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Location: Susquehanna Depot, Pennsylvania, United States

Well, if you got here via the bi-chromatic Universe and "Dez", thanks. Their being available means they can be rented out, so to say, to vendors. For example, they'd be great in promoting pastries. Kids love cookies, so do adults. As for that ascending numeral three, it came about by way of ignorance. More than once, I'd see that same numeral with wings or a halo or both even on this or that pickup truck. And, dumb me, I'd think they were like golden horse shoes or four-leaf clovers ... good luck charms. It wasn't until later, I found out those threes are meant to commemorate one posthumously charismatic NASCAR driver. To inspire all those signs of grief, that guy might've had the makings for ... well, that's likely better left to the intuition of NASCAR votaries.

Monday, October 24, 2005

progress costs!

To begin grappling with this topic in the manner that's expected of a wild-eyed iconoclast, I'm invoking the right of the living. I demand the aid due me from a decades-dead heroin addict, who signature tune has been rubbing, raw and right, embedded commonplace sensibilities. ... eYep, some folks, I can well conjecture, have been put off by the large mouthful that subsumes those two preceding - rather piquant, dare one say - sentences. Who (?) can blame them!

Likely enough, their disposition limits their expository consumption to material with the consistency of bite-size snappy sentences, thickly dusted with sweetener. ... aaaay, there's nothing wrong with that. If I had friends, I'd likely enough have a few such people as dear friends. .... aaay, it takes all kinds to make a world.

All the preceding now flashing on the dear Reader's monitor, lemme now eye.dee the put-upon heroin addict, namely, Billie Holliday. According to rumor, on the way to her grave, she was both proud of and dismayed with her name's being forever enclosed within those brackets, certain to follow STRANGE FRUIT.

Its lyrics unmistakably allude to societal transaction, upon which current federal law enforcement frowns. At one time, the transaction in question had its defenders. Allegedly, it ensured glorious harmony between "the two races". Almost like clockwork, a mob of caucasian citizens would lynch colleague citizens of that other race, mostly men, but on occasion women and "uppity" adolescents. For several generations, it seemed efficacious in ensuring the alleged harmony.

At this point, I should like to insert a note about what I once read in regard to my Mediterranean heritage. Supposedly, I have stored deep within "racial memory" au Jung the following adage. And I quote, "There is no progress without price." In compliance with my American acculturation, I'm now presenting for your edification, dear Reader, a snappier version, specifically, "progress costs".

I can remember watching on television, some years before the advent of satellite, a docudrama about the life of Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King junior. In one scene, the actor portraying the good reverend doctor complains, or depending on one's point of view - whines, bitterly about the apparent need for "human sacrifice". Here's the underlying message I got from that scene. Most certainly, the good reverend accepted that he had been, somehow, called to be in the forefront in the struggle for civil rights.

At bottom, the struggle entailed extinguishing habits that had flourished during the time lynching was both tolerated, and even defended. However, he was far from eager to die for the struggle's sake, as if the lynchings weren't already more than sacrifice enough. It's a defensible inference that the actual good reverend would consider as a reasonably valid point the comment, "progress costs".

Into this essay, there comes a man, whom, whatever the government, its authorities found a bit much. In the essay titled "religion as elephant", he's introduced as Avram Beilitzsyn. Nowadays, I have sneaking hunch that wasn't the name his mama gave him. Even so, he was the most thoroughly spiritual human being I've ever met. Except for those all-night gap sessions, fueled by six-packs of Coors, he made the average papal candidate look like a moral slacker. Oh, what a character he was!

Back in the last century's 30s, he went to Russia to help lay the foundation for a grand and glorious global civilization. To keep his ass out of the gulag, he had to sneak across the Finnish border. Later on, in this country, a few years before the onset of World War II, he tried to distribute a book that predicted the Holocaust. Being the thoroughly spiritual man that he was, he made, in hindsight, a rash prediction in STEPPING STONES. The remnants of European Jewry would find succor and welcome in the land their God had promised Abraham.

Ah, truth be told, I now suspect Avram believed that the classically Arabic Koran was much closer in spirit to his Hebrew Old Testament than the koinonia Greek New Testament. By the way, he could read all three languages. So, why shouldn't the Arabs welcome back home (?) their siblings through the fatherhood of their common patriarch! Didn't happen, did it?

I was privileged to read one of the few copies that escaped being burned by the United States Postal Service. Maybe, that unfortunate turn of events could've been avoided, had Avram regarded with a cooler eye and a more jaundiced eye the genius that was Wilhelm Reich.

... ah, just among you and me and the lamp post, Avram's prose made D H Lawrence and Henry Miller look like potty-mouth third graders. ... aaaay, you, whyz.ache.err, try to remember, back in the last century's 50s, "Banned in Boston" was a big deal. So, try to imagine what commonplace attitudes were like, twenty years earlier.

Years and years later, when Avram and I were conversing toward the end of some of our all-night gap sessions, he would wax sarcastic, even sardonic, with regard to the burning of his book. He was lucky, he would asseverate vehemently, he had been deprived of free room and board that been provided Dr Reich in Lewisburg Penitentiary. Incidentally, that's where Dr Reich, the rather controversial herald of "orgone"prison, died ... "love and work and knowledge are the wellsprings of life, shouldn't they also guide same?"

Anyway, so Avram was given to hypothesize, had he been allowed to distribute STEPPING STONES, maybe, just maybe, the conflict between Jew and Arab in the Middle East could've been avoided. Instead of prowling around in helicopters that are armed with air-to-ground missiles, Jews would be conducting seminars in the eschatology of existentialism. Instead of fabricating bombs that occasionally detonate inexpediently, Arabs would be designing public edifices, even more splendorous than the Alhambra. Instead of cowering in their basement, Christians would be managing guided-tour companies.

Oh, what a magnificent dreamer he was! Just as there are synagogues and mosques in Rome, churches and mosques in Jerusalem, soon ... so he was sure ... there would be synagogues and churches in Mecca.

+ + + + euwwww, the horror! the horror! The thought of Reverend Dobson or Falwell or Robertson, or horror beyond horror, all three preaching in Mecca gives me the heebie jeebies. aaay, c'mon, whyz.ache.err, as if relations between the so-called West and the Islamic world weren't rocky enough already. + + + + + + + + +

Here's where I insert my personal viewpoint in my recounting this dear old man's fondest hope. Besides being adiaphorestic, I'm also cynical. Now that I think about, years later, why Avram ever bothered with me is still a mystery. Oh, well, lemme resume. I've never been to Mecca ... understand? I don't qualify. And yet, I'm willing to bet five doughnuts to somebody's three.

The wager being, well within the precinct of that holy city, tucked away out of sight of those pilgrims bound by religious duty to visit there, a McDonald's pit-stop is catering to Mecca's permanent residents. .... aaay, c'mon, Muslims, who live in Mecca, have as much right to scomp Big Macs as Muslims, who live in Cairo.

Wood'jah (?) buh-leave! The presence of McDonald's in Cairo had something to do with ... oh, never mind!

Dear Reader, let us you and I try to suppose that Avram's fondest hope and most cherished prediction had been realized. Oh, yeah, a comment from the teevee series BABYLON 5 just popped into mind. Predictions that come true are prophecy, those that don't are metaphor.

Oh, well, lemme resume. Instead of being immersed in conflict that is not only bloody but also scandalous, the Middle East rather overflows with the milk and honey of peace and prosperity, and a divinely countenanced comity that one should expect to find among the progeny of a common patriarch. And then, this pops up.

... progress costs! ....

I for one surmise that a scholar's case could be made that women's liberation in the Middle East was kicked off by the United Nations' partition of Palestine in 1947.

... progress costs! ....

Here, I'm going way out on a limb. And I'm doing so with only the thinnest justification. While surfing around the Internet, I came upon an article that deals with the difficulties young American Muslims are encountering, as they try to practice their faith. Lackadaisical me, I merely skimmed the article.

So, for no valid reason I can even imagine, I'm inferring what could be, indeed has to be, conflict between those young Muslims and their parents. It's not so much that young Muslims, born and brought up in this country, are rejecting Islam. It's more like they feel they're being urged to comply with an "Islam for then and there". In accordance with their American acculturation, they would much prefer an "Islam for here and now".

Chances are, those poor parents go into a rage, when they hear their children quote a story that's often been successfully used to proselytize Islam ... "not much difference, mine's just a little newer ... ". ... eYep, so I contend, that's just one of the repercussions stemming from the aforementioned conflict. And there are more, certain to follow.

... progress costs! ....

In other pieces, published elsewhere, I've advocated baptizing those so-called Islamic militants, who are intent on obliterating McDonald's, with the sobriquet "bedbug". I did so for various reasons, chief among them, to ridicule "bedbug" misogyny. I'm beginning to surmise that the management of McDonald's won't have to lift a finer to fumigate those bedbugs. With each passing day, they're become more assuredly known as foolhardy crackpots in the service of a psychotic manifestation of an "Islam for then and there".

... progress costs! ....

Some of my numerous devoted fans may well be wondering why I've refrained from devoting time and space to other more, say, "spectacular" consequences of the failure of Islam to seize a once-in-a-millennium opportunity. Truth be told, it's a good guess those topics are already being tackled by others with more imposing academic credentials.

If I may, I should like to conclude this piece with a comment about progress costing only a little romance. For about a year, this country's East Coast communicated the West Coast, and vice versa, via Pony Express. Conveying a couple saddlebags filled with missives, a young man, usually, would ride a horse to a relay station. There, the rider would swap his exhausted horse for a fresh mount, and continue with the delivery.

For about a year, dime novels by the dozens entertained the unwashed but literate masses with tales, tall and true, about the intrepid riders of the Pony Express. And then, it happened. The dots and dashes of the telegraph began traversing the country ... bye bye Pony Express.


.he who is known as sefton

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