- Fine Art
I love Union Station in Los Angeles and admire the architecture every time I’m here. At the same time, I need to charge my laptop so I plug it into the baseboard along the floor and sit down against the wall, ready to watch the rest of the Mummy. After like two minutes these two young rent-a-cops (20 years old?) carrying badges and walkie talkies come walking up to me and ask me to please sit in a seat and unplug my computer.
Why should I sit in a seat? I ask.
Why should I unplug my computer?
It’s against Amtrak Policy.
This is a public building I say. Amtrak doesn’t own it.
Well, those are the rules.
Please sit in a seat and unplug your computer.
I’m a commuter, I say, I need to charge the battery so I can work (and watch movies!). Can I speak to your supervisor? I ask. (Always ask to speak to a supervisor, no matter what- on the phone, in whatever situation: every underling is always supposed to refer you to their supervisor).
What’s your name? he asks.
Michael, I say, and he proceeds to call someone over.
They go off, continuing to ask people for their tickets and checking and making sure they are sitting in seats (and not, say, leaning against the wall which is a considerably dangerous thing to do, or sitting in a seat, without a ticket, admiring the architecture which is exactly what a terrorist would like to make you think he’s doing… admiring the architecture and thinking about blowing it up! Mwahahahahah!!!! And he would have gotten away with it too if it hadn’t been for those meddling rent-a-cops)
So, in order, to at least create too much of a scene and buy some time in case the supervisor should be a dick, I put my laptop into my bag, leaving it plugged into the wall. I put my headphones in my bag too so there aren’t cords all over the place and I don’t look like some punk with big stereo headphones. The batteries gotta charge anyways; I’ve still got two hours left on the train and I hate working with a lagging battery. I lean against the wall and go back to admiring the patterns in the ceiling beams. Ever notice that they look like Navaho rugs? The architect used the pattern in the ventilation system, it seems, to mimic the frayed ends of a rug, with the nicely centered red and green toned squares and diamonds in the middle. It forms a lovely pattern that suggests deep southwest roots without looking too… New Mexican.
After a few minutes, the supervisor, an older, shorter, rounder dude, with the same rent-a-cop security badge, comes up to me, sorta annoyed.
You can’t use the plug here.
It’s against the rules.
Don’t question the rules. It’s against the rules. I don’t make the rules.
Well, my taxes pay for this electricity.
If you want to file a complaint you can do so tomorrow.
Well, I don’t see how plugging my computer in harms anyone.
How is it rude? I’m not causing anyone any harm.
It’s against the rules. You can file a complaint (visions of complaint form-C double stamped and submitted in triplicate in true bureaucratic fashion) tomorrow when the office opens.
Well, then I’ll submit a complaint.
Well you can’t use the plug. Don’t question the rules.
He walks off… grumbling about the rules.
But not once did he actually make me move.
The point is: the little guy, no matter what, actually, in the end, feels like a little guy and knows he doesn’t have much clout. Now, if he were an actual cop, I still woulda said everything i did, but with perhaps different results. (“Skkrch- we’ve got a trouble maker here, over”) Instead, I’m in a public building with rules made by a private company about how I can use the electricity that I am paying for and you are telling me to unplug my laptop? I think not, my good man.
The irony of it is that when I sit down in my seat in the train, there is a 120 volt plug sitting there for me to plug in my computer. Convenient, sure but the last car I was sitting in didn’t have an outlet. Another irony is this: in the station they were checking tickets of people to make sure there were no loiterers (?) yet, once on the train, there is an announcement of: we will be departing just a few minutes, if you are saying good bye you will have to depart the train at this time. Do these people have special “saying good bye” passes to allow themselves a seat in the station?
It is an interesting world we live in with Rule-Makers, Rule-Followers, Rule-Breakers and Those-For-Whom-The-Rules-Do-Not-Apply. I find myself to be fortunate to be in the latter category. That is the category for those who know how to govern themselves. It is unfortunate that, for the most part, many humans don’t know what self-control is as well as self-realization – the two things go hand in hand. When we realize Self, we learn how to control it with compassion and wisdom. Instead, those who don’t understand it devise very complex systems to govern themselves and everyone else and these systems are based on mistrust, envy, and, most of all, ego. Due to the lack of training in the area of self knowledge – nothing really in our system teaches us how to truly govern ourselves – such people know they would go nuts otherwise. All the Republicans and the Catholics. It is a vast system of gates and locks holding in their demons with chains hewn out of their own fears and misunderstandings. Most of them have never confronted those demons, never stared them down, reconciled with them, dissolved them, and so they stay locked away, living in fear. Thus, there is projected an outward need for order – an order based on arbitrary rules that help the inwards world to maintain a sense of balance. However, if people truly knew how to live in harmony with each other, take responsibility for their actions and treat each other as they would like to be treated (how hard that seems to be!) then they wouldn’t need rules, governments, etc.
Doesn’t that sound nice?
Then you could plug your laptop into an available outlet, take pictures of a famous park statue, or just stand along side a building without worrying about getting harassed all the while maybe musing about nothing more than the conjunction of colors on the pavement, the sky and a tuft of grass growing through the crack in the sidewalk.
Riding along the Amtrak on my way back to San Diego passing mountains and fields in afternoon golden sunlight. Rocky red mountains tinged with green, laden with it, draped over them. At the same time, Hard to tell if i am going south or north- the sun is to my back but the land passes me from left to right. This makes no sense to me.
Egyptian pyramids and kitchy lines of “The Mummy” play out on the screen of my laptop while my mind drifts to thoughts of the Casa Barranca Tasting Room in Ojai and the work I’ll be painting a bit of detail work along the archways, stained glass looking motifs like tiffany windows or frank lloyd wright squares and rectangles or C. R. Mackintosh floralisms.
Nothing like the romance of the train to set the mind to drifing. This car with the windows that spread out overhead and allow me to get long panoramic views of these gold tinged hills.
I am hungry, and there isn’t a thing to eat except for pre-made, pre-prepared pre-packaged junk.
“Why did you kiss me” says the dame on the screen.
“Well I was about to be hanged, seemed like a good idea at the time.” Says the Brendan Fraser with long hair.
Passing oil fields and electrical lines. Power to power our world. Where is the truly sustainable resource we desire? Is desire a sustainable resource? It’s always there, ready to be tapped into. Which is a funny thing- it drives us onwards and we keep looking, uncovering and researching- to search and re-search.
Two little old ladies to my left, with their white white hair. Talking and talking non-stop. White shirts match their hair, accompanied by jackets a shade of blue it seem I only seeelderly folks wear. My Grandfather was a case in point. He had a jacket the same color – this light sky blue. The little old ladies point and gesticulate, occasionally holding hand to face in a look of being aghast at the cost or the nerve or who would have believed that one.
I love these hills with their sloping rolls that let the sun drape over them in long sinuous lines, tufted by an oak or madrone here and there. Occasionally parallel lines of orange trees create a patterned blanket in the distance.
We stop for a moment to allow a north bound train to pass and then on our way to Simi Valley, a place I will most likely never live, something that is fine by me.
I love this sunlight, this early evening golden wash over our faces, through the windows. In fact, this may be my most favorite time of the day. This, this right now, was worth the two-hour delay.
I had the option of staying in Oxnard for another hour til the later train came, at which time, I’d be boarding the same train that I’m going to get on in LA. But if I’d taken that one, I wouldn’t get a chance to spend at least a little bit of time in that fine train station that is Los Angeles’ Union Station – that gorgeous blend of post and beam Arts and Crafts style with Spanish Colonial stucco, red brick and painted tiles. Compared to the utilitarian feel of the Oxnard station, where it seems time stands still while we sit in uncomfortable park bench style seating, Union Station feels like a cathedral.
Movies like “The Mummy” – I have such a soft spot in my heart for them… some romance, some action, some magic, some cheese, some corn, some retro vision… some fun… Horses and swords and guns and archaeology. There is nothing like archaeology to spark the minds of children (me, too, my inner child speaks up). I always loved the archaeologists. Discovering lost treasure… lost civilizations and then, greater than the lost treasures are the secrets and lost magic of those places – the ark, the underground cities, the holy grail, mummies and archways and cities buried in the sand…
It’s a great movie in the way that Indiana Jones is a great movie. Which is to say that it’s a terribly cheesy movie that strikes the right chord at the right moment.
The Egyptian Book of the Dead! This is treasure. “It’s just a book…” And as she opens it, the tell-tale whisperingly squealing wind blows by… And that mummy that was dead down below is now alive… NO! They scream… YES! Perfect. I would have read this in a comic book when I was young. It s like a Tin-tin comic mixed with Indiana Jones and a dash of spook. And revolvers. Revolvers are so much more fun than automatics or semi-automatics. Although these six-shooters seem more like… eight-shooters? Twelve? Of course, it never hurts that the heroes always, and quite by accident, make off with some loot.
Back to the landscape… mounds of rocks with trees growing in their crevices and cracks.
Back to the movie…
“We are part of an ancient and secret society…”
The gold is always discovered but, usually, it ends up buried in a mound of sand or something and the adventurer is left with the adventure. That’s all drifters such as that really want anyhow. What use does an adventurer have with treasures or gold? A kiss from a beautiful woman, a chance to shoot the gun a bit, a few unruly zombies to talk to, shoot at… Not to mention the usual bondage suggestions- the beautiful girl tied to the table, a bit of cleavage showing, her breathless mouth wide open… Nothing like being an adventurer…
Sitting in the hot springs this afternoon, sunning in the sun, warm waters washing over my being. Cool breeze over perspiration laden skin. Red dragon flies buzzing through the air describe curved spiraling lines that linger in my vision. Reflected ripples of water, on the underside of a boulder overhanging the pool of sulphuric hot spring water, intertwine in accordance to the motions and intimations of the breeze, my movements, and their own echoes. A bead of sweat drips off my chin and taps the surface of the pool, forming concentric circles that merge with the larger ripples. Silence resounds arond me in the form of bird songs, rustling leaves, water rippling and rolling, sounds of life drifting through everything: the trees, the rocks, the water, me. I breathe everything in deeply and exhale everything just the same. I twist and stretch and sit still. I smile and relax. I sigh. I surrender.
train in the summer time along the california coast
passing an endless beach of turquoise blue water.
endless curls of waves and endless sand – miles –
people dot the beach then exist in swarms then fade
beautiful girls in bikinis
tan fit boys riding waves
sitting like seals doting the snowy white surf
people fading away again and the beach is too short for even people
only odd people remain
little kids wearing black and red wetsuits like a little line of seals
walking along follow the leader don’t get washed away
a pile of rocks
a discarded table
another lifeguard tower
small trailer homes along the beach front
very expensive trailer homes
blocking the view of sea
palm trees and bougainvillea
and that endless endless horizon line of blue
punctuated now and again by a speedboat, a freighter ship
an oil drilling barge (now that they open it up again)
and then people again in droves, in front of
houses that get battered by the wind during storm
but warmed by the sun and surf
during these endless
I love this state.
Joe gets up at 6 a.m. and fills his coffeepot with water. The water is
clean because some tree-hugging liberal fought for minimum quality
standards. With his first swallow he takes his daily medication, safe
because a commie wannabe fought to ensure that it works as advertised.
All but $10 of his medications are paid for by his employer’s medical
plan since liberal union workers fought for paid medical insurance.
He prepares his morning bacon and eggs, which are safe to eat because
some girly-man liberal fought for laws to regulate the meat packing
industry. In the morning shower, Joe reaches for his shampoo, properly
labeled because some crybaby liberal fought for his right to know what
he was putting on or in his body.
Joe dresses, walks outside and takes a deep breath. The air he breathes
is clean because environmentalist wackos fought for laws to stop
industries from polluting. He walks on the government-provided sidewalk
to the subway for his government-subsidized ride to work, which saves
him money in parking and gas because some fancy-pants liberal worked for
affordable public transportation.
Joe begins his work day at a good job with excellent pay, medical
benefits, retirement, paid holidays and vacation thanks to liberal union
members who fought and died for those working standards. If Joe is hurt
on the job or becomes unemployed, he’ll get worker compensation or an
unemployment check because some lazy-ass liberal didn’t think he should
lose his home due to temporary misfortune.
It*s noon and Joe needs to make a bank deposit so he can pay some
bills. His deposit is insured by the FSLIC because some godless liberal
wanted to protect his money from the unscrupulous bankers who ruined the
banking system before the Great Depression. Joe has a Fannie
Mae-underwritten mortgage and below-market federal student loan because
lefty elitists thought Joe would be better off if he was educated (at a
state-funded university) and earned more money over his lifetime.
Joe drives home on taxpayer-funded roads. His car is among the safest
in the world because flag-hating liberals fought for safety standards.
He plans to visit his father at his home in the country. His was the
third generation to live in the house financed by the Farmers’ Home
Administration because bankers didn’t want to make rural loans. The
house didn’t have electricity until some big-government liberal stuck
his nose where it didn’t belong and demanded rural electrification.
He’s happy to see his father, now retired on Social Security and a
union pension thanks to cheese-eating liberals. On the ride home Joe
turns on a radio talk show whose host chants endlessly that liberals are
bad and conservatives are good. He doesn’t mention that Republicans
have fought every protection and benefit Joe has enjoyed today. Joe
considers himself a self-made man and agrees: “Everyone should take just
care of themselves, just like I have.”
-Reprinted from an email sent to me, at one time or another. But worthy of reprinting…
Violet and I had a beautiful wedding in Malibu, CA, on June 22nd. A wide open blue skies with soft breezes tempered the heat of the longest day of the year where, atop a mountain plateau high above the ocean, with a view that inspired all to a sense of awe, we were wedded. The ceremony, held at the site of an ancient medicine wheel in use for ceremonies since the days of the Chumash and used just the day before for a Solstice gathering and ritual held by Mary and Eric Wright, who own the land, brought together many traditions and cultures, all of the elements and our own families and community as witness to our union. The elements, represented by a male and female each, and all of them dear friends, were led in by Robin and Rafael, who officiated the ceremony. They have both been with us since we first met, with Robin being my go-to person to talk about Violet with and vice versa. Now, here they were, as our priest and priestess, directing, casting, holding space for us, honoring us with their own blessings. We were welcomed into the circle and, after the initial opening, directed by Robin to each element who, in turn, blessed us with words and traditions of their own choosing. Only our actions were rehearsed. The words, though written, memorized, etc, were fresh to all of our ears. It was not repeating lines but being in the moment, the truth.
I had a voice in my head though, badgering me. It was my father whom I could feel grimacing through the whole thing. He is a staunch Catholic and, as such, takes issue with any spiritual path that is not distinctly his and enjoys proselytizing, especially to me, his oldest son who seems to have high spiritual motivations but also has, well, tended to such an opposite path. We already had a moment a few days before while eating dinner at World Famous down on the ocean in Pacific Beach. Enjoying the sunset, eating a seared ahi salad, I told them about (<a href=”http://www.mclightenment.com” target=”_blank”>McLightenment</a>. I knew it would get his goat a bit but there is a message there (even for him), tho he wasn’t interested in hearing it. Instead he used it as one more opportunity to turn things around, find something wrong with it and then use it to start needling at other practices of mine, like yoga.
“Look, dad,” I said, “Let it go. You have your path to your truest self and I have mine. They might be completely different and there are some things we might never agree on but they are our paths and that’s that.”
He kind of stuttered for a moment realizing that was the truth. So he shut up, although thinking about it now and again it makes me feel a bit of anxiety. Every son wants to be loved by his father but not just loved but respected as well, respected for the choices we make, respected for the paths we choose. My father might never get why I have chosen the path that I have, although he seems to make every effort to sway me towards his own. I’m 32 years down a path that continues to get brighter, more loving and more compassionate. I am in love with the universe – this great spirit that is all things – and it is in love with me.
So here we are getting married then and I have his voice, echoes of discussion, judgment, passing through my head while I am trying to remain present to the words of love, the blessings, the admonitions and foundations that are being passed along to us from some of our dearest friends.
Leave, I tell it, get out. I have no time for you. This is my day. Not yours. This ceremony is a manifestation of Violet and I. It is our truth and we are living it.
And it quieted down. It lurched off. Our ceremony, you see, was almost completely pagan- the elements, the blessings of the spirit, all of these things: it chafed against all of his own beliefs, structures and systems. Yet, if he were to pause, he could have seen the beauty in it. I would like to believe that he did. My mom got it. My brother loved it. Our friends – to them it was completely natural and in tune with the rhythm of life and the love of spirit.
When we returned to the center of the circle, Robin and Rafael invited everyone to stand around the circle and hold hands and be witness to our union, as we spoke our vows, exchanged our rings and were pronounced Michael and Violet Divine.
The circle remained as we exited, holding hands as one.
Later our reception was held down under some great old oak trees, on a large deck, with a small waterfall cascading over boulders into a little pond of lilies. We danced, we drank some wine (<a href=”http://www.casabarranca.com” target=”_blank”>Casa Barranca </a>– Thanks Bill!) We laughed and hugged. We munched on tasty food. Pictures were taken. It is all a blur now or memories, memories and moments. A beautiful sun set over the mountains casting rays of golden magenta light. It was perhaps one of the most beautiful days of my life.
After days of hard work – from hand block-printing and accenting each invitation that went out to making the pants and skirts of all the elements who played a role in our ceremony to our own outfits- Violet’s dress, my pants and shirt, our necklaces and wrist cuffs… to the planning and phoning and meeting and deciding and buying and and and… To see it all come together and be a perfectly wonderful 7 hours. 7 hours of people who have come to celebrate with us in such a beautiful way- to see us united. It wasn’t a birthday party or even just a party in honor of us- it was a party in honor of our divine union. There are few other reasons I can think of to have such a wonderful time. To have it in such a beautiful setting surrounded by all of the elements – the ocean and the mountains, the sun and the wind… and the Divine.
Pictures and other info can be seen here: www.michaelandviolet.com
Marriage is a spiritual contract not just between two people but between two souls with the whole of the world as witness to their union. This spiritual contract, this union, is based on trust, commitment, admiration and, most of all, love. This love has no fine print, no conditions, and no murky sub-clauses. It is exactly as it is stated. The two souls entering into this union share a trust of each others intentions and motivations. They are committed to each others spiritual growth as well as to their own. They admire the life that each other leads now, has led and will continue to lead. And they love each other as they are, wholly and completely, not as they could be, as they would like them to be or as they once were. When we love another person fully, we extend our boundaries to include them within our sphere of existence. Their growth process becomes our growth process, their failures and triumphs become our own. We allow that their process may be different than ours and that it has gone on long before we ever entered the picture, but as long as that process is healthy and valid, as long as it allows for love, growth and change and does not create discordance of spirit both within and without, we support and engage it with them. When the growth process closes, when the door of the heart seems to shut, we do not turn our backs but, again, offer support, compassion and the challenge to move beyond such obstacles to a more harmonious and loving existence. There is strength in numbers and in the spiritual union of marriage, a container is created for greater growth and deeper spiritual connection, for a broader experience of life than the two spirits here before us have experienced on their own. The goal of a spiritual life is to live in harmony with the world – to rise as the world rises and set as the setting sun, allowing that all things are one, are dependent upon each other and come from and go back to Spirt. It is wise to enter into a union with one who seeks to support such harmony, to spread love and wisdom and to create a wise and compassionate world. The two spirits, Michael and Violet, have deemed it wise, each other fit as well as themselves, to enter into such a union.
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