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Exchange of Values

Exchange of Values
acrylic on board 48'X96'

"Structure of Color Perception"

"Structure of Color Perception"
48'X96' acrylic on board

Wednesday, May 28, 2014


30 Day vegan Challenge:  Day 6

“The filth of Saruman is washing away...”

That’s Tom the owner of “Thrive” vegan cafe here on our island in the video.  He is a joyful vegan zealot.  But in case y’all think that all vegans (or wannabee posers) are all a bunch of squeemish, limp-wristed, pacifist, anemic, weakling, hypocritical, X-flower-children, like me, Tom went to Penn state on a football scholarship and was a pilot who served two tours during the Vietnam war.

Now ever since lunch I have been working on this Joke but I just can’t come up with a funny punch-line.  Maybe y’all have some ideas:  ‘A Jewish Yogi, an Anishinabe/messianic nature-child, a New York refugee from Basilicata, and a third-order Franciscan/Roman Catholic (under temporary suspension), all walk into a vegan cafe....’

Anyway, when I went to the bathroom at the cafe I saw my reflection in the mirror and realized that I had a big chunk of ham from the delicious Denver omelette that we all had shared for breakfast still stuck in my beard!  I can only hope that Tom assumed that that cube of ham was tofu marinated in Tamari sauce and paprika.  Although, one need not be an actual vegan to eat at a vegan cafe, sometimes I think that when I walk through a room of level 5 vegans they can smell the carnage emanating from me (*note, one might be interested to trace the etymological roots and connections among the words, ‘carnage,‘ ‘carnivore,’ ‘carnival.’ and ‘incarnation’).

Blessings and obliged.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

“30 Day Vegan Challenge, Day 4.”  *Apocalypse Cow*

"The Fuhrer is a convinced vegetarian, on principle. His arguments cannot be refuted on any series basis. They are totally unanswerable."  From the diary of Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s minister of propaganda (who, btw, was also a failure as a poet, as so many of us are, but who also happened to hold a PhD in German Romantic literature!).

Until I began this 30 day challenge I was unaware of the many deep doctrinal and ideological differences among vegans, vegetarians, pescetarians, lactos, ovos, and lacto-ovos, etc, and that there were so many levels of practice (and status).  This dialogue from the Simpson episode “Lisa the Treehugger” where Lisa comes under the sway of Jesse, a jailed leader of the environmentalist movement, “Dirt First,” and who has attained the highest level of veganism, seems to sum up a lot of the contentious issues involved:      

Lisa: You do Yoga? 
Jesse: Yeah, but I started *before* it was cool. 
Lisa: My name's Lisa Simpson. I think your protest was incredibly brave. 
Jesse: Thank you. This planet needs every friend it can get. 
Lisa: Oh, the earth is the best! That's why I'm a vegetarian. 
Jesse: Heh. Well, that's a start. 
Lisa: Uh, well, I was thinking of going vegan. Jesse: [chuckles] I'm a level 5 vegan -- I won't eat anything that casts a shadow. 
Lisa: Wow. Um ... I started an organic compost pile at home. 
Jesse: Only at home? You mean you don't pocket-mulch? [takes out pocket stuff for Lisa to feel] 
Lisa: Oh, it's so decomposed! Do you think I could join Dirt First? 
Jesse: Well ... we might have an opening at the poser level. 

Yep, that sounds about right, whether it’s my diet, my art, my poetry, my ‘spirituality,’ I think that “Poser Level” is a fair estimation of my degree of enlightenment so far.


Sunday, May 18, 2014

 Day 3 of my “30 Day Vegan Challenge.”

2 more books on veganism arrived today and they seem very authoritative and compelling.  The library of books that I have been amassing on the subject is becoming quite impressive!  And yet I still think that my difficulty in experiencing a more dramatic transformation towards a demonstrative practice of actual veganism is probably due to a lack of a fully comprehensive, intellectual, and theoretical foundation upon which to base my actions.  I have been seriously studying vegetarianism/veganism for most of life, but I think that my research and gathering of data, recipes, testimonials, apologetics, etc., still needs further work and a more fully conceptualized framework.

I have been meeting informally with other enlightened souls on this same righteous path towards a healthier and more ethically responsible diet, and many of them are also facing a lot of the same challenges as I am.  However, there was one person attending our gatherings for awhile who was an actual *practicing* vegan for many years but we found that rather than inspiring the rest of us with greater zeal towards our professed commitments, we usually just felt guilty and a bit ashamed about our own lack of fortitude.  Not that she ever actually judged or criticized any of us for our apparent lack of progress, although I’m sure that I once noticed a condescending look from her when I arrived at one of our monthly vegan potlucks with my own inspired version of ‘pigs in a blanket,’ (beef sausage stuffed with with gorgonzola cheese and chicken livers, wrapped with bacon, and deep fried in goose fat--I mean, why even bother with a spelt and rice flour ‘blanket‘ at that point, that would seem a bit pretentious and hypocritical to me).

i will admit that having a more evolved conscience and elevated sense of the kinship of all being often seems like a heavy cross for me to bear.  I sometimes envy all those un-informed and spiritually adolescent souls who seem to wander through life without paying the least attention to the deeper metaphysical realities that undergird our material existence.  This would include, of course, all those Hindus and Buddhists that live their entire lives as vegetarians, respecting the vital life-force of all sentient beings.  Sure their eating “practices” are impeccably rigorous, but unfortunately their doctrinal foundations are technically quite unorthodox and suspicious and are subject to higher forms of criticism if not explicit condemnation.

In a way their ignorance and lack of critical and theoretical rigor seems like a kind of child-like bliss and they are almost as unburdened by any sort of interior conviction or self-awareness as the cows, pigs, and chickens, whose life force I have (at least on a abstract and theoretical level) come to revere and cherish and have taken a vow to embrace!

Day 3 has had it’s challenges, but I sense that I have made real progress, at least in exposing a lot of the fallacies of all those Others that have not yet embraced this higher calling.

Namaste and Obliged,

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Satan Your Kingdom Must Come Down!

Abba Vaccillo Mentiens, an island eremite, has been reading this book on veganism and decided to take the ‘30 day vegan challenge.’  Today was day one.  For breakfast he ate quinoa porridge topped with raw walnuts.  It wasn’t bad and he really thought that he might just pull this radical transformation off.   But by 10 o’clock break he was feeling a bit peckish and while he was snacking on his celery sticks and raw pumpkin seeds and feeling a bit smug and self-righteous one of the devil’s minions appeared in the form of a general contractor with a box of bacon covered maple bars.  

The abbot all too quickly succumbed to this very first temptation and surrendered to his gluttonous urges.  To his credit he shared half of his bacon with the carpenter’s dog Kaiya.  At lunch time the portly abba V realized that he had forgotten his salad topped with tofu tempeh at home so he went to ‘Pickles deli’ intending to only have one of their green salads and plain water with lemon wedge.  Again, a demon probed him for weakness.  It was the last day of the year for their Vietnamese beef Pho soup which was on special and whose exotic aroma enticed abba’s taste buds as much as the bulbous regions of the young serving vixen tempted his eyes.  Still, perhaps the remainder of the day could be dedicated towards an austere and holy abstinence.  But by 3 o’clock it seemed that Satan himself had determined to completely vanquish this feckless monk and he caused a mighty hunger to arise within him.  So abba Vaccillo frantically scrounged through his work van like a heroin addict without a wakeup until he discovered a bag of gourmet beef jerky that had escaped his pre-vegan purge of forbidden delights. 

Feeling guilty and ashamed abba rushed home to his hut and away from all temptation while reciting the Lord’s prayer and pleading with saint Rupertorious for the strength and faith to overcome his frangible resolve. However, once again the forces of the dark-side confronted him in the form of his grand-daughter who appeared with a bloody fresh 24 oz. porterhouse steak and asked for instruction on how best to cook it.  Abba Vaccillo only intended to instruct his young novice on how to make a pepper crusted steak spiced with Israeli zhatar and garlic roasted potatoes accompanied by double cream chocolate gelato, but alas, Beelzebub sifted his soul like cannoli flour through a colander until all thought of his compostable dinner of baked carrot patties on a gluten-free bun spread with veganaise and topped with fake cheese completely vanished from his mind as he gorged on seared cow flesh and a frozen nectar that must have been secreted from the devil’s own udders.  As we speak the dejected monk is wallowing in guilt and self-loathing.  His inability to actually practice and live out his many spiritual commitments and convictions weigh on his heart as heavy as that double-cream gelato.  Abba Vaccillo is a weak, dithering, and silly old man, please keep him in your prayers.  Much obliged.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Tlingit Raven 

***  Klediments:

***  Lack Of Faith.  A poem by  Anna Kamienska

even when I don’t believe
there is a place in me
inaccessible to unbelief
a patch of wild grace
a stubborn preserve
pain untouched sleeping in the body
music that builds its nest in silence

We don’t realize that we live atop a quagmire of cults. Every gesture, understood rightly, has its roots in some sacred archetype. How much of me is that primeval man yearning for heaven, waiting for some sudden opening of the skies and another, true time, in which everything remains and nothing passes?

***  When I was working in Alaska I learned about an Orthodox church in a Tlingit native village at the foot of the Saint Elias Mountains where one Sunday a large raven transgressed the sanctuary and ate the bread left on the altar. After that the raven began returning every sabbath and the Tlingit figured out just when the raven would come and they made its presence part of their ceremony.

***  Movie of the week:  “The Broken Circle Breakdown.”  My rating is 2 thumbs up (It’s about Dutch bluegrass musicians and enthusiasts in Holland and a bunch of agonizing tragedies that befall them).

***  Unfinished story of the week:  “The Light Bearers,” by Daniel Imburgia.  Spring qtr. 1992.

Chapter one, page one:

And so Jesus and Lucifer came together again.  There is a new creation, the old worlds have passed away and they beheld together an astonishing new universe. There was no more time to reckon with and no compulsions so Jesus and Lucifer simply sat together in silence.

A star shot past them leaving a multi-colored trail of light.  Occasionally a baby would be heard gurgling and laughing.  Overhead Lucifer saw two giant solar systems swirling across the blue-black sky.  Their trajectories would inevitably result in a massive collision and a tremendous reordering of matter.  Lucifer looked at Jesus; Jesus was looking and smiling at a new born baby.  Lucifer said:  “Always this beauty, and love too, but...” Jesus crossed his lips with his finger.  “Shhhh,” Jesus whispered, then he leaned in close to Lucifer and said, “watch this....”

***  On Meet the Press last Sunday I witnessed Rev Franklin Graham praise Vladimir Putin for his state repression of gay people in Russia.  Graham called this repression, “Gospel.”

***  “Where your pain is, there your heart lies also.”  Anna Kamienska

Much Obliged.