Devastating. And it’s so easy to substitute guns for cars.
I was standing in line at CVS, when a youngish, tattooed skater burst into the store, declaiming conspiracies as he stalked around. He was clearly in the grip of psychosis, and I caught bits of proclaiming the god-law on top of the Texas capitol and refusing to submit to the demands of various authorities, both earthly and supernatural. I confess I was a bit concerned as he careened about, but was able to make my purchase, and I noticed that he had selected an Odwalla juice of some sort as I walked out the door.
I got back into my car, and as he passed in front of my windshield with his juice on the way to who knows where, my playlist resumed to the declamations of Bob Dylan singing “It's Alright Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)”, and in that moment, I realized what a paper-thin and probably arbitrary line it is that separates visionaries from madmen.
["Rambling Lips Dylan" is cribbed from "Rambling Lips X", the name Jon Handelsman gave to a well-known schizophrenic man who roamed Ann Arbor in the '80s.]
For years, Austin has had the reputation of being a bicycle-friendly town, but for those of us who have lived here for 15-20 years or more, hearing or seeing this in magazines like 'Bicycling' has always been confusing. Yes, there are oodles of mountain bike trails, and yes, Lance Armstrong made his name here; however, if you attempted to bicycle in and around the city on streets and roads, you literally placed your life on the line. Not only were there virtually no bike lanes, but it was legal to park a car in those that did exist. And the newspaper regularly ran articles about drivers who intentionally clipped bicyclists because they felt that they were infringing on the god-given rights of Texans to drive their cars, trucks, and SUVs with no impediment. This is not an exaggeration!
However, in the last 2-3 years, I've begun to see more and more dedicated bike lanes appearing on major streets throughout the city. There are even pedestrian crossing lights on major thoroughfares, including one that allows folks to cross from one side of Zilker Park to the other– no more embarrassing scenes of families gathering at the side of Barton Springs Rd, and then making a mad dash across, with cars zooming by from both directions!
I don't have any concrete evidence that Austin drivers have moderated their hostility toward bicyclists and pedestrians, but I have to believe that over time, this, too, will change. Thanks are due the folks who have pushed for these changes– it appeared to be a Quixotic errand for many years, but the fruits of this quest are finally beginning to appear. As Austin continues to grow like wildfire, the hopes for a livable city rest on this continuing evolution.
I've spent the last 20 years cajoling, promising, telling myself that I would get back into recording my songs and music, and I haven't done jack. Well, not exactly nothing– there have been some recordings… pretty halfhearted. Anyway, point is, I think I finally understand that I need to take some baby steps, so I've decided to just start laying the fuckers down: fragments, shards, snippets, whatever. And I'm gonna call them Very Small Songs.
First up: Whale Train
The best spam email I’ve received in a long time, courtesy of one Eulah Pillsbury:
Hello gorgeous! (:
I really wanna know you!
My name is Eulah.
I expect to read something interesting ))
This makes me smile every time I read it.
There’s enough to go around for everybody– anybody tells you different, call the undertaker, they’re dead inside.
Earlier this year, I visited my sister-in-law and her family in Cambridge on my way home from Cork, Ireland, and she sent Alain de Botton’s Religion for Atheists along to my wife. After about 10-15 years of on and off again engagement with several religious traditions (Quakerism and Zen Buddhism primarily), I think I’ve finally come to grips with the fact that I don’t have faith in any kind of external force or intelligence beyond what one might call natural laws; in essence, I’ve decided I’m just not gonna fight it any longer.
I think that what has attracted me to religious programs has been some of the community aspects that de Botton describes (oh, and of course, the promise of some existence beyond our brief corporeal lives). But my involvement has always felt forced and illegitimate, and I’m no longer willing to entertain the contradictions that permeate organized religion. I think I’m done.