Sunday, October 28, 2012

cloud atlas is a pousse cafe

Definition of POUSSE-CAFÉ
: an after-dinner drink consisting of several liqueurs of different colors and specific gravities poured so as to remain in separate layers

French, literally, coffee chaser
First Known Use: 1880

the main thing i remember about a pousse cafe is the layered effect of the drink. it is entirely 
made of liquid, however because of the density and color of each of the liquids, each ingredient remains distinct from its counterparts, resting gently yet firmly apart from its neighbor. each of these layers of colored liquid form a more perfect union- a collection of tastes that seem overwhelming and overpowering perhaps simply because of the presentation. even though i have no plan to drink, the concept of this zany and monumental digestive concoction came to mind.

this is how i interpreted the film "cloud atlas" which i just finished viewing at the theater. it is certainly epic, just as a pousse cafe. it has bold strokes of storytelling layered upon itself, so stimulating to the senses that it is hard to discern the taste. i don't know if i liked the taste, but the experience was delightful and seemed profound.

i haven't read the book, so i cannot dissect the story transfer. but i can articulate that that it does present the idea of reincarnation, life, death, heaven in a way that felt genuine. i don't feel able to retell any particular scenes at this point, because i feel as if i heard a fable and need some time to absorb the intent.

i do realize that i was not able to pick out all the actors in each of their roles. there are 6 story lines running simultaneously with most of the actors having a role in each one. they look very different each time, sometimes changing races and sexes. i understand that the work was a source of inspiration and true joy for each of the thespians.

i know i will see this film again- probably more than once. i also know that the immediate themes that jump out to me such as greed, power, and fate remain a source of intense curiosity and compel and propel each of our generations forward. cloud atlas underscores these ideas. no matter which century there seem to be those who profit and those who foot the bill. 

the film is an adventure, a fantasy, a fable, and a little philosophical. i savored it on several levels. it is visually astounding, intellectually challenging, and opened my imagination. there is a scene near the end which does involve watching the clouds. it reminded me of the wonder of being a child, laying on the ground, and watching the clouds drift by, change shape and density which engaged my brain and stretched my understanding of life. 

i know that film changes my thinking. it is an experience for me which i have always and will always value. cloud atlas has done me a great service with a wide stroke of its brush. it is not a small story. i am compelled to explore my assumptions. it is not just a moment in time. it is a multi-layered and colorful legend that i hope will help me get somewhere.

so the album posted below does not connect anywhere with this film except in my mind. i have recently been introduced to dj nico (nicolas jaar) and am captivated by his sense of storytelling, tempo, and suggestion. it stirs echoes and memories in my heart and mind, perhaps just as this wachowsky/tykwer film "cloud atlas" did for me. this soundtrack, the film, and a pousse cafe are not not a mere digestif for after dinner. they are an experience for the senses to rejuvenate and inspire. 

Saturday, October 27, 2012

space is only noise

Be a lamp unto yourself. Work out your liberation with diligence.
...from Daily Buddha Wisdom

inspiration comes from many places, often times very unexpectedly. i came across a dj from chile called nico and found his brand of beats almost invitational. just what the invitation is for, i have not quite determined. but that is some of the work in life- moving forward without knowing.

i am in the midst of transitions in so many parts of my life. i am shifting to a new team at my workplace which will certainly herald some evident change. i have helped  friends implement a new meth treatment program at their small agency in englewood (denver suburb well known for aod problems). it is an eop (extended outpatient program) which is 3 days/ 8 hours of contact per week. we also helped start a 12 step program at that location on the 3rd night of the itinerary. i have started back at my favorite gym, although i have injured my knee during cardio and am taking a break right now. and i have let go of a volunteer position which i had been initially very enthused about. this took a lot more time and energy than first anticipated and i walked away feeling frustrated, wrung out, and sadly with tethered relationships. finally, i have lost my sponsor and i have been remiss (avoiding) moving forward quickly on this- just not my way.

what i have noticed taking place along with these shifts is an interesting and almost foreign development. i have felt a sense of calm and peace gently waft around me.  i have wanted to take part in  social activity, have dinner with friends, be close to others, mellow out at home listening to tunes. these are not my habits for the last several year. i have been on the go and driven to stay focused and inspired. it could be compared to changing gears on a manual transmission, i have changed gears.

i have re-engaged a relationship with my cousin recently as well. over the last 3 years we have spoken maybe once or twice a year. there was a drift and i had felt betrayal. i am sure that some of the effect was prior emotional baggage as has been a common experience for me in recovery. it feels good to reconnect.

i am working at the local professional gay men's professional organization halloween party tonight. i
am looking forward to a few laughs. i have done this a couple of times over the years. laughter and tears are both good lubrication for transitions.

Space is only noise if you can see
See I want to write a story about two long lines
Two pretty lines that fall in love
Two little spaces they're filled with echoes
Did the lines ever intersect one another, at a moment in time?
moment time"..

have you always cross like this
have you always cross like this
have you been this way all the time
have you been this way all the time or were you always trying to get you with me?
with me? with me? with me?
you used to check the weather
now you stopped that
you used to look at time
now you stopped that
you used to wear red
now you wear white
what happens all the time it happens all the time
replace the word space with a drink and forget it
space is only noise if you can see.
grab a calculator and fix yourself
grab a calculator and fix yourself
read the news baby read the news
watch your clock baby watch your clock
watch the weather baby on tv
its all to get if you can see
grab a calculator and fix yourself
space is only noise if you can see
See I want to write a story about two long lines
Two pretty lines that fall in love
Two little spaces they're filled with echoes
Did the lines ever intersect one another, at a moment in time?
moment time"...nicolas jaar

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


I hurt myself today
To see if I still feel
I focus on the pain
The only thing that's real
The needle tears a hole
The old familiar sting
Try to kill it all away
But I remember everything

What have I become?
My sweetest friend
Everyone I know
Goes away in the end
You could have it all
My empire of dirt
I will let you down
I will make you hurt

i have encountered a young man who is plagued with pain and crazy. he is 19 and he has been smoking meth anywhere from 2 to 5 years. he has lost sight of sanity- if at all he ever had any. i am convinced he at minimum has adhd and ptsd, mostly because his inability to be still is prominent. he is painful to be around really, kind of like being with someone who has rolled in poison ivy. his mother has been smoking twack for most of his life. she doesn't see it as a real problem i guess, she just sees it as something that just is. i think this perspective got translated to him as just something that is. everybody just smokes. it is just something people do.

i continue to engage with him with uncertainty as i am curious about what has happened to him. he certainly needs a helping hand and i am not at all sure if that can be mine. it always feels shaky to be with him- kinda like walking with sea legs or petting a porcupine. there have been tales of terror - manslaughter and suicide that should only present as ghost stories meant to scare. yet here they roll with the ease and familiarity of stories of baseball and camping trips.

i don't know if sanity or recovery or sobriety are part of his path. he is a whirling dervish with no end in sight. i hope he can find calm, but can't swear he would recognize it. one minute he runs from being centered and the next he laments the peace he can't have. i guess this post is meant to be a searchlight  and a prayer. i want to witness that he is real and that he matters.

i remember reading "the sluts" by dennis cooper and being gobsmacked by the general sleaze and realness of his characters in that book. young male hustlers who were starting out their lives with fewer possibilities than most of us. they were selling themselves to drown out their own hell.  for some reason i recall these characters as i consider this young man.

i find it fitting to quote from dc here...

Experience:Call me a caretaker if you want, but after reading Brad’s reviews, I couldn’t help but feel concerned about this troubled young man, and angered by the callousness with which the previous reviewers have treated him. I work in the mental heath industry in Orange County, not far from Long Beach. I made an appointment with Brad in order to encourage him to seek treatment, although he didn’t know my intentions until we met.

Regular visitors to this site know that I’m not against hiring escorts. I will even admit that Brad is my type and that meeting him involved a high degree of self-control on my part. Something the previous reviewers are right about is that he’s extraordinarily cute. Brad is one of the cutest twinks I’ve ever seen in fact. I don’t know how a boy as cute and young as Brad ended up in the low end of his profession, but it’s wrong to exploit him. He deserves better.

I had a long talk with Brad. It took him a while to open up to me, but he did. My knee-jerk diagnosis is that Brad is probably schizophrenic with an untreated chemical imbalance. He might also be suffering from a mild neurological disorder, as evidenced by the physical tics that the first reviewer mentioned. He allowed me to drive him to the facility where I work and enroll him in an outpatient program. I set him up to live at the home of a female acquaintance of mine. He is no longer at the phone number posted here and with any luck, you have heard the last of him. Shame on you.

You: Hispanic male in my late 30s.

Brad responds: Don’t believe this guy. He’s a prick. I have a new number. It’s 310-555-9876. Call me if you’re a generous man. I’m up for anything. I need a place to live too. This guy’s a fucking prick. I don’t need help. He’s a liar. I’m writing this on his computer. What does that tell you? Guys like him are the worst. They promise you shit and they don’t mean it. Don’t call me if you’re like him.

Webmaster’s message: My repeated attempts to contact JoseR72 and have him confirm this review have been unsuccessful. Until further notice, I strongly advise all of you to stay clear of Brad.

indeed there continue to be tales about the tenderness of the wolves. “Clearly the secret of a variation on the general principle of banging your head against a wall, and then stopping.”
Stef Penney, The Tenderness of Wolves

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Robag Wruhme - Elämä on pitkä hiljainen joki

how weekends oughta sound...

i've seen that face before

grace (co)jones  via dd mag

The Order of Spirals

Discern what
Reality is, 
I can still sense an illusion.
I can still bear witness to the observation that
We are spiraling out of control and into the impending event horizon.
We are forming a decompositional matrix around our failing perceptions, 
Spaghettifying this surrounding spectacle of
Ours. For what reason must we choose
To abandon it, 

Tim Stensloff

i had dinner at a peruvian restaurant last night. it was strange at best. i walked in expecting to meet a friend at 5:45, but no one was there waiting. instead there was a man whom i had worked at a restaurant with in 2004. he was friendly and the conversation flowed. it turned out that he was very good friends with some other guys i had worked with in 1999 at another restaurant. and then in walked the ex-husband of a woman i  worked with in 1998 and 1999. they are all doing the same things but in different places- contrasted to my life which has completely shifted. it was trippy. it took me back. and the food was good.

i am still not the master of my emotions in some regard. i resigned from a few volunteer postions. i had been feeling drained and stretched and tugged in too many directions. and in this environment of too much, i began to get the sense that something was not quite right. i was very entrenched in getting my tasks done and i pushed past my insight and kept moving. and then i found myself feeling like my time was futile.  i struggle still with letting go of regret here. as much as i would like to say- i'm not angry- the truth is really that i am miffed. not uncontrollably thank goodness, but miffed none-the-less.

i am changing my role at my workplace. as i make this transition, i find myself characteristically honing in on areas that could use some change. i am already going to be taking on a much larger workload and yet i am looking for more extra curricular responsibility. 

Strange, I've seen that face before, 
Seen him hanging 'round my door, 
Like a hawk stealing for the prey, 
Like the night waiting for the day, 

Strange, he shadows me back home, 
Footsteps echo on the stones, 
Rainy nights, on Hausmann Boulevard, 
Parisian music, drifting from the bars, 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

seasons of love - and fear and rage- and change

vito russo at an actup demonstration

i am starting this post the morning after i saw the film "how to survive a plague".  it brought back so many remembrances of just how terrifying the 80's became for us. the uncertainty was palpable and in larger cities the anger was like a cloak that kept the gay community warm.  i am humbly amazed at how synchronicity encircles my life.

i called a friend from sin(strength in numbers) and asked him to go with me. we ended up with 10 people going to see it- many of whom i hadn't seen really for a year or more.there is a scene in the film where mark carrington on doing a film diary and is making a big deal about lighting a cigarette and looking cool. the filmmaker at the time tells him to forget the cigarette after he blows his line and he seems non-plussed because his cool stogie lighting bit won't be included. the guys i was with laughed out loud in unison at the vanity of it all. it was even funnier because we all laughed and no one else in the theater did- actually we laughed at several bits in the film without accompaniment.

the shots of aids patients of that time are still haunting and rang in that personal nightmare without fanfare or fuss. actually i found the documentary experience utilitarian and cathartic. it gave me the opportunity to reframe some of my terror and uncertainty into something less fearful and maybe even hopeful. to really experience the effects of high-pitched  fear and anger that were focused and targeted changed my landscape. it is sad that it took 20 years for me to catch up with peter staley, larry kramer, mark carrington, and the rest of the bunch. but i am very grateful i have had the opportunity to understand.

before this, i knew well that the actions of actup coalesced in a change of the systems we live with. the medical system, the research protocol, and the fda approval process. what i didn't know what how well planned and well executed the strategies for change were by this rogue band of frightened and angry men and women.

and just like these lgbt heroes from the film. maybe the change can be for the good. all our lives have been touched and tweaked by the demands of those brave and angry individuals. patient-centered care, fast tracked new drugs, open nih board meetings, peer representatives are just a few of the improvements we've seen in our healthcare world. absolutely nowhere in my mind is there doubt that the actions taken haven't saved lives. i know they saved mine. just how many they have touched may never really be known.

 i continue to be completely mad for peter staley. it is an unrequited crush that i will carry to my end of days. he did all that was documented in this film, plus he shape shifted the consciousness of nyc gay culture around crystal meth in the early 21 century. he grappled with the drug himself, which was no doubt a side effect of living with the terror of looming death for so long. it was mentioned that there were/are issues for many of the long-term survivors. this is part of my experience, too, and is a blessing (albeit very mixed). to survive is a gift even if it has a costly price tag.

currently i have found myself very angry in my life. my sponsor/friend has passed and  i spent many hours volunteering for a friends organization and have walked away feeling empty and burnt. i have removed myself from the fray which has turned down the heat abundantly, but i still have work to do in this arena. this film has lovingly reminded me that my anger can be of good use to me if i allow it to do so. i share in a meeting today that anger is really a signal that something needs work and i might look at anger as an opportunity to change. change takes time and almost everything changes with time. or so i pray.

Saturday, October 13, 2012


superior mirage of the boats painting

an optical phenomenon, especially in the desert or at sea, bywhich the image of some object appears displaced above,below, or to one side of its true position as a result of spatialvariations of the index of refraction of air.
something illusory, without substance or reality.

i can't remember being filled with as much anger and disappointment as i \have now coursing through my veins. well- that's not true- the last time was in 2008. connectedly, there are lessons here for me- i just need to get some distance before i can let all those in. and that anger just may be the same ancient anger- a little like the kraken unleashed.

i have a tendency to say "yes" to things when i might want to honestly take a closer look. but even then- as in this case, i may only see what i want to see. i push past the red flags and keep my eye on my prize.  one of the biggest part of this is the inability for me to comprehend that i might not have been up to the task. how do i hear what is going on that isn't being said? how do i see beyond what i want to see? a really frustrating aspect to my current predicament is that i did say "no" once. i just didn't stick with that answer.

as i was reading about mirages, i came to understand that mirages are caused by refractions of light with the influence of heat. images appear to be different than they are- whether they bend in an inverted direction or not depends upon the circumstances. in my current situation, it remains to be determined which this is. but no doubt it has been a mirage. or maybe more pointedly, i saw something i wanted to see that just wasn't there.

so for fun- i thought i would google how to wake from a bad dream. here is something i found. i doubt i will follow all these steps, but it certainly offers some perspective. and i need to smile these days. otherwise i am cavorting with the kraken.


  1. 1
    Realize that this is a dream, and nothing can harm you. To do this, it may help to try attempting something you could never do in real life.

  2. 2
    Look around and see anything out of the ordinary. If you find something, say a flying pig, think about it and realize this would never happen in real life. This may help you wake up if you realize that you are dreaming.
  3. 3
    Decide if you wish to avoid or face the object of your fear.
  4. 4
    To escape the dream into a different dream, try to look down and begin spinning in place. A series of images should flash by, and this will usually change the dream scene without waking you.
  5. 5
    First of all, try the standard wake up procedure. Throw your head back, and try to open your eyes. Concentrate on waking up, and use as much willpower as you can muster. Don't worry if this fails - some people just can't do it quite so quickly.
  6. 6
    If the previous step didn't work, try controlling your dreams. If you are not totally and utterly lucid, this probably won't work. Just try to teleport (again, extreme mental willpower) to a place with a giant alarm clock or wake-up machine, and do whatever you need.
  7. 7
    If you just want to wake up, try reading something like a book or a sign. Do not "just know" what it says, concentrate on the words and the letters. This usually activates a portion of your brain that is disabled in REM sleep. This is the same reason why you musn't panic if you aren't as smart in dreams as you are in real life.
  8. 8
    Blink! Close your eyes and wait a few seconds before re-opening them. Since your eyes are already closed in real life, sometimes when you open your eyes in a dream you open them in real life, waking you up. You may have to do this several times before it works.
  9. 9
    A classic: Pinching yourself. It works for some people.
  10. 10
    Failing all of the above, you can attempt to fly away. This will signal you are in a dream to your brain. To do it, simply jump and try to, well, fly!
  11. 11
    Stop thinking about the nightmare. Close your eyes, tightly and try to think about the real world. Think about your bed room scene, like what is it like when you wake up. Talk to yourself, and now try to open your eyes. You will feel that your eyes are actually glued together. Just concentrate on the real world.
  12. 12
    Another way of escape is to climb up onto an escalated ground (ex: the top of a staircase, a cliff) and just jump off.
  13. 13
    Run straight into a wall. You won't be hurt, but you will wake up. Or run into the enemy and let him/her eat or harm you. You won't die or hurt as well but you'll wake up.
  14. 14
    If you are able to talk in your dream (sometimes you can't): Keep saying "Wake Up!" over and over.
  15. 15
    If all else fails, attempt to kill yourself in the dream. Contrary to all the myths, this will not kill you in real life. Try anything. Whether its flinging yourself from a roller coaster or cutting off your own head, figure out a way.

Thursday, October 11, 2012


some friends from chicago came into town over last weekend. some other friends let us use their vacation home outside fairplay to have a getaway. it was pretty magical. we arrived on thursday evening and spent the night. the house has 3 bedrooms with a total of 6 beds, we all slept in the same room the first night - kinda like a dorm. laughter and storytelling were the easiest way to start to catch up with each other.

in the morning, it became apparent that the views from the house were pretty extraordinary. very large picture window on all 4 sides revealed snow-dusted mountain scenes behind blue skies in each direction with aspens that held only memories of gold on them created a sense of wonder that we don't quite feel everyday.

friday we had breakfast at the brown burro in fairplay. good green chili and a welcome air for travelers gave us a great start. we drove through buena vista and stopped to take photos along the way. we then headed to mt princeton and sat in the pools created by the hot springs for most of the afternoon. the waters were 80 and 100 degrees while the air was about 60. it was at once relaxing and invigorating. many of my cares and worries got left in those pools.

we then headed to salida which is one of my favorite small towns in colorado. there are bohemian art galleries and restaurants galore and each time i return, i discover something new. this time we found a gallery called art and salvage. the owner paints sweet folk paintings on old windows that are sweet and charming. one of these paintings  will probably be the gift we give to my friends for their generous gift to us.

there is a remarkable photo of the arkansas river as it flows through highway along salida which i used as a banner for this blog. so picturesque. the  entire day was a delight for the eyes. we headed back to the house and spent the 2nd and final night outside fairplay. as we drove up to the home, there was a family of 10 or so deer munching on the grasses of the lawn. they disappeared into the aspen grove as our car drew near, but it was another amazing aspect of our visit away from the city.

the next day we drove up through breckenridge, dillon, frisco, georgetown, and idaho springs before we got back to denver. our friend eddie, remarked that he had never seen the john waters' film "female trouble", so we opted to rent that. we laughed and napped and finished the saturday with an incredible dinner at rioja. the most outstanding was an herbed ricotta cheesecake with pickled apples and candied orange peel. the trip was winding down and the friendships were warming up.

on sunday, it was mostly packing and readying for home for my guests. we stopped at parallel 17 for a quick  brunch before the flights. friendship is a staple for a healthy diet and my visitors reminded me of this.  i laughed and i opened my heart this weekend. and found myself realizing how much i had needed to laugh. it had been awhile.