Monthly Archives: March 2012

The death of a Child

     What you see above, in the background, is a picture of the house Mrs. Neutron lived in until shortly before I moved in next door.  What you can see in the foreground is the back of her garage.  All that was left of her when I hit town was an empty house and a garage full of unidentified “equipment”… and the rumors.  It’s a small southern town and like many small towns “rumors” about other people tend to be the primary stock in trade.  But, nothing could prepare me for the tall tales my new neighbors had to tell about Mrs. N.  At first and up until last night I thought they were all having me on with their nonsensical stories about how she never purchased food, or ate or slept.  How all they ever found in her garbage, and I have no doubt that the nosey bastards looked, was empty cans of industrial lubricants, wires and bits of what looked like some kind of glass.  They spoke of her almost fearfully and did everything but come right out and say that she wasn’t human.  They believed she was mechanical.  I concluded I had all but moved into the Looney Bin.

The place was empty when I arrived, but, my new neighbors tall tales, I admit, got my curiosity up enough to cause me to do a little snooping around on my own.  I made no attempt to enter the house, but, in spite of all the warnings, I crawled into the garage through a hole in the back.  I remember the flash of a blue light, the smell of something like ozone and the next thing I knew I was outside once again, sitting with my back up against a magnolia tree with an old Gerry & the Pacemakers song playing loudly and almost painfully inside my head.  It shook the heck out of me I don’t mind saying.  The very next day men in hazmat suits loaded everything in the garage into unmarked trucks and heavy equipment flattened the house and garage and hauled the debris to the landfill.  The equipment, according to a local police officer, was sent to the Federal Laboratories at the nuclear facility in Aiken, South Carolina.  But, no one was really sure about that.

It has been almost 15 years and it wasn’t until last night that I began to understand, or, think I can understand what all this crazy business means and it took the tragic death of a local child to bring that about.

Earlier this week the unthinkable happened.  A loving, attentive and highly regarded young mother accidently backed over and killed her 16 month old daughter.  It happened just down the street and the heart of this small town broke.  I was sickened, as were we all, by the pain this tragedy produced.  The local pizza joint put a sign out front, next to the road, that read… [We are ALL praying for the family of…].  Ministers came out of the woodwork with smiles and stories of the poor little girl now being in “a better place”.   Hearing that and realizing that it was the prevailing opinion of the population made me physically ill and I went home early and made myself a stiff drink.  Then, I made myself another.

I had no interest in watching television.  I couldn’t get into the book I currently had next to my bed, so, I turned out the light and the last thing I remember was smelling that smell.  That smell from the garage.  Then, there was that blue light, the music,… and unblinking mechanical eyes of the neighbor I had never met.

I awoke in a cold sweat, shaken, but, with more of an understanding of what Mrs. Neutron was about, if not who, or, what she actually was, or, where she came from.  My feeling is that she came to earth to warn us of our fatal flaw, perhaps THE fatal flaw inherent in all biological life that is lucky enough to achieve sentience.  A flaw machine intelligence does not share.  A flaw it cannot share.

Those few moments in her garage began changes in me and my dream last night completed the change.  I dreamt of pimple faced young men blown apart in wars where they were assured “God was on their side”.  I felt the pain of young girls whose genitals were mutilated with kitchen knives by Holy men diligently following religious teachings.  I smelled the fear of “minorities” and the stench of burning witches.  I saw the smiling face of a minister I know well and heard him say, “in a better place, in a better place, in a better place”, over and over again and I wanted to put my hands around his neck and ring him like a bell.  I wanted to ask him “WHY abortionists weren’t heros then?”  To my very bones I understood the message Mrs. Neutron left for me, or, sent me.  The message about the flaw.  The implications about that flaw that dooms us all to a momentary existence in a paradise designed by and inhabited by fools.

Over and over again that same song from the garage played in my head.  That Gerry & the Pacemakers song.  Only now can I hear it as the warning she intended it to be.

Pretend you’re happy when you’re blue
It isn’t very hard to do
and you will find happiness without an end if you’ll pretend
Remember, anyone can dream
and nothing’s bad as it may seem
The little things you haven’t got could be a lot if you’ll pretend
You’ll find the love you can share
one you can call your own
Just close your eyes, you’ll be there
You’ll never be alone
and if you sing this melody
You’ll be pretending just like me
Well, what’s mine, it can be yours, my friend
So why don’t you pretend?



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     The scarecrow has a history that goes back thousands of years to the very beginnings of human agriculture.  Somebody, or, something had to keep the birds and other pests out of the gardens and fields.  Originally small children guarded the newly planted seeds and protected the developing crops.  By about 3000BC at least some of that important work was taken over by artificial guards and the scarecrow was born.

Daniel Defoe’s 1719 novel Robinson Crusoe was the first English novel to use the term “scarecrow”.  The main character, as a discouragement,  shoots several  birds and then hangs them in rows, such as English prisoners, to frighten other birds away from his corn.  Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Feathertop and L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz are two more well known examples of scarecrows in literature.

My scarecrows serve more than one purpose.  First, and I am most definitely NOT the only local person to notice that we have many, many more black birds this year than ever before.  Everybody is complaining that the black birds are eating all the birdseed out of their feeders and chasing all the other birds away.  (I would be interested to hear from readers if they too have noticed an increase in black birds in their area.)  This will, of course, translate to more birds digging up and eating newly planted seeds and, later in the year, more birds pecking at my precious “Maters”.   Hopefully my two scarecrows will provide at least a base line level of protection from them.

The second purpose of my scarecrows is to piss off my neighbors.

My neighbor is a Minister who makes his living telling lies to little children.  He tells them that they were born into a universe where even their thoughts can bring horrible punishments.  He informs them that the entire universe runs on magic and that science isn’t to be trusted, but, the Bible is filled to the brim with unquestionable truths.  He scares both little children and adults into submission with his well orchestrated bullshit.  He uses groups of people who don’t agree with him as scapegoats for the ills of the world and holds out the promise of never, ever, really having to die if you only do things and think things “his way”.   Scientifically speaking one can both safely and accurately say that he is full of shit.   The scarecrow you see pictured above is about 15 feet from his back door, facing his house.   It is my second scarecrow of the year.  My third and forth scarecrows will be male and female.   I plan to have them perpetually wrapped in a lovers embrace and fornicating  wildly on top of the fence.   There is just no telling where all this might end.


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Here on the eastern slope of the Blue Ridge, right in that magical spot where the mountains run east to west for a while and form a sheltered cove, Mount Pleasant rules the horizon.  Where African slaves once cleared the land, pulled stumps and planted tobacco, today, Fundamentalist Christians with Rebel Flag license plates and Jesus Fish stickers on their SUV’s shake their fists in the direction of Washington DC and that Muslim traitor who “thinks” he is a real President.   It is tiresome, but, it’s true.

Be that as it may, it hit 80 degrees today and when it is Springtime in Dixie a man’s thoughts turn to “Maters” and such.  The land must be prepared.  Varieties of veg and bean must be selected and amendments must be added to the soil to insure a bountiful crop.

I made myself a promise after reading “Tomatoland” by Barry Estabrook that I would never eat another tomato I didn’t grow myself.  If you don’t want to end up like me…. Don’t read the book!  As one reviewer put it… “Corruption, deception, slavery, chemical and biological warfare, courtroom dramas, undercover sting operations and murder: Tomatoland is not your typical book on fruit.”   The detailed descriptions of the horrible birth defects and hideous malformations visited upon the children of the immigrant field workers simply because their pregnant mothers washed their husbands work clothes WILL make you sick.  The knowledge that the permanently disabled newborns move directly into the Medicaid system, for the remainder of their wretched lives, is but one of the added costs passed along to the consumer by the Corporate Mega-Farms.   Read the book and “out of sight” will never again be… “out of mind”.

You gotta grow your own folks.  They taste all the better without all the bad karma, pesticides and herbicides.

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Our Island of Dr. Moreau (or) “Are we not men?”

Catching up: Family writes about recovery and God after devastating crash 

Sayer of the Law: [about Moreau] His is the hand that makes. His is the hand that hurts. His is the hand that heals. His is the House of Pain. His is the House of Pain. His is the House of Pain. He who breaks the law shall be punished back to the House of Pain.

This is a piece about madness.  It is also a case study on what it means to be human.  The link above and the tragic story it relates prompted me to write it.  I am not the first to notice that madness, for humans, is our primary defense against truly going insane.  Sigmund Freud, Otto Rank and Ernest Becker after them wrote of mankind’s necessity to “create” a universe that they “could” safely inhabit.  It is why we have religion and probably always will.  It is about the nonsense we must swallow to make sense of a universe that is uncaring and senseless with regard to human suffering.  It is about the price of the ticket out of the House of Pain our minds must pay if we are to rejoin the world of men and go on living when death would be easier.  It is an example of the culturally sanctioned madness that saves us today at the expense of tomorrow.

We are not supposed to notice this phenomena.  We are meant to read tragic stories like the one above and say something like, “Isn’t that wonderful”… “How uplifting” or “I’m so happy for them”… but, I can’t.  My mind, for better or worse, simply doesn’t work like that.  I live in a cause and effect universe that has no place for supernaturalism.  Love, compassion and empathy YES, but the religious supernaturalism that gives man license to claim to communicate with, or, know, what some mythological father in the sky thinks, wants or dictates…. NO!

Is it cold for me to mock these people and all those who would dissociate themselves from a painful reality through the culturally sanctioned madness we know as religion?  I suppose it is.  Is it wrong for me to notice that this little madness, soothing as it surely is for the individual, is the primary tool of the unscrupulous monsters who use it to accumulate wealth, power and the ability to dictate to us all who God is displeased with and who the world would be better off without?  I don’t think so.  I rather think that morphine is helpful when we experience acute pain, but, ruinous as a steady diet.  As a consequence I must despise those who peddle it to children for profit in the hope of addicting them for life.  I must condemn all those, regardless of their own addictions, who would teach children that they were created imperfect, but, demanded to BE perfect by a God who DEMANDS, on pain of eternal suffering, that they both love AND fear Him.  That is, after all, the very definition of sadomasochism.

I will never, ever, forget the morning I heard Jerry Falwell say, on national television, that the reason God permitted the carnage of September 11, 2001 was America’s “toleration” of gays, lesbians, the ACLU and atheists.  I will never forget or forgive any politician who claims “God is on our side” as our nation is, again, taken to war.  I read last night that more veterans of the Vietnam War have committed suicide than died in the war.  But surely, as I was told at the time, God was on our side.

Who am I do doubt the revealed truth, graciously delivered to us all by the Religious Right and pious men like Rick Santorum, that abortion is murder and the Bible clearly says… Thou shall NOT kill?  What right do I have to notice that fully half of Christian America’s annual budget goes to the military for doing, or, preparing to do just that?

In totalitarian dictatorships questioning the powers that be is a crime and citizens are watched constantly.  Actions that are not permitted are a crime.  Thoughts that are not “pure” are a crime.  Citizens who do not think, act and speak in ways that are sanctioned by the authority are punished, sometimes for the rest of their lives.   Isn’t it strange to realize that compared to Christians, Muslims, Mormons and the rest….. They have it easy.  Their torture ends when they stop breathing.

So that’s my story.  Think of me what you will, it’s of no consequence to me.  We all have choices to make and make them we must if we are not to abdicate our sentience.  That is not to say, or imply, that abdication of reason is not entirely human.  It is, and more is the pity for that.  As it stands in America today we are all free to sing “Amazing Grace”.  How long some of us will remain free to sing “Imagine” is another question entirely.


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