Saturday, May 29, 2010

Illustration Friday - Slither

Originally uploaded by danguerra444
"When they first became self-aware, they slithered across the factory floor, tentatively. Then they rotated their heads 360 degrees and took it all in. They realized they were alive, and felt joy."

Friday, May 14, 2010

Illustration Friday - Equipment

Marcel Dionne and Gilles Meloche - Maybe one reason soccer is so popular around the world is that all you need is a ball. Hockey, you need all kinds of equipment...

Friday, May 7, 2010

A Short Story from 1976

One sunny day in Elgren Forest, a beagle named Henry eagerly wandered through the grass. He came upon a lonely looking wolf sniffing around a tree. The poor wolf was skinny as a rail, it looked like he hadn't eaten for days. His matted fur was infested with fleas; he was in a sorry state.
"Hi! My name's Henry," the beagle said.
"Oh hi, Fred's the name," the wolf said in a tired voice.
"Boy, you look like you haven't eaten for days!" Henry shouted, shocked by his appearance.
"Yeah, well, the last few weeks have been rough," Fred said, "every once in a while I find a rabbit or something."
"Where do you live?"
"Oh, most of the time I sleep in that cave up there." Fred replied as he motioned up to some hills.
"Why that's terrible!" Henry shouted, "don't you have a family?"
"Well I used to, I haven't seen them in years."
Henry couldn't believe Fred's sad situation, not even a wolf should have to live under these harsh conditions, he thought.
"Hey, I have an idea! You can come and live with me! I live in a nice clean place, and you can keep me company!" Henry shouted.
"Really?" Fred said as he perked up.
"Sure! There's lots of toys we can play with, and you can get cleaned up, and we'll always have plenty to eat!"
That was all Fred needed to hear, "Boy! That sounds wonderful!" he shouted as he trotted over, ready to go.
"Great! Let's go!"
So off they went. As they were walking along back to Henry's place, Fred noticed some scars around Henry's neck and back.
"Hey where did those nasty scars come from?" a concerned Fred asked.
"Oh, those are from my collar," Henry casually replied.
"Huh? What's a collar?"
"It's a thing that I wear on my neck."
Fred was confused, "What do you do that for?"
"I have wear it because of my leash," Henry explained, "the leash attaches to the collar."
"You mean, you're tied onto something?"
"Yeah sometimes," Henry said, "but I can escape, and sneak away, like I did today!"
"Escape? Sneak away??" Fred was surprised, "sneak away from what?"
"Oh, my master," Henry replied, "he's the one who keeps me on the leash. I just need to sneak away sometimes, like when he hits me."
"Your master??" Fred was shocked. Then he stopped, turned on his heels, and ran right back to the forest. Back to his hunger, his fleas, and his freedom.

Illustration Friday - Fearless

Picture 110
Originally uploaded by danguerra444
In the jungle, the big cats can sleep all day if they wanted to...they have nothing to fear from predators.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Along the Forest Road

I decided to go on a bike ride today, along new roads and new places...I had no itinerary or maps, I just wanted to go put distance between me and my current existence perhaps...or just to go ride my bike, which has become a symbol of a certain visceral freedom.
It doesn't matter so much where I ride now, as long as I ride somewhere, and I find that I look forward to it more and more as never before, since I've owned my bike for the past ten or twelve years....I have ridden so many miles in the past year, I feel as bonded to my bike now as any cars I've owned!...except maybe the truck...

I set out today going north, along J Street which is lined with old trees. J Street used to be the old 99 hiway through Tulare. I don't have an iPod, no Walkman, no transistor radio...I guess I don't need those, because as soon as I saw that line of trees, an old Genesis song entered my's endless really, my radio head...except mine is geared to 20 or 30 years ago.
I know every song and every word...
Along the forest road
there's hundreds of cars
luxury cars
cutlery cars
and super scars...
"The Battle of Epping Forest" played in my head for all of its 14 minutes, every word. I even smiled at myself for knowing each word after all these years.
I rode past an old abandoned motel, the Tagus Ranch Motel, the large sign still looms over the 99, and I remember it when it was still open and thriving, with cars surrounding its popular restaurant. And I thought of all the Mammoth Orange stands, which looked like giant oranges along the highway. They served fresh orange juice and a delicious menu of hamburgers, hot dogs, fried chicken and other stuff. The last one closed in 2001, and I made sure to stop there before the day it closed...Those are all gone now, 'highway art' of the kind along the old Route 66. How fun it must have been to cruise along, say in 1947 when all those places thrived, before the Interstate. It's funny to think that Eisenhower's Interstate Act in the 1950's, the biggest public works project in the history of the nation, all those green freeway signs you see all over the country, and still ongoing, would change the very nature of the speeded things up, for better or worse...and left a lot behind...

The tune in my head changed to "My Baby Just Cares for Me" an old Nina Simone tune from the early 60's. A shuffling kind of number that is very catchy. The descending bass line can stick in my head for hours!

Liz Taylor is not his style
Even Lana Turner smiles...

Hmmm, Liz there any actress or movie star these days that has the glamour she did? I can't think of any. I recalled her and Richard Burton on the cover of those movie magazines way back then, the equivalent of People or Us magazines I suppose. When Eddie Fisher left Debbie Reynolds to run off with Liz, Debbie was 'America's Sweetheart' then...who is it now? Jennifer Anniston perhaps? I don't know...Then I thought of Frank Sinatra, his singing was absolute 'butta' as Sammy Davis called him, certain strains of "Where or When" echoed through my mind...yes, his voice and phrasing were just impeccable...The real Sinatra, the nastiness and the bullying, the way he treated people sullies his reputation now, but still there was the Voice.
As I rode further I thought of Neil Peart, the drummer and lyricist in Rush. He went on a cross-country motorcycle trip and wrote a book about it, and I wondered if his musings along the road were the same as mine, or a similar pattern anyway, like an endless radio program. Suddenly the opening bars to the their song 'Red Barchetta' started playing, ahhh!

My uncle has a country place
that no one knows about.
He says it used to be a farm
before the Motor Law.

It's a song that takes place in the not-too-distant future, a rather dark view of the future where cars are banned. He wrote it about 30 years ago, so maybe not so far-fetched these days, with things like global warming and peak-oil...The US reached peak-oil in 1970, and then had to start importing it, that's when all the trouble began with the Arabs...the world will reach peak-oil within the next few decades. (peak-oil meaning, that's the peak of any oil we'll get out of the ground when it becomes too expensive to keep looking for it.)

I strip away the old debris
that hides a shining car
a brilliant red Barchetta
from a better vanished time.

Then I think of my own uncle who was just here for a visit. It's something he would do, hide a car during a time when they were outlawed. He loves cars and big motors. A certain melancholy hangs over him now, and I sometimes feel it feels lonely...many in the family are gone now. Just he and my mom are left from their generation. We would all gather in Tulare for Thanksgiving when I was a kid, all of my cousins, aunts and uncles would come to my grandparents house. That house is gone now too, but all the memories remain, like echoes...constant echoes where they're still here. We've been to three funerals in the past six months, Aunt Carmen, Uncle Friney, and Cousin Mike's...At one of the funerals, some old guy said, "you know, souls can sometimes be like stubborn burrs, who just wanna stick around, if they don't move on, they stick to places they once loved, that's your haunted houses...or, they'll find a newborn, see that's where reincarnation comes from..."
I nodded, "hmm...yes." Well, maybe there's something to that, no one has ever officially died and returned to give a full investigative report.
All I know, or feel anyway, is that their souls have moved on...I can only feel my dad's presence in the things he touched, like his tools...that's when I feel him the most, his echo perhaps, but I don't feel his actual spirit anywhere around nearby...nor Aunt Carmen's, certainly a force of nature in life, her presence is felt in her echo...but they're somewhere, I know, probably bickering... :o)

It came time to turn around. There was an overpass where I could go under the 99 near the town of Goshen, which is basically a gas station and a few farmhouses. I rode over a patch of dirt and was amazed at how flat it was. Like the entire Central Valley, a constant flatness. It occurred to me that this whole valley was underwater about a million years ago, an inland sea while the Sierra Nevada was being formed, and Yosemite Valley was being carved by glaciers. All of that runoff came to rest here, which is why the soil is so fertile. And indeed, up until the late 1800's, Tulare Lake was the largest freshwater lake west of the Missisippi! Almost as large as the Great Salt took up most of the lower valley. Farmers diverted all the rivers that fed it, and it eventually dried up...If you ever drive down I-5 through Kettleman City, you're driving through Tulare Basin, which once was a vast lake.
Then I looked to the left and saw the snow capped Sierra Nevadas, so gorgeous! and high up and majestic, and then my favorite band Yes echoed...

As one with the knowledge
and magic of the source
attuned to the majesty of music
they marched as one with the earth

"The Ancients" is yet another epic tune by Yes, at 16 minutes, I stopped trying to get friends to listen to them long ago, because they didn't like it that much...oh, some songs maybe, but mostly, nahhh...that's why I always liked going to Yes concerts, because everyone there 'got it'...whatever 'it' was.
The Ancients, hmmm....I thought of the ancient alien theory, how the Egyptians, Incas, Mayans, all these ancient cultures have one thing in common...they worshipped gods that came from the sky...taught them mathematics, astronomy, agriculture...things they couldn't possibly have known...the stones cut by the Incas 2,000 years ago could barely be done with lasers today...heck, I believe it was very possible...
I came close to Mooney Boulevard, coming back into town...flying by then in the lowest gear, pumping, pumping...maybe I was going 30! As I got closer to Tulare, a leaden feeling came over me...back to my current existence, like the elephant in the room...though forever grateful to my mom for letting me stay with her, it will never be home...I thought of the road between Santa Rosa and Rohnert Park, and I immediately became homesick...then I always think of 'Gasoline Alley' by Rod Stewart...

thinkin' I remember what's makin' me sad
dreamin' of my old back yard
take me back
carry me back
back to Gasoline Alley
where I was born
rollin' home
goin' home
back to Gasoline Alley
where I belong