that I knew the chain of events between the initial conversation and the resultant ass- whuppin') when (I believe) six more of their number quickly arrived to subdue the fucking idiot. The Safeway in that town is across the street from the Police Department.

For all the implausibilities of the story, I do not doubt that he was indeed winning the fight. Mike was the product of a shitty Catholic childhood (beaten by his father, probably molested by priests) that turned all Frankenstein's Monster. By the time I met him, he had been the guest of various municipal, county and state institutions for the majority of his time alive. He had no sense of smell (which was amusing as hell during the period in which he had a basement full of marijuana plants), and also could no longer feel pain.
Father O'Sheely relates the tale of how, like most jailbirds, Mike once again found Christ whilst Inside. Shortly after getting out, Mike went to a party thrown by his brother, my best friend at the time. Seeing O'Sheely, he got goin' on the comforts of the religious life:

"See, I don't feel pain anymore," he said, while plucking out his own chest hairs, one by one. "Do you feel pain?", he asked the cornered O'Sheely, who responded that yes, yes he did, as Mike now commenced plucking out his chest hairs.

But Mike already felt no pain. I already knew that. His little brother Bear, my best friend for many years, pretty much worshipped the guy, and often pointed out that his brother would be likely to win most physical confrontations, as he could take a punch, which isn't true of many people outside of professional boxing.

And the Girl Scout cookies story is one of many that he regaled us with (after he got out of jail) as if it was just a really funny story about getting drunk and doing things one normally wouldn't do. It's fucking hilarious, actually, but I imagine had I been there, I would've been terrified.
See, Mike also made his living as an arborist. Being a tree doctor, he was legally licensed to carry (he proudly told us) spikes and chainsaws at all times. This led to another one of his funny stories.

See, he also had this pitbull, right? It was named 'King', and was part pitbull, part...Something fast, and it also had been trained toward racism by its former owner (who is also a figure worthy of consideration here; he gave King to Mike after one evening when he was doing that thing I think we've all done to dogs: taunting them with food. Until King, wisely, jumped up and planted either side of his locking jaw structure on the man's face). So here is this mean, fast, 'white' dog, and his deranged, delusional owner who is always in possession of sharp things.
Mike and King are out walking one evening in Portland, and they run afoul of a large group of young black men. How they managed to do this without specifically driving to a particular part of town nowhere near where Mike lived, I'll never know, but in any case, words were exchanged, and violence erupted. Mike, again, not only lived to tell the tale, but wandered out of the damn thing without much in the way of damage to his person.
"I can see the headline now;" he explained to us, by way of denouement, "'Dude kills fourteen jigs'!"

Like all of these stories, his audience was deeply stoned, and I for one began laughing hysterically at the vision of paperboxes all over Portland with the ten-point screaming headlines: DUDE KILLS FOURTEEN JIGS, perhaps with the subheading, Credits heroic dog for takin' a fuckin' stand, or something.

I don't believe that anyone actually got killed that evening, but the combination of three Forces of Nature (Mike, King and an arsenal of Sharp Things) certainly could have made it so.
And the thing is, Mike didn't differ all that strongly from scores of men I've met in my life. He was just a comically/tragically distorted version of ...All of them, rolled up into a terrifying ball.

He, like lots of them, had a practical joker's side both dark (lining his outside window sills with razor blades and broken glass) and light (daring his brother and I, stoned again, for a solid hour to eat a can of dog food. The prize would have been fifty dollars, but we still said no. He then took a long time in the kitchen, magnanimously making us some sandwiches, which we then could not decide about. They had no dog food in them, and in fact were quite delicious). His love of partying sat oddly alongside his nativist hatred of all things not from his background. In this though, he again resembles most men that I've met in most places.
He probably didn't even have an actual opinion concerning Mexicans or blacks that wasn't inherited goods; conventional wisdom among stoner dudes of the late '70's in Oregon. But then again, he wouldn't be the first person I've met who went to prison and came out racist.

As the years went by, his behavior became more and more erratic. This is often the case, I've noted. Eventually all the shit stored in there that makes them that way in the first place poisons the entire system. Before long, his own family had no real love or respect for him, and...Y'know...Mike's still around, but I suspect he isn't holding down a job.

Oddly, I got thinking along the lines of the epic tales of bravery from the past, somewhere in there. Often, they were made up specifically to explain to folks Why We Belong Here, and why it is Sanctioned by the Gods.
Virgil's Aenid to explain to Romans that they are the rightful inheritors of Troy's legacy, the King Arthur legend to convince the British that they are the inheritors of Rome's legacy, etc.

And Mike, and the many, many like him who I have met, who regaled us all with tales of conquest as if Vikings or some shit? Tales that, upon reflection, were just the deeply twisted actions of seriously damaged men with substance abuse issues and not a little organic brain dysfunction?
Maybe they all were that. As far as classical literature goes, Egil's Saga, from Iceland, is pretty much a story about Mike. It's a story about a berzerker, and the path through life that that sort of person is likely to follow.
At first, Egil is a town bully who is described in dimensions highly unlikely for a human of that time (or ever), but soon becomes everybody's hero when the usual conflicts between things (the wonderful Icelandic word for 'tribe', basically) required brutal soldiering.

Eventually Egil travels to what was then known as 'Finn-mark' (and these days known as Suomi to those who live there), and does a bit of mercenary work for the king. The king is pleased, and gives Egil a dog. The dog is described in several paragraphs worth of hyperbole about his many characteristics and amazing, supernatural abilities, and then: "His name is Sam."
Egil and his dog wander further into this world they barely understand. It slips out, in little asides that perhaps Egil wasn't the sharpest tool in the shed, even to the authors, but sometimes people need these types around to achieve certain things. But when you're done with them?

I read that particular saga long enough ago that I don't really remember how it ended. I'm gonna say that he and Sam had a few more adventures, but more and more often found themselves confronted by a world grown a bit older, and more embarrassed by their former employees, the berzerkers.
As both primal dog and primal man moved about, they encountered younger and more clever warriors, and pretty much you have the plot to most western movies beyond here. Like a bad dog, men like Mike/Egil gotta be put down.

There needs to be a Part Two of this epic series, The Faces of Men, with Rich Bachelor. I believe the next installment will be a liveblog of VH1's The Pick Up Artist. Stay tuned.


Saturday, August 11, 2007

Number One Summer Jam

The annual making of the All (something) Summer Fun Mix was interrupted, somewhat, by my entire life changing early on in the summer. The mix I'd been making has only recently resurfaced, and it has some of the uncertainty and darkness of spring in it.
It has some changes to be made, but what we have so far is:

"Never Been to Spain"-Three Dog Night. This song is such a wonderful meditation on not-a-goddamn thing.

"I Was A Lover"-T.V. On The Radio. Urgent and dire. A summer song?

"I Really Should've Gone Out Last Night"-Dirty 3. This song may very well come out. It's beautiful, but a little too sad.
However, this being one of the strangest fucking summers I've had in years, is that so bad?

"Run Of The Mill"-George Harrison. I love the horn section.

"Chinese Translation"-M. Ward ("See, I once was a young fool like you/afraid to do the things that I knew I had to do...")

"Parasol"-The Sea and Cake. A sad song about vacations, loss, and the end of things. Hm.

"On A Neck, On A Spit"-Grizzly Bear. What can I say? They kill me softly. They strum my life with their fingers, or something. This too, might not really be a summer song, though.

"To Beat the Devil"-Kris Kristofferson. ("If you waste your time a-talkin' to the people who don't listen to the things that you are sayin', who do you think's gonna hear? And if you should die explainin' how the things that they complain about are things they could be changin', who do you think's gonna care?": The Devil's song. And he steals it, at the end.)

"We All Make the Little Flowers Grow"-Lee Hazelwood. A lovely song. About death. Hm.

"Province"-T.V. On The Radio. Yes. A nice pep-talk, and then some. ("That love is the province...Of the brave...")

"Odds and Ends"-Bob Dylan and The Band. It makes a nice Side A closer.

"Terrible Angels"-Coco Rosie. A weary observational. Nice and casual. Just 'cause it's sunny out doesn't immediately mean you lose all your reasoning capabilities, right? Right?

"When I Go Deaf"-Low. This has been my favorite song for several months now. The artist considers how nice it will be, one day, to not give a shit about art any more. But not yet: the quiet, strummed guitar gives way to one of the loudest solos I've ever heard in my life, perhaps causing some hearing loss.

"Let the Devil In"-T.V. On The Radio. It's about how fucking stupid people are for doing heroin, but it's also a kickass song, bound to get all the kids singing along.

"You Shook Me"-Led Zeppelin. Perhaps the most hallucinatory, fucked up song of all. Completely over the top, crazy virtuosity for its own sake, eminently satisfying.

"Miss Judy's Farm"-The Faces. I have a new-found respect for this band, and young Rod Stewart because of it. This is a great song, too, mind you.

"Ways To Be Wicked"-Lone Justice. My favorite of the country-influenced L.A. punk bands of the early '80's, fronted by Maria McKee, who apparently only had one good album in her. I'm not sure this song belongs.

"All The Way to Memphis"-Mott The Hoople. Same thing as The Faces, except insert 'Ian Hunter' for 'Rod Stewart'.

"To Go Home"-M. Ward. ("Lord it's great to be alive/takes the skin right off my hide/to think I'll have to give it all up some day...") Why the hell is this song on a car commercial?

"Rest Cure"-Arthur Brown. He takes a break from being crazy on this one, sort of. It's a smooth, Four Tops-esque number, but is it a satire? He goes nuts on the chorus, too.

"Virgo Clowns"-Van Morrison. A little song about how maybe just maybe certain members of a certain astrological sign need to relax a little bit.

"Don't Bring Me Down"-The Animals. You know, it's just a very good ender, and I love The Animals, for the most part. It's not especially apropos, though.

Now, when The Onion's 'AV Club' was having a debate several weeks ago about what the Number One Summer Jam was, I had to say Amy Winehouse's "My Tears Dry On Their Own". It's weird how she went from being someone no one had heard of, to the voice we all gotta hear, to that sick freak that is still in heavy rotation, even though she is openly deplored by all who play her music. Sigh. She still has the finest voice out there at the moment, and this song goes on the mix, dammit.

The Believer's music issue came out, with its attendant CD. Grizzly Bear is on there, with an alternate version of "Easier". It goes on, perhaps right before that Kris song.

"One Lucky Night" by M. Ward. A song for/about gettin' laid? Check.

"Me We" by Lithops. This is a weird little electronic noise n' flute ditty from a Sonig records sampler. I like it a lot, and have no idea whether or not it fits with any of these other songs.

"Holiday" by The Kinks. Another one about vacations, albeit in this case, the delusion of one who has been admitted to The Nervous Hospital, and is kind of trying to view it in the best possible light. It goes on.

The mix's story arc will go along the lines of hesitant and doubtful, maybe a little dark but only a little bruised at first, to ever happier and happier (but never sappy, folks), probably still ending on "Don't Bring Me Down".

It occurs to me that it's August.


Friday, August 03, 2007

You're All Quite Mad, You Know

"Note these words. They came with that strange Authority of which I have spoken. With them there was the cool, tingling and electric thrill up the spine. At such moments I dare to speak beyond myself, in the personal sense, with a deep Knowing that it is authorized. Right here is one of the mysteries of inner consciousness."
---John Lilly, 'Simulations of God'

Your barista, first thing in the morning, has probably been there a while, and has had some espresso. This does not mean, exactly, that they will be ready to deal with other people yet, and maybe not at all, at any point in the day.

Especially when, often, the first person they get to deal with is some purveyor who has been up since Three, and is bitterly "cheerful". Case in point:

I'm at the Troika, considering how exactly I'm going to do everything that needs doing before we open the doors, when the milk guy arrives.
Now, I deeply dislike being called 'sir'. I'm pretty sure that every sane man does; it is the preferred approach of both people who want spare change from you or are about to arrest you. It pretty much never is meant to confer respect.

So the milk guy decides to begin our interaction by busting through the front doors yelling, "GOOD MORNING, SIR!"
Noting that this is both totally fucking wrong as well as being the way it always is, I respond in kind, but in a conversational tone.
"HOW Y'DOIN' SIR? MY NAME'S (something that could either be 'Warren' or 'Loren')!"
"Pretty good...Warren, I'm-"
"Right. (fuckin') Lo-ren...You always yell at people like that, first thing in the morning, Loren?"
(Still yelling, of course)"SORRY, SIR!...ROUGH NIGHT, SIR?"

So I'm the asshole, of course. We should all honk at each other at full volume, when some people are just barely awake, and nearby, others are still sleeping.
We spend the rest of the conversation bullshitting in this manner, with him not once relenting about his volume.

This sort of reminds me of those many things in this world where the majority of people are just going to be crazy and wrong, and you will never be able to adequately get your point across in a way that will alter their opinion or behavior.

For instance, I'm not a religious person at all, and even doctrinaire atheism makes me suspicious. I would simply like to be left alone on the subject, and the world at large just doesn't see it that way.
And, it is conventional wisdom that one is never, ever to question another person's faith, as it is a matter of personal choice, and is probably the only thing (in theory) that both keeps them happy as well as keeping all of society from anarchy.
Fine. I have often tried to explain to others, when this comes up, that I actually derive a great deal of comfort from my lack of conventional faith. A universe that doesn't include a god or goddess at all makes me far more comfortable, as does the knowledge that when I die, that will be All, as far as I go.
So that Lack of 'Faith' is my Faith, and is to be respected as such, right?

Nope. For little-leaguers, the first place they go is that I'm trying to foist some sort of mandatory atheism on them. And as always, I'm saying; Actually, as long as there's been people, you god-lovers have pretty much always held the floor, and still do. Is it going to hurt you in any way to let someone else talk for a minute?
Yes, yes it will, apparently. As it happens, the godpeople, particularly in the U.S.A., have been feeling a bit crowded, of late. They feel themselves to be an embattled minority (who also happen to be a numerical majority, and therefore always right) living in a country where federal laws have always been pretty open to expressions of religion in general, but on those few occasions where they are not...
Well, I suppose that it would shake the religious foundations of even the strongest among us if we couldn't look at The Ten Commandments every time we walk into a government building. That Faith, which is eternally unshakable, is also somehow ridiculously weak, and a lack of the phrase 'Merry Christmas' in December is enough to bring the whole house of cards down.

And when they also say that they just wish to be left alone to worship as they choose, and have no desire to force their own personal opinions on the subject of the divine on others, I think, like fun you don't. Pretty much every religion has some clause about evangelism being a good thing (with applications ranging from annoying people on their doorsteps to slaughtering all who do not believe), and as much as they may try to put forth a rational face, deep down they are deadly certain that they are right, and everyone else is wrong. Wrong on a subject that, to these people, is the most important subject of all.

To fend off several of the obvious retorts to this; don't non-religious "rationalists" do this shit too? Sure they do: it's just that there's been so many less of them, and the greater observation to be made here as always is that humans are shit, and treat each other appallingly.
And: don't I have room in my own cosmology for wonder, the unknown, mystery and awe? Short answer: Of course I do. Why wouldn't I? Matter of fact, it makes it all the more fantastic to not have a god to blame it on/credit it with. There's so much we do not know, and I personally like it that way.

Let's see; what else? The role of religion in forming community/forcing people to be nice to each other? Sure. But what do communities do when they're done including? I'm gonna have to say excluding: you define yourself by what you aren't just as much as what you are...And people in groups tend toward making Lack-of-Identification-With into Hatred-Of.
Then there's this one: people just need these things! They don't even literally believe them so much as it makes them happy to think so, and have ritual! Great. So this thing that causes you to spend a great deal of your time focusing on a fictional world to come rather than the one you're in at the moment isn't even real and you know it? Well, now I'm really confident in the reasoning skills of the rest of my species. Our capacity for abstraction apparently crawled so far up its own ass so long ago that we...

You know, I write about this shit all the time. I was going to try to talk about the impossibility of rapport on many subjects, but I got stuck on the mojo jefe of intractable problems. There's plenty of places where you just can't go with people, and this is only one of them. It alone just happens to be too big of a subject.

As are:
The endless debate between car owners and bike riders. If only one side is capable of killing the other, then a certain amount of tolerance for shitty behavior must be afforded the potential killee.
Whether or not my grandparent's generation should own the appellation 'greatest'. Well, they certainly had a lot of shit to put up with, and not dealing with it simply wasn't an option. But does Having No Choice equate to Greatness? Their children, so often derided as the 'Me Generation', on the other hand, were frontline soldiers of the revolution in consciousness itself, amongst other very important, easily ridiculed things. I'm going with them as being the most important (fuck 'greatest'), but they did backslide in the worst of ways, and by and large, made rotten parents.

And finally:
When I was baking bread for a living, there was a girl named Moe who washed dishes in the same tiny space as me. She was one of many people I've met who defined themselves by their resentments.
They live to vent about the perfidy of others, and if you observe anything beyond completely agreeing with them, you're failing to be sympathetic. This becomes particularly true if you suggest at all that maybe they play some small role in their own misery.
She and I were standing at the back door of the small cafe we worked in, watching the Eaters. She snarled, "How many of these people do you think aren't even hungry? They're just here because they wanted to meet their friends?"
This being only the latest example of her irrational hatred of most things people do, I smiled and said, "It just kills you to see someone have a good time, doesn't it?"

I mean, if her point was; my, we're spoiled as 'Murkans, aren't we?, I'd gladly agree. But that wasn't it. A person who made a living working in a restaurant and required people having discretionary income to go eat and sometimes just waste food...Was against the whole enterprise, brave soul.

Later, I went dancing one evening. DJ Gregarious was doing his usual 'guess the '80's hit' number, and all seemed to be Loving It.
There was the one fellow who I'd been encountering a great deal, and whose dance style was very flamboyant; took up a lot of space. As usual, I grumbled about his theatrics to myself, but took my own self elsewhere.
As I was dancing later, some shitheel in a white baseball cap walks by me and says, "Punkass."
I spun on him and said, "Coward." He kept on walking.

Then I ran into Moe. She was leaning against a pillar, watching this (frankly) stereotype of theatrical gay dude that I'd been watching earlier.
"I wanna kick his ass," she said.
"It just kills you to see someone have a good time, doesn't it?", I asked again.
To her credit, she shut the fuck up.