Friday, July 9, 2010
Or, from ruin to paradise. It depends on which way you're driving.
So let's begin in the middle. Midway on the road was the meth lab. Maybe it wasn't really the meth lab, but the Ponderosa Pharmaceutical Reprocessing Corporation. I doubt this, because somehow the trailer that used to sit here didn't look incorporated. But it did look like what I thought a meth lab would look like, if things looked as they should. The windows had been broken for years so the residents' shelter from the cold was a blanket draped over the frame. Perhaps cooking the Pseudofed kept the place warm. The trailer was dismantled, finally, and all that's left are the front and back porches. I assume the owners used them to enjoy the fruits of the labor.
Looks can be deceiving, I understand. In my old neighborhood there was a car with the license plate "Meth Dst". It seemed odd to advertise an illegal activity so blatantly (read "meth distributor") until I learned a Methodist minister lived there.
No worries, though. Our vibrant neighborhood, full of entrepreneurial souls, already has a possible replacement. A smarter entrepreneur might have located the new lab just outside the reach of the state maintenance, but it's probably a start up operation that is learning as it goes.
Actual ruins do exist on our road. The log cabin was dismantled a while back, and all the logs are probably used now as the flooring of Albert Haynesworth's home or, even worse, Ann Coulter's. At $40 million, he (and by this I mean Ann) can afford it, not that he really gives a flip.
Deserted homes make me....wonder. Built in hope, certainly. Abandoned in despair, probably. In between...How much laughter and kindness and love was there? How much anger and bitterness and sullenness? Did the family move to a "better place"? Were they sad the last time they walked out that door, or eager for the new place they would call their own?
Just up from the chimney is this speed limit sign. The limit was likely unnecessary, or unheeded, or both. Limits can be that way. Should I worry that I tell my sons (in a fatherly way) that, yes, I set my cruise control to be exactly nine miles over the posted limit? I could explain to them (and I think I have) the difference between de jure limits (what the rule actually is) and the de facto limits (what the limit is that is actually enforced). The lesson they hear: this is how much you can break the rule before you are likely to face the consequences.
Even when you are driving between paradise and ruin, you will be watched. Are they blowing kisses or raspberries?
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
I would have liked to meet Eve. Adam, basically, is sitting on his ass, probably drinking a Bud Light. Maybe moping. Probably wondering when Eve would bring him another one.
Meanwhile, she's checking out the tree of knowledge. Wondering. Considering. I'm not sure she would talk with the Snake, as I'm guessing that even then Eve was pretty skeptical of snakes. Or wary. Or alarmed. So I'm thinking the Snake is a metaphor, unlike Eve and Adam.
For the record: my father assures me that the tempting fruit was not an apple, as they didn't grow wherever the Garden of Eden was. He knows stuff like that, being an "appleologist" which is different than "apologist" although maybe they somehow are linked, which they are not. Oh well. He assures me it was more likely a pomegranate. But the "pom" was somehow I think connected to the French word "pomme" for apple. Dad, feel free to weigh in.
I don't think Eve needed the metaphorical snake. Bold as she was, she wanted the knowledge, and she took it (the pomegranate, that is), and bit it, and a hall of shit rained down on her. No more lounging by the pool, naked. From now on, busters, you are working for a living, bearing children in pain, and living with the knowledge that you would die. Which seems pretty harsh for eating a fruit, but I'm no God.
Did she create temptation or was it offered there to her?
I'd like to think that she created it. I'm not so confident of a God who would say: "Come on, innocent one....what's the harm of a little temptation...."
Just seeing this picture makes you want to get some, doesn't it?
It does. Or it should. Because that's the whole point of temptation, isn't it? To give in, just a little?
When did temptation become good? When it was useful to make money, which really is just about the oldest profession. Think about it...how did the "oldest profession"come about if there was no money to be made? But now: check the ads. They are all about temptation, and giving in. Except for the abstinence only advertisements, which are about as useful as the Snake.
Me? I'm much better at avoiding the sources of temptation than the temptation itself. Rather than saying "No thanks!" it seems easier to avoid the question entirely. Sometimes I wish that the Tree of Knowledge would have been clearcut. But then where would that leave Eve?
And you. And me.
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
I’d cap Frosty’s ass. My sons know this, as I have encouraged them with words like “Cap Frosty’s ass!” It’s not that I have anything against Frosty, in particular, or his ass. I’m sure he’s a fine guy, what with his corncob pipe and carrot nose. What I don’t like is commercialized cuteness. Especially the ones that require generators, like the inflatable Frosties, Santas, Easter Bunnies, or Great Pumpkins. Even if I drove by an inflatable Bambi, I’d instruct my boys to shoot to kill. Even Thumper – the inflatable one – would be advised to wear a vest. So when my sons and I are out driving during the Holiday season, I've given them this wise holiday advice.
Even worse, if that is possible, are the posters of Eagles soaring on the wing, with the caption reading "Unless you soar with the Eagles you’ll sit with the Turkeys." I’m not sure whether I’ll agree or disagree with this, as right now I am sitting with the (Wild) Turkey. Who seems quite friendly, and we have been having quite the revealing conversation (you won’t BELIEVE what he has done, the rake). Ben Franklin certainly liked turkeys, and for a guy who was early to bed and early to rise, and spoke French, and had badder mullet than MacGyver (compare their pictures below!), and still discovered electricity and petticoats, and said things like “We shall all hang together, or we shall all hang separately” he seemed to do OK. Well. I’m on his side, in general. As for the Eagles…well Don Henley Must Die. That’s not my opinion, that’s a song.
Thursday, June 17, 2010
Monday, June 14, 2010
My wrists are good for lots of things, most especially a) providing a place for my watch to rest; b) keeping my hands attached to my body. They should be thanked more often.
Sunday, June 13, 2010
By this time I was not traveling alone. In a deserted historic area I came across a young German man carrying a backpack, complete with tent and sleeping bag. It was very hot and humid, and he was soaked. We were both touring aimlessly, so I figured he would enjoy my air conditioned YAR!is. So we spent the rest of the afternoon just poking through neighborhoods, circling roundabouts, walking up stairways, and talking about the middle east. He is working for the German Chamber of Commerce in Dubai and rode the overnight bus here. Where are you staying? I asked. I'll find a place in some park, he replied. I've done that myself many, many times....many, many years ago.
Saturday, June 12, 2010
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
Saturday, June 5, 2010
In Islamic architecture, buildings are simple and symmetrical on the exterior and richly adorned inside, symbolizing their spirituality. Modern American homes favor ostentatious exteriors and massive, ill-conceived interior spaces, reflecting ours.
The rich have the good shit. The main public beach in Bahrain is unsightly and trashy. Yet the sea is (mainly) the same for rich and poor alike here: crystalline bathwater. I am thankful that the rich in American don't own all the good beach property, just most of it.
Women wear full black robes and veils on the beach, and even in the water. I doubt this can be comfortable, but is it less comfortable (physically and spiritually) than butt floss and pasties?
No one else on the beach had a pink belly, but maybe no one noticed.
The best meal I’ve had in the Mideast was the 50 cent shawarma from street vendors: fresh, tasty, and cheap. The shawarma, not the vendors.
Doha is a jewel box; Manama is a junk drawer. Jewel boxes are to be admired and junk drawers are to be explored.
The towns south of Manama along the coast remind me of my mind: cluttered, with lots of projects half completed and then abandoned due to lack of interest.
A veil that entirely covers a woman’s face seems like overkill to me. Any man who advocates it for reasons of modestly should have to wear one also. On the other hand, next to the woman in the full veil was one in tight black jeans, long silken locks, and smoldering black eyes, and I totally lusted after her.
The airport security guard didn’t bother to look at my bag going through the x-ray machine, so my can of diet coke was successfully smuggled. Qatar Air provides you a free snack and a drink, even on a 30 minute flight, and it doesn’t care if you leave your iPod on during the landing. The rule stating that you must remain buckled until you reach the gate is widely ignored.
It's good to explore, and it's good to be back home.
Friday, June 4, 2010
[I seem to remember that the Daily Show had something similar recently; I hope I'm not plagiarizing, which I guess I'm not, as I'm giving the Show credit, but only if it deserves it.]
I'll confess, but not in a confessional, that I have seen a similar sign outside of a Baptist church: "Grill with Satan or Chill with the Saints. The Choice is Yours!"